Posts Tagged ‘treadmill’

Back To It

I didn’t run a single step between November 17th and December 1st. I walked some, I might have dashed across a cross-walk, but no running for the joy of running. Late in those two sedentary weeks, my body felt bloated and my mind felt cluttered. It was driving me slowly insane not to feel confident enough to go for a run. I never quite grasp how important running is for my mental health until I have to go an extended period without it.

This Monday past, I packed my green gym bag with a technical shirt, sports bra, running pants, socks and shoes for the first time in a long time and committed to starting my plan to get faster.

I am going back to the beginning, back to where I started. Couch to 5k. When I started running in April of 2010, it was in the basement of the parking deck of my office. I was too embarrassed to be seen doing it in public, so it was slow, sweaty walk/run laps in the darkness of the deck. At the very beginning, even the 60 seconds of running in the first week was too much for my terrible conditioning. I think I had to spend two weeks on every single week of the plan for a while, and I think I was hung up on week 5 with a 20 minute run for 3 or 4 weeks before I succeeded.

But ultimately, I did succeed and of course finally found my way out of the darkness of the parking deck and into the light of day. And I eventually went a lot farther than a 5k, too, but never at any speed much better than maybe an 11 minute mile.

I want to run faster but have not had much success just trying to speed up with the normal types of ways to get faster, all of which are variations on just run faster and run up hills. I remember that C25K worked for me and so I think it would work for me again, just running faster. So Monday, I put myself on the treadmill and walked at 3.2 mph for 90 seconds, and then sped it up to 7.0 mph for 90 seconds. Wash, rinse, repeat until 25 minutes are up. This was actually Week 2 of the plan, but my conditioning is good enough that I was able to skip Week 1 altogether. So 7.0 mph was challenging without being crushing, but I was glad too when I got my walk breaks.

Wednesday, I decided I could walk faster on my walk breaks so I set the slow speed for 3.5 mph and kept my run speed at 7.0. I was not sure how the run would go considering I had roller skated for 90 minutes the night before, but it went fine. I will finish Week 2 of the plan today at lunch.

Are you surprised that I feel a bit intimidated by next week’s plan? I will have a couple of 3 minute runs at full speed. And the Friday after Christmas, if I can keep up with the plan, there is a 20 minute run at speed. That is not just intimidating; at this moment, it just seems flat out impossible to run an 8:30ish couple of miles on the treadmill without stopping.

Now it is not currently my plan to suddenly become a 8:30 minute miler. It is my plan to get closer to a 9:30 to 9:45 minute miler. But since I am doing this on the treadmill (so I can easily control my pace), I am training at a faster than goal pace to compensate for the easier to run on surface. It is only a theory that this will work; in a few weeks, I will start running outdoors again and that is when I will see whether my theory translates to faster outdoor runs.

Stay tuned. It should be interesting.



I have been working really, really hard on retraining my brain.

You see, I believe it is my brain holding me back more than my legs, lungs, or heart. Right before the Instant Classic, I wrote about how I was practicing smiling while running. It works! I know that sounds stupid, but if you make yourself smile, you think about why you are smiling. When I smile when I run, even if I am forcing it at first, all of these great thoughts start moving through my brain.

“Man, this is actually FUN!”

“Bet that lady who sees me grinning thinks I am an absolute nutter. Cool.”

“I could be sitting at my desk looking like I am ‘chewing glass’ right now. Glad I am out here smiling instead.”

When you are smiling, you can’t think “God, why do I choose to do this to myself?” It helps banish the thoughts like the one I had yesterday: “How in the HELL is Broad Street uphill both ways on Church Hill? It simply isn’t possible!”

It’s working and I can empirically prove it. My pace is coming down. I can see that on my Daily Mile training charts. The major improvement I have been looking for, which is getting faster, is finally happening. More and more of my runs are averaging mid 10 minute miles rather than mid 11s. I am even getting some averages in the low 10s, and on the treadmill I am starting to see some upper 9 minute mile averages.

I started running 3 years ago this month, in April of 2010, 3 months post gastric bypass surgery. Back then, I didn’t know a thing about pace or distance or anything. I was just running laps in the bottom of my parking deck, trying not to die after a single minute of running, and hoping to God that no one actually saw me.

Once I became conscious of things like pace, I knew more that I wanted more than anything to run a sub-12 minute mile. That was my first real goal once I had more or less succeeded at the Couch to 5K training program (which took more like 6 months, not 6 weeks for me).

I did eventually succeed at that goal, but I have since languished in the 11-12 minute mile range. Looking back, I realize I was doing just enough work to call a workout a run, but not really putting in the work to make real gains.

Now, all I want in the world is to get under 10 minute mile averages on a regular basis. My legs, lungs, and heart can do it; it’s my head that gets too heavy to carry. It is more than just smiling, of course, but the act of smiling does help ground my brain and shift from a negative headspace to a positive one.

Yesterday, a coworker saw me running down Church Hill and he said I looked like I was having a good time. At that point in my run, I was. After climbing Libbie Hill and then going up to Chimborazo Park, I had suffered a bit, and so that steep downhill of Broad Street heading west back towards the Downtown area felt kind of like an easy treat, and I definitely running a sub-10 minute mile pace. But I was also smiling and focusing on how glad I was to be out and about and running.

It’s Tuesday and Tuesdays are for speed, which is why I am particularly miffed that I left my gym bag at home today. It’ll have to be an evening run in the Chester YMCA, and the combination of the Chester Y and evening runs are especially hard on my brain, so tonight, I will practice smiling, and keep working on retraining my brain.

I Don’t Need a New Love or a New Life…

I want to give a short addendum to yesterday’s post about low iron count and low energy.

When I tallied exactly how much iron I am taking per day per my doctor’s instructions, it comes out to 1,032% of the Daily Recommended Value (I originally thought it was only 500% but I had underestimated my assumptions about the VitronC supplements).

In someone who had a healthy level of iron or someone whose small intestine wasn’t 33% shorter than it used to be, this level would probably be poisonous. For me, it seems that near poisonous levels of iron have been exactly the panacea that I have needed.

Maya suggested giving my running a little rest this week, which I did, partly because I was forced to by circumstances and partly due to extreme low energy. But 4 days after starting my heavy iron supplementation, I ran yesterday, and I chose the most challenging route I have yet mapped out. A 3.7 mile route east on Main Street, which is uphill for most of a mile, until it hits near vertical levels going to the top of Libbie Hill. For the first time in recent memory, I was able to run some of that hill (I have been limited to walking up that hill for a very long time). Then, rather than being completely blown by the top and having to walk until I hit Grace Street, I was able to resume running. I went and made the full loop around Chimborazo Park, headed back west downhill on Broad Street, and then was even able to force out an uphill sprint back to my office to finish out my run.

Pace was 15-30 seconds per mile faster than almost anything I have managed in months (outside).

Then, in an effort to get a full 7 miles in for the day, I went to the YMCA last night and put myself on a treadmill and pushed out on tired legs another 3.3 miles; not my fastest ever effort on a treadmill by far, but a good sub-11 minute clip. I was tired but not destroyed.

Iron? Rest? More sunlight in my evenings to improve my mental state? All of the above?

Whatever it is, I will take it.

Tomorrow, I run my 13 mile training run (plus a quarter mile). Both anxiety and excitement are gone. All I have for it is a smile. The forecast is calling for light snow; nothing to stick to the sidewalks or streets, but light snow all the same. Now, I despise snow, but the idea of running 13 miles while snowflakes catch in my hair and melt in the warm clouded exhalations of my efforts appeals to me in an almost poetic sense.

“I put one foot in front of the other one, oh oh oh, I don’t need a new love or a new life, just a better place to die.” fun.

I’ve Got This

I have thrown myself into the deep end of half marathon training. My training team is one of the slowest paced groups, with novice level routes and novice level mileage scheduled for each weeks’ Saturday morning run.

I am a novice and slow (11 minute mile pace in general) but I am committed to getting stronger and hopefully, faster. August 18th was the first time I had run since late July, and I went out and survived 4 miles. I didn’t own them, but I survived them. If the standard training rule is not to increase your mileage more than 10-20% a week, then I have blown myself up going from 0 miles the previous week, to 4 miles last week, to 14 miles this week.

It is not smart to jump into training like this and I know it, but I am the one who chose to leave my running gear at home while I was at Pennsic, and I was too wiped out after Landgrab to run during Peace Week, and I just couldn’t bring myself to lace up my trainers the week after Pennsic. I have 12 weeks left until race day and I am feeling the pressure already (as evidenced by the hours-long stress dream I had about race day last night).

Last night, I felt the intensity of this week’s training pull me under the water. I came home, ate dinner and laid in bed for a couple of hours, wishing I was sleeping, but unable to. I got up and spent a little time with the family before going back to bed and taking two Tylenol PMs and forcing myself to sleep.

Monday, I spent my hour in the weight room, lifting and lifting heavy. It felt really great to find that I hadn’t lost ANY of my strength training while at Pennsic, and in fact, felt like maybe I had even gained some. That is easy to do in such a physically challenging environment (I hauled Grace up the hill to Camp in her cart at least 4 times!).

Tuesdays are for Speed, and I did intervals on Tuesday, which was a very humbling experience. I was unable to maintain 6mph for more than a few minutes, unlike before Pennsic, when it was my “cruising speed” on a treadmill. And forget the 7mph intervals. I could maintain one gut-checking minute at a time, and then have to stop the whole workout for a 30 second pause. I made only 3 or 4 intervals and then spent a couple minutes at 6pmh before throwing in the towel at 16 minutes and only 1.63 miles on the treadmill. All my speedwork I had done all summer was lost to me, it seemed.

Wednesday was my outdoor day and I hit the 3 mile route on the floodwall. It was a beautiful day and the run was uneventful. With a pace of 11:35, I felt pretty good about that run.

Yesterday, I decided to tackle my first real tempo run. The definition of a Tempo Run (or Lactate Threshold Run) is run at least 20 minutes run at a constant “comfortably hard” pace. I am using Runners Worlds’ Training Calculator to guide me with planning my pace for my intended 2:30 half marathon goal, so I set the treadmill for 5.5 mph (10:54 min/mile) and dug in for 3 miles.

I find running on the treadmill to be boring in general, so intervals tend to help keep me interested and in the moment. A constant speed on the treadmill is hard on my brain but music helps me disassociate from the boredom. Halfway through my tempo run, the MP3 player quit on me. Batteries were dead. I wondered if I could make it for 16 more minutes without music to disassociate into and working at probably an 8 out of 10 on my personal Perceived Exertion Rate scale. I started this mantra in my brain of “I am a runner…” and would list a reason that I am a runner. That is where yesterday’s post came from. Some of those reasons were ridiculous, some heartfelt, some made up, some were non-sequitur (I have no idea where “I am a runner for the rockstar” came from). But for 16 minutes I kept up that mantra and I made it to the end of what was one of the toughest workouts I have ever done.

I have never really successfully applied the mind-over-matter idea to running before. This was the first time my brain really engaged in the effort I was putting out and dragged me through to the end without me giving up and giving in. I felt like I had accomplished something pretty amazing by the finish. Not as fast as any of my interval runs, but almost twice as long as those runs normally last. And I never quit, never slowed down, never walked.

Today is Friday and for my training schedule, it can be a rest day or a x-training day. As tired as I am and as much as I have pushed too hard this week, yesterday’s workout did amazing things for my self-confidence, so I packed my workout bag, not with running gear, but weight lifting gear. I will decide at 11:45 whether I am actually going to go pick things up and put them down over and over again or just rest, but I am glad that I have the option to choose.

Tomorrow morning, I will conquer 5 miles, the longest distance I have run since June’s Mud Dauber race. The trepidation I felt going into last Saturday is gone.

I’ve got this.

I Am A Runner

I am a runner:

-whether my miles take 7 minutes or 11 minutes to run
-because I know what a tempo run is
-for the flood wall
-for the sidewalks
-for the ups and downs of the trail
-for the fast and flat city street
-when it is cold out
-when it is hot out
-because I don’t quit even when my MP3 player does
-because I have a playlist just for my runs
-for my daughter
-for my husband
-for sexy calves
-for my permanent muffin top
-for those who can’t run
-for those who won’t
-because I was fat
-because I choose this
-because I take pride in coming back to work with sweat stains and a flushed face
-for the wounded warrior
-for the neglected child
-for the rockstar
-for the homeless
-because it is fun
-because it is hard
-because it is boring
-because it is exciting
-because I like pie
-because I fear what happens if I don’t run
-for my mom
-for my coworkers
-for the sights along the way
-for the smug sense of pride
-for the humiliation of a bad run
-for the glory of an amazing run
-because this is what I chanted to myself to get through the last 16 minutes of a 3 mile tempo run when the MP3 player’s batteries died and the going got tough

Call me crazy, call me foolish, call me slow, call me prideful.
Just don’t call me a jogger.

The Need for Speed

Not going to blast this to FB since I already did a post this morning.

I tried something I commonly do in weight training today with my treadmill run. I called it a pyramid run. In weight training, it typically works like this; e.g. 10 squats with 50#, 5 squats with 70#, 1 squat with 90#, then 5 with 70#, and 10 with 50#. A pyramid, get it?

Works great in strength training, so since the treadmills that all have the nice interval training programs on them were in use (all by walkers! Ah, the tragedy!) and intervals are kind of a pain when you have to make your change manually every minute, I decided to create a speed pyramid on the fly.

I started out with 3 minutes of warming up at 5.8 mph (11:21 min/mile), then 2 minutes at 6 mph (10 min/mile pace), then 1 minute at 6.5 mph (9:14 min/mile), peaking at 30 seconds at 7 mph (8:34 min/mile), and then “coming down the pyramid”, it was 1 min. at 6.5, 2 minutes at 6 mph, and then 2.5 minutes at 5.8. Then I did a second rep, 2.5 mins at 5.8 (so I had one long 5 minute stretch total at 5.8 mph), up the pyramid in the same pattern, and then coming back down, because I wanted a 10 minute per mile average pace, I chose not to follow the pattern, keeping the pace at 6 or 6.1 mph for most of the rest of the run, with one last 30 second bump up to 6.5 to wave off some boredom and make absolutely sure I didn’t come up with 2.99 miles when I hit the 30 minute mark.

I LOVED that run. Just thinking back on it brings a smile to my face. It was fun, hard, fast, and something I want to try again. Focusing on the math of counting out my times helped pass the time and keep me from getting bored, and I can do anything for 30 seconds, including run at 7 miles an hour.

I am really really proud of that workout.

9 Miles

I ran my 9 miles on Saturday morning in the most adverse conditions I have encountered so far. It was in the low 30s and alternating between heavy mist and pouring rain. I am actually really glad I did not hold out for Sunday’s group because Sunday was slightly drier, but it was much more windy and the windchill was in the low 20s. I prefer the rain to the wind.

So, 9 miles. I took gels around miles 3 and 5 and that was sufficient. I didn’t go through as much water as I did the previous week. The hills on this particular route during the early miles were really brutal and I lost track of the group by the time we hit the Lee Bridge. I managed to keep my paper with the route printed on it together until I hit the Boulevard and then it disintegrated. I got a little panicky on Monument because I just didn’t gather how far it was from Monroe Park to the Boulevard and I started getting a little irrationally afraid of missing the Boulevard (simply not possible).

Of course, I didn’t get lost. What can I say? I was alone and I was very tired.

I did a little stretching in the parking lot, but that was it. No foam roller or anything extra. I was so severely chilled that I could not bear putting my body in an ice bath, so I skipped that step too. I don’t deserve to feel as good as I do, all things considered, but, for now at least, it seems that the DOMS I was experiencing several weeks ago has stopped. I was very sore on Saturday right after the run, but after a nap and some time, that became very minor. Today, two days later, I still feel fatigued in my legs, particularly in my quads, but it isn’t pain and even my hip isn’t bothering me.

I have a major problem coming up and I have known this was coming for a while now. My training schedule has me running 3 weekdays a week — Tuesday through Thursday. Tuesdays and Thursdays are ALWAYS just 3 mile runs. Wednesdays have been 4 mile days until this week. Starting this week, and continuing through all of February, the Wednesday runs are going to vary from as little as 4 miles to as much as 6 miles.

I simply cannot do a 6 mile run on my lunch hour. I am not fast enough and I have to allow for time to change before and after. 4 miles currently is the longest run I can fit in my hour. That leaves me running in non-daylight hours. The Y limits machines to 45 minutes and they go into Cool Down automatically at 45 minutes, so again, I hit the 4 mile limit (also, I am ready to scream with boredom with just a few minutes on a treadmill). Running in my neighborhood sans daylight is just not a good plan for my personal safety in general.

Right now, I just don’t know what I am going to do. I could ask to use some personal leave and do the runs at lunch, but I can’t guarantee I will get any approval for that, especially if it affects the phone schedule. I could ask to leave early and take 90 or so minutes of personal leave and change and go run before 5pm. Again, run the risk of not getting approval.

The only other thing I can think would be to split the workouts. It wouldn’t give me the longer distance training I need, but if I did say 4 miles at lunch and 2 miles at the Y, or 3/2, or whatever, I would at least keep my mileage base for the week up where it needs to be.

Would love ideas or thoughts, but am too embarrassed to ask the HMTT right now, given that I don’t really know any of them.