Unintended Rest Days: Sick Days

For the past few days I thought I was fighting allergies. I am coming to terms with the fact that today, I’m not having an allergic reaction, I’m having a head cold. I’ve got the sluggish body load, full sinuses and ear pressure and a scratch throat. It’s not the worst cold ever, but I’m feeling pretty icky. This article in Runner’s World talks about whether or not you should run when you feel sick. The gist that I get, is that if it’s a illness above the neck, you’re probably generally fine to run your normal runs, but if it’s below the neck, to take three days off. There is also mention that some illnesses, like sinus infections, can lead to worse illnesses, and what I gather, taking time off when you’re sick might not be a bad thing.

It’s just that I already have slacked off due to my two races, two weekends in a row!

I, however, prefer getting better to getting sicker, and I have a big weekend of fun (a friend coming in from out of town, possible hiking, definite BBQ’ing) and am starting classes (and maybe even an internship) soon.

It’s hard not to feel the pressure to run, even though I feel dragged down. How do you cope with sick days and exercise?

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.

LIVESTRONG Challenge – 29:42 minutes, 5K

According to my Garmin, this was the most hills I’ve run since I started training. I ran the 5K yesterday morning at a pace close to around 9:30 per mile, and by the time the finish line was in my sites, I was pushing myself to go further, meanwhile feeling an overwhelming urge to cry and hurl at the same time.

My time beat the challenge laid out before me, which was a 5K in under 30 minutes. This means that at the end of it, I raised $375 for LIVESTRONG – where none was required for runners.

The only thing I didn’t like about the race was that the cycling portions were competitive, but the 5K was not. We didn’t get chip-timing, which seemed to have been a possible option. I also didn’t get a tech t-shirt for raising the $250 minimum – I got the standard, oversized, bright yellow LIVESTRONG Challenge t-shirt. The cyclists got tech t-shirts. I know that Mr. Armstrong is a cyclist – and this is a cycling event, however – if you’re going to have triathlons and running events for LIVESTRONG, I’d think it to be just courtesy to have the same options for the runners or triathletes (yes, they cycle, I get that.)

It was overall a pretty great race. It’s hard not to get choked up – everyone has someone they’re running in honor or memory of. I had three people on my “in memory” and two on my “in honor” – and I forgot to add a few people on there. I put the first people who came to mind, one of them being a friend who died last year, who while he was undergoing cancer treatment and a secondary, life-threatening illness caused by the treatment, was still able to buoy me up during my crisis. I get choked up just thinking about it. I wasn’t super-close to Alex K. the way other people were, but last year he was able to cut through the bullshit and make me feel a little less isolated. He also had a bravery in the face of cancer that just kept me, and I think everyone who knew him, in awe. He is missed.

I’m sad that I don’t have another race planned for next month, but I’m sure I can change that easily. I’m resting this week, as that I’m feeling wrecked from yesterday. HILLS. MY GOD. HILLS. I had no idea there were so many hills around Seattle Center. 250ft elevation total! Last week’s race was flat. This was brutal. The GI distress I had lasted for about 2 hours after the race, and I was ravenous the rest of the day.

Yesterday was huge. I made a goal that I set for myself. I am 7 lbs from reaching the upper level of the BMI (which is bullshit, and actually, more generous because my body fat percentage is still too high.)

Today is rest – then I will gently resume training later in the week.

Wow. Go me!

Rest Week and Nutrition

Today’s plan is to go out for an easy, short jog in preparation of Sunday’s race. Last night, I roped another friend into joining me for the LIVESTRONG Challenge, and I’m excited to be coming near to this event that I’ve been training for. I have a $125 challenge on the line, so if I break 30 min for 5K, LIVESTRONG gets another $125. Pretty fantastic!

I’ve been playing a lot with Calorie Count the past couple days. They just released their iPhone app, and I’m loving the app. Their UI for the app beats the site, but I’m willing to forgive a lot of my little issues with the site for what the overall functions are. Tracking online and via smartphone isn’t new to me, as that I’ve been doing it for the past 2.5 years through Weight Watchers, but I’m getting to a point where my weightloss is slowing, and I’m feeling a need to get a true lay of the land. I’ve made huge leaps and bounds in changing my lifestyle, now I need to work on my nutrition.

What Calorie Count is allowing me to do is help me track my ratios of carbs, proteins and fats in my day and even week+, as well as key nutrients like iron, potassium, vit c, vit a, etc. What I’ve learned from tracking the past week is that I’m not getting enough protein, and am getting too much carbs and fats. I think that I often replace proteins with fats (due to the fact that I try to keep my meat and soy consumption low for ethical/medical reasons). I can’t help but wonder how this is impacting my training. I’m also not getting much iron in my day to day, which is something I hope to remedy first through leafy greans, and second by a vitamin supplement.

All this being said, the outcome calorically is also pretty stunning. To lose weight, I should be averaging about 1200 calories per day, but what I’m actually doing is 1500 calories per day. It’s a 200 calorie deficit per day from what I need to just maintain my weight, which is good, but means that might weight loss is at a snails pace.

This next week I’m going to strive for balance in my diet – something that Weight Watchers, unfortunately, doesn’t help you really track. Which is OK, considering that their big plus is the ease of their system, and that they DO encourage eating lean meats, whole foods, etc – but they leave you a bit in the dark on how to get all your nutrients in, and if you’re actually doing so.

I guess, with dieting, the one truth is the math. It doesn’t matter what system you use – all grapefruit, all frozen, prepared dinners, 2/3 meals out of milkshakes, etc. The heart of all of it is that if you put in less energy than you use, you will lose weight (barring medical/pharmaceutical interference.) You might not lose weight where you want it (lose muscle, lose all from your breasts and not your hips/thighs, etc,) but you will lose it. And in my case, no matter how much I lose, my naked body will NEVER look like a supermodels.

This is what I’m working on in my rest week. Now to get moving towards that short run I was talking about.

(BTW – still achey from Sunday’s run! Wow!)