Screw it, I’m running!

This past Sunday, San Jose was absolutely gorgeous, with close to 75F sunny weather. My husband and I went to my favorite trail to enjoy the day. It was amazing looking at the changing colors in a very comfortable temperature.

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Before I knew it, seeing all the runners passing by. I was itching to join them! I said, “screw my silly ankle” and let’s just try out a test run! I was very careful. I set out the limit of 30 minutes and I’d do a super easy interval running of 90 seconds run and 30 seconds walk. Oh it was so freeing to hit the pavement again! I thought I’d be out of breathe badly as I stopped running for almost 2 months (thanks to my bummed ankle). No. The joy of just running took over. Serotonin and endorphins, baby!

I felt I could run another 30 minutes. But I stuck to the plan, as I was supposed to be on recovery. It was good I stayed with the plan. Later that night, I felt the knee tightening but no pain. (Phew!) Can you blame me for wanting to run in this setting?

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I did not know what this meant regarding my plan to supposedly take rest of the year off. All I knew was it felt soooo goooood to run again!!

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Changing It Up for Fun

After a week off from traveling to see friends and family in LA, my running training took a hit. Training in LA wasn’t an option as most of the time was spent with family and friends. While it was fun to see friends/family, I really did miss running. When I got back from LA, it felt so awesome to run 5K! 

I definitely was looking forward to the long run over the holiday weekend although I was a little concern about how much in shape I was after missing last week’s long run. So I decided to take the long run to somewhere I haven’t ran before. After seeing my friends in LA area who lived near the beach, I loved the ideas of running along the coast. I drove 45 minutes to Santa Cruz, the nearest beach/coast to me. 

Oh, it was SO worth it! 

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I started at Natural Bridge’s Beach along Cliff Drive on the Santa Cruz’s coast. My plan was to run all the way to Santa Cruz Boardwalk and back. My recent longest run was 8 miles and my plan had been to equalled the same distance. I wasn’t really sure if the out-and-back would make 8 miles but it looked close enough on the map. 

The view/scenery made the first few miles very easily passable. The day was perfect with sun out and there were beach strollers out and about along with surfers in the ocean. What a nice day~ 

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The lack of training definitely started to creep up on the way back. By 6.5 mile and the final mile, I had slowed to a walk because my knee was acting up. I started feeling the pull from the calf. I did not want to risk injury so I decided to walk. In the end, I put in 7.5 miles, not entirely close to my original plan of 8 miles but it was an honest effort. And the view was so worth it!  

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I definitely want to return to this route again and run further the next time. It is absolutely gorgeous~ Sometimes, changing up the routine can be so much fun and motivating! 

Thoughts on Training Especially for Women

I’m not sure if I am the minority with this practice, especially in the “running” category. Most runners I met/knew have a certain drive about them. Otherwise, why would anyone woke up earlier on a off-day/weekend to, like, run 8 miles? So, when I first got into half marathon training a year ago, I suspect that it may be an un-orthodox to (wait for it…) NOT TO TRAIN during menstrual cycle. 

(Yes, I did mention, this is mostly a lady’s topic) 

I suspect this does not even come up in the same conversation with best fueling/hydration options, awesome new trail shoes, or the latest “diet”. It’s one of those non-issues. You just go train. Period (no pun intended here). With my background and philosophy of alternative/Chinese medicine, I understand that there is a balance to everything. I practice this in all the training/running I do. Therefore, it has been my practice to take it easy during my menstrual cycle. 

Over time, I learned that during my cycle, I just wanted to rest. Mind you, I’m fortunate enough to not have any significant issues like cramping or headaches. I still want to rest. To some runners, it may be mind-boggling to take a detour based on this. However, in my experience, there is an ebb and flow to my energy level throughout the cycle. I learn to leverage it for quality training as opposed to quantity and just “brazen” through it. 

For example, during the period, I absolutely rest. And rest days as most will agree are actually important and should be part of the training plan. Then the two weeks following the period, I find most energy where I can push for track work out training for speed and performance. The week before the period, I find the decline in energy, but still good enough to train for long run and endurance. Few days before the period, I tend to have some bloating, which makes it a slight drag to train. Nevertheless, I go out and run the best I can. This is the time for easy runs. 

This is a personal choice. I don’t have a way to compare and contrast or experiment if this practice overall improves performance. For sure, it helps with my “happiness points” I find it easier on my body, especially, running is really a hobby and a passion and not a competition for me. I am not looking to break any records, except those of my own. 

The only “down” side is that I have to alter running “around” the menstrual cycle. But, it is no big deal as we all have other obligations that running “revolve” around anyway. The important thing is to continue training and keep moving! 

I’m just REALLY curious if there is any other lady who practice something along the same lines as I do… Again, this isn’t a cocktail conversation but more of a personal choice. As I come to realize, the best thing about running is that it’s so highly customizable to each individual. There isn’t a team I have to account for (or be accountable for). Just me and my running shoes. Ah, one more reason to love running 🙂 

Happy Almost End-0f-Summer … Hello Autumn Nice-Weather Training time 🙂 

 

More than half way, that’s more than last time!

Last time I ran the SF RnR 1/2 Marathon, my longest training run for that race was 10K or 6.25 mile. I only gave myself 4 months to train, which proved to be insufficient, as life/sickness/traveling happened. I also learned it took time to condition the body.

I still finished the first 1/2 marathon and had the experience of my life. I must confess: after mile 8, I used mostly will power to finish the race. This time around, the second half marathon training, I gave myself more than 6 months. That proved to be a good move as I struggled with bronchitis for three weeks in June and was side tracked. 

Finally, the “comeback” streak started with the 10K Bad Bass Brazen Race. At that race, I equalled my past training’s mark. The following weekend, I went out to Guadalupe Trail for 7 mile long run. It was not satisfactory because the heat got the best of me as well as the unfamiliarity of the trail. I still logged the miles in.

Just yesterday, I finished 8 miles on the more familiar territory of Los Gatos Creek Trail. I started from downtown Campbell and made my way to Lake Vasona in Los Gatos. I was thinking to myself “wow, I could now run from city to city” Something I heard other runners said in the past but never understood how that was possible. 

I would admit that mile 7-8 was definitely challenging where I had to keep saying “stay strong, finish strong” as I was also practicing “giving all I have” on the last mile. I didn’t want to “struggle” on the last mile as I did on the last race. Finishing strong is a goal I have for this second 1/2 marathon! 

I also learned from yesterday that going for the high milage, it was important to take it step by step. It was helpful for me to divide the milage into sections with my self talks. It was actually hilarious thinking back, I focused on getting four miles in (which was easy since I’ve done that many times). Then, I focused on getting to mile 6, also something I’ve done. Then to mile 7, which I told myself, okay, I JUST did that last week, easy! Then mile 8, I started saying “okay, this is the real training, just ONE mile, I can do it”. 

I don’t know about other runners and how they “self motivate” but I talk to myself A LOT. It’s a good thing that at least I do it in my mind, otherwise, people would think I’m nuts! Hahaha! This week, I may consider doing 8 miles again just to make it a solid conditioning. This is another beauty of giving myself 6 months to train. I feel way more relaxed to adjust training with fluidity and flexibility. When I can, I accelerate with attending race and increase milage. And I when need it, I can repeat. I really think for novice runner (like myself), it’s important to give at least 30-40% buffer on recommended training plans. Life happens. And conditioning needs time to take place. It’s not a “run it, forget it” type of sports. 

Finally, I’m super excited that training is more than half way with achieving mile 8! Yay! 

 

Why I Enjoy Running

Enjoying running is a new adventure for me. Up until high school, I did not enjoy running and totally detest the 1-mile fitness test every school year. I was the slowest person in the class for that test. Wait, correction, I was the second slowest person since the class clown would be tailing me and making funny movements for laughters. That certainly did not make me feel better. I actually had to try to NOT be the slowest person.

It wasn’t even like I was “unfit”. I was in the volleyball team as well as basketball and soccer. I even went to gym AFTER those practices! I just did not like running for the sake of running. Give me a soccer ball and I could run an entire 90-minutes game. Tell me to get on the track and run one-mile, I felt out-of-breathe after 30 seconds.

Believe me, I can’t even fathom how I change to a “runner” recently. But here I am, plotting when and where I would run during our vacation last week. Running was going to happen, somehow, especially running shoes/gears were packed. We went away to Tahoe with some good friends, renting a cabin with alpine views. Really beautiful. Really serene.

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We were at Truckee, northern Tahoe, at an elevation of 5800ft. Normally, this was never an issue BR (before running). Now that I was determined to get a run in, all of sudden 5800ft was a cardiovascular challenge. I knew I had to adjust to the altitude so I started with a mild hike with my friend and her two puppies second day. I even attempted with a jog and I felt out of breath very quickly!

I did not know if a run was even realistic mid-way through our stay in Tahoe, especially, after a very fun, but taxing day on a boat on Lake Tahoe. The sun was amazing, the view was beautiful, and the tubing was tiring!

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The tubing fun left me sore on my neck and arms (and some sunburnt). I decided that I would forego the “must-run” idea. I would see how I feel the next day. I did not want to risk the chance of injury. Training for a half marathon has taught me to be flexible and listen to my body.

I was glad I did because the next day while everyone was recovering and staying in bed. I woke up feeling pretty good at 7.30am. I knew I could run. I grabbed my belt, my iPhone, headphone and put on my shoes and left the cabin. I still wanted to take it easy (the elevation would be the challenge already) so I went to Donner Memorial State Park and just jogged on the trail along Donner Lake. It was mostly flat but absolutely gorgeous!

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I ran a total of 2.5 miles. I felt breathless from both the insurmountable beauty as well as the elevation. I definitely had to stop both for pictures and for breathe. It was perfect, which brings me to the final point: why I enjoy running.

Simply, running has pushed me to do things I otherwise would not have thought of. Because I’m in training, even during vacation, I look for ways to be active. Because of this, I discovered Donner Park via running the trails. I was the only (crazy?) person to take a step further to explore another place out of our group. I was also super curious to see I would do at the almost 6000ft elevation. Not bad, 2.5 miles was a proud accomplishment! Again, running pushes me to challenge myself. This is why I love running, even on the days I just can’t find an ounce of energy to do it!

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(This pair of shoes has ran at 5800ft)

Grateful to Run, Finally! (First Track Workout Ever)

This week, my impatience grew relentlessly as I read fellow blogger’s training plans and races recaps. I was envy even of those supposedly “woeful” miles. (“At least, they got to run!” I thought)

I knew I had to “ease” my way back into training as my bout of tonsillitis/bronchitis took me out for half a month. Starting last Sunday, I was like a puppy that waited by the door to see if my owner (my lungs) would allow me to go out (for a run!) My husband, as caring as ever, would “nudge” this look of disapproval when I tried to put my running shoes on. Instead, I opened my yoga mat and did a simple vinyasa routine, just enough to get warm and broke a slight sweat. Ahhhh, it felt good to MOVE.

Monday came around and the windy weather prompted me to stay indoor yet again. Better not take my chances, the bronchitis was really painful. Yoga mat to rescue, yet again! This time, I added planks, push ups, and squats. That was when I knew I really needed to take my time to get back. I was exhausted with the added strength work out. But, it felt awesome to appreciate the soreness. Just a bit. Secretly, I believed runners/althetes might be slightly masochistic – pain welcomed!

Finally, my restlessness could not be contained on Tuesday. I went out for a run. I was pretty disciplined to stick with my recovery plan: run 90 seconds and walk 60 seconds for 30 minutes. It felt G-R-E-A-T to hit the pavement and at times felt breathless (both from the sheer joy of being outdoors & recovering lungs) I ended up with two miles, not bad. I had thought breaking one mile would be an accomplishment. Honestly, I had no idea how my lungs would do. Two miles on Tuesday felt just as triumphant as finishing a 5-miles-long-run.

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The run on Tuesday left me feeling confident. This promptly lead to my decision to join SJFit’s track workout that started yesterday. Another thing about runners/athletes: we generally think positively. Joining the track workout was a case of over enthusiasm, but not an abuse of the power, thankfully.

I have never done any track workout where the focus is on increasing performance with internal training. I read about it but without any coaching, I lack the discipline to do this myself. I told myself to show up (that’s winning half of the battle) and just took it easy. And I did. Even so, the workout introduced new set of training (tabata squats, 10 minutes distance assessment, group warm up/cool down) which meant new adjustment. The windy and cooler weather really did more “damage” than the workout. For some reason, it felt like a cool autumn last night than a summer night. That was classic NorCal weather though… I should have been more prepared.

All in all, I believed it was the right decision to show up and learned something new. Today, I woke up sore, tired, and a bit winded. I definitely plan to take today off. Maybe some recovery walk and stretching. Running has taught me the important lesson: listen to my body and learn when to back off. Knowing when to push (track workout) and when to back off is always a delicate balance. As much as I’d like to put the “back-to-training” in full throttle, it’s important to respect the physical limit post illness.

I’m grateful to be back and running, finally!

 

 

I miss running

I signed up for a 10K race for last Saturday (Brazen Racing’s Trail Quake) It was supposed to be one of my first trail races and it was supposed to challenging. And then … I had to take a DNS (do not start) Sigh… whenever I read other more elite runners’ blog and see DNS’s or DNF’s (do not finish), I thought that it sounded so “professional” Wow, these guys take it so serious, using fancy acronyms! Of course, there were always laments, disappointments that go along with either situation.

Well, my tonsillitis last week took me out most of the week. To make it worst, it evolved into a bronchitis by mid week. Some part of me felt like MAYBE walking Saturday’s race was still a possibility. By day two of a nasty bronchitis, I knew I had to forego the race. It would be unwise and foolish thinking I could fake my way through.

The disappointment was there but more than anything, I just miss running. Actually, scratch that, I just miss doing something physical. I’d even take walking on a trail at this point. Being confined to the bed and not having much energy for anything else (thanks to the incessant coughing), I felt trapped. The bronchitis really put running in perspective for me, as I secretly thought “okay, next time when I am complaining about not being able to breathe during training, think about the bronchitis-moments, those are really “hard to breathe!”!

It looks like I will be taking time off for rest of the week. I will have to start building my base, again. But I know I will be a little happy runner once I’m back on the trail. I’ll be grateful JUST RUNNING, any time, any distance, and any where. Meanwhile, I’m grateful that the World Cup is on. It provides certain amount of distraction to sail through this illness.