Building Strength

In my last post, I made it my mission to get more serious about core strengthening.  I failed that mission for the past two weeks.  The first week since I wrote the post, I did not do any core exercises.  (I didn’t feel too guilty though because that was my birthday week 🙂 )  The second week, I really had no excuse for the neglect.  My back wasn’t bothering me, so I didn’t have anything to push me to do those exercises.

Although I haven’t had any back pain since my last post, I have a new pain in my right knee.   I thought if I did a few extra stretches and yoga sessions, it would work itself out, but no such luck.  I even tried tying my shoes a different way, which proves how in denial I was about having weak knees.  After doing some research, I realized that I needed to strengthen both my hips and knees to resolve the issue.  I did 6 different types of hip and knee strengthening exercises today and also got in my core strengthening exercises.  It wasn’t as torturous as I anticipated and I know both types of exercises will help prevent future injuries.  I like exercises where I can see the progress I am making.  With running, I can track my pace and distance improvements and with yoga I can see how much closer I can get to touching my toes (nearly there!).  To make these strengthening exercises more interesting to me, I will keep track of how long I can hold the plank and side plank positions as well how many lunges I can do and how deep I can squat.

I also ran my longest run yet on Saturday at 9 miles.  I think once I’m able to run 10 miles, I’ll cap that as my long run distance, considering I’m not training for a particular race at the moment.  Running faster and longer is starting to get tough with the warmer weather.  But, I’m hoping that over the next few weeks, I’ll acclimate to the hotter temperatures.  And if not, I suppose I’ll just have to start looking for places that sell industrial fans.

(Hmm, will this fit down my basement?)

Since I failed my mission from my last post, I will set a higher goal for this week.  I plan to do both my hip/knee strengthening and core strengthening three times each per week.

Running vs. Renovating

This week I realized how important it is for runners to have a strong core.  I have been neglecting my core strengthening exercises for the past few weeks and it finally caught up with me this week during my tempo mile run on Wednesday.  I ran a mile three times with walk breaks in between at a pace slightly faster than my steady pace.  I think I overdid how fast I ran each mile and pulled my back somehow.  I did my usual weight training on Thursday and did a steady tempo run on Friday thinking one day was enough rest…WRONG.  One of these days I will learn to take the appropriate amount of rest days.  Needless to say, I didn’t complete my long run, or any run for that matter, on Saturday.

But, like a true dummy, instead of running, I thought it might be a good idea to demolish a wall and remove plaster an lath.  (Yah, that will help heal my back).  I don’t know how it happened, but my back actually did feel better by the end of the day.  I suppose miracles happen when making serious progress on a kitchen renovation, because I have no other explanation.

I also went for my first walk around my neighborhood this season and got some curb appeal and landscaping ideas.  It was nice to get outside and not worry about my pace or distance (although my walking app kept reminding me I was behind the goal pace of 9 seconds/mile – guess it was set to Bionic Woman speed by mistake).  The only drawback about walking outside this time of year are those pesky green worms that hang from the trees.  I thought I was pretty slick dodging them as I walked, but I had to flick at least 10 of them off of me when I got home, eewww.

All in all, this was still a good week, despite my back complications.  I know I will continue to make mistakes as I try to improve my running abilities, but I intend to learn from them.  So, from now on, I will make it a habit to do at least 10 minutes of core strengthening exercises a few times a week.  I will also make it a habit to avoid walking under trees when hanging worms are lurking.  As for skipping any home renovation work that involves heavy lifting, etc. when I am not at my best, we’ll see.

Making it Work

Woohoo, made it my furthest distance of 7 miles today at about a 9:22/mile pace.  I didn’t think it was going to happen this morning…

I woke up feeling kind of lousy and had to fight that part of me that wanted to just skip the long run and call it a week.  But, I knew that if I skipped the run I would just feel even worse and regret it throughout the whole day.  I am so glad I pushed myself to get on the treadmill and can’t wait to try to make it 8 miles next week.
For some reason the letter “F” played a big role in my exercise routine this week.  The first F is for the fan that I bought.  I had a fan before, but it was so low it only blew on my legs, which wasn’t much help.  The power of a fan that blows on your face while running is priceless.
The next F is for my stupid foot!  This past week a sensitive area at the top of my foot that I first got when I played soccer in elementary school came back for a visit.  I say visit because I refuse to believe that it might get worse and cause setbacks with my running.  So far, I taped my first two toes together for added support, which is what I did for soccer.  Hopefully that will do the trick, because I don’t plan on slowing down any time soon.
The last F is for food.  For the past few weeks, I have been having stomach issues and I think I narrowed it down to seeds and popcorn.  Add that to the list of foods that I can’t eat (tomatoes, oranges, fried food and dairy).  Grrr..it’s getting frustrating that so many foods bother me, but I guess I just have to deal with it and stop complaining.  But, since I’m already complaining…realizing that I need to cut flax seeds out of my diet is a huge bummer, since I have been mixing them into different baked goods in place of some of the flour for added vitamins, etc.  Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to keep experimenting with ingredients to see what works and what doesn’t.

Staying on Track

I realize I haven’t posted anything to my blog in the past few weeks.  Life has been pretty busy lately – a long weekend vacation in Philly, baking multiple birthday cakes, kitchen & bath renovation and Excel consulting.  But despite all these increased demands, I made the time to keep up with my running routine.  I have been adding a few days of speed training workouts to my weekly routine and I am just about at my goal speed of 9:00/mile.  In my 30 minute tempo runs, I average about 9:06/mile.  Although it is in my nature to continue to challenge myself and keep running faster and faster each week, I am going to increase my speed gradually.  After reading an article from Runner’s World, I learned that it takes most runners 7 years to reach their peak fitness.  I have also read countless articles that state that pushing your body too hard, too fast can lead to injuries.  I will continue with my speed workouts, but I am not going to rush my new speed goal of 8:00/mile.  Patience has never been one of my strength’s so getting to this next goal over a longer period of time should be interesting.

I have also been extending my long runs and ran 6 miles this past Saturday.  Longer distances are both exciting and terrifying to me.  I get excited the days leading up to a long run because I can’t wait to test my limits.  But, once the day comes and I finish my warm-up and start to run, all I can think of is the amount of time that I still have to run.  I think I will start listening to music while running because the local news I usually watch isn’t too entertaining.  I know that running outside will probably make the time go by faster, but it is so easy to just hop on the treadmill.  I did complete one outside run in Philly, but my shins were so sore the next day that it didn’t really leave me wanting more.

Sorry this post is a bit boring.  I’ll be better about posting more often so I can include more juicy details about each week’s training 🙂