Days 116-119 – April Shower Brings May Power?

29 04 2010

This is a marathon week of work deadlines and kids’ performances, projects and sports pictures and practices… I managed to up my IT quotient with a new (i.e., manufactured in this decade) PC monitor, new-and-improved email hosting provider for my business AND helped my daughter with a Microsoft Photo Story program that didn’t run on my Vista operating system (also made by Microsoft — h-e-l-l-o!!).

A quick exercise recap:

Monday — 2 mile recovery run prior to Anna’s late night theater performance
Tuesday — late night Classical Stretch “to open and stretch your hips” after spending the day on the kindergarten zoo field trip keeping up with my group of four little boys in purple dinosaur hats. Didn’t lose a single one of them!
Wednesday — 5 Day Pilates DVD: “P.M. Pilates” is seriously the name to relax your muscles before bed, which sounded perfect at 10:30 p.m. Was a bit short, but better than nothing
Today — a 10-mile run planned, but right now there are SNOW flurries outside my window. I managed to run in weather like this in the winter. But that was WINTER and I wasn’t going 10 miles… Maybe by this afternoon it will just be rain. Is that better?

Here is my favorite quote of the week — from “A Life of Discovery,” a biography my daughter brought home for her next school project. She chose Eleanor Roosevelt because her real name is Anna — who knew? I haved learned so much from the third grade this year.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence
by every experience in which you really
stop to look fear in the face….
You must do the thing you think
you cannot do.”
ELEANOR ROOSEVELT

17 days ’til my half marathon, a 10-mile in the rain, intimidating technology, a swirling schedule — I can conquer these things I think I cannot do…thanks Eleanor!





Days 113-114 – Thunder and Pilates

24 04 2010

First, a report on Thursday’s 8-mile run in crazy spring weather… Heavy thunderstorms pounded us all morning, threatening to ruin my afternoon running plan…but the sun and clear skies showed up around noon. I headed west amazed at the beautiful Earth Day it turned out to be. Went on my long, straight route to Highway 2, and when I turned back to head east I had no idea how quickly the black clouds in the distance were blowing in behind me from the southwest. I was met at my neighborhood entrance by cracks of thunder and bolts of lightning that had me sprinting the last half-mile home. I made it home just in time…crazy rain, hail and a tornado warning came within the hour and the skies poured for the rest of the day and night.

Wow – what luck to find that window of spring when I had my best 8-mile so far! I averaged 10-minute miles in spite of the hill at the end. Friday morning in the still-pouring-rain I was happy to have Pilates class safe and dry inside.

I walk around telling anyone who might have any interest at all about how Pilates has changed me. According to this bio, it was created by German born Joseph Pilates who was “living in England, working as a circus performer and boxer…” He had a bit of a crazy life into the 1960s — smoking cigars and wearing exercise briefs around town. “Many dancers and well-known persons of New York depended on Pilates method training for the strength and grace it developed in the practitioner, as well as for its rehabilitative effects. Until exercise science caught up with the Pilates exercise principles in the 1980s, and the surge of interest in Pilates that we have today got underway, it was chiefly dancers and elite athletes who kept Joseph Pilates’ work alive.”

I am so upset that I didn’t try Pilates sooner that I want the whole world to know (and to be less stubborn than I am and just TRY it – whether you’re a runner or just looking for no-impact ways to strengthen, stretch and tone!). After 8 miles, I normally would be stiff the next day. Stretching my quads and hips really makes me feel like I didn’t even run. The core and muscle strengthening from Pilates workouts leaves my muscles quivering a bit for a while, but then totally relaxed. A good sign — along with a pain-free 8th mile — that it’s working.

This Wellsphere post on How to Be a Better Runner explains Pilates’ benefits:

* build up core strength
* improve your posture that increases your lung capacity,
* teach you to breathe more efficiently,
* provide rest for your joints (no high impact exercises) and improve joint mobility,
* improve your balance (this is true for standing Pilates exercises).

Did a recorded Classical Stretch today, which borrows a lot from Pilates, along with ballet and Tai Chi. Now, a hot bath to get ready for a l-o-n-g pain-free, and hopefully rain-free, run tomorrow.





Day 95 – Happy runner’s feet

5 04 2010

I just registered for the Colfax Half Marathon. After 11 weeks of training that seems like a good commitment to finally make, and the price goes up April 30.

$59.30 to be at City Park for a 6:45 a.m. 13.1-mile run — on my birthday. That feels a bit insane right now! Let’s hope for a killer t-shirt. I’m going to wear it all day even if it’s hideous. The good news is I should be finished by 9 a.m. when I hope to be heading to Snooze for pancakes. And then napping by noon — proudly in my ugly t-shirt.

I think I’ve been afraid that once I paid for the race, I’d injure myself. Haven’t wanted to jinx it…Today’s “rest” exercise was Classical Stretch, and I wanted to share a link to an article in Canadian Running by Classical Stretch’s Miranda on preventing running injuries by strengthening your feet:

“All movement begins and ends with our feet, the foundation of our body. A runner’s feet need to be strong and flexible enough to supply a powerful takeoff and withstand the impact of each landing. As a repetitive-motion sport, running often results in aches, pains and chronic injuries, many of which could be diminished or better controlled simply by increasing the strength and flexibility of the feet.”

The article has instructions and photos on a few exercises you can do to strengthen your feet, shins, ankles and calves — whether you’re a runner or not. I swear by these — in week 11 anyway when my calves are feeling tight but — thankfully — not injured.

I mention Classical Stretch all the time, and I get the 23-minute workouts for free on PBS. You can check out http://www.essentrics.com for more demonstrations, DVDs and info. on this ballet/tai chi/pilates-style stretching and toning. http://www.classicalstretch.com has more, but the Essentrics site is a bit hipper with Miranda’s daughter taking the spotlight. Find her blog at http://www.essentrics.com/news.html.





Days 82-83 – Wacky Wednesday

24 03 2010

“It all began with that shoe on the wall. A shoe on a wall…? Shouldn’t be there at all. Then I looked up. And I said, ‘Oh, MAN!’ And that’s how Wacky Wednesday began.” So goes the Dr. Seuss library book we picked up yesterday. Quite fitting for a late March snow that cancelled school and my husband’s flight — but turned to dripping slush in the sun by 4 p.m.

Temperatures tumbled back toward freezing Tuesday with the heavy, wet snow falling all through the night. Thanks to my bothersome cold, I traded a 2-mile run for Pilates — trying out my newly arrived Pilates Plus DVD. An Exhale three-DVD set from Amazon also includes Thighs and Glutes and Body Sculpt. Fifty minutes of Pilates was tough with lots of core work and good stretching.

I finished Born to Run the other night and think anyone who runs should read it. True stories about amazing endurance runners are hard to put down. It also ties in anthropology (why we might literally be born to run) and examines the history of running shoes that may be limiting our ability to run without injuries. It mentions Chi Running and other proponents of mid-foot striking and barefoot running. I’m not ready to chuck my shoes (if it ain’t broke…), but the midfoot strike makes sense to me as I up my mileage and try to limit wear-and-tear on my feet.

Since my husband practically cries walking through the living room after running, I’m obsessed with ways to heal and prevent foot/knee injuries. Finding similar answers is what started author/runner Christopher McDougall’s journey that lead to his book, which is now on Scott’s nightstand. I’m trying to get him to deal with his plantar fasciitis instead of just hoping it goes away. Sent him this Chi Running article that has good info on the subject.

McDougall even brings coyotes into his book listing them among animals that can run up to 40 mph, but don’t have endurance. So I’m thinking if I do see one I just have to chase it until it’s tired the way our carnivorous ancestors may have worn out their food on the hunt. Humans evolved to breathe for the long run, while even the speediest animals will tire out.

We didn’t see any wildlife sledding in the soccer field across the street today. Just our 40 mph lab who chased her tennis ball for two hours straight. Hopefully we wore everyone out on this snow day filled with arts, crafts, forts (indoor and outdoor varieties), hide-and-seek, baking cookies, movies and sledding. I’m now totally out of ideas. The munchkins are on their own for entertainment while I pop in a Firm DVD. Time for an outside run tomorrow assuming there are no more wacky shoes on the wall!





Days 78-79 – Spring snow

20 03 2010

Our snowy back porch by late afternoon Friday.

After running in shorts and going to the zoo Thursday, a surprising Friday morning found lawns filled with inches of snow that blew hard all day long. Definitely a good day to sweat inside with Pilates class.

March snows still catch me off guard even after nearly 10 years in Colorado. I don’t mind them so much, because they are so temporary — knowing true spring weather is close at hand and the sun will come out tomorrow (we saw “Annie” last night!) and melt it all away.

On this first day of spring Saturday, the sun was already shining. I went with a living room weight session via the Firm DVD. Spring takes us closer to short sleeves — and my arms need to get ready for exposure.





Day 69 – Don’t forget to exhale

10 03 2010

50 degrees at noon, but snow flurries by 4 p.m. Good day for 50 minutes of Exhaling in the living room. Third time for the Exhale Core Fusion DVD for glutes and thighs was not a charm — just as challenging as the first time. Shaping myself into a pretzel AND lifting my bent-behind-me leg for several repetitions caused a burn in a rarely used backside muscle.

On a more pleasant note, walking Zach to school today, I noticed daffodil stems peeking up in a south-facing front lawn! A highlight of my day as I impatiently wait on the north-facing side of the block for spring to come. March and April are really long in Colorado with cold days — and often snow — interrupting spring’s progress. Guess it’s a fair trade-off for the winter sunshine we enjoy.

I need more spring weather to keep me on the running train. After last week’s taste of near-60 degrees, I’m ready to pack up my winter layers for a while. Maybe I should add a countdown to Mother’s Day, when it’s finally safe to plant annuals and the snow birds come back to Colorado.

In the meantime, I’m holding my breath … waiting for spring.





Day 67 – Stay well, pay less

8 03 2010

For the third year in a row my husband’s company health insurance is requiring us to participate in the Stay Well health management program. You have to take a health assessment and participate in an online or phone wellness program for six weeks. If you don’t complete the program, you have higher deductibles for health insurance the following year.

The first two years, this seemed like a punishment. Just a pain to have to log-in your exercise and read the required articles. I waited until I was training for my annual sprint triathlons and then set goals to increase exercise over six weeks — something I was already planning to do.

I’m in week 3 of 6 in this year’s Stay Well plan — through which I am again setting a goal of increasing exercise (and already doing). Since I am already logging and blogging about my exercise, this is just one more online record.

The program seems good for people who would not be motivated otherwise — and surely there are plenty of folks out there who need to manage stress, eat better, lose weight and exercise — all options you can choose for your personal program.

Wellness is a good thing and maybe mandatory wellness with monetary incentives will actually help put a small dent in the ever-growing healthcare crisis. But today you can find so many tools and articles online that the resources offered by Stay Well aren’t as unique as they were a few years ago. The required reading seems pretty simple and dated.

Funny how if you are motivated to participate in a plan and keep records, it’s sort of fun. If it’s mandatory — not so much. Like reading a novel for pleasure versus for school.

After updating my obligatory weekly Stay Well log this morning, I did Classical Stretch and added an extra 10-minute Exhale Pilates session — just for fun, not because the computer told me to!