Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I just don't feel like it...

So I skipped a run and to be honest, I have wanted to skip more. I am at a point where I can say out loud "I don't feel like running." I have been a slave to training since January. I have not taken any sort of break for several months and at this point, I think my body is putting on the breaks.

So far this year, I have competed in 3 half marathons, a full marathon, and a relay. This was on top of my already busy schedule: a college class, a full-time job, making/selling wreaths on the side, and personal issues that arose in our family. Now, here I am just about 2 weeks away from a 5K and a marathon. 

Tonight, my schedule called for a 3 miler, but I could not help but dread 3 miles. I can get that done in less than 30 minutes and I could even do it on the treadmill where I can watch TV and eat donuts, but I I still didn't feel like running. I did go out there and do the 3 miler and am glad I did, but I hate that it hasn't been amazing like I remember it was.

Like I said in my last post, I haven't had a good run in a long time. I mean, why would you keep doing something if it didn't feel good? Running is something that is supposed to be fun and freeing for me, not something that resembles a part-time job. Nobody ever wants to come home from work to do more work. 

The last thing I want to do is ruin my marathon training. I really want to have a good experience, but I fear that I will feel like I'm running through waist-deep mud since that's how running feels recently. 

I have already promised myself one thing though...I will not run for AT LEAST a week after the marathon. In fact, I have given myself the option to extend it. Sure, a second week would start eating into my JFK training, but then again, I would rather take the hit in the beginning than feel drained halfway through training for my first ultra. 

Anyway, I hope your running is going a lot better than mine! Any suggestions would be much appreciated!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

No Drive, Weight Gain, Fat Loss...Overtraining?

This year has been a difficult one when it has come to running. I have fallen into the dreaded "runner's rut." Every run is like running through tar.  I am wondering if those good runs I used to have were a myth. Did I repress all the bad runs and replace them with fake good running memories?

I try to go out on my runs with the mentality that it is going to be better than the last, but it never is. In fact, from the moment I take my first step, I feel exhausted. My breathing is all over the place and my pace is slowing. It's a almost rare that I am in the 8 minute range like I used to be. 

Yesterday, I ran 12 miles and tried to avoid looking at my watch. I wanted my pace to only be as fast or slow as my body wanted to go.

I did walk one hill, but that's because it is a gain of nearly 100 feet in less than a quarter of a mile.

I finished the run at a 9:45 pace average, which was okay, I guess. Still, it was a struggle and I just wanted it to be over.

Overtraining has crossed my mind a few times, but I usually scoff at the thought because I am running 4 days a week and about 35-40 miles a week. I used to do 5 days and run 40 miles or over. So it has been hard for me to believe that it is overtraining. Then again, there are obvious symptoms of it here.

I have also magically gained weight. I have blamed it on everything: Eating too much or not training enough. But today, I tested out my body fat percentage and discovered I am straddling the percentage for a female athlete and what is considered just essential fat. What the hell?! I have NEVER been that low. I mean, I have noticed that my belly is beginning to flatten out and I see the outline of my abs again (I thought they disappeared), but again, my weight is up, my energy is down, and I am losing fat. Something is not right!

Could it be that I am overtraining?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A New Journey...

Have you ever been in a position where you felt as though you have lost all control of your life? This goes beyond health or fitness. This lack of control encompasses every puzzle piece of your life: Your family, your career, your health, your happiness...

It began earlier this year, but only after a domino affect of events that were set prior. It really tested me mentally. I felt like I was laying on the ground with concrete blocks being stacked on my chest. With every new stress that occurred, a new block was added. It got to a point where I felt like I could not breathe. It affected me so negatively, that I could do nothing but cry or scream.

My running was even on the decline and when something messes with my running, I get ticked! So with every bad thing that has happened in the past 5+ months, I have decided that I owe myself. I need to take a chance and do something that I love: Becoming a Personal Trainer. I have played with the thought for a year or so, never quite taking the idea seriously. I thought about taking the class at my local community college and online, but just never wanted to commit. I mean, I was comfortable with my job, so why pay the several hundred dollars to become a certified fitness trainer.

I did go back to school and tried to complete my degree in Health, Physical, and Leisure Studies, but it was extremely difficult to struggle taking classes while being employed full-time. At the rate I was going, I wasn't going to have my Associate's Degree until 2017. I still have every intention on getting a degree, but becoming certified seems to be a stepping stone to getting the career I want/need. I have become so comfortable at the job I presently hold. I have done quite well at it and the pay isn't too shabby either. But is it my dream career?

One day, I would hope to have my own business. One which I can designate my own hours while doing something I love. With the Personal Training certification, I can. With ISSA, they even offer CECs in Marathon Training. Why would I not want to take a class like that?

Today, I signed up to get my CPR and AED certification and also signed up with ISSA to receive my Personal Trainer certification. I am hoping that no later than August, I will have completed both with flying colors. Then, I can set my sights on building my own business and obtaining a career more in line with my interests. I later hope to follow both of these with additional certs to not only help others, but help myself!

Anyway, that is my stance right now! The studying shall commence and a new journey will unfold!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Final 20 and an 8 Miler

As of yesterday, the hardest part of marathon training was complete. It was my final 20 miler before the big day on May 31st. Though I have done a few 20 milers prior to yesterday's, I think this one was the most difficult. It was the first which was above 70 degrees. And phew...was it humid.

I tried to begin as early as my body would let me, minutes before 7 am. I knew it was going to be uncomfortable and I knew that the sweat would pour, but I tried to remain optimistic. It was the final long run.

I brought my Camelbak and I am so thankful that they exist. I am not a fan of the sloshy noises that it makes, but my iPod was cranked enough to tune it out. Besides, I think that a Camelbak is so much better than holding a water bottle for 3+ hours.

Anyway, I started my journey just out my front door. I wanted to get SOME hills in, but my legs were tired and I didn't want to over exhaust myself. So after about 4 miles on the road, I headed towards the C&O which was HUMID. AS. HELL! I was soaked within miles of off-roading.

But it at least it was pretty out!

At mile 8, I took my first break to eat and redo my hair.  My braid was already a tangled mess and unmanageable from the sweat seeping through it.

I went into a coughing fit just after mile 11. I don't remember if I swallowed a gnat or if my throat just got a random tickle, but  my throat began to swell. It worried me because breathing became super difficult. I didn't stop running because I just assumed that it would go away. It did, but the fact that I ran through that really took a lot of my energy. I had to stop just after hitting the 2 hour mark.

The humidity was unbearable and I wondered if my sunscreen prevented my pores from being able to breathe. I had a hard time trying to convince myself to run another 1+ hour of this discomfort. I wanted to give up, but I just kept reminding myself that this was the last difficult run before the marathon. I was going to be on taper vacation after suffering this. I HAD to get through it!

I stopped again at mile 15 to finish the food I packed. I wasn't hungry, but I thought that it may give me what energy I needed to make it.

Obviously, I was over it at this point. But I told myself that as long as I ran the remaining 5 miles, I  could take as many breaks as I wanted. 

Eventually, I made it to the sweet number of 20.

Not my best time, but I'll take it!

I had about a mile to walk before I made it to where Peter was parked. It was a nice way of keeping my legs moving so they didn't immediately stiffen up. I also got to meet a few geese.

I kept on my feet for the remainder of the day by cleaning and grocery shopping. I knew that the second I stopped, I would stiffen up, so I was glad I had the strength to continue moving. I slept like a log that night though!

This morning, I did another 8 miles. The weather didn't get any better, but I was just happy that it was ONLY 8 miles. I ran from my house to the Antietam Battlefield for the views.

Though it was hot, I think I am adjusting better than expected. My pace has slowed a good bit, but I figured that would happen.

Anyway, my longest run this week is 12 miles and I hope to get some bike rides in as good cross-training as my tapering begins. I am looking forward to some reduced mileage for once! I have been non-stop for about 6 months now! 

As the temps go up, have you noticed any differences with your training?

Do you think taking breaks during a long run is cheating?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Weights and Wine

Real quick! If you guys could do me a HUGE favor! I am registered for the Runner's World Cover Contest and am hoping to get your vote! You can vote for me here! Share with your friends!!! Thank yoooou!

So I have decided to invent Weights and Wine Wednesdays. I am sure it will take off just like Mancrush Mondays and Throwback Thursdays. ;-)

Just drink responsibly when you are using weights! No one needs to lose a foot over my new weekly holiday.

Speaking of weights, however, I have been getting back in to it after a several month hiatus. After the wedding, I had zero desire to strength train. I was just too busy! But it wasn't until I stopped that I truly noticed the benefits of maintaining a regular strength training workout.

Running can only do so much to keep you in shape. Building up your muscles definitely has it's many advantages.,,

  1. You burn more calories. For every pound of muscle that you gain, your body typically uses about 4 - 7 calories (http://www.active.com/running/articles/3-reasons-strength-training-will-benefit-your-run). This will definitely help shed those extra pounds you put on during the winter/holiday season.
  2. It prevents running injuries. The more you strengthen your injury-prone areas, the less likely those areas will be subject to future injuries. For example, squats can help reduce many lower leg injuries. 
  3. Improved running form. Strengthening your core through weight training will help you be able to hold your form for longer periods of time.
  4. You'll run faster. With an improved running form, you will be able to slash seconds or even minutes off your pace.
  5. Increased endurance. You will be able to perform stronger for longer. Great for that half or full marathon you have been training for!

I only do strength training 2-3 times/week. I do legs one day, arms another, and abs if I have the time.

I have also thrown in a plank challenge that I do. I do two days of planks, one day off, then resume.

I have been on a roll for about 3 weeks now and feel so much better! Before I took back on the weights, I started feeling puffy and I felt like my running was taking a toll. Now, I feel like I am getting out of my rut and my fit body is coming back! Just in time for the summer!

Do you strength train? What are your must-do exercises?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Gingers were not made for hot weather

I tend to complain about the heat every year, but seriously. Why is it already in the 80s? Back in my day, we used to have Spring. Now, it seems as though we go from Winter to Summer within a week's time. I think I need to move to an area which does have 50-70 degree weather all year around because I am very heat-intolerant. It's a ginger thing...

But I think having humidity on top of the heat is the ultimate culprit. On Monday, I went on my first 80 degree run this year and about died. I had to stop at mile 3, catch my breath and push through the remaining 2 miles gasping for air. 

Yet, there are ways to survive the heat waves. I have been running through it for 3 years now. How I have  lived, I am not entirely certain, maybe it was these tips below that pushed me through the discomfort...

  1. Wear as little as possible. I tend to lose the shirt and run in shorts and my sports bra. I'm not trying to show off skin, I am strictly running for comfort. For those that would prefer not to run shirtless, there are plenty of light-weight, breathable shirts. I love this one from Under Armour.
  2. Drink plenty before, during, and after your run. Hydration can make a huge difference to a hot weather run. I would recommend a drink with electrolytes to replenish what you are sweating out. Try sipping every at least every 20 minutes on your run.
  3. Run slow. Your heart rate is increased when the temps are elevated. Runner's World says that after 60 degrees, for every 5 degrees, your pace can slow by 20-30 seconds per mile! So just because the watch says your slower than usual, doesn't mean your not getting an awesome workout! Listen to your body, not your watch.
  4. Run early or late in the day. Doing this would allow you to avoid getting hit with the highest temperatures of the day. If you can manage, try even running at night.
  5. Find shaded areas and avoid roads. The roads soak in the sun and you will feel that heat on your feet. Try trail running or find a shady area to get your miles in. I like to hit up the C&O Canal to stay out of the sun. 
Also, remember that it takes 14 days to acclimate yourself to the new temps. Although it may seem grueling for the first few times you run in the heat of the year, it will get easier!

Don't forget to acknowledge dew points instead of the temps. Here's a good chart to reference to see how your run could be effected depending on the due point.

And let me know if you have your own ways of battling the heat! I would love any additional tips to survive the next few months! :o)

By the way, I am selling the "Gingers earn a freckle for every mile they run" shirt! So for those proud ginger runners out there who want their own, you can get them here (men's wear coming soon)!!!

How do you survive the summer months? Especially in those high humidity zones?