health

An Unfortunate Trend

I have a bone to pick with Runner’s World. OK, I have a few to pick with them recently, but I’ll only bring up one. I thought about this on my long run yesterday while preparing for my half coming up in a couple weeks.

The Javalina Jundred is a well-known ultra race in Arizona each year. It’s very popular and unfortunately, due to Runner’s World’s April, 2018 article “What Happens When You Really Show Up”, it’s about to get even more popular. The piece focuses on two female runners who have never run longer than a half marathon, and who can afford to hire a professional running coach to help them. In the end, they DNF. The moral of the RW story, they’re still winners.

How so, Runner’s World? I get the whole trying something new because they’re tired of their lives. I get it that they’re taking a giant leap, going for it, being brave. But they could also do that parachuting out of a plane. Sticking with that comparison, would they still be considered winners if their parachutes on that jump didn’t open? That would be a DNF.

The problem is that the two subjects of the story had never run longer than 13 miles and were going out for a 100k race, more than seven times longer. Those distances are worlds apart and they can’t be learned through a coach or a few months of practice runs. And much of the real learning doesn’t come from the physical act of running. There is so much mentally and emotionally going on in a super long race that these two know nothing about and no one can tell you about, so it’s much easier to give up. They would have had a taste of it had even one of them run a marathon previously. They didn’t know how their bodies would react, they didn’t know how their minds would react, they didn’t know if they were emotionally capable of finishing.

Jumping from shorter races to the longest of ultra races was unheard of a few years ago. Now, I see it more and more. Sometimes they work out great. Some people are born to run long mileage and they shine. Others are not so lucky and the steps they skip wind up hurting them. It happens mostly in novice runners. Newish runners, those who have only been running a year or two, will run a half, or not, and think that they can come back in four or five months and churn out a 50k or even an 100k. And then, bam, a week later, they’re injured. Maybe it’s my age and that I’ve been around running a long time, but I see no reason to rush into ultras; it’s the most difficult for a reason. And the only thing I can think of is it’s fashionable to do so. It’s hip and trendy to run ultras now, and that’s the sad truth that will leave many inexperienced runners injured.

I’m a linear thinker, so I would never, ever think of doing a 100k if I hadn’t done even a marathon before. OK, I could see maybe running a 50k. It’s not that much farther than a marathon. But even five or six more miles can seem like 100 if you’re exhausted from a distance you couldn’t dream of previously. Get used to longer races FIRST. Then get used to trail races and THEN go for the distance. Unless you want to do a one-off and don’t mind being injured for months or getting a DNF and still consider yourself a winner. Then, do what you want and nevermind what I say.

For the rest of us, Keep Moving Forward!

Some of my pictures from my run yesterday:

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59 and On….

I’m sitting here, watching a food show on Netflix, thinking about running. I’m sore from my upper body workout at the Y yesterday, as well as my trail run Friday on my 59th birthday. Today’s run is going to be a short one, my trail run was long and tough, but I still don’t want to go. And I just ate, so I have to wait a couple hours more.

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My view of SF from the Headlands

Of course, I could have gone when I first got up, but I was super sore. I really gave it to those dumbbells. It was a great workout. I can start to see the results in my shoulders and arms. Instead, I had coffee, chilled and waited and waited and ate.

And like that, I almost talked myself into not going out at all.

I will go run. Or not.

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Looking across at the road and trail ahead 

Friday’s trail run was in the Marin Headlands, my backyard. I took my birthday off work as usual and headed up there, looking forward to really pushing myself. I wasn’t disappointed. It was a cold, clear day. Because it was a weekday, the area was pretty quiet, just a few tourists on the roads, but hardly any on the trails. I ran 7.5 miles, mostly uphill and downhill. I will do that route again. And I want to improve the next time I do it.

It’s not an easy route. I started at the North Tower Golden Gate parking lot after getting off the Golden Gate Transit bus. Then, instead of going on the SCA Trail up the hill, I stayed on the trail that runs along Conzelman Rd. It’s not a bad elevation increase. It’s steady but gradual, making it possible to continue running nearly up the whole way. I stopped to take some pictures, however, because the view can’t be matched.

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The Rodeo Valley opens up

I cut into the Rodeo Valley up near the top and then after running through its length, made my intensely difficult walk up the Rodeo Valley Trail. It wasn’t possible for me to run this part, it’s just too steep. I did manage to keep a steady and faster pace than in previous runs, which felt pretty good. After my climb, I circled back on the SCA and ran back down to the parking lot. I walked over the bridge and caught a MUNI bus home. It was the perfect birthday.

I push myself hard, at work and at play. I’m much more dedicated than I was when I was younger. I did many things at a younger age I shouldn’t have, so I think deep down I feel I have some time to make up. But, I’m also not as young as I once was and I have to remember that. Once in a while, I need down time. So, that’s what today is.

Tomorrow, on Monday, I’ll be up at 4am and off to the gym at 5am to get the week started right. Where will you be?

Keep Moving Forward!

LET THE LONG RUNS BEGIN!

Much has happened since my past post. I do apologize for not writing anything lately, but things have been busy. Good Busy. I finally feel my life is moving forwards…..

For the longest time, my life felt as if I was stuck in quicksand. Bills were piling up, new emergencies, new fires to put out, my weight loss was at a standstill, or even worse, moving the wrong direction and boom! The “Holidays” just mucked things up more, especially after I got one of the worst colds ever.

But I kept going and the pendulum, as it eventually does, swung in a positive direction.

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The path on Lincoln Blvd in the Presidio

I ran 10 miles this morning. The route I chose was tough, but I have a half marathon at the end of March that’s pretty tough. I started at Land’s End and ran through the trail on the backside of the Presidio down through Crissy Field, past the Marina Green, eventually ending at the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero.

The route has lots of uphills and stairs and it was cold and windy. I took a few small detours and ran through some of the World War II batteries that are scattered throughout the coastline. The only little pain I had was around Mile 6 when my right hip felt a bit sore. I stopped, did some squats and leg swings and it felt good the rest of the run. I feared that it was going to start acting up, but I fought through a little fatigue around Mile 8 and the last two miles were energizing. I could have run longer had I wanted.

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This view is only possible if you take a detour from the regular trail and go through the WWII batteries

My birthday is next Friday and I took the day off work. I plan to run in the Marin Headlands, which will be another tough run.

I’m happy, it’s been a good day.

Keep Moving Forward!

 

DO IT NOW!!!

I lay in bed last night, knowing that if I was going to actually get my cards in a row, I had to do it now, not a few days from now, but this week. Or at the very least, start doing things right.

It was pouring rain last night and I didn’t feel like walking to the gym. It’s abut a mile and a half walk and I usually love the walk through downtown San Francisco, but through the windy, cold pouring rain, I wasn’t up for it. And for the rest of the night and even today, I felt guilty for it. It was one workout, just one, that I missed.

The simple truth is, if I don’t put 10% effort into getting into prime shape and losing weight, I won’t lose it. I can’t go half-assed about this. I’m in my 50s and weight loss doesn’t happen without complete commitment. And I’m ready to commit to it.

I passed my Personal Trainers renewal Sunday. I had studied weeks for it. I was so happy, that I allowed myself too much celebration I think.

But it is time to put the effort into my training. And also, into this blog. So, my friends, the time is NOW. Don’t put anything off, don’t wait until it is too late!

Keep Moving Forward!

SF Hot Chocolate 15k 2018

I had my race report all written up Sunday night and then my home phone line went out. It won’t get fixed until Friday so I’m re-writing my blog post to get it out a little sooner.

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At first light, before the race

The Hot Chocolate races have been in San Francisco for five years. I have run them every year, as it’s one of my favorite races. There are many reasons why I love it so much, but here are just a few. For a big race, it’s extremely well organized. There are always more than enough porto-potties. I’ve never had to wait long to use one, either and that is a major bonus! It’s very affordable considering all the swag participants receive. Each runner gets a great jacket, medal and lots of chocolate. The early bird price right now for next year for the 15k is $59. Not a bad deal!

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Waiting for the start

And the course itself is superb. The starting line is just outside the Japanese Teagarden in Golden Gate Park, then is winds up past Stowe Lake, then down through the park to Ocean Beach, down south one end and back up through the park to just left of the De Young Museum.

Last year with all the rainstorms, Ocean Beach was completely flooded, so they shortened the race to a 10k, cutting out the beach portion completely. This year, it was chilly, but completely dry. In fact, the weather was perfect, no wind at all!!! If you know San Francisco beaches, then you’ll know how rare it is that there was zero wind! It was a glorious morning for a race!

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Ocean Beach on a winter’s morning

Due to having a very nasty cold over the holidays, I was sorely undertrained. But I hoped if I just ran slow, I’d do OK. I started out in a faster corral as my time last year was pretty good. That was nice. For most of the race, I maintained a good pace. I drank nothing but water for most of the course, although I did gulp some Nuun at one stop. I wish I hadn’t, because it was effervescent and it upset my stomach. I ran slowly to get rid of that icky feeling, which did finally go away. The only part of the race that gave me any problems was the last mile or so. Due to my lack of training, my hip started getting sore and I had to take a couple walking breaks and that slowed down my time.

But I still consider it a good race. I ran nearly 9.5 miles undertrained with very little discomfort. I kept up a good time (for me). It’s another successful Hot Chocolate 15k to add to the books!

Keep Moving Forward!

I’m on Twitter! Connect with me at: @50fabfitness

Goodbye 2017

I was sick for a long time it seemed. I had a nasty cold for at least two weeks. Usually I can avoid getting sick, but this one knocked me hard. I even tried to go for a run, but that had the opposite effect and hurt me more.

So, what was supposed to be an awesome stay-at-home vacation to run, study for my PT Cert renewal exam turned into more of a recovery time. But I’m feeling better now and ready to end this year.

2017 didn’t turn out to be the year I had planned. But I did survive. And I learned. The biggest lesson I learned is that the road to following one’s dream is longer and filled with more rocks than I ever imagined. But I’m still on it.

So, I’m ready to start 2018 with a rested, renewed energy I haven’t had in a long long time!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Keep Moving Forward!

 

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

 

 

 

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!