Sunday, July 31, 2011

Just A Run -- Woodland Mound

Just a quick run update. I ran at Woodland Mound this evening. I'm not sure how long, though. Somewhere between 1.5 and 2 miles probably. I do know that I ran for more than a mile--maybe 1.25--without walking.

Everything felt pretty good. It was about 7:45 this evening when I got started, so the worst of the day's heat was gone. Oh, and I busted butt running up the one big stretch of hill. Woot! I'm so glad to see that I didn't "lose" anything during my running funk.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

One And Done ... NOT

Yes, I'm still 8 years old. And yes, I did run tonight!

I made a triumphant return to Juilfs Park and tackled the hills while my pal, Caitlin, tackled me on the hills while breaking in her new running stroller (thank you, you know who). Seriously, the girl kicked my butt and was pushing an additional, what, 40-50 pounds in front of her? Sick.

Anyway, it felt good. My body is still happy to be mobile again. The humidity broke today so it was really nice out (though still hot).

Yay for not pulling an Ochocinco-as-a-bull-rider! Two and NOT done!

Oh and here are a few cute post-run swing pics, starring Skinny Minnie (Caitlin), some cute kid we found, and my mom. :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Phoenix Rising?

It may be overly dramatic to say so, but I felt like a phoenix rising from the ashes this morning. The ashes of a big, nasty, dark running burnout.

That's where I've been for the past two weeks. In a pit of "I hate running, I want nothing to do with it again, I'm ready to get fat and be happy, leave me alone."

Okay, that's not entirely true. I still wanted to talk about running and hear how everyone was doing with it. But I have been in a seemingly bottomless burnout pit. I think it was the same thing that happened in the coldest part of this winter. The part where I realized I had to force myself to stop for a while, when I was riddled with guilt and self-loathing for nearly a month because I didn't want to even think about running again. The weather made it so challenging then, and I think that's what helped the downfall this time. That plus the knee and back pain that had been increasing slowly since the friggin' Pig.

So I rested. I willingly stopped running for a while. I took care of my back and knees (rather, my wonderful chiropractor, Dr. Allen Homan of Homan Chiropractic took care of my back and therefore my knees), I had fun with friends, I went tubing and attempted water skiing, I soaked up some sun at the pool, and I ate very poorly. It was all for the sake of recovering, of course.

Turns out it worked. I needed it. My body was tired and things were giving up on me. And, as it turns out, it happens to lots of runners. In this article from Runner's World -- Falling in Love Again -- the author talks about how maintaining a running relationship requires the same care as real relationships: communication, respect, spontaneity, romance, quality time, flexibility and appreciation. Me and running, you see, we got a little too intense and needed a break. I was abusing a lot of these things and, as a result, got big fat burnt out.  The author says, "The initial thrill of the beginning runner inevitably fades. You can't stay gaga forever. The good news is that beneath the infatuation is something even better, more mature, and ultimately more rewarding-a love that will sustain you for years to come."

Holler!  So true! Here's another one that sings the praises of taking a break when you need it:

Take a Break for Peak Performance.

That magazine is so helpful.

So why, after reading these articles and even going through this burnout once before, was it such a shock to me and so difficult to come to terms with when it happened again? Why couldn't I just let it be and take a vacay?

I'm not entirely sure, but I think it has something to do with the fear of not wanting to and/or being able to start again. I felt so completely over running that I didn't want to do it again and was petrified that I never would.

But I did.

I had been gently telling myself that I was going to start running again yesterday. That didn't happen. Shocker. Then I saw a lump of fat that had diminished over the last year of running beginning to make its home again on a part of my body that I was growing particularly proud of. But what about the scale? Oh, you know, I'm at a record low, one pound lower than my previous low. So, a returning lump of fat and a decreased number on the scale? EEEEEK!  I'm losing muscle at an alarming rate!

So essentially, my gentle-nudging return-to-running plan turned into an "OHMIGOD I HAVE TO START NOW OR THE FAT WILL CONTINUE TO MULTIPLY" plan.

The panic plan worked better.

I ran this morning. I got up at 7 a.m., ate a half piece of toast, drank some green tea and a bunch of water, and got to Armleder at 8:30 a.m.I was sweating sitting in my car. A half hour after I started, my Weather Channel app said it was 83 degrees with 75% humidity and a dew point of 74.


Whatever, it didn't matter. I was there to sweat. And I had just downloaded a new album on my way to the park as a sort of reward and I was ready to rock out to some new running music (Foster the People ... super fun). I set my timer for 30 minutes, got a pebble out of my shoe, turned up the tunes, and set off.

To continue on the overly dramatic theme I started with the title of this post, m first few running steps were euphoric.

I was overjoyed.
I felt weightless.
I was practically bounding.
I kid you not, I almost cried. (And I can't even blame hormones.)

What the heck? How? Why? Can resting really have this kind of effect? Chyeah it can!

Don't get me wrong, it was still running and it was still hard. I was still drenched in sweat and I still got tired. But nothing hurt. My breathing was good (better than I expected on such a humid morning). My muscles were ready to rock and they carried me an entire mile before I took my first walk break.

To add to the magic of the moment, two bucks (complete with a small set of--er--horns?) went bounding across my path and through the fields at Armleder during the first 5 minutes of the run. Cue the symphony, please.

Not surprisingly, considering it had been two weeks since I last ran, my body started to protest at 20 minutes and at 25, I called it a run. I took a little walk to the river to take in the sights and sounds, and to snap some pictures, but I was done. Return to running -- success.

So I'm ready to start running again. And I'm actually kind of looking forward to being in the heat. I keep thinking about some of the hottest running days last year at TQL. (Here's a post about TQL with PICTURES!) Yeah, it was hot and all, but I could do it. Sometimes sweating feels good. Sometimes.

Anyway, I leave you with this, quite possibly my favorite running quote by some dude (I have no idea who he is) and some pictures from today (sorry they're dark ... iPhone + morning light + iamnotaphotographer).

"Run because you love it. If you don't, learn to love it. Running will bring things into your life that you could never imagine." 
- Scott Jurek

The entrance to Armleder.

Yay morning light!

Lots of birdhouses = lots of pretty birds. A mockingbird lives in the chimney of the shelter there. LOVE IT!

The path leading to the Little Miami River. These plants were all flattened like two months ago from all the flooding. I love how quickly they rebounded!

Shot from the car. Already sweating.

The Little Miami River. I'm not outdoorsy enough to venture down the steep hill and through the bushes to get closer. Sorry.

More river.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What's Next?

I ran less than two miles for today's workout. I enjoyed about a quarter-mile of it, tolerated a mile of it, and spent the other quarter-mile-ish trying to figure out how I was going to get myself to keep up with running--or rather, if I was going to keep up with running.

If you've been around me or talked to me at all lately, you know this has been going on in my head for a while. In fact, I know exactly when it started. May 1, somewhere between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.

I burned out. I reached the point of "this is where I was going, I'm here, now what?"

I've finished the Couch to 5K (C25K) program, I've finished a year's worth of 5K events, I've finished a 10K, and I've finished a half-marathon (and never want to do one again). I finished one boot camp a year ago, took an early exit from the most recent boot camp. 

I've lost two toenails, injured both knees, and exacerbated my back problems. I've lost 40-ish pounds (10-ish through step aerobics during the year before I started running, the other 30 immediately following last year's boot camp, and nothing since).

I've nudged a handful of people start running, fall in love with running, pretend to hate running (but do it anyway and secretly enjoy it).

I've told good stories, funny stories, gross stories (hello runners' trots, toenails and calluses). I've read books and magazines and Internet articles.

I've stopped enjoying it. I can count the number of runs in the last two months that I've thoroughly enjoyed on one hand. I can no longer tell if I'm itching to go for a run or if my guilty conscience is making me think I'm itching to run.

I don't want to go backwards, but I'm not so sure I want to run anymore. I certainly can't think of any other form of exercise that I want to do, that would give me the same sense of accomplishment that running did (or is as cheap as running is). 

I don't feel like I accomplish anything with my running anymore.

I don't have anything to cross off. I used to cross off days and weeks of C25K. Then I crossed off races. Then I crossed off days until the Pig.

I'm also kind of removed from running buddies lately. Not that I need people to run with, but talking about it helps. Schedules, a job change, etc. have gotten in the way of me getting to talk about it as much as I used to. Remember this post? Talking about it ... what a novel idea. Wish I had thought of that sooner.  =)

Anyway, I'm tired. What should I do? What else can I try?

Whew, huge downer post, folks. Sorry about that. This has been brewing for a while. If you've come through something similar, I'd love to hear about it. Or if you have any ideas, please speak up.