Posts Tagged ‘strength training’

The Half Marathon cometh

So it’s been quite a while since I made a post here.  After I ran my first 10k on January 1st (Polar Dash medal and fleece jacket acquired!) there was a sort of…fall-apart moment.  It wasn’t a full-on episode complete with hate spiral stemming from week-long binges on junk food, it was more of a “don’t mind me, I’m just going to quietly play video games in this comfy chair for an undetermined period of time” type of deal.

My post 10k pic. I look happy to be done, don't I?

I guess after I had trained enough to know I could finish 6 miles, the 10k date was reached, the race had been endured, and the freezing of my ass had been complete, I felt a little aimless.  And I was sick of being outside in the Minnesota winter, alternating between sweating and freezing and unable to get warm hours after my runs were over.  definitely sick of that.  So, I gave up – for just a little while.  My husband had recently gotten Skyrim as a Christmas present (if you haven’t heard of this, let me sum it up by giving you these three keywords:  Playstation.  Dragons.  Life-avoidance.) and I spent more hours than I’m willing to admit to building up my smithing skills and stealing soul gems from the local shopkeepers.  Not my most graceful hours, I’ll admit.  But sometimes grown people just need to spend some quality time killing mythical creatures to forget that bills are due and workouts are being missed on a regular basis.

After I had spent about a month convincing myself that I was “letting my muscles rest”, there came a day (let’s say February 21st just to give things a starting point) when I realized I was going to be standing at the starting line of a half marathon in just over 90 days.  And it froze me in my sweatpants.  I’m going to be running 13.1 miles in June?  I haven’t run a single mile in weeks.  I’m dead.

And of course, when things get hairy, I head right for the internet.  Luckily for me, there are about a kajillion websites with 13 week training plans for running a half.  Exactly a kajillion.  They all seemed to have a similar pattern, and based on those I made my own plan that would get me to the goal of running at least 12 miles at a time before the big day.  I started out on the plan the next day, knowing that the sooner I started the less painful the June deadline would be.  Essentially my plan boiled down to running 4 times per week, between 3 and 5 miles per run for all but the last long run of the week.  The first long run was last Saturday, picking up where the 10k left off at 6 miles.  Mapquest pulled a quick one on me, and my planned route of 6 miles turned out to be 6.5 actual miles, but hey, that’s okay!  So this Saturday I am scheduled to go 7 to 7.5 miles for my long run, which with the shorter runs I did earlier in the week will bring my total somewhere around 16 miles.  The running schedule was also paired with a weight lifting/yoga supplement, adding one or the other on the days when I was scheduled to do a 2 or 3 miler, or on an off day.  Here is my schedule from last week:

  • Monday – 3.5 miles
  • Tuesday – 2 miles
  • Wednesday – 3 miles
  • Thursday – Weight training (including bench press, push ups, sit ups, squats with weights, lunges, chest flys, and whatever else I could throw at myself)
  • Friday – Off
  • Saturday – Long run, 6.5 miles
  • Sunday – Weight training

If I follow this plan, shorter runs followed up with an ever-increasing longer run, I should make it to race day without  destroying my mind and/or body, ending up at the finish line in some sort of quivering death march.

There were two solid problems standing before me:

1. In order to have a chance in hell at completing the race without totally humiliating myself I was going to have to Follow.The.Plan.  Without “letting my muscles rest” for a week at a time.

2.  Although I could finish a 5k and a 10k, I was still unable to run for more than 2 miles without slowing down for a walk break.  I was okay with this setback (sort of) until I read something written by a running coach:

You’re ready to run a half-marathon once you are capable of running 11 miles without stopping and you are consistently running at least 3 days a week.
Jill Andre Parker, from the book Run Like a Mother

Okay, Jill, you just sent me on a self-doubt trip there.  Was I kidding myself in thinking I could do this?  Just because I was raised thinking I could do anything, it was possible that there were limits to what I could actually do.  But why would all these 13 week beginner level training plans exist if not for people like me, who may have overshot the goal a bit?  Perhaps Jill was really talking about people who cared about “racing” a race as opposed to “finishing” a race.  I am definitely in the please-let-me-finish-this-sucker category.  Finishing 13.1 miles standing upright and holding a stained glass medal was really all that I wanted.  If there was no timing chip and all the clocks in the world stopped working at once, it really wouldn’t matter that much to me.

Actually, that’s not true; I want to know the time of my first half so that I can have a base to improve myself from.

In the long run, worrying about what Jill or the sabotaging voice in my head think really doesn’t matter.  The race has been paid for, and June 3rd is going to come whether I’m ready or not.  So the best thing I can do is get as ready as I can, buy a hydration belt and stock up on gels.

I’m going to be better about updating my progress on this journey, at the very least it will give me a reason to back away from the Playstation and practice not slouching in front of the computer.

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Strength Training, Activate!

I’ve been spending so much time thinking about, shopping for, and recovering from running lately (oh, and you know, actually getting out there and sweating) that all of my cross training efforts have gotten totally left behind.  I used to make it a habit to do yoga or Pilates a few times a week, and I followed the lifting program in the book The New Rules of Lifting for Women to build up muscle.  The last time I did any weight lifting was August, and I’m pretty sure I had finally finished Stage 1 and was in the middle of Stage 2 when I dropped the ball.

Well, there’s something really…unsatisfying about picking up where I left off, right in the middle of a stage, so I made the decision to jump ahead to Stage 3 when I go lift later on today.  Part of me knows this may not be the smartest thing to do, but the thought of beginning again and re-doing Stage 1 makes me want to scream.  So I’m going to take it nice and easy, go lighter on the weights than I normally would, and just ease into it like a super-hot bath.   I just know myself well enough to realize that if I don’t start with something new I’m going to get bored and non-committal, and nobody wants that.

Stage 3 should take me about 3 weeks to finish, and I’m doing all the lifting at home in my workout habitat (aka the basement).   Via the ever-useful craigslist, I have something like this for all my weight lifting needs:

Minus the guy.  And the gigantic weights.  Although large weights like that would be nice, since I’m dealing with tons of little 5 and 10 pounders to reach a deadlift weight of 85 pounds or so.  It gets tedious, especially when you’re swapping them on and off from the barbell to the dumbbells over and over again!

Anyway, in stage 3 there are different kinds of bent over rows, squats, swiss ball crunches, plank and cobra holds, bench presses and the like.  I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of result this will have on the running – I remember during the summer I could really tell a difference from doing squats and lunges – and hopefully this training will help me reach the 6.2 mile mark I need to be at for the Polar dash in a few weeks (without being totally wiped out!).

Today, these pictures are inspiring.

I really like this last one.  A lot.

Tomorrow I run my first 5K

I haven’t posted here in a while.  It seems like time has been going so much faster since the beginning of September, and I feel like I’m having to be really picky about the things I chose to do in my “down-time” (which really translates into an exhausted clean up of the house after the kids go to bed, followed by an hour of reading, tv, or blogging).

When my boys went back to school, my sickness karma kicked in and decided it was time to make up for all those months that I enjoyed being cold-free during the summer.  It was a doozy of an illness, too!  Full on hacking cough,

This is how my soul felt.

fever, stuffed nose, the works.  I totally lost the ability to smell or taste, which was not the end of the world, but made cooking food edible for others a challenge.

It also totally halted my active life.  No lifting, running, yoga (upside down poses sounded like torture) for a week and a half.  I had just finished Stage 1 of

NROLFW, and even though I was excited to get going on a new stage – begone prone jackknife! -, it just wasn’t going to happen.  So I laid down a lot, become friends with my heating pad and pillow, and caught up on missed episodes of Sons of Anarchy.

Just as I was coming out of this cold-stupor, a friend of mine asked me to run with her in the Twin Cities Marathon 5k, coming up on October 1st.  I said “Yes!  That sounds great!”, and thought it would be a good motivator to get me up and off the couch again.  What I didn’t factor in was how close it was to October 1st.  You see, one of the things about being a (mostly) stay at home mom is that you shed the need to stay on top of things like dates and calendars – unless it has something to do with your kids needing to bring something to school.   So in my head I felt like it was still weeks away from the 5k, but in real-time it was only about 10 days away.  Ten days away after a long sickness and an interruption to my exercise program.  But I didn’t really put together how far behind I was until I went for my first post-cold run.  Let’s just say, it was a wake up call to how tired I had gotten and how quickly things can start to go backwards when you take a workout break.

Fast forward a week, and tomorrow is the big day!  I’ve been running every other day, about three miles each time, and I started Stage 2 of NROLFW.  The runs have been getting better and better, but I really wish I had another week to get myself comfortable.  As of yesterday, I’m averaging about 14 minutes a mile, with a walking break thrown in about every three-quarter mile.  I’m hoping to be able to do the 5k in around 40-45 minutes, but I’m nervous!  It’s going to be hilly, it’s near our State Capital and I haven’t run this course before.  In fact, I’ve never run in any event before!  I totally have pre-event jitters (What if I can’t find parking? What if I forget my papers? What if I am late/can’t find it/get lost/wear the wrong clothes/etc/etc/etc).

 I’m starting to remember this feeling, it’s pretty similar to the one that sat like a brick in my stomach as a teenager in junior high gym class (performance/body anxiety and just hoping to god that I don’t come in last).  I realize that this line of thinking is really un-productive, and so I’ve been countering it with thoughts like:

  • I’ve never done anything like this before;  just by signing up and showing up to run I have accomplished something.
  • I never thought I could run at all, much less in an actual event, and doing this 5k is just the beginning of my fitness future.
  • As long as I finish the race upright, and feeling like I enjoyed challenging myself, it has been a huge success.

And finally, this one (a little less optimistic, but still helpful):

  • Just assume now that I will be last.  Get over the fear of it, and if there is any other result besides coming in last, it will be like a special bonus.

    I'll be part of this crowd tomorrow!

I’ve been reading 5k running books.  It may not have been the best plan, because it gave me a clearer picture on how far behind in training I am, but it did teach me some important tips for tomorrow.

  1. Don’t eat anything too heavy the night before.  It sits in your stomach for a half day, and who wants that for a morning run?
  2. Eat 2 hours before you run, but nothing too fatty or multi-grainy.  I’m thinking a small cup of coffee, a banana and maybe some toast.
  3. Bring some kind of replenishing drink, a protein and a carb to eat after it’s over.
  4. Just try to have fun and remember it’s my first time!

I hope it goes well. 

More than that, I hope I can chill out and just have a good time.  I signed up for this because it sounded fun and challenging, not because I thought I needed some special torture in my life.  8th grade gym class is over, and this is something I can do.  I got this.

That Bleh kind of feeling

Sometimes, things just don’t work out the way I think they should.  Normal fact of life, right?  Should have gotten used to it by now, I would think, I’ve been on the planet for 35 years.

And yet I still manage to get all riled up and discombobulated when things don’t go the way they should be going according to the movie playing in my head.  That’s a really sad statement, I know.  Can I blame it on the fact I was an only child until I was 16 and pretty much had the rule of the roost?  Hmmm.

I work part-time, and on those days my lovely husband (who works overnights) gets up after just a few hours of sleep to be with our young children until I get home.  For a few weeks now, he’s been letting me steal away from an extra hour after work to go running by myself – without children on bikes.  So I woke up at an unholy hour on my workday  to get all my gear together, make sure I didn’t forget to pack shoes and my sports bra, and Continue reading

Starting Stage 2 of NROLFW!

Well, it took me 7 weeks, but I am one workout away from finally getting to start stage 2 in the strength training book I follow, The New Rules of Lifting for Women!

Okay, it may not seem like super groundbreaking news.  But hey, over the last six months, I’ve started and stopped Stage 1 about five different times.  And believe me, after all this time I am totally ready to move on from doing these same two routines over and over again.  I love you, NROL, but I’ve had about all I can take of the deadlift for now. Continue reading

8/29/11 Check In

I took the boys out to Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis for a run.  I like to take them to nice flat paved places, easy for them to bike on and for me to run outside. Where we live there are tons of hills, so I end up driving up into the city when I am going to be running with them.  Anyway, I thought they would enjoy going around the lake and looking at the boats, the people, etc.  We got there and unloaded all the stuff (one of the joys of them coming with me is that they get to carry backpacks so I don’t need to carry anything) 🙂 and got ready to go.   Then we were faced with a choice: do we use the walking Continue reading

My love affair with The New Rules of Lifting for Women…

I was wasting time in the health and fitness section of one of the giant bookstores about a year ago, trying to find some inspiration.  I had been thinking about working on my strength, it seemed like if I could make my muscles stronger I would have more endurance to get through my DVD workouts.  Tae Bo was kicking my butt, pretty hard.  I had the same experience as most people who start out with small weights or exercise bands – they were fine, but it seemed like there should be something…more.  More challenging!  More satisfying. Continue reading