Couch to 5K, Week 7, I don’t know what day I’m on.

All three days of Week 7 of the C25K are 25 minute runs. Today I surprised myself a little bit and ran the whole 25 minutes! It wasn’t really a surprise though – I planned for today to be a slow run, but part of me thought it would be a good time to try to run the C25K run that has been eluding me. That sneaky part of me (my heart, I guess?) tried to keep it a secret from my brain and my legs so they wouldn’t ruin the whole thing again. Third time’s the charm! I also avoided checking my watch and driving myself crazy doing the math of “how many minutes of pain are left?”

My first 20 minutes were so criminally slow, it sort of felt like cheating. When I hit about 21 minutes, I knew I’d make it, so I brought the speed up a little bit for sort of a “mild sprint” to the end. Altogether, I ran 1.42 miles, and I think this marks a milestone of the longest distance I have ever run without any walking. (yay #1!) My average speed, according to Garmin, was 3.4 miles per hour. My average speed on a regular run (normal pace + walks) is about 3.5 miles per hour, so considering this was a tougher than normal run, that pace is pretty awesome. (yay #2!) And now for my last trick – my breathing was back to normal within about two minutes! (yay #3!) I have always been out of breath for a long time after any kind of exertion. It used to take me a long time to be able to talk normally, even after, like, climbing a flight of stairs. See, there are some benefits to this running thing.

I’m not always this positive about running, guys. Some days I’m all doom and gloom and fat and slow and sad, and those days, I avoid writing blogs mainly because I don’t want anyone to think they need to make me feel better about it. I want to journal this whole running experience, the disappointment and the worry and the happiness and the… well, the doom and gloom and fat and slow and sad. I know I will have good days as well as bad. Thanks to anyone who’s reading this, thanks for your encouragement when I’m down in the dumps and thanks for sharing in my triumphs.


Running in my Hometown

On Friday, after my purchasing test, I went to visit my parents (and do my laundry for free.) They live about an hour and a half away from me, so I don’t get to see them too often. It was slightly rainy, but not nearly bad enough to keep me from my run. I hung out with my mom and then headed over to a nearby neighborhood called Nalron Park. The roads are arranged in a square, it doesn’t get a lot of traffic, and it seemed pretty flat. SEEMED PRETTY FLAT <—– famous last words.

It was Couch to 5K day, so I aimed for 25 minutes. I didn’t allow myself to run slower than normal, so I had to take a few walk breaks, but it was still a satisfying, challenging run. In fact, I was sweating, which tells me that warmer weather is right around the corner (thank God). and yeah, there was an almost imperceptible downward slope heading into the neighborhood which became more noticeable when I started running up it to get out. Funny the things you notice when you’re running instead of driving. It gave me a good goal – I refused to walk until I made it to the top of the hill. Then I went back around the neighborhood and did it all over again. I also passed a herd of deer in someone’s yard, just standing there watching me run. I passed the same guy loading his truck in his driveway three times and then, later when he was driving by, he stopped and let me cross the road. The more I run, the friendlier people around me seem. The more we see each other, the more familiar we seem to be to each other, and the more we feel like we know each other. One day, I was running in the rain, and there were two kids with a basketball walking past me and one waved as he passed me. I’ve only seen them outside three or four times, and only while I was running, but we still recognized each other. There, that proves it: the more I run, the nicer other people get.

The Awesome Runner and the Blustery Day

I’ve been behind in blogging and reading blogs lately because I’ve been distracted by life. My final exam is tomorrow (by the time this gets posted, that will be yesterday) so I’ve been studying a lot, and we’ve been seeing friends and spending time away from the computer screen.

I’m still managing all my runs, maybe not as well as I was in the beginning if the year. I was sticking to a schedule of four runs per week + strength training. I pretty much quit doing and and all strength training for the past two weeks, but I think about new things to try all the time. (that makes up for it, right?) After my final tomorrow, I should have more free time, and if this weather would just cooperate! we’d be back in business.

It was cold and windy yesterday. I had a meeting after work but had some free time in between, so I went to a nearby canal for a run. running on the canal

Normally this place is hopping, but it was SO COLD AND WINDY yesterday that I was the only crazy one out there. It was speed interval day, and I wanted to add some hill running and footwork drills, but as you can see from the picture, it’s nice and flat. I found some stairs and a wheelchair ramp up to the canal from a parking lot, so I ran in circles around them for a bit. The wind was really kicking – I was pretty sure it might actually blow me into the water.  I ran into the wind out and had the wind at my heels on my way back to the car. It was kind of exhilarating… if you think of your eyes drying out when you think of exhilaration. You know what it’s like, your eyes tearing up and the tears drying against the corner of your eyes.. you know what I’m talking about!

So runners, specifically lady runners, or generally runners with long hair: how do you take care of your hair? I’ve got really thick hair, so if I wash it every day, it will honestly never fully dry, and I have to use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner because it’s also really dry. Running is not making my hair play nice – it is like, totally drying out my scalp. Although my hair has never been smooth and shiny, it has never felt so uncomfortably dry and damaged. I shower after my runs, but I alternate washing my hair with the shampoo and conditioner, just sort of rinsing it, or not washing it at all. Maybe I need to switch to a new type of shampoo/conditioner? Maybe I just need a haircut


Weekend Walking in the City

On Saturday morning my husband and I woke up bright and early and caught a train into New York City to visit his sister and her husband. The train ride in felt quick and she met us at Penn Station. From there we walked past the Empire State Building; a trip to the top now costs $27. Yikes. So we kept on walking… and caught a train to Bryant Park and walked to the site where the Twin Towers once stood. I wanted to see the 9/11 memorial, but it appears that you have to sign up in advance for the passes to enter. It was strange being there in that spot, with all of the emotion and feelings attached to it.. and being completely surrounded by tourists. We visited St. Paul’s Church, the oldest open public building, or so the sign said. It’s in the middle of this small, ancient cemetery. Really neat, but apparently they have a gift shop… not exactly a fan of people trying to make a dime off of tragedy. Visited Trinity Church as well, which was beautiful. Then we walked to the seaport for lunch. All in all it was quite a bit of walking. I mean like, four or five hours worth of walking and standing. Totally makes up for not going on my long run this weekend.

It was an awesome trip, and today after work I was set to hit the road and run after work, but could just not find the motivation. Maybe I was still tired from all the walking over the weekend. Today was Couch to 5K,  Week 7, Day 1, a 25 minute run. My GPS watch timed me for 25 minutes, but not all of it was running! I was hitting some kind of mental block today. Whenever I thought about my foot hurting or the fact that I was tired, my body literally stopped running for me. Slowed right to a walk. In my head, I’m like, “Sarah, why are you stopping? You can do it!” Apparently my body thought otherwise! It was still a good run. I really need to stretch my feet better throughout the week and invest in some kind of insole for my shoe because my foot is still giving me trouble. Tried to push myself past my normal limits, past the point of quitting, and I know that every step I take is a step in the direction I want to go in, so we’re counting this as a win. I wish I wasn’t so tired when I got home though. I get home and take a shower (or really long bath) and then I’m like, totally ready for bed. I’m glad I don’t have anything else on my list of things to do tonight beyond repainting my nails. You runners with kids, I don’t know how you do it. I’m quite impressed.

I’ve been using MyFitnessPal to track my meals as best as I can. Sometimes it’s hard to calculate the calories in a recipe, and sometimes they don’t have the exact food I ate in their calorie banks, so it either becomes a guessing game or an investigation. I have come in way under the recommended calorie intake for like, a week straight, and still have gained three and a half pounds. In a week. Whatever. It’s a useful tool to really get an idea of the calories in some of the foods we eat, but there’s no way it can be perfectly attuned to my actual body, metabolism, etc. It’s more what you’d call guidelines, I guess. Like the pirate’s code. So my next run coming up is Intervals! Why do I love them so much? They hurt so good.

Speed Intervals at Duke Island Park

Today was another beautiful Friday in New Jersey – Thank God it’s getting warmer! I had purchasing class today and was up until 2 AM last night trying to read the section we were going to discuss for today’s class. Our final exam is next week, and I’m not too worried about… which worries me.

After class I changed into my running gear and went to the park. There were a few people here and there enjoying the warmer weather. Today I was running (drumroll, please!) speed intervals!!! I am focusing on making the faster parts more intense and making sure I get a fair amount of rest between speedy times.

I am always in search of new recommendations for speed runs and today I read about strides. Start at whatever pace,and then increase your pace slowly until you’re running full out, then slow back down slowly and gracefully until you’re back at normal pace. I was seriously antsy all through class because I was so excited to run these intervals. It honestly sounded like fun. (when I say stuff like that, I think of myself five years ago and wonder what has taken over my brain.)

and it actually was fun. To prevent dramatic stop-short slowdown after the fast bits (like the tires screeching when you slam on the brakes), I decided to aim for level paces instead of one big gradual increase. I started out walking, then picked up the pace a little and kept the same faster pace for a few strides, then amp it up again and run that even faster pace for a few strides until I was sprinting. So when I was coming back down the other side, I forced myself to keep running and decrease bit by bit instead of just stopping short and walking. It worked. It was super tiring, but I ran a mile that way in about 15 1/2 minutes. (and I didn’t get passed by any fast walking ladies this time!) So, I can run a mile in (about) fifteen minutes, but only when I’m running speed intervals… on all my longer runs, I don’t hit the mile until about 17 minutes. Hmm. My theory is that adding focus and intensity to my speed training sessions will help my pace overall. and I need to do more strength training, because that’s been lacking a lot lately. Gotta build up that muscle.

Husband & I are visiting his sister in New York over the weekend, and we are traveling by train. I’m not sure I want to lug my gym bag all around the city, so I may not be able to run tomorrow, and will surely not be watching my caloric intake. We should be doing a fair amount of walking which should make up for some it that, and I’ll also be learning to play Dungeons & Dragons! My next C25K run might have to wait til Sunday.

Couch to 5K, Week 6 – all done!

I was planning to run the day after my slow recovery run. I try to mix up the runs so I don’t do the same thing twice in a row – intervals and higher intensity runs are once a week, just like long runs. I round out the week with a few runs of whatever is next in the Couch to 5K. I had already done the speed intervals earlier in the week so it was time for another C25K run – 22 minutes, no walking. so… another long, slow run. So much for mixing it up!

I didn’t do the whole five minute warmup walk – I totally forgot. I was walking around, waiting for my GPS watch to find me in the world, and then it chirped that it was ready! and I was so excited that I hit start and ran. So around minute 11 when the bottom of my foot started to hurt, I figured my poor warmup might be to blame… also I’ve sort of fallen behind with my foot stretches. I paused for a little bit to stretch and then picked it up again. I’m surprised at how easy the run was overall. I ran at a comfortably hard pace – a little faster than my normal “slow run” pace, so it didn’t seem too easy at the time but within a few minutes of finishing, I had my breath back and my legs weren’t sore.  According to my GPS watch, my pace was similar to other Couch to 5K runs. Well, this is good news at least – I can keep up my normal pace on a longer run.

I think I’m going to start going out for much longer runs soon – I am looking forward to coming home and saying, “I ran three miles today!”. Having warmer weather won’t hurt, either! The rest of the C25K is all long runs, and I admit that I will miss the running/walking a little. I’ll probably be done with the whole thing before May . Oh dear, what will I do then?

and on the nutrition front: I’ve been using the MyFitnessPal app for iPhone, and I like it much better than the computer version. It’s so much faster and I like that it can add your food just by taking a picture of the UPC code. It’s been sort of helping me figure out my meals this week. It’s a little scary to realize how many calories are in some of our meals – like, we think we’re doing so good but when I actually calculate it… yikes! At the suggestion of a friend, I tried Yoplait Greek yogurt and am totally hooked.  I’m trying to eat salad and drink water every day sort of as diet filler but it’s taking some getting used to. Another friend suggested meals based on lima beans… sorry, but I don’t think I can go that far. When I was a kid, my parents never made me eat any vegetables that they didn’t like, so I was never forced to eat lima beans. (Thanks, Mom!)

So what’s your favorite veggie? For me, it’s green beans – I could seriously eat them with dinner every night.  Least favorite veggie? Out of the ones I’ll actually eat, it’s broccoli. Broccoli and me, we’re working on our relationship, but it’s not easy.