|Muddy, sloshy, and peaceful.|
There was a time when running was the #1 priority in my exercise routine. I was running as much as 40 miles per week. Some weeks, even more. After last year's marathon, I decided it was time for a change. Life was going a totally different direction than planned. Top that off with my knees, ankles, and right hip killing me - not fun. Though I was on the right track toward healing already, I simply needed a break. I continued to run, but had to slow things way down. Make a few decisions that were gut wrenching. I opted to back out of July's big Ragnar trip. I didn't show up to several half marathons and a full marathon I had registered for earlier in the year. My running buddies didn't understand where I was coming from with my thought process. To be honest, there was a time when I didn't understand why anyone would pay for a race...only to not show up. It was heartbreaking for me, really. (I've actually lost a few "local running friends" over some of the choices I've made in the past 9 months. I say, they weren't true friends if they didn't respect my decisions. Health & family first.) Running is something I love to do, and plan on doing for years to come. If I didn't slow down long enough to heal, I wouldn't have been able to continue.
Running still has a huge spot in my heart, but it is no longer my #1 activity. I mean, in my head it's still my #1 activity, but time wise, not so much. I spend more time strength training, stretching, and cross training than I do running. The good news is, it's paying off! Finally, after all this time, I'm seeing results across the board. Muscle definition I never thought I'd see. With so much loose skin from weight loss and pregnancy it's hard to see unless the light is hitting my body in JUSSSST the right places, but it's there. I can use my meaty thigh and calf muscles to power a bike like never before. I'm able to work out the kinks (and a good sweat) with yoga.
The worst part is, I'm not running as much as I used to. It's a shame, really. I love to run. On the flip side, the best part is, I'm not rockin' multiple injuries at a time. Yes, my funky little hip still gives me grief. I have a bone spur. It will continue to be an issue for me because of that. As long as I take care of it, it plays nice. My shins burn like fire when my shoes get too old and worn down. Other than the unavoidable glitches in the life of a runner, I'm running stronger than ever before.
When we first moved to Vancouver, the hills around here about did me in. I'm not even kidding! It was torture to run along the Salmon Creek Trail. Looking back, it cracks me up to know those tiny little rolling hills along the far end of the trail worked me over. However, coming from super flat Ohio, I had never been forced to deal with such terrain. I spent a lot of my Ohio running time on a treadmill and indoor track due to the frigid fall, winter, and spring months. Even with the treadmill incline pumped up, it's not the same as natural, hilly terrain. Obviously, an indoor track has zero incline. So, hills were new to me upon moving here. When we purchased our home six months after moving Washington, over by WSU's Vancouver campus, the hills seemed even HILLIER! Now that I've incorporated more strength and cross training, hills are being run faster and stronger. Parts I used to exclusively walk, I now power up. Is it easier? Maybe a little. Not as easy as I would like it to be, but I can run these hilly hills now. There was a time when I could not. Not only do I run them...I power up them!
|Campus runs are fun, but they get creepy at dusk. Check out the low fog.|
|Sunset at WSU is beautiful no matter what time of year.|
Though my numbers and stats are not spectacular to some, they are to me. Yesterday's long run was only 6 miles. (It was my "down week". I'm on an every other week super long run schedule from now until my next half marathon.) Since it was a lower mileage week, I chose to make it a hilly extravaganza. It's a great way to merge strength and cardio. Running a tough route like the one I did is also a great way to test out how far I've come!
6 Miles @ 10:21 Pace
Mile 1 10:18 Warm up. Right shin is on fire.
Mile 2 10:20 Hills begin. Shin pain eased up a bit on the soft trail.
Mile 3 11:03 The hills took me down / shin is fine / calves on fire now!
Mile 4 9:57 Pavement! Earthy trails are difficult. I love pavement!
Mile 5 10:18 Hills again. At least they're paved.
Mile 6 10:03 Still a hill, but I pushed to get a negative pace!
Not bad for a VERY hilly run with a lot of non-paved trail. I used to see numbers in the 12:30's or higher with this same route!!! I was thrilled to see a 10:21. Had my shin been feeling better those first couple of miles, I might have been able to push harder.
|Ahhhhh, new shoes! Saucony Kinvara 3s.|
As far as the shin issue is concerned, it's feeling so much better than it did a few weeks ago. The new shoes have made a huge difference. I always say I'm going to be better about keeping an eye on the shoe issue, and I simply don't. I'm seriously contemplating setting up a date in Google Calendar to buy a new pair no matter what. Treat it as though it's a household chore. Like changing the furnace filter, medicating the cat with a flea treatment, or scheduling a bikini wax. Yes, I have all of those tasks in my calendar. Looks like buying new shoes needs to be next on the list.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a fitness expert of any type. If you're local & looking to start up with weight training, I suggest you speak to a personal trainer first. I've heard great things about NW Personal Training, though I have never worked with them myself. They're the group that put on the Girlfriends Half Marathon each October, and would definitely know how to create a well rounded plan for you. There are multiple gyms in the area with personal trainers, including the Marshall Center, where my son and I workout. Several of the trainers on staff at Marshall are also runners. I gain nothing from sharing these business names with you. They are simply two businesses I trust when it comes to this topic. I simply want everyone to have a realistic, healthy, functional plan of their own.
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