Thursday, February 26, 2015

Motivation low? Be a beginner again!

This winter has been a tough one for me. I imagine I’m suffering from the typical ‘I achieved a big goal and now my brain needs a break’ type of lapse (thanks to Richmond). Winter is not helping. As a tried and true morning person, the darkness wears on me.

So I’m being a beginner again. No, not at running…I can’t go back at this point! At SWIMMING, which I have never been especially good at. In fact, just the thought of swimming a couple months ago would have triggered cringes and scrunchy-faces. Thankfully, I have a swimming buddy who has far superior skill and is willing to teach me new techniques and improve my basic form. 

To be a beginner again is so refreshing! I can see weekly progress (unlike running where I’m just holding steady or sliding backward right now) and every workout is novel. Also, and very importantly, it doesn't matter a lick what the weather is doing.With this new found enjoyment, I’m feeling ambitious enough to sign up for some triathlons this summer, or at least an open water swim or two! It will be a fun, new adventure!

So if you too are struggling under the oppressive hand of winter, go to the gym and try a new fitness class, grind on a spin bike, jump in the pool, whatever is new and different for you and try being a beginner again! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Richmond Marathon -- reflections

I’d like to start off this post with a look at my Believe I am training journal from this year. Back in January, I wrote out my running goals for the year in a flow chart:

Although I didn't look back at this page more than once or twice during the whole year, it must have lodged itself into sub-conscious, because most of the stepping stones in this diagram got done. I worked on my form (arguably still bad, but it’s better). I embraced that fact that I have introverted tendencies thanks to the book “Quiet: the power of introverts” by Susan Cain and learned to protect my need for alone time. I got advice on how to improve my sleep habits, which included decreasing screen time before bed, watching my coffee habits, and setting time aside to ‘wind down’ before bed. My iron and vitamin D levels are back to a healthy place, thank you supplements!

What else was key to achieving the goals I wrote in my Believe I am months ago? Well, taking it easy over the summer was important. I knew that marathon training would be taxing, so I just cruised through June-July-August without stressing over long runs or super challenging workouts. Another critical thing was doing consistent core work (planks, mostly) and foam rolling during marathon training. Sometimes I had to practically bribe myself into doing my plank circuit, but ultimately I think it helped. I also threw out any notions about how I ‘should’ eat. I ate more cookies/ice cream/fried food than I care to admit. But ultimately not depriving myself during training also helped me ‘save’ my mental gumption for when it *really* counted (i.e. during workouts). My training group also pulled me along during the runs when I felt exhausted/grouchy/stressed and more miles of this training were shared than any of my other training cycles. Despite the higher mileage, I made sure I went out with friends whenever I could.  When necessary I went to bed at 9pm to get a full night of sleep before a big workout.

Ultimately, the key to it all was listening to my body. I adjusted workouts when I needed to, I adjusted mileage when I needed to, and I ate what I needed to.

And now with a marathon PR of 3:03:43 (details here), I have a clear goal for 2015. Chase that sub-3 hour time and have fun along the way!