Category Archives: running

No pasta… No pasta… No pasta…

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Rottttinnnnniiii...... Roootttttiiiinnnnniiiiiiii

Eep!

I’m almost there… I’m almost one week pasta free. I have til Sunday at 3pm to put it in the win category. I CAN DO THIS.

To be honest, I haven’t been eating low carb in the absence. While I haven’t touched bread, I have had rice or potatoes every day to replace pasta. But, I’m ok with that. This is more about proving to myself that I can live without these sometimes unhealthy staples in my diet and less about fixing a bad habit.

I think that next up on the chopping block will be popcorn. I obviously dont eat this every day, but I do have a HUGE bowl (ok, pan) of homemade popcorn once a week on Sundays.

Noooooooooo!!!

How are my other challenges going? So-So. I’m doing great on strength training. I got in a half hour last night and went to Body Pump on Monday. Body Pump, btw, was HORRIBLE/AWESOME. I went a couple times when it first started, but dear God… I really dont remember it being that painful. My quads are still not fully recovered yet from all the squats and lunges. But, of course, I am going back again on Monday and possibly tomorrow morning for more punishment.

Running has not been great. I’ve basically lost all motivation to get out there or get on a treadmill and just run. I did sign up for a Turkey Trot 8K (5 miles) on Thanksgiving. I know I can do it after this long hiatus, but just for kicks, I ran 2.5 miles yesterday and felt just fine. I will run on Sunday (4 miles) and again on Tuesday (3 miles) just to be sure.

My BLC group challenge for this week is pirate themed, so this is what I’ll be working on this weekend:

P= Personal Time- find 10min for yourself daily (10pts per day) (think bubble bath, read a book, take a walk etc)
L= Liquid- 8cps water daily (10pts per day)
A= A-hoy there- Shout out to a Spark friend with a goodie or message (10pts per day)
N= Nutrition- Keep calories in range (10pts daily)
K= Kick Butt- Any LEG ST. (1rep=1pt, 100max daily) 1 REP= BOTH legs

Corny, but cute. It’ll keep my strength and nutrition in mind. Since B and I are both saving up money for Disney and potential dog adoptions, we are both thinking a relaxing weekend in would be fine for us!

Tell me how your pre-Turkey weekend is going! Any goals in mind as you fight off the pre-fat pants?

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Getting Started…

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I’ve had a couple people (hey y’all!) ask me how I started running when I was out of shape and overweight. So much so, that I am going to write this out. Please note that I am not a doctor. People’s individual conditions (asthma, injuries, heart conditions, etc.) should be taken in to consideration before you start any program. I hate to say it, but I firmly believe that many people have bodies that are not meant to run because of these conditions. However, I’ve been proven wrong before. So what do I know… again, not a doctor.

Why yes... I've been watching Doctor Who non-stop for the last week.

First of all, you CANNOT run if you cannot walk. I am dead serious on this. You cant just go out there and run unless you are in great shape or completely healthy. I recommend building up slowly by walking 30 minutes a day for four to six days a week. When that becomes too comfortable, find some high tempo music and walk faster. Then add some hills. Treadmills are great ways to amp up your workout. Most modern brands have different types of workouts. Even now, when I’m too tired to run or it’s an off day, I’ll set it on a random hill workout and let the treadmill dictate my workout.

When you are able to walk 3 miles outside or on a 1-2% treadmill incline without stopping AND with it feeling like a medium level effort, then you are ready to run.

Running will not happen automatically for the majority of us. It will frustrate the hell out of you. You WILL want to give up. You will burn out. There will be plenty of bad days that can certainly outnumber the good ones. Avoid burnout by:

  • Limiting how many days you run. DO NOT run every day. Your body is essentially building up new muscles. You need time to rest and recover. When I started, and even today, I only run 3-4 times a day.
  • Start SLOOOOOOWWWWWW. Speed comes with time. I promise. My first run was a 14 minute mile. A year later, I can run 10:30s. If you insist on running at a certain pace for whatever reason, then give yourself:
  • Time to get better. Just as speed will come, so will endurance. Your first run may only last 10 seconds (or less). Be proud of that. Write it down. Tell your super supportive and understanding friends. Send me an email! Try to run at that same level for a 2 or 3 more runs until you try to run for longer. Add on another 5 seconds and repeat. Celebrate, record it, run at that level a couple more times, and then add on. In a month, you may go from running 10 seconds at a time to running for 4 or 5 minutes.
  • Sign up for a race. Be realistic. For most people starting at my level (which was obese and overweight), give yourself 3-4 months to train. Or, if you are ready to go, try interval running (which I will go in to) or walking a race. 5Ks are the best way to start. They are 3.1 miles long and are a great distance to play with.

And with that, comes my next recommendation. Typically, I would tell everyone to try Couch to 5K. It’s a pretty popular program that has gotten great results. I did it… twice. But here’s what they dont tell you: Couch to 5K doesn’t build you up to a 5K unless you can run a 10 minute mile. Instead, it builds you up to running 30 minutes straight. That’s great if that is your goal (and can be a great one)…

But what if you cant run 30 minute straight? What if your body needs that walk break? Are you still a runner? Can you still become one?

YES. Yes, you can. And dont let anyone ever tell you that you cant.

How do I run 10:30s? I do it with intervals. I run 3:1… in other words, I run for 3 minutes at a 9 min/mile pace and then I walk for 1 minute at a 17 min/mile pace. And then I repeat… over and over again.

I can run a straight mile. In fact, I can run a 5K straight. I’m pretty sure I could run 5, if I really wanted to. But I dont. Running intervals has kept me injury free, helped me avoid burn out, and has made me fall more in tune with my body. And it’s all thanks to this guy:

I bought this book about two weeks before my first 5K in March. A week before that same 5K, I tried it out. I ran a 5K at my normal pace (a 14 minute mile) and finished in 43 minutes. Respectable, but I pretty much wanted to die afterwards. Two days later, I tried to do the 5K with intervals (I started with :45/1:00… run for 45 seconds and then walk for a minute). My time on that run? 41:40. With the race a week away, I turned to Jeff Galloway’s many message boards on Spark and, with their support, ran the race with those same intervals. I did it in 40 minutes.

I was blown away! How could walking while running longer distances help so much?  And even better… I was in no pain. I finished my race feeling like I could go another mile. And with a few exceptions, I’ve felt that way after every single one of my runs ever since. I’ve ran the Galloway method for over 8 months now and I will not be going back to straight running any time soon.

But ultimately, it comes down to what works for you. There are a MILLION plans out there that will get you going. Some will have you run almost every day. Others will have you running only once a week…. your level of commitment should be reflected in the plan you chose. And when you hit a milestone (say, run your first mile or minute), reward yourself. Make it a fun game.

And with that game, make sure you’ve got ample support. People who laugh at you, tell you that your slow, or try to squash your plan are not support. If you end up with no one, send me an email. I’m not joking. I’m here almost 24/7 to help you, rant with you, and jump with joy when you cross the finish line.

And, while I’m thinking about it, I’ve got one more major tips: BUY RUNNING SHOES. Dont just go to payless and pick out the prettiest pair of Nikes you can find or the cheapest pair in the store. Invest in your fitness. Get yourself to a running store and ask to be fitted. Running shoes fit differently than your regular shoes (I wear an 8 in regular shoes, but an 8.5 Wide since I need more room in my toe box and my feet and ankles tend to swell). They will watch you stand, walk, and run to determine your shoe support needs. Shoes can be expensive, but be honest with them. If you cannot afford $150 pair of shoes, then let them know at the start. They will give you options.

So, that’s it. Start slow, avoid burn out, and try different plans till you find the one that works for you. When you do poorly, let it go and move on. When you do great, celebrate.

I hope this helps!

She’s Was Working In a Barbershop…

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I think there is only one person who can accurately describe my current feelings, so I’ll let him do all the talking:

..

.

It’s weigh in day.

..

.

I worked my butt off. Wait, scratch that. I didn’t in fact, I apparently worked so hard, I worked some of it back on.

Mother f$%ker.

My workouts last week were awesome:

Friday: Hard 5K
Saturday: Spin class
Sunday: 8 miles on a treadmill… on a g-damn treadmill… while watching the BEARS game, damnit.
Monday: 20 minute intense core workout
Tuesday: 60 minute upper body strength training
This morning: Tempo 5K

To be honest, this has been the best week I’ve had in eating as well. I’ve even gotten back to tracking.

But what did all my hard work and persistence get me? 168.4
(For those keeping score, that’s a ounce weight gain)

I've sunk so low, I'm not even above posting a Garfield cartoon.

Part of me, the evil Fran Drescher side, is like,

“Honey, forget about it! You see those workouts? You’ve been getting back to strength training, which is FAB, but really… you know you gain weight for awhile after pumping irons…”

The other part of me, the Cici Babcock (if you will) screams,

“Puh-lease, you non-sensical twit. You still at candy, chips, and even freakin’ McDonalds. Who are you trying to fool, cause it ain’t your waistline.”

Of course, Fran’s mom has something to add…

Sylvia

“Oh, hunnny… stohp beehting yoself up ovah id! Id wahz a lohng wheek. New dawg, ahnowing clahss, big fight… ah dounat ere an there won hurt ya!”

And because this Nanny reference has to end at some point…

“Most annoying blog post ever.”

All of these highly annoying, fictional characters have a point. I worked out a ton, and strength training does mean some initial weight gain. HOWEVER, while I also ate pretty decently, I slipped up big time in the snack department. The stress of the new dog and some drama doesn’t help either.

What am I going to do? Keep on, keeping on. I’m washing my hands of it and moving on. More strength training, because it makes me feel good, and I am going to continue pushing my 5K runs just because they make me feel great. Next week, I’ll get back to yoga and I’ll make sure that I really sweat it out in my spin class. That’s all I can do at this point.

Vacay

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Remember how I wrote that my post-race injury report only included two blisters and some underarm chafing?

Yeah. Forget that.

A day after the race, I started to notice that my left shin was super sore. As in, my ankle to my knee felt both stiff and warm at the same time. The same hip is also acting up.

I have been getting shin splints intermittently throughout my training. Most people do. Rookies get it from wearing non-fitted shoes (get yo ass to a specialty running store and have them watch your gait). Intermediate runners like myself get it from running too hard or too long on hard, cement based surfaces.

Eventually, all that wear and tear results in painful… um… tears in the front part of your shins. Here’s a helpful medical drawing:

 

The only way to cure it? Well, dont do anything on it until it stops hurting. Really, there is no way to make this better. No stretches you can do that will make the soreness go away, and frankly, even icing it just dulls it for awhile. It needs to be coddled like a baby.

And then you can run again…

Which means, that I am out of commission this week. It’s lucky because this weekend’s planned 8 miler would have been hell with Air and Water Show traffic along my path. I prefer my runs to be quiet reflections, not adventures in tourism.

And because I’m taking a week off running, I’m taking off a week of exercise- which sounds horrible. (and it is)

To be quite honest, I ran that race with just about everything in me. The little fibers of my body need to rest and recover right along the duly injured shins. I’ve been dealing with lower back pain for about a month now. Thinking that I would be able to afford myself a nice, professional massage after this race, I ignored it and kept pushing it. Now, well, even sitting is making me cringe.

On a side note, if you could spare about 80 bucks for me to go see a professional, I’d be so ever grateful. I’m taking donations.

So, that’s what is happening this week (aka… nothing).

But, in other news, I finished applying for my Master’s program yesterday. So exciting and scary. I really, really wish I would have focused more in my undergrad on my non-music electives. Some of those classes really hurt my overall gpa. Oh, and that Jazz Tech class, which I stupidly took my freshman year before I understood jazz chords. Frack.

The man, the myth, the lengend... Doug Beach. Yet, even he couldn't teach me how to snap my fingers.

Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon RECAP

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So many of you are asking for it, so here it is… my race recap! It’s going to be long and I may or may not ramble. I’m an emotional recapper.

Let’s start on Saturday. SOB and I headed down to McCormick Place for the Health and Fitness Expo. I have mixed feelings about these things. For the most part, I love getting free things (the Qdoba nachos and cheese were divine), but I am usually overloaded with coupons and race pamphlets that get thrown out anyways. So not green. 

But, I did walk away with lots of larabar samples, a Star Trek messenger bag (which went to SOB for putting up with the expo), an awesome Sweaty Band (more on that later), and a 13.1 car magnet. I also bravely changed my estimated end time from a very slow pace to a less, but still horribly slow pace so that I could move up in starting corals. And, I got an XS tshirt. Yes, an XS.

After a pretty sleepless night, my alarm rang at 4am and I hopped in the shower, got in my running gear (Target top, Brooks running shorts, Mizunno Wave 6 shoes, and my sweaty band). After many check and re-checks of my gear, I was out the door at 5am:

A vision of blue...

Clouds were starting to become more and more ominous as we walked from the L stop to the starting line. Weathermen predicted sun, but the weather was more of dark blue, scary shit. It all died down after my porta-potty-pit-stop and some stretching.

Getting nervousssss.

The corals started going just around 6:30 and my coral, #27, moved slowly to the start. My hand started shaking as they called each coral number, and I inched closer to the line. When #26 went, a race organizer started yelling for everyone to go, so I said screw it and began to run.

My garmin (a gps based watch that tells you your time/pace/distance/and more) started fuzzing out as soon as we started the downtown and through the first of many overpasses. Throughout the race, my distance would be about .2 miles ahead of the race markers*. My watch read a pretty fast time for me, so I just thought it was off. I felt that I was going slow and conservative, which was good for maintaining.

*Edit/Addition: There’s been a ton of twitter buzz on this issue with GPS watches saying the course was about .5 miles longer than 13.1. I sincerely felt like the 1 mile marker was off because of the underpass, but I trusted that it was just my GPS. Now, after plugging the map course in on some map applications, I’m still getting 13.4 miles… which would be awesome considering my PRs.*

The race itself was pretty entertaining. Not a ton of chatter between runners, but so many people out and watching. One of my favorites was a random guy (alone) at mile 3 and 4 dressed up like Will Ferrell and banging on a cowbell. The poor guy didn’t even have rhythm… he was just out there banging on a cowbell… in costume.

Of course, this got everyone screaming "More Cowbell"

At every 2 miles, there was a local cover band playing Nirvana, Styx, and Journey.  There were also cheerleaders dressed as KISS members… many who ended up looking like ICP members.

The aid/water/refueling stations were every one and a half miles, which felt pretty good. Even though there wasn’t much cytomax (a gatoraid like drink that is pretty necessary after running over an hour), I felt fueled up and less dehydrated than usual. The wet sponges near the end were also a nice touch, but became a hazard when you were at the back of the path and had to run on piles of them.

The race itself went very quickly. As I said, I felt very conservative until I passed the 5K mark. It was a personal record by about 30 seconds. The hills and bridges helped slow me down near the middle, but when I hit the 10K mark and saw my time, I was floored. It beat my old record by 3 minutes! I started to panic that I was going way too fast and that I would fizzle out. But, doing a body check, everything felt wonderful.

At mile 7, I spotted B in the crowds. I cant describe to you how I felt when I saw him wave at me. Because it was during a walk interval, I stopped, hugged him, and talked about the race for a couple seconds. Spotting him and getting some time to go re-focus certainly helped me pull through the next half.

Miles 8 and 9 flew by. I cant even tell you where we ran. Oh wait, yes I can… here’s a map. All I remember was that the blueberry gu they were passing out tasted pretty darn good (added to my shopping list). The rest of the time, I was in da. zone. My intervals were slamming. My legs felt wonderful. And my heart rate was in the cardio, but not near death, zone. It felt perfect.

Mile 10 was in the dark. Like, literally. Running through McCormick Place’s underpass tunnel was pretty scary. I couldn’t see a thing and I kept imagining tunnel rats or that subway scene from Cloverfield.

... And then she gets eaten or bit or something terrible

At mile 11, it began to rain. There I was, with less than 2 miles left of my first half marathon and it was f-ing raining. I finally removed my sunglasses and picked it up a bit. At one point, while suffering in the rain, I knew that I could walk the last two miles and still finish in the time I wanted, but that wasn’t me. I had the last two miles. I had trained in the rain, and a little drizzle and wind was certainly not going to stop me.

…And that’s when the reality of it all hit me. One year ago, my only form of exercise was occasionally taking the stairs. In October, 2010, I started running again. And now, 10 months later, I was RUNNING A HALF MARATHON AND FEELING DAMN GOOD. This wasn’t my goal race, the Disney Princess Half was, but I settled on it. I built it up in my head. And now, with two miles left to go, I was going to finish it. The feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming.

A man holding a very large “You Got This”sign brought me to tears as the 12 mile marker passed. 12.5 miles was the furthest I had run up until that point and I was about to go even further. I took my last cup of water and made it to the finish line- all while Mika’s “We are Golden” played on my headphones.

I crossed the line, hands raised in victory, and gladly picked up my medal, a water, a popsicle, a bottle of cytomax, and a waiting SOB. We celebrated with brunch at Tweet, a short nap, and some popcorn.

As for injuries- I felt great after the race. Really, felt wonderful. All I can report are 2 blisters (where I usually get them) and some chaffed arms. This morning, I woke up feeling very stiff and achy. My original plan was to buy myself a professional massage, but I cant afford it right now.

Here are my official results, btw: And yes, I’m slow. Please be nice.

Pace 5 Km 10 Km 10 Mile ChipTime ClockTime
13:04 38:56 1:18:54 2:09:15 02:51:18 03:08:26
OvrPl SexPl DivPl Bib First Name Last Name City State Chip Time
13312 7952 1273 28*** Michelle Ar***** Chicago IL 02:51:18

Will Run For Popcorn

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I’ve talked about money being my motivation… but what about food?

I’m not lying when I say that there are times in my run when I think about one thing… one salty, buttery multiple of a thing:

Popcorn.

Really, it’s not much a surprise if you know me even just a little bit. I am OBSESSED with popcorn. As a fat, lazy child, I would eat a bag twice a week with no shame. Microwave popcorn isn’t terrible for you. It’s just not good. There’s no nutritional content in it and it packs some weird carb/fiber ratio you have to be careful of. But mainly, it’s the chemicals in the artificial butter that make it unappealing.

Now I make my own with my favorite kitchen gadget, the popcorn maker, every Sunday. I have some tricks that make mine extra delicious- like, putting a spritz of water on fresh popcorn to help the salt stick or spraying it with oil to bring out the butter flavor. I’ve also done away with regular salt for all cooking, so I stick to sea salt. It packs more of a punch. I use a vegan butter to reduce the fat and sodium content. I’m not saying that my method is good for you, but comparatively, a bag’s size worth of homemade popcorn is about 30 calories, 10 grams of fat, and half of the sodium less. Oh, and it doesn’t have all the chemical additives and sticky, frustrating mess the microwave leaves.

And because I’m healthier, I share. B gets half of my popcorn when he asks for it. And believe me, my popcorn is like crack. You’ll want more.

Back to the story, so it’s 10am on Sunday and I’m at mile 8.5 of my 9 mile run. I see a group of ladies in pink and instantly realize that they are part of the 3 Day Breast Cancer walk that an online friend of mine was a part of. She flew in from Colorado to participate, so I knew this was a rare chance to find her. However, I didn’t have a phone on me (mine broke on Thursday) so I couldn’t directly get a hold of her. I instead decided to follow the walkers back to their pit stop. There, I asked around for her in vain. She hadn’t come through yet, but she was on her way.

About ten minutes in to waiting and chatting with the walk volunteers, it started to rain. Ok, no, not rain… monsoon.

Eventually, it got so bad that I was yelled at by a man in a neon pink bra and cowgirl hat to get under the undepass for shelter. They wouldn’t let anyone leave till it let up. After about an hour and a ton of impatience on my part, I decided to sneak out with some softball players also forced in the pink filled underpass. When one of the volunteers was distracted, five of us booked it out and in to the rain.

Bad idea. The only thought getting me home was the promise of that popcorn crack. Seriously, many runners have a motto or motivational thought to help them get through a wall. Mine is: Popcorn. POPCORN. POPCORN!!!

After another half mile run home, I came in looking a bit like this:

But, I ran 10 miles, felt great, and even did it in the downpour. I felt amazing. And that popcorn I had later that night was so worth it.

Eat Run Eat

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For some reason, as I was typing the title of this blog, this song got stuck in my head:

I’m. So. HUNGRY. So much so, that I’m googling this:

Yes, that is the Hot Doug’s menu, and no, I’ve never been there before. JUDGE ME!!!
 
I’ve been eating poorly this week. Between the Sonic, ice cream, Rainforest cafe, 2 bags of (eek!) microwavable popcorn, Taco Johns, etc… well, I haven’t done so hot. 
I’m just so hungry.
 
No. Really. My stomach is singing symphonies to me, and they are more on the line of:
 
In my head, I tell myself over and over that I should be satisfied with between 1300-1800 calories. That’s what I need to maintain and/or lose weight. I dont need anymore. 
Than I read articles that tell me to eat as much as I like. I’m a runner for Zeus-sake. Putting out over 20 miles a week means I earn a friggin’ cheeseburger or nine. And those fries–carb loading for the weekend. 
But, deep down, I know that this binge is not meant to be. Want to lose weight? You have to eat less, but also more. Try to get a deficit in calories in vs. calories out, but dont take too much out or you’ll hit starvation mode. 
Frack.
I just want to eat. And eat. AND eat. Preferably, I want to munch on salty, hummus covered anything. As I run longer and farther, that want turns in to a need as the stomach basically threatens to eat itself. Sometimes, this hunger is frightening just in its intensity. Of course, it comes with headaches, tiredness, Modesky-esque rumbling… etc. 
So, I feed it, and I remember that if my stomach is to the point that it could overpower an 80s cover band, then I should eat. I try to be sensible about it. I continue to promise myself that when I ramp down my running in two weeks, I’ll eat less, especially less carbs until this all begins again for marathon training.