Finally Starting to Feel Better

I am pleased to report that I am feeling much better right now. My cold had progressed into some sort of sinus infection, and then onto headache and body aches. I kept attacking it with medicine, sleep, and water, and they have seemed to knock it down a bit. I went into work today feeling terrible, but I absolutely had to get something done. My co-workers kept telling me to go home, so finally I caved and took their good advice. My husband was really sweet and brought me all sorts of get-better goodies when he got home – he gave me a neck massage which I think really did the trick. 

Feeling better and craving some exercise, I pulled out our stationary bike and biked 15 miles. I can tell I’ve lost some weight from running because I am more comfortable on the bike than I used to be. Seriously, fifteen miles? I almost couldn’t believe it. I can’t wait for warm weather when I can actually get on a real bike and ride with the wind whipping in my hair!

I also did some upper body strength work with adjustable dumbbells. I have absolutely no upper body strength. Like, none. I can barely do a pushup. I’d love to be able to do a pull-up one day. So, I’ve been trying to figure out – should I add more weight to the dumbbell and just do as many reps as I can, or should I leave them lighter and just do a bunch of easier reps? I’ve been reading that one way adds more bulk, while the other adds more strength, but honestly, some of the articles I’ve read don’t quite seem to agree on which way does what. I added 5 pounds to each dumbbell….well, they claim to be 5 pounds, but they are definitely heavier than that. Those weights are liars. A gallon of milk is lighter, and those suckers weigh like, 8 pounds.

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Sick as a Dog

What in the world does that even mean? I did some research and although the phrase dates back to the early 1700’s, there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer. All I learned was that it might have something to do with the fact that since dogs are domesticated and they’ll eat just about anything, they are one of the only other animals that we see get sick in the same way that we do. I also learned that “being sick” has slightly different connotations depending on whether you’re in the US or the UK, and that horses don’t vomit.

My cold has gotten progressively worse since Friday. I made it to work yesterday and managed to stay the whole day, but it just wasn’t happening today. At least half the people in my office are sick! I haven’t even bothered to try to run because I’ve been so exhausted and the weather’s getting cold again – apparently winter’s not ready to let go of us just yet.

So my cold is working it’s way up into my face. Sinuses all stuffed up. My head feels sort of like the Cheshire Cat – not all there. I find that the longer I manage to stay sitting up or on my feet, the less I feel like my head is being squashed in a vice. I’ve been taking tons of naps and finding myself really dehydrated when I wake up, so my mission today is just to drink liquids. I feel so guilty about skipping runs, but it’s probably just better to take it easy. I’m actually going to go do some yoga, I think it will help me relax.

Slow Run Saturday, Thanks for the Cold

My husband is really too generous. He gave me his cold. He’d been fighting off his cold since last Saturday, and the following Friday, when I woke up with a sore throat, I knew my time had come.

I took off work on Friday because my theory is, at the first hint of sickness, cut it off at the pass! Drown it in vitamin C and ginger ale and cough drops! Well, it didn’t really work, but I’m too stubborn to admit defeat, so I went along with life pretending that nothing was wrong.

My slow recovery run was scheduled for Saturday, so I geared up and hit the road. The weather was BEAUTIFUL. I went to Veteran’s Park to take advantage of both the paved pathways and the fact that it’s a large park with several trails, so I could really maybe run more than a mile and a half.

The running as a warm up experiment: So I tried to start off today with a simple jog. There’s a pretty straight quarter mile from the parking lot to the woods, so I alternated jogging and walking out to the first marker and then back to the starting point. After I got back, I took a couple minutes to stretch before starting up my regular run. I learned two things. 1) I don’t really have a “jog” pace. When I tried to jog for my warm-up, I realized I was just running the slow version of my regular run pace. The next gear down on my legs is brisk walking. When I started my actual run, I could feel that I had already exerted 1/2 mile’s worth of my workout energy, which leads me to think that 2) maybe I should just do the brisk walk for my warm-up, with no running or jogging. The whole point is just to warm up my muscles and get them ready to run, right?

The run itself: Running is kind of hard when your lungs aren’t at their most efficient. The fresh air was good for me, but I am still getting over this cold. I had to take lots of walk breaks for puddles, downed branches, one very icy patch which nearly took me out twice, and to catch my breath. On the positive side, my legs weren’t sore, although I guess I could say they didn’t get much of a workout. My foot started falling asleep during the running portions of my run at about a mile and a half, but it wasn’t as uncomfortable as it has been. 2.64 miles, 47 minutes. I was almost nervous to write that, because I don’t want people to know how much of a slowpoke I really am… Yes, I am a slowpoke, but I am also really proud that I went out for a run and netted more than a mile and a half.

 

Couch to 5K, Week 5, Day 2

On Thursday, I ran Day 2 of the fifth week of the Couch to 5K. This week is when the time intervals start getting longer, and I was a little intimidated by the longer runs. Day 2 starts with a five minute warmup, then an eight minute run, a five minute walk, and you finish off with an eight minute run. It doesn’t look that bad, right? Yeah.

I considered doing Day 1 again because I wasn’t sure I was ready for these longer runs, but something deep down inside me said, “just do it.” I’m not sure if that inner voice is really positive or really sadistic.

I started out my warmup with some brisk walking and jogging, still giving that running as a warmup thing a try. It took a couple of minutes for my GPS watch to find me, so my warmup kept going and going and going – I’m not sure how far I went, so unfortunately, I couldn’t count it as part of my mileage for the day. FINALLY the stupid watch beeped. Ok, I can stop running now… and start my run.

I did a three minute warmup walk because I had already been warming up for an undetermined amount of time and I was antsy to start running. First eight minute interval – about two minutes in, my thighs were ON FIRE. and I still have six minutes left of this? This isn’t normal… is it too soon in my warmup experiment to determine that running/jogging sucks too much energy out of me? By the grace of God and my own sheer stubbornness, I made it to eight minutes, and thus began the happiest five minutes of my life. While I walked my five minute walk of relief and happiness, I wondered if I should just run for six minutes instead of eight, and then try again another day to see Day 2 completely to the end. I was dodging lots of puddles and changing my route to avoid the really deep ones, and wound up walking along the street. At about four minutes, thirty seconds, my husband drove by, honking the horn and yelling, “hey, sexy!” Come on now… the neighbors are looking! Blushing half from embarrassment and half from gratitude, I realized I was coming up to the end of my five minute walk, and my legs didn’t hurt anymore. Ok, we’ll do the eight minute run.

This time I tried to pay attention to leaning forward from my ankles – my thighs didn’t hurt so much, but my glutes sure felt the change. I made it all the way to the end of eight minutes, passing the two kids standing in the MIDDLE OF THE SIDEWALK for the third time (seriously, you see me coming, just move out of the way), and also passing my neighbor standing with his front door open so he could smoke (at this point, my huffing and puffing was hitting its peak and I got a nice lungful of second-hand smoke… thanks!).

Kind of can’t believe I did it… Day 3 has a twenty minute run. I’ve never ever run for that long, not even during a 5K. Will I make it? We shall see.

Thoughts on Warming Up

Recently I read a blog in which someone was describing their warm up routine, and it consisted of running. Just running. Their warm up for their workout, which was running, was also running. I know I’ve heard that some easy running is recommended along with dynamic movements just to get your muscles warmed up and your legs ready to run. Some people actually run over a mile as their warm up. This blows my mind a little.

I’ve been running for months but personally my ability level is still very basic. I mean, I know how to run and everything. Warming up to the idea of a warm up took some time though – I used to just start running right out of the gate. It only took a couple of minutes for my legs to feel like they knew what they were doing, so I didn’t think I needed any warming up. Or, I did some long stretches, which I have heard from different sources as being bad for you AND good for you before a run.

Since then, I’ve sort of figured out a warm up routine tailored specifically for me that makes me feel good. Jumping jacks, soldier kicks, lunges and other various hopping around activities seem to work for me. I occasionally jog in place or back and forth a little bit before stretching. Something I found that has been really important for me are long stretches for my legs, especially for my hamstrings, calves & feet. If I don’t do the stretches before running on a treadmill, my legs get really tight really fast. I do them even when I’m running outside, because it’s really good for my plantar fasciitis – I’ve had very little trouble since instituting daily, pre- & post-run stretches. So basically, lots of stretching for me. Related to stretching, it’s always sort of been a secret desire of mine to be a contortionist. Every stretch is a step closer to my goal.

One thing I have never done for a warm up is running – like, a serious run like those people running a mile or two before their actual run. I consider a mile a serious run, like… that mile is my workout. That’s it! That’s all I can muster. I need to preserve as much energy as possible for the actual run, right? I think I have a running limit. When I hit thirty minutes or about two miles, I’m kind of toast. I don’t have the strength or endurance to go much farther at this point. Worked my way up from only being able to run a quarter mile (barely). So thinking about running in addition to my regular run is kind of overwhelming. I took it to my running friends and was told that, yes, running is a good warmup, but if I’m not ready for that kind of thing, a short jog would do fine.

So I’m making a little “experiment” out of this. I’m going to try jogging for between three – five minutes before I start the timer on my watch for my actual runs for a couple of weeks and see how I feel. See if there’s any change for better or worse. Last night, I did a fartlek workout, and did about a two minute jog before I officially started my run. I kind of felt exhausted once I got to like a mile and a quarter. But that might also have been from the handful of doughnut holes I ate like, right before my run.

I think in the long run (ha, the long run… get it?) the kind of warm up you do is what works best for you. Some people don’t like or need stretches, and some people don’t want a warm up at all. I’m going to see if warming up with a job is my thing. It might not be right for me at my current ability level.

Couch to 5K, Week 5, Day 1

This five minute blog thing will never work out! Already on my first day, I’ve wasted two minutes already doing research on something I want to write about and talking to my husband. We’ll have to come to a compromise on this…

So I finished the fourth week of the C25K last week and didn’t really feel like I’d finished the week off strong. Not enough walking time between the longer runs for me, I think – just knowing I only had a minute and a half to cool down before I had to run for five minutes was kind of stressful. I was going to do that week over again, which they recommend if you don’t feel prepared to move on, but I checked out week five, and it seemed way more doable than week four, so I steamed ahead. Actually, I didn’t so much steam ahead as I was pushed out the door by my husband – I had been laying on the couch under a really warm blanket and has absolutely no motivation on Sunday. 

Really great songs on my playlist, really cold weather – my fingers started to freeze during the five minute warm-up walk, but I made it through the run fine. 

Ack! I’m writing a six minute blog now!

I have been reading other blogs about the C25K, and is there only one plan? It seems that some people are talking about run/walk intervals that I’m not seeing on my chart.

8 minute blog! Not bad. 

 

When You Can’t Find the Words

My husband has told me I am spending too much time online.

About 15% of the time I spend starting at my computer screen is what I would consider unnecessary – reading about celebrities and drama or cute kittens and puppies, stuff that really doesn’t matter to me in the long run. Wait, who am I kidding? Cute kittens and puppies always matter. Drama, not so much. I should leave that to TNT.

The rest of my online time breaks down like this:

Scrolling through Facebook & Twitter timelines to see what’s going on in the lives of people I don’t talk to regularly & sharing my witty observations with the world, or gently stalking cool people I don’t actually know & trying to figure out how to comment so they’ll think I’m cool too: 15%.

Awesome Stuff: Youtube vlogs, Vlogbrothers, Tumblr, learning interesting things about science & culture, reading articles by people who are saying important cultural and economic things: 20%.

Half my time is spent doing something running-related. Probably more than half my time, actually. When I get back from a run, I immediately load up the info from my Forerunner and then spend a lot of time analyzing and wondering why I’m not faster and why I can’t run for longer than half an hour without really bringing my average speed way down, and thinking that maybe it’s because I get bored too quickly running in circles at my apartment complex or maybe I’m not training right or maybe I’m training too much or not enough, but wait, there’s kind of been some progress since I started tracking everything, MAYBE IF I SQUINT, so I shouldn’t feel too bad because at least the miles are piling up. Lots of analysis. and maybe a little self doubt. And then I go straight to the blogosphere to catch up on what other people are doing and be in awe of their abilities and then feel a little bad for not being able to run faster or longer and then I say, “Screw that, I’m awesome.” and then I go to write a blog while my run is still fresh in my mind, my mind which is clearer thanks to my run.

Then I sit there.

and stare at the screen.

The New Post page with the empty white box.

My head is bombarded with thousands of words and feelings, and I spend the majority of my internet time trying to filter through all the words and put them in some kind of order that makes sense while trying to ignore the distractions of TV and noise and people trying to talk to me and the rage I feel when the phone rings and concentration is ripped away from me. The words I want are floating just above me, and I don’t know why it’s so hard to pin down the right ones.

So my husband, feeling ignored, has challenged me to write a five minute blog every day. It usually takes me over an hour to write, research, erase, rewrite, & publish what amounts to less than one 8 1/2″ x 11″ page of blog, which is kind of crazy, because I’m not here to win any awards.

Discounting this post (which took me over two hours to write), let’s try this five minute blog thing.