Qualitative vs Quantitative

I think have been measuring my progress in running by one metric; speed. I feel that success is only a sub 8:30 pace on every run. Obviously…that’s absurd.

Today was mid-week long run on the Monon. 7 miles. Not too bad.

I worked almost 9 hours today and presented a poster for 2, wore heels, ran errands at lunch time… when I got home I didn’t feel like turning right around and going out for a run. But that just wasn’t an option. Whereas I used to use those things as an excuse to skip my run, this time I just put on my shoes and was out the door.

I ran the first 5 miles on the Monon (2.5 miles north, 2.5 miles south) and could have easily stopped back at the car – what I would’ve probably done last year. Five is enough right? No, I had seven on the calendar. So I ran past my car again, down the other direction of the Monon and finished my last 2 miles.

And tomorrow is a rest day, but I plan to go to my friend’s yoga class to keep my muscles loose and work on my flexibility.

So no, maybe I didn’t knock out this run at 8:30 pace (more like 9:00), but it only felt like a 4 mile jaunt. And I didn’t succumb to excuses. I’m also looking at my running more holistically by incorporating stretching and yoga, and watching my nutrition by cutting out alcohol and eating to best fuel running.

So I feel like I actually made a lot of progress today. And none of it was speed.

A dynamic equilibrium

My project at work is done, Scott is home from the hospital, and things with running are reaching an equilibrium. I’m now 1/3 of the way into my half-marathon training and I really am feeling much stronger and confident about it. This week I really committed to my training schedule after flaking a little the 2 weeks prior and it. feels. good.

This week involved 7 miles on Tuesday, easy miles for the rest of the week, and 8 yesterday. I felt absolutely shot yesterday by the 3rd mile, I didn’t know what was happening. Rethinking in my head, I concluded that my dinners this week have been mostly soup (excellent for Scott! maybe not enough for me) and that the fatigue I was feeling was due to under fueling. Or the humidity. Or just increase in mileage. Anyways, I was STRUGGLING, but I knew I had to do all 8 miles, so I just did all 8 miles. It felt like my legs were full of lead and anytime I had to stop at an intersection I feared I couldn’t get going again. But I made it, and even might run some more today though I have nothing on my training plan.

And a bit of an aside: I have about had it with my neighborhood running route. It is a nice enough route visually (plenty of trees and interesting houses to check out) but I tend to get yelled, whistled, ‘complimented’ way more frequently than in the middle class suburban areas of Indianapolis. Yesterday was so out of control that I almost reacted to the last person by throwing out my middle finger but I was too damn tired. In the course of my 8 miles I was ‘hey beautiful’ ed by one overweight man on his bike, honked at by two cars really close to me, told something possibly lewd by two teenage boys, leered at noticeably from two men in a service truck and to put the icing on the cake – ran past two men getting arrested. I have occasionally gotten shouts of encouragement – one memorable one from a woman on her porch to ‘get it girl’. But yesterday it was all negative. I was feeling frustrated and unsafe yesterday. Gah. I think it takes nothing more than a ponytail and running shorts for some men to need to express gender domination. (I discussed this some with Scott, fuck the patriarchy).

Anyways, I feel like I really have reached a dynamic equilibrium with my running. If some source of change is thrown into the reaction, I adapt and accommodate for the change to maintain my current steady state. See the scheduled miles, do the scheduled miles.

As far as all the whining and crying I did in my last post… actually running makes me feel proud of myself. It makes me feel accomplished, in control and does a lot for my confidence. So I’m going to keep this ball rolling. And completing a week like this – with what I would call two ‘long runs’ – shows me I CAN do this. I can run that far.

Just go for a run

Part of me hates to admit that it’s come back to this, but I think my anxiety issues have reached a level that I can’t manage myself anymore. I first really considered I had…how do I say? issues last year and ended up seeing a therapist. Eventually I got out of a crappy situation, an isolated town and moved to Indianapolis where I had significant improvements with stress.

And that is still holding true for the most part. But this last month I’ve really let my stress go unmanaged and it is starting to affect me in ways I haven’t seen for the past year. Part of this is just due to a project at work I am trying to finish by the end of the month (ok, most of this), and part of this is due to lack of time (and sleep) I have at home doing regular things since I spend my evenings at the hospital. Surprisingly I don’t feel too much anxiety about Scott’s surgery and current recovery. I felt plenty before it happened, but now that the surgery is complete, was generally successful, and his recovery is going relatively smoothly; I feel totally at ease about it.

Mostly my stress and anxiety is affecting my running. I feel tired, I feel nervous, I feel doubtful. And I start comparing myself to other runners, to Scott, to fabricated ideas of what I should be doing in my head and I just. can’t. deal. And I start thinking I can’t do it. And then I don’t do it. And I prove that I’m right.

This really isn’t making running that fun.

So right now I am just trying to get back to a place where I enjoy running. Maybe I don’t worry about my pace anymore. Maybe I just run as a way to reduce anxiety, not increase it. I’m not sure. I am disappointed that I can’t seem to figure it out on my own.

I was sent a link to something called “just shut up and run” but I couldn’t even read it. Because I can’t just shut up and run. I know it should be that simple. But having it explained to me why I’m doing it all wrong just makes me feel worse about myself.

I say all of this as I am at work, on Saturday, in running clothes. So we’ll put this experiment to the test right now. I’ll just… go for a run.
 

Forward

Since my last post I’ve completed my second week of training, and I’ll just say thing are going MUCH better than that first post. I spent last week in Ocean City NJ with Scott and his family where I took advantage of the boardwalk just about every day. I ended up running more each day than I had on my plan and put in a solid speed workout on Tuesday. About 26 miles overall, so things are good.

Everything is a little different on vacation. Your normal routine is thrown out the window – which is something my type A personality has a hard time reconciling. But days full of running, root beer and Bashful Banana didn’t derail me at all. I moderately maintained my ‘fruit rich’ eating with a daily banana whip (I mean seriously, ice cream. For lunch. What is better.) and lots of fruit anywhere else. I feel like I’ve finally discovered the solution to my digestive issues that have been pestering me since childhood. Fruit, lots of it.

So today we’re putting life back to normal and starting the work week again tomorrow. But I’m apprehensive to say normal, as in one week Scott will go back into surgery, then recovery for months. I’m definitely nervous, but this has been the plan since March and now it’s finally here. It’s almost a relief that something is happening, but we don’t know what lays on the other side.

It feels strange to have this one part of my life meticulously planned with mileage, workouts, rest days and so on…. and another part with no conceivable plan at all. Maybe just forward.

Inner monologue dribble

Scott prompted an interesting conversation the other day from a seemingly goofy question.

“What would you want Facebook to say about you after you died?”

Not really sure where he was going with this, I deferred to him. Since our relationship deals with mortality a bit more closely than others, I wasn’t sure if this was a serious or a non-serious question. He wanted to hear “That guy said some ridiculous stuff!”

No worries Scott, I am sure that sentiment has been received. I eventually gave a dopey response of “She did her own thing”. I got an eye roll for that. But no, that is really what I meant. I rephrased it. “Genuine. I’d want to be remembered as genuine.”

And the more I think about it, the more I like that answer. As sappy as this sounds, you really are the only ‘you’ out there (save all those genetic clones I made in graduate school), so why bother trying to emulate anyone else? That’s such a bore. The older I get the more settled into myself I become. And none of that can be labeled – as much as I might try. And it’s really for the best. Getting wrapped up in a label or an identity is restrictive and stifling. But I want to carve out my own niche, my own sense of self. A little of which I’m trying to find on this blog here, so please enjoy the journey.

A learning curve

I forget sometimes that I am ‘new’ at this. At running lots, at running consistently, at running farther. But here’s the thing – I don’t feel new. I feel like I’ve been running forever. I ran in high school (occasionally around the neighborhood, 3 miles tops). I ran in college (occasionally, 6 miles tops) and in graduate school. Last year I did my first half marathon, and that was the first time I’d ever run 8, 10, 13.1 miles. I’ve probably averaged 8-10 miles a week for the past 8 years.

So now I’ve steadily shifted to 20-25 miles a week. And yes. That’s different. I am now running 4-6 miles on weekday runs. I did my first official ‘work out’ last Tuesday with the team. 1 mile of warmup, then 4 miles of 1 min hard, 3 min easy, and a 1 mile cool down. I ran a 5K with an average pace below 8:00. I followed that up with 7.5 miles the next day.

So yesterday when I ran 8 miles, something I hadn’t done since March of last year, I should have been happy! But I finished frustrated and disappointed. I think I am constantly measuring myself against another yard stick. Other people. I’m not really sure how to snap out of this mentality. But I’ll keep you posted.

Uggggh. EDITED

I don’t feel very motivated right now. Do I even like running? I feel like I don’t have any goals. I don’t feel like I’m making any progress (obviously I am not really trying) and I cannot pinpoint what I want to get out of this.

Running on Tuesday I ran 5 miles at 9:20 pace or something terrible like that. I’m really mad at my body and that it isn’t doing anything. It only seems to be really good at being stagnant.

I just wrote my ‘about me’ on this blog and I couldn’t come up with anything interesting about my running or my interests. And I just ate peanut butter and it is stressing me out. I quit.

EDIT

I just went to the gym and ran a 25:05 5k.

Foot. In mouth. I guess that’s why I like running.

Running and Not Running

I’m going to try and be a little more free form. I keep boxing myself in thinking I need to be a RUNNING BLOG and report weekly mileage and keep it super focused! But in actuality no one really cares (I don’t mean that in a self deprecating way) if I run 20 miles a week or no miles a week.

So this is a blog. About running. And not about running.

I’m slowly increasing what I consider my ‘minimum run requirement’ which used to hover around the 5K mark, and has now moved up to 4-4.5 miles. That alone is a personal accomplishment. I’ve also increased my frequency of running to 5 days a week, usually. My pace is holding steady around 8:30 for most runs, and can be pushed even more if I am really feeling good. I ran almost a whole mile at 7:45 on the treadmill. Almost.

Last Saturday I had signed up for a 10K trail race just because Scott was doing it, but morning of we both saw that it would be best for my mental state to stay home (more issues than Vogue over here). I’m kind of easily overwhelmed by labels I put on myself and NOT going to a race that would’ve been stressful (multiple creek crossings, ascents, descents… I’m not a seasoned trail runner) was actually the right choice. Scott meanwhile, won the 10 miler on feet battered by chemo. Am I a bad girlfriend by saying I’m not surprised? Trails are his element. Running is his element, cancer or no cancer.

Today I ran on the canal towpath and engaged in some childish competition when I intersected some college-y girls (this path runs right next to the Greek houses) who were looking pretty quick and I pushed myself to not let them pass me. I have no idea how long there were actually behind me, but I never saw them again. Take that!

I’d like to have another race on the horizon but all I can find are 5K’s which I don’t really want to do anymore. I mean, sure I could try and beat my 5K PR and see what kind of speed I can dole out, but I’m really looking to move up towards a half-marathon again.

In non-running topics, I’ve become really interested in cooking (says the one that would often eat Amy’s burritos that were still moderately frozen in the middle because, eh, why not) because that seems like a practical hobby. Will report.
 

Sunday perspective

Snow again. Not very much (yet) but enough to move my run to the treadmill. I didn’t expect to see anyone at my apartment’s gym on such a cold and early morning, but about 1 mile into my run I was joined by an older man. He was dressed in jeans and a tucked in button down and carried his gym shoes in a plastic bag. He switched out his shoes (ala Mr. Rogers), lifted some weights and then started walking on the treadmill next to me. We were both in our own work out zone for a while, but when I finally finished up my run and removed my headphones we chatted for a bit.

“How far did you run?” He asked.

“5 miles” I replied, breathing heavy.

“You must be in really good shape to do that! How often do you run that?

“I only do longer runs once a week.” Still breathing hard, I really pushed my last half mile.

“You’re really lucky you can do that.” He smiled. I agreed and wished him a good day. I hope I’m still hitting the gym on weekend mornings when I am older.

Sometimes I see that what I think is un-extraordinary is really all in my perspective. My long runs are 5 or 6 miles. I don’t think that is that far, but I can do it, and not everyone has that luxury. So here’s to appreciating everything I have, running or otherwise.

Personal Logs

I’ve kept a diary, journal, or blog of some sort for the majority of my life. And every single one of those has never reached the end of notebook or been a blog that hasn’t ended up deleted. I think my fascination with cataloging my thoughts started from books I read as a child. I remember becoming obsessed with the Amelia’s Notebooks and Harriet the Spy when I was in elementary school and carrying around my own composition notebook to make observations of neighbors and paste magazine pictures into. Then I was introduced to Anne Frank in middle school, Sylvia Plath in high school and saw the caliber of writing that was possible for a girl my age.

I remember keeping a journal of sorts in a word document for a while in high school, then having a live journal (which I sometime regret deleting – I would love to revisit my super angsty writings I posted under the user name the_upbeat, as both a reference to my attempt at being a drummer and to be ironic about the content, perhaps the_downbeat was already taken). I kept many physical journals through college which most sadly contain either the chronicles my daily food intake, weight and subsequent self-hatred, or garbage about boys I was dating. Again, all of these end abruptly when I no longer felt that journal was exactly what I wanted it to be. I started a wordpress a few years ago in graduate school that I tried to keep about running and nutrition, but I never was particularly dedicated to training so that fizzled out as well. And now there’s this, which could very possibly suffer the same fate.

This topic came into my head as this weekend I retrieved the last of my things from my ex’s place, the box of journals being one of them. I don’t have any desire to open them and read them – I shudder at the atrocious writing and content I’ll be sure to find, but I find it hard to get rid of them. So I carry this box around from apartment to apartment, shoving it in a back corner of a closet to remind me that I lived and have felt the need to write about it since I was about 8 or 9 years old. I wonder why that is? That so many humans are compelled to put down on paper (or html) these thoughts that fire around in our brain? I am sure much of it has to do with self-preservation, but also as a way to fully articulate and expel those thoughts. Reading well written personal blogs, any kind of daily log, or published journals has always been a great interest of mine. I love to hear about the mundane going ons of ones life and have regularly fallen down the rabbit hole of reading a significant portion of a blog in a few hours.

So as far as my daily happenings of late – my 5K is approaching in 2 weeks and I should probably set a goal. I have run a 28:49 5K on the treadmill lately, and my ‘standing PR’ from 2011 is 26:01. I think I could definitely shoot for 28:00 on this course. It looks to be a completely flat and rectangular course around a parking lot (thrilling, I know) and I definitely can put a bit of competitive pressure on myself during a race. I’ve put it out there now. Can’t make a fool of myself! I haven’t done any running since Thursday when a sinus infection struck me face first. I am planning to get some miles in today, hopefully outdoors and not on the treadmill, but with the recent snow I might chicken out. I need to just find something to cover my nose, I hate that tingly-about-to-sneeze feeling one gets from cold air.

Another thing I’d like to do (Duran you’ve inspired me) is include current music that gets me through the days. There is something about music that can easily transport you to a certain time in your life. I can’t listen to Rilo Kiley’s Under the Blacklight without thinking of junior year of college, or Florence and the Machine’s Lungs without imagining setting up reactions in my fume hood in grad school. And with that…..

On Repeat:
Anything Death Cab for Cutie
Beyoncé – Drunk in Love
Edward Sharp & the Magnetic Zeros – Home