Big Goals and Routine Changes

Toward the end of 2015, I saw a lot of posts/tweets/pics about goals for 2016, and race schedules, and plans. I started to feel like I was behind the curve because I didn’t have my race schedule mapped out for the entire year. All I knew was I had a marathon at the end of February.

Then when I wondered if I would ever get it together, things started to fall into place. Now I have the main arteries in place to map out my training for the first part of the year. I’m set with my big goals at least until the end of June.

My blueprint for the next six months to guide my training:

Train to get closer to a four hour marathon at Cowtown by strengthening more, improving overall nutrition, and pushing myself more on the hard and/or long run days.

Tackle a triathlon with an open water swim before June.

So…I can then compete in my first 70.3 race at the end of June – which I registered for before the end of the year to save some cash.

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That was the easy part.

My motivation is high. My training is back in full swing. I had an awesome long run the day after New Year’s. It was my first run over 5 miles since Dallas, and I’d say it went well. There are benefits when I run with a group who are all faster than me.

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I made myself run hills because I know it will prepare me for Cowtown.

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It totally sucked, but I got it done.

My long run Saturday helped me feel better about my endurance. The weather was nasty, but I found that I was able to push myself through mentally. I always wonder what people think when they drive past me and the weather is less than ideal. Then I saw some a softball game going on at the park, and I thought “Well, at least I’m moving.” IMG_7104

On the weekdays, I have been focusing on finishing my runs by a certain time – no matter if I finish the mileage or not – so I can be sure to get my strength routine done. That means if I oversleep, I run less. Since I noticed such a difference in my form during the Dallas Marathon from adding core training, I want to keep at it. It’s the little things that make the difference.

Nutrition. Well, I was doing fine after Christmas and up until last week. I lost a couple of the pounds I gained after the marathon. Then I hit a few bumps over the weekend (s’mores) but I’ll get back to it.

My biggest challenge right now has been my work schedule – which affected my blog. This post was started last Monday.

I’m starting my second week of working between two offices. When the owner approached me a few weeks ago to ask if I’d like to broaden my horizons, I said yes. I will not turn down opportunity to learn new functions. The hardest part for me has been adjusting my schedule. My workday is starting earlier (right after I drop the kids at school), which is fine with me, but I lost some of the time I would use to make and eat breakfast, finish getting ready, etc. In a way, it’s forced me to get my act together earlier. On the other hand, my appetite is all out of whack, because I’m eating breakfast earlier, and taking my lunch later. The major benefit to this though is that I’m a two minute drive from home, and I can go home for lunch. Larabars to snack on in between meals is the norm now. I also carry almonds, greek yogurt, and fruit. If you have any more good ideas for healthy, portable snacks, please share!

I’m sure in a few weeks, my schedule will settle down and I’ll be in a routine. That should be right about the time I get ready to start Half Ironman training, which starts right after the Cowtown Marathon.

I sure do love a challenge!

 

Scale Lies and Small Changes

Yesterday, my training for the Dallas Marathon hit the halfway point. 8 weeks down. 8 to go. I feel like I’m rolling along to my goal, while keeping up with the other stuff life sends my way. Last week I was fighting off a stuffy head/congestion for a few days. One morning, my youngest asked me if I was okay because I never sneeze that much. Tuesday, my boss reminded me I had sick hours I could use. I didn’t feel bad though; I just had the sneezes. I was glad to have a cutback week in my training, and really tried to get extra sleep. I finally started to feel like myself again on Friday.

Saturday’s 16 miler went better than expected, as I was trying to catch the group that was moving a little fast. I was trailing behind, feeling like a turtle, but talking to myself (yes, out loud) about how good I was doing. I’m trying to work on my mental game too.

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I surprised myself with this average pace.

All day long, I expected my appetite to kick in, but it didn’t. For this training cycle, I just haven’t been as hungry. This is highly unusual behavior. Most of the time after a long run, it’s hard for me to eat much at all. I recover with chocolate milk, and maybe a banana, and that usually holds me over until lunchtime.

So what has changed?

A lot, actually.

I’ll start with this contrast:

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By the way, free race photos are a great perk! Maybe one day I’ll be able to pin a bib on straight.

The picture on top is from a race 6 months ago. The Fairview Half. A race that fell after a high mileage marathon training season that started in August and ended in March. It may not look like a huge difference to anyone else. But at the time of the race in April, I felt terrible about myself. I was injured, and hobbled through the last mile. I was frustrated with my size, because all my shorts were tight and I was chafing in new places every time I ran. I had been running for over four years, and my weight had hit its highest point since I started. So I started making little changes.

The second picture is from last Saturday’s Showdown Half. While it wasn’t my fastest half, I felt stronger than I have in a long time. My clothes are fitting again, and I feel better about myself and my body.

The weight difference between the two races: 4 pounds.

The scale tells lies.

So how did I manage to change without losing the 10 pounds I so desperately wanted to get rid of?

I started doing planks and pushups every night. Forward planks, side planks, pushups on my knees. Anything I could do that would help boost my metabolism. Over the summer I focused more on strength: squats and lunges several times a week, donkey kicks, leg lifts. All the fun stuff. The triathlon training brought more changes in upper body strength. For the first time ever, I had definition in my arms.

I ate more fruits and vegetables. Tuna, almonds, spinach, spinach, spinach, yogurt, string cheese, sweet potatoes. This type of lunch is normal now:

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I also found that I just feel better when I eat this way. I think by running fewer miles per week, adding the swimming and biking, it has helped sustain my appetite. My gut is still there – I don’t think it’s going anywhere ever – but now it’s not the only thing I see when I look at a picture. The changes may be minimal, and this may all sound vain to some people. For me, though, it means I am healthy and stronger. I feel more like an athlete – more balanced. And I’m doing it the way I should. With my history of disordered eating, it really is a big deal.

Okay enough of a rabbit trail, time to get back to training.

I’m looking forward to my second triathlon this Sunday in Denton – Monster Tri. I’m excited to see how the swim portion of the race goes this time.

Have a great week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changes That Stick

I admire those who can post updates on their blog on a regular basis. I have every intention of posting weekly – on Monday or Tuesday. That should be doable, right? But sometimes, life gets away from me and before I know it, it’s Friday night and I’m ready to go to bed at 7:30.

So here is the post I wanted to write last week, but it was a tough week. I can report that I’m back on track now.

After the Houston Marathon, I started to second guess myself. Why was I running slower? What was I doing different? Had I reached my full potential and started a steady decline in speed? I also noticed while I was running the marathon I felt different with my body composition – heavier. Sure, it was probably due to a few Christmas goodies here and there, but I didn’t like it. It motivated me in a good way, and the day after the race, I made some changes to my diet. These are changes that I want to be permanent, but I also know how I can get sloppy after a while. I need my changes to stick.

In the past four weeks, I have been tracking all my food, eating more fruits, veggies, and whole grains, and I have felt much better. My energy level has been up even though I’m not getting ideal sleep. My easy run pace has dropped to what I consider normal for me and I have started to see some speed come back. I haven’t been able to get a mile near 8:00 range yet, but it’s getting closer. I don’t want to push the speed too hard since I’m still training for the Cowtown Marathon.

I’ve lost a pound or two, depending on which week it is. I’m trying not to focus on the scale too much. As long as I stay within a specific range, I’m not going to worry about it.  I have picked back up on regular core work (planks, bridges, pushups) and after Cowtown I will expand my strength training to replace some of the running miles.

The last two Saturdays, my long runs have given my self confidence the boost it needed. A week ago, I ran an 18 miler with 12 miles around a 9:15 pace. It was nice to know I could push and do what I set out to do.

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This past Saturday, I pushed again by running with a faster runner for 10.5 miles of my 16 total. Overall we averaged 9:09 pace for that segment, but I know there were some fast miles in there because the first 3-4 were 9:30s. Negative splits are a great confidence builder. I was wiped out at the end, but it felt great!

Now I’m ready to taper for Cowtown. I plan to take this Saturday run a little easier to rest the stress I’ve built in my legs the past few weeks. I will also focus on keeping my nutrition in check so that’s not slowing me down.

Have a great week!