Training for Two Races

At the end of 2018 I made the somewhat hasty decision to sign up for Around the Bay in Hamilton. It’s a 30K road race so I knew that if I trained I could do it. The question was, would I train?

I’m still working through my depression but I feel like I’m out of the extreme darkness that I was in throughout the fall. I cautiously made my way back to the gym and so far, so good. It was difficult to get back into a routine and I could tell I had lost a lot of fitness, but I did find myself adapting fairly quickly. I’m back up to lifting the amount of weight I could before and my running is feeling easier each day.

Last week I logged a total of 40K, increasing from 12K the week before, and I consider it my first week of my training plan. I’m using a combination of strength training, yoga, long runs, easy runs, and speed training to structure my training.

I’m technically training for 17 weeks. The first 12 weeks will take me to the date of Around the Bay, and my final 5 will hopefully lead up to a spring marathon. I’m writing out my own plan (I’ve used and like the Nike Run Club app in the past) and I’m only planning ahead four weeks at a time.

I don’t have any time-goals for these races – I just want to make it through this training cycle feeling strong and like I accomplished something.

I’m very interested to see what these next few months will bring.


Depression + First 2019 Race Registration

Lately, my depression has reached a serious low. I’ve spent a lot of time crying, struggling with thoughts of self-harm and worthlessness, lacking motivation or drive to do much else besides go to work and sleep, and I’m starting to feel like I’m not going to feel like “myself” again.

I’ve been doing a few things to try to fight it. I went to my first therapy session (tomorrow is my second), I saw my doctor for an unrelated issue but admitted to her where my mental health stands (we also have a follow up appointment this week), and I’ve been spending less time at home where a lot of my feelings stem, and my boyfriend has been kind enough to let me use his condo as my escape.

However, it’s not enough. I’ve thought a lot about what I can do to change this rut I’m in (I’ve stopped exercising, stopped cooking, stopped drinking lots of water, stopped putting effort into my appearance, etc) and I think I’ve settled on focusing on one thing at a time. My first focus is to start training for a race. I’ve set my sights on and registered for Around The Bay in March 2019 so now I feel like maybe I have something to be accountable for.

Around The Bay is a 30K road race. I’ve heard it’s supposed to be pretty brutal. Most years (barring construction) you have to climb a hill to the finish line (dubbed Heartbreak Hill after Boston’s own hill) and the weather is known for the possibility of being pretty brutal around that time of year in Hamilton.

The plan? I’m going to work for a few weeks to get my base mileage up before I really start climbing. Ideally, Around the Bay is going to be a warm-up to a spring marathon but, for now, I don’t want to think that far ahead.


Seeking a Change

I’m not sure what it is – the transition of winter to spring, having recently taken a real vacation for the first time in two years, or having made sustainable changes in other parts of my life – but I’m really craving a change in my life. Something big.

Part of me thinks I want a life change in terms of purchasing my first house or having a child, but I’ve done some serious thoughts this week and I don’t think either of those two things are what I desire right now (not that I don’t want these things in my life, but that my life will not end without them). What I’ve been thinking about is the Eastern coast of Canada. Somewhere I’ve never been but seems to be calling my name. Not for a road-trip or short vacation, but as a place to live.

I’ve start researching what sort of careers are available to me, what the cost of living would be, and if I could continue to pursue my other passions in these locations (baking, running, life with my dog).

The more I think about it, the more I want it and feel like it’s the right thing for me.

So even though the realistic (OK, maybe pessimistic?) part of me isn’t sure anything will come of this, I’m writing out a plan. And, who knows, maybe I’ll stumble into the next phase of my life, a change different from what I envisioned, but I have this strong feeling that I am about to evolve.

No Longer Running a Marathon

Since getting sick a month ago I’ve found it hard to recover and get myself back to what my fitness levels were. I’m still lifting lighter in the gym, I’m finding my muscles need significantly more time to recover, and running is tough.

I ran for the first time last Thursday and I was really proud. I only ran two kilometers but my pace felt OK just under seven minutes, and I accomplished it outside. But it wasn’t easy. And the thought of running more than two kilometers felt really daunting. All last week I thought long and hard about whether or not I would be in marathon shape by the end of May and as much as I hated to admit it, I knew I wouldn’t be.

For me, marathon number two holds a purpose. Marathon number two is supposed to be really enjoyable while knocking a bunch of time off my only standing record. I knew that it was going to take me more than 12 weeks to get to where I needed to be after three weeks off, and I knew I wouldn’t enjoy the race. Above all else, continuing to love running is the most important part of running.

So yesterday morning I quit my marathon training plan, loaded up a plan for the half, and this morning I officially changed my distance with the race. Honestly, it makes me really sad and it feels like I’ve failed myself. However, if I was talking to anyone else in my situation I would tell them that they’re making the right decision – that it’s the smart thing to do. I don’t want to hate running, I don’t want to end up with an injury, and there will always be another marathon.

But now I’m going to shift my focus to the half and all of the great things about the half. I’ve run enough of them now that I know I could get myself into half marathon shape in eight weeks if I needed to, so 12 makes me feel pretty comfortable. I’m also going to reach for that PR. I know that if I work hard enough and push myself hard enough on race day (I have issues with letting myself be uncomfortable) I can shave quite a few minutes off of my previous times. Plus, I’m still going to be running in my favourite city.


March? Already?

I can’t explain why I feel stressed about the date, but I can tell you this started a few days ago, on the 25th of February. I woke up, checked my phone, and when I saw the date I immediately thought, “WE ONLY HAVE TEN MORE MONTHS UNTIL CHRISTMAS.” Seriously, I started to stress out.

Surprisingly, despite the stress I’m feeling, I’m in a really great mood today. But I definitely keep thinking, Here we are. It’s March. I haven’t accomplished anything. And honestly, this is so far from the truth!

First, I spent six weeks marathon training, and that meant I was running 4-5 times each week. On top of those runs I was lifting weights, cross-training, and going to yoga which means I was sometimes working out twice a day!

Second, I made a decision (which I haven’t yet talked about here) to dive head-first into building a business. I’m a great baker and I’ve started to work on the decorating side of things. I’ve baked a lot of cakes and cupcakes, decorated them, started working on a marketing plan, and have been doing a lot of research and brainstorming.

Third, I went on vacation! Michael and I hadn’t gone on a “real” vacation together in the almost seven years we’ve been together, so this huge. Despite getting sick on vacation we had a great time, learned we can travel well together, and it felt really good to be somewhere incredibly hot as our city was covered in ice and snow.

Fourth, I got sick and was sick for a long time. For three weeks I got my butt kicked by the flu, a general viral infection, and then a cough so awful that walking around the grocery would lead me to cough so hard that I would gag. Once I coughed so hard I actually threw up on my blankets as I was curled up in bed. It was horrible.

I also was asked to be a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding, went to my first NBA game, went to a lacrosse game with my mom and sister for our annual family date, and made a lot of great food.

So even though two months of 2018 are already over, I haven’t been as unproductive as I thought I had been. I have already had a pretty good year and I have high hopes for the next 10 months.

Happy March!

Easing back into the gym

After almost three weeks of no exercise I finally made it back to the gym this morning. I still have a slight cough but it’s so much more bearable. I can finally walk about the grocery store without coughing so hard I’m on the verge of vomiting. Small victories!

Since I’ve taken so much time off the way I work out is drastically different than it was before I got sick. I can’t just jump in and pretend that my fitness levels are where they were, so here’s my plan:

  1. Lighter weights: even though I significantly decreased the amount of weight I lifted this morning I still felt extremely weak. I wanted to make sure that above all else, my form was strong. I’m fairly confident the amount of weight I can lift will go back to normal pretty quickly but the last thing I want is to injure myself and be forced to take time off again.
  2. Less cardio: since I still have a little cough I’m monitoring my cardio closely. This morning I cycled and walked on the treadmill, and I’m going to start doing my scheduled marathon training runs in order from easiest to most difficult this week so I can really gauge how my body will handle running. Technically I should be running a 14.5K long run this week, but if I can only manage 10 or even 8 kilometers that is what I will limit myself to.
  3. Eat well: I’m not going to deny it, I am counting calories and back on my diet, but I carefully chose what I’m eating this week. Smoothies full of vitamin C, hearty sandwiches, lean proteins, and lots of fruit and vegetables. I’m also not cutting too many calories because food will be essential to how my muscles repair themselves this week.
  4. Rest: I’m going to turn off Netflix earlier, read more, and get into bed on time. Also, if I wake up to my alarm and I truly feel like I should sleep longer, I will sleep longer.
  5. Mobility: Stretching, foam rolling, yoga. Between lifting and trying to run again I am going to be sore. I know this. So I need to combat the inevitable as much as possible.
  6. Hydrate: I know one of the biggest rules of being sick is to drink lots of clear fluids. I did alright with this but the last three weeks I was nowhere close to how hydrated I usually am. This week I’m back to using my FitBit app to track my water intake, and I’m aiming for that gallon again.
  7. Supplements: I’m going to try to remember to take my two usual supplements daily (Vitamin D and Omega-3s) but I also am testing out Oil of Oregano. Lots of people swear by this and I figure it can’t hurt to try it out.