Musings from a Seattle personal chef
Archive for the 'Fitness Musings' Category
Now that I have hundreds of miles and numerous races behind me it’s easy to forget what it’s like to face your first race. I was chatting with a gal before our Pilates class the other night and she was full of trepidation over the upcoming St. Patty’s Day Dash — a 5K fun run. Not only will it be her first race, she hasn’t yet run 3 miles.
I gave her a pep talk (I’ve run the dash 10 times and may do so again this year), assuring her that she’ll not only make it, but will have a ton of fun (more than 12,000 people run it each year, many in costume). But our discussion really brought things into perspective and I had to give myself a pat on the back. You see, I’m at the point where a 5K is what I run when I don’t feel like running.
You’ve most likely had those days: you’re dog-tired, but your training log is beckoning you to run. My current training calls for 30-45 minutes of running twice a week (4-6 miles), with a long run on the weekend. While I’ve been diligent with my long runs, sometimes I just can’t muster the motivation to do the weekday runs. My darling also falls prey to such slackitivity (if that’s not a word, then it should be), and we can be very bad influences on each other. But before we succumb to the couch’s siren call one of us (typically my darling) will spur us toward Greenlake — a 3.2 mile jaunt at the most (the inside loop is even shorter — 2.8 miles). We can complete the entire trip in less than 30 minutes, including the walk to and from the lake.
Although I don’t remember much from my first race (the 5K Teddy Bear Tunnel Run in 1990), I do remember feeling nervous about being the last to cross the finish line. My concerns were for naught, as my friend and I finished well ahead of many others, despite walking the last mile or so. That was the last time I felt nervous before a running race, although the feeling returned this past summer before my first triathlon. It’s more the fear of the unknown — of what to expect — than the worry about finishing that causes this anxiety. After all, the way I train now, I’ve already run the distance required for the race long before the race itself.
So, will the fear return before my marathon? Hopefully not. But considering I’m a novice traveler who does not speak French, I’m sure there’ll be some restless nights.
The owner of my gym recently pointed out something quite disturbing: I’m lopsided.
I’ve been plagued with a bum right knee ever since I took up running again almost two years ago. A few months back I took advantage of my gym’s free injury screening, and the physical therapist diagnosed it as “patellafemoral pain syndrome” or classic runner’s knee (VERY common among women runners). The pain has never been acute — more of a minor but always-there discomfort — so I haven’t been too particularly worried. But I’m a notorious stretching avoider, and tight calves and hamstrings contribute to the problem. I’m also an over-pronator, so I need shoes with lots of support (my current ones are due for a replacement).
Over the past couple of weeks the pain has been more severe, and as I was griping about this to the gym owner she voiced her observation that I was off-kilter. “How rude,” I thought. “Sure, I may be a bit wacky, somewhat zany, heck, even kooky at times. But off-kilter? HARRUMPH.”
Then I realized she was talking about my quadriceps: my right quad is noticeably smaller than my left. Weak or under-developed quad muscles can cause the patella to track out of alignment, which irritates the femoral groove. No wonder I’m sore!
This discovery has forced me to become more aware of how I stand. Sure enough, I tend to favor my left leg. I’m right-handed, so when I’m cooking all the prep work is done with my right hand. I find my right hip won’t get in the way when I’m chopping if I tilt slightly and put my weight on my left leg.
Of course, I really need to get myself to a physical therapist for a proper diagnosis and some strength-building exercises, but in the meantime, if you see someone doing one legged squats while standing in the check-out line at Whole Foods, it’s probably me.
I think I’ve been sniffing too much eggnog.
My new fitness goal? Get down to 150 pounds by the Mercer Island Half marathon on March 25 (oh wait, perhaps it’s the CONSUMPTION of said eggnog that’s the culprit). At any rate, according to this morning’s scale, that’s just over 12 pounds in 15 weeks. Certainly doable, but given my proclivities for holiday treats (and my utter disdain for dieting), it could be a stretch. So to push myself a bit more I’m posting this in my blog for all the world to see.
Or at least my legion of fans.
All 5 of you.
What I see as my biggest obstacle is the fact that I don’t feel I really NEED to lose more weight. My darling thinks I’m hot, and more importantly, I’m happy where I’m at (heck, I even had the guts to pose in a bathing suit in the Seattle Times this past summer). Sure I still have pockets of flab that I’d love to get rid of (short shorts are verboten on long runs; I’m no masochist — upper thigh chafing does NOT build character). But I know my knees and feet would appreciate 12 fewer pounds pounding down on them.
I admit it — I’ve been a slacker. In the 6 days after the half marathon my fitness routine consisted of three activities: zip, nada and a whole lotta nuttin’.
I know I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. There is such a thing as overtraining and I’m a prime candidate for it. But I also know that if I allow myself to slip a bit, it can turn into a LONG slippery slope. Granted, the weather last week was horrid (on Tuesday I needed chains just to get out of my client’s driveway!), but I was also full of other excuses — it’s too dark, I have to decorate for Christmas, I’m catering a party and need to plan, I have to write a post in my blog, yadda yadda yadda.
Well, the excuses ended yesterday. Because I had taken — in my mind — such a long break, I intended to run twice around Greenlake, or just under 6 1/2 miles. But then I came to my senses. WHY must I do that? WHAT am I trying to prove? I’m not training for any particular race (yet), so why bust my butt?
I realized then I had forgotten the joys of a short, quick run. The kind that gets your heart pumping, but doesn’t force you to collapse on the couch afterwards. In fact, it’s a great ego boost to think that running 3.2 miles is a no-brainer. A year and a half ago that distance would have gotten me red-faced and panting; now it’s just a jaunt.
So for the next 4 weeks I’m going to cut myself a bit of slack. I’ll still exercise (I was back at the gym this morning and will be heading to the pool tomorrow morning), but I’m also going to enjoy the holiday season. Come New Year’s Day my training program for my next caper will commence!