Wednesday, May 30, 2012

You run, you learn

Life has been really busy, but I have still been is almost compulsive because of my nerves excitement about the 10K in a 2.5 weeks. I have a TON of (really fun) things going on before that too, so I am nervous I won't have enough time to get all my training runs in before the big day.

Niki (who is doing the 10K with me) and I went out Sunday morning to run. The temps here in Michigan were in the 90's the past whole weekend. Sunday morning was a bit cloudy, and it looked like it might rain, which I would have welcomed on a 4 mile run. We started out with the temp in the mid-70's, and by time we finished our 4 miles, it was almost 90. It became completely sunny and the temp went up by almost 15 degrees in about an hour. I was DYING.

Tonight, I went out to do 4.5 miles. At one mile I started to feel that familiar pain in my leg. I stopped, did some stretches that have been helping, and went back at it with great results. I was running in a small park near my house that has a .75 mile track. When I hit my goal of 4.5 miles, I was half way around the track. I decided to just keep going until I hit 5 miles. It was much cooler, which helped. I think it is kind of funny though how my body began to reject any distance over my set goal. Right after 4.5 mile my knee and right calf began hurting...they have never bothered me before.

I was talking to one of my best friends and recent fellow runner this weekend about the training and upcoming 10K. I told her I have realized one of the reasons I have learned to love running. Each and every time I go for a run, I have to overcome a new challenge. It teaches me something new every time. Here's what I have learned so far:

  • I can go nearly 2x the distance if the temperature is at or under 70, and feel much better doing it
  • My mind will give up before my body does; a quick body and breath scan gets me back on track
  • I will not reach every goal I set every day, but that doesn't I won't steadily move towards the long term goal
  • The longer I run, the better I feel; the first 10 minutes are complete torture
  • Running with a friend is huge motivation, even if you never say a word to each other because of your headphones
  • If you feel a pain that isn't normal, stop. It won't just work itself out. 
  • I will quit earlier if my clothing or headphones are bugging me. Therefore, I only wear about three different outfits to run in, and wear a specific type of headband over my ears to keep my headphones from falling out constantly, regardless of the temp. I'm sure people comment on how awesome I look ;)
  • Just because shoes cost more doesn't mean they will work better. Likewise, the way shoes look should be the last reason to buy them
  • Don't run in anything made of cotton
  • If you feel like you need to walk, then walk. Eventually, you won't feel that way anymore. 
This list is brief, I think I could go on for a while longer. I know it will continue to grow too. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Foiled by a 9 pound (monster) cat

I planned to run last night after work to get my second 4 mile run in for the week, with plans to do a third over the weekend. I left work last night with several errands and a post-work engagement. I thought I would have enough time, but I did not. I wasn't too concerned because I knew I would have time to go before work today. I made plans to go to the gym with a friend this morning to do my 4 miles on the treadmill.

Warren leaves for work at 5:25am...this morning when he left, our cat, Vlady ran out. This is not a good thing. Anyone who has ever been to our house has heard, "Watch the cat!" when they leave and enter. Vlady is a bengal, which is a mix between a tabby and an asian leopard. Hunting is a strong instinct for him, and the chipmunks around the house drive him CRAZY. He has become an expert at running out the front door when you least expect it, which we aren't fond of since he is declawed and an indoor cat. He also kind of resembles a small raccoon, so we don't want someone shooting at him or something. This is him:
So, since he ran out this morning, Warren came to wake me up because he couldn't be late for work. I dragged my butt out of bed, grabbed a flashlight, and went out searching for him. It was too dark, so I decided to wait for it to get lighter before I went out. I went back out around 6:15, but needed to leave by 6:45 to get to the gym. An HOUR later, I still had not found him. I was not happy. Frustrated, I sat on the front step and pouted. Not 3 minutes later, Vlady came running towards me with a limp chipmunk hanging from his mouth, very proud. I was able to grab him, and then spent 5 minutes shaking the thing out of his mouth. By some miracle, the chipmunk ran away as soon as he let go. 

So, my monster cat interrupted my training schedule, ticked me off, and lost his chipmunk. He was as mad at me as I was at him.

By time I got home from work, the temperature gauge in my car said this:
Guess I will be back at it tomorrow morning, unless my monster decides to run outside and ruin my run again. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

It's all mental

So I have had two good runs since the shoe incident. My old shoes are treating me just fine, and somehow, a miracle has caused my leg and ankle pain to just be gone. I really just don't get how it could be so bad for over a month, then just be gone, but it is.

After the rough day Thursday, I went out with renewed determination Friday. I met my friend Niki at a trail after work, and we decided to do 3 miles. It was her first run since she completed a half-marathon. It was also nearly 90 degrees and sunny. We took it slow (slow for me, REALLY slow for her-she runs a lot faster than me) and made 3 miles easily. It was so HOT though! My face was all red, and I just couldn't cool down. I just hate running in that kind of heat.

I went out for 4 miles tonight. The weather was great, overcast and 60. As soon as I started, I felt like I was going to panic. It was really breath was short and labored, I felt nervous all over, and tense. It was almost like I was having a panic attack. After about 1/2 mile my breath expanded and became more steady, my shoulders relaxed and I was fine. I made 4 miles just fine. As I was thinking about why I felt like that, I realized that I am nervous every single time I get ready to run. I don't know why, but I get a really nervous feeling in my stomach and shoulders. I think it might have been worse today because I have some extra nerves about an event I have put together for work that is happening tomorrow. The run itself helps to get rid of my nerves, but it seems to spike them right before. I am not sure if it is a lack of confidence, a worry about injury, or something else I just haven't figured out yet. The first 1/2 mile today, I thought to myself 20 times that I had made a mistake signing up for the 10K. I don't think that now...running is such a mental challenge for me. As soon as I think I have something figured out to make it easier, something new shows up to challenge me. I saw this the other day, and I think it is so appropriate for tonight :)

So my plan is to make this a 4 mile week, next week a 5 mile week, then do a couple of 6 mile runs before the 10K in three weekends. Ahh!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bad start

Day 1 of 10k training. I was excited to go out running tonight because I had new shoes. I have decided that I would run 2 days in a row, then 1 off. After each day off, I would increase my distance by .5 miles, slowly working up to 6 miles as I get closer to the 10K. I planned to run 3 miles today, a fairly easy thing to do for me. 

I put my new shoes on, with the PowerStep insoles as recommended by the person at the running shop. I ran 1/4 mile before the bottoms of my feet started to feel sore. I attributed it to new shoes, and needing to break them in. By time I got to 1/2 mile, I was limping really bad. I was running on a fairly busy road, in a place where many of the people driving by might possibly know me. I have a personal rule that no matter how bad it gets, I will NEVER walk while on this road, because people might see me. I broke that rule today...that's how bad it hurt. Thankfully, I was right near Warren's parents house. I took my shoes off, limped in my socks through their yard, then drove their car back home. Of course I was near tears from frustration. Nothing new. 

A few months ago, I had some problems with the bottom of my feet, bad enough that I had to get my feet taped by a podiatrist for almost 2 weeks. I had strained tendons in my feet, and my arches had fallen. When I was having that pain, I couldn't wear PowerSteps because they hurt too bad. They healed ok, but the pain I felt with the PowerSteps was EXACTLY like that pain today, which scared me. I had to take 3 months away from running when that happened. So, when I got home, I took out the PowerSteps, put back in the regular soles, and went back out on the same route. I ran past the first distance that I made, but soon after the same pain returned. I stopped, turned around, and went from frustrated to PISSED. I began walking home, which included limping by Warren's parents house. They saw me, and called Warren, who came to pick me up from the side of the road. I was so relieved to see him. I was almost crying and took my shoes off immediately. Thankfully I can return them. I am going to just buy the same exact shoes I have. I guess the saying is true-if it isn't broke, don't fix it. 

So, this isn't exactly the way I envisioned my 10K training beginning. I now am nursing a hurt leg, hurt knee, and sore feet. I had a fleeting thought tonight as I was limping down the road...I thought to myself that maybe running was just too hard on my body, and it wasn't the right thing for me. I have grown to love running too much to give it up, I just wish I could be injury free. My registration for the 10K is enough motivation to keep me going. I am going to pick it back up tomorrow, with my old, comfortable, lovely shoes. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Focus: 10K!

I took a strengths finder at work a few weeks back, and the results described me perfectly. One of my top 5 strengths was titled "Focus". It means this:

Where am I headed?” you ask yourself. You ask this question every day. Guided by this theme of Focus, you need a clear destination. Lacking one, your life and your work can quickly become frustrating. And so each year, each month, and even each week you set goals. These goals then serve as your compass, helping you determine priorities and make the necessary corrections to get back on course. Your Focus is powerful because it forces you to filter; you instinctively evaluate whether or not a particular action will help you move toward your goal. Those that don’t are ignored. In the end, then, your Focus forces you to be efficient. Naturally, the flip side of this is that it causes you to become impatient with delays, obstacles, and even tangents, no matter how intriguing they appear to be. This makes you an extremely valuable team member. When others start to wander down other avenues, you bring them back to the main road. Your Focus reminds everyone that if something is not helping you move toward your destination, then it is not important. And if it is not important, then it is not worth your time. You keep everyone on point.
Gallup, 2008

In short, I agree. This strength of mine caused me to take a huge leap last night. Despite fighting a nagging leg and knee pain, I decided the only way I was going to accomplish this goal of doing a 10K was to just sign up for one. I chose one a month from today. I was really excited last night. I am really nervous today.

Because of my leg pain, I went to get new shoes today. Mine were about a year old, and probably have some miles left on them, but if it helps my leg pain I was willing to try it. The woman who fitted me for my new kicks asked me what kind of runner I was. I told her my history (briefly), and that this was the year I wanted to do a 10K, and I had, in fact, decided that I could do that in a month. Her reply made my nerves even worse-she asked me in a weary voice if I knew about "the hill". The race I signed up for is called the Kalamazoo Klassic. The 5K run starts at the top of a VERY large hill, and finishes at the bottom, with the route going all the way around the hill, but with the runners not required to actually run the hill. The 10K is the 5K route twice, meaning we run the hill. This hill is so legendary for this race, the slogan for the event is "The Thrill, the Will, the Hill…". 

I am pretty sure this is going to be very challenging for me. First, I have only run that far once, and my leg has hurt ever since. I am planning to take it slow, and increase my distance gradually until reaching 6 miles right before the race day. To keep me accountable, I will be writing after each run, and as I make progress. After I make it through this 10K, I would love to try a half-marathon. There goes my "focus" strength again!