How to get your mojo back

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It’s taken a while but my motivation is back! Thank God! To be totally honest the marathon took a lot more out of me than I expected. Well, not just the race itself but the 18 weeks of training. I was tired and a little sick of running. So what I should have done was take a full two weeks off and enjoyed some rest. But what I did instead was take 4 days off and then start freaking out about my next half marathon. I did a couple of runs – that were all terrible – and ended up with my stress response and some unplanned time off. This actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

No early mornings. No runs in the dark. Lots of rest and recuperation. And now, a little over a month later my mojo has reappeared – 5.40 AM wake up calls, working out almost everyday and I’m loving it (well not first thing when I wake up) and here’s how I got it back.

1. Make your workout part of your schedule. I don’t know about you but when a work meeting is on my schedule it is non-negotiable. I cannot miss it. And when I’m planning my week my workouts go on my schedule and become non-negotiable. I look at my day planner and it becomes another item that I have to do. I don’t have to think about whether I’ll go to the gym or to yoga class – it just happens.

2. Make it easy for yourself. My yoga studio is half a mile from my house. My gym is on my way to work. Same for my local pool. It is easier to go than not. Especially if I change into my workout clothes at work. Or have my swimming gear already in my car. Or have my yoga mat and outfit waiting by my bed. Don’t give yourself the time to talk yourself out of going.

3. Wants and needs. Sometimes – OK a lot of times – when my alarm goes off or when I’m finished work I WANT to go home. Then I have a little talk with myself and woman up. I try to remember how good I’ll feel once I’m done, and try to think long term. But sometimes you NEED to take a break. Some days you need to have that extra hour in bed. Or that ache could benefit from a days rest. Be honest with yourself about what you’re feeling – do you want to or need to take a break?

4. Find a buddy. Time flies when you’re having fun, right? Plus, friends can turn into great accountability-buddies. Lucky for me, J is a morning person. In fact, I used to think that he was crazy for getting up early to workout. How times have changed! But when he’s up and getting ready for yoga class in the early hours it’s a lot easier for me to get up and follow him.

5. Set mini goals. For this break from running I wanted to do a different form of cardio, so I picked swimming. I’ll tell you right now that I am not a swimmer. Sure, I learned the basics when I was a kid but I never swam in high school (high school sports are not a thing in Ireland unfortunately) or college. So basically I had no idea what to do in a pool. I found a 6 week couch to 1 mile swim program. A short program with designated and progressive workouts finishing in a one mile swim. That is perfect for me (although it might not work for everyone) and gives me a short goal to work on while I get back to running.

6. Treat yourself. I don’t know about everyone else but I love cute workout gear. So after a couple of swim sessions in my very old swimsuit (and after my goggles broke right at the start of one workout) I hit up the REI sale and picked up a new TYR suit and goggles. And I was excited to go and try out my new gear- > added incentive to workout!

7. Develop a habit. Being consistent is the number one key to getting and staying fit (whatever fit means to you). Like most things those first few workouts are going to be hard. But it gets better. You might have to force it at first but once you develop those habits it’s easier to keep them going.

So, I’ve got my mojo working for me! I hope you have found yours!

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Race preview: Utah Valley Half Marathon

This Saturday I’ll be running my third half marathon. It’s the least prepared I’ve felt for any of my races. I thought I could build on my base from the Salt Lake City half back in April and cruise to a new PR.

Ha! My body had other ideas. How about foot tendonitis? I think I need to start a running injury card – sciatica, bursitis, tendonitis – you gotta collect them all! For once, I did the sensible thing – listened to my body and took a full two weeks away from running, including five (!) whole days of complete rest.

And it totally worked. Tendonitis is gone. I do have a tight left Achilles and random right new pain but nothing that will prevent me from running. And the next physio appointment is booked. Overall, I’m feeling a lot more optimistic than I could have hoped for a few weeks ago. I have managed two 10+ mile runs and a couple of 9ish miles too. And even a 5 mile tempo run on Saturday.

I also somehow complete an 11 miler on the elliptical. I think there should be some kind of award for that.

This is also week two of my marathon training program and that is my main focus right now. So I haven’t really tapered this week – same mileage but all at a comfortable pace.

Tuesday: 3.3 miles at 9 min/mile pace

Wednesday:5.2 miles at 9.08 min/mile pace

Thursday Trail Run: 4.1 miles at 10 min/mile pace (only 435 ft elevation gain this time)

Friday is a rest day. I’m taking a half day and traveling down to Provo to pick up my bib (and eat fish tacos). J is running the full and hoping for a speedy time. Then it’s pasta for dinner and an early night. We will have to leave our house at 3 AM. Not fun but we need to catch buses to travel to the start line. This is the price you pay for a downhill race through a canyon. And totally normal if you come to run a race out in Utah. Saturday afternoon will be nap time.

As a bonus temperatures are dropping 20 degrees by Saturday so the temperature at the start is likely to be around 40F. Brr! – for standing around waiting for the race to start but pretty darn perfect for running.

I think I mentioned previously that this race was my original goal half marathon race for the year. I really wanted to break 1.40 this year. Luckily, Salt Lake City went better than expected and this monkey is off my back. So, how to approach this race? A PR is not going to happen, but I still want to get the most of a prepaid and fully supported long run down a scenic canyon.

1. Negative splits

I actually managed to run a negative split for my first half marathon (my first mile was 8.30 min). And I finished the race feeling pretty good. Salt Lake – not so much. The last two miles were pretty hellish. So be conservative for the first half and finish strong is my number one goal.

2. Have fun

This is a net downhill race in a scenic canyon. I want to take it in. I recently got s SPIbelt and am planning on bringing my phone. Not going to guarantee I’ll take a whole bunch of photos (my competitive nature will kick in at some point) but I want to run with a smile on my face.

3. Remember marathon training

This is my long run for the week. And I would like to be able to walk up and downstairs on Sunday. Start slow and run by feel. And be ready to get back to marathon training by Tuesday.

4. Time?

I still have a time goal. Anything sub 1.50 would be nice and the closer to 1.45 the better,

5. Biggest goal

Watch J finish his third marathon and get him back home in one piece. Once I finish my race I will magically transform into uber supportive girlfriend and get him back to the house in one piece.

We have been spending this week carb-loading. (And no snail sightings).

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Salmon fishcakes with kale salad and pickled radishes. I am not a huge fan of kale (I know – bad healthy lifestyle blogger) but this salad was legit.

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Another recipe from the same website. And I’m pretty sure this is vegan too – if you’re into that. I used komatsuna that we got in our CSA. It tastes like spinach and kale made babies. Not my favorite (a little bitter) but super healthy.

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Finally, I made arugula-basil pesto. This one has a chilli flakes to give it a little heat. We had it with gnocchi, asparagus and a gigantic garlic ciabatta. Glycogen levels are maxed out right now.

 

Day 59 – Masochism and earthquakes

Yesterday evening’s run was just about perfect. I actually stopped to smell the roses (well hyacinths really). It was one of those runs were you were just glad to be outside and take it all in.

4.05 miles at 8.05 min/mile pace.

I also tried a new recipe – I’m kinda trying to do a new recipe each week and because we were going to get a brief taste of spring I knew I had to make fish tacos. Tilapia cooked with fresh tomatoes (deseeded), fresh jalapenos, onion, garlic and lime juice served with avocado and a lime-cilantro mayo. Heaven. And pretty filling. There were even some leftovers! Shock!

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I knew this morning was not going to be a lot of fun. Starting with about 40 mins of hill repeats. Lucky (?) for me I live in a pretty hilly neighborhood – full of hilly, parallel streets that have an incline of about 100ft over 0.28 miles. So I ran up and down 6 hills. 671 ft over 4.82 miles at 9.17 min/mile pace. These killer hills are the result of a massive fault line that is due for an earthquake at any time. I usually think about this during hill repeats – hoping that we’re not in our brick house when the big one hits. It’s funny what you think about on a run!

For some reason I always like looking at this elevation profile data. And yes Salt Lake is at 4400 ft.

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I followed this with my PT exercises – doing my homework before I see her again tomorrow.

Then it was back to the dentist for 2 (!) fillings. All before 9.30 AM – I like to schedule my masochism early! Phew! My day can only get better!

March mileage: 96.4 miles/155.1 KM

Day 25 – Routine

3.88 easy miles today – 8.59 min/mile pace. It felt good to get the miles in and I feel much stronger than when I trained for my first half marathon last year. The runs seem easier and I think I might be the leanest I’ve ever been. Plus I’m starting to feel like I have a normal person’s knee again. This injury is going away. Not quite gone but definitely on its way out. Right now I am 99% confident that I will make it to the starting line of this half marathon. And tomorrow is a rest day so I can’t trip and fall and bust myself up.

Today TartanJogger was talking about her running routine on her blog and this got me thinking about my half marathon schedule.

I like lists. Well really I like the satisfaction of crossing things off my list. I do this everyday in the lab, for my grocery shopping (see below) and for my running plan.

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I have every run until my half marathon planned and written down – handwritten cos I’m old school like that . I run every Monday (recovery), Wednesday (medium) and Thursday (easy), with a short run on Saturday and my long run on Sunday. I like filling in my mileage on my calendar and tracking how much I’ve ran so far this year (hoping to get to 1000 miles). It works for me. What can I say, I’m a scientist – I love data!

Speaking of work  (and yesterday’s post about what Utah rocks) here is my view from work. It’s pretty.

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Dinner last night was left over pineapple chicken. I really love egg noodles – for some reason rice noodles give me the ick. Extra veggies of course!

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Can you believe tomorrow is Friday?

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Day 9 – Rest Day!

Day 9 – so far so good. I have a follow-up appointment with the PT to check up on my glutes and running form. I can’t really believe how much better I feel compared to just a week ago. I still have to think about why legs (and knees) when I’m running (trying to minimize knee touching) but it’s starting to feel more natural. Doing the PT exercises it’s still clear that my left leg and glutes are way weaker than my right. Asymmetry is bad. And who would have known it was so painful to lie on the ground and move your leg in circles? The burn. Oh. My. Lord. I hope it gets easier.

Last night I had a craving for some roasted broccoli. It’s one of my new faves – especially with some Parmesan. I also made some buffalo-style chicken which got the thumbs up from J.

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Probably still need to cut down on my carbs.

But I am loving my cast iron skillet. Everyone should have one.

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Last night we watched Mitt on Netflix. It follows Mitt Romney from 2008 until election day in 2012. I’m not a citizen so can’t vote here – and probably wouldn’t have voted for him anyway but it was interesting to get a taste of behind the scenes on a presidential campaign. I don’t know why anyone would put themselves through it. He seems like a good guy though. I liked that he picks up his grandkid’s garbage and makes sure all the lights are turned off before he leaves his hotel room. Maybe he’s a closet environmentalist. (Spoiler Alert: He loses (!)).

We got more snow this morning 2-3″. I was having my “Do I really want to get out of bed and go to the gym? I could just go later.” argument this morning. I know I never regret getting up and going and I always seem to regret staying in bed so I got up. I figure if I can get out and do this in the middle of winter I should have no problem in the summer.

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Did a 45 min strength workout. Feel a little tired but I think that’s just because it was 6 AM. More snow due for most of this week but still hoping to run outside as much as I can. And maybe go skiing!

Day 3 – A visit to the physical therapist

Today started with a 8.00 AM visit to the physical therapist. Luckily I got a next day appointment with someone who specializes in running and is in charge of the running (I guess you could say she runs (!)) clinic at our local orthopedic center.

I had sciatica and hip bursitis in my left hip (AKA stupid left hip SLH) and have been feeling a slight pain in SLH as I’ve been increasing my mileage. I really wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on biomechanically and fix it once and for all. Well it turns out my bottom is exactly whats at the bottom of all my injuries – specifically my gluteus medius.

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So she pinpointed my pain to this area and then watched me running on the treadmill. I was filmed from every angle and the treadmill measured my force of impact, cadence and a whole bunch of other things. For a scientist like me, it was nice to see bar charts of everything.

I knew already that my running form isn’t perfect – but watching a 360 view of you running really shows up all your faults. There were some plus points.

Positives:

Strong core

Good cadence

Negatives:

Tight hips

Overstriding

Knees collapsing together

Weak glutes

Left hip collapsing

Arms out too wide

Taking everything together she came up with a plan.

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I really like the cartoon drawing!

The good news is that I don’t have to stop running. I just need to think about where my legs are going when I run. And hopefully I should be pain free in a couple of months. I think I’ll celebrate with a couple of easy miles. Although, it’s surprising how much more of an effort running becomes when you have to think about what you’re doing. But I’m hopeful that this will solve my major issues and help me train for all my races this year.

In other news the course for my April half was finally released. It’s a little different from previous years – with a couple of hilly sections. The mile 8 marker is right by my house so I can always reevaluate then. Joke – I’m going to finish. Probably. I don’t think it’ll be a PR run. Not when combined with injury rehab.

But I’m feeling pretty positive. I know what the problem is now and how to fix it – and that’s more than I can say for the last 3 or 4 months. Things are looking up!

Day 2 – cross training

Last night I saw Case Against 8 as part of the Sundance film festival Best of Fest. It’s a HBO documentary following the team of lawyers and two couples who appeal against the Prop 8 amendment in California. It was great – moving, really humanizing the couples fighting for the right to marry and (SPOILER ALERT) has a happy ending. If you get the chance you should check it out. Fun law fact: the two head (?) lawyers arguing against the constitutionality of Prop 8 were on opposite sides in the Bush v Gore case, which gave George Bush his first term. Rest assured fun law facts will not be a regular occurrence on this blog.

We met some friends at the screening. It turns out that grad students like free stuff. Who knew? We had some time to kill before our bus came (still clearing the air) so we checked out Whiskey Street, a new bar in downtown SLC.

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The bar scene is getting a little better in SLC. There are still weird alcohol laws and you can’t get anything stronger than 3.2% beer on draft :(. Lucky for me my boyfriend is a dedicated home-brewer. But if you’re ever in SLC, I’d recommend the Beer Hive, which has a crazy selection of beer and a cool ice bar. Then there’s Bar X, which is co-owned by Ty Burrell from Modern Family and has some cocktails and aged-decadence feel. Whiskey Street is pretty hip too – not common in Utah we are decidedly uncool – long beer and whiskey lists. They just need to work out the kinks for their service.

All this preamble is to say that I didn’t get up for my scheduled cross-training session. Two beers on a weeknight knocked me out. Maybe I’ve been out of Ireland too long………….Day 2 of half marathon training is a cross-training day. So I switched up my day and headed out to the gym after work. It was like stepping back in time – to Jan 1st. Crazy busy. I did my regular strength workout – focusing on core and legs. My workout is basically:

Leg press – 3 x 10 reps

Calf raises – 3 x 10 reps (slower than normal)

Bicep curl/Overhead press – 3 x 10 reps

Lunges – 3 x 10 reps

Goblet squats – 3 x 10 reps

Then hitting the floor for leg raises, bridge, planks, side planks, pushups and reverse crunches. My plan is to do one strength workout per week and a power yoga class on top of that.

Got home to make something I’ve been craving all week – thai veggie broth. Yum.

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Ready to relax for the evening. Was thinking about my hip pain and I’m pretty sure that it’s all related to my IT band. I’ve made an appointment to see a PT who specializes in running and luckily she had an open slot for tomorrow. Hopefully, she’ll give me something to work with and find out what is going on with my left side. Wish me luck!