Tag Archives: gym

Looking For My Mojo

18 Jan

Last year I had a dismal season of running, but in spite of that, I enjoyed just enough success in order to ask myself: If I can set these PB’s (personal bests) with such a patchy season, what will I be capable of if I actually train properly?

Unfortunately, my dismal season has been followed by an even more dismal off-season. Usually, I manage to keep going in the winter, even if it’s endless boring runs on the treadmill at the gym. This time round, I just haven’t seemed to have it in me.

I have run a mere handful of times since my half-marathon in October, and I have not run at all since participating in the Resolution Run on New Years Day. I tell myself that my dearth of running is due to a pinched nerve in my back followed almost immediately by a cold, but how much of that is true? And how much of it is merely an excuse?

In two weeks’ time, I will be starting my 2012 season of training. I have a coach – someone who knows what she’s doing, knows what I’m capable of and will not hesitate to hold me accountable if she sees me slacking off. Despite my recent form, I have motivation. I have goals and I fully intend to accomplish them.

And so I decided that today I was going to run, come hell or high water. I diligently laid out my running clothes and packed my gym bag. I set my alarm last night and went to bed.

Only to wake up a full half-hour after I was supposed to. What had happened to the alarm? Clearly I had not set it right. My run would have to wait another day.

Immediately, I put a stop to that line of thinking. Come hell or high water, remember? I accessed my work email, clicked onto my calendar, and saw that I had a nice clear block of time right around lunchtime. I scheduled it in as running time, repacked my gym bag, and took it to work with me.

During the course of the morning, I discovered that an independently run gym right beside my office had been taken over by the fitness club group that I’m a member of. Sweet! This meant I would not have to go schlepping around on the subway in order to get my run in.

At the gym, I got onto a treadmill and set it for 35 minutes. I had been out of it for a while – no need to push myself on the distance when my main goal was simply to get back into it.

I’m not too hung up on the distance I covered, mainly because I don’t actually know what it was. The distance that my training watch tells me is probably inaccurate. I have not recalibrated my foot pod since replacing its battery. And because the treadmill has a built-in TV screen with full cable access, I wasn’t paying attention to the stats on the display.

I was more concerned with how hard it was, how exhausted I felt. I gave serious thought to stopping after 24 minutes, but I knew that would leave me feeling dissatisfied. I took a thirty-second walking break, and then resumed running at a slightly slower pace. And somehow, I made it for the full 35 minutes. I wasn’t hurting, and I wasn’t out of breath – I was just tired.

As I reflect on the run, I have a choice. I can feel bad about how hard it was and how exhausted I felt. Or I can feel good about the fact that I did what I set out to do anyway. I do believe this short run gave me the kick-start I’ve been needing to get myself on the go again.

Have I rediscovered my running mojo? Perhaps not entirely – not yet – but it’s very close, lurking somewhere nearby.

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Treadmill Running: Better Than Nothing

14 Jul

Today, for the first time in many months, I came face to face with the treadmill at the gym.

Anyone who’s read my previous posts about treadmills will know exactly how I feel about them. For those who haven’t, I will merely say that I’m not a fan of the lab-rat machines, but regard them as a necessary evil. There are times when road running is just not possible, and running on the treadmill is better than not running at all.

Over the last few months, when I have had to run on the treadmill, I have used the one at home. It sat gathering dust for a few years after my younger son, then aged two,  put his hand onto the treadmill while it was moving, and took off the top few layers of skin. He is now old enough to respect the treadmill, and he knows to stay well away from it.

Treadmill running at home is marginally better than treadmill running at the gym. For a start, my home treadmill has a natural incline to it, so even on its “flat” setting I can simulate outdoor running reasonably well. And in addition, I can watch what I want on the TV without having to plug headphones into a weird little box that may or may not work. So the home treadmill has been a reasonable enough stand-in for “real” running on occasions when I’ve had no-one to watch the kids.

I was supposed to do a tempo run yesterday morning, which under normal circumstances wouldn’t have been a problem. The only thing is that when I do morning runs during the workweek, I have to get out early. I have to be awake by 5:00, outside waiting for my GPS watch to get a signal by 5:10, and running by 5:15. I have discovered that running on less than six hours of sleep makes me feel sick (unless I am racing: I can race on virtually no sleep at all, but racing has its own special set of rules), so I have to be asleep by 11:00 the night before an early morning run.

The night before last, we were having a whole lot of things happening at home. No hot water. Kids refusing to settle. A visit from my accountant. A dryer that wasn’t drying properly, resulting in me having to put each load through the cycle twice.

I did not get to bed until shortly after midnight, and by then my husband and I were so wound up that neither of us could sleep, so we talked until the wee hours of the morning. I did not get to sleep until well after 1:00 in the morning.

There was no way I could run when I woke up. I felt nauseous when my alarm clock went off, and that was before I’d gotten out of bed, never mind attempted to actually run anywhere.

But runners can be flexible, so I decided that it was no problem. I would just move yesterday’s run to this morning, and tomorrow’s run to Friday.

Last night – or should I say this morning – I got to sleep at about 2:30. Fannnnnnn-tastic.

When my alarm went off this morning, I got up, thinking that maybe I should just bite the bullet and run. But as I got up, I felt light-headed. I actually swooned, like they did in eighteenth century novels.

I was left with no choice. Either skip the run entirely (Scandal! How could I even think that!), or I could put in time on the treadmill at the gym at lunchtime. Like I said before, treadmill running is better than not running at all, so the gym it was. I stuck my headphones in my ears and turned on the music, set my training watch, and programmed the treadmill for a 45 minute hill workout.

It was good. I mean, as good as a treadmill run can be. My legs felt strong, my heart rate – inexplicably – stayed in the 150-155 range despite the fact that I was running quite intensely, and I actually kind of enjoyed it. I’m not suggesting that I am going to make treadmill running a regular part of my program, I’m just saying that it’s not always so bad.

So my scheduled run was finally done – albeit a day and a half late – and I have taken another baby step towards my goal of shattering last year’s time for the Autism Run.

And I feel a sense of accomplishment that has me grinning like a village idiot.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mahidoodi/199747855/)

From Lab Rat To Sunrises

11 Jan

I went for a run on the treadmill this morning.  This meant getting up at five when I hadn’t had enough sleep, and schlepping off to the gym down the road.  Yes, I do have my own treadmill at home, but I never use it.  Not since the day my son James, then three years old, put his hand on the belt while it was moving and chalked up a very painful visit to the ER.  The thing is pretty much used as a coat hanger these days.

Anyway, when I got to the gym, I was momentarily stymied by the sight of someone using the treadmill I always like to use, the one right by the window.  What was this?  Twenty treadmills free, just begging to be used, and he has to pick my one?  The fact that I don’t actually own the treadmill and that he has just as much right to use it as I do did not matter to me in the least.

I couldn’t exactly push him off, though, so I reluctantly chose another treadmill, entered the settings for a hill workout, and started running.  In the beginning, I thought I was in trouble.  My muscles felt way too tight to be running hills, and I tired quickly.  It only took a couple of minutes for me to find my groove, though, and I completed the workout (4.7km in about 26 minutes).

I enjoyed the run as much as I could under the circumstances.  I am not fond of treadmill running.  It always makes me feel a bit like a hamster, or a lab rat. But sometimes, especially in the dead of winter, I don’t have a choice.  I don’t mind running in the cold or the snow, and I have the attire for it.  But when there is actual ice on the sidewalks, that is another matter entirely.  I will run in icy conditions during the day, when I can scope out every step before I take it.  Not at five in the morning, when it is far too dark for me to see the sidewalk ahead of me.

I am really looking forward to the Spring.  I look forward to the weather getting warmer, and I look forward to the sun rising a little earlier each day.  I don’t look forward to the downpours of rain that are always a part of Spring, but they too are there to usher in the warmer, lighter days.

I love the middle of summer.  When everyone else is swooning and whining about the heat, I am thriving.  Of course, everyone else can get back at me in the winter, when I turn into a pathetic crybaby about the cold.  What can I say?  Even though I am now a Canadian and proud of it, I am from Africa.  I am a child of the sun.

In the summer, it is too hot to run during the middle of the day, but the beauty is that it gets light shortly after five in the morning.  If I can get out at just the right time, I can go out in perfect weather, and run while I watch the sunrise.  Most of the world is asleep at that time; I feel as if Mother Nature is putting on a show just for me.

The treadmill is OK.  I can live with it – in fact, I may even benefit from it – once a week.  But there is no feeling in the world like running on the open road.

Be sure to check out my post today on World Mom’s Blog, where I talk about how I coped with George’s autism diagnosis.

Get into the groove? Gotta find the groove first!

21 Dec

Usually, when I get sick, I can bounce back fairly quickly once I recover.  The recovery itself may take time – I had a particularly nasty bout of bronchitis early this year that grounded me for about a month – but once I’m on my feet, I’m pretty solid.  This time round I seem to be having a much harder time of it.

Yesterday I wrote about my run on Sunday, which was really tough.  I had more reasons for it then, though. I mean, I was hungover and getting over this bronchitis. I thought that I would feel better after this morning’s run for sure. So confident was I that I bounded out of bed at five in the morning, quickly got dressed, and headed over to the gym.  There I got onto a treadmill and did a twenty minute hill workout.  And it was TOUGH.

Granted, I always pick the higher-level settings when I’m doing treadmill workouts, but it’s always a bit of a breeze.  Running on the treadmill is a lot easier (albeit a lot more boring) than running on roads or trails.  Usually I can knock off a thirty of forty minute workout and still have enough reserves left in the tank for a weights workout or a go on the rowing machine.

But this morning, after twenty minutes, I was done. D-O-N-E. I completed the workout, and I was even able to up my speed a little bit at the end, but afterwards there was nothing left in the tank at all. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t feel bad.  I wasn’t on the verge of collapsing or anything like that. I was simply not capable of doing more.  It was a somewhat dismaying feeling.  I mean, c’mon.  I’m a distance runner.  I’ve done three half-marathons in the last fifteen months and I have two more planned for 2011. I’m used to going out and running ten miles before breakfast on Sundays.  And now I cannot even cope with more than a paltry twenty minute hill workout on the treadmill?  What is that about?

There are a number of explanations, of course, the biggest one being that this bronchitis did knock the stuffing out of me a bit, and it may take a couple of runs for me to find my groove.  The enforced three-week break from running won’t have helped either.  Nor will the lack of sleep.  I have been going to bed far too late over the last little while, and my sleep deficit is just frightening.  And then there’s the fact that my nutrition leaves much to be desired.  It’s not bad bad, but I’m definitely not following the kind of diet a runner should.

These are all things that can be fixed.  It’s just up to me to make the choice to follow better eating habits, take my vitamins (that’s one thing I have been doing better at), and get to bed at a reasonable hour.  And the rest should follow.  These choices are especially important if I am going to achieve my goal of breaking two hours for the half-marathon in 2011.

It’s just that I hate this feeling of not being able to push my body as far as I want it to go.  I need to break out of this funk…