Injured runner: The best workout of my year

There are a lot of things I miss about running.

Alone time. Being able to take myself on my own two feet home for five miles after work rather than drive or take a (delayed again!) bus. Spending time with friends. The sound my feet make as they hit the pavement. The freeing feeling. The stillness when on the trails. Not being afraid of the rain.

The endorphins.

I can’t say I received that same runner’s high at my friend’s spin class on Sunday, but I sure had the best workout of the year (so far!)

I’ve been very good about going to the gym at least six days a week, if not daily. I alternate between spinning on the stationary bike and using the elliptical. I try to push myself to a good pace where I’m sweating. But, in all honestly, most times I don’t feel that tired after my workout. I do add on strength and core exercises after time on the cardio machines and always feel like doing multiple forms of plank is way more tiring than an hour on the elliptical!

What I’m trying to say is that the spin class was a nice change of pace. It really had me pushing myself. And, even though I couldn’t do everything that everyone else in the class was doing — like standing while on the bike while doing our “hill repeats” — I felt a sense of real exercise accomplishment at the end of the class.

I even felt like taking a nap in the afternoon, which felt akin to wanting to nap after a nice long run during my marathon training days.

It was good to have that familiar tired feeling again.


The 28-day plank challenge

I’m not one for challenges.

Wait, let me rephrase that.

I’m not one for organized do this for X number of days-type challenges.

I think they usually do not appeal to me because they are all physical activity-related and I run and do enough supplemental strength and core training to not need an additional “challenge.”


Post-plank selfie

But, I just completed one and am in the middle of another.

My cousin recruited my aunt and cousins to partake in a 28-day plank challenge.

I wish I could report back that I now have a six-pack. But, I can confidently say that a 1-minute-30-second plank is easy and a 2-minute plank is do-able and a 3-minute plank was brutal and I only managed to do twice.

According to the challenge rules, I didn’t complete the challenge. It started us out at only 20 seconds of plank and each day we increased the time by 10 seconds.

“I can do this!” I thought the first few days.

But then the increments increased significantly. After one minute, it was 30-second increases. And, let me tell you, the 2:30 to 3:00 minute increase was the worst. By the end of the 28 days, we would have worked up to four total minutes. That just seems insane.

Maybe if I had had people physically around me doing the planks with me, I could have gotten up to 3:20 or 3:30. (My aunt and cousins live out of state from me).

Once I knew I couldn’t do more than 3 minutes, I just did anywhere from 1:30 to 2:00 minutes of plank every day.

I’m enjoying my next challenge: #chasethebird – this one is through Oiselle for the month of November.

I’m glad that it’s one where I do not need to plank every day.

So, challenge accepted!

Treadmills are for those with no soul — and a lot of will power

I love running. I hate treadmills. Treadmills do not equate to running. Ask any runner.

This morning however I was doomed to the treadmill if I wanted to get any “running” in for the day. I am in Portland with my family and even though it’s a mini vacation, my dad has planned out every hour in our day. This meant I had to wake up at 7 a.m. if I wanted to run. Well, it’s still dark out at that time. I didn’t pack any reflective clothes or lights, so to the “fitness center” of the hotel I went.

I gave a mini prayer as I walked to the fitness center that no other people would be there so 1) no one would watch how ridiculous I look on a treadmill and 2) I wouldn’t have to wait to use said treadmill.

There was a man on the elliptical. Aw, well, only one person to judge me and no waiting — that’s not too bad.

Too bad the last time I used a treadmill was a year ago — during physical therapy for hurting my back and I used the treadmill for walking — so I am really not that familiar with them. Before the PT-treadmill stint, I had never been on a treadmill. And, I know why. They are horrible.

I pressed the “power” button expecting the ground below me to start moving. Nope. The TV monitor in front of my face turned on instead. I wanted to run, not watch TV! (Later I found out that the TV is there for a reason — if it were not there, anyone would die of boredom and want to shoot themselves).

After pressing an assortment of buttons and inputting my weight, how long I intended to exercise, date of birth and social security number, I was ready to roll.

I slowly began to increase my running pace. I felt like I was flying! But, I looked down to see that I was “only” running at 10 min/mile pace. For someone who can kick out a sub-9 min/mile half marathon without difficulty, you’d think this would be easy. It was not.

With every pounding step, I thought I was going to roll off the thing. Plus, it was just boring. And, those mirrors in the room … yes, I know I look disgusting at 7:10 in the morning, you don’t need to remind me!

I started playing around with the buttons, discovering my pace, how many calories I was burning, the time remaining in my run, etc. However, in the midst of my button-pushing frenzy, I accidentally pressed the reset one. The treadmill slowed down and came to a stop. I had shut the darn program down.

The man on the other side of the room must have thought I never exercised a day in my life. I’m a runner, I do the outside, not the treadmill!

I started the program up again and I was “running” once again. Seriously though, most boring thing ever. And I was sweating profusely. It was gross. The 30-minute “run” felt almost just as long as the last three miles of my most recent full marathon. Almost.

I clocked in at 3.03 miles in 30 minutes. That’s sub-10 pace so I’ll accept it. (The fastest I could set the thing to was 8 min/mile pace and I nearly thought I was going to roll away).When I stepped off the treadmill after the full 30 minutes, the floor below me felt like it was moving. I felt like I was gliding. Is this what it feels like when you’re on crack? And then I started feeling nauseous. I went outside of the hotel and stood in the pouring rain. It wasn’t dark out anymore. I should have been running out here.

Treadmills are for those with no soul — and a lot of will power.

Now, I’m going to have to run tomorrow when I’m back in Seattle. I can’t let a treadmill “run” be the last one of 2011.


Thanks, Sir Isaac Newton

There is a box of mochi ice cream in my freezer now. This is the story of how it got there.

Newton’s third law goes something along the lines of, to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, I don’t know a lot about physics — come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever taken a physics class! In college, I avoided all real science courses by being a liberal arts major and in high school, physics was an elective so I took an anatomy class instead. But, I think Newton has explained how the ice cream got into the freezer: through an opposite reaction.

Mondays I go to yoga. Or, I try to attend the yoga class if I do not have an evening meeting or some other work-related event or interview to attend. Today I didn’t have anything scheduled so I was looking forward to my one hour of stress-relief. It didn’t happen though. My editor wanted me to have a story written up by the end of the day so what we could post it online. Being a weekly paper, we don’t break news to the public but the local daily newspaper didn’t have the story up on their site, so he wanted to beat them to it. I figured I had enough time to type it all up (I had done the interviews earlier in the day), and make it in time for yoga. Well, clearly I cannot write under pressure. My editor and I spent a lot of time fixing the story. He pretty much had to rewrite the lead. For my last story, all he did was add one sentence and left what I wrote untouched.

Having missed yoga, I felt lazy. I decided to go on a run. My neighborhood out in the sticks has no street lights so I can’t run once the sun goes down. Not to worry! I’ll just drive to the grocery store and run circles along the main road where there are traffic lights. And, so I did. Once I finished my run, I decided to stop into the store and pick up some fruit. I walked out of the store with a little more than a few apples. Besides the mochi ice cream, I purchased cereal, popcorn, and cheese. Now I know why people say not to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry — especially hungry after running.

If I were able to write under pressure, I would have had a presentable story that didn’t need editing. Then I would have left work on time and gone to yoga. And not have had the urge to run to “makeup” for missing yoga. And would not have gone to the store hungry buying the ice cream.

Bad writing = extra pounds!

At least the ice cream was on sale.

Don’t call it a comeback

Saturday morning was my “long run.” Why the quotation marks? Because my long run is only at 6 miles right now. Getting back into shape blows.

After running the outer loop of Green Lake and finding myself clocking in at just under 30 minutes, I was a bit distraught because that meant I was not too far off from 10 min/mile pace! I decide to forego doing a second outer loop and to run the inside loop instead. (OK, you got me, so I cut my 6.2 mile-run down to 5.9!)

For anyone that ever runs or just goes to Green Lake, you know that the “serious” runners run the outside loop and the recreational joggers run the inside. So, every time I heard someone panting behind me, my competitive instinct kicked in and I’d shift it in another gear. So much for “slowly getting back into running.”

He can’t pass me, he’s running in pajama pants! I can catch her, she’s running with earbuds! I can pass them, they’re wearing baggy sweatshirts and look really tired. These were the thoughts running (ha ha — pun intended!) through my head as I saw others getting their cardiovascular exercise. The only group I was OK being passed by was Club NW, which this morning at 8:30 included Megan Johnson. Yeah, I know better than to get my butt kicked by the elites.

But, I also know that a year ago I was in the best shape of my life. (No quotation marks around that sentence!)

As I was making my way back to the community center (i.e. the end of my run,) I noticed a man running by me who I had about six minutes ago passed. I wasn’t going to let this dude pass me. He’s wearing basketball shorts out running for God’s sake! I suddenly find myself sprinting. He seems to be going faster because now I am really kicking. Finally he’s out of my peripheral vision and I accept victory. I finally reach the community center and stop running. I stretch while I wait on the side of the path for my mom and her friend to finish walking the lake.

The man in his mid-thirties/early-forties comes up to me (walking at this point) and says: I couldn’t keep up with you! Do you do this often?

Yes, I do this often.