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Summertime Funtime

Friday, July 08, 2011

After spending most of my life as a regular journal-keeper, first in writing and later on several websites, it's weird to me that I let so much time go between posts now. Some of it is that I live my life in a far less internal way, but I still think it's a beneficial activity that I should be doing more of.

After my last post I did indeed go to a doctor and a physical therapist. I got custom orthotics and learned some things about my legs and back which were helpful. My ankle still isn't 100%, but I suspect it's at least partly due to my lack of consistent workout and treatment plan. I have been running 1-3 times a week for a couple of months, so I'm not totally missing out on exercise. I just really need to make a consistent varied workout plan that will slowly give me more strength instead of random 4-5 mile runs.

I quit the volunteer job because it was making me miserable in a lot of ways. The interviews I had never panned out (a long stupid story), and my temp job that had been going on forever was finally due to be terminated. So a week and a half before the end date I started a new temp job that carried a number of positives: pay raise, better commute, direct hire by a law firm rather than going through a temp agency. It was only supposed to be a few weeks, but then with almost a week to go they let half of us go. No feedback, no warning. I just came back from lunch and was told by the person who sat next to me that once I was done with what I was working on it was over. This was on Tuesday. After giving myself permission to spend the rest of the day feeling sorry for myself, and spending most of that time eating cheese popcorn and watching tv, I'm trying to move on. My biggest issue is whether I will get approved for unemployment. I think it will be ok, but until it comes through there are some days of fear here. Most of the stuff I had to do for my running injury is being paid for out-of-pocket despite the fact that I have health insurance and I only run to keep myself healthy. My boyfriend is saintly in his patience and willingness to shoulder the financial burden of our life together, but he has his own debt and doesn't make enough money to keep it up for too long. Also it's depressing to me that he has a 2-year degree and I have an advanced professional education plus a license to practice law and yet only one of us has had stable employment for the last 2 years. I went into a practical profession so that I would always be able to support myself, and it's just not been going too well.

There are some plusses here. One of them is that I have had to deal with so many challenges since finishing school and moving here that I am much more relaxed and able to roll with the punches than I was before. I'm definitely scared and worried, but I also understand that everyone is affected by the current status of the world, and I should focus on the things that I have control over. Another is that I have not had paid time off in years, so every hour I took off from work I had to either make up or lose in pay. It is nice to have some downtime to enjoy the Minneapolis summer. This week I'm playing a bit, but next week I'm pretty excited to tackle some house projects that we've been putting off. I'm also working on building a small business with a friend. While it probably won't support us financially for a while (if ever), I'll have some time to work on that as well.

On the lifestyle front, I also have realized just in the last couple of days how bad my eating got in response to the stress and boredom of my work life. All the beautiful summer vegetables are coming into season (including from our own vegetable garden - my first one!), and I'm excited about having time and energy to make good healthy food and reconnect with my love of cooking. I'm also getting back into walking - the one thing I miss about going to school in a small college town.


Catching Up

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Well. This year has been quite interesting so far.

I was rocking it out with my workouts and my food and my job search when I decided to take a chance on a volunteer opportunity that I thought might lead to a "real" job down the road that would be an improvement over the work I do now. Starting in early February, I have been spending 6-7 hours at my regular job in the middle of nowhere, and then driving downtown to spend 4 hours at this volunteer thing. On weekends I've been making up some hours at the regular job. Somewhere in there I got very sick for about a week, and the schedule has been pretty rough. Part of it is the actual schedule, but a lot of it is that the new job has some unforeseen challenges and I think I may drop it soon. Some other employment opportunities have started to come up. Nothing solid yet, but after 2 years of almost zero response to applications, I had 4 interviews in less than a month.

Anyway, I had a race last weekend that was supposed to be my marathon halfway point both physically and psychologically. It was the Get Lucky 21k. I had been seriously considering dropping down to the 7k because my training got rather off-kilter between illness and work, and the race was moved to St. Paul due to Mpls permit problems, so the bf and I would be racing in two different cities altogether. My pride got the best of me, so I ended up doing the 21k. I made a few mistakes, like getting there late, so I burned out too quickly, had to waste precious minutes waiting for a port-a-potty, and ended up finishing at precisely the same pace as my last race, which was the Monster Dash 10-mile in Oct (which I didn't really train for). My goal was to beat my last half marathon time, which probably would have happened if I hadn't done some silly things. The worst part, though, is that shortly after the race, my Achilles tendon flared up. I have never had Achilles problems, so it kinda freaked me out (and upset me in that thinking back over the week, I did everything possible to contribute to the problem). Then I started reading about Achilles stuff online and I got REALLY freaked out. A lot of people talked about ending up with a tear, or at the very least having to take months off from any activity. I have had plenty of aches and pains on my path to running fitness, but nothing where I thought "what if I need surgery?"

I also spent most of the week extremely hormonal, so I have been eating in a way that's sort of disturbing and also showcases the worst of my long-standing poor relationship with food. Part of the reason I like to run so much is that it takes some of the pressure off planning my food. I have to eat well and fuel myself and so-on, but it's less likely that the occasional day or week of bad eating will escalate into anything more than a blip.

Anyhow, I have some other structural problems (flat feet, spinal alignment) that I have been avoiding dealing with via physician, so I finally reached out to Sparkpeople and got a recommendation for an orthopedic sports clinics in the area. I emailed someone I found on the website and immediately got a recommendation for a female sports physician who is also a runner, and thankfully she is in my insurance network. The person also reassured me that there isn't really a strong connection between strains and tears, so I am a little less worried. I'm not sure how well I could handle having to stop running for any period of time.

On Monday I will make an appointment to see this doc and try to start resolving this. It constantly amazes me how my body reminds me that I'm not really the one in charge!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PUFFPASTRY 3/26/2011 6:42PM

    Aw, Raspberry, sorry about all that stress! I hear you SO MUCH (as I'm sure you can assume) on the freaking out about bodily pain and the threat of not being able to exercise and be active. The entire past 3 months have been a freak out for me about my shinsplints. I ended up seeing a physical therapist 2 days ago, and he was so reassuring, and, similar to your situation, affirmed that shin splint pain doesn't mean I am tearing my legs apart and will end up in a surgical suite soon. I do still have all the anxiety about how much I've deviated from the degree and intensity with which I wanted to be working out, and I've gained weight back, but I hope I can gradually turn that around.

The fact that you did the half marathon even with all that stress is amazing, and I think you should be really proud! I hope it was fun, and that it gives you confidence in how strong you are even amidst adversarial conditions! emoticon

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Week 2ish

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Some workout notes:

* Last weekend's long run was kind of a bust. Developed a stitch that wouldn't go away around mile 3. Spent a lot of time walking and jogging slowly; got to the point where it was bearable but I could still feel it. I was a little bummed but things had been going so smoothly and sometimes you just need to be reminded that you are not in control; your body has needs and it will tell you whether you like it or not. On the plus side, I did make it to 7 miles and my time wasn't completely awful.
* My Tuesday workout this week was speed intervals. 5+5 warmup as usual, and then starting at 5.5 mph, alternate 45 seconds of faster running with 30-45 seconds of slower pace (for me, 5mph). Work up slowly with each interval until you can't do it anymore. For me this was around 7.2 mph (I kind of did a big burst at the end and slowed down gradually). The workout this is based on is supposed to alternate walking with running but it's too hard to do that transition gracefully on many treadmills. I then ran for another 10 minutes at about 5.5 mph and was happy to feel that I had quite a bit of energy left. Also I was proud of myself for doing this all after a day of work and a choir rehearsal.
* Yesterday I did 8 miles. I started at 11:30 and slowly worked my way up to 10:30. This may have been pushing it a bit as around 7.2 miles my breathing got rough and I suddenly felt overworked. Not sure how much of this has to do with some asthma issues that I'm working out, but I finished the run and feel pretty good today so I'm not too concerned. I'll just take it a little slower next time. It's so hard to maintain a slower pace on the treadmill because I find I get so frigging bored (the TVs are too high for me to look at comfortably and I'm enough of a klutz that this could lead to falling and injury), but I think it's good practice for the grueling psychological task of finishing a marathon.
* I was a little lazy about strength last weekend, but then on Wednesday although my arms felt tired, my pushups and crunches improved.

I can feel improvement in everything. I know the changes won't be quite as dramatic going forward, but just working out consistently and having a plan has put me right back on track after months of laziness.

Yesterday we bought a used Aeropilates machine from craigslist. I had never heard of these things and I was trying to see if I could score some cheap resistance bands on CL when I came across it. There seems to be a pretty big range in machines from $300 to $2000, but they are all geared towards doing a Pilates workout in a guided, controlled, comfy way. I saw nothing but rave reviews on all levels of machine, both from beginners and long-time Pilates fans. I also noticed a lot of people who have back problems and other pain issues got a lot of benefit from it, so I figured it would be a safe way to build up some good whole-body strength. We haven't tried it yet but I'm pretty psyched.

I have also been thinking a lot about how I got into running, and remembering what it was like to discover my inner long-distance athlete. It reminds me how far I've come and how much I've learned. Life is amazing.


Week 1

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I'm calling this week 1 even though it's not, because it's Week 1 of me writing about what I did/am doing for the week.

Sunday/Wednesday - Strength:

* Squats, straight-arm raises, shoulder thrust, pull-down, tricep extensions, all with 5 lb weights
* Rows, bicep curls, wide-leg squats, fly, chest press, all with 8 lb weights
* Calf raises, side lunges, modified pushups, crunches, bridges, streeeetch
* When I was in this routine before, I was using mostly 8 and 10 lb weights, so I'd like to at least get back to that before I start changing the routine

Monday - Low impact: Did 50 minutes on elliptical that's not an elliptical at the gym. "Weight loss" program, level 4 I think, kept heart rate at least 150.

Tuesday - Challenge workout: 5 mins walking, 5 mins warmup at 5mph. 2 mins 4% incline alternating w/ 1 min 0% at 5mph, repeat for 30 mins. 1 extra min at 5mph, then 15 mins at speed up to 6.5 mph (gradual increase with speedy burst at the end). 1 min 5mph and 5 mins walking to cool down.

Thursday - "Easy" run: Not sure I'll make it but if I do, prob 5 min walking, 5 min at 5mph, then 3 miles at least 11:00 min/mile pace.

Saturday - Long run: After 5/5 warmup, 7 miles averaging 11:00 min/mile (start a little slower, gradually speed up).

Out of caution regarding tiring out too fast or pushing my heart too hard, I've been doing the first parts of my runs slower, leading to an unintentional negative split even in long runs. I think this is probably an overall good thing to get used to because it will feel more natural for me to hold myself back when everyone's bolting at the beginning of the race and I will be used to pouring it on at the end.


The Plan

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I thought I should write a little about what I'm doing, mostly because writing things down makes them more official.

The basic schedule, a week in the life of a marathoner wannabe, goes something like this:

* Sunday - Strength training, full-body
* Monday - Low-impact cardio (bike, elliptical), about 45 mins
* Tuesday - Running workout (hills, speed, etc.), basically I have to push myself in some way, usually end by a mile or so of medium-effort running to shake out the tension
* Wednesday - Strength training, full-body
* Thursday - "Easy run" of around 3 miles. I've been starting these out pretty easy and then pushing up the intensity for a while at some point.
* Friday - Off, and hypothetically to bed at a reasonable time
* Saturday - Long run, increase by a mile or so per week

All of this is currently being done at the gym (cardio) or at my house (strength). As I get closer to the race and the weather gets better, I'll probably mix it up with some long bike rides, and hikes, and recovery cardio on Sundays. As for strength training, I'm following a routine I established last summer, just because I don't have to think too hard about it. Since I've been a slacker about that stuff for months, it's still difficult and new enough to be useful. I'll start changing it up in a few weeks.

In addition to all of this, I have a couple of non-race goals. I want to lose 17 pounds and change my body composition to the "healthy" range. I am sort of astounded that my body composition appears to be out of whack, but it's a good overall health goal. I have one of those hand-held thingies coming in the mail and while I realize they're not super accurate, they tend to be consistent so I can at least track the change if not know the exact number. I know that this is more realistic than the weight loss (most people maintain or gain during endurance training because their bodies keep demanding fuel, and they quite rightly supply), but I am pretty chill about the weight thing. I'm following a calorie intake that should result in less than a pound of loss per week, which means that I'm eating quite a bit. I am also keeping better track of what I eat, both substance and balance of carbs/protein/fat. I have stopped packing a big lunch and instead pack a series of snacks so I eat 100-200 calories/hour all day.

Right now everything feels awesome. I always forget how exhilarating the transition from inactive to active is. Let's see how well I keep it up!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PUFFPASTRY 1/16/2011 12:26AM

    Wow. That is impressive. What do you mean by your body composition being out of whack -- what kind of whack is it in, and what do you want it to be, and how do you get it there?

I'm afraid that my one experience last week of running for 15 minutes straight might have truly been a one-time-only miracle, because it hasn't happened since. Since then I've thrown a few minutes of jogging into every treadmill workout, but I haven't been able to do more than 5 minutes at a time, and most of the time not more than 3. Sadness. emoticon

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