Friday, September 30, 2011

Meoben Sleeves and Looking Back at September

Had a really nice surprise. The Moeben sleeves that I won on a giveaway from I see it  arrived in my mailbox.  I had a chance to quickly slip them on and pose for a pic before getting ready to head off to my Weight Watchers meeting this morning.

I cannot get over how soft the bamboo fabric is, and I love the little pockets.  I am hoping to get a chance to wear them running tomorrow. Thanks very much to Jill!  These are going to be well-used.

And, inspired to bulk up my skinny biceps to fill out the sleeves a bit better, I did an upper body workout this afternoon with my 8 lb. dumbells.  I have been very sporadic with these workouts since we came back to the boat.  My excuse is a lack of space but honestly, it is adequate if I am careful!

I did 2 sets X 10 each of :
  • bicep curls
  • tricep kickbacks
  • lateral raises
  • overhead presses
  • delt raises
  • upright rows
  • pushups
and then 10 per leg:
  • standing abductors
  • standing adductors
Felt great to get that over with and be able to check it off my list. I really need to be doing this 3 times a week.  I must just be lazy.
As for September, I am happy that I got in so much activity. Other than all the biking and walking and golf that I enjoyed so much, I did 9 runs for a total of 70.76 km this month.

Did you meet your September goals?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rainbows, Run and Recovery

After a wild, wet and windy day, spent indoors on the sailboat yesterday, playing board games, reading, blogging and watching tv, I was most ready to get out for a run this morning when I woke up and saw patches of blue in the sky through the porthole above my head.

There was even a rainbow overhead so I knew the rain on the windows was just a remnant of yesterday's storm.

I drank  a cup of coffee and scarfed down a Wasa cracker slathered with chunky PB and strawberry jam, and then paced for about half an hour till we could get going.

It was a quick 4.85 km and I was so happy to be outside and moving. We ran an out-and-back route with the turnaround being near a local McDonalds.  The Captain ran in and picked up a newspaper, while I was having a one-minute walk break at the turn.  He caught up with me easily and we chattered about plans for the rest of the week while we ran.

It was all over with way too soon.  But I really enjoyed my stretch and standing leg lifts while I cooled down.

W2 R34 @17/1 W3
stretch 5 minutes
standing abductors, 10 per leg

Afterward, after drinking a few glasses of water, we had re-runs on the Wasa and  PB&J, and then showered.

A few hours later, after lunch, we drove downtown.  I was feeling lucky in the mail department and was pretty sure that at least one of the three parcels I am waiting for would be there.

And I was not disappointed!  The Recovery Socks that I won from One Tough Cookie and a Beer were waiting for me.  Wahooo!  I ripped open the package and admired them during the drive back to the marina.

As soon as we got back on board, I put them on... and that is not an easy task, let me tell you.  If you have ever been fortunate enough to have compression socks, you will know what I am talking about.  But so worth the effort.

I am so sure that they are going to be as good for me as they FEEL like they are good for me.  Thanks, so much, Jill.  I love these socks.

Thanks to everyone who has been so suportive and encouraging and forthcoming with information and advice in answering my questions and concerns about training for the local Spring half marathon.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday Run Channelling the Road Runner

Today started out like most other Saturdays... pancakes and eggs for breakast at the hands of The Captain.  Today I cut up a peach to go with them... and they were delicious.  I don't think that I have ever been disappointed in a pancake breakfast cooked by The Captain.

We left for our run just before 11 a.m.  It was a lovely sunny morning, no wind at all and my goal for today was to run a bit quick and take 1-minute walk breaks after running for 14 minutes.  I don't want to get too reliant on the 9/1 intervals 'cause I don't want my body to expect that break after every 9 minutes of running... don't want it to become a habit. I am not sure if that might really happen, but I am not taking any chances.

I carried a bottle of water for us to share, and off we went.

Lots of people were out walking the waterfront today.  It is still tourist season here and it is fun to see all the kids and dogs out enjoying the lovely parks and public gardens.  We also have lots of seniors in the area and so on a nice day there are walkers, and wheelchairs and scooters in abundance!

The route I mapped is 9.75 km, from the marina to the end of the walk, and back.  We did the first half in 37 minutes and I thought we might be able to match it on the way back but it was not to be.  I started to slow down considerably during that last couple of kilometers but that did help me to find the energy to sprint the last couple of blocks, so we finished in 75 minutes total.

A pretty good outing actually...  I was envisioning my legs moving in that rotary fashion like the Road Runner... no reaching out forward, just picking my legs up and feeling them behind me.

Beep Beep

I thoroughly enjoyed my stretch afterwards, and then did some standing leg lifts, too.  I think they are helping my hips to become stronger.  I am really noticing new bulk in my quads and thighs the past couple of weeks.  Love that.

W2 R 75 @14/1 W3
stretch 6
standing abductors, 10 per leg

And the big glass of chocolate milk before I showered was very nice, too.

I wonder what kind of mileage I need to be running in order to get me to the point where I can start training for my Spring half? 

Do I need to have my runs to a certain mileage length?

When I do start training, I only want to run 3 X per week and I think that is doable, but I am not sure how much I need to be doing to GET to that START point.

Any thoughts or advice? 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I am a Thankful Blogger.. and a Request for Race Event Advice

I was going to do an upper body workout today, cause the day started out so wet and gloomy that I thought I would be stuck indoors... but when the sun poked its bright and shiny face out at lunchtime, I decided a walk downtown to check the mail was a better idea.  Those dumbbells will just have to lay idle till another day.

I have been watching the mailbox for a couple of items that I won in blog giveaways a few weeks ago... a set of Moeben sleeves from Life as I See It, and a pair of Recovery socks from One Tough Cookie and a Beer.  I am so excited to try them both out, especially now that our weather is getting cooler, and I am running longer distances.

After we got back to the boat I made us each a Pumpkin Spice Latte - so delicious!

Pumkin puree, fat free milk, spices and strong cofee...mmmm!

And while I was drinking mine and munching on a couple of a few sugary almond cookies, I was thinking about all of the giveaways I have won since I first started blogging in April.

I have won a book from MissZippy, a Road ID from Run From the Heart, some GoTein samples from Running For Trevor, a jar of Tropical Traditions organic honey from A Healthy Passion, and in a few weeks I will be receiving a 2-piece Champion Eco Fleece suit from a giveaway by The Studly Runner.  And, I was also lucky enough to get a bumper sticker and a training log book from Words to Run By just by emailing Sara and telling her I would like to have them.  Amazing!

I know that a lot of the giveaways are sponsored by companies who want to promote and spread the word about their products, while others are funded by the blogger who posts it... either way I am thrilled to be a most appreciative recipient of these goodies.

I am blown away by all of the good will and support and advice and positive feedback I have received on my blog posts.  It constantly surprises me when I get comments on my posts.  I am quite shy, thus the lack of pictures that some are able to share so readily, but maybe I will get braver as time goes on.

Here is a link to the half marathon I am thinking about for May.  It's on May 13th which is Mother's Day.  If you have a minute, please take a look and tell me what you think.  I have no race experience, other than a couple of fun runs and charity events... have never signed up for a race of this kind so I am wondering if this is a good one to start with.

It is local for me and I know the village well, and have driven these roads many dozens of times.  It is kind of hilly and quite lovely as it is oceanside and the view is beautiful most of the way.

Thanks for stopping by ... I am off to read your blog posts now!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Running at Sea Level, and my Eco Fleece Win!

Thanks for all the good wishes on moving back to the boat... it went well... always takes too long to find corners, and nooks, and crannies to store things in!  But the boat builders, just like the RV builders, know all the tricks and make the most of every available inch.

The biggest challenge as the weather cools is moisture, so The Captain moved our portable dehumidifier on board and we will make good use of it as we need to over the next couple of months.

Yesterday was a beautiful, summery day so I packed us a picnic lunch and we headed for the local driving range to hit some golf balls.  I think that the strong muscles that I have been building with my Chi Running, has gained me a few yards in my golf shots. Hurray!

This morning we had a light breakfast and then about half hour later set out for a run.  I was so happy to be back running flat streets at sea level, that I didn't even plan a route or a distance... just ran! We ended up doing 6.36 km (after I mapped it out) and took 45 minutes exactly.  I felt like I was running pretty fast between the walk breaks and it turned out I was!

W2 R45 @9/11/8/9 W2
stretch 6 minutes
standing abductors 10 per leg

The running intervals varied in length of time today cause I wasn't paying enough attention to my watch... oh for a Garmin that would beep at me at regular intervals.  And I added some standing leg lifts to my stretching routine today.  Gotta keep those hips strong and supple.

Did you hear that I won the men's Champion Eco Fleece giveaway on The Studly Runner?  So excited to be working with Carolyn at Champion right now to get a lovely eco fleece suit for The Captain.  He was pretty tickled that I thought of him when entering Marcia's giveaway.  I can use all the brownie points I can get! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

A 5km Run on Moving Day

Was really happy to squeeze in an upper body workout on Sunday afternoon before dinner... it was such a busy day with grocery shopping, packing, laundry and then having after-dinner guests to play dominoes....  I tripped over those 8lb. dumbbells just often enough to get motivated to pick them up for 15 minutes.

2 sets X 10 each of:
  • bicep curls
  • tricep kickbacks
  • overhead presses
  • lateral raises
  • delt raises
  • upright rows
  • pushups
  • standing abductors
  • standing adductors
Today was moving day and I woke up at 6:45 with a bit of a headache.... I realized I didn't have any coffee after lunch time yesterday, which is quite unheard of for me.  I remedied that very quickly, chomped down half a banana and then The Captain and I set off to get in a 5 km run before breakfast.

W3 R37 @9/1 W4
stretch 3 or 4 minutes
I had a stomach ache when we got back and I realized I was very hungry!  So the stretch got cut short in order to get some breakfast into me.

I really hope that I don't wake up tonight with leg cramps from not stretching very much... our first night back on the boat and no tub for soaking.  Thank goodness for Tiger Balm! 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My 10km PR

I did an upper body workout on Friday with my 8lb. dumbbells.  I had moved them out of the living room last week and when I don't see them or trip over them, I don't think to use them much.

My workout consisted of 10 each of the following:
  • bicep curls
  • tricep kickbacks
  • lateral raises
  • overhead presses
  • deltoid raises
  • upright rows
  • pushups
I repeated it 3 times and then did:
  • 15 standing abductor lifts
  • 10 standing adductor lifts
All in all, 20 minutes and a good stretch for the lats and triceps after.  Good.  I really do want my arms to be toned when the Moeben sleeves I won on a giveaway at Life as I See It arrive in the mail.  (And, if you didn't know, there is another one on right now until September 19th so go check it out.)

Today is our last Saturday in this house we have been looking after since mid-August... on Monday we will clean from top to bottom and do up laundry, before moving back to the sailboat.  Not sure when our winter house/kitty-sit will start this year.  We may be on the boat through part of the winter, which is always a fun challenge.... especially if it is very rainy or cool.

The day started out the best way possible food-wise.  Steaming hot coffee and pancakes, eggs, and what might be the last of the blackberries this season.  And even tastier cause I don't have to make it!

Happy plates cause they know what's coming....

Mine has extra berries on top.

Look at that purple cake.  Love it.. so sweet it needs very little syrup.

The Captain enjoyed some golf on tv while I did some work on my food blog and some laundry... and then after lunch, FINALLY, a run!

I know that on Monday the run will be a short one so decided to do 10km today.  I thought The Captain might only want to do 5 km with me so I chose to run the same 5 km route that I have been using lately... first one way, then in reverse, so that he could opt out of the 2nd go-round if he chose to do so.

He was wearing new running shoes today... sleek silver grey Nikes with a bright orange swoosh... I kept asking him how his legs and knees were feeling and it wasn't till we were finished the whole 10km that he admitted he could feel his knees.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

I decided before we even began that I would be doing 9/1 run/walk intervals today. I got such supportive and helpful comments on my last post about using them (thanks to everyone who commented) and so decided that today I would run a bit faster during the 9 minutes of running than I would have if I hadn't planned to have walk breaks at all.  I hoped to get it done in less than the 84 minutes it took last time I ran 10 km and was shooting for 80 minutes, which would give me an average of 8 minutes per kilometer.

I also carried a half litre of water for the 2 of us to share... it was a nice day,  not too hot, with a bit of a breeze.  My favorite running weather.

We set off at a nice clip and the first 5 km went pretty quickly.  I thought about my cadence and used my lean to speed up and slow down and was really happy and at ease with my form.  It took 36.5 minutes, which is slower than my PR but still a good time for me.  Then we turned around and ran back.  During that last kilometer my hips started to ache and it was all uphill, so I made sure to keep my stride short. 

I kept thinking about something I read on Why I Run a few months ago.  It was 'embrace the suck' so that is what I tried to do!  Actually, I think about that whenever I feel a little pain.  It makes me smile and I can kick a bit harder.

So we finished the 2nd half in 40 minutes - all done in 76.5 minutes which was nicely under the 80 minutes I was hoping for.... a 10km PR and I am so happy about it!  But it was still hard and I long for the day when 10 km (6.25 miles) is just an easy outing for me.

We had a good stretch and both drank a couple of glasses of water and The Captain's knees were feeling good again.  I got out a couple of packets of Weight Watchers carmel latte smoothie mixes, and whizzed them up with 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze, 1/2 cup of cold coffee, 1/2 cup of cold water, and 1 banana.  It was sensational... I hadn't tried these smoothie mixes before and was happy to read that there are 10g of protein in each serving.  Very nice!

W3 R76.5 @ 9/1 W3
stretch 6

I think another upper body workout should be in order Sunday, with a walk perhaps.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

5 Km PR Match! and Wondering About Walk Breaks...

I was a bit nervous when I set out on my 5 km run this afternoon... I had DOMS big-time yesterday so did my active rest in the form of shopping!

I knew the best thing for me today was to get out and run so I thought a speedy 5 km would be a good idea, and off I went.  After the first 9 minutes I took a one-minute walk break.  I didn't feel that I needed it, but I want to err on the side of caution, so I don't end up injured!

The next 9 minutes just flew by, and I had visions of myself as that runner  - the one I often see, just loping along happily and easily... Yeah, that one... just seeing her brings out feelings of envy and admiration.  It made me feel really good... endorphins? 

I did another one-minute walk break and then took off again.  I knew that I was making pretty good time, but tried to ignore thinking about that, to concentrate on my form.  The Chi Running techniques are becoming easier to adopt and I really felt today that I was keeping a steady cadence, and using my lean to vary my speed and stride length.

A bit winded after the next nine minutes, I welcomed the one-minute walk break.  Legs were feeling great, but breathing a lot heavier at this point.  I looked at my watch.  Could I possibly round that next corner, and make it up the hill in 6 minutes to match my last time on this route?

Well, I didn't match it.

I beat it!  By a whole minute!

I was so excited as 35 minutes is my best-ever 5km time and that was on the seaside, flat route in our marina town.  Wahoooo!

W3 R35 @9/1 W4
stretch 6 minutes

And then I drank lots of water and had a cool bath.  It felt pretty good actually.

I have been reading a variety of half-marathon training plans today.  And I have been looking at comments by some first-timers who swore that walk breaks got them through the 13.1 miles...  that they trained that way and are sure that is why they were able to complete their races.

I have mixed feelings about this.  I have started doing my LSRs without walk breaks.  I think I might do the next one, with walk breaks and see if it is easier to finish.

Any advice?  I could sure use some.

Monday, September 12, 2011

An 8-miler, Jelly Beans and a HOT Bath

I finally got out for a run today!

After biking on Wednesday, and doing my upper body work, we ended up at the driving range and then golfing on Thursday, and then golfing again on Friday.

We had planned an 8-miler for Saturday, but then when I found out my sister and her husband were going to be on the Island for the day Sunday, we rearranged things to be with them...  I spent Saturday doing food prep.... baking 2 kinds of cookies, preparing a picnic and snacks, and also getting some things ready for Sunday dinner here at the house, for the 4 of us.  A labor of love, for sure, as I adore my sister and wanted to really make sure things would be special.

I also spent a lot of time on the phone and the internet, findin a nice place, not too far away from us, where they could park their motorhome for the night.

Sunday we met their flight at 8:25 a.m. and we spent the day touring around the area. We took them to the marina so they could see our boat, picked up their mortorhome and then we led them to the RV park on the beach where they could park it for the night and had our picnic there... then off in the car for the day in the City... we packed in as much as we could, stopped for snacks, did lots of walking, a bit of hiking and had a blast.  It was so much fun to have them in my little corner of the world... then we came back to the house for a barbecue, and finally took them back to the motorhome and visited a bit more there till about 8:30 p.m.   A whirlwind and fun-filled 12 hours and I think we were all pretty wiped out.  My sister was nodding off in the car on the drive back to the RV park... and no wonder!  They had been up since 3 a.m., local time, to get to the airport.

So today we ran!

I had mapped an out-and-back route along a trail that we have been walking and running...  mostly flat and paved and very pretty as it winds its way through the woods, a couple of parks, and along a stream, before it gets to the Gorge and to the Inner Harbor of Victoria.  I took along some jelly beans and a bottle of water for the 2 of us to share. I was estimating a very conservative 2 hours for the 8 miles as I wasn't sure if I would need to walk at all.  Not having run since last Monday, I was a bit nervous about the distance.

The first 4 miles 'out' was pretty easy.  I made sure to run slow and we chatted about the weekend most of the way.   For some unbeknownst-to-us reason, there was a banner streaming at the turnaround point... one of those plastic ones that you see on car lots, made of colored triangles and tinsel.  It was almost as if it was meant for me!  At this point I was really sorry not to have had the camera along.

After the turn we both ate a couple of jelly beans and washed them down with water.  The next couple of miles were slower and I could start to feel a bit of soreness in my left hip socket....  a couple more jelly beans and water. 

I told The Captain that if we were doing a half-marathon, that it would be like turning around at the starting point and going back to the turn... plus a bit.  I said I hoped I could do that by May, and asked if would be able to, too.  He replied that he could do it today.... and I had to agree.  I am pretty sure he could!

Mile 7 was tough - getting achier in the hip, and my left calf was a bit sore too.  The last half mile was a killer.  We were running on an incline.... on a concrete sidewalk beside a busy street and there were lots of driveways on it so it wasn't very flat.... and because it was so busy with traffic there was no opportunity to run on the road.  At every driveway dip my hip hurt more and I was pretty glad thrilled to finally get to the finish!

We ate a few more jelly beans on the walk up the hill to the house.  And it felt good to walk!

We ran the first 4 miles in 48 minutes and the second 4 miles in 60 minutes so 1 hour 48 minutes in total... 12 minutes under the 2 hours I had allotted.

W4 R108 W4 no walk breaks
stretch 8 minutes

I drank 2 glasses of water after we got into the houes and then I made us each an almond butter and banana smoothie to drink while we stretched.  I made sure to stretch my calves out as this is the first time I have ever noticed any discomfort in my calves during a run... and I am thinking that we need to be taking more water with us on these longer runs.  Think I need to find The Captain's water bottle belt.

A while later, I soaked in a hot bath for about 20 minutes and it was wonderful.  I cannot imagine doing an ice bath, although I know that my favorite tennis player does them and other athletes do too...  but I get cramps in my toes and in my shins just from letting my feet get cold, so I am afraid of cramping right up in an ice bath.

And lots of the research that I am reading about it is very contradictory, too.  Some studies recommend it, others don't.  I just found this on

It's clear that more research is needed before a real conclusion can be made, but so far the information that is available indicates the following:
  • Cold water immersion after a hard workout won't hurt and may, in fact, help recovery.
  • Alternating Cold water and warm water baths (contract water therapy) may also help athletes recover.
  • Ice baths are not necessary; cold water baths (24 degrees Celsius) are as good and perhaps better, than ice baths.
  • Active recovery may be as good as cold water immersion for exercise recovery.
  • Passive recovery is not an effective way to recover.
  • Hot baths after hard exercise may decrease recovery time.
All I know for sure, is that a good stretch, and a hot bath FEELS great.

And yes, I am very VERY loosely considering running the Oak Bay Half Marathon here on Sunday, May 13th.  I have commitment-phobia so will have to mull it over a bit more!

Thanks, Vanessa, for the jelly bean tips.  I think they did help.  I was a bit worried that the sugar might upset my stomach, but it didn't and I am going to keep experimenting with them.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Some Biking Pics and an Afternoon Workout

When I woke up this morning, both my feet ached.  The tops, the bottoms, and the back of my heels.  I guess I woke up those muscles yesterday at the driving range and then walking the golf course, carrying my bag, and hitting awesome drives!  Felt odd, though, that's for sure.

This afternoon we went for a bike ride. We rode hard for the first hour, heading up the trail almost all the way to our little marina town, 20 miles away.  On the way back, we stopped a couple of times to take pictures.  This trail passes throughs suburbs, woodlands and some farmlands, too, and today I just had to stop a couple of times.

After we got back I made us both peanut butter and banana smoothies ... ya gotta try it, and then I did some upper body work while The Captain puttered in the garden. 

I did 3 sets today of 10 of;
  • bicep curls
  • tricep kickbacks
  • lateral raises
  • delt raises
  • overhead presses
  • upright rows
  • pushups
Then I did standing abductor raises for my hips, 20 per leg.

No time to do core work as it was dinner time but I will do it tomorrow after we come back from our round of golf, promise!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pre-Run Rituals and My Virtual 5k for Coffee Race

I woke up this morning and immediately remembered that I signed up to run a virtual 5 km race today.

I chose my breakfast carefully - 1 egg on 2 slices of light, whole wheat bread, and 2 cups of coffee.  I didn't want to have to wait more than an hour to let it all settle so I didn't want to eat too much.

I love the ritual of getting ready to go.  I am always pretty excited so take care to move slowly and deliberately.  I normally move quickly and sometimes bang my knees and elbows, or stub my toes... not when I am getting ready to run.  I don't want to forget anything so I pretty much do things in the same order every time out and I usually have a few sips of coffee to start my preparations.


Select my running clothes and lay them on the bed
Wash my face
Brush my teeth
Arrange my hair
Apply sunscreen to my face and my mouth
Apply either sunscreen or lotion to my arms and legs
Drink some water
Get dressed
Apply Body Glide
Put on my running/HRM watch
Put on my HRM chest strap, if I am going to wear it...  turn it on and panic for a split second when I see the 0 come up in the heart beats area.. then relax when I see a number appear
Turn off the HRM
Put on my Road ID bracelet
Put some kleenex tissues in my pocket
Put a full water bottle in the waist belt and strap it on, if I am going to wear it
Put on and lace up my running shoes
Walk around a bit to test the ties
Make a last trip to the bathroom
Put on my sunglasses
Head out the door

Today I ran the Virtual 5k for Coffee that I learned about yesterday.  I did the same 5 km route that I ran in the last virtual 5k I did which was last Tuesday, but in the reverse order.  Either direction there is a killer hill at the end so it doesn't really matter which way I start out.

I thought I was going pretty fast - wore my HRM today and for the last 3 km my heart rate was in the 98 - 99% range and the darn beeper kept going off to warn me I was working too hard.  Well, darn it, I already knew I was working too hard but somehow today I took comfort in the fact that my HRM recognized that too and the beeping seemed to me to be a cheerleader of sorts and I just kept going!

At about the 4 km point I would have loved to rip off the light cotton T-shirt I was wearing 'cause I was sweating so much and it seemed very heavy and hot... but, I don't run in just a running bra in the 'burbs, so I kept it on till I got to our driveway.

All the way up the last block I was sucking air and I thought that it was possible I might lose my breakfast... but I didn't, thank goodness, and I got to my finish line in exactly 36 minutes.  

Now that is not a 5 km PR for me, but in this hilly neighborhood, it is pretty darn good, and a whole 30 seconds faster than the last time I ran it, last Tuesday... but, it felt so very much harder!

But, all in all, a great run... I learned I can suck it up and move when I put my mind to it, and I am also getting conditioned to take walk breaks a lot less often when running now.

W2 R36 W4
streeeeetch 6 minutes

Do you have a pre-run ritual?

Do you get excited when you are getting ready to go running?

Have you ever run till you are sick?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Stuff

We went for a bike ride today... started out with the intent of doing a short ride to check out a new driving range in the area... (that is a place to hit golf balls/practise, for my non-golfing buddies)... that took only about 15 minutes so we connected to a nearby trail and ended up having a really hard ride for just over an hour and 15 minutes.

I love that the hill to get to this house is so hard to ride 'cause by the time we get into the driveway, my quads are shot and that means I will stretch for sure.  Which I did, for about 7 minutes.  It always feels so good to stretch out spent muscles.

A bit later I faced the fact that I have comitted to doing an upper body workout with my 8 lb dumbbells, and some hip and core work, 3 X per week, this month.  I decided I might just as well get at it before I showered and changed clothes.

I did 2 sets of:
  •  10 reps each:
    • bicep curls
    • tricep kickbacks
    • lat raises
    • delt raises
    • overhead presses
    • upright rows
    • pushups
Then I did:
  • lying quad raises, 10 per leg
  • lying hip abduction, 10 each of toes up, down, and level - both legs
  • lying hip adduction, 10 per leg
  • 25 bicyle crunches
  • 25 reverse crunches
  • side planks, 15 seconds per side
  • full plank 30 seconds
I have decided what I hate about floor exercises is not being on the floor, it is the getting up and down... sometimes it makes me feel dizzy.

Afterward I stretched my shoulders for  a few several minutes, 'cause it feels so good to stretch spent muscles... echo?

There is going to be a run in my day tomorrow...  I just found another virtual 5km race on Running After Bugs and Bees....

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Kitchen Fun, Hill Practice, a Bike Ride and Good News!

This morning's breakfast has become then norm for Saturdays since the blackberry season started a few weeks ago.  I love Saturdays 'cause The Captain makes breakfast... pancakes are just a bonus.

There is still steam coming off the egg here.

I made up a batch of Butternut Squash and Carrot soup, and while it was cooling enough for me to puree it with my immersion blender, I headed out to the street to practise my hill running ... I quickly read yesterday's blogpost to get a refresher and then off I went.

I walked a couple of minutes, then did about 1 block of slow running to warm up my legs and then the real work began.

As I came up the hill I made sure to keep my lean into the hill, swing my arms up higher and shorten my stride.

As the hill got steeper, I noticed when it became a real effort for me to strike the ground with my whole foot and decided at that point, to try the lateral stride.  I faced 10 o'oclock first as I am naturally left-footed, and did 6 strides in that direction, making sure to swing my right arm... which felt natural to me anyway.    Then I turned to 2 o'clock and did 6 strides in that direction.  It felt awkward and swinging my left arm felt very odd. 

As I crested the top of the hill I leaned into the natural Chi gait and then when I started down the hill, I slowed again, raised my torso to a more vertical position, engaged my core to keep my C shape, and used my heels to land on, peeling my foot off the ground to raise it to make the next step.

Then, when I got to the bottom of the hill, I turned around and went back the other way... I repeated this back and forth for 20 minutes, and then, deciding my legs had like had enough, I walked for a few more minutes and called it a done deal....

It was good.  And I enjoyed it and it felt great to be practising something specific and useful and it kept my mind fully engaged, too... I was so aware of the different motions I was making with the changes in the slope of the hill.

W3 R20 W3 and I covered 2 km up and down that hill!

I wonder what the neighbors thought!

So, for my review:

Gradual Uphills
  • more upper body work, less lower body work
  • swing arms forward and up
Steep Uphills
  • lean with your uphill shoulder
  • downill arm crosses your centreline
  • body faces to the side, not forward
  • decrease your cadence if you need to
Runnable Downhills
  • point your toes as your legs swing forward to prevent dorsiflexion
Non-runnable Downhills
  • no lean - keep posture vertical
  • pick up your knees slightly
  • land on the front of your heels and roll heel to toe
  • shorten stride length
  • increase cadence as your speed increases
When you find yourself surrounded by hills, think 'float and flow'...

The soup turned out to be delicious... I love making soup with the various squashes, pumpkins and sweet potatoes we are starting to see in the local farmer's markets this tiime of year.

I had a big bowlful for lunch with some sour cream stirred into it...

along with a fresh tomato and basil sandwich.

And then I got to bakings some cookies for The Captain... they were a bribe to get him to go for a bike ride with me this afternoon!

We rode hard for an hour and by the time we rode up the hill to get back to the house, I was done for.... my quads were like jelly again... I am thinking this is a good thing... exhausting these muscles a couple of times a week surely must be helping them grow and get stronger.

The Captain was so happy with the cookies, and so impressed with all my kitchen efforts today, that he barbecued lean beef burgers for dinner and made oven fries to go along with them.. delicious!  But he was too shy to let me photograph them...

Nose back in the Chi Running book for the evening.

And, oh my gosh, how come I keep forgetting to share this wonderful news... I won a pair of Recovery Socks on the giveaway that Jill had ... I am so excited as I have really been wanting to try them. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hills, the Chi Way

I was so pleased with my September weigh in at Weight Watchers this morning that I went a little crazy today with my eats.

We walked for about an hour to get to the site of the annual Greekfest (read FEAST) that happens to be one of my favorite food extravaganzas in this area and something we look forward to every year.  But I was pretty conservative and only ate one pork and lamb gyro with tzatziki and greek salad on it.  I didn't take the camera along, on purpose, so I wouldn't have to expose myself and my appetite!

Too full for dessert, we sat and enjoyed a bit of the live entertainment, and then walked for an hour back to the house.

I spent some time this afternoon, reading a few more chapters of Chi Running.  I have been having pain-free runs and walks since I started using this technique for both running and walking and I am convinced that it is for me.

I have discussed it with The Captain too and he just seems to naturally move this way - he has never been a heel striker like I realized I naturally am was before I made the effort to change. 

I think overstriding was my biggest mistake... My long legs want to reach out like a galloping horse does, and then I am not only pounding my heels into the ground, but that impact comes up my legs and drives into my knees.  It is also hard on the quads.

Today I was looking for information about how to run up hills.  There are so many of them in this neighborhood and they cannot be avoided.  I was sure that there would be a prescribed strategy and was not disappointed.

I made some notes ... sometimes when I write things down I retain them more readily - a holdover from my school days and also many years of studying throughout my career as a computer geek in the financial services sector,  I guess.

Here is what I wrote down...

Uphill Running
  • increase upper body effort and reduce lower body effort
Easy to Moderate Hills
  • lean into the hill
    • keep upper body ahead of hips and feet
  • don't step ahead of your hips
    • keep shoulders ahead of hips and hips ahead of feet
    • this prevents overuse of hamstrings
  • swing arms forward and up
  • shorten your stride length
  • relax your lower legs
  • keep your heels down
    • avoid overworking lower leg muscles
    • don't run on forefoot - too much energy spent working small muscles to do a big job
  • use mental images
    • imagine yourself floating up the hill like a you are a hot air balloon
The hot air balloon is a good visual for me as we did a sunrise hot air balloon ride one lovely summer morning, over Calgary, a few years ago and I can easily recall the feeling as we lifted off the ground and floated into the sky.

Steep Uphills
  • run sideways
    • do a tiny crossover step so you can keep your heels down
    • face toward 10 o'clock and do 6 to 8 strides
    • turn and face 2 o'clock for 6 to 8 strides
    • work your way up the hill switching back and forth this way 

Going uphill, facing 2 o'clock, left shoulder into the hill
  • swing your downhill arm across your body reaching up for your shoulder
  • shift to 'granny' gear
    • shorten your stride
    • slow down your cadence
  • lean into the hill with  your uphill shoulder
    • lean with enough intent to feel as if you're leaning your should into a door to break it open
  • walk if you need to

Downhill Running
  • switch the emphasis to your lower body
  • neutralize the impact
Runable Downhills
  • loosen your hips, stretch out your stride, and let gravity pull you
  • relax everything from the waist down
  • keep your cadence steady
    • let your stride length increase
  • lean downill
    • regulate your speed with your lean
  • hold your C shape with a level pelvis
  • let your pelvis rotate more
    • this allows your stride to open up behind you reducing the shock to your knees and quads
  • relax your ankles
    • don't dorsiflex your ankles
    • try pointing toes as legs swing forward to avoid a hard heel strike
  • relax your mind
    • surrender to the speed, Grasshopper.
Okay, I love this reference to an old tv show called Kung Fu.  It starred David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin Master, travelling in the wild West on a quest to find his brother.  His master called him Grasshopper.  I have a young friend I think of as Grasshopper.  But, I digress.

Non-Runnable Downhills
  • if you find yourself 'putting on the brakes' a change of technique is in order
  • control your speed with your 'gas pedal'
    • let your lean revert to vertical to slow down
  • take very small strides and peel up your heels with each step
  • zigzag down the hill if there is enough room
  • relax your shoulders and keep them low
  • balance yourself in a vertical position directly over your heels and let your weight ride softly on your heels
    • this will direct the shock absorption to the back of your legs
    • as your foot comes down, roll heel-to-toe to further reduce impact

There will be lots of opportunity for me to practise this over the weekend.  The house we are staying in is on the crest of a hill... either direction from here is DOWN.  So, if nothing else, I can just go out and practise running up and down this hill!

Do you change your technique for hills?

Any advice or thoughts to share about this?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Please, Make the Noise Stop!

A slight change in plans today.

Last night I painstakingly mapped out a 6 mile route that I wanted to run today.  And I was excited about it.  I drank extra water during the evening to make sure I would be well-hydrated for it (and got up twice during the night!) and I dreamed about it.

But today when I got up, my confidence was shaky.  I was concerned that my quads might fail me when I was 3 miles away from the house and I would have to hobble home... after the 3 hour bike ride yesteday, they were like jelly, and although they felt okay this morning, I was worried about them.

I decided that 6 miles is pretty much the same thing as 10 km so I decided to run my recent 5km route twice.  That way  I would never get too far away from the house and I would still accomplish my distance goal today.  I could run it once and then change direction and run it the opposite way so it would seem different.

I set out just after 9 a.m. and loped along quite happily, checking my stride occasionally, making sure my feet were pointing straight ahead, checking my heart rate and trying to keep slowing myself down....  at about the 4 km mark I really started to notice the noise in my head... the chatter...

oh look at that cute dog
if I run a bit faster I can finish the first 5 km in 40 minutes
no I am not supposed to worry about speed today
I am thirsty, better have a sip of water
oh good, here is my turnaround point
hey buddy, don't you see me?  stop backing out of your driveway... and hey, you aren't supposed to talk on your cell phone while you're driving anyway!
this hill is steep I better slow down
do I need to push the WALK button at that interection or can I just scoot across the street
better push the button and wait
hurry up light
nice car
oh I better get back on the sidewalk
nice that this walk is asphalt not concrete
I hate running on concrete
look all all the moms and kids in the park today
and lotsa dads too
school starts next Tuesday
oh the water spouts just came on, that kid is gonna freeze!
maybe I should stop at the washroom in the park
which door is the Ladies?
it's so quiet here when the soccer fields are empty
I saw those women when I was going the other way
beautiful sunflowers
hi doggie
maybe I should think of a song to hum
don't stop thinking about tomorrow... who sang that?   Fleetwood Mac,  I don't like Fleetwood Mac, why did I think of that song?
what else can I think of? 

and on and on and on it went.

I finished my 10 km (which I discovered is actually 6.25 miles) in 87 minutes and was thrilled to be feeling so good at the end.

I came in and made the best smoothie ever to drink while I stretched. 

Vanilla Almond Breeze, almond butter, banana, bit of Splenda

And I slathered some more Almond Butter on a Wasa cracker.... lovely.

stretch 5 minutes

And NOW I am feeling my quads.

Do you have this kind of noise going on in your head when you run alone?

I know that if I listened to music it would stop... but I already wear a watch, a Road ID bracelet, a water belt and sometimes a heart rate monitor... do I really want to ad a MP3 player to all that, too?   Decisions....