Phase 2 – starting a little late

Earlier this month, I was kind of on a roll with the blog and run and blog about it habit, and it seems that I have dropped away from the “face” of the Internet. And that is absolutely true. Looking at my personal email, I had nearly 200 messages to weed through this morning dating back to July 14th, when I am usually quite prompt at reading my emails, checking them 2 or even three times a day. The only time I spent in the digital world since about early-mid July has been while at work, or short moments spent on my iPhone here and there. The past three weeks have been a whirlwind of packing, painting my new home, moving, and now, the last bits of unpacking, picking out draperies, and trying to figure out how I’m going to organize myself in this new, yet familiar, space.

And I am finally starting to feel settled. (sigh of relief!)

So, I admit, maintaining my constant running schedule was definitely thrown off track. And I have been running less than I wanted, but I’m still getting out at least twice a week, and I ran five miles last weekend with no issue! That, I believe, is still progress. My massage therapist told me for the first time that my back is starting to feel better – from her perspective. I was already starting to feel improvement myself, but to have her confirmation puts a little skip in my step.

Sunday I ran around 2pm, after the sun was up and heating the air. It’s been quite a while since I did an afternoon run, and the heat, while a relatively mild 77 degrees, made me feel sluggish and running was a challenge. The fact is that I chose a route that was 2.66 miles in total, fairly modest in length, but the first 1.5 were a long, slow uphill (gaining about 275 feet), making the heat no easier to take. Fortunately, and to my relief, the last mile was a swift kick downhill to home, and very satisfying. Also knowing I averaged 10 minute miles going up that hill gave me grinning rights.

This run was markedly different than in all my previous years of running. I chose to do what my body could do, and ignore my mind for the first time ever. Running up that hill, my brain kept telling me to stop and walk; “the heat!” it said. But I’d listen to my body and know my breathing was even and only slightly labored, I didn’t feel faint, my feet were still moving, heck, I was even smiling! So, I didn’t walk. I picked up my pace because my body could do it. It was a marvelous exploration of my self and my ability.

I’d like to leave you with a quote I received moments ago from Runnersworld.com’s “Daily Kick In the Butt” email, which is quite timely and very appropriate:

“I’m glad to be here right now, poking at my threshold. I need to do this. I need the hurt, the understanding, the work and the metaphor. I want to get more comfortable being uncomfortable. I want to get more confident being uncertain. I don’t want to shrink back just because something isn’t easy. I want to push back, and make more room in the area between I can’t and I can. Maybe that spot is called I will.”
-Kristin Armstrong, Mile Marker’s blog, Runner’sWorld.com

Will you push back? Let go and say, “I will”?
There is freedom in exploring the things that make us uncomfortable, learning our limitations, and when to push through what our mind tells us is where it needs to stop. I look forward to this continued growth and exploration!

Rest – Three days

My initial intent for the weekend was to take a day off from my constant track of running, and get back to it the following day with a new goal and program.  Saturday blended into Sunday, and Monday snuck up on me, so busy this first day of the week, that three days fled by without any time spent in running shoes.

Hm.  Ok.  Step back.  Maybe this is ok.

While I am mildly upset with myself for taking three days off in a row, I do realize that the human body does need some time to rest and repair.  After months of neglecting my physical fitness, I chose to run everyday.  For twenty-two days straight.  A grand idea to get back into the swing of things, but in all honesty, after three days off, I’m feeling more refreshed, less pain, and ready to jump back in more than I have any day previous during those 22.  So, perhaps this little break was a necessary hiatus to bring me back around.

Part of the reason I began my running regimen was to help rehab my body.  I was unfortunately involved in two car accidents, not major in my mind (and inexperience as a non-driver), and therefore, I did not feel that they would have a lasting impact on my body.

I was wrong.

I am still working through recovery, nine months post-accident.  My upper and mid back just get tight.  And hurt a bit. Most of the time.  And I knew they would flare when I started running, but I did not expect the relentless protest of every muscle in my back revolting at my efforts to assist a more speedy recovery by introducing some strength training.  Just the simple act of running was enough to cause spasms that took my breath away, leading to horrific knots and ropes down the right side of my spine.  It has been an incredible experience, dealing with frustration with my body’s reaction, learning patience, and slowing my pace, reducing miles, and focusing on my posture and gait to bring myself to a place where I can be active.  Reluctantly at first, and definitely with some trepidation once the side-effects of physical stress from activity were revealed, but I kept at it, day after day, shoes on and one foot in front of the other… Just one more day, just two more miles.  That I could do.

Now I can tell you my back is not as tight, nor is it hurting as it has been. I don’t know if it is because I have taken some rest days, or if the reason lies simply in having not run nor the exercises;  I have not been putting stress on these muscles.  Which, perhaps, is a relief to the right side of my body.

Tomorrow morning, however, I am going to get out for three miles.  Why three miles?  Because it sounds good.  I have not yet come up with a plan for “Phase 2” and until that is complete and declared to all of you, I will be running.  One day on, one day off.  And Tuesday is an “on” day.  🙂

Happy running, friends!

Fitness Quest Part 1 (2 for 20 for 22) Complete!

I did it.  I’m done…

For the first time in my life, I can proudly state that I have started a fitness program, of my own design, for myself, and met my goal.  For no other reason than wanting to do something good for myself, which, I have to admit is a pretty darned good reason.  In my recent past, I have signed up with trainers, signed myself up for races and relays, yet never have I been so committed to training or working out as I have been these past 22 days.  Something within me has switched.

Of course, my goal was certainly designed with S.M.A.R.T. criteria, not intentionally, but I wanted to be able to finish this first step and get myself back on track, running with some real, quantifiable frequency.  It was a Specific, simple goal: 2 miles, everyday, Measured easily by completion.  Certainly for me, this goal of two miles was Attainable, as I have stretched my body to 8, 10, and 13 miles previously.  Running two miles does not tax my mind too much, although the body took some time to become accustomed to the rhythm and motion of running after such a long break.  I knew this was Relevant to my overall fitness intentions, and 22 days gave it a trackable Time frame.  S.M.A.R.T. and complete!

I will now move into “Part 2” of fitness training.  Realistically, I plan to do fewer runs per week, giving my body time to repair between workouts, but I intend to increase mileage.  A wise person suggested adding hills and speed workouts, which I know to be typical training methods for distance runners, and I am considering this type of workout regimen.  Speed has always been grueling trial for me; especially overcoming the mental fatigue associated with self-doubt.  I would like to tackle that hurdle, but I do not know if I’m prepared to face those demons alone just yet.

About a year ago, I was running with a group of friends every Saturday.  They continue to this day, out and backs of 8-12 miles each weekend, and I would love to run with them again, but I’m still afraid of attempting that distance, as I haven’t yet built up my stamina.  My primary goal is to increase my distance to achieve 8 mile runs, so I can run with my companions again.

I have a new goal!  I’ll supplement longer runs with some speed training on the track, and hills, and … yep!  I think I have the base of my next phase mapped.  Now, to decide upon a time-frame…

But first things first!  Tomorrow, Saturday, July 7th, No Run!  After 22 days running, with no rest day, I will take tomorrow, also known as the 23rd day, off (although, I may go to yoga, extra stretching is highly advised for runners who might need help relaxing tight muscles).

Thank you all, for your support and feedback.  I’ll let you know my plan for Phase 2 training, soon!

Happy Running, everybody!

Top of the hill mid-way, run #22. . The view, and Me eyes.  🙂

2 more days ’till 22

Friday the 6th of July, I will have achieved my goal of running 2 miles everyday, for 22 days.  Of course, there has been one variation, as there often will be in this type of training.  This past Sunday, I realized the monotony of the same distance, every day to the same location was starting to wear on me.  So, in efforts to revitalize my interest in my short run, I set out for a 1.25 mile climb, uphill the entire way, to a great spot to stop and enjoy the view.  It is SO spectacular, that the memory of the effort spent getting there (I did not walk at all – so proud of myself!) dissolves as soon as I look out over the city.

Image

Even on a grey, overcast, and slightly damp morning, this view still takes my breath away.

I have yet to check 2 miles off my list today, this Wednesday, the 4th of July, Independence Day.  Good fortune of having the day as a Holiday from work is allowing me the freedom to get outside while the sun is shining, my first time running in warm weather in months.  A mid-day run is a definite to-do today.

Reflecting on the last 19 days, only a couple of them have proved challenging; they required extra resolve to get up, put my shoes on and get the run done.  Getting into the routine has been less of a strain than I first anticipated.  Now, after 19 separate 2 mile runs, I feel significantly stronger which comes as a surprise.  As a former practiced athlete, I feel that logically, the amount of work that running 2 miles each day requires is not enough to make a significant difference in the way my body feels.  Additional unexpected benefits include more restful sleep, as well as falling asleep almost immediately after laying down.  I have an enjoyable daily routine, although I am learning that a change in scenery from time to time is something I do crave.

Now my thoughts drift to what challenge to take on next. Do I run three miles, 30 minutes, three times per week for thirty days?  While this proposal has a pleasant sound rolling off the tongue, in reality it is a backward step, as my overall minutes running would decrease, and miles run would decrease from 140 to 90, and 14 to 9 respectively.  Perhaps I’ll run 3 times per week for 30 minutes, and add one long run, 5 miles, on the weekend?  Thus providing my body some rest from running, and allowing days for cross-training (and yoga!).  There is so much to consider, and only three days until I want to have my new plan in place!

For the first time in my life, I am positive I can continue running.  I have designed this exercise routine with no consideration beyond the desire to be active and increase my overall fitness, and I am enjoying every moment of my daily dose of pavement pounding.