Today I found myself wishing -again- that I could just have a day to relax and meditate and sort things out in my brain.
Dude! You just had a four day weekend, and I can guarantee there was some free time between the long run, grocery shopping, and ice cream (One scoop of coffee with hot fudge this week. Mmmm...)
If I'm going to get my calm, brain-sorting day, I'm going to have to make it happen. I need to put aside the to-do list, turn off the TV and computer and phone, and remember to breathe. Yes, I miss having forest and ocean at my disposal. There's nothing that comes close to a walk through the woods and a rocky beach to decompress on with a thermos of tea. I'm outdoors a lot, usually along an awesome river, but it's not quite the same thing when it's -10 and crowded with people and I have a garmin beeping at me every couple minutes. It's not a bad environment, but that's training state, not relaxation state. Maybe I'll take a couple hours and hop on the train down to the zoo some day. It's not as crowded when it's cold, and I could park myself on a bench somewhere by myself.
It's not that I'm overly stressed right now. I think that with my job, there's always a low level of stress that's normal. It's nothing big, but it's enough that sometimes I wish that if I could just go off by myself to somewhere comfortable so I could work through things on my own time. I had problems with procrastination in the past that (I think) came from slight anxiety, and even though I'm in a much better place right now it still pops up from time to time. I don't want to deal with things immediately when they feel overwhelming, so I calm myself down by making a plan to deal with them later, hoping that when whatever-it-is comes up again I have solid directions to follow. It's a weird thought process, and something I'm really trying to break - that instant panic mode when something unexpected shows up, even though I know perfectly well that I can solve it.
So, I have things on my mind and they're kind of fake-stressing me out, even though they shouldn't be. Really, things are pretty good:
Work is going well right now. It's hectic, but under control. Goal setting time is coming up again soon, and I always get nervous about that. I'm not sure why - in the last couple years, I've started to figure out the path I want to take and things I want to build on. I could easily go on about what I want to if I was chatting with a friend over coffee, but when it comes to actually putting it down on paper I start getting self conscious.
That's part of the reason I want that chunk of me time - so I can brainstorm what I want, what I'm good at, and what I'd like to improve. Once I have those things sorted out, it's easy to work on a plan to get there (it helps that I have really supportive leadership to work with here). Of course, the next step beyond that is actually putting it into action. It's so easy with some things, but so difficult with others. It's amazing how fear of failure can hold you back from anything from weight loss to career advancement.
Home buying is always in the back of my mind now. We've settled into the idea of buying a home in a year pretty nicely. I've even gotten myself in trouble a couple times by finding perfect listings that I would snap up right now if we were in the right place to buy (and the disappointment of knowing that those particular floor to ceiling windows or that rooftop hot tub patio area won't be ours unless the current buyers get sick of them in 11 months).
We're going in for a chat with the bank this week to talk about saving and RRSP options, and the number crunching looks pretty promising so far. Canada has a first time home buyer plan where you can borrow up to $25,000 from your RRSPs (registered retirement funds) tax-free for the purchase of your first home. You have 15 years to pay it back into your RRSPs without having to pay taxes on that cash. I've been bad about not making RRSP contributions over the years, so that means I can throw a ton of money into my fund this year before the deadline, get a substantial tax return from it (about 15% of our total down payment goal), and still access that money when we need it for a home. Plus, it gets us properly started on retirement saving, which is really easy to neglect when you have things like debts and down payments that take priority over something 35 years in the future (if we're lucky!). Aside from that, I'm hoping we can get some specific advice and numbers from the bank now that our goals have changed to a more solid date. We need to make the most of the next 12 months.
Running! I'm settling into week five of training, and feeling good. I had a physio appointment on Friday for maintenance and let my PT jab me all full of needles. My muscles are thanking me for it and the calves are being good.
I'm working on putting together a new strength training routine. I think I'm going to drop down to two days a week and cut what I'm doing in half, while going for more effective running-related exercises (I got a bunch of new ones from my PT, and she ramped up the difficulty on some of my others). Quality over quantity.
I've managed to bring down my average heart rate by 5-10 bpm on my tempo runs and 20 bpm on my long runs. The slower pace is still challenging, but I'm feeling the difference and I'm sure it'll pay off in May. The real test will be when we start doing hills in a couple weeks. I know what my heart rate normally hits when I start hill training, so I'm really interested to see where I'm at on that first day.
Food and weight: I seem to have found a good balance with food for now. My weight is still going down from week to week, which makes me very happy. It's tiny amounts (56.1 kg average this week compared to 56.2 average last week and 56.4 the week before), but I'm not gaining, despite the big increase in calories. This week was the first time I haven't spiked up after my Sunday long run and 2300 calorie day. I've held steady at 55.9 (about 123 pounds) for three days in a row.
Food's been kind of fun to work with. Most days, I'm eating around 1700 - 1800 calories (my spark range is 1700 - 2050 right now). I'm burning about 2500 a week with just my training runs, plus a couple hundred extra with my running 'commute' (basically, it's an extra 3k tacked on to the official run distance). The weekday calorie burn totals are going to stay pretty consistent, but the sunday totals are obviously going to increase as our long run mileage does, which makes Sunday (and Saturday) a bit of a challenge on the food front.
I ran into that last Sunday. I'd been planning to make apple flax pancakes as my post-run meal, but by the time I got home I was tired enough that dragging out all of the ingredients and bowls and griddle just wasn't going to happen (I love making pancakes from scratch, but it's not easy in a small kitchen). None of our quick and easy options were going to give me enough of a boost, and I had a surprise husband sitting on the couch when he was supposed to still be at work (they finished inventory early that day). So instead I asked Nick if I could buy him lunch and we walked over to a restaurant for a beef dip and a mountain of sweet potato fries. More often than not, Sunday ends up being our Farmer's market day, so we usually grab lunch there and it's the same thing - a heavier, guilt-free lunch made by someone else. It's one meal out per week on a day when I honestly struggle to make calorie dense meals for myself, so it works.
At the same time, I don't want to have to depend on dining out to feed myself. The pancakes would have been a great meal - I just need to make sure I have everything set up for myself so that it's low effort when I get back. I could go the smoothie route, but I find that about an hour after a long run, I want a proper meal. So, it's still a bit of a puzzle, but at least I seem to be getting the calorie amounts and the meal balance right (Sunday = oatmeal, run, gels, post-run mocha/chocolate milk, big lunch, healthy snack, normal dinner).
At least I won't have to worry about it next week, since we're finally going out for our Valentine's dinner, and I'm sure I'll eat back some calories there.