Energy Reboot

I’ve tried to restart my running program about 10 times since getting the go ahead from my dr. Each time has failed, not because of injury but because of lack of energy. Here are my top reasons for lack of follow through:

  • I’m too tired 
  • I’m too busy (work, family, politics, etc.)
  • I’m too overwhelmed (see above)
  • It’s too cold, gym is too far, workout clothes don’t fit anymore, excuse of the day…
  • I don’t seem to be getting better. 

I’ve tried to get back on track with eating about 100 times in the last six months. I know which foods  give me energy and make me feel good and which foods give me food cravings and make me feel out of control. Here are my top reasons I fall apart:

  • I’m too tired to cook, shop, prep food
  • I didn’t plan for my day properly
  • I’m in a lousy mood, so I just don’t care anymore
  • I’ve already eaten the wrong thing, so what’s one more
  • If it’s not about weight loss, why can’t I eat what I like?

It’s like a viscous cycle. I eat foods that suck the energy out of me and the. I have no energy. I don’t exercise so I have no energy. 

In addition, I’ve gone back to drinking regular coffee. It started with just a cup or two a week, but progressed to the point where I get a splitting headache if I don’t have 2-3 cups a day. 

After thinking about this for a couple of weeks, I’ve decided that I need a complete reboot. I need the human equivalent of turning it off and turning it back on again. 

I went back to where I started, when the journey was just starting. I need to set small enough goals that I think I can achieve them. I need to take it much more slowly than I have been. Things didn’t break down in a couple of weeks; it was a gradual process of little slips. 

I’m going to stop focusing on trying to be a runner so much. I’m going to put my attention on things that get my energy back. 

So here it is ~ 30 days to reboot my energy:

I need to focus on things that will give me energy. Whole foods, not processed. Eating more proteins and veggies and less sugars.  Avoid wheat. Cut down on caffeine. Move my body every day.  Think about how to improve sleep. 

I don’t have the answers now. I’m going to play with a few things and see how it goes. 

Snow Day Workout

cat-in-snow19Does shoveling snow count as one of my weekly workouts? My fitness app doesn’t include it as a setting but I’m seriously counting it.

christmasThursday we got a huge snowfall that kept most sane people in-doors. I looked at the snow and decided to leave it right where it was. I was happy to use the day in the house as an excuse to take down my Christmas decorations (don’t judge, I’ve been busy).

Friday was really cold out. Most people managed to go back to work but I took advantage of my job that lets me work from home. I stayed indoors, drank waaaay too much coffee, and never made it out of the house.  Every couple of hours I checked the weather app that assured me that Saturday would be much warmer, and thus a better day to get rid of the piles of snow. Maybe most of it would melt off. (Have I mentioned I really hate the cold?)

no-appAnd I was right, mostly. It was much warmer yesterday so a lot of the snow melted. Also I was able to work without being so bundled up; I worked in just a sweater, no coat. Also, the ice was easier to dig up.  On the other hand, the snow that was there was very wet and therefore very heavy.

At some point I picked up something the wrong way or moved the wrong way and pulled something.  So now I have this sharp pins-and-needle feeling running from my lower back, down my leg, and into my heel.  It is incredibly painful so I’m skipping my workout today which means I’m not meeting my weekly goal this week.

melting_snowNext time I’m just going to let the snow melt naturally.

Best Run in Months

OK, to fair, it’s been my only real run in months.

seldenMy last real run was in August. I did a 6 mile hill run that completely undid me. Since then I’ve  kind of lost myself. I tried a number of programs (weights, biking, yoga), but not with any enthusiasm. I’ve been disconnected, easily frustrated, and a bit lost.  What was supposed to be 6 weeks of PT dragged into 12 weeks. I was pretty faithful about attending PT, but kind of slacked off between sessions, not keeping up on my end of the exercise.
The events of early November didn’t help my already sagging mood. Not to get political, but I have lost enthusiasm for pretty much everything.

depressedThe PT, which initially showed promise wasn’t really getting me where I needed to go. Plus the doctors couldn’t agree on the best way to move me forward. One said I definitely needed surgery and it was a wonder I could run at all. Another said those were old injuries, and if I ran a half marathon last year those mangled bones and tendons couldn’t be the problem now. I went the path of least resistance and got cortisone shots in my heel.

At first I didn’t think the shots helped. I still felt all the pains, just in different places, but I renewed my efforts to work on PT and by week 2 things seemed somewhat better. My therapist said we could try a cautious run on the treadmill in PT. That was Monday. She let me run for 1 min, walk for 2 min, run for 1 min, walk for 2 min, etc.  In all I did less than a half mile of running in 15 min. It was both agonizing and exhilarating.  My body felt free, but also in check. It was the best 15 minutes in weeks.

That was Monday… I rested and tested how my legs felt Tuesday and Wednesday, I did a morning run: A little further and a little faster.  As per my carefully planned out regime, I rested Thursday and woke super early this morning ready for my Friday run. I did 10 minutes straight running, nearly making the mile mark.  When my lovely GPS watch buzzed that my time was up, I almost wanted to pretend I didn’t notice, but I thought about all the months and months of PT and thought, “It isn’t worth it.”  I stopped and walked  the rest of the way home.

homerI have to say right now I’m concerned. My calf is pretty tight right now, tighter than it has been in months. Did I overdo it? Did I not stretch enough after? Am I being oversensitive and overthinking it? Maybe it’s sore because I haven’t run in 3 months??

Having said that, running this morning felt awesome. I got more done at work today than I have in weeks, and the people that needed me to clean up their messes didn’t piss me off nearly as much as usual. I even felt better about how I looked. I mean, that’s crazy right? But I was thinking about it. The past few weeks I’ve looked at myself in the mirror and all I could think is negative thoughts: I’m getting fat, I’m wrinkled, I’m out of shape, I look awful… All my body positivity work from the past 3 years has just deserted me.

i-ran-todayToday, I put on a pair of yoga pants and tight top and thought, “Wow, I look cute.”

Seriously…

 

I’d love to tell you want it means, but right now all I can say is I want to run tomorrow. I’m supposed to rest between runs, but really, how important is that?

(Just kidding: I’m doing stretches and PT exercises tomorrow. But I’m definitely running Sunday.)

Deciding Not To Run

maybite

Or burst into tears. Either/Or

Last week I was at a family function and someone asked (innocently) how my marathon training has been going.  I finally spoke the words I had been avoiding: “I’ve decided not to run this year.”  People expressed shock and support and generally tried to be helpful. Have you tried this? Have you done that? I responded with tears. I had to leave the party. I just couldn’t stop crying.

Up until that point I thought I had come to terms with the decision, but realized there was one part left: grieving.

I started noticing the pain in June.  At first it was uncomfortable, especially after a long run.  I’m increasing my  mileage, I thought — of course there is discomfort. That’s normal.

ebibinjuryBy July I was searching for answers. Between talking with other runners and self-diagnosing on the Internet I decided I had plantar fasciitis. I developed a laundry list of cures from creams, to braces, to foam rollers, to bottles of ice. I bought new shoes with expensive inserts. All of it helped a bit, but not enough.
And I kept running.

By August I tried “scaling back.” Running shorter distances. Keeping my mileage low. Taking more break days. But the pain was getting worse, and I wasn’t convinced it was plantar fasciitis andy more.  My calves were killing me, even when at rest. Sometimes my legs would seize in my sleep, waking me up.

“You’re 50 years old,” I thought. “Of course recovery is harder.” And I kept running, but the doubts were creeping in and the marathon date was looming bigger and bigger.

madrunnerAt the end of August I did a 6 mile hill run. I felt fantastic on the run, but the minute I stopped I knew I had gone too far.  For 3 days after I could barely walk. I stopped running for a week. It still hurt. After the second no-run week I  made an appointment with a doctor.

This week he delivered the news: What started as a bone spur caused a number of problems, including plantar fasciitis, pulled tendons, strained muscles, etc. By running through the pain, I had most likely altered my stride and affected everything.  The verdict:  We can likely fix this with meds, PT, & no running for at least 6 weeks.  No marathon in November, but no reason to think that we can’t get back to it at some point.

When I first had the pain, it didn’t even occur to me that not running the marathon was an option. Of course I would run. No matter what.

runinjury1The first time it occurred to me that not running was a possibility was when I couldn’t complete one of my long runs because of pain. I had missed running goals due to fatigue, illness, and general weariness, but this was different. The thought came into my head that I might be doing more damage than good by continuing my run. It was upsetting.

“What if I’m not ready by November?” I thought, but I kept the thought to myself.

Over the next few weeks the thought came back a few more times. I tried sharing it with a few people.  Most people’s responses could be summed up as “Of course you can! We have faith in you!” Others provided more advice, most of which I had already heard before. Their responses were genuinely meant as support, but I started to panic. What if I couldn’t run on faith and determination alone? What if I couldn’t will myself to finish? What if I hurt myself trying and couldn’t run again? What if….

Luckily for me, not everyone tried to blindly bolster me or fix me. My sister and my mother both heard what I was tentatively saying and actually listened. Care for your body, they told me. Don’t put one race above your love of running. They didn’t council quitting, but rather helped me look at the bigger picture. It was terrifying, heartbreaking, and necessary.

therapyYesterday I took the running magnets off the back of my car. BF didn’t understand. “But you earned them?” he protested. “Not running for a few weeks doesn’t take away what you have accomplished” Of course not, but right now it is too hard to look at them. I have to break up with running for a few weeks and looking at those bumper magnets just makes it more painful.  Instead, I need to focus on healing, on finding new ways to stay fit and active and healthy.

 

 

Getting Back to Long Run Day

long runToday was a “long run” day, my first in a long time. In fact, it’s been almost a month since I was able to do a real long run. I started the year pretty strong. Everything seemed to come together: the weather was mild, I was accepted to the NYC Marathon, I was turning 50. Maybe I got cocky? Maybe I overdid things. Or maybe if it doesn’t always go well, it helps you appreciate it more?

I’m not sure why, but everything seemed to unravel in April:

  • First there was a sick week, where I was battling flu-like symptoms.
  • Then I unexpectedly hurt my back. (The last time I had back pain it turned out there was a cyst growing into my spine. The operation to remove it almost killed me, so I may have overreacted to the back pain a smidgen.)
  • Then there was a work emergency and I was getting only 2 or 3 hours of sleep per day. I say this with a bit of irony because my job isn’t life-or-death and sometimes I feel that these types of emergencies are made up. Be that as it may, I still had to deal with the drama.

In addition:

  • My bf moved in “officially” and hurt his back (much more seriously than I did) in the process.
  • It rained or was cold nearly every day (most of the runs I did get in were in the gym)
  • I had some serious financial setbacks
  • I turned 50 (which was kind of great, but still…)
  • I wasn’t eating well.
wcf

For the second year in a row I raised over $300 to protect endangered animals. Plus, I got to run at the zoo!

To top it off, on the last day of the month I ran the Bronx Zoo race (5k) for the second year in a row. I was 2 full minutes slower than my last year’s time.

But looking back now, it wasn’t really as bad as it felt at the time. Sure, I only clocked 75 miles (instead of my goal minimum of 100/month) but that’s on par with what I did last April when I was feeling great. Plus, I did get one long run (10 miles) in, which is farther than anything I was able to run last April.

what happensSometimes I can be really hard on myself, but today I feel pretty good. (I mean I’m sore as hell, but other than that…) April wasn’t my best, but I still kept going. I’ve re-adjusted my training schedule and had some pretty great runs this week. I’m learning from my setbacks and moving forward.

And I really, really love my long-run-days!

i_love_my_long_runs

Just Not 40 Anymore

badge

I’ve been blogging for 10 years! Hard to believe.

In less than 6 weeks I’m turning 50. It is supposed to be traumatic, turning 50, but I’m actually kind of excited about it. It seems cool to me that I’ve lived this long and I get to look back on all that I’ve accomplished. I’m in better shape at (almost) 50 than I was at 40, 30, or even 20.  I can run farther and faster than I ever imagined I could.

Being excited about being 50 might have something to do with how I feel about my health and my body right now.  If my 40’s taught me anything it is:

  • I love my body; it can do amazing things
  • If I treat my body like I love it; it will love me back

fitfatrunIn fact, there is only one thing I don’t like about turning 50, and that is that I feel it is time to give up “fatnforty” as my twitter and blog name.  I tried an experiment to see if I could get the “40” to mean something besides age, but after a few weeks that plan fizzled, and I realize it wasn’t meant to
be.  So now I’m officially closing this blog and changing my twitter handle.  After much debate I’ve come up with a new name: FitFatRun.  I will post re-directs to my new blog for a few weeks, but then will most likely archive this site.

Thank you so much for all who have sent words of encouragement or posted your own inspiring accounts over the past 10 years.  I hope you like the change and decide to follow me on my new adventure:

 

 

 

 

A New Year Start

happy new year2015 was a great year for me, health wise:

It may be the first time in my life that I maintained my weight (staying within 5 lbs) for a solid year. No drastic ups or downs – just clean eating (mostly) and pretty relaxed about diet.

I learned a lot about accepting my body this year. I’m appreciative of my health and not so wrapped up about my weight.

It was definitely a banner year for me in terms of meeting my fitness goals:

  • I ran over 1,000 miles (1,023.3 to be exact) and walked over 4,000,000 steps (4,361,000, but who’s counting?)
  • I completed my first half marathon in under 3 hours (2:35:58)

2015 running monthlyI have to be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to make the 1,000 miles. The last few months the only thing that got me out running was the fact that I really, really, wanted to hit the 1,000 mark. It took me until late December, but I’m so happy I did it!

My third goal for the year was to write weekly about things I’ve learned. That didn’t quite happen. I used this blog quite a bit to get ready for the half, but then life, work, and other things took precedence, and I haven’t posted since September.

In all, I only wrote  9 truths and with only 14 weeks until I turn 50, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to (or even want to) meet this goal anymore.  I am going to re-read the ones I did write, because I think it will help me get back into that head space.

The thing about meeting (or not meeting) goals is that you always have to set new ones.  I can’t just repeat my goals from a previous year. Where’s the challenge in that? So here they are, my official 2016 goals for the year:

  • Run 1,250 miles because I totally have to up the ante, and I want to commit to running at least 100 miles each month.
  • Finish a marathon in less than 6 hours which sounds both totally doable and completely insane.
  • Complete 50 hours of yoga because I see that my body needs more than just running, so this works out to about an hour a week.
  • Grow something to eatThis one is a little bit out there, and was inspired by a cool blog post (10 Food Resolutions That Don’t Involve Body Shame). I do not have a green thumb, I never grow things, and I rarely cook, but I thought this might take me out of my comfort zone a little and I like that idea quite a bit.

So there you are! What are your goals for 2016?

Be accountable.

31 weeksGoals are important, but unless you are accountable to those goals, they may not mean much. Writing down your goals makes them more real than just thinking about them. Sharing your goals with others is even better.

mapmyrun

There is no way I would ever be able to run 1,000 miles this year if I didn’t keep up with this blog.

I have several levels of accountability when it comes to my lifestyle changes. Probably the most important is this blog (and to a smaller extent my twitter account ). I don’t have an extremely high readership by any stretch, but once I post something, it becomes real to me. Sometimes I backtrack on what I write (yes, I made up with peanut butter) but the act of writing makes me more thoughtful on what I commit to.

Tracking is another great tool for me. I use Fitbit® and mapmyrun to track my daily, weekly, and yearly progress. I may want to skip a run or just stay in bed for a week, but just looking at my own numbers keeps me moving. For example, my daily step goal is 8k steps and many nights I’ve looked to see only 5k, 6k, or even 7,599 and decided I better just finish off my steps. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken an 11 pm walk just to get the numbers on my Fitbit over 8,000. Not just because friends and family are following me, but because the numbers remind me how important my goals are to me.

accountabilityAnd it’s not just exercise.  For the last two years I’ve written down everything I ate. It may seem strange since I pretty much eat the same thing every day, but I find that if I don’t write it down, it doesn’t count in my mind. No one sees my food log (and a food log may seem very diet-y for a non-diet person) but when I don’t write it down it is easy to fall into old habits and slip in the foods that de-rail me. For me, this also lets me be more non-diet.  If I want to eat something not on my program I do and don’t worry about it.  For example, on my recent vacation I enjoyed some brownies and an absolutely delicious piece of cheesecake. I tracked and moved on. No regrets, no guilt, and no pretending I didn’t do it.

And that is the ultimate accountability – to myself. Whether I track my progress or share my goals, I need to be honest with myself. I owe it to myself to invest the time and energy into myself.

Don’t Skimp on Yourself

33 weeksThe original title of this post was “Don’t Skimp on Running Shoes.” Then I added “Or Running Bras.”

Then I thought, “Well, that doesn’t apply to people who don’t run….” So I started looking for the bigger message and I realized it was more about making sure you take care of your own needs.

The right pair of running shoes can make you feel like a track-star!

If you are exercising regularly (especially running or walking), good shoes are important. They provide a foundation. They keep you from getting hurt. If you buy cheap shoes things will hurt more than they need to and you will be more likely to give up.

The same goes for running bras. I can’t speak for women of all sizes and shapes, but larger women particularly need to invest in some good running bras; something with maximum support, wide, padded straps, and absolutely no underwire (trust me on this). There are fewer choices when you are shopping for plus-sized running bras.  The goal of a good sports bra is nothing should move.

running braGood running shoes and good running bras cost money. When I started running I didn’t have much money and it was tempting to try to purchase cheaper products. I think if I had gone this route, my running days would have been numbered. Instead, I opted to go without other things (I had one pair of work shoes for a really long time) and invested in good quality bras and shoes.

In the long run (get it??) the investment paid off, because I was able to meet my goals. When you are cutting back, there are plenty of ways to skimp and save. Cutting coupons, buying store-brands, waiting for sales. But when it comes to the things that support you (shoes, bras, whatever) don’t always go for the cheaper option.  Invest in what you need– invest in yourself.

13.1 Miles (Unofficially)

13point1funToday I ran 13.1 miles for the first time.  I say for the first time because my race is still 6 weeks away. I’m hoping to run this distance (maybe a little farther) a few times before the actual race. Even if I don’t, today was a big accomplishment. I proved to myself that I can do it (something I haven’t been totally sure of).

Today’s run was brutal. It wasn’t the “joy of running” that I frequently blog about. It was more like the “slog of running.”  I had to wake up early (6 am) to try to beat the heat of the day. Even at that it was about 80˚F/76% humidity when I left the house, and in the high 80s when I finished the run.  The first 6 or 7 miles were fine, but after that I really had to convince myself to keep going… Every! Single! Mile!

get strongerMost of what made the run difficult is my own attitude. I know it is hot, so I should run slower. I know that it is a longer run than what my body is used to, so I should run slower. I know that I beat my goal time (3 hours) by almost 17 minutes. Yet the nasty voices in my head wouldn’t let me just relax into the run. I kept pushing to go faster and the more I pushed the harder the run got.

Around mile 8 I noticed that my toenails were hurting. Really?? It was all I could think about for a good portion of the run. How my pinky toenails were going to fall off… Oh please could they just fall off and put me out of my misery.

Towards the end I almost gave up.  I’m not sure what pushed me to go the last few miles.  Maybe it was the knowledge that, good or bad, I was going to post about the run afterwards. Maybe it was the constant stream of positive self-talk, as I desperately tried to be my own coach. My mantra sounded something like this:

long runYou can do it. Don’t fall. Don’t quit.  Keep going. Just 3 more miles. Oh, I like this song. A little faster. Don’t fall down. C’mon, you can do this. Just 2 more miles. You can run 2 miles easy. Don’t trip. Watch out for that car. Keep it up. Just 1 mile left… and so on.

Whatever it was, I did finish the full 13.1. I was dripping with sweat.  Every bone and muscle was sore. My toenails were painfully cutting into my toes. My stomach was starting to cramp. And I don’t know when I’ve ever felt that good.

And I can’t wait to try it again!