Two Races – Week 4 Training Recap

Last week was a weird week. I could start to feel my mental health getting to a weird place on Tuesday so I focused on getting some sleep. Finally by Friday I was ready to jump in again so I moved some things around on my schedule to make the most of the rest of the week only to feel sick on Saturday. I had a two-hour nap midday and spent the rest of the day on the couch reading a book.

Also, I’m really hungry all of the time. I think I need to start counting calories again so I can make sure I’m in that sweet spot of eating enough without eating too much. Plus, I really should make sure I’m getting enough protein in my diet. As much as it’s freeing to not be counting calories I think I need to remind myself what I’m burning and how I’m re-fueling.

Despite all of the rest days I’m ready to take on this week. I’m feeling refreshed and it helps that I know I don’t have a long run this weekend – it’s my “down” week while my boyfriend and I head to Ottawa for the weekend – and I have my next long run of 22K scheduled for February 16th.

Last week:

Monday – Easy 10K

Tuesday – Yoga

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – Rest

Friday – (AM) Upper body. 1K warm up, 3K tempo, 1K cool down (PM) Yoga

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – (AM) 20K. (PM) Yoga @ home

 

What I Read in January + Why I’m Reading 52 Books

In my post about my 24in48 experience I briefly touched on the fact that I have two challenges this year. My first is to read 52 books and the second is to complete the PopSugar Reading Challenge for 2019.

The former goal is the one that is guiding me this year. Why 52 books? Since I completed high school almost 10 years ago I became burned out when it came to reading. I used to devour books like they were nothing and I loved to read more than anything. Once I started university and had to read academic journals every week the thought of sitting down and reading became too much for me. The habit of reading never really returned and for years I’ve found it easier to just re-watch the same show for the 10th time on Netflix.

The thing is, I know that reading makes my mental health feel better. After going through the worst fight with depression in the fall I started to make changes in my life. Returning to reading is one of these changes.

52 books is lofty, especially when you haven’t been in the habit of reading. But I need big goals. It’s why I’ve moved from half-marathons to the full distance. I need a big push. I’m also a huge planner so aiming to read 52 books gives me an excuse to write a plan. As I also mentioned in my 24in48 post, I like to have three books on the go – an audio book, a physical book, and en e-book (I thought I would hate this format but it turns out my Kindle has changed my life!).

As a long-distance runner I like audio books because I can throw on my headphones on a listen while I run for an hour or two. I prefer memoirs in this format in case I zone out so I don’t miss a plot point. I like physical books because I love the look of having a home library and while Marie Kondo may disagree, my little library brings me joy. Finally, I love having my Kindle because it’s easy for me to cart to the gym where I can read on the treadmill or while cycling and it makes the cardio go by so much faster.

Now, onto my January results. I’m sitting at 9/52 books complete. 24in48 helped put me way ahead of schedule so once the nice weather picks up and I’m a little bit busier I won’t feel as guilty if my reading slows down.

Audio Books:
Let Your Mind Run – Deena Kastor and Michelle Hamilton. 
I felt like I needed this book. After dealing with my depression and running burn-out in the fall, listening to Kastor talk about her experience with shifting her perception and its effect on her running abilities really struck a cord with me. It’s a fluffy story with lots of descriptors about sceneries, foods, and emotions. Its not a self-help or a memoir, but more like a conversation with a friend.
PS Reading Prompt: A book about a hobby (I stretched this – her career is MY hobby)

Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris
I love listening to David Sedaris on This American Life and have had his books on my To Be Read list for a while now. I found myself laughing out loud while listening to him recount his past. Sedaris is an incredible storyteller and I highly suggest purchasing his books in audio form to experience something really special.

Kindle:
Braving the Wilderness – Brene Brown
A lot of reviews on Goodreads from those who have previously read Brown’s books seemed to feel like she was regurgitating previous material, but, to me, this book blew my mind. After struggling with depression I feel like this book was like one of my therapy sessions. I highlighted and bookmarked so many passages because it felt like I was having all of these breakthroughs while reading her words. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more by Brown.
PS Reading Prompt: A book by an author whose first and last names start with the same letter

Finding Me – Michelle Knight
Knight recounts her story of her many years held captive by Ariel Castro. She talks a lot about her life prior to being kidnapped and her entire story is heartbreaking. It feels like the wrong word to use, but I “enjoyed” it.

How I Became the Fittest Woman on Earth – Tia-Clair Toomey
Despite having never done CrossFit, I love watching CrossFit documentaries and following athletes on social media. Tia-Clair is a two-time winner of the CrossFit Games and it was incredible to read her story to-date. It’s a light read and a must for any interested in CF.

Physical:
What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal – Zoe Heller
I have complicated feelings about this one. It was interesting but it was dark and it tackles such a sensitive topic that I walked away feeling almost dirty after reading it and disappointed in all of the characters involved.
PS Reading Prompt: Book with a question in the title

Lord of the Flies – William Golding
While I read it dozens of times from childhood into adolescence and my teenager years, it was my first time re-reading it as an adult. I still love it but it was interesting to read it from a more mature place.
PS Reading Prompt: Reread of a favourite

The Woman in the Window – AJ Finn. 
I loved this one. While I had figured out some of the twists I was definitely caught up in the thrill of this story. I could not put it down but don’t want to say anything else in fear of spoiling it for someone else.
PS Reading Prompt: Book becoming a movie in 2019

My Sister the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite
As someone who loves her little sister more than anything but has definitely had times where our relationship has been complicated, I really felt like I could relate to the overall theme of this story. It was a really quick read and I thought the plot was really interesting and different from what I’ve read before.
PS Reading Prompt: Book written by an author from Asia, Africa, or South America

 

#BellLetsTalk

I want to write this in the simplest way possible. I have depression and anxiety. I was officially diagnosed in 2009 but after understanding my symptoms I can confidently say that I struggled with my mental illnesses since I was a child. As I age and life becomes more complicated so does my illness.

February is usually my worst month but I struggle year-round. Last year was my worst year, specifically September onward. In early September I became suicidal. I began having suicidal thoughts but I played them off, not believing I was actually serious. I think I didn’t want to be serious.

In October it got even worse. One Friday evening I found myself curled up on my bed, sobbing uncontrollably. I honestly didn’t know why it started but I just felt so sad. That night I practiced holding a cord around my neck. On Saturday I distracted myself with a volunteering assignment. On Sunday I almost killed myself.

I spent the morning crying, feeling alone, like I didn’t matter, like life would be better off for everyone without me in it. Eventually I found myself standing on a chair in my laundry room. I had one end of my cord tied around my neck, the other I had looped around a beam in the ceiling. I kept bending my knees, putting pressure on my neck. I liked the pressure. I liked it so much I started crying, again, and I climbed down. I messaged my boyfriend. Despite claiming I was OK, he came over and laid beside me.

Two days later I had a doctor appointment, unrelated to my depression. My boyfriend made me promise to tell my doctor. I lied through my teeth. Yet, when I found myself on her examination table I began to cry again and everything came spilling out. I got dressed and we sat and talked. She asked me if I had thought about harming myself and if I had collected the tools to do so. Once again, I lied. I’m certain she saw through me as she sent me home with a number for a crisis helpline and another appointment for the following week.

When I went back to her we discussed my options. She put me on sample packs of an SNRI because I don’t have a benefit plan. She booked me another appointment to follow up. I did face a slew of side effects in the beginning but after a couple of weeks I got used to the medication. They’re not perfect and I still feel depressed, but they help.

I also go to therapy bi-weekly. We’re working on different things from my relationships to coping mechanisms, to understanding and recognizing my signs of depression. I love my therapist and am constantly recommending her to anyone that asks. She’s also helped me work on being more open while I’m struggling instead of only being open when I’m feeling better.

My boyfriend and I try to have dinner together once a week. He’s a night-shift worker so it can be hard on our relationship, but I think the most important part of our dinners is that we can check-in with each other, as both of us struggle with mental illness, and we can support each other.

Everyday I’m learning. You would think that after dealing with depression for so long I’d have the hang of it, and I do seem to when I’m helping out others. Unfortunately, when it’s about myself I seem to get lost. But I’m trying to move more slowly and thoughtfully, taking stock of every action and feeling to truly understand myself. Since October I’ve gone through a lot of growth and as hesitant as my depression makes me, I am cautiously optimistic to see what happens next.

24in48 Readathon

Last Thursday I stumbled across a post in a Facebook group I’m part of that has an interest in reading. The poster was talking about this challenge called 24in48 and asking who was going to take part in it. A quick Google search led me to their¬†website¬†where I learned that 24in48 is a Readathon where you aim to read for 24 hours in a 48 hour period. As someone who has a goal to read 52 books in 2019 I loved this idea.

I’ll skip right to the part where I admit that while I did take part I was just under six hours short of 24 hours. For jumping into a challenge at the last minute and not being overly prepared I was pretty happy with my results. Obviously I would have liked to have reached the 24 hour goal but I’m already looking ahead to their next Readathon (July 20-21!) and I plan to KILL it.

What I think worked well for me:

  1. Stopwatch. I used the stopwatch on my phone to keep track of my time. I saw some suggestions to screenshot your time any time you stop just in case something happens and you reset your timer.
  2. Audiobooks. As I’m in the middle of training for my 30K and marathon I had a long run scheduled. Luckily they count audiobooks towards the 24 hours so I listened to a book while I ran for 2+ hours. I also listened to an audiobook while grabbing groceries and driving to my massage therapy appointment
  3. Selection. I already like to have three books on the go (a physical book, an audiobook, and an e-book) so if I got bored of one I could switch to something else. I also had a stack of books I had recently purchased that I was eager to get through.

What didn’t:

  1. Prior commitments. I had committed to a friend’s party on Saturday night and had a massage therapy appointment booked on Sunday afternoon. Between these two events I lost 4-5 hours just in time being away from reading. I would argue that because I was out on Saturday night I also slept in longer than I would have liked to on Sunday morning and lost time there as well. I feel like here was the six hours I needed.
  2. Poor planning. 24in48 suggests having snacks and whatnot ready to go. I really didn’t have time to get groceries and whatnot ahead of time. I think next time I’ll make sure that not only I go ahead of time, but I might pre-cook a couple of meals so I can cut down on time there as well.
  3. The running. This goes back to the first point, but after completing my 18K long run I was wiped. Along with going out on Saturday night, the Sunday morning sleep-in felt essential to my recovery process. Next time I’ll try to schedule my training around the weekend, maybe making it an “off-weekend.”

What I read:

  1. Lord of the Flies – William Golding. I had already started this book so I finished it up on Saturday.
  2. Let Your Mind Run – Deena Kastor. I had also previously started this audiobook so I finished it up on my run.
  3. Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris. I started this audiobook next, finishing it up while completing tasks like doing laundry, grocery shopping, and meal-prepping.
  4. The Woman in the Window – AJ Finn. I read this entire thing on Saturday. I was so enthralled by it and couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend.
  5. My Sister the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite. Another one I loved. It was a pretty quick but really interesting read. The premise was really creative and having a sister myself I found I could relate to the relationship (despite my sister not being a serial killer).

What I started but haven’t finished:

  1. Becoming – Michelle Obama. This is a seriously beautiful memoir.
  2. When You Are Engulfed in Flames – David Sedaris. I really like listening to him in audiobook format and this one had been suggested to me by someone on Instagram that has read all of his books.

Will I do it again? Absolutely! I woke up on Monday feeling refreshed and mentally alert. I was able to get through lots of books and am ending January with 9/52 books read, putting me ahead of my goal for the year. I’m also doing the PopSugar book challenge this year so I was able to fulfill some of the challenge prompts. I also have another bookworm for a friend that was interested in the challenge so we’ve already started making plans for the next one – a cottage weekend where we can chill on her dock or visit a winery with our books in hand!

 

Have you participated in any challenges or readathons?
Are there any books you suggest?

Two Races – Week 3 Training Recap

Last week felt both easy and hard, and yet trying to recall what I did last week I can’t remember much of it. Thank goodness I have the Nike Run Club and FitBit apps where I log everything meticulously so I can look back and see what I did each day.

What I do vividly remember is my long run on Saturday. Boy, that was a doozy. I had a 18K scheduled so I woke up Saturday morning, ate a banana muffin and croissant and read for about an hour while I let it digest, and then made sure to dress incredibly warm. Unfortunately it didn’t help much.

With the windchill I believe it was nearing -20 degrees Celsius. Instead of a hat I had chosen to wear my Buff wrapped around my head. It kept my head and ears warm but I found that sweat collected at the top of my head and froze, giving me the appearance of grey hair, and the braids I had decided to wear had also frozen solid. I need to remember to wear my fleece-lined leggings next time because the wind made my thighs feel like they alternated between numbness and burning. However, the worst part of all was beyond my control. A lot of residences and businesses failed to properly salt their sidewalks and I spent a lot of the time having to slow my run down to a walk, or catching myself before I fell onto my face. I finished 15 of my 18 kilometers outside before returning home and jumping on the treadmill for the last three.

Ultimately I’m glad I made it outside because Around the Bay is notorious for being an extremely cold race, and I know if I tweak my running gear slightly I’ll be able to survive the cold for another 15 kilometers.

Now that I’ve checked my apps to remind myself what I actually did last week, here’s what it looked like:

Monday – Easy 10K

Tuesday – Legs. 1K warm up, 2K tempo, 1K cool down. 10 minutes light cycling.

Wednesday – Unscheduled rest day. I was exhausted.

Thursday – “Peak Physique” yoga class. It was surprisingly a difficult workout but not my favourite

Friday – (AM) Upper body. Easy 6K. (PM) Yoga.

Saturday – 18K long run. Lots of stretching.

Sunday – Rest. I was going to make up for my missed Wednesday workout but I after my long run I needed this day off. I also went to a massage therapy session and I’m so glad I had the forethought earlier in the week to pre-book this. I needed it.

Two Races – Week 2 Training Recap

I thought my goal of running Around the Bay/30K at the end of March was overreaching but I’m pleasantly surprised at how quickly my fitness is coming back to me. In fact, I feel stronger as a runner now than I have in a long time – probably since I ran my marathon in October 2017.

I’m currently aiming to schedule five runs each week – two easy (one longer, one shorter), two speed training sessions, and one long-run. So far this feels like the right fit for me. I’m balancing my mileage with strength training and yoga, and this week I’ll be adding in different cross-training methods to see how my body feels. My nutrition hasn’t been great so I know that this is also something I’m going to need to place more of a focus on.

In Toronto we’ve been facing extreme cold warnings so I actually ran 16K on the treadmill on Saturday. I get bored easily so I had e-books, audiobooks, podcasts, playlists, and Netflix ready to go. I didn’t use everything I had but I was surprised it didn’t feel as tedious as I thought it would.

Here’s a look at my training last week:

Monday – Arms + core. 1K warm-up, 8x400m with 2 minute rests, 1K cool-down.

Tuesday – Slept in instead of running an easy 10K. Went to yoga in the evening.

Wednesday – Legs. 1K warm-up, 2K tempo, 1K cool-down. In the evening I made up for the 10K I had skipped on Tuesday.

Thursday – My birthday! I also ended up skipping my workout and took a rest day. I slept in and ate a ton of Indian food that night.

Friday – Legs. Easy 3K. Yoga.

Saturday – 16K long run.

Sunday – Legs. Easy 3K. Yoga at home.

 

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.