March 5, 2010

Breathing

Posted in Running at 1:26 am by savorencyclopedia

I can not think of a time in my life when I have had to actively think about my breathing.  It seems so odd to me to literally think “breath in through my nose and out through my mouth” as I run!  Yet I know this is the proper way to breath when you run and it doesn’t come naturally to me.

Getting the breathing down has been quite a process for me.  It definitely makes me appreciate all of the things my body does for me that I never consider.  Tonight the breathing finally seemed to click and make my run go smoothly! I hope it lasts!  I’ve definitely noticed a difference in my lung capacity and with continuous awareness of my breathing at this point, I hope it will become natural soon and I won’t have to even think about breathing while I run.

I intended to continue with my week 4 running this week, but when I looked at the times for week 5 day 1 I decided that I could push myself and do it.  I am so glad that I did!  I made it through the run and felt great about pushing myself afterwards.  I began to feel how when the strides and breathing fall into place, my run will be amazing.  I have enjoyed the process so far, but I certainly wouldn’t say it has been easy for me.  I hope that small things like this keep clicking into place and things become easier.  Every time something like this happens, I feel a bit more like a runner.

March 4, 2010

Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

Posted in Running at 7:50 pm by savorencyclopedia

Who would have imagined that I would be followed by my newfound goal of running while on vacation?  That’s exactly what happened when I traveled to New Orleans and I took it as validation for what I am trying to accomplish!  The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon took place on Sunday, February 28. By sheer coincidence, I was vacationing there that very weekend.  Although I was treating this weekend as a chance for bacchanalia, I saw it as a positive sign that my new goal was following me even on my weekend off.

 

I was inundated with marathon signals throughout my weekend.  Even as I boarded the plane Friday afternoon, I noticed a couple of men already on the plane intently reading the magazine Runner’s World while sporting Chicago Marathon attire.  At this point, I made note of the connection, but was unaware of the actual marathon taking place in NOLA that weekend.  I almost felt compelled to strike up a conversation with them about my new goal, but decided that even I wasn’t so bold as to hold up aisle traffic on the airplane to chat. My status as a novice runner also made me more hesitant to discuss the subject; what if my utter lack of knowledge or skill was apparent after the first sentence out of my mouth?  I could not face such humiliation. I was happy with the small sign of validation and was content to move forward with my weekend.

 

On the shuttle from the airport to our hotel, I sat next to a woman who was running the half marathon.  From that point on, I was aware of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and the signs could not have been more blatant throughout the rest of the weekend!  They may seem small but for me, someone who needs constant motivation to continue working out, it was as if someone was whispering to me not to forget my goals.

Sunday morning the restaurant at the hotel was serving breakfast to multiple tables of runners.  They were discussing their experiences and as it was late in the morning/early afternoon there were not many other patrons for breakfast.  It was hard not to hear some of their conversations.  I couldn’t even imagine the pride they must have felt after finishing, but they were very nonchalant about these accomplishments. Many of them were more focused on the partying aspect of the Marathon (which I imagine is fun, but don’t think I could focus on while running.  Breathing would be my only concern!) I guess for some people, once you start running often it is no big deal to finish a half marathon.  I can’t conceive of the notion, but clearly it exists.  As we returned to our room after breakfast, the elevators were not working.  An unfortunate couple was forced to walk up many flights of stairs to their room after completing the marathon.  My body literally ached for them.  Ouch.

That same afternoon, while waiting for the streetcar to take us to the Garden District, I noticed legions of marathoners out and about, proudly still wearing their numbers or changed into their Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon t-shirts.  They all looked so happy and surprisingly mobile.  I would assume standing upright would be worth celebrating at that point!  There were also many runners eating at the diner we stopped in later in the day.  I can only imagine how satisfying a plump, juicy burger must have been for those particular diners. 

Although I never expected to have clear reminders of the workouts I was missing during my trip, there they were, motivating me to get right back at it!  And it worked!  My first day back I was on the treadmill running.  The second day back I was inspired to workout lightly on my rest day, so I walked on the treadmill and then kicked it up a notch on the stair-climber.  Tonight I am back to running again, trying to close the gap on what should be my recovery time at this point and what actually is. Maybe one day I will run a Marathon in the Big Easy.   Any city will do, but if I’m going to go for it I might as well dream big!  Thank you New Orleans!

March 3, 2010

Accomplishments

Posted in Healthy Eating, Running at 2:48 am by savorencyclopedia

Today was my first day back from vacation.  And I still worked out!!  For many people, this may not be a big deal, but for me it is a huge accomplishment!  I wanted to ease back into things because it’s been almost a week since my last run, so I attempted to run the same time frames as I stopped with last week and…

I did it!!!  I still ran two sets of three and five minute intervals!  I typically use the stair climber after running for 20-30 minutes, but tonight I simply ran/walked.  I want to prevent injuries, so I just wanted to test the waters tonight and see what I was capable of doing after almost a week off.  It was a pleasant surprise.

I even switched right back into healthy eating mode seamlessly.  Proof:  yesterday while traveling I ate well.  Yogurt smoothie for breakfast at the airport, Clif Bar for lunch while on the plane and a turkey sub and Sunchips for dinner in the car.  Not many vegetables, but still better than I would have eaten in the past.  I didn’t use traveling as an excuse to eat poorly!  I got all my servings of vegetables in today and I plan on going grocery shopping to stock up on healthy items tomorrow after work.  This is progress for me!

February 21, 2010

Sunday Morning Workout

Posted in Running at 8:07 pm by savorencyclopedia

Today was my first morning workout since I started my routine at the beginning of January.  I am not a morning person.  I want to run tomorrow night after work, though, so I figured if I did a run this morning it would be almost like having a rest day in between.  Usually when I workout on the weekends, the gym is fairly empty.  I was looking forward to some solace while working out today.

Well, apparently, Sunday mornings are hopping!  Almost every treadmill was being used as well as the stair climbers and elliptical machines.  I must admit that I was impressed that there were so many people working out this early on a Sunday (10:00 is early for me on a Sunday!)  Honestly, I was also a bit disappointed to not have the cardio room to myself, as I had expected.

Many of the cardio machines overlook the basketball courts at the gym.  This morning I was treated to entertainment in the form of a league basketball game while working out.  Some students from my school were even playing. I wanted to go talk to some of the parents I saw, but unfortunately by the time I was finished I was disgustingly sweaty and my face was beet red.

Week 5 of the C25K has been challenging for me.  The training calls for:

5 minute warm-up

3 minutes running

1:30 walking

5 minutes running

2:30 walking

3 minutes running

1:30 walking

5 minutes running

5 minute cool down

Previously, I have had to break down the last 5 minute run into two 2:30 runs with a 2 minute walking recovery in between.  I could not pinpoint why this week’s runs were more difficult for me, but it was tough!  I came to the realization this morning that it was not the distance or amount of time that I have been running in Week 5 that was causing me difficulties.  It was the substantially smaller recovery/walk times in between.

Today I gave myself 2 minutes to recover after the 3 minute runs and 4 minutes to recover after the 5 minute runs.  I was able to run an extra set of 3 and 5 minute runs!!  What a great feeling!  I did my usually stair climbing set after running and by the time I left at 11:30, there were only two other people working out in the cardio room.  Note to self:  I can sleep in a bit if I want to workout on Sunday mornings.  It is much less crowded after 11:00.

February 20, 2010

Childhood Obesity

Posted in Goals, Healthy Eating, Running at 5:59 am by savorencyclopedia

I don’t understand all of the controversy surrounding the First Lady’s attempt at combating childhood obesity.  I certainly wish that I had been more educated at a young age about the dangers of living an unhealthy lifestyle.

I wish someone would have shown me how much fun high energy, cardio activity can be.  I was always mediocre at sports like softball, where your cardiovascular health is not a major factor in your ability to play well. Although only average in my abilities, I loved the sport and considered myself to be athletic because I played well enough not to embarrass myself.  I adamantly steered clear of physically intense sports, such as track.  Maybe I would have learned to enjoy running at a young age if someone would have presented it in a non-threatening manner.

I wish someone had taught me the basics about nutrition at a young age.  Sure, I learned about the major food groups, but never how to use that information in a real life setting. There was certainly no rigor and relevance to the lessons I learned about nutrition as an adolescent.  I would have thrived had someone showed me how to properly prepare healthy, flavorful dishes.  Instead, I learned to rely on (and come to love) sugary, starchy, fatty foods.  That is one mean habit to break, let me tell you!  I know that I will struggle with it my whole life.  As much as I enjoy healthy food when I eat it, I always long for rich, decadent tastes.  I don’t foresee that changing, no matter what changes I make in my lifestyle.

I whole-heartedly agree with anyone who suggests that parents hold the main responsibility for educating their children about their health.  The sad truth is that many parents don’t, for whatever reason.  Any efforts that are made to level the playing field for those kids who are not exposed to this education at a young age is commendable in my opinion.

Message Boards

Posted in Goals, Healthy Eating, Running at 5:36 am by savorencyclopedia

I have found a wealth of knowledge online through different message boards.

I regularly lurk and occasionally post on the 20 Year Olds and 50+ To Lose boards on Weight Watchers.  I have found more information and support on those boards than you can imagine.  Many of the people that post do not pull any punches, and that is what I love about the boards.  The information you receive may not necessarily be what you want to hear, but it will always be genuine and honest.  I am able to ask questions anonymously and without any reservations, knowing that I will receive an abundance of real life answers from people who have experienced similar situations.  I have not found any other message boards that are more relevant to my life.

Another message board that I just began to frequent is on Active.  There are many forums that discuss different aspects of the running process.  As a novice, I have many questions.  Thankfully, people ask and answer questions that I didn’t even know I had, such as the proper etiquette to use during a race.  Who knew you don’t typically wear the t-shirt of the event you are currently running?  I totally would have made that newbie mistake.  Common sense would tell most people that at the water stations on a race, you shouldn’t stop right where you receive the water to prevent large crowds.  Would I have actually thought of that?  I like to think so, but honestly I’m not sure.

I hope that I continue to find more message boards and forums that allow me to educate myself as much as possible on this process of becoming healthy.

Podcasts

Posted in Running at 5:18 am by savorencyclopedia

It is no exaggeration to say that the music can make or break you when running!  I was lucky enough to have someone on the Weight Watchers message boards recommend a website with downloadable Hip Hop Podcasts.  These podcasts have been invaluable to my running experience.   There were literally times during my first few weeks of running that I wanted to start dancing on my treadmill, throwing my hands in the air and singing along.

I can’t imagine making the experience any more enjoyable that that.  The problem was, I actually care what the people around me at the gym think, so my creative energy was stifled.  I continued to blandly run along on the treadmill.  But that high energy music gave me the stamina to run much longer than I ever expected. I still have not experienced “the zone” so many runners talk about, but I know that with this music, it is possible.

Putting it out there…

Posted in Running at 4:13 am by savorencyclopedia

Shout it from the rooftops!  Some days that is what I feel like I am doing in regards to my current running program.  Is everyone getting sick of hearing about my minor accomplishments? I wonder.  If they are, no one is telling me; so I will continue my eager and enthusiastic conversations about simple things like running for five minutes straight!!  Really, that is big for me.

Today I read confirmation about my incessant blabbing on a Glamour blog post.  The author gives the advice that telling other people about your running goals holds you more accountable.  I have certainly been using this strategy!  Every one of my co-workers is aware of my newfound interest in running (whether or not they care to… sorry!)  I am keeping in contact with one of my high school friends via e-mail and Facebook to discuss our running each week.  We are currently on the same week of the C25K program, although I think that may change in the near future.  My brother has heard many embarrassing stories from the gym.  I knew bloopers would follow me there. Many friends are in on my dirty little secret. Some are even fully involved in the rewards program I have set up for myself. If I start to slip, I fully expect someone to call me out!  That is why I have poured all of the details out on a regular basis.

That is also why I started this blog.  I am crossing my fingers that this strategy will work for me.

Rest Day

Posted in Healthy Eating, Running at 12:04 am by savorencyclopedia

Rest day.  I love those two words!  As much as I am actually enjoying my workouts lately, I have to admit that a good rest day is amazing.  A little light walking to stretch out the leg muscles, but nothing more.  My legs felt like jello yesterday afternoon after completing Week 4 Day 2 of the C25K.  I stopped at the grocery store for the sole purpose of buying bananas to hopefully prevent cramping in my legs.  $60 later I was blissfully eating a banana while driving home and loaded up on fresh produce.  My efforts were a success; no leg cramping to speak of.

Tonight I put the lovely produce I purchased last night to good use.  I sauteed zucchini, yellow summer squash, and asparagus in extra virgin oil oil and garlic. Tossed in some whole wheat penne pasta, basil, salt, and pepper. Delicious!

I assumed it would seem like a lot of work to prepare for one person, but in all honesty it was quite simple and very satisfying.  I will definitely be preparing this meal a few more times this week to use up the rest of these fresh veggies.  I was hesitant to buy them, considering they are not peak this time of year, but the flavor was still wonderful.  Maybe it is because I have not eaten asparagus or zucchini in ages; no matter what the reasoning, I was pleasantly surprised!

February 19, 2010

Goals

Posted in Goals, Healthy Eating, Running at 3:45 am by savorencyclopedia

Healthy in 2010 is dedicated to keeping me accountable in my quest to become as healthy as possible this year!  This goal is multifaceted; I want to focus on my physical, emotional, and spiritual health.  At the top of my list is becoming physically healthy.

There are many factors that have contributed to my desire to be healthier this year, not the least of which was seeing the deteriorating health of my grandparents.  I am lucky enough to be a 29 year old woman with four living grandparents.  I am well aware of how truly blessed I am, especially considering they are all amazing, down to earth individuals.

In the past year my maternal grandparents have both undergone knee surgery and intense physical therapy. I witnessed firsthand their determination to return to their active lifestyle. Sitting around the house was never their style and it was quite difficult for them to lose some mobility in the process. Currently they are exercising regularly by walking outdoors at their sunny, winter vacation home. Regular card games, cocktail hours and social activities with their neighbors are back in full swing!

This past month, my paternal grandfather suffered from a stroke. He is well on his way to recovery, but it was quite a traumatic experience for everyone involved. He was very lucky in the respect that his speech was not affected much and his mind (and sense of humor) are fully intact. Currently his speech is back to normal and he is working on his large and fine motor skills to be released back home.  I fully intend to challenge him to many games of Euchre, Dominoes and Blokus to continue working his mind and fine motor skills! My paternal grandmother is experiencing back problems, which we hope will not hinder her ability to help Grandpa with his recovery. I also hope that she is cognizant of her limitations and does not push herself beyond her abilities.  She has not spent a night away from my grandpa yet and I imagine she will take her caretaking abilities to the nth degree. Both my paternal grandparents are continually showing the family how much strength and willpower they possess.

Both of my grandfathers are plagued with Type 2 Diabetes.  This has caused me pause before, knowing full well that being overweight was a precursor for this disease.  It is time for me to take my health into my own hands.  I need to take ownership of every aspect of getting healthy.

My first step in focusing on my physical health included signing up for Weight Watchers at the beginning of this year.  This is not the first time I have used WW to aid my weight loss battle, but I certainly hope it is the last.  Weight Watchers does an excellent job of motivating me to focus on manageable goals and continuing to make small, sustainable changes in my diet that yield results in the form of weight loss.  I am currently down 5.13% of my body weight since starting in January.

I am well aware that although I am currently losing weight, I am far from being a healthy eater!  Today I finished reading the book “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan.  I hope to eventually incorporate mostly whole foods into every aspect of my diet, but I am slowly working to that point.  I am grateful to have such socially and health conscious students; one of whom allowed me to borrow his copy of this book when I expressed an interest during a reading conversation!

Exercise is certainly an integral part of becoming healthy.  One goal I have set for the year is to incorporate running into my fitness routine.  I have found a wonderful program called the Couch to 5K that allows me to use a phrase I never imagined crossing my lips, “I enjoy running!”  Tonight I finished Week 4 Day 2 of the program.  I will be detailing my successes and failures with this program in the weeks to come.

There are many runs that I would love to complete in 2010.  2 mile in March (if I am in town that particular weekend!) 4 mile in June.  7  mile in July. 1/2 marathon in October. I have made a tentative running/strength training schedule until October to help myself reach this goal, but I am a realist.  There is a good possibility I will end up hating running as much as I used to or my body will revolt against such rigorous training. In which case, aerobics, cardio machines and strength training will have to take over on the fitness front. Cartwheels and party hats may enter the picture if the ultimate success of running a half marathon in October is realized!

This entry sums up the basics of my health goals at this point.  Unfortunately, the success rate of this highly personalized program is yet unknown.