MarathonMaiden's Blog

June 14, 2010

Buddy Run

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — marathonmaiden @ 09:00

Whew. Whirlwind weekend for sure! Hope everyone had a good weekend! Mine was pretty good despite all the studying.  Or maybe in spite of it.  As I’ve said before: the more comfy I get with the material the less I dread doing it.

I had grandiose plans about not turning on my computer all weekend.  And it almost worked until about 1600 when I wanted to upload all the MCAT study work I had been doing in my notebook onto the computer.  I know! I should be doing 100% of the MCAT work on the computer because it’s a computerized based test but the only thing I do in my notebook are the practice problems at the end of the chapters because I’m taking notes.  Everything else is done to mimic the actual test as closely as possible.  I figure if part of my problem is test anxiety then I need to do lots of computer based stuff that looks like the real deal BUT also do a little bit in my comfort zone so I can keep the confidence up.

And wow I did not mean to ramble about the test.  Haha oops.  I guess when you deal with something so intensely it’s hard for it to leave your brain!

Which is why I having running.  And doubles.  A couple of you suggested doing something non-running to give myself those breaks during the study day.  Yoga was the big one.  Honestly? I’ve never been attracted to yoga.  Totally not my type.  I’ve tried it before and I really *want* to like it but I get angry and aggressive and downright pissed off every time I do yoga.  Kind of counter intuitive, no?  But I keep going back to it every once in awhile thinking that this time will be different haha.  The definition of insanity right?

I had another friend suggest re-watching LOST from the beginning but I quickly nixed that as I wouldn’t be able to stop at one season episode.  I have started reading the new Dan Brown book “The Lost Symbol”. It’s a Robert Langdon book so if you liked Angel and Demons or The DaVinci Code you’ll likely enjoy this one. I’m about 100 pages in and I’m lovin’ it so far.  But, like LOST, I’m always at risk of spending too much time with it so I’ve been regulating it to before bed when my eyes will dictate how much is enough and I can quit thinking about meiosis or hydrocarbon reactions.

So I do have my outlets.  Just the only physical one is running right now.  Rebecca just had a good post on why running is the best activity ever. And in terms of my studying running is the only activity for me 🙂

Which means that I’m still running a lot.

BUT good news: the knee is okay! As is the rest of my body.  I never really would have classified it as an injury.  More like a pre-injury.  Because my quad, hammy and calf were all a little mad at me and that translated to my knee being cranky.  But some tender love and care fixed that.  I did get a major Charlie Horse in my ENTIRE left leg on Saturday night because of the tightness but that is resolved now.  I’m a little sore because of it and it hurt like nothing I’ve ever experienced.  But the knee is a-okay.

What helped? Well obviously the icing, stretching and ibuprofen.  BostonRunner also gave me these exercises that she does/did to help her knee pain and I’m tacking them onto the PT exercises I already do.  I definitely think that the problem is  muscle imbalance which is easily correctable.

Rather than bore you with every run I’ve done since my last post, because at some point they all feel the same, especially if they’re the study break kind, I’m going to mention the one I did on Sunday because it was a BUDDY RUN.

First off: I’m always nervous about running with others.  Sure I’ve known this girl for a long time (we were running buddies in high school) but still.  I always wonder if I’m not going fast enough/holding her back or if I’m going too fast and she’s just too polite to say so.  But these worries are always unfounded. Guess I’m just a worrywart.

We ended up doing our standard M.O. for the buddy runs: a “nice” 10 miler through our town.  I say “nice” because there is a stretch where we have to run by / on a highway.  Scary yes but there is a sidewalk.  The rest of the run is really nice though.

What I really loved about the run was that the conversation just flowed.  Sometimes we don’t speak at all during the run, other times we can’t shut up. Today was the latter.  I can’t even remember what we talked about exactly but I’m sure we covered: MCAT, applying to med school, our plans for the next year and I’m pretty sure we had a debate/discussion (because we really were advocating the same thing so it wasn’t a true debate) on responsibility in the medical field as well as the college scene.  Not that we talked all about serious stuff.  There was definitely mention of clothing and partying.

Because we were talking the whole time, our pace kind of dropped a bit.  The average was just under 9 and I could tell that she was a bit disappointed with that.  I was too.  BUT we did have a progressive run and finished really strong.  Well sort of strong.  At the 9.5 mile mark we discussed tacking on some more and as soon as I agreed to do so my legs just went to lead! Funny how that works.  We still finished at a great pace / feeling but I was like, oh man if I hadn’t said anything so early about being willing to do more I KNOW my legs would have held up.  But 10 is still good.  So I’m happy 🙂

I do want to mention pacing before I wrap this up.  I mentioned that a 9 pace was a bit on the eh side.  So funny because, if you recall, during marathon training I was ecstatic to hit that.  But with my pace dropping lately, my mind has gotten accustomed to running sub-9s without though.  I still plan for the 9 pace but secretly, well not so secretly anymore, think that sub-9 is where I need to be.  It’s like my mind still gets shocked that I can run faster than a 9 pace but as soon as my legs go back it’s all “WTF? I need you to go fast”. Guess that’s just how life is: the bar is constantly changing to a new norm and the old norm seems weird and outdated.  Nothing terribly important in that musing except that I’m sure many of you guys struggle with fast vs. slow and the relativity between them.

Hope everyone enjoys….Monday? I can’t keep track of what day of the week it is anymore! Even though I’m taking a course I still can’t really tell what day it is because I’m not on such a regular school / work schedule.  As it stands, aside from studying I’m doing the random babysitting gig so that’s not even regular!

And I know I told myself that I wasn’t going to do any type of work this summer buttttt I need money.  Badly. And the kids were good plus they went to bed early so I didn’t have to do anything awful and got to read / study after they went to bed.  Win/Win 🙂

June 12, 2010

Poppies Will Put Them To Sleep. Sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — marathonmaiden @ 09:00

So yesterday (Friday) I did something I NEVER do.  I ignored my alarm and slept for an extra hour.  Rather than go to the gym and get some lifting in.  Who am I?!  Seriously. And there was nothing poppy induced about my sleep either 😉

Clearly my mind and body wanted the extra rest (GO CELTICS! WHOO HOO! <— equals why I was up so late Thursday night) but it’s not like I even feel more rested or anything at the moment.  My brain was all foggy all morning.  Not so good when you have mountains of studying to do.

The extra weird thing is that I don’t feel guilty about it.  Not that I should.  Like I’ve said (and practically preached) before: sleep = good and NECESSARY to life.  But in the past not sticking to a regimented schedule has left me feeling all lost and…well bad.  I’m semi-regretting my decision only because I know that a good lifting session would have woken me up but oh well.  Nothing I can do now and I was productive on other sorts of things that morning.  You know the little things that add up to lots to do.

Can you tell that despite not feeling really guilty I’m still justifying? Hahahaha.  Work in progress I guess 😉

But I still got some studying in as well as those other things.  The strange thing is with my studying (and thanks for all the positive thoughts with it) is that, as time goes on and I get further and further into the course, the more I actually look forward to studying.  Well maybe not the studying in and of itself but I’m loving that I feel *in control* of the situation. There’s something just so satisfying about obtaining mastery on a topic.  While I don’t profess to be know everything (and to be honest even when I was taking the pre-med courses I definitely didn’t know anything either) the cobwebs are being lifted.

Maybe that’s why I decided to go for an actual long run on Friday rather than split it up like I have been doing.  Or maybe it’s the weather.  It was rainy the past few days and bam: the sun + 60* = great running weather.  Whatever the reason I figured that a long run would be what was going down.

And it was a semi-success. I kept thinking to myself how crazy I was to attempt a 12 miler with the longest run I’ve done in the past few weeks being 8.   I also was thinking how *long* 12 miles seemed.  I think that even though last week I ran so many miles over the course of 7 days it really didn’t feel like that much because each run was short.  So I guess I wasn’t really worried about physically finishing the run as mentally holding on.  Interestingly enough that wasn’t the way it worked.

I kept an 8:35 pace through the first 11 miles and it felt great (compare to the 9:10+ that I tended to average during marathon training!).  The sun was darting in and out of the clouds, the weather was cool but not cold.  The conditions were damn near perfect.  And not only was the pace really good but the miles just rolled by and before I knew it I was at mile 8 (which was the end of route 1 — for a lot of my long runs I combine routes) and about to start the “second half” of my run.  So mentally I was in the game.

But during the last mile my left knee started really bugging me.  Almost like tendinitis pain but I think it’s linked to a tight quad and hammy in the left leg as those muscles were getting sore and extra tight during that last mile.  I’m sure it’s nothing serious (and despite the leg getting all tight my overall pace for the 12 miles was still 8:37.  Not too shabby).  Nothing that ice, ibuprofen and stretching can’t cure (all of which I did right after the run).  As well as making a much larger effort too keep overall mileage down.  Last week was insane and I let it get that way because I was “just doing short runs”.  Clearly they add up and there’s a cumulative effect.

That said, I don’t want to blame the mileage entirely as I know sleeping patterns, eating patterns and stress patterns all play a role too and they’ve been, well, let’s just say studying the past few days has really taken precedent.  Plus I know now that jumping straight into 12 miles without having done anything serious in terms of distance might not be the greatest choice.  10% rule what?

The rest of Friday was basically study study study.  You know my life. I did get to watch Sherlock Holmes with my sister, and using the numbering system that would be K3.  I saw it on opening day but Robert Downey Jr is HOT.

And because studying is a full time job I was doing my flashcards.  I view them like strength training in terms of my studying “training cycle”. You know: full lengths and other types of my practice tests = endurance work (I mean the test is 5.5 hours long). And rapid fire discreet questions and my flashcards are like speedwork/strength.

But anyway I digress.  Studying is going to be what today is too.  Maybe a run (or two) but we’ll see how the knee feels.  It was a little cranky Friday night after sitting down for so long but the stretching really helped and it’s totally not feeling as irritable as yesterday.  I’ll likely call up my massage therapist and try to schedule a session in next week too.

Check out these giveaways: One, Two, Three, Four.  All from Mel because she’s awesome 🙂

June 10, 2010

Three Things Thursday

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — marathonmaiden @ 14:09

Or really four because, sorry Erika, the number 3 (as well as all even oops I meant *odd*! — thanks Chelsea! numbers) bugs me. A lot.

So I don’t know who started this (or even if in the internet age we can attribute it to only one person) BUT since I’m so swamped I can’t write an original, mind blowing and creative post I decided to steal this idea as a template 🙂

  • Studying is taking over my life.  I HATE that I can’t blog or comment on yours as much as I used to. And I hate that after going out last weekend I realized that going out is a biiiiiiiiiig no-no.   I need the time to study.  But the plus side is that I really feel like I’m grasping concepts in the way that the MCAT needs me to.  Note: I didn’t say grasping concepts as a whole.  That’s because I do already know this stuff (I mean I took year long classes on it!) but I need to reteach my brain how to think like an MCAT person or even teach my brain to study.  Because I do not know how.  But my brain *hurts* at the end of the day and I feel productive.  Which is nice 🙂
  • I’m 99.99% sure I have a place to live next year for my job! My roommate (god bless her for doing all the apartment searching work!) found a killer place and after some drama with a third roommate dropping out and then scrambling to find another because the place was TOO GOOD to pass up, we probably have plans.  Which is exciting.  So keep your fingers crossed for us!
  • Strawberries are soooooooooooooooo good. Like X good. Yesterday I ate an entire quart with my lunch and today I did the same.  Thank god that my mom works at a farm stand and we can pick our own.  And since they’re from a farm stand they aren’t the genetically-modified-to-be-as-big-as-my-head.  They’re nice and small and I eat too many for it to be a good thing for my wallet.
  • Running is  cyclical.  I knew it was going to bite me in the butt after writing so much about how running was kicking ass.  I know that I’m not crashing or burning or anything like that (and even my pace is still faster than what I’d consider normal and it’s so much fun to see how naturally fast I can go in the second session).  But the feeling of the stars aligning is gone and I’m back to being mere mortal.  Bummer.

So that’s all I got for you! Hope everyone is having a great Thursday.  Mine has been studying so far (I’m being so “bad for blogging right now haha) but I’m going to get a quasi-long run in before my MCAT course tonight.  So no double. It’s funny how much I’ve been looking forward to them!

June 7, 2010

How [Double] Running Can Rock: Low(er) Mileage, Shorter Runs & Sleep

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — marathonmaiden @ 15:00

If you didn’t catch the first few pieces of “How Running Can Rock” I talked about: double runs, carbs and no/low stress.

I have some other idea of why my running (and running in general) can be all happy but they aren’t really anything scientific or something I can really elaborate on. And it just occurred to me how self-serving this post series is.  Like, I’m going to just shout from the rooftops how awesome I am.  Oh well I guess I like bragging 🙂

So in bullet form…

  • Low mileage.  WHOA did I just say low mileage? Yes. And why? Because, if there’s one thing I learned in physics it’s that everything is relative. My mileage right now, while still in the 60s and nearing 70, is nowhere near the level I was at during marathon training.  AKA I’m no longer logging 100 mile weeks.  My legs like that.
  • Optimal mileage. I’m not saying that 70 miles is what you need to do in order to run well.  Au contraire.  For lots of people this may be too much and will lead to injury.  To others it may not be enough.  It’s all about finding the *key mileage* that works for you.  Granted I do have lots of “free time” (or put better: unscheduled time) so I can put in my best mileage and I’m usually just sitting around all day save for my runs.  If you were working, say, a construction job, maybe less miles is for you because your legs will be tuckered out from the physical work of the job.

Again, it’s all relative.

Something else that’s all relative?

  • The length of each individual run.  I’ve been doing several shorter runs over the course of the day and there’s no longer that barrier of mega runs.  Don’t get me wrong: I never really dreaded doing that double digit streak or anything but there’s something daunting about knowing you’ll be out running for 2 hours straight of running.  And that can wear you down mentally (and likely create stress in life).  Not the case with shorter runs and I’ve often found that 30-45 or even 60 minute runs just fly by so fast.
  • Not taking 329423947983274 miles to feel warmed up.  It’s a double edge sword though because I’ve built up that “tolerance” to the endorphins so often after a 4 miler I don’t feel like I’ve done much but I’m slowly getting my body used to running shorter stuff, I’m already cutting back from the typical 3 miles of warm up to 1 or 2.
  • Sleep.  Since graduating I’ve been sleeping really well.  I think this goes hand-in-hand with low stress / not having to be at a specific place at a specific time.  Sleep is really important too as I’ve written about before and I’ve been working my way out of a sleep debt.  And I don’t think it’s any surprise that sleeping well will lead to better running as it clearly leads to better everything.  (If you didn’t want to click that link sleep = Growth Hormone = repairing muscles)

Anyway those are just some odds and ends that are sort of “duh” statements.  At least I think they are.

And they are all true.  Not exactly a trifecta (because obviously there were more) but each one has contributed lots to my running.  Which has taken up all my “free time” aka when I’m not studying / working on my application.

As proof of such I offer up this past week 31-May to 6-June:

  • 16 different runs (5 doubles, 2 triples.  Minimum distance run: 3.2, Maximum: 8.6)
  • 92.3 miles
  • 8:43 average pace

So first off.  HolyMileage!! As soon as I saw that number when I ran the numbers I immediately freaked out.  I mean, running that much is good and fun but….way too excessive for me right now.  After I calmed down a bit (and yes regained the pride of “Hell Yeah I did that during a crazy busy week”) I freaked out over the pace.  But this time in a good way.  In the time that I’ve been recording my runs and data (just about a year now) I have NEVER had an average pace be that fast when

  1. There was no formal speedwork involved. I did have a run in there that might have been pushed just because of time constriction but there was no plan this week to do anything
  2. My mileage was that high.

I think the only other week close to that was my marathon day week when – duh – I was racing

So I’m pumped on that front.  Don’t worry though, after seeing that many miles I’m cutting back.  Which will be good because then I can dedicate more, yes MORE, time to studying (going full throttle even though I have a long way to go) and essay writing (a big huge THANKS to those of you who have read / are reading my essay).

But interestingly enough my body doesn’t feel like it ran 90 miles.  It really doesn’t.  No aches or pains or shin problems (bladder problems are a different story though 😉 )

And thanks for all the congrats on my job.  I’m really excited about it! I’ve been trying to keep it under wraps and downplay it a bit but…yeah I’m wicked stoked.  It’s not really a “real” job though: I joined the AmeriCorps VISTA program.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the program, it’s like the Peace Corps except for the USA.  The goal is to eradicate poverty.

Which means that I’m taking on a year of service.  At the federal poverty level a very modest income.  I don’t want to share too many details (I know that if someone wants to find out who I am, where I live etc they will do so but I’m not making it easy for them! Plus I don’t really know what I can and can’t say) but I’m working as an IT Development Coordinator at a clinic for patients who do not have any health care.  It’s pretty cool and even though I’m the IT person, I was talking to the current VISTA in the position and she was saying that it’s not heavy tech stuff.  Which is good because I don’t have much tech skillz.  She was also saying that I probably will have more doctor/patient interaction than the position I had initially applied for.  Which is awesome.

Another awesome thing? The fact that I get to go to a Pre-Service Orientation in Philly in mid-July.  That’s pretty awesome but even more awesome? The government is footing 100% of the cost.  Sweet.

Not so awesome? All the paperwork I have to fill out.  Which I should be doing now.  Or studying.  Or something rather than procrastinating 😉

Check out this giveaway from Sarah (The SHU Box)

June 6, 2010

How [Double] Running Can Rock: No Stress & Good Moods

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — marathonmaiden @ 10:00

So in this installment of How Running Can Rock I want to talk about stress level (if you missed it here’s the one about double running and here’s the one about refueling/carbohydrates and how each is helping me run fast).  Clearly there isn’t much we can do about certain kinds of stress, like our bosses yelling and screaming or the amount of homework professors drop on you (although luckily there will be no more of that for me.  I’m a graduate 😛 )

And I know that many of you use running as stress relief (I DEFINITELY do) but I’m writing these posts about when all the stars align and running is just on. And sometimes you can do all things right of your control (refuel, hydrate adequately, rest) but sometimes you just need a period of good old fashioned NO STRESS.

Courtesy of Google Images

Or should I say, low stress.  You see, stress is actually GOOD for the body.  In terms of physical stress, our bones are kept healthy by our pavement pounding, mechanical stress that creates new bone and gets rid of old bone.  And certain chemical stresses (hormones) keep our body functioning properly. Even slight colds putting stress on the body are good because they keep the immune system on their toes (and I think this is what vaccinations do as well).

Mental stress is good in some capacity too.  I’m not talking about debilitating paralyzing stress.  You know, the kind that makes you want to curl up into a ball and cry (not that I know anything about that…) but rather stress that keeps you driven.  If we didn’t have deadlines to meet how would we get anything accomplished? How could we feel proud that we did something and met a goal?

For me, this means being focused.  During the semester, I was running well but I wasn’t running *well*.  Now I’m not quite sure if you can tell over the internet but those two “wells” have different meanings.  Before the semester was over nothing was wrong per se with my running: my paces were good, my body wasn’t hurting etc. I was running solely to burn off my stress.  Which was good and did what it intended too.  But there was no real passion.  No overjoyousness to get out there on the streets and GO.

Ever since the semester ended I’ve been pretty even keeled so running doesn’t need to be my therapy. Yes it still does help me mull over ideas but with no pressure there’s no worries.  I’m a graduate, I have a job (!! I know I haven’t said anything about this but one of the places I interviewed during senior week rejected me for the position I interviewed for but offered me a different one.  And after weighing my options, because I was offered another position too, I decided to take it) and I’m prepping for the MCAT as well as applying to medical school.

Life seems to be moving forward and chugging along quite nicely.

And yes you read that right: prepping for the MCAT is keeping me even-keeled.  But hear me out: with this test I am not at the mercy of a rigid class schedule per se.  I do have my T-R 1830-2130 class but for actual studying I can create my ideal schedule.  Plus what I’m doing right now have a *purpose*.  I’m doing something that really is getting me on the path to Med School.  And that’s exciting. To respond to Jess who, in jest, said “MSB is studying for his first board exam and it’s more like 10-12 hours a day! I hope you know what you’re getting yourself into;)” I say Bring. It. On.

There’s something markedly different in doing something that is your passion vs. doing something because you have too (ahem some of my classes).  I liken it to running vs. lifting for me.  Running clearly is my passion and I LOVE getting out there (well most of the time heh) so even during the Monster Month I didn’t mind putting in the work.  I knew that it was going to get me to my goal of Boston.  But lifting? I knew it was good for me sure but I wasn’t excited to hit the gym all the time.

Another component of the good mood / no stress lifestyle is the weather.

Google Images again

Clearly this is something else we can’t control.  I know that when the sun is out no matter what I’m doing, even stuck in a lab, life is good.  Rainy days just kill motivation.  I’d be interested to see depression studies, if any have been done, comparing people in the Pacific North West and SoCal.  (And I’m NOT saying that PNW has more depressed people or anything just that the image associated there is rain and rain and rain). So I’m lucky that lately these double runs have come on a good stretch of weather.

Okay so what exactly is the point of this and my double running? Well clearly low stress / focused stress = good mood = want to run more.  And sunny skies = good mood = want to run more.  So good moods help with running.  Which is a good thing when you’re lacing up the shoes twice a day.

Now some may say that ANGRY running makes them run fast and well.  Which I agree with to a degree.  I’m not going to go research any studies but, anecdotally, I can say that while my angry runs are fast they tend to blow over fast too.  Like running gets rid of the anger so then the fastness wanes because I’m no longer angry and often, no longer have a desire to go for more.  I could also see running under the influence of anger to be slightly dangerous as there’s the potential to not pay attention to things around and within you (distractions, going out too hard and hurting yourself etc.)

Running will NEVER get rid of happiness so when I start off in a good mood  I’m likely to stay “high” and want to do more.

Unlike the carbohydrate post I posted, this aspect of how double running can rock is more about when the stars align.  Yes there are things that can be done to achieve a low stress / balanced mindset but the best running, for me, comes from a genuine woke-up-on-the-right-side-of-the-bed feeling. I can’t guarantee that the weather is going to be so nice and sunny and warm forever.  I can’t guarantee that my life is only going to have one focus like it does at the moment (aka Operation Get Into Medical School).

June 4, 2010

How [Double] Running Can Rock: Refueling

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — marathonmaiden @ 09:00

I’m so glad that many of you are fans of doubles! It’s sooo nice to know that I’m not the only crazy one 😉

Although sometimes I “feel like I’m taking crazy pills”

Fun Fact: This was the movie I watched the night before my debut marathon

just because I’m putting in soooo much MCAT study time then polishing my application to school etc.  I apologize if my comments have been sparse lately. And replying to emails.  I swear I’m trying to get caught up. I’m thinking I might have my life back at the end of the month so please bear with me! And maybe send some positive vibes my way? Win-Win: I get my life back AND you get to read my witty comments some more 😉

Before I get too far into what I want to talk about I want to say why I’ve kept putting off writing a post about what I eat. It’s for a couple of reasons.

  1. I’d be a terrible food blogger because I’m a) not a foodie by any means and b) I never remember to take pictures of my food.  Seriously. It’s only AFTER I eat my food that I remember I’ve promised to document it for you guys
  2. I hate posts about what people eat during the day.  If it’s for you then great but I can’t stand it.  Sorry.  And that’s not to say I avoid them.  I do read and comment on some blogs like that but they’re few and far between.  If you’re one of the lucky ones then congrats 🙂
  3. My nutrition is a work in progress.  Now I know some of you may think, all the more reason to share.  If it’s “imperfect” or whatnot.  But that’s not really what I mean.  What I mean is that I’m still tinkering around with what works and what doesn’t work for me and my running and feeling my best while training at this level.  So I’d feel weird putting out a day of eats and saying “this is what I do” because I’m not sure if it’s what I need to do or if I’ll keep doing it.

Anyway that was my long-winded justification of saying “I’m not likely to do a Day-In-The–Eating-Life-of-MM” anytime soon.  And I apologize because I said I would.  I feel bad but it’s my blog.  If you’re interested in fueling you can check out my pre, during, and post-run posts I’ve done in the past.

Obviously fueling is really important part of running.  If you don’t have enough fuel you won’t be able to preform optimally.  And those links I’ve linked above are more geared towards one workout in a day, with the ability to have lots of recovery between sessions.

But what about if you’re going to be working out within 4-6 hours after you last peeled off your running shoes?

Well the most important thing that I’ve found is to eat right away.  I know that everyone talks about the “refueling window” but I think it gets too much hype if you’re not training for something or doing intense work or…doing doubles.  So I make sure to eat within 20 minutes of ending my sessions.

I’ve known some people who do tris and “brick” workouts, where they do two training sessions, in different sports, in the same day.  And the principle is basically the same for me doing my doubles, at least if I don’t want to die: nutrition is important.

For me, having *CARBS* is the most important during my refueling window.  Carbs especially.  After I’ve done my first workout of the day (be it lifting, running or XT) my muscles are drained.  And they want energy.  I’ve actually come back from some second runs and been wicked shaky because my muscles were “empty” before hitting the streets again. Like I tried to stand still and my muscles just didn’t have the control to stay in place. Not good and quite scary the very first time it happened.

The biology in a nutshell: carbohydrates:

Molecular structures because I'm a nerd

Yummmmm. And haha this was called "bad carbs" on googleimages

are actually not essential for energy.  Proteins and fats can be broken down (in the lack of carb environment) and then used to live but carbs are the most commonly used “currency” for energy.  This is because cells use glucose to make ATP (cell energy currency) to function.

Carbohydrates are made up starch and sugars.  Basically anything that is a sugar ends in -ose like:

  • glucose
  • galactose
  • fructose
  • sucrose (glucose + fructose)
  • lactose (galactose + glucose) etc.

As you can see there are MANY types of sugars as seen in my molecular structure Figure (can you tell that I’m a scientist now? Figure vs. Picture). And starches, are basically LOTS of sugars bonded together in plant cells as stored energy.  The human / animal equivalent is glycogen but we typically don’t ingest much glycogen in our meats to get energy from it .  In the human body starches  and glycogen are broken down into simple sugars to go into our blood and ultimately our cells for energy.

Many people talk about “good carbs” and “bad carbs” in terms of giving us energy and keeping us fuller longer.  Which is all true.  Our bodies, however, can use the “good” aka complex carbohydrates (the starches, which give us long lasting energy because we have to break the bonds in the carb) and “bad” aka simple carbs (which go straight into the blood stream) in the same way.  Both types provide energy.  But you (and I) need to be smart about when to use each type.

I’m the kind of runner who absolutely CANNOT run with food in my stomach.  Like at least 3 hours post-meal.  But that creates a dilemma: food = gain energy and running = expenditure of energy.

So what I’ve found is to each complex carbs for breakfast, right when I get up.  This provides my stomach time to get rid of it but, since complex carbs have fiber which is hard for the body to digest and takes time it doesn’t ALL go into my system at once and some of it gets stored as glycogen in my muscles.  The energy gets released slowly so that in 3 hours when I go running my body can still perform.  I’ve found that oatmeal works wonders for me but YMMV.

The opposite is true when I *immediately* finish a run.  The important this here is to get those simple carbs in me so that it does get released to my muscles fast.  After a hard workout, or even an easy one but a second session in a few hours, the muscles are depleted of their glycogen storage so there’s nothing for my cells to dip into.  Hence the extreme shaking because my muscle cells were literally being starved for energy.  They needed something immediately and simple sugars are the best way to do that.  For me that could be fruit (fructose) or bread and jam (sucrose) etc.

Not only do my cells get relief but the flooding of carbs into the body also makes the liver start to release enzymes to turn glucose into glycogen which goes back into the muscles to be used during workout numero dos.

Of course, protein and fats and HYDRATION are very important to preform optimally.  For example I put PB on things like whoa  or if I’m running right before lunch it will be a turkey sandwich. But I’ve found that for my double sessions carbohydrates are the most essential and absolutely clutch.

[Disclaimer: I am NOT an expert in this stuff so I may have gotten stuff wrong and the fact that carbs = most important is my *opinion*.  Others may disagree but this has been my experience with my body]

  • fructose

June 2, 2010

How Running Can Rock: Doubles

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — marathonmaiden @ 18:17

Yay for today: National Running Day.  Yes that is today.  June 2nd.  I’m actually surprised I remembered given how I’m trying to limit my internet / blogging / fb/ anything but MCAT/essay time.  But I remembered and did a double today (duh) to celebrate.  Well I’d be doing a double anyway.

So I said in a previous post that I wanted to go into the factors that I believed to be clutch in my running so well (case in point: today’s first run was at 8:42 pace and the second one was at 8:45 which I’m still wrapping my mind around how they feel slow but clearly aren’t).  And I’ve drafted some other posts to go up later this week / weekend (because I have no concept of days so if you take reading blogs hiatuses over the weekend you’re going to miss out 😉 )but I think the crux of this is the double.  Sure, I’m confident that I’d be running well if I wasn’t doing doubles (and I think I was during Senior Week) but I’m starting to really get into them.

Which I think it’s apropos to give you a little background, not JUST on why I do doubles but why people in general should do doubles particularly if you are in training for something.  Maybe not the majority of days of the week but every once in a while.

Physically:

  • Ability to get more miles in.  I think this comes down to basic energy math: is it easier to do one 20 miler or two 10 milers with 4+ hours to recover? Of course if you’re in marathon training the 20 miler has it’s own benefits but running doubles is a great way to overall increase your mileage while not beating up your body too much. As long as you take sufficient steps to recover from each workout.  Ideally you should wait at least 4 hours before going out for run #2 and I would imagine that 6-8 hours (say before and after work?) would be perfect for many people.
  • Higher cardiovascular endurance and running economy.  I think of doubles in terms of intervals.  I know that each run isn’t like each individual interval but rather the overall arch is the same: you run, recovery, run again, recover.  Like intervals, doubles are letting you use less energy to run fast as your body gets more fit.
  • If you have a hard session in the AM, you can use the PM one to shake out the legs. Conversely if you have a hard PM session you can use the AM one to loosen up your legs.
  • This goes hand-in-hand with mentality but it’s great as a release for pent up energy.  There’s a reason they used to give kids in elementary school 2 recesses a day.

Mentally:

  • Easier to mentally handle said higher mileage.  Back to the example of 1X20 or 2X10.  I think that only having to do 10 (or 5 or whatever) at once is easier to wrap your mind around.  Of course, sometimes motivation to get out and do that second run wanes a bit when you know that you’ve already run but…
  • Double post-run high.  If you run twice then you get that mood enhancer twice.
  • Breaks up the day.  For me, my body itches to get moving after a marathon like study session so it’s easier for me to do what I’ve been doing: study-run-study-run-essay.  I’m able to focus better after getting my pent up energy out and clear the mind of the stress that has accrued.

Where to begin?

To start:

  1. Be running 5-6 days a week already and be able to complete 40 minutes minimum a day and 60+ for your long run.
  2. Add a double workout on an every other day basis and NOT on a hard quality (ie speedwork) day.
  3. The double run only has to be 20 minutes if it’s what you have to start with.  You can still derive benefits from this! The idea in the first few doubles / weeks is to get your mind and body around two workouts.  Ideally you can work up to 40ish minutes but slowly building up is the way to go.
  4. In order to NOT injure yourself the other “regular” run of the day should be ~10-20 minutes shorter initially and like I mentioned above wait 4+ hours between workouts.
  5. In the recovery time make sure to refuel with a mix of carbs, fats and protein.  (More on that later when I start posting that post in the series)

What to avoid / be careful of?

  • Too much too soon.  As with anything you should ease into it using the tips above.
  • Any disturbances in eating / sleeping / mood patterns.  Remember that doubles are suppose to be a BENEFIT.  And if you start to sleep funny or lose your appetite or get cranky and irritable over small things then maybe it’s time to back off because it sounds like overtraining.
  • Injuries.  Any increase in activity increases your risk of injury so running twice in one day definitely does.  Again, ease into it and be prepared to ice, stretch and recover well to avoid getting hurt.  And as soon as you notice something physically isn’t right then back off and move into doubles slower.

So those are the benefits of running doubles.  Now you can be all BAMF and hardcore when you say that you ran twice 🙂

And here are some random musings.  Mostly thought of during my runs today.

  • How many cops does it take to supervise paving a road that is, at most, a half mile long as well as NOT a main road?  Well if you guessed 7 then you’re right.  3 at one end of the road to stop cars from driving down.  2 with the construction vehicles.  2 more at the other end of the road.
  • But freshly paved road is soooo nice to run on because it is sooooo soft.  It felt amazing.  And no Mr. Cop #4 I do not want to hop on the sidewalk. Oh wait this area is so freshly paved that it’s actually hot? Okay then.  You win
  • I have semi-retracted my Obama cursing over the Restore America’s Roadways after running on said freshly paved road.
  • Is mapmyrun really accurate? I’m running really really fast.  But I used the same sight when at school and it seemed pretty accurate.  And my hometown is even hillier than school.
  • Little girl: if I’m running on the grass next to the sidewalk and you are biking on the sidewalk then clearly we are NOT in each other’s ways.  Therefore you do not need to pull into the grass and collide with me.  I know you mother probably told you it’s polite to maneuver out of people’s ways but this was not the case and you did, in fact, get in my way.
  • Middle school girls: please do not feel shy to say hi to me while we are all out running. I know that I’m tall and BAMF but I LOVE that you are out running.  Let’s be friends.
  • I know I’m beautiful.  You do not need to tell me that Boy In Jeep.

I’ve also been using my runs as a way to flush out my ideas for my personal statement (Thanks Ada for all your help!) as well as hammer out troublesome concepts for the MCAT but I’m sure you guys don’t *really* care about the periodic trends, electron configurations or inclined planes that are not frictionless.

So I’m off to go put some of those more productive thoughts into action.  Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday!

Check out the giveaway from Sam @ peaveloverun

June 1, 2010

Monthly Recap: May 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — marathonmaiden @ 13:41

First off: Wow. I’m so glad that you guys are viewing my study running breaks as a good thing and something that we all use to keep our sanity after a long day sitting down! Thanks for the positive vibes too. They are definitely appreciated.  You guys are the bestest 🙂

So I know that yesterday I said that I was going to do a “How Double Running Can Rock” series.  And I’ve actually drafted two of them already (of the power of procrastination ha) but I wanted to get this up before I forgot and since yesterday was the last day of May…it’s apropos.

May was definitely a….well let’s just say an interesting month.  I finally was able to jump back into running.  And I did, full throttle.  If you remember the end of April was me getting my IV out and just prior to that was Boston.  So April was on the low side with running.  Let’s just say I was chomping at the bit and ready to hit May hard. Not as hard as March when I ran 400+ miles but still hard nonetheless.

May also wanted to hit pretty hard back: not only was it the wrapping up of a school year but the wrapping up of my UNDERGRADUATE career.  Scary.  So I was pretty busy in my non-running life, especially the first half when all my senior projects and presentations were.

But when does running not happen? Yeah yeah besides scary infections and shin splints 😉

Luckily May didn’t have any of that for me so here’s a week by week glance at the fifth month of the year (and seriously?! How have 5 months gone by already?!)

Week of May 3-9

  • 56 miles
  • 8 hours 18 minutes 8 seconds
  • 8:55 average pace
  • 4X Core, 1X Lifting, 2X XT

First full week of running not only post-infection but post-Boston.  Needless to say I’m not a fan of the slow and steady thing? 10% rule what? I do have some notes in my log book saying that the legs were a bit tight but I think that’s more so because I reintroduced lifting this week and I have a complete disregard for stretching. The pacing was spot on too and I think that’s due to huge recovery period post-marathon and ~50% reduction in peak training miles.

Week of May 10-16

  • 67.3 miles
  • 10 hours 4 minutes 45 seconds
  • 8:59 average pace
  • 3X Core, 1X Lifting, 1X circuit, 0 XT

Whew a close one with that pace 😉  Finals were this week which, for a lot of students, is a huge time suck and stressor.  Not so much for me and I was able to get some quality runs in.  And by quality I mean feel really good about the runs quality.  Still no speedwork here, too soon post-Boston it had only been 3 weeks.

Week of May 17-23

  • 71 miles
  • 10 hours 43 minutes 15 seconds
  • 9:04 average pace
  • 3X Core, 2X Lifting, 0 XT
  • 1 double day

Senior Week! Very much relaxed (except for packing up my life) and trying to be on cruise control for the week.  Lots of good-bye runs this week too so I was pretty nostalgic.  I was also sick at the beginning of the week with some type of flu-like illness (oh immune system, can you please behave? haha) but I bounced back.  On Sunday, the first full day at home was also the first day of doubles that I had been talking about lately and it was a good two runs, both very strong and a good way to round out the week although I wish that I had been able to lower the average pace a bit.

Week of May 24-30

  • 72.9 miles
  • 10 hours 35 minutes 26 seconds
  • 8:47 average pace
  • 3X Core, 2X Lifting, 1X XT
  • 4 double days running, 1 double day of lifting/running

Wow.  Huge mileage and a fast pace.  I think this week was the first true no-obligations week I’d had in a very long while.  I’m not on my third (but really fourth) floor room and my legs, while running more, are overall more rested. Lots of doubles here and clearly they added up more than I thought they did but the leg-os aren’t hurting or sore.  If anything something is happening right because my pace was WICKED low for a weekly average for me.

May totals

  • 286.6 miles
  • 42 hours 40 minutes 49 seconds
  • 8:56 average pace

I think I talked enough about my running this month in the preceding paragraphs so just one note: the pace.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a month (at least while I’ve been consciously tracking things like monthly data) where I had an average pace under 9 minutes.  Woot! I think I’m prouder of that than my 400+ month of March!

And before I dredge back into MCAT/essay land I want to share a story of my second run on Memorial Day. In true MM fashion it’s long and not about me but I felt it worthy to share and am sticking it at the end of the post so those of you who roll your eyes at the length of my posts can stop if need be 😉

I ran it with my sister, K4 (I’m the oldest of 6 and all our names begin with K so we’ve been assigned numbers haha).  I was really unsure of whether or not I wanted to “bring her along”.  Sure she’s an athlete and actually ran XC last fall…but her schtick is Throwing.  And she told me that her best XC race was ~28 minutes for a 5k.  Which is slower than I wanted to go.

I told her that we’d do a tempo kind of thing for her.  My distance was 4 but we could go at “tempo” (for her) for ~1.3 miles then she could turn around and recover while I ran to the halfway point and then catch up with her pacing her back in.  She was down for it, I think that I was still unsure if she could keep up.  I figured that even if I went at a 9 pace it would be pushing it for her.  And a note about my family: we rarely complain about things like pushed paces.  Sure I may complain, bitch & moan about an eyelash in my eye but I will push through anything physical and the same goes for K4.

That said, at ~Mile 1 she stopped short.  I told her that if she was going to throw up she better do it away from me.  That got me a laugh as well as a dirty look but after a second of catching her breath we were off again.  We hit the ~1.3 miles at (calculated later)…8:46 pace!!  Here she turned around and walked a bit and I’m assuming at some point she started jogging because when I caught up to her she was much further than I thought she would be.

When she saw me I think a part of her died buttttt I told her that the goal was just to not stop running for the ~3/4 mile we had left.  And she did it.  She had a really bad stitch-in-side but she did it.  I am soooooo proud of her for being so damn tenacious and determined.  I think that, even though she considers throwing her thing, she could have a strong XC season if she wants it and decides to do it again.  She’s not that big into running, definitely not a passion of hers,  but she could own it if she sets her sights on it.  Maybe not *winning* but I think she could be strong and SMASH her PR and expectations.

So that’s the story.  About my sister. I’m hoping that we get to run more together this summer 😀

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