Hamstring Hell

I’m back after wonderful weekend away with my two best friends.  We spent way too much money, drank too much and flirted with way too many boys.  Basically, it was the best way to have a weekend 🙂

Anyway, that meant that my eating and exercise plans have been a little wonky since Friday so the last two days I got back to it.  Monday I hit up the stairmaster and bike for a good solid hour of sweating.  This morning I did 40 minutes of full body weights and then jumped on the treadmill for a 2 mile run.  The weights consisted of bench presses (4 sets increasing in weight from 70-85lbs), squats (4 sets @ 115lbs), step ups (3 sets with 12.5 lbs in each hand), deadlifts (3 sets with 65lb bar) and some various arm and ab work. Then, as if my legs weren’t burning enough, I jumped on the treadmill.  I did a 1 mile temp @ 6.0mph and then turned it up the second mile.  I alternated between 1 minute at 5.3mph and 2 minutes @ 6.5mph.  By the time that mile was over, my hamstrings were burning and screaming.  It felt awesome!  I can tell that my strength is really increasing and I think running a few short miles like this after a hard leg strength workout is really going to help my overall fitness.

I also signed up for a triathlon!  Yikes.  It is an indoor swim- and to be honest I’m not even sure why they bother with the swim.  Its barely worth getting in the pool for a 400m swim, but at least I know I can kill that part with no training at all!  The rest is your normal 12 mile bike, 3.1 mile run. I’m really excited about this, but its is also the day before my qualifying exams and I’m wondering if I’m out of my mind to do this.  I suppose it will be great to burn off some steam the day before my worst nightmare comes true, but is this too much stress all at once?  I don’t know- guess I’ll find out!

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Tricks

I woke up very tired this morning, as if thats anything new in my world!  On my running schedule for this morning I had 4 miles with 3×800 @ 9:55 pace.  I did this workout last week and it was hard, but totally worth it.  I started with a VERY slow mile warm up (12 min pace) to get my body to wake up.  Honestly, it took well into the second mile before my body actually woke up.  Sometimes, you just need to push through the exhaustion, and today was a day it paid off.  I started my 3×800 at 6.1mph and after the first one I knew I could do more than the prescribed workout.  Generally, I’m not a proponent of deviating too far from workouts, just because I think its a good way to push yourself too hard and get hurt.  However, I knew my body to handle it today.  I ended up doing 4×800 with the last two at 6.2 mph (400 jogs in between) and then 2×400 at 6.4mph with 400 jogs.  All together I finished 5 miles in about 52 minutes.  

Some days my body just falls into a nice rhythm and the run is smooth and easy.  Today was not one of those days.  I know I just said that I did an extra mile because I knew I could handle it- but not because the run was flowing smoothly- but because something in my brain told me to go harder.  Occasionally I will have a run where nothing works and I have keep repeating mantras to myself to get my mind off the pain.  Today, I did something a little different.  Rather than the usual “you can do this”, “only 1 more mile”  I started thinking about how far I have come.  In October, I could barely run 3 miles and running at 6.2mph on the treadmill was an all out sprint.  I couldn’t hold a 10 minute pace for more than a few minutes (2, I think) and I was so disheartened.  Then, I ran a 5k, started to incorporate speed work and suddenly (ok, more like over the course of months) I could easily hold a 10 min pace and I was doing sprints at 6.6-6.7mph.  In the running world, these stats are still outrageously slow, but compared to where I started, I’m thrilled!  All of these thoughts and numbers were running through my head during that last 400 pace at 6.2 and it really pushed me through.  Yes, it hurt and I really wanted to stop, but I kept reminding myself “think of how far you’ve come”  and “think of how proud you are to even be running this fast for 30 seconds”.  Well, that 400 was over faster than the rest and I even powered through another mile after that.  Sometimes, you just need tricks to keep going- and the pay off is almost always worth it.

Its a rainy/snowy/nasty day here, but I’m counting down the hours until I get on a train to Philly to see my best best friend in the whole world for the weekend.  We are celebrating her recent birthday and awesome achievement of becoming a certified yoga instructor.  I couldn’t be more proud of her!

New Shoes

The last few days have been very good, injury wise.  My hip seems to have calmed down and I even ran twice!  I discovered a few weeks ago that my hip issues started right around the time I bought new running shoes.  I went to my local running store and got fitted for new shoes, but it surprised me that the guy who sold me my shoes told me I’d been running in the completely wrong shoe type.  I had always thought I was an overpronator, but he claimed I was a neutral runner and therefore should buy neutral running shoes.  So, I bought the shoes he recommended and starting running.  Turns out…he was wrong.  These shoes are definitely the cause of my hip pain.  Two weeks ago I switched back to my old shoes and ta-da! Hip pain gone.  Okay, not totally gone, but to a level I can handle and rapidly falling.  I don’t know if this means the guy at the store was totally wrong, or my stride when I run is different from what he thought.  Either way, I now have a brand new pair of running shoes that I can’t use.  Disappointing, yes, but I’d rather waste money on shoes than have a serious injury.

That brings me to my workouts so far this week.

Monday: 5 mile run following the 3’s and 5’s workout

Tuesday: 2000m row followed by 55 minutes of full body weights

Wednesday: 4 mile run: 1 mile warm up, 4X800 @ 9:30 pace with 400m jog between each.

I’ve been stretching, icing (in the morning) and using the heating pad (at night) religiously, so hopefully this regiment will keep my hip in running shape.  I’m backing off the running until the weekend, hoping that a long recovery between my speed work and Saturday long run will be beneficial.

Gains

Today was another day in the weight room.  Last week was a terrible week running-wise, so I’ve been focusing on getting stronger as an overall health goal rather than focusing on running.  I’ve always loved to lift and I credit my mom with teaching me the ways of the weight room.  However, recently I’ve been a rut where I do the same moves, the same weight, the same everything.  Muscles get bored and stop responding to repetitive movements, so its good to mix it up now and then to shock those muscle fibers back into action.

This morning I focused on increasing the weight on my two favorite exercises: bench press and squats.  My “happy weight” for these exercises is about 80lbs for bench press and 105lbs for squats.  I can happily bust out 3 sets of 12 on these weights and not feel it- not a good sign!  The rule of thumb when lifting is that the last two reps should feel hard and really max you out.  Today I benched 80lbs for 1 warm up set and then did 3 smaller sets (6-8 reps each) at 90 lbs.  My arms were definitely shaking when I was done.  Then I moved to the squat bar and started with a nice warm up set at 100lbs.  I slowly added weight each set and ended up doing 5 sets with (100lbs, 105lb, 110 x2, 115lbs).  I managed to bust out 8 reps on that last set, but boy did that hurt!  What an awesome burn.  I did another 45 minutes of general weights and then finished up with 30 minutes on the stationary bike doing 1 minute repeats of 1 min low resistance, 1 min high resistance/sprint.  Good workout with  major gains in the weight room.

In addition to my awesome workout, today is sweet potato day!  I LOVEEEE sweet potatoes but I never get home from work in time to bake them properly.  I don’t own a microwave and honestly, its sacrilege to bake a potato in a microwave!  I love the way potato skin gets all crispy on the outside and the inside is gooey and warm and baked to perfection.  Anyway….every Sunday I bake myself a sweet potato and savor every single bite.  I’m counting down the hours until I can put it in the oven and start to smell the amazing sweet aroma as it fills my apartment.  Nothing better than a sweet potato doused in cinnamon straight out of the oven.  Well, I’m off to drool….happy sweet potato day!

 

Frustrated

I’m so frustrated with my body this morning.  I’ve been sick all week, so rather than getting in the pool (chlorine makes me sneeze extra bad) I decided to do a cardio combo at the gym.  First up, I did 25 minutes on the step machine which was a great sweaty warm up.  Next, I jumped on the treadmill hoping to run a 5K, but my hip just isn’t going to give me a break.  The first mile was painful, but I was hoping it was just my hip loosening up.  At 1.2 miles, I decided to call it quits.  Each step felt like someone was stabbing me with a huge needle and my hip just felt so weak.  Rather than do serious damage, I got off the treadmill and finished up with 20 minutes of hard intervals on the stationary bike.

Overall, I got a great workout, but I am just so frustrated.  When I started running a few months ago the hardest part was working up the endurance to run distances over 3 miles.  Now, I am perfectly capable of running 8 miles in a go, but my body isn’t complying.  The fitness is there, but the muscle just doesn’t want to do it.  I’m thinking of going to see a chiropractor or physical therapist about this because not only does it really hurt to run, the adjustments I’m making to lessen the pain are making my stride incredibly unnatural.  As a result, my back hurts, my ankle was locked up last week and I can tell that I’m wasting energy trying to run “normal”.  Perhaps this is something that can be fixed easily with some specialized stretching; perhaps its a real injury that I should have taken care of long ago.  The only thing thats holding me back is my own stupid pride and self esteem.  I don’t think of myself as a runner.  I’m an athlete- thats also been one of my self-descriptors- but I’ve never seen myself as a runner.  Hell, I can barely run more than 20 miles per week.  Real runners run 120 miles a week!  (Or so I thought)  I don’t want to walk into a doctor’s office and say “I’m a runner and I would like you to help me with this injury” if the doctor then asks about my fitness routine and finds out that I’m barely a recreational runner. I don’t want someone to feel like I am wasting their time.  They could be helping real runners who are training for marathons, etc, not this stupid girl who wants to run a 10K!

I’m not sure what to do and I don’t have any answers for what I want to hear.  I’m just frustrated and annoyed because I know I’m capable of so much more….

Heavy Lifting

Back in the gym for a good heavy lift today.  Running the last two days hurts, so I’m taking it slow.  I’ve read, many time, that its easier to prevent injury than come back from one, so I’m taking that advice.  I really want to be healthy and strong in time for my 10K in May, so no getting hurt!

I started today off with a 10 min warm up on the rowing machine, which turned out to be about 2000m.  Then, I started right in on the hard stuff.  I decided today to large muscle groups moves to try to target as much as possible with as few moves as possible.  Workout looked something like this:

Bench Press: 3 sets of 12 @ 85lbs

Goblet Squats: 3 sets of 20 with 25lb dumbell

Straight leg Deadlifts: 3 sets of 12 with 65lb barbell

Pushups on Bosu Ball: 3 sets of 12

Walking Lunges with 25lb plate above head: 3 sets of 15

Biceps Curls: 3 sets 12 with 15lb dumbells

Abs- 5 min

Finished off with another 10 min/2000m on the rowing machine.  That was one heck of a workout- I’m going to be sore tomorrow!

I’m Back, Baby!

This morning, I ran for the first time in 7 long days.  I know, 7 days doesn’t sound like that long, and it truly isn’t, but when you are counting down the days until you can run again, 7 feels like forever.  My hip has been feeling really good the last few days so I decided today was the day- now or never.  I got to the gym around 9 and hopped on a treadmill for a quick warmup walk.  About .25mile in, I felt nice and warm and picked it up to a jog.  My first mile was slow, as usual, but it felt much more natural than it has in weeks.  The next two miles I really worked hard.  I did the first mile at a 10 min pace, alternating incline/no incline every .25mile.  The second mile I did the same incline patternbut ran at 9:40pace.  Then I did a mile of speedwork: 1 min @ 6.5mph, 1 min @ 5.5 mph and finally I did a 1 mile cooldown at about 10:15 pace.

Overall, I did 5 miles in 51:30.  I’m definitely tired, no lying, but I’m so proud of myself.  A few months ago I couldn’t run more than 2 miles at a time, then I got hurt, took some time off and I STILL managed to run 5 miles faster than ever before.  There really is no better feeling than pushing yourself to accomplish a goal.  I really don’t like to compare myself to other running bloggers online because I know my times look outrageously slow compared to what they do, so for how I’m really going to focus on how I feel about my accomplishments.  I’m proud of myself, I feel healthy, and if someone wants to tell me I’m slow- bring it on! Slow and steady wins the race, but only if no one else is racing 🙂

My best friend from high school is in town this weekend for a Law School thing.  I’m not even going to try to understand what they are talking about, but I do get to join her for a cocktail party after the seminar is over.  On that note, I’m off to find something appropriate to wear to a party full of lawyers; perhaps a long black robe!

Almost there

It’s been nearly three weeks since I felt an uncomfortable twinge in my lift thigh during a run and told myself- no big deal, just keep running.  Unfortunately, I kept running and it got so bad that I started to have trouble doing normal things, like walking.  One afternoon while I was limping up a staircase, I realized that I was being ridiculous.  I’m not an elite athlete, I’m barely a competent runner, and there I was hurting my body because I didn’t want to admit defeat.  Anyway, I decided to take a full week and a half off from running to let my body heal.  Since then I’ve swam, lifted, biked and stair-mastered my way through the week.  I definitely feel a difference in my thigh and I think I’m just about back to normal.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be my first run back and I can’t wait!

This morning I jumped in the pool for a solid 45 minutes.  I swam hard, but not full out and finished 2800m.

500 free warmup

500 pull

500kick

Pyramid: 50,100,150,200,150,100,50

3X100 sprint

200 Cool down

The swim felt good but I can’t wait to get back to running tomorrow.  Here’s hoping it doesn’t snow overnight!

Why Blog?

I only started this blog a few months ago, and at that point I really didn’t care if I ever got viewers.  I started this as a way to document my journey into running; I thought it would be cool to have a written account of how much my body changed, how far I ran, what it felt like, etc, etc.  At this point, I still feel very much this way.  I get a very small number of views per day, and I’d actually like to keep it that way. In fact, I’ve been thinking of turning this blog private and making it an electronic journal.  After all, isn’t that the point of blogging?  We live in a technologically advanced world and the daily journal has been replaced by the daily blog.

I suppose I brought this up because I’ve been lurking on GOMI lately and I think the posters there bring up some really great points.  Most bloggers, at least in the fitness and healthy living world, are incredibly self centered.  They blog about anything and everything (from fitness to funerals-seriously) and seem to have no off switch.  Nothing is sacred anymore.  Bloggers document every step of their pregnancy, filling in readers on some pretty gruesome details of labor and delivery; they tell readers about their truly personal emotions, problems with food; they take pictures at funerals and post them online.  All of these things got me thinking- what is the point of my blog?  Am I doing this to get attention?  Well, I can answer that pretty fast: hell no.  I don’t post pictures of myself, my house, my life and everything I ever do.  I don’t have sponsors who give me money to pimp out their latest product.  Above all, I don’t want those things- now or ever.

I want to be able to look back over this blog in a year, two years, and see what my life was like.  I want to be able to read about my journey into running, I want to see how my life evolved during grad school, how my friendships and relationships changed, how my worldview evolved.  These are the important things to me- not page views.  So, with that, I suppose I may turn private soon- although I doubt anyone will notice 🙂

Trucking along

Well, its more than a week since my downer post about my sad pathetic love life, and I’m happy to report that things are looking up! My emotions are still all over the map most days, but I think I’m moving in the right direction.  I’m slowly settling into a new rhythm, making lots and lots of plans with friends so that I have plenty to do during the weekends (the time when I’m most afraid I’ll get super lonely) and generally enjoying this time to focus on me and what I need in my life.  So far, I’ve discovered that I need a few things to make me happy

1. Exercise.  I don’t know how I would have held to together the last few weeks if I didn’t exercise on a regular basis.  I covered 10 miles on the track this weekend, another 10 on the bike this morning and logged nearly 20 miles of running last week along.  Clearly, I blow off steam by exercising

2.  Good food.  The more I think about myself and learn what I need to feel good, the more I realize it revolves around health.  Health, for me, comes from good food.  I’m making sure that I don’t drown my sorrows in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s (although, man does that sound good).  Instead, I stocked my kitchen with healthy produce, whole grains, organic cage free eggs and poultry and cooked up a delicious batch of sweet potato cookies for when the sweet tooth strikes.  Good things in, good things out 🙂

3. Sleep.  The first few days, I couldn’t sleep at all.  I was just tossing and turning, thinking about how upset I was.  Then, I started to calm down, my sleep schedule returned and I feel like a new woman!

4. Friends.  Ya, can’t say it enough- girl talk is the ultimate broken-heart-healer.  As is time out with good guy friends who will tell you dirty jokes, make you laugh until it hurts, and then buy you a great drink just because they want to.  I’ve had plenty of both of these things, and I’m looking forward to more

5. My mom.  Nothing better than a mother who will listen to you cry on the phone and then send you an email about the healing benefits of dark chocolate along with a promise that some is arriving in your mailbox soon.  She’s the best