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Driving causes me pain

September 30, 2013 Leave a comment

I think sitting and driving can cause as many pains as exercise itself. This past year I have had shoulder, chest, back and hip pain that I can only associate with driving a significant amount and sitting more than I used to. How is this pain different than that associated with exercise? Well it seemed to be relieved by exercise!

My non-exercise induced pains led me to ponder how people’s perception of pain may influence their decisions to exercise. I think that people’s perception of pain from exercise being too much to bear could deter them from exercise. I know I have days when I think running will be really hard because of muscle soreness. Yet I also have the experience to know that soreness can be relieved by exercise. Even with my experience, finding motivation to run despite the soreness can be hard.

I have been an exerciser pretty much all of my memorable life; I do not find muscle soreness foreign or distressing. I would like to encourage other people to try exercising despite muscle soreness (but do not run or exercise over acute pain!) and see if you don’t feel a ton better than you expected. I want to assure you that the pain is almost never as bad as you think!

And with that, I think I need to go for a run myself. I am still in the weeds in terms of running enough miles for my November marathon.

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Long time no running, no posting, only minor injuries

September 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Well, I knew this year was not my best for training and running, but the fact really hit home when I see I haven’t even finalized any posts I intended on writing. I’ve been pretty much NOT focusing on exercise this whole year, and that makes me sad. I skipped races I normally run, and didn’t replace them with other races. My point in writing this is to acknowledge that it is hard to go and do something everyday. I talk to friends who say the same thing; I just need to “_________”. Sometimes it might be “run every day” or “go to the gym once a week” or even “walk everyday for 30 mins”. These statements are things we know we can accomplish, in fact we may have been able to accomplish them last month or last year! But something in the present time is making those goals really hard to achieve. I want to say that it is amazing and a huge accomplishment when you can run everyday or go to the gym once a week for many months. These tasks can be hard to do! Don’t be deceived by the simplicity of the statement.

So here’s to the fall, my Philadelphia Marathon training season! After months of not running (though I did mange to play Ultimate) I ran a super slow 15 km race with lots of crazy steep hills on August 24th. I finished it despite having run few training miles and having pulled my hamstring area two weeks before in my last Ultimate game of the summer. I can only improve from this point forward, I just need to follow my training plan!

Energy Bars and Exercise

What do energy bars have to do with exercise? The companies that make energy bars or gels want us to eat them early and often. The GU recommendation is 15 minutes before exercise and every 45 minutes after starting exercise. Hm. Sounds like a bit too much GU for me! The endurance nutrition companies have the main point right: you have to take care of your nutrition while working out over long periods of time. For me, this idea morphs into needing to be prepared before I do a long run. I can’t go running unless I have Nutrition! [with a superhero stance] Having Nutrition! requires Preparation![finger goes up in the air like the Statue of Liberty] which is the problem I want to address here. Figuring out the best way to prepare for long run nutrition.

First I tried to buy Preparation!: I tried Hammer Endurance products, Gatorade powder, and of course GU. At the purchase of all these products I was super stocked because I thought they would be the answer to my feeling of not being ready for my long runs. If I have these instant energy solutions, surely going on a long run will be easier! But the elation quickly died off. I bought massive amounts of Perpetuem (caffè latte flavor!) and threw half of it away after it sat unused for two years. GU has been my most used purchased product, but eating GU every weekend during long runs doesn’t match my idea of a balanced diet. With all the free GU I added to my collection at races and my limited use of GU during long runs, I have double the amount I bought originally (though different flavors).  Short story: My attempts to buy Preparation! were not long-term solutions.

Last year I tried fueling with sandwiches and other “normal” food. This matched my idea of a balanced diet better than GU, but still didn’t give me Preparation! I had to make more sandwiches every time I wanted to go on a run.  At least the products I bought lasted longer than one day. The effort put into making food for each long run was a little too much for me to incorporate the practice as a permanent solution.

My story finally comes to energy bars. I recently came across an energy bar recipe that may be my Preparation! Now finding an energy bar recipe is not unusual; I had discovered some delicious sounding energy bar recipes  at Vegetarian Runner last year when I was training for the 20in24. But I never made them. Though I think of myself as a cook and as someone familiar with foreign ingredients, some bars at the website contained ingredients that were just a little too foreign. The Spicy Carob Banana Energy Bars call for sprouted buckwheat and salba… hmm, that doesn’t sound like something I can pick up in bulk at Nuts to You.

And then I discovered this recipe: The Ultimate DIY Running Bar.
And I went out to Nuts to You and bought all the ingredients.
And went home and made energy bars.
As the bars were cooling I thought “huh, when am I planning on using these??”
I did not plan to go on a long run any time soon. But with energy bars in hand, I was ready. And you know what I did? I went on a long run that Saturday, energy bar in Ziplock bag in pocket!

What I really like about the Ultimate DIY Running Bar is that it reminds me of an oatmeal bar that I used to cook up for breakfasts on the go but more energy packed. It’s my perfect mini-meal. I’ve been using this bar as a pre-morning-workout-breakfast because I need real breakfast when I get back from the workout. It’s also the mini-meal I was missing between a day of work and an evening of Ultimate. Dinner would be too heavy before playing but lunch was not enough to hold me over until the end of the game barbecue. Boom! Energy bar=perfect mini meal!

The moral is that preparation itself can be a motivator of activity. Being prepared gives you one less reason to not do something. Blogs and articles always say things like ‘Lay out your running clothes and you will make it out the door for an early run’. Well I haven’t really listened until now. And I probably still will not lay out my running clothes. But I like these energy bars. Making them has helped get me out the door for morning workouts and for long runs.

DNF and me

I DNF’d* the Niagara Ultra on June 23rd =(

The day started off cool, but quickly got hotter than I realized (because there was little humidity). I was worried about over-hydrating which caused me to drink too little.

One sign of my deteriorated state was feeling severe emotions. I don’t know how else to describe it; during my run and subsequent walk my thoughts about stopping made me want to cry. In a regular emotional state I would probably be upset but the physical feeling of being about to cry wouldn’t happen. It was starting to feel how I felt on my last loop of the 20 in 24 in 2011–I crashed during that loop and had a fever when I stopped running.

The decision to stop was the right one.

I ran 30k (18.6 miles) in 4 hours and 10 minutes. The last 4k I was mostly walking. While sitting at the aid station waiting in the shade for a ride back to the start a few people came through. One lady asked if I was taking a break; I said yes; I didn’t want to even put the thought of stopping in her head. But as they went through moving slowly, I questioned my decision. Then I estimated that I would be out there for three more hours and reconfirmed my desire to stop.

I guess it’s a mixed blessing to have a DNF occur to me. I feel like I learned a lot. I’ve read about other people’s experiences with a DNF and believed them, but couldn’t quite relate their experience to myself. Part of me thought I would always just keep walking. But a wise ultrarunner described his DNF experience saying that it was a race he wasn’t racing so he stopped. I understand that better now. When I contemplated continuing on for at least three more hours, my immediate reaction was NO EFFING WAY! Why would I want to keep going for three hours when I already feel like I lost the race?

Plus I thought that I would do more damage to my body than finishing would be worth. Not training enough was definitely a big problem, so while I was running I kept thinking  of training runs to do in the next few days. My logic was: I need to start training better immediately. If I continue running, I will be too sore to train for a week. Being too beat up to train is counter to my desire to start training more. If I stop, I will be able to train this week.

The distance I ran (18.6 miles) is certainly not a distance to sneeze at. It sucks to have DNF’d but I have learned multiple things from this experience. Hopefully the main takeaway is how much I love arriving at a race knowing I trained properly.

(I did manage to going running a few times in the week after the race)

*DNF means Did Not Finish

Finding Motivation

Last year when I ran the 20in24 I was in shape for sure. I was running many miles per week, I was lifting regularly, I was playing Ultimate every week. Then I feel like I just stopped. I thought I was taking a training break, but it spiraled into months of not training, taking me to now.

I guess I haven’t dropped the ball completely. Since the 20in24 I ran 5 official races. I do exercise regularly; mostly walking but I have been going to the gym at least once a week and running at least once a week over the winter. I think I’ve averaged 6-7 hours of exercise a week since the marathon in November, and that is apparently a lot compared to the rest of America.

But I feel disappointed in myself.

know how to train. I just stopped taking myself seriously.

Being in shape and eating right are things we have to remind ourselves every day that we want them. It’s just so easy to forget how good that workout will make you feel when you’ve worked a 10 hour day, or commuted 2 hours round-trip in the car. It’s easy to put off the morning run and say the evening will be good for working out, only to realize you have to cook and do laundry and by the time you remember you were going to go running, you are in your pajamas in bed.

So how do we combat this?

How can we remind ourselves of what we are capable?

Three things I do to help are to play team sports, run races, and track my workouts (and sometimes my eating).

What happened to me this winter is that I didn’t have time to do my regular Ultimate league and I stopped writing down my daily and weekly progress for exercise. With only racing to motivate me, I seriously fell off the wagon.

So it’s a lesson; using only one of the three solutions is not enough for me.

I’ve started tracking my progress again. And I have a 31 mile race coming up (which is much further than the other races I’ve run since the Philadelphia Marathon). I’m on the upswing! But I’m not there yet.

Categories: motivation, training