A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Because Sweat is Sexy


This week Mag Mile Runner asked:  Why do you run? What is the main reason? We all have multiple reasons why we run (physical and mental health, friends, competition, etc), but what is The One main reason you keep lacing up and getting out there?

When I was in college I hated to sweat.  I sweat pretty easily.  So much so that I didn’t wear make-up for those four years because I would sweat it off by the time I finished walking to class.shorts

Something changed, though, when I graduated and got out into the “real” world.  Suddenly sitting at a desk or milling away on the elliptical at the gym weren’t cutting it for me.  I wanted to feel like I’d done something after a workout.  I wanted to feel accomplished.

Enter sore muscles and sweat. 



I love the feeling you get after a strong workout.  I love to feel the sweat dripping off my face.  I love when I can practically wring out my shirt.  When my face is gritty with salt after a run.

There are lots of workouts that make me break a sweat.  But nothing makes me feel like I’ve really pushed myself cardio-wise like a strong run.  Track intervals, long runs, running a tempo pace with friends.  I’ll take any of those.  As long as they result in slightly damp clothes. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fulfilled Wishes



Wednesday evening I wanted to squeeze in a strength workout.  I thought all day about which one to do and ultimate decided on my Top to Bottom workout with the addition of some more push-ups.  I also discovered something else.


iphone_photos 007

I’ve been trying to do (and hold) a straight-legged V-sit since 2009!  And, look, I finally accomplished it!!!

And this wasn’t a fluke, either.  My camera was acting up so I had to do it several times before I got this photo. 

I guess all that physical therapy has been good for something!  It’s finally taught me how to use those lazy lower ab muscles. 

Speaking of physical therapy, after my lunch time run on Thursday (approximately 4 miles, pace unknown.  My Garmin battery was dead.) I could feel my hip slowly tightening up as I sat at my desk.  I tried to get up and stretch it out but that’s kind of difficult to do when you’re wearing a sheath dress.

Thankfully I had a physical therapy session scheduled for Thursday evening. She poked and prodded and pushed and then, lo and behold, I could feel just the slightest stretch in my left adductor when I went into a side lunge.  For the first time in almost a year I didn’t feel a strong, horrible pinching sensation in my hip!  It’s still tight but it felt so much better that I started laughing hysterically in the middle of the PT gym.  I really, really hope this means I’ve turned a corner! 

This weekend I probably won’t be working out.  Instead, I’ll be volunteering at the Illinois Marathon.  Course set-up from 4AM – 7AM and then course marshaling between miles 18 & 19 from 8:30 – 1:15 PM.  My mom and my husband are volunteering to drive one of the sag wagons, as well.  I wish I was running this race for a variety of reasons but volunteering is the next best thing.  You can’t have a race without volunteers and I like to give back. 

So, unless you're running the Illinois Marathon, I’ll see you on Monday!  Have a good weekend! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

And Well

I'm still here! I'm alive! I've just been busy at work. And at physical therapy. And at the ART office. And running. I did run Monday night. I thought about skipping since my hip was still a little sore but it turns out the run was probably the best thing I did for it! It felt MUCH better after I ran. In fact, I even rode my bike to running group and then ran and the hip held up just fine. I don't really have anything else to add. I thought about strength training after PT on Tuesday but didn't. I'll probably strength train tonight. Why tonight? Because tomorrow I'm thinking I'm actually going to run at lunch! It's been months since I've done that and I miss it. So, I'll keep you updated. Until then, back to work!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Moans

Monday again. And my body is feeling it. Not sure what exactly I did this weekend that kicked my butt, but I am exhausted and sore this AM. Okay, maybe I do know what I did. Aside from errand-running and box-packing, I did an hour of strength training:

I did Group #1 and Group #2 from this workout I pinned a month ago. Repeating each group five times definitely gives you a good workout but it gets kind of monotonous after awhile. Also, each group takes about 30 minutes if you do all 5 moves 5 times. If I do this one again I'll drop the repeats but up the weights.

Sunday my hip was bothering me so I thought about just taking it easy but for some reason I found myself with a lot of free time so I hopped on my bike trainer and busted out 30 minutes. 5 minute warm-up, 16 minutes of intervals (1 minute fast, 1 minute recovery) and then a 9 minute cool down. I tightened the straps on the toe cages on my bike pedals in the hopes that I could work on pulling and not just pushing the pedals. I don't know if that made a difference but my legs are certainly feeling something today!

The one thing I didn't do was run. The weather was actually pretty nice for running (minus the wind) but even if the weather was bad it probably wouldn't stop me if I wanted to get in a run. I've run in wind and snow and rain. I've even run on ice! Which is why I think this shirt that Kim is giving away would be perfect for me.

And now, in an effort to wake up my body I'm off to drink my occasional cup of tea. Hope you're enjoying your Monday more than I am!

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Favorite Beginning



In September 2007 I ran my very first 5K: the Women’s Fitness 5K in Urbana, Illinois.  I’d been training for the past 8 weeks with the Beginning Womens’ Running Group as part of the local running club.  I was now able to run for 30 minute straight, a feat I’d only ever come close to once before on a treadmill and never outside.

I had no idea what to expect.  Okay, that’s not entirely true.  Our coach and her husband had given us the run-down on race etiquette, a reminder to lay out all our stuff the night before, how to pin on our bibs, and all the other things they though we should know before race day.  But as for the atmosphere or my own performance?  No clue.

I crossed the finish line in just over 33 minutes.  I had no idea if that was good or bad.  I just knew I wanted, no, NEEDED to do it again.  I stood at the post-race awards ceremony chatting with another member of the Beginning Women’s Running Group.

“Look at all these other runners!” 

“Some of them run marathons!  Would you ever run a marathon?”

“I don’t think so.  A 10K or maybe even a half marathon.  But a whole marathon?”

How little I knew back then.  I signed up for another 5K race less than two months later.  And so it began.  Now, here I am, 60 races later (including those 3 marathons I didn’t think I’d do) and I’ve cut almost 10 minutes off my first 5K time. 

The keychain pictured above is the running skirt medal they put around my neck on a ribbon when I crossed the finish line of that first 5K.  I use it as my every day keychain.  It reminds me of how far I’ve come.  How lucky I am that I found running and racing even if I’m not currently signed up for any races and only running 10 miles a week or so.

Maggie asked us to choose memorabilia from our favorite race for her new photo challenge series.  Was the Women’s Fitness 5K my favorite race?  Of those 60 races I’ve run I’ve had some I loved more and some I loved less.  Choosing a favorite is almost impossible.  But my very first one holds a special place in my heart so that’s my choice. 




Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mid-Week Fun

Tuesday and Wednesday I decided to have fun with my workouts and try something different. Since I didn't strength train on Monday I decided to squeeze it in before my physical therapy appointment on Tuesday night. Meghann at Meals and Miles posted about her most recent strength workout and I realized I recognized the moves from the latest Self magazine.


If you're reading this via Google Reader or another website you'll have to click through to see the video

Easy enough, right? So, that's what I did. I had 30 minutes and twice through the workout was almost 30 minutes exactly. Perfect! Also, those push-ups at the end? Killer. I now have sore spots under my arms that I didn't even know existed.

Wednesday night I decided to tackle 30 minutes of running. My hip's feeling pretty good. Still pinchy and sore but not in a "makes me gasp" kind of way. I contemplated running through the cemetery again but decided at the last minute to try something I've been wanting to do for awhile: run up and down all the streets in my 'hood.

Unfortunately the Garmin freaked out during the first mile so I didn't get the pretty lines I was hoping for. Also, I realized that my neighborhood is bigger than I thought! I was only able to get in about half of the north-south streets before I hit 30 minutes. Now my goal is to run all the north-south streets in one run before we move in a month.

I put my Garmin on time-only so I had no idea what my pace was. My legs actually felt like lead so maybe Monday night's run combined with two strength workouts was more than my body is used to lately. Who knows. Still, it was a fun run and I saw streets that I'd never really been down before even though I've lived in the neighborhood for several years. Funny how that happens.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Deliciously Sore

One of the things I'm trying to do while running is focus on keeping my chest up and my butt tucked under. This means that I'm using my glutes a lot more when I run than I used to. Combined with the squats and deadlifts I did on Sunday? Let's just say I was definitely feeling it at the end of Monday night's run.

The other thing I was feeling? The pace! I started off running with one of my favorite guys who I almost NEVER run with because he's so much faster than me. But we hung together since he was running easy and I picked up the pace a bit.

In fact, here's how my Monday night runs have gone since I went back to running the usual 5.5 mile route with my running club:

Click to see larger

Smart? Probably not. Fun? Yes. In fact, I lay in bed last night relishing in the fact that my muscles were sore from a workout. Not bad sore. Good sore. Deliciously sore. It's been a long time since I've been sore from a workout like that. I missed it.

Of course, today I've got some familiar pain on the front of my pelvic bone but at least my hip feels okay?

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Weekend Goal

I only had one goal this weekend. Well, that's not entirely true. I only had one workout goal. And that was....to actually work out!

The past few weekends have been filled with fun things but not much in the way of workouts. This weekend was almost the same until Sunday afternoon.

Originally I was planning to ride my bike but the wind and the threat of rain drove me inside even though it was almost 80 degrees. So instead of bike riding I pumped iron at the gym.

I started with this workout:

I only did it once through, though. However, I upped my weights from the 8 pounds I've been using to 12.5. The benefits of having a full set of dumbbells at the gym.

After doing all of that I had some time left before I wanted to be done so I added the moves from the first two circuits that Chicago Runner Girl listed here. I only did one set of each circuit, though, and stuck to 10 reps for most of the moves.

My triceps are certainly feeling all of that today!

However, my hip feels pretty good! Even after all of those squats and deadlifts. I'm optimistic. I think this whole ART thing might actually be doing something. Well, that and cutting back on my running. Good thing I like strength training!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Life Among Death

iPhone_pictures 003

I got home from work on Wednesday night.  I had a killer headache.  My commute was longer than usual so I was tired.  I really just wanted to curl up on the couch.

But, I didn’t.  Instead I put on my running capris, my new bright pink running shirt, laced up my shoes, cranked the tunes, and set out for a run.

I wanted to run for 30 minutes.  Nothing too crazy.  Just two loops around my neighborhood is a 5K.  But something took over and I found myself running faster than I have in awhile and wanting to explore.  So, I went a different way.  A little off the beaten path.

Into the cemetery. 

The town I live in has a lot of large cemeteries in it.  I think they’re all beautiful and unique.  And peaceful.  The one pictured above was technically closed but I happen to know the back way in.  I just didn’t know the front way out.  So my plan to do a big loop turned into an out-and-back when I realized I had to leave the cemetery the way I came in.  Oh well.

Running in the cemetery is so much fun.  There’s basically no traffic (human or vehicle), it’s quiet, the scenery is different and, as you can see, this one has long straight roads. 

I was having so much fun that I ended up running a sub-9:00 minute pace.  Sure, I ran positive splits and sure I was a little sore afterward but it just felt SO GOOD. 

In the end I did just over 3.5 miles in just over 30 minutes (not counting the one traffic light I got stuck at both ways).  If I hadn’t told Jason I’d be home in 30 minutes I totally would have kept going.  But I think putting a time limit on my run was a good idea.  In fact, I’m thinking about running for time instead of distance more often.

As for the cemetery?  I’ll be back.  There are a lot more of them to explore, too.

Would you run in a cemetery or does the idea creep you out?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The ART of Running



Several things to talk about today.

Let’s start with the fun stuff!

I went for my usual 5.5 mile run with my running group on Monday night.  The goal?  Between a 9:30 and 10:00 minute pace.  The gal I was running with said we managed a 9:24.  My Garmin said 9:33.  Either way, we managed my goal. 

The run on Monday night was also sponsored by Merrell.  The shoe rep brought two kinds of their barefoot shoes  to try out.  I didn’t run in any of them but I tried on the Barefoot Run Dash Glove and really liked them.  Very comfy!  Not sure I’d buy a pair just quite yet, though.

BUT!  The shoe rep did a drawing for a free pair of shoes and I won!  I actually won the trail version of the barefoot shoes: 


I’m excited to try wearing them around and maybe, just maybe, running in them.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

On Tuesday I went to a new-to-me place in the city called Active Body.  They’re chiropractors who specialize in Active Release Technique (ART).  The gal I ran with on Monday night had recommended them to me and I’d done some previous Googling and liked what they had to say.

I told the doctor I saw all about my hip issue and he said it sounds like, yes, I have a labral tear but that the tight muscles and tendons surrounding it are just pulling the ball of my femur too tight into the hip socket making it feel worse.  ART worked when I was having my shin issues last year.  I’m hoping it might help relieve some of my hip issues as well. 

Because my hip hurt like the dickens after Monday night’s run.  I suppose I pushed the pace a little too fast a little too quickly or something.  I really don’t know.  That’s what so frustrating about this injury.  Some days it feels just fine. Other days I ache after any kind of activity. 

Still, I’m having fun doing what I’m doing and, hey, I got a new pair of shoes!  And, at least for this gal, new shoes make everything better. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Weighty Subject

I was a lazy slug most of last week.

Well, okay, that's not entirely true.

On Monday I did both a strength workout AND a run.

The strength workout? This one that I made up by combining a few that I'd seen online:

Then on Wednesday night I did another strength workout:

This one was as advertised. Definitely sweaty! I did it twice in a row and was pretty shaky afterward.

My only other activity for the week included a physical therapy session, walking around Lincoln Park Zoo, walking to get ice cream (which promptly negated most of the other walking), and hauling boxes from place to place. All of which was fine with me.

So, now it's a new week and I've started it off with the strength training workout I described last week. Except we also skipped the mountain climbers. Tonight I'll get in a run and then who knows what else the week will bring!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Having Fun

iPhone_pictures 040

Kim gave me these arm warmers for my birthday.  In January.  Since I didn’t get a chance to wear them this winter I decided I was breaking them out for my Monday night run.  It was a little too warm for them but I didn’t care!  I wanted to have fun!  And what’s more fun while running than doing it in crazy running gear?

I got about 100 comments on them.  People loved them! 

And, hey, sometimes running is all about having fun, right?  It doesn’t always have to be about pace or distance or racing.

Although, I’ll be honest, I thought since most people in my club raced on Sunday they’d be running nice and easy on Monday night.  Not so much.  Thankfully two lovely ladies hung at the back with me and chatted as we ran.

I realized as we were running that each mile was getting progressively faster.  Negative splits!  Fun!  I made it my own little secret goal to do at least the first 5 miles with negative splits once I saw that was the trend.  Success!

So, even when it is a bit about pace there are ways to make it more fun than work.  In fact, if it’s not fun, why are we doing it? 

Which means the next time you need to make your run (or workout) more fun, wear something crazy (like these Bad Ass leggings or some tiger arm warmers), make yourself some fun but attainable goals or workout with someone you don’t normally hang with. 

I promise, it will be fun. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Weekend Workouts That Weren't


Where did my weekend go???

Well, I know where most of it went. So let's just say I'm super glad I got in a killer strength training workout during the day on Friday.

I made a few changes to this workout. Instead of split jumps we did regular lunges with bicep curls and we skipped burpees entirely. The room we workout in is about 80 degrees and we were dripping sweat. In the middle of the day. At work. Not a good look. Anyway, I did add 15 roll-ups, 15 3-2-1 crunches, and 2 sets of 10 bird dogs to the end. Trust me, this workout will shred your muscles even without the burpees and split jumps!

Then on Friday night I walked a little over a mile while I hung No Parking signs for my running club's 5K race.

On Saturday I spent a good chunk of the day working on a post for my fashion blog (that post was super fun, by the way) and then helping set-up for the 5K race some more. Our landlord also texted us to say the realtor would be taking photos of our house on Monday or Tuesday so Jason and I spent most of the weekend cleaning and decluttering.

Sunday morning was the 5K race and I was on my feet from 7:00 AM until 11:45 AM doing various tasks. My main jobs included helping to set up the finish line water station, doing a bit of course marshaling, and then ferrying results from the timing table to the results board. After a volunteer appreciation lunch it was back home for more cleaning and some errands.

So, no other workouts but I didn't mind. It didn't even feel that weird to not be running the 5K even though I've run it past two years. I think I'm finally reaching the stage where I'm working out because I want to instead of stressing out about fitting something into my schedule.

I'm not perfect. I still worry about losing fitness or gaining weight or losing muscle or not being able to race again. I'm still in this weird limbo spot where I don't know if I should sign up for races or have hip surgery. But I'm getting a bit more comfortable with taking a weekend off because I'm busy doing other things I enjoy.