Friday, February 24, 2012

Weight Loss and Distance Running

If you've been around the running blogosphere for a bit, you've undoubtedly come across posts from various awesome runners on weight gain during long distance running training. It's common to gain a few pounds during peak time as you're fueling your body more to keep it going etc etc. However, there are also some great weight loss stories. See: Vanessa or Erin or Marlene.

Long distance running isn't exactly the best or fastest way to lose weight. Last year, while training for my first two halves, I maintained weight, or gained a few pounds here or there. But, let's get real. 1. I could stand to lose a few or twenty pounds. 2. Eating well is NOT my forte.

I have been trying over the past year or so to make healthier choices. Some times it works, some times not so much. Eggs for breakfast have become a regular staple - as opposed to no breakfast, or an over-sized delicious bagel from the spot next to work. Almond milk has also made an increased appearance. I jumped on that apple with PB train for a snack and am loving the shit out of it. However, things that haven't worn out their welcome as much as they need to: Pizza, Beer. I try to make healthy choices about 3 weeks of the month. Yes, that's a PMS reference, sorry boys. But I am, very admittedly, a sucky eater. I often eat like crap, and I don't often feel bad about it. I guess it's because with running, I eat this shit and don't gain weight - but I don't loose it either.

I also try not to obsess about the number on the scale. Every time I do that, my mental game devolves and I end up eating a chocolate cake or a pizza or a bottle of wine. So, realizing that focusing on weight was self-destructive, I changed my game to focus on fitness. Let's analyze the number of plates on the bar, or the miles I've run instead of the number on the scale.

I still weigh myself once, sometimes twice a week. Sometimes I forget all together. Also, I cheat. How does one cheat the scale? I weigh myself after my long run each week. DON'T JUDGE ME. I know, I'm likely dehydrated etc etc, but it's just sort of general measure of how much it changed from one week to the next. And it's not like I come home from a brutal 10miler and immediately jump on the scale. There's usually a liter of water and a large glass of chocolate almond milk in there first! Remember, the scale isn't the top priority.

There are other ways to measure weight loss than just the scale, too. For example, how your clothes fit. A few weeks ago, post menstrual cycle (again, sorry guys) I randomly lost 4 pounds. I wrote it off as no longer being a huge bloated miserable bitch and went about my day. However, the next week, the scale was the same. WHAAAAT? and then it was lower. oh shit. Yesterday, without realizing it I had cinched my belt in one notch further. Today, all my usual jeans were dirty so I dug through my drawers on a quest to do an experiement regarding jean size that I hoped would work or "dress-down Friday" would be totally lost on me this week. IT'S MY FAVORITE DAY! Anyway, I'm down a jean size. BOOM.

This weightloss is totally unexpected. I'm not "trying" to loose weight, I'm training for a half marathon. I know the two can go hand in hand, and I'd love them to, but they didn't last year, so what gives?

Have I been eating better? Maybe marginally, some days. Certainly not this week. I devoured a 10 oz bag of pretzel m&ms in two days. I shared.... 3 with my coworker, and I dropped one in my car, somewhere. I ate a buncha pizza this week. I don't think I've prepared myself a green vegetable since Sunday. (the blog is about honesty, right? At least I was a bit embarrased by that last one.)
I have been increasing the intensity - I am working out more like 6 days a week, as compared to last year's 4 days, maaayyybe 5.

I'm running faster, I'm doing yoga, I'm being more consistent.

But, I think the real clincher is - weight lifting. I know it's one of those things most runners don't care for, and I let it slide a lot last year when I started training for longer distances. But, admittedly, I like doing it. Even if I'm super self-conscious doing it at the gym. I love the burn. I love that sore feeling. I love feeling strong. Most running plans encourage strength training, but in a way that I think is kind of wussy. I'm not going to go to the gym and pick up some five pound dumbbells and swing them around for 20-30 reps. Lame. I'm going heavy. Now, not as heavy as I would've gone when I wasn't running - especially when I'm doing legs. But, I want it to hurt. I want my arms/legs/body to shake as I try to get a 10th or 12th rep in on my third set. I want to be pushing myself. 

This might be contrary to what most runners are told. And you should really be patient with it, consistent with it and don't be a frigging idiot and over do it (guilty, on the regular). (You should also probably get advice from more places that this lowely amature's blog, don't be a moron.) The prize here is still a half/full marathon finish. But, this is working folks. It's working well, and it's working fast.

Try it or don't. But, I'm wearing pants right now that I haven't worn in two years, and my beloved weightlifting is going to get some of the credit.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mother Nature is a Real A-Hole Sometimes

Admittedly, we’ve had a very mild winter here in the northeast. Ideal for runners who aren’t having TM love affairs. However, now that I did a long run outside, I’ve realized I need to do more of them. Yet, mother nature is seriously effing with me. 50s during the week, 30s and stormy on the weekend. This has been the prediction (well maybe not 50s until this week, but still – general trend) for the last few weeks. This weekend I’ve got 10 miles on the schedule and it’s supposed to be 30s and snow/rain both days. I don’t mind running in rain, or snow. but snow/rain. EFF THAT. ew. However, I’m not sure even my TM love can hold up for 10 miles. UGH.

This past weekend I moved things around because Saturday was supposed to be the nicer of the two days, but instead it was nice both days. So no real loss there. Still, I don’t really like being played with.

So last week’s recap – sorry it’s late the long weekend kind of threw me off regarding updating, and then I had today off too to get my back manipulated. and it feels terrific!

Monday Feb 13: Stretch and Strength / 2 miles walk

Tuesday Feb 14: 4.5 miles / 4.5 @ 10:19

Wednesday Feb 15: 8x400 / rest

Thursday Feb 16: 3 miles + strength / Plank 1:15

Friday Feb 17: rest / 4 @ 10:10; Plank 1:00

Sat Feb 18: 4 Miles pace / 9 @ 11:27 outside!; Plank 1:03

Sun Feb 19: 9 Miles / 30 mins yoga; 4 @ 10:29

Total Miles: 21.5

Average Plank: 1:06


So, you may see some suckage mid-week. I got a quick head cold. I did stuff right and took vitamin C, drank lots of fluids etc etc and was able to knock it out pretty quickly. It was accompanied with some not good sleep though, which was the real reason for the rest. In fact, Wednesday I just straight up slept through my alarm. My body needed it, apparently.

Sunday night this week was also accompanied with some MAJOR sleep issues, so I took an unscheduled rest day yesterday. But I figure I’ll just replace Friday’s regular rest with some xtraining.

Not too bad, in the end I only really missed one total run – which was speed. And while speedwork is generally considered a key workout, being pre-manipulation and centered squarely on left hip pinchiness/back pain, I’m not gonna consider it much of a loss and speed work really effs with both of those. In the grand scheme of things, I think I’ll be fine. I still got in over 20 miles this week, which is important!

As far as planking goes – no excuse. I even got called out by the plank police on twitter. wah.

Ah well, new week, new runs! let’s get it in!!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Recovery Socks make everything better

Honestly. They are the key to life.

If you’re not using compression socks to recover from long runs, I contend that you are missing out on one of life’s great wonders. You slip those babies on and your legs are just all snuggled up in their tight, compression-y-ness. Perfection.

Today I did my first outdoor long run in a long time. You may be thinking to yourself: “why, Jen? it’s been such a mild winter in the northeast!”

Ya, I know. I’ve been having a love affair with the treadmill. Yes, I know races are outside, and the first two halves I’m doing are pretty dang hilly. But, seriously, back off. I heart the TM lately, and I really don’t want to upset her. She’s been so good to me! Oh, you didn’t know treadmills were girls?

Today’s 9 miler was pretty painful. Hills, cold air, having to rely solely on my legs to propel my body forward. Yea, it was rough. But, despite the fact that I was dragging ass and ended up going much slower than I hoped, I loved it. I just freaking loved it.

I considered it a strength building run. First one outside in a while, was bound to be a bit rough. But that sweet sunshine can really boost anyone’s spirits. Even if old dudes are buzzing by you on the sidewalk.

Happy weekend, all! get your runs in Smile

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Big Announcement(s)


Ok, I was gonna wait till mid-week to write this, but all decisions are made. This is going to happen.

Getting over fears part 1:

Fears: growing up, giving up all the awe and idealism that comes with being a student, being super pretentious, being able to actually apply for that PhD I want (funds allowing).

What’s happening: I’ve been sitting on the completion of a second masters for… uh … like two years. I have one in History (I mean, that’s the one I really wanted). But, I have a second pending in Public Policy. All I have to do is finish the thesis I’m 2/3 done with. Really, there’s 0 reason for me to be slacking like this. So, I met with some people at the school, and I’m gonna finish it – by May. done and done.

Getting over fears part 2:

Fears: physical challenge, not being able to, self doubt, lack of self worth, failure, failure, failure.

What’s happening: I’m going to run a marathon. This year. My year goals started with 4 half marathons. I was putting off the inevitable. I knew it. I’ve poked at the idea on facebook and twitter, and gotten a ton of positive, encouraging, and supportive feedback.

October 7, 2012 – Hudson Mohawk Marathon – here I come!

I’ve been renewed with a sense of confidence and validation. I’m going to be 30 this year folks. I’ve got two choices – to wallow in the fact that I’m not where I thought I’d be (from the perspective of 20 year old me, hah she was naive), or to embrace the fact that I’m young, healthy and free. There’s a whole world of opportunity before me, the only thing standing in my way is me.

Welcome to my third decade. I’m gonna step it up. Stop being so angry, stop being so scared, stop being so defensive, and live this life while I’ve got it.


Maybe I’ll give up a few other fears along the way….. <3

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Aches, Pains, and a Teaser


This was a much needed cutback week. I’m having all sorts of left leg issues this cycle. I’m blaming it all on my back being out of whack. I’m due for a manipulation on the 21st and I can NOT wait. Over the years I’ve become very aware of the alignment of my back and hips, and I can feel that left side of the pelvis rolling forward and its just throwing everything off.

Anyway, I’ve had hip pain, and ITB pain, and shin pain, and knee pain and arch pain. All on the left side. annoying! I’ve been doing my best to foam roll, and stretch etc, but there’s only so much that I can do to mitigate things being out of whack. Next Tuesday can’t come soon enough!

Now, for the weekly recap….


Monday, Feb 6: Stretch and Strength / 35 min lifting (back and shoulders, heavy); Plank 1:30 (longest to date!)

Tuesday, Feb 7: 4 miles / 4 @ 10:17

Wednesday, Feb 8: 40 min tempo  / 4 @ 10:04 with 20 mins at 9:30

Thursday, Feb 9: 3 miles and strength / 45 mins legs; plank 1:20; I took off running this day due to arch pain that was getting nasty. it was a good choice

Friday, Feb 10: rest / rest

Saturday, Feb 11: easy / 3.1 @ 10:00 – fastest pace of the week, but after two days off running, it felt super easy.

Sunday, Feb 12: 10K / 6.2 @ 10:33 – rough run, but still faster than race pace! woot! Plank 1:23

Total miles: 17.3

Average Plank: 1:24

In other awesome news, on Saturday I hit my 100th mile for the year! yay! I’m making great progress towards my 1000 miles for the year goal Smile


A couple of weeks ago, a conversation with a friend turned to the topic of letting go of fears, taking advantage of life and live it, not letting negative past experiences influence experiencing the present, or the promise of the future. Well, he didn’t say all these things verbatim, or in one conversation. But needless to say, his positivity has gotten in my head.

This week brought about some opportunities for me to take some chances to leave fears behind, go after something bigger. To stop being scared. It’s either now or never. There’s no reason to wait.

What am I doing? You might know, or have an idea – but for the official confirmation, you’ll have to stay tuned!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Smooth Sailing

That’s how I feel about training so far this cycle. I’ve stayed on point with lifting, I’ve hit all my workouts and I’ve been feeling good. A few aches and pains, but I’ve also been conscious about recovery, yoga, and foam rolling. I think I’m on a great path!

Here’s how the last week looked

what the plan said / what I did

Monday Jan 30: Stretch and Strength / 25 mins weights (chest/tris/shoulders); elliptical 30 mins; plank 1:20

Tuesday Jan 31: 4 miles / 4 @ 10:21; plank 1:20

Wednesday Feb 1: 7x400 / 3.51 @ 10:20 av. 3x400 @ 8:12, 3x400 @ 8:06, 1x400 @ 8:00

Thursday Feb 2: 3 miles + strength / 30 mins legs; 3 @ 10:31; plank 1:15

Friday Feb 3: rest / rest

Saturday Feb 4: 3 miles pace/ 3 @ 10:04

Sunday Feb 5: 8 miles / 8 @ 10:42

Total Miles: 21.51

Average Plank: 1:17

I think I did yoga one of those days too, but I forgot to write it down.


Additionally, here’s how January shaped up:

Total Miles: 72.77

Average Plank: 1:12

Longest Plank: 1:25


And a sneak preview into what-just-happened: I held a plank for 1:30 tonight! Then did 10 full sized push-ups in a row! I noticed some improvements lifting today too! Love seeing results.

2012 is decidedly off to a great start!