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Over Halfway February 15, 2010

Posted by wanderinggrizzly in 20 Something, Life, Marathon Training, Quarter-Life Crisis.
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As of yesterday I am seven weeks from the marathon.  Seven weeks!  That’s less than two  months, that’s only 5 more long runs so five weeks of high mileage and then the taper!

I am a little disappointed because I didn’t stick to the training as best as I should/could have.  Not sure if I’ll add marathon runner permanently to my resume.  You spend a lot of time running.  You may be going “well obviously” but I don’t think you can really comprehend how much time you can spend running until you start training for one of these things.  Especially if you’re a slow runner like I am.  It takes me around 3 hours to do 16 miles.  That’s 1/8 of my day, 1/8 of my day spent running, consider you spend approximately 8 hours working (1/3), 8 hours sleeping (1/3) 1/8 is a pretty big chunk!   These longer weeks I am running  34 miles, that’s approximately 374 minutes or over 6 hours of running per week.  I’m not sure I’ll make this a permanent part of my life.  I might aspire to run one a year or maybe even two…   We’ll see how I feel once I finish this thing. Depending on my experience at the VCM I was hoping to do the Missoula Marathon in July.  However it might be full by then and I don’t know if I want to do another one so soon…

For all these miles and minutes to be honest I expected more of a transformation, in my habits, body, and mentality.  While some growth has occured it’s not as drastic as I admit I had hoped for.  My weight is sort of yo-yoing from week to week.  My legs are bigger but harder and my boobs have almost disappeared.  I don’t think anyone who hasn’t seen me for a while will believe I am training for a marathon.  Granted it’s not nearly over yet, I have two more 16-mile runs and three 18-mile runs (I might trade one of those in for a 20 mile run just to see if I’ll ‘hit the wall’ and my other training program has a 20 mile run in it).  We’ll see how I feel once it’s all said and done.  I’m not saying I’m disappointed, I’m 100% positive I made this decision, but let’s face it, the marathon is a metaphor.  This is about changing my life, and while I think I’m made improvements, really I’ve just tweaked it a bit.

One thing is for sure, a marathon is a HUGE commitment, and I’m not even being hardcore about it.  After the marathon I think I’ll take a break from running.  I’m sure I still will, I just won’t be training.  That will give me a little over a month to focus on riding and roping before I head out West again.  I appreciate the insight running has given me into my life so far, but I will definitely need both a physical and mental break from it.


Deficit of 11 Miles January 25, 2010

Posted by wanderinggrizzly in 20 Something, Life, Marathon Training, Quarter-Life Crisis.
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i.e. I was supposed to run 28 miles this week and only put in 17.

This was a tough running week.  It started out pretty strong with a really nice 4 mile run, where I picked up the pace and felt really good.  For my next run, six miles, I simply did not want to do it.  I was sick of running, sick of training for a marathon and I just did not feel like it.  I still did it.  Usually when I’m feeling negative after I get into the rhythm of the running things take a 180 but this time it didn’t.  With each step I became more irritable and more annoyed.

When I woke up the next day I felt sick.  We’ve been having wet weather here in Raleigh and I think that’s put me a bit ‘under the weather.’  I was also having some pain in my right quad again.  Looking at my work schedule as well as the weather forecast I decided to switch the order of my long run and short run.  In actuality I ended up taking three days off from running.  Between my quad and my sniffles I felt like I was over-training a bit and decided to take a bit of a break.  Friday I went out and bought new running shoes as mine are a year old and starting to actually get holes in them.  I hoped this would give me both a mental boost and help out my quad.  It sort of did.  I wanted to do my long run yesterday but half way through I realized I wouldn’t be able to finish and make it to work on time.  So I only ran 7 miles as opposed to 14.

And hit a mental low.

Part of the mental training in the Non-Runner’s Guide is to attach “…it doesn’t matter” to doubts.  I.E.  “I don’t want to run, it’s raining… it doesn’t matter.”  So I tried to do this here but kept coming back to, if I’m late for work, I might get fired and I don’t want to start a 4-12am shift after a 14 mile run without proper time to rehydrate/refuel.  The consequence of this was an almost tearful drive back to the apartment where all I thought about was how my failure of this week means I will not be able to run a marathon and therefore not be able to change my life.  It’s so frustrating how now I can finally stop worrying so much about finances and instead of feeling good my conscious just goes to something else to fret over.

Especially frustrating was that I am starting to marathon train in other aspects of my life like I outlined last week.  I tried eating right this week.  I did alright, I carbo loaded on the day before what I thought was to be my long run.  I ate lots of veggies (well mostly lots of brussel sprouts yum 🙂 ) and tried limiting my caffeine and alcohol.

So this week isn’t a total wash.  I still get to enjoy my Sunday Mornings (leisurely coffee, CBS Sunday Morning, crossword, blogging and a somewhat productive internet surfing session) and I do feel better about this week’s running performance.  I need to respect my body and this is just one week out of 18 that I am training.  With a little extra push this week I can make it up and I have a yoga training instructor course this week so hopefully that will help my focus.  Which reminds me that I need to practice my breathing techniques this week in preparation.  Also depending on time/money I might start going to a hot  yoga class.  There is a ‘free’ studio close to where I live and I’m hoping I might be able to swing going once or twice a week (it’s a suggested 10-15 dollar donation per class.)

So while I am disappointed in my week this week I am trying not to let it get to me.  I still have 10 weeks to go (!) and while this past week and this upcoming one might be a little shaky with scheduling, I am confident I can get back on track.  (Also I did my weekly weigh in and those extra pounds I gained last week are gone surprisingly, thank heaven for small motivators.)

This Week’s Mileage: 26.5 January 17, 2010

Posted by wanderinggrizzly in 20 Something, Life, Marathon Training, Quarter-Life Crisis, yoga.
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I’ve decided to dedicate this blog to my marathon training.  I started it because I was frustrated I could find no one to commiserate with about my quarter-life crisis.  Now I realize it’s kind of hard to blog about being 20-something and aimless without sounding… petulant?  self-absorbed?  melodramatic?  Besides what is a marathon but a metaphor for life?  Running is one of the best things in my life right now, one of the most reliable and most rewarding.  This is a time where I need to focus on the positive.  Training for this marathon isn’t about being able to complete 26.2 miles.  It’s about changing my life.  Not to say an entry on work or finances or any other aspect of my life won’t slip in, but just like my life this blog needs a focus and the finish line is as good a place as any.

This week I tried to start training for a marathon in more aspects than just the actually few hours a week spent running.  While I haven’t been doing as much as I could it’s a start.  Unfortunately I gained three pounds but I think part of that is I wasn’t properly hydrated when I weighed myself in previous weeks and I was PMSing this week.  What does PMSing mean for me?  All I think about is food, and I cannot stop myself from eating.  When I wake up I immediately head for the kitchen, after breakfast I start thinking about what I’ll have for lunch, any advertisement for food makes me hungry, any moment my brain isn’t active on something I think about food, when I’m one heartbeat a way from calling a psychiatrist my uterus releases and I feel much better about myself and my sanity.

The day before my long run I carbo-loaded.  A lot of pasta and vegetables, I tried to limit dairy and caffeine and was mindful of hydration.  The result?  Well the first three miles I felt pretty tight.  Perhaps the Reebok Easy-Tone sneakers I’ve been wearing to my waitressing job are having more of an impact than I thought.  However I was able to relax and the second and third 3-mile laps were probably the best.  There is one street that is almost entirely an incline and on my second run up it I passed three people who were walking it and that felt pretty good, especially since I knew I was going to run it two more times!  I passed my apt every three miles where I rehydrated as directed and picked up the dog for the last three miles.  She is good encouragement for ‘speed’ intervals as when her adolescent attention wanes I just run a little faster.  Running the same route a few times in a row really alerts you to inclines you didn’t realize were there before.  While my pace was really slow (11:30/mile including hydration and traffic breaks) I still feel pretty good about the run and am only feeling a little sore the next day.

On my shorter runs (two of 4.25 miles and one of 6 miles) I tried to up the pace.  While I was able to I still feel as I can do better.  What surprises me is that while I was able to do it, it is so mental.  I know I can go faster still but it takes a lot more concentration than I am used to.

So what have I learned from running this week?  Now instead of feeling guilty and discouraged that I could ‘do better’ after finishing something I am excited for future opportunities to improve.

For next week I will continue to be mindful of what and when I am eating.  I will utilize more mental techniques.  Also I want to increase my strength training.  I actually have my first yoga instructor training at the end of this month and I’ve designed a few routines already.  I’ll do my ‘running’ practices on my shorter distance days as it focuses on the building strength in the legs and I’ll do my core/upper body practices on my medium and longer days, as they focus on strengthening the core as well as stretching the legs.

Long Run: Where am I? January 17, 2010

Posted by wanderinggrizzly in 20 Something, Marathon Training.
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My long run this week (12 weeks to go!) was supposed to be 11-12 miles.  However true to form I got a little lost.  I was running in Umstead and my map and directions did not correspond with the signs on the trails.  When I got to the half way point I saw that I had already been running for an hour and a half which is about 8 miles at my usual pace.  All together the run took almost 3 hours.  When I got home I checked my route with more maps and figuring in my pace I think I really did around 14 miles.  Woot!

While the fact that I was able to technically do a half marathon without death or even exhaustion is pretty exciting I ran through the entire gamut of emotions during this run.  Everything from gratitude to being able to be out running enjoying the beautiful day to anger and discouragement that running a marathon is the worst idea I’ve ever had and I would never be able to do it.  It is this spectrum that makes me think this is probably one of my most valuable runs.  I realized how important the mental techniques I’ve been reading about are.  I tried a few on my run and they helped but I know I need to take them more seriously and practice them more often.

Now that the real training is happening I need to start utilizing my marathon research; to be more careful about how I am fueling myself and what mental exercises I need to start practicing on the run.  Also I should be adding more strength training into my regimen.  With trying to build everything else in my life while I’ve been running, I haven’t been focusing so much on the other preparations.

Here is a short list of what I should think about this coming week for my next long run (12 miles).

*Note this was written for someone who does their long runs on Sunday, I do mine on Saturday so I’ve changed days where necessary.

Get lots of rest Friday night, aiming for 8 hours sleep.
Make either Friday or Saturday a complete rest day for the legs.
If you do train on Friday, make it a very light workout on the legs.
Begin hydrating on Friday.
Eat meals high in carbohydrates for lunch and dinner Friday. Selecting the “right” foods is an important area of experimentation.
Avoid foods with excessive protein/fat content all day Friday.
Drink about eight ounces of water Saturday morning prior to your long run.
Eat a light snack Saturday morning prior to your long run. This is also an important experimentation area in regard to food selection.
Drink lots of fluids while running. Be sure to stop for water frequently throughout the run. For runs longer than 60 minutes, you MUST drink sports beverages (such as Gatorade, PowerAde, etc.) at every two to three mile interval. Drinking on the run requires careful planning of the route (making sure there is water frequently available along with places to stash sports drinks).
Consider trying gel carbohydrate replacement products. Be sure to chase these supplements down with water to avoid stomach cramps and insure absorption. A final thought: Please dispose of gel and energy product wrappers properly by throwing them away in trash receptacles or placing them in your fanny pack. Let’s all work together to keep the environment clean!
After the run is over, continue to drink fluids (water, sports drinks, and/or juice products are all great choices).
As soon as possible (ideally within 15 minutes), grab something nutritious to eat to replace your depleted glycogen stores. Research indicates that to avoid muscle fatigue the next day, carbohydrates should be eaten as soon as possible following long duration exercise.

So with instigating this routine as well as notes from my other trainers hopefully I’ll see a positive difference between my long run on Jan 10 and Jan 16th.

Ich Ein Marathoner December 29, 2009

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It feels good to be back in Raleigh. (Although it would feel a little bit better if on the drive down I hadn’t gained $160.00 in speeding fines 😦 ). My mindset is completely different down here. I am so much more content and find that motivation and focus come much easier.

So finally I went running.  My usual routes at my parents house were covered in snow, so the only exercise I did there was the NordicTrack (shout-out to 1990’s fitness) and walking the dog.  It was only 4 days but it felt like an eternity. Now I have to amend my training plan a little.  I am using “The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer” by Whitsett, Dolgener and Kile.  They say it’s alright to miss a run now and then but this is the week where my long runs go up into the double digits and I’ll log over 20 miles total this week so I feel like this is an important week to do correctly.  Also I started the 16-week plan about 19 weeks before the actual marathon in case of injuries or holidays etc, so I’ve got some wiggle room.

I’ve been listening (and belting along to) Defying Gravity from Wicked for the past two days.  Actually, I think it was the only song I listened to on my 3-mile run today.  I feel like such a teenage girl.  Perhaps I’ll make it my anthem for 2010?

My long run is 10 miles this week for a total weekly mileage of 20.  Last week I was really nervous about 8 miles but it turned out to be fairly easy.  So far the most difficult part about this marathon training is figuring out the training routes.

Also this week I have to make two “mental highlight reels.”  One should be about the best training run I’ve had.  I’d say mine has to be the 7-mile run I did in Umstead State Park.  I did not have the dog with me so that was one less thing I had to be concerned with.  It was cold that day and it was the day of the big storm that snowed in the East Coast (well North of Raleigh anyway), so it smelled like snow and the air had that a velvety feel to it.  The run was almost completely in the woods, it went along side a creek for aways.  There was some tricky terrain I had to maneuver over, but I could tell my body liked running on the dirt much better than the asphalt I usually do.  I had my ipod, mostly listened to Florence and the Machine’s “Lungs.”  I wasn’t listening to it too loudly as I could still hear my breathing and the sound of my feet against the ground.  I remember feeling so much lighter running in the park as opposed to the road or the trail in Apex.  At the end of my run it was just starting to snow (the flakes didn’t last long) and even though I was tired I immediately felt rejuvenated.  There is something about snow that activates child tendencies.

The second mental tape is off what we’d imagine it would be like to finish a marathon… what I will look like, the weather, who will be there, what I would say to them.  I am signed up for the Virginia Creeper Marathon in Abingdon, Virginia on March 28th.  Like most marathons it starts in the morning.  March weather is kind of difficult to predict but I see it as being chilly and cloudy, overcast so I will want to wear brighter clothes, I see myself in running capris and some kind of bright top, I’m thinking like a rose color.  (Looking at the pictures from previous years there doesn’t seem to be a ‘proper’ outfit.  I’m thinking I’ll buy some new gear (some of mine is starting to wear out) at least a month before the marathon so I can ‘test drive’ it.)  My face will be red but my eyes very bright.  My parents will be there but I don’t think I’ll be saying much to them, I imagine I’ll be out of breath and relatively emotional.  But I’ll thank them for coming.

What I like about this book is that it has a lot of mental exercises.   (One of the techniques is to start identifying yourself as a marathoner even if you haven’t completed one yet – hence this post’s title).  It covers the physical basics but the visualizations and other techniques are what really give you the belief that you can actually do this.  The anecdotes of what people imagine while they’re running are really fun.  I know I do my best thinking when running and after I’ve ‘solved’ all my problems my imagination runs wild with fantasies of running a marathon or running in the woods, becoming another person for a while or having crazy adventures.

So what about you other runners out there?  What do you think of when running?  Or do you not think at all?