Monday, March 05, 2012
February was significant for a few reasons.
First, I switched to running 5 days a week (from 4 days).
Second, I switched my long runs from Sundays to Saturdays so I could get used to running the day after my long run.
Third, I increased my mileage and ended up going over 100 miles for the month.
So, as you can see from my calendar, above, that I began running 5 days a week beginning the first full week of February. And that week deceptively looks like a massive increase in mileage because the week began with me running my long run on Sunday and ended with me switching my long runs to Saturday. You can see that it drops back off again after that week once I established my new schedule.
Also, if you haven't been following my blog, it rained that next Tuesday (the 14th), so I skipped a run and my second week of February ended up only having 4 running days - since I want to keep my rest day on the day before my long runs. The very next week I got sick and skipped my Wednesday running and ended up with yet another 4 day week. This week I was feeling mostly better and I got back into the 5 running days per week, but it does make me a little nervous. I only had 9 weeks to get ready for my back-to-back races and I've already blown up 2 of them.
On the positive side, tho, I still ran my long run and also ran the day after on every weekend in February, so all is not lost. It's just a hiccup, and March should be a good month since the weather should be warming up, slowly. Daylight savings time will make getting up early extra challenging, but I'll just have to roll with it. I will get it done.
I posted a nifty blog about running fast or slow. Check that out here:
I've started to speed up, again, and I think that's a good sign.
March should be challenging as I have my first HM race of the year on the 17th and I try to get my tapers and recovery done right. This is the first time I've had races this close together (my two big April HM's are just 4 weeks after). I'm only planning to do a one week taper before my March race and a one week reverse after. Even tho it's the one race I place to actually race and run the hardest, it's still essentially just a training run for my April races. I will still have to play it by ear and ease up on some of my runs if I feel I'm doing too much.
It feels like February just started and it's already March 4! Time sure flies. My races are getting closer and closer!
Friday, March 02, 2012
I don't know what rock I've been hiding under, or if this is some kind of a new fad, but lately I've been hearing about a bunch of new "eating labels" that I've never heard of before.
Up until I started listening to Moby (and reading his CD liner notes), I had only heard of two types of eaters: Normal eaters, and Vegetarians. Sure, humans are considered by scientists to be "Omnivores," but no one ever felt the need to promote themselves as one. Anyone who was not a Vegetarian never felt the need to give their eating habits a label. We were all just "Normal" or "Regular" people who just ate food. Only Vegetarians seemed to feel the need to make sure people knew that they abstained from meat and felt they needed a name they could throw around to easily remind people of this.
Sure, there was the occasional confusion over whether Vegetarians ate fish or not, but usually it was generally agreed among those I talked with that it was a personal choice that was up to each individual. And there was no separate label differentiating the two types of Vegetarians.
In the 90's, I began reading Moby's rants on his CD liner notes against meat and the alleged waste and inefficiency of the meat industry, and that was when I first began to hear the term "Vegan" being tossed around.
And that was it for 20 years. You were either a:
a) Regular eater
b) Vegetarian (fish or no fish)
Then suddenly, in the last two weeks I've seen an explosion of eating types and sub-types flying all over the place. Are these new or have I been hiding under a rock?
Pescatarians? Flexitarians? Part-time vegetarians? Where the heck did these all come from?
And maybe this makes me Captain Obvious, but...
Aren't most of these labels the same thing?
Ominivore - Eats a combination of both plants and animals.
Flexitarian - Mostly eats plants, but occasionally eats animals.
Part-time Vegetarian - East plants, but also sometimes eats animals.
Pescatarian - Eats plants and animals, but the only animal they eat is fish.
So... what's the real difference here? Everyone in all four of these groups is an Omnivore.
Flexitarians? Part-time vegetarians? Pescatarian? Omnivore? All the same thing.
So, I consider myself a "Normal" eater. I have never felt the need to label my eating. I eat animal meat. I also eat plants. But, I don't always eat either one at every meal. Based on my eating habits, I could fall into the Omnivore, Flexitarian, and Part-time Vegetarian categories. And occasionally, I have a meal that could be considered Vegan! *gasp!*
I don't intentionally skip eating meat, but I have plenty of meals that don't include meat.
Yesterday, I had a bowl of cheerios in milk for breakfast, but a chicken quesadilla for lunch. Does that make me a Flexitarian? Or does that make me a Part-Time Vegetarian?
This morning I had an apple, banana, orange, OJ smoothie (no milk or yogurt) for breakfast, but I'm planning on having a chicken burrito for lunch. Am I a Flexi-Vegan?
For dinner, on occasion, I will have pasta in marinara sauce with a side salad. Or sometimes a cheese quesadilla with salad. Sometimes I skip the salad. Sometimes I use meat sauce. Sometimes, I substitute spaghetti squash for the pasta. Does that makes me a Flexi-Vegan? A Flexitarian? A Part-Time Vegetarian?
I can tell you one thing it does.
It makes me head hurt!
(Does Tylenol contain plant or animal products?)
Eating labels are obviously a convenience factor in trying to explain your eating habits to other people. I get that part. But aren't you just trying to make yourself seem different when really you're not? When your label means the same thing as someone else's label, doesn't it just introduce more confusion? Isn't it just redundant? And what's the real point? Aren't we all just trying to eat healthy?
That's all I'm trying to do. I don't feel the need to label and sort my eating habits. I eat what I want. I don't need to fit myself into an eating category created by me or anyone else. I try to eat healthy and that's the important thing. Whether that makes me an Omnivore, and Flexitarian, a Part-Time Vegetarian, a Weekend Vegan, or an Part-Time-Omni-Flexi-Pesca-Vegan-Tarian, it is all just pointless organizing and labeling. It's not the label that matters. It's how healthy you are that matters.
I just want to eat healthy.
That's the only label I care about.
Friday, March 02, 2012
Okay, looks like my cold finally turned the normal direction and is do a slow march out of town. Every day my cough gets better and better. It's just about gone. Only barely hanging on.
Yesterday, I surprised myself by running a 24:30 for my 3.03 mile run. That was my second fastest run, yet, even though I didn't feel I was running that fast. Was expecting to see something close to 26 minutes.
Today, I felt like I was going to have another day where I ran faster than I felt, but unfortunately, I was not having one of those days. I thought I was going to end up running my 5 miles in around 46 minutes, but ended up barely finish under 49 minutes.
It's odd how some days I feel faster than I am and other days I feel slower and yet neither match my actual output.
I could very well have been that my legs were a bit tired from yesterday's speedy run.
Assuming nothing goes wrong, this weekend, I should get my run in on Saturday and get my 5 runs in for the second time in four weeks. I'm a little disappointed that I only ran 4 times the two previous weeks, but it really couldn't be helped. Of course, if I had known two weeks ago that I was about to get sick, I would've run in the rain, anyway, since the whole reason for skipping that workout was to not get sick. But, that's hindsight for ya.
So, it's 12 miles this weekend and then I start my taper for my race that will then be just 2 weeks away.
That makes me kind of nervous. I'm still considering whether I really want to taper and if so, how much I want to taper. I've already run 13.1 miles two weeks ago. So, if I run 12 this weekend and then 13.1 in two weeks for my race, it's not really any different from my usual training schedule. The real difference will be the intensity.
Here's the real issue. If I do a taper leading up to the race, I will then have a two week reverse taper afterward culminating in a 12 mile run two Saturdays after my race. However, that 12 mile run will also mark the beginning of my next taper because just two weeks later I will be running my back-to-back half marathons.
So, if do a two week taper, race, a two-week reverse taper, then another taper, will that cause any de-training issues for my two races in April? I will be running 5 days a week. T (5), W (3), Th (5), Sat (LSD/race), Sun (5)
At the very least, I will need to do some sort of reverse tape on the week after my race in March for recovery purposes.
This is all making my head hurt. But, as long as my knees don't hurt, I'll be fine.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
...but you're not fast, either!
The concept of "fast" and "slow" has been running through my head a lot, recently.
I've posted in a couple of my blogs about my times getting faster or slower. In some of them I've said that I was "slow" rather than saying "slower." A few people replied saying that my "slow" was faster than their "fast." I've also read a lot of my sister's workout notes and thought "wow, she's fast." I've also happened upon booklet showing some of my old high school times and thought "wow, I used to be fast," while also remembering that while I was in high school I thought I was "slow." After reading some comments and doing some pondering while out on a lot of my runs, I have come to a moment of clarity.
Nothing is "fast" and nothing is "slow."
These two terms are subjective and non-quantifiable because the usage changes based on the location of the observer. They are a relative, not concrete, terminology.
Some days I feel "fast" when I compare my time to my previous times. Some days I feel "slow." For instance. Today, I ran 3.03 miles in 24 minutes and 30 seconds. I've only run faster than that on one occasion when I ran 3.1 miles in 24 minutes and 3 seconds.
However, that in and of itself does not make either of my two times "fast" or "slow." Someone who has a 3.1 mile PR of 29 minutes might say that I'm "fast." However, they might think that someone who runs it is 18 minutes is "fast" and still considers anything over 21 minutes as "slow." As you can see, "fast" and "slow" is all dependent on the subjective opinion of the observer.
This is similar to discussions of the temperature. Two people can be in a room that is 72 degrees and one may consider it "hot" while the other considers it "cold..." and they would both be right. That is because "hot" and "cold" are subjective terms. So, the one who feels it is too cold is right. So is the one who feels it is too hot.
However, what they could NOT say is that it is hot-ter or cold-er. 72 degrees is equal to 72 degrees. It is not colder or hotter than itself.
On the other hand, if one person is in a room that is 72 degrees and the other is in a room that is 74 degrees, strictly based on temperature alone, Both would have to agree that the room that is 72 degrees is "colder" than the room that is 74 degrees. And by reverse, the room that is 74 degrees is "hotter."
So, have you ever said you were slow? Well, you were correct. Have you ever said you were fast? You were also correct. You being either "slow" or "fast" was all based on your own subjective opinion.
However, your time all by itself is neither fast or slow. Your time can be faster or slower than another time, but that requires a comparison between your time and another time. Compared to a cheetah, we are all slow. Compared to a snail, we are all fast. But, that is still only an opinion. If we are faster than a snail, slower than a cheetah, and way slower than a race car, does that make us fast or does that make us slow?
The answer is "neither." It only makes us slower than one and faster than the other. We are all not either fast or slow. We are faster than snails and slower than cheetahs... and way slower the race cars. Faster and slower are quantifiable. You can measure exactly how much faster a cheetah is than a snail. You can measure the difference in speed between a cheetah and a race car. You can't measure "fast", but you can measure "faster."
So, are you running "faster" than you were when you first began your fitness or Spark Journey? That is quantifiable. And chances are that you are.
Being "slow" or being "fast" is only a label in your own mind. You are what you want to be, regardless of your actual measured time. Paula Radcliffe's bad day may seem "slow" to her, but that's just her opinion. Her opinion of "slow" is most likely faster than my opinion of "fast," but maybe not. Either way, it's subjective and correct to her and correct to me, but it's not measurable. However, it really is measurably "slower" than one of her "faster" days and definitely "faster" than my "faster" days.
So, take heart. You are not "slow," if you don't want to be. All it takes to change "slow" to "fast" is to change your mind. And if you want to be "faster," that takes real work, but it is within your control.
You, too, can be "faster." All it takes is a second.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
I have never been the healthiest eater. Far from it. I'm also a very picky eater and it drove my parents crazy. They were more than happy to pawn me and my eating habits off on my wife.
That is a little oversimplified, I have to say. Eating a very narrow range of food has its disadvantages, including getting bored with a limited diet. But, at least it was a self-imposed limit. And as I grew old and wiser, I began to force myself to try new things.
Enter my wife. She is a self-professed salad and vegetable lover. While I was slowly breaking out of my diet shell (very slowly), she has helped me break out a little faster. She not only introduced me to elementary basics such as salad dressing (so THAT'S how people learn to like salad), she also has an "in" that has helped her convince me to try new fruits and veggies and other foods where my parents could not. I could go into much detail, but I digress.
My wife loves to eat all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables and has made sure to feed our daughter a wide variety of healthy fresh fruits and vegetables. She pureed all of our daughter's baby food, herself. Our daughter is not even 2 years old and she already eats - and likes - a wider variety of fruits and veggies than I do. Again, I digress.
So, A year or so ago, my wife bought a food processor (to make our daughter's baby good) and convinced me that she also needed a juicer to make herself fresh juice. Well, the food processor got a lot of good use, but the Jack Lalane juicer initially got a lot of use, but then quickly fell out of favor. It was just too much of a pain to clean, we never really used the leftover pulp, and while fruits and veggies are zero points under the new Weight Watchers Points Plus program, fruit juice is not (since the fiber is missing). The juicer sat unused for a number of months and then got sold to a friend.
My wife then decided that for Christmas, this year, she really wanted a Vitamix blender. She insisted that it would be great for smoothies (which neither of us really drank, except for the occasional trip to Jamba Juice) and making all kinds of products that we usually buy at the store in a way that was fresher and healthier without all the added preservatives and additives.
It sounded good, but I was skeptical - and it was expensive. I'm usually a fairly even-keeled guy (often too even-keeled), while my wife is more excitable on both ends of the emotional spectrum (not really that surprising, I guess - compared to me just about everybody is more excitable). She will find something new and get smitten and go ga-ga over it. In this case, it was a Vitamix. Often, if I sit on it for a couple of days she will eventually think it over and change her mind, but this was not one of those times.
So, I got together with some family members and we all pitched in and gave her the money for a Christmas/birthday present. That was awesome for me because I am terrible at finding presents for her - but, enough about me. So, one she got it, she just went bonkers telling me about all the cool things she could make with it, like peanut butter, hummus, ice cream, etc, etc. I was still skeptical, but hey, I'm often too much of a realist/skeptic, I admit it.
Anyway, she started off by making smoothies for herself, and slowly introducing them to me. She mixed and matched various fruits and veggies to see what worked and what didn't (mostly hits and a few misses) until she found a good base that she could then add or subtract ingredients to.
Now, not only do I enjoy my orange-banana smoothies almost every morning, I look forward to them. We even had to buy bigger cups so that I didn't have to take two cups with me to work, every day!
Previously, I would have my cup of OJ and the occasional banana for breakfast and then an apple and maybe a fruit snack for lunch and then sometimes a side-salad and/or a vegetable for dinner. Depending on the day, I would have between 2 and 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day. Now, with my orange-banana smoothie I often have 6 servings of fruits and veggies before I even get to my office!
I'll have a glass of OJ and a vitamin, then my smoothie will usually include 1 cup of OJ, 1 orange, 1 banana, sometimes 1 apple, and sometimes various other fruits of veggies. For a few days this week, she added in a 1/2 cup of spinach. It turned my smoothies green and the picky eater in me really had a hard time, initially, but I found it really only changed the contents and the color, but not the taste. Today, she added in 1/2 a mango. Other days, when we ran out of bananas, she added in some mixed frozen fruit.
I have to say that I was very skeptical at first, but now I'm a believer and we're getting our money's worth out of that Vitamix. I love the smoothies my wife makes for me, every morning, even when she decides to surprise me with the occasional new ingredient. And the best part is that not only am I getting my fill of all that healthiness that I had been previously been missing, I'm also enjoying it! Who knew THAT was possible! Definitely not my parents.
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