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All posts for the month June, 2011

Finally!! I Had a Great Run!!

Published June 25, 2011 by Jasmine

After my run this morning, I truly believe that we have bad days or weeks so that we can learn to fully appreciate the good days and weeks when we have them.  Today was a great day, and I know this because I have had really bad days for the last two weeks.

Normally I do my long(er) runs on Sundays.  However, I have a important graduation party this evening, and I really wanted to be able to relax, eat, drink and thoroughly enjoy myself without having to think about a run tomorrow. So I did my run today. This is my last long(er) run before the half-marathon on July 4.

My goal was to go six miles. I really cut back on running this last week because it is quite possible I was over training, and I really needed to give my body a rest. The only other day I have run this week was Thursday.  I did two miles on the track, and two miles of incline work on the treadmill. When I ran six miles last Sunday it was miserable.  I wanted to quit the entire way, and nearly decided to not run the half-marathon. So I was a little apprehensive about my run today after how I felt last weekend.  I just didn’t want to be back in that place only a week before the marathon.

I did a couple of things differently this week. Although I always try to drink water.  I made a conscious effort to make sure I was drinking at least 3L a day, and stayed away from caffeine which dehydrates you. I also decided to try out some energy gels that I will be using during the marathon. This is the first time I have consumed any calories before a long(er) run. About 15 minutes before I left the house I had a Chocolate Outrage GU Energy Gel. I also brought with me Strawberry GU Chomps. These are like jumbo fruit snacks that fuel nearly two hours of activity.

As usual I started out with five minutes of walking as a warm-up. I then started running at a snail’s pace. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to run for.  First it was five minutes, then I pushed it to ten, and I made it to 15 minutes.  I then walked for three minutes. I decided my next round of running would be 10 minutes, followed by a two minute walk. My next round of running was five minutes.  This brought me to a little over three miles.  At this point, I took four of my GU Chomps (they were actually good). I then started again with my five minute walk to give the Chomps a chance to settle.  After the walk I followed the same routine as described above.  I think I may have even run a little faster on the way back!

This plan worked fabulous for me. I finished the run strong, and felt like I had a little bit more in me. I think taking the Energy Gels made a huge difference, or it could just be psychological. Either way, they worked. Another thing I did was pay close attention to my heart rate. I always wear my heart rate monitor, but I never really pay much attention to my heart rate.  I really wear it to track how many calories I have burned. Today I paid attention. I realized that I need to keep my heart rate in Zone Two or the low end of Zone Three. For me this equates to a heart rate of anywhere from 158-166 for Zone Two. Running hills will definitely bump me into Zone Three which is 166-174. My goal for the marathon is to stay in Zone Two as much as I can. This way I know I am maintaining a comfortable pace, and not overly exerting myself. I did a pretty good job today.  My average heart rate was 160, and my max was 175. I realized that monitoring my heart rate was a good way of maintaining a steady pace, even when I don’t actually know what pace I am running.

My six mile run today took me one hour, 17 minutes, and 30 seconds. This equates to a 12:54 min/mile. I walked for a total of 20 minutes and 26 seconds. Somehow, even though I walked 26 seconds longer this week, I shaved 31 seconds per mile off of my time from last Sunday. Something worked!

I now have my plan for the marathon.  I will be taking the Chocolate GU Energy Gel about 15 minutes before it starts. Since I will probably be doing a lot of walking around since I plan on lining up at the back of the pack, I probably won’t do a five minute warm-up walk when the marathon starts.  My plan is to run according to this schedule: 15 minute run, 3 minute walk, 10 minute run, 2 minute walk, 5 minute run, 5 minute walk where I will take two of my Strawberry GU Chomps, and REPEAT! This schedule will take me a little over three miles, so I will end up repeating it a little over four times. As far as hydrating, I am not sure where they will have water stops.  I will most likely have my hydration pack and plan on sipping some water every time I have a walk break.

I will be listening to my iPod as I run.  I came across a great song last night, that I will put on repeat every time I feel like quitting.  You can listen to ‘Til I Collapse here.

I am so pumped to finally have a plan in place to get me through. Now I have to get my mind in the right place. I have a few “mantras” that I will also be repeating every time the going gets rough. I can’t let my head give out before my legs.

Do or do not; there is no try.

Pain is weakness leaving the body.

Pain is temporary; quitting lasts forever.

Someday is not a day of the week. Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually’, JUST DO IT and correct course along the way. And when you look back at the end of it all you can say: I DID IT.

This last week before the marathon will be a taper week, where I cut down on running to rest my body before the big day.  I will be doing a four, three, and two-mile run this week. I am going to follow the schedule I have planned for the marathon. The most important thing I will be doing this week is making sure I get plenty of rest, plenty of water, and plenty of protein for my muscles.

Let the countdown begin!

Crying and Confused, but Mom Always Knows Best

Published June 19, 2011 by Jasmine

I have a lot of things to be proud of when it comes to running, but decided during my run today that finishing a marathon this year may not be one of them. According to my schedule, today was the start of a recovery week so my long run was only supposed to be six miles.  Since I had missed my long run last weekend I decided I would do it this weekend.  So I set out intending to run 12 miles, and was super excited to test out my new pink hydration pack.

I started my run with my usual five minute warm-up walk. Since I was naive and foolish I never really built up a base when it came to running. So all of my running (at least outside) has involved walking. My plan is never the same it just really depends on how I am feeling on a particular day. Sometimes I will run for 10 minutes and take a two to four minute walk break, and repeat.  Sometimes I will run for five minutes and take a one to two minute walk break. I don’t think I could have run for 10 minutes to save my life today. I literally felt like I was hyperventilating for my entire run.

I think I have mentioned in a previous post that I have struggled with my breathing my entire life. This is just one of the reasons, in addition to being overweight, that I never really attempted to run before. Not only have I had chronic sinus infections my entire life, but I have had surgery twice for a deviated septum. The bright side of this is that I have done most of my breathing through my mouth which is what most runners seem to do, I think! Although it is not that hot today there is some slight humidity. The only thing I can think of is that the mix of my congestion and slight humidity was making it more difficult to breath.  With that being said, this was my first run EVER without my headphones. So it is quite possible that I have always been struggling with my breathing (maybe not as much as today),  but never really noticed because I had my music to distract me.

I have to say that running without headphones wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  However, I would still choose to run with my music. I realize a lot of experienced runners frown on headphones during a marathon, but if I am going to be at the back of the pack anyways what does it matter? I have to do what works for me and what is going to get me through 13.1 or 26.2 miles. I am really slow, so anyone running behind me is really, really slow!

Back to today’s run.  Within the first mile I was pretty certain that I wouldn’t be running 12 miles. So my next goal was to make the original six miles that were scheduled for today. I never ran/jogged for more than five minutes at a time today. My run today was 5.76 miles and it took me one hour and 17 minutes.  This equates to an average pace of 13:25 per mile.  I told you I was slow! During this time I walked a total of 20 minutes, five of which were my warm-up. I think I started to cry about an hour into the run.  I was frustrated, and I couldn’t figure out why it seemed to be so difficult to breath. Of course, I am thinking there is no way that I am going to make it 13.1 miles when I can barely make it six.

For whatever reason I have really been struggling these past two weeks.  I thought after five months and logging 282.34 miles that things would start to seem easier, not harder. I have started to lose faith that running will ever be natural or effortless for me. I believe part of my problem goes back to the fact that I never built a base. I never started out making sure that I could run for an entire mile without stopping or walking, and then two miles and so on. I just went out and if the schedule said four miles, I did four miles even if I was walking.  My friend Harvey gave me some great advice early on that I should have listened to.  He told me to run for minutes not miles. It makes perfect sense now.

So when I finished my run today I cried some more.  I felt like I had let myself down and was about to let many others down as well.  I posted on Facebook that I was 95% sure that I wouldn’t be running the half-marathon I was signed up for on the 4th of July. I felt like a failure.  I felt like a quitter. These feelings only made me cry more. Then my friend Chuck told me that it was only through reading about my struggles and determination that he started running, and is now registered for not only the half-marathon in July but the full marathon in October. He also told me that no matter what decision I ultimately made he would always be my biggest fan. Of course,  I then started crying again. I realized that everything I have gone through in the last five months wasn’t for nothing.  I had inspired at least one other person to get up, get moving, and live a healthier life. I had made a difference.

It was now time to tell my mom I wasn’t running.  Every 4th of July she goes to her brothers cabin for the weekend, but had told him she wouldn’t be coming this year because I was running a marathon. I told her that she may as well go to the cabin because I was pretty sure I wasn’t running the marathon. She asked me why and I told her everything I have told you. She told me, “Jasmine, you had a bad day. You get up and start over tomorrow.” I told her I feel like I have had a lot of bad days in the last two weeks. She told me I needed to do the marathon.  She said, “you get out there and do what you can, even if it means you have to walk.” She is right. Even if I have to walk the entire time, it is better than me quitting before I ever even tried. Even if i come in last, I will congratulate myself for beating the thousands of people who will still be in bed!

Since Mondays are rest days, Tuesday I am going back to square one. It will be the first day of the rest of my running life. I am going to be running as if I am brand new runner. I am going to take the time to build a solid base. My victories will no longer be measured in miles, but in the number of minutes I can run without walking. My future runs will be limited to 30 minutes until I can run the entire 30 minutes without walking. I am not going to quit because I would hate to find out later that all I needed was one last effort and I would have achieved my goal. No matter how down I am, I am always one run, chance encounter or circumstance away from a complete turnaround.  I just have to keep moving forward, working hard, and remember the questions isn’t “How to do I compare to others?” but “How do I compare to my potential?”

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Hoping “Less” Really Is “More”

Published June 15, 2011 by Jasmine

After hitting a wall this past weekend, I decided to skip my long run on Sunday to rest. I had my moments trying to stick with that plan.  I tend to be an “all or nothing” type of person, so it was really hard to know that “the plan” called for me to be running and I wasn’t. In hindsight it really was the best decision.

Mondays are always rest days, so my first attempt at running again was on Tuesday. I had found a “pace booster” workout that I wanted to try, so I decided to run on the treadmill so that I could easily and accurately monitor my speed.  I really loved the workout and plan on incorporating it into my runs once a week in the hopes that my pace will eventually be boosted. I felt strong throughout the entire workout. The workout consisted of six minute intervals which alternated walking for 30 seconds with running for 30 seconds. Every six minutes I would increase my running speed.  I started out at 4.5 mph and ended at 8.0 mph, increasing the speed by .5 mph every six minutes.  Once I hit my 6.5 mph interval and each thereafter I did have to take a two minute rest break to lower my heart rate so I could continue. During this one hour workout my maximum heart rate reached 185 which is 95% of my maximum, and my average heart rate was 161 which is about 83% of my maximum heart rate. I have had zone testing done at the gym, which is how my maximum heart rate was determined. I really need to get this done again as it has been a few years, but at the time my maximum heart rate was 194.

This run revitalized me, and reconfirmed my belief that I CAN do this.  I have come to the realization that I don’t have to stick to a plan, and that I need to listen to my body. It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing.”

I was catching up on some reading today, and it is kind of ironic that one of the articles was about overtraining. It stated that unless you are an athlete you probably aren’t overtraining, but most likely not allowing your body enough time to rest. One thing I found interesting was it noted that it is better to have a high intensity workout rather than a longer workout. I tend to be one of those people that spends a lot of time at the gym, and this gives me a good reason to cut out some of that time.  I need to increase my intensity so that I can cut down my time. I can work with that!

I am going to heed this advice about getting enough rest, and keep my fingers crossed that less is more. I have decided that I am only going to run three days a week.  Sundays will be my long run, Tuesdays an easy run, and Thursday will be my pace booster run. I usually have also worked out on Wednesday and Saturdays and am still deciding what to do on those days. I think I am going to do all of my strength training and core work on those days, coupled with 10 minutes on the bike and 10 minutes on the stairclimber.  Mondays and Fridays will remain as true rest days.

We are always told how great exercise is for us, but one thing I think we fail to remember is that exercise is stress on the body.  Unfortunately our bodies can’t differentiate between good stress and bad stress.  This is just another reason that rest is so important.

So good, bad, or ugly this is the new plan I hope to follow. It is already proving to be difficult. For the last five months every workout has been running so I feel like that is what I should be doing.

I am going to be bold and unafraid. I am going to trust my instincts. If I quit, I’ll never know what could have happened.

Remember: Fortune favors the bold.

I Hit A Wall

Published June 12, 2011 by Jasmine

Per my training plan, I am supposed to run 12 miles today. I feel slightly guilty that this is not going to happen, in fact, I am not sure that I will be running at all today…unless I am running to my bed.  I hit a wall yesterday.  I don’t know how it happened or why, but it did. I have some ideas on what could have caused it and as I reflected on this week maybe I should have seen it coming.

On Sunday I started the week with a 9.78 mile run, during which I felt like I was struggling.  The remainder of the day I actually felt pretty good. Mondays are always rest days for me. I was incredibly tired today and it felt like it was taking all the energy I had just to stay awake.  Tuesday I felt pretty good, wasn’t really tired, and I ran 6 miles. Wednesday was so-so.  I don’t remember feeling great or overly tired.  I wasn’t sure that I was going to run the 8 miles on the schedule, but I did up doing so. The reason I say this is that I usually take Wednesdays as a third rest day, even though my training plan usually calls for a run.  Thursday I was again incredibly tired and feeling like it was taking all of my energy just to stay awake.  I was supposed to run 6 miles but knew this was not going to happen. I was too tired and my body felt run down. Fridays are always rest days, just like Mondays. About half-way through the day I was starting to feel really tired again. That evening I made the mistake of going to the casino with my mom and sister…we didn’t even get there until 8:30. I was so tired that I was nodding off while sitting at the keno machine. I didn’t get to bed until about 2:00 a.m. on Saturday and I literally felt delirious. Saturday morning I woke up after only sleeping for only about 5 hours. Saturday was my easy day as I only had to run 4 miles.  I really wasn’t feeling tired or anything, but I was being lazy and decided I didn’t feel like running at all.  Later in the afternoon I did decide to go for a 2 mile run to see if I could beat my previous time for this particular route. It was shortly after this run when I hit the wall.  I had come inside to lay down and cool off for a bit and I was out. I woke up and felt as though I had been drugged. My eyes were heavy, almost feeling as though they were swollen.  My body felt as though it was being held down by bricks. For over two hours, I couldn’t even get up I was so physically exhausted.  I finally forced myself to get up because I wanted to be able to sleep that night. It took every last ounce of energy I had to do anything. All I wanted to do was crawl back into bed.

The consensus has been this is my body’s way of telling me it needs a time out. This last week I have run the most miles in a week since I started running back in January.  By Wednesday I had run 24 miles, and the most I had run in a week prior to this was 21 miles.  By the end of the week I had run 26  miles.

While I have no doubt that running contributed to me hitting this wall, I have to wonder if there is something else going on. I question this for a couple of reasons. The first being that I really don’t think I should have been nearly as tired as I have been. I have had insomnia for 10 years, so my body is very used to getting by on little to no sleep. On average, I probably sleep through the night only 6-10 days per year.  However, this past month I have been sleeping like a baby. I am so exhausted at night that I am sleeping within minutes of getting in bed, and am sleeping through the night. This is like heaven because I don’t know what it feels like to sleep through the night as it is a rare occurrence for me.

The fact that I have been so tired, despite the fact that I have been getting my best sleep in years, leads me to believe I may be having issues with my iron stores again. About 5 years ago I was having blood work done, and my doctor called to tell me I needed to see a hematologist because my red blood cell count was low.  The particular doctor I was referred to was at the Cancer Center…that was not reassuring! Turns out that not only was my red blood cell count low, but my iron stores were low as well. I still don’t fully understand “iron stores”.  I wasn’t diagnosed as anemic, have never been anemic, in fact, my hemoglobin has always been normal. It never was determined why my red blood cell count was low, this is usually due to bleeding. I hadn’t had a period in years due to my birth control, I wasn’t having nose bleeds,no internal bleeding, and I had a colonoscopy which came back normal. Based on this same information the doctor wasn’t sure why my iron stores were low either. The two most common ways to lose iron are through blood and sweat. It turns out the most likely cause was that my body doesn’t seem to absorb iron. The doctor first had me take an iron supplement which didn’t seem to work.  Then he had me take Vita-C which is an iron supplement with calcium which is supposed to help absorption, and that didn’t work. The last resort was an IV iron infusion. This finally seemed to work, as it delivered iron directly to my bloodstream. I continued to have my iron stores monitored for about a year and everything seemed good.  However, I have not had it checked since 2007.

Low iron stores could be the culprit once again.  The biggest thing I remember from that period of time was how exhausted and tired I was, and I was not even working out at the time.  I would get home from work between 6-7 and immediately go to bed because I was so exhausted. So I guess it is time to keep a watchful eye on how my body is feeling, and probably wouldn’t hurt to start taking an iron supplement again in the hopes that my body will actually absorb the iron.

I do feel guilty for not running today, but know that it is probably in my best interest. Of the all the running information I have read, the one thing that is emphasized time and again is that you have to listen to your body. Losing 12 miles still kind of sucks, especially since I have a half-marathon coming up on July 4.

After this past week I am about 90% sure that I am going to forego the full marathon this year. Just putting this on paper causes me to feel like a failure.  But as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you will be judged and criticized anyways.” I may have been overly ambitious thinking that in 10 months I could go from not being a runner to running a full marathon. Although I had a 18 week training plan, and a 17 week mileage build up plan I am not sure they were the right plans for me. I didn’t do enough research, and went with the first plans that I found.  I didn’t realize there were training plans that were geared specifically for someone running their first marathon. Nonetheless, I wrote this plan in my calendar and knew I needed to follow it. The first week it had me running 14 miles, and I am not sure I had even run 10 miles in a week prior to this. In hindsight, I may have been setting myself up for failure all along.

I read the following in Runner’s World magazine and I didn’t really appreciate the advice until now. “Many new runners just follow a schedule even if their bodies aren’t adapting…they need to remember to start where they are, not where they want to be.”  I think this is me. I had a plan and I was sticking to it. I’ve been trying to figure out why I can’t seem to get any faster and maybe this is why. Maybe the “plan” is too much for my body, and I am overdoing it. Maybe this is one of those situations where “less is more” is actually true.

So today I will rest, reflect on my past runs, and create a log in which I can detail every aspect of future runs to see what works and what doesn’t (this is something I should have done a long time ago).

Never Want to Run Again

Published June 5, 2011 by Jasmine

So today was set to be my longest run yet…10 miles. However, it only ended up being 9.78 miles as my calculations were a bit off. I wasn’t really looking forward to it, but it was a necessary evil to prepare me for my first half-marathon on July 4. I was having issues before I even left the house.  It took me at least five minutes to get my HRM (heart rate monitor) to work, and I just replaced the battery in the chest strap about a month ago. It is so frustrating!!  It even stopped a few times while I was running.  Does anyone know if there is a HRM that does not utilize a chest strap? I know I saw a cheap one at Target that supposedly picked up your heart rate from your wrist, just not sure how reliable it is.  I really want to know if Garmin, Polar, or some of the other high tech HRM’s have something similiar to this.

I left the house later than I wanted to, and knew I would be slower today because of the sun and heat. What I didn’t count on was how absolutely exhausted I was going to feel, and how soon I was going to feel that way. I literally was ready to quit before I even hit a mile.  It had to be something more than the heat because when I got home and checked the temperature it was only 72 degrees.  The problem is that I don’t know what was wrong today. It is quite possible that I have gotten to the point where my body will no longer sustain these runs without me eating. I know people are probably going to want to scream at me, but I have never eaten before any run or workout. I have discovered that this just works best for my body. I have had stomach and digestion issues my whole life so eating before running does not appeal to me.  I think it is time for me to start experimenting with some gels to see if it makes a difference in the energy I have and how I feel, before the 4th!

I literally think I could have cried this entire run, as all I wanted to do was quit. I couldn’t let myself cry because that would have made it easier for me to feel sorry for myself, quit, and turn around and go home. I couldn’t let myself do that though because come time for the marathon there is no turning around and going home.  So come hell or high water I needed to do these 10 miles even if I had to walk the entire time. In fact, I never ran for more than five minutes at a time today. By about mile seven I had drank all of my water…this was not good. I was SO THIRSTY! I was so desperate I contemplated going into the gas station to see if I could get a bottle of water, and I would come back and pay when I got home. (Note to self: carry some money with me next time, just in case.) By mile nine I was so exhausted I was only running 30 seconds and then walking 30 seconds.

By the grace of God I made it back home…completely soaked. I think I lost 3-4 pounds in sweat! It sure felt good to sit down.  I was so thirsty I drank about 1.5 liters of water before getting back up. My time was nothing to brag about, but it was good enough for me.  I was four seconds faster than minimum marathon pace. Considering this was my most miserable run ever, I am shocked that I was even within minimum marathon pace (even if only by 4 seconds per mile).

After finishing my run this morning, I never wanted to run again. I know I will, in fact, next Sunday is 12 miles. At this point, I am kind of questioning my sanity…who wants to run 12 miles? I am questioning whether I will really do the full marathon in October, I just don’t think I have it in me. I guess I have some to time to see what I am made of.  At this point I am not sure if it is my body or my mind that is struggling. Every time I wanted to quit today, and there were many, I reminded myself that “the rough is only MENTAL.”  Is it? I would like to believe so.

So for all you runners out there, how do you get through your run when all you want to do is quit? Or am I the only one who ever feels that way?