Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Shuffle

I know time goes by faster as you get older, but this month has been setting records. I can't even process how fast the days are slipping past, let alone accept that Christmas Eve is a mere 5 days away. The normal "milestones" of this season somehow came and went without the reality of them setting in...Christmas tree was bought and decorated 2 weeks ago, lights were strung outside, our annual holiday party has came and went, my sister's birthday...usually the big clue to me that December is almost over seems like ages ago, yet it was 2 days ago. Somehow I've managed to get the majority of my shopping done, which is weird because in my head I still feel like I can put it off another week! Since I'll be traveling from December 24- Jan 3rd, I'm just trying to make sure I think of everything. I decided that I would not be making the normal mix of holiday cookies this year to ship to my relatives on the East Coast. I'm going to be visiting them in a week or so, and I figure I'm a much better gift. Saves me time, saves their waistline. Win/win?

I had every intention of updating last week after my work treadmill tempo run, which was awesome, but got distracted with work? Who knows. I just know that my last post here was two weeks ago, and that doesn't seem possible. Last week was pretty ideal as far as my training schedule goes. I got my sprint workouts in on Monday and Tuesday running to and from the gym. I got my tempo run in on Wednesday at the work gym- I was able to hold a faster than race pace for 20 minutes straight, then did a slow cool down. On Saturday, I made plans to run with a friend which proved to be a great decision because after we spent some time running errands in the cold, raining, dark PNW day, both of us agreed that we wouldn't have run if we were on our own. We ran a huge set of steps 3 times, and then jogged around the neighborhood for 1.5 miles or so? I didn't even get warm until half-way through the run. That's how cold it was.

Since the stair run on Saturday, I've been extremely sore in my calves. I think my leg muscles are still adjusting to running on the balls of my feet rather than heel striking. Like, so sore I have to hobble awkwardly down stairs, and walking around it looks as if I'm using wooden legs that don't bend. I ran to and from the gym Monday and Tuesday and performed the tough workouts there, hoping to get some relief- not so much. Today is the first day I feel slightly better in my calves, but my shoulders are crazy sore from many 115# power cleans, 115# hang cleans (new PR for me) and 115# full squat cleans (so hard!), so I'm choosing to hold off on my tempo run today, and do it tomorrow. I will up the pace 0.2 MPH from last week and run that for 20 min with proper warm up and cool down. Then on Friday I'll hit the gym like normal. The daily and weekly checklists are still in full effect, and really keeping me on task as far as my veggie intake, fish oil intake, water intake, and other general things that are great for my overall health and well-being.

Yesterday was a really tough day for me at the gym. We were working on cleans, and my head was just not in the game. I can picture in my head what a good clean should look like, yet somehow I can't get my body to do it. Once again, my head is getting in the way of me being able to just do something. For whatever reason, I just could not drop under the bar. Then, when we were to do a full clean (dropping under bar, catching in a squat) I just wouldn't do it. I basically had the coach yelling at me (which I don't mind) and finally I got a few in. The annoying this is that when performed correctly, the bar feels weightless. So, I don't know what my problem is. Its discouraging because I've been attending a crossfit gym for 2+ years, and I don't really feel like I've progressed much in the last 1.5 years. I mean, sure, some things have improved. I can deadlift/squat/press more weight, and I can actually eek out a few toes to bar, but the list of things I can't do still remains long. I watch all these other people around me making huge leaps and gains in strength and skill, and then I feel like I'm just stuck in the mud. Its kind of frustrating. I don't know what the remedy is right now, but I've got a few ideas churning.

No, I'm not going to be changing anything drastic in my diet or training right away, but my initial thoughts are that I need to choose something specific to work towards...and stick to it. Like, just focusing on the 1/2 marathon in the spring, training for that, and letting some of my crossfit ego lifts slip a little as long as my runs are getting longer and faster. I read somewhere that you can work on getting stronger or you can work on losing fat. You can't do both. I'm beginning to understand that statement a lot better.

I wish I could spend the rest of 2012 curled up next to this guy:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I'm feeling pretty stellar right now, basking in my post-run endorphins and satisfied refuled belly. In order to meet my 1/2 marathon training schedule, I need to complete a tempo run and a longish run (3-4 miles now, gradually increasing to 8-11 over the next 3 months) each week both of these are in addition to my all out runs to and from the gym 3 days a week (I run as fast as I possibly can for as long as I can 0.5 mi each way, but stoplights and such break it up). December is my "base building" month, so I'm just trying to get some miles on the pavement before I really begin a more structured training program. Anyway, now that I've bored you to death with the minutiae of my week, I'll get to what I really want to say.

Today, in the spirit of checking things off my weekly list, I decided to forgo a trip to my gym (this is really painful to do, I love it there) and hit up the nice exercise room we have here in the back of our office building that I've held a key to for nearly 2 years, but never used. I wanted to be efficient and get my tempo run out of the way on the dreadmill, and then I could use either Saturday or Sunday to complete my longish run. Afterall, Wednesday is typically my rest day from the gym anyway, and I know I'll be there Thursday and Friday.

Oddly, today is a beautiful clear day here, I haven't seen this much blue sky in weeks. I contemplated performing my run outside. I work in a pretty industrial area south of the city, my options for safe running felt limited. While going back and forth in my head to run outside or run inside, I remembered the book I'm currently reading, and how much I can not wait for the bus ride home to read more. I could read on the treadmill! The decision was made. I changed into my clothes, grabbed my Nook and my water bottle and headed to the back of our building. I didn't need the key, it was already open, and for a split second I hoped that no one else was in there. It's very similar in look and feel to a standard hotel gym- TV's mounted on the walls, 2 treadmills, rack of dumbells, few benches, an all inclusive weight machine thingy, and not much room. I remembered that the workout at my gym today involved 35# dumbell snatches, and I was sad to be missing those, so I started on those as my warm up, switching arms each time. I did 5 on each arm 2 times. That got the heart rate going. Then I noticed an Olympic bar, and got excited for the possibilites for me using this gym more frequently! With just the naked bar, I busted out some military presses, then moved to a few push presses to get my shoulders nice and warm. Again with the naked bar, I did a bunch of rapid deadlifts to warm up my posterior chain. Finally, I noticed behind the all inclusive weight machine, was ANOTHER rack of dumbells, the other half of the set, going up to 100#. I grabbed the 65#'s, placed them on my sides, and did Farmer deadlifts- these are a new thing to me, and wow, I LIKE them.

All warmed up, I jumped on a treadmill, set my Nook font to ridiculously large so when I'm bouncing up and down I don't lose my place, and got to running at a slow clip. The idea behind a tempo run is that you start with a slow run to warm up, 5-10 minutes, then move into a pace that is pushing the limits, but not an all out effort for 20 minutes or so, then cool back down to a slower pace. I was unsure if I would be able to gauge what that up tempo pace was, but just decided to see how things felt. My 5 minute slow run was effortless and passed quickly as I read. When I bumped up the speed to find a pace that was pushing it, I was surprised to find myself not hating it. Don't get me wrong, it was no walk in the park, I guess I was just more surprised how easy it was for me to find a pace that I knew was faster then I would run at my own leisure, but not so fast that it was killing me. I was running on the treadmill for the first time in months, and I wasn't hating it. At all. I don't think that has ever happened to me before, ever. I remained on the treadmill for 25 minutes, felt sufficiently sweaty, and decided that for my first tempo run of my base building month, that was good.

I think I'm going to do all my tempo runs on the treadmill so I can see that pace I'm going. That way, I can ensure I stay at an even pace, and bump up the tempo part every week. If I'm running outside, I only have my brain as a gauge, and sometimes its not the best! Running bug is back?

In other news, my daily and weekly checklists are going great. I really like the satisfaction of seeing all the things I need to do, and then checking them off one by one.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Gettin' My Head Straight

I've arrived at yet another shift in my thinking regarding what goes into my body. For some this revelation may be obvious, or nothing new, and honestly, it really isn't anything new to me either. I'm going to continue to practice making decisions about what I eat based on what nutrients they provide to me, rather than focus on avoiding items that have proven to be detremental, or triggers to me. Semantics? Absolutely. However, as I learn more about myself, I find that I really need to have the correct mindset/way of thinking about something in order for it to really stick.

As I made the dietary shift away from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to one of mostly real food (meat, vegetables, healthy fats, things with one ingredient...etc.), my choices were correct, however the reasoning behind them may not have always been in the right place. I was focused on avoiding grains, legumes, dairy, and sugar. Items containing these ingredients were generally avoided sucessfully for chunks of time, mixed in with times of "relaxing" or "cheats" that could stretch into multiple week long periods. I was basing my dietary choices off what made me feel the best, and figured out that in order to feel my best, I need to stay away from grains and sugar. Dairy and legumes don't pose any ill effects from what I can tell, but they are things that I can just take or leave, so in general they stay out of my diet. I fell into a pattern of avoiding all the "bad" things for me for weeks at a time, feeling great, and then tripping up and falling down a wormhole for a few days/weeks/months. The wormholes certainly became fewer and farther inbetween, not to mention shorter, except for the one I'm currently crawling out of.

Hence the mightly epiphany. I'm looking to eliminate the wormholes in my diet. I need to find a way to continue to eat the foods that are right for me, and 'sheer willpower' is not the answer. I know what I should be eating. I know what I should not be eating. I know I feel better when I'm eating correctly for my body. When I was eating foods to avoid eating others, it wasn't necessarily well rounded. Sure, I was avoiding grains/sugar/dairy/etc. but, I was eating protein and fat and far too little vegetables (aka, nutrients). I would always tell myself I was going to eat more veggies, and some days I would, but really the only thing that could get me to incorporate them on a regular basis was having some sort of eating plan dictated to me. Left to my own devices to plan, I get lazy and just eat meat instead of eating meat and vegetables. So, my plan? Eat for nutrients. My day needs to be a well-rounded one. I need to ensure my vitamin D levels are up in the winter. I need to make sure I'm taking my fish oil everyday. I need to make sure I'm getting my calcium, my iron, B vitamins, etc. I know this shift may seem so miniscule to some, but for me its like a light bulb has gone off.

Because I love lists, I made a list of meals I can make that I enjoy and that are well balanced to make up my day. From the meal list, I made a shopping list. For information/research, I plugged days made up of my meals into a calorie counter app to make sure the nutrient levels are achieved. I'm not aiming for a specific calorie amount, but I am looking to get as much nutrition packed into 3 meals as I can get. I now see that this right here...this idea IS the whole point of ditching the SAD in the first place. I was guilty of not seeing the forest for the trees. I was focused on elimination, rather than nutrition. I feel that may have been making all the difference in my divergences from real foods. Instead of continuing to eat foods that fueled my body on a nutrient basis, I was obsessed with foods that I "couldn't" have, rather than thinking of them as foods that provided nothing towards my nutrient goals.

To further drill down the point, its the difference between staring at a brownie and training myself to refuse it because "I don't eat sugar" and staring at the brownie thinking what it does for my body and deciding that it is "nutrient void." In either scenario, I avoid the brownie, but I'm curious to see if this way of thinking about it leads to more consistent results.

In other news, I received the push I need to begin training for a 1/2 marathon in the spring. This time, there will be no half-assing. There will be an actual plan with milestones and boxes for me to check off. Not only do I want to run this whole 1/2 marathon without stopping, but I want to beat the crap out of my one and only previous 1/2 marathon time. In fact I guess the timing of this decision is even more perfect as for the next 3 months, I'm carless. Carless means the hubby dropping me off at the bus stop in the AM, riding the bus downtown to work (I got my NOOK all charged up and will be using bustime to read), running to and from the gym at lunch time, and walking over a mile home at the end of the day from the bus stop.

I found an iPhone app that lets me make checklists. Today I created a daily checklist and a weekly checklist. Each contain goals for the day, and goals for the week. I check them off as they are completed and I love that feeling. My current daily list involves taking vitamin D, fish oil, ensuring I get enough water (90oz min), 2 cups of green veggies (min) and moisturizing my face at night. These are the things I know I am capable of doing, but sometimes I just lose focus and don't fit them all in. The list outlines a routine, and I plan on falling into one. I may add things to the list as I see fit. My weekly list involves things I would like to accomplish over a week's time- getting all my training runs in, etc.