Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mileage goal for 2013

Happy New Year! 

I need your help!  Last year on January 1, I posted an announcement on Facebook that for anyone who "Liked" my status update, I would run 1 mile for them in 2012.  A few people commented and added extra miles for me and when everything was tallied up I'd been assigned 69 miles to run.  That kept me busy through mid-April.  

For this year's goal, I want to incorporate something that will build on or enhance the 3 key goals I've selected for the year:  hit the gym more often, do more core work (sit-ups / push-ups), and complete a 1/2-marathon.  To that end, I've decided to set an overall mileage goal for the year, and as needed, will add stationary bike mileage to the mix.  

Sooooo, here's where you come in.  

Pick a number between 1 and 20 and write it in the comments. I'll add up all responses here, on my LoseIt! site, and on the Lake Run Club Facebook page, and commit to logging that many miles of walking, running and / or biking in 2013!

BTW, No annoying daily Miles Updates this year, I'll use my new Training Calendar (thanks to my wonderful brother and his wife!!) and post a monthly update for total miles.

Bring it on!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

This is NOT a list of New Year's Resolutions

I was thinking today about goals for next year.  NOT RESOLUTIONS, goals.  It's an important distinction for me.  Goals are flexible.  Resolutions are... well, they're made for breaking and giving up on.  There's probably another rant on this topic, but that's for another day.
Here's my list (aside from the ever-present "get to Goal Weight" goal):

  1. MORE CROSS-TRAINING!  I run plenty, need to hit the gym more often and strength train.  Maybe ride the stationary bike once in a while.  I've been on this "extended break" from the gym for FAR too long.  I think for January I'll start with insisting I get to the gym at least one day each week.
  2. MORE SIT-UPs & PUSH-UPs.  I hate core work but it's absolutely necessary and will take me to my ultimate goals so much faster.  Gotta get over it and learn to love it.  I'm gchallenging myself to 20 each, 20 days in January.  Then amp it up each month after that.
  3. Complete a half-marathon.  I've done 3 10Ks and I like that distance, but it's time to take on the scary Half.  I know I've mentioned it before, but I find the 13.1 a bit intimidating.  It scares me a little, which is why I have to do it.  I really take issue with being afraid of something so simple as a little extra exercise.  This must be addressed.  Now I just have to decide which one.  I've registered for the 10K at the end of April.  I could upgrade my registration to run the 1/2, but I'm not sure I'll be ready for that.  There will be another chance at the Twin Cities 1/2-marathon in September.  And a few others in the area that I know of.  
So that's it.  It's a short list but a tall order.  

BRING IT, 2013.  I frackin' dare you.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Getting "Real"

I spent some time today considering what is, in the world of runners, an age-old question:  Who or What is a "Real Runner"?

Where do you draw that line?  Is it based on pace - do you have to run a 7-minute pace to be considered Real?  What about 10-minute miles - is that acceptable?  What if you're only holding a 12-minute pace?  What if you walk and run and average 13:45 - what then?  Sorry, you can't be in The Real Runners Club.

Maybe we should decide based on distance.  Endurance is certainly key to being a Real Runner.  Can you run  one mile without a walk-break?  Two?  Five?  That's a lot easier to do if you run an 8-minute mile versus a 12-minute, so distance might not be the best determining factor.  Duration, then.  How much time does one have to spend running, without walking, before she can be considered Real?  Twenty minutes?  45?  What if you walk some, but only for strict, short duration?  Would walking less than 60 seconds at a time qualify, or should you keep it to 30 seconds or less?  If I'm going to do this thing, I want to Really do it.  The last thing I want is to be a poseur!

Perhaps it's better to compare ourselves to others.  Do I have to place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in my age group in a race, or must it be an outright win?  In EVERY race, or just once?  One race a year?  What if you run regularly but don't ever race?  Do you just have to speed up & pass everyone you see out on the trail each week?  (Then I'd be winning, right?)  If I hate the treadmill and therefore drop out of my training for three or four months a year when it's cold out, do I lose my standing and have to start over each March after the ice thaws?  People run faster on roads than on trails, how shall we judge them?

If I sound sarcastic and dismissive, it's because I am.  There are runners out there in the Running Community (mainly the blogosphere from what I can tell) who are presumptuous and pretentious enough to say things like "You're not a Real Runner unless you're averaging better than an X-minute pace."  More importantly, I hear people saying, "yes, I run... well, I'm not a Real Runner - [now fill in the blank with your hedge of choice:]  I do a lot of walking/ I'm slow, really I don't like to use the word 'run' I'm really more of a jogger/ I always come in last - but I really enjoy it."  I hear it from people, especially at my running group (particularly in March when the "newbie" group starts up!), and especially from women.  I think women are more susceptible to this... perhaps we are more likely to denigrate ourselves, place others above ourselves on some imaginary pyramid of validity.

I object to the whole line of thought because I dispute the premise.  The premise that there is some definitive line we must cross in order to be Real.  I am offended by my own hesitancy to accept that over the past few years there has developed a new aspect to my personality, my definition of Who I Am or What I'm About:  I am a Runner.  It was new and different and rather difficult to get my head around at first but there it is.  And I made it ever more difficult by having to work around this invisible line of being Real.

I thought that a Real Runner was long and lean and fast and as a woman, of course they weigh about 60 pounds less than I do.  The picture in my mind looked a lot like this:

But Real Runners come in all shapes and sizes.  The folks in my running group are a great example - there are some who are built JUST LIKE the woman in the photo above, but others look a LOT more like I did in this photo.  (In the running for Worst Photo Ever Taken of Me.)

Yup, this is me in 2010.
The group is full of all sorts of body types:  big guys, women with big ole' butts, heavy people working hard to get healthier.  And many of them have run multiple marathons.  Some were athletes in high school and college, exercised their whole lives, always loved running and doing exercise of all kinds.  Others (more like myself) taught themselves to enjoy exercise and being out of doors later in life, or just got started last year with their first Couch to 5K program.  And in my book, they are as Real as it gets.

I think about this a LOT.  I think about it frequently while I'm running, while I'm racing.  When I see someone running who is overweight, over thirty, or who is slower (I place myself solidly in all three of those categories), I wonder - does s(he) question whether s(he) is a Real Runner?  Do they know that I know how hard it is to do what they are doing, and how much respect other runners have for them?  If they are part of the running community here, then they know.  The community here is incredibly supportive and communicative.  If they're not part of that group, I hope they have a family who is giving and supportive and respects the time and effort they're putting in.  I hope their family makes them feel like a Real Runner.

When did i become a Real Runner in my own mind?  I'm not entirely sure, but here's one thing I repeat like a mantra when I'm out on the road (something I saw on a Facebook post and have no idea where it came from, so I apologize:  I can't provide a source)

You are what you repeatedly DO.

I don't know when it happened, but the moment I became a Real Runner is the moment when it stopped being something I was TRYING to do and became simply "something I DO."

But this Christmas .. well, now it's official.  I didn't realize it wasn't quite official until this morning when I opened my presents, and each branch of the family gave me something to support my habit!  A training calendar, a hydration belt, a hook to connect the dog leash to my belt so I can keep my hands free, a reflective vest for night runs.  My family is so incredible and supportive, and it turns out, they think I'm a Real Runner too.

Thank you, everyone, for your support.  And Merry Christmas!

By the way, there are a lot of great posts on this subject.  I've read many over the past few years, which is partly how I've clarified my own views on the topic.  Here are a few I've read recently:
And this one has some great tips, ostensibly for "beginners" but great to remember even if you're already a Real Runner...

And a quote on the topic:
 I often hear people say,’I’m not a real runner.’ we are all runners, some just run faster than others, that’s all. I have never met a fake runner.
— Bart Yasso (@bartyasso), joined Runner’s World in 1987 to develop the groundbreaking Runner’s World Race Sponsorship Program, creating a vehicle for Runner’s World to work with over 7,000 races representing 4 million runners per year. Inducted into the Running USA Hall of Champions. (via

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My dog is smarter than I am.

Coty was right & I was wrong.
I told her we'd go for a run this morning, then decided to wait out the rain first.  She was mad.
The rain let up and we headed out around lunch time... had a great run - 5.5 miles total, ran 4 of that, felt great!  And still got rained on for about half of it.  All I really accomplished was to delay the start of my day from 9am to 11:30.
My dog is smarter than I am.

I tried a couple of little experiments today:  wore a "belly bag" somewhat like a belt, and ran it through the hand-hold of her leash.  It was great having both hands free!  Bonus:  when my head got hot I had a pouch to put my hat in.  It bounced against my leg a bit while running, which I was worried would be annoying and distracting, but that wasn't bad.  Coty ran right at my hip for the first mile, then got the idea and started testing out the system, running ahead, hanging back to sniff things, just like normal. All in all it worked out well!

The other experiment today was working on endurance again.  If I'm going to join the 1/2-marathon training group, I need to be able to run longer distances without walking breaks.  My training over the past few months has de-emphasized the endurance factor and prioritized speed.  I'd like to keep working on both, but think I've been relying too heavily on those short breaks after each mile marker.  It's easy to justify the breaks since I'm always running with the dog, and her priority has nothing to do with distance or endurance!

So today I ran 2 miles without stopping (well, as best I could... Coty insisted on a couple of quick pee-breaks which couldn't be avoided).  I'd like to build up to running 5 miles without a break.  Two wasn't really that hard - I knew it wouldn't be - so maybe next time I'll go for three.  I may have to convince the dog it's a good idea.  :-)

One funny thing... lots of squirrels on the Trail today and not very many people, so after about 3 miles I let Coty run off-leash.  She had a great time chasing them around in the woodsy area at the edge of the Trail.  She kept coming back to me, and giving me a look as if to say, "See the squirrels?  They look FAT and JUICY and SLOW."

I told her, "I know... but so do I this week, which is why we have to KEEP RUNNING!"

My dog may be smarter than I am when it comes to procrastinating our running, but I know why we do it, and that's good enough for me.  <3

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Decisions, decisions... and a nice surprise

I've gotten a few good runs in this week and feeling really good about that.  One great part of getting out there for a longer run is I get a big chunk of time to think (and talk to myself) (and talk to my dog).  My thoughts this week were running (no pun intended) along the lines of, "where am i with this whole dieting / weight loss thing?" and "what's next right now?" and "goal? what goal? better get on that."

I made a couple of decisions along the road.  First, gotta get through December.  Christmas cookies and holiday pies to bake, New Year's celebrations, a week of stress at work to close out the books for the year... recipe for disaster, right?  Better get used to the idea that I'll be up 3 or 4 pounds by the end of the month, right?  That way I won't feel the need to beat myself up about it.  Doesn't have to be that way.  The plan for the rest of the month is to stay right where I am:  maintain current weight for the next three weeks, then kick it into high gear in the first week of January.  Maybe not an aggressive decision, but I think it's a reasonable & attainable goal.

After setting my strategy for this month, I started wondering... what, exactly, has been happening recently.  It occurred to me I haven't been paying terribly close attention.  Mid-August through the end of October is the busiest time at work for me, lots of travelling, lots of late nights, 8pm-pizzas at the office, working till 10 or 11pm in a hotel room, very stressful.  It's a great excuse to eat way too much fast food, McDonald's for breakfast, second helpings at dinner, an extra cookie here & there... well, you get the idea.  With the travelling especially, it's difficult to get any exercise in, and so hard to eat right.

No need to wonder, of course!  I log all weigh-ins, food and exercise on my LoseIt app, and took a look at a chart of my weigh-ins over the past few months.  It turns out, I've pretty much been in Maintenance Mode since early September.  Up and down the same few pounds through all that mess at work, even through our (much-deserved) Mexico vacation and Thanksgiving, but I haven't gained or lost really over all.

[I have this great chart I exported from LoseIt, but I can't find a way to paste it in here...]

Today's weigh-in brought a welcome surprise   down 0.8 lbs... the first "real" loss since September!  Lost a "new" pound, so great news!

I said I've made a couple of decisions... well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration.  I've been thinking more and more about when I'll be ready to take on the challenge of a half-marathon.  I feel like I need to get a couple more 10k's under my belt, but the training runs for a half wouldn't be all that much longer than the training runs I did for my last 10k.  It's starting to feel... well, not "possible" yet, not "do-able", but... "not outrageous".  I'm also thinking hard about participating in a Marathon Relay - 1/4 of a marathon is right up my alley, I just need 3 people to join in the fun and train with.

So that's where I'm at right now... ready for another week of work, and hitting the road for a few more miles this week with my trusty companion.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

10:37 is the new 11:30

I've had about a 3-week hiatus from running recently.  Travelling, vacation, the holidays... just haven't been running much since my last 5k race at the end of October.  The good news is that as of today I've lost all the weight I put on during our lazy drunken Mexico vacation (followed quickly by the infamous all-you-can-eat-Turkey Thursday), so I'm officially back on track with my weight loss efforts.

Coming back from even a short break always feels like I'm starting completely from scratch!  I find it really discouraging, running shorter intervals and walking more, etc.  So I tried something a little different this week.  I took the dog for her walk yesterday afternoon - it was crazy-warm, temp in the 60s in Illinois December! - and I decided such beautiful weather called for a longer walk in celebration.  We walked and did a wee bit of jogging to the junior high about a mile from home, then ran a Test Mile.  NO WALK BREAKS ALLOWED, just run until the Garmin says a full mile completed.  I said to myself, "None of this interval crap - your body knows what to do, and your MIND is the only thing keeping you from doing it."

Test time:  10:37!!  Pretty good for a slow, overweight runner-girl! My previous Test Mile in September was just under 11 minutes.

This got me thinking:  if I can run one mile in 10:37, I can run two at that pace... or three.  Like, in a row.  So I decided 10:37 is my new medium-term goal pace... 10:37 is the new 11:30.