Monday, August 27, 2012

Weekly Report: August 20 - August 26

This was a really strong week. I've never successfully run 15 miles in a week before, so I'm really happy to have hit this milestone. At the same time, I don't want to push the mileage too quickly, because that could lead to burnout or muscle fatigue.

Half these runs were in the morning before work, two were at the gym, and one was an evening run with K. Overall we're right on track, and we'll be running 3 or 3.25 milers this week. We've also noticed our times decreasing .We're not adding speed workouts to our routine yet, but I think the consistency alone is helping to shave seconds off our times.

Isaac ending up hardly hitting us, so we won't really lose a day of training this week, even though I lost a day of school. Hooray!


Saturday, August 25, 2012

This is Your Brain on Running

This weekend was stressful. We headed to a baseball game out of town Friday night and spent most of Saturday seeing our parents and some of M's extended family. We left home Friday evening after a full day of work, stayed out late for the post-game concert, and spent Saturday out of town much longer than I had originally planned. We had to get home in time to prep our house for Hurricane Isaac, and I needed to fit in a run.

I was a horror Friday and Saturday. Everything that changed our schedule even slightly drove me into a fit. I was biting heads off left and right. Could it be a coincidence that Friday was a rest day and didn't run until evening on Saturday?

Well, the short answer is most likely "no". When I brought up this phenomenon to K during our run tonight, her response was an emphatic "THANK YOU!" Apparently we're at the point in our training when taking a day off sends us into a spiral of bad-attitudiness.

Running lifts my mood, keeps me grounded, and releases endorphins that keep me positive and feeling good. Rest days are necessary to recovery, but if I'm not able to workout at all on those days (no gym, no run, nothing), then my patience grows short. It's like any more than 24 hours between runs sends my mood plummeting.

So how do I fix this? Rest days are a necessity, but being inactive on those days turns me into a monster. Even being up and walking (which I do for roughly eight hours a day when I'm teaching) isn't enough to stave off this wretched attitude. And let me clarify: on these days, I feel fine, but I'm more likely to be annoyed, upset, or angry when little things go wrong. I'm more likely to be outrageously irritated by small annoyances, like someone trying to talk to me while I'm concentrating on something. One minute I'll be perfectly happy; the next I'll be snapping at someone. My fuse, as they say, is short on these days.

I can't stop taking rest days, even if I only take one or two a week. So what can I do?  If I take the day off and can't get to the gym, what's the alternative? How do I stop myself from wanting to throttle people just because I have built up energy I can't spend?

I guess the answer is to do some other form of exercise on those days off (easier said than done, given my schedule), and I could do some yoga poses if I can't get to the gym. Or we could schedule days off so that our next run is in the morning, not evening, keeping our off-hours at 24 instead of 36. Both of these options are things I'll need to work to incorporate into my training, because being the teacher from the Black Lagoon twice a week is definitely not an option for me.

Running is supposed to be a wholly positive thing; but this, then, makes not running a negative (instead of neutral) thing. This makes "rest days" an oxymoron: good for you and bad for you all at once. In order to be successful, this needs to change.

I'm confusing myself. The bottom line is that I don't want to be a terror on days I don't run. Insights are welcome!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Second Half

Well, I did it. I've been getting the emails, putting it on my to-do list, and dragging my feet. But after my run this morning, I finally bit the bullet. K and I have officially signed up for our second Half.

My first half was, all told, kind of a disaster. I've briefly mentioned here that I ran it on little training. By little I mean three months or more of no runs at all. Nada. Zip. Zero., etc. I hardly got the first 5k under my belt before I was walking. I was blessedly able to zone out around mile 5, but by mile 10 I was limping along as my legs refused to lift off the ground. I was barely able to run the last half mile (which K, having finished before me, came back to run with me), and after this disaster I found I'd sustained a foot and knee injury.

As in, I tried to do a mile recovery run the next day and hardly made it a quarter of the way before I had to walk. I had to sit out running and let myself recover, all the while thinking about what an embarrassing display I'd put on.

Time heals all wounds, and I can now find some satisfaction in the fact that I participated in the race. But I'm not really happy with my time, of course, and I'm certainly not happy with my effort. After receiving emails about discount codes and early-bird pricing, I finally realized that if I kept putting off the planned November Half, I'd never do another one. I'd never suck it up, face this mental monster I've created, and meet the full potential I'm working toward.

I refuse to let my fear of failure get in the way. Not when I've been so consistent. If I were to try for a Half tomorrow, I'd be in way better shape than I was last time, and we've just gotten up to 3-milers this week!

I think the biggest fear, of course, is not necessarily that I'll stop training, but that I'll keep training and absolutely suck anyway. On the race application, it asks for your estimated finishing time. I rounded way up. Just in case, you know? Logically, I know this is silly. How could I possibly do any worse than I did the first time around? Making a PR for a Half should be cake. But there's still this dreadful sensation I get when I think about this race, and I don't think I can even put into words this all-consuming doubt I have.

But, it's too late now. After shelling out a gross amount of money to join, I refuse to back out. K and I will keep our schedule and will be ready by November 18. I'll finally be able to come to terms with the terrible first Half because the second Half will eclipse it in all the best ways. I'll be able to treat it as the learning experience it is. I'll finally feel like I'm accomplishing more than just logging miles for no purpose, and I'll have a reason to rise above my usual 3 mile runs and finally enter long-run territory. (Nothing like using a terrifying race as a goal and motivator, right?)

I'm excited and anxious, which is why I've turned to my blog, the purpose of which is to keep me motivated and hold me publicly accountable for my running goals. So there it is, blog world. I've signed up and I plan to run it. (I've also convinced one colleague to run it as well, and am hoping a second or more will join the fun!)

Now wish me luck.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekly Report: Aug. 13-19 & The Sisterhood

Before I post my weekly report, I have exciting news! My sister is (unofficially) training with K and me for her first Half.

A little history on S. She's younger than I am and currently in grad school earning her degree in mental health counseling. In middle school and high school, she was a sprinter. She made it to states at a ridiculously young age. She enjoyed outracing the boys she was friends with. S has always been much more athletic than I am, and it shows in that she played softball and tennis besides running.

Sometime in high school, S got burnt out on running. But with grad school has come a new appreciation for physical and mental health, and she's gotten into yoga and the like. Now, it seems, she's rekindled her interest in running.

When I first began running, I used to wax eloquent about S's athletic prowess, but when she called me the other night for some running advice, I realized the tables have turned. You see, as a novice runner, I incorrectly assumed sprints and long distance running were similar. I may have even thought they were the same. (I am cackling at my ignorance!) But S pointed out that training for short, speedy, explosive races is so much different than training for long distances, and she wasn't sure how to proceed.

Apparently she's been watching K's and my schedule and matching it on her own.

Anyway, this makes me extremely happy. I love sharing running with people and convincing others to try it out. But it means even more to me that my own sister, who I so admire and hold in such esteem for her athleticism, is going to be joining me on this journey! Training together will motivate us both, but more importantly, I think it will strengthen our bond as sisters.

That said, here is this week's training:

I'm very happy with this. I think 3 of the 5 runs were in the morning, and on Tuesday I ran twice. And to think it was such a struggle at first! To be sure, knowing I'm meeting someone else is very motivating; it holds me accountable. Also, what with lesson planning, grading, cooking, etc...once you know there's no other option than 5am, it makes getting up a lot easier.

Today we upped our mileage to 3. I think the biggest challenge for me will be 3.5, because it's been a really long time since I've consistently run 3.5 milers, and I'm guessing that's going to be the first increase in mileage that mentally daunts me. I want to do strength training at the gym two days a week, because I know that avoiding knee injury is going to be huge for me.

Overall, I'm feeling extremely positive and happy about our training! I'm looking forward to the continued progress I'm confident we'll all make together.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Little Dedication

Dedication. If you are a runner, this word may be synonymous with "commitment" or "determination." But I'm using the word today in a truly literary sense. This is a dedication to my running buddy, K.

The end of summer has brought on some wonderful things. First of all, K was able to begin running again. With that came the motivation to begin running before school, in the dark and magical pre-dawn hours of the day. And as with any change in running course, these runs have opened up a new kind of running for me.

The goals are still there, and the will to improve. But there's also something serene about a 5am run. There are few cars going by; we rarely pass another runner. We park in the dark and can keep our eyes on the moon and stars as we go. Our nighttime runs are usually filled with chatter as we catch each other up on our days; I love those runs, but the morning runs have introduced me to a strong, quiet, and deep solidarity.

It may sound weird, but it's almost intimate. Just you, the darkness, the road, and your buddy.

There is something really beautiful about these early runs. Getting out of bed is so, so difficult, but I find myself loath to miss a day, and even the runs that are a struggle leave me feeling centered.

There is no rush to gradepapers-eatdinner-digest-run-shower-packalunch-setupcoffeemaker-getintobedbeforeten. These 5am runs leave my body relaxed and my mind at peace.

So back to the topic of this dedication. In 2009, I set this goal to become a runner. When I started work, that could have easily fallen by the wayside. Think about how many people you've seen who want to improve at something - anything - outside of work, but succumb to the lethargy and fatigue of a long day. I know that I so easily could have been that person. I am not naturally competitive, with myself or others, and giving up has always come too easily for me.

But K was a lifeline. When I started work, there she was; and when I mentioned I liked to run, so did she. It began with barely 3/4 mile runs right after school and progressed into a Half marathon and a complex, rewarding, and refreshingly honest friendship.

I know, based on things she's said and her own blog, that in her time off from running for pregnancy #2, she sometimes felt jealous as I continued to log miles. But, K, I need to give you credit here. I would never have kept up with my running without your influence. Even on days you weren't there, you were there. There are a million times I could have quit. A million days when a well-timed text suggesting a run forced me back into a routine. So for all your "Great job, girl!" exclamations, I'm telling you to take some credit. You helped make me the runner I am today. (But don't stop praising me because of this - your praise means more than any other, because you get it.)

I'd like to end this on a note about the Olympics. The track/field competitions were exhilarating, breath-taking, astounding. I loved every race I got to see. But women's beach volleyball is what really stole my heart this summer. Watching Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings fight to prove they are the best in the world was extremely emotional for me. Every point they scored sent them hugging. Every close call saw them both screaming in support of each other. The way they communicated, pushed each other, forced each other to be better than they ever thought possible...

Really, who could ask for more? A perfect, awesome, excellent, wonderful partner-in-crime to motivate you when you're lacking spirit? A confidant you respect completely on all matters, sport-related or otherwise? Friendly competition that pushes for your success as much as her own?

I really couldn't have gotten luckier. I'm so glad to have my running buddy back, and I'm so ready for us to kick butt this year - individually regarding our own goals, and together as a running duo that won't let anything slow us down.
January 2011, Half Marathon, after K finished & came back to run the last 1/2 mile with me!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Race Season

Summer is slowly drawing to a close. The first sign of that here is that the blazing heat of the day has been very mild when the sun has gone down. The humidity isn't nearly as stifling as it was in June. With these first signs that fall is approaching comes the excitement of the beginning of race season.

I have been attempting to run a race a month this year, and my goal is to run a Half in November (and then again in February, but that will technically be next year). Building up to that Half, there are quite a few races K and I would like to run. We're going to put together a race calendar that will allow us to plan in advance and stay motivated all year.

Our biggest mistake with the Half we ran in 2010 was a lack of training. We went into the race not having run in months. This year, we don't want to make the same mistake. We want to be running and racing consistently.

So as far as races go, here are some we're interested in:

September 1: Legacy 5k       Results
October 6: Lexington Cares 5k
October 13: 10k Race for F.I.S.H
October 27: Race the Roof 8k
November 18: Women's Half Marathon
December 15: Frosty 5k
February 10: Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon

Many of the winter races that will pop up haven't been posted yet, so I'm waiting to see if there are any other 10k or 8k races in December or January. I'm going to need to start a savings fund for some of these, especially because if I actually do them all, I'm looking at a hefty price tag. I love that you can run for free; it just stinks that races can be costly.

I'm excited to have these goals in front of me. This has been a huge year for growth so far, and I'm excited to be successful this year. I think I'll look back at 2012 and think, wow, this was a great year for me where running was concerned.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Weekly Report: July 30 - August 5

I fell way short of my goal this week. I ran 3 miles this morning, hoping to up my mileage from 4 to 7, but Daily Mile didn't put in today's run with last week. Oh well! According to Nike, I have 6 days to run 10 more miles to meet my 30-miles-in-three-weeks goal. Now that school is starting again, I'm feeling like I'm going to be a little more on track. This week was just insane; I was at work from 8am until after 5 every day, and it stormed nightly.

On the bright side, I've begun to transition into morning runs, and now that I've started, I am very motivated to stick to it. I'm just too tired in the evenings and it's too easy to talk myself out of it. Going in the morning gets it out of the way, and has the added benefit of giving me bragging rights.

Now that the kids are back, my runs will likely be closer to 5:00am. I'm still tired/weaker in the morning, but I know my body will acclimate eventually.'s to a strong start this week, even if last week was pathetic.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Summer break is a double-edged sword. On the bright side, I had total freedom of my schedule. I could run at 11pm if it suited me. I could run every day, because I wasn't spending energy elsewhere, and could easily fit it in. Even the heat served a purpose: now that my body has acclimated, my distance is back up and I know I'll only improve as cooler autumn weather sets in.

But there is a downside to the freedom of summer. Namely, the lack of discipline. Remember that goal I had to run in the mornings? Yeah, that never happened because I had no real reason to push myself to get up early. So I ran almost every day last week, usually extremely late at night, but my freedom so do that has been cut suddenly short. I went back to work Monday, and the students come back next Tuesday. With early-morning wake-ups and long, labor-intensive days comes total and complete physical exhaustion.

I think that if I could convince myself to go running in the high heat of 4pm, as soon as I get out of school, I could maybe still be running in the evenings. But by the time I get home and relax for half a second, I'm asleep. Literally napping against my will. So this forces me to revisit summer's goal: become a morning runner.

K and I met up at 6am Tuesday to run, and I was able to do almost 2.5 miles. (My body is so exhausted in the mornings that I usually can hardly get in 1.75.) Our plan is to run twice during the week and then on the weekends, but if that's all I do, I won't be able to hit my mileage goal. Especially if I struggle to reach 3 miles in the AM.

(Also, let me take a moment to say YAY MY RUNNING BUDDY IS BACK!!!!!)

On top of that, once the kids come back to school, we'll need to be running closer to 5am. And when K returns to school, we'll be running around 4:45am. So August is kind of a test, and with the weight of exhaustion already dragging me down, I'm definitely feeling doubtful.

Of course, running in the mornings keeps my evenings nice and open. I can cook a leisurely dinner and get planning/grading kind of things in. But I wonder how runners sustain this kind of schedule! How do you go about everyday life when your priority isn't the real world's priority?

My relationship with running has strengthened so much over the summer. I don't want to let it fall by the wayside just because I'm back at work. And I know that all of you who work throughout the year are probably rolling your eyes at me, but adjustment periods are never easy for anyone. I need to figure things out, because after this weekend, life is going to get a heck of a lot more stressful.

But hey, that's why I run, right? I guess I'm lucky that one of the things that causes my stress is also a really good stress reliever.