Average Jane Runs

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St. Jude Marathon 2011 – Training Days 16-21

Alrighty. Since I haven’t blogged about training in a handful of years, I’m still kind of working out how I want to do it. Initially I thought I’d have a post each day but obviously that’s not happenin’. So starting tomorrow…

…weekly posts it is! I know you’re on the edge of your seat with excitement and anticipation. I can totally feel it.

08/16/11

I was so happy to get outside again! The weather was fantastic! I made my run a bit more boring than it should have been, though. I found a paved track on my 7-miler that I assumed was about a mile long and decided to test that theory. Sure enough, it was a little over a mile. I figured I’d run the track, hit the neighborhood streets a bit and then run the track again.

Why on EARTH would I do that? I have all this freedom to run wherever and I resign to run a track not just once, but TWICE? Hello!

I just ain’t right before I have my coffee.

3 Miles – 37:31 (asphalt/12:31 pace)

Crunch Fat Burning Ab Attack – 32:00

Gym In A Box Upper Body Segment – 10:00

08/17/11

I can’t believe I’m admitting this…but I actually had fun on the treadmill here. I had so much fun I ran over my allotted mileage (not by much, but it’s there)! I decided to try the incline (1%) again, at the suggestion of my friend (and occasional running mentor) Laurie. I did have to slow down a lot, but I must admit once I got into a groove I felt pretty good! I felt so good by the end of the run that I did a little speedy pace pickup around the last quarter mile that pushed me over the 4 mile mark.

I am NOT coming back to you for good, though, Dreadmill, so don’t get any ideas!

4.06 Miles – 59:48 (treadmill/14:41 pace)

08/18/11

I did some unintended speedwork with this run and reaped the benefits almost immediately! I was taking it slow in the beginning since I was using the 1% incline again. Toward the middle of the run Foo Fighters’ “The Pretender” popped up on my mp3 player. Most songs I can pretty much ignore the beats per minute and just run at whatever pace is comfortable at the moment. There are a few I just can’t ignore and inspire some kind of mutiny in my legs causing me to take off at ridiculous speeds. “The Pretender” is one of these songs.

Once the drums kicked in I was rockin’ it at 6mph (which is insane-o fast for me right now). I said to Myself, “Self, let’s do this at least through the chorus and then we’ll slow back down.” Then Myself said back, “Um, k, you do that. But I’ll meet you when the song’s over.” I actually ran at 6mph through an ENTIRE SONG. I haven’t been able to do that in, like, ever.

What kept me going? Endorphins, man. For the first time since coming back from pregnancy, I experienced the Runner’s High. I’d almost forgotten it actually existed! As my legs flew under me my eyes almost spewed tears I felt so good.

I’m pretty sure I giggled.

3 Miles – 37:52 (treadmill/12:37 pace)

Crunch Fat Burning Pilates – 43:00

08/19/11 – REST

08/20/11 – REST (5 Miles Scheduled)

Once again, my neck, shoulders, and upper back kept me from my long run. I think I’ve found the culprit, though. Every time I do the Gym In A Box Upper Body segment a few days later I’m toast around the neck and shoulder blades. First I thought maybe I just had terrible form but the last few times I REALLY focused on getting everything just right…to no avail. Going to retire this one for sure.

08/21/11 – 5 Miles (Cross-Training Scheduled)

Spent the morning alternating stretches with heat so that I felt loose enough in the neck and shoulders to get my 5 miles in. It mostly worked – I ran. Had to treadmill it again, though, since it was storming outside. Of course when I finished it was sunny and nice…

Used the 1% incline again and fared better on pacing this time. I ran a few intervals, switching from 4mph to 4.5-4.7 and back. Mostly because I was ready for my time on the belt to be over…but also because I needed a “fix”…I punched it up to 6mph again for the last quarter mile.

It worked.

5 Miles – 65:25 (treadmill/13:05 pace)

WEEKLY THOUGHTS

1. My treadmill running has become less awful for a few reasons.

  • Getting to run outside more makes it easier to suffer inside.
  • I think the incline definitely has helped (thanks Laurie!).
  • I have completely ditched my “brick” shoes. I have been slowly transitioning from my standard “corrective” running shoes into the more simple and pared down Altra Intuition. The last long run on the treadmill with my regular shoes left me feeling like I was falling apart. I thought this was mostly because of burnout and fatigue…but since I stopped alternating shoes I haven’t had this problem/feeling again. In fact, I’ve felt much the opposite and have enjoyed my time on the ‘mill (well, most of it).

2. I’ve noticed a pattern in the last three weeks. Each training week I’ve taken three rest days instead of the two prescribed. My husband noted that maybe I need three rest days and that perhaps I should change the plan to allow for that. He’s probably right…but I’d rather leave the plan as is and work out if I can and rest if I need to.

A few things I’m doing better this time around (this is my second full marathon) are:

  • Not being stubborn about rest/taking a day or two off – I’ve learned to not only listen to my body but to DO WHAT IT SAYS. Of course I learned that lesson the hard way, but don’t we all sometimes?
  • Strength/Cross-Training - This has made a HUGE difference with my neck and back issues. I can also see a difference in my legs and core.

So to keep up my improvements I’ll leave the “extra day” without mileage up for grabs, be it rest or be it cross-training.

I just keep thinking at some point my body will just surrender to THE SCRIPTED PLAN.

I won’t hold my breath.

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St. Jude Marathon 2011 – Training Days 14 & 15 – 7 Miles/REST

I’m not sure I can quite put into words how yesterday’s run made me feel. But I’ll try.

I was supposed to run 7 miles outside on Saturday morning but wasn’t nearly rested enough. I couldn’t face 7 miles on the treadmill…I just couldn’t. So I vowed to go to bed as early as possible Saturday night in order to snag every bit of sleep that I possibly could. The weather forecast was promising and come Hell or high water, I was running outside Sunday morning.

I got to bed around 9:30PM hoping to get at least 6 straight hours of sleep. I didn’t actually fall asleep until around 11:30PM. The tragic irony in all this is that the boy was sleeping fairly well compared to weeks past. He was sleeping and I couldn’t. I’m pretty sure I cried. I felt like I was in Hell.

But…as mentioned above, not even Hell was gonna stop me from running the next morning. Once I settled into sleep, I didn’t wake up until my intended time of 5:30AM (6 hours straight!). I was somewhat groggy, but the excitement of getting to run outside in nice weather was enough to get me moving to prepare for the endeavor. Did my normal morning stuff plus getting my body and gear prepped to go and realized I’d need my Garmin.

Then I realized I hadn’t charged my Garmin in about two months. Crap.

I plugged it into the wall – hoping upon hope that I could get just enough juice to last for at least half of 7 miles. While the big G was charging I finished getting my various “running junk” together. Spray sunblock? Check. Wristband with zipper pocket? Check. Lip balm? Check. Gatorade? Check.

I took a few sips of Gatorade and ate a serving of pretzels (I can’t stomach much before a run) so I wouldn’t bonk toward the end. Planned on taking the rest of the Gatorade with me so I wouldn’t bonk toward the middle. I was counting on the weather to at least get me to the halfway point.

At 6:30AM I decided that the Garmin was charged enough and if it wasn’t, well, life (and my run) would most certainly go on. I ran down the stairs to the car like a giddy Kindergartener on her first day of school. I started the car and flipped stations until I found a dancy happy song.

Then I realized I left my Gatorade upstairs. Crap.

I ran back up the three flights of stairs to our apartment and grabbed the goods. At least I would be nicely warmed up by the time I started my run.

The weather was magnificent. It was in the low 70s, clear, and breezy. This is almost unheard of in my neck of the woods in mid-August. I drove (yes, sadly I have to drive somewhere to run) to the neighborhood I was running with the windows down and a huge smile on my face.

As soon as my feet hit the asphalt and I felt the cool breeze on my skin (it was actually almost chilly) I began to remember why I run. Yes, I run to stay fit. I run to challenge myself. I run to support charities. I run to stay mentally sharp. But that morning…that absolutely glorious morning…I ran to feel alive.

The sound of my shoes on the pavement was a soul-calming metronome behind a beautiful score of green, dewy grass, perfect blue sky, and heavenly sunshine. The wind was at my back and made me feel like I was floating. For the first time in two months I didn’t care how fast I was going, wasn’t thinking about how much time I had left, and didn’t feel like I wanted to crumple to the ground into a ball of fatigue and stress. I was running. I was going somewhere.

Where was I going? I wasn’t sure. I knew I could get 7 miles out of this area but I didn’t map it out before I left. Part of the fun of running outside is exploring new routes. I happened upon a few paved running paths as well as about a mile stretch of perfectly shaded road. Though it wasn’t oppressively hot, the shade was welcome mid-run (and since I ran an out-and-back course, it was a nice 2 miles of shade).

As I left the shaded stretch of road which began the second half of my 7 miles, the wind was suddenly in my face. Normally this would be a nuisance as I have terrible allergies and dry eyes. Not this run. Not this day.

I literally opened my arms to embrace the air, the sun, the sky – I wanted to drink it all in as much as I could. I inhaled deeply and let the breeze push the air into my lungs. I felt like the wind was saying, “Hey, leave the breathing to me, friend. You just run.” And I did. And it was freedom.

Still smiling like an idiot during the last half mile, I couldn’t believe how great I felt. Sure, my legs and feet were happy to see the car, but I didn’t feel like I was struggling. And that was another thing – my legs got fatigued before I did. For some reason this isn’t how it happens on the treadmill.

I’m not going to kid myself and think the weather has finally broken for good this year. It likely hasn’t. I will probably be back on the dreadmill once or twice before it’s all said and done. But next time I’m on the conveyor belt I’ll remember that as much as I hate it, it’s taught me to appreciate being able to run outside more than I ever have before.

It reminds me why I run.

I run to feel alive.

STATS

7 Miles – 1:34:09 (asphalt+grass/13:27 pace)*

*edited 08/16/11 – noticed on my Garmin this morning that I added 10 seconds to my finish time…trust me, every second matters! :)

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St. Jude Marathon 2011 – Training Day 12 & 13 – REST/REST

Yesterday was a scheduled rest day – today was not. It would have been a beautifully non-hellish day to run 7 miles. I’ll give you three guesses (though you really only need one) why I didn’t run.

Not exercising is probably a good exercise for me, though. I’ve always been pretty terrible at knowing when to sit it out. There’s just such a fine line between feeling like you’re being whiny and really feeling like you shouldn’t run. I hope I’m judging things as well as I think I am.

I’ll be swapping scheduled cross-training for 7 miles tomorrow. I’m actually heading to bed momentarily so that I can try to squeeze in as much sleep as is possible tonight. I want…no…need that outdoor long run in the morning.

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St. Jude Marathon 2011 – Training Day 11 – 3 Miles

I don’t know if it’s still the lack of sleep or I’m burned out on the treadmill (I’ve been training strictly inside for the last few months) or what…but I am…so…slow…

I mean, I’m slow anyway. My “fast” is a 10 minute per mile pace and I’ve yet to even get back to where I can do that again. It’s just so frustrating knowing I can run a 5K (and that was over a month ago and with less training) in 36 minutes and now barely keeping 3 miles at or below 40 minutes.

This morning would have been so lovely to have run outside…was in the lower 80s…overcast…but I needed the sleep more than the run! So maddening because I really needed the run outdoors to pick up my attitude which is clearly not very good right now.

Dang.

Now that I got all that out…

The run wasn’t all that bad, just slow. And on the dreadmill. I thankfully don’t have any numbness in my foot and so far no knee pain. I debated strength training but decided to skip it since my brain and body (mostly my brain at this point) seem to be suffering for my lack of sleep.

I’m hoping our night-time situation clears up by the time school starts and before my mileage gets crazy.

It has to. Right?

STATS

3 Miles – 39:20 (treadmill/13:06 pace)

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St. Jude Marathon 2011 – Training Days 7-10 – Rest/Rest/3 Miles + Strength/3 Miles

08/07/11 – REST (scheduled cross-training)

I felt like I was falling apart after the previous day’s long run (6 miles) and the lack of sleep for recovery so I decided to rest instead of my prescribed cross-training. I didn’t feel too bad skipping the workout since it didn’t contain mileage and my body definitely needed it.

08/08/11 – REST

I took my scheduled rest day, too. I’m really trying to listen to my body better than I have in the past – and my body said, “Sit down, sister.”

08/09/11 – 3 Miles + Strength

Since I’d had two days off, I figured I was ready to hit the ground (or the belt, rather) running. WRONG! I’m pretty sure this was the slowest 3 miles I’ve run since coming back from pregnancy. If not, it had to be close. I didn’t quite feel awful while running, but I knew I’d made a not-so-great choice.

This thought was solidified when I attempted strength training and had to skip out on squats and lunges due to pain in my left knee and a numb right foot (I think my laces were too tight on the 6-miler, it’s fine today). I faked my way through the rest of the workout though, so all was not completely lost.

STATS

3 Miles – 43:13 (treadmill/14:24 pace)

Trainer’s Edge Integrated Strength Training – 41:00

08/10/11 – 3 Miles

We got some decent sleep last night and my body felt the reward. Since I felt better than I had in days, I knew I was getting my 3 miles in today. I decided to err on the side of caution, though, and use the elliptical instead of the treadmill.

Though my neck, shoulders, and feet thanked me for the lack of impact, my brain was cursing me the entire time. It probably wouldn’t have been as bad were our fitness center’s elliptical in better shape. Not only is it on its last leg, it’s also manual. I mistakenly assumed that since it was plugged into the wall I’d have a smooth running machine to get me through a recovery run. Silly me.

I spent the entire time awkwardly cycling my legs and clunking loudly (well, the elliptical was clunking loudly) and wishing I’d just walked on the treadmill. But being the stubborn OCD dedicated gal I am, I stuck with it for the entire 3 miles.

Never. Again.

It’s an understatement to say that I can’t wait to get back outside. There are no words to describe how I LOATHE running indoors. I’m thankful that I’m able to train inside until it’s less than Death out there – but it’s so difficult for me to enjoy. It’s incredibly mentally taxing and it’s hell on my form. I have more aches and pains resulting from machine running than I’ve ever had running outdoors.

I’m thinking there will only be a few more weeks of Summer Doom before I can get back outside. Until then I’ll be counting the days…hours…minutes…seconds…

STATS

3 Miles – 39:37 (elliptical/13:12 pace)

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St. Jude Marathon 2011 – Training Days 5 & 6 – REST & 6 Miles

I was trying to post every day of training, even rest days, but the last couple get the combo treatment. For rest yesterday I mostly worked on blog  posts (well, starting blog posts) and watched vampire smut TV with my husband. Of course the boy slept for eight solid hours while we stayed up too late with Sookie and Bill but woke up almost hourly the moment we decided to go to bed. I think we got about three hours of collective sleep.

That brings us to today. Second verse, same as the first. I’m not sure how much longer I can avoid burnout and/or injury without proper sleep. I almost took a day off (my husband actually encouraged this – citing my posted “rest day guidelines”) but argued that I did get in a 45-minute snooze while the boy napped this morning. I probably should have taken the day off.

But I didn’t – I ran my six allotted miles on the dreadmill. And my, was it extraordinarily dreadful today. I run indoors through most of the summer because I just can’t get acclimated to running in the humidity of the South (and to be honest I don’t really want to). Today I felt like I may as well have been running outside. It was so disgustingly muggy I nearly quit around two miles. I ran at a walking pace almost the entire time.  

Our fitness center is randomly like this and it doesn’t make me happy. It especially doesn’t make me happy on long run days. It was so hot and stuffy in there that I ran, borrowing a phrase from one of my best good friends: “with my can of biscuits hanging out,” or in non-Southern-speak: bared my midriff. Seeing as my abs are still buried under several layers of flab from pregnancy, this is a big deal. I’ve got to be hella miserable to even THINK about showing my gut to the world (or really nobody, I think I’m the only person who uses our fitness center for more than 10 minutes at a time). My apologies to anyone who had to witness that.

As you can see, I’m whiny and sad about running inside when it’s hot. I  honestly don’t know how people run outside in this muck.

I’m starting to feel the aches with my long runs now that they’re beyond five miles. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with my treadmill running (it really promotes terrible form for me), but I just can’t hack it outside yet. I see ice baths on Saturdays from here on out.

And a side note: I tried running with an audiobook for the first time today. Maybe it was the climate of the fitness center, my fatigue, the book choice (a Stephen King novel), or all three, but I’m not sure I’ll ever do that again. I had to kick on the tunes to make it the rest of the way without passing out.

But I made it.

STATS

6 MILES – 89:10 (treadmill/14:52 pace)

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St. Jude Marathon 2011 – Training Day 4 – 3 Miles + Strength/Stretch

As I sit here listening to my son crying a mere hour after he went to sleep…I wonder how I’m not crying. Maybe I’m not hydrated enough. Thankfully my husband is taking on the first (and please, may it be the last ’til morning) wakeup so that I can keep typing…

Being that I’m not very well rested again today, I really and truly took it easy (as you might gather from my finish time below). Despite my “easy tempo” I still felt like I was working hard. The problem with being a slower runner is that there’s not that far to drop in pace before you’re walking. And maybe I’m just weird, but walking three miles doesn’t seem like it’d do much for my running stamina. But I digress…

I tried to keep my mind on other things to get through the slumpy run – I thought a lot about this blog and what I’d like to do to improve it, posts I’d like to make, contests I’d like to have…then I noticed in the gym mirror that my legs didn’t look half bad. In fact, I thought they were starting to look pretty darned good. It’s nice when I can find non-self-deprecating things in the looking glass. Running’s cool like that.

After lunch I chose a yoga-pilates workout that did more stretching than strength (but I needed it). I think I’m going to start adding yoga at least once a week to my schedule to make sure I stretch enough and to help me work out some of the kinks that running tends to hide in various areas.

I’m not gonna lie – I’m looking forward to my rest day tomorrow with great fervor. I’m feeling really tired and sore already and it’s only week one. I know it gets better. I just have to look at each day like I look at each mile of training:

…just one more…

STATS

3 MILES – 39:19 (treadmill/13:06 pace)

Crunch Super SlimDown Pilates-Yoga Blend – 42:00

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St. Jude Marathon 2011 – Training Day 3 – 3 Miles

What a difference some sleep makes…a few more…little hours…

This early nap thing seems to be catching on. It also seems to be helping Little Dude sleep better at night. But, alas, we’ve had Eureka Moments like this before that lasted little more than a week so I suppose I won’t count my chickens before they sleep all night.

Got about five solid hours of sleep plus a nice two hour morning snooze while the hubs took on Baby Duty (and doodie – don’t look at me like that, you know you were thinking it, too). He even had coffee made for me when I finally rolled out of bed at the late, late hour of 8AM.

Feeling nice and rested, I hit the treadmill while the boy napped around 10AM (yay!) and felt MUCH better than I did yesterday. I promised myself I’d take it easier today. I really felt like I was exerting less effort and going a lot slower…but by the end of the run I realized I finished about 30 seconds faster than yesterday. The whole Perception of Exertion thing is still mind-boggling to me, but I’ll take what I can get!

Here’s hoping tomorrow’s 3-miler feels just as good…(sleeping kid, I’m lookin’ at you!)

STATS

3 MILES – 36:44 (treadmill/12:15 pace)

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St. Jude Marathon 2011 – Training Day 2 – 3 MILES + Strength/Cardio

I almost took another rest day today. I got about three hours of sleep last night (which you’ll note in yesterday’s post is one of my rest day qualifiers) thanks to my late night blog launch and a still-not-sleeping-all-night 11-month-old.

And then a light came down from the Heavens as angels sang from the clouds…

AN EARLY NAP.

Little Dude went down at 10AM…and so did I. That extra hour or so made me feel a few degrees more human and gave me that extra bit of strength I needed to get my legs on the dreadmill (yes, you read that right).

I had no choice but to take it easy.  I told myself not to push too much since I was fatigued and not well recovered…but…toward the end of a run on the ‘mill I just can’t help it. I’m SO ready for it to be over the minute I begin that by the time I’m almost finished I kind of lose my mind a little bit. This (thankfully fleeting) loss of sanity combined with the fact that I’m a slow runner anyway makes trudging on a stationary belt even more grueling (but not nearly as grueling as running in 100,000,000% humidity). So as per usual, I probably overdid it a bit the last half mile.

I debated doing strength work since it’s not listed in my marathon training plan (I’m using Hal Higdon’s Novice 1) but did it anyway because I’m stubborn dedicated like that. Actually, I thought back to my first full marathon experience in which I did little to no (heavy on the no) strength training. I paid that chiropractor a lot of money for a long time.

Pilates it was!

I suffered through the workout with sweat pouring – watching these tiny, slim creatures on the screen with not even a hint of perspiration. Then again, I was rockin’ the five-pound weights while they slung around three-pounders. Take THAT, dainty ones!

So today’s training wasn’t my best and I certainly didn’t feel even close to 100%…but I fought the urge to do nothing and won.

That’s what’s gonna get me to 26.2.

STATS

3 MILES – 37:18 (treadmill/12:26 pace)

Crunch Fitness Burn & Firm Pilates – 52:00

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St. Jude Marathon 2011 – Training Day 1 – REST DAY

I don’t know that I’ve ever begun training with a rest day, but my plan worked out as such. After the week I’ve had, I’m not complaining!

I’ve been chatting on Facebook and Twitter a lot lately about rest. Rest is not just nice every now and then when you’re training, it’s crucial to training. While you’re resting, your body is working to recover from the stress of exercise. It’s the same reason we sleep. Our bodies need that down time to recuperate and refresh for the next day’s activities (unless you’re a parent, in which case you replace sleep with lots of coffee and tears).

So if it’s such a simple idea, why is it so hard for us to take a day off sometimes?

Most training plans have at least one scheduled rest or “easy” day (if yours doesn’t, it should). But what happens when we only get two hours of sleep or have this nagging pain in our heel and have a 4-miler scheduled? Do we run? Do we rest? How do we judge? If we do miss a run, how do we let go of the guilt?

Here are some questions that help me decide to rest or to run:

1. Do I feel dizzy?

2. Do I feel irritable to the point of tears?

3. Am I in pain (not just achy)?

4. Did I get less than four hours of sleep last night?

If I can answer YES to one or more of these questions, I’m probably taking a rest day. Some of them I may throw around my brain for debate, but for the most part, I think they’re a good general guideline for me. That said, I’m not always good at following my own advice. I have run when I shouldn’t have…I have rested when I should have run.

Ultimately the decision is up to you. The key is listening to your body and knowing your limits.

And the guilt…ah, the guilt of a missed run. How do we let it go?

We keep going.

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