Friday, February 26, 2010

The Graduate

Today, I graduated from Physical Therapy for the 2nd time in a year. This time felt infinitely different from the last time in every way. I'm feeling strong, hopeful and excited for the future.

My PT taught me the best trick today. You know those expensive stick massager things that they sell in fancy running stores for sore leg muscles? Use a rolling pin instead. We all know I own at least one of those!


I also talked with her about my pace. She confirmed my suspicion that I'm getting ahead of myself a bit. If I need to continue running 14 or 15-minute miles while I build up my endurance, it's more than okay. It's going to take time... a lot of time... to get up to a "socially acceptable" speed after an entire sedentary lifetime. Luckily, I'm doing this right. Safely and slowly, in ways that will minimize my potential for injury. I have plenty of time, and am setting very manageable goals. Also, since I'm technically training for a half marathon, my head should be wrapping itself more around distance than speed at this point.

She gave me a few drills to use occasionally to make my form and pace more efficient, and we talked about paces per minute and all kinds of technical things that I'm not quite ready for. Almost, but not quite. For now, my goal is to finish out the Couch to 5k feeling strong, and just in time for our first 5k, coming up in just a few weeks!

I'll finish up with a funny story: This morning when my PT asked me "are you ready to graduate?" I started a lengthy rant about how June can't come soon enough. Turns out she meant graduate from PT. Yeah.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I had to take a week off from running. Had a cold. It was bad. Funny how much more frustrating being sick can be when it interferes with a training plan! I'm back to life now and started back with Couch to 5k today.

I decided to play it safe and repeat Week 6. It's a tiny bit disappointing to have to redo some of the progress I made, but I know that being conservative with this decision was the right choice for my body, because it still kicked my ass (6.1 was the workout that nearly killed me last time too. Funny).

Usually, when it's raining, we still run outside on our beloved trail. But tonight, it was pouring. Pouring rain is pretty rare around here; intermittent drizzle to slightly-more-than-drizzle is typical. So Andy and I headed to the gym and ran on the treadmill.

I've worked out on treadmills before, and have felt indifferent to them in the past, but I did NOT enjoy that workout. Maybe it's because my body was getting used to running again after a break, but I don't think the treadmill's for me. It seemed so much harder on my body... granted we usually run on a wonderfully cushy bark path! Even though I set the speed at a pace that I knew was a bit slower than I usually run, I felt like I was going uncomfortably fast. Plus, running outside provides inherent distraction and entertainment. Having such easy access to the timer ticking right in front of me did bad things to my mind and made my workout a lot more challenging.

I'm not opposed to running at the gym in the future; it's definitely better than skipping a workout (especially since I definitely don't get my money's worth out of my gym membership). Some people are treadmill runners and some people are outdoor runners, and I definitely know now which one suits me! Thursday's looking warmer with lighter rain, so hoping to get back to the grind for real.

My new goal is to work on my stride. I run really slowly, and Andy has a theory that it has to do with how I'm lifting my legs (or not). Learning how to be the most efficient with my energy is really important to me, but I also don't want to get ahead of myself. I'm still training my heart and lungs to support me. I do know that my pace is absurdly slow though; recently a guy walking on the fast side of average passed me. Embarrassing.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Sound of Music

Tonight I completed Couch to 5k, Week 6 Day 2! I'm so glad to report that I didn't have a repeat of Sunday's aversive miserableness. This was another easy-ish one (run 10 minutes, walk 3, run 10), in preparation for this Thursday's crazy obstacle, running 25 minutes straight.

Reality check: 10 minutes twice is easy-ish? Wow.
I haven't written much about the music I run to. I made a playlist of about 65 songs, and put it on shuffle when I run. It definitely keeps me going, and can't imagine running without it (at this point).

It's mostly random, often bordering on embarrassing (I'm training for a race at Disney World; the Lilo & Stitch theme is perfectly acceptable!). I love reading about the music that inspires others' workouts, so in case you're curious, here are my 10 of my favorite workout songs, in no particular order:

Barrel of a Gun, Guster
Love Me Do, The Beatles
Dancing in the Dark, Bruce Springsteen
O Valencia!, The Decemberists
We Both Go Down Together, The Decemberists
You Can Call Me Al, Paul Simon
Anna Ng, They Might Be Giants
Doctor Worm, They Might Be Giants
Dirty World, Traveling Wilburys
Bitch Went Nuts, Ben Folds

As you can tell, I don't tend to seek out the hip hop-type music that is really common on a lot of workout playlists these days, but I'm always open to suggestions!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

Today was Week 6, Day 1 of Couch to 5k.

After last week's final workout, where I ran 20 minutes straight, these next few are a little easier, designed as a recovery of sorts. So today, my runs were 5 minutes, 8, then another 5. Starting out, I was confident that it would be a nice easy workout, after feeling so great last time.

Not so much.

Today was one of the most challenging workouts I've had since starting. I felt awful the whole time. Tight, sore, and mostly just dragging. Energy was nowhere to be found. I wanted to stop and walk more times than I can count, but the important thing was that I didn't! I kept going even through my misery, and I'm really proud of myself for that.

But afterwards, I felt so defeated, and had a hard time letting go of the unpleasantness of my workout. I realized after talking it through with Andy that it must have been related to the time of day (we went at noon, but usually go around 7 pm) and, even more than that, what I had eaten so far this morning (a blueberry muffin and a few sips of a latte, vs. my usual whole day of nourishment).

I learned an important lesson today. My training is going to be filled with a lot of short-term ups and downs, and so far I have a really small sample size to compare each of my workouts to. As I keep going with this routine, I know that I'll be seeing long-term "ups" despite these short-term challenges. That's what's going to keep me going when I have days like this.

I have another really busy week coming up, and my goal is to do my PT exercises at least twice on my running off-days. Now that I'm putting it on the internet, I have to do it!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Couch to 5k, Week 5: Check!

Hi my name is Amy and I just ran for 20 minutes straight!

Monday, February 8, 2010


As I've mentioned before, I adore my PT. I give her most of the credit for my recovery from a serious back injury last year, and as a running specialist she's helped me so much in the last couple of months as I've started out on this journey.

Since my knee sprain is healed and we're wrapping up our time together, she did some post-testing last week to compare my current strength to my baseline numbers in mid-December. She tested maybe a half a dozen muscles on the right and left sides, and I'm happy to report that virtually all of the tests she did were off the charts. On a few of them, I was even too strong for her to keep pushing, I would have knocked her over!

Since I've started running, I haven't lost weight and haven't seen too much of a positive change in my body (yet). I know these things take time, and I'm not disappointed or impatient, I know it'll happen eventually if I keep going at this pace, which I plan on doing. But to see such huge, tangible gains in strength was really, really empowering in the meantime.

In other numbers news, my official results from the Truffle Shuffle!

-I finished the 2-mile race in 28:06 (14:03-mile pace). My goal was to finish in 30:00, so I'm thrilled.
-I was #33 out of 82 in my age group, Females 25-29. Really? REALLY?? There were a lot of walkers, so I'm sure that's why it looks so good, but I've never come in anything other than last in a race before. Pretty cool.

One last note~ thank you so, so, so, so much for your comments on yesterday's post. I'm really grateful to have you all in my life.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I've been staring at Blogger for about an hour now, trying to figure out how to start this post. Bullet points, perhaps?

- We ran our first race, the 2-mile Truffle Shuffle this morning.
- I set a goal for myself of finishing in 30 minutes (having not yet run a sub-15 minute mile. ever.) I finished in 28-something. Will know my official time soon.
- I sobbed uncontrollably afterwards. I was a little incredulous that I finished, and that I finished so quickly.

- It was a stunning day. Cloudy when we got there, but the sun and blue skies came out for the run.
- My whole body hurts, and I have a ridiculous headache, either from my pigtail buns, dehydration from our post-race hot tub soak, or a little of both. But it's okay! It's the good kind of pain, and we're about to go have Thai food!
- During the race, I actually forgot about the finish-line truffles (from local company Euphoria Chocolate), so it was the best surprise ever when Andy reminded me. We got to choose from cherry, milk, dark, or mint. Andy had cherry, I had milk, and it was the best thing I've ever tasted.

Truffles, Shuffled

- As I neared the finish line, there were tons of spectators lining both sides of the road, all cheering on the runners. I think that's what made me cry.. it was so nice!
- Right before I crossed the finish line, the announcer said my name! They look up bib numbers and randomly give shout-outs to people finishing. I don't know if this is common at races, but it made me feel like a million bucks.
- I cannot wait to keep training, and to tackle our first 5k, the Lucky Clover at Dorris Ranch in March. It's a trail race, which I'm especially excited for.

- I can't believe I just ran in a race. I don't really know who this new Amy is yet, but I think I really like her.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Baby Steps

This past Sunday, I started Week 4 of Couch to 5k. That meant running 3 minutes, then 5, then 3 and 5 again, with a bit of walking in between each run. 5 MINUTES?! Twice?? Well, I did it.

After the first 5 minute run, I felt really ill. Overcome by nausea and my heart beating out of my chest in a really unpleasant way. I paused my workout and walked slowly til the nausea subsided. I could have just turned around and gone home, but I stayed. I finished the workout, but felt a bit like I was run over by a truck afterwards.

Yesterday, Workout 4.2... it was still hard, but infinitely easier than 4.1. No nausea, no discomfort, just extreme challenge and a huge surge of pride and thrill when it was over. I had another experience, similar to workouts past, when I just did not want to go, but did it anyways, and am so glad I did. I even tried to weasel my way out of it and postpone it a day. But the rain held off, my pinchy stress headache went away (temporarily), and I went out there and did it.

Baby Steps

The best part of last night's run was being able to keep pace with Andy. He's getting over being sick, so he slowed down his normal pace (which is probably at least twice as fast as mine), but I can tell I'm getting faster, and we were able to run side by side for portions of the workout when our runs coincided. It was the greatest feeling, when Ollie wasn't trying to trip us.

After tomorrow's run, I will have completed one of my 101 in 1001 goals: exercise 3x/week for 4 weeks straight. I can't wait to cross that one off my list!

And in this week's biggest news.....

This Sunday is our first race!

The Truffle Shuffle is a 2-miler, perfect for my introduction to the racing world. It's a benefit for the local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter, and is sponsored by a local chocolate company-- truffles for all at the finish line!

I'm not expecting to run 2 miles straight (obviously, I'm just now going for 5 minutes at a time), but I'm looking forward to pushing myself and getting acquainted with how it feels to run with a huge crowd of excited, healthy strangers.