Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A New new plan.

An old friend (my first ever almost-boyfriend from high-school!) has reconnected via Facebook, and turns out he's a very serious fitness trainer. After quite a bit of getting-to-know-you-again chit-chat he's offered to give me some long-distance coaching (he lives most of a country away from me and don't worry, there's no chance of anything untoward happening!)

So his whole program is too complicated to go into right now (I will eventually), but I did the first workout today. It's based on the theory that, ahem, older exercisers should follow a high intensity, low volume plan, so it was ONLY 20 minutes of running, alternating a 30-second all-out sprint with 60-90 second active recovery - which is really just an easy walk, not even a jog. It was really fun, but not as easy at it seemed at first - the last few sprints were a real challenge (especially on our hills.) There are strength sessions, yoga/stretching session, and a fairly different approach to eating than I've been doing. But I think I'll try it for a month or so - what the heck - what I'm doing now is REALLY not working, and I would like to look not-awful at my sister's wedding in August!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Decision made

No half-marathon at the end of April. Turns out that's a VERY busy weekend - there is an Earth Day event I have to bring some children from our programs to on Saturday, and then that evening is the annual Fireman's Ball - the social event of the year in Sharon. This year they invited me to donate a picture for the auction - very flattering - and my daughter is performing in a ballet there. (The theme is April in Paris - my photos is of a Paris street, and the ballet is a CanCan.) So the only way I'd be able do to a race on Sunday in NYC is it did NOT start at the crack of dawn. Went to the NYRRC website and lo and behold, it's sold out.

So: considering I had the world's worst (not-quite) 6 mile training "run" yesterday, only 6 weeks before the race, it's probably just as well. I'd have completed the 13 miles, most likely but in a time way slower than my race last November. So I'll train for the Classic (5 miles) the following weekend but still look for a half-marathon to do early in the season as a motivator to continue increasing mileage.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Better breathing = better athletic performance?

I've had asthma for more than half my life, and this winter it flared up particularly badly. I happened to hear of "breathing excercises" for asthma, and found after a little digging that there was a teacher of the Buteyko Method in our area - he came highly recommended by an alternative health practitioner I deeply respect. I went to a 2 1/2 hour introductory session this morning, and learned the basic technique. Apparently it will take quite a bit of practice, but the impacts it could have are tremendous - not just improved breathing, but better sleep, more energy, reduced allergies, stronger immune system and.. greatly increased athletic performance. He said he had one client who went from a 12 minute mile pace to an 8-minute pace after a few months. While that seems impossible and out of reach for me, if I could just sustain a 12 minute pace over a couple-mile run (and then slowly improve from there) it would be huge for me.

The basic technique is simply to breathe through your nose, all the time, in as relaxed and shallow a way as possible. There's more to it, which I'll describe if anyone's interested - I'll ceratinly report back regularly on how I'm feeling and what changes I'm experiencing, athletically and otherwise.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

It Ain't Gonna Be Easy

Getting to be half-marathon ready in 7 weeks will not be easy, if today is any indication. My first outdoor run, last week, was 30 minutes; today I did 42. If I increase by 12-15 minutes every weekend with great discipline I'll get to a little over 2 hours by race day - knowing my actual race time will be somewhere over 3 hours. So I should just look at this event as a fun outing, do my best, and use it as a jumping off point for the season - the Sharon Classic is the very next weekend. ITt's the five mile race in my town - I do it every year. If I really train well for the next 8 weeks maybe I can beat the elderly lady who usually whips my butt! (On the other hand if I'm in recovery from a half-marathon maybe I won't be able to do it at all! Hmmm...what's a higher priority for me right now - pushing myself for distance, or working on performance in important races? Suggestions?)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What it would take

Thanks for the encouragement to just go for it! Since we just got about 8 inches of snow and it's 16 degrees outside today, the prospect of going for a run any time soon seems daunting. But I did get in 40 minutes at the gym - half on elliptical, half really pushing myself on themuch-hated treadmill. Ugh ugh ugh. I recently got a hamster, and I am always amazed at how many hours it spends on that little wheel - he goes all night long, from about 10pm til 7am or even more. Crazy! (He takes frequent snack breaks - that I can relate to.)

So, working backwards, to train for a half-marathon that's 8 weeks away, I need to work up from a 3 or 4 mile long run this weekend (I'll be at a conference in Schenectady - not sure what the weather will be like there!) and add a full mile every week, with no cutback week, to get to about 10 the week before the race.

Meanwhile the weight keeps piling on - I honestly don't see how I've been eating THAT much, but the scale and my tight clothes don't lie. So - I think it's time for Weight Watchers. Plans where I cut out this or that, or just watch the overall balance, are not doing it - I need to plain old count calories (disguised as points.) Let's see if a week without red wine helps, too!

I'd like to lose at least 6 of the 12 (or more) pounds I've gained by race day. That would feel like a real accomplishment!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

winter blahs

Ugh. I've gained 12 pounds since October. I've been eating everything in sight, drinking too much too.

So, what better way to jar myself out of the blues/blahs than by setting my sights on a very ambitious race? I'm thinking: the More Magazine half-marathon at the end of April - only 8 weeks from today. I have been running outside exactly once since New Year's - my excercise has been limited to spin, Pilates, the elliptical and the occasional treadmill - no more than 2-3 times a week, 40 minutes or so. I ran outside for the first time a few days ago and could just manage 30 minutes. So to work my way up to 13 miles that fast will take someserious commitment - do I have it in me right now? Based on today's evidence, probably not! (I had an hour and a half to myself and decided to read the Vogue Magazine with Michelle Obama on the cover instead of run!)

Should I do it? Or am I setting myself up for disappointment or injury?