A Long Run

As much as I love to complain about running, some of my favourite parts of this hobby involve the routines. Last May was the last time I trained for a long-distance event, and I’ve really missed the ritual of the Sunday long slow run.

Saturday night prep, an early bedtime, the nervous stomach in the morning, toughing it out on the run, and the exhausted feeling of accomplishment after.

As I try to make a comeback after taking some time away from running due to burnout, and then surgery, my paces have been slow and my legs have been sore. But I am feeling proud every day because I haven’t given up, even though some days it feels like it might be easier to.

I’m still moving forward and progress is happening, albeit in inches instead of miles.

Yesterday I woke up excited for an outside run. Nervous, too: 10K once seemed like an easy short run to me, but now it feels daunting.

At 8:30 AM it was a little cold out for my taste. My lungs have not accustomed to the winter air because I’ve been stuck inside most of the season. I decided to wait a few hours and then drove out to my parents’ subdivision. There’s hardly any traffic out there and the roads are smooth — and even bare in some parts!

It wasn’t pretty. There was a lot of walking and huffing and puffing. I didn’t wear a Garmin and ran by feel. But the sun shone, and I covered 10.2K, and I crossed the first long run off my training schedule.

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Most of all, I can now say I am more prepared today to run a half-marathon than I was the day before.

Happy running, everyone.

It’s Officially Week One

As always, this journey to getting back in shape and training for a half-marathon can be best described so far as a “rollercoaster.”

(Don’t ever let it be said that I’m not a drama queen when it comes to running. It would be so boring otherwise!)

The winter has not been kind to my mental state and as my workouts increase, so does the amount of effort I have to put in to get my butt out the door. Some of you who are training for marathons outside may fight me for this title,  but I truly feel that no one will be happier to see spring than me.

This was my view one year ago ...

This was my view one year ago on our honeymoon …

A few “post-surgery” firsts also took place in the past week. I returned to Master’s swimming. It was tough. I forgot how much swimming before work can tire me out and put my in danger of falling asleep at my desk later.

And then yesterday, after checking the weather and noticing the mercury was safely above zero, I dug about my winter running clothes and actually ran outside.

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Not only that, but I did it with my long-lost crew from Running Room. We did four hill repeats for a total of about 6K. I did better than expected … meaning I did not die! It was was actually kind of fun and I remembered how much I love running with a group from time to time.

Last week, closing in on 12 weeks to go before Ottawa Race Weekend, I decided it was time to choose a training plan. My choices were:

  • Running Room (5 runs a week and no prescribed cross-training)
  • Run Less, Run Faster (3 runs a week and 2 cross-training sessions with a focus on speed)
  • Hal Higdon Novice 2 (4 runs a week and 1 cross-training session)

Like Goldilocks says, I decided Hal Higdon’s plan was just right for my current training style. It’s a 12-week plan, which makes this Week One of half-marathon training.

I go back and forth every day on whether this half-marathon will be doable for me or whether I want to give up completely. But looking at this plan makes me feel like I can get to that start line if I put the work in. The goal will be simply to finish and later on I can look at a race with an eye for getting a personal best. 79 days to go!

What I Learned About Healthy Living While Sitting On The Couch

I made a nice little indent on the couch in the seven weeks following my surgery. Books were read, Netflix was binged — it was a lovely break from exercise. Although I enjoyed my rest for the most part, I did have a few thoughts during that time that I think are going to be helpful now that I’ve broken up with the couch. (It was sure nice while it lasted!)


 

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1. Don’t take your health for granted. Put things in perspective.

I didn’t have anything severely wrong with me that made me require surgery but I did lose stamina, endurance and strength while recovering.

A mere 3.5 months ago I was beating myself up for missing a personal best time in the 10K by 8 seconds. I would kill to run that fast now. Actually, I’d be fine with walking up the stairs to the treadmills and not feeling my chest burn. I wish I had congratulated myself for my accomplishments more instead of constantly thinking about how much better I could be.

2. Need motivation? Think about being back at square one.

I often need to summon my willpower to avoid skipping a workout. I’m just not naturally motivated. One tip I find useful: thinking about how bad it felt when I first started exercising regularly. That’s why so many people give up on running easily — it just plain sucks in the beginning.

How many times have you heard this:

“I tried running once and I hated it.”

Well, yeah … of course you did.

Remind yourself that you don’t want to lose your progress and revert back to that point, and stick with your momentum.

3. … But if you do end up back at square one, it’s OK. Don’t base your whole worth on your ability to exercise.

Most of the time we don’t get to choose when we get sick or our body becomes physically unable to exercise. It often comes out of the blue. Even if it’s not an illness, your life could change and leave a lot less time for exercise.

If that happened to you, would you still be able to find enjoyment in your life in other ways? A lot of us, especially runners, would say no. It’s great to push yourself, but if something happened and you couldn’t push anymore, I hope you could find something to make you happy other than a personal best race time. There are a lot of forms of healthy living– stay flexible in your thinking so you can find yours.


That’s it for Deep Thoughts With Molly … back to your regularly scheduled programming soon!

Snow And My Favourite Forms of Exercise

This weekend I had the pleasure of returning to two of my favourite forms of exercise: yoga and swimming. I’ve tried lots of different types of workouts over the years, but those are two that have stuck.

On Saturday morning I decided to try a yoga class at the YMCA. I thought going back to Moksha hot yoga would be a little too much too soon. Turns out the class was 1.5 hours and was also too much too soon. I sweated so much that my mat was as wet as it used to be in the hot room.

I was so sore afterward. My balance was completely off and strength was so lacking that I fell out of poses several times. Despite all that, I was happy to be back. It will get easier each time I go.

Sunday we were hit by yet another blizzard. Truthfully, I don’t pay much attention to weather forecasts. I’m not running outside this year, I live three blocks from work, rarely drive and have a landlord that plows my driveway. There’s not a lot for me to worry about when it comes to snow.

That being said, it was pretty friggin’ snowy out.

In case you haven't heard from all your East Coast friends on Facebook.

In case you haven’t heard from all your East Coast friends on Facebook.

My husband, Dan, was home so we checked the gym schedule and saw that they were open and the pool was open for lap and leisure swim. It was the perfect opportunity for me to test out my strokes that have been neglected for two months.

A nice place to be while the snow blows around outside.

A nice place to be while the snow blows around outside.

The swimming felt great, but was really tough cardio-wise. I was panting after a few laps and in the past I could do a 2000-metre workout without getting too out of breath. Dan and I still got in a fun workout together since we were the only two people in the pool.

And after we got out, the gym announced that it was closing because of the storm. Perfect timing.

What are your favourite non-running workouts?

The First Few Days Back

I’m back with an update on my first few workouts. Firstly, if you’re ever feeling burnt out about exercise, take a full eight weeks off and then you’ll magically feel like there’s no place you’d rather be than the gym. That’s what worked for me, anyway.

Once my surgery pain finally faded late last week, I was practically falling over myself to dig out my gym bag from the back of the closet.

On Saturday I couldn’t wait to pick out an outfit — my workout clothes have felt neglected, I’m sure — and head to the YMCA. I didn’t yell “I’m baaaaack” when I waltzed in the doors, but I felt like it.

Hey guys, I'm back! At the gym! Look at me!

Hey guys, I’m back! At the gym! Look at me! I love pink!

For that first workout I took it easy and ran/walked 2.5K. Four minutes running, one minute walking. I followed it up with a core workout. I didn’t find it very difficult, but the next day I was more than a little unimpressed with how sore my legs were.

I admit that I worried a little bit about my potential to do a half-marathon in May if my legs hurt that much from a short run/walk. Then I put those doubts out of my head and decided to focus on taking it a day at a time.

Running every-other day sounds good for now as I ease back into a more traditional training program. Actually, once I’m back in shape I’d like to try out the Run Less, Finish Faster model with three runs and two swims (or spins) a week. Therefore, Sunday was an off day and on Monday I was back on the treadmill early in the morning.

This time I upped my intervals to nine minutes running, one minute walking for a total of 4K. My legs were sore toward the end but felt much better the next day. I followed up the run with core exercises again. I’ve learned that they are extremely important for me to stay injury free.

Tuesday was an off day again, and Wednesday I decided to aim for 5K. I pretty much ran the whole run with only one extended walk break in the middle because of some stomach pains. It took me 35 minutes. Despite being a slow time for me in my previous life, I was flying high afterward.

Even though it’s only been a few days, I am pleased with my progress so far. I’m looking forward to testing out what cross-training workouts are best for me, getting back in the pool, and starting to layer in other fun training aspects like nutrition.

The Long Road Ahead

Let’s briefly recap: I used to work out very rarely, and if I did it was a walk or a romp on the elliptical with a magazine. Then one day I decided to try to live a healthier life, and for three years I exercised about four-five times a week. I wrote about it here, remember?

Last year I spent the winter training for a marathon, ran it in the spring, and then went back to less intense workouts. Things dwindled down as the year ran out and life got busier. On December 15 I had surgery and I’ve been pretty sedentary ever since.

I went to the gym a few times after I got the six weeks post-op green light to exercise, but things didn’t feel right. I had some lingering pain I was worried about. I reassessed and made a plan to pick it back up again on Sunday, February 1, which was officially 16 weeks from Ottawa Race Weekend.

Instead, I got knocked down by the worst cold I’ve had in years — and I blame that on a weakened immune system from a lack of exercise — and I was out for the count for almost a whole week.

Time for the good news. I went to the surgeon today and he said I am absolutely fine to work out as much as I want, even if there’s a bit of soreness leftover from surgery. I’m also feeling much better sickness-wise and expect to be tip-top by the weekend.

(Hear that, lungs and drippy nose?)

What I’m trying to say is, I’m ready to get back at it. Scratch that: I am dying to get back at it. Back in the pool, back in my sneakers, off of the couch.

I plan to blog about my journey getting back into shape and trying (probably desperately, at times) to make it to the start line of that half marathon at the end of May.

At this point I am not exaggerating when I say I can’t walk up the stairs at work without getting out of breath. I’ve taken the elevator more than I care to admit. The muscles I had, and took for granted, are completely gone. Coughing and laughing at Friends on Netflix is the extent of my ab workouts these days.

The highs and lows will be documented for my own entertainment and also to show people that, well, shit happens. Sometimes life gets in the way and you lose your progress and momentum.

We shouldn’t be afraid to start from scratch, or start something new.

A fresh start.

Why I Keep Writing

Things have been radio silent over here lately. I miss writing and sharing, but it felt tough to find inspiration when I’m doing nothing particularly remarkable.

I was on the stationary bike the other night — more on that a bit farther down in this post — and started thinking about this site. Why would anyone want to read what I have to say about healthy living when I do it averagely, at best? In that moment, everyone at the gym seemed to be a superstar. I thought: They don’t have a blog about their accomplishments, so why should I? What makes me special? Especially right now when I’m recovering from a surgery that has left me almost completely sedentary …

Thankfully, those thoughts were gone from my head almost as quickly as they entered.

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I remembered all the times people have told me they read my writing exactly because I’m average. I’m just a small town regular girl, trying to achieve some goals, always striving toward a happy and healthy life. Sometimes I knock it out of the park, but most times I struggle.

I don’t know about you, but those are precisely my favourite bloggers to read.

So that’s why I keep this blog open.

And that’s why I’m writing today.

I am five weeks post-operation. The surgery has been a roadblock that I was ready for, and at the same time, wasn’t at all. I’ve worked out three times in the past couple of weeks, and although it felt good to be exercising, I had some pain afterward that made me put the kibosh on going back to the gym just to be safe.

I miss working out, but the feeling is not all-consuming, and that’s been surprising to me.

The main drawbacks are jeans that are a touch tighter, depressing thoughts that can creep in when I’m not high on endorphins, less chances to be outside in the winter, and a training planner that is still sitting empty.

But other than that … things are fine.

3312563658772512ef8112f5258e079dI watched all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls in record time. I’ve read a couple of good books and a couple of bad ones.

I re-organized my kitchen and made a four-course meal from scratch. When my husband is home from work, I spend get to spend lots of time with him.

I got my hair cut!

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I do miss getting sweaty and wearing my workout clothes. And I really long for hot yoga.

On the other hand, I can tell you that I do not remotely miss running in the cold. In fact, I can’t remember how I ever did it. I’m sure it would come back to me quickly — but I’m OK that the moment isn’t here yet.

So that’s the update from my unremarkable life. I just want others who may be temporarily injured or taking time off to know it’s not the end of the world. You have years ahead of you to reach new heights. Enjoy the downtime …