Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dear Amanda - The Running Edition

As my marathon quest continues, I've received a lot of questions about running and how to start:

Q: Are you out of your mind?
A: Yes, but that has nothing to do with running.

Q: How did you start?
A: It was a New Year's resolution for 2008. It took me A YEAR to actually get off the couch to run because I decided I needed to be a fit to begin. Cut to January 2009 when I dragged Luz to shuffle around the NISD Athletic Center in preparation for the SA Komen 5k. I thought I'd die in the process of being able to run 3.1 miles, but I didn't. I also used the Couch to 5k podcasts on iTunes to help. I successfully completed the 5k with an 11:30 pace. I've since learned that pace, not speed, helps me as I work to increase my endurance.

Q: What keeps you motivated?
A: Jeans and food. (And better health). I live to eat, and that's not conducive to skinny jeans. It's part vanity, part not wanting to buy new pants because I love cheese and desserts. And wine. And cheeseburgers. Also, I want to have good habits firmly entrenched by the time Major and I start raising kids (the Boy is already suffering through Ramen withdrawal thanks to my new role as Kitchen Dictator).

Of course, that doesn't mean I don't sometimes hit the snooze button when I should be out running. I'll make up for it during the day. I just have to ask myself: are you going to be a wimp, or are you going to be strong today?

Q: Where did you get your information?
A: All kinds of places:
Hal Higdon's Website
Rock N Roll Marathon site
San Antonio Road Runners
There are a ton of resources out there. And while they may not be the most user-friendly, they are pretty valuable. I've tried to share these on my Facebook wall for those of you linked in.

Two other tools I use: Run Keeper's iPhone app and my Garmin FR60. These have helped me track my progress and learn about pace. Remember, if you're training for a long run, PACE not RACE is key.

Q: Are you participating in a formal training program?
A: This is one aspect I didn't want to do on my own. I signed up for SA FIT ( last year for the half and this year for the full (fool?). There are locations nationwide, but you can find other group training options if do some research. Many charities offer training in return for some fundraising (American Cancer Society, Leukemia/Lymphoma Society, Race for the Cure, Livestrong).

Generally, you'll meet as a group for the long weekend runs. It is *important* that you complete the weekday runs, otherwise you'll be suffering Saturday morning when you have to complete your first 8-miler.

Also, listen to your body. I've been super vigilant about how my knee and feet feel after running. Shoes are undeniably important – you don't want to be 4 miles into that 8 mile run and realize the sneakers you bought at Target have now chafed your ankles, squeezed off a toenail, and given you shin splints the likes you never knew possible. Go to a running store (not a sports store) and talk to the folks there about shoes. And any other aches and pains. I've started using KT Tape ( and it's helped my knee not complain about the abuse I'm inflicting on it.

Up next, the 3rd Annual San Antonio Los Chupabacras de la Noche 10k. Actually, up next is this weekend's 9 mile run. I'm proud to say that my 8-mile run last week was actually enjoyable at a 12/m pace. That same route last year while training for the half was not enjoyable and at a 14:30/m pace. Progress!

Since this week's run moves to 6am(!!!), I'll have to wake up at 445 to being my ritual of wakeup-whatshappening-potty-eat-water-potty-whyamiawake-gottagonow.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Season 2 - Highway to Hell Marathon Training

I knew this day was coming when we signed up all last year's marathon expo for this year's Rock and Roll Marathon - full marathon training. Which is two weeks before the wedding.

Can't be all that bad, right? I continued running over the winter, but I wouldn't say I'm now an athlete. I completed the timed run for this year's group and ended up in the Red group (just barely) by averaging 2 miles with a 10:42 pace. So...I'm stretching myself. I'm prepared to be the last of the Red Group/first of the Orange Group (greater than 11:00). Yeah...I'm dreaming big here. The upside is that I've stuck to torturing myself at least twice a week so increasing my training isn't so bad. Or pain free. Urg.

Motivation drives me forward and I'm having a tough time gathering it. One of my running partners may need to take the season slow thanks to a chronic issue. The other is training for the half with a different pace group and is not likely to meet me at 5:45 regularly to get a run in before work. Major is held hostage by the sheets every morning and is also significantly faster than me. I may have a Monday partner, but that leaves me two solo runs. There's more accountability when others are around, and I feel like I can challenge myself more when in a group. (Read: I'm less likely to run a two-mile out and back rather than a four-mile)

What I've learned my first full year of running is:
- there's always an excuse not to run. My ass, however, feeds off excuses and will grow.
- that burning knee pain should not be ignored. Apply ice and take glucosamine.
- I'm proud of my accomplishments.
- lined shorts may sound weird, but they really are awesome.
- having little boobs comes in handy - no boob/running pain!
- fries are treats. Treats should be enjoyed now and then.
- a one-story house is in our future - after a long run, i'm not coming back down from showering.

I'm sure there's more. Until then:

"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." John (the Penguin) Bingham .