Well, there’s been a few too many days since my previous post to consider this a weekly update (thanks July 4th!) But I couldn’t stay away for too long. A lot has gone on in the country and the world that has left me feeling a little uninspired about the trivialities of my own life. Sometimes when you focus on things so much larger than yourself it’s hard to come back down and address your own feelings. In terms of feeling full of good energy and free from the sludge, nothing has been more effective than yoga for me. Just did this flow last night for probably the fifth time the past few weeks and it seriously makes me feel so FULL of good energy. Crazy how a few specific movements can reset your mind and heart. I challenge you to try it – for me, this always stirs up some uncomfortable energy at first but if you focus on breathing it out, you’re left feeling amazingly refreshed. Roll out a mat and get to it!
My holiday weekend was lovely fitting in a few shorter runs (even my longer run was on the shorter side, thankfully) to be able to hang out and see Boston from a tourist’s eye with my parents, grandma, and Aunt who had flown in from MN and WI. It was a packed weekend and we did quite a bit – enough for me to come home every day out of gas and ready for sleep! That feeling didn’t quite seem to leave me last week and really caught up with me over the weekend. Every afternoon I’ve felt ready for a nap and usually have been able to sneak in a few hours of sleep. You’d think I’d be able to sleep in if I’m so sleep deprived, but for some reason like clockwork I wake up raring to go at 5:30-6 each morning and coffee only seems to take me so far. I’m blaming the cloudy and dreary weather that’s been rearing its head over Boston the past few days, and thankfully I was able to take yesterday off from work to catch up on a little more sleep. Hopefully I’m good now, body?? That would be nice.
Training-wise my runs haven’t been too exciting, which is probably a good thing! I still look forward to them every day and this weekend I was especially looking forward to my long run, which had me running 1 hour at “a comfortable pace for me”, after 30 minutes of warm up and followed by 15 minutes at 8:30. I listened to Amy Pohler’s book (Yes Please) for the first 30 and then amused myself with a new Spotify Summer Party playlist for the next hour while I took in the Charles and the cool morning (I was geared up for a rainy run but thankfully Boston decided to stay dry for most of the day! This ended up being a huge blessing for my later trail run where the dry dirt meant I spared myself any slippage and unneeded injury.) I also completed my first MAF test and mile-repeat runs the past few weeks, which were new structures of running that I hadn’t experimented yet but were interesting to complete. I felt like a complete dweeb running so slowly on the Harvard track for my MAF test next to some obviously confused track sprinters, but hey a marathoners gotta do what a marathoners gotta do. And my MAF pace will get faster eventually, surely.
If you don’t know what MAF means, neither did I until about 3 months ago. It either stands for Maximum Aerobic Function or is an abbreviation for its founder, Dr. Phil Maffetone (I can’t figure out which), and is basically your heart rate at 180-[your age], so for me, that’s 156. It’s supposedly the heart rate you don’t want to exceed if you’re looking to increase the aerobic capacity of your muscles – teaching them to use glycogen more efficiently, and use fat more as a substrate for cellular energy. This is supposed to sustain you for longer (ie., during marathon or longer distances) so you “hit the wall” less frequently and can rely more on stored energy (fat) vs having to refuel so often with straight sugar. For my MAF test, I ran for 3 miles at a heart rate of 155. It was SLOW. I think my average pace was just over 11 minutes per mile. Fine for not getting tired, but running in circles for an hour including my warm up was not the most exhilarating work out. Oh, and it was raining (insert eyeroll emoji here).
I’ve had the apartment to myself for the past week since the roomie is adventuring back on her home coast of the West. It’s been a lonely but peaceful time, and I’ve finally managed to replace some of our Christmas decorations with summer flare – just in time for it to be 90 degrees inside again.
Learning Highlights from the Past Few
– I need to get over whatever is holding me back from fueling enough on long runs. I usually tend to feel pretty depleted by the end of them, and I think it’s because I have this mentality that I just have to “push through” and that adding a little extra fuel won’t matter. That mentality will definitely bite me in the butt as I continue to add mileage so I’m going to continue to try and fuel BEFORE I feel like I need it to avoid that “running out of gas” feeling that make runs especially death-like.
– I can do treadmill runs and not lose my balance/hurt myself/die. When it was 95 degrees outside and I had mile-repeats on my training schedule, I knew a treadmill run was in order. I normally can’t stand treadmills because I get a dizzy and claustrophobic sensation being locked onto the tread that usually feels like it’s moving waytoofast even though it’s usually much slower than I’d be running if I were on an outdoor track. Somehow I got through it running for 3 mile repeats at an 8:30 pace (7.3 MPH on the tread) without falling off — my heart rate was funky during this run though and never seemed to get higher than 165 despite my fast pace. Bad? Good? Just weird? Not sure.
– Trail running is awesome. I impulsively signed up to run a short trail race in Stoneham, MA over the weekend. It was the first race I signed up to run on my own, and despite my best recruiting efforts, ended up at the starting line as a lone wolf. It’s been a little goal of mine this summer to become a bit more social with my running – joining running clubs and going on runs with other running nutties like myself, so meeting other runners at this race was definitely a little cherry on top of that goal sundae. I met some really nice people and ended up hanging out with runners from Runfellow, a local group that runs in my neighborhood. The run was short – just 2.35 miles, and not as hilly as I expected. Though it was tricky running on a pretty narrow path with 900 or so other racers, and the late start/cloudy evening made watching for rocks and roots a little difficult, I had a lot of fun. After the 12-mile run I had that morning, I wasn’t trying to run fast or hard at all — it was more of a shakeout run than anything — but I still had a blast! I can definitely see how people get hooked on trail running. The woods were absolutely gorgeous and it reminded me why I got started running in the first place – because I felt most connected to myself when I was breathing in the beauty of nature. We all got unlimited beer and cider afterward, and I scored a free yasso bar (complete with unlimited coupons), slice of pizza, and fancy juice. Vert does a great job with races, and I’m really tempted to sign up for their longer trail runs later this fall.
I also made a few bigger life decisions this week aligned with my forever-focus of maintaining balance and sanity in my pursuit of my best and most fulfilling life. I will probably address that in a future post because this one is already a little too long and running-focused and you guys don’t need every inhale and exhale of my life when they occur. 🙂
I will leave you with a new favorite track of mine that came on during my long run this Saturday and has been on repeat for me ever since – I have a feeling this will be accompanying me to race day November 6th.
As always, please consider donating to my Action for Healthy Kids fundraiser – I’m getting closer and closer to my $3,000 goal for this organization, and they are the whole reason I’m running the New York City marathon in the first place. As an added incentive, I learned last week that a donor who wishes to remain anonymous will be MATCHING donations up to $1,500 — meaning my new goal for donations is $1,500 and this amazing donor will match that amount to reach $3,000 total. Incredible. So if you want your contribution to go DOUBLE the distance, definitely donate now!