Runner?

My wonderful husband got me Runner’s World  magazine for Christmas. One issue in, and I have learned two things.

One, it’s a great magazine and I am totally enjoying reading people who focus on running even more than I do.  It does seem to be aimed more at long distance runners, which I don’t really aspire to. For one thing, with my knee damage, I would rather run short distances for a longer period of time than long distances for a short time. For another, not sure that UltraMarathoning is truly good for a human body. We weren’t really built for that. Which, of course, is why it is so amazing that runners can do it. But most of the articles apply to all running, and are right on point.

The other thing I learned was that I am a runner. As I read the article by the young lady who ran a marathon (and placed) in a different brand of shoe than she had been in love with for several years and felt oddly like she had betrayed her previous sneakers,  it occurred to me that if I only had time to run or ride the horse, I would be waving to the mare on the way out of the driveway for my run.

Running comes first. And I think that is what defines a runner, not the mileage or the speed, just the intent.

I enjoy yoga, I do weights because it helps with running, kickboxing is a great way to blow off steam, kayaking is pretty and I love my horses. But I would rather run than do any of those. And I hope everyone has that one activity that they would just rather do more than anything else, because running brings me peace. And everyone needs that.

 

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Weekly Rundown

Ah, the first rundown of the year. Might be a bit more exciting if I wasn’t so worn out from the holiday season.  I have decided that five days a week is ok right now. Amazing what our bodies can convince us. Of course, it wasn’t able to convince me to just give up on exercising right now–and it did try!

Monday- New Year’s Eve, but I got to work anyway. And I took the day off from exercise, per usual. And went to bed at the same time. Can’t remember the last time I saw the New Year at the start!

Tuesday: New Year’s Day, which I did have off. Took it easy with the exercise, doing one of the presets on the treadmill.  It was a 30 minute run, with intervals between 5.9 and 6.5 MPH, ending with 2.7 miles and a fairly relaxed me. I followed up with 16 minutes of yoga to loosen the muscles and I was ready to face the new year!

Wednesday: another easy day (lets face it, it was an easy week) with only 13 minutes of stretchy yoga after a long day at work.

Thursday: off again, just plain exhausted.

Friday: back on the wagon again–at least, trying to be! There is a 20 minute/1 mile interval walk on the treadmill that I did twice, with 1 lb weights in each hand, altering between overheads, bicep curls and just carrying. I did 25 minutes of free yoga after, mixing in strength poses (plank, reverse plank, scale, warrior) with stretchy moves.

Saturday: still feeling relaxed, I did a 40 minute interval run on the treadmill, with speeds alternating between 5.3 and 6.8 MPH. The run was 3.7 miles and felt really good.

Sunday: I did a “fast” walk for 15 minutes, although my warm up period was a bit too slow to do an entire mile in the 15 minutes. Then I dragged the standing punching bag out for the first time in years and went through my punch/kicking routine.  Took about 20 minutes and it did get me warm. Fun though, love kickboxing!

 

When you look down past your aqua shirt to your teal weights resting on the pretty turquoise swirls on the yoga mat, and realize: huh, I seem to have collected a LOT of blue-greens over the years 🙂

 

So tired….

Here it is the new year, and we all have these fresh resolutions…..and we are so exhausted!

Or is that just me?

I had a wonderful holiday season. We did something almost every weekend, which was rather unusual for us. But we kept busy from Thanksgiving to Christmas and even beyond, visiting the Garden’s Aglow on New Year’s weekend.

It was fantastic, and if you are ever near Boothbay in the month of December, I highly recommend it. We have been trying to go for a number of years, and this is the first time we got there.

      

Meanwhile, between the family get togethers, friends, dinners and actual holiday celebrations, I seem to be a bit weary. So I gave myself permission to slack off a bit this week.

I mean, I took two whole days off. And just did a bit of yoga stretching on some of the other days.

Why do I mention this? For two reasons.

One, it is quite important to listen to your body and not push when you are worn out. Even if you have a new program that demands it of you. Two, it is also important to be flexible. We all know what happens to the best laid plans. If you can be flexible about which day you are taking off, how many days a week you take off as well as what day you are doing which exercise routine, I can guarantee you will be a happier exercise-er (is that a word? Did I just make it up? 😛 )

Now, that doesn’t mean you give yourself permission to take the majority of days off each week, or do the “easy” workout every day. It just means you cut yourself a break once in a while and listen to your body.

New Year

Yup, it’s that time again.

Resolutions.
Will we keep them? Will they be forgotten by February?

I have never been a big resolutions person. At least, not in January. I don’t know if it is due to the beginning of the school year, but somehow I always equate Labor day with the revamping of my priorities annually.

We lived out in the country, so, especially when I was young, I didn’t see my friends over the summer. The beginning of the school year was a time for excitement: new clothes, new notebooks, organizing for the school year, catching up with my friends.
That always seemed like the fresh start of my year, not New Years Day, which, sadly, was never a big deal in my family.

But, admitting that I am an oddball, I know thousands of people across the globe have made multitudes of resolutions in the last 24 hours. Some are already forgotten, some they will strive for and some they will fail to attain.

Why is that?

Probably because a lot of people pick a goal that focuses  on the how, not the why. Magazines in every news stand  (or online 😛 ) are telling people right now how to de-clutter their lives, or lose weight with the perfect diet/exercise program. But many of them are not addressing the original problem–why your house is a mess or exercise doesn’t stick.

I can get a perfect place to put all my papers, cleaning supplies and whatnot; and my house will be organized and clean….until the original reason my house was disorganized rears its ugly head–I simply don’t take the time to put things in their perfect place. Unless I fix the why, I can do the how all I want and it’s not going to stick. I need to change my habits before I can reach any goals.

The why is also important in choosing the resolution in the first place. Do you want to lose weight just to be more attractive to others? Probably not a resolution you are going to keep. Do you want to lose weight to be stronger and healthier, and improve your own self-image? Now, that one might stick! Do you think you should reorganize your house because the magazine makes it look so pretty? It probably won’t last. Do you want to organize your house so you don’t have to waste so much time trying to find things? That has a better chance of working once you find a proper home for everything.

Now, how do we get there?

That’s the trickier part. Once you have decided your goal has a good basis in why you truly want it, seek as much advice as you can about your goal. Read, watch videos, talk to friends. The more information you have, the more likely you are to do it correctly and enjoy it–and want to keep doing it (whatever it is).

I love running. Running helps me lose weight. It makes me feel strong and balanced, and gives me time away from my everyday problems to work on just myself. I do not expect it to work for everyone, nor do I expect everyone to love running. But you do want to find something that does all that for you.

My mantra has always been: do what you like. If you don’t like it, you won’t do it. Thus why, as a child of the 80s and 90s, I still won’t do aerobics. I loathe them. Same with the newer fondness for HiIT workouts. Won’t touch them. I tried a lot of things before I decided what worked for me and I actually enjoyed doing.

Feel free to experiment with many ways to attain your goal. One never knows what will work (or not) until one tries. That goes for anything-exercise, weight loss, organization or even cooking.  Just make sure you do them in bite size steps that you can accomplish and build on.

Deciding to run a marathon and getting on the treadmill at the local gym the first day and trying to  run 5 miles is not a good way to start. It will hurt, might actually injure you, and be very discouraging! Starting with  running and walking intervals and having  a reasonable mileage goal for each month will most likely get you to the starting line of your marathon.

And this could be the year that we all keep our resolutions….even if my resolution to not have one!

 

 

Do what you gotta do!

Those of you who have been following along know that I am coming up on my three-year mark of the accident that shattered my knee ( it did more, but that seems to be the longest lasting effect).

I still wear a brace almost every day. I have gathered a plethora; light knits and compressions and hefty ones for the actual running. I may be addicted, as I am always looking for the “perfect” brace that won’t slide and will give excellent support.

Sometimes at home I don’t wear one–but I can always go grab one if needed. I am amazed at how a little piece of compression nylon can make my leg feel so much better. I have tried to not use them at various points in the last couple years, and my leg always informs me the it really does still need them.

And the point of this, you are wondering?

I had a wonderful surgeon who rebuilt my knee, and I am deeply indebted to him.  He was supportive about my future progress, although he really didn’t think I would like running. But he never suggested the knee supports.

That was a light bulb moment for me in the local drug store.  And I am so glad I stopped in front of the brace section that day. I probably wouldn’t  enjoy running without the braces; both the heavier ones for exercising and the lighter ones for every day.

But the point. The point is that sometimes you have to think outside the box, and if you want to try something, do it. Absolutely do whatever your doctor suggests, but feel free to add-on (safely-I would suggest caution when it comes to unusual medications. There was a very low risk factor putting a nylon brace on my leg!). You never know what will help your progress until you try. And if it doesn’t work, try something else!

Weekly Rundown

Another week flew by.  I have still been exercising six days a week, but I think my sessions have been both shorter and easier.

In other words, I have been slacking!

I did try this week to reverse that trend. It was a good start anyway 🙂

Monday: planned day off

Tuesday: off–the power went out as I was getting dressed for the treadmill.  It lasted just long enough to have alarm go off, and hear about two seconds of the morning news announcer before that horrible absence of all sound filled the house. I had to feed the horses,  wash a bit and try to do something with my hair by flashlight before trotting off to work. Fortunately, it was back on by the time I got home, so my evening went as planned (albeit without exercise).

Wednesday: I did a preset workout on the treadmill, with interval speeds for 20 minutes that equaled one mile. But I didn’t feel it was quite hard enough.

Thursday: Another walk on the treadmill, 1.18 miles at 3.0 to 3.8 MPH. Definitely not hard enough.

Friday: Hopped on the treadmill for a more difficult workout. Did a preset for 40 minutes that totaled 3.74 miles, with 3.5 of that running at 5.3 MPH and 6.5 intervals. I carried 1 lb weights during the slower intervals, and felt sooo very marvelous when I finished.

Saturday: Realizing that I really hadn’t done much with weights recently–I only do them because I feel it helps my running and is good for me–I thought I should break them out. I did 23 minutes of my arm/leg routine, with two reps. I seem to be having an issue doing three reps, so I am just increasing the number in the reps. Funny how we trick ourselves, isn’t it? I mixed in some stretch-y yoga in as well to help  my muscles actually move the next day after not having lifted in forever.

Sunday: I did a free form workout on the treadmill. I did a short walking warm-up, 20 minutes running and then a cool down for a total of 45 minutes.  As much as I don’t like having to track how long I have been on the treadmill for speed changes (it just makes the workout take forever, which is one reason I enjoy the presets. They make me work harder without having to pay attention to how long I have been on there), this one seemed to go fairly quickly and felt pretty good.

Weight

Weight is a funny thing, isn’t it? Amazing how happy one can be to see a number on the scale on the downward slide, but so very unhappy to see the same number on the way back up.

A number of years ago I set a goal weight, and I have struggled to get there. Now, I was chunky, so my goal weight was really only eight or so pounds away from where I was. But as we all know, I always said I ran to eat pizza.

So although I occasionally lost a pound, my body loves to hold on to each ounce and I never really got to my goal. But at least I stayed even 🙂

Then I had my accident and lost 10 lbs in the hospital–no surprise there. I did gain five back, once I started eating solid food at home. But I stayed there (only three pounds above my goal) for two years. I pretty much cycled through three pounds for those years, but it was consistent.

Then my husband had his heart attack last February. There was stress, of course, and we also drastically changed our diet. He can’t have much salt (oh my, that is high in everything!) or items with a lot of fat. We pretty much stopped eating anything processed. We used to enjoy the “convenience” of frozen pizza, mac and cheese or other frozen dinners several times a week.  We went cold turkey on that. I even make spaghetti sauce each time we have pasta–that would be due to the salt content in commercial sauce. We also were both keeping our portions small in the beginning as well.

Somehow, I lost ten pounds. So here I am seven pounds below my goal!! Whoo-hoooo! Even more odd, I stayed the same weight for several months, not bouncing up and down three pounds like I normally do.

I don’t eat anything really horrible, my desserts are normally ginger snaps, my lunches ricotta and granola and my breakfasts are Zone bars during the week.

So why did I just gain three pounds?????

Part of it is autumn. This is the normal time of year my body craves food and hangs on to all the calories in order to prepare for the deprivation of hibernation of winter. I wish it would realize we don’t hibernate!!! The other part, I expect, is that I relaxed on the “small portion” part. Ooops. And although I am running again, I haven’t been doing very many or very difficult sessions. Double ooops.

Where does that leave me? Well, four pounds below my goal weight. But now my goal is to stay where I was. I have no interest in continuing to gain weight throughout the winter, that will only make my spring harder. And while I really don’t want to go lower than I was, I do want to stay there–I liked it 🙂 So now on to the hard work-less food and more exercise.

Snowy Friday

Seemed like last year during winter, I hit every snowstorm during a commute, whether morning or night. So I am pretty happy the first substantial (early) storm happened on a Friday–which I get off. Maybe this will set a trend for this year?

                                      I think we ended up with about 5 or 6 inches

I am feeling pretty relaxed today, happy that not only do I not have to go anywhere, no one can expect me to go somewhere in the mess out there. What a wonderful day!

I have spent the day alternating between short bursts of cleaning and hanging out with Daisy in front of the tv. I finally decided before lunch that I ought to get on the treadmill.

I had no real plan when I got on, I was vaguely thinking it would be similar to last Friday’s run. So 3 mile-ish.

Since I was in no hurry, I did a warm-up of 1 minute at 3 MPH and 4 minutes at 4 MPH, before running my first mile at 6 MPH. Last week I did my second at 6.5 and my third at 7.0. Today I went straight to 7 for the second mile, with the idea that I would do a slow third mile. But I was running easily, so I stayed at 7 for the third mile too, then did a 7 minute cool down at 4 MPH and 3 MPH, dropping down to 2 for the last minute.

And the point of all this? It felt soooooo good!

I mean, I pretty much took September off due to the knees and only scattered short runs throughout October, and here I just ran 3 miles at a fairly decent pace with no problems at all.

First, I feel ecstatic that my knees seemed to have bounced back. Second, I am rather happy that not all my conditioning had faded.

The worst part of not running was knowing how hard it was going to be to start back up. Ok, that wasn’t the worst, but I did know what was coming (the actual not running and clearing my mind was the worst). I am happy it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

Next day update: Yup, I was a little sore this morning when I got up.  But then we started doing stuff (going out in the back fields to get evergreen tips, carrying wood), and they felt incredibly fine. And my run didn’t hurt at all 🙂