Monday, March 23, 2015

Exercise Diary: Think I'm actually getting better at this running thing...

This is the last week of March and I'm into Week 7 or 8 (it got fuzzy in the middle at one point) of my half marathon training.  Considering it was a 14 week plan I'm almost or more than half way through it.  I've been following the weekly milage dutifully and have even thrown in some pilate weight training in the middle, but I've never really felt like I'm making any progress with either distance or speed.  I've given up on trying to increase my speed before my body is ready, and I've not yet done any distance that I didn't do before (I think the longest I've done is 7 miles, outdoors of course).  So even though I've accomplished some of my longest runs on a treadmill, I'm not sure it translates well or accurately to the road.  I still tell people that I'm training for a half-marathon, which I am since I'm following a plan and everything, but I'm not sure if the half-marathon is actually going to happen.  My friend still has not gotten back to running after her dental surgery, and now she's also got high blood pressure problems and I think she's going to bail on me.  I don't have an alternative plan; I don't really want to do the Boston half-marathon in May (or whenever it is, it's probably sold out anyway).  But I think I'll still go through my half-marathon training and maybe do the CHaD half that I didn't end up doing last year (which is in Oct I think) and move on to a full marathon training plan in case I actually go through with the Honolulu Marathon in December.

People seem to be impressed that I'm running and even training for something.  I think my only merit is the fact that while running became a fad among my (real-life) friends for a short period of time last summer, as far as I know I'm the only one who's still doing it.  Still doesn't mean that I'm good at it or anything.  I'm the slowest person I know, which is one of the major reasons why I run alone, or more accurately, why I consciously avoid running with people.  As in, purposely avoiding group runs.

Today is my catch-up day, catching up on the 5-miler left over from last week.  I've already finished my run and it's only half past eight.  I had completely forgotten that the school athletics facility is on spring interim hours and the gym closes at 8pm.  So much for watching Castle on the TV tonight.

But I've managed to time my lunch well so I'm not full or famished by 6:30, but still had room for a banana and a light snack.  I got to the gym ~10 minutes ahead of schedule, which almost never happens.  And (probably) because of the short evening hours the gym was packed.  Full of grad students, post docs, and old people working out, mostly on various weight stations, thankfully.  The treadmills and ellipticals were mostly empty, but somehow I still managed to get stuck between a girl who runs fast but funny and an older dude who made a lot of noises when he ran (and he only did intervals, running really fast for a bit then stood around for a bit longer).  That and an old lady working on her upper body strength who pulled a lot of pained faces while doing so kept me fairly well entertained for a while.

I started slow and gradually sped up.  I find that I'm better at doing that now, but I'm having trouble slowing down.  I can speed up gradually and maintain at higher speed for as long as my lungs would allow, but as soon as I slow down my lungs suffer new challenges.  While I was able to breathe better I also felt like hauling ass because my body wanted to go faster still.  But after a while it gets used to it and I could go longer than 5 miles if I wanted to while my body settles happily at the slower speed again.

But the main reason why I feel like I'm actually getting better is that after I reached my goal of the day I realized that I had ran almost all the way through (I had to stop at ~1 hr since the treadmill was programmed to stop after 1 hour, to make room for the next user I guess) and although my thigh muscles were feeling tight by the end I felt that I could go on if I really wanted to.  My stomach wasn't giving me any problems, my foot felt fine, my lungs didn't feel like they wanted to collapse, and the NCIS episodes were keeping my mind very happy.  I was in a good place.  Even though as I stepped into the gym knowing that I was going to do 5 miles on the treadmill (another first) I was genuinely scared.  Scared of all my body parts giving out during the middle of the run.  I was also focusing on the time instead of distance and I think that helped too.  I knew it would take me a bit more than an hour to do 5 miles and I was timing and playing with my speed that way.  I think it would've been much more painful mentally if I had been focused on distance.  But for all of these reasons I finished my run happy and accomplished, and for the first time I felt really good about myself, and that I was actually improving.

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