Unguarded Thoughts: Don’t be gross

HR training journal: Today was a long run – 90 minutes. I covered 8 miles. I maintained an average bpm of 141. And I loved every step! Total mileage for the week: 29.5 miles. That’s my mileage for week 2 of a 20 week half marathon plan, folks!

This past week I’ve bumped into more than a few examples of gross human behavior. I’m not talking poop or blood. I’m talking…utterly disappointing. Mean-spiritedness for no real reason other than to assert superiority. I’ve seen it more at work than in my personal realm, but it feels like it’s everywhere lately.

I went on Facebook “hiatus” back in 2012. I remember it well; it was when President Obama was running for re-election, and after four years of his presidency, during which (thanks to Facebook) I was exposed to the “secret inner thoughts” of friends, family, in-laws, co-workers, bosses, etc., I found that I no longer wanted to know about 90% of them. For me, it was better to just go “offline” for a while. So I de-activated my account.

When I returned last year, it was solely to have a convenient communication forum for a Ragnar event I was part of. When I signed in, I cleaned up my “friends” list, whittling it down to just those handful of people I actually knew and loved, along with some long-distance friends and family for whom this would be a convenient way to keep in touch, and my Ragnar teammates. Gone was anyone even remotely related to the place I worked. And gone were those whose cruel vitriol left a permanent, painful impression on my heart and mind. The result: a nice, small friend list. One that looked more like my reality. I thought I’d created a well-curated feed.

When I signed up for Heart Rate (HR) training, I was invited to join a closed FB group created for all of us who had signed up for this training plan. For the most part, it’s been really positive. I mean, overwhelmingly positive. Seriously, a mostly amazing group of women who inspire me daily.

Which is why recently, as I was quickly glancing through some posts, I was so strongly struck by the negative tone of person who posted a “pet peeve.” And several others who joined the herd, pitchforks in hand.

The pet peeve? So stupid it isn’t worth explaining. Except to say that “I” have totally done this. And it has ABSOLUTELY NO IMPACT ON A SINGLE OTHER LIVING BEING WHATSOVER.

It was a “behavior” that they witnessed, that they didn’t understand, and rather than ask the person “why are you doing that” they instead jumped to (possibly erroneous) conclusions, and deemed the behavior to be riduculous. Dumb. Stupid. Suspicious. Deceptive even.

As for those doing the complaining? Well, THEY were such BETTER human beings for NEVER engaging in such strange behavior. They were superior. Their way was better. SUPERIOR.

Holy fuck did this strike a nerve. To think that as I’ve gone about my business, doing my workouts, keeping to myself, that there might have been some asshole sitting nearby observing me (rather than minding their own damned workout) and thinking about how “irritated” they felt. All because I was engaging in an activity that had absolutely no impact on them? The fucking nerve of me, right?

I posted a reply; it went something like: Hey peanut gallery, it turns out that “I” do that same thing too. And the reason is too long to post here (not to mention I don’t actually owe you a damned explanation). But there are legit reasons. And just fyi, I do try to reserve judgment when I see something I don’t understand because there might be a completely rational explanation that I am unaware of. 

Oddly, just this week I’ve run into similar encounters at work (possibly made worse because I was face-to-face with said peanut gallery). And it can only be described as: Gross. Fucking gross. The need for people to find ways to assert their superiority is out of control. I know it’s real; there are studies that show this phenomenon to be absolutely real. Coupled with the need to control the behavior of those who have absolutely no impact on their lives in any way, shape or form, simply because they do not understand the behavior (therefore it must be not only inferior to their own, but it must be eradicated)? Gross. Fucking gross.

It reminds me of people who are opposed to gay marriage; who themselves are not gay, nor do they have any gay people (that they know of) in their circles of friends and family. Yet they will assert with passionate fervor their opposition to gay marriage, and throw down their religious texts as proof of their righteousness. It’s so fucking gross. Why do you even care?

I should not have posted any response at all. My rational brain knows that. I’ve come to understand an important truth about Facebook. For the most part, by the time someone has posted something – a personal opinion, support of a “thing,” opposition to a “thing,” whatever – their position on that “thing” is final. Nothing anyone posts in response will sway their opinion . And the more extreme that “thing” is, the stronger their resolve to stand by that opinion. It’s pointless to offer an opposing view; no matter how much kindness, how much logic, or how much evidence you offer; once a person has declared their position (on Facebook), they won’t be moved (by replies on Facebook).

Still, I wish people would just mind their own business. As I type that, I realize that Facebook is, quite literally, the opposite of minding your own business. So live and let live? Or better yet – don’t be a dick? Really, just don’t be gross.

Endorphins Rock!

img_5555Hell yes they do! Today was a free run workout, meaning no heart rate cap, just run at whatever speed my heart desires for 60 minutes. These free runs have been on the plan since I started with the pre-plan workouts (HR101) and I’ll admit right now, I definitely didn’t get them right at first. Initially I read “free” as “fast” as in, I can go my “normal” pace for an hour. The problem was, I found that my old normal pace (around 9:30 for the average, no-goal run) felt challenging. I chalked it up to the heat (this was still August), residual burnout from marathon training, and of course, running super slow the rest of the week. So being the brainiac that I tend to be, I would try to force myself to go faster, which felt like shit on my legs, my lungs, my…wherever. And I grew to dread free runs.

Today as we walked out the door to start the run (I totally forgot my pre-run workout – dang it), said to Dar “maybe we’ll just keep it at 140bpm today.” That’s the effort at which I do most of the other runs in this plan. I didn’t feel like being demoralized by my lack of speed. So we started out at a slow plod; I didn’t worry about heart rate at all; instead I focused solely on “feel good.” Because I’ve come to feel really flipping good at 140bpm. The first mile was on the slow side (10:45); it felt great, it felt like a proper warmup. At the start of mile 2 of every run on this particular path (which is, like 90% of my runs) goes straight up a hill for about .2 miles. Instead of trying to maintain pace, I focused again on maintaining feel good. My overall pace for mile 2 was 10:15.

That trend continued – run at feel good pace, slowly get faster: 10:08, 9:40, 9:45. By the time I got home I felt amazing! At some points my pace actually dipped down to 8:55, enough to get some drops of endorphins in my brain! Speaking of my brain, it was nice to know that I could still feel good at those paces – and not just my “old” good, but dare I say it, at paces that felt downright easy. I guess “trust the plan” it is!


September 7, 2016: HR Training Check-in

Reporting in on day 10 of the AMR Heart Rate Training Excellent Half Marathon Plan.
Today I covered more ground in 60 minutes at 140bpm (actually 136 bmp) than ever before on this plan. I’m pretty stoked. And I did this in spite of feeling a little under the weather – I actually went home sick yesterday and was in bed by 5pm. Hmm; perhaps tons of rest does help.

Some Strava stats – and a sweet alliteration!

I’m sure the 73 degree tempurature helped tremendously. On the run this morning I felt a tiny bit feverish but still, my HR stayed low, my effort stayed easy. I was a chatterbox with my husband who forgot his earphone and was thus trapped into conversing with me. Every mile I picked up the pace for 20 seconds. And can I say, thanks to this particular workout, I’ve come to discover that 20 seconds is a magical length of time? I feel like I’m barely getting out of 1st gear when the 20 seconds is already done, and it’s time to bring the HR back down. In fact, I feel like I could endure anything for 20 seconds.
The only downside I’m experiencing lately is a noticeable lack of energy, not just during my workouts, but for much of the day. I am still following a LeanGains-type fasting window (I only eat between 11am and 7pm) so I’m thinking that once I get to a weight that I’m happy with (I’m trying to get down to around 125lb – fasting is working but the weight loss is very, very, very slow), and I start fueling more evenly throughout the day, my legs won’t feel like lead weights during my workouts. I still think its a good habit for me NOT to eat past 7pm. But before I started fasting, I’d wake up and sip on a sports drink just before and during my early morning runs, and that little bit of sugar really made a difference. But I haven’t been doing that lately.

Hope you are making progress with your training!

September 6, 2016: My HR training journey begins (well, it began about a week ago)

I have followed quite a few training plans: Higdon, Galloway, Hansons, and McMillan, just to name a few. I try to stay very faithful to the (running aspect of the) plans, so when I reach an outcome, I don’t spend too much time wondering if the outcome was a result of the plan or my deviations from the plan. No, instead I totally blame the plan!! Kidding!

After trying ALL of the plans over several years in an effort to qualify for the Boston Marathon (an effort which was simultaneously successful – I BQ’d – and unsuccessful – I still wasn’t fast enough to make the cut), I was facing some serious burnout, both physically and mentally/emotionally. This past May after my hamstring decided to sabotage my latest BQ attempt, I picked myself up after the race and put together a mashup the plans I’d successfully followed, with the intent to try (again) at the Ventura Marathon (the one that is happening next weekend, in fact).

I joined a gym so I could get out of the searing desert heat for my long runs. I didn’t want to take any chances that I wouldn’t be able to train at a hard pace. My PT was very encouraging of my recovery and my goals. I embraced strength training. I aggressively shed my marathon training weight. I was all in.

Or so I thought. Because as it turns out, I wasn’t all in. I wasn’t in at all.

Peg and Al Bundy – because why not? Oddly, running in that wig wasn’t that terribly difficult.

I was heartbroken. It felt, well…it felt like shit to have qualified for Boston and not make the cut. There’s no other way to put it. Boston qualifying times are basically invisible moving targets. As a runner who is not a “gifted athlete” in any way, in order to qualify for Boston I trained myself into the ground in order to run at the cusp of my speed potential. Three times. And in the end it wasn’t fast enough. Maybe I’ll never be fast enough?

If I’m being totally honest, I went into Mountains2Beach with a fearful attitude. Because I was totally afraid. Not of not qualifying. But of just barely qualifying. I mean, what would I do then? Wear myself out trying yet again? Wait to get cut again?  If you haven’t gone through that, I promise you this: you cannot imagine how demoralizing it is to wait out that registration week, to get that rejection, and to read the joyful responses from those who did survive the cut. It sucks. Trust me. No amount of rationalizing makes that experience suck any less.

In any event, I went into M2B fearful; I had a plan B race and I told my husband if I felt like I wasn’t having a good race at M2B I’d just drop out (yes, DNF) so I could try again in a few weeks (why get hurt right)? But then my hamstring… It blew up I guess. And that was at mile 15-16. I should have just stopped right there, but I knew in my gut that even if I had, I wasn’t going to be able to run hard in a few weeks. I was done. So I crawled to the finish line.

My desire to stay in the fight is strong, though. So initially I did. Until one day in July. July 17th to be exact. I completed an 18 mile training run nowhere near where I needed to be. I could see the writing on the wall. During that 18 miles I cried. I walked. I beat myself up mentally. And by mile 18 I knew I needed to let this goal go.

I’m an avid follower of all things Another Mother Runner: the books, the authors, the podcasts. It’s a great running group. And I knew they had a heart rate training plan. I thought perhaps that heart rate training would completely shift my focus from speed to effort. It sounded like exactly what I needed. So I signed up!

This is my exciting shuffle-walk-shuffle “recovery run” (trying to keep it under 120bpm). Every peak represents me apologizing to my husband for having to walk to get my HR back down. Folks, this is the stuff!

I am now a little over one full week into the AMR “Excellent Half Marathon” Heart Rate training plan. I find myself feeling ambivalant about this plan.

On the one hand, my ego takes a solid beating everytime I look at my statistics on Garmin, Strava, and now Training Peaks (where the plan is posted) as well.

On the other hand, something inside me is overjoyed that I don’t have to worry about running fast (at least, for now). Anxiety has been noticeably lifted; for me, that is a BIG deal.

The plan suggests a PR is possible at the end of this journey. I’ve (tentatively) selected the Phoenix Rock and Roll Half Marathon as my goal race. My current PR (from a downhill race) is 1:50. I feel like my faith in my ability to improve as a runner would be restored if I could beat that time next January.

So I guess I’m all in again.


August 1: HR training fail…

So today was supposed to be my first day officially on an HR plan (although the “real” plan doesn’t start for 4 weeks). So I went out for 45 minutes at 14bpm and, of course, my Garmin wouldn’t display my heart rate. I kept restarting the run but no luck. I could only see my HR when my Garmin was in regular watch mode. And this just pissed me off every time I looked at my watch, so much that my HR would jump into the 150s with the slowest jog. So I mostly shuffled and walked. My husband said I landed on a strange feedback loop where looking at my high HR made my HR stay high. Well wtf…

June 13, 2016: About that fast day

It’s funny how knowing you cannot have something or do something makes you want that something so much more. So much more it hurts…

Just wanted to post a quick thought about yesterday, which was my first day on the Every-Other-Day Diet. (The book is a very easy read, by the way, and describes a number of studies whose results seem back up what the author is proposing.)

Yesterday was a fast day. 500 calories. No problem, right?

Yah. I was damned sad, the second I took my last bite of lunch, which I ate later in the afternoon, just to mitigate my suffering. I should have been fine. It was a satisfying and healthy, clean lunch.

But all I could think about was the fact that I couldn’t eat anymore yesterday. I thought about that from the last bite of lunch, until the moment I fell asleep, probably 7 hours later.

BUT – I will say that the other thought that was bouncing around my hungry brain, which was that as soon as I woke up today I could eat whatever the hell I wanted to eat, actually did help me suffer through it. That, and many, many, many ounces of water.

“I can eat tomorrow. I can eat tomorrow. I can eat tomorrow. I can eat tomorrow.”

So far today I haven’t had the urge to binge at all. I may have indulged in a cookie or two, but honestly, my mind isn’t set on eating all the food, or eating any crap. I’ve just been eating my normal foods. Mostly clean. Mostly homemade.

I did weigh myself, and was nearly 3lbs lighter than after my long run last Saturday (I forgot to weigh myself Sunday, the first day of the diet). I’m sure I’ll be up tomorrow but I guess that’s just part of the experience.

So we will see. We will see…

June 12, 2016: I need to drop this bowling ball

And by bowling ball, I mean this excess 10lbs I’m carrying around.

Why? Because I’ve gained a solid 5lbs from my last, never-ending marathon training cycle. And I wanted to be 5lbs lighter than that to begin with. So…while I’m still in this wonderful fog of “will I, won’t I” go for another fast marathon finish, why not experiment with my caloric intake.

Last week I did a quick Clean Program based cleanse, just to help me adjust my appetite down. I think it helped but the truth is, since I did my first Clean cleanse a few years ago, I’ve adhered (about 80/20) to a clean diet, so I don’t experience the dramatic changes in weight and overall well being from the cleanse that I did the first time. I guess that’s good.

I lost about 26lbs super fast when I first did the cleanse. No, not all the weight was lost during the 21-day cleanse, but I kept up the clean eating habits from the cleanse and eventually got down to 130lbs, a weight that, while I’m not super skinny at, I’m still super happy at.

And the weight stayed off for a few years (I think rapid weight loss just works better for me, honestly; everyone is different). But with all the marathon training during the last 2 years, the weight has crept on. I want to race at 125lbs. Instead I’ve been racing (and staying) at closer to 135lbs. And it isn’t muscle.

I’m burying the lead here. I’m jumping into the “Every Other Day” diet. I’ll give it a try for the next 3 weeks and see how it feels. Today is a “fast” day (500 calories – hardly a fast but I’ll be hungry nevertheless). On the non-fast days, I play to adhere to my typical 80/20 clean eating habits. As I ease back into some intensity with the training, it will be interesting to see how this impacts my workouts. I’ll be following the Run Less Run Faster plan – so only 3 high-intensity runs per week, and I’ll match those up with the diet in what seems like a logical way: eating the day before a workout; fasting the day of my (typically early morning) workout.

I did waste the first 100 calories on lactose-free creamer for my coffee. Well, is waste the right word? I’m having some Clean Eating Skillet Spaghetti (I use Tinkyada Brown Rice Spaghetti noodles instead of whole wheat, and I use beef instead of turkey) for my one meal (a late lunch). I’ve already run and completed my strength training today. So we will see what the day brings.