HOW TO DEAL WITH PAIN

Fair warnings guys:

1. I’m not writing this from my Italian chateau, so there’s that disappointment we all have to cope with (I’m sorry).

And 2. This post is going to be extremely sentimental and definitely cheesy, so if that’s not your flavor today, time to bail. See you on Monday.

So for those of you people looking for some brilliant insight, here we go.

Thursday was a bit of a tough day for me. Emotionally, I was just not in a good place. I was taking things very personally, creating problems in my head, and overall was behaving like a little dysfunctional shell of anxiety and pain. So, naturally, I went for a run to cope with all my feelings.

Going into the run I knew I didn’t want to make it about pace or distance. I threw my training plan out the window and just let my emotions take over (read: I sprung off my doorstep like a bat out of Hell and died about 3 miles later). And in that time, I DID sort some things out and reached a brilliant-new-to-me-insight that strangely enough, brought me a lot of comfort. Stick with me, and maybe it’ll do the same for you.

Now, we’ve all heard that life is a marathon, not a sprint. Most of the time the annoying person who says that is simply trying to say, “slow down and pace yourself.” But life really IS like a marathon, and in more ways than one. The one aspect I want to focus on today is very up lifting. It’s the element of pain.

 

 

As most experienced marathoners know, you can rarely—if ever—get through 26.2 miles without dealing with some “discomfort.” (Lol, it’s gonna huuuuurt).  The good news (?) is, this happens to everyone, so you’re not alone. The maybe-bad-news is, you’re going to have to deal with it, more or less alone. SOUNDS LIKE ANOTHER EXPERIENCE WE’VE ALL SHARED, EH? 

In marathons and in life, everyone experiences pain and everyone deals with it differently. How we choose to do so is based on a  variety of factors: our past experiences, our training, our mental toughness, how we’re built, etc. So, taking all of these things into account I’ve thought of four ways you can deal with discomfort when it comes your way.

  1. You can distract yourself. Music! Crowds! Counting!….Netflix! Hobbies! RUNNING! Distracting yourself is a great and effective way of dealing with pain. Your real life therapist may suggest you have repression issues, but he/she isn’t here and I say keep on keepin’ on. Here’s the catch though: this isn’t an option for everyone. Some people (me) are just not wired to do this—in running or in life. I believe you have to have the astounding ability to compartmentalize and unfortunately my brain just doesn’t DO that.
  2. You can help someone else cope with their pain. “The best way to help yourself is to help someone else.” Very true and helpful for running and life. There’s usually someone who is hurting just as much, if not more, than you. Find them and help them power through. If all goes according to plan, you’ll both feel better.
  3. Dwell. NOTE: THIS IS NOT HEALTHY AND I DO NOT RECOMMEND IT. I can say that because this is my technique (AND MY BLOG). When my feelings are hurt or I’m certain my legs are about to fall off, I can’t stop thinking about it. I overthink it to death and as a result, come up with a whole slew of new problems. Not only is this a major downer, but it also makes everything much harder—including recovery. I just assume it takes me roughly 60-100 days longer than average to recover from a tough race or life challenge, because I beat myself up so much. Don’t do it. Or if you do, STOP IT. Let’s quit together.
  4. Take. It. On. This is the best method I can think of, and the one I now know I want to use moving forward. I believe that this is what you see elite athletes/brave people do every day. When pain hits, they say, “Hello, pain. Care to go for a run?”, and power through. They learn from it. They embrace it. They take in only that which makes them stronger (+10 points to your House if you get that reference). They don’t shy away from it, they don’t dwell on it. They simply accept it as fact and go with it.

Guys, we’re all going to face pain in life. There’s just no way to avoid it. Trust me, I’ve tried. But when you can get to the point where you accept it as a simple side effect of life (and marathons) you can stop fearing it so much. And well, I’ve HEARD, that’s when “the good stuff”happens. So pop some Advil, put on your running shoes, and embrace the pain. We’ll all be right there beside you.

 

 

 

TRAINING ANNIE VS. NON-TRAINING ANNIE

I know I’ve only been training for two-ish weeks, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how different I feel (mentally and physically) when I’m training for a race. I have a feeling we’re all like this, but I just wanted to lay out some of side effects I experience in the midst of marathon training.

PHYSICAL

  • The most obvious physical side effect for me is: I. am. ravenous. My appetite increases 100-fold and my hanger becomes a serious issue that needs to be treated as such. Just ask S.
  • I am exhausted around the clock. While this doesn’t sound great to most people, I actually love it since I typically have a lot of issues with sleep. But when I’m running 40-50 miles a week I’m borderline narcoleptic. Just like Rusty, who is actually narcoleptic and also VERY adorable.
  • My body starts changing. My legs definitely become noticeably more muscular/my jeans get a little tighter in the general thigh vicinity and I overall probably trim down 5-10lbs each training cycle (only to put it back on later).

MENTALLY

  • Even though I’m physically tired, I’m in a much better place mentally when I’m training. If I start my day out with a run, I feel much more inspired, productive, and motivated throughout the rest of it.
  • I am undoubtedly more confident. It’s hard to not let the success in training carry over to your “real” life. So, when I nail a tough workout, I let that “I am a badass” feeling continue through the rest of my day.
  • I get a little FOMO. This doesn’t happen so much now that I’m in Denver and HAVE NO FRIENDS. But back in Boston, training took up a lot of my time, which meant less time sitting on a couch and drinking wine with my favorite people. It wasn’t always the best feeling.
  • I have a slightly more positive demeanor. Ok guys, I said slightly. It might not be noticeable to you, but it’s noticeable to me!

Overall, I think I’m a much better person while I’m training for a marathon. I think those close to me would have to agree. Even though I tend to fall asleep sitting up, threaten lives while hangry, and go to bed offensively early…I am a more pleasant human.

Now, for a few pictures totally and completely unrelated to running.

S made the the BEST beef stew ever on Monday night. Again, I’m so thankful I’m with a guy who not only likes cooking, but is also so good at it.

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Even Riley graveled to have some. Or he just wanted to dance. Either way, this was a hilariously awkward moment on his part. (Picture blurry due to photographer giggling maniacally).

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Then he proceeded to act out and dump every single toy he owns on the floor. Next up on the training schedule: teaching him how to put it all back.

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Oh my goodness, let’s just hope this is true.

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Hopefully by Friday, I’ll be posting from my Italian chateau while I’m rolling around in my gold like Scrooge McDuck. Dream big, guys.

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EUGENE TRAINING WEEKLY RECAP #2

Second week of marathon training is done! While I completed most of my goals, I have to say my legs felt like garbage this week. I guess I had forgotten the aches and pains that accompany marathon training, because man-oh-man, was I sore and it definitely shows in my paces.

Monday: Easy run, in pace only. While it was a glorious 50 degrees out Monday morning, the sidewalks were absolutely treacherous. I was in shorts and a t-shirt, which made it feel super great when I fell not once, but twice. 5 miles, 9:40 pace, and one bruised bum.

Tuesday: 4 mile tempo run. I was smart this time and brought it inside to the treadmill. As you may remember I set a goal for a 7:45 pace and I ended up pretty close. 1 mile w/u, 4 miles at 7:47 pace, and 1 mile c/d. Total of 6 miles and an 8:13 average pace.

Wednesday: Good grief did I wake up SORE. I postponed my run until the evening and even then it was a struggle. 6.07 miles at 8:37 average pace.

Thursday: Nope, not feeling any better. So I made sure to keep it super slow and take Riley with me for the first 3 miles. He was thrilled. 6 miles at 9:30 average pace.

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Friday: I moved my long run up a day because I decided to attend a career workshop over the weekend and I knew there was no way I was getting my long run in (or any run as it turns out) on Saturday. It was a rough start but ended up feeling ok by the end. 10 miles at a 8:39 average pace.

Saturday: Rest. I had an alarm set for 6am but there was no chance that was happening.

Sunday: Not the rest day I was shooting for, but an easy 5 miles at a 8:46 average pace.

Total miles: 38.09

Notice a trend? My comfortable pace is laying between 8:35s and 8:45s right now. I’m hoping to take a good 20 seconds off that in the coming months.

Some other weirdly exciting news, I retired a pair of shoes today! It always makes me feel crazy accomplished when I hit my mileage on a pair of shoes. Granted, I set the mileage far lower on my Nike LunarGlides (around 350) just because they seem to break down much faster than other brands. So, soon I will be in the market for a new pair (God forbid I only have TWO pairs of running shoes). But the reviews on the new LunarGlides aren’t stellar, so I’m thinking about moving over to the New Balance Vazee Prisms.

So in short for last weeks goals, this is where I stand:

  • Yes, I got my tempo run done. Only 2 seconds per mile slower than I was hoping for.
  • No, I did not run with my phone every day. But I didn’t see the bald eagle anyway, just a lot of geese and their poo.
  • No, I did not get Sunday as my rest day.
  • No, not all my runs happened in the morning. But I only failed to get out of bed once (twice if you count Saturday, but let’s not) so I’m going to say I’m proud of myself.
  • YES, I DID drink less wine and coffee and more water. This is so surprising, but I actually felt much better as a result.
  • YES, I ate pretty healthy (by my standards). I realize fried rice might not fall in that category for anyone else, but it had a TON of vegetables in it so it’s fine. I also got broccoli on my pizza Thursday, so I should be looking like Shalane Flanagan any day now.

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Anyway, moving on to this week’s goals:

  • Weekly mileage should hit 40 this week
  • 5 x 400s on the track—hoping to do these outside. I’m not telling you my goal pace because I’m chicken and I honestly have NO idea how this workout will go
  • Hoping to get at least 2 runs below an 8:30 average pace
  • SERIOUSLY, MAKE SUNDAY MY REST DAY
  • Water, all the water, all the days (she types as she sips on her second cup of coffee)
  • Introduce a fueling mechanism to this week’s long run. It’s only 12 miles, but I really need to get into the habit early. I’m notoriously bad about training with GU or any fuel really and it undoubtedly affects my performance. I NEED to be better this training cycle.
  • Stretch/foam roll/torture myself every. single. day. this week. (This is definitely going to be the hardest for me).

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Happy Monday, friends!

 

 

 

 

WHATCHA THINKIN’ ABOUT?

Runners get a lot of weird questions from the non-runners in their life. But there’s one that I’ve always found especially strange (not to mention a little creepy and intrusive).

But what do you think about?” 

What on earth are you expecting me to say here? Surely not the TRUTH.

I mean, ok. Fine. I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours. You go first. What do you think about right before you’re about to fall asleep (aside from every embarrassing thing you’ve done since the day you were born)? Or in the shower? Or in the car? Or any spare moment when your brain isn’t occupied by TV/Podcasts/YouTube/Donald Trump’s Twitter account?

DO YOU FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE YET?

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Well discomfort aside, I’m going to give you creeps a tiny glimpse into my mind (whether you want it or not!) We’re close enough now, right? I’ll even be mostly honest. You’ll be able to tell, because some of this is actually quite embarrassing.

My upcoming race:

I know. This is so unbelievably dull it seems fake. But it’s true. It’s the thing I think about the most while I’m out on the road alone. I visualize myself running in the race I’ve been training for (and doing exceptionally well, I might add). It’s usually the moment before I cross the finish line, where I hear ALL my loved ones yelling and I see the clock. Right now it’s always reading 3:17, because my farfetched 2017 marathon goal is 3:15 and even in my daydreams I miss it. But not by THAT much. Daydream Annie is still very happy with her time. Sometimes she even cries tears of joy and disbelief into her post-race burrito.

Running pals:

This is where I start getting a little creepier (just wait, it gets worse). During my tempo runs or times when I’m really struggling, I imagine I’m running with my speedier friends. Hi! YOU PROBABLY KNOW WHO YOU ARE. DOES THIS MAKE YOU FEEL WEIRD?

And maybe, sometimes, when I’m really grasping for inspiration, I imagine I’m running alongside professional runners I’ve never even met. Obviously, I can always keep up with them because in my daydream I have unbelievable talent that has yet to be discovered.

Unsurprisingly I’ve also had some imaginary runs against my rivals (only I know we’re rivals), but they tend to dampen the mood and make me grumpy/psychotically competitive.

Dancing:

Now this is where I’m literally, actually, seriously blushing RIGHT THIS MOMENT, because this is a very awkward thing to admit. But, SOMETIMES, when I’m on the treadmill and a certain song comes on (anything by Pitbull, really) I’ll imagine I’m dancing. Usually at a wedding—because I’m a 29 year old woman who dances like she’s 82 and that’s the only place where I’m found busting a move these days.

Now, hear me out, because I actually think this is a really helpful distraction. See, when you’re on the dance floor (and extremely invested in the song), you don’t care how badly your legs hurt, if your heart is about to burst through your chest, or how much you’re sweating. You KEEP DANCING/KEEP RUNNING.

LIFE: 

These thoughts usually leak in on the days when I run in the afternoon or evening. That way I have a whole slew of happenings and things to overanalyze and obsess over. These thoughts include, but are not limited to: I wonder if my coworkers like me? S better empty the dishwasher by the time I get home. Is it acceptable to eat peanut butter toast for dinner again? No, I need to eat vegetables. But…No. Vegetables. What do I want to DO with my life? What are my SKILLS? Surely I have a “purpose…”  If I go this way instead will I still hit six miles? Seriously, that dishwasher better be empty by the time I get back. Oh my God he’s not going to empty the dishwasher. Should I turn back now to be super passive aggressive and just do it?

So that’s me. Hopefully I haven’t scared you off just yet, I was saving that for my 100th blog post. Til next time, friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FALLING OUT OF LOVE, THEN BACK IN AGAIN.

Around this time a year ago, I was beginning my Boston Marathon training. I was coming off an injury (as you may remember), getting back into shape, and hitting paces I had never hit before. I was head-over-heels-obsessed with running and the progress I was making. Back then, I didn’t understand (much less relate to) any article I saw about de-prioritizing running or running slumps.

Why would anyone willingly take a break from running? It was incomprehensible.

Then the Boston Marathon happened.

About ten or so days before the race, I was checking the weather every 7 minutes, as we psychotic runners tend to do. The forecast looked amazing—for spectators, that is. Highs in the 80s (i.e. an unfamiliar Hell for all of us who had been training in the midst of a New England winter). In a desperate, desperate attempt to be optimistic/delusional, I tried not to think about it too much. After all, weather forecasts are wrong all the time, and even if it was right, it didn’t matter. I had trained my butt off, a little heat was not going to stop me from PRing.

My confidence/delusion began to really waver about a week before the race. A teammate I had been training with said to me, “I feel bad for all of us, but I feel the worst for you. You’re in the best shape of your life and it’s going to be a tough one.” Guys, I still think about this comment. He didn’t say it to be malicious (he is hands-down one of the nicest humans I’ve ever met), he was just stating the truth. I just didn’t realize exactly how true it was at the time.

When I stepped up to the starting line on race day, it was 81 degrees. I was already sweating in my singlet and shorts and I hadn’t even started running. But when the gun went off, I was still holding on to my tiny bit of a confidence/delusion. Even if I didn’t run a 3:20, the chances of a PR were still high.

Photo of me at mile 10. My shirt looks deceivingly dry. The friends I hugged at this point in the race can confirm that I was in fact, drenched. 

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The beginning of the race went well. I succeeded in going out slow and I was beginning to run my goal pace. (Keep in mind this goal pace was determined with a 50-60 degree day in mind.) I held on until about mile 15. Then I began to slowly but surely fall apart.

I ended up crossing the finish line in 3:45, more than 20 minutes off my goal time and 13 minutes past my personal best and qualifying time. But in the moment, I didn’t feel anything else besides relief that it was over.

Over the following days, I learned that most of us on the Team had had a rough race. Nearly everyone ran much slower than they had expected. In 80 degree weather, it couldn’t be helped. But my God, my heart ached. It wasn’t until several weeks after the race I broke down and yelled (sorry S) and shed some real tears over it.

What came to follow was my break up with running. It wasn’t a conscious decision at first. In the beginning, I justified it as “recovery.” Then the move to Denver happened and “life just got busy.” Then “altitude” and “the heat.” But really, I just fell out of love. During that time running brought me more stress and sadness than relief and happiness. I was still very angry about how it failed me back in April and how I had failed myself.

We were broken up for about six months. While we still saw each other sometimes, I just wasn’t ready to put my heart into it again and I was scared about the time we spent apart.

It wasn’t until the day after the election when my feelings started to creep back in. I think I was just looking for anything familiar and at least somewhat reliable. And despite our falling out, running was that thing for me. It forgave me for our time apart (my legs and lungs are still getting over it) and welcomed me back with open roads. Because the thing is, running really is like any real relationship: destined for rough patches. But if you’re lucky and persistent as all Hell, you’ll come out the other side even stronger than before.

 

 

 

EUGENE TRAINING WEEKLY RECAP #1

So first thing’s first. Thanks for hanging in there for a whole week. I’m proud of all of us and I’ll try to be worthy of your page view. Also, to make things a little easier for you and for me, I’m going to put myself out there and establish a posting schedule (yikes, commitment). Come check me out every Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I was a little delusional last week in thinking that I’d post every day in this NEW YEAR, NEW ME phase. Turns out my life really isn’t that interesting and there is absolutely no need for me to talk at you every day. Let’s hope I can scrounge up enough material for at least three days a week.

Anyway, back to running. Well, considering this past week was the beginning of my Eugene Marathon training, I’d say it went fairly well. I had a failed tempo run, but every other run was more or less successful. S and I even signed up for a gym so I could run during the snowstorm! Riley got in a few strides, too.  As you can see the snow doesn’t bother him quite as much.

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Here’s what this week looked like:

Monday: Rest. I wanted to give my legs a chance to recover after Sunday’s 5k.

Tuesday: A bit of a shake out run. Ran 5.18 miles (8:41 average) in the neighborhood with no expectations. I felt surprisingly ok, even though my legs were most definitely packed full of sand.

Wednesday: The devil tempo run. Ran 5.08 miles total (8:27 average) 2 tempo miles in the middle (7:37, 7:47). Fingers crossed this week’s will go better, as there is a 100% chance I’ll be doing it on the treadmill.

Thursday: 7 miles (8:27 average) on the treadmill. Aside from crazy “sea/treadmill legs” after the run, I felt great.

Friday: Rest. I had every intention of running and it just did not happen. 3 glasses of wine did though.

Saturday: Long run with S at Cherry Creek State Park.  11.45 miles (8:36 average pace). I was actually pretty psyched about this run. I felt great with the exception of the hills on the way back. Turns out I’ll probably need to incorporate more of those into my training.

The views were also very gross.

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Sunday: Recovery run. 6 miles total (9:17 average) 4 of which were with Riley and S.

Now, for the super scary stuff. This week’s goals:

  • Sticking with that tempo run. Scheduled 4 miles on the treadmill. Let’s shoot for a 7:45 average. I’m admittedly hoping to get that pace back down to sub 7:30s by the end of training season.
  • Run with my phone every day so I can snap a picture of the bald eagle in my neighborhood and prove to all the skeptics out there that I actually know what a bald eagle looks like and I’m not insane. HE’S REAL. I THINK.
  • Get all 6 days of running in and reestablish Sunday as my rest day.
  • Make most (if not all) of those runs happen in the morning. Tomorrow morning Annie is already laughing about this insane statement.
  • Less wine and coffee, more water. I’ve been horrifically dehydrated lately and I really need to get better about drinking water before and after my runs. Never mind the fact that I’m writing this post from a brewery. It’s fine. These are NEXT WEEK’S goals.
  • Lastly, eat as healthy as Riley. I swear he only likes meat (we feed him an all raw diet), bananas, and cucumbers.

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So that’s where we’re at now. Happy Monday (if you believe in that kind of thing) and we’ll talk on Wednesday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMING IN HOT FROM A TEMPO RUN FAIL

Yesterday morning, I woke up at 6am and immediately reached for my phone to check the temperature outside. It was 10 degrees, with a real feel of 5. I shivered at even the thought of going out, and managed to kill time doing absolutely nothing (scrolling on Instagram) for another 40 minutes or so. Meanwhile, S headed out to take Riley for a very quick run. When he got back, I asked, “how cold does it FEEL?” He said it was very cold.

So, I figured the occasion called for one of my warmest winter running shirts. It’s an old one from Under Armour and it’s fleece lined.

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Then I layered up with my Boston Marathon 2014 jacket, my Resolute Runner hat, and a neck warmer. I put on two layers of gloves, fleece lined leggings (also old from New Balance) and high socks.

 

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I left the house thinking I’d probably have to call it quits due to the cold. And boy, was I wrong. I shed my neck warmer after one mile, and I was SO close to circling back and shedding layers at the house but I had figured I HAD COME TOO FAR. I was going to continue my workout as planned. And then several miles later (spoiler alert), I wanted to die.

My plan was for 5 miles, 3 at tempo pace with one warm up and one cool down. Obviously my warm up got me real warm, and then I was off. Now, I don’t know why I thought this workout would go well. I have done maybe 4 tempo runs ever outside and I’ve had a faster more experienced runner-friend pace me for every single one of them. Also they’ve always been at sea level. And in the evening. And in normal temperatures. But, whatever. It’s fine. I’m fine! This. is. FINE.

Well, here’s how it went:

W/U: 9:14 (Good job, nice controlled pace)

Tempo Mile #1: 7:38 (Whoa, that went better than I thought!)

Tempo Mile #2: 7:47 (Dry heaving)

Tempo Mile #3: 8:48 (Yes, I gave up)

C/D: 8:46 (Woof.)

So, guys. It turns out that I’m basically starting back at square one with my training. And not just from a pace perspective, but I actually need to learn how to run again!

Pacing does not come naturally to me. It took me about 3 marathons to learn how to negative split, and then a few more to actually be able to guess what pace I was running without staring incessantly at my watch. Now, with the altitude and being grossly out of shape, I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. 7:38 used to be a very comfortable pace for me. Heck, it was the planned pace for my Boston last year. Today, it nearly killed me after ONE mile. This is not promising. But I’m optimistic/delusional enough to believe I can regain my old level of fitness before my LA half marathon next month. Only time will tell.

Stick with me until then? Undecided? Here, let this face convince you.

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