Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mas o menos

"You can do anything...
... but not everything." 
--David Allen

Today is the last day of July. In my head, this will always be the last day of summer (although, yes, I know... summer lasts well into September). When I was planning out my summer, I only had one goal: I wanted to run 100 miles during the two months of summer. I didn't come up with this idea on my own, mind you - I have a friend on Instagram that does this every year, and her goal inspired me to try it this year. She actually uses the full summer to accomplish this goal, but I'm crazy and always try to do more than expected.

When I came up with this goal, I figured it would be super easy to achieve. I planned a running program for the summer, and between that program and the "Streak" I did with my niece, I figured I would hit 100 miles in the second week of July. The second week of July came and went, and I was no closer to my goal. And here I sit on this 31st day of July, and I'm still 6 miles short of the goal. What happened?

I could do what I always do and analyze all the reasons I fell short of my goal. I'm not going to do that today. No, instead I'm going to concentrate on everything that went right over the last two months. More specifically, what I did right in the last 26 days. (There's a time and place to let the demon in your head win, but he's had enough wins lately. Today is MY day.)

The last 26 days have been enlightening... challenging... and restful. No, I didn't finish running 100 miles, but...

I completed a 10K race, focusing on fun over pace. I scheduled hikes, focusing on fellowship with friends over photos for Instagram. I worked with a trainer, developing a weight training program that doesn't take away from my race prep. I worked out at lunch... and loved it! (Ok, showering at work is hella weird, but I'm a grown person... I'll get over it). Overall... July was a pretty darn good month! So I'm not going to stress that I missed my century goal by 6 miles (I'll hit those by Wednesday anyway). 

I'm still using the Red Rocks App Running App for my short runs, and I'm loving it! My speed has increased a full minute/mile, and I can only see it getting better from here. I feel strong, and fit-ish! I don't look fit-ish, but the hell with it. I'm really excited for August. I am increasing my distance runs starting next week, and have a trip back to New Mexico planned soon too. I'm sure the month will fly right by! Now, I'm off to bed so I can get up bright and early tomorrow. I've been sleeping in much later than usual for the last couple of months, and that stops here. Onward and upward... always!

Cheers til then!


Monday, July 25, 2016

Simply Running

"When I buy a new book, I always read the last page first. 
That way, in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends.
That, my friend, is a dark side."

In my perpetual pursuit of improvement, I am always on the lookout for new books, apps, etc that will help me be a more efficient runner. I pursue efficiency in an almost obsessive way. I'm not looking to be the best - I won't ever be the fastest, and I'm pretty sure I'll never be an athlete that others aspire to be. Running won't ever give me the gazelle-like figure of my running peers, and I'm ok with that. But I don't like to suck. I can run for miles and miles and miles, but if my entire run is clouded by the fear of falling behind the minimum pace it ruins it for me. I want running to be fun, and I want to be better. (Plus, let's face it - deep down, I'm lazy as hell, so the faster that I can finish these miles, the better!)

I recently read an article in a running magazine offering advice on apps geared towards beginning runners. I'm not a beginner necessarily, but I sure as hell run like one. I employ the "Galloway Method" of running - a form of interval running that is designed to mitigate injury. It's been successful in preventing injury, but try as I might I have not been able improve my speed or efficiency (breathing, heart rate, etc). The article mentioned several apps worth trying (Couch to 5K, Galloway, etc), but one in particular caught my eye - Running for Weight Loss by Red Rock Apps. 

As I mentioned before, I'm not running to lose weight. Running and dieting doesn't work for me - running leaves me crazy hungry, and if I try to diet, I'm too tired to run. The reviews on the app, however, appealed to me for other reasons. Like other apps, the Running for Weight Loss app employs a variety of techniques that encourage runners to run, including a GPS running map, variety of coach voice options, and in-app tips. While these are cool, the actual training programs were what interested me. 

The Running for Weight Loss app has 5 different training programs, two of which having multiple levels of training intensity: Walking for Weight Loss (beginner, intermediate, advanced), Start Running, Running for Weight Loss (beginner, intermediate, advanced), 5K Training, and 10K Training. Once you select your program, you can view each day of the running plan to see what's to come. (Just as I like to read the last page of a book before I read the rest of it, I like knowing what the end game is before I start any program. Couch to 5K programs were always good for this, but I never found one that I actually liked). After reviewing the first and last days of several programs, I selected one and prepared myself to start it.

I started this program last week, and I'm actually impressed. The visuals are simple and appealing - each interval comes with a both a countdown clock and calorie counter, and the GPS works both indoors and outdoors. [The indoor GPS worked better for me than the NikePlus app; I've decided to input indoor miles into my Nike app manually as I can never get it to read accurately.] The intervals themselves were similar to other apps/methods I had used, but I actually find these intervals to be more "right sized" for me. Not sure if it's the duration of the intervals or that my fitness has actually improved since the last time I ran on a treadmill, but I am running longer and faster than I used to!

The program that I selected with this app runs for 8 weeks (3x/week). I intend to use this for all of my runs during that time, even my long runs (I can use the app for the first 30 minutes, and then go back to Galloway for the remainder). I'm curious to see how much my endurance and speed improve... If I really do become a more efficient, slightly fast-er runner, I will be very excited! I know a few of you are also running (or planning to run) races this fall, so I figured I'd give this app a shout out. And for those of you thinking about it... give it a go! There's sure to be a program for you - and it's free!

In other news, tomorrow starts week two of my strength training program too. Woohoo! I'm going to be fit-ish by November... trust me!

Until we meet again!


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bittersweet Sixteen

"It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out;
it's the pebble in your shoe." -- Muhammad Ali

I am the queen of excuses when it comes to health and fitness. Did I work out today? No, I worked overtime. Did I run today? No, my shoes aren't fitting right. Did I cook dinner? No, I didn't have time. As a New Mexpat hailing from the great Land of Mañana, who would I be if I didn't put today's tasks off until tomorrow? 

To give credit where credit is due, I've done 1,000X better than the Becky of three years ago. I've done 1,000,000X better than the Becky of the 5 years previous to that. But am I doing better than this time last year? Am I improving? Yes... and no. And while I'm giving credit where credit is due, I'm 100% to blame for all of it.

Tomorrow is Day 1 of a 16 week training plan I've developed and plan to use to prepare for my next big runDisney race (Lumiere's Challenge during the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend). Unlike my last runDisney half marathon, I don't want this race to be only about running/finishing. I want to train harder - train better. I want to get my diet in check. Food as a fuel, and not as a companion or anti-depressant. Running supplemented with strength training to make my runs more efficient, not running as a replacement for strength training. 

I am not so naive to think that I can do this alone. A 19.3 mile race weekend is a big deal for me; it's likely the closest I will ever get to running a full marathon. I don't want to hurt myself, nor do I want to look forward to the event in fear. I know I can do this, so now I need to prove it. 

Of course, I'm still super self-conscious about both my speed and my body. Both need improvement, but this time I'm not going to naively think that I can overcome either by myself. I recently re-enlisted the help of my personal trainer/friend to ask her for a fitness plan with my runs in mind. We had our first session last Friday, and I was super pleased with it. Tomorrow is our lower body focused session, and I can't wait to see what she brings me this time. 

The next 16 weeks are going to take more discipline than I applied for my half marathon earlier this year. It's going to be difficult, so I may need your help. But... I'm looking forward to it. Onward and upward!

Until we meet again...


Monday, July 11, 2016

Win Some, Lose Some (Shoreline 10K)

"Will you look back on life and say, 'I wish I had,' or 'I'm glad I did?'" -- Zig Ziglar

Another month, another race. I can't believe I have participated in six races in seven months. This time last year, I had completed... zero. Who am I? Haha.  

The race started early on Sunday morning. It was gorgeous outside - cool, but not uncomfortable. The marine layer was lifting early, and the race crowd was light. And the smell of the sea... oh, to be so lucky to start every day with the smell of the sea!

The course was an out and back similar to the trail I train on at home. I'll be honest with y'all... I didn't plan on a fast pace or running much in general. This race was much more for my soul than my ego, and I wanted to keep it that way. Unfortunately, the 10K was the race that the most competitive of runners decided to run. (Seriously... the 5K was mostly walkers, and the half marathoners seemed to have the full gambit - elite and slow runners like me. The 10K? All the fast runners!). Alas, we took it easy and enjoyed the sights along the coast and the 2 miles of wetlands. Ego be damned!

The ego took a bit of a hit, however, when we hit the 10K turnaround and realized we were at the back of the pack. We weren't last, but it was close! My friend and I picked up the pace considerably for the last 4.5 miles. I'm glad we did. The marine layer lifted unseasonably early, and the sun was starting to beat on our faces. 

The last three miles were not my favorite. All three races ran the same course (with the only difference being the start time and turnaround points). As I mentioned before, the 5Kers had a lot of walkers, and there were some beastly half marathoners who easily lapped some of the slower 10Kers like me. Our paths collided around these last few miles, making the already tight and narrow course even more crowded. Additionally, the trail we were on was not closed to the public, so the guests from the nearby hotels were also crowding the trail as we neared the finish. 

Alas, we waded through the crowds and we finished! My favorite race MC was there to congratulate us by name at the finish line. (I can't believe I typed that... who has a favorite race MC? Apparently, I do! Thanks, @TheRunMC!) The after party was a bit busy but cool. Our relatively inexpensive race got us coupons for a beer (good beer - Firestone Brewery!), tacos, açai bowls, and organic açai energy drinks... all free! My friend and I opted for the açai bowls, and I grabbed an energy drink for later. As tempting as a free beer is... 9am is a bit too early for me to start drinking something so heavy!

So to answer the question a lot of you have asked... how'd it go? I loved it. I didn't put myself under pressure to do well, and it gave me time to just enjoy being there... with my friend... enjoying the morning. I love racing. I really do Focusing on racing and pacing, however, has been less fun. The recent "streak" taught me that if you force me to do it, I won't enjoy it. The Disney races, while fun, have so much pressure on pacing that it makes me nervous. I know I can do it, but I start to doubt myself every time. These smaller races are better fit for me, I think... We'll see. 

If you find yourself in Southern California, I highly recommend the events hosted by Elite Sports California. The races are small, but fairly well run. I know I'll look for more in the future. I have another race in the Ventura/Oxnard area in December, and I can't wait. Maybe I'll run into you there? :) Have a healthy week, y'all!



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Fall Seven Times, Get up... Late?

"If you're bored with life - you don't get up every morning with a burning desire
to do things - you don't have enough goals." -- Lou Holtz

We finished it. Kaitlyn and I finished our 30 day streak of running and walking at least one consecutive mile each day as part of the "Streaking with the Cool Kids" challenge. I'm so proud of her. Kaitlyn managed to rack up an impressive 50+ miles over her 30 day streak during long, hot summer days, and yet she rarely complained about it. Seriously proud of the kid. I'm going to miss her!

Me? Well, I'm another story. During our 30 day streak, I managed to "only" get 54 miles in. This wasn't Kaitlyn's fault. It was I that was more likely to suggest a shorter route or complain about the journey. My pace was out of whack. I'm slow as it is, but the last 30 days were terrible. I'm slower than ever, tighter than ever, and I feel more out of shape than I have in a very long time. And we won't even talk about my diet... yikes!

I have no one to blame but myself,  you know. I made excuse after excuse for sleeping in when I should have been up early for a run. I skipped workouts after work. I bought dinners out when I should have cooked, using my niece as my excuse to treat myself. I drank soda (gasp) after two months of abstinence. BAH!

My mom and my sister picked up my niece over the weekend, and I'm an empty nester once again. It's time for me to get back on track - I have literally no excuses to fail. I have a 10K this weekend, and I'm not looking forward to it (ok, ok... I might be looking forward to my hotel on the beach). I hope to get a respectable time, but it's not looking good!

Why is it that one change can throw me off so severely? What am I doing wrong? Ugh - truly a work in progress here, folks. There are a few people who I look to as inspiration on this journey. I don't tell them that, but maybe I should. I feel bad if/when others tell me that I have inspired their own fitness journeys. I'm so not worthy of that... but I'd like to be. Here's hoping that the next four months before my big race in November go better than the last four. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me!

Until next time...