Thursday, April 29, 2010

Me? Running Expert? HA!

I cannot believe it. Someone has asked me for running advice. Shut the front door. Do you have any idea how strange that is for me? If you've known me for a long while, I bet you have some clue.

Well, I responded to my friend's request for advice and I thought some of it might be valid enough to post here for the world (aka my 8 followers) to see. So, brace yourself for the sage advice of an experienced (2 months experience) runner.

***The Request***

How do you like C25K? I've been thinking about giving it a try. I actually tried it last winter and gave up after a week and a half. It was around the holidays and I didn't have enough time to really give it a fair shot. And I'm not a big fan of running on a treadmill. Now that the weather is nice and I can run outside, I'd like to try it again. Any advice?

***My Advice***

First of all, you have no idea how strange it is to me that someone's asking my advice about running. Bizarre-o! =)

Second of all, yay for trying it again! I totally tried Week 1 at some point and quit after my second run. I actually think it's a requirement of the program that you poop out at least once.

Let's see, my advice...

First of all, don't plan on sticking to the timeline of the program. The only people who can pull that off are already runners. Even my BFF Jeff, who is a friggin dancer, had to repeat a week or two. Let your body decide when it's time to move on. If at the end of Week 1, you find that you're still dying at the end of the 60-second run, do it again ... and again, and again. I think I did it 3 or 4 times before I bumped up. I'm on my 3rd or 4th go-round with Week 2 right now

If you have an iPhone or an iPod Touch, get the app. It's AMAZING. You can play your music while the app is running and Mr. C25K (or Ms if you prefer) gently interrupts to say "Walk now" or "Run now." The first time I tried (and I've heard this from other friends too) I used a timer and it was a bitch. It's so nice to be able to jog along and not worry about what the clock says.

Which brings me to my next point: keep your head up. No, not like "Cheer up Charlie," but literally keep your head up. I tell myself "Look at me, I'm just running along, no big deal." That way I'm not staring at the ground. That makes your shoulders slump and cramps your windpipe (I think). Also, you can't feel the breeze or look at your surroundings if you're staring at the ground. Plus, keeping your head up is just good for morale. =)

Next point: run somewhere pretty and flat. If you can trust that the ground under your feet is flat, you don't have to look down. If the surroundings are pretty, you can enjoy them while you're wheezing.

Ignore distance for now. I didn't start paying attention to my distance until I knew I was comfortable running. Paying attention to distance made me get frustrated if I wasn't hitting my mark every run. And that's discouraging. Just run to run. Who cares where you end up or how far you go? That's not the point.

Next, don't stop running until your time is up. Seriously. Don't do it. Who cares if you're tired or if your legs hurt; it's nothing you can't recover from, right? Don't be a wuss. (That's what I tell myself when I want to stop.)

Be careful with your "brisk" opening walk. If your prone to shin splints like I am, you'll shoot yourself in the foot by warming up too vigorously and then being in pain for the rest of the workout. I didn't pick up my warm-up pace for quite a while. Oh, and don't get too excited and start running fast. Take little bitty steps and run slow.

Don't worry about what you look like. I was worried for a while that I didn't LOOK like a runner running. I thought I just looked like I was blobbing along clumsily (and I was). So instead of concentrating on looking like a runner, I concentrated on keeping a strong core and paying attention to which muscles were working. Not only was this distracting, but it helped me figure out how to use a bunch of muscles to do the hard work.

Oh, and I'm always super stressed about how loud I'm breathing. I solved that problem by turning my headphones up so I couldn't hear myself. HUGE HELP!

Finally, try some sort of accountability system. That's what my blog is for. It's really helping to know that there are at least a few people who wait to read what I have to say.

As far as running in the summer, I don't have much advice. I'm kind of worried about it myself. The one run I've done so far in humidity didn't go well so I'm not encouraged. I may try a treadmill, I may try morning runs...who knows.

Okay, I think that's all I've got for now. If I think of anything else, I'll pass it along. Oh, and if you're up for a buddy run for encouragement, let me know. I'm happy to meet you somewhere.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wedgie Picker

Hey, hey, hey! So, I had a FANTASTIC run today and I'm so friggin' excited! What a pleasant follow-up to Sunday's monster run, right?

The weather was perfect: cold, sunny, no/very little humidity.

I was feeling good, too, and was definitely ready to stretch my legs out.

The scenery was beautiful: green and springy, and I followed a very fast-walking wedgie picker for the second mile. I swear he picked his wedgie at least twice on that lap and played with his underwear in between picks. No, he wasn't beautiful scenery, but he made me laugh out loud every time he did it. (Don't worry, my mid-workout laughs sound like dry heaves, so he was clueless.)

Anyway, I was worried at first because I started walking at a quicker pace than I usually do, and my shins started cramping pretty much right away. Never good. Then, I caught a peek of an old softball teammate (HI MICHELLE!) and that just made me happy.

Ahhh, then the best part: I ran full throttle down Beast Hill's sister, Loch Ness Monster Hill.


My tactic until today had been to run down that hill on my toes to help stretch out my shins. But today I felt like running fast, so I let gravity do the work and let it loose. Way. Fun.

Oh, and one more thing. Seeing as how my last two runs haven't been exactly fun, and those last two runs were "backwards" runs at Juilfs, I turned my path back around and went the "right" way.

I'm never going backwards again.

I'm happy to discover that the backwards tactic could have been the reason for my poopy exercises, and not just my lack of progress. Whew!

Lastly and most importantly, I finished the two miles with 2:36 on the clock!!! That's 36 seconds faster than my personal best so far.


If my math's correct, that brings me to a 13:42 pace.

I feel victorious today. I'm fired up. I'm going to celebrate by wrapping up my third pass at Week 2 -- and starting Week 2 again next time I run. Ha! Yeah, I still feel like I'm going to die when I'm at the end of my 90-second run, so I'll do this week a few more times until that feeling passes. I will say that I think I could do with shorter walking/recovery intervals. I'm catching my breath a lot quicker now. Another victory! Yippee!

Okay, I need to get off here, so let's see ... next run? I'd love to say Thursday, but I don't want to commit because I'm in the home stretch of moving out of the old apartment. If I'm in a crunch on Thursday, I'll pass up running. If I'm in good shape, I'm all over it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Little Victories, Episode 1: Today's Run Sucked

Well, it's true. Today's run was not fun. I had several elements working against me today, and I almost succumbed to the most vicious one: laziness. But, I didn't. I went to the park and I finished the workout. Little victory #1: Left the house. Little victory #2: Finished the run.

Let's see, here's my list: tired from moving, sore from painting (squatting, reaching, rolling, etc.), queasy and uncomfortably from cramps (sorry guys), sleepy from being waken up by my screeching and fighting animals, and a little congested from one allergy or another.

So yeah, despite all that, I got up and went. And I hated it the whole time. This is no, "I'm so glad I went because it all got better when I started running" story. Legs hurt, stomach hurt, arms hurt, COULDN'T BREATHE!

Little victory #3: First run of the season in high humidity (86% on my Weather Channel app). With that, I'm officially not looking forward to running this summer.

Let's continue the whining, shall we? I actually cut my second to last running interval short by about 5 seconds. Pathetic. Why not just go the last 5 seconds? It's not like I wouldn't have recovered somehow, right?

On that note, little victory #4: Running the last leg even though I excused myself from doing it after the second to last leg. I did it slow, and it hurt, and I whined internally the whole time, but I did it.

Little victory #5: Despite my whining and moaning and lack of oxygen, I somehow managed to finish only slightly behind my normal pace. Two miles in 28:20 (instead of two miles in 28:00).

Finally, little victory #6: I felt great after and for the remainder of the day. Lesson learned, again. And I'm glad I got to run after having so many days off (haven't worked out since Tuesday).

Sorry for the rant. Let's call this a slump. I think my future motivation on these crappy days will be to step back a "week" in the workout. I could have done Week 1 today and finished fine. It would have been less painful and I wouldn't have been so close to quitting. But is that okay? Do I allow myself that concession?

What about you? I still want to know when you know you need to walk instead of run. Do you ever give yourself an easy workout?

Next run: TBD.

This is the last week of the moving fiasco that is April. Things will be getting easier. I am considering giving myself a try at a treadmill workout. I haven't tried it yet. What should I expect? Easier or harder?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Blunders and Burdens of Being a Bouncing BBW

I have made a conscious decision to skip my run tomorrow evening.

[Ducks and covers to avoid thrown shoes]

Excuse me, but I still have to clean out the old apartment and I've been delaying too much already. Some things can wait (running). Some things cannot (cleaning to avoid extra expense). And who throws a shoe? Honestly?

Anyway, since I'm skipping my workout, I figured I'd punish myself by writing one of my "I'll tell you about that later" blog entries.

Today's topic? Boobs.

Do I have your attention now?

As I've mentioned before, I'm a BBW -- a big-breasted woman, as I believe we called it in my high school color guard.

(Yes, color guard. I know. Later. Now, focus. Don't make me type, italicize, bold, and enlarge the "B" word again.)

We're talking big. Like, break-your-own-nose-if-you-run-without-proper-support big. It's relatively hard to tell when you look at me because my stomach and fat rolls #1a through #4c, combined with my chest, make my torso look like a lumpy box instead of a top-heavy light bulb. Which speaks to the size of my stomach and rolls, because I have really broad shoulders too. (I'm painting a really pretty picture of myself, aren't I?)

This is all relevant, I swear.

Back in February, my friend Anne wrote about the challenges of finding a good, supportive sports bra if your chesty and active. (Feel free to check out the entry over at thefitbridesmaid.) And it is challenging! I remember being very young and being frustrated with the beating my chest would take from running the bases at softball or up and down the basketball court or in gym class. It didn't help that I developed at an extremely young age (one of the side effects of being an overweight child) and was surrounded by girls my age who had chests flatter than Clay Aiken's. My mom did buy me sports bras, but not great ones -- just whatever was cheapest and they didn't help much. Not her fault. The bouncing still hurt and looked ridiculous.

I think it was at the end of high school when I finally decided to start wearing two of them at once to try to tame the beasts. That helped, but I was embarassed when someone asked me why I wore two. At that time I didn't have the attitude I have now and didn't think to say, "Because I'm a whole 'lotta woman, little girl! I bet you don't have to wear one at all, do you?" Ha! Nah, I don't even have the guts to say that out loud now. In my head, it's a different story.

But the day finally came when I discovered the miracle bra. I wish I could remember how I found it. I don't know if it was a friend's recommendation or Oprah that pointed me to Enell . These are full-coverage, fugly bras for BBWs and beyond. (Okay, I think I just invented a future lingere shop name, right there. Copyrighted ... you can't steal it now!)

No, they aren't one bit attractive; they cover your front from your collar bone to your belly button practically. They're only moderately comfortable; they're made to be really, really tight to batten down the hatches. And they're expensive! Well, expensive as far as sports bras go, anyway.

But I couldn't care less. When I put that puppy on, not only am I fully secured and virtually bounceless when I run, but I'm very nearly Clay Aiken flat, which I haven't been since second grade.

So why am I telling you all this? Because everyone likes to read about boobs, right? Riiiight.

[Cue the inspirational music and wind machine while I step up on my podium]

Actually, it's because I want you all to know. I want you to know, in case you don't experience it first hand, that there are some additional challenges involved with being an active BBW. I want you to know about Enell bras so that you can spread the word. I want you to be able to console the next struggling, burgeoning little girl you come across and I want you to tell her that there's hope. She can do whatever she wants to do and she doesn't have to be embarassed by her bouncing bosoms.

[Crescendo music, shots of hopeful BBWs.]

She can run, she can jump, she can lock 'em and load 'em and reach for the stars. I want you to help me empower her!

[Wide shot of cheering crowd. And, scene.]

Are you crying yet, because I just welled up a little. Sniff.

Do you feel more educated? Or more violated? Do you have experience in this area? If so, I'd love to hear your words of wisdom, as I'm sure other readers will.

Okay, so, future run TBD. Moving madness should decrease significantly after this weekend, but will not be complete until April 30. Maybe I'll try to run before cleanup on Friday, or Saturday morning? Bah!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Moving Backwards?

Don't worry. The title of this post doesn't mean I'm regressing in my running abilities. In fact, I ran at Juilfs today and finished my two miles with precisely two minutes left of C25K Week 2; I am still holding steady at a 14-minute mile pace.

Give me a moment -- it still blows my mind that I can actually "run" two miles. Clearly the founders of my athletic self-esteem -- my elementary and high school gym teachers -- were "you can do whatever you set your mind to" kind of guys. Thank you, Mr. B and Mr. Jamoke (alias).

*I do want to explore how to and how not to encourage children to physically push themselves and to stay fit. I'll tell you now that letting them get away with whining, walking instead of running, and sitting out of gym class is not effective. Prime example, right here.*

Anyway, while I didn't lose any ground in my progress today, I didn't move forward, and that's frustrating to me. I like to see improvements. That's the best motivator, right there. Unfortunately improvements take work, and work takes motivation, and motivation takes improvements.


So, my first set of questions: How do you stay motivated? Do you exercise simply for the joy of it? How do you get through those days or weeks of zero progress? What about setbacks?

Back to the backwards thing. Like I said, I ran at Juilfs today, my tried-and-true favorite childhood park. But, to test things out a bit and to shake up a routine, I ran it backwards.

Now isn't that a fun mental image? I'll let you sit with it for a while before ruining it. Fat girl ... breathing like a freight train ... red, red face ... stumbling backwards down a hill. Go ahead and laugh. I would!

Okay, time to focus again. Today, I ran the opposite direction on the path. I figured the Beast Hill is a long, slow incline and it's counterpart is a steeper, shorter incline. Why not run/walk down the long one and run/walk up the short one? Well folks, it was nice. It didn't improve my time at all (again, discouraging), and it didn't make the 90 second run feel any easier, but it kept me from trying to drag my butt up Beast Hill. And I got to run downhill, which is way fun -- kind of like Phoebe running on Friends.

I don't know the moral of today's experience. I changed my path to avoid a challenge and finished in the same time anyway.

Question set #2: Do you avoid challenging courses or do you take them head on? How's that working out for you?

Next run should be Thursday. Venue undecided. Let me know if you'd like to join!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Change of Scenery

How exhausting! I mean, watching people carry my heavy furniture really wore me down ...


Actually, I have to commend the movers I used yesterday, and declare wholeheartedly that I will never as my friends to move furniture again, as long as I have $100 to spare. In case you're interested, check out Move Cheap for your next change of scenery
. Cheap, awesome, polite, quick. You just have to rent and drive your own truck.

Okay, sorry for the tangent, but it explains a bit of my post today. Change of Scenery. Yes, I'm finally in my new apartment and thoroughly enjoying the wooded view out my window. The birds are singing and the wind is blowing the brand new leaves on the trees. It makes me glad the stupid cable guy didn't come like he was supposed to yesterday. Otherwise I wouldn't get to hear the nature--and fire trucks and airplanes -- out my window.

The cats are adapting nicely-ish. Well, one is still hiding under the bed, but she's happy there. She lets me reach under and pet her and has come out just a few times. Trixie? Well, she looks stressed, doesn't she?

The good news is she's not picking fights with the other cat. (Background info: Scaredy is the new cat, though she's a few years older than Scaredy. I adopted Scaredy from a co-worker in mid-January. They don't get along ... yet.) In fact, Trixie is currently snoozing under the bed with Scaredy. VICTORY!

I'm adapting nicely to the new place too. I slept well last night, which is a victory for me. I generally don't sleep well in unfamiliar places. It helps that I was in my own bed.

Another change of scenery for today: I ran at a different park this morning. I headed to Veterans Memorial Park in Union Township (disappointing website with very little info). There's no informational signage around the track to let you know exactly how long the path is, but this one website I found said 1+ miles. That is unacceptable to me. 1+ what? Booo! The power is in the details people!

Anyway, I think, if you take the right path and loop around this one little part against your insticts, it's 1 mile and 50 feet or so. There are handy little spray-painted quarter-mile markers on the concrete. At least I think that's what they were. The mark at what appears to be 1 mile is a smiley face.

So, needless to say, I can't exactly track my progress today because I tried a new venue with unclear distance markers. But I can say I didn't have shin splints today, and my breathing was fairly under control. It's still very apparent that I need to repeat Week 2 for the third time; I'm still ending my 90 second runs thinking, "OH GOD I CAN'T DO IT!" Let's just say there's nothing quite as sweet as Mr. C25K interrupting my playlist to say "Walk now." I'm going to marry him.

I'm curious, though. How do you know when to stop running in your run/walk workout? Do you use time, distance, or just feeling? How do you judge when to start running again? Do you let yourself catch your breath entirely or do you keep your heart rate going? If I ever chose to end my dependency problem with Mr. C25K, I'd like to know. I'm not good at pushing myself without outside influence.

Future running plans: Probably Monday or Tuesday. This week is going to be really nice so I'd like to take advantage of it. Although, I still have a lot of moving activities to take care of, so these plans are, sadly, tentative.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Quick Update: A Setback in Week 2

Good afternoon.

Yes, that's right, it's a Thursday afternoon and I'm blogging ... because I'm not at work. I took two days off to move. Yes, that's right, still moving. Yuu-uu-uuck. I just took a brief lunch break and thought I'd take a few moments to ensure you all that I did run this morning as planned.

An interesting thing happened, and I'm not entirely sure why. I finished with a full minute on the clock, whereas last time I ran this workout (Week 2), I had a full two minutes on the clock. The difference between these two occurrences? I started the workout walking with someone else -- my mom.

Now, she's a slow walker, even by my standards (which is slow), but she walked quickly with me for the five-minute warm-up. I guess it wasn't quick enough and I didn't even realize that I might have been walking slower than usual. But, I'm thinking that's the main cause for my slowness. In fact, for a few of the running portions, I thought I was going quite fast.

Eh, whatever. It was gorgeous at the park today, so it was worth it.

One last thing. 'Tis the season for 5Ks, and I know I've brought it up before, but I need to decide if and when I can try one. Many of you offered great feedback on the kinds of runs I should try, and I defintely agree. I appreciate the advice too; I would never have thought to distinguish between a serious 5K and a fun one. But now that you've mentioned it, I know exactly what you all mean.

There's a 5K run/walk happening in my neighborhood, literally a baseball's throw away from where I live now -- okay a really LONG baseball's throw. It's at the end of May and the route is quite hilly, so I'm a little reluctant. There are also a few throughout Cincinnati that I'd like to take a shot at: the Reggae Run (organized by one of my professors), the Reds 5K, and the Hyde Park Blast. Basically, anything with a party at the end is going to be a safe bet, I'm guessing.

Okay, I must get back to packing and moving. Forgive the short and icky post; I'll do better next time. Check back soon for my feature on BBW* exercise.

*See the asterisk at the end of my last post.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Repetition is Good. So are Running Buddies.

There is some value to repeating the same intervals and venturing down the same path every time you run. I've learned that over the last few workouts. One, it's easy to see how your stamina changes -- how out of breath was I today compared to yesterday? Two, it's quite gratifying to notice yourself finishing laps quicker than you did before. That,to me, is the best motivation.

Holy crap! I'm actually getting better?!

I took it easy on my run today. I'm happy with that decision. Coming off a weekend full of nasty back pain, stepping back to Week 1 intervals felt like a safe, cushiony rest. That being said ... wow! The Week 1 workout was EASY! I barely broke a sweat! I cannot believe it. I even picked up my pace at one point to run briefly up and down a hill/dip.

Me? Running faster? Eh? Confused.

"Running" wasn't even part of my vocabulary until recently, let alone "faster."

Excuse me while I pat myself on the back (a tough feat for a BBW*). Sigh.

On that note, I would like to take a minute to thank my running buddy for today. This was a new experience to me. You see, my history of running with anyone else stopped when I graduated from high school. Something about spending 13 years being the fat girl in class who can't run with the rest of her classmates, and who was often left on the track as the rest of the kids made their way back to the gymnasium, and then being teased about it later, leaves a deep scar. Bullies suck, y'all!

Anyway, boohoo, it's over and past. Now I read and hear constantly about how running and working out with a buddy is beneficial. And I got to experience just a taste of that when I joined a gym with my co-workers. The accountability is one thing, but the chance to talk about the experience before and after the workout is another added perk. (And, of course, being able to make fun of the crazies in your step class is even better.)

Pardon the tangent. As I was saying, I ran with a buddy today. My buddy seemed to experience some of the same challenges I had two months ago when this whole running nonsense started. To her I say, speaking from recent experience, it gets worse. Ha! Not what you expect to hear, right? What I mean is the first run is the hardest, which might make you feel like stopping, but don't. Finish. Press on. Realize that you're not as bad as you think you are. You and I are already doing more than so, so many people do, and that counts for a lot.

Aside from keeping myself on track and counting on my readers to call me out on any signs of slacking, I hope that this blog can serve as encouragement for people like me. I hear it a lot, but it's true in this case: If I can do it, anyone can!

And with that, I have officially lost my writing mojo for the night. Hmm.

OH! One other thing. I've been thinking about running a 5K and I'd like your feedback on the topic. When should I try one? If I can comfortably do two miles of walk/run, can I manage the third?
The thought of unexpected hills and bumpy streets is scary to me. Should I give it a try first? How will I know I'm okay to try the race? Again, your expertise is appreciated.

Well, I'll be running again on Thursday morning (two vacation days to move) so check back to make sure I did it. Okay? Thanks!

Comment, people. What are your experiences with running or just working out with a buddy?

* For those of you unfamiliar with this term, to me, BBW is "big-breasted woman." I will be exploring the challenges of being a BBW and being active at a later date.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Vegetarian Woes: I WANT MEAT!

So, like any proud round girl, one of my favorite televisions shows is on the Food Network: Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

Guy Fieri, my hero. Along with Anthony Bourdain, of course.

Anyway, I watched an episode this weekend for the first time in ages, and it was hard. There was meat. Juicy, saucy meat ... on bread ... with stuff on it. Drooool.

Needless to say, this weekend was rough. I've encountered just a few of these rough days so far in my adventures in vegetarianism, and yikes, what a challenge! In fact, this weekend was so difficult for me, I started worrying about my ability to keep this up. Can I stay a vegetarian? And, if not, how long should I do it? Should I set a goal for myself? The lamest part is that I do still eat meat -- it's called fish. Fish is not a hamburger. Fish is not a hot dog. Fish is NOT boneless buffalo wings. And meatless pepperoni is not pepperoni. (Surely someone has simply added pepperoni spices to some soy protein, WITHOUT the nasty fake meat flavor and liquid smoke I hate so much. Blech!)

Sadly, I haven't talked to my doctor about this diet decision yet, and I'm curious about what she'll say. Surely she'll just be glad I'm paying attention to what I'm eating at all. I'm paying attention to how much protein I'm digesting, but am I paying enough attention?

Just some (vegetarian) food for thought. I'll post more later on this topic. But now, I must move my crap from one apartment to the next. Toodles!

Unexpected Developments: Part 2

Well shoot. I need to get in the habit of writing down all the topics I want to blog about before I start. Otherwise I end up forgetting my main points. Hello, distractable!

So, the second unexpected development that may alter my running patterns in the near future: I totally just won a free session at Cincinnati Adventure Boot Camp for Women. Honestly, I'm petrified. The thought of me in "boot camp" at 5:30 in the morning -- shivers down my spine. Can I keep up? Will I be able to breathe? Am I going to hurt myself? Am I going to die? All reasonable concerns, right?

And it's coming up soon too. The next one in my part of town starts REALLY SOON. We're talking DAYS. Ehhh!

Needless to say, I'm going to need some egging on. I think most people call it encouragement. I'm already starting to formulate some excuses for missing sessions.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Unexpected Developments

Well, friends, I've done it. I was a bit over-ambitious yesterday in my physical activities and now I have the back pain to show for it. Or feel. Whatever.

After my post yesterday morning, I headed out for my second try at Week 2 Day 1 of C25K. The great news is that I found a place to start that keeps me from running up the beastly hill twice. WOOHOO! Oh, and I shaved some more time off the two-mile run. Since I ended my last running interval before Beast Hill (that's it, I've now named it), I was able to jog to the finish line.

New progress milestone: 2 miles in 28 minutes -- a 14-minute mile pace. WOOHOO!

Anyway, I completed my run, doused myself in a cold shower, and moved some crap into my new apartment. Unfortunately, somewhere between my run and leaving the new digs, I did something to rip my lower back to shreds. It's strange because I don't even remember straining it, or kicking any boxes (which usually does me in in a snap). Needless to say, that put a damper on my moving activities for the rest of what was supposed to be a productive Saturday.

Wah waaaaaah!

Kind of messed with my Sunday, too. I could have run this morning. I could have taken two loads of stuff to the new place. But, I settled for one minor load. At least it's something, right?

Why am I telling you this? Because I'm making an excuse, that's why. And what are you supposed to do when I make an excuse? All together now ... "SHOOT HER DOWN!"

[ducks and covers]

I'll let you be the judge of my legitimacy. I will, once again, be spending the night cuddled up with my dream man, Ben Gay. Hopefully he gets rid of this kink so I can get something done this week, whether it be running, moving, or both.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Excuses, Excuses ... and Meet My Park

Happy Saturday morning, readers!

First, I’d like to apologize for my poor showing so far. As I’m sure happens with many ambitious bloggers, I started with a bang, full of hope for my little plot of websphere, and quickly fizzled out. Well, I have an excuse: I’m moving this month – more specifically next weekend – and I’m a bit preoccupied. I got the keys to my new place this week and I just can’t keep myself away. I love the new place so much that my poor little running habit has been packed away in one of the moving boxes and I’ve had some trouble finding it. Well, I found it this morning; it was packed in the same box as my grasp on reality and the cat nip. Wouldn’t you know it, my blogging commitment was also in there. Geesh.

Anyway, this is the perfect opportunity for me to share a little more about myself:

I’m a rationalizer, an excuse maker, and an abandoner.

Usually these nasty character traits only rear their heads when I’m dreading something. For example, there was a time (most of my life, actually) when I didn’t like to exercise. Shocker! I’d rationalize not going to the gym by saying, “It’s not like the gym is helping me at all,” or “Skipping step aerobics isn’t going to make me gain weight.” I’d skip a workout with excuses like sore muscles, menstrual cramps, lack of sleep, a broken fingernail, or a happy hour with friends. Then I’d get frustrated at all my excuses and lose hope of getting back on track because of all my skipped workouts, and finally, I’d give up. A perfect example: I once signed a three-year contract for a gym and only used about 9 months worth. I’ll get into that more later.

Here’s the difference this time around: I’m enjoying running. The excuses I make now just make me sad and more eager to lace up and hit the pavement next time. I actually encountered this phenomenon with my step class; I liked the workout, I liked the cheesy ‘80s music, I liked my classmates and I hated missing class. (I’ll talk more about step class in later entries. Bottom line is it’s fun and a great workout.)

There is a significant problem with skipping a few running workouts that I didn’t experience with step aerobics. Missing a run really sets me back in my progress: I feel like I have to go backwards to continue moving forward. Skipping a step class meant I didn’t get better, but I certainly didn’t lose progress by missing one workout. Skipping a run means it'll be all the more difficult to complete the same interval next time, let alone increase intensity, as dictated by C25K.

Speaking of C25K, I finished my first round of Week 2. (Week 2: 5-minute warm-up walk, then alternate 90 seconds of jogging with 2 minutes of walking for 20 minutes, then cool down walk for 5 minutes.) This one kicked my butt, and I’m already planning on at least another two bouts with this “week.” It’s hard. I struggle to finish the 90 seconds of jogging, especially since it always seems to happen on a hill.

I’m running at a local park. I basically grew up at this park. I played softball there for 10 years, skinned my knees on its sidewalks, got the wind knocked out of me by falling off the jungle gym, got sand in my shoes and hair and eyes, received electro-shock therapy from the static generated by the friction of the slides, flew kites in its muddy fields, pretended to play tennis on its courts, and sweated all over every blade of grass within its fences. Ah, the memories…. Truly, I do love it there. It’s home, and what better place to embarrass myself as I learn to run?

Anyway, the run/walk/bike path is a mile long, which allows for convenient distance measurements, and it meanders up and down a seemingly slight hill. Somehow, no matter where I start running, the C25K dude being piped through my iPhone headphones always manages to tell me to run up the same friggin’ hill. It’s a gradual incline and lasts for approximately 90 seconds of my running speed. Perfect. Geesh.

The beastly hill at Juilfs Park

At least I’ve made it every time so far, mostly because my ability to talk myself into things is quite strong. (Unfortunately it’s not a strong as my ability to talk myself out of things, but it’s still strong, nonetheless.) I purposefully quicken my breath and start leaning forward as I approach the hill. That seems to help a bit. It doesn’t help the craaaazy shin splints that I can’t seem to escape, but it helps with momentum and breath control. (Shin splints will be a recurring theme and, again, I’ll talk about them later.)

Go ahead and throw 100 – 150 extra pounds of weight on your shoulders and see how your legs and lungs feel after running uphill for 90 seconds. Yeah, that’s what I thought. Ha!

So back to what I was saying: I’ll be repeating Week 2 a few times, I’m sure. I just need to stay on track with my workouts. It’s going to become increasingly important that I stick to a three-times-a-week regimen as the weather gets warmer, too. Ugh, even thinking about running during a Cincinnati summer brings flashbacks to high school gym class and that one dreadful year of “summer gym.” I can feel my chest clogging with humidity now. Gack! Cough! Heave!

Excuse me. Ahem.

So, huge blog. Sorry. I just have so much to fill you in on, and I will. I must learn to balance background information with current affairs. Oh, and since you’ve been introduced to my excuse-making habits, please, please, please call me out on it. If you see me drifting toward rationalization and abandonment, don’t let me get away with it. Please and thank you.

Progress report: I'm finishing 2 miles in about 28:40 (1:20 left on my 30-minute workout when I finish the second mile). So that's a 14:20 1-mile pace, right? Hmm, better than high school. Interesting.

Monday, April 5, 2010

In the Beginning ...

Well, this is it. I think it’s time to start the blog that I’ve been waiting to write. I’ve been itching to get myself established in the blogging world for some time now, but haven’t found the topic that would be worthy of my time and yours. But I think this is it.

With that, welcome to my blog, More to Love Running.

My name is Beckey and I recently started running. What’s the big deal, right? There are running blogs spattered all over the Internet, few of them more special than the next. The big deal this: I’m what MySpace flippantly refers to as “more to love,” or what the fashion world calls “plus sized,” or what old ladies in this country call big boned, heavy set or plump. Meat on the bones, junk in the trunk, squishy, fluffy, stout. My doctor calls it “obese.” Ick! Sounds horrifying. Whatever you want to call it, the truth is I’m fat, and how often do you see fat people running, enjoying it and sticking to it.

I haven’t decided how much information to disclose at this point, mostly because I’m embarrassed. The only people in the world who truly know my stats are my doctors, my former trainers, people who are really good at guessing and me. I will say this much, though: I’ll be 30 years old in 18 months and I don’t want to enter a new decade the way I am now. I’m 5’10” and, as I said before, medically obese (Blech! Yuck! Boo!), but I “carry it well.” I’m not a full-blown couch potato. I love being active; I just don’t do it as much as I should. I also love food and eat more of it than I should. I’m knowledgeable about nutrition and enjoy healthy foods, but I like the bad stuff too. Sound familiar?

Here comes the tricky part. I’m not one to set hard, fast goals for myself. Never in a million years would I say, “I want to lose X pounds by X date.” It’s not my style. I don’t like to set myself up for failure. However, I did recently commit to one extreme diet change and started enjoying a form of strenuous exercise.

Hello. I’m Beckey. I’m a vegetarian and I just fell in love with running.

“Hi, Beckey!” Go ahead and clap if you want.

Thank you, thank you. Okay, whew. That was tough.

This being the first installment of a blog that will hopefully live long and prosper, I don’t want to go spouting off into too much detail. I have a huge list of topics I would like to explore and I’ll save them for later. I do feel there are a few things to say right off the bat.

First, allow me to define a few key terms as they will be used in this blog from this point forward:

  • Vegetarian – I eat fish, I avoid milk and eggs, and I’m suffering with a decision about cheese
  • “Running” – Used lightly to refer to the earth-pounding mini-strides I take in VERY short doses between long stretches of walking and wheezing like a freight train

Also, I’ll probably refer to these two things frequently, but here’s what you need to know:

  • The Couch to 5K Running Program (C25K) – This is it, folks. This is the genius step-up running program that started the mania. I’ve been following the plan for a little over a month now and I’m doing well. Yes, I stretched the first week into a first month, but I’m moving at my own pace and the future is bright.
  • Skinny Bitch – I got this book for Christmas this year and it’s a big reason I decided to become a vegetarian. It’s not the sole reason, and I’m certainly not following the authors’ suggestions rigidly, but it’s been a great resource so far.

Finally, I’m sarcastic. I don’t know how much more I need to justify that, but consider yourself forewarned.

That’s it for now, folks. I appreciate your time and I look forward to sharing my journey with you! Please check back soon.