Saturday, March 29, 2008

Just kidding

A week ago I said, "[S]trangely enough, my appetite has decreased. Whereas I used to eat for energy, now I don't have that need. I thought my appetite would increase to replace the calories I'm using as I run, but I'm strangely less hungry! I don't know if that's good or bad, but I trust that my body knows what it's doing" (Rewarded Behavior Continues).

Umm... just kidding. Or... not anymore! I think it has taken several weeks for my body to adjust to this new running lifestyle. Maybe that no-appetite strangeness was a temporary transitional period while my body was adjusting? Now I'd definitely have to say I'm experiencing the opposite.

The funny thing is... I was never a breakfast person. In fact, I've never really eaten because my stomach told me to eat. I have nearly always eaten because my body told me to eat--because I needed energy. Reid's always been a breakfast-eater. He's always saying, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!" I've never really been very hungry in the morning. At least I didn't USED to be!

Now, I wake up (usually before my alarm! which is sooo odd because I've never been a morning person) with my stomach rumbling and desperate to be filled. I have plenty of energy, but my stomach wants to eat. Then a couple of hours after breakfast, it starts rumbling again! I've always been able to delay my lunch until 2:00 if needed, but now I'm starving before it's even 11:00! Then the same thing happens for dinner... hungry by 3:30 again! Sheesh! I think we're going to have to spend twice as much on groceries at this rate!

I am so glad I took up running, but it's definitely changed a lot of things. This former sedentary, hypoglycemic, energy-and-sleep-deprived night owl has been transformed into an active, energy-filled, and perpetually hungry morning person. I used to make fun of Reid for falling asleep at the drop of a hat in the evening. In the past, I could stay awake until 3:00 a.m. without the slightest problem. Now I'm struggling to stay awake if it's past 10:00! Sooooo bizarre to me! But definitely way better for my health and emotional well being!

How about you? Did you notice yourself changing the way you ate and slept when you became a runner?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Boston

As many of you know, running the Boston Marathon has always been a goal of mine. I finally get to do it this year (3 and a half weeks!) and I am getting stoked. While I was waiting for the start of my second marathon back in 2004, I ran into a guy who, by the look of his jacket, had obviously run Boston before. That jacket was super cool, and I told myself then that when I run Boston, I want to get a jacket like that. So for my birthday, I ordered a sweet-looking number from Adidas. Well, I got that jacket today, and in the words of a second-grader I came across the other day at work, it's "tight." I love it! It's basically the coolest jacket I've ever seen. Sorry to be so gushing about it, but I really like it.

As if that wasn't enough, I also got my Boston Marathon Welcome Booklet and number pick up card (#5096). I pretty much read through the entire book.

Have I mentioned that I'm a little excited for this race?

Thinking your pain away

Injuries suck! I hate being injured. It's so frustrating when I can't run. I feel jealous when I see my friends out running, or anyone else for that matter. It's depressing. I get moody. Life just isn't as fun.

These don't necessarily represent my own thoughts during an injury, but let's face it, it's just not fun being injured, and I'm sure most of us have had similar thoughts. It's easy to fall into that downward spiral of negativity. And that negativity can often have a negative impact on our recovery. So what can we do? Think positive!

Now, I'm not saying to just have a "good attitude" about your injury (although that will probably help). What I'm saying is don't dwell on your injury. Don't let it occupy all your thoughts. Don't let it bring you down. I'm a firm believer that your thoughts are powerful agents in determining your experiences. If you are constantly thinking about negative things, negative things are likely to happen. If you are constantly thinking positive thoughts, positive things are more likely to happen. This is often referred to as the law of attraction. Fascinating stuff. We need to make our desires to overcome injuries clear through our thoughts. Of course, when we're injured, we really want to get better-the desire is already there. However, these thoughts must not be convoluted with the negative thoughts we may be having. So the key is to not think about how awful it is to be injured or wishing you weren't injured, but to be passionate and enthusiastic about being healthy.

The next step is to believe you can overcome this injury. Take that passion and enthusiasm and apply it to your belief system. Think of yourself as already healed. Be grateful in advance for your healing and wholeness. Expect it to come, and take the steps to make it happen.

Last September I had an embarrassing accident during a cross-country practice. I was very sore for a while, and the soreness didn't ever seem to leave causing my hamstrings to feel really tight. It didn't keep me from running (in fact my training was going really well), but it was always there. I started down that spiral of negativity wondering if it would ever get better. I ended up taking most of January off because of it. Somewhere along the line my wife picked up the book Remembering Wholeness by Carol Tuttle, basically saying what I've written above, and I got to thinking (actually, she convinced me) that I can take charge of my healing rather than just waiting for it to happen. I had to catch myself every time I started thinking about my injury and change those thoughts to gratitude for my healing and wholeness. Instead of praying that I would get better, I started thanking God for my healing and wholeness. The result, the discomfort has all but disappeared. It doesn't even slow me down anymore. I am able to gain my confidence back, and the last few weeks I have been able to make some tremendous progress.

This didn't happen overnight, but I feel it happened a heck of a lot faster than if I had continued with my negative thoughts. If your injured, give this a try. You've got nothing to loose but negativity!


The day has finally come! Last night, we received our new little puppy! He's a 4-month-old Shih Tzu appropriately named Boston.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Rewarded Behavior Continues (a Lani post)

All my life, my neuropsychologist stepmother always taught me: "Rewarded behavior continues." It's a phrase that comes to my mind often. And it came out of my mouth this morning as I babbled to Reid about all the benefits I'd already seen as a result of my new running habit. I feel totally driven and eager to continue running, and to push myself even harder, because I have been amply rewarded. Here are some of the things I've noticed...

1) More stable blood sugar levels. For most of my life I've had to be sure to eat plenty of protein with my meals to prevent a blood sugar spike and crash. Something about getting exercise has shifted my metabolism so that I'm less susceptible to those low blood sugar crashes. It's definitely a good thing! 'Cause I'm not so fun to be around when my blood sugar is low.

2) More energy. This is related to number one, I think. I definitely feel like I have more energy these days. So, strangely enough, my appetite has decreased. Whereas I used to eat for energy, now I don't have that need. I thought my appetite would increase to replace the calories I'm using as I run, but I'm strangely less hungry! I don't know if that's good or bad, but I trust that my body knows what it's doing.

3) A butt lift. Maybe this is more than you wanted to know, but it's definitely something I've noticed. I'm not nearly as tight and trim as Reid (hey, I've gone through two pregnancies!), but I'm definitely noticing a difference!

4) More happiness and patience. Maybe this is a coincidence, but I'd wager it's related. I really have been feeling much more emotionally even and stable over the last week or two. This benefit alone has been the most needed and appreciated!

5) Less torture. I know it's sort of a given, but I no longer hate running. It used to require enormous will power and effort to keep running for a full three miles. It was torture. Now it's a breeze. That's something new to me. I've never ever considered running a "breeze." It makes me want to push myself even harder and higher. This is cool!

All of these rewards, in addition to others, have made me feel more and more clear that THIS is the way our bodies are supposed to feel. I really think exercise was intended to be a part of human existence. When we are "in shape" is when we are complete and whole. I feel so much better overall than I did a month ago. This is the way my body is supposed to feel. This is who I really am. I want to keep feeling this good forever! And I've only been going for a few weeks. I can't imagine how great I'll feel after several months and several years!

Doug, you were right. I'm hooked.

Arizona Wildlife Week

I've had an awesome week! First of all, I've had the week off for spring break, and was able to put in some more runs and miles than usual. Secondly, those runs were fantastic!

This week has taken on a wildlife theme. It all started with my long run last Saturday when I saw a little bunny run across the dirt road I was on.

Monday, I took my youngest daughter out in the stroller for an unscheduled easy run. We saw a tiny hummingbird floating up and down over a puddle in the grass. We watched for a while, but couldn't tell what it was doing. We tried telling it to come over to our house and try out our new bird feeder that I got for Christmas. I don't think it listened, though.

Tuesday, I had planned to do some Yasso 800s on the trails through the neighborhood. I was aiming for 3:00 each, but felt good going faster than that. I did five with an average time of 2:48. Before my last 800, I found a turtle sitting on the sidewalk. I don't know if it was a wild turtle or somebody's lost pet. Thought about taking it home as a pet, but decided against it. Instead, I just put it by a puddle of water. We also went hiking this day and saw huge swarm of bees buzz by about 20 feet overhead, and on the hike, we saw a cute little chipmunk hiding out in the rocks.

Wednesday, I took my youngest out for another unscheduled run. Unfortunately, we didn't see any animals other than the usual dogs barking at us through fences. My daughter ended up falling asleep, though, and had a much needed nap.

Thursday, I had an excellent 5 mile tempo run. It was so good I wrote a post about it. Again, I didn't see any animals, but later on throughout the day, we were able to see some hummingbirds drop by the bird feeder for a snack. That was fun.

Friday, I took the day off. We were planning on taking the kids to the zoo (plenty of wildlife there) after we took my brother out to lunch for his birthday, but it ended up getting too late, so we decided to just come back home.

Saturday, I headed over to South Mountain for 17 miles. This was a really great run. I ran 7 miles up to the top and then back down to where I started, and added another 3 three miles. I felt really strong the entire way. It was another big confidence booster for me. All three of my scheduled runs this week were all awesome, which is kind of weird considering I put in so many more miles than usual. I'm usually a pretty firm believer in the "less is more" idea, quality over quantity, but this week is making me question that a little. I may just have to throw in an extra run next week if I can.

Oh, by the way, I saw a bunch of bunnies on the mountain (must be Easter or something), a squashed centipede on the road (that thing was probably about 6 inches long), and a snake sitting on the side of the road.

It's been an excellent week. I love spring break!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Monkey see, monkey do

Doug did it about a month ago (2 sub-6 minute miles during a run). Nic attempted it a couple days later (managed a 6:12 as part of an 8 mile run). Both of theses are awesome achievements! As I often look up to these guys for inspiration an motivation, I've had those times on my mind on many a run since then. I hadn't attempted it though due to pesky injuries... That is until today. I set out for a 5 mile tempo run. Here are the numbers:

Mile 1 - 6:35
Mile 2 - 6:39
Mile 3 - 6:33
Mile 4 - 6:38
Mile 5 - 6:02

Oh so close! I was definitely feeling it at the start of the last mile, but towards the end I was able to find some reserves and ended up surprising myself. This was definitely one of those "confidence building exercises" Doug was talking about. I've had a couple of those this week. It sure feels great to be moving again! And feeling good doing it!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Beautiful Desert

Thanks to Amy for inspiring me to get out and enjoy the beauty that surrounds me everyday. After seeing her slideshow of her trip to AZ, I decided I wanted to take my family hiking on South Mountain, one of the many mountain parks in the Phoenix area. We headed up a pretty easy trail, perfect for the kids. We had a great time, and we really enjoyed the beauty of what we saw. The vibrant wildflowers, the variety of cacti, the pristine blue skies, and the little chipmunk looking for food in the rocks. We went about 2/3 mile up the mountain before we turned around a came back down. I am so proud of my little 4-year-old! She walked all the way up and back down without even complaining.

The desert is definitely different from other places I've lived, but offers a beauty all it's own. Here are some pics from our hiking adventure.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Well, we missed the St. Patty's Day race this weekend that we had thought about doing. Oh well. We still wanted to celebrate somehow, so after my 4-year-old (dressed in green from head to toe) went off to preschool, I (in my green technical tee) took my 2-year-old (she doesn't have a green shirt, so she wore a white shirt with green and purple flowers) in the jogging stroller for a run on the paved trails through our neighborhood. This nice run was followed by a lunch of green "Tubbiecustard" (yogurt with food coloring--unfortunately, my girls love the Tellitubbies).

I hope you're wearing your green today! Nobody's gonna be pinching us!

Weekly Update

Well, I'm a couple days late on this post, but since I only ran once last week, there isn't much to report. It turns out that I did something to my foot trying to dig my garden (as mentioned in my last report). It felt a little funny most of the week, but it didn't bother me on my 15 miler on Saturday. That 15 miler was pretty good. I'm pleased with how it turned out. I was able to keep a much more even pace than I've been able to my last few runs. I started running out of juice towards the end and had to force myself to keep going.

I was talking to my wife later on about how much harder running has gotten for me. I was feeling pretty sore this weekend. I remember training for my last marathon and not feeling so sore after 15 miles. Maybe it's the injuries I've had over the last several months. Maybe I'm getting old. My wife just laughed at that, but I did just celebrate my 29th B-Day last week... I don't really feel like I'm old or anything, my point is just that running seems harder than it used to be. That's all.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Weekly Update

Monday I discovered a new way to do my speedwork. I was waiting for my wife to come pick me up after track practice (I've been coaching at the middle school), and she got stuck in traffic, so I had a half hour to kill. Rather that sit there and do nothing, I started running around the parking lot. I did three sets of four laps around the parking lot ranging from 51 to 61 seconds per lap. I measured the distance when I got home. Each lap is about 260 meters. It was a pretty good workout. I plan to do that again soon.

Tuesday, we had our first track meet of the season. Like the cross-country team earlier in the year, we have a very small team, most of them 6th graders. The kids did a good job at the meet. The kids were able to learn a lot from the experience, and make some plans for improving their times. On a personal note, I had a little pre-meet highlight. I went over my first hurdle since high school. It was pretty sweet! And based on the kids reaction, I must still have pretty good form.

Thursday, I got up early for a tempo run. It was a tough run and a good workout. I also learned that I really need to work on my pace. I started out way too fast. I still had pretty good splits, but wasn't able to keep up that pace. After work, we made some progress in our garden. Which is no small feat in the rock hard soil we have here in Arizona. So, now we have some cucumbers and zucchini planted. We're still planning on getting some more yummy veggies planted before too long.

Saturday, I headed out with my wife and the girls. The plan was to do three miles with them and then go for seven more on my own, hopefully repeating the run I had a few weeks ago. That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped, but it was still a good run. Again, I realized I need to work on pacing. That will definitely be a focus in the next couple weeks.

Boston is about six weeks out, and I still have a lot of work to do. I plan on getting to the track for some speedwork and pacing, get in some longer tempo runs, and get my long run up around 20 miles. Should be fun!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Toenails Poll

Since the time I started training for my first marathon about 4 years ago, I have heard many accounts of the prevalence of blackened toenails and/or toenails falling off as a result of running. It kinda grossed me out at first, but I accepted that it will probably eventually happen to me. Maybe I've been blessed with perfect-for-my-feet running shoes, but over the course of the last 4 years, I have never had a single problem with any of my toenails. And to be honest, it wasn't until last week that I heard a first-hand account of it actually happening. I began to wonder, "How frequently does this happen? Does it really happen as often as they say? Am I an anomaly?" In an effort to uncover the truth, I am creating a poll: Have you personally ever had a toenail turn black and/or fall off as a result of running? To respond, see the poll in my sidebar (just below my Boston Marathon countdown). Thanks for your help!

UPDATE: See my recent post with survey results and a few suggestions.