Know Your Limits

know-your-limits-so-you-can-exceed-them

 

It’s afternoon and I’m holed up in my fav coffee shop with the intent of hammering out a post for you, my 1.5 faithful readers.

I’m listening to the happy banter of the baristas behind me as they whip up drinks. I’ve tried to get to know them and something about their lives. I like building those relationships with people, I mess around with them and some of them… I shamelessly tease and harass… even with all that they think I’m “cool and fun” and keep me hooked up with coffee when I’m around.

I’ll take that.

Anyway, it’s a gorgeous day and it’s hard for me to be inside, but in all fairness I’ve already been out on the road this morning logging miles as my legs remind me.

Specifically my quads with that tight sorta achy feeling that comes from hard work invested out on the road.

In a sick way I kinda like that feeling… I don’t mind tired legs when I know it’s because of what I’ve physically invested into myself and the gut level hard work that I’ve done.

Maybe I should say that todays workout was a “brick” session. For those of you reading this and wondering if I’m out tossing bricks around, no. It’s just a term that refers to one athletic activity sandwiched by another.

In  this instance.. for me.. it was miles on foot, followed by miles on bike, with more miles on foot to wrap it up.

I will tell you that it’s my second time to intentionally do this. I figured if I squish it in my midweek workout it’s a good balance to the rest of the week.

Why?  why you may be wondering…

Well a few years ago I realized there was actually an event that combined both sports I’m hooked on… running and cycling..  a duathlon. However, I’ve had a pesky Achilles thing that really derailed me in the running dept so I haven’t been able to pursue it as I had thought I would by now.  With some care, a tiny bit of patience, ALOT of stretching and rolling, I think it’s improving so I’m walking a careful line of doing enough but not to much.

I’m actually semi-hopeful I could do it by the end of the year.

Yeah.. I’ve publicly committed to doing a duathlon.  And not just anyone but one that’s listed as “the toughest in the state”. It should be mentioned that it’s literally run almost out my backdoor so I can train the heck out of the course all year so it does give me a slight advantage… slight.

The course though is some pretty crazy hills and inclines. It’s a 5K, followed by a 22 ride, and another 5K for the icing on the cake.

I thought about it this morning and wondered honestly.. what the hell I’m thinking??  I felt like I did when I first mentioned I was going to take on a full marathon.. terror and the fearful thought of ” can I do this?”

Let me tell you…if you’re gonna do anything there is simply no room…at all.. for that kind of thinking.  You will shut yourself down before you ever get started.

It will be an event with athletes half my age and in amazing physical condition. But then I remembered it’s really not about a competition with anyone but myself and going out and doing it.. even if I might be the last one crawling in 😉

It’s all the time I will spend training and the lessons I’ll learn on the road doing it. It will be the sacrifices and tired legs. It will be hours on a bike. It will be learning to move fast on legs that are tired after running and biking.

So I’ve started…small… but with an eye towards moving forward. Todays brick work was small. It was 2 miles on foot, 10 on the bike, and 2 on foot. It gives me the chance to work with moving out of gear and into it, of mentally shifting gears of activities, and mostly, learning how to move my legs quick after being on the bike!

I found myself wanting to push more this morning.. thinking… maybe I should move the distance up some.. or move faster… and I had to remind myself of this…

Know your limits.

Yes, I’m a runner. Yes, I’ve been cycling.  Yes I’m in a good physical condition. But it’s a different ball game putting them together and only my second training session out doing it. I had to remind myself for now, a few weeks, these are my limits of distance until I acclimate then I can add a bit more in the distance area.

To protect myself from injury or doing to much to soon I need to know my limits and operate there as I adapt to the challenges of doing both at once.  I’m fiercely competitive with myself so to say it’s hard reining myself in is an understatement.

That’s what I want to tell you, to remind you of. You might be new to a fitness program or toying with the idea of doing something. Maybe your friend has been after you to go to the gym or go out on the road.

Know your limits.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve done anything you need to know what those limits are and operate in that zone. Maybe for you your limits are just moving off the coach and out the door for a walk down the street a few times. Perhaps you’ve been running but are thinking of taking it up another notch…increasing miles a bit…again.. know your limits to protect against injury.

Don’t go out and decide you’re just going to run when you haven’t even been walking.. you’re setting yourself up for pain and failure.  Don’t go to the gym thinking you’re going to keep up using heavier weight when your milk carton is the heaviest thing you’ve been tossing around.

Take a critical look at where you are, what you’ve been actively doing,  and how long it’s been since you’ve done anything physical.

Understand what those limits are and operate within them. You will be constantly assessing and reassessing what those limits are as you get stronger.

Most of all, never be afraid to constantly be stretching those limits to new, exciting and more challenging things. Nothing feel better or makes you feel more successful than new physical goals that are accomplished.

 

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Passion, Gold, And Goals

olympic medal

 

So the Men’s Olympic swimming is over. I now have no life. Seriously.  Please tell me I wasn’t the only one hyped up over the incredible energy they delivered? Or the fact that Michael Phelps was this amazing, beautiful machine to watch in the water. Or that I wasn’t the only one who cried watching his “final” swim ( say it isn’t so)

And let’s just pause a minute and give thanks to the camera crews for giving us such good…coverage…. of the men’s swim team.  Really, thank you.  😉

Ah, but there have been other exciting things.

This weekend has been track and field and I actually got to see the women’s marathon this morning. I was impressed when the first 5k was knocked out in about 17 minutes. Yikes. Of course, I was hopeful for our girls from the US (they placed a respectable 6th and 7th out of a field of 160’s I believe) I’m always in awe that they run a marathon ( 26.2 miles) in a little over the time it takes me to run a half marathon. I can’t imagine running those speeds for that long.

Then there was the sprinting, Usian Bolt. The man is like a human explosive.

Sprinting. Short. Sweet. Powerful.

And it doesn’t take much time to view 😉

Of course, I must mention the gymnastics. USA women totally crushed it. I am always in awe at these tiny dynamos that can throw their bodies around and do these crazy and complex moves.

I don’t see my 6’0 body doing stuff like that haha

Every athlete at the Olympics was there because they had a passion, and they pursued it, and they became the best student of what they were doing. They invested countless hours,  sacrifice and dedication to their sport.

We can learn from them.

I found this quote from Michael Phelps that resonated with me :

“I found something I love and never gave up.”

We don’t have to wonder how that worked for him. 28 Olympic medals. Most decorated Olympian ever.

Nope, he never gave up.

The majority of us will never be Olympians. We will never come close to knowing the hard work and sacrifice that they invested into their sport.

But I’ll tell you this…. we can all have or find that thing we love and never give up in our pursuit of being better at it. We can become stronger, more skilled,  and a better student of that thing that we pursue.

For me right now, it’s cycling. I’m learning I have a lot of strength and power to bring to this sport and it’s now a matter of practice and consistent training to improve my skills. I know I won’t train for the Olympics, but trust me, I will be in races at some point to cut my teeth on and test my skills and passion. My nature is competitive and I will always be looking to improve and be better than I was the day before.

Tell me … what is your passion? Do you have something that challenges you ? Or motivates you to work harder? What’s the “gold” you pursue?

The Discipline Of Self Training

You-Have-To-Train-Your-Mind-Like-You-Train-Your-Body_-»-Bruce-Jenner

 

Yesterday my son tagged me in a funny video that he knew would make me laugh.

It was a woman who was over weight attempting to ” eat her veggies”. Actually, it was one brussel sprout, cut in half, on a plate.

I should mention, it was also steamed. One steamed brussel sprout.

She attempts to eat it, and finally gives up sobbing and crying that she can’t.

Ok, well I’m pretty sure it was all staged for entertainment purposes, but it did get me thinking.

Crazy things get me thinking….

So many behaviors in our lives are “learned” behaviors, or things we’ve trained ourselves to do.

Think about it… we’ve trained ourselves to get up at the same time, prepare for our days in most likely similar ways, how we dress and how are days are structured are all things we’ve trained ourselves to do. How and what and when we eat all fall in ways we have trained ourselves.

We’ve trained ourselves to eat healthy foods, or we haven’t. We’ve trained ourselves to eat healthy balanced meals, or we’ve trained ourselves to go through the local fast food place.

Habits… but none the less…. we’ve trained ourselves into these behaviors…good or bad.

I began to take that idea further by looking at it in the ways of how we eat and drink.

When someone tells me they “don’t like vegetables” or they “don’t eat them” or “they just can’t find time to exercise” or ” they’re to busy to workout” or they “need” soda,  or they have to go through a drive thru because they are “starving”  and the list can go on…

Those are definitely areas in someone’s life that have to been “trained”, they need to  have a new discipline built in to them.

It made me think about things like this that people have trained themselves to do…

driving through a fast food place for “a snack”, buying a coke and candy bar in the gas station, stopping for a donut with the morning coffee, eating foods that are out in the break room at work, having treats at home that aren’t healthy, reaching for seconds at dinner long after your appetite is satisfied, bringing home a 6 pack to drink while you watch tv, sleeping in instead of getting up earlier to give your body the exercise it deserves….

All of these things and more are things people have taught themselves to do… learned behaviors….

Meaning, you can also train yourself in new ways as well.

Often someone has good intentions but you know what? It can be hard to retrain those not so good habits with better ones. It does require a level of discipline and real desire to make it happen. Sometimes you are working against a lifetime of trained habits.

You have to train yourself to replace not so healthy foods with healthier ones. No, it’s not easy. Your body is accustomed to how you’ve been feeding it. I can tell you, as you begin to eat healthier foods, your tastes will change and you will begin to find those once so “desirable” foods and drinks will have less pull on you. Some things will actually start to taste different to you and it makes it easier to not eat them.

If you begin to train your body that it needs to get up a bit earlier in the morning to get purposeful exercise done before you start your day, in time, it will become your new normal.  If evening is better for you, you will begin to carve out time for yourself at the end of the day. Making small, purposeful steps will begin training you for a more active lifestyle.

Retraining yourself to build new disciplines and habits isn’t easy, but with consistency and daily forward movement you can and will be successful 🙂

 

 

Off Season

runner

We’re gonna talk sports stuff…..athletic(y) things…. you are forewarned.

I never understood, or totally got the whole “off season” thing. I  mean, I understood my favorite basketball games came to an end, or that football came to this great culmination in February that sometimes left grown men crying and gnashing their teeth and we entered the off season which meant the TV wasn’t blowing up with the current games.

After a season was over the athletes were off to Disneyland, right ? Easy, breezy do nothing for months? Not so fast….

Even when I got into running a few years ago, I heard about it, but never grasped it… or honestly thought much of it.

I mean… I run all year long… rain… sun…heat…cold…snow… (well maybe not snow …what’s snow ?? 😉

Enter this past year… and my running….. which has been the most intense since I started. I’ve crashed as ungracefully into off season as a fawn standing on new legs.

The term is defined by Webster’s in this way: a time of suspended or reduced activity; especially :  the time during which an athlete is not training or competing.

So, my training started last August with my goal for a December marathon. You may have read in an earlier post that I turned 50 last year and decided to run a 50K sometime in my 50th year… to celebrate…… haha and I found one this past March.

I slammed out the marathon in December, took it easy through that month, and had to commit fully by January that I was going to do the 50K.

My thinking was my training was already up there, might as well keep on towards the 50K.  Training ramped back up this time with Saturdays long runs getting longer, and ultimately one Saturday just a flat 5 hour run which put about 28 miles under me.

Then came March…. the culmination time for all my training…. two half marathons and a 50k to wrap the month and put the icing on the cake.

My mileage came slamming down like your speed when you see a cop.

I moved through April really letting my body just relax and focusing on other activities I enjoyed. And then this pesky heel issue that came up seemingly outta nowhere really helped me keep my mileage down to….nothing….

I did 3 miles Tuesday and 4 today… trying to keep it easy….it just felt so good to be back out there.

This is when I got it. For the first time in the 5 years I’ve been running I’ve really understood what it means to go into an off season.

My spring races are done.

I might do some shorter 5-10k during the summer but my next “real” race will be a December marathon.

Training will kick up for serious in August.

I love training.

I love planning out my runs and having them written on my running calendar. Perhaps I just love the absolute structure of it and the feeling I get writing those miles in after I do them. Not to mention, in a weird way, the feeling my body has after it’s worked really hard….

I won’t lie that it gets to be a high when I start putting some big volume miles in… which might explain the withdraw feelings I’ve had from it. I also love the lean hungry look I get from all those miles 😛

I know this time down is essential and necessary for my body to get stronger and stay healthy. It doesn’t mean I won’t be running it just means seriously reduced mileage. I do want to keep a good base long run of 12-13 miles so my mind stays in that zone. I feel that (for me ) it’s so mentally important to keep engaged with those numbers.

Here’s what I do know. Off season  doesn’t mean no training. It just means training differently, smarter, with a focus to build and strengthen my body to take on the rigors of fall training again.

I’ll be spending more time on my bike, lifting weights, boxing, doing body weight work and if I can apprehend one somewhere cheap, a rowing machine ( doesn’t that sound fun ?? 😉 oh yeah, and of course a few running days thrown in.

I will learn to embrace off season in a positive way and look for new ways to add to my training… which actually in the long run…. builds a overall better, stronger and more fit body.

Ok, my fearless 1.5 readers, anyone besides me have to come to terms with this idea ? Let me hear from you and how you handle it =) Do you have an off season ? Or do you just move through the year with your workouts ?

running gift
And a most precious one…..

Training Never Stops

Hey boys and girls =)

It’s now Easter evening while I’m writing this and it’s possible most of you are in a food and sugar coma by now.

I’m tired of food. My tummy is full.

Not that I ate vast amounts… it’s that random grazing through the day… or seeing someone with something that looks good and wanting a little… or the plethora of Easter candy to nibble on ..and before you know it you’re in that zone…the… ” I feel like a fat sea walrus” zone.

I don’t like that feeling anymore. In fact, I hate it. It makes me want to go running back to my sane, normal eating like a 2 year old running for candy.

My comfort zone… and I like that I have that place to go back to.. that I want to be there.

Sane. Balanced. Reasonable. Not needy. Controlled.

Yikes… did you notice I used running twice within the previous sentences?

Yes, I miss it..

What ?? You might be pondering… you run all the time….

Except I’ve been trying to be so good and let my body rest in a serious way.

That recovery thing…….. athletes need to embrace it as much as the physical activity. Intellectually, I get it. Physically, it can and does make me stir crazy. I read an article from an experienced marathon running coach and he suggested taking 1 day off for every mile of your most recent race.

31 days?! I don’t see that happening…. I’m a little over a week out….. legs feel good…. I’m planning to get out for some easy miles…. very soon…. I have a 10K set for May 2nd so I’m eager to get back out there and start working again.

You know what I miss though? I miss the perfect, ordered structure of training for a big event. I love looking at my running calendar and seeing miles already written in waiting to be done. I love how that structure and getting it done at the start of my day sets my day up already for being productive. In a sick way, I don’t mind the whole pile of running clothes from a weeks worth of work.

Training. There’s just something very comfortable about it. Maybe ’cause I love always being in training mode for an event. Or as mentioned, I love the structure of it. Let’s not forget it gives you the very focused goal of always being fit. It often offers it’s own set of challenges, perhaps far more than that actual event might offer.

Training is my life.

Is it no wonder then, when I came across this Nike shirt last year, I HAD to get it ??

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Because for me, its’ pretty much true. Training doesn’t stop and you know what ? I’m really ok with that. Training has built perseverance, dedication,  a little more stubbornness and commitment in me. It’s taught me how to goal set, make a plan, and deliver on it. It’s taught me sacrifice has to be made to reach those goals. It’s built strength in me that I never realized I possessed.

You know something? That all carries over into the rest of my life. Who would’ve thought ?

So yeah I’m ok with that. I’ve accepted it for what it is. I can hardly wait to start sketching out my marathon training in a few months =)

Confession time athletes. Is your training a lifestyle now for you ? Is it ingrained in you ? Just something you do ? Share with me… tell me I’m not alone 😉

You Run What ??

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My view looking up the hill I was about to run….

Hills.

Is there anything that can make you cry like a baby tougher, stronger, and more of a beastly runner than running hills ?

I know a lot of runners shy away from them, hate them, or grudgingly do them. In the few years I’ve been running I’ve actually come to love hills.

In a practical way, they are speed work in disguise, but they also build strength and power in our legs like nothing else can.

In a  “I feel pretty freaking proud of myself”  kinda way I love that I can power up hills.. not walk or crawl… but let those powerful muscles I’ve built do that work. It’s especially nice in races to nail those suckers 😉

One of my neighbors once told me, “I see you running those hills and I don’t even think I could walk up them!” well at one point I couldn’t powerhouse up them either.

Training. Training gets a lot done.

When I tell people or post that my workout was hill repeats, they have this idea of a gentle sloping hill dancing in their heads.

Mine are literally mountains that have been paved over.  I don’t kid you.

The picture in this post is one that I run. It’s ironically called… Little Hill…. someone’s warped sense of humor?? It’s crazy steep, but running to the top, and down the spine of it into a cul de sac and back over again gives me an even half mile. So I often go to this place and do like… 4 miles… of repeats.

Can you say… butt kicking ?

Yesterday’s workout was hill repeats. I’m pretty much not pushing myself hard since I have a half marathon coming up in a couple weeks and then my 50K on the 28th.

If you read my other 50K posts, you know unfortunately, the race cancelled due to weather issues. I determined I was just going to run my own personal 50K.

Dang it I didn’t train so hard to not make it happen. I’m so stubborn and hard headed… the idea of coming so close… wasn’t something that set well with me …at. all.

Anyway, that being said, the race committee sent an email letting runners know that they could do a virtual race for what they signed up for and still get their runner goodies =) How nice.

So, March 28 it’s going down. Stick around and stay tuned for how all that plays out.

And as mentioned, I’m going to be running these next couple weeks but my training is done for all intents and purposes. It’s been carved out for months now. Long runs in the wee hours of the morning. Cold miles. Wet, cold miles. Hot, humid, sweat filled runs that left me drained. Strength training. Short runs. Slow. Fast.

I finally totaled my training miles…. roughly 995 from August till March 1! I feel like a machine.

After I wrap this month, it will be time to reduce the miles and give the body some rest time. I don’t mean doing nothing. Just less mileage in my week, then adding some biking and more strength training. My goal is to keep my long run base at 15 miles.

I’ve toyed with the idea of maybe doing a duathlon later this year. So definitely some brick training days too. And of course, I’ll have my sights set on a marathon at the end of the year =)

What goals do you have set for yourself in this upcoming year ?

Share with me.