Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Improving as a runner

I feel so much better now!  I'm pretty sure the rest of the people in my home do too.  30/#55milesinaugust #motherrunner #marathontraining #halfmarathontraining

As a beginning runner, I think I've paid more attention to what not to do because I have wanted to avoid injury and run consistently.  And while that's fine and good I fell into the trap of not improving much either... at least past being able to run consecutive minutes and miles.

One of the most common pieces of advice given to beginning runners is: if you're out breath, you're running too fast.  Now I get why that makes sense, especially early on, but at some point if you don't push yourself you aren't going to see gains in fitness and performance. 

I took that rule of thumb to heart and outside of some hills and the occasional strides, I've run at a "conversational pace".  I know that doing this has kept me healthy but after talking to a running friend and expressing my frustration; I realized that it's OK to push myself and breathe hard in some of my workouts.

In that same conversation we were talking about breathing and how your warm up can impact your breathing throughout the workout.  Now, I'm not the most patient person so I consider walking for 5 minutes before I run to be close to overkill.  I know.

My friends suggestion was something similar to what she does.  She's not only a great runner, but she is also a smart runner so I was happy to listen.  Here's what her warmup looks like: walking, a light jog, a "break a sweat" jog and THEN beginning the running workout.  She said that this keeps her from warming up too fast or not enough which can lead to labored breathing throughout her workout.  Interesting.

Steve is traveling so I'm stuck on the treadmill. Today was my easy day so I tried warming up how @soultrain21 suggested. What a difference! She's a super smart runner.

Yesterday was my easy day so I tried this strategy.  I walked 5 minutes, jogged 4 minutes, jogged a little faster for 3 minutes and then began running.  Not only was my easy pace faster but my breathing was great the entire time.  I didn't have that "first mile is the toughest" feeling and I finished the workout feeling great.  I'm a believer!

Did it take a little longer to warm up?  Yes.  But did I have a better run?  Yep.  So I've come to realize that reasonably pushing myself after a good warm up is OK and a good thing when I have a tempo run or speedwork assigned for that day's workout.

Sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest differences.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Not for the faint of heart

It's a beautiful morning for a trail ride!  It's almost "cold".

It all started out nice enough.  Trail biking with Steve on a new trail that was supposed to be fairly easy, a beautiful morning, a good night's sleep the night before... what could possibly go wrong?

If you're grossed out by road rash, scraped up legs and a little blood... look away.  The trail we rode was not easy but rather it was super technical.  I'm a decent bike rider but nothing to write home about.  I tend to think I do better on two feet than I do on two wheels.

As I sit here pouring hydrogen peroxide over my leg, I think now would be a good time to discuss why I do better with two feet compared to two wheels.  #notacyclist #doesthiscountascrosstraining #motherrunner

This confirms my theory.  Not gonna lie, it hurt.  But pouring hydrogen peroxide on my legs hurt even worse.  I didn't cry but I came very close.  I spent the rest of Saturday nursing my wounds and eating sushi.

Sunday was long run day with 8 miles on the schedule.  I was definitely sore but I did fine.  I got home, showered and Steve decided I needed to get back on the bike after wiping out so bad the day before.

Got back on the proverbial bike after yesterday's wipeout. Today was great and yes, I'm super tired after running 8 miles this am. Happy Sunday! #motherrunner #imightbe abikepersonafterall

We went to a different trail that was confirmed by a real person to be beginner friendly and thankfully that's exactly what it was!  It was still a blast too.  I'm glad he convinced me to give it another go.

My totals for the day:
8 mile long run
7.35 mile trail ride
Approx 1300 calories burned

This is happening. Stuffed hatch chiles wrapped in bacon!

We celebrated by making chicken stuffed hatch chiles wrapped in bacon.  Amazing and totally worth the calories burned earlier in the day.

I normally hate rest days but today I think it's a pretty good idea. #motherrunner #ouch #sorelegs #marathontraining #halfmarathontraining

Monday was a rest day and while I usually dislike rest days, this one was quite welcome. :)

All in all, it was a good experience.  I still love trail riding mostly because I get to spend quality time with Steve but also for the challenge.  The key is just to stay upright so you don't have to explain your road rash a million times. ;)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I Won!

Stress test take 2. I'm going to win!  #motherrunner #winning
Before the test and slightly nervous...

No, not a race.  But I did "win" my stress test.  I'm super competitive so even though you can't technically win a stress test, I'm telling myself that I did.  Because I can. :)

I arrived in my running shoes and clothes.  They took my vitals and my resting heart rate got an audible sigh from the nurse.  It was 45.  I couldn't believe it!  I was not in good shape when I started running last November and while I'm not anywhere near fast, I'm healthier and that makes me happy.

The technician's response: I'm glad you wore running shoes because you are going to have to run.

For my age my max HR is 180.  45 to 180?  That could be a problem.  After 25 minutes running on an increasing incline the tech settled for 80% of my max.  I'm glad he made me run though because he explained that they used to let athletes slide knowing their HR wasn't going to max out but that also missed identifying heart conditions in otherwise healthy athletes.

They also did a resting EKG, an ultrasound and something else that showed the blood flow.  Pretty cool!  They repeated the same tests right after the stress test to see what things looked like when my heart was working hard.

Me: 1 Stress test: 0. The only thing that showed up was a murmur but nothing to be concerned with. I am officially free to run all the marathons I would like although my Dr. suggested getting my head checked for wanting to run so far LOL.  #motherrunner
After and much more relaxed...

The good news: my heart murmur behaves exactly the same at rest as it does when my heart is taxed.  There were no blood flow issues, leaky valves, etc.  My cardiologist (who I love, BTW) told me I was free to run all the marathons I wanted to although I might want to get my head checked for wanting to run that far for fun.  Funny guy!

My chest pain was anxiety related so his "prescription": watch my caffeine intake, limit my stress, and manage my anxiety.  He doesn't realize that those three things fuel my work days so thank goodness for running!

New laces, new socks and my favorite route... all were great.  The weather was perfect and it made me so ready for fall! #motherrunner #mizunorunning #marathontraining #halfmarathontraining

So I'm definitely out of my running funk and back to running without anxiety.   I also went trail biking with Steve this past weekend and have the war wounds to prove it... more on that later.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Slept in this morning so it was the treadmill for today's run. I didn't want to run but as always, I'm glad I did. 9/#55milesinjuly #motherrunner #mizunorunning

I've been in a little bit of a running funk lately.  I've gotten some miles in here and there but we've had other things going on... like painting and redecorating Chaney's entire room.  We have also been trying to squeeze the best out of that last little bit of summer left before school starts.  So not only am I in a running funk but I'm also a little sad that summer is nearly over.

OK, IKEA... I take back everything bad that I said about you.

Yes, I love the routine of the school year but along with that comes endless to-do lists, school drama to talk through after school, violin lessons and everything else that comes with being a 4th grader.  All of this also means that I have to really structure my mornings to fit my workouts and runs in.

The last little bit of my funk has to do with my anxiety attack/ER trip several weeks back.  I followed up with a cardiologist last week and he found a heart murmur.  Weird.  I'm new to all this terminology but hopefully I'll learn a lot more today when I go for my stress test. 

Goal #1 today: win the test.  Competitive much?? ;)

But really, my biggest priority is getting some peace of mind and some assurance that I'm healthy.  Because honestly that has put a bit of a damper on my running enthusiasm lately.  I certainly don't feel unhealthy but I don't like words like "hear murmur"... "irregular rhythm"... "missing EKG peaks" either.

So that's where I'll be this afternoon.  Thankfully the cardiologist reviews the results with me today so there is no more waiting.  From there I hope to proceed directly out of my funk.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Training Tuesday

I've had a hard time settling on a training plan.  So many of them are similar but at the same time many of them are very one-size-fits-all.  The 10K Runner app that I started with was great because it had no focus on miles or pace; just time spent running vs. walking.

But ever since I completed that program, I've been following a mash-up of plans which was beginning to drive me crazy.  I read Run Less, Run Faster and I really like the philosophy behind the training plan.  It even went as far as to tell you pace/time/miles to train at based on your last race.

That part I liked... what I didn't like was how cumbersome managing the actual plan was.  I was constantly looking up my next workout, then forgetting it, looking it up again at 5 am.  And then as my times improved, I had to find the new corresponding workouts based on my improvements.  I know... first world runner problems.

Did I mention that I signed up for the Cowtown Marathon for this coming February?  I did and I'm so excited!  When I paid I was offered a customized training plan through Run Coach for a flat $20 which is a steal.

All I did was log in, create a profile, enter my recent race times and it put together a plan specifically for me.  The cool part... as I record my times and miles and they improve, the rest of the training plan automatically adjusts to my new training levels.  I get a weekly email and then I get an email the night before my next running workout telling me exactly what I'm supposed to do.  Worst case, I can just look on my phone while I'm out if I forget how many 400's, etc to run.

This all might seem a little lazy but oh well.  I'm busy and it's one less hurdle I have to jump to get out the door and actually run.  It also syncs with Nike+ which is the watch I use.

Training up for the week:
Monday - long run of 6 miles {I missed it on Sunday}
Tuesday - rest
Wednesday - tempo run {.50 warm up, 7 drills, 3 strides, 5:00 at tempo pace then jog 3:00 x 3, .50 cool down.
Thursday - cross train
Friday - tempo run {same warm up & drills, 1:00 hard/1:00 jog x 6, .50 cool down}
Saturday - cross train

I missed my long run on Sunday and the schedule automatically updated, dropped a cross training day in favor of keeping the long run which is more important.  Pretty cool. :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013


I took this picture while hiking around Multnomah Falls when we were in OR for the RNR half.

This post has nothing to do with running and everything to do with running. 

Stick with me. 

Pain is no stranger to those of us who run up and down hills, on concrete, rocky trails, in the sticky heat and in the freezing cold.  I'm pretty sure that if you finish a hard run and nothing hurts then you're doing it wrong.

But what happens when you avoid pain?  Not a lot.  You aren't pushing yourself.  You're not growing.  You're not getting stronger for sure.  But it is demanding and it won't go away no matter how deep you bury it; it just doesn't work that way.  This applies in life just as well as it applies to running.

I think I'm pretty safe in saying that for the last 10 years I've avoided as much pain as possible.  Sure, it's bubbled up to the surface here and there but I've buried it more than I've embraced it or even slowed down or stopped to feel it.  What happens when I do this?  Scar tissue piles on top of scars that lay on top of pain. 

When I tore my shoulder up and had to have surgery I spent 3 months with my shoulder immobilized to let the extensive repairs heal.  When I came out of the sling I had zero range of motion.  My physical therapists and orthopedic surgeon had never seen so much scar tissue develop so fast.  I had a scar tissue problem that eventually required a second surgery to manipulate my shoulder to break up the scar tissue and then clean it all out.  Very aggressive physical therapy followed to keep scar tissue from developing again and it was extremely painful.  It was miserable but I pushed through it and found a new normal for my shoulder.  Not perfect, not painless but still in a good and functional place.

I'm not going to say that I haven't grown at all as a person over the past 10 years because I have but I've danced around the pain part as much as possible.  I had been hurt over and over and I was tired of the pain.  I found a respite in the joy of having my daughter that was followed by meeting my now husband which has been a wonderful 7 years and counting.  But despite my happiness I still had areas in my life full of scar tissue on top of buried pain where I remained stuck.

And then I started running again.  Running sucks sometimes; especially when you are starting all over.  It's painful.  Your toenails turn colors and sometimes fall off.  There are blisters, sore muscles, and of course chafing. 

But I still put on my shoes time after time and here's where life and running intersect; old hurts have begun to emerge and for the first time I'm feeling the pain.  I'm not burying it, I'm not ignoring it; rather I'm feeling it, learning from it and pushing through it.  I learned how to do this by running.  Running woke me up to my old friend pain and the fact that pain can be a good and even powerful catalyst for change.

It's true, running changes a person.