Friday, September 11, 2009

Wk 9 running update: Graduation and my worst week ever

Last night, I ran for 30 minutes to complete the Couch-to-5K program. In nine weeks, I've gone from nearly sedentary to a woman who runs. I should be happy, but this was my worst week running yet.

Maybe it was my head

You know how you get close to achieving a thing and your subconscious tries to undermine you? "This isn't that important," your head says. "Aren't you tired?" "Isn't is hot?" "You aren't getting any faster, you know." For some reason, I couldn't get my head in the game this week. I dreaded every run and each run felt like agony. My legs were like lead, my mind was on the clock and my times became progressively slower, with last night being the nadir.

On Tuesday evening, in an attempt to shake myself into a better mindset, I decided to run along the Indianapolis Downtown Canal. I had been jogging the same route around my neighborhood. I figured a scenic, urban run might be an invigorating change of pace. Not so much. I did learn a couple of things, though. Comparing myself to other people impedes my progress and does no good for my self-esteem. I usually pass several runners while chugging around my little burg--mostly middle-aged moms and dads and high schoolers--but that's nothing like the "traffic" along the Canal. Twenty-somethings in hip workout wear, legs kicking high and arms pumping, sliced past me like bullet trains, while I shuffled my nearly-40-year-old ass along in old, two-sizes-too-big workout pants and a Sierra Leone t-shirt with bleach stains on it--an out-dated iron horse. That run made me feel old and out of shape.

I also realized, on Tuesday, that I had been depending on my well-worn neighborhood route to push me forward when running. After nine weeks of gradually increasing time and speed along the same path, I generally know about where I will be mid-run and at the end of my run. That makes it easy to move myself along. "Just one more loop and you're there." "I'm half-way done. Yeah!" My familiar path makes it easy to coach myself with "just a little more" when I need it. There is nothing wrong with that, per se, but I need to find another motivation when running a new route, which I undoubtedly will be doing during races like the Run for Congo Women in October. My Tuesday run felt extra-long because I lacked markers that signaled how far I had come and how much further I had to go.

Maybe it was my body

I've been reading up on how monthly hormone fluctuations affect women's athletic performance. Luckily, gone are the days when folks thought women and girls needed to be sidelined by their menstrual cycles. But the truth is that levels of estrogen may have an impact on how easy or hard a run feels.

Say you've planned your track workouts for every Wednesday. You go to the track during your follicular phase (low estrogen) and hit all your repeats right on. You leave the track with confidence and excitement. A few weeks later, you go to the track but you're now in the luteal phase (high estrogen). You feel sluggish, tired and lethargic. You feel like you have a totally different body. You leave the track doubting your abilities and your training program, despite the fact that your long runs have been successful. Don't feel discouraged, though. It's not for lack of training that you're performing this way, it's the way your body is fueling your workouts. Read more...


I know now not to fret so much if I hit a week that seems particularly physically difficult. I can run through it and know that those good, exhilarating runs will return again. I'm counting on it!

So, what now?

Frankly, it's kinda weird, but I'm more sad about finishing the C25K program than anything. I had this big, structured goal that I was working toward for more than two months and now, just like that, it's gone. I know if I'm going to keep this up (and I do want to continue to run and discover what my body can do), I'm going to need a new set of goals. I've identified a few:

I'm pretty fslow. After 30 minutes of running and 10 minutes of walking, I've barely covered 2.5 miles--that's .7 miles shy of a 5K. My first goal is to be able to run the entire distance of the Run for Congo Women on Oct. 3--no matter how slowly. My second goal is to eventually run a sub 30 min 5K.

Now, that I have completed C25K, I'm going to switch over to the One-Hour Runner program and eventually a half marathon training program. It might be too grand a thought, but I'd really like to complete "The Mini," our local half marathon next spring, even if I have to walk a little.

So, basically, what happens next is that I keep running. In fact, tomorrow morning I'm running in a local 5K, the Race for All Races, sponsored by the Asian Alliance. I just want to get a taste of what a 5K race is like before my Oct. event. I don't have a lot of hope that I will run the full distance tomorrow, but I will finish and have a better gauge of the work I need to do in the coming weeks.

For those of you who have shared that you have started running, how's it going?

5 comments:

M and M said...

Tami, thanks for writing this post for US! Seriously...I was just going to e-mail you my update which would include, "after two weeks of running 30 minutes, my 30 minute run is only 1/10 of a mile longer and NO FASTER. My legs hurt like hell and my knees ache at night." Gads - I turn 45 on Monday and this is tough stuff! My 40 plus extra pounds are a lot to lug around the 'hood. Here it is, straight up - WE WILL FINISH THE RACE. I'm super excited to make this happen - so I'll see you in Chicago and let's trust ourselves to rise to the occassion in honor of women who are running in a race for their lives. We can do it. Thanks for being honest - and for allowing me to piggyback on your success. (PS, I plan on running in Minn/St.Paul in November in a run for funding schools in Ethiopia...so I'm with you on keeping a goal out in front). See you soon!

Meghan

Anonymous said...

Very informative. Keep it up.

-Kay

Tracy said...

Hey Woman!!

My advice to you is this - Just Go.

I have been running (slow jogging) since April. I am now up to almost 12 miles a day (six in am, 5-6 in evening). It is like an addiction, plus if I don't run, I will just stay in and eat.

I run in all kinds of weather, and sometimes brave the boogeyman and go at nite with a runner friend (who is hot) (but is gay).

Yep, I am one of those "results not typical" folks, but the high and the sense of well being and accomplishment is worth the shin splints! LOL!!

You are doing great, don't let a few setbacks discourage you - Looks good for October, is it too late to join you and M?

Tami said...

Tracy,

Thanks for the encouragement and, by all means, JOIN US!

KimcheeBrown said...

Good work cousin! Proud of you...even though I ran in high school I was a sprinter and long distance runs (anything over 1/4 mile) were not my thing. Add 15 years and as many pounds to that? Not happening.

I simply do not understand those folks who get "addicted" to running, but I am mighty jealous of them and I keep trying...albeit rather internmittently.

The only advice I can offer is that there are some great dance club remixes of classic Whitney songs out there on iTunes and elsewhere on the internet. Working out to music always helps me motivate and having a set playlist helps me pace(I can use certain songs as markers).

Keep up the good work!

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