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Posts tagged ‘runner’

Goals

This morning I ran the Raleigh’s Finest 5K for the second year in a row. Last year my finishing time was 20:41 and I came in 5th female overall. This year, I had big hopes. I set several goals for myself. The I’m certain I can do this goal of running under 20 minutes, the this would be awesome goal of running under 19:45, and the OMG, I am super fast goal of running 19:20 or faster. And based on the finishing times from last year, I also set the goal of finishing in the top 3 overall for females.

As with any race, I spent the days before mentally preparing and of course, drinking my beet juice. It honestly doesn’t matter if the race is a 5K or a marathon, I take them equally as serious. Last night I watched my motivational playlist on YouTube and focused on a few of my favorite inspirational quotes…

Wins and losses come a dime a dozen. But effort? Nobody can judge effort. Because effort is between you and you. ~Ray Lewis

In any fight, it’s the guy who’s willing to die, who’s going to win that inch. ~Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday

When I got to the race, I met up with some of my friends and was getting pretty excited. The turnout seemed less than last year so that was a plus. And it was cloudy instead of the hot, 85 degrees it was last June. Although the 100% humidity wasn’t too uplifting. While I’m standing there talking to a friend right before my warmup mile, I see the girl who won last year. Ok no biggie. A race is a race and anything can happen. Plus, I had been drinking all that beet juice so that had to help, right? Then after my warmup and strides, I see one of the fastest local marathoners by the start line. I think she runs around a 2:45 for the full. She’s fast. Ok, now I’m starting to get a little nervous and see my top 3 goal slowly start to slip away. Then as I was in line to use the bathroom, I saw another one of the super fast local runners. Alright, that’s it. I’ll save top 3 for another day.

At the start line, I made sure to be in the front. I told myself not to look at my watch for the first mile and to run my race. To my surprise, when the race started, I was running in 3rd, not that far behind super fast local #1 and #2. That lasted all of  1/2 a mile. First I got passed by the girl who won last year and then another girl who I didn’t know. Then another girl ran up beside me but her was breathing really heavy so I didn’t think she would keep up. Maybe I should have given her the beet juice tip. 😉

The race was painful, as are most 5Ks in my opinion. I much prefer the pain of a marathon over a 3.1 mile race. There was a lot of self-talk going on inside my head and I tried to take it one mile at a time. Going up a hill, I asked myself, what’s the worst that could happen if your legs keep burning like this? Since I didn’t think I would die, I tried my best to just embrace it. I don’t know what my mile splits were because the autolap was turned off on my Garmin. However, I do know I did the first mile in 6:10. During the second mile, I managed to pass two guys along the way but was outsprinted by a man about .2 miles from the finish line. My finishing time: 19:41, a 6:21 pace and a PR by 1 minute.

IMG_4400

For the second year in a row, I finished 5th female overall but it was one of those races where I was very happy with how I ran. Many times after a race, I’m not too excited about my time because I think I should have done something differently. But this time, I am happy. Last year I remember thinking  it would be a dream to run under 20 minutes one day. Today, I did it. And today, when I saw my top 3 goal slip away, I was totally okay with it. I was okay with it because I knew I was going to run my fastest 5K, I knew I was going to run under 20 minutes, and I knew I was going to achieve at least one of my goals. That made for a great Saturday morning.

If anything, today’s race has motivated me to try harder. Yes, I do work hard at my running, but I know I could do more. From cutting back on the chocolate and wine to adding more strength training and core work. It’s going to take a little more effort on my part if I want that top 3 finish. And on a side note, the first female almost caught up with the first male. She was fast!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

PS- I’ve been away from blogging for the past week because we were in San Francisco. Talk about some hill running! I plan to pick it back up next week.

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Cortisol

As my running is going better that I could have expected, I find myself starting to push a little harder on my runs. Today I know I went faster than a typical easy Monday run. Therefore, tomorrow’s run will be a goal pace of 8:30-8:45/mile.

One thing that I am doing in order to stay off the injured list (in addition to lots of  yoga poses and strength training) is paying closer attention to my diet. And all of these food documentaries we have been watching just reaffirm the power of fruits and veggies. I am getting a little stricter with my vegetable intake because I know it helps with my recovery and performance. I want to take care of my body and I need to give it the fuel it needs.

One thing I have been reading about is cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in response to stress. Over trained endurance athletes (like myself) can experience elevated levels of cortisol and this isn’t necessarily a good thing.

First Endurance: 

Cortisol, known as the regulator of immune response, is a hormone controlled by the adrenal cortex. This powerful hormone is also known as an adrenalcorticol hormone, a glucocorticoid and hydrocortisone or simply cortisone. Cortisol has a catabolic (muscle breakdown) effect on tissue and is associated with a decrease in anabolic (muscle growth) hormones like IGF-1 and GH. Thus reducing levels of cortisol is ideal for an athlete to achieve tissue growth and positive adaptations to exercise training. Playing many different roles in the body, cortisol can have a negative impact on sleep, mood, sex drive, bone health, ligament health, cardiovascular health and athletic performance, potentially causing fatigue and inflammation.

As I was running home tonight, I was thinking to myself, What can I eat for dinner that will help keep my cortisol levels down? Well luckily there are quite a few options that I just happen to have in my kitchen. Green leafy vegetables, in particular those high in vitamin K, whole grains, and lean protein are all good options to keep your cortisol levels down. My dinner tonight consisted of spinach, kale, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, smoked salmon and quinoa. In addition, my afternoon snack was a kale, apple, celery, cucumber, and lemon veggie juice. So yummy!

I think my cortisol levels are feeling pretty low this evening.

Happy  Trails & Happy Running,

Tracie

Running stats from today are here. Seven miles at a comfortable pace, although a little on the quick side. Tomorrow will be slower. And how do you like the pic of our breakfast yesterday morning? Delicious veggie juice 😉

Back Opening Stretches

My return to running has been going much better than I could have expected 1 month ago. In addition to my strength training, there is one thing that I think is really helping me… back stretches. Going into my race in February, my left side felt congested and like it wouldn’t move right. It amazes me how much more freely it moves now. These are the three stretches I do morning, afternoon, and night – every single day.

1) Downward Dog

2) Bow Pose

3) Upward Bow Pose (although I do not look nearly as flexible as this guy)

Sometimes I think to myself I don’t have time to these poses. I should just go run. Then I remember my suffering at the beginning of the year. I make time. And that includes waking up at 4:45 am, doing yoga before lunch, and always stretching before bed. For my body and for my weaknesses, I know these three stretches are greatly helping my running form. And my running couldn’t be happier. 🙂

Happy Trails & Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: Ran to the gym, followed by leg weights & abs, and then ran home. I was super impressed at how easy this run felt. Run stats here and here.

The Vegan Runner

Many years ago, I was a vegetarian. I was also once a vegan for about 3 months. Everyone thought I was crazy and I’d heard the same typical comments over and over again. Animals were put here for us to consume. If they aren’t treated badly, then what’s the problem? You run. You NEED protein. Eventually, I gave in and went back to eating meat. However, I am way more conscious of what I put in my body now. (All of the organic chicken is really putting a dent in our grocery bill, but I say it’s all worth it.)

Lately Mario and I have been watching quite a few documentaries. Most recently we watched Forks Over Knives and Vegucated. If anything ever made me want to go vegan again, it would be those two films. The power of plants is undeniable and as a wannabe really fast runner, I’m starting to question my diet choices.

Now don’t misunderstand me… I eat much healthier than your average person. I don’t do processed foods, my sweets consumption is limited to organic dark chocolate and my two worst habits are peanut butter and plantain chips. However, as I start to think about it, I don’t think I get enough nutrition from plant based foods. My typical veggie intake consists of spinach, carrots, cucumbers, avocado, onions, and maybe mushrooms. It never ventures far from this path. After reading this article from Scott Jurek, one of the most dominating ultrarunners of all time, I think I need to revisit the issue.

Scott Jurek:

[After going vegan] my performance wasn’t the only thing that improved.

When I went vegan, my blood pressure and triglycerides levels dropped to all time lows, and my HDL, or “good” cholesterol shot up to an all-time high. I had virtually no joint inflammation, even after miles of pounding trails and roads, and on the rare occasions I sprained an ankle or fell and whacked my elbow or wrist, the soreness left faster than it ever had before.

So it turns out, an athlete, even one who trains up to eight hours a day, can do just fine with a plant-based diet. It also turns out that spending a little more time and money to eat healthy is incredibly cost effective; I think of a plant based diet as essentially the cheapest health insurance around. Being vegan wasn’t a matter of subtraction, but addition. I discovered foods I had never known existed and experienced flavors and textures I had never imagined. Have you ever tasted a juicy lentil mushroom burger, or a savory bowl of veggie chili? If not, you should.

That’s something to think about: A delicious, affordable diet that will make you healthier and support the most difficult physical challenges you could ever encounter. Now that’s shocking.

I wonder how much a little tweak in my diet will improve my performance, if at all… I think I’ll go search for my vegan cookbook. 🙂

Happy Trails & Happy Running,

Tracie

Tuesday run stats. 

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

I’ve always been one to talk about motivation. I love motivational videos, quotes, pictures, or anything else that’ll get me out the door a little faster. It keeps me on task and it keeps my goals in sight. However, yesterday I started thinking about intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation…

Intrinsic motivation can be defined as a psychological feature that arouses an organism to act towards a desired goal and elicits, controls, and sustains certain goal directed behaviors. It can be considered a driving force; a psychological drive that compels or reinforces an action toward a desired goal. (SourceOn the other hand, extrinsic motivation can be defined as motivation that comes from outside an individual. The motivating factors are external, or outside, rewards such as money or grades. These rewards provide satisfaction and pleasure that the task itself may not provide. (Source)

When I think about my running, I think for so long I have been extrinsically motivated. I wanted to run faster than this person, beat this time, or place in this group. Competition is great, don’t get be wrong. However, I’m starting to feel a shift in where I’m drawing my motivation from.

Before I started running, I never knew I would be a good runner. I just wanted to do my best. But somewhere between then and now, I think I got lazy.  Or at least I quit being smart about trying to find my best. I’m over being extrinsically motivated by certain factors – times, races, people, etc. Yes, I’ll still have my goals but at the end of my running days, I want to know I did all I could to be the best runner I could. That is my driving force.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: Starting to get my groove back. A nice run today (stats here) minus the worms hanging from the trees that attacked me. 

My Runner’s Body

“Your body is the only thing you are born with and that you die with. Be kind to it.”

Over the years, my runner’s body has been through a lot of ups and downs. Currently, it’s on the upswing after a long and depressing low. Yesterday I came up with a vision of how I want my runner’s body to be and I’d like to share it with you…

Right now, I’d say my runner’s body is comparable to a five year old car that has been in a few crashes. It still works and gets me from point A to point B, but there is some lingering damage. A few bad parts aren’t too problematic in the short term. But over time, those bad parts lead to a breakdown. I think it’s time to upgrade 🙂 …

I’ve decided I’m working towards having a runner’s body more like a Porsche 911. I want to be a fine tuned running machine, where everything works effortlessly and smoothly. I will treat my runner’s body as I would treat this car… with kindness and care.  I would not drive a Porsche with a flat tire. Therefore, I will not run with an injured hip. I would not put cheap fuel in a Porsche. Therefore I will not feed my body junk. I would not drive 100mph all the time (or maybe ever), which means I will not run fast all the time. Just as I would do preventive maintenance on my car, I will do preventive maintenance on my legs. I want my runner’s body to be as awesome as this car.

Mario use to have a Porsche and whenever I drove it (which wasn’t very often), I remember the feeling of that car being so completely different than my trusty Yaris. It just felt effortless and perfect. And that is how I want my running to be.

Happy Trails & Happy Running,

Tracie

One day I will be like this car :)

One day I will be like this car 🙂

 

Goal Reversal

My friend Tania got me thinking about running goals a little differently a few weeks ago. She commented on one of my posts that for the elite Kenyan runners, if they were  to run 7:15 min/mile for an easy workout, but instead ran 7:00 min/mile, they would view that as a goal not met. They would view it as a failure.

Well that’s a different way to look at things…

For so long I have looked at my running goals in terms of faster times. Never slower times. If I was suppose to run easy and ran 7:30 min/mile, then I exceeded my goal. Right? Well at least in my stubborn runner’s brain I did. I never looked at it as missing my goal. Now, as I’m slowly coming back from my injury, I’m focusing even more on those easier runs and  slower miles. Today I ran one of my slowest long runs in a long time and I feel like I just ran a 1:25 half marathon. I am that proud of my pace and that proud of the fact that I had the discipline to take it down a notch. Not to mention physically, my body feels great. I didn’t stress it out and I didn’t push it too hard. My legs say thank you. 🙂

There is a time and place for everything. There is a time to run fast and a time to run slow. If the goal is to run 8:30 min/mile then we should strive to meet that. Not to exceed it by 30 seconds. After all, isn’t there a reason we had an easy run scheduled in the first place? Of course, there are always exceptions but for me right now, my goal is to get healthy. My goal is consistency and the easy runs help get me there.

Happy Trails & Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: I made a new running friend this morning and absolutely loved running with her. She was really awesome and made the miles go by quickly. We ran a total of 8 miles, which is my longest run since February. I feel great and stats are here. And don’t you love my pic of the beautiful sunshine this morning?

A Holistic Approach to Running

I just read perhaps one of the best articles related to running I’ve read in a long time. The title is Rethinking Running Health by Phil Latter. It starts off with a few details from Amy Yoder Begley’s running log and it includes a myriad of injuries. Strained hip flexors, strained achilles tendon, broken metatarsal, strained calf, and the list goes on. And I thought my hip hurt? The article then goes on to focus on how us runners need to look at running as a whole, not just the miles we put in out on the road.

Phil Latter:

What runners need is a more holistic approach to understanding our own health and susceptibility to injury. We should acknowledge that we’re apt to get injured pursuing our passion, but also look for ways to increase our health. We should give equal credence to personality type and biomechanics, muscular imbalances and emotional distress. Most of all, runners should assert that they’re unique individuals who have to learn their own strengths and limitations. And that’s more than just finding the right pair of shoes.

I really like the last line of the above paragraph – it’s more than just the right pair of shoes.

We are all unique. We all have our own limitations, muscle strengths and weaknesses, time constraints, foot strike, and many other unique characteristics. Perhaps the most important thing a runner can do is understand their body and learn what works best for their body. This is something I’m learning more and more about every single day.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Recovery Update: Today was the day I was suppose to race my next 26.2 miles. Instead I got to be a spectator for Mario and some other friends as they did the half marathon. It was different being a spectator but I enjoyed it. I think that was my first time sitting on the sidelines and cheering on everyone else.

Olympians and Injury

I love Desiree Davila. There is something about her that just seems so bad a** and determined. Perhaps I like her even more because, for quite a while in her running career, she was never considered the favorite. In fact, it wasn’t until a few years ago when she really started being a contender for the marathon. She worked her butt off and made things happen.  She’s the fastest American woman to ever run Boston and she qualified for the London Olympics. Then an injury forced her to drop out of the marathon around mile 8. I think I may have cried for her.

Competitor recently published an interview with Davila and it made me feel like I was in good company with my running injury. After London, Davila found out she had a stress fracture in her femur, which was originally diagnosed as an injury to her hip flexor tendon. It took her 12 weeks to recover and she still had to pull out of the 2013 Boston Marathon because her training wasn’t 100%. And I’m worried about my three weeks of no running?

It’s a great article and I highly recommend you read it, especially if you suffer from mild depression due to a running injury like I do. However, there are a few things I’d like to point out that I took away from the article:

First, Olympians worry about losing fitness, just like us mere mortals do. For me, I have this idea that 12 years of running will be completely undone by 3 weeks of no running. I think I should get a grip.

Second, we all have weaknesses and strength is IMPORTANT! If you want to run without injury, you are going to have to build a strong core and strengthen those stabilizing muscles.

Third, learn to understand your body and get in tune with what you are feeling. I like this quote:

Obviously, I think I have a better understanding of my body and knowing the difference between pushing through something and “OK, this is an injury.” In the past, I couldn’t tell you the difference until it was beyond the point of being able to fix it, and I think that’s something I’m still kind of learning right now. We’ll go out and do a hard day and I’ll have a little bit of soreness and think, “Is this because I’m going backward or is it because the soft tissue is adjusting to working hard?” So it’s being a lot more cognizant of that.

I am no Olympian and certainly have many more races ahead of me. The Olympics however, only come every 4 years. I can’t even begin to imagine the mental struggle Desiree faced after dropping out in London. But she has handled the experience like all good runners do. She has learned from it and moved on. I’m trying to do the same.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Recovery Update: I still haven’t been able to run, even though I was really hoping for an easy few miles this week. However, I can tell my hip is continuing to heal and I know I’ll be back out there soon enough. Today at the gym, I did the stair climber, bike, burpees, one legged squats, and other core strengthening exercises. Now I’m off to practice my handstands.

What I Learned from a Yoga Instructor

I came to a very important realization last Sunday…

At the end of my yoga class, the instructor shared with the class that he would be traveling to New York for a yoga competition. He then showed us his routine. Wow, was all I could think. I wish I could do that.

It occurred to me at that moment, that  just as I was thinking this yoga instructor is amazing, someone else is looking at me thinking wow, that is amazing. Running is not something for everyone and running long distances is certainly not everyone’s idea of a fun Saturday morning. Although I have my struggles, miss my goals, and fall short of my potential, I’m still doing pretty awesome, just as we all are doing pretty awesome. Someone is looking at me thinking that my 13.1 miles in 1:33:38 is amazing, even though in my world it’s 5 minutes too long.

It’s time to appreciate what we’ve accomplished. Even if we don’t realize it, in someone else’s world, we are kicking butt.

 

I have to post a running related photo because it makes me happy even if I can't run :)

I have to post a running related photo because it makes me happy even if I can’t run 🙂

 

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Recovery Update: This morning was the first morning I woke up feeling normal. My lower back wasn’t sore and my stride felt pretty close to normal. I still won’t try to run this weekend. It’s going to be a weekend of cross training and tabata workouts. But my heart is starting to flutter every time I think about a cold Saturday morning run. I will get back out there soon enough.