Monday, January 23, 2012

Why I run

So race day is less than 2 months away! Hard to believe that February is just around the corner. When signing up for this race, March seemed so far away, but it will be here so soon.
As I progress deeper into my training and really have to push myself to make it through every workout, I often find myself thinking, “Why am I doing this?”
As I mentioned in my first half marathon recap, I have never been a runner and certainly don’t proclaim to be one now. I would probably best characterize myself as a “wannabe athlete.” I was the kid that skipped gym class so I could spend more time in the classroom. When it came to picking teams for group sports, I was only asked to be on the team because I was nice and could smile my way into making someone feel sorry for me! But I gave everything a try. I was on the basketball team, volleyball team and tennis. Nothing stuck past one or two seasons and as I got older I accepted that playing sports was just not part of my life. So instead of fretting about what I couldn’t do, I focused my energy on what I could do and found that despite not being athletically gifted, I do have determination and it is that quality that has seen me through life.
While I credit my determination to most of my success in life, there are so many things in life that you can’t control. So for me, running has become the one thing in life that I CAN control. Of course, my body fights me and I deal with injuries, but there is something liberating about lacing up my shoes and going out for a run.  While my athletic abilities are lacking, I have been told I “shuffle” rather than actually run, and probably get passed by more runners that I care to count, running makes me feel stronger.  I can run really hard during an interval workout and end knowing that I gave it everything I had or I can run, long and slow and know that I pushed my body as far as I could. Of course, it never fails that in the first two minutes of any workout, I curse myself about how much I hate to run and tell myself that after this race, I will never run again. Thankfully, I finish my workout and see each run as an accomplishment and contribution to my health and wellness and it doesn’t hurt that I thrive off of the feeling of completing a hard workout.  
Now getting on the workout clothes and lacing up the shoes to get started is a whole another battle. Sometimes that blanket and couch look too welcoming! Another discussion for another post!
So while I will probably never run in the Olympic Games or even finish at the top of my age group in my first marathon, running works for me because I CAN do it.  I run because it is something only I can do for myself. I run because so many people can’t run and there may be a day when I can’t run. I run because it helps me forget just for a short time anything else that might be bothering me. I run because at one point in my life I couldn’t run down the block but now I am training for a marathon.   And who doesn’t like looking back at their calendar and basking in the glow of the number of races completed?! I do! I love it! Not to mention the occasional great t-shirt and stack of runner’s bibs that litter my office bulletin board. All signs of success and hard work!
And who knows?  I started with a half marathon and now training for a full! What is next? Triathlon? Ultra marathon? When you start small and continue to work at your goals, the only limits become the ones that you put on yourself.
 So on to the training! Week 2 of CrossFit Endurance training has begun today! Here is what my week will look like:

Yoga/Short Interval Training
Short Interval
CFSA and Tempo
Strength and Condition
Back squat and Box Jumps/Cleans +MetCon
Tabata Run. Treadmill set at 10-12% grade, 0-30 sec slower than 5k pace per mile, do not reduce speed
6x200m at a faster than 5k pace; rest so that each interval is +/-3 seconds
2 mile time trial and WOD
Strength and Condition
Long Metcon

What does all this mean?
WOD: Workout of the day
MetCon: Metabolic Conditioning
Tabata: 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise  followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated continuously for 4 minutes (8 cycles)
Looks like a fun week! Last week was the first time I did a yoga class during my training and I LOVED it! I didn’t realize how tight I was and all the stretching made any soreness go away!  I wish I could get more in! I am sure it would help tremendously! I
Donations continue to come! Thank you to the latest donors:
Erica Pereira
Pat Ochoa
Molly Smith
Thank you for your support! click here to donate! I am very close to reaching my 50% mark. Will your donation get me to 50%??!! Will it?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Endurance Article

I just came across this really good article on Runners World that does a much better job explaining the CrossFit Endurance method than I did!,7120,s6-238-263--14192-1-1X2X3-4,00.html

Check it out. The article also does a great job of explaining some of the core movements of Crossfit and types of interval training that I will be doing.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this approach to marathon training. As a beginner runner and this being my first time with marathon training, I am a bit nervous about this approach since I have never been on my feet for over 4 hours! But what I love about CFE is the focus on strength training, which is something I really need to avoid injury and prepare me for being on my feet for over 4 hours!

It shall be interesting! We'll see...

Monday, January 16, 2012

What marathon training teaches you...

Maybe it is the long hours that I spend alone during my long runs or the long minutes that I lay in my warm bed going through every excuse in my head of why I don't need to go out in 30 degree weather to run, but there is something about training for a marathon or I imagine any endurance event that really teaches you a lot about yourself and just life in general.

I went into this training knowing that that it would be hard and that I would be tested, so it comes at no surprise that in week 4 of my training, I have already hit a hurdle. 

In my last post I mentioned some knee issues, which unfortunately didn't go away after some ice and rest rather the knee pain would continue to come back during all my long runs. Like clock work, after mile 3 I would start to feel my knee tighten up and a slow ache start to run down my leg and by mile 5, I was struggling to even keep moving.  Needless to say, this hurdle has caused me great frustration and has set me back a few miles in my training plan. When you start something like marathon training and you have so much motivation and energy to log in the miles, an injury really dampens your spirit and causes you to pause and ask yourself "Is this really all worth it?"

Well, yes, of course it is worth it! Not because I want to cross a finish line and collect a finishers medal, but because I made a promise to myself that I would start this and end this by finishing a marathon.  If you can't keep a promise to yourself, who can you keep a promise to?

So away I went, icing the knee and doing my research about running and knee pain. There is a TON of information out there about "runners knee", which seems to describe my situation pretty accurately. Basically, along with the other typical running injuries for beginner runners, runners knee can happens when: 

  •  there is overuse and repeated bending of the knee that can irritate the nerves of the knee cap
  • direct trauma to the knee
  • misalignment of any bones (like your kneecap slightly out of position)
  • flat feet causing the arches of your foot to collapse
  • Weak thigh muscles

So while I am not 100% confident which of the causes above is causing my knee pain, I am encouraged that many of the causes can be remedied by professional attention, strength training and rest!

After all my reading and studying of information about runner's knee, I emailed my Crossfit coach at CrossFit South Arlington for his expert opinion and got the following response: 

"The main issue that most marathon runners face is one of strength and not cardio-respiratory endurance or stamina.  At the end of your 10 mile run, are you gasping for air or clutching your legs in pain?  I’m betting #2."

Yes, he was right, after mile 10 I am not gasping for air, but clutching my leg in pain! 

And so begins my introduction to Crossfit Endurance.  Simply put,  in Crossfit Endurance there is a strong focus on power and speed gained from a strength and conditioning plan that does not depend on the traditional high volume of miles. Rather the focus is on increasing intensity through strength training and explosive, anaerobic movements aimed at improving endurance capability. So rather than running for hours every Sunday morning, I will be focusing on a 8 week training plan that includes strength training and intensive interval training. While I admit that it has taken me some time and trust in the good people at Crossfit, to accept this way of thinking, I couldn't think of a better approach for someone like me! Never before has someone taken the time to teach me how to run, had me focus on making my leg muscles stronger to carry me through all the miles and build my aerobic capacity to put some speed in my feet! Crossfit Endurance will give this all to me and will provide me with the knowledge and support to smartly train for an endurance event and train my body to appropriately handle 26.2 miles and not injure myself along the way. 

So today was day 1 of Crossfit Endurance Training. I will be completing two workouts today--1) Crossfit Work Out of the Day (WOD) and 2) Interval Training. 

For today, January 16, my workout looked like this:

  • Start time: 11:10 am
  • 8 rounds of the following: 
      • 10 burpee plate burpees
      • 15 pullups
      • 20 wall balls (10 lb ball)
      • 25 sit ups
      • 90 single under jump ropes
  • End time: 12:15 pm (WODs are not typically this long, but being MLK day, we like to celebrate with a bit more sweat!)
  • Start time: ~9:30 pm
  • Run 1 mile at 90% max effort
  • rest=amount of time it took to run 1 mile
  • Run 1 mile at 90% max effort
  • End time: (not sure, writing this post before I workout!)

I am excited to dig into this training plan and improve not only my running, but overall speed and endurance. Keep checking back for updates on how I progress through my first week of Crossfit Endurance. 

In a book I recently finished, I came across this quote that I think is so applicable to not only marathon training but so many other things in life: 

"When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur....Don't look for the quick, big improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That is the only way it happens-and when it happens, it lasts."-- UCLA Coach John Wooden

In training for this marathon, I just wanted miles and I wanted them fast! I wanted to jump through that chart of weekly long runs and add up the  mileage, but my body was screaming at me to slow down. So I am not giving up on my goal, rather I am listening to my body and doing a better job of preparing it to perform at its best. 

If I can improve a little each day and get a little bit stronger with every workout, I have no doubt that I will sail through 26.2 miles and cross the finish line with a smile on my face and enough energy to jump up and down to celebrate the accomplishment. 

Donor Update: 
Donations are starting to come in!! WooHoo!! Thank you so very much for your generosity! It is motivating to me that not only are you helping a great cause but that you believe in me enough to support me through this journey. 

Thank you to: 
  • Sally Luna
  • Evelyn Gallego
  • Beth Wolf
  • Shaula Flores
  • Letizia Mendoza
  • Louella Hardin
  • Emily Katz
  • Kerry Branick 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

Welcome 2012! Hard to believe it is the start to another year, but a new year brings new things! I know that 2012 may not be the easiest year for me with training and everything I have going on, but I am excited for the challenge and change that this year may bring.
I started the year off right by doing my weekly long run. The weather was beautiful and the streets were quiet. I enjoyed mid-50 degree weather and a bright shining sun. We walked the streets of Old Town on New Year's Eve which were filled with people so it was nice to go back the next morning to empty streets. I guess one of the perks of having a quiet New Year's Eve is that you are not nursing a hang-over the next day and are able to get up and go for a 10 mile run! The perfect start to a new year!

I am 3 weeks into my marathon training plan and so far things are going smoothly. I had a pretty solid base from running a few half marathons, so luckily my long runs up to this point have been manageable. I have been experiencing some "runner knee" symptoms, so I am going to do some investigating into what I can do to get my knees strong and ready for the longer runs that lie ahead.
For now, I am letting some Trade Joes peas do the job of rehab! I am pretty sure frozen peas were made for sports injuries. They fall perfectly into place around your knee and thaw just before you start to experience ice burn.... Unfortunately, I don't think they travel well to races, so I won't be that girl that pulls out the bag of peas after the race!

I also took some time today to get fitted for new running shoes! New Year, New Shoes!  Typically, my shoe buying strategy includes anything that is on sale and in a pretty color, so I decided  since I am giving this marathon training some serious effort, I better get serious about my shoes and get the help of professionals that know a little something about running shoes. 
I visited the Potomac River Running Store in Arlington, one of my new favorite running stores, and had a gait analysis. A gait analysis is simply having someone determine your foot strike. They have you run on a treadmill and determine which shoe will support your specific foot strike, training needs and arch.  It was recommended to me that I get a size 9 shoe, which is one size bigger than I usually wear. This is because your feet normally swell while running and by mile 20, I am going to need a little extra space! 
I ended up getting the Mizuno Wave Inspire 8 shoes. All the shoes I tried on were comfortable, but these shoes fit like a glove. Pretty sure they are going to make me fly! :) 

I have raised $75 to date, which is progress but still a very long way to go! Thank you to my two donors,  my wonderful mother-in-law and wonderful sister! Love you both for your generous support!
You can donate by clicking here.

Training Progress
So here is where we are at with my training plan. I was lucky to sneak into my sister's gym over the holiday break and get in a 6 mile treadmill run. I will admit that I probably indulged in one too many christmas cookies and holiday goodies, so I am in total detox mode starting tomorrow! Bring on the green smoothies!