When the effort is not equal to the results

Since December I’ve been struggling a little with training.  There are a couple of things going on and so I thought I’d write about it a bit. I can’t be the only person who has had an experience where the effort doesn’t equal results.

This started for me at the Reindeer Run. At least, my awareness of it started then. As I was running along, I FELT like I was putting in a good effort which FELT like my normal 5K pace.  Eventually I glanced at my Garmin, and was really surprised to find myself moving along about a minute slower in pace than the effort would have indicated.  As far as time, the whole race was a bust and I was actually really disappointed.

Since then, I’ve noticed that I’m putting forth a lot of effort and my results are just not what they were in October and early November.  So what’s going on?

Well. I’m recovering from Space Coast Half Marathon.   In the past, I usually ran a half and then felt pretty good within the next few days.  In the past, however, I was always pretty well trained for the event.  In this case, I was not, and likely it’s taking me longer to recover since I really overstretched my abilities for that race.  Runners, don’t try what I did at home, or anywhere else.  It wasn’t fun, the medals sit in my fish bowl at work and it wasn’t a “worth it” experience.  Based on this great advice, I should by now be recovered from actual Space Coast, but I think it had a big effect on my workouts at the beginning of December, when I really was not recovered, but was trying to “workout” anyway.

I’ve been tired.  Really really really tired.

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The kind of tired where no amount of sleep seems to quite refresh me. I noted my eating has been a bit off, so I’ve increased the leafy greens,  protein, hydration,  AND made a doctor’s appointment.  It’s been a year since my last foray to the general practitioner, so it’s about time anyway.  I am hoping that I’ll find I’m a little low on iron, or something easily fixable.  Even if there isn’t anything wrong, it’s always a good idea to rule anything out.

I started with my new/old coach, Skeletor.  Skeletor does periodized plans, so there is always a few weeks in the plan where I feel like absolute rock bottom because I’m working hard and tired.  It’s been a long time since we worked together, so it’s possible this fatigue is related to that. We are swiftly approaching a mini-taper for a 10K which I think will really show me if it’s the periodized training, or if something else is going on.

Form and efficiency are also so important.  If you feel like effort is exceeding results, I would suggest having someone look at your form. If you are using a lot of energy with extraneous movement/inefficient movement, it’s going to tired you out.  I’ve got a time set up with our swim coach to do some video tape to see if I’ve just gotten incredibly sloppy with form as well.  I do NOT recommend having your running buddy tell you what they think (unless your running buddy is a certified coach).  Buddies can tell you if they are seeing something totally nutty, but their own ego can get in their way as well. So, I’d recommend signing up for a local run clinic, or even a run group that’s lead by a coach who can watch you over time and make tweaks and recommendations. In general runner’s tend to go for “form fads” (barefoot running, only forefoot striking etc), a good coach will be able to look at your entire form, and not just focus on wha the latest article in Runner’s world says.

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Lastly, I’m giving myself a bit of a break.  I’m completing all the workouts, but not worrying about “time” as long as my heart rate is rising appropriately than I am sure I’m putting in the effort.   This is definitely not the time to push any harder and end up injured.

What’s been your experience when your effort has not equaled your results?  Did a change in nutrition help? Or a change in Form?

 

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2018 is rapidly approaching

2017 wasn’t that great, honestly. I don’t know that I’d call it an entire “tire fire”  but it definitely kind of seemed like one.

Unknown-1.jpeg I don’t even think I made any goals for 2017. I was just starting to run again, and was very stressed out at work.

Well.  Here we are with a bunch of 2017 accomplishments behind me:

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2017 was a crazy crazy year.  We had Joint Commission Prep, and then the big Joint Commission visit.  I had running, and ran for most of the year without any coaching.  I didn’t enjoy that much, and I was not good at coaching myself. I “ran”  or shall we say “completed” a half marathon in November, which I really regret.  Now in 2018 I am better set up for a good year.  We do not have any massive inspections scheduled this year, I am back with coach Skeletor, my job seems to be pretty stable for the moment, so I should probably make some goals.

So… Here goes. I feel like my goals are almost always identical, so common, but… I don’t know, I guess a lot of us struggle with the same things.

  1. Lose the surgery weight.  I have really been challenged to lose this weight. I didn’t think I’d be able to run again, and then all of a sudden I was, but with all this extra weight.  Now, I’m not fat-shaming, but being overweight is awful for running. It puts extra stress on joints, and slows a person down. In addition, there are several forms of cancer linked to being overweight, so why would I NOT want to put this as a goal.  I did very well in October and November, and then kind of fell into a wagon of Christmas Cookies in December.  So… Modest goal is to lose about 2-3 pounds a month.
  2. Run a half marathon with a fairly ok time.  My idea of a fairly ok time is 2:20.  It’s not very fast, however, it is not so slow that the sweepers will catch me. Consider the Marathon again.  I am thinking about Route 66 Half Marathon. It’s one of those large events, were a slower runner can blend in and not feel very obvious.
  3. Improve my strength. I have not been doing much weight lifting and I want that to change.
  4. Improve my ability to perform Executive Function Tasks. I struggle with some very basic things at times, and lately this has led to me being late, not having the tools I need for the task at hand, and in general wasting a lot of time.  I actually set up an appointment with a physician to see if there is anything they can do to assist with this.  I’m capable and do generally get things done “on time” but often I waste a lot of time “futzing” around, and there are things that get “forgotten”.  If I can master some improved organization skills, I think I’ll be less stressed on a daily basis.
  5. Consider another long distance swim event.  There are several.  It might be worth it.
  6. Complete the research study I started at work.  (Man do I hate it).
  7. Keep clothing off the bedroom floor.  Kind of a basic one here, but for some reason this is not hardwired in me and it can become like a jungle.
  8. Visit the Dentist.
  9. Read a few more books in 2018….

So…. Those are the initial goals.  Usually by February, they change!

What are you goals?  When you’ve been successful what was the key to your success???

 

Book Review: The Running Dream

I’ve been reading.  I admit that most of my reading these days involves journal articles for work, but I do occasionally get in some actual books designed for regular reading.

This year our floor where I work decided to contribute to the annual Christmas party held for foster children in our county.  Being the do-gooder that I am, I went ahead and ordered all sorts of craft projects, glow in the dark necklaces and sports equipment for the kids.  I also ordered books.  I particularly wanted some books that might inspire or help kids dream.  So in November, I read a lot of teen literature. Enter The Running Dream  by Wendelin Van Draanen.

Apparently it is based on a true story, which is rather amazing.  The basic premise, 16 year old Jessica is a high school runner who loses her leg in a tragic accident. She works through the grief process (rather rapidly) all the while becoming more sensitive to others disabilities and problems around her, and eventually returns to running–and also picks up the “hot boyfriend” in the end.  Part of me found it all a little too good to be true, and a bit like those After school Specials for the 1980’s .  I now realize that it was based on a true story, so likely this is all true, and it still kind of amazes me at how each piece seems to fall together at the end of the story.

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But of course the story ends conveniently there where all the pieces fall together. The reality is that Jessica and folks with disability will continue to face many challenges through their lives that can not be chronicled in one slim volume.

All that said, this book was a tear jerker and a page turner for me. Firstly many of the emotions that the main character describes after her injury remind me of the emotions I felt after my large spine injury. The author has a way of making the reader entirely invested and committed to the outcome.  I could NOT stop reading the book!  My favorite part of the book is how the author describes running through her main character.  Certain phrases have stuck with me as I am out and running again myself.  I sometimes hear them when I am struggling with some particular aspect of a workout- especially if it is on the track.

The Verdict?  Definitely worth the read for adults, and a great read for teens.

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Reindeer Run!

This morning I ran the Reindeer Run with some friends from run group.  It was a really interesting run, there was a lot to love about it and some things to really dislike.

Firstly, we had our “Winter Storm Benji” remnants arrive last night.  High winds, colder temperatures and lots and lots of rain, because after all, it’s Florida and not Flori-bama, so we do not get snow.

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It was pouring down a cold ran at 6 am, I was not amused.  I had somewhat unrealistic expectations for this race.  I was sure that with cooler temperatures that I would take some time off the time I ran at the Turkey Trot.  I forgot to take into account that I had run an INSANE hill training session on Thursday, and then swam two miles on Friday.  So I went into the race a little tired.

I picked up my packet yesterday. I had a free registration as I was representing my organization.  Our organization nicely provided an extra shirt for all employees to wear. This is part of our new campaign to raise more awareness of our organization, and I like it. It is a great organization to work for, and while I sometimes feel extremely stressed, I am appreciative of the fact that I have a great boss, flexibility, and good benefits.  in addition, I am proud of the care we provide. So I slapped on that shirt with pride.

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 5.28.03 PM.pngThe Bib for the race was also the most ADORABLE BIB I’ve ever seen….

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I was a little sad because it got totally ruined in the rain.

The race started and I knew it was loops around a parking lot at a large shopping center. This is when I realized that my legs were not cooperating.  Nothing really hurt, but the effort I was putting out was not reflective of the pace I was running. My legs were still really really tired from running the hills. I kept trying to pick up the pace, but my body was not having it. So…it became a bit of a run through parking lots, puddles.  I freely admit I was a little frustrated, because things just didn’t go that well.

I have never been so glad to finish a race! I came in 6th out of 19 in my age group, and finished in the top half of the finishers so all is not lost. Plus we had some fun seeing each other!

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When I finished, I was handed a medal which I think I will remove from the ribbon and make into a Christmas ornament.  Much to my surprise this amazing goodie bag was also handed to me., making this one of the schwaggiest races of the year.

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For a free race, I sure lucked out. Inside this bag was all of these delightful little doo-dads. Most exciting is a race belt that expands to hold a phone.. I’m going to be trying that out tomorrow.

Sooooooooo:

Fun with Friends!  YES!

Super Schwag!  YES!  especially for a 5K.

Organized event!  YES!!!

Easy Parking…YES!!!!

Boo to the race being run in a parking lot, but I think the other stuff makes up for it all… and lessons learned about “racing” when not really on plan…. learned.  My expectations…are tempered.

Happy Holidays everyone!  What is your favorite Holiday activity or race????

 

New Year’s Resolutions

Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions?  Are they the same ones you make every year, or….are you branching out in 2016?

The lady is IRRITATING, but… Interesting ideas here.

I do like to make resolutions and then see where I end up 365 days later (we get an extra day this year too in February!!!)  But this year, I kind of struggled.  I want to make some athletic goals, but I’m really still in the early stage of healing and so most of those goals can’t really be implemented. In addition, life is happening while I am healing so, I need something to focus on in the meantime.

So here are a couple of goals for 2016.

My MAIN goal is to set myself up to return to running.  Oddly one would think I was doing this already but in reality, i think I was so hopeless when the surgery happened and the aftermath I was very nervous in the immediate recovery period, that I tried really hard not to think about it, and as a consequence…I am currently not ready to ru never if I was 100% healthy.  So what goals go under this?

  1. Eat correctly.  I have a super sweet tooth.

stock-illustration-15279384-sweet-toothSo this is going to be really hard for me. Like many people, I eat well for a few months and then settle into a pattern of take out…some junk food and what not.  When I prepare food that I like it’s pretty easy to avoid the junk… I just have to actually prepare it.

2. Do the exercise I can do…within moderation.

I was recently cleared to use the elliptical and the stationary bike as long as my knees don’t come up high. I started on the bike and increased from 10 minutes daily… My quads…my quads have been burning. After a few days, I added in the Elliptical.  So by the end of this week I was doing 10 mins of elliptical, 20 mins on the bike, 50  minutes of walking on the treadmill and 30 minutes of pool walking every day.  One day my legs just started to hurt.  I need to adjust somewhat because none of this moderate exercise will get me in great shape.  Doing too much does irritate the nerve which is still healing.  So in support of my L5 nerve, I’m going to support it by doing a little less. A delicate balance.

3. Manage my Money better.

I’m not crazy with money management, but I have a tendency to get very disorganized and to have late payments not because I was lacking money but because I put off sending the payment in.  Already this year, I seem to have lost an entire coupon payment book.  (I’d do it electronically but there isa  14.00 fee for electronic payment!).

So… What I have done is take 12 envelopes for the coupon payments, write 12 checks, dated appropriately and addressed and stamped them all.  Each month I need to grab one and mail it at the appropriate time. This SHOULD be easier than making the time to write the check out each month and look for an envelope and stamp, right?  We’ll see.

In 2015 I upped my automatic contributions to both my savings and retirement accounts. I didn’t up them very much, so I seem to still not be contributing the MAX to the Roth. This year, I will try to contribute as close to the MAX as possible. This may be a bit tricky as I am also trying to finish furnishing the home.

4. Volunteer

Since I hurt my back I’ve not done any volunteering at all.  None.  Zilch.  I did serve the community as I gave fairly generously to the food bank in November and also adopted an older lady from the tree at the gym and provided her with bed linens and a comforter and a new outfit.  I tried to volunteer several times.  Each time I relayed the information that my back was bad, and EVERY SINGLE TIME I was asked to do something insane for a healing back- like “Set up tents” or “Rake the field for long jump”.  So at this point, I really have to be careful about volunteering and I suspect if I sign up for something like helping a kid with homework, I might have a better chance of success.

5. One totally time specific goal…

 RUN The TURKEY TROT In November 2016.  I might be visiting my parents, but there is ALWAYS a Turkey Trot.  The Turkey Trot in Carlisle PA was my first running race that I remember doing. It was an untimed race and  I was so overwhelmed by the entire experience I never even looked at the clock when I crossed the finish.  In truth I’d prefer to be in Florida and run the race where I had a massive PR and got to run with a bunch of running buddies, but… we’ll see where I am.

6. I should have some work goals.  My Goal for work is to survive through 2016.  That’s it.  I did a ton last year- I was published, I served on committees that I didn’t want to serve on, I volunteered for a lot of stuff that I regretted.  So… Here’s to getting through 2016 with a job.

SO, let’s all go “Kill it” in 2016.

 

I’m not a radiologist

So, yesterday I went FINALLY to get my 6 weeks follow up X-ray.  It’s the end of the year and people have met deductibles so everyone is trying to fit in scans and other expensive tests. I waited 2 hours for films.  I am amazed and very proud that I was very adult and never asked about the wait and did not complain about it to anyone.  Waits happen.

I was hoping I’d be able to see some fusion on the film, essentially at this stage it would be fluffy white speck or something, but of course I’m not a radiologist.  Not at all.

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So this is what I saw.  Once I looked at the image a little more carefully (these are not the best images, because I snapped them with my phone when the technician wasn’t looking, though she did say they were my images so I’m sure she knew what I was doing…)

CWjC2UtWoAArnwk (1).jpgIt would appear there is a lot of fluffy white stuff between the screws, If you look at the vertebrae above there is a huge black gap and below there is a lot of fluffy white stuff.  So, it could be the start of fusion.  I’m not a radiologist, however, so it could be anything… Christmas Snow?

What did kind of alarm me, and also make the technician raise her eyebrows a bit was this film.

CWjDBj6WoAAwcRc (1).jpgWe both kind of looked at it and simultaneously tilted our head to the right… (If you didn’t tilt your head, let me know, because everyone I show it to does…) I said, well that looks odd.  She said, “Well I don’t know what the surgeon intended.”  I never saw my original post op front view films, the Doc told me they looked great. So I really have nothing to compare to, plus as mentioned before, I’m not a Radiologist.  This could be entirely due to the way I was positioned on the table, or it could be where the screw needed to go, or it could be that I bent the screw which would be amazing, considering I’ve not been doing ANYTHING.

So I drove home.  I’ve been having a large amount of radiculopathy (Right leg pain) and it’s been hard to manage it, so I was thinking, if it is caused by that screw, they can move it and that would be nice.  Then I started to think of the expense and time off work for another procedure….and then I just got very overwhelmed.  I mean, it isn’t the end of the world, but I’m really over my Lumbar spine controlling my life.

We have a nifty thing with our hospital system. It’s called the patient portal.  Once lab tests or X-ray reports are uploaded into the system, the patient can access them, with a handy bar that says (low/normal/high).  When I got home, I jumped on the patient portal to find that my X-ray was read as “Normal Post-operative changes”  I saw the Radiologist was using films from the day of my surgery (done after the surgery) as a comparison.    Because of this, I think I can assume that my former X-ray looked about the same.  I also am not 100% sure that the patient portal contains EVERYTHING on a report, just because I can not access my reports from anything done while I was inpatient, and I can’t access my operative reports. That said, from having to read a lot of radiology reports, the Rad guys and gals usually will mention if something appears to have moved/migrated/relocated from the comparison study.  Plus, if s screw moves, usually there is a dark portion around the screw. I don’t see that.

I’ll see the Doctor on Monday, and while he isn’t a Radiologist, he is a Neurosurgeon, and he is more than qualified to interpret things.

In the meantime, I am thinking about what kind of shoes I’m going to need next year for running.  Something with a narrow instep and a wide toe box… going to be tough to find, but I have a few ideas….A company that could send me out a few different styles to try would be welcome.  I know I probably can’t stay in the Saucony because every time I use them for walking they aggravate the damage to my foot… so something with a bigger toe box to minimize my big toe’s contact might do the trick…

I am excited for Monday…. I do think the X-ray shows beginning fusion, but that one screw has me kind of thinking a little bit too much about the whole thing!!!!

Wish me Luck!

Being Crew…and more.

This weekend I chose to be the crew for a distant friend who was running her first ultra marathon.  (a race longer than a marathon) in her case, she was running a trail 50K.

It may or may not have been the best idea so soon after the spine repair, but I’ve been feeling pretty good and most importantly I had agreed to do it.  Having experienced the support of a wonderful kayaker when I raced at Alligator Lighthouse this September, I felt like being crew for this woman was a way to give back. It was also a way to be part of the running community I miss.

It was a fairly fun experience.  My whole role essentially was to hang around the start/finish area, and wait for my runner who made 2 passes through the area during her run.  One the first pass I helped her change shoes and socks, get a drink and some pain control. On ether second I provided cool towels, more food/drink and encouragement. It was a little difficult for me; not to help her but to wait and wait in the hot sun.  For the rest of the time I did a number of thins.  I read a little bit.  I’ve been reading a collection of short stories my Dad sent me, Joy Williams, the Visiting Privilege. She is a good writer, but I’m not so sure I like her style, and her topics… SO DEPRESSING.  I snacked on a variety of things, took some short walks, taking a few pics of the lay of the land.

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I got to cheer all the finishers and talk to all sorts of people, other crew, other runners.  With little wifi and cell reception, people really spoke to each other.  This was a lot of fun. We all need to do this more often.  Post race, I drove 2 hours to return said runner home and take myself home.  It was a HUGE day for me, and when I got home I was so tired, I actually left the keys in the car with the car unlocked. Seriously. In the aftermath, I really want to run again. I want to spend time on those dusty roads, I want to see the things that she saw, rather than just the finish.. I want the hills and ruts and mud to reveal themselves to me…. but this is the big question… can that happen for me. I suspect lately that it will, but who knows.

Today was ok, I woke up tired and napped throughout the day.  I then embarked on some cleaning and cookie making… and maybe just maybe overdid it as I find that several neurological symptoms are returning.  I am moving more towards acceptance of the ongoing come and go of the nerve symptoms, though I have a small bit of hope that next year at this time, the come and go nerve irritation will be a thing of the past, I mean, the nerve is now unrestricted, and one would hope it might eventually calm down with a rare, occasional flare, rather than a frequent aggravation.

As part of attempting to deal with my on going symptoms I listened to  this radio cast.  In general I have found most of the resources on the web to be somewhat helpful, but this one didn’t do it for me.  I suspect that while this last year has been really difficult for me as far as pain and dealing with it, next year, may be a lot more difficult.  last year I spent the year chasing something that would “Fix” my spine… So, it was easy to have hope…. that I’d find the “cure all” or the perfect fix.

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Now it’s pretty much as repaired as it is going to get. So now, it’s sort of a wait and see how much it can improve, and learn to cope with what won’t.  If things really really improve and I only have to deal with nerve pain once in a while then I will probably go back to my old life with minor adjustments and feel much better.  If they don’t and I’m not able to return to some things, I’m going to really have to pretty much reinvent myself.  I have not really been able to come up wth anything I’d like to explore more.  I have to admit, I really really LOVED my life.  If I had really had a desire to do other things, I would have done them, so there is this moment.. of severe questioning of what will make me experience Joy again…and I suspect, but , I don’t know, that it is not crochet.  Even with all the swimming I did, it just did’t really “do it” for me.. The one thing I don’t want to do is to seek physician after physician in hopes of attaining something that may not occur, become the chronic patient.  so… I suspect that 2016 may be a year of watchful waiting… and listening to a lot ore TED talks…I have a feeling that it will be a deeply revealing year, and I’m not so sure I’m ready for all that reveal of emotions, thoughts, physical sensations etc…