Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Running on Empty

"If one could run without getting tired, I don't think one would often want to do anything else." 
-- C.S. Lewis

The last 9 months have been arguably some of the busiest months in my lifetime. I've been busier in the past, yes... but this is probably the busiest I've been in both my work life and personal life at the same time. I'm not good at this whole work-life balancing act. I tend to focus all of my energy into one or the other (usually work/school), but in an effort to give more to my personal life, I've just jammed in more personal activities without really reducing or better managing my work. There are a few reasons for this, mind you, but I have been determined to give my personal life more attention regardless.

I really started to concentrate on giving my personal life more attention last fall, mostly by way of spending less of my days off at work and hanging out with friends more. Small wins. By November, I had begun more steadily incorporating exercise into this new routine, albeit on a less regular schedule. Several circumstances in December drove me to focus even more attention to exercise - as a way of not only improving my health, but also reducing the stress that was dramatically increasing both at home and at work. Since then, I have mostly kept to this workout routine, starting more heavily focused on strength training at first and more recently focusing on cardio.

As you know, I decided that I wanted to go back into running more seriously earlier this summer. I used to run regularly in college, and missed it terribly. I know that the activity is not the best for someone with a history of back and knee issues, but cycling doesn't really do it for me and I cannot stand the elliptical. So, I started run/walk intervals in May, steadily building up to a run by June... and finishing my first 3 mile run in August. I was stoked! 

As you also know, a series of setbacks (excuses) have brought me to where I am today. A combination of heat and smoke derailed my running efforts in late August, and a disappointing finish at the Dodger 5K demotivated me tremendously. My morning miles slowed down, my strength training slowed down... I just couldn't find my mojo! To top it off, my work projects have become insanely busy, and I often find that I barely have the energy to walk my dog, let alone run a few miles after work every day. I've been just so dang tired! 

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I co-chaired and hosted an industry conference in California for the last half of last week. Our hotel was less than a mile to Venice Beach, and I committed to myself that I would at least walk to same every morning before our conference began. AND... I DID IT! The first morning, I ran to the beach, grabbed a coffee, walked a mile drinking it, and then ran back just in time to kick off the conference. The next day, I did it again... this time skipping coffee and just completing the run. Success! Mojo found! And just in time... I only have 16 weeks until my half marathon. Eek!

I know that not everyone has the luxury of finding themselves at a hotel near a beach for a few days to find their mojo... Frankly, I often pinch myself that I am even given such opportunities! But I do think it is important for people to find or recognize their happy place. Is there a park near your house that you enjoy visiting for a sunset stroll? Do you find yourself motivated by certain friends or people? Perhaps you enjoy a certain class, or a specific workout song? It took me visiting the beach to remember why I love running, and why I shouldn't give up. What will it take to remind you of why you are working towards a goal? How will you find your mojo?

I officially started the 1/2 marathon training I mentioned in my blog that I posted last week on Sunday, even though I unofficially got back to my strength training and cardio routine last Tuesday. Today was a 2 mile run/walk routine, which I unfortunately broke out into a mile this morning and a mile tonight. The bad thing with being busy is that you must find creative ways to fit in the things you want to do between the things you have to do. I'm hoping tomorrow will be better. I have cross-training tomorrow, another 2 mile run/walk Thursday, a rest day on Friday, and a 3 mile run on Saturday. Will I accomplish these things? I certainly hope so! But even if I end up walking more than I run, I am determined to finish. My energy may not be there, but perhaps the exercise will help with that too.

I know this has been a long, meandering post... I appreciate you bearing with me. When Natasha and I started this thing, we promised to show you our trials as much as our successes! I just hope that going forward you see more of our successes and less of my whiny posts :) While I'm sure they're less than entertaining, I certainly appreciate the forum to vent. Thank you all for continuing to be so encouraging! I have the greatest friends!



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ten Tunes Tuesday: Baby Got Back (Pain)

"One good thing about music: when it hits, you feel no pain." -- Bob Marley

Last week was not a good week for me from an exercise/health and wellness perspective. I spent the early part of last week sick with an upper respiratory thing, got very little sleep midweek due to a scare at my house, and majorly messed up my back somehow at the end of the week, essentially ruining my weekend plans. UGH! This coming off of a poor performance at my Dodger 5K last Sunday too... such a bummer! 

When I started last week, I was incredibly motivated to hit my marathon training with gusto. I had modified a Jeff Galloway training program I found thanks to RunDisney to incorporate lessons learned from another 1/2 marathon training program I read about on Women's Running Magazine's website. I am a little more partial to the Women's Running program as it incorporates strength and cross training, but both programs have received excellent reviews. After much deliberation, I wrote my own 16 week program utilizing philosophies from both programs, and was excited to try it. I did pretty good all week until Thursday, a casualty of my sleepless night the night before. But when Friday rolled around... it went downhill pretty quick.

I'm not sure if it was that I was kind of fighting some illness, if I was training too hard, or if I simply slept in a weird position... but whatever the case, I woke up on Friday feeling pretty beat up. As the day dragged on, I was experiencing ever increasing upper back pain, so much so that I was near tears at lunchtime. Yikes! A couple of Advil and two meetings later, I did something I never do... I left work early and tried to get some rest. I spent the rest of the day alternating between light walks in my neighborhood and sleeping while sitting up. It was SO much fun (... not).

Which brings us to Monday... I type this now with the minty smell of Icy/Hot burning my nostrils and sleep heavy on my eyelids. Yes, my back is still sore. While it has improved day by day, I can't believe I'm sitting here on my couch on Monday still annoyed by the pain. Sigh. I did finally return to the gym today, but I haven't ran in almost a week. Maybe tomorrow I'll feel up to it again.  Maybe. I'm so mad that this happened - I need every single training day I can get! I'll be at the beach for a conference for the rest of the week, so I intend on taking advantage of the area and get some good runs in while I'm there. Here's hoping my back holds up! 

Since most of you won't read this until Tuesday anyway, I figured I would leave this post with my Ten Tunes for your day. Music is my favorite mood booster, and is often the only thing that cheers me up more than strength training in the gym these days. Today was an especially frustrating day at work, so I was oh-so-glad to have good tunes and heavy weights to carry me through the end of the day. Without further adieu, here are your Ten Tunes for this week. These are a bit beach inspired as I definitely have the beach on my brain for my week ahead. Enjoy!
  1. Bob Marley - "Trenchtown"
  2. 311 - "Love Song"
  3. Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat - "Lucky"
  4. Mamas & The Papas - "California Dreamin'"
  5. Rihanna - "Pon de Replay"
  6. The Beatles - "Here Comes The Sun"
  7. Ziggy Marley - "Drive"
  8. Jack Johnson - "If I Had Eyes"
  9. Weezer - "Surf Wax America"
  10. Colbie Caillat - "Bubbly"
PS - A big thank you to so many of you who have reached out to me in person and via Facebook with helpful suggestions on how to reduce my back pain. I think it was a combination of these recommendations that have me feeling so much better today! While I intend to take the strength training easy for the rest of the week (I'll be doing it - I just might not go as hard as it as I often want to do), I definitely plan on getting some miles on my feet while I'm working from the beach. Hope each of you has a happy and healthy week too!



Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ten Tunes Day (LA Dodger 5K Edition)

I don't know - could've been a lame jogger maybe,
Or someone just about to do the freeway strangler baby,
Shopping car pusher, or maybe someone groovie...
One thing's for sure - he isn't starring in the movies...
'Cause he's walking in L.A.
Walking in L.A., nobody walks in L.A. 
---- Missing Persons

Hey friends! Hello again from your friendly Californian blogger! For this week's Ten Tunes Tuesday (this was a thing... should I bring it back? Do you hate it? Hmm)... Anyway, for this week's Ten Tunes Tuesday, I thought I'd put together a list of songs about Los Angeles (or songs that simply remind me of Los Angeles). Why, you ask? Well, I thought it would be fitting considering I just finished my first 5K of 2015 over the weekend benefitting the Los Angeles Dodger Foundation. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, I haven't been doing much by way of racing lately. I did a few 5Ks when I first moved to California in 2011/2012, but I think it's been well over a year since I last participated in one. I've been steadily increasing my runs over the summer, with the longest continuous one lasting right at 4 miles about a week ago. I thought I was prepared, so much so that I even warned my 5K buddy that I intended to run most of Sunday's race. But did I? Nooooooo. And while I could sit here and list a million reasons excuses for that, I won't. What I will say is that I did run some of it. I also learned a lot about what I need to work on as far as training goes before my half marathon in January. I definitely need to find a trail that incorporates more hills. I also really need to strengthen my core - I think part of my problem on Sunday had to do with my weak core, and that's probably because I've increased my cardio but haven't been maintaining my strength training lately. All said... I had a great day with a very good friend. We finished the race, got a really cool medal, and got to walk around the field of Dodger Stadium. Winning!

Without further adieu, here are my Ten Tunes for this Tuesday night:
  1. Missing Persons - "Walking in LA"
  2. Decemberists - "Los Angeles, I'm Yours"
  3. 2Pac - "To Live and Die in LA"
  4. Randy Newman - "I Love LA"
  5. Guns N' Roses - "Welcome to the Jungle"
  6. The Doors - "LA Woman"
  7. Ice Cube - "It Was A Good Day"
  8. Weezer - "Beverly Hills"
  9. America - "Ventura Highway"
  10. Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Under the Bridge" <-- admittedly not uplifting, but sometimes such songs pair great with a good long hike too!

Did I miss any of your favorites? (I know, I know... some of you don't have the same adoration as I do for the fair City of Angels...). Anyway, I'm going to close this with a post-race picture of my friend and I at Sunday's 5k. She and I are looking for another one to do between now and the end of the year. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them. Otherwise... Stay tuned!

Until next time, my friends. Cheers, and GO BLUE!