Monday, April 16, 2012
It's just my luck that an odd sequence of perfectly timed events all happen round about today.
#1 - Today is the first day of my THIRD year on Spark People and thus the beginning of what I'm deeming the 3rd stage in my weight-loss journey. In my first year here I lost exactly 100 pounds to THE DAY. You can read my blog about it here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
My second year here started out with a bang and I continued to lose fairly quickly until I hit that magic 125 pounds. Then I ran SMACK into the wall of Plateauville - the place I have been hanging out in for the remainder of the year. It needed to happen. I've learned a lot. But I'm done, and definitely ready to move on. I know I'm not meant to stay here. And I know there are more things for me to learn. Just not here. So I'm forging a new road - be it at the same physical weight or not. Which brings me to:
#2 - 26 Mondays from now, I will have officially completed the 2012 Chicago Marathon. Funny, a marathon is 26.2 miles. That works out SO well to start my training journal right here on Spark and bring you all along with me. Am I right? Woohoo! And...
#3 - Today I officially am picking up where I left off (distance-wise). To get everyone up to speed you need to know that unfortunately, at the end of 2011, I injured my right knee and was unable to run for about 6 weeks. That was after running a glorious 11 miler and feeling like I was totally invincible...until I wasn't. I stayed active and did other things- swimming was really important, and I even enjoyed a few days of downhill skiing. But every time I tried to run, my knee would lock up, I'd have searing pain in the joint itself, and my leg would render itself unusable for any speed faster than a dull limp. Boo. Well - after a few months of amazing chiropractic therapy and massage and training THE RIGHT WAY this time as far as increasing weekly mileage goes, I completed another 11 miler on Saturday and I FEEL AMAZING! My legs are strong and in shape. The only pain I'm experiencing is the exhaustion of running super long distances (for me) and not being able to sleep 10+ hours a day. Awww, poor baby.
So here we go...
Obviously, seeing as I just ran 11 miles over the weekend, you can probably guess that my training isn't officially starting today. Nor will it start at the 18 week mark that Hal Higdon sets as being enough to do it. This is my training, my way - taking into account a number of different, but excellent resources (including a few fellow Sparkers who have run this road before themselves), and a variety of different training schedules - the most important of which is my own body and the rate at which it wants to learn, to build and to get better at doing what it is that I am determined to do. So far, so good.
I'm going to venture out there and jump on the band wagon of people that suggest that it might not be the best idea to train for a marathon if the longest distance you currently run is a 5K. No one is saying you can't. In fact, a lot of people start from nothing and learn to run while training for a marathon. But not me. I'm still considered overweight, and I personally feel like starting from ground zero on this one would have been WAY too much stress on my body. I'm stressing it enough as it is - but right now I feel like it's a good stress. It needs to stay that way.
I started running a few months into my Spark journey. I thought I was crazy at the time. I thought I'd NEVER like it in a millions years. But everyone else was doing it, so why not try, right? I was wrong about hating Zumba (I frickin LOVE Zumba, and my cuter than cute, spunky and fantastic instructor Christa, who has been my inspiration and cheering squad through 100 pounds of sweat and booty shakin'). So maybe I would be wrong about hating running as well. The fact that I am writing this blog right now should tell you how that turned out.
Like a lot of people, I started with the C25K program, and then worked up to Bridge to 10K, and then completed my first 15K in November of 2011 with my super-fit boyfriend at my side. Actually - that's inaccurate. I passed him on the way and left him in my dust. He finished a couple minutes after me. But we don't talk about that...hehehehe....
I thought I was well on my way to finishing out 2011 with my first Turkey Trot Half Marathon, but then the aforementioned knee injury struck me hard, and I was benched for the year. So much for perfect records. But that's ok. What I learned from that injury was that my training style was ALL wrong, and that in order to train for even longer distances, I was going to have to train smarter...and much, much slower. Maybe this blog will help me and others keep that in mind, and we can all come out of this feeling good and injury-free.
So I've been officially training for the marathon since February 1st of this year - the day that I officially registered. Even though that's almost 5 months before other people will start training, slow and steady WILL finish this race. And I've also chosen a Half to help me break up the monotony, pretty much right at the half-way mark for my full 9 months of training. Coincidence? Maybe not - I am a sucker for schedules and perfect timing :)
Currently I'm running 3-4 times a week, using roughly the schedule that Hal Higdon dictates in his book, times two (since I have so much extra time). The goal for me is not to overtrain or tire myself out, but to take double the time working up to the longer weekly mileage and thus fitting in more full rest weeks and low mileage weeks to allow my body time to adjust and recouperate properly. So my schedule looks a little like this at the moment:
Week 1: Long Run - Rest - Short Run - Massage Therapy/Chiropractic/Cross Train - Short Run - Rest - Cross Train
Week 2: Semi-Long Run - Rest - Short Run - Semi-Long Run - Short Run - Rest - Cross Train
I repeat Week 1 & 2 for 3-4 weeks at a time and then do a "Rest Week" where I cut my mileage by a good 20-25%, cross train more and do my recovery therapy.
Since running a marathon is as much about brain strength as body strength, it's also interesting to note that because of the way I have derived my schedule, my shorter run weeks also have MUCH more actual running in them and serve to "burn me out" enough that I look forward to my long run weeks like crazy. Same or more weekly mileage run, but fewer days of running on the schedule and I also get therapy and cross training in there which are both things that I look forward to with intense glee.
Currently, I am cross training with swimming and Zumba. I will add in biking to replace Zumba after my half marathon since it is lower impact. I have already prepared Christa for the fact that I will be in class less as we get closer to the big day. Though Zumba IS a form of cross training, it is SO high impact that I'm often sore from that class for at least a day afterwards, and I can't consistently pound on my legs that much as my miles get higher. But I will look forward to a triumphant return to booty shaking in the fall with a 26.2 Mile Finisher's Medal around my neck. Hmm, on second thought, maybe I'll remove the medal for class - don't want to injure myself or anyone around me with all the bouncing and swinging! Haha.
For therapy, I have been seeing my chiropractor regularly since I started Spark. I credit my proper alignment for a lot of my ability to lose weight and lose weight quickly during that first year. She kept me active and pain-free and there is no underestimating how much that has helped me along the way. Just this past week, I have started alternating my chiro sessions with sports massage therapy. OMG. It's SO good. Very different from just a standard back massage - she specifically targets the muscles I'm using in my legs and my back to run hard and long, and I felt like a million bucks after only 30 minutes. Next time, I'm booking the hour-long session!
And finally - Food. This is going to be the most interesting segment in my training log. So far it's been elusive and tricky - but it's not just training that has me overeating right now (there's a reason I came to Spark in the first place - and I'm still working on those issues while I train). So stay tuned. What I can tell you right now with all honesty, is that my training diet still involves FAR too much, erm...brew. Because nothing feels better than washing down 11 miles with one, or two...or five, cold drafts. I've earned it, right? Heh.
So journey with me - the countdown to 26 (.2) miles in 26 weeks. It's going to be a wild ride. Ups and downs a plenty. Let's see if I can get this beer habit under control. Let's see if I lose some more pounds. And let's see what kind of guts, inspiration and raw focus it really takes to commit day after day to this massive goal.
At the end of every blog, I'll list my weekly schedule, and my last weekly weigh-in number, just to keep track. If you are interested in more details, please check out my public food logs and exercise logs (they're available on my Spark page).
Week 1 Schedule (Completed):
Sun - 6 miles
Mon - Rest
Tue - 3 miles
Wed - Massage + 5 miles
Thu - 4 miles
Fri - Rest
Sat - 11 miles (did long run a day early to allow for 2 rest days if needed)
Total Weekly Miles: 18 (+11 - but that will be counted as part of next week)
Total Weekly Calories Burned: 2505 (4047 with the 11 miles)
Weekly Weigh-In: 187.6
Week 2 Schedule:
Sun - Rest
Mon - Rest
Tue - 3 miles
Wed - Chiro + Swimming
Thu - 5 miles
Fri - Rest
Sat - Zumba
Friday, April 13, 2012
Chicago has a new Personal Trainer and he happens to be a good friend of mine. Check out his new website for more info: www.peopleschamppersonaltraining.com
Adrian is a local Chicago actor and I have personally watched him beef up, slim down or gain weight (whatever his body needs for the various roles he plays). It's amazing how he does it. He is also one of the sweetest guys to work with. No being afraid of your trainer!
He loves a great success story and will work as hard as you do to help you achieve your goals. Eventually I'm hoping to work with him once I'm done my marathon training this year. Can't wait to see what he can do for me too!
This is my full-on endorsement of the guy. I really hope his business takes off because he absolutely deserves it. You can contact him through the website or on Facebook. If anyone is interested in signing up for joint sessions with me, let me know!
Thursday, April 05, 2012
I know I haven't been around much lately, but I promise I've been busy. I need a sign to put on my Spark page that says "Gone Runnin'" like the "Gone Fishin'" sign my dad has hanging up by the lake.
Since I'm up to running 4 days a week now, plus Zumba, plus swimming, plus all my other extra-curriculars, it leaves little time for all this other stuff. But I'm still Sparking every day when I can.
I just have a very simple musing on "Achievement" today that I wanted to share. Bear with me here because I'm currently experiencing a mix of runner's high and caffeine, but...
There is NO better feeling in the world than that of accomplishment. The feeling of setting a goal, pushing yourself to get there and then meeting, or even exceeding, that goal. It doesn't matter what it is - big or small - but the self-love that comes along with accomplishment is incomparable. No other person, no pet, no addiction, nothing, can give you the same kind of love that you can give yourself when you achieve your dreams.
I just ran 4 miles. No big deal for me really - I ran 10 on Sunday. But tonight I understood that feeling of accomplishment for what I have done. I am SO proud of myself every single time I lace on those shoes and get out there and do what I have set forth as my goal. Tonight, 4 miles was my goal. It wasn't my easiest run. It wasn't my best run. But I met a goal and it feels damn good.
I think I'm getting my Spark back you guys. I'm zoning in on my 2 year Sparkversary and I think I've rediscovered something that I've been missing for a while. There's more in store. I can feel it!
Spark On my friends. Do it for yourself. It's the BEST feeling in the world!
Friday, March 16, 2012
I'm peeved. "Training, not Trying" has gotten me all of nowhere. Sure my training is going GREAT, but not trying has gained me a whopping 4 pounds in less than a month.
So we're not doing that anymore.
I'm depressed. I don't like it when things don't go my way and I'll admit that I'm a difficult person to be around lately. I don't want to be around me, why would anyone else want to? But I think there's a lesson in here. This is one of those places where I need to love me more. And apparently that's what I'm trying to do with the food. I'm feeding myself to love myself in a really stinking hard time, because that's the habit I know. I really can't blame myself for that. But what I can do is step back and feel a little empathy for me and, really, commend me for trying to be so sweet. It's like a small child who TRIES to do something good and sweet and meaningful for you when you're feeling down, but just gets it all wrong. In the end, it's kind of cute and laughable. So that's all I'm doing here. The thing that I think is best to make it all better.
The problem is that it's not helping. It's hindering.
I have exactly one month from today until I reach my 2 year Sparkversary. And I guarantee you that blog is going to be significantly different than the one I wrote a year ago at the height of my happiness. It's been a rough year. But I think it's been just as important a year as the one in which I lost 100 pounds. This year I've been working on losing more brain-weight. And unfortunately, that's not as recognizable on the outside. And that's why I'm upset. Because you don't get commended on a regular basis for losing brain-weight. And the commendations for losing the physical weight just don't feel the same anymore. I actually have gotten to a point of frustration with people when they say I look amazing because right now, I don't FEEL amazing. It's a hard place to be in.
So I've made some changes - AGAIN. I feel like I'm grasping at straws here and that I'm not actually giving any of these theories a long enough test run to see if they really DO work before deciding that they don't and moving on to something else - but at least I am still committed and still interested in making something happen in terms of the scale. I've decided that I can't just NOT try at all because that leads me to binge eating and drinking every weekend with the excuse of "I'm training for a marathon and burning SO many calories." Well - that's all fine and dandy when it's about 3 weeks before the marathon and my training mileage has peaked at roughly 50 miles a week. But right now I'm still only running 15 miles a week. Which, don't get me wrong, is more weekly miles than I have ever run before, but still isn't going to tackle the additional 2000 calories a day that I can consume in a binge or out drinking with my friends. But to be fair, I AM burning extra calories, so eating only 1500 calories a day is NOT going to cut it. So I adjusted my tracker back to a place where I am perfectly comfortable - between 1800-2000 calories a day, burning at least 2000 calories a week. I'm comfortable with that. That range allows me to eat a decent breakfast when I wake up hungry after a night run the day before. It allows me to eat a substantial lunch and snacks during the day so I'm not constantly obsessing over when my next meal is going to be. And best of all, it allows me to eat an entire footlong Subway sandwich if I so desire...and sometimes I do (like tonight). It also allows me room to carb load before a long run and still stay within my range for the day - which, let's face it, makes us all feel good. I wish it weren't about the numbers, but for me, it's about the numbers. The numbers on the scale, the numbers on the tracker, the number of miles run or laps in the pool. I also have a theory that my body will respond better with a higher burn rate and MORE food. We'll see. If it's true - it will make me a VERY happy camper. But really, I just want to lose 5-7 pounds by this time next month so that I can officially say that I've broken my almost year-long plateau for my 2 year Sparkversary. Yes, that would surely be a gift, because at this point I really do feel like I've tried everything else.
But here's to small wins - two of them today that have me thinking all is not lost:
1. Today I ran for the third day in a row this week. Before this week I had never run two days in a row let alone 3. In all my race training, I have always run every other day to allow my body time to heal and rest in between and because I do so much other cross training. But my marathon training is really picking up now because of this achievement tonight. I'm definitely looking forward to my rest day tomorrow, but I'm proud of myself for getting through this week. And I actually feel pretty good, which is also a surprise. My legs are in good shape and still feel light when I'm running, not heavy and pounding like they sometimes can - so this is a GOOD sign that my training is doing what it's supposed to do and my body is responding accordingly.
2. I'm working on a sugar detox this month. I have identified some definite trigger areas and one is a chocolate bowl at work of the baby chocolate bars, Kisses, Dove chocolates and other naughty stuff. Seeing that bowl usually provokes an automated reaction from me. I grab and eat, grab and eat without ever usually thinking about it. So after a grab today in a moment of high stress, I put the bars down on my desk, looked at them and said to them out loud "I don't need you right now" and then I walked (and pouted a bit) back to the bowl and put them back. My work colleague laughed at my pouting and said I resembled a 4 year old in a "time out" but that she was proud of me. And like a 4 year old in a "time out", two minutes later, I forgot all about them.
It's become my mantra of sorts. I'm still here. I'm still fighting. It might not look like much, but it takes heart and courage and determination to stay in a place like this without quitting. So to my fellow peeps in P-ville, I've got your back and we'll get through this. I never thought it would happen to me, to be honest, but now that it has I need to be as grateful for this struggle as for the fast weight loss. For in the end, it will be this struggle that makes me strong enough to know that I have what it takes to stick with this for life.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
I'm done trying to lose weight. Not forever - just for now. Because chances are, if I quit trying so hard, it's just going to happen anyway. Instead of beating my head against a wall about monitoring every calorie consumed and wondering why the scale still isn't moving, I'm embracing the training mentality that I'm going to need to carry me through the next 8 months of running, swimming, cross-training and running some more to get me in shape to complete 26.2 miles on October 7th. And sometimes what you need to do to train that hard, is EAT.
So I have officially sworn off the food tracker. Which is actually both liberating and terrifying. Bottom line is that I know - I KNOW - what a 1500 calorie day looks like. I know roughly the complete calorie breakdown of everything I eat on a regular basis. I've become pretty good at guessing about everything else. And they put info on the backs of food boxes for a reason. The mental calculation is enough - I'm not going to stress about the rest. Instead, what I'm going to have to do is listen to my body. Novel concept.
Over the next couple of months I will be increasing my weekly running mileage from 12 miles a week to 25 miles a week. By the time I run the marathon, I will have increased that number again to approximately 40 miles a week. If I don't lose weight from running that many miles, I seriously need to take stock of what else I might be doing that preventing it from coming off.
Training is all that matters right now. If I don't change a thing about what I'm doing, I have already proven that I will continue to maintain. But I have an inkling that the person who crosses that finish line on October 7th is not going to weigh as much as she does today.
It's time to put the knowledge I have to good use, trust my instincts and embrace the fun of training for this momentous occasion in my life. Chapter 1 in Hal Higdon's book "Marathon" says that the marathon lifestyle is a healthy lifestyle - good food, good sleep, low limits on booze and other bad-for-you things. So for the next 8 months, I am a marathoner. Plain and simple. And the pounds are just going to have to agree at some point.
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