Running and Dating: A Comparison.

March 30, 2012 § 2 Comments

Today, I was thinking about dating.

I had two conversations this week with two incredible friends who are both absolutely gorgeous (not just saying that…they really are above-average, physically beautiful), witty, well-traveled, hilarious, and kind.  And they’re both single.

In the past year, they’ve each been really interested in guys who have both dropped the ball.  Just…dropped it.  There was some interest, there was some flirting, and then there was nothing.

It frustrates me to no end, this trend of passivity among Christian guys.  And then I hear guys wishing they had a wife! Um, hello, folks, to get a wife, you have to get a girlfriend.  To get a girlfriend, you have to ask a girl out.

I don’t have an answer to this problem.  But it got me to thinking about running.  I’ve been wondering a lot lately what my time will be in Boston.  Will I PR?  Will I tank?  What will the weather be like?  Will I be able to pull out the splits I want to?  Will I fuel correctly?  I know what I want to happen.

The thing is, it’s not magic.  A PR doesn’t just happen.  One of my favorite running one-liners is:

To run fast, you have to run fast.

I’m not just going to wake up on April 16 and go, “Hey, I want to run a marathon today in under 3 hours and 20 minutes!  Let’s go!”

No, sir.

I’ve taken the steps (literally) day after day to get here.  When I registered for Boston back in September, I essentially made myself a promise that I was going to do this thing and do it well.  Like asking a girl out (not that I’ll ever know the particular hardships of that task), it hasn’t always been fun or easy.  But it’s been necessary to get me where I want to go.

It’s about choices.  It’s about taking action–or, actually, taking a bunch of little actions over and over. It’s about the journey.

 

*Disclaimer: extreme randomness of thought processes and irrational similes are the responsibility of a stressful week and the author of this blog does not take responsibility for the opinions found herein.

Boston packet came in the mail!

March 29, 2012 § 4 Comments

oh my gosh! i'm so excited i turned into Kermit the Frog!

Wanted to share my unedited excitement with you about getting a packet full of information about the Boston Marathon today in the mail!  See above for my best Kermit/I-forgot-my-dentures impression.

the goods.

It includes a merch catalog, a little flier full of helpful info about optimal hydration while running a marathon, a welcome booklet full of necessary detes like maps and weekend schedule of events, and, most importantly, my bib number pick-up card.  I will be guarding that thing with my life.  It would be just like me to forget/lose it.  Please, Lord, no.

It’s real!  I’m running Boston!

Does Caffeine Enhance Performance? {A True Story.}

March 28, 2012 § 4 Comments

This morning, I cut myself some slack.

I woke up excited for my midweek long run.  I love these runs.  They boost my confidence and build mental toughness in a way that speedwork, weekend long runs, and those Steady Eddie runs don’t do.  They make me believe I’m a runner again, that my identity supersedes the grocery-shopping, tax-filing, gas-pumping, sometimes-invisible life I lead, that I can actually do something on a plain ol’ Wednesday that takes discipline and vision.

 

But I didn’t do it.

 

My alarm went off and I shuffled into my kitchen (about a foot from my bed in my teensy tinesy studio cottage), filled up a bowl with water like I do every morning, and stuck it in the microwave for four minutes.

That’s how I boil water. Don’t knock it until you live without a stove.

Then I got my favorite mug, plunked my red Melitta filter on top, and reached blindly in the cabinet for a coffee filter.

*this image was captured on a much better morning.

Nothing.

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me,” I said aloud.

No one answered, and no coffee filters appeared, so I put the Melitta back in the cabinet.

Plan B:

Celestial Seasonings Roastaroma tea which, while warm, is definitely not caffeinated.

 

I sipped my tea while spending time with the Lord, journalling for most of the time since my brain was too fuzzy to do much else.  Sitting in silent prayer was definitely not an option, for instance.

By the time I had read a final Scripture, laced up my running shoes, and loaded my Garmin, the mental toughness I prided myself on was going the way of the coffee filters.  I was starting to wonder if my “mental toughness” was less mystical and more bean juice, if you catch my drift.

Instead, I loped along at an easy pace for a regular little run.  I listened to some new podcasts I’ve been discovering, saw a Golden Retriever, two of those smush-faced dogs, some squirrels, and noticed a house I’d never seen before that was painted a beautiful shade of spring green with just a tad darker shutters.

Today, I’ll buy coffee filters. Tomorrow, I’ll do my midweek long run.  In the meantime, I’m not beating myself up about not doing it today.  I’m not a machine that can just crank out miles by sheer willpower.  Sometimes I need a break.

 

Sometimes, I just need coffee.

4 Reasons Runners Should Try A BodyPump Class

March 26, 2012 § 7 Comments

Me at BodyPump.

I just walked in from BodyPump class at my gym and I have literally not stopped trembling since the class stopped.  Hello, muscle failure.  I hadn’t been in a while, and I kept the weights even lighter than usual this time, which is saying something, but it definitely worked me out, got my heart rate up, and helped me remember that I have triceps and hamstrings.  Sometimes those little guys get a tad neglected.

The class is a high-rep, low-weight regimen with a different song for every muscle group, which keeps it interesting.  As I worked today, I was thinking how this would help me for Boston (three weeks from today!) and how BodyPump can really benefit every runner.

1. It makes you think about your posture.

The instructor tonight, Leslie, was a pregnant lady who is tough as nails.  She kept yelling at us to slow down tonight and wow–slow hurts.  The other thing she kept going on and on about was keeping our shoulders away from our ears, flat back, shoulders back, etc.  After Ian told me that I stand like a neanderthal, I’ve been thinking a lot more about my posture and how it affects my running efficiency.  At BodyPump, I can see myself doing whatever it is I naturally revert to when I’m fatigued, whether that’s a rounded back, sitting back into my hips, or getting tense: the mirrors are there the whole hour.

2. It builds your core.

Aside from just thinking about posture and making you look in the mirror for an hour, though, BodyPump goes a step beyond and actually works out those back muscles, shoulder muscles, as well as your core (the last track is for abs), which will substantively improve your form without you having to be conscious of it every minute.  Personally, I hate doing core work.  I just haven’t been able to get around to the whole #plankaday challenge in the Twitterverse somehow.  But when I go to BodyPump, the “Group Effect,” as they call it, takes over, and I can’t just wimp out at the end and leave.  I do the bicycles, I do the planks, I get it done…and get out.

3. It helps prevent injury.

Yes, indeedy.  Working out those glutes, stretching the hams, and killing the quads now will allow you to run stronger, rely less on weaker muscles like hip flexors (I learned this one the hard way not so very long ago), and keep you feeling strong during speedwork and hills.  All this, provided you recover well.  In a recent Runner’s World sidebar featuring Sara Hall, she said she does her strength training on hard workout days so she can truly rest and recover on easy days.  Something to consider.

4. It provides extra stretching.

The lunges portion stretches my hip flexors, the shoulders and back get to those places in my upper body that tend to stiffen up and ache on runs, and in the last 5 minutes of class, we get to do some really slow, deep stretches on the mat that, left alone, I can forget to do.  It makes me want to incorporate more ankle circling into my daily life.  My ankles really like it when I do.

 

Try a class like this out and let me know what you think!  Overall, it’s a great way to build strength that running in a straight line day after day just doesn’t achieve.

 

Let’s chew the fat: post-workout recovery eating.

March 24, 2012 § 3 Comments

Okay, so after yesterday, I thought you deserved a picture of what I really look like after a run.


I had just finished a long, slow distance run this morning and took this picture (and about 5 others in which I didn’t look this good..which speaks, I think.) Before you jump on your email to ask who punched me in both eyes, let me reassure you those are just dark circles.  I know.  That’s why I purchase concealer.

Real life, real talk.

Anyway, this is what I looked like next, directly after throwing some Vega Berry, peanut butter, and frozen mixed berries in the Vitamix:

Notice the time frame here.  I cooled down for about 5 minutes, stretched for about 5 minutes, took pictures outside for about 3 minutes, and was drinking my recovery shake within the next 2 minutes.  For the mathematically challenged out there (I am one of you), that’s 15 minutes total from end-of-run to getting that glycogen restored.

No Meat Athlete, which is an awesome blog for the plant-eaters among us, as well as anyone who values good health and good writing, has an excellent post about what to eat after you workout.  They point out that the 15-60 minute window after you finish working out is critical for restoring what you’ve lost during the workout.  Your muscles are like little, famished beggars going, “Please don’t make me wait til you shower! Please don’t make me wait til you meet friends for brunch! Please don’t make me wait til you feel like eating!”

This is important.

I haven’t always been such an advocate or practitioner of the post-recovery meal/snack.  I used to think, “Gosh, I just burned all those calories.  Why would I want to ruin that with a snack when I’m not even really hungry?”

Again: real life, real talk, folks.

But if you want to keep going, if you’re not planning to just be a six-months-and-then-I’m-injured-and-overtrained-and-out-for-the-count runner, if you really have in mind to make running and staying fit a part of your lifestyle, I invite you into my new reality: the post-workout recovery meal.  Try it.  See how you feel.  Don’t go overboard and eat a pizza when you walk in from running 2 miles.  But yeah, drink some chocolate {soy} milk or have a banana with some peanut butter.

It’s about the journey.  Happy running!

Things I Love About Running: Photo Edition.

March 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is how the day started.  Compression socks, ice packs (ie., frozen berries and frozen edamame).

Then I went for an easy recovery run down Capital Heights, one of my favorite Baton Rouge neighborhoods, and I took pictures while I was running.  Yes, it was exciting.  It was a thrill.  And I’m sharing it with you.

 

cool truck.

 

sunflower!

amaryllis.

one of my favorite houses in BR. i love the aqua. i love the door. i love the trees. yes and yes.

this is fuzzy cause i was running, but those are lemons! aren't they magical?

also fuzzy, but this is Hundred Oaks Blvd, and it's so beautiful to run on.

 

that says, "Hot Boiled & Live Crawfish." poor crawdaddies. but that's life {in Louisiana}.

 

i had to slow down when i saw this sign. (i kid, i kid.)

 

love this house. let's be honest: i just love those garage doors.

 

another one of my favorite houses! so cheerful.

 

And this is what I looked like when I got back!

What, that’s not what you look like when you get done running?

Will this day ever end?

March 22, 2012 § 2 Comments

I woke up this morning at 4:52am, 8 minutes before my alarm clock.  By the time my alarm actually went off, I had made coffee, gotten halfway dressed (running shorts + sleeping shirt + fuzzy purple robe is a look reserved for pre-dawn hours) , made my lunch, drunk a glass of water, and checked my email.

I was impressed.

Two tests were on the schedule:

  • Econometrics at 9:00am (spellcheck doesn’t even recognize econometrics as a word, because it shouldn’t exist.  It was invented by sick, sick people who didn’t care about anything, including spelling)
  • and Macroeconomics at 3:00pm (1 hr., 11 minutes from now).

I’m telling you, it won’t get here.  I am so saturated in boring information I can hardly take it, and I am afraid it’s going to start leaking out of my brain onto the floor any minute.  I have gone to the bathroom, studied, gone to fill up my water bottle, studied, gone to the Coke machine for a can of Coke Zero, studied, checked Twitter, studied, read blogs, and studied some more.

I’m concerned.

This is my concerned face.

So I thought, in lieu of more studying, I would tell you about my workout today.  I did some treadmill speed and it was a pretty simple workout–just 400m repeats with 400m recovery, which is kind of wimpy, if you really think about it, but who cares.  I hate the thought of speedwork and I have to give myself lots of treats, like long recoveries, to make myself do it.

But it was really fun once I got into it!  I was planning to do 8 and I went ahead and did 10.  But the main thing I wanted to share was how I remembered which number I was on.  I read about this in the April issue of Runner’s World and I always forget how many reps I’ve done when I do speedwork so I thought I’d try it.  You just assign a letter of the alphabet, starting at A, to each rep and associate a word with each one. Super simple, right? But it helped! I made some of them into little mantras to keep myself going during that rep.

I didn’t start till E, when I started having trouble remembering (maybe it’s the Coke Zero).  But here are my words:

  • E for efficiency.  Efficient gait, efficient form.
  • F for Farah – you know, Mo?
  • G for Goucher. Kara Goucher just came in 3rd at the NYC half.  She’s a beast.  Run like Goucher, run like Goucher.  Yes, I’m corny.  But I got the rep done. 
  • H for Hall. Duh.  I didn’t repeat anything during this one, but pictured myself running with Ryan.  I would be running full out and he would be recovering and chatting to me about Jesus.
  • I for If.  I told myself during the recovery right before this that if I could think of a runner whose first name started with ‘I’ that I would do 10 reps instead of 8.  Then I realized that was stupid and I should just go for 10.  IF you’ve got it in you, go for it!
  • J for Jenny.  I thought about Jenny Simpson, but mostly I thought about Jenny Wilde, a longtime friend, longtime runner and someone whose approach to life and running I have always admired. She’s running Cap10K this weekend in Austin with my sister and I so wish I could be there!  Ran this last rep for her. 

Alright, time to use these memory tricks on Macro.

Do you have any memory tricks you use when doing speedwork? Or any mantras you repeat to get yourself going?

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