Category Archives: Balance

Ch-ch-changes

…hi

Yep, I fell into a deep pit of not blogging (and not even considering blogging for that matter), and I just now managed to drag myself out of it. There are a million excuses, per usual, but they’re all either not interesting, too personal, or some combination of those two.

The short story of what happened after Philadelphia goes like this: I recovered what I thought was a proper amount, it wasn’t, I was burned out hard, Colorado was super cold and snowy, we moved, more burn out, more snow, and now, at long last, I’ve finally started to feel motivated again. Unrelated (read: completely related) is the fact that my speed reappeared, and in a very encouraging way. I’m actually running faster now than I was during Philly training, which is really exciting given the fact that I’ve generally been a Grinch regarding my speed for the past year. However, I’ve finally started thinking beyond “getting back to where I was,” which is the mode I was stuck in for far too long.

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Mountain-top handstands for feeling BACK!

In this aforementioned year, a lot has changed in regard to my training and running in general. Chalk it up to the Colorado move, boredom, or just natural exercise-evolutionary process, but I’m not really the runner I was when I left Seattle. Most of it’s for the better, at least I like to think, but it’s generally just been a big overhaul. Here’s what has been going on:

I don’t run with music anymore

I don’t know the exact point in which this switch happened, but somehow I turned from someone who listened to music on 90% of their runs to a person who runs almost exclusively without music.

This still kind of blows my mind, considering the amount of panic I used to feel whenever music wasn’t going to be available for a run. When I first started in the long-distance world, plugging into my headphones and hitting the pavement went entirely hand-in-hand. Which I totally enjoyed; particular songs elicited different emotions, several of which I could tie back to either running or however I was feeling that day. My “running music” became the soundtrack to this passion I was building for distance running, and I enjoyed the background noise just as much as I enjoyed the miles.

Exhibit A: First half-marathon ever! Check out that i-pod arm band!

Exhibit A: First half-marathon ever! Check out that iPod arm band! Also, pretty sure I bought that cotton Target shirt exclusively for this race. Totally makes sense.

As most people can probably guess, running (namely, long runs) can get a little boring, which is why a good playlist can be clutch in getting the job done. I was no exception to this line of thinking, and therein spent years ensuring my little nano/shuffle/whatever was as well-prepped for the miles to come as I was.

But then, something happened. Namely, moving to a new city and needing frequent restroom breaks happened.

I run in the morning, and for most of the year, it’s completely dark out when I start. Living in a new place where I was navigating uncharted routes didn’t feel entirely safe with my headphones in. I would use the music on weekend long-runs when daylight was guaranteed, but for my early morning jaunts, I accepted that for the time being, it was safer to stay alert.

At the same time, I realized fairly quickly that my frequent need for potty stops and listening to music did not go well together. It’s a little hard to explain, but essentially it took all of my concentration to keep my digestive system calm and manageable – and even that hardly ever worked. Listening to music when I was dealing with an incredibly unpredictable and temperamental gut just kind of made me more wound up, and I found that when I was in desperate need of a nearby bathroom, having music on did nothing to help keep me calm. That might not make sense, but basically the combination of my irritable stomach and wanting to stay safe on the streets was enough to break my music-listening habits.

And now? I’ve remained unplugged, despite the fact that my location awareness and Crohn’s issues are much better. And I love it! It feels simpler, more purist, and I’ve found a love for the routine sounds that occur on a run: the pitter-patter of my feet, the friendly “hello” from a stranger, and the chirping birds as they wake up. I’ve tried listening to music again as inspiration to get me out the door, but I’ve found I almost have a distaste for it at this point. Even on long runs, when I am indeed bored and ready to be done, music just kind of annoys me when it’s on. Granted, this is partly due to the fact that I have more company now on runs than I ever have before (see third bolded statement below), but even when I’m alone – I much prefer the sounds on the run as opposed to the sounds on the ‘pod.

Look at me! Running a full marathon! No iPod! Booyah!

Look at me! Running a full marathon! No iPod! Booyah!

I don’t go to the gym anymore, and I don’t really cross-train anymore

If you’ve read here for a while, you might remember that I used to be a boss at doing different types of cardio. I would run and train for races, but I always incorporated frequent spin classes, lap swimming, and Body Pump classes. Seriously though, if you compared a week of training for me two years ago compared to a week now, the difference would be kind of astounding. In fact, for fun, here’s one from 2012. Stair stepper, treadmill, spin, swimming, and lifting all in one week?! I don’t really know who that person was, but since then I’ve either become a lot lazier or just less manic about being an A+ exerciser.

Nope

Nope

I cannot tell you the last time I went to our gym. The thought of going kind of revolts me right now, which is why I’ve somehow managed to do every single run this winter outside, no matter how slow and slippery it may be. Or, I just don’t exercise. It used to be that I wanted to get a good cardio fix no matter the medium (run, spin, pool, etc.), but now my disinterest in anything other than running has forced me to accept more rest days, which I’m really appreciating and enjoying.

Oh, and let’s not forget an important factor here: November Project! In some ways, I do consider this cross-training, considering the plyometric and body-weight emphasis in a lot of our workouts. But more than anything, no matter the conditions – I would always rather be outside with those people than inside either alone or with a bunch of strangers. The workouts are always quality, but the community and the camaraderie are what have really caused me to remove my “gym rat” name tag altogether.

But seriously. Sledding + running up hills with your friends > everything else

But seriously. Sledding + running up hills with your friends > everything else

One thing that I have reintroduced to my routine is yoga, which has taken on an entirely different role than it used to. Before, it was simply a check-list item which I begrudgingly tolerated since I always had running aches and pains, and I knew it would help ward off injury. But, I spent every class with my third-eye focused on the clock in the room, counting down the minutes til savasana.

Now, my practice has entirely transformed – and I find myself sometimes craving an hour in the studio more than an hour on the roads. I’ve been loving the trifecta of spiritual, physical, and restorative elements incorporated in yoga, and I love that classes can emphasize either one or all of those aspects together, depending on the day. Not to mention that I’m certain doing yoga (I’ve been going about twice a week) has been tremendously beneficial in my desire to run most days of the week. The balance between running, NP, and yoga has all my exercise needs entirely filled right now, and then some, so for the time being – I’m going to stay far away from the gym.

*for the sake of not jinxing myself, I wholly acknowledge that being injury-free has helped me avoid the gym

I run with other people now

This is easily the biggest change in my running, and I think the very best one. In fact, it kind of saddens me just how long I jogged along by my lonesome.

There were a few reasons why I never ran with people before, but mainly it was due to the fact that A) I had no running friends within the vicinity of our neighborhood, and B) I didn’t really know how to run with other people. That second point sounds weird, but the only running I ever really did with other people was for a fun run or a run before an event. Does that make sense? Never was it the pavement-pounding, boring grind of just getting a regular run done. I was too conscious of coordinating speeds, schedules (5 am typically doesn’t make you many friends), and logistics to attempt finding a training buddy. And, a big part of me enjoyed running alone. I could choose my own pace and route, and I wasn’t accountable to anyone else’s schedule but my own.

One of those blue-moon times when I would run with other people. Also, hi Seattle peeps! I miss you.

One of those blue-moon times when I would run with other people. Also, hi Seattle peeps! I miss you.

I’m actually going to write an entire post about this, so I’ll try to refrain from explaining more of my thoughts (and there are lots of them!). But, currently I run with someone else maybe 50% of the time, which is a HUGE change. Most of the time, it’s with this girl, who’s been a training game-changer in so many ways. But like I said – that’s a love letter for another day.

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Holy shit this is a long post. I hope you’ve made it this far. In fact, if you even opened up this post – thank you, I know it’s been while. I have to hit publish soon before this disappears into the abyss of drafted posts that are piling high right now. But, I do pinky promise to not let this be my only update until another three months go by. I do have more things to say and some races coming up – so you’ll be hearing from me sooner rather than later.

I’m also going to end with something I haven’t done in YEARS. And generally I don’t love to do this, but I am curious:

What is something that’s done a 180 degree turn for you in your running life?

 

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Playing Catch-Up: Running, pets, and Boston

Hello! Long time no talk. How is everyone?

It’s so exciting that fall racing season is in full swing—it’s been fun to hear about everyone’s super long runs, tapering, and race results! I’ll admit I’m a tad jealous that I’m not doing a fall marathon (ahem, Chicago), however it’s made scheduling more relaxed and gets me even more excited for whatever’s next.

For now I thought I’d just give some updates—on running and otherwise.

Lately, I’ve been running between 40-50 miles a week, and recently it’s been closer to 50. It’s been fun, and feels surprisingly manageable. A year ago this would have been really high mileage for me, but it’s starting to feel a little more “normal” I guess you could say. I feel like I’m developing a really good base, and by alternating between speed, long runs, cut back weeks, and easy runs, I’m hoping that my base will be really strong by the time I gear up for my next marathon.

This is what a typical week has looked like lately:

M: rest, always

T: ~10 miles, no watch

W: ~8 miles, some kind of speed work, mostly tempos, and Maximum Sculpt class

T: ~8 miles easy

F: 6 miles slow and Maximum Sculpt class

S: 14-18 mile long run. I did do one random 20 miler last weekend, but otherwise I’m normally around 16

S: cross-training, normally swimming

My Wednesdays are Fridays almost always look the same, but otherwise things float around a lot. I’m starting to switch my long run days to Sunday for the fall/winter because the only thing better than finishing a long run is finishing a long run and laying on the couch watching football for the rest of the day.

Football season=Sunday long runs

So, despite the “not training” higher mileage, I do have some method to my madness—in the form of fall half marathons where allegedly, I’ll be testing my fitness.

Full disclosure/honesty: I’m 99% sure I’m not ready to run The Big Goal Time at the Bellingham Bay Half, which is two weeks from now. I could ramble away on a variety of excuses, but instead I’ll just take ownership and admit that I haven’t put in the amount of work necessary. Yes, I’ve been running and I’ve been diligent about workouts and miles, but I never feel like I jacked things up to the level I need to be at. It might have been fear, laziness, burnout, etc—but whatever the reason, the result is that I’m not feeling prepared to attempt a 1:35 half marathon in two weeks.

However, I do feel like the work I have done could be worth something, and I think I’ll use Bellingham as a fitness test and benchmark race as opposed to an A race. There is the chance of a PR (my current is 1:38:25), although I won’t be all that disappointed if I don’t break that either.

Do I want to be in shape to gut out 7:15 miles at Bellingham? Absolutely. Do I feel guilty for not being there yet? Not really. And here’s why:

I spent the summer having an incredible time running spur-of-the-moment races, spending hours in a van and on the road in two ultra relays, and generally living a life that didn’t revolve around A-race training. And it was fantastic! I don’t regret it for a minute. It was so good for my hyper-competitive self to take a break from the grind and live life a little less strictly. However, my summer didn’t come without some hard work—and in fact it left me more exhausted than I anticipated.

So, I suppose what I’m trying to say is that while I don’t feel ready for a 1:35 just yet, I do feel like with a little more time I’ll get there. I have a few more half-marathon plans up my sleeve this fall, and in no way have I discounted those as opportunities for fast races. I’m also secretly hoping that as the temperatures drop, all my hot weather training will have miraculously made me faster without changing anything else. 🙂 Point blank, my goal to get faster and to be a better runner hasn’t changed one bit, it’s just taking a little more time in the short-term than I originally hoped for.

In other news…

In case you haven’t seen on my social media posting spree:

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We got a kitten!!!

His name is Jasper, he’s 11 weeks and 5 days old, and he’s perfect.

He’s completely stolen our hearts, and every day I love him even more. I’m also a paranoid kitten owner, and I’m chronically afraid that something’s going to choke him, electrocute him, or that he’s ill with some rare kitty cancer. This definitely bodes well for how I’ll be with a baby.

Nevertheless, he’s a happy, healthy, curious little kitty and makes my day brighter.

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He is also very helpful at drawer organization.

He is also very helpful at drawer organization.

And lastly…

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Stay tuned folks! Boston registration is still open for all us “barely there” qualifiers, and this morning at exactly 7:08 AM, my registration was sent in. I’m guessing we won’t hear until the end of the week, but I do know that if space does fill up…every second counts. Let’s hope that my -2:54 minutes helps me!

I do have my hopes up, admittedly, but even if I don’t get in, it felt so incredible to even have the chance to register. Two years after I ran my first marathon, I never imagined I could be on the Boston Athletic Association website hitting “submit” to my very own application. It was awesome, and I can only imagine what it will be like to actually run the race, whenever that may be.

That’s all for now! I think it’s safe to assume most people are as excited as I am about the upcoming crunchy leaves and cooler weather. And as much as I scoff at all the “scarves!” and “boots!” and “OMG PSL!!!” yammer, I have to admit that fall is seriously my jam, and I plan on soaking it up to the fullest.

Happy Monday!

A Year Without Injuries

This is potentially the most jinx-filled post I’ll ever write. But since I’m not a huge believer in that type of thing, I’ll just go ahead and write it.

(Knock on wood, knock on wood…)

As of this past weekend (Saturday to be specific) it has been one year since I’ve been injured. One year, you guys!

On Saturday, September 8, 2012, I was forced to cut short a 20 mile Chicago Marathon training run because my ankle blew up to the point of not being able to walk. It was heart-breaking, and although I ultimately was able to run the race and had a great time doing so, the injury was still a wake-up call of sorts.

And since then, I haven’t had to take a day off of running for anything other than basic aches, pains, and soreness. Kind of hard to believe! And if any of you are thinking, “It’s just a year Robyn, what’s the big deal?” let me recap some things for you:

In 2012 I was hurt three separate times, all of which were the result of improper (too much) training and general bodily negligence.

– In April, I got horrible knee bursitis which completely threw off my Tacoma Marathon training. It took a cortisone shot and a lot of Aleve to weasel my way out of that one in time for the race.

-In May/June, the evil IT Band Syndrome got me good, and I was limping with knee pain for nearly two months. No running whatsoever.

-In September (as previously mentioned) my ankle tendonitis nearly eliminated my chance to run the Chicago Marathon. It was a little miraculous that I actually made it to and finished the race, and it wasn’t without a lot of luck and prescription anti-inflammatories.

I was actually very fortunate in my year of injuries. While they definitely were the result of over-training, none of them were very permanent and could mostly be quick-fixed with rest and drugs. I definitely consider myself lucky in that regard, but I still knew that my luck wouldn’t hold up if I didn’t make some changes.

It’s one of those “Fool me once, fool me twice…” scenarios. But in this case, I was certainly the one to be shamed, and I knew that these running injuries were going to keep happening if my habits stayed the same.

Nothing changes if nothing changes, and it was time for me to change.

And here I am…a year later, and (okay fine, lots of knocking on wood) I’m healthy and running happily. I will be the first to admit that a lot of this is luck; running and injuries sometimes just go hand-in-hand, no matter how careful you are. For some reason, I’ve been able to avoid the inevitable injuries that can knock us out.

However, I have definitely made changes that I’m certain have played a role in eliminating overuse injuries. Here’s a few things that I think have made the biggest difference:

1 rest day per week. No matter what. I used to take a rest day once every 2 (sometimes 3) weeks, and now I don’t know how that was even possible. I start to crave my rest days, which I also think means that I’m working harder during the other days.

Foot strike. I know this is a debated topic, but between last year and this year, I have fully transitioned to a more minimal shoe and have completely changed from a heavy heel-striker to a mid-foot striker. It could be a coincidence, but I’m guessing that this has a lot to do with the lessened impact.

Added walking. I walk every day between the water taxi and my office building (~.7 miles each way) and often times this is right after I’ve run and showered. I could be wrong, but I think the prolonged striding and extra “shake out” that walking provides has helped my legs recover more from my running.

Strength. This is potentially number one. Up until last August or so, I never did any kind of leg strength training. I always wanted my legs to be fresh for running, so I never bothered with squats or lunges or anything like that. I kind of cringe to think about this now, given that I’ve done a 180 in that regard. Currently, about twice a week, I do all kinds of strengthening, flexibility, and balance (<–super helpful!) work thanks to the lifting class I found. Not only do we work the big running muscles (hammies, quads, and glutes) but also the smaller, less obvious muscles that ultimately make a big impact on both performance and injury-proneness (not really a word, but I think you understand). In a nutshell, I think I had it wrong before; cross-training for running should actually be more about strength and less about other types of cardio. This might not be the same for everyone, but I’m convinced that adding strength training and dropping spinning has been perhaps the number one injury prevention technique.

Here’s the kicker to all this: I’m actually running more days per week and more miles than I was last year when I kept getting hurt. I have built up to this in a totally safe way, no doubt, but I think it’s interesting to look at how I’ve actually been able to do more since I’ve made the above changes.

And let it be known: more running wasn’t even the intention when I decided I needed to reevaluate my habits; in fact, it was actually more the opposite of that. But along the way, I think I found that with the added balance and the added rest, running was granted to me more freely. Some weeks are better than others, and some weeks require more rest and less miles. Ultimately, though, I think I’ve finally gotten a handle on the balancing act of the sport. Much like any relationship, it’s very give and take; the more you nurture your running with things like rest days, stretching, rolling, and nutrition, the more it will give back—in the form of more pain-free and happy miles.

I’m constantly reminded of how much like life running is, and how much it can teach us about other aspects of our lives. This past year has really solidified my belief that nothing changes if nothing changes, but also that we are in control. I think for all of last year, I felt as if running owned me; like it was an abusive relationship, and running had all the power. Of course this was wrong, but it was hard to see things otherwise when the sport I loved so very much kept disappointing me.

Now, I realize I had the power all along, and in fact I was the one who was abusing it. Today, I feel infinitely more control over my training and my running, which is an incredibly empowering and comforting feeling. As a result, I feel like I’ve become both stronger and faster—and perhaps most importantly, more conscious of both my limitations and potential within the sport. So long as I continue to give and take, I have a feeling that that potential will continue to turn into results.

As evidenced also by this past year of three different PRs, it’s safe to say that there’s nothing wrong with being a little bit safer.

Take care of your bodies everyone. We all love to run as much as we can, but sometimes our running, just like us, needs extra TLC.

And if you are hurt right now…here’s one of the most wonderful things I discovered last year after sitting on multiple sidelines: running isn’t going anywhere. It will be right there to take off with you whenever you’re ready again.

Fast Finishes, Scavenger Hunting, and Mayhem

Life, as I know it, has gone a little haywire. In a good way—but the days of lazing my days/nights away seem to have disappeared completely, along with the rain and gloom. Essentially, summer has become playtime x 1,000. Not that I’m complaining, it’s all fun stuff, but man—being social is tiring.

Unrelated photo from the 4th of July. But I did make this for a party and was ridiculously proud of it.

Unrelated photo from the 4th of July. But I did make this for a party and was ridiculously proud of it.

This past weekend was the essence of how busy life has been, and I feel like getting to Monday was more of a relief than how I normally feel on Friday afternoons. But that’s how it should be sometimes, right? It makes the time go by quickly, but that was going to happen anyway—right? Might as well fill ‘er up.

As I wrote on Friday, Mr. BF joined the big and bad 25 club, and we had a small celebration just the two of us that evening. No pictures were taken, but pizza was had and presents were opened. You can imagine it, it was lovely.

But the celebrating didn’t stop there. We had a whole banaza planned for Saturday, involving lots of beer and lots of raw fish.

But first, I had to get a long run in. I wasn’t too concerned about mileage for this weekend, considering I had already logged 38 miles by Friday, but I still wanted to take advantage of the beautiful day. My plan was for 14 miles, and to start slow and finish fast. I wanted to negative split the whole run and also practice this whole “fast finish” idea with my last two miles being the fastest.

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This picture doesn’t demonstrate much (and I’m sure you’ve never seen one exactly like it before), but overall the run was a success. The second half was 3 minutes faster than the first, and my last two miles clocked in at 7:24 and 7:26. And let me tell you…fast finish is no joke. Fatigued legs + rising heat + increased speed= a nice kick in the bum right at the end of a run. Trust me, if you want to really feel the effects of a long run, try it out. I liked it though…great practice for race conditions.

After some reading, coffee-ing, and sunscreening, it was off to the International Beer Festival where we met up with several friends. As if I wasn’t dehydrated and sweaty enough that day already…

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I had so much sunscreen in my hair and was being SUCH a diva about it. I don’t know what got into me. I can deal with unwashed, sweaty hair multiple times during the week—but heaven forbid my just-blow dried hair gets a little grease in it? I don’t understand.

Anyway, it was awesome. Tons of sun, tons of tipsy/happy Seattleites, and tons of delicious international brews. I’m trying to hold off on drinking for the most part these days thanks to my super pissy intestines, but I made an exception this day and scouted out how I could get the most bang (>8%) for my bucks (10 tickets total). It was successful.

We ended the night with pounds of sushi at Umi in Belltown. Again, no photos unfortunately. But we got to sit on the floor and ended the night playing credit card roulette (BF and I didn’t lose!)

Despite knowing everything that was going down on Saturday, I had it in my head that I would get up Sunday morning and go for a long bike ride. I knew that wasn’t happening on Saturday night (mostly due to fatigue…not beers), so I decided to go to spin instead. Also wrong…I woke up Sunday morning and it took all of 1.5 seconds to decide I needed more sleep. I blame 4th of July for all of this lingering tiredness. And Belgium dark hefs.

Eventually, after watching Andy Murray reinstate British reign at Wimbledon, I got myself to the pool for a nice long swim. I swear, sometimes swimming does the same—if not more—for me as yoga. It can be super meditative when I’m in the mood, which apparently I was yesterday, and I finished with a little over 2 miles total. My legs loved me afterward.

But not for long. Around 1 it was time to head to an Urban Scavenger Hunt birthday party for one of my oldest friends. Seriously, how fun does that sound? It was such a good way to get out in the city and enjoy the day. Three teams of four people broke out with our lists of things and people to find, and we spent 4 hours traversing all over the city hunting down our clues.

"Ride a duck boat"

“Ride a duck boat”

 

"Reenact a scene from 10 Things I Hate About You"

“Reenact a scene from 10 Things I Hate About You”

It was all ridiculously fun. We had no trouble filling the four hours with exploration and list-checking, and it ended up being a race to the finish line. After all the excitement, I couldn’t inhale a plate of fries or drink enough cold water fast enough. Finishing an adventurous day at a delicious restaurant is brilliant.

Happy birthday Hannah!

Happy birthday Hannah!

And to cap of what was a magnificently tiring and fun weekend, Seattle decided to pull this out last night:

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This picture doesn’t even do justice, but I did drive out of my way (and prolonged going to bed) in order to try and capture the glory. All the people standing around should be a good indication of how freaking beautiful the setting was.

 

So now it’s Monday and I am a little bit happy to be sitting in my desk for 9 hours. That feeling is bound to pass by tomorrow, but for now I’ll be regaining my strength for all the other festivities that are coming up in the next few weeks. Spoiler…one of them involves running 35 miles in a little over 24 hours. Fun stuff folks, and despite my ever-present fatigue, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And somehow, amidst all the mayhem, I managed to run 52 miles last week…easily the most since before Eugene. Slowly, those ultra relays are starting to get a (little) less scary.

 

Now, tell me about your weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

Check In

Hello friends! Long time no chat. How’s everyone doing?

It feels a little like summer vacation recently, which is part of the reason I’ve been MIA from my little blog. Lots of activity going on, lots of plans, and generally lots of fun. I feel like I’ve been busier with social “obligations” than I have been since college, and it’s been great. I blame the sun—it turns everyone into butterflies who flutter toward each other.

#proof that I wore fake eyelashses and glitter in honor of Pride.

#proof that I wore fake eyelashses and glitter in honor of Pride.

So, while I’ve been staying out later and swapping second runs for happy hours, there’s still been plenty of race prep going on. And by “race,” I should say “races” because right now I’m in trifecta mode—trying to improve my fitness for three different types of events coming up in the next few months. It’s been…interesting. So let’s recap those sweaty and non-sweaty endeavors shall we?

Tri-Specific Training

I haven’t necessarily been doing more or less in regard to triathlon training. Honestly, I would run every day if I could, but since I can’t I’m trying to tuck swimming and biking/spinning in once or twice a week. It’s not that I don’t like either of these activities (although swimming can be boring…) it’s just that in the summer I want to be running outside.

However, I’m really starting to like biking. In a new-crush, giddy kind of way. I always loved the idea of being a biking person, and now that I have a good bike, good weather, and good company—it seems the stars are aligning. Super bike pro Lindsay invited my slow self last weekend for a Burke-Gilman ride (34 miles!), and I really enjoyed myself. It feels really good to shake it up, and I actually like feeling like a beginner at something, strangely enough. It’s also really nice to have another option besides running where I can be outside, go for a long time, and all the while not worry so much about the impact. I’m hoping by the end of the summer to have a few extra-long rides under my belt.

And all this bike love is definitely a good thing—because when it comes to the triathlon disciplines, it’s definitely the one I need the most work on.

Ultra-Relay Training

This is how I feel about running 35 miles in 24 hours. Also how I feel about how neon has taken over my life. Neon bra is showing THROUGH neon shirt. WTF.

This is how I feel about running 35 miles in 24 hours. Also how I feel about how neon has taken over my life. Neon bra is showing THROUGH the neon shirt. WTF.

I was initially feeling really good about this training. I was logging at least once-a-week double run days, and my training felt pretty specific to ultra-relay conditions. However, ever since life started getting busy and the first ultra race started to get closer, I’ve been feeling a little more apprehensive about my prep. However, I did run 12 miles at 7 am Sunday morning after being out really late the night before (see eyelash photo above), which I decided was good Ragnar simulation. Right? Right.

I’m running 35 miles at Ragnar in 24 hours, which is A LOT. It was always going to be a lot, no matter how well trained I was, but it’s getting to be intimidating in a scary kind of way. I’ve been averaging between 40-45 miles a week lately, which is good—but compared to what I’ll be doing at Ragnar, it seems measly.

That doesn’t mean I’m not excited though, because I really can’t wait. And despite the high mileage, I’m feeling good about my projected running times. According to our pace calculators, I should be running around sunset, sunrise, and then late in the afternoon (I’m the last runner). So, although I’ll be waking up in the 4 o’clock hour to run 15+ miles, I’m hoping I’ll get a sunrise out of it 🙂 Can’t complain, it’s all part of the adventure—I just hope my legs hold up.

And, if I do horribly, the good (?) news is that I get to try again a month later at Spokane to Sandpoint. I know, I don’t know who I am either.

Goal Half-Marathon Training

Meh. That’s all I have to say about this one. With nearly three months until my big scary goal race, I’ve been a little lackluster about my speed-dedicated workouts. I did 7 x 800 last week and it was HARD. Please, don’t let me postpone a speed workout until the afternoon ever again. It was hot, my stomach hated me, and it was harder than it should have been. I ran each 800 at 6:55 pace, and I could feel every one of them. Two bathroom stops too, fun times.

So, for right now I’m focusing on one speed workout a week, which will pick up after Ragnar. I also have the See Jane Run half coming up in two weeks, and while I don’t expect anything spectacular—I’d like to use it as a bit of a check in. It’s a flat course, and presuming it will be somewhat shaded, I think it will be a good opportunity for a “test run.”

Basically, I could be doing better with speed-specific work, but with the heat it’s not necessarily the best time to push the envelope every day. However, I do trust heat training to have rewarding benefits once the fall comes around. Oh dear, sweet fall running…I’m excited for you.

Other things

I haven’t been photographing much that’s been going on (per usual), however I do have some photos to marginally depict my life as of late:

Seattle sunset by the Seattle Big Wheel. I can't stop photographing the sky. And because I'm now obligated to say it, #nofilter.

Seattle sunset by the Seattle Big Wheel. I can’t stop photographing the sky. And because I’m now obligated to say it, #nofilter.

I look like a child at Disneyland. Except I'm surrounded by drag queens and nearly naked men.

I look like a child at Disneyland. Except I’m surrounded by drag queens and nearly naked men.

And speaking of…

Yes, he is one of my best friends. No, he doesn't go to the gym very much. Yes, you are allowed to hate him.

Yes, he is one of my best friends. No, he doesn’t go to the gym very much. Yes, you are allowed to hate him.

You’re welcome/I’m sorry.

Yesterday morning at 5 am. This is the view from my house, i don't hate it.

Yesterday morning at 5 am. This is the view from my house, i don’t hate it.

 

Reading at the park, one of our new favorite activities.

Reading at the park, one of our new favorite activities.

So there’s my training and life check in. I’ve been orchestrating a bigger balancing act between the two than I have in a while, and to tell you the truth—it feels really good. Besides the apprehension about my preparedness for upcoming events, I am really liking the shift in prioritization that’s been happening. Like I said, it feels like summer break—and in that sense, it shouldn’t be all about the miles. And while it may seem like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with all my upcoming races and goals, it’s all in the name of having fun and trying new things—and I actually wouldn’t have it any other way.

And on one final note…CONGRATULATIONS to Miss Nicole “Ricole Runs” on her beautiful new baby boy!!!!! I think he came early because I wants you to run a PR in every distance sooner 🙂

 

 

 

 

Purposeful Running

Hey-o.

Remember me? The Robyn formally known as a blogger?

Yea…this week’s been one of those, and that’s an understatement. It’s safe to say that yesterday was in the top 5 of most stressful of my professional career. It’s not a bad thing, in fact I prefer it, it just amounts to a lot of need for sleep and tv, and not a lot of time for blogging.

Also, truth be told, I don’t have much of interest to report. Do I ever? Don’t answer that.

But frankly, I’m a little boring and I’m a big believer in writing about the things I want to write about as opposed to just filling the internet with purposeless jargon.

Which is, ironically, a nice little segway into something that’s been on my mind a lot recently in regards to running. Now that I’m anecdote-d the crap out of this post, let’s get to some real deal things…sound good? Great.

Purpose. A word that reminds me of childhood tattle-tale (“You totally did that on purpose!”) and yet it’s been finding itself in my present life somewhat frequently. I love the idea of doing things with purpose, with intention. It makes for so much more productivity and satisfaction in our actions—and it leaves out all the useless things that tend to fill up our time. Of course, the useless things can be so much easier and that’s why we need them to help unwind (Hello, OnDemand tv shows). But for the most part, I prefer to live my day to day life with some semblance of purpose.

This has also been my new approach in running. I’ve decided that while I’m in the “off-season” yet working harder on getting faster and stronger, I want all of my workouts to have a particular purpose. It’s a quality over quantity approach of sorts, and it’s been working wonderfully.

Translation: no junk miles, no running just to feel like I worked out, and added rest, strength, and stretching.

When I head out on a run nowadays, I’m trying to make sure that I’m getting something productive out of it, besides simply a good sweat. For instance, my typical “10-mile Tuesday,” which is normally done on a flat, out-and-back route, has now turned into a 7-8 mile hill-climbing Tuesday. Doesn’t quite have the same ring, does it?

But the point is that instead of heading out on a normal, easy run where I can zone out until it’s over, I’m trying to put some purpose in the miles. Hills have historically been a weaker point for me, and I’m really intent on getting over my fear of them. Also, in my quest for speed, hills are the best kind of speedwork in disguise, so while the grunt work might be tough—I know that integrating hills is doing a double-whammy of benefits for my running.

Another thing I’ve been focused on is getting to the pain point, and embracing it. I’ve come to a place where I can handle a good amount of distance at a comfortable pace, and the challenge has gone away a bit. I’m certainly happy about this and I think it’s a good place to be in, but for me…I want more. There isn’t much room for growth inside of our comfort zones, which is why another purposeful action I’ve been taking it getting outside of it, and welcoming the pain.

So I’d say that there are three core workouts that have been defining my running lately: speed work (mostly on a treadmill…baby steps), hills, and a long run. Any other running is done super slow and super short, and I’m kind of digging this method for now. It’s been interesting trying to balance getting some good rest in between marathons with also trying to get faster, but I think that the approach of making each run count toward something has been helpful.

And perhaps one of the biggest things: when I don’t want to run, I don’t run. I don’t feel guilty about it, and I don’t dwell on it all day. And low and behold…by the next morning, I can’t wait to get out again.

So simple, so logical, yet it’s taken so long to get there.

Initially, I was worried that if I took the winter to focus on speed, I’d surely burn out before it was time for the Big Goal for a spring 2012 marathon. But I feel the opposite. I feel a fire building, and I can feel motivation slowly garnering itself. By the time early February comes around, I’m hoping that fire has reached max-capacity and will be ready to hit a very regimented and goal-oriented training schedule hard.

I credit this building enthusiasm to both purposeful running and purposeful rest. Essentially, all the activity—or lack of activity—that I have been doing, I try to do with mindfulness and care. It takes a little more planning ahead of time and a little less auto-pilot mode, but for right now…it works for me.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to carry on some of this purposeful training into my real training next Spring, and in the meantime…it’s all about balancing the pain points and the rest days. They compliment each other quite well, turns out.

 

Happy Friday! Have a nice weekend!

 

Changes, My PSA, and an Epiphany

I had a bit of an “a-ha!” moment recently, and while it may seem trivial and a little like, “No shit, Sherlock” to most people…it’s kind of done a 180 on how I approach both my training and my running.

It all started when I first heard my new favorite quote/life mantra:

“Nothing changes if nothing changes.”

(First heard from this girl, originally coined by this guy.)

Simplistic and to-the-point. But when you think about this idea a little more closely, it starts to highlight some of the things in our lives we’d rather hide away from.

It got me to thinking about the things I always wish would change. Obviously, I eventually landed on one of my favorite parts of life: running.

“What do I wish would change about running?”

Well, a lot. I’m constantly thinking about the things I want out of running. I want to BQ, I want to be faster, I want to stop getting injured, etc. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks: What have I changed to make these things happen?

The answer? Not much.

Let’s take the “stop getting injured” thing for instance. The last four injuries I’ve had were all due to overuse. They were injuries caused simply by wear and tear over time, and all of them were—in that regard—completely preventable. So why, then, did I keep getting hurt after my first 4-month of no running due to an overuse injury?

Well, because I was stuck in the habit of working my body too hard.

When I get hurt,  I convince myself that I’ve learned my lesson…I’ll never overtrain again, I’ll stop working out so much, and I’ll start taking more rest days.

4 injuries later, and that lesson hadn’t sunk in. And it’s because I, by habit, overtrain. I wasn’t changing any of my habits, so why should my body stop responding in a deconstructive way?

Let’s take a look at my most recent injuries (knee bursitis, IT band syndrome, and ankle tendonitis—yep, all this year). What was similar about all three instances?

1) I was marathon training

2) I was over 50 miles per week

3) I was running 5+ days a week

The body is an incredible thing, and it can teach us a lot. Clearly, my body had been trying to teach me something about how it handles the above factors…and it only took me 3 different overuse injuries to figure it out. It seems so simple, so logical, however for me—and I’m sure for many runners—hindsight is always much more crystal clear than foresight.

Because running is a habit. We develop habits, and we stick to them—because they’re familiar. They’re comforting. Because we know we can do them and they satisfy us.

Running and exercising excessively became habits of mine…and unlike picking split ends or biting nails, the addictive nature of endorphins make these habits a lot harder to let go of. And why let go? These things are good for us, they make us happy. What’s the harm in continuing the habit of excess exercise?

Well, a lot actually. And it’s not just the tangible problems (injuries), either.

Now that I’ve kind of figured myself out, and I’ve recognized that injuries aren’t going to change if I don’t change, I’m realizing all the other problems that resulted from always wanting high mileage and high intensity workouts. Burnout, anxiety, chronically tired, isolated, etc.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

As someone who is constantly striving for the betterment of my own life and the lives of those around me, I’m all about constructive changes.

Constructive changes in the form of listening to my body instead of pushing it, taking rest days at least once a week, and realizing that there’s a lot of goodness out there that doesn’t come in the form of sweating for hours on end.

(And seriously…rest days have become the best days. Ever. How did it take so long?)

It’s a work in progress, and obviously I still and will always love me a good hard workout, but I’m feeling much better than I have in a long time thanks to this recent influx of “moderation.”

I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that I had two significant PRs recently in conjunction with the extra rest and breathing room I’ve allowed myself. My body seems to be responding appreciatively to the changes I’ve made…and as a result, I’m reaching new levels that I didn’t really think were possible before.

Because I truly believe when you become proactive  in making real change happen, the things you always hoped would happen seem to follow closely behind.

I love running so much that I want to do it as much ans as long as possible. I would so much rather choose to not run an extra mile or an extra day for the sake of safety rather than let my body choose for me in the form of a disabling injury.

My body’s been choosing my breaking point for me for too long, and I’m deciding to regain control over the situation.

Nothing changes if nothing changes. 

And on that note, here is my PSA for the day:

Runners, take rest days. As someone who went weeks, sometimes even a whole month, without resting once, I really do know what I’m talking about here. I get it—you crave a workout, you love your workouts, you don’t feel right without them.

But guess what? You’re a human and an athlete—and your muscles and bones eventually will not tolerate incessant beating. Exercise necessitates rest…and you are undoing all the work you’ve put in by not letting your body recover. No progress can be made with continual wear and tear, so ask yourself why you’re really avoiding rest if your intent is to be fitter and stronger.

I was that type of runner and exerciser for so long, and while I’m still working out all the kinks, I’m recognizing just how much more harm I was doing than good.

Take care of yourselves. Take care of your bodies. I know so many runners in real life and through blogging who are constantly complaining of fatigue and lack of improvement, and I cannot emphasize enough how much rest and letting yourself of the “I must always exercise” hook will better your running and your life.

And to sum up this somewhat nonsensical ramble of a post, here’s another quote to chew on, which does a much better job of getting to the point than I do.

“Run often and run long, but never outrun your joy of running.”
– Julie Isphording