Showing posts with label training. Show all posts
Showing posts with label training. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pessimism vs. Optimism

It's so easy to get caught up in a cycle of negativity. Trust me on this one. I've got the DNA for negativity. But the first step towards improvement is awareness, right? I've had a lot of practice, and once I realize my mindset is heading south, I'm pretty good at turning my thinking around.

I've had some help too. My coach Becky refuses to let me complain or even apologize for a less than stellar effort. In fact, if I utter a negative thought, it's burpees for me. You can't make a runner run for punishment, right? Don't tell her this, but while I don't know that I'll ever love burpees, I'm minding them less. I've gotten stronger and they aren't as hard as they used to be for me.

Maybe that's all part of her plan?

Anyways, life has tried its hardest to drag me down these last couple of weeks. As Cousin Eddie would say, "shitter's full".
Sorry for the crude reference.
From National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Enough's enough. When Deb gave this week's Wednesday Word prompt, the word optimism, at first, I thought, what do I have to say about being optimistic? Life hasn't exactly been a bowl of cherries lately.

As it turns out, I have a whole lot to say. I recently wrote that post about training in the winter. I'm going to expand these thoughts to running in general. Maybe even life in general.

Clearly, I need this. Let's break it down:

-The pessimist just complains or whines. It feels good at the time but gets you nothing.
-The optimist acknowledges the issue, but turns their thoughts around to a positive mindset. If you struggle with this, like I do, then maybe you need an extra push over to positivity.
-I've included mantras to repeat to yourself when you're feeling particularly negative.
-And because I'm a goofball, there's the jokester's perspective, which just basically makes fun of everything. I do that too. Because sometimes the only thing you can do is laugh.

Don't roll your eyes. It really works.

Meet the Pessimist, the Optimist, and the Jokester and their approach to the run:

Pessimist: It's cold, it's dark, it's hot, it's raining (whatever).
Optimist: Wow, -2F! That's pretty cold. But the sun is out. I've done this before. I can do this. I can do hard things. I'll need to layer up. OR Yes, it's raining. It can't always be sunny when I run. Running in the rain can feel good.
Jokester: Free shower!
Mantra: If we waited for perfect conditions, we'd never get anything done.

Embrace the conditions.
Pessimist: Man, this run sucks. I feel horrible. I'm a sloth. I give up. I'm going home.
Optimist: I do feel tired today. Not every run is a good one. But I told myself I'd get 4 miles in today, and I'm going to do that. No matter what it takes. I'll feel so much better for finishing.
Jokester: There's pie at home!
Mantra: Not every run may be good, but there's something good in every run.

There's something good in every run. This was my first speedwork session last summer while training for Chicago. The good thing? I finished.
Pessimist: I loathe the treadmill. I feel like a hamster on a wheel. This sucks. I hate this.
Optimist: I don't like running on the treadmill. How can I make the most of this workout? Intervals? Speedwork? I've got a great playlist to help push me.
Jokester: (singing) "I'm on the road to nowhere..."
Mantra: Every step takes me closer to my goal.

I do loathe the treadmill. It's a necessary evil. Every step takes me closer to my goal.
Pessimist: I don't want to run 20 miles. It's too far!
Optimist: 20 miles is really far! I'm going to feel so much more ready for my marathon after tackling that distance!
Jokester: Chuck Norris never ran a marathon.
Mantra: I can and I will.

Last long run before Chicago. I can and I will.
Pessimist: Running is hard.
Optimist: Running isn't easy, but I'm getting stronger with each run.
Jokester: Run? I thought you said rum.
Mantra: The body achieves what the mind believes.

This was a great exercise for me. Forcing myself to write about optimism actually helped me feel more optimistic as I look forward to February and starting my marathon training cycle. I'm sure I'll be coming back to this post to remind myself to always look on the bright side!
"Imagine something good about every race you run, and learn to be an optimist."-Jack Daniels

What to do you do to turn those negative thoughts around? Are you naturally an optimist? A pessimist? A jokester? What's your favorite mantra?

I have a new one after Monday's yoga class: Chill Out or Burn Out.  Best advice I've gotten lately.

I'm linking up with DebRuns at Wednesday Word. Check out what all the optimists are saying!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Less is more: Quality race training

Streaking, setting mileage goals...those posts are filling my Facebook feed these days. Kara Goucher challenged followers to run 2016 miles in 2016. Her husband Adam is sponsoring the challenge on his Run This Year website. You can sign up for $25 and complete the challenge solo or as part of a team with 1 or 2 other runners. 2016 miles? That's a heck of a lot of miles for the average runner.

I've already posted about why I won't be streaking. And this year, I won't be setting any mileage goals. In 2015, I set a goal to run 2015 kms, which is 1252 miles. On December 31, I completed that goal, which is the most miles that I have ever run in a year. After that, I took 2 weeks off to let my body recover.

That mileage goal of 1252 miles in a year was harder than you might think. I'm a recreational runner, a nurse practitioner who works full time, and a married mom of 2 teenage boys who runs a few half marathons and maybe one marathon per year. I have a full life outside of running. I run for stress relief and health. My average weekly mileage is between 20-25 miles. My highest weekly mileage during marathon training was 38 miles. I simply can't do more than that without risking injury.

In the past, I've gotten some flack for my low mileage marathon training. Common wisdom for runners is that to run fast, you have to run far. According to an article by Matt Fitzgerald in Competitor magazine, "the more we run, the better we race". Makes sense. But he also says that there is a point where too much training leads to injury. The key, it seems, is to know where your limit is.

For me, that limit is pretty low. I'm ok with that. I've been running for 25 years, and there are a lot of miles on these legs. I'm grateful to still be running and at paces that make me competitive in my age group. But when I train for a race, I try to make every run a quality run. So for those 4 runs I do in a week, each one has a purpose. There's a long slow distance run, speedwork, and 2 short-mid distance runs at race pace.

My marathon training plans capped the long run at 18 miles. What, no 20 mile run? Yep, I heard plenty about that from other runners. Bring it on! There's nothing magical about that 20 mile run. Legendary running coach Jack Daniels sums it up nicely:
"Don't worry that you won't be able to complete a 4:30 marathon if you have never run beyond two and a half hours in training. In fact, it is not necessary to train at such a high percentage of your race distance no matter what the course."--Jack Daniels
Remember too, I'm not only running during marathon training. There's cross training in the form of cycling and those HIIT workouts that Becky has me do. Some weight training as well, and yoga to stretch me out. The naysayers are going to naysay.

This is marathon training.
I read a funny quote in an article about CrossFit Endurance attributed to Jay Johnson, a former track coach from the University of Colorado regarding CFE: "No Kenyan has ever seen a kettlebell."

This non-Kenyan sees a lot of kettlebell.
Most likely not. But I'm not a Kenyan. That's a whole different genetic makeup. Have you ever really looked at the runners around you at a race? Unless you line up in the front of the pack, most of the runners are made up of all shapes and sizes. Not a Kenyan amongst us in the middle or the back of the pack. Since the majority of us are not genetically gifted like an elite runner, we need to ask ourselves, why are we training like elites? Why not cross train? Why not run for time instead of distance? What about running quality miles instead of massive quantities of miles? Why risk injury?

What about "junk miles"? Laura at This Runners Recipes sums this up nicely. A lot of runners run "junk" miles. I do too, especially when I'm not training for something. Sometimes it's nice to "just run" without a goal in mind. There's still that love of running, and those "junk" runs are all about that. We all need those runs. But in a low mileage training plan, there isn't room for junk miles. Adding in a run just to run is increasing your chance for injury. That includes streaking.

I'm not saying you should do CrossFit Endurance to train for a marathon. In fact, my coach Becky, who is a CrossFit coach instructed me NOT to read the book. But what she has me do is a happy medium of some of the components of CrossFit incorporated with smart running. For me, this has kept me mostly injury free (I'm currently battling PF) and running at paces I haven't seen since my 30s. Her approach is all about quality workouts. The proof is in my finish times.

Besides, this training is fun!

Fun for my coach too!
You know my motto, everything in moderation. So that's why you won't see me streaking or chasing a high mileage goal. I love to run. I love to race. I like to have fun. And I don't like to DNS.

I'll see you at the starting line of Big Sur.

Do you run a high mileage plan to train for a big race? Do you incorporate cross training into you race training? What do you consider a quality training plan?

I'm linking this post up with DebRuns for Wednesday Word, which is quality!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

No time to train?

"I'm too busy to workout". 
"I don't have time to workout". 
"I don't have time to train for a marathon..a half marathon..." 

Everyone has an excuse why they can't workout, why they can't run. Marathon training? Ain't nobody got time for that...

Actually, yes some of us do...actually all of us's all about priorities.

Finding time to run and to train for a race is all about priorities. 20 years ago, I started running to fight depression and anxiety. Running got me through some tough times. It still does. I'm afraid to stop. In fact, running is part of who I am. I can't imagine life without running.

I get asked all the time how I find time to run. In the past 5 years, I've trained for 11 half marathons (currently training for #12) and 2 full marathons. I also work full time and am the married mother of 2 teenage boys.

Wouldn't it be nice to have nothing to do during the day but workout and blog? That would be my dream life. That, and living at the beach. Sadly, I have to pay the bills.

I like to race too. Racing is a great way to check in with my progress, to push myself, to set goals and achieve them. I won't sugarcoat it, marathon training is time consuming, but as a busy working mom, I'm proof that not only can you do it, you can do it well. And it is definitely worth the effort. That feeling of accomplishment carries itself off the road and into your everyday life. Just ask any busy mother runner.

Oh wait...I did!

The tribe: Michelle, Sara, Me, Penny, and Karen
I called on my #tribe to contribute to this post. We are 5 busy moms and among us we have all run multiple marathons. 3 have completed ultras. 4 of us also have running blogs! And on top of it all, we find time to get together for some much needed #tribe time. I love these ladies. They make me better. And that's the truth.
Here's their advice:

Sara aka Cheesy Runner Mom: I find time to train for a marathon as a mother of young children by making my training as invisible as possible to my family. I do this by waking up early and logging miles on the treadmill prior to waking up my kids for school, and logging any outside weekday miles on the three mornings per week my youngest is in preschool. My only "visible" training is on one weekend morning per week, where I log a long run or run a race. My husband is willing to drive carpool and hold down the home front for a few hours, because it doesn't impact his life the rest of the week. I am always conscious of how my training affects my family, and with these compromises, I have found both harmony on the home front and success in meeting my training obligations.

Karen aka Trading in My Heels: When I start training for a marathon or ultra, I sit down and discuss it with my family. You must be willing to be somewhat selfish with your training. This means being gone for 3-4 days a week and up to 4 hours during long training runs. I need to make sure my kids are ok with this before I can commit to training for an endurance distance.

Penny formerly known as 26.yikes: Extend the same level of commitment you give to your family, work, friends to yourself and your training. That means even when you don't feel like going for your schedule training run, you do it anyway. How many times as a mom have you felt like you couldn't nurture a minute more, but you do it anyway? Yes, that. Do that in training and you will succeed.

Michelle aka This Momma Runs: Ultimately you have to want to make the time for yourself and your training even if the timing isn't perfect. It's a commitment that impacts everyone around me. Since my husband also trains we spend a lot of time working on our "schedule". It changes every week as we try to not impact our children and their commitments. The majority of my runs and swims are done after my daughters go to sleep. I want to be there to tuck them in, so I prioritize my time. I don't love running at 9 pm or even later, but for right now that's what works for our lives so that's what I do.

And me: Make your training as much of a priority as you do your family and your job. When my boys were little, I used to get up and run at 430 am to get it done before my husband had to leave for work at 6. Sure, it was me, the newspaper delivery people, and the skunks. Now, I'll still get up before the sun if I have a long run on the plan and I have to work. On the weekends, I get up early to get my long runs in before everyone gets up so I don't interfere with any family activities. Yep, sometimes you have to go to bed early. Sometimes you don't get a full 8 hours of sleep. Plan ahead. Lay out your running clothes the night before. My coffee is in the pot and ready to brew for the morning. Be stronger than your excuses.

This is your pep talk! You can do this!

How do you find time to run? To train?

I'm linking up with Tuesdays on the Run: MCM mama, Run the Great Wide Somewhere, and My No Guilt Life. This is a great topic and I'm sure the other bloggers have some good advice...

Monday, January 19, 2015

Never give up

I just watched one of the most disappointing football games in recent memory. Now, before I go on, I want you to know that this post isn't about football. It's about winning. It's about finishing. It's about staying tough to the finish. It's about never giving up.

But I just watched the Green Bay Packers blow a 16-0 lead; by the 4th quarter, it was 16-9. Then the wheels came off the bus. An on-side kick bounced off one of the Packer player's helmet and the ball passed through his hands. A Seahawks player scooped up the ball and took possession. A few plays and a TD later, Russell Wilson passed the ball into the end zone for the extra points. A Packers defender, who had 2 interceptions earlier in the game, let the ball go by and the Seahawks scored on the 2 point conversion. The Packers, who had played so well the first 3 quarters, made it look so easy for the Seahawks to score and take control of the game.. It felt like the Packers just had given up by the 4th quarter. I don't know. Maybe they used up all that they had the first 3 quarters and couldn't bring it for 15 more minutes?

HaHa Clinton-Dix missing the interception...who's laughing now?
Can you say choke?

I'm a native Chicagoan, and I follow the Bears. I can tell you that as a Chicago fan (baseball and football), I'm used to disappointment. This game was more reminiscent of a Bears game than a Packers game. But I'm also a closet Packers fan. I know we're supposed to be mortal enemies--Bears and Packers. My son is a huge GB fan and so I've been along for the ride. I've been to Lambeau Field way more than I've ever been to Soldier Field. (The things we do for our kids!) The Packers are a fun team to watch. Aaron Rodgers was my fantasy QB last year, and I won the whole thing. I love his Discount Double Check Commercials. Today's game was a shocker. Watching the players on the sidelines, it didn't even seem that they were affected by the reversal of fortune. We even joked that maybe the players got their paycheck from the Seahawks right before the 4th quarter, because it sure looked like they threw the game.

"Row, row, row your boat, down the loser stream..."

Do you think that really happens in professional sports? I mean, those conspiracy theories always come up when a really good team loses. Maybe it happens in running too. We already have athletes in all sports using banned substances, all in the name of winning. But what about a team throwing a game? A runner throwing a race? Does it happen? Would someone do it, for money?

I do realize that there is a difference between team sports and individual achievement. Which makes this loss all the more puzzling. What about pride? What about knowing that you gave your best, even though the outcome wasn't a win?

I've heard of runners quitting a race before the finish line (Ryan Hall), realizing they're not going to make their goal time, whatever their excuse might be. Heck, I've been there--tempted to quit more than once. My first Chicago marathon? I hit the wall at mile 14. I can tell you how hard those last 12 miles were for me, knowing that I was not going to make even close to my goal time. I may have even called my husband at mile 18 to come pick me up. And he may even have told me to keep walking. Which I did. And there was last summer's Zooma race, where I felt awful starting at mile 4 and ready to quit at the 10k mark. But a dear friend came back to find me and ran with me for the rest of the race, making sure I crossed that finish line. That was a victory of a different sort, and one I will cherish forever.

Don't let that smile fool you. I was miserable. This girl got me to the finish line! 
I didn't quit. I finished. In both cases, it wasn't pretty, but I got it done. There's a certain pride in pushing through the pain and crossing that finish line! Not in the moment of course, but I'm so proud to look back and say I've never DNF'd a race. Of course, I'm not a professional athlete, and there's no money involved, unless you count my race entry fee. And I will admit, I do like getting that medal placed around my neck!

After that first marathon, I met a woman (at an Another Mother Runner house party) on crutches, who ran the same marathon I did. Slipped on a banana peel (yes, it happens!) at mile 22. Dislocated her hip and hurt her knee. She popped that hip back in and hobbled to the finish line. That had to be difficult. But she got it done. I don't know if you would call that foolish, but after 14+ weeks of training, I sure couldn't quit...

And so I ask you, if you trained for a race, crossed the start line, and then started to realize this wasn't going to be your race, would you quit? Or would you change your strategy? Maybe walking more than you wanted? But crossing that finish line, no matter what?  What would bring you to the breaking point?

Maybe instead of focusing on the failure of the Packers, I should be praising the Seahawks. Because they are the team that never gave up, even with that huge deficit and a less than stellar performance from their QB (hello, 4 interceptions?) But they believed they could and they did (I can and I will!). They capitalized on mistakes by the Packers in that last quarter and pulled out an improbable win. THAT is what I'm talking about. Believe and you can achieve. And never, ever give up.