Friday, May 15, 2015

Running is Selfish

How about some talk about running that isn't a training log?

Lately I've been mulling over something while running: Running is selfish. (In my opinion, etc. etc.)

Here's the thing -- there are some running events and people who are legitimately running for others. Team Hoyt, for instance, where a father pushes his son who is a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy in a wheelchair. (Note: at his son's request initially, he wasn't pushing around his son who didn't want to be pushed around.)

Can I just say that if I ever saw these two I might immediately start crying?
Clearly, that is someone running for someone else. Or my friend Kara, who pledged to complete an Ironman and raise $10,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. A huge part of why she wanted to do the Ironman was as a vessel for raising $10,000.

But for the vast, vast majority of us, even if we are raising money for a charity as part of our training, at the end of the day, a large part of running is selfish. We run because it makes us feel good in some way. It might be mentally, it might be physically, it might be because hitting a goal gives us a feeling of pride. 

There is nothing wrong with any of those feelings. However, I think it's important to acknowledge that ultimately running is, for most of us, a hobby that brings us personal pleasure. So often I read things that seem to treat running as being something we do for others, and I just think that's a bit off base. (I'm sure I've been equally guilty of this.) 

So, this is something I've struggled with lately. Jess recently wrote a fantastic post about how much we have to do and give up to commit to running goals. It's so true -- there are a lot of sacrifices to be made in order to make yourself the best possible runner you can be.

The thing is, a lot of what we have to give up affects those around us, especially those who live with us. Certainly many hobbies have this effect. If you're in a competitive bowling league, you're probably gone a few nights a week. (Wait, do people still have bowling leagues?) But I'm guessing competitive bowlers aren't waking up at 5:30 a.m. for a run or going to bed at 9 p.m. on a Friday night or being picky with what they eat the night before a long run, or a host of things that runners need to do to seriously tackle big goals, all of which have some kind of an impact on those around us. 

I'm not writing this post to say that we should all give up running because how dare we do anything selfish. Not at all. Running is incredibly important to me for a host of reasons, and I think running makes me a better person. It certainly makes me a less stressed out person, which makes me nicer to those around me.

However, I've been thinking lately about the fact that when I choose to run a race and train for it, especially with my job which can frequently entail long hours, I'm giving up time with loved ones and I'm impacting what we can do if I say I need to be in bed by a certain time or can only eat certain things. And while I can say "it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for my goal," I have to remember that I'm not the only one affected by my choices. 

Look at that gorgeous sunrise! I snapped this at 5:50 a.m. after waking Sourabh up (because the dog was barking as I left) at 5:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning...

The fact that running and training for a goal are inherently selfish pursuits (again: in. my. opinion.) doesn't make them bad in the slightest. Selfishness is too often treated as a negative. Sometimes it's good to be selfish! Having our own interests and pursuits makes us better people.

I just think it's important for us, or at least for me, to remember that, and maybe to be more grateful to the people in our lives who are also sacrificing so that we can pursue our own goals. It's something I need to focus on personally, and I thought maybe others might relate.

So... thoughts? 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

RnR San Diego Half Marathon Training Log: Week 9

Last week (and this week) are my peak weeks of RnR San Diego training. They also coincided with being super busy at work and my mom visiting, so it was all about fitting in the miles where I could. It also meant that I only fit in one strength session. But, I hit 34 miles and got in two high quality runs, so I'm content.

RnR San Diego Half Marathon Training Log: Week 9

Monday: Off.

Tuesday: 4x1600m repeats on treadmill.

Hit the gym after work for repeats on the treadmill. Including my (new) fastest mile ever at a sub-7 pace. So that was exciting.

Really impressed with the new satin Sparkly Soul headband I got. It's a lot simpler than the sparkly ones but it stayed on just the same during the repeats.

Post-mile repeats = all the sweat.

(Note: I'm a Sparkly Soul ambassador but bought this at full price from an Athleta, which now carries Sparkly Soul headbands.)

Wednesday: (1) AM 6 miles easy with Monica on Yale Loop and (2) PM strength. 

Six easy, chatty miles around the Yale Loop then a post-work lower body strength workout:
  • 3x12 with 50# bar: (1) single leg deadlifts, (2) hip bridge lifts, (3) squats, (4) walking lunges
  • 2x15: (1) decline sit-ups, (2) reverse sit-ups with 35# weight

Thursday: Off.

Friday: 5 miles easy at Back Bay.

My easy miles have been feeling awful, but I'm hitting the paces on runs I care about, so I guess that's the important thing? Fit in 5 miles between work and picking my mom up from the airport.

Saturday: 12 mile long run at Huntington Beach.

Headed to Huntington  Beach on Saturday afternoon with my mom since she loves the beach. I figured if I was going to fit in my long run I should do it in a place she'd enjoy being!

  • Dynamic warm up routine.
  • 2 miles warm up
  • 2 x 3 miles hard with 2 miles easy in between: (1) 8:26, 8:24, 812, (2) 8:15, 8:07, 7:52
  • 2 miles cool down

I never felt great and I hadn't fueled properly (I'm just bad about doing things properly if I don't run first thing, honestly), but I was really happy with the second of the three miles hard. 

Sunday: 5 miles easy at Huntington Beach.

Happy Mother's Day! We had to spend the day taking care of some medical stuff, but thankfully we got to have a great late lunch at Le Pain Quotidien and enjoyed an evening back at the beach. I fit in 5 miles quickly(ish... easy miles = legs like lead) then we walked along the beach and enjoyed a gorgeous sunset.

Total Mileage = 34 miles

Thursday, May 7, 2015

RnR San Diego Half Marathon Training Log: Weeks 7 and 8

Oy, another crazy couple of weeks at work has meant that when I do have free time, I'm not spending it blogging. Sorry...?

BUT I have 30 free minutes right now so let's see if I can't bang out a training log for the past two weeks... Just kidding, I'm now finishing this on Wednesday, 36 hours later. Nope, kidding again. It's Thursday. This is my life right now.

RnR San Diego Half Marathon Training Log: Week 7

Monday: Off. Stretched and foam rolled.

Tuesday: Upper body strength workout.

After the previous weekend's one-two combination of 10 fast paced miles on trails and a 12 miler with 6 progression miles, my legs were shot. I started an easy run and they felt like lead.

Now, I realize there are gains to be made from these kinds of runs. I also realize that running on lead legs for 5 miles would have been akin to mental torture, and given how busy and stressful work has been lately with a huge deal happening, in addition to other projects, I just did not feel like slogging through five miles.

So I hit the gym instead for an upper body workout:
  • Dynamic stretching
  • 3x15: (1) plan to row, (2) skuill crushers, (3) high row, (4) chest press on exercise ball
  • 2x15: (1) single leg bicycles on BOSU, (2) BOSU ball toe taps

Wednesday: Off. Fail. Tried to go to track, spent 30 minutes trying to figure out how to get in, and when I finally figured it out, realized it was closed for a private event. And it was dark out. ARGH.

Thursday: (1) Ladder workout on the track + (2) lower body strength workout

200m - 0:42, 400m - 1:29, 800m - 3:16, 1600m - 7:09, 1600m - 7:00, 800m - 3:31, 400m - 1:30, 200m - 0:44

Didn't love the positive splits on the shorter distances, but in more important news, I ran my fastest mile ever! And then... I ran a faster one! Boom.

Also, I ran this on a high school track, and I forgot how young high schoolers look. I would have guessed most of the students who passed me were in middle school.

After work, hit up the gym for a quick lower body strength workout:

  • 3x12: (1) single leg deadlifts, (2) goblet squat, (3) weighted single leg jumping lunges
  • 2x15: (1) one legged BOSU bridge, (2) BODU bridge with foot tilts back and forth, (3) hanging knee-ups, (4) 1 minute plank

Side note: I'm really excited about my progress with single leg deadlifts. These used to be close to impossible for me and now I can bust them out using a 55 lb. bar.

Friday: Off. I was sore. It was rainy and cold. I felt "off". But at least I foam rolled and stretched?

Saturday: (1) 10 mile tempo run on San Diego Creek Trail with Kristina + (2) training with Melanie.

Met up with Kristina for a 10 mile loop. Yes, I am taking full advantage of having made friends with speedy people!

  • You know the drill -- dynamic stretching
  • 2 mile warm-up
  • (1) 8:51, (2) 8:39, (3) 8:34, (4) 8:14, (5) 8:04, (6) 8:03
  • 2 mile cool-down
Partway through mile 3, Kristina asked if I wanted to speed up since I'd mentioned I wanted to keep the pace fast. I said that would be great but she'd have to do most of the talking... Thanks for keeping up the conversation, Kristina!

I actually felt a bit nauseous on this run because I had more of a substantial breakfast than I normally do before a run (piece of toast with almond butter and a banana). I thought fueling a bit more might help hit the faster paces in the latter half of the tempo portion, but I think I need to stick with lighter fueling pre-run and then just fuel more on the run.

Saturday afternoon walk at the beach. It actually rained while we were there!
After the run, I headed to the gym for my last training session with my trainer here, Melanie. She and her boyfriend are moving to NYC! I'll miss her but I feel like I'm in a great place in terms of understanding weight lifting for running.

Sunday: 4 miles easy on trails.

I had already decided I was feeling rough and it'd be a cutback week, but then  I rolled my ankle around mile 3 and messed it up for almost a week. No bueno. Especially a bummer because it was a gorgeous day after a week of clouds.

In retrospect, running on single track after it had rained might not have been the best idea since it was completely rutted...
It didn't hurt at all at the time, but I was still a bit concerned, so I jogged back. It didn't hurt the rest of the day either, so I thought it was fine. Little did I know...

Total Mileage = 20 miles

RnR San Diego Half Marathon Training Log: Week 8

Monday-Wednesday: Off.

I woke up Monday morning and my ankle hurt. It wasn't exactly throbbing, but if I moved it much at all I felt a bruised-like pain. I iced it on and off both Monday and Tuesday.

Also, remember when I wrote that I felt "off" on Friday? That sensation of "off" developed into a nasty headache that lasted most of the week, along with some weird gums-swelling-up thing. The headache and mouth malady both mysteriously went away by Friday, but I just wasn't up for any form of exercise that wasn't running, and with my ankle, that was decisively out until Thursday.

Thursday: 5 miles easy at Back Bay.

Funny story. Turns out that I go kind of crazy without exercise. By the end of the day on Thursday, I knew I had to fit in a run for my mental health, regardless of what time I left the office. Thankfully I made it to Back Bay just in time for a gorgeous sunset.

Seriously, look at how gorgeous it was. The run was actually pretty shit, with my legs feeling tighter than they have in a long time, but the view more than made up for it.

Friday: Off.

Had to work late Thursday after my run so couldn't get up early and had Avengers: Age of Ultron tickets for after work. Which I was not missing for a run and/or workout, sorry. (In case you're curious, I thought it was great! But I demand a Black Widow movie...)

Saturday: (1) Tempo run on the Santa Monica Bike Path + (2) upper body strength workout.

Due to some travel craziness, I was hanging around the LAX general vicinity as the designated chauffeur. I got my tempo run in on the Santa Monica Bike Path before a delicious brunch at Urrth Cafe with my cousin. It was so great to see her, and she didn't even mind that I was a disgustingly sweaty mess. True familial love.

  • 1 mile warm-up
  • (1) 8:35, (2) 8:28, (3) 8:21, (4) 8:14, (5) 8:06
  • 1 mile cool-down

I hadn't slept enough (waking up at 5am to drive to LAX will do that to you) and because of the travel mishaps, I started this run an hour later than intended so was underfueled. It never felt great, so I focused on effort and making each mile faster than the last.

That evening, I fit in a quick upper body workout:

  • 3x10 at heavier weights: (1) squat to curl, (2) tricep cable press, (3) lat pull-down, (4) shoulder press, (5) chest press
  • 2x15: (1) decline sit-ups, (2) weighted reverse sit-ups

Sunday: 10 mile long run at Back Bay.

My phone was dying and work emails were coming in at a steady pace so I couldn't waste any battery on photos. But it was beautiful!

I forgot my Garmin, and as I mentioned, my phone was dying so a running app wasn't an option. Instead, I focused on feel. Thankfully I was running the Back Bay loop, so I knew the approximate mileage. Ran 2 miles easy, 6 miles medium hard effort, 2 miles easy.

Recovery post-long run. Mason kept demanding I pet him, so I decided to show him the wonders of legs up the wall.

Total Mileage = 22 miles

Not the best two weeks in the history of training. I feel like I have no idea where I'm at fitness-wise, so I'm hoping to do a longer tempo effort this week or next that will give me some indication of what I can aim for at RnR San Diego at the end of this month.