Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Half-Marathon Training, Frustrations and Inspirations

Setbacks in the last several weeks in my training for the half-marathon, have had me a little under the weather, literally. It all started with a very unassuming sore-throat and then melted into a full blown cold/flu. This is a problem because it started on a Friday and my long run was the next morning. Since my training began in 5 months ago this is the third week I have taken off due to illness or injury. My worst training record yet.....

While this is frustrating, I have learned to listen to my body. Whereas 10 years ago I would have pushed through pain or illness and ran my scheduled mileage, but I have learned that with age comes wisdom. Plus it seems to take longer for my body to recover. Ha! Sometimes, that is.

My longest run, so far, has been 9 miles. I am still not to my pre-marathon pace, either. It is frustrating because I trained for the marathon in 2 months and was up to 12 miles. I have had 5 months already and a total of 6 months prior to this half-marathon to train and just can't seem to get my body going in the right direction, until this week.

I must've been in a plateau for several weeks. I got comfortable running 2 miles, 2 times a week with my long run thrown in on Saturday. So this week I bumped it up to 3 miles, 3 times a week plus my long run and the difference was amazing. By the third 3-miler this week, I was running at my pre-Princess Lilliput time. While I seemed out of breath and my muscles ached, it felt good. I felt the way I used to feel running, like I couldn't get enough of it.

I also changed my eating habits. I added steel cut oatmeal with almonds and cinnamon to the mornings I run. So I was able to put the energy gel chews away. Yay! Those things are just gross. I dropped my coffee consumption to half a cup a day and only to aid in recovery after a run. I am eating more protein which also aids in muscle recovery and drink Propel before and after every run. These are all the things I did when I was training in 2008 for the marathon. They seem to be doing the trick.

I also added interval training to one of my 3 mile runs. I run at a faster pace for 10 minutes in the middle of the run. I believe this has made the biggest difference for me. As far as my long runs, I always take two bottles of Gatorade on my hydration belt. This has really helped to get me through the long miles. While I am not a big proponent of Gatorade for most exercise sessions, I limit my consumption to those days I am exercising for an hour or more. It all depends on the exertion level. If you are going hard for an hour you may need the bump that Gatorade can give you to add that extra mile to the end. Any less time and water is just as good, if not better, at hydrating. My hydration belt also houses my cell phone on a long run. What can I say, I'm a safety gal. You never know what will happen when you are that far away, especially where I live.  If you travel five miles in either direction you're in the boonies.

Four weeks to go and I can't wait to see the half-marathon course. It is supposed to run by the beach. What more motivation do you need if you can run by the water?

I only have 4 more long runs before the big day. I am super-duper excited!!! Plus Mav's gonna take the kiddos for the whole weekend, so I get a mini-vacay at the beach by MYSELF!! I am the luckiest girl in the world......

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Years Resolution 2013, Are You In?

Today is the first day of the year 2013. The New Years resolution decision is looming for some while others are choosing to opt-out. For the 40% of Americans who will make a new years resolution this year there are many companies willing to help you. Whether it be advertisements of monthly deals on fitness facilities or experts offering financial advice to combat the forthcoming tax increases, the resolution season is in full swing. Are you in?

New Years resolutions began innocently enough thousands of years ago but have now become somewhat of an enigma in our society.  Through trial and error, many individuals have given up the thought as just a passing dream which will never come to fruition lost in their own concession. After all, a year long resolution is a hard one to achieve. For some, the New Years resolution is a must for starting the new year on a positive note.

The word resolution is derived from the word resolve. The definition of which is to have determination, tenacity, doggedness and firmness in solving a problem or dilemma.

To create a solution to a problem, for instance, becoming healthy, one may ask, how do I achieve that? Since becoming healthy can involve anything from eating right, to exercise to meditation, it is helpful to break it down into smaller, documentable, attainable goals. This will help to determine the outcome, success or failure, of your resolution.

So once you break down the necessary ingredients for your resolution recipe, write it down. Break down the parts into weekly goals. For example, this week you resolve to eat a healthy breakfast 5 out of the 7 days. Then make a list of healthy breakfasts, go to the store and stock up. This list from Real Simple Magazine is great!

Once you have completed the first week, move on to lunch and the next week, dinner. By the end of the month you have achieved the goal of eating healthy 75% of the time. A helpful way of keeping track is to use a calendar to track your progress or if you are particularly organized, an Excel spreadsheet, print it out and place it on your refrigerator door. You have a reminder every morning of the goal you set for yourself. Continue this until you have completed your eating healthy new years resolution.

If you are particularly brave, you can add an exercise regimen resolution with your eating resolution but as they say, slow and steady wins the race. Remember that smaller goals are more easily attainable and they also keep you motivated. After the first month of achieving your eating healthy goals, add an exercise regimen. You can say you will exercise, walk, jog, ride a bike, etc., for 30 minutes most days of the week. Write that down on your calendar and put a check mark by it when you have completed the daily goal. Then each week resolve to add 5 minutes to your time until you have achieved one hour of exercise most days of the week. If you can only walk, then say for the first month you work on your time. Then the next month resolve to add jogging to each walking session. By the end of the next month, you could be jogging for most of the hour.

The main thing to remember is that you will have setbacks and successes.  The best way to stay motivated is to focus on your weekly or daily short term goals. That way if you have a setback today, tell yourself tomorrow you will eat healthy. Maintaining a positive attitude is 90% of the battle. Write down things you want to say to yourself should you have a setback instead of allowing yourself to fall into self-deprecation mode. Keep a list of inspirational quotes next to the calendar on the fridge. Get a massage or manicure after achieving your goals for the month. Allow yourself 2-3 pieces of your favorite fun size candy after a particularly good day. Give yourself one cheat day a week where you can eat whatever you want. Choose to do a new hike you heard about, instead of your usual daily exercise. These are all great ways to proactively and positively motivate yourself.

Remember, set the goals, write them down, check them off,  do a happy dance and give yourself a pat on the back or massage! You deserve it!

Good luck!

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