Running Goals and Updates

img_0833Just thought I’d do an update about life, in general, and some of my running plans for 2016.

The kids have finished their first full week back to school.  Things are particularly busy for my oldest because she is a junior and there are so many “behind the scenes” things that a college-bound junior needs to be working on – ACT/SAT testing and prep, researching colleges, etc.  She is also heavily involved with the drama department at her school and getting ready for the musical this spring.  My boy turns 15 today!  We had a fun img_0931family dinner at Benihana last night to celebrate.  He has had a bummer of a time lately since he tore his shoulder labrum within the first few weeks of high school wrestling practice.  He has been going to physical therapy several times a week since img_0929Thanksgiving.  He was cleared by the PT and then the orthopedic surgeon to resume workouts (but not actually wrestling).  He planned to work out with the football team but a big coaching change – across the board – has pretty much frozen the football program for now, so he is doing what he can with the wrestling workouts.  And, my youngest daughter is one week away from starting the new Trampoline & Tumbling season – with her first meet next weekend here in town.  Then 3 days later, we fly to Dallas for the Dallas T&T Cup in Allen, TX.  I’m really looking forward to that because I’ll get to see my friends from college (again!) and be in some familiar territory.  And, as always, I love to see my baby girl fly on the trampoline!

As for me, I’m doing really well with tracking my calories on MyFitnessPal.  I’m using some meal replacements but also keeping track of my regular meals and trying to hold my calories around 1400 per day for now.  On days when I exercise a lot, I’ll give myself a little wiggle room with that, especially since I wear my heart rate monitor and have a pretty good idea about what I’ve burned.  The scale is moving back down and I’m seeing Dr. Z on Thursday.

In other big news, I got my braces off this week!  Yay!  The total process took less than a year, and probably would have been just 6-9 months if I had used the metal braces on both the top and the bottom.  My bottom metal braces came off months ago but my img_0904orthodontist has left the bumps for the Invisalign trays on top and having me continue to wear that for a long time to work on just one tooth that wasn’t moving where he wanted it.  So, on Thursday, he decided he had it as close as he was going to get – and I agreed.  They put a fixed permanent retainer on the back of my top teeth (I had one placed on my bottom teeth months ago) and I have plastic retainers I’m supposed to sleep with.  I’m really happy with my straight teeth!!  Hopefully they’ll last me another 45 years.

I am not big on making New Year’s resolutions, but I do like to give some thought to some things I’d like to get accomplished in the year.  I actually started thinking about this as the end of the training cycle is approaching for the half marathons I had scheduled.

So, an update as to where I am with the running … I ran with PhoenixFit on the canals of south Scottsdale for most of the fall.  When the temperatures started dropping (it has been unseasonably cold this winter so far), however, I started chickening out and sleeping in – choosing to run a bit later in the day in my own neighborhood.  For the most part, I kept up with their mileage on the schedule every weekend.  I did let the week day mileage slip after the half marathon in Vegas back in November.  I’m learning that running multiple races during a training plan (designed for just one race) messes me up.  It is also hard to get those weekly runs in while also keeping up with the strength training at the gym – something else that I have committed to.  So, for the most part, I do the long runs on the weekend and then run on the gym treadmill the other 3 days a week.  At least on the treadmill, I am doing some interval work and/or working on speed (which I’ll get back to shortly).

Anyway, next weekend will be my 7th half marathon and a return to the race that was my 1st half 3 years ago – the Rock n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon.  Unfortunately, I still have not made much progress with getting any faster or better at the half marathon distance (see above excuses) but a finish is a finish.  I will say, I’m consistent – my past 6 half marathons have been within the same 15 minute finish window of time.  I think rather than let it frustrate me any more, I will just be happy that I am consistently finishing them and no longer let the chip time determine how I feel.  If I just quit running that far, then I would lose out on the experiences and fitness that goes along with training and running that far.

But, I am tiring of the half marathon distance and feel I need to shake things up for the rest of the winter/spring.  The long runs also tend to make my knees and legs a bit too stiff for good strength training when I hit them gym again on Mondays.  So I am now (already, because I’m impatient like that) working on my next “project”.  I am have decided to tackle the sub 30 minute 5K, a goal that has been on my running bucket list for far too long.  I’ve had a hard time tackling this in the past.  I believe it all comes down to a need to building up my mental toughness.  I, admittedly, probably don’t push myself hard enough when I’m running.  My heart rate seems to shoot up really fast and I get scared and back off.  To be honest, I’m still not really sure how high and how long I should let it climb but I haven’t passed out yet, or come close, so I’m probably just fine.  Maybe because it has been getting elevated and I’ve been working on pushing through it more often during strength training, but I guess now I’m a bit more comfortable with working on that aspect when I’m running too.  I know there are probably better ways to go about this but the plan I have come up with is to use the treadmill for two reasons…one, I’m regularly right next to 50 of them when I am at the gym and already sweaty from strength training and two, the consistent speed and numbers in my face are helpful at this point.  I realize in a race situation I will need to take the treadmill running to the street but seeing as I am still putting in plenty of road miles, this won’t be completely foreign – the mental challenge and having to follow the pace on my Garmin will be new though – but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

When I came up with my plan back in November, I could (somewhat) comfortably run about 0.5 miles at 6.3mph pace on the treadmill (the pace I need to run a 5K – 3.1 miles in under 30 minutes).  I decided to increase my distance by 0.1 miles every week, hopefully running each distance 2x during the week.  Breaking it down like this really helps me mentally.  If I have a reasonable goal in mind when I start running, I can usually reach it.  img_0909If it is too difficult, I will quit on myself.  So, incrementing pretty slowly is giving me some confidence back.  So, I am happy to report that, as of this week, I am already up to 1.1 miles at 6.3mph!  Every time I reach the new distance, I am really proud of myself.  I, honestly, haven’t had this sense of accomplishment in a really long time – and I’m getting it a couple of times a week.  I really think this will carry over and help my distance running at some point too.

So, just like long distance running when you are up to running 2 miles and 13.1 seems impossible, I am trying not to project my anxiety out much further than the next 1/4 mile or so because running 3.1 miles at this pace scares me.  But I’m over one third of the way there now!

My 3 year anniversary of reaching my goal weight and starting maintenance will be in April.  There are several local 5K’s that I am considering registering for and at those I will set my sights on running under 30 minutes.  I am registered for one in early February and I’ll try to run at least as far as I can at that time on the treadmill in the race environment to see how that feels.   I know that my weight impacts my speed as well so I’m shooting for being back down at my goal weight in April too – something I’ve strived for when that annual mark rolls around.

I’m also registered for a ‘2016 miles in 2016’ challenge through Run the Year with 2 other women (so we split the mileage) from the From Fat to Finish Line Group (they also both happen to live in Arizona).  This is a manageable amount of weekly miles to accomplish – but it is still going to require some dedication.

So, that’s what I’m up to.  Always room for improvement but I’m proud that I’ve remained extremely consistent for a very long time now, while adding in some new challenges here and there to keep it fresh.

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