One more day!

W9D2 went off without a hitch and that leaves me with one more day of the C25K program before it’s finished. Friday is going to bear a little celebration. Not a huge party, but I might have some good beer and maybe some hot wings. Haven’t done that in a long while.

Tonight wasn’t quite as easy as Day 1, but it was very close. I did have to push a little at the very end, but that was only the last quarter mile or so. I have a feeling this had to do with my running form tonight. I know I’m getting to a point in my training that I must concentrate on preventing injuries more since the distance is increasing. Correct running form can go a long way toward preventing injury. I made sure my shoulders were back and that there was no anterior tip to my hips which can cause shin splints and knee problems. Starting this behavior early will ensure that a good running form is natural to me by the time I start hitting the serious miles. Gotta love muscle memory! haha. I’ll also be focusing a lot on my core strength to help with form and prevent injury. Some of you might already know why that’s important, but this might sound odd to some of you, so let me explain.

I’ve said it before, early on in this blog, that building up the muscles in your back, mid-secton and hips is important for preventing injuries. I think I just touched on it lightly so it may not have left an impression at all, especially with the way I ramble. haha. Here’s the science of it. It really starts in the abdominal region. Proper abdominal fitness is huge when it comes to running form, so proper core exercise can be extremely beneficial to you. The reason for this is that if your abs are weak, your hips will tilt forward which also causes your legs to rotate and that will cause stress on the tibia and fibula while running. If your core is strong, especially your deep abdominal wall, your hips won’t tip forward and the legs won’t rotate. Have you ever wondered why people who drink a lot of beer or eat a lot of unhealthy food seem to gain inches in the midsection first? It’s because unhealthy diet really affects the deep abdominal wall which is the key to having a flat tummy and a strong core. In Pilates you’ll hear exercises to strengthen this as “powerhouse” movements. Of course, it’s important to strengthen the entire core, but making sure your abs are strong will prevent that forward tip and, therefor, help prevent injuries to your legs. This is one of my reasons why cross-training is so important. I actually learned this in martial arts, but it came in pretty handy for running! haha. So, there’s a little education for you, if you didn’t already know it.

As for my run tonight… it was beautiful outside! I didn’t get to run until after 11:00 p.m., but the temperature was around 70 F (21 C) and the humidity was low. It has been raining all day so there was a freshness in the air which isn’t something you get often during a Florida summer, even if it is coming to an end like it is now. I’ve been stretching before my runs lately (after my warm up walk) and that really does seem to free up the leg muscles. Some people will say they don’t do it and swear it’s the right answer, but if it works for you then do whatever feels right. I have always stretched after my muscles were warm until I started C25K this time. Having not done so for the past 8 weeks and then starting up again, I can tell you that the difference is like night and day. Try it. If you like it, keep doing it. It works for me.

Gonna stop typing words now. Hope everyone else is having as good a time as I am.

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BLECH!!!

This run was rough. I realized about halfway through that I wasn’t fueled enough for this one. Granted, it’s only 3 miles and that shouldn’t matter too much, but it occurred to me that I hadn’t eaten since last night and that my last dose of water was somewhere around 13 hours before my run. Why? *shrugs* No reason. It’s been an odd day and I just didn’t even think about any of it. I never felt hungry or thirsty so it never hit me that I hadn’t had those things. Normally I keep on top of it even if I’m not hungry or thirsty, but it has been a weird day. My head has been in a totally different place all day.

Week 8 is finished, but I didn’t finish pretty. My legs felt like lead, my veins felt like there was acid coursing through them and each step was a push after about the halfway point. The only good thing was that my breathing was nice and strong. Looks like the high intensity workouts on my off days are serving me well.

Also still adjusting to running during the daylight hours, even if it is the tail end of dusk haha. Met a cute girl with an awesome dog, though! Not looking for a girlfriend, but I like cute girls in tight running clothes and I like dogs! Can’t complain. haha.

Looking forward to finishing up the program next week and getting back on my own path. I will always recommend C25K to anyone who wants to start running. It got me where I needed to be and I never once wanted to stop the program. But now that I’m able to do what I’m doing, it’s time to go back to my old ways and really get this ball rolling.

Well, it’s Friday. Gonna go have some green tea…. and then a few beers! haha

Daylight

Running while the sun is still up is a bit odd after running past midnight for the past 3 months. It’s not bad, though. I’ve only been running in the dark to avoid the heat, but it has been cooling down slightly around here when the sun gets low so I’ve decided to run while it’s easy to see outside. It’s a completely different experience and it makes everything seem a lot easier. I guess because you’re not trying so hard to focus on any potential dangers in your path. The streetlights around here do a decent job, but there are definitely some dark stretches which can get a little taxing.

I ran W8D1 tonight. I only say that because it’s the 22nd run in the program, but I’m not really doing what it tells me to do. I’ve just been running the 5K distance for the past two workouts which takes me just over 30 minutes. For the novices, I do not recommend this unless you’re ultra sure you can. If I felt even a shade less capable of doing this, I would not. I’m right on that border. I’m slowly moving away from it, though. I’m not disobeying the program for any particular reason. I wasn’t worried about hitting the goals of this program or anything. I blame running in daylight for it, actaully. Being able to see my 5K distance halfway point because of the light just motivated me to go for it. There was no way I wasn’t going to reach it now that I could actually see it.

I’m going to stick with this distance for a few weeks (the rest of this program included) and then add a day for speed work. But, I’ve already talked about all this. Saw some cyclists while I was out. One male and then a female about 10 minutes later. Both said hello as they passed me. That was the first human contact I’ve had while on a run in a long time. haha.

It feels great to be out there doing this. It’s not always pleasant while I’m out there, but the refreshed feeling of strength I always feel afterward is definitely worth it, even if there was no other reward. I love feeling stronger by the day.

GREEN TEA TIME!

Walk

I know it’s been a little longer than normal since I last posted, but there’s a reason for that. The first thing you need to know is that the pain in my shin that I’ve mentioned once or twice was really bugging me since my last run on Saturday. I had a two day rest this weekend and I thought that would do the trick, but Monday disagreed. An involuntary 2 hour walk on Monday morning just exacerbated the whole situation. Also, I’ve been doing a workout on my non-run days lately which consists of some basic Pilates core training, prisoner squats, push-ups, step-ups (where you simply step up onto something about knee height until your leg is straight) and a few other things. This really keeps the heart rate up and it really works the legs and butt. So… I was stiff from that, then the long walk and the leg pain… I didn’t get to run until last night. 5 days off! I was not pleased.

All of this did some good, though! First, the walk seemed to help get rid of that nagging shin pain. Second, the walk and the cross-training may have tightened me up pretty good, but all of this added some strength despite the soreness. I was only sore because I hadn’t used those muscles in a while. You wouldn’t think it, but walking uses different muscles than running does which is why running has been easy but the walk was hard. Some of the same muscles are involved, of course, but I never really thought about that before. Now that I realize just how much that means, I’m going to start going on long walks on my run days, too. Anything to strengthen my running ability. I’m shocked at how much I’ve forgotten about my body in the the 6 years or so that I’ve not been working out. I’m glad to get reacquainted with it all now, though. I’m also glad to see that I still know what to do in order to make my body strong, Obviously the workouts I’m choosing are doing a lot of good.

Now we come to last night’s run. Week 5, Day 1. Finally! Week 5 is here! I do wish I’d been able to start this week a little more smoothly! Last night was a very ugly run because of how stiff I was from the walk and the cross-training. The first 5 minute interval felt like I was doing a fast waddle haha. I was loosened up by the second interval, but my muscles were still sore so I didn’t run at the pace I wanted to. Despite the slow pace, each 5 minute interval was easy! They felt like the 3 minute intervals did last week. Also, I took a new route last night. I planned it out on MapMyRun.com back before I even started Week 1. It’s a perfect 5K route. I decided to start it on Week 5 so I could measure my progress by how far I got on the route. Given that I only ran a collective 15 minutes last night, I think I’m still doing a good job on pace. I got almost halfway through the route and I’m running for half the time I will be upon graduating fro the C25K program. I do believe the extra 15 minutes of running will make up the difference and I shouldn’t have any problems hitting that 5K distance. So, even though last night was a little rough, I still did better than I thought which makes me feel pretty good about it all. I’m thinking that W5D3 is gonna be pretty easy at this point.

I wish this entry could have been a little more fun, but nothing about this past week in fitness has been fun haha. One nice thing this week is that I did some healthy grocery shopping and it didn’t cost much at all. I bought something like 9 lbs of chicken, 5 lbs of potatoes, 6 lbs of broccoli, onions, red peppers, apples, pears, eggs, lean ground beef, refried beans, flour tortillas and black olives for something like $50. I’m not sure how long it will last, but I’m thinking it’s gonna be more than a week. These are all foods I love and they’re all healthy. Lots of nutrients in all these foods and the meals will be low in calories.

So, it was a rough week, but I think it did me a lot of good in the long run. I cannot wait for my next run to see just how much good I’ve done for myself.

Push

A gentle breeze blew through the humid Florida night. Far above my head the stars burned hard against the black sky, only outshined by the dim streetlights of these sleepy midnight streets. Warm darkness welcomed me like the old friend it is as I started the C25K app on my phone and pushed play to begin the music. For 5 minutes I would walk and reflect on what I had done so far and what I was about to do… and what I would have to do later. Tonight was going to be something special. I walked and waited for the signal to run. There are two meteor showers overlapping tonight. Not kidding.

The chime rang out and my body found momentum. 3 minutes. I’ll make it to the stop sign. I know I will. Watch your shadow. Are you running right? Shoulders back, chin up, straighten your posture, don’t swing your arms too much. Now I’m too far into my own head. I need to get my mind off it and let my body do what it already knows how to do. Dammit, Jim, you’re a runner not a scientist! And your name isn’t Jim! This interval is easy… but it’s not smooth. Wait… it is easy, isn’t it? Check your breathing…. shouldn’t you be breathing harder? *exhales* Push. *mind taps body on shoulder* Hey, pal, you just passed the stop sign. A smile breaks across my face. DING! Walk.

What the hell was that? You didn’t even have any Wheaties today! Mainly because they’re gross, but that’s not the point! What has gotten into you? The music isn’t even all that motivating. Are you getting stronger already? You’re not even through the program yet! Keep your head, man, you’re heading for disaster. In 60 seconds you’re gonna be running again. Be cool. Don’t take yourself out of the game when you’ve come this far. Walk… breathe… walk…. breathe. Oh, hey it’s that techno song you put in your list that has never played since the beginning of the C25K program. Weird. Why did you even put this on here? You don’t like techno. DING! Run.

You’re charging out again, knucklehead, dial it back a little. This is 5 minutes, not 3. Don’t burn out. Just keep running. Just keep breathing. This song is starting to build up a little. What is this? *checks phone* Darude – “Sandstorm”. Oh, yeah. You read about that on the forums, that’s why you put it on there. Well, it seems to have a pretty good beat, let it go. *music builds and builds and builds* Uh oh. 2:46 in the song hits and, in an instant, two meteors streak across the sky, one after the other as if they’re chasing each other. Awe strikes like a sledgehammer and as I’m in disbelief… BOOM!¬†Adrenaline explodes through my veins like nitrous oxide. Momentum becomes force. Shoulders forward, head down… this is serious business. My brain screams, “You’re committing suicide!” I retort, “Whatever, bitch, you don’t know me!” If it wouldn’t have thrown off my balance, I might have put a finger snap and a head swivel in there all ghetto style. The music slowed about a minute ago, but you’re still going strong. You’re breathing heavy now and the music is building back up! Quick diagnostic. No pain. No burn in the lungs. Your shins and knees feel brand new. To hell with it…. (5:01 in the song blasts out) PUSH! You know, for someone who doesn’t like techno, you’re sure enjoying the hell out of this! DING! Walk.

The song softens and plays out as my pulse drops and my breathing returns to normal. This night is unreal. How the hell are you doing this, Kevin? How? You’re not ready…. but here you are doing it. You might pay for this. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but soon and for the rest of your life! *raises eyebrow* “Mr. Bogart, please leave. This is about me, not you. Jeez!” What a douche. Anyway, I feel fine. I think this is where I should be. Hell, next week is gonna bring a 20 minute run, but I shouldn’t try hard today on the last session of this week? Buuuulllshit! DING!¬†Holy crap, that went by fast!

This time the song playing didn’t mean much. Don’t even remember what it was, but the adrenaline came rushing right back. I realize that, by now, my shoulders should be burning. My chest should be on fire! But they’re not. In fact, I almost don’t feel like I’m running too hard at all. Next week you’re going from 5 minute runs to a 20 minute run in 3 days. You think you can do that? You better prove it! *salutes* Yes, sir! PUSH! Wait… did you just run over the canal bridge? Holy crap, you just passed the canal and you’re still running! And you still have like 30 seconds! Have people been giving you steroids in your sleep?! DING! Walk.

Hmmm. Maybe you’re the Terminator and no one ever told you about it. You’ve got one more 5 minute run and you’re doing better than you thought you could this week. What do you say? Go for broke? It has been fun but this could get you in trouble. You might feel great right now. Then again… you do have a two day break after this. You know how to tend to minor injuries. Roll the dice. Roll the dice. Roll the dice. DING!¬†(“Run” by Gnarls Barkley starts immediately after the chime. Out loud, I actually say, “Hahaha, are you serious?!”) Hasta la vista, honkee!

5 minutes…. 5 minutes and you will reach a level of pride you haven’t known for a while. Wait a minute… am I schizophrenic? What is this other voice I’ve been having a back and forth with the whole time? *this is where I start taking some creative license* Myself 10 years ago steps out before me, glowing blue and dressed in a Jedi robe (haha) and, I must say, what a sexy devil. “You’ve been on the dark side too long. You’ve been lazy. You’ve messed things up. You’ve hurt people you didn’t want to hurt. You’re ashamed of yourself and you’re not proud of what you have become, but make no mistake… you’re not running from anything, you’re running toward it. After all, running away means you want to forget. Running forward means you’re thirsty for redemption. Well, these are your first steps. You’re not crazy. Well… no crazier than you always have been. But you cut me out of your life a long time ago and I think it’s time that we forgive each other and join forces again. Prove your worth. Prove that you can. I’ll be waiting. Now, Kevin? …. PUSH!” It’s harder to run with a lump in your throat. DING! “WOOOOOOOOOHAHAHAAA!!!” *dogs bark in the back yard of the house I’m now walking past* Oh, oops. *whistles and walks briskly away*

What on earth? Really? It’s just a run. I just went out for a run. Now I feel like I’ve been on a journey! Perfectly timed and powerful music? Meteors on cue? Introspection? Tenacity that would make a pit bull’s jaws seem weak? *exhale* Son of a bitch. That was intense.

Any beginners who read this blog, please, PLEASE understand that tonight was about… something else… and I do not advise pushing like that. I may still pay for it, but apparently I needed it because I had NO control over it at all. It just happened… and I’m glad it did. I hope it happens again.

As you can probably tell, tonight was pretty easy on the running front. I am a little surprised, but I guess it makes sense. The first week was about proving I could get out there and try. The two weeks after were spent finding my groove. This week was about overcoming harder runs until tonight. Tonight was just nuts!

Now I’ve had time to shower, eat some ziti and make myself a nice cocktail. After all… I earned it tonight. For those of you wondering, the adrenaline fueled frenzy of self-discovery earned me an extra 0.6 miles putting me at 2.1 miles for the session (not including the warm up and cool down walks). I uh…. I think my 30 minute runs can cover that extra mile. haha. I guess we’ll see, though. I could be wrong. I wish I hadn’t left my Nike+ in St. Louis or I’d have a better idea of my running pace right now. I’d especially like to know what tonight’s pace was like.

I’m sure this post probably tells a story of a madman gone madder, but this one is for me so I don’t care. haha.

Relax

… don’t do it! When you wanna go to it!

*cough*

Hello, there! I’m in a pretty good mood. Not for any real reason and it might have something to do with the Baccardi in this orange juice, but I killed Week 3 tonight and I felt I deserved a celebratory cocktail. Nice and relaxed now. I’m always very relaxed after a good workout and a hot shower, but the cherry on top tonight is a very welcome addition.

This run was one of those runs that beginners need to know about. The lack of running groove. Basically, you start running and your body doesn’t slip into running mode. It’s not exactly that every step feels labored, but you definitely don’t feel natural while you’re doing it. Sometimes this will happen and it will go away in a minute or so or after your first interval, but sometimes it can last for the entire session. It’s not that your body is in trouble and it’s trying to tell you to stop or anything that drastic. I honestly believe it’s what happens when you sneak up on a run haha. That’s exactly what I did tonight. I was just sitting here waiting for run time and then, out of the blue, I just decided to get up and do it. I was out there running within a few minutes of the decision. I didn’t give my mind time to catch up with the fact that I wanted my body to do something else. Anyway, this is going to happen to you. As long as it doesn’t hurt, keep going. It will subside and, even if it doesn’t, it will give you the progress you need. Not every run will feel good. Just push through the bad ones and the good ones will feel so much better.

My shins and calves were aching pretty good after this one and I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ve only been back inside for a little over an hour and I feel fine. Just dull echoes where the pain was. I stretched out the affected areas, massaged them and then took a hot shower. Seems to do the trick. Keep in mind that when you graduate this program and go on to much longer runs, hot showers are not the answer. You’ll want to consider ice baths. Don’t worry, you get used to them.

That’s about it for now. Gonna go finish my drink.

Heat

As I walked out the door tonight I was hit in the face by a wall of 85 F (30 C) degree air as thick as swamp water. I’ve run in worse, though it was enough to make me balk a little. But… the run had to happen and I wasn’t going to let a little thing like nature get in my way. I jammed my headphones in my ears and started my warm up walk. I was feeling pretty good despite the conditions. I knew it was gonna be a good one.

The first few run intervals were almost too easy. I thought that maybe I should push harder, but the reason I waited until this evening to run was that I had some mild shin pain this morning and I decided to wait until tonight so I could massage it and ice it and get it to optimal condition before I ran. The pain was gone by mid-afternoon, but I wasn’t about to push hard enough to bring it hurtling right back. I just kept a comfortable pace and trucked on through. It wasn’t until the final minute of the last run interval (3 minutes) that I started to really feel fatigue and the effects of the heat. I don’t really even know if it was fatigue. It may have been the thick air and heat I was thinking about psyching me out. I’ll have to remember to keep my mind off that next time. it did feel a bit harder to breathe at the end, though, and I think that’s what caused it to feel difficult. I still pushed through because I knew I wasn’t trying to do anything I wasn’t capable of.

It was tonight that I realized that if I’m going to run a marathon after letting myself get so incredibly out of shape, I’m going to have to bring back a mindset that I haven’t been familiar with in a long, long time. I’m going to have to be able to push myself without thinking too much about it while also being mindful of what my body is telling me so I don’t end up hurting myself. It’s a tough balance to achieve, but it does get easier with experience and conditioning, both mental and physical. Apparently, my body isn’t the only thing that needs exercise. Tonight, instead of saying to myself “You can do this”, I adopted an attitude of “It’s ridiculous to think that you’re not capable of doing this.” I know it doesn’t sound like there’s much of a difference, but it really is coming at things from the other side of the difficulty. I remember that mindset from all the years I did run and workout and it’s nice to feel it again. I know I’m stronger already.

Tonight made me feel like I’m locked in and ready for this long haul. Tonight felt like the true beginning. I’m going to run that damn marathon and I’m going to do it in under 4 hours and that’s that. Bring it on you 26 mile bitch!