I haven't blogged in a while.
After stepping up my sparkactivity significantly in December, it only made sense that I should falter a bit in January, right? Fitness/nutrition/weight – wise, it wasn’t actually such a bad month. It wasn't always perfect, but I did ok.
I actually wanted to write here many times, but didn't get around to it, and then more things happened and then it became overwhelming to think about writing about all the things I wanted to write about, and so… I just didn't.
Oh well, spilled milk and all that – here I am now. I started writing this post in a word document, and it's about four pages long now so I'm going to split it up... look for more blog installments in the upcoming days!
So what have I been up to?
Let's start with this -
Last week, I joined a running group for the first time!!
Super exciting. And a bit intimidating. The official Tel Aviv marathon takes place on March 15th. I WON’T be running the marathon or the half, but I did sign up for the 10k, along with several of my ‘occasional runner’ friends. A few weeks ago, I saw that the race organizers had opened local training groups for runners who had signed up for one of the races (10k,21k, 42k and even a 4.2k) – held in various cities in the area, twice a week for FREE. The problem was that all the groups were full by the time I had learned about it, so I sadly dismissed the idea. Then, a few weeks later, I decided I might as well try and see if I could join anyway, so I sent an email to the program organizer and politely inquired whether it might be possible to join the group in my city, despite it having started about a month earlier and being officially fully booked. I got a positive reply! So Tuesday evening, I laced up my running shoes and headed to the park near my house where the group met up, apprehensive and nervous.
I somewhat awkwardly introduced myself to the coach, who I had also emailed earlier, and joined the group running warm-up laps. There were about 20 or so people in the group, mostly men, and just 3 other women. I think about half are running the half-marathon and half the 10k, and not many of them appeared to be beginner runners. I was worried I might be completely out of my depth but I managed to hang on ok with the bottom quarter of runners most of the time. The coach explained that they would be doing more and more running and less strengthening exercises as we get closer to the race, and sure enough – we spent most of the hour running laps. However, it was spiced up with some exercises: For example, he had us doing 40 deep walking lunges, followed immediately by running straight up a hill without pausing to stretch. After 40 lunges, your quads are SHOT, so running up a hill was a really good simulator for how your legs would feel tackling a hill after running for a long time. He had us doing the same thing with squats as well. As we ran around and around, he gave tips and comments on running form, which was GREAT for me since I have never gotten any kind of professional critique on my running and I have no idea what my form is like and what I should focus on.
Straight away, he told me that I’m not kicking my feet back enough, and that he should be able to see the soles of my feet from behind when I run. Ok cool, I never thought about that. It was a bit awkward running while thinking about kicking back my heels, but interesting to know what I can improve on! I know it takes time and practice to change running styles. Next, he told me that I should work on relaxing and minimizing movement in my upper body, and that my arms are swinging around too much. The funny thing is I never would have thought I move my arms a lot while running, it doesn’t FEEL like I’m swinging them around and I certainly don’t make a concentrated effort to pump them, but after he told me that I really tried to minimize the movement, and I did start to feel like I was expending a bit less energy (maybe it was all in my head, but that’s ok too).
At some point, a little over halfway through, I was really starting to tire and felt worn out, and I knew that if I had been running on my own at that point, I would have slowed/rested/called it a day, but being in the group, I had no choice but to plow on, and so I did. Every time he would tell us to run a certain number of laps, the fast finishers would get to the end earlier and have more resting time between sets, which is ironically kind of annoying, since they obviously need it less. It was a strong motivation not to slow down though. I was glad I managed to stick with the group the whole way through. In the end he had us go out and ‘run till I stop you’. It was only about 12 minutes or so – not so bad but I was so SPENT when we started out. Somehow though, during those final laps I relaxed and regrouped and got my second wind, even passing some others before he finally stopped us. I probably wasn’t going incredibly fast, but it still felt good to see that after almost an hour of intense work, I still had it in me to find a rhythm and keep it going in the end.
I wasn’t able to attend the next meeting of the group though, on Friday morning, because I was signed up to run a race at that time! (best excuse ever, right?) Yep, it’s my monthly 10k (March will have 2!!) – and I even had a friend roped in this time to wake up super early on a weekend and come out and run with me for an hour or so…
But more about that race (including pics!!) in the next post!!