Archive for February, 2010


February 20, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m leaving for a cruise (my first) in the Gulf of Mexico in the morning. I leave you with a post I composed a while ago (below), but didn’t know when I’d feel like publishing it. I suppose now is good, because part of the message relates to my next week. I am horrible at fitting running in when I am traveling. This week I took my cats over to my parents house, and they don’t live that far! But taking two days out of the week to go to their house instead of my house to be sure the cats were OK before I abandoned them for a week was a major deterrent to running (the snow didn’t help…). I made it to the gym on Wednesday, worked out with a trainer, but no running. We will see how this cruise treats me.

I went to a conference today which reaffirmed my desire to be active and outside for a good portion of the day. It was a conference on Ecological Restoration, which basically left me feeling super depressed and yet motivated to try and change the world because the world is potentially going to hell in a handbasket. What today reminded me is that most people don’t go outside anymore. People can spend all day sitting and shuttling around in various bubbles, separated from the outside. If you never see the world, you won’t see the changes that are occurring, so no one can be blamed for not having ecological restoration at the top of their to-do lists. So, reaffirmed: Must spend time outside, must pay attention to surroundings to note cool things. Should also run.

I have a whole rant in my head about environmental stuff, but I will hold off. I don’t have time to compose my thoughts, and I don’t want to go completely off the workout topic. But there is a strong connection between my environmental morals and my desire to be fit.

Categories: Uncategorized

“You’re a runner, aren’t you? Do you have any advice?”

February 20, 2010 Leave a comment

OK, OK, I will write about how I trained for the Philly Marathon. I’m sorry, Kate, that it took me so long. I just don’t feel like I trained in an exemplary manner.

Did I stretch regularly? No

Did I do a good warm-up and cool down every time I ran? No

Did I follow Hal Higdon’s plan exactly? No

Did I do a recommended number of speed workouts or interval workouts recommended by anyone? No

So why was I successful? What advice can I give those who ask?

What I did while training for the marathon which maybe other people didn’t do was four things. 1) I biked to-and-from work/other places and walked places as much as possible. 2) I played a lot of Ultimate in the summer leading up to my training (while biking to-and-from the Ultimate field). 3) During the training I continued playing Ultimate and on some weeks did a half-hour stair workout lead (for free!) by a running club at the Art Museum steps. 4) I was flexible.

I didn’t do every long weekend runs. Some weekends were full of an Ultimate tournament. Some weekends I was traveling a lot, and I am super bad at fitting in exercise when I travel. I didn’t skip most of the longest runs (18, 20 miles), and I tried to only let myself not do long runs when it was a recovery week, but I did skip long runs.

I didn’t run the exact number of miles or the number of times per week that Hal’s schedule prescribed (and it only required four days a week!). I took two days off in a row when the plan recommends one day off and one day of cross training.

I don’t think I challenged myself in running as much as I could¬† have. But when I wasn’t running, I tried to be active in another way (by biking, walking, cleaning the house, or playing Ultimate).

So my advice is have a training plan, but be flexible if you need to be. Other activities can be substituted for a run. You can take off two days in a row instead of one on multiple weeks and still be fit enough to compete in the event you are training for. You can run a marathon without training perfectly. Life is full of other important things besides your training plan. If you aren’t flexible, you may feel so guilty about missing one workout that you think you need to give up your goal, but in reality other activities can maintain your fitness, and you are perfectly capable of finishing your race or event. Also, if you are so tired for two days in a row that you really don’t want to run, that may be a sign that you need extra time to recover from something, and resting for that second day may be more beneficial to your body than forcing yourself to run. Training plans are guides, and their advice is sound (if you find a good one), but no training plan can encompass all the challenges life will throw at you.

Do remember that events like a marathon require regular training. I am not running a marathon in March because I couldn’t commit to training enough in anything over the winter to maintain the fitness required to run a full marathon in March. But I will be running a half-marathon, and taking the time off is giving me the focus to decide to train for the 24 hour race in July.

And finally, being flexible in training when you are already a regular runner may mean you don’t get a PR in the next race you run. But you will still be able to challenge yourself and compete. Just try and have a reasonable goal. My goal to run under 4:30 was reasonable. At one point in the race, before I hit “the wall”, I thought I could get around a 4:15, but it turned out that my body wouldn’t let me finish that fast. My flexibility in training may have kept me from running a 4:15, but I was still able to run 4:26. What I have learned in the multiple Ultra-marathon books I’ve read is that when you compete, it’s good to have multiple goals. The first most important one is the most reasonable: Finish! If that goal is achievable, the next goal can be more specific, like running a PR, getting a specific time, or beating a certain competitor. But NEVER feel like a failure if only one of the multiple goals is achieved. In endurance races, finishing is the biggest accomplishment.

Categories: training

An unsatisfactory weight

February 13, 2010 Leave a comment

I went rock climbing today which was awesome. I used to rock climb a lot when I was younger, and I love it. My arms feel great now.

But on that wall, I realized how much better I’d be if I were 10 lbs lighter. My muscles would pack so much more punch when trying to muscle my way to a good handhold.

I told my friend I needed to lose weight, and she said “Wait, don’t you run?”

I am the perfect example that the quantity of what you eat is a more important factor in determining your weight than your activity level. I lost a few pounds while training for the marathon, but nothing significant. I also eat really healthy!

What I’m saying is it is really easy to eat at a pace that equals out the extra exercise you do.

I probably have less fat and more muscle than when I started my fitness kick, but that isn’t visible on the scale.

Categories: nutrition

To-remember list

February 11, 2010 1 comment

Some things I need to remember:
I feel great when I exercise (almost ANY type of exercise)
When I feel shitty after a day, it’s probably because I haven’t been active enough
TV shows distract me from everything important

It’s snow day number 2. Yesterday I woke up with a plan of action. Today I had no plan. I accomplished some minor things (hanging a picture and a mirror), but haven’t left the house yet. Partly because yesterday when walking around I discovered this snowstorm deposited snow that is good for snowmen, but not good for romping through. But I also did not have a plan, and ended up watching TV. Fortunately the gym is open, and I joined the gym so I could run inside if necessary, so I am about to head off.

I tried the first workout (modified for my 3lb weight set and yoga mat home “gym”) in the book yesterday, and though some of the versions of the exercises I did with my limited options were probably less challenging than if I had the real equipment, today I am a bit sore. Score! So today at the gym I will limit myself to not strength training and stretching. No matter how bored I am running around the gerbil sized track, I will persevere and get a run in!

Categories: training

The new weight lifting plan for women

February 10, 2010 Leave a comment

The heading is a book title which I recently purchased based on two recommendations from friends. I got the package yesterday and immediately read through the most important parts of the entire book. I like the idea behind the book, and I like the exercises described in the end section, but I disagree with some of the details. The basic premise of the book is that society spreads the false idea that women should lift differently than men, when in reality men and women’s muscles are built the same way, though women’s muscles develop differently through puberty and women tend to have stronger endurance types of muscle fiber naturally. I disagree with a lot of the diet details, and I disagree with the author, Lou Schuler’s opinion of endurance exercise.

In response all the nutrition and diet advice I’ve read, I am trying to format a post about my take on nutrition, because I think I eat healthfully, but it’s a hard topic to condense and cover. What I especially disagree with in this book is the structure of the argument against restrictive dieting and the phrase “Eat less and exercise more” as a plan for weight loss. I agree that extreme restriction of food is a horrible idea for maintaining weight loss and for health, however the author takes the phrase “eat less and exercise more” to signify only diets that restrict food intake too much. I think the sentiment behind this simplified statement for weight loss is that most people eat far more than they need (500 calories average more per day than people ate in 1980 according to Michael Pollan), and in order to be more healthy one must stop over-eating while at the same time become more active. Once you are active, your diet needs may change and you may require more food than when you started your fitness kick, but that doesn’t mean you can over-eat. “Eat less and exercise more” is an easy to remember catch phrase to remind us that our lifestyles currently encourage us to do nothing all day and to eat everything in sight. It means “eat what your body needs and get off your ass”. Take the catch phrase in context please!

My second gripe with the book is the author’s statement that endurance exercise does the opposite to your muscles than what lifting does, and therefore a lifting plan shouldn’t be combined with training for a marathon because endurance training makes your muscles smaller and more efficient while weight training makes your muscles larger and stronger. I obviously am a fan of endurance exercise, and thus do not want to strength train at the expense of doing endurance activities. I agree with my friend Heather’s statement that endurance training only improves performance in endurance events, but that’s exactly why I want to do endurance and muscle-strengthening activities in combination. I don’t want to lose my ability to sprint because I am training to run for hours at a time, and I believe that maintaining and improving my muscle strength will help my endurance performance. Thus, strength training and endurance activities can complement each other. With that said, I do believe that people can be fit without going to the endurance extremes that I do. So maybe the books advice is perfect for you, but just don’t let the guys statement stop you from doing endurance activities.

On the same vein, at one point Lou says that people didn’t evolve to run long distances, they evolved to walk long distances. Please, read “Born to Run”. I think this statement by Lou is one (of many) facts that he didn’t support fully, and he just used it to tell people that lifting and sprinting is the most important form of exercise. Make the decision for yourself, my friend. Know that authors all have their own agendas, and if it doesn’t match with what you are going for in life, that doesn’t mean you are wrong.

With all that said, I do like the exercises detailed in the lifting plan. Lou and Alwyn (the guy who designed the 6 month training plan) use moves that involve the whole body, and following their plan will certainly improve your fitness. My plan is to try their workouts twice a week (3 times if I am REALLY good) and see where that takes me.¬† What’s most important to me is finding lifting activities besides push-ups that I can use in a long-term plan to compliment my endurance training. I want to be stronger and run further (I want everything!).

Categories: marathon, nutrition, training