Archive | September, 2011

Why Not Running is Good For Me

29 Sep

On Sunday I announced that I am taking a week off of running. It’s been three days without running and I’m realizing that not running is actually not so bad. Weird, right?

Here’s why:

Different workouts

Since Saturday I have found muscles I didn’t know existed – like my obliques.  Where did those come from? They were sore for 2 days after working them on Saturday.

I rode 20 miles on a stationery bike, burning up my quads, then maxed them out with a lower body workout the next day.  And today, they are SORE (so are my hamstrings, my body now needs a good stretch).

Actually using my gym membership

Every month I see a direct debit to Planet Fitness come out of my bank account. And every month (except for the winter months) I look at it as such a waste of money.

I’ve gone twice this week. And I plan on going at least once a week from here on out for strength training.  After my lower body workout yesterday I realized one important thing – I can run far, I can sometimes run fast, but my legs are still not as strong as they could be. And as for my upper body, well that needs help. I can’t even do more than about 6 regular push ups in a row.

Giving my legs a break from the constant beating

I’ve run 11 races this year.  I’ve run over 700 miles. My legs have been taking a constant beating for months.

They’re going back to their regularly scheduled beating on Monday (I hope, my foot feels good right now, knock on wood). I have more races to run – a half and two more 5k’s this year. At least two marathons, and three 5k’s that I know of so far next year.

A break is good.


More on this later, but taking a few days off of running has really shifted my focus.  Focus on my training, focus on what I need to be doing, focus on making myself stronger, not just while running.

These past few days have been very reflective for me, I’m taking my inability to run to reflect, focus, and regroup.

It’s all going to be great.  Big things are bound to will happen. 


The Return of Monday Love

27 Sep

I haven’t done one of these since Labor Day! This is what I’m loving here on this Monday:

Indian Summer

Look at that forecast:

It has been like this since Saturday.  The humidity levels have been reminiscent of Mid-August.  And while all the fall lovers out there are whining and complaining about it, I’m loving every second of it. I love fall too, but nothing beats summer for me.

Planet Fitness

More specifically, the Planet Fitness Black Card Membership.  With this membership I can go to any of the Planet Fitness locations nationwide! I can go to my home club with my parents when they go, I can go to the one 8 miles from my house on weekends, and I can go to the one on my way home from work during the week.  It makes having an excuse to skip the gym really hard – which is good for me, because as much as I love being fit, I HATE the gym.  I’d rather workout at home or run, outside, but I don’t always have that option.  So when I have to – it really helps that Planet Fitness is there for me, conveniently.  There’s even 7 locations here in Rhode Island – that’s a lot for a state that only has 32 towns/cities!

A good old-fashioned sweat fest…

Holy cow – today’s workout was a beast.  Since I’m not running this week, and my foot pain (although it’s not really pain anymore, just minor discomfort) showed itself a few times today, I took to the stationery bike.

Crazy right? I rode 20.40 miles in an hour. I was sweating SO BAD that I had to constantly wipe my forehead to keep it from dripping in my eyes and it looked like I peed myself when I stood up.  Now that is a real workout. I’m glad I got my sweat on like that tonight, made me not miss my usual run so much.

10 Pound Slimdown

I’ve only done two of the videos so far, but I plan on doing the Lower Body and Yoga tomorrow morning (45 minutes total).  My obliques are still sore from the core video the other day.  I’m totally loving it. I can’t wait to implement these more.

Well I’m only doing 4 tonight because I have to go to bed and at least get my 7 hours!

Goodnight everyone!

Tell me, what are you loving today?

A Hard Decision to Make

26 Sep

When I woke up this morning my right foot pain seemed to have disappeared, so I decided I would run.  Not the 10 I had originally planned, just in case, but something between 4-6 depending on where I went.

I ended up with 4.5, but at 4 miles the foot pain reappeared. Well, crap.

It was a good run too – I forced myself to take it WAY slow. 10:26 average pace, and I had to force myself to go that slow. So that is the good news. My speed and endurance have begun to improve greatly.

But this darn foot. If you walked into my living room right now this is what you’d see

Rest, ice, elevate – did the compression earlier today
She’s got the rest part down to a science

A decision had to be made.  Try to run 6 miles in the morning or not? Risk the foot pain again? Or let the foot heal.

I really really wanted to ignore all common sense and get ready for my typical 6 mile morning run. After chatting with Coachy, and really thinking about it, the hard decision was made.

Take a week off of running. *gulp* Really?

Yes.  I am not going to run this week.  I’m going to make friends with the stationary bike and the elliptical machine instead. And on the other days I’m going to focus on yoga and stretching.  I have hopes that this will cure my foot ailments and I’ll be able to run again next week.  Only 21 days left until the Amica Half Marathon!

 For now I’m going to concentrate on sleep – Marathon #2 really took it out of me, I’ve been sleeping tons and really just needing lots of rest.  At 9 on a Sunday my eyes are closing, so I’m going to call it an early night and hope I can heal up and recover fast.

Wish me luck my friends!

Have you ever been fully exhausted for a whole week from a race? What did you do?

A Total Sweatfest

24 Sep

I woke up this morning full of energy – must’ve been the rest day and 9 more hours of sleep! I decided it’d be the perfect time to tackle a new workout. On Wednesday, Courtney wrote about a new workout challenge that she was starting, the 10 Pound Slimdown Extreme Challenge from Exercise TV.  You can read all about it on her post.

I can’t commit to a workout program like that because running is my top priority. I commit 2 days a week to non-running activities, this workout program requires 6 days a week.  I asked her where I could get my hands on some of the videos and she directed me to the Exercise TV site, where you can download the original 10 Pound Slimdown Videos, which I did.

This morning I was scheduled to work abs and upper body.  Naturally I wanted to try my new videos! I did the 10 Pound Slimdown Upper Body and Core Videos. Talk about a total sweatfest!

I did the core video first.  My abs were BURNING when I was done. Chris Freytag is an awesome trainer – she’s perky, easy to follow, and extremely motivating. She makes you not want to quit, even when you’re shaking and burning and there’s sweat dripping in your eyes. I’m going to be feeling this tomorrow, I just know it.

Then I did the upper body video.  My arms are like Jell-o right now, and I love it.

These two workouts combined took 45 minutes.  When I was finished I was winded, my heart was racing, and I was dripping with sweat.  That is some serious business. I’m so glad Courtney introduced me to these workouts.  I can’t wait to try the rest of them: Yoga, Lower Body, and Total Body Blast.

While I was already riding high on those workouts this morning, another thing happened that totally made my day.

I dug deep into my dresser for a pair of “work” jeans (I have to go work at my grandparents farm).  I haven’t worn these jeans since last fall, and they were snug.  When I put them on this morning they pulled up, buttoned, and zipped with no problem.

Life is good my friends.

I hope everyone has a great Saturday!

What was the last awesome workout you had? Has anything really exciting happened to you lately?

Listening to your Body

24 Sep

I am exhausted. Even after 8 1/2 hours of sleep last night, I’m sitting on my couch right now (at 8:30 on a Friday) practically falling asleep.

I’ve had this feeling all day. I’ve also had that pain in my foot, coming and going as it pleases, all day long.

After yesterday’s AWESOME run, I thought I was golden to move right into training for the Amica Half Marathon. My body says otherwise.

I discussed this with Coachy today, and he told me to take a rest day. Okay twist my arm. I did argue it a bit, stating how I have another half in 25 days, to which he assured me that he is 100% confident that I will kick that half’s ass.

Okay okay – Coachy’s right.  Body says exhausted, foot says ouchy, time for this:

A couple Advil, my couch, Dexter Season 5, and I’m having a chill night.

The moral of the story is: LISTEN to your body.  If you’re so tired you can’t stay awake at your desk at work, you probably need a break.  Don’t push your limits or you’re going to end up burnt out, overtired, or at the worst, injured.

How often do you listen to your body? Do you know when to keep pushing and when to rest?

Random question: Does anyone’s feet/legs get REALLY hot when wearing compression socks? My feet are burning up right now.

How I Beat Exercise Induced Asthma

23 Sep

Just about a year ago I used my inhaler for the last time. But before I get to that, lets talk about last night’s run because it all comes full circle.

Yes, I ran.  4 days after a marathon, I ran.  I wasn’t planning on it, but my legs felt great and Mother Nature proved the meteorologists wrong by giving us sunshine yesterday afternoon. So, I begged asked Coachy if I could run. His answer? “Run, run, run.” AWESOME.

And run I did.  The first few steps felt weird – I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. Here’s how it went:

The first mile felt a little stiff, but as my body warmed up, it also sped up.  I was flying along the ground like my legs weren’t even attached to my body by the end. That was so incredible.  I feel so strong and powerful. And today? I feel great. No residual soreness, no pain, even my foot feels better than it has all week.

The best part about it? Hills. What hills? my legs said.

I’m seriously still flying high off of this run. I’m so happy with it.
The reason this run made me remember that I have been meaning to write a post about how I beat exercise induced asthma is because, even in 90% humidity, my breathing was on.  I was panting by the end, but I wasn’t dying, I wasn’t gasping for air.  If I had tried this a year ago I’m sure I would’ve keeled over and dropped dead right there in the middle of the road.
So my story goes a little like this:
September 23, 2010 I ran the Ocean’s Run 5k. It was my 3rd 5k in as many weeks, and I was still trying to break 30 minutes.  I just couldn’t do it. I felt like I had the leg strength, but something was holding me back.
After the race I started thinking about it, like really thinking about it.  What is the one constant factor here? What was keeping me from breaking that 30 minute mark? 
Race day weather? Nope. All 3 races had different weather.
Pre-race food? Nope. First 5k ate too much. 2nd and 3rd did the right thing – ate light, but good combo of protein/carbs.
Size of running crowd? Definitely not. The 2nd 5k of the 3 was WICKED CROWDED, but I had my best time in that race. 
So what the heck is keeping me from breaking through?
Then it dawned on me. My inhaler. It was doing me more harm than good if you can believe that.
Symptoms I was having while using an inhaler and running: heart racing, practically choking on my own phlegm (the inhaler causes you to expectorate like a million times more than usual – gross), and dry mouth.  Well, that sucks now doesn’t it? YES. Absofreakinlutely. 
“What to do?” I asked myself. Try running without the inhaler? Sounded scary.
Well that’s exactly what I did. I was lucky enough that I had this idea in the fall, in New England, so the humidity levels were low. Over the past year I’ve had some struggles with breathing, but I feel like I’ve grown to be knowledgeable enough about breathing and running to share my tips.
Tips for Beating Exercise Induced Asthma

  1. Consult your doctor first – don’t do what I did and just say “To hell with this inhaler it’s holding me back.” I’ve had more intelligent days, I promise.
  2. Start slowly. You want to push yourself to a level where breathing while running is uncomfortable, but it’s not going to send you spiraling into an asthma attack. Know your limits.
  3. Run in the morning, outside. The humidity levels in the morning are much higher than they are in the afternoon, so running in humidity will test your lungs more, and strengthen them (is there such a thing as a strong lung? I think you know what I mean…). Then when the humidity levels are low, you can run faster because your lungs will feel clearer. (And pray for low humidity on race day)
  4. Do speed intervals. I started last fall implementing speed intervals once a week (Coachy taught me how to do them, I was clueless before). 
    • I started by strictly doing intervals with very slow jogs in between, I couldn’t handle tempo runs last year, they were too hard on my lungs. Warm up for a mile, then run 400m @ race pace followed with 400m @slow recovery pace.  Rinse and repeat for however long you want to go.  I use to do 3 miles – which is 6 speed repeats and 6 recovery.  Follow with a one mile slow cool down, even walk if you have to.
  5. Implement tempo runs when you feel ready.  You should be winded, but not gasping.
  6. Be patient. This process takes time. But it is worth it. I feel incredible about the fact that less than a year after giving up my inhaler I ran a marathon. 
Two months after giving up my inhaler I ran a 49:04 5-miler on Thanksgiving and then a 27:37 5k in December, and my times have continued to improve, and so have my lungs.  I’m to the point where 400m @ 7:30 pace is normal speedwork for me, and I’m hoping to push it even harder this fall.
Disclaimer: These tips are all what worked for ME.  I am not a doctor or a professional and these tips have not been proven to work for anyone but ME.  I can only hope they can help others.

Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear what others have to say on this topic. 

On the Road to Recovery

22 Sep

By the end of Marathon #2 my body was feeling quite beat up.

Standing from sitting was difficult. I literally found a patch of grass at the end of the race and laid down. Then I got up and got my free beer. Then I laid down again. Drinking while laying down is hard to do, in case you were wondering.

Walking was wobbly, at best, and it sure wasn’t easy. I’m pretty sure I asked Tim and Jim to carry me back to the car – and they laughed at me. They were feeling just as awesome as I was.

My legs were wondering why the hell I just did that to them, again.

By the end of Saturday my legs were feeling better (I’ll attribute that to the beers and shots though – especially given my choice of 4″, pointed toe, knee high boots as post-marathon foot wear – a girls gotta look good after looking like hell for 5 1/2 hours!).

I was feeling a bit stiff on Sunday, but nothing terrible.

One thing I noticed after this race is that I felt a helluva lot worse than I did after my first.  My theory: Mad Marathon I ran/walked a steady, slow race due to all of the hills. USAF Marathon I ran my butt off for the first 15 miles and my hip hit the wall.  The rest of me hit it not too much longer after.

So needless to say I’m taking recovery slowly.  I have pain on the outside of my right foot – so much on my body was sore by the end of the race that I honestly don’t know what I did to it.  Did I twist it running? Did I twist it while I was out celebrating Saturday night in my crazy boots? Who knows.

My legs were still rebelling Sunday.  Sitting in an airplane for 2 hours made them very unhappy. I felt like I had restless leg syndrome, but all they really wanted to do was be stretched out. My laptop bag takes up the entire underneath of the seat in front of me on an airplane, and my neighbor to the left was less than kind about her leg placement, so I suffered.

When I woke up Monday morning things felt better, but the foot was still a bit gimpy.  So, I took another rest day. Even though I’m not currently training for another marathon (and I wasn’t thinking about another half so soon either), I know mentally that I cannot deal with a serious injury.  I’ve worked too hard to build the level of fitness that I’m at now, and I do not want to lose it.

Yesterday morning the foot felt about 65% better.  I made the decision to rest it for one more day.

Three rest days in a row is crazy talk in my book. CAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRAAAAAAZAAAAY TALK. I was feeling so lazy by the end of yesterday, I just knew I had to do something. Even if it was just a little something.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “You just ran a marathon, and you feel LAZY? Psshht, shut up girl.”


Maybe not, but it’s my brain.  If I’m not working out at least 5, 6, 7 days a week, I feel like a big ol’ lazy blob. It’s a flaw, to an extent.

My first thought for tonight was hit the gym and go play with Eli.  He’s my go to friend when I need to get the blood pumping through my legs without pounding the pavement. Then I looked at the forecast for the rest of the week: rain, rain, and oh, guess what, MORE RAIN. Today was sunny and in the 70’s.

So I laced up a pair of old running shoes (ones that give me shin splints, so I wouldn’t be tempted to run) and went for a walk. A helluva walk if you ask me:

Then I came home and did Yoga Sculpt – holy, I know I’ve talked about this video before but I can’t say enough about it.

1/2 hour worth of sweat producing, muscle shaking, core strengthening, muscle stretching, awesomeness.

For $2.99, buy it.  And no, I don’t work for Exercise TV, they didn’t give me the video to review, I just like it THAT MUCH.

I’m feeling awesome, but tired right now.  I think I’ll go pay a visit to Eli tomorrow night.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get a run in this weekend, but if not, definitely Monday.  I have a plan for a new training schedule for the next few weeks due to a crazy work schedule. It involves an easy week, a ramp up week, a taper week with a half, and then … it’s SPEEDWORK TIME! 5k season is coming up for me – I have one in November and one in December. It’s going to feel nice to concentrate on speed versus distance for awhile. I’ll still run longish (10’s or so) on weekends, to keep up the endurance and my monthly mileage, of course.

Okay, I wrote you guys another book.  I hope you like to read as much as I like to write. Have a great night friends!

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