Thursday, May 06, 2010
I tried week four's program again last night. This time I walked five minutes before ever starting the podcast. Kind of pre-warm-up warm-up! Then I stretched a lot more thoroughly than I usually do. I printed some stretching exercises from the Cool Running site yesterday for guidance because I know this is an area I struggle with.
So how did I do? Much better than Monday! On Monday, once I got that surprising 4:40 run finished, I was barely able to get my legs to run for a minute, much less another eight total. Last night I completed the first three minute run pretty easily, then succumbed to tiredness halfway through the five minute run... but only for 20 seconds! As soon as I got my wind back and mentally regrouped, I made myself run again and finished the remainder of the five minute interval. After the walking recovery, I was able to run another three minute interval, then decided I would cut the last five minute interval to three minutes. I was really winded and my legs were getting exhausted and I felt like that was the best I could do. But ask me if I ran for well over a mile last night! Because the answer is "D@mn right I did!" (I don't know what SP will let me write.)
Another thing I kept in mind while I was running was my running form. I suspect that part of the issue with my calves might be that I was allowing a heel-strike form. Not good! For some reason, I subconsciously lean back when I run. I don't get it. It reminds me of walking downhill and how your body wants to lean back to avoid falling or getting out of control. But it's a braking position and the last thing I want is to be constantly braking! Time to break out my inner Swiss ski instructor and think "Bend ze knees!" The athletic stance transcends sport, in my opinion. Comfortable, hip width with flexed, neutral knees. It's good for skiing, good for golf, good for standing your ground in a crowd situation! It's got to be good for running, too!
And speaking of golf, it's time to head to league! This time I'm popping an Aleve early on! I forgot how much my back hurts by the end of a round.
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Despite my inability to finish full week 3 intervals on my first outdoor run, I decided to move on to week 4, anyway. The idea of running for five minutes straight is kind of daunting, but here's the thing: that old cliche of "you'll never know unless you try" is very true. There's no point in letting yourself get intimidated by something like that. If you try to run for a longer stretch than you're used to, you're either going to discover that you can do it, or you're going to find out that you can't. If the former is true, yay! Go Team You! If the latter is true, good on you for trying. Do what you can for now and then try again later. It's really that simple.
I set out on the week 4 intervals and did the first three minute run pretty easily. My, how good it feels to run a quarter mile! WOO! I rock! After the walking recovery period, I got the cue to run again, this time for five minutes. I didn't think I could do it, but I gave it my best shot, anyway. And you know what? I ran for four minutes and forty seconds. How do you like them apples? That's at least forty seconds more than I expected. Kind of funny- the first time I ran three minutes, I fell twenty seconds short of a full interval. The next time I increase my distance, I'm going to try running until I feel like I can't anymore, and then I'm going to run for twenty more seconds and see what that gets me.
Anyway, victory was kind of short-lived. My second set of intervals did not go well. The second three minutes became 90 seconds, and the second five minutes became a kind of stuttering, stalling hodgepodge. I ran for 80 seconds, then rested for a while, then ran for 60 seconds, then rested for a while, then I heard Robert Ullrey say that I had one minute left, so I ran that. The culprit is my calf muscles, particularly the right leg. I think something is off with my stride. My calf muscles become like rocks. They don't actually cramp, but they tighten up so much that it hurts to run on them.
I really need to look into possible causes of this and see what I can do to correct it. The crazy thing is, they don't really hurt today. They didn't really hurt while I was strength training after running last night (I usually do upper body and core after running). I suspect there's something funky about the way I'm running, but more investigation is needed. I also think I need to make an appointment with the trainer I've worked with periodically over the years. Besides helping me with my run, I'd like his input on a couple of other areas. Most notably, I need to do something to strengthen and increase flexibility in my back. I'm doing pretty good work with my abs on my own, but I definitely noticed weakness and tightness in my back while golfing last week. And when I tried to do a push-up last week, my lower back seemed to be the weak link.
So tomorrow I'm trying again, hopefully armed with some tools to correct whatever is causing the problem. It could just be ordinary muscle strain. I mean, I didn't run any of the earlier weeks' intervals on the first try, either, and five is significantly bigger than three when it comes to running. I'm still pretty proud of my attempt, even if- figuratively speaking- I let my X-wing slide back into the swamp on Dagobah. Unlike certain whiny Jedi I could name, I didn't follow it up with "You want the impossible." And that is why, ultimately, I will not fail.
Sunday, May 02, 2010
Last night, I had my first outdoor run. I'm not really sure how I feel about it. Up until now, I've done all my running around the indoor track at my community center. I used the unpredictable weather as an excuse, but the fact was, I was a bit concerned about the unpredictability of the conditions and how I would react to them. Sidewalks aren't as even as tracks, obviously, and I had read all kinds of warnings about what running on rebar-reinforced walks can do to your joints. And then there's weather. The indoor track is climate-controlled. The sidewalk is in Michigan, therefore, it's decidedly climate-uncontrolled!
However, they don't run half-marathons on indoor tracks, so the change was inevitable. Also, the track is only 1/16 of a mile, so on the longer runs I felt like I was constantly running around corners, which I'm not particularly good at. It rained yesterday, but the weather was nice in the afternoon and evening. Well, I had picked up my first copy of Guitar Hero on the way home from the dentist yesterday and against my better judgment, let myself play "one song" before my run. Yeah, four hours and one very sore elbow later, I finally stopped trying to play bass on Beck's "Gamma Ray." It's a darned good thing I like that song! Anyway, it was about 7:30 before I finally headed out for my run.
I decided to drive to one of our township parks to run there. Funny thing about Detroit suburbs- our sidewalks are best described as "sporadic." Towns here are mostly set up for driving, not pedestrians. To me, the surprising part about where I live is that it actually has a lot of sidewalks. Neither of the last two areas where I lived had much to speak of. And I grew up on a dirt road across the road from farms, so a sidewalk seems like a "city thing" to me. As a result, I never learned a lot of the pedestrian skills that seem so basic to most people. Besides, sometimes it feels like Robert Ullerey's podcasts are the only thing getting me through C25K and you couldn't pry my earbuds out of my head. Running street-side and earbuds=not safe. The park I went has a pedestrian path which circles a small, possibly man-made lake. According to a marker, that path is .43 miles and is asphalt, not reinforced concrete. It's actually pretty well maintained. It seemed pretty ideal for my situation.
I couldn't find something to hold my water bottle, so I carried it the whole time. Despite the fact that I seemed to get less blood pooling in my fingers because of carrying the bottle, I still think I need to find a water bottle holder. It was kind of windy around the park last night and it was really overcast. It was also unexpectedly a little crowded. The township had their annual fishing derby in the lake yesterday morning, and it was still stocked with fish, so there were a lot of fishermen and women, especially around the bridge/dock. I just stuck to the path and avoided the bridge. Things you don't have to worry about when running on an indoor track: bicyclists who don't quite get the definition of "pedestrian path" (I'm not begrudging him that because it's a nice path and at least he's being active), guys in Ed Hardy tees wandering back and forth across the path without looking behind them (I don't like Ed Hardy, so it was adding insult to injury), dads standing in the middle of the path to take a picture of sons holding a string of trout, wondering if a German shepherd will take running as an invitation to pursuit (I'm not generally scared of dogs, but there is a certain unpredictability that comes along with unknown dogs), wind blowing in your face and stealing your breath, the tiniest bit of rain spitting on me while running my last interval.
I didn't quite manage to do full intervals on this run. I'm on week 3, and though I did full intervals on Wednesday, it wasn't easy. I did 2:40 for the first long interval, and 2:20 for the second. I'm not going to beat myself up about it because this was so different than what I usually do. I think what I'm going to do from now on, is do two C25K sessions on the track and one outside each week, until I get more accustomed to running outside. Then I'll start adding more outdoor running. The thing I'm having a hard time with is that I didn't really enjoy my run yesterday. I'm not going to say that every indoor run brings me a major runner's high or that I spend all my time grinning like an idiot, but I do both of those to some degree and I always feel like I accomplished something big. Last night, I just felt tired at the end. Ah well, I'm sure it will get easier and more fun.
Friday, April 30, 2010
If you were to ask me what I think my ideal size would be, I would immediately say "Size 12, definitely." I have a very specific, silly and somewhat weird reason for thinking that. I think it makes a very "Friday afternoon" kind of story.
When I was in fourth or fifth grade, I was in a class holiday play. It was most likely one of those scripts that they used to print in the Scholastic magazines we used to get. Does anyone remember those magazines? Anyway, this one was about a family of four getting ready for Christmas and holiday shopping. I played a sarcastic teenager, something I was remarkably good at even then! In the play, the father was attempting to buy the mother a blouse for Christmas and couldn't remember what size she wore, so he guessed. Being a stereotypical man, he had the blouse gift-wrapped at the store, and his package was mixed up with the blouse another husband was buying. When the mother opened the present, she was appalled, because the blouse in the box was a size 18. The father was all flustered and asked what size she wore. She replied with no small amount of outrage, "What size? Why, I wear a size 12!"
The way it was said made it sound like it was the most obvious and natural thing in the world. And that has stuck with me for well over 20 years. I spent my whole late childhood, teenage years, college years, twenties and thirties with this thought: "Size 12 is what grown-up women should wear. If I could spend my whole life as a size 12, that would be just about perfect."
Now, coincidentally, size 12 probably is the right size for me to strive for. It's what I wore when I was 21 years old and smack-dab in the middle of the normal weight range for my height. But I think it's kind of funny that, instead of spending my formative teen years obsessed with the kind of airbrushed perfection and unattainable size that's so often pushed on young people, I spent those years unknowingly yearning for something that's most likely just right for me. It would have been better if I'd also developed better exercise and eating habits, so that I wouldn't have to work so hard to get back to my "ideal," but that's a story for another day.
Oh, and the play resolved by the father confessing that he'd actually purchased a size 10 blouse because he thought his wife was smaller than she was and returning to the mall with the mixed-up package. The other husband was making the same trip and everyone was happy in the end. A very sophisticated piece of theatre!
I plan to be a size 12 very soon. I just hope the opportunity to say "What size? Why, I wear a size 12," presents itself at some point. I suspect it would be rather satisfying.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Yesterday I wore a new cardigan and tank top to work and I was surprised and pleased to note that my waist looked more defined. It looked more hourglassy and less blobby. I thought it was just that the sweater had a remarkably flattering cut. It is pretty flattering. It's fitted, with 3/4 sleeves and an at-hip length. It makes my torso look longer. However, today I'm wearing a loose cropped jacket over a t-shirt, and that defined waist is still there!
I think it's due to the particular area I seem to have lost most of my weight. As of today, I have lost 18.5 pounds since January and I swear 90% of that has been from the waist up. My belly fat is still very present, but my upper abdominal area is much more toned.
Speaking of new clothes, I have a very strong suspicion that it's going to be a very colorful summer. I seem to be all over coral, hot pink and turquoise lately. I can't help but think that's due to an increased confidence in the way I look.
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