Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In which small victories are big

I so did not want to work out this morning.

I'm getting slammed with late-night work and that, combined with early-morning activity, is beating me up. I'm not getting to bed as early as I should and that's making my already aggressive lifestyle more difficult.

Case in point: Today. I only got about 5.5 hours of sleep. The alarm went off at 4:45 am. I hit Snooze until 5:30 am. 5:30 am and I am already behind the Eight Ball. Not a great way to start my day.

I came downstairs and heard rain. YAY! No running this morning. I'm heading into the last month of half-marathon training and this week is the apex - the highest mileage, the most time on the road. This is also a crazy time with work and home obligations, so of course they had to be the same week.

Today's run called for 60 minutes. That's longer than I like on a weekday because it means I have to get up even earlier than normal to eat, warm up, get out and get back before getting everyone off to where they're headed for the day.

Plus, I wanted to run at the track to work on my ChiRunning technique, so I had to factor in a 7-minute drive. Only 7 minutes, sure, but 7 minutes I didn't have to spare today.

So when I heard the rain I was psyched. A guilt-free, get-out-of-a-run card. I sat on the couch, ate my favorite protein bar, drank Diet Coke and read the New York Post on my iPad (my morning ritual). Then I realized, I didn't hear rain. Crap.

I checked the back porch, hoping to see raindrops plinking off the deck. Nothing. It seems the "rain" I heard was wind blowing the overnight rain off the trees. Crud.

I stood in the kitchen and thought it out. This is the only time you can run today. If you do not run this morning, you will be pissed at yourself all day. You're already tired, do you really want to add angry, too?

Then I realized if I ran, I could enjoy a cup of Barbara's Puffins, my favorite carbo-loading pre-run food. No run, no cereal. All right, I'll run.

I ate my cereal, got dressed and headed over to the track. It was muggy and hot for 6:30 am, but I was already there: the hardest part is everything that comes before I hit Start on my Garmin. So I hit Start and off I went.

I hadn't run at the track in months, so an hour going round and round like a stock car wasn't as deadly boring as I thought it may be. Time passed relatively quickly and I got my time in. Happy day.

I walked off the track after 60 minutes, sweaty and sticky, but with a clean conscience. Now, I could start the rest of my day.

I've found that the smallest victories are not only off the scale, but they're also the biggest. All those small behavior changes and good decisions add up. All of the I don't wanna, but I will anyway-s...

The scale, the finish line, they're flashy locales as that's where we think we get the big wins. But they're just the effect of success, not the cause. All those little, everyday good moves you make add up - they're where you win everyday.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In which I need professional help

Not the first time I've stated - or heard - that, by the way.

Regardless, after I finished my first half-marathon a couple of months ago, I decided I needed expert advice when it came to running.

I knew I could run hard - and long - but I wanted to learn how to run smart. I wanted to become an efficient runner who, ideally, could enjoy whatever ability she had for as long as she could.

My theory with running, at least my running, is this: It's like gambling. The longer you gamble in a casino, the greater the odds the House will eventually get all your money. The longer I run without improving my form, the greater the odds I will get reinjured. And that is not what I want.

When I developed a neuroma earlier this year, I asked my bootcamp director (also a physical therapist) for advice on a good local podiatrist. The doctor he recommended was so popular, I wouldn't be able to get in for 8 weeks, so I went to another, who ended up being just fine.

But when I decided I wanted gait analysis, I made an appointment with Dr. Popular - and, yes, it took 2 months to get the next appointment. But it was worth it because not only is he a podiatrist, he's also an ultramarathoner and an Ironman. This man knows his stuff, to put it mildly.

I went a couple of weeks ago and it was fascinating. First off, this guy is extremely intelligent and built like Batman. Therefore, I renamed him - at least in my head - Dr. Batman. I am also not unconvinced he has a utility belt and fights crime at night.

Dr. Batman put me through a series of stretches and movements and then watched me walk on a treadmill. He didn't even need to see me run to deliver a diagnosis: I'm asymmetrical.

Basically, my muscles are all tight and twisted on my right side, so I'm lopsided. I knew this from bootcamp - I can do many exercises much easier on my left side than my right because my left side is loose and flexible and my right is not. And, this also explains why my neuroma and back problems all appeared on my...you guessed it...right side.

So, what do I do? Basically, learn how to move symmetrically once more. I'll be starting PT in late August and learn how to walk, stand and move in the correct way so that my right side will eventually mirror my left. Dr. Batman says that will automatically correct problems in my running form.

And he also recommended a technique, ChiRunning. I've been reading the book and watching the DVD for a week now and it's fascinating. The bottom line: Many people use their muscles and joints incorrectly when they run, which leads to injury. Use your muscles and joints the way they were intended and you can run pain-free and efficiently.

No wonder why so many hate running and say it's hard and painful. It is hard and painful, because we're doing it wrong.

It's going to take many hours, miles and months to improve fully, but I'm on my way. I went out for an hour this morning, and it was fun. Well, as much fun as it can be running in humid, 75-degree weather in July.

New things to think about, a new goal to shoot for. It made the hour go quickly, I'll give it that at the very least. Employing the ChiRunning techniques felt weird. Not bad-weird, but different. And that's a good thing, in my book.

You know how I feel about goals, I love them. I need them. They keep me interested and engaged in a healthy lifestyle. And I love that running correctly is my new goal for the foreseeable future.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

In which every ounce counts

There are two words I hate to hear people associate with their weight loss: "only" and "just."

As in, "I only lost .2" or, "How'd you do?", "Oh, just 1 pound."

Every loss is valuable, every loss is worth celebrating and you should be proud.

But, every week, I hear a lot of "only" and "just."

We're not proud of all our losses, are we?

We always want more, and that is completely normal and human. But it's not realistic.

If you lost 3 lbs every week, something is very wrong with you, and I am sure all of a sudden you wouldn't want to see such dramatic drops each week.

Whether it's 10 lbs or 100, whatever we lose is amazing and hard. But what we have to realize is once we lose our weight and get to Maintenance, it doesn't matter what we lost to get there, it matters that we stay there.

When you get to Maintenance, whether you lost 20 lbs or 200, the playing field is leveled. We're all in the same boat: keeping it off.

Be proud of every loss - every ounce counts - and they get you that much closer to your ultimate goal.