Harry Potter Run

We ran longer than usual with BoMF this morning for a special occasion. Apparently, today is Harry Potter's birthday. What matters about that is that the Hogwarts Virtual Running Club* has donated proceeds for this month to BoMF.

Our group grew as we joined forces with our other local BoMF team, additional volunteers and runners. The virtual run can continue through August 6 with online registrations.

We ran across two long bridges around downtown for a total of just over four miles. The view on the return was beautiful with the sunrise framing the city skyline. Four miles were tougher than usual after yesterday's fourteen, so I'm looking forward to an epsom salt bath.

*Register using PO Box 631236, Irving, TX 75063 for 100% of proceeds to benefit BoMF DFW.

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Thinking About Gelato

Runners love food. Some runners love food more than running, some run because they love food and some just love both. Long runs are mostly driven by (and discussed when in a group) thinking about what we will eat next.

I put off my 14 miles until Sunday, which is a very risky move. I didn't feel rested enough Saturday morning so I committed to an early bedtime that night. The wait worked in my favor because temperatures have cooled down at least 10 degrees back into the 90s. There was a beautiful breeze my whole run and the sun was not too hot.

Despite the gorgeous lake views, I passed the run by dreaming about gelato. At a water stop, I even checked to see if Paciugo was open yet. My front door, around the lake and back is not quite 14 so I needed a diversion anyway.

Since it was apparently too early for fresh gelato, I ran right until the entrance of nearby Whole Foods. Fortunately, they sell gelato by the pint. I opted for Halo Top instead because of its protein value. The best thing about running 14 miles is how much better dessert tastes after a couple hours exercising in the sun.

Hot Hills

Motivation comes in many different forms. For me, sometimes it's more imagining how I feel if I don't try. Refusing to give up was what got me out to the hills tonight.

The local news ran a story with the headline "too hot to run," and it took everything I had to ignore them. What finally helped was realizing how much of a mind game it is to see the number 100 on the temperature reading. Sometimes I just need better perspective. I thought about 85 compared to 87 or 31 compared to 33 to help me cope with 100 compared to the high 90s. That helped me see that tonight wouldn't be significantly different than previous weeks.

Staying hydrated and acclimated are important factors in being able to handle the heat. Since I've been running in similar temperatures all summer, I knew I could handle tonight. I also reminded myself to listen to my body: take water breaks, slow down a little bit, stop if it's too much.

I made a plan and I mastered the hills. We stopped at 10 repetitions or 80 minutes, whichever came first. I made it through 9 (all without music!) and knew that was the safe place to stop. Tonight definitely earned a beer so I joined up with my Pint Striders (social run) friends right after to indulge. Making it to tonight's workout and running up and down that hill was so worth it.

Speedwork, Abridged

Track nights really only exist to long distance runners to build speed for out "in the real world." That means we need to see results on our regular routes.

Tuesday night's run was supposed to be one mile intervals at the lake, but my sick day got in the way. I did an abridged version of my own tonight.

While I'm still chasing that sub 7 mile from earlier in the summer, I felt good out on the trail. Unlike the consistency of the track, the real world has elevation changes, turns and changing scenery. That made it harder to keep an even pace.

I'm still learning what fast will look like for me by the end of the summer (and again when it starts to cool down). In the meantime, I'm pushing myself and seeing what it feels like to give it my all then have to keep going.

Sick Day

About once or twice a year my body comes to a halt and forces me into a sick day. While yesterday was a sick day for me, a better perspective is to think of it a recovery-minded day.

Here's what I do to get up and running again faster:

  • Sleep is really the easiest medicine and best preventative tool. Ariana Huffington's book "The Sleep Revolution" gathers all the obvious and not-so-obvious reasons we should prioritize sleep, but I've also seen sleep affect my running performance.
  • Rest is different than just sleep and includes resisting the urge to binge watch the latest Netflix series. When my body is sick, all of my senses need a break.
  • Hydrate purposely. Water should come first but vitamins and electrolytes are also necessary for a fast cure. I alternate every third or fourth bottle of water with a tablet of nuun. (My bkr bottle rarely leaves my side.) Hydration also means avoiding caffeine and alcohol.
  • Medicate when necessary* but otherwise on a limited basis. Ibuprofen typically works better for me than aspirin, but I only reach for the medicine if the pain is too bad to fall asleep without it. (*Absolutely medicate and see a doctor if you have a fever or worse symptoms!)
  • Eat what your stomach can handle. The simplest and safest policy is the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, toast. Once your body can handle any of those four, slowly move on to real food. I'm not usually very hungry when I'm sick but food is necessary fuel to help my body rebuild.
  • Clean your home and yourself. In between napping, I find that taking a shower and tidying up always helps me to feel better. While it's tempting to just wallow all day, the image of health can go a long way toward recreating health.
  • Go out even for just a little bit. Fresh air and a change of scenery are a great reset. If I've been sick all day, it helps me to run a quick errand in the evening or go out for a light dinner.

When I get to feeling better, the hardest thing is to hold back and ease back into training. After sleeping most of the day, I felt more ready than ever to run last night. It was tough to remind myself to take it easy so I didn't undue all of the recovery. The only thing worse than being sick is prolonging your sickness.

Running, in Two Parts

I kept good on my promise to make it to Saturday BoMF and loved it. We ran six miles through a route I never would’ve discovered on my own. 

Since I had twelve miles on deck this morning, I completed the rest as soon as I got home. I ran to the Katy Trail to meet up with a church running group (YCP) and then finished the mileage along the trail. 

Breaking up my run gave me a chance to re-apply sunscreen and re-hydrate, both essentials in Texas. While splitting up a run doesn’t provide the same benefit of building endurance, the effect is the same for the body. I don’t recommend it all the time, but it’s a good idea to try on hot days or when your schedule is full of competing interests. Running to and from work is a similar idea of building mileage with a gap in between. 

My legs definitely know I ran twelve miles today, regardless of how it happened. Of course, what’s a run without breakfast tacos and a margarita? It’s a staple of YCP runs and keeps the attitude social and positive, making running something fun. 

Last Scout Hill

Hills were the first runs I ever did. Growing up in Oregon, I took off from my house right onto hills the whole way. The high school cross country team even proudly sported hoodies with the slogan, “What Hills?”

For these reasons, I’ve always generally enjoyed hills more than others. Surprisingly, hills have been the toughest part of summer training for me. Tonight was a step of encouragement. 

We ran our last workout on Scout Hill at a time limit of 35 minutes, the longest we’ve spent on that hill. Somehow, it felt like the best. I counted my reps and the time flew by–and it felt like such a relief compared to last week’s hill. 

Our coach told us at the end that if today felt even equally tough as a few weeks ago, we were making progress. It was hotter tonight and the workout was longer. I can’t wait to see how my times improve when the weather finally cools down.

Second Time Around

Switching between evening and morning workouts can be a shock to the system. I prefer to work out in the morning, but evening training has made that more difficult. Sometimes the only way to make it happen is by force. 

I made it to 6am yoga today and felt great during class, in part from the sense of accomplishment of making it there in the first place. During our summer fast track training, we recognize that half the battle is making it out in the heat. With running or anything tough, the hardest part is often just showing up. 

Yoga this morning was the same flow as Monday evening, which allowed me to turn off my racing mind and just follow the moves. I could tell a difference in my body, mostly observations on exercise differs when first waking up versus at the end of the day. My focus was stronger but my balance and flexibility had not caught up yet. Because our bodies vary throughout the day, it’s good to also (at least occasionally) vary when when we work out. 

Ladder Workout

Track work has become some of my favorite parts of training. Once you get past the peculiarity of your lungs fatiguing before your legs (strange to a long distance runner), the variation and speed can be exhilarating. 

We did the most fun workout you can do on a track last night. Ladders are great for me because there’s constant variation and the distances get shorter as you start to reach fatigue. I was about to push myself harder than last week but not as fast as a few weeks ago. We ran 400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800, 400. 

My last lap gave me confidence as I surged toward the finish with a newly discovered burst of energy. When I’m sprinting, I envision my next race and focus on the feeling of accomplishment I’ll have at the finish. Practicing my kick at the finish line also keeps what I’m working toward top of mind. 

Summer fast track is quickly coming to and end, and this was our last track night. We’ll be running tempo workouts on Tuesdays going forward, and I’ll try not to miss the track too much. 

*photo credit:  Tracy Schrader, Summer Fast Track coach

Accountability

The alarm never comes easy on Monday mornings, but I can’t hit snooze. I am accountable to every one of our Back on my Feet members. One of them asked why I haven’t come out on a Saturday run; I told him I’d be there this week. Accountability will be holding me through the week. 

My tired body wanted to go straight home after work. Last week, Brittany said she missed seeing me in yoga class and I told her I’d be there this week. My promise helped hold me accountable–and I am so glad I made it!

During training, I am also accountable to my body. If I put it through tough workouts and tough runs, I need to nurture it with stretching and yoga. To prepare for running in the hot evenings, I need to hydrate properly.

Accountability builds trust–that I am capable of what I pursue and that I will keep my word. That trust gives us the strength to push through tough workouts and do what we need to even when our minds or bodies say no.