Friday, March 18, 2016

Random Thoughts

Running Documentaries

By sheer accident I started to watch documentaries on marathons or people running marathons. I saw one on the Barkley Marathon, one on Desert Series Grand Slam, one on Eddie Izzard, and one on Dean Karnazes. One of the things I learned is that there are a lot of bad documentaries out there about running and marathons.  Some of the ones I started to watch were really boring even though they are on very interesting events like the London Marathon or some other ultra event, so you really need to wade through a whole bunch to get the gems, especially if you are fishing on Youtube.

But of the ones I did finish I was inspired by all of them.  Like how humble Dean Karnazes is.  I first read about him in Born to Run, and for some reason he came off as charismatic but arrogant so I didn't have a good impression of him.  And I think this is completely untrue.  I've acquired a few of his books now and at some point I'll get around to reading them all.

I was more amazed by Eddie Izzard I think.  At 47, this transvestite comedian who had no previous running experience decided to run a marathon a day, 6 days a week, until he goes around the entire Great Britain, for Sports Relief.  His marathons averaged about 10 hours each but he still did it and it looked absolutely miserable but entirely amazing.  He essentially did it by sheer will power and stubbornness.  I think he will have lifelong injuries from this experience, but I can't deny it was just a great feat no matter how you look at it.  I was more amazed, and sometimes angered, by how unprepared he was, and how little he seemed to know or care.  The support team he assembled was okay at best.  The trainer was annoying and not very helpful, and he spent more time in the documentary talking to a camera in sit-down interviews than he was actually by Eddie's side, and somehow he's the trainer, of someone trying to do an impossible feat with no experience.  In the middle they brought in some random nutritionist who gave bland and very crappy advice.  Eddie did the whole thing while being accompanied by his own ice cream van that went around giving out free ice cream to people for donations, and he essentially snacked on ice cream and candy bars and sometimes beer through the whole thing.  And he did the most irresponsible things like trying to do a sub-4 marathon after taking a day off for some pretty bad toe injury, or taking really long detours and refusing to listen to his therapist until he was in serious danger of having to discontinue the runs.  But it's Eddie Izzard, and he ran a marathon a day, 6 days a week, around Great Britain.  And I was inspired.

Almost Two Years

It's been almost two years since I started running.  I started late in March of 2014 for a number of reasons that just happened to occur all at the same time, and I've been running on a off for two years since. I still consider myself a beginner runner, since I don't think I make much progress at all since I started.  I didn't lose a significant amount of weight, I've only done a 5K so far and cannot run faster or longer than when I first started, and I'm not sure how much better as a person I've become since I started.  The only consolation I could give myself is that, just imagine how much more weight I would've gained if I hadn't run.  It's true that I've not gained much weight since I started so I guess that's something.

Advice? What Advice?

Over the two years I've done a lot of reading about running.  I've had a Runner's World subscription for almost as long as I had this blog, and I read books about running, watched documentaries, perused  blogs written by fellow runners, and read endless articles.  I've downloaded marathon training calendars, saved posts about post-run stretches and core-strengthening exercises, listened to talks about running gears, tech or otherwise, and managed to get a signed photo of Shalane Flanagan and had a picture taken with her.  I know a lot of stuff, and I've been reading long enough to have some of the basic stuff repeated over and over again.

And there are a number of things that on paper I theoretically should abide by.  Things like you have to do tempo runs to increase your speed.  You have to vary your workout.  That I need a certain kind of shoes given my build and my feet.

Some of the things I read were very helpful.  I'm happy with my running posture.  And with all my yoga and pilate exercise I've strengthened it somewhat and nowadays I really try to engage my core as I run and the runs do feel a bit easier and more effortlessly.  I think I'm done with getting more running shoes for a while.  I've worked out my own system while running outside (I've tried bring money to buy water on the way, holding off until I get home, and by the end of last year I got myself a hand-held running bottle with a zipper pouch).  My running time are pretty set; I always go around dinner-time.  And I've given up on trying to follow any training calendar and just run as I see fit.

I feel that a lot of the advices and guidelines and how-tos are not quite designed for me.  I have no explanation for the shoe thing.  I guess we'll find out if running with unsupported shoes will give me problems later on.  And I no longer do tempo or speed runs.  I know they are supposed to help you build your speed, but every time I push beyond my comfortable speed my plantar fasciitis comes back and it's agony.  I've done 3 5K runs this week, which is too big of a milage increase from the week before but I don't care since I'm happy with my runs.  And I think I'll leave the anaerobic exercise to the HIIT class I signed up again for next term.  Running will remain my cardio workout.

And all of a sudden last week and this week I'm able to push through my 1-mile barrier and today I ran for 30 minute straight at a constant speed of 5 mph before slowing to a walk and I've never ever done that before.  I know it doesn't sound like much and I'm not going to go any faster in a while but to me it's a substantial achievement.  And nothing had changed in the two weeks except my mindset.  I told myself that I would run for 30 minutes before stopping to a walk and 40 minutes total and that's what I did.  I almost didn't go run today but I told myself that if I wanted to order Thai food for take out I need to go run to burn off the calories.  I persuaded myself to hit the gym and somehow also managed to not get Thai food.  And I normally suck at self-motivation.

So I'm gonna try something new and just do my own thing for a while.  Nothing as crazy and stubborn as Eddie Izzard, but just things that suit me.  The heavy, slow me.  The unathletic me.  I think I need to tailor plans that I can handle, instead of things designed by professionals and for very experienced people.  And one of the things is to make small goals.  Small and tangible, and make them often as I (hopefully) reach the goals.  I told myself that I shouldn't get the Thai dish I really like until I lose 5 lbs.  I'm also going to stick with my 5K runs and increase the frequency with which I run them.  I want to work my way to one week, hopefully in April sometime, that I do one 5K a day for 7 days.  Not at race speed, but just the distance.  And I'm not going to do that right away, but I'm going to build to that point.  I want to run again on Sunday, so I will have done 4 5-K workouts this week.  Maybe next week I'll try 5, maybe I'll stick with 4 again, depending on how I feel.  And once I reach my 7-day goal I'll increase my runs to 45 minutes instead of the now-40.  Or I'll do a 4-mile target distance.  We'll see.  But it'll be slow and steady, until my body gets used to it and wants more variety.  I'm also going to work more on my mental readiness.  Like how not to over-eat, or what to do when I just don't feel like running, or how to better manage the boredom while on treadmill.  I know my body is capable of doing more but mentally I'm scared and nervous.  I don't really have a race I want to do in the near future but I'll slowly tread toward that direction.  And it's going to be good.

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