Week in Review: Training for Races

I’ve been adding to this post throughout the week, so if it’s choppy, forgive me, I’ve been busy!

Week before last, I was battling creeping anxiety and poor sleep. I hit just over nine miles on my long run on last Sunday, and it took me forever to drag myself out to run, and afterwords, I felt like poo. Similarly, Monday night as I was prepping my things for my morning run, I was dreading going out. This all seemed too familiar. I realized that like earlier this summer, I have reached exhaustion. I’ve been going too far, too fast and I need a break.

I decided to use the Runner’s World Smart Coach to generate a hypothetical training program for my upcoming 10K and 1/2 marathon. The resulting training schedule was a lot lighter than my recent one, leading me to believe that yes, I’ve been overtraining, and perhaps for my best performance, I should back off and try something new.

My Tuesday run was sluggish, but good in retrospect. It was a lovely challenge to go just under 12 minutes a mile, and it was nice and quick before work.

My Thursday run was a five-miler, with 3 miles being at around 10:18 pace. It worked out fairly well, and I came back damp from the early morning mist/fog.

I skipped another 2 miler like my Tuesday run on Friday. I just didn’t have it in me. Meanwhile, I spent those last few days of the week eating crap food. It’s a bad habit, but training makes me really hungry. I’m getting comfortable with my size, and slacking on the restrictions. I should probably get back on track… right?

Saturday, I guess you should say I did some cross-training. I did two dry-suit dives, my last cold water dives before I hit Hawaii this coming weekend. I definitely got an upper-body work out!

Today, I did a 7 mile easy run. It was really nice and light, despite the crazy weather (torrential rains this morning, sun break, gusts of wind and sporadic sprinkles). I chomped my new favorite endurance enhancer, Clif Shot Bloks Cran-razz. They definitely keep me from feeling so crazy ravenous the rest of the day.

I’m using my current water system, Ultimate Direction Women's Strider Waist Pack, is cumbersome, but keeps me hydrated. I’m hesitant to change it up, especially given the cost. I also use Ultimate Direction Fastdraw on my shorter runs.

I know I’ll dial this stuff in a little more as race time approaches. Another thing on my to-do list is find a good vest/jacket for the coming rainy season. I think it’s time to wrap this post up. It’s taken me a week to write it!

Still Recovering: Long Slow Run

Today I did my first long slow run for recovery since my two weekends in a row of racing. Let’s just say my body is still not quite up to where it was. I don’t think I’m going to do two races in a row like that again!

I’m still running in my Five Fingers Sprint(36, Slate/Palm/Lichen), and loving every minute of it. I did have some funky minor blister/bruising after my race last weekend, but it cleared up in short order. I have to say that my dress shoes in the same amount of time are more hell on my feat than running in the Sprints!

My run today was a short 33 minutes and change. I cracked just under 12 minutes a mile, and kept my heart rate at around 140, give or take. I had to go pretty slow to start off to keep my heart rate from getting too high. I tried to do some more hills, but it turns out no matter which route I take in my neighborhood, I’m not equalling the elevation I saw around Seattle Center for the LIVESTRONG Challenge. I might need to find a hillier place to train.

I canceled my gym membership this week in order to seek out alternative cross-training opportunities. Should I do the climbing gym? Maybe get back into yoga classes (this is most likely)? There are definite possibilities out there. I may rejoin a gym once the cold/dark season comes back, but for now, I’ll enjoy the freedom.

It’s funny doing two races and realizing I’m a very small minority of runner with the minimalist shoes. I would have thought they were all the rage – I hear so many people talk about them, even just an aside at a bus stop when I’m not even wearing them! So many people I know are converts, and I’m definitely noticing benefits of my own – but I’m curious as to why this isn’t catching on like wildfire. I mean, they’re light, washable, packable and fun! What’s not to love?

More on my minimalist shoe fetish in the next post.

Rest Week Continues…

I went for a short, fast run yesterday and found that my performance was greatly diminished from previous weeks, with more exertion giving less reward. This indicates to me that I may be risking over-training, especially considering I ran two races at full force a week apart from each other. Luckily, I love walking, and I plan to get some low-impact walking done in place of running for the next week.

Did I mention that the race on Sunday was brutal? It was. Very, very worth it, however.

Another interesting note about the past two weeks is that I seem to have lost a size. I haven’t lost enough weight, in my opinion, to lose an entire size in a month, but sure enough, yesterday I tried on a size 10 petite at Banana Republic and they fit – a little snug, but they fit. I also invested in my first pair of Spanx. With more than 100 lbs lost, I’ve been left with some lose skin, and I’m anti-cosmetic surgery (well, I’m anti-elective surgery, to be clear.) Spanx seem to be the safest, cheapest way to lift the derriere and tone the thighs, so here’s hoping they work as well as I hear they do!

I just checked my weight on my Weight Watchers Scale which also tallies my body fat% – I’ve found that I’ve lost about 1.5% body fat in the past month, which means that, to the best of my knowledge, I’ve actually managed to lose body fat when I’ve lost pounds this past month. I’m also beginning to believe that strenuous exercise turns my body into a calorie burning furnace. Not only am I more hungry the day or two after a race, I seem to be able to eat more than my alotted calories and still lose weight. It’s pretty remarkable.

Anecdotal, obviously.

Anyhow – I look to resuming running sometime early next week. But for now, I rest.

Week of Rest Near End

Tomorrow rounds up my week of rest since I came to the conclusion that I was overtraining.

So far, I’ve managed to do pretty well, despite the fact that I’ve been wanting to eat more despite not burning as many calories. My joints are finally starting to not complain as much, though the rain has made my bunions particularly painful when I’m walking outside.

A few friends that I’ve talked to have convinced me that I don’t need to run a full marathon. At this point (and after reading up on it) I’m questioning even a half marathon. I want to do it right – not just do it for the sake of doing it. I also don’t want to cause myself a lot of damage. I’ve already got painful bunions, I really don’t need a bum knee, wrenched back, or anything like that.

I hesitate, because part of me wanted to be awesome. I think that running is awesome (and fun), but I also have respect for competitive distance runners, who are perhaps more crazy than I, but have what it takes to get into the Boston Marathon. I’ve heard rumors that some old-school runners bemoan the fact that average times for marathons have decreased over the years, mostly due to people like me entering the sport at a lower level, and doing it for the sake of doing it, instead of elite athlete competition.

Let’s face it – our country could use more of the idea that being active is fun. For all of us who sit behind a computer, tv, video game for most of the day – it’s good to have a hobby that actually peels us up from our chairs. Competition and/or challenge and community are just some of what makes a hobby worth it. Not to mention the pride of completion, be it a sweater for your best girlfriend or a 5K. A friend of mine tried to convince me that swimming may be the best fitness, especially for its low-impact and high reward (if you really swim instead of just hopping in the pool.)

The past month or so I’ve been living off of endorphins. I’ve found out that I don’t get a defined high from running, but I do get a respite from my troubles. As another friend (I’ve been listening to a lot of friends) said to me, it’s a way to help you feel less pain so you can go the distance. Emotional pain seems to be another thing it softens, but I can tell you, the backlash these past few weeks have been horrible. Very topsy-turvy.

I look forward to my next run – which may be only 20 minutes long, and likely, on Thursday. I look forward to seeing how my body takes it, if my new Garmin was a good choice, and if I think that the Team in Training will be reasonable.

I’m still on the fence about the Team in Training, mainly because I need to take care of myself first. Mentally and physically.