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 MaƱana, 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...