Friday, May 31, 2013

Aha! Understanding the Logic of Marathon Training

Hi, friends!  Happy Friday.

Today I want to keep things short and sweet with two things.  The first is an insight I had this week about marathon training.  Technically, my marathon training begins on June 10th; right now I am in pre-marathon training mode.  In other words, I’m just trying to get my running legs back underneath me.  My goal has been to run 120 minutes per week, and (running slacker that I am), I have not met that goal yet.  But I might this week!  And next week!  Fingers crossed.

I was thinking about the difference between this pre-marathon training and my usual half-marathon training style, and this is it: marathon training is designed so that you will often be running on slightly tired legs.  With my half-marathons, I only run three days a week, and two of those runs are typically in the 20-30 minute range.  (I also bike a lot, which I think is a huge boost to my overall fitness.)  Runningwise, I’m almost always running on pretty fresh legs, with at least a day or two between runs.  With full marathon training, I am supposed to run four days a week, and one of those runs will become frighteningly long as the months progress.  This means my legs will often be kinda tired or recovering from the previous run.  In other words, I’ll be building the endurance for 26.2 miles on my fatigued legs.

Maybe this sounds obvious as I write about it, but it was a major breakthrough for me.  Overall I’m feeling pretty good as I ease back into running, but my calves have been noticeably tight this week.  On the plus side, I’m starting to feel a shift in my attitude toward marathon training.  I think a challenge like this might turn out to be perfect for this year.  Running is once again becoming a moving meditation for me, a time to collect my thoughts and give myself a pep talk.  Lacing up my sneakers is becoming less of a chore and more of a pleasure.  I’m grateful for that.

The second thing is this: I created a page for my races this year!  Check it out.  I’m running a 10K in June with JD, and the Detroit Marathon is officially on the schedule.  Fingers crossed that I make it to the starting line for it.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Getting Serious (I think?)

Week of May 12, 2013: Lost in the c*h*a*o*s!

Week of May 19, 2013:

Sunday: Off (off to Dallas for a potluck with friends!)

Monday: Evening run (40 minutes)

Tuesday: Noontime run (30 minutes)

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Late afternoon run (20 minutes)

Friday: Bike ride to campus to be psych experiment subject

Saturday: Evening run (36 minutes)

Total minutes run this week: 116.  (Not too shabby!)

Not much to say tonight as I’m trying to catch up on ye olde running blog here.  But I am happy to report that during a busy-with-friends week I got outside for four runs and almost made my goal of 120 running minutes in a week.  Marathon training officially starts in two weeks, and while I’m not as conditioned as I should be, hopefully my previous distance running experience will soften the blow of my under-preparation.  Or maybe I’ll be howling in pain after the first week.  What will it be?!?  It’s so exciting!

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


First, a few scenes from around the house on Sunday.

Water Glass

Heart on a String

Feminism is for Everybody

Week of May 5, 2013:

Sunday: Long run (40 minutes) + Short bike ride

Monday: Bike ride to HEB for foods

Tuesday: Short evening run (20 minutes)

Wednesday: Short evening run (25 minutes)

Thursday: Half a bike ride commute (so much rain that night!)

Friday: Half a bike ride commute home + feeling sick :-(

Saturday: Another bike ride to HEB for edibles + evening walk with Paul…and still feeling sick! :-(

Total minutes run this week: 85.

I really tried to be better this week about logging my pre-marathon training miles, but then, THEN I got sick.  Dammit!  I’m still sick today, but nonetheless, I got my butt back on the road yesterday by modifying my run into a Galloway-style 2:1 run:walk ratio.  Translation: 2 minutes of running followed by 1 minute of walking.  Repeat until I’ve run a total of 22 minutes.

Yesterday Kate posted a +/- list, and I think that sounds like an excellent way to capture what’s happening over here too.  My list may be a bit more muddled because not everything fits neatly into the + or the – category, so I’m going to do a bit of a brain dump and hope that I don’t put my foots into my moufs by saying anything I shouldn’t reveal.

First, the minuses:

{-}: Being sick.  Obviously. 

{-}: Talking to other people about my employment status.  People don’t seem to understand how very desperate I am for some time off.  They also don’t understand how tired I am of thinking about my job ALL THE TIME.  They also start to get anxious when it becomes clear that I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do next.  Dude, it is NOT MY JOB to make you feel better about my situation! 

{-}: I am feeling really time-starved these days, but I think it’s a bit of an illusion.  The truth is that I’m feeling depressed about these last few weeks in my current job.  I’m sad that things didn’t work out, that I didn’t get research funding for my project, and now I don’t even have a publishable story.  My depression is lowering my energy level, which makes me feel like I’m not getting anything done.  I’m also feeling a bit numb in general—about work, about commitments.  I’m hoping that I’ll snap out of it soon, especially once I’ve wrapped things up with my current job.  (And see below for the + side of this issue.) 

{-}: I wish I had more time to blog.  Seriously.  So many ideas, and yet time is like grains of sand in my palm.  It’s frustrating.

Now, some +s!

{+}: Paul has been really, really great about being supportive of me during this job transition time.  And he said something to me the other day which really hit home.  He pointed out that despite my trying to make logical sense of what’s happened to me during my postdoc years, I’m allowed to be upset about it.  I’m allowed to be mad, or sad, or to feel like I just want to get away from it for a while.  In order to survive the disappointment, I’ve been feeling rather stoic, and I think that’s left me feeling numb.  And maybe the only way to reverse the numbness is to feel all my feels, even if that means I become even more prone to random tears.

{+}: Speaking of Paul, he and I had a really nice weekend together.  We played mahjong with his friends, ate Indian food with his sister, took an evening walk around his neighborhood, and watched Shop Girl.  Oh, and I spent plenty of time petting his cat, who tolerates me.

{+}: I got a conditional job offer yesterday, which stunned me so much that I don’t even know how I feel about it yet.  I think I’m excited, but it is conditional, so I’m going to suspend judgment until I get a firm offer.

{+}: I should save this for my food blog, but it was so delicious I’m going to tell you about it now.  I made a strawberry-lemon cocktail that I want to drink all spring long.  The how-to: dissolve 1 tablespoon of sugar in a bit of water (heat together in a little saucepan until the sugar dissolves to make a simple syrup).  Meanwhile, chop four strawberries and put them in a tall glass with 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.  Pour your sugar water over the strawberries and let everything sit for a little while—maybe 10 minutes?  Then add a generous slug of rum, some ice cubes, and top with bubbly water.  Stir and drink, and eat the strawberries, which by now have been infused with lemon-sugary goodness.  Yum!

{+}: Last night I drank my cocktail while Skyping with an old college friend, and it was so good to catch up with her.  Love!

There’s something so nice about ending a +/- list on a good note, don’t you think?  I feel better!

Have a great week, darlings!  I might spend the rest of my runs this week using the Galloway method, but hey, whatever gets the miles done, right?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Now or Never

Detroit Marathon 2013 JPEG

So.  It’s time for some tough love.

I have been, shall we say, a bit lazy in the running department since March’s half-marathon.  The reasons are myriad: a new boyfriend, the desire for creature comforts to help me cope with my job loss, hunting for new jobs, A LOT of utilitarian biking to get from Point A to Point B, lack of interest in running…I could keep going, but I think that list is sufficient.  I’ve just been really busy and unwilling to do the work to squeeze running into the mix.

Months ago, I had told myself that after the half-marathon, I could take the rest of March off from running and then I’d have to start getting serious about building the mileage base for full marathon training.  2.5 months of base running would be sufficient, and then I’d start my official training plan.  But here we are, several days into May, and I’ve been running about 4-5 miles/week for the last few weeks.  Methinks that’s not good enough for marathon training!

To be really honest, I am quite worried about my level of motivation for this marathon.  I feel so drained by my job loss that I don’t feel like working hard toward anything.  What appeals to me are fun things: dinner dates, drinking wine, reading blogs, planning new outfits, cooking, planning summer adventures.  What does NOT appeal to me: logging miles and miles of running for a 26.2-mile race.

Should I just quit now and let hedonism be my summer plan?  Or is it possible that once I can get myself settled into a running routine, my motivation will return.  It’s the old “fake it till you make it.”  Or “do good, feel good.”  In about two weeks, my daily routine will look quite different and I’ll certainly have more time for running.  And yesterday, I managed to double-up on my to-do list and squeezed a 40-minute run and my lab chores into the same outing!  I did NOT make it to the grocery store as I had planned, but hopefully that will happen today since I’m out of soymilk.

In order to really commit to this marathon, I have to make running a daily priority.  My training plan doesn’t ask me to run every day, but I seem to end up with enough interruptions during the course of the week that “daily priority” may translate to “4-5 times per week.”  I don’t know how to get there other than by putting one foot in front of the other.  But maybe that will be enough.

Stay tuned for an earnest effort to find some motivation to run…

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Ending on a Good Note

Kinda Pretty Kinda Scary

Cactus Flower


{A few scenes from my Saturday afternoon bike ride}

Week of April 28, 2013:

Sunday: Bike ride to the lab and Old Navy/Target/HEB for errands

Monday: Evening run (25 minutes)

Tuesday: Evening run (20 minutes)

Wednesday: Off (dinner date!)

Thursday: Bike ride commute to work

Friday: Evening run (25 minutes)

Saturday: Bike ride commute to work + HEB, a slow round-the-neighborhood walk after dinner

Total minutes run this week: 70.

Last week was kinda rough.  Nothing catastrophic, but I bonked a job interview (doh!), effed up Wednesday night’s dinner (I iz a good cook?!), had a meltdown about my life, and felt punished by the brutal winds we’ve had blowing through our region.  Like a lot of people around the country, I am so tired of the cold weather that I’m ready to hibernate until spring arrives.  Like, for real.  On top of that, I’ve been brooding on one of the more negative aspects of being an academic, which is that it can be difficult to make friends and have a life outside of academic circles.  Particularly in a town like mine, in which many (or most) of the non-students are employees of the university, trying to get away from the academic lifestyle can feel downright impossible.  At this point, I’m pretty sure that people who leave the academy are put to death.  I can’t find any evidence that they go on to have happy, productive lives outside of the university*.

Indulging my negative spiral too much seemed like a bad idea, so I took matters into my own hands.  On Friday, I e-mailed Paul and asked him to NOT let me talk about work during our date that evening.  And thank goodness, he held me to that promise.  Before our date, I needed to squeeze a run into the evening, and it was such a blessing because it forced me out and into the sunshine.  If I hadn’t felt that I needed the run because I’m trying to get back into a running groove, then I would have been tempted to putter around the house instead.  All that sunshine and the sweet rhythm of footsteps on the road made me feel so much better about everything—I felt like a new woman by the time we headed out for First Friday.

And then, oh THEN we had the most wonderful evening!  We checked out a fun art exhibit in which first-graders were asked to draw monsters and then artists created a secondary piece using the original monsters as inspiration.  For the exhibit, the two pieces were shown together, and the effect was super cute!  After the art, we got our names on the list at CaffĂ© Capri and then grabbed a drink at Murphy’s Law.  The wait for CaffĂ© Capri was over an hour, but it was so worth it.  Freshly baked bread, some wine, the best eggplant parmigiana I’ve ever had, gnocchi in a creamy sauce…everything was delicious.  For dessert, we split a big square of tiramisu, and I was happily stuffed.  It was an indulgent evening, for sure, and it was perfect.

On Saturday morning, I learned that Paul can make perfect pancakes and that we are an excellent breakfast team.  Later that day, I finally had some time for domestic puttering in the form of dish-washing, laundry, putting away clean clothes, and cooking my new favorite black bean dish.  I also had a pleasure of spilling oats all over my kitchen floor and then learning that my vacuum, rather than sucking up the oats, prefers to spit them out over the rest of the floor.  So the clean-up job was a manual one, and though it took some time, it wasn’t really all that bad.

I had a quiet and peaceful end to the weekend in the form of some new reading: a fun new-to-me style blog (Putting Me Together—I love Audrey’s Building a Remixable Wardrobe series!) and a new book (The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins).  After three social evenings in a row, it was so nice to be alone.  I love Paul, I really do, and it’s hard for me to turn down any chance to see him.  But then I remember how much I like being a hermit, and I feel grateful that I can have the best of both worlds: a happy romance and a contentment that comes from within.  I like to say to Paul that it’s not his job to make me happy, but that his presence in my life makes me happier.  

* Okay, this isn’t really true.  I have at least two local friends who earned graduate degrees from A & M who do not work inside the university system.  But they seem to be the exceptions, not the rule.

How was your weekend, my dears?