Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Injury Setback

I'm finally able to sit with my computer somewhat comfortably. That being said, I am sitting in my recliner (lovingly nicknamed my "old man chair"), with a pillow under my legs, another pillow behind my head, a hot water bottle against my right hip, and another pillow against my left hip. I am sipping a cuppa tea. I am now feeling the effects of my morning dose of my meds. I am injured and have been off running a few days. Is it the end of the world? Of course not. In some less-than-shining moments this week, it's felt like it is indeed the end of the world as we know it. Or at least, the end of my marathon training that had been going so well. But of course, that's all hogwash. I'll get back to where I was, and still finish my marathon strong. I am Zahida after all. I finish what I set out to do. That's if I approach things smart. And I'd like to believe that I am, indeed, smarter than the average bear.

Saturday evening I played what will be my last soccer game for the foreseeable future. It was a playoff game that we lost (meaning we are done for the season), and I have not renewed for the coming season. Reason being, soccer really is a tough sport. I'm a tough girl, but I am not cut out for soccer. It requires a whole other kind of toughness, one of a different kind than endurance running. And given that the last few games I've come home hurting, I thought it time to hang up my soccer shoes, at least for the short term. I need to focus on the one sport that matters most to me - my marathon - and soccer has been getting in the way.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Love Running

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd try on "I love running" as my title for today's post. Yes, I know Valentine's Day was yesterday, but better late than never. I had all the intentions in the world to post my Top Ten reasons (Dave Letterman style) for loving running before V-Day, for a contest put on my #runchat but I didn't find the time.... So instead, I am borrowing a graphic from their site (i.e., the lovely graphic on the right here), and posting a little something different the day following Valentine's Day. That's not wrong, is it. 

Like I mentioned last post, one of the things I love about running are the "little victories". There are so many little things about running that can put a big smile on your face. Here are a few that have come to my attention this week (i.e. since my awesome weekend 20km training run):
  • I'm super excited to announce that I've been featured on another blog! Blogger, Tina Lane, has featured an interview with me on her web site Girl With A New Life, where I tell my story about transforming my life through fitness. What a great experience, being able to write for her, and it's only been online a day, and I've gotten so many encouraging comments. Thank you! 
  • As a staffer at the Running Room, I get some pretty sweet deals on running shoes. I recently ordered a pair of New Balance 890, a shoe I've read tonnes about, and realized it could be the ideal shoe for me, well, that's if the shoe fits.... It came in the mail yesterday, they fit like a charm, and I took them out for my little 6km tempo run. They were amazing! Now there were several other factors for me feeling awesome yesterday (good / happy news, good / restful sleep, good / nutritious food, warm / fuzzy Valentine's Day feelings of love...etc.), but I'm pretty sure the shoes were a major factor as well. I'm taking them out for my 10km run tomorrow just to be sure :) Stay tuned for my next product review! These shoes are fabulous!  
  • I started my hill training today! This is week one of seven, of having hill training in my weekly routine (i.e., today was 4 hills, next week 5, then 6....all the way to 10 by week 7), focusing on building strength before the final weeks of training where the focus shifts to speed. I was reminded of two things doing these repeats on my favourite hill (discovered during training for Victoria last summer - it was nice to go back!) ...#1 - Hill training is HARD! I'm so glad that week 1 calls for only 4 repeats, because that's just what I was ready for. The nice thing though was that they were way easier than I remember them being. I had consistent pacing over all 4 repats, and didn't need to walk my downhills at all. I just kept running, but slowed the pace down to a recovery jog downhill. But that doesn't mean that my thighs weren't burning after each hill. Woooo boy!... #2 - Hill training is FUN! It's a great way to challenge yourself, and have a different workout, even though it's still running. On my 3rd repeat, I ran so hard up my hill, I passed a cyclist who was struggling...I felt bad. But I felt good. :) I felt kind of hardcore... I came home tired, thirsty like heck, hungry like heck too, and eager in anticipation for tomorrow's run.
Oh and tomorrow's run, I'm wearing my new shoes again. Yay!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Week 6 of Marathon Training and a Runner's HIGH!

I have a little window of time here, so I thought I'd blog now, as I sit reclined in my "old man chair". I am sure I'll need to get up shortly to make a real meal. Just enjoyed some peanut butter on toast and some chocolate milk. I absolutely love that combination as recovery food after a long run - perfect mix of protein and carbs and makes me feel like I'm a little kid eating a treat her parents don't fully approve of :-)

Completing my Sunday long run today makes it the official end to week 6 of my marathon training. And what a perfect perfect end to this week, with a 20km training run. This is the longest training run I've done since my half marathon in October. In fact, this is only the 5th time in my life I've run a distance of 20km or more. It was for this reason, this little "milestone" that I realized this morning that I decided I wanted to run 20km today, even though my training plan calls for 19km today. Running truly is as much a mental sport as it is a physical sport. There's something so much more appealing about the number 20 than there is the number 19.  So why not give myself the boost of doing something awesome-r than what I 'expected' to do!

I think the mental game is some of the biggest stuff when it comes to running a long distance. All it takes is a bad attitude or the mildest sense of disbelief in oneself (even if its buried inside) to make the physical part of it harder than it needs to be. Of course you have to train yourself to be physically ready for the challenge. But if your will and confidence isn't trained too, there's only so far you can go physically. You have to be ok with yourself once the workouts get to be a few hours at a time. Doubting oneself for hours at a time is no good. Enjoying and believing in oneself for hours at a time is a lot more productive!

Today was a great example of this for me. I feel like I've accomplished something with today's 2hour run. It's not that I think completing 20km is a terribly big deal. I mean, a marathon is more than twice that distance. But it's more that I am celebrating small successes from this run today. And I'll admit, I experienced a beautiful case of "runner's high" when I finished as a result of these small victories.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons I love running - I'm addicted to the high running gives me. Not the worst addiction in life, that's for sure. I'm addicted to the ability to come home with a smile on my face and have little victories to celebrate after every run.

So what are today's little victories?

Monday, February 6, 2012

I Don't Recognize Me

I wake up in the morning, stretch my arms, and touch my sinewy shoulders. I don't recognize me.

I dig into my closet to put on one of my favourite dresses for a party. I remember it used to be form-fitted and hugged my curves so nicely. Now it's baggy and hides me. I don't recognize me.

I scroll through photos of me on my computer to find one to make my Facebook profile pic. While I like many of the photos, I can only find one or two that resemble what I see in the mirror. I don't recognize me.

I go out for a walk or to do some shopping and experience something entirely foreign to me - I'm noticed. Some even notice a second time and then smile. I don't recognize me. 

I look at my calendar on my fridge and it's got scribblings of workouts I've completed toward a marathon training plan. Running a marathon? I don't recognize me.

I go to buy new clothes and take size medium with me to the fitting room, thinking maybe I should be grabbing the larges as well. I try on the mediums and realize I need a size small for more than half the items. I don't recognize me.

I take a class at a local university and for the very first time in my entire life, at age 31, a boy in my class asks me out on a date. I don't recognize me.   (Don't worry, I turned him down gently. There's already a special boy in my life.)

I take a small fall in soccer and go to rub my turf-burned knee. I catch a glimpse of my well-defined quads and realize that I'm not only wearing shorts, but my shorts are short. I don't recognize me.

I step on a scale and see the smallest numbers I've seen since I was a child. I don't recognize me.

I'm confident. I'm happy. I'm proud of me. My hair is shiny. My legs are strong. My hopes are high. My goals are in sight. My lungs are clear. My heart is healthy. My diet is balanced. My outlook is positive. My appetite for life is voracious.

I don't recognize me.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Week 4 and 5 of marathon training

I just realized I started off with weekly updates on my training, but stopped at the end of week 3...And now it's almost the end of week 5. Oops. Training continues to go well. Here are a few observations:
  • I've lost 4lbs since starting this training program on Jan 1st, despite eating way more often. I am sure this will continue... Again, I reiterate, I don't feel I need to lose any more weight (and am not trying to do so), but if I do, I won't mind. It'd only serve to aid my running and make me faster.
  • Everything is way easier than when I was training for the half marathon last year. My body has definitely adapted a ton, and running long and often feels so much much much more natural now. Long runs don't take so much out of me. In fact, I often forget that I ran that day if I go early enough in the morning. I have never felt like I may be overdoing it. I've not yet had to skip a single workout due to fatigue. I've not made a single excuse to get me out of running. When I trained for the half marathon last year, this was not the case: I was often in doubt about the amount I was running and often felt exhausted after my training runs. I definitely missed workouts once in a while. Not this time. Not yet anyway.

Product Review: Sweaty Bands

I finally tried a Sweaty Band after much deliberation. Either because of the physical size of my head or the amount of thick hair I have, I'd literally never found a headband that actually worked for me, until now. Either they aren't strong enough to tame my mane and slip all over the place, or they are too strong and give me headaches. I heard that Sweaty Bands fit well and don't slip, so after hesitation to purchase a headband that retails at around $17, I bit the bullet and decided to purchase one from the Running Room.

So far, I'm super impressed! It was a worthwhile investment in an accessory that seems to do the trick. I might have to buy a few more designs / colours soon. I see online that they have one that says "26.2" - will consider buying that as a treat after my marathon :)

So what do I like about my Sweaty Band (btw, I have just one of the thinner bands)?...