Saturday, July 05, 2014
The title is borrowed from a comment made by PMRUNNER on one of my previous blogs, where I was talking about needing to start tracking calories properly again. I've been thinking about this a lot over the last week as I've been getting back into the habit of tracking my calories.
I've adjusted my spark people weight goal to be back at my goal-weight within a month, which then automatically adjusted my calorie range down by about 300 calories. For some reason when that happened, I knew that I was actually committing to actively getting my eating habits under control again.
And that's when I realised that what I'm doing is not actually a diet, it is re-gaining control over my food intake. It's becoming aware, once again, of how many calories are in the foods that I'm putting into my mouth, and also knowing when to stop and tell myself that I've had enough now. Of course it's hard, but if this were easy no one would ever have a weight problem!! More than that, I'm also become a bit more aware of taking time to be active every day. I do have a good running regimen, but I understand now that that is so much a part of my life, that I need to add other exercise to help the weight drop. I'm not doing anything extreme - just making sure I head out for a ten to twenty minute walk on days when I'm not running. Small, manageable changes, just like I already know.
I've also started tacking my weight with myhackerdiet. My Sparkpeople weigh-in is weekly, but again, I was noticing that I was becoming selective for which day I would weigh in (the slightly lighter one, of course!!); Using the my hacker diet tool, I'll be tracking a weekly average, instead. This will hopefully keep me more honest with myself.
It does take will power. There are so many tools out there to help us, but it's my choice to use them, and to use them properly. They help me to do what I know I need to do, but more importantly, what I know that have the will to do.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
After all the drama with my foot a few days before the race, I ended up doing really well.
1hr58.46 was my finishing time and 1hr58.25 my chip time.
I decided to stick right next to the pacers for this race, which was probably the best thing that I could have done. Their coaching and conversation helped me through the hills, prevented me from slowing down more than I needed to and also taught me the value of how going faster in the flatter parts of the race can help to gain time when it comes to the hills. I've never run with a group before, but I've a feeling this helped me to surpass my goal time.
This was the Ards Half Marathon. The race was held in a town called Newtownards about a twenty minute drive inland from where I live. The race started at 6.30pm, so my first evening race, and the weather was kind. The sun came out around 4pm and it stayed that way for the entire race, making the views absolutely spectacular. I have to say that the scenery on the races here in Ireland make up for all the hills you have to run! As we climbed the first hill, we were rewarded with an amazing view of the Lough below. The hills were not steep, just a continuous steady incline. Most of the roads were small farm roads, which meant sheep in one field, harvesting crops on the next, and so forth. Although London races are flat, they simply cannot compete with this type of natural beauty. At the 8th Mile we arrived in Comber, the next town over and were greeted with crowds of people cheering us along - just what you need at mile 8!! There were also plenty of water stations, something that I've found a bit lacking in other longer races. Every two miles we had a water station, just enough for a few sips and to dunk the rest of the water down my back to keep cool. The amount of volunteers and police who were around to ensure our safety was incredibly impressive. It really was a superbly organised event, which made my experience absolutely wonderful.
I took advantage of the physio massage at the end of the race, not wanting to aggravate my foot pain. It was a short massage, but enough to loosen tight muscles and has meant that this morning I'm feeling ready to face the day. I also wonder if the fact that I got home and went straight to sleep also helped. The physio mentioned that my right calf muscle is very tight, suggesting that this could be what is aggravating my foot. It makes sense. If, after a week, my foot still doesn't feel right, I think I'll make an appointment with a physio just to see if anything can be done to ease this tension. I'm certain it's some type of inflammation, otherwise I don't think I would have been able to run as well as I did last night.
The pacer spoke to me after the race saying that he thinks I have a good ten minutes within me. He thinks I could work towards a 1.50 time simply by the fact that I was able to chat with him while climbing hills and the extra energy I had at the end of the race. It's a good goal to aim for, and may require joining a running club to reach, but if I've learned anything when it comes to running it's to keep things slow and steady. I've achieved a fabulous time for myself and need to sort out my foot before aiming to go faster. I think I'll focus on tempo in shorter runs for the next month or so, before going for my third half marathon of the year, where I'll aim to shave off one more minute from my time.
Something I always hold on to after achievements like this, is my first race five years ago now. This was a 5km event that I finished in 36 minutes, clinging to my water bottle and huffing and puffing all the way through. To see the progression to being able to do 21km in under two hours, with encouragement that I can do even better, always makes me proud of that first step I took towards a healthier life, when all I had was the dream to run steadily for thirty minutes. It has been a slow progression for me, but so very rewarding.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
I'm a kilogram heavier. There's no denying it now, especially as the Maintenance Challenge has my average quite firmly set there. I'm still within my weight range, but, I think it is now time for the reality check.
I say this because last night as I was tracking my food I was not happy with the numbers and instead of accepting them, I found myself denying them. I knew that my morning portion of milk was more than one glass, but I didn't put down two glasses, I left it at one so that my calorie intake would look less!! I saw that my dinner intake was over 1000 calories, so I started playing with the numbers - I couldn't accept that it was so high!!
This morning, when I jumped on the scale, it was up again. It makes sense. My total calories yesterday was 2400, 600 more than it should have been. I don't like that. I tell myself it's salt retention, or hormonal changes. But I need to be honest now. 6 months ago my weight did not jump up and down by half a kilogram every day. It was much more stable.
This game of denial is a familiar one, and when it comes to spark people, the only person that I'm lying to is myself. Nobody else sees my daily calorie intake, nobody else looks at the scale. Perhaps I don't feel it matters enough because nobody else is looking, or because it's just a kilogram, or because right now I'd much rather eat another piece of chocolate?
But it does matter. It matters to me and my self-esteem. Sometimes the hardest thing in the weight maintenance/ weight loss journey is understanding my own self worth and looking at myself with complete honesty in the mirror, or as in this particular case, when filling in my calorie tracker.
I need to be honest. Healthy weight maintenance is about what I eat, and although I've managed to maintain my exercise regimen since moving to Ireland, I've not been as disciplined with my food intake. I've struggled to resist the sweet treats and I've told myself it's okay because it helps me to feel better. No, I'm not eating an entire box of biscuits or chocolates like I did three years ago, but I am turning to it and then not acknowledging just how much food I'm eating later on. I'm denying the struggle, pretending it's not there.
So I'm getting back on the wagon. Humbly. Honestly.
Tuesday, June 03, 2014
Yesterday I had my first running wipe out. I was fifteen minutes away from the end of my run and then suddenly "Splat!" I found myself falling instead of running.
Who knows what it was, just a miscalculation of my footing. What I found remarkable was that within seconds I was up and running again. I caught myself in my fall (meaning my upper body strength must be better than I think it is), found my water bottle (which may have helped cushion my hand from being grazed) and carried on. I was more determined to finish my run than deal with grazes. I knew I could deal with those better when I got home.
This was my long run. Two hours, and, with more of a focus on keeping my tempo up than usual, I realised that I could keep to a 6min/km goal on the long run. It meant that I managed 21km in just over 2hrs including a fall!
So, there were a few things I realised about myself after that run yesterday. Mainly that I'm tougher and stronger than I realise. And, that makes me resilient. If I have those qualities when I'm running, it could be possible that they are there into other areas of my life.
And, that's a nice thing to learn about myself.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
My time was 2.05.09, which I'm incredibly happy with as it was an off-road course which meant that if you weren't going up a hill you were going down one! So, not a course to set a personal best, but definitely one for outstanding scenery and endurace testing.
The grounds of Castleward are amazing. We ran past farmland, through forests and along the Strangford Lough, with the race starting and ending at the main house (Think Downton Abbey, although this estate is in Northern Ireland). The first half of the race consisted almost entirely of windy pathways that seemed to go up one half of a hill and then down another. Runners were moving in single file up these hills surrounded by forests, which looked like tinsel on a Christmas tree. It does slow one down because it's hard to overtake, but people were polite and moved out of the way if you needed them to. Then there were the muddy paths, which felt more like an obstacle course than a run! Fortunately those were few and far between. After about 6 miles, the course opened out onto wider pathways and gorgeous views. The final mile was a killer, though. Just after the 12 mile marker, I turned a bend, and there was a hill steeper than any of the others we had had so far. I kept running up it, but acknowledged quickly that I was going to have to slow down my pace. I probably lost a minute or two making my way up the hill, but I didn't have the strength to go any faster.
Although I was very tired by the end, one big difference between this and previous runs is that I have absolutely no IT band pain! My legs are stiff, but I'm not limping and I'm not feeling worried that I'll need to take a few days off running next week.
So, I think that this has persuaded me that the training method I used this time has really helped keep me injury free. I was a bit daunted having not completed a 21km distance whilst training, but the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. I managed to combine the speed of my shorter runs with the distance of the longer ones without much trouble. No, it was not my fastest pace, but off-road races have more hills, more mud and some paths that require runners to go in single-file. I now know that going forward I need to take my shorter runs more seriously in order to increase my pace and strengthen my muscles and keep doing what I have been with the longer runs, which is to keep a slower pace, but longer time. I'm completely converted to this method.
I would like to complete one half marathon in under 2hours. I feel confident I can achieve this by the end of this year. Now to find the next race!
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