health

DON’T SKIP THE GYM

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Picture perfect day in San Francisco!

For those who haven’t been reading me for a while, 2017 has been a difficult year. I had been suffering from IT band pain since the 2016 San Francisco Marathon and it finally got so bad in late February I could barely stand it. I took two months off running, but that didn’t help at all. The only thing that came out of it was weight gain.

Ug…..

I came back with the determination to run AND fix this! So, I did my homework and I found out that it most likely was weak hips. I didn’t go back to the doctor. With my high deductible and the fact that I had previously spent $200 for nothing (!!), the doctor didn’t help solve this at all, I decided to fix it myself.

I dedicated myself to a strenuous schedule of running and going to the gym. I weight train three days a week. I do core exercises every time I’m at the gym and then I trade off different training depending on the day. Mondays – shoulders, Wednesdays – legs, Fridays – arms. I do a series of exercises chosen to make me stronger, with sets and reps increasing very gradually.

I do not use light weights either. I choose weights that I can lift comfortably, but are still hard. Depending on the day and the exercise, I can choose between barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, cables and a few weight machines.

I will go into specific exercises in the future. But my point is runners shouldn’t think that running is enough. I can’t count the times I’ve heard runners say how much they hate the gym or lifting or exercising (besides running). Yeah, it’s different and you do have to be inside, but I love it, and I wasn’t a fan when I started. You don’t have to do it as much as I do, but do some. And if you choose to do some form of lifting, don’t think that the little 5 pound weights are going to do anything. They won’t. Push yourself, just like you do when running. Get the most for your time spent.

When I put my all at the gym, as I do my running, I don’t have any pain. My legs, hips, glutes, etc are happy. And a happy body is a working body.

My 8-mile run this morning was wonderful. It made me very grateful for the blessings that I have.

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The view goes on forever….

Keep moving forward!

Martha

 

 

 

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2017 SF Turkey Trail Trot

This was my 5th year and still one of my favorite races. The weather was perfect and I had a lot of fun. My race itself was not one of my better ones, but I didn’t care, it was a good time! The race is 5 miles through the various trails of Golden Gate Park. There’s also a 3 mile walk and 3 kids races for various age groups. Plus, there’s a ton of prizes for the winners and a HUGE raffle at the end. In fact, this was the first year I didn’t win anything in the raffle. Proceeds benefit the track teams for Lowell and Washington High Schools.

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Sunrise before the race

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Washington High School band

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the kids racing across the Polo Field!

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Turtles chillin on Spreckles Lake

I am very thankful this Thanksgiving Day Weekend for being healthy. I am thankful for, no matter how slow, being able to run. I can and will get faster! I have decided to really make it a top priority to attain maximal health and fitness, no matter what in 2018, so I’ll get a head start in the weeks before the new year. Sure, I overate and have a couple extra pounds, but now it’s time to get serious and dive headlong into fitness!

Keep Moving Forward!

Martha

 

 

Stop Putting Yourself Down!!!

I belong to a particular running group in Facebook specifically for slower runners. It’s a fun group, for the most part, but sometimes some of the posts sadden me.

Many people, through a harsh life’s history or intense medical problems or something else, suffer from a negative self-image. Because of the magical power of running, they a strength within themselves they never knew existed and believe in themselves again. Others continue to struggle, trying to cope with those inner voices while posting backhanded criticisms of themselves.

Some of the ones I see a lot:

“I’m really slow…”

“I’m not a real runner…”

“Everyone is faster than me…”

“I’m afraid of being the last runner…”

And there are so many more.

Self-esteem is not an easy thing to grow, nurture, if it was never given the chance to blossom. But we have to find a way. We must. I was a drunk for much of my adult life. I drank to escape the real world. If my life had been great, I wouldn’t have wanted to escape, would I?

When grew tired of hangovers, black outs, missing money, lost friends, etc, etc, I quit drinking and spent years telling myself I was an OK person. And I am. And you are too.

As they say in AA, “fake it til you make it.” Because one day, you will make it. One day, you’ll realize that you’re not such a horrible person and that you’re doing all right. It might take some time; it might not be perfect. And you’re going to mess up, we all do.

But one thing is certain: you’ll never make it if you keep telling yourself you suck. You need to stop that. NOW.

So stop putting yourself down. Keep running, keep working out, eat good food and…

Keep Moving Forward!!

YMMV

YMMV….these simple initials, meaning: Your Mileage May Vary, cover a very wide territory. When learning something new, facts and information are given in the most general sense to cover the widest scope possible, so many times it isn’t always a perfect fit.

While studying for my personal trainer’s certificate, we were taught to encourage clients to use a treadmill over running or walking outside. As a runner, this goes against my very core, no my heart.

I understand why the educational system does that. They’re teaching students who most probably will be working at big gyms with lots of clients using lots of equipment and they want those clients to stay in those gyms using all that equipment.

But treadmills? Ug. No wonder people hate running if they’re subjected to those things. A mile on a treadmill feels like 10 miles outside. Treadmills were first designed as torture devices for prisoners and for me, it feels just like torture to run on them.

Running, first and foremost is about freedom. How is it freeing to be stuck on a machine going nowhere? That seems to me to be more like trapped. It’s the opposite of the emotions I want. Even walking isn’t pleasurable when spent on a small, movable surface inside. It just isn’t the same as being outside.

I walk every Saturday with a small group of senior ladies. I couldn’t imagine doing the walk on treadmills. It wouldn’t happen. Part of our fun and joy is being outside, seeing the lovely sights of the city and the togetherness of the walk. We’ve seen some great things too. Sea lions, wind surfers, brown pelicans and sail boats all have been part of them. We’ve watched the exciting ending of a swim race from Alcatraz to Aquatic Beach, we’ve wandered through massive wooden sailing ships docked permanently at Hyde Pier.

“Watch TV while you’re on the treadmill!” People suggest. No. I run or go walking to get away from television, to get away from drama, current events, advertising.

I think if I asked the ladies they’d say the same thing; they wouldn’t go walking if they had to do it on a treadmill. We love the feel of the breeze, even if the weather isn’t always the greatest, but it is our release for the built up stress of the week.

Many people enjoy the treadmill, and I understand that. Maybe they don’t particularly like running, so they can get it done quickly without going outside. Maybe they’re nervous about running outside. These are understandable concerns. But I say to this, just once a week, step outside and go for a run or walk. Find a nice place in your area, listen to music quietly if you like, or if it’s a trail, listen to the birds and the rustle of the wind. Just try it. Once a week. You might find it more pleasurable than you ever thought.

Keep moving forward! Cheers!

WE WILL RETURN TO OUR STORY IN A MOMENT…

After posting diligently about the San Francisco hills, I’ve taken a quick break and will get back to them later this week.

Things have been busy; my workouts have been great and I’ve been running well. My downfall comes with eating. I eat healthy, just as I always have, but losing weight is difficult. Combine that with the rare occasion when I have a cheat meal and I gain all my weight back. I’ve realized that I need to cut my portions back from what I used to eat. Even with all the workouts and running, I simply cannot eat as much as I used to eat. Such are the ways of getting older.

But giving up is not an option and if I continue to MOVE FORWARD, I will lose the weight I desire and reach my goals.

Have great workouts and continue MOVING FOWARD!!

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Part of the trail in Golden Gate Park

 

47 HILLS – PART 4 COLLEGE HILL

For a couple of weeks, I battled IT band problems. It kept me away from running for over a week, during which I stretched and walked and still managed to get to the gym. It was hard, because both my legs were letting me know I had to do a lot of extra work to keep running.

And so I will! I will keep going to the YMCA. I will keep doing the stretches, the leg strengthening exercises, squats, planks and lunges I must in order to run.

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The Top of College Hill

This past Sunday, I got back on the road and continued my 47 HILLS story for my blog.

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Looking up College Hill

College Hill is the 44th highest hill in San Francisco. It’s so unremarkable that you’ve probably never noticed it, ever, even after riding by it a hundred times on the MUNI #14. I didn’t even think of it as a hill, yet when I ran up it Sunday, you bet it’s a hill! It sits in the Outer Mission area, just south of Glen Park to the east of the Excelsior, near the turn off for Highway 280. There are a few good restaurants in the area and just a mile or two down Mission is where all the action starts, so this is a fairly sleepy part of town.

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Neighborhood businesses on Mission at College Hill

It hasn’t changed much in the last few years which is nice and Glen Park BART just up the street makes this a convenient place to live for quick access to Downtown.

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The view down College Hill west

After running around the area a little bit, I’m happy to saw my legs feel great and I can’t wait to run some more!

Keep Moving Forward!

PEACE OF MIND

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My view of the ocean from my run

I was listening to some country song during my run this morning, I don’t remember which one and it really doesn’t matter, but the song said that he found peace in a glass, or something similar. As I ran around the Marina Green, enjoying the beautiful sunshine, I thought how wrong the songwriter was.

And it brought me back many, many years…. more people than you think suffer from alcoholism. Believe this. It was my life for a long time.

Never once did I ever find peace in a glass.

For the better part of the remainder of my run, I mulled over this. Peace, drinking myself into oblivion? Yeah, right. Try the opposite. I drank because I hated myself. I drank because I hated my life, how on earth would getting smashed make anything peaceful?

We all have problems we’re dealing with in our lives. But there are better and healthier ways of dealing with them than with destroying ourselves.

For me, running is my outlet. When I couldn’t run because of my injury, it was really frustrating. Our lives are not easy and we cannot get by just working, eating and sleeping and expect to be happy. There has to be more.

Having a healthy hobby won’t cure all of our problems, but it gives us at least a short break away from them. And it gives us something else. It gives us a look a little distance away from them. Once I’m out on the road far from my apartment and my not-so-great neighborhood, what was bothering doesn’t seem so immediate or troublesome.

And if running doesn’t do it for you, then maybe a nice walk or hike will, or a bike ride, or lifting or yoga. The whole point is to give yourself a gift of a healthy hour or even a 30-minute vacation away from all the negativity dragging you down. That is what I call Peace of Mind.

Keep Moving!

FOOD!

Food is not your mother, your father, your friend, your enemy, your wife, your husband. Food is not your dream date, but it can be your date from hell. Food is not your lover but it can break your heart. It can promise to love you and then leave you heartbroken and lonely the next morning.

Our lives are weaved around eating and what we eat. Like bees hard at work creating a hive, we create our world of FOOD, thinking about what we’re going to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Where are we going to eat? What are we going to buy? How are we going to cook the food we buy? It becomes obsessive to some of us. And that obsession replaces feelings, friends, and sometimes, life’s big moments.

Food is not a panacea, it is sustenance. Food is fuel for our bodies. We are living creatures and constantly moving, going. To do this, we need to eat to keep the engines firing.

When homo sapiens first evolved, we were hunters/gatherers. We ate what we could. But, as time went along, we learned that cooked meat tasted better and seasoned cooked meat tasted even better.

Like alcohol, drugs and other substances, food can be used to dull the senses. It’s probably misused in this manner more than anything else. To eat until one cannot move is to overeat. Food comas are not a very healthy thing to do, yet we still do it.

I’ve been developing and refocusing my view of food. We can change the way we see things. It’s never easy. I’ve stumbled and fallen, but I get back up and continue moving forward.

Food is wonderful, it tastes great. But it shouldn’t take the place of real relationships and well, LIFE. In my fifties, I desire more than ever to be as healthy as I possibly can. This means that I have to make choices, many of which involve food. I am not willing to sacrifice my dream so I can have another piece of cake.

To be the best runner I can be and one day, an independent professional trainer, I must use strength and determination to see the horizon ahead.

So, focus on your goals and forgo those trivial cravings and desires you have, because in the end, most of the time they aren’t worth losing sight of what is truly important.

Keep Moving!!!

Just For Fun

For two months I didn’t run. I attempted to heal or cure or whatever, my IT band issues, but it instead of going away completely, it remains. It is better than it was, this is true, but I had hoped that by stretching and resting it for eight weeks, it would feel better running again.

Nope. It still gets a little sore. Granted, I am going a little slower and shorter distances. I’m taking it easy.

The time off wasn’t in vain, however. I consider it to be a useful time of reflection and it did help me put things into a much healthier perspective.

I do believe I was trying too hard to be better. Self-improvement is a good thing, but when we push ourselves physically too hard, too soon, we’re asking for injuries. I wanted (OK, still want to) to be fast. I’ve had a great desire to be a better running, run faster than I did. And in actuality, I am 30 seconds faster right now than I was a year and a half ago.

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The beginning of the trail in Golden Gate Park

But where I live there are just not many slow runners. Or so it seems. Most people here in San Francisco are speed demons. Someone told me they were slow at 10 minute miles. I would have killed to run that fast at one time! I can do that pace really pushing myself, sprinting, but comfortably? No way.

I’d love to start a group of slow runners and I still may. But I’m no longer going to push myself to injury to fit in to any of the established running groups. Some of them say “all paces”, but how fun is it to be the only one slower than everyone else at every run? Unless you are that one person, you don’t know what that’s like. It’s stressful and not all that enjoyable.

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So green!!!

I ran twice this week. My first run was a simple run from home down to the Bay along Market Street and the Embarcadero. My IT band was sore the first mile, but felt better as I ran. This is progress. I told myself.

Tonight’s run was pure joy. Because of eight non-running weeks, I’m a little out of shape, so my trail running isn’t what it used to be. It will take some time to get back to where it was. Work was slow at the end of the week and the big boss was out, so we were let go after a half day. Who wouldn’t be in a good mood after that? I zipped home, changed clothes and took the bus to Golden Gate Park to run my favorite trail.

I know it well, even though I hadn’t run it since last November. It had been a while. But just starting my run I smiled and everything was okay. The weather was in the high 60s, a cool breeze whistled gently and the sun was bright. The trail was empty, except for a couple hiking. Even the disc golf course I passed was quiet.

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The Redwood Grove

We’ve had so much rain, the park was bright green and lush, with flowers popping up everywhere. My pace was slow, but not terrible. I found myself more out of breath than I would have liked, but that will improve. And my IT band? Not bad at all.

I’ll take it easy and see if combined with strength training it gets better. I have a huge deductible in my medical insurance and no money right now, so it’s not like I could see someone even if I wanted to and taking time off isn’t an option anymore. I’ll just enjoy that I can run, even a little and see what comes.

Keep moving forward!

HERE & NOW

Buffy

A great tragedy struck recently. Netflix didn’t get a new contract with Fox entertainment so they are cancelling Fox shows effective April 1st. This includes my favorite television show of all time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No shows has been able to show the angst, pains and loves of growing up quite as well as Buffy. Combining searing drama with humor and a little horror, plus even a musical episode, Buffy has been my favorite since its inception.

And now it’s going away…..

Because of its impending disappearance, I’ve been watching as many of the 7 seasons as I can. One reason why I loved this show so much is that it took time to bring out life’s problems and dealt with them in a very well-written, entertaining way, sometimes with vampires, other times with the Apocalypse or even worse. Yes, worse!

So, there was one episode I watched last night, “Normal Again” in Season 6, that really hit home. It was one where the evil trio of the time, Warren, Andrew and Jonathan created a demon who stung Buffy and made her think that her whole life was just her imagination and that she was really confined in a mental hospital. The demon made her think that everything that was real was false and that she should stay in the created world because the false one (the one with her friends in Sunnydale) was part of her sickness.

It would have been easy for Buffy to stay in the safe place, in her imagination. To stay with her mother and father (who in her imagination had not divorced but were happy together). It would have been simple to live in a comatose state, her brain thinking that the pretend world was real.

But she couldn’t. She had an evil to fight and had to find a way to reality.

We also have to fight our way to reality. It’s very easy to dream of what our lives might be like. I find myself doing this a lot, especially when things aren’t going so well, like now. I think of what my life would be like living in an area where I could hear birds singing from my apartment, or hey, having green grass to walk on, instead of hopping over dog poop. I dream of having enough money to pay my bills rather than choose between paying a bill and buying fresh produce. It is a challenge.

But the more we daydream and pull ourselves away from what we need to do, what we MUST do, the more we pull ourselves away from the Here & Now.

We must focus on what is to be done, today, right now, this very moment. If we can complete today’s tasks, then our tomorrow will be brighter. This is a fact!

Keep Moving Forward!