Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What are you holding back?

Yesterday was the final spin class of the year.  It was also the first one I've been able to make it to in weeks.  One of the biggest lessons this spin class has taught me is to give it everything I've got.

The first one I went to, I joked that I might die if I kept doing this.  The second one I attended was even harder.

So, when Angie announced that it is tradition to for this class to be the "torture class" prior to indulging in holiday treats, I didn't know what I was in for.  The main set was some really hard intervals.  Only 30 seconds long each, but when you do 10 of those, it gets brutal.  When you do three sets of 10, it leaves your legs trembling.

Afterwards Angie asked me if it was harder then the ones where I said I felt like I was going to die.  I didn't have a straight answer.  On one hand, it was harder.  On the other hand, I didn't have the same feeling of: "I have never worked that hard in my life", that I had the first couple times.

After giving it some thought, I came to the following conclusion: I almost always hold something in reserve.  I almost always hold something back.  In some situations, that's simply smart pacing, but taken too far, it's a major way of limiting yourself.

I almost always have a sprint left in me at the end of a bike, run or swim.  I almost always am able to give it more.  And sometimes that's great.  But, other times, it's good to empty the tank.  The more you push your limits, the further away your limits get.

In the spin class, I've learned to give it everything I've got.  The first couple times, I had never felt so spent.  This time, that feeling was a bit more familiar, even if it didn't make it easier.  At the very least, I didn't feel like I was going to die.

How do you push your limits?  What's holding you back?

Monday HBBC points: 7 (60 minute swim, f/v)
Tuesday HBBC points: 8 (76 minute spin, f/v)
Week to date: 19
Total: 141

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Swimming pool victory

Last night was my final coached swim of the year.  I'm already signed up for the January session though!  This program has done so much for my swimming that I'll be sticking with it for the foreseeable future.

We did a timed 1000m swim.  The first time I've ever done one.  I've done plenty of timed 500s though, some on my own and a couple in the coached program.  I've never done a 500 faster then 11:35.

That is until last night.  I did 2 timed 500s faster then 11:35, and I did them back to back, for a 1000m time of 22:57.  I'm pretty thrilled about that right now.

The really cool thing about my swimming is that I can actually feel the water now.  One stroke tip I've received at multiple times is to enter the water a bit wider.  I have a tendency to enter too close to the middle, which causes me to cross over, which leads to a less efficient stroke.

The first time I remember being given this stroke tip was back in the spring.  Now, I intellectually understood all of these things.  Intellectually, I knew that this was a better way to do it.  When I actually swam wider though, I was doing it because I knew I should.  It felt awkward.

I was given this tip again a couple weeks ago.  This time, when I made a point of implementing it, I could feel the difference.  I could actually feel that I had more leverage in the water.  I was able to grab more water and move further on a single stroke.  It still feels a bit awkward, as does any stroke adjustment initially.  But, rather then just intellectually knowing why I'm doing it, I can feel it.

Pretty cool stuff.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Let's catch up!

Well, the holiday season is now coming in full force.  I realized I haven't blogged for a few days.  On my last post, I even forgot to update my HBBC points.  I'm actually liking listing my training though.  It gives me a physical record of what I've done, since I'm not actually that good at journaling it in general.  I'm thinking I may keep it up even when the challenge is done.

Training has been down.  I think it's hurting me to not have a specific training plan.  I'm just trying to keep a base in all three sports (and sucking at keeping my biking up).  But, without a specific training plan, I've been a bit too relaxed in deciding what to do on a day to day basis.  My half iron plan doesn't actually start until March, but I'm going to start on a more concrete plan for a 10k (with planned swims and bikes as well) before then.

I've been liking the treadmill.  Saturday was a warm day, and yesterday there was fresh snow.  It was nice not have to decide how to deal with that.  (Fresh snow after a warm day can create the worst footing there is.) Plus, it was a busy day, and I didn't run until the evening.  Those circumstances are the type that make it easy to use excuses.

Instead, (with a gentle shove from the husband), I hopped on the treadmill and knocked off a few miles.  And miles they are.  Normally, I think in kilometers and log in kilometers.  I do convert to miles when I talk about distances in my blog, for my American readers.  The treadmill is not nearly as Canadian as I am.  It simply gives me speed and paces in miles.  Takes some getting used to.

In some ways, I find running on the treadmill more challenging.  I think part of that is just that I've had the speed a bit higher then I might normally run at.  I can't just slow down the way I might outside.  I won't do all my runs like that, but so far, my runs have been short enough that pushing the speed isn't an issue.

I'm trying to be a better blogger by taking more pictures, but it's been a challenge.  Recently, I broke my little camera, and I don't have a smartphone to take pictures with.  We have another camera, but it's too big to conveniently carry with me.  I'm planning to spend some time pretty-ing up my blog in the new year.

My husband's Christmas party was this Saturday.  It's one of the few times in the year when I dress up.  I had a bit of an out of body experience, which was kind of cool.  I was walking towards a full length mirror in the rest room and I saw my legs.  I know my calves are decent, but usually I'm kind of down on anything above my knees.  When I saw myself in the mirror, I had an instant "that can't me" type reaction.  My legs just looked too thin.  There was somebody taking pictures, so when I get it, I'll throw it up on the blog.

Hmm, this isn't the most focused of blog posts!  If you made it through, congrats!  Thanks for reading.  :)

Tuesday HBBC points: 4 (4 mile track run, garmin testing, woohoo!  Getting my 910 slowly.)
Wednesday HBBC points: 6 (50 minute swim, 1 mile treadmill run)
Thursday HBBC points: 3 (2 mile treadmill run, f/v)
Friday HBBC points: 5 (50 minute swim)
Last week total points: 28

Saturday HBBC points: 0
Sunday HBBC points: 4 (3.5 mile treadmill run, 10 minutes stretching)
Week to date: 4
Total: 126

*Fruit/veggie note: I haven't been as delinquent in my produce intake as it appears.  Since I wasn't keeping up my logging though, I only counted the f/v point on days where I specifically remember eating enough.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Then again, tough is relative

In my last post, I admitted to getting a treadmill, because I'm just not feeling tough enough to run in all the cold temperatures and on slippery surfaces this year.  In the comments, many of you felt I was already pretty tough for running in -15c (5f), let alone the -30c (-22f) I have run in at times.

On the other hand, I know there are some that probably do think I'm a wimp.  If there's one person that might call me a wimp for the treadmill purchase, it would be Keith. ;)  I can forgive that though, as he lives in the same climate as I do, so he can legitimately claim to be tough.

I have to admit that I giggle a little when I see some of the southern bloggers complaining about the temperatures when they drop below freezing.  Truthfully, my favourite temperature to run in is probably right around freezing, as long as there is no ice.  On the flip side, I give you all permission to giggle in the summer when I complain that the temperatures hit 25c (79f).  I find that really hot to run in.  And no, we don't tend to get that much humidity here, so I can't even blame that...

In my defense the treadmill isn't just for cold weather.  Truthfully, I think the biggest benefit is that it opens up my training time.  With young kids, I can't run unless my husband is home, even when they are sleeping.  Now, I can run at anytime.  His work keeps threatening (ahem, talking about) sending him on a business trip.  This takes away a lot of my anxiety about how to fit in training if that happens.

Don't worry, I know it's not the same as running outside!  I'll still do lots of that, even in cold temps.  But, when I can't, for whatever reason, it's nice to know that I can still run.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I'm not really that tough

Last winter, I ran on some brutally cold days.  I had Yak Trax (which ended up breaking) and would even run on some relatively slippery days.  If I had to get a run in, I generally sucked it up and did it.

But here's the thing, I'm not really that tough.  This winter, I'm having trouble getting out when it's -15c (5f).  What am I going to do when it's -30c (-22f)?  Then there's the slippery aspect of things in the winter.

On Sunday I ran.  It wasn't that cold, but there was a good layer of snow over top of some ice that had developed the previous day.  I was testing out some new traction aids (which failed).  At one point, I managed to roll my ankle (that wasn't due to the failure of the traction aids, but the fact that I couldn't see the pathway and by accident stepped on the edge of it).  At another, I slipped on some of that ice (which I couldn't see) despite my traction aids.  I wasn't hurt, but it does demonstrate the need to be much more careful out there.  Ice covered by snow is probably the worst traction situation out there.

So, Santa, myself and my husband have consulted.  This fitness machine has been demoted to the storage room.
There's actually still room to use it in there.  We have a big storage room.
Something else will take it's place.  No worries, I will still run outside.  Probably not on too many -30 days though. 

I might not be tough, but I'm also not going to be lazy.

Yesterday's HBBC points: 7 (60 minute swim, f/v)
Week to date: 10
Total: 104 (Yipee, I broke 100!)

Monday, December 12, 2011


A dark blog.  Is it ever a good thing?  For me?  Sure, sometimes, if I go on vacation.  Otherwise, usually when my blog goes dark, it's because something in my life isn't quite clicking the way it should be.  I don't like to have a whiny blog, so when my life starts to feel a bit whiny, I stop blogging.

My last post was about quitting my running streak, then...  nothing.

So, what happened?  Well, I did quit my running streak.  Then I didn't run again for 5 days, until yesterday.  I didn't bike at all. I did go to the pool a couple times, but that was pretty much it.  My nutrition went out the window.  I made cookies with the kids, which was fine.  Then, I ate the cookies.  Way too many of them.  I even had cookies for breakfast one day.  Seriously.  Can you say tailspin?

I've just been feeling blah.  Off.  Even before the cookies.  Like I'm putting on face and trying to act like everything is normal.  And it is.  Except not quite.

This time of year is hard for me.  I'm not even going to blame the holidays and all the food indulgences related to them.  What is hard for me is the darkness.  The days are so short and the nights are so long.  I get up and it's dark.  I was driving home at about 5:00pm one day and it was already getting dark.  I honestly think I get a mild case of SAD (seasonal affective disorder, or winter depression).  This darkness gets to me.  And the cold doesn't help.

So, what to do, what to do?

Well, there's the first steps, the easy ones.  Open my blinds when there is light.  Look at the mountains.  My view of the mountains is a "peek-a-boo" view, as the other (expensive) side of the street gets the full view, but fact is, I can still see mountains out my front window - if I open the blinds.  I like mountains.  :)

Get outside.  Spud literally jumps up and down in excitement when he thinks there is enough snow for a snowman.  Now, sadly, we often get the wrong kind of snow (it's powdery rather then sticky), but it doesn't mean we can't still go outside and play in it.

Train.  Seems pretty straight forward.  I feel the most alive when I am getting some serious training in at least once a day, twice is better.  The timing of this is pretty good actually.  I have my coached swim session this evening, then tomorrow, I have a garmin testing session (where I'll run about 40 minutes.  That much closer to my 910xt!), and I'll be going to spin class.  So, I have solid commitments, giving me a good start to getting back into a routine.

I've been depressed before, and I'm not there yet.  I'm kind of on the edge though.  For me, it's a cyclical thing: my actions (or lack thereof) can lead me further into it or help dig me out.  Exercise is like a drug, a good one.  Time to get on it, full force.

Only 10 more days till the days start getting longer again!

How does winter and darkness affect you?  Is it a bad sign when your blog goes dark?

HBBC - Getting back to it!
Sunday's points: 3 (2 mile run, f/v)
Week to date: 3
HBBC points from last week: 28
Total: 97

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Six days of streaking, but I don't like it.

Well, I've been a little back and forth on this streaking thing.  At first, I thought it was a neat idea, possibly good for my running, could be a nice mental boost.  I wasn't totally convinced and was cautious about injury.

I will say something about the streaking.  It teaches you something about making excuses.  Running 1 mile is not that hard.  It doesn't require a big time investment.  Even though it's only been 6 days, I'm recognizing that there is a big difference between making excuses and having reasons not to run.  Every time I didn't feel like it, it was an excuse, rather then a reason.  So, I ran.

So, why am I writing this blog post now?  Well, quite simply, I'm not liking it.  Forcing myself to get out and run, no matter what, is not something I'm enjoying.  Normally, I like the majority of my runs, but I haven't been enjoying this.  It takes me about 10 minutes to start liking most of my runs, which is the time I'm ending the short ones.

Not to mention, it's cold right now.  It's slippery sometimes.  Getting ready for a run takes more of a time investment.  I'm not so keen on investing that time for such a short run.

I've tried to examine my reasons for streaking.  There's the bragging rights.  There is a certain amount of satisfaction in doing something that other people think is crazy.  Hmm.  Why else was I doing it again?

Fact is, I would rather run 3-4 times a week and enjoy 95% of my runs.  Then, I can swim 3 times a week and bike a few times a week (my bike has been neglected though; I need to get back on that).  For me, that's a balance that works.  Running every day is not.

Will I ever streak again?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I think it would have to either be at a time of year when the weather is nice, or be at a time when I have a treadmill in my basement.  I think it would also have to be at a time when running is my primary focus, and I'm not trying to balance the bike and swim with it.

So, I've decided: Streaking is not my thing right now.  I'm giving up on the streak.

Yesterday's HBBC points: 8 (1 mile run, 60 minute swim, f/v)
Week to date: 20
Total: 94
Days of streak: 6 - about to be broken...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Introducing the C25Sleigh program

Is Winter getting you down?

Having trouble running while the snow is a foot deep?

Now, the solution for you!  The Couch to 5 Sleigh program!

This program will gradually introduce you to sleigh running.  Beginning with just one child on the sled, it will gradually build up your strength until you are able to pull 5 children while running through knee deep snow.  You'll go into the spring race season strong and ready to conquer anything!

Photo is a reenactment.  I actually had both kids on the sled when I was pulling them. 

If you get tired, you can just fall over and make snow angels.
Saturday's HBBC points: 7 (5.5 mile run, 10 minutes stretching, f/v)
Sunday's HBBC points: 13 (2 miles of walking/sleigh running, 5 mile run, 50 minute swim, f/v)
Week to date: 20
Total HBBC points: 86
Days on running streak: 4

Friday, December 2, 2011

Just one mile

This evening, I went out and ran a mile.  Just one.

It's part of my quest to streak through the month of December.  Truthfully, I'm looking at it as an experiment.  I don't know how it will go, and I am not 100% sure I will make it the whole month.  I will battle laziness to do at least a mile a day, but I won't risk injury.  I think I might learn something about myself and my running style.  We'll see where it takes me.

Today is the second day of my streak, but it is the first day I ran just one mile, the minimum and what I plan to do about 3 days a week.  I simultaneously liked it and disliked it.

It was pretty easy to convince myself to get out the door.  Just one mile.  That's nothing.  I can do that.  Sure, it's cold out, but I can dress a bit more heavily.  I'm not going long enough to worry about overheating.  I can't remember the last time I ran so little.  Normally, my shortest run is 3 km, and those are few and far between.

But, it's not all perfect.  I shortchanged my warm up.  Normally, I walk about half a kilometer to warm up.  Today, I didn't bother.  It's hard to spend that much time warming up for such a short run.  I did take the beginning of the run slow though.

The other aspect I'm not sure I love is: the getting into a groove part.  It's not unusual for me to dislike the first 10 minutes of a run.  So, when I'm running 1 mile?  Well, that takes me 10-11 minutes.  Basically, I'm getting into the groove as I'm wrapping up.

Yes, I can do more.  But, since I'm not used to running 7 days a week, one of the things I'm doing to avoid injury is holding it to just 1 mile on some of those days.  We'll see...

Today's HBBC points: 7 (1 mile run, 50 minute swim, f/v)
Week 2 points: 28
Total: 66
Days of running streak: 2

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Running - cheaper then therapy

Does anyone else have a tendency to blow life's events out of proportion?  I know I do.  I got some unsettling (though totally expected) news last night and and I was having trouble processing it.  You know how your mind starts running worst case scenario-type things.  No good reason for it.  Just the way I roll sometimes.

I went for a run.  It wasn't a fast run.  It wasn't even a particularly long run.  I had no goals other then to run.  The first 10 minutes, I didn't even like it.  I wanted to stop.  Then I got into my zone.  It's like, sometimes, things go in circles in your head.  You keep repeating the same problems over and over, and go around and around.  But, when I run, I mentally resolve things.  Whether I come to a solution, or I accept the lack of a current solution, it lets me stop dwelling.

Yet another reason to run.

Yesterday's HBBC points: 1 (f/v)
Today's HBBC points: 6 (8km/5mi run + f/v)
Week to date: 21
Total: 59
Days of running streak: 1