Sunday, November 30, 2008

9'52"...will that beat the elf?

Finally after taking (some) time off, my shin splints are no more! I did eat a lot of bananas, and just took it easy in the running department. Not really by choice, though. I tried to run actually, but I physically couldn't do it so I was forced to take it easy.

While I was at home this week for Thanksgiving, I worked out every day. My mom and dad have been walking three to four miles almost every day at the track. Every morning, we would wake up, have eggs and toast and make our way down to the track. The first day at home my shins were still acting up, but I ran any way. At least, I tried my best to run. I ran three miles at about a twelve minute pace. That's back to where I was when I started running. On Thanksgiving, dad and I walked four miles and after that my shins felt normal. The following day I ran 3.75 miles, with normal shins, and back to my normal pace. What is my normal pace? I was asked this on Thanksgiving, and I haven't really been paying much attention, just really trying to get through my runs and increase my mileage. After looking at the data from my NikePlus armband, my normal pace is a 9'52" mile. If I pick up my pace, I clock an 8'13" mile. Pretty good, considering I was a consistent 12'21" mile at the start of this journey. AND my all time record is a 7'24" mile, which was in high school when I was in the best shape of my life (and that was a single mile). My goal is to run a consistent 8' minute mile.

I feel great right now. I feel revitalized, rejuvenated and ready to run! I feel like I overcame my first big hurdle (of many) in my training. I was getting very down because of my shin splints plus the cold weather. Getting outside and running this week really helped me to realize that I can run in the cold and I should stop being a big chicken. The only other obstacle I have to running outside right now is the lack of daylight when I get home from work. But luckily, I will be teaching beginning in January so I will be home earlier and I will have more daylight to work with. That will be really great because I prefer running outside much more than running on the treadmill.

Keeping this blog in addition to my NikePlus armband both help track my progress so I can see on paper how much I have accomplished thus far. It is very motivational to see the progress, and it is more motivational when friends and family keep me in "check" by asking how the training is going. If I am having any doubts about myself, there's nothing like a friend or a family member asking about my progress to get me motivated again. Letting myself down is one thing, but letting my family or friends down is unacceptable.

This coming Saturday, December 6th, I am running a 5k. It is the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis. I am very excited for the 5k, it should be lots of fun. Everyone ties bells to their shoes to run, and wears silly outfits. I actually wish I had an obnoxious Christmas sweater to wear in the run, it would be great. An elf runs in the 5k too, and if you finish before the elf you get a prize. Pray for good weather, pray I beat the elf, and pray my iPod works for the whole run, because 3.2 miles of jingling bells will definitely drive me crazy!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I've got a lovely bunch of...bananas?

I have shin splints. They hurt. I've always been prone to shin splints since I started playing soccer in 6th grade. I used to get them in the beginning of the season, then they'd taper off and I'd be fine. They started about a week ago, and I've just been running through it as best I can.

I was doing some research and there are several reasons why people get shin splints. Shin splints are an "over use injury" to the leg. According to Medicine.Net, the primary culprit causing shin splints is a sudden increase in distance or intensity of a workout schedule. Hmm, yes, that would be me. This increase causes inflammation of the lower leg muscles, those muscles used in lifting the foot (right along the front part of your leg- your tibia). Some people also have a tendency to pronate the foot (roll it excessively inward onto the arch), which I am not sure if I do this or not. The kicker is that weak ankles help the development of shin splints. Ding, ding, ding! That would also be me, too. I have had weak ankles ever since I sprained them (several times) during soccer in high school, and continued to run and ignore the injuries (I once sprained the same ankle twice in a month- I never let it heal). I am suppose to wear these nifty ace ankle braces, but have not been doing so...shame on me.

Which leads me to this situation. I've been eating lots and lots of bananas, which is an old home remedy that seemed to help in the past. Maybe it was only psychosomatic, because it is not seeming to work at the current time. Runner's World basically says take an ibuprofin, and get over it. Well, I guess they don't really say that, but it's a very common injury and that was the vibe I was getting from their website. Once I read on a little further, I guess they did have some good tips. Bicycling is recommended, so I think I'll go with biking for a while. Icing is also helpful, which will put my ice pack from my sacroiliitis (horrible back injury from kickboxing) to good use. Stretching is a must, and I already do Yoga once a week, so that's gotta help, right? (Come to think of it, Yoga is the only fitness routine in which I haven't injured myself; maybe I'm cursed for all other sports.)

Apparently, I'm only allowed to get back to running when symptoms have generally resolved (usually about two weeks) and with several restrictions:

  • A level and soft terrain
  • Distance is limited to 50% of that tolerated preinjury
  • Intensity (pace) is similarly cut by one half
  • Over a three-six week period, a gradual increase in distance is allowed
  • Only then can a gradual increase in pace be attempted.

What? Are you kidding me? I guess I'll be back at square one. You know, I really thought that I was doing very well to not "over-do it", as my mom would say. Honestly, it will be very hard for me to adhere to these guidelines, as you can see from my previous compliance to taking it easy during an injury. I will try my hardest, but I can't promise anything. My heart (aka stubbornness) is telling me to hell with Runner's World, what do they know? I'm sticking with my bunch of bananas...that'll get me through. Right? Right.

Monday, November 10, 2008

God loves a chunky monkey

It's getting cold. Apparently the older I get the less resistant I become to the cold weather (aka I'm becoming a wuss). I keep telling Brian we need to consider moving to a warmer climate. It is really sad that half of our year seems to be spent indoors, when I love being outdoors so much. I know we can still go outside, we just have to bundle up, right? But it becomes very difficult to leave the warm house and warm blanket once your all snuggled in and comfortable. I'm stuck to my blankie like glue (yes, I have a blankie, I'm just like pig-pen- I carry it all around the house) on these cold and dreary days. The grey skies seem to loom over like a dark omen, and shutting yourself inside seems like the best, smartest and easiest alternative....

Ahh, but I am training for a marathon still, right? Yes, I have been running, all though it has become much more difficult to get motivated due to above mentioned hurdles. I have purchased some nice winter type running clothes, and once I get outside and running it seems to be okay- it's just the getting outside part that is the problem. I've been back to the gym now that it's colder outside and dark when I get home from work. I was really dreading the monotony of running in place for long periods of time on the treadmill. However, I was quite happy with the end result from the treadmill. What I do like is that your pace is set, so it's always constant, and I seemed to do well with that set pace. I made it through, but I still prefer running outside. I've also gone back to going to Yoga consistantly and that is an extra motivation to get to the gym. The Yoga and the running really go hand-in-hand. Stretching is doing wonders for the hips, the back and the mind.

One thing that I definitely can recommend to fellow runners (or runner-wanna-be's like myself) is to invest the money in some good running shoes, good running socks, and quality running clothes. The shoes help tremendously, especially with my back, hips and knees. The socks help my feet (obviously) because I had started to get blisters, and that is not fun! I think the clothes just make me feel like I'm a real runner, and if you're going to be working out and running for long periods of time, you want to look good right? Seriously though, the running clothes make a big difference. They seem to keep you warm when you need to be warm, keep you cool when you need to be cool, and most importantly dry when you are sweating.

My Nike Air Pegasus Livestrong Shoes, and my favorite running/yoga pink Livestrong shirt. The shoes also have a pedometer sensor underneath the shoe liner that sends signals to the Nike Arm Band. They were sold seperate, but well worth it. The arm band keeps track of my miles ran, time, average mile pace, and calories burned. Well worth it!

Under Armour apparrel. Helps keep your body temperature under control, dry, and lookin' good.

So let's get down to business- the running details. I'm running between 20-30 miles a week consistantly. An average run during the week is about 4 miles, and the runs on the weekends are longer. It's been that consistant for a while now, I haven't moved up much in mileage, but I'm definately starting to see an improvement on my mileage time and my endurance. My iPod has finally been updated, thank goodness. I downloaded the entire 90's Jock Jams CD with classic songs such as "Everybody Dance Now" and "Tootsie Roll". My iPod is a Godsend. I really don't think I could get through the runs without it. Running in my opinion is 75% mental and 25% physical. It is all in your mind, and the iPod really helps with the motivation, and sometimes the distraction. I have been and will continue to be surprised and what my body can do when pushed.

I'm not going to lie and tell you all is hunky-dory...this is hard. Very hard. And yes, I've been struggling. As I stated earlier, the cold is NOT helping. I'm having my own internal battles as I always do about this time. I'm starting to really feel the self-doubt and the frustration. I'm frustrated because I'm working out, harder than ever. Eating healthier than ever (with a few slips here and there). I'm getting the required amount of sleep, I'm keeping hydrated, and I've even significantly reduced the amount of alcohol I consume. In fact, I don't even really have a desire to drink a glass of wine or beer. So, I'm doing all those things right, and I haven't lost a single pound. And yes I feel great, and yes I know I've gained muscle, and yes I know it takes time- but I'm frustrated! Maybe God's plan is for Kami to be a chunky monkey, regardless of the ump-teen miles ran weekly. I guess all I can do is keep faith. And keep running. Tomorrow is a new day, I shall rise to the occasion.

I will run. I will blog.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Egg beaters & whole grain toast

It's my first day of training, and I am rather proud of myself. I got up early (for me) and had a nice healthy breakfast consisting of egg beaters, 2 slices of whole grain flax seed toast and a nice cup of hot chai tea (a perfectly protein and carbohydrate packed runners breakfast if I may add). My only mistake was not having a couple glasses of high quality H2O before walking out the door- but I've since made up for that throughout the rest of the day. Did you know that once you feel thirsty that you are already dehydrated? I heard that a long time ago and have since verified that fact through reading about marathon training. What I didn't know is that you can actually drink too much fluid which can cause hyponatremia which can cause seizures, comas and all sorts of other fun conditions. Who knew? As much as I love my water with lemon (as my co-worker can vouch- she makes fun of my many potty breaks at work) I seriously doubt that I'll ever reach the point of hyponatremia.

So back to today- my goal was to run three miles and I successfully completed my three mile run followed up with a 1 mile walk. Tomorrow is Sunday, and Sunday's are the actual first day on the training schedule, so I thought of today as a "bonus". Actually, I was using today as a test. As I have stated before I don't necessarily consider myself a runner, but I do quite a bit of physical activity. I work out 3-5 days per week, doing various activities such as running, biking, playing soccer or going to the gym. My pre-marathon-training route around the neighborhood was 2 miles running 1 mile walking, so today I just ran the whole route, and then back tracked for my cool down. I wanted to test myself to see if I could push beyond my 2 mile normal limit. I am not sure if it was adrenaline, or if it was the egg beaters and whole grain toast, but it was surprisingly a very delightful run. When I felt as if my body wanted to stop, I just slowed my pace down a bit, and before I knew it my body adjusted and I was fine. I might need to get some new tunes on my iPod though...some more upbeat jams to pump it up and keep myself motivated.

After my run I could already start to feel it in my hips. When I began running consistently two years ago (only 2 miles per run), my hips started to hurt. My girlfriend, Amy, was having the same problem back then and suggested taking Glucosamine and Chondroitin. I quickly drove to GNC and purchased said supplements and have been taking them ever since. I highly recommend them to anyone who is having joint pain (being my hypochondriac self I have also since then had hip x-rays just to be sure that there aren't any other underlying problems). I began biking this summer instead of doing so much high-impact running, and that helped my hips tremendously as well. I plan to incorporate biking into my cross training; it will definitely help the old hip bones. So since I'm back into running now, I just popped two Glucosamine and Chondroitin pills and plopped my self on the couch to rest my hips. Those supplements will be my friends until I complete this journey. So will the egg beaters and whole grain flax seed toast. Yum, yum.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Please don't laugh at me..."

I've decided to run a marathon. Yes, a marathon. Not a Law and Order marathon or a half-marathon, but a 26.2 mile full-blown 3 hour plus marathon. I'm laying here, in the comfort of my own bed drinking a glass of cranberry juice, eating a Kashi Krunch bar while watching Jon & Kate plus Eight...and I'm scared, nervous, anxious, excited, worried...schwew! Can one person have that many emotions rolled into one?

You may be asking yourself, why would anyone want to run a marathon? And I retort, why not? I've decided to run a marathon for many reasons. First and foremost, I want to do this for myself- I want to prove that I can do this. Not to mention proving it to everyone else! And there are other reasons as well- I want to be healthy, get in shape and lose some weight in the process.

I made this decision not entirely on my own, but through a joint decision with my sister-in-law Kristen (and yes, Kristen, it is now on the world wide web that you are also committed to running a marathon- you are welcome). When someone starts a conversation with "Please don't laugh at me when I say this," you know your in for something good, you don't know what your in for, but that something is sure to be good. When Kristen followed that statement with "I want to run a marathon," I didn't laugh at all, I immediately screamed "me too!" And not just to humor her, but because this is something that I have been wanting to do for a long time but without her it probably would have stayed on the "want to do someday" list, rather than the "going to do in 2009" list.

We have willingly both given consent to put our bodies and minds through the long and vigorous training. We are both reading literature about training, and I am currently reading a fabulously informative (and hilarious) book by the name of The Non-Runner's Guide to Running a Marathon: For Women. I highly recommend it. Now you may ask yourself, you're not a runner, and you are going to run a marathon? Yeah. Right. Well, I don't consider myself a runner per-say, but I do quite a bit of running, biking, yoga and playing soccer. And that's one of the reasons I am going to run this marathon- to get in better shape.

Which leads me back to another one of the reasons I am going to run a marathon. I've struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. My dad says I'm "big boned", I don't think there's such a thing. I do like the way I look (for the most part), I just want to be a thinner, healthier me. I want to emphasize healthy. I currently work in a hospital and I see the effects of obesity and bad health habits everyday. I'm kind of a short girl, I'm 5'5" and I weigh 175 (yes ladies, I'm laying it all out there- brave, I know) and according to most charts I've seen in the hospital I'm almost borderline obese. And that is scary. Recently a few of my family members (whom I consider healthy) have been hospitalized for or diagnosed with heart problems; I want to prevent that from happening to me for as long as I can, hopefully forever.

Now you know a little bit about me and why I am going to run a marathon. This blog will be updated weekly and I hope will act as an active journal, outlet and motivator. Please check in weekly, or subscribe to this blog (see right side navigation bar). This way I can document my journey, share my ups and downs with friends and family, and hopefully YOU can help keep me accountable or "on track".

And so the training begins...and by the way, my goal is to run in and finish the October, 2009 Chicago Marathon. Here I come.