workouts

SETTING GOALS

Inspiration and drive are sometimes in short supply. After this year’s San Francisco Marathon, I didn’t have much of either. It was much, much more difficult than I ever thought it would be; the training for it alone gave me burnout and took all the fun out of running.

So, as I was running last night in preparation for the Giants Race half Marathon race this Sunday, I had to think of ways to get the excitement back into running. After this race, I’m not signed up for anything. It’s not because I don’t want to race, it’s really lack of funds. I need to buy new running shoes this month, so spending more money on an upcoming race won’t happen for at least another paycheck or two.

During the last few weeks of marathon training, I realized that for the first time in a very long while, I had very little motivation. I still ran, but I barely stuck to my way of eating, which resulted in weight gain. I had promised myself that I was going to lose weight this year and here I was, not accomplishing what I wanted. In 2015, I had set out a goal to run 3 marathons this year and that seemed like a galaxy away. Obviously, that was asking too much of myself. But I also started wondering if marathons were for me at all….

I can’t accept that.

So, I took a few days off of thinking about my future in running and just lived my life. I admit that I didn’t workout as much as I should have, I didn’t go to the gym as regularly for a week, but it was the space I needed for a new perspective.

And it was during my run yesterday when I started thinking about my last marathon. I don’t want that memory to be my only memory of this race. I want to create better memories. There’s only one way to do that, to run it again next year, but this time, plan better, do better.

I have a full year it’s time to think about how I’ll do it. The California International Marathon, even though the same distance was nowhere near as difficult or taxing on me. It could be that my IT bands weren’t stressed out as much at the time of my race or maybe I was more prepared, or maybe this race is just harder on them because of those blasted hills. But none of that matters. What matters is if I am serious about doing it a second time, I need to make this time count!

So, I will keep you informed about my ongoing training. Up until next July, there are some shorter races I plan to do, including my half this Sunday. I’m looking forward to it, no stress at all.

Cheers!

Advertisements

Running Just for Fun

When I was training for my marathon, the stress of trying to get in my long runs and scheduled weekly running miles took their toll.

20160814_100535

Seen on my run: A wedding party frisbee game 

I took an entire week off running to help my IT band feel better. Because of it, I was forced to re-focus, reset my running brain and attitude towards running.

Knowing that the marathon was done and I do not have another planned, at least for the few months ahead, was a relief.

I do have a race, the Giants Step Half Marathon in September, but there’s no stress, it’s a fairly flat out and back and halfs are a pretty comfortable distance for me. I would like to PR this time around, but more on that in a later post.

20160814_092148

Lots of wild life in SF

The result of no stress and relatively shorter runs? Enjoyment, better times and greater satisfaction. This morning’s long run, a 6-miler is the perfect example. I’m gradually increasing my distance for my half. Today’s run was smooth, painfree and I spent a lot of it with a grin. I have rarely done that in the last months.

My suggestion is if you feel the strain and stress of running marathons, you don’t always have to sign up for them. Take a few months off and run halfs, 10ks, 5ks or even don’t race at all. I will continue to do races, but with costs going up and up, I’ll be extra picky about which ones. And that’s perfectly fine. Remember, no stress.

Cheers!

 

 

This Is It!

Sunday is my next race – the San Francisco Marathon. I dare say it’s been really difficult getting there, perhaps even more difficult than the California International Marathon last December. My right IT band has been troubling me and lingering doubts over whether I could even finish have plagued me.

This past week I’ve been taking it easy. I’ve gotten a couple small runs in with lots of stretching and rolling. My leg has felt good and I am mentally in a good place going into race weekend.

The military have a saying “Embrace the suck.” So I’ll be doing that if it gets real bad Sunday, for I do NOT plan on giving up…I WILL finish this race.

But my goals have changed, for the next year anyway. I no longer think I should try to keep going longer. I think after Sunday, I’ll stick to half marathons and shorter and lose about 15-20 pounds, to be in prime shape. I want to run faster before I go farther. If I can kick this IT band thing, then I can run marathons much more efficiently and relatively pain free. RELATIVELY.

So, I’ve been quiet in here, at times frustrated, and trying to stay positive, which isn’t always easy. But it is always necessary. I will write all about my race with lots of pictures after it happens!

Cheers!

When Runs Go bad

Sometimes, our runs, especially our long runs don’t go as planned. And sometimes they have to be stopped very short of our desired mileage. It’s happened to every one of us for different reasons. It happened to me this past Sunday and I’m still disappointed over it.

I was scheduled to run 16 miles, in preparation for my marathon in late July, but after the first mile, I could tell my right IT Band was going to give me issues. So, I took it slow and for a while, everything was great. But then, after mile 6, my leg started acting up and I knew I didn’t have far to go. I ran a few more miles and gave up. It wasn’t worth trying to get the mileage I wanted to, for a couple of reasons. I build some safety nets into my training. If there are a couple long runs with glitches, I can switch things around and get away with running a shorter length once or twice. I’ve learned from past mistakes that I can never have an all or nothing training plan. Life happens and sometimes the runs aren’t what we want them to be.

And as I walked to the bus stop, I knew why I couldn’t go the full planned mileage. “Such a rookie mistake,” I grumbled to myself, shaking my head.

I had not spent enough time stretching and strengthening my IT bands that week. I love working out at the gym. I especially enjoy working with weights and even planks, squats and lunges! Yes, I love all of those. But the repetitive stretches and band work I do to keep my IT bands and knees happy is not exciting at all. I do them to run, that’s it.

But instead of hating them, I have to look at them a little differently. To improve my running, I should view them as a means to an end, much like brushing one’s teeth. Is it exciting? Nope. But by doing all the stretches, the band work and the rolling, I can continue doing the one thing I love more than nearly anything else in my life!

It is THAT important.

As I continue to add mileage, leading up to my next marathon, it won’t get easier. It will be harder and harder, so I need to roll even more, push myself at the gym more and prepare for this old bod to push back more. It’s worth it, right? RIGHT?

I think it is.

Cheers!

DON’T HATE RUNNING

In a fitness instructor group I belong to, someone posted an article stating why lifting is the new running for women over 40. Many of the trainers chimed in how they hated running and how they were so happy when they stopped running.

Well…. I of course, had to add my voice asking why does it have to be one or the other? Why can’t those of us who enjoy being fit like both? I love to run, obviously, but I also really enjoy my time spent at the gym. Maybe I’m not a “serious lifter” like some, but I do plenty of tough work with dumbbells, kettle bells and barbells.

Ever since I can remember there has been this invisible and sometimes not-so-invisible divide between lifters and runners. Fortunately, stereotypes have been shed and more people on either side are agreeing that each has its merits. So when I saw this today and the agreements of how running is supposedly bad, it brought me back to the bad old days when lifters routinely discounted running.

I also saw this divide while studying for my trainer’s cert. Somehow, running has gotten a bad rap by the gym crew a while back and it’s still there.

I am all for adding strength training into one’s regular workouts. It has helped with my weight, my endurance, my strength and my lack of injuries. Frankly, I can’t imagine I would be running at all had I not added in strength training. But I also suggest that lifters stop their prejudice against running. Some seem to have an all-out dislike of cardio all together. Maybe because it’s difficult when one starts. But, like anything worthwhile, it takes time to master.

I only hope one day we lifters and runners can join together and understand we are both on the same side.

I have been away from my writing. Many things have been going on and not all good but I won’t bore anyone with all the torrid details. Except to say that stress sucks and I’ve had plenty of that. I have stress so bad right now that I grit my teeth at night (even with a mouth guard) that I have constant jaw pain. I take Advil for it and am trying to find solutions like meditation and changing my profession to ease out of it. I know will find a way and as most everything in my life, I know it won’t be easy.

But I’m still running, still getting out there and doing it. I am now more determined than ever to lose the weight I need, get the part-time personal trainer’s position I want and run like the wind!

Cheers!

Age Makes a Difference

When I was younger I never had a problem losing weight. If I weighed a few pounds more than I should, I lost it right away. Of course, I was A LOT more obsessive about my weight and looks then. Sometimes I would go entire days without eating and later, after running a few miles, I would wonder why I felt so weak or cranky or tired. The mere thought of eating dessert was enough to send me into a trauma.

Have things changed! And for the better, thank goodness!

Life has so many twists, so many surprises and experiences. Through them we learn, we hurt, we laugh, we battle against all odds and hopefully, we continue to move forward.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve added some extra weight, as many of us do, but I’m not emotionally distressed over it. I am determined to lose it however. It’s not a massive amount, but I do believe that I can be a better runner and certainly a better trainer if I am in the best shape I can be. Carrying around extra weight doesn’t help me at all.

And I’m losing it the right way, with healthy eating and lots of great workouts, both strength training and running.

In my fifties, losing weight isn’t as easy as it was all those decades ago. Even a few extra pounds turns into a major chore. It really isn’t easy. And one careless night of bad eating can add those lost pounds in a snap, which will take me weeks to lose once more.

But one of my goals this year is to be a better runner and I really cannot do that unless I shed some weight.

And just after five days of healthy eating and workouts, I’ve lost 3.5 pounds. I know it’s mostly water weight, but still not a bad start!

Have great workouts this weekend!

Cheers!

RUNNING IN MY 50s

Tomorrow is my birthday, which got me to thinking about what running is like now that I’m a little older and supposedly, wiser…

I’ll be 57 Tuesday and running these days is more enjoyable than it ever has been. When I get into a groove, I appreciate it more than ever. I ran 16 miles early yesterday morning and during a long stretch of two or three miles halfway through, I was able to relax, just run along, listen to my music and look at the calm and blue Pacific Ocean. That was nice.

But it’s also much, much more high maintenance. It wasn’t until just last year when I discovered I had to do strength training at least twice a week to keep from getting intense IT band and knee pains. I keep my hips and core strong, I work those area hard at the YMCA. I’ve learned to really enjoy those workouts, nearly as much as my runs. It’s a nice change for my non-running days.

I also find I have great balance and can move very swiftly in every day movements, much more so than non-runners in their 50s. If I have to run for a bus, just out of the way of a thoughtless cyclist or pick up a dropped pen quickly, no problem! All those squats and hill repeats have really helped.

My weight is an issue. I’m not too much overweight, maybe 15-20 pounds more than I should be, but it’s dreadfully difficult to lose weight now. Of course, with all this running, it’s very hard to lose weight because I’m always hungry. I tried to explain that to a non-runner at work and she couldn’t understand the concept. it’s just something I have to deal with and perhaps accept that I’ll never be a very thin runner.

I spend A LOT of time on my own running or working out. I’ve always been a loner-type person so I’m rather used to it, but it’s even more so now. Many people hate being so much alone, and there are times, I will admit that I’d love some company doing non-running things, but when I run I like to run alone. I’ve never been a big group runner. I’ve done group runs and I will do them, they can be fun, but not as much fun as running alone.

So what will my 57th year bring? I hope many, many more miles and lots more squats, crunches and endless pairs of running shoes.

Cheers!

 

SNAGS AND SETBACKS

I’ve been reading this book “The Untethered Soul”, by Michael A Singer about reclaiming your life and true Inner Growth. It’s an interesting read, one that can help me quite a bit, as I tend to worry a lot about things out of my control. I’ll write a complete review of it in here when I finish it.

Stress is the big killer. Combine stress with unhappiness and it can lead to many things, none of them good. And it has been getting to me lately. I simply must find a way to let go the stress I’m experiencing these days.

It is a work in progress. I’m including meditation in my evening routine, as well as getting back into eating healthy and striving to reach my fitness goals. This will take three things: 1) time, 2) patience and 3) money. And I need to do a better job at all three.

But it’s OK. I will do them all. My first goal is to not be so hard on myself. The greatest damage we can do is to be our harshest critic. So, I’m going to smile back at myself in the mirror more and carry on!

I ran six miles last night through Downtown and along the Bay. It was wonderful! The weather was mild, absolutely no wind and I felt so free. Tonight, I hit the gym, ready to work out my trouble spots: Core, Glutes, Shoulders, Arms.

And tomorrow as Scarlett said, is another day.

Cheers!

 

PS: I’ve revamped my blog/website. It’s now much simpler to reach and it will have a lot more content, including exercise instruction, recipes and reviews. Let’s just say that it will be a great place to check back often!

This is MY Gym!

Great trail in the Presidio

Great trail in the Presidio

Four days a week, I get to run outdoors. I consider it a privilege. I do go the gym two to three days a week, but for four days, I’m outdoors.

There are a couple reasons why I have never, and will never run on a treadmill. For some reason the treadmill triggers my vertigo. Horrible spins usually start happening the second I step off (or try to step off) the machine, making it hard not to fall to the floor. That alone is enough for me to stay off them. On a lesser note, I find running on a treadmill the second most boring workout ever. First being the elliptical machine. It’s a personal preference, but I can’t handle more than a few minutes on one of those.

Path in Golden Gate Park

Path in Golden Gate Park

Happily, i’m a outdoors-type of gal, so being out in the elements is no biggie. Even if I lived in a snow area, or in the tropics, I’d be outside. I would find a way to run.

If all of my workouts were inside, I probably wouldn’t enjoy them as much. I love exploring different parts of San Francisco. I do wish I could afford a vehicle, because I would love to be able to drive to different parts of the bay Area and discover new places to run, but for now, that’s not possible. Until I can, I’ll just enjoy this big workout room called San Francisco!

Cheers!

View of SF Skyline near Coit Tower

View of SF Skyline near Coit Tower

Cross Train for Better Running

One of the many reasons why triathlons have become so popular is that it forces the athletes to cross train. We runners can be very narrow-minded when it comes to training and that can really hurt us in the long run. It did me. Switching it up has helped me with my ongoing IT band problems.

This week was crazy busy. I had a running session with a client, kickboxing, yoga, gym visits and managed to get in a couple runs of my own.

This was my first experience with kickboxing and I love it! It was quite the workout too. It worked all the muscles in my body, including many of the leg and core muscles I needed to get stronger and the instructor made it really fun. It was outside along the bay with beautiful weather. I’ll take pictures next time. It was a small group, three students with the one instructor. The course focused on how to kick and punch and then how to do them in sequence. There were also warm-up exercises and cool down ones. In between we had a group of round robin ones that were really fun. As soon as I got home, I signed up for next week’s session. I can’t wait.

After work last night, I ran a couple miles of hills. I’m up of practice and struggled. It was hard and I remembered back when running up Hyde Street wasn’t so difficult. It will take some time for my lungs and legs not to scream at me to stop.

This morning, I woke up early and went to the YMCA. I focused on upper body weight work and leg weight work, doing a bit of stretching but saving most of that for my yoga session later.

On my way to yoga, I stopped for coffee and could feel my muscles tightening from this week’s workouts. I do enjoy that feeling! My yoga session was one-on-one with the instructor. I really liked that because we worked on the group of muscles that I need to get stronger. The Yogi gave me many good poses, altering some of them due to my lack of flexibility. We practiced in Golden Gate Park near the Conservatory of Flowers. It was warm and sunny out, feeling more like summer than winter.  Like my kickboxing class, as soon as was able to, I signed up for next weekend’s class. This is so good for me!

Tomorrow is the Vint group run, which is always fun!

Cheers!