Saturday, June 13, 2015

Exercise Diary: Ups and Downs

An update on my workouts:

  • Thursday: 3 miles around the pond
  • Friday: ~40 minutes of spinning and 20 minutes of free weights, abs, and stretches 
  • Saturday: ~4 miles in the morning on my favorite Norwich loop
And if I had written before this morning's run, I would say that I'm finally getting comfortable with this running outside thing.  Last weekend I did the same Norwich loop and maintained the same pace throughout, while the 3 loops around the pond felt like nothing and I felt that I could run around that pond forever while listening to Neil Degrasse Tyson interviewing Chris Hadfield on the newest podcast episode of Startalk.  And I thought, okay, maybe it just takes about 2 months to get used to running on a surface that doesn't move, and now I get to improve my distance and maybe even speed instead of teaching myself how to run on concrete again.  

And then I went for a run this morning.  And I felt like shit.  

To be fair, I only felt terrible for the first 2 miles.  I was out of breath after the first mile, and my body felt like lead.  I slowed to a walk twice, and seriously questioned my decision to get up at 6am after a poorly rested night so I could run while no one's watching.  And that didn't even work; there were way too many runners (and their dogs) on the road, and other random people who just happen to be up ridiculously early on a Saturday morning.  Throw in the outside folks who gathered here for graduation weekend, who happened to be the only people who stared at my matching color outfit (other runners don't care), and the beastly sun who decided to come out strong before 9 am, I might as well run in the middle of the afternoon when everyone else is out.

Anyways, I had a hard time this morning because I was poorly rested, and that's that.  Still put damp on my nice running streak this week but oh well.  I started listening to audiobooks on my runs now, since I'm all caught up on my runnable podcasts.  Currently I'm listening to the dramatized version of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, which features Sir Derek Jacobi as the narrator, and Neil Gaiman, among other people, doing the voices for the different characters.  I can just listen to Derek Jacobi's voice forever.  I like it when his voice is outright gay, and I like it when it's less camp.  It's silky smooth and so endearing, and if I didn't care about the story I could just zone out and just bask in his voice.  But the story is interesting too, and since I don't really read fiction anymore this is really a good chance for me to immerse myself in a fantasy world.  

On Friday morning I went to a morning PE class offered by the college.  The instructor was kind enough to let me try a class before I officially sign up for the summer term.  I really did this so I don't have to pay $200 for a summer yoga pass that would give me nothing but extra pressure to schedule my summer around going as many classes as I can to get my money's worth.  So instead after much agonizing thinking I somehow convinced myself that getting up early 4 days a week to attend a 6am morning class that include spinning, free weights, and weight training is the best alternative.  There are many reasons that led to my decision but it still sound like a crack of an idea.  It's only for the summer and I think it will do me more good.

But what it boils down to is this: I'm running as much as I can now and I really love it.  I don't know if I will be running in the upcoming half-marathon in October, or exactly what my goal is, but I don't want to give it up.  And in order to run as best as I can, I need to improve on other areas of my fitness.  Flexibility is very important, and thankfully I do yoga regularly so I've got that covered.  But I also need to do weight lifting to strength my muscles and core and areas that are not directly affected by running, so I need to lift weights, or something along that line.  And since I have no self discipline and no ability to clear enough space out of my pigsty of an apartment to even roll out a yoga mat, I have to do it in the gym, and I don't know how.  And that's where the classes come in.

It just really sucks that all the available PE classes offered in the summer term happen during crappy time.  In order to attend most of them you either have to skip lunch or ditch work early, and I don't want to do either.  And that leaving late afternoons and early mornings.  Since none of the anaerobic classes are offered in the late afternoons, I'm forced to make the decision that I will just have to enjoy the summer mornings more and take a morning class.  And why take two classes so I'll have to be up early 4 days a week?  Because doing only 2 days will probably kill me since I will never develop a workable routine this way.  We still got 2 weeks before the classes start, but it's pretty much settled, and I want to get up early in the summer anyway.

I better look fabulous after this summer.

Plantar fasciitis is still bothering me after every run, and I ice my foot afterwards each time.  Because of this it hasn't set full on, but I really hope I can keep it at bay so I don't get cripple for another summer.  Stretch! Strengthen! I really don't need the inflammation and the pain thank you.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Exercise Diary: I'm back, it's back

Weekends are for long runs during times you would not normally be out.  And I'm glad that I took advantage of my weekend.  Yesterday morning I got up extra early and went to the next town over to do my favorite loop, and today I tried to do some fartlek around my usual pond.  I really need it too to burn of all the delicious I ate in the past week.

After many last minute yoga classes and pond runs, I spent 6 blissful days in New Orleans, where my lab mate and I attended this years American Society of Microbiology conference and did all the touristy things one would do in New Orleans.  There were 4 days of overwhelmingly vast choices of workshops and talks and vender and posters to attend and look at, we each presented a poster detailing our work, and got really excited about microbiology in general and our research specifically.

But perhaps more fun were the things we did outside of the conference.  We went up and down Bourbon way too many times since our hotel was right in the heart of the French Quarter and a block away from Bourbon, went to the French Market, visited many pubs and bars, looked around in many galleries and antique shops, and took many pictures.  But the reason for my runs, and the things that I was most akin to, were the southern food.  Surprisingly only very few meals I ate there consisted of fried food; somehow I managed to avoid that for the large part.  But I did make a point to eat as much seafood as possible, because why not?  So after these blissful days I managed to try beignets, alligator sausage, po-boys, gumbo (many many times, it's my favorite!!), étouffée (which tasted just like gumbo), oysters, catfish, and many other delicious things.  Not to mentions the cocktails and beers I tried every chance I got.  Unfortunately apart from the Hurricane we had on our first night there, none of the other cocktails (including a very expensive absinthe drink that was way overpriced) gave me any buzz.  At least now I know now how these traditional New Orleans drinks taste.

Both my lab mate and I were absolutely disgusted at ourselves by the end of the trip for how much we ate and how lavishly we ate.  I could feel that one of my shirts became noticeably tighter.  Surprisingly after I got home I found my weight stayed within a reasonable fluctuation of what I normally weigh, and after not eating any real meals for two days after coming back (there was no food in the apartment and I was too afraid to go shopping on an empty stomach, and I was abnormally exhausted after coming back), I actually lost a pound.  Perhaps I didn't eat as much junk food as I thought I had.  After all I did eat a lot of soup (gumbo).

But it was time to go back to regular exercising.  Although I brought my gym clothes and running shoes to New Orleans I didn't get any chance to go running.  The hotel gym closes at 11pm every night and apparently that just wasn't late enough for all the things we ended up doing every night.  On our second to last day I saw many people out running along the tram tracks that go through the middle of the road and those people made me happy.  For one, there are runners in New Orleans, and for another, none of them were very fast (though they all looked very fit).  It's probably the humidity that slowed those people down, or maybe where I am from people are just more into running as a whole.  Either way I was very happy to see them and if I had stayed for another week I would definitely join them.

Did 3.5 miles yesterday and honestly it wasn't as bad as I had thought.  I was going extra slow at first since I didn't want to burn out again after mile 1 with its steep downhill and grueling uphills, and surprisingly I managed to do the whole run without any walking.  Granted the entire thing was slow, and I wasn't really concentrating on my run since I went back to my podcast listening, but it was nice and cloudy and breezy, and I had a good time outside enjoying a beautiful town early in the morning. People were extra friendly too, every cyclist, runner, and other early risers who saw me waved or smiled at me, and I really appreciated the comradery.  On my way back I even saw one of my students running too.  Since they were taking their finals later that day I guess it's her way of de-stress.

Today I couldn't get up early enough for a run so I resorted to the pond in between my experiment.  I've long given up the idea of me lifting or doing HIIT exercises so I thought doing fartlek or interval running to increase fat burning would by my way to burn more fat.  But maybe I over did it today.  By the second lap I could feel a sharp pain surging from the bottom of my right foot and all I could think of it, oh no, my plantar fasciitis is back.  I'm not sure if it ever fully went away but I haven't had the cropping pain in a long time and my foot hasn't bothered me in a big way after my runs for a while.  Maybe given my weight at the moment and the pressure I put on my legs and feet when I try to run too fast is just not a good idea.  I will still do intervals but maybe I shouldn't push myself too hard.  I just hope today's little episode won't turn into something bigger.  I don't want to spend another summer not running and procrastinating on stretching out my plantar fasciitis.  Fingers crossed.