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Journey To the Finish Line

PR's, 4 children, hopes and dreams; I'm always running after something

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yoga

I Have A Need for Speed (3/20-4/2)

And yet again I get behind and do a combo post. I guess some weeks I should just be happy I manage to post anything.

Week of March 20

Monday – swim. 1800 meters – still slow. While I don’t look forward to waking up at 4:30 am to join masters swim, I could REALLY use the help on my form.

Tuesday – running snacks. 5 miles @ 8:51/mile. The twins ran a little afterwards, but Miles was cold because he insisted on not wearing a jacket.Sometimes moms ARE right, buddy.

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Wednesday – speed. 4.81 miles @ 8:26/ mile including 6 x 400 intervals. I did this one in the morning and I can’t remember why, but whatever. I wanted a little speed before the 5k but didn’t want to overdo it, so I did 6 intervals with 1 min rest between, ranging from 6:10-6:36. It was a bigger range than I had hoped but I started out more slowly, and had some incline every other interval since I wasn’t on a track.

Thursday running snacks/yoga. 3 miles @ 9:22/mile followed by some stretching so I hopefully don’t make my PSOAS angry.

Friday rest

Saturday long run/race. 8.1 miles including the Turtle 5k race, where I FINALLY hit my long awaited 21:xx. I ran one mile before to warm up and did a long 4 mile cool down.

Sunday ride. 13.23 miles at 17.5 MPH.  I had planned to do an hour but it was a chilly morning and I didn’t put on socks, so I cut it shorter. My toes were going numb.

Week of March 27

Monday – easy run. 6 miles @ 8:37/mile. Trying to both recover from Saturday’s 5k and prep for the upcoming Bridge run, I took it easy. I also took the day off and took the twins to the zoo with my friend Virginia and her daughter, Stella.

Tuesday ride. 16.2 miles @ 18.3 MPH I got a mile from my house on this ride before realizing I had left without my helmet. So I had to turn around and go back. Apparently I left my brain at home too.

Wednesday hills 6 miles @ 8:40 including 4 hills. I wasn’t sure how much prep 4 hills was going to be 3 days before the Bridge Run, but I figured a little couldn’t hurt. The rest of the run was done at an easy pace. Melissa and I were gone longer so we missed the group picture.

Thursday cross. 30 minutes elliptical and 20 minutes weights.

Friday rest

Saturday run 6.24 miles at the Cooper River Bridge Run. Recap coming!

Sunday running snacks/yoga. 2 miles @9:15 pace and yoga for runners.

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Ignore the garage

4 Weeks to Myrtle Maybe

Really, the only things keeping me from running this race at this point are injury and illness, neither of which we want to talk about because its bad vibes.

No one wants bad vibes.

I didn’t even get to these training runs for Disney because of my butt, so I find its good news that (knock on wood) there have been no major issues.

Monday – cross training. Swim 1600 meters. I did a 400m warm up, and then attempted a form of interval training, trying 4 sets of 100 with a goal of under 2:00. I swung and missed on all of them, finishing in 2:03, 2:05, 2:06 and 2:06. Swimming is hard. I took it easy for the rest and was still exhausted the rest of the day.

Tuesday – tempo. 8 miles total. 1 mile easy/ 7@ 8:23. This was a rough tempo run. Miles had come home sick early the day before and the only way for me to get it done was on the treadmill (no thank you) or start while it was still dark and be back before Bryan had to leave for work. Starting before daylight made it hard to see my watch, then when the sun starting coming up it brought with it some chilly wind. After that, I was fighting car wind. I hit goal pace, but I felt like I’d run 13 miles rather than 8 and had tired legs all day.

Wednesday – speed work. 7 miles total. 10x 400 @ 6:35, 10×400 recovery. I goofed on the pace goal, thinking I was shooting for 6:30. It was another blistery day and I had trouble finding my pace at first. 6:19, 6:50 (read my watch wrong on this one), 6:22, 6:30, 6:27, 6:30, 6:24, 6:29, 6:25, 6:10 (everyone else was done, I was hurrying). If nothing else, I’m getting faster!

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The few, the proud, the crazy

Thursday – easy run. 3 miles @ 8:53. I took the dog, and it was nice to run without having to worry about reading my watch for once.

Friday: rest day

Saturday: long run. 20 miles @ 8:36/mile. This was THE dreaded 20 miler, because of the pace. Last go round, my butt was still hurting. I finished 18 @ 8:42. I went into this one both dreading it and excited about it. We went a different route this time, parking at a local Target and running through a popular neighborhood (passing by where my sister will be building her house, too) and along 17 which has sidewalk for quite a few miles up. The change of scenery was much needed  as we were able to avoid the monotony of the trail but not have to traffic dodge. Plus, we were right by Chick -fil -a and coffee. The run itself went well, actually. I only had to fight with some tight hamstrings around mile 16. If anyone has any solution to that, I’m all ears. (I’m fine after resting a bit and stretching, but don’t really have the same time luxury on on race day).

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Sunday: active rest day. Yoga. Yoga with toddlers. And if your toddler hands you a toy broom while you’re yoga-ing and says “hold this”,   you improvise.

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Child’s broom triangle pose

5 Weeks to Maybe (Probably)

Since this race is still technically a “maybe”

Monday – long tempo. 11 miles. 1 easy, 10 @ 8:23. Usually I cross train on Monday after a long run Saturday (especially when it’s 20) and my original plan was to do my speed Tuesday and long tempo Thursday, but the weather was calling for a 100% chance of rain Thursday. There was a 100% chance I did NOT want to run 11 tempo miles on a treadmill, so I took a tired leg run outside instead. No, my legs weren’t completely recovered from Saturday, but all in all it wasn’t bad.

Tuesday – cross train. Easy 10 mile ride. It was a warm day and I was done with work early so I took the bike outside. Legs still (understandably) worn out so I didn’t try to push it with this one and took it easy. I wouldn’t have been able to push too much with the headwind anyway. Why is there always a headwind when I’m on my bike? This was after I commented to a friend of mine that it was such a nice day for a ride – too bad I didn’t feel like riding. #liarliarpantsonfire

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When I said I didn’t feel like riding, I meant….I lied.

Wednesday – speed work. 3 mile repeats with 400 m recovery. 5 miles total. Weather had been calling for rain Wednesday too but we lucked out and it held off until the evening. A group of us met about a half hour earlier than usual to try to get the workout in before the rain started, so we didn’t get our usual group picture. As luck would have it, it didn’t even start raining until the cool down. AND, my mile splits were faster than written at 7:00, 6:57 and 6:56. Now, if only I could maintain that for a 5k…..

Thursday –cross train. 1600 m swim. I did an easy 550m (sprint distance), a couple drills and then tried to speed up the 550 a second time. I did, but overall it was still slow. Too bad I can’t use flippers in triathlons….

Friday – rest day

Saturday – long run. 15 miles @ 8:32/mile. I was a little nervous about the pace on this one after my hamstrings and calves felt so tight from last week. I found a pair of Pro Compression socks on super sale and bought them, hoping they’d help with my new found calf tightness (it’s always something). They did seem to help. We finished the run on pace, and I did still feel a little more fatigued than I felt like I should have, but it was better than last week, so I think my legs are finally recovering. Just have to push through peak week next week and hope that the taper weeks will be enough to do the trick.

Sunday – active rest day. 50 minutes of yoga. Sometimes you just need a good excuse to stand on your head. 🙂

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In all reality, I just felt like I needed it, both physically and emotionally. It was a good choice.

Onto next week!

 

No More Marathon – What Next?

This happens after each marathon I’ve run- some version of the post marathon blues. Sounds silly, right? It’s a real thing.

I’ve actually enjoyed a more lax workout schedule and no real pressure to have to run when I do exercise. I’ve enjoyed practicing some more yoga lately and even hopped on the elliptical a couple days ago for the first time in months. What bugs me is no set plan for what comes next. Aside from the Sprint Triathlon series this summer and hopefully an Olympic Triathlon in the fall, I have nothing on the calendar. While this probably makes Bryan happy, its driving me a little nuts. Races give me schedules to follow, goals to set and things to blog about at least once a week, even if they are boring.

I can’t decide if I really want to keep recording “training” when I’m not really training for anything. I like the idea but it seems kind of silly. Since the jury is still out I guess I’ll just keep going.

Sunday – rest day. Sore.

Monday – rest day. Still sore.

Tuesday – rest day. Almost not sore.

Wednesday – Vinyasa flow yoga. Though I was no longer sore, I could definitely still feel some fatigue in my quads during the lunge poses. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

Thursday – interval yoga

Friday – rest day

Saturday – 20 mile ride. It’s my longest ride yet on the new bike so I think that counts for something. But the headwind on the way back SUUUUUUUUUCKED.

My motivation to run, perhaps not surprisingly, was lacking the week after the race (to say the least). I did fend off a little of the “blues” by researching a couple 5ks over the next couple months. I promised myself (and my chiropractor) that I’d focus more on swimming and biking once this marathon was over, but lets be honest: I’m still going to be a runner.

Maybe a 5k PR can be next…….

Marathon Training Recap – Week 10

Another week down, another week my SI joint has survived. Already though I’ve had to alter the plan a bit – Bryan has started teaching on Saturdays so there will be some weeks I’ll aim to run when he gets home and others where I’ll have to wait till Sunday. Today was a Sunday week.

Sunday – Theraputic Yoga. The goal here was to stretch, stretch stretch. Ouch.

Monday – 6 miles. Unfortunately my back STILL felt off so I wasn’t able to do any intervals and had to keep the run at a nice easy pace. When I visited the chiropractor later that day he commented he felt like my pelvis was the most “twisted” he’s seen it in a long time. I wasn’t surprised. I’d been trying to stretch all day and something just didn’t feel right. I actually called and requested to come in earlier this week. :/ As the week went on last week, my lower back felt “squished” for lack of a better word. It wasn’t pain, just pressure. I was honestly sure I’d have to stop training. But I spent 5 minutes per night on the inversion table Monday and Tuesday and it made a HUGE difference.

Wednesday – 75 minute interval yoga. I would have loved to ride my bike but it was just too cold, so I tried to combine stretching with some cardio, at least. On the plus side, this video included lots and lots of jumps into handstand (or in my case, attempts), so maybe one day I’ll actually figure that out. I spent a few minutes that night massaging my hamstrings and pyriformis and felt like I worked some of the tension out.

Thursday – midweek “long” run (7 miles), again at a comfortable pace. I’m still getting sensations that I can only guess are the result of a pinched nerve. I called and scheduled a massage for Monday, hoping I can get this issued worked out, literally. Other than that, though, the run went well.

Saturday – yoga with toddlers. I think I spent as much time as a mommy tunnel/jungle gym/hug giver than I did doing any actual yoga but hey, you win some you lose some. I had planned to run my long run after Bryan returned home from work but instead I went to pick up my early Christmas present – a triathlon bike! I don’t have any pedals or bike shoes yet (I was borrowing theirs for fitting purposes), so I can’t actually RIDE it , but its in my possession and this is an important first step, I think.

ready to kick ass and take names this season!
ready to kick ass and take names this season!

Sunday – long run (13 miles +2.5 mile walk later). The woman I bought the bike from invited me to join them on their long run, and since I’m always looking for company on long runs I happily joined them. Couldn’t complain about the view, either.

group run view
group run view

Training is still on, and hoping tomorrows scheduled massage helps.

Stretch

The day after my long run Saturday, I was, perhaps not surprisingly, still sore. I plan Sunday to be my yoga day for a reason, but that day I was more sore and tired than usual. So instead of searching out my usual Power Yoga/Interval videos, I decided on a Therapeutic Yoga instead, figuring it would go at a slower pace and allow more stretching.

Typically, Power Yoga is yoga I prefer. I don’t sit still well, and often become impatient when I have to hold poses for what I feel is too long. I have this mentality that workouts should raise my heart rate and tend to feel like they are useless when it doesn’t. That day, even though my brain was wanting to push, my body needed the rest. Knowing that, though, didn’t make breathing through the longer series of stretches any easier for my brain that never stops, and I still felt myself feeling frustrated.

I’ve written before about how I’m not very good at staying in the moment, my mind wandering away like a curious toddler. At least during power yoga, my heart rate is high enough and I am moving quickly enough that I am, at least some of the time, able to focus my mind on my balance and breathing. I couldn’t do it sitting in these stretches. My mind was everywhere, mostly wondering if a recent change I’d decided to make was the right one.

When I began working after graduate school, I worked with adults for 2.5 years, but didn’t feel I was really making a difference. After that, I made a fairly large leap by switching over to pediatrics. As it happened, I worked for my current boss prior to graduate school in the office, and then as a semi-nanny to his son. I’ve since worked at his company for the last 4.5 years. For various reasons that I don’t feel the need to write about here, I fought with a decision to change work location for a good couple of months. It was by no means an easy decision, and I was breaking apart every detail, wondering if I’d made the right choice. I have fantastic co-workers and he gave me an opportunity he didn’t have to offer, which made the decision that much harder to make. Change makes me nervous, and though I’m more than wiling to stretch myself to the limit when it comes to physical fitness, in other aspects of my life I’m not as flexible.

When the video ended (I admit I did fast forward a little), I felt stretched but still unsettled, much like I did in my brain. I set a goal to hold a forearm stand by the end of 2014 and honestly haven’t practiced much until recently, realizing we are nearing the end of the year. Feeling somewhat desperate for something that would give me a feeling of success, I kicked my legs and up prepared to balance them against the wall. After a second, I realized something.

I was holding them up myself. I was holding the forearm stand without the wall.

Granted, this whole experience was over in about 3 seconds, but it was enough to make me realize that I’m more capable than I give myself credit for, and in this case, not physically, but mentally. I can stretch myself mentally as well, and make it out ok.

Time to move forward, and keep stretching.

Thoughts On the Mat

I pulled out my trusty yoga mat yesterday. I’ve been practicing once a week regularly since my injury and have only recently become comfortable enough with the routines (I use you tube videos) and strong enough to really appreciate the benefits of many of the poses.

A competitive person by nature (shock, I know), when I practiced yoga in college I was always trying to be able to do what the person next to me was doing. A few *cough* years later, I can finally appreciate the idea of practicing only for my own benefit without worrying where others are in their own practice. A few weeks ago I finally managed a headstand with both feet up in the air, but it was still several more weeks before I wasn’t fighting my weak abs and really understood why people want to “get upside down”.

I’m proud that I’ve come this far, but I still have a consistent, nagging battle that I fight, both on the mat and off. In all the classes I have taken (in person and on you tube), the instructor often talks about the importance of being present on the mat. That means simply being where you are, right then, and not worrying or thinking about anything else. I constantly have a million things running through my mind. No matter what I’m doing, I’m thinking about what needs to be done, what is next on the list, what has been left undone. I’m checking my text messages and my emails. I’m thinking of dirty dishes, the next days work schedule, the next mornings’ workout, calculating how much time I have before nap is over so I can complete said to do list.

I can write an entire blog about thoughts on the mat because I am horrible about keeping my mind from wandering. What I’d really like is to be able to title my blog post “Thoughts On the Mat” and simply leave the body blank. And it’s not just in yoga that I have this issue, it’s with the twins, with my husband, with my friends, at work, in bed when I should be sleeping. Every minute of every day.

Every once in awhile I’m able to really focus on the music, concentrate on my breathing, and put all of my energy into my pose. For those few seconds, I am calm, relaxed and, at the risk of sounding corny, zen.

I wonder how many things I am missing. How many little moments with the twins I let slip away or openings for a heart to heart with Bryan I let slide by. I’m afraid I’m going to spend all my time in the future, and wake up one morning and realize I’ve missed my life.

Anyone out there good at staying present?

On Becoming Flexible

I can be a fairly inflexible person, both literally and figuratively. I like to have a plan, and once I make said plan I want to follow said plan (as a matter of fact, I just ordered a planner). If someone or something puts a dent in my plan I don’t always cope well. My muscles it seems are much like my plans – fairly inflexible. It takes some time to work the kinks out. Motherhood has helped some since infants tend to not give two sh*ts about plans, but that doesn’t mean I still haven’t attempted to dictate feeding and nap times down to the minute.

After I injured my back/hip a few months ago one of the first things the chiropractor told me was that I was going to have to start incorporating more cross training into my exercise routine. I took a weekly yoga class in college that I really enjoyed but fell out of the habit once I graduated. The last thing I want to do is risk re-injury so about a month ago I re-introduced weekly yoga practice.

Power Yoga has always been my class of choice. I enjoy and benefit from the stretching and breathing but if I’m going to exercise prefer to participate in something that is going to increase my heart rate. (Plus its the class I took in college so its more what I’m used to.) After brushing the dust bunnies and dog hair off of the yoga mat that’s been sitting in my downstairs closet for years (and coughing and sneezing a few times), I rolled it out and scrolled through my You Tube video options.

My first attempt was…..interesting. While my imagination had me mastering the crow (or crane) pose the reality was after two chaturanga’s my arms were shaking like leaves. The good news was I found I enjoyed it as much if not more than before. The bad news is it showed me just how stiff and weak much of my body really is. Because not only did I have to hang out in childs pose during several plank to chaturanga transitions, for the next two days? I was SORE. In fact, when I returned to the chiropractor two days later with that report, he laughed at me (obviously the man has never done yoga).

Two weeks ago, Bryan lost his job. My first reaction was, like usual, to panic. Walking around in a ball of anxiety I worried about our finances. To worry and prepare some makes sense but the reality is we are not likely to go broke during this temporary bout of unemployment. Money is something I tend fret about, often unnecessarily.

Coincidentally (or maybe not), I found myself able to let go of some of these over the top worries each week while on my mat. I even found myself saying “well isn’t that what savings is for?”. As someone who wants to put money into savings and NEVER EVER TOUCH IT, this was a big forward step. In addition to that, I found myself become stronger and more flexible physically even with only a months worth of weekly yoga “classes”. Last week I was able to hold the crow pose for a few seconds and do several plank to chaturanga transitions without fatiguing. It takes less and less time to warm up and I’m able to bend and twist further into poses.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to change my thought processes to be more flexible quite as quickly, but I try when I start fretting to bring myself back to reality, or to put it off until the next time I pull out the (now non dust covered) mat. The injury that frustrated me to no end at first is working its way into something positive. Without it, my mat would likely continue to be a home for spiders (ew).

(On a somewhat related note, I’m tweaking my New Years Resolutions. Since running 6 half marathons this year is likely not possible, my new goal is to be able to enter, exit and hold a forearm balance in a controlled manner. Stay tuned for updates on this :))

On The Mend (Another Injury Update)

Last week I somewhat “graduated” from the chiropractor. Though I’m not completely done, I no longer need the spinal decompression table and visits have decreased significantly from 3x a week to 1x a week with the plan to decrease even further to 1x every 3-4 weeks after a few more adjustments. Slowly the work of keeping up is being taken from him and the responsibility is placed on me to follow the plan of stretches, exercises and incorporating more cross training.

12 weeks post injury and my longest run to date is still only a little over 5 miles. After my broken toe I was back to running 9+ miles 6-8 weeks later. I’m finding myself to be both frustrated at how slow recovery feels (knowing I’ll be lucky to run one or two half marathons this year let alone the 6 I’d hoped for) and hesitant to push too hard for fear of re-injury. A broken toe is a bit harder to re- break (unless I find myself face to face with another fever and late night bathroom trip blocked by a bouncy seat) than a joint is to…displace? re-displace? Whatever.

One of the biggest mistakes I made (though at the time I didn’t realize it) post partum was jumping back into running without consistently working areas like my abs, hips, and glutes. I still have diastasis rectii (split abs) and am not sure if that is something that will ever fully go back to normal. I assumed I’d be able to make a comeback without needing to worry about anything but how many miles I’m logging and at what speed I could run my fastest 5k. I can’t say that I would have avoided the injury altogether – both the chiropractor and I “blame” the weight and effects of a twin pregnancy on my hips and generally small frame.

I’ve reintroduced yoga once a week in attempt to increase my strength and flexibility overall. I’m supposed to stretch my pyriformis after runs and other times throughout the day. I’ve “cut” running from a consistent 5 days per week with occasional cross train to a consistent 3-4 days per week with 1-2 days of cross training (bike, yoga, rollerblading). I’ve been given a set of exercises to help strengthen the left side of my back in order for things to stay as even as possible, for lack of a better word.

I, and other runners too I think, have a hard time thinking outside the running box. Workouts are centered around going for runs, calculating miles and keeping track of pace. It has been a difficult habit for me to break out of and one that I honestly still need to work on. I have been good about incorporating cross training, but sometimes I have to mentally force myself to pull out my yoga mat and not plop the babies in the jogging stroller. I’m consistent about stretching after runs, but not as much at other times. I’m still only intermittently working my abs and if I’m completely honest I can count the number of times I’ve done the shoulder/back exercises on one hand. I can blame lack of time, I can blame the babies, I can blame exhaustion, but really all I am doing is making up excuses. Excuses that will only hurt me in the end. I’m hoping that by putting this out there will begin to hold myself more accountable.

I am no good injured, I need to remember that my body is not the same as it was before the twins and I need to remind myself that in order to stay injury free in the future, I need to be consistent about strengthening other areas.

I’m on the mend, but I could still use a little work.

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