I have no idea if anyone will find these entries since I officially quit blogging after finishing the marathon, but I realized that I’ve missed the act of putting my thoughts to paper (eh – to screen, as it were) – so, voila, my blogging days have resumed! I THINK I figured out how to add pictures, so hopefully my entries will look a little more lively with some color! I’ve been reading a ton of runner blogs these past few months and so many of the writers have active dialogues with their readers – so feel free to comment on anything I write!
So where have I been since October 11? After vowing right around mile 17 that I would never run again…somehow I started to do just that, and just a few days later. 🙂 I wanted to flush out my legs for sure, but I think I also wanted to prove to myself that I could keep up with it. At first I just did a few miles every now and then, and I guess within a few weeks I was back to a few longer runs. I was super excited to get back to my fun classes at the gym, and especially to strength training – I was REALLY happy and relieved to realize that I hadn’t lost too much strength since I all but gave up on any conditioning after getting injured.
Speaking of my injury, I did graduate from physical therapy a few days after the marathon ended. And the pain in my right hip is pretty much completely gone. On the other hand…it’s totally starting up in my left hip, no joke! But at least this time I know exactly what’s going on and I’ve been able to keep it at bay – it’s definitely not getting worse. One new-ish thing I’m dealing with is really tight hamstrings. I guess it’s all just from overuse. I’m trying to keep them loose and stretched but it’s actually a challenge for me to just bend down after a run to untie my shoelaces! So that’s something I need to work on.
Along those lines, I have been doing a ton of yoga – the week before Christmas, I took 3 classes! I’ve been able to go on my lunch break to the franchise of my gym just a few blocks from my office, and since it’s such a low-intensity workout, I come out of the gym looking reasonably human, vice my usual post-workout sweaty and gross state! Yoga has been interesting – I don’t find it as boring as I used to, which is a good thing, but it’s been frustrating because I feel like I’m doing so much of it, so frequently, but it’s taking FOREVER to feel improvements! I know a lot of runners struggle with yoga and flexibility in general because their muscles are so tight, so I’m trying to cut myself some slack, but I’m just sort of mystified and annoyed that I still find so many poses so challenging. Something to continue working on in 2016, I suppose!
And speaking of the new year – well, for one, I was sad to see 2015 go! Running that marathon is still hands-down the coolest thing I’ve ever, ever done, and it’s crazy to me to think that when this year started it was just a pipe dream. I remember in late January chatting with a friend about running and telling him that I’d been doing some respectable distances – if he hadn’t suggested signing up for the half marathon I ran in April, I never in a million years would have entered the lottery for Chicago! So I’m sad to see 2015 go because it just felt like a year of such a significant achievement. And it was pretty great to lose weight in the process!
So my 2016 game plan is as follows: plan on running a half marathon here on January 23 and see how I feel. I’ve been training for it for the past few weeks; last week I ran 10 at home and felt great. My one hesitation in actually registering for this race is the weather! As much as I love the idea of getting another race under my belt (and getting another medal, haha), I do NOT care enough about either to run in super cold and/or windy temperatures. It will not surprise anyone to know that this particular race doesn’t exactly sell out, so I can keep my eye on the calendar and the long-range forecast and make more of a game-time decision.
If I am able to run that race, I’d like to take the rest of the winter/spring off from training, and focus instead on running much shorter distances, with less frequency. This way if my poor little left hip really is in bad shape, it’ll have plenty of time to fully recover.
And a full recovery is needed, because I REALLY want to train for another marathon this summer! Just like all the runner blogs and articles I’ve read predicated, all my memory of struggling through those middle miles on October 11 has faded fast, and now I want another chance to run 26.2 – but faster and stronger. And possibly with new scenery: I am going to enter the lottery for the New York City marathon! It’s really unlikely I’ll get in because they just don’t have the space to accommodate all requests, but I’m going to try. And if that doesn’t pan out, I can still try to get back into Chicago for the fall. And if THAT doesn’t work, I can always link up with a charity and get in that way.
So I’ve got some ideas, we’ll just see what happens. I guess at this point I’m fairly confident that I’ll be able to do the training runs again – but my body really has to cooperate with me. I’ll never improve if I’m cutting runs short or missing them entirely due to injury. And it’s not even just the hip pain or the tight hamstrings; I REALLY have to get my stomach issues under control. That was one part of the marathon that I knew I needed to work on – I thought I’d devised a decent fueling plan but I was really playing it by ear and I know I could have done a better job. Just a few weeks ago I had a 9-mile run; the run itself was absolutely fine but my stomach was a wreck. On the other hand, I felt completely fine during my 10-miler at home and again this morning during my 8-mile run. I need to get a better handle on what triggers my tummy issues and I need to balance being cautious about what I eat and appropriately fueling my run. If I eat or drink nothing, typically my stomach is okay, as you’d expect, but my run suffers because I don’t have enough energy. So like I said – must find that balance.
I’d also really like to lose more weight. I’ve read about these correlations between extra pounds and extra minutes per mile, so I know if I’m smaller I’ll be a bit faster. I am really relieved that I’ve been able to keep off the weight I lost, especially over the holidays, but I still have a lot that can go. Right now, though, I’m just going to focus on eating well and watching my carbs and sugar, vice starting up with my nutritionist again. I want to take a slow and moderate approach. This holiday season was the first ever where I felt like a “normal” eater – because I did allow indulgences but I did not feel guilty afterwards. I felt calm – like, sure, the numbers on the scale are going up but I’m confident I can get back on track and watch them go down. So far, so good. Let’s see how I can do with this approach, especially if I do follow through on my plan to loosen up on running a bit!
As far as regular exercise, I absolutely want to continue with yoga and I’m happy to be back with my conditioning and interval classes. I think I want to try a real CrossFit class, just to see what it’s like! Last year I took a sample boxing class and loved it, so it would be fun to try something new this winter too.
I will have a few challenges along the way. For starters, like I said, I absolutely need to get my body back in order, and that’s where the yoga and fewer miles come in. For my diet, I know what I need to do – I just don’t always do it, haha. 🙂 In general, though, it’s the travel that I do for work and for fun that I’ll need to be very mindful of. I already have work trips to Europe in February and March, and am planning on at least one fun trip next month as well. I love to travel but it is disruptive, so it’s definitely the X factor in how I can follow through on my plan. This year I was really good about squeezing in workouts on all of my trips, so I know it can be done – I just have to do it!
I guess the other big factor is attitude, right? Lately I have been feeling really good and somewhat optimistic about my diet and exercise, but I know I’m cyclical – I can get really down on myself too. The one lesson I learned in 2015 was resilience – I still remember the day of my 18-miler run, when I barely got in 3 miles and quit in tears. I was in so much pain and was so ready to throw in the towel. But instead I went straight to the gym and swam some laps in the pool, figuring that some fitness was better than none. And that was pretty much my mindset with regards to my injury – if I couldn’t run, I’d at least do something. And when the scale wasn’t looking so good, thankfully my nutritionist was able to help me keep things in perspective. Training and dieting both take vigilance, but I know the importance of relaxing the reins a bit – I just need to keep that in mind.
I guess that’s about it for now! I am going to try to insert some pics now, to liven this thing up and bring some personality to my blog! The first is at the starting line of the marathon (with a woman from my training group), and the second one is from Christmas Eve!