Thursday, 31 January 2008

Take it and Run Thursday: Motivation is Cyclic

Eating my afternoon snack and trying to think about what to say about motivation that hasn't already been said, and that isn't trite. And what I've come to is that motivation is cyclic.

I ran this morning, and I've been eating well and drinking loads of water all day. I have (almost) no desire for the microwave popcorn that's floating around the office - and that's one of my worst weaknesses. Cookies and cakes and ice cream don't interest me. And I can't wait to run again tomorrow - I'm working from home to ensure that I can, even though I have to begin my workday at 7am.

Unfortunately, it works the other way too. A week away from the trails will find me with one hand on the chocolate cake and the other wrapped around icy beer number 4. A half bottle of wine leads to an evening on the couch in my fat pants.

So how can I use this to my advantage? Everyone always talks about how saying "I'll just go out for 10 minutes and if I really hate it then I can quit" will often get you out the door. I think I've got to start even before that. "Just one workout. You don't have to eat well later if you don't want to." "Just one water before you move to beer tonight."

I'm off for more healthy beverage...

Week 5, Day 2: N is for negative splits

I set out this morning (yes, it should have been yesterday, but I was *sleepy*!) with negative splits in mind. Thus, I consciously started slow. Too slow. At a half-mile in, I was running 13 minute miles. Oops. The whole point of negative splits is to start a little slower than the natural pace, and end up a faster than the natural pace. It's a speed-building workout, see? Anyway, I picked it up a bit so that the first mile was in the 12:30-ish range. Ok, next mile, a little bit faster now - 12:15 or so. Then the next one - same (there's a big hill in there, so I was working harder for a similar pace...not ideal, but good enough). Hmm. At this rate, I'll be just on-pace by the end of the 5 miles. Pick it up a little more. 10:45 for mile 4. That may have been overdoing it, because the last mile I was totally dead and had to really push to do 11:10. I think I'll try this one again next week with a little better idea of what I need to do.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Week 5, Day 1: It all adds up

I started out this morning by setting myself a "I can keep this up the whole way" pace. I didn't look at my watch, just did it by feel. I kept this pace pretty steady through the first 2 miles (even speeding up a bit), then right around the 2 mile mark I started to feel like I had settled in, and my pace (when I looked at it after the run) reflected this. I felt I could have kept going. I also noticed that, as of this morning, I've run more in January than I did in December (which I guess is easy to do when you're only consistent for 2 weeks out of the month). I think I've gotten over the hump, because it feels like this is getting easier. Someone please remind me of this on Saturday when I finish 10 (!) miles.

Fueling my obsession with statistics, I'm contemplating laying down the cash for Ascent, because I can't get the Garmin software to work on my work Mac (I can't install new programs, and Garmin doesn't work if you install it on the external hard drive which is what I usually do with personal stuff). Does anyone use it? Rants? Raves?

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Week 4, Day 4: Curry is not a runners fuel

We went to a friend's house last night and had a curry and a little wine. One of these things resulted in my being REALLY thirsty this morning, and I drank my whole bottle of water in the first 3-4 miles. And then couldn't find either a water fountain or an off-license/grocery store for another 2 miles. My splits from that time are not pretty. As a whole, though, considering this is the furthest I can ever remember running, it felt pretty good. Some walking, but vast majority running (though I'd call it more like shuffling near the end) and I finished strong. After 3 days in a row, I'm ready to take a day off and let my blisters heal a bit. 8 miles, 1:44:58.

Weekly total: 19.3 miles, 3:56:33
Cumulative Blackpool marathon training total: 85.7 miles, 18:04:26

Friday, 25 January 2008

Week 4, Day 3: Turning the corner

Isn't it funny how all of a sudden you can start making progress really fast? After yesterday's great run, I sort of expected to crash today. Instead, I beat my best time! And felt great doing it, running the whole thing. I really worked hard at going out slow, which left me able to go a little faster each mile. I suddenly feel like a runner. 3.17 miles, 36:29.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Week 4, Day 2: I is for Intervals

Today I decided to do an interval run with half mile and quarter mile intervals, interspersed with quarter mile recoveries. I ran up the entire Finsbury Park hill, and walked less than one of the recovery intervals. Such a great run, so much progress from when I started running this route and from the first time I attempted a five mile run! And, to add to the happiness, the intervals ended up making my overall time significantly faster. The reasons for the "FINISH STRONG" series are several-fold: First, to practice increased pace in a hope to increase my regular pace. Second, to spice things up and ensure that I don't get into a rut. Third, it's a mantra I can repeat to myself as I'm doing it. Fourth, I think that this is going to help me finish the marathon with my arms held high. I've figured out some, but not all of the letters, so if you've got workouts that seem relevant to these letters, please let me know. 5 miles, 56:27.

Take it and Run Thursday: Basics of Running: Becoming a morning person

Today is Take it and Run Thursday. This week, Amy and Tom have asked us to write about the Basics of Running. Seeing as I consider myself still a beginning runner, this ought to be interesting, and a great source of learning for me.
One thing I think about a lot is how to become a morning person. Not that this is running related, per se, except that I know lots of people who have to run in the morning, or it doesn't happen. Unfortunately I am not naturally a morning person (see my last post for evidence!). For me, if I get up before I've woken up enough to realize I'm getting out of bed before the sun comes up, I'm usually pretty successful.
The thing that helps me most is to realize that at the time my alarm goes off, I'm not conscious enough to make good decisions. I need to make it automatic. When I'm doing it successfully, I think about it thusly: every time I wake up when my alarm goes off, I am training my body to do that. Every time I go back to sleep, I'm training my body to do that. Which training do I want to reinforce?
I've fallen off the wagon a bit, and I think it may be time for an intervention. This post from Steve Pavlina recommends practicing. I may need to invest a couple of hours in doing this.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Sleepy Tuesday

My resolve is weak when I am asleep. If I can just get out of bed before I wake up, I'm golden. But 6am is still very early for me, and I turned off my alarm without even really thinking about it. Guess Thursday will have to be the next day for me (since tomorrow I am working from 3:30am to 10pm). The annoying thing is that at 8, when I naturally wake up, I'm totally ready to run - and late for work!

And then I see this, and am completely shamed by my lack of motivation this morning.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Week 4, Day 1: Start slow to finish strong

I made myself go out extra slow today because I was determined to run without any walking breaks, not even for the steep bits. I haven't figured out how to make my Garmin tell my my pace if I'm running a pre-established course (anyone?) but I was aiming for a 12:30 first mile. The enforcing of the "slow down" really worked - I actually slogged a 13:10 first mile. I kept picking up the pace slowly for the rest of the way, trying to catch my Virtual Training Partner. I was definitely running faster by the end, but the VTP still beat me. It was a little disheartening to be a tenth of a mile from home and get the message that the VTP had finished the course. On the other hand, I ran the whole way and was feeling really good, and that's a victory. 3.15 miles, 38:39.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Week 3, Day 4, v2: the guilt-free bacon sandwich

Our regular Saturday morning ritual includes a trip to Borough Market, where Roast serves a free-range, organic pork loin sandwich with applesauce on a roll. This is known in our house as a "bacon sandwich." When I woke up this morning, I was not really that jazzed about getting up at 8 on a Saturday. Until I remembered that if I ran, I could eat the bacon sandwich totally guilt-free. I wonder if that will get me out of bed on Mondays too? Finsbury Park route, plus a little detour into the Ecology Park (way cool, but not actually a good place to run), and a lap of Highbury Fields at the end to get the total distance. I felt really good at the beginning, but was walking anywhere from 0.1 to 0.25 miles in each mile by the end. And then I had chocolate milk. 7 miles, 1:33:17.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Week 3, Day 3, v2: Lazy Friday

I called in "sick" today - I just wasn't feeling my job, even though I'd both decided not to run today, arguing that this was a repeat week so skipping one day wouldn't be so bad, and taken a shower already. I went back to sleep and decided I would run later. We have some friends visiting for the weekend, so when they got here, we ordered lunch and I had a beer. Then I had to let that settle, of course. Finally around 4pm I got off my backside to run a nice easy 3 miles. I really tried to go out slow so that I'd have an easy time finishing it (though I looked at my splits later and I ran this in a 10:30-ish pace - so much for slow!) but I was still taking the occasional walk break. I was also trying to play with my Garmin Virtual Training Partner. I think the combination of a short course and not being substantially faster or slower than the last time I ran this course made it hard to see the little "last course" triangle for a while, but eventually I determined that I was solidly in front of my last time and determined to stay there. Of course, it turns out this is because of the fast first mile. Anyway, I finished the run well ahead of my little guy. So there. 3.2 miles, 38:25.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Week 3, Day 2, v2: F is for Fartlek

I had the most amazing run this morning. Well, once I got out of bed. Bob the clock beeped at me for a full half hour before I could drag myself outside. Since I had to stop at the bank during my run, and it's not on the usual 4 mile route, I decided to mix things up and just do a "wherever your feel like it" run, aiming to get to the bank with a half-mile or so left to get me home. And since I was doing that, I thought it would be a good day to do a little speed play as well. I had fun giving myself different goals, run faster for a half mile, or to the next tree, or whatever. I also learned that if I run a little faster, I feel less like stopping. What a revelation. 4 miles, 48:01.07.

Week 3, Day 2, v2: F is for fartlek

I had the most amazing run this morning. Well, once I got out of bed. Bob the clock beeped at me for a good half hour before I could get up. I decided, since I had to run an errand during my run, not to go on the usual 4-ish mile route, but rather just to go kind of where I felt like, aiming to end up at the bank at the end (or close enough). And if I'm going wherever, why not go at whatever speed too? I had fun saying, pick it up for a half mile, or to the next tree, or whatever. I also learned something. I can run for a lot longer if I pick up the pace just a bit - apparently my usual plodding pace is actually so annoyingly slow that I want to stop. But if I go at a push-it-a-little pace, not only do I not want to stop, but when I slow down to do recovery, I'd rather jog than walk, and then get going again. There's a revelation. 4 miles, 48:01.07

Week so far: 7

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Week 3, Day 1, v2: Resolved

Finally back out there, after nearly a month. So much for my resolutions to run while traveling. Oh well. It doesn't matter, as they say. Anyway, still plenty of time left before the marathon, so I thought it would be best to re-do week 3 to ease back into it. A slight edit to the 3-mile route since I've moved. I also got to play a bit with my new toy (aka the Garmin 205 I got for Christmas). Unfortunately I can't hook it up to my work computer so I haven't used all the features yet, but the one I'm looking forward to the most will be the Virtual Partner, so I can race against myself on routes I run regularly - I'll let you know how that goes on Friday (I know you're all waiting with bated breath). Anyway, it felt really good to run again. 3.18 miles, 38:37.64.

Week so far: 3.2 miles, 38:38.