What Am I “Serious”-ly Training For?

goals, running

Signing up for races makes me so nervous. My first (and last) marathon I did not even bother signing up for until I finished my twenty mile long run. Over Christmas I debated, should I sign up for something?

My problem is that I will start “training,” but then will get distracted by something else. Should I train for a half-marathon, a 10k, marathon, a timed event? I find it hard to stick with things, so the idea was if I invested in a race, I would be less likely to change horses midstream. Mainly, I was afraid that if training was going well, I might decide well why not train for something extensive? Next thing you know I’m injured, discouraged, and not running. Not at all where I want to be.

I’ve been interested in trail running, really nature in general lately. I don’t know if it is all the Jean-Jacques Rousseau I’ve been reading for my dissertation, but 2018 is definitely the year of “Nature Ali.” We have a few camping trips planned. We’re taking a wilderness survival class, but I digress. So, I looked more into trail races instead of road races.

And I found one. In Hell.

Hell, Michigan. 

On April 28, I will be running the Trail Half-Marathon, which is part of a Trail Weekend that includes a 50k, marathon, and five mile run. I’m half-way through training. It is going well, no complaints. I’m a little bit more nervous about the trail aspect of the half-marathon, because there is not really any trails where I live, but I figure if I go in fully expecting to get my ass handed to me, I will be fine. For this reason, I have no time goals, nothing. I’m just going to go in and see what happens. Also — take a look at this beautiful course.

But I did not stop there. Nope.

I discovered the Trail Half-Marathon is a part of a larger trail series in Michigan: the Serious Series. It included the Flirt with Dirt, which is a 5k and 10k — I am doing both — and then The Legend, which is a 5 mile, 10 mile, and half-marathon — I am running the half. So yeah, it is time to get serious.

It is hard for me not to think about what comes after, especially as things are going well, but I plan on taking things race by race, at least for now. We’ll see how I feel after the Trail Half and go from there. One thing is for sure: I am so excited.

xo, Ali

 

Monday Miles : February 5-11, 2018

monday miles, running

I am officially half-way through my training plan. It is definitely a gold star for my aim to be more consistent. This was a recovery week and it actually felt so good. Usually recovery weeks tend to bum me out. I don’t like going backwards in mileage, because I usually feel the stress of the “what ifs?” My “what ifs?” being what if I can’t get back up to that mileage again? What if I gain weight? What if I lose fitness? This is absurd and ridiculous I know, but I do not take for granted that I have had six weeks of good, consistent running. I do not want to lose it.

A lot of my little niggles seem to calm down this week, even the speed work out I did yesterday did not result in a lot of blow out pain yesterday and today. My left hip flexor is still cranky, but I know that has more to do with sitting than with running. Not running is not going to make that any better.

2/5 — Confession. I totally do not remember what I did this day. I probably did a Jasyoga video, but I cannot remember.

2/6 — 3 miles, easy (Core/IT Band)

2/7 — 4 miles, 1 mile warm-up, 3 miles with 1/2 mile at 9 minute pace, 1/2 mile at 10:50 minute pace. Declining sets — 10, 9, 8, 7…. assisted pull-ups; 3 x 10 squats at 45 lbs. Core and IT Band exercises (clamshells, Jane Fonda’s, bridges, planks).

2/8 — 3 miles, easy. Declining sets — 10, 9, 8, 7… “girl” push-ups. Core and IT Band exercises.

2/9 — REST!

2/10 — Plans called for a 5k today, but with all the snow, I could not even run outside. I opted to hang out on the treadmill for an hour. Walked 10 minutes, 5 minutes at 5 mph, 3 x 9 min ladders with 1 min recovery (3 min at 6.6 mph, 3 min at 6.7, 3 min at 6.8 mph, 1 min at 5 mph), 5 min at 5 mph, 10 minute walk. It ended up being around 5.3ish miles.

2/11 — Jasyoga upper body re-set video, Yoga with Adriene for Psoas. Various mobility, legs up the wall.

Total : Around 15 miles.

I know this seems like such a small amount, but for me it feel huge, impressive, enormous. It feels so good to be running again.

xo, Ali

 

 

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things : February 3 – 9, 2018

favorite things

Where January lagged, February feels like whirl. That could just be because I’m feeling more than a little behind on my dissertation. I say this about every chapter, but this one it feels especially accurate: I feel like I’m trying to slay a hydra. Ok, ok, ok. Not that bad. I actually enjoy writing my dissertation. Most days.

No birthdays to celebrate this weekend, so it will be a quiet one. My run for Saturday is super short at only three miles, so the main plan is hit that dissertation hard. The goal is to have a draft to hand to Bruno to edit by the end of February, so that I can get a “final” version to my advisor prior to spring break. And then I plan on taking that spring break.

And so, without further ado this week’s favorite things.

I know this is from Huffington Post, but this article on carbs and healthy people warms my head. I tried to do one of those low-carb things for the longest time and felt terrible. Bring on the sandwiches! On homemade bread, of course, let’s not get crazy!

My friend Emily wrote a great blog on being messy. I always need this reminder.

25 Most Adventurous Women of the Past. Some of these women, like Diana Nyad, I’ve heard of, but I’m always glad to learn about courageous women.

Amelia Boone shows her year of return to running logs. I’m not a professional athlete (far from it!) but I loved having a look at her training. Also, worth a read, her injury commandments.

Kaci Lickteig writes advice to athletes on what their physical therapist wishes they would do.

This sweet potato black bean casserole has been a god-send and pretty much been a repeat every week for this last month. I mean cheese, sweet potatoes, and black beans are the ultimate winning combination.

And, because running can make me smell pretty scuzzy, I love this from Into the Gloss on how to smell good in every way. Good bath and skin products make me feel so luxurious!

Have a lovely weekend!

xo, Ali

 

 

 

 

Throw-Back Thursday Tunes : February 8, 2018

books, music
c73c49a652a6e6ce762bf70e4b884725

13th Floor Elevators

 

Confession: I’m a total ’60s music-lover. But I have zero music history knowledge. Even Bob Dylan, who is my favorite, I know basically nothing about. I just like listening to the music. The history does not interest me as much. We had a speaker come on campus to give a talk on ’60s music and while my heart swelled at every song he played, a lot of the history was unknown to me. And I thought, “I wish I knew more about that.”

Bruno bought me 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded by Jon Savage at Literati on Sunday as a birthday gift. I’m already in love, because not only am I learning some new favorites, but am actually learning about the history behind songs I have loved for years. I’m hoping that this will slowly develop into a moderate music buff-type knowledge.

But in the meantime, here are some throw-back tunes for this Thursday, heavily influenced by this book I’m reading. I love the dirty, grunge-y sound of the guitars in some of these songs, like The Groupies’ Primitive — a band and song I’ve never heard before and of course, I’ve loved 13th Floor Elevators’ You’re Gonna Miss Me for years. You can definitely hear the beginning of what would eventually become punk and later, even, grunge. I’m usually a total sucker for songs with attitude. I’m generally a happy person, but man I love some angry music.

On the not so angry side, having never listened to the original Paul Simon version of Sound of Silence, I have to admit it is so much better than the version I grew up with. It is both stark and haunting.

I’m about to express an unpopular opinion, at least among my conservative friends and acquaintances, thank God for the sixties.

Click here for the RSJ Throwback Thursday Tunes 1966 Edition.

 

Consistent

goals, graduate school, running

Consistent: adj. (of a person, behavior, or process) unchanging in achievement or effect over a period of time.

“Be regularly and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” — Gustave Flaubert

I have chosen a word for the year before. I remember one year being “Joy.” I have a small issue with these words though. How can I be joy though? Sure, I can make a point to notice the small moments, say “isn’t this nice?” more often. Be grateful. Try not to grumble so much. But for the most part this word is intangible to me.

I’ll admit to being prone to having a “cross it off the to-do list” mentality. It is kind of hard to determine “Did I joy today or not?” It was easy to forget. And what if it was a bad day, month, year? Those happen. So, it was just frustrating and flustering. And, more importantly, forgettable.

But I still like the idea of having a word. I like the idea of having something to look towards to evaluate my days (see aforementioned “to-do list” mentality). One thing I struggle with is consistency. I get things done and, if I am being fair to myself, I can even admit I get things done well.

My problem is that I am constantly tweaking. If I see a new schedule I like, I want to implement it. Should I write my dissertation before I work out or should I work out before I write?  This successful person does this in the morning. This successful person does this in the afternoon. Tweak. Tweak. Tweak.

I discover an interest I did not realize I had. I must explore it. I will lose hours to it. Days. Guaranteed. Last year I hit a total Amazon rainforest phase. I can tell you more about those who explored the Amazon than you might care to know. I was supposed to be working on my dissertation proposal.

Then, of course, there is the problem of doing things right. I can be all or nothing. Black and white. Did I wake up late? Day over. Did facebook distract me too much? Day over. Perfectionism for me is an excuse for laziness. I almost did it today. It is not going right at all and I thought, well, fuck it. I’ll make myself a bath and read the day away. Thankfully I did not do that, but my tendency is very much if things do not happen the right way, then the day is worth chucking away.

“Inches make a champion.” — Vince Lombardi

My desire for 2018? To be consistent in all things. I want consistency in running. I do not care about high mileage. I do not care how fast. I just want to see 4-5 days a week every week this year that I ran. I want consistency in writing. Procrastination has never been my vice, but I still sometimes feel like I am scrambling, never doing enough. I want to write a certain amount of time (for January it was an 1.5 hours, which did end up working out to about 40 pages of a rough draft) every single day consistently. When I start working on French again, instead of picking some big number to do every day. I want to read/speak 20-30 minutes every day consistently. I do not want to be doing some big impressive amount of work every day, I just want to do what I want to do consistently.

And so, cheers to 2018, cheers to being 28, and cheers to being consistent.

xo, Ali

 

Running: A History, Pt. 2

graduate school, running

You can find part one here.

When I started writing this post last Thursday, I ended with a rupture, that is the rupture of a cyst in my ovaries which led me to be a no show at the Air Force Marathon in Dayton a couple years ago.

It took me about another year to string together any consistent running, but when I did I started training for the Xenia Marathon in 2015. I was in my second year of graduate school. I was in a relationship that was not great, not to mention had plenty of other unnecessary drama going on. And I trained for the marathon, but the whole thing was a slog. It was not like the first time where I felt non-stop energy, like I could go on forever.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but I’ve always handled stress poorly like as in high blood pressure, ulcers, migraines, etc. So I went to go get a Ph.D. Go figure, huh?

But I digress —  at this moment of my life training for that marathon was probably the only good thing I had going for me. I was in a state of being two feet off the ground at all times making terrible, I mean terrible decisions, and felt incredibly alienated and lonely (see aforementioned bad decisions, bad relationships). But, I could run. And I was so grateful. I see it as a happy regularity during a time that was mortifying in its chaos. And it was beautiful.

The DJ played Elvira by the Oak Ridge Boys as I crossed through the finish line. I was not as in shape as I was in 2013, but I still made it happen. It was an amazing moment, but to be honest I could not enjoy it. The stress of life, from just regular graduate school (good stress) to the fact that I felt like a path I was on was beginning to suffocate me (bad stress) made the moment feel incongruous. It was hard and the day is marred by my wrecked personal life squeezing the joy out of what should have been an impressive moment.

 

marathon

Sweet background port-a-potties.

 

I trained a few more times after Xenia, usually ending with injuries. I broke up with the bad boyfriend and began dating Bruno. I focused on my personal life. I focused on school, learning French, reading as much as humanly possible. I missed running, but I did not want it to break my heart again.

Bruno and I ran a half-marathon together and I felt the bug again. I wanted to run again. Now that my personal life felt good again, I wanted to have a running life again. And I worked hard. But I still keep getting injured, usually a pesky hip, a calf, etc.

 

halfmarathon

Half-marathon with 15 minute PR!

 

I have wondered if I am being too precious. Not running has not made these injuries better and I feel happier when running. So, 2018 is the return. And so far, so good. As I mentioned yesterday, my IT Band has been giving me some grief, but I feel confident that with consistent strength and yoga these problems should work themselves out.

Here’s to Running: A History, Pt. 3 being one filled with triumph and joy!

xo, Ali

 

 

Monday Miles : January 29 – February 4, 2018

monday miles, running

Today I turn 28! So far, not so different than 27, but I will say this: when I saw that my ten year high school reunion is this year, I could only think, “B-but I just graduated!” It is weird to be closer to thirty than to twenty. I remember turning 25 and telling a friend that in the next five years life will be probably more different for me between now and thirty than between now and twenty. That has proved to be true, especially given I got married at 27. Very different.

I have been terrible about logging my miles so far this year. Typically when I have any sort of consistent running, I immediately want to put everything into Strava so that I can see it pile up. But I think having consistent running usually turn into consistent injury has made me a little bit “meh” about tracking everything.

But I am training. I have been using Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 Half-marathon plan to train for a half in late April (more on that to come). I have so far been pretty consistent — having my longest run this past Saturday at eight miles.

1/29 — Core/IT Band Exercises — 2 x 50 Jane Fonda’s, 2 x 50 Clam shells, 2 x 12 one-legged bridges, 2 x 12 regular bridges; 30 minute walk on the treadmill with 2 minutes @ 15% incline, 3 minutes regular; 2 x 10 push-ups; 2 x 10 assisted pull-ups. I was running hella late for dissertating this day, so I ended up not doing my standard routine.

1/30 — 3 miles (same Core/It Band exercises mentioned for 1/29)

1/31 — 4 miles (Core/IT Band)

2/1 — 3 miles (Core/IT Band)

2/2 — Rest, Massage (was actually pretty sick)

2/3 — 8 miles. I was pretty happy with these miles, ended up running about 10:30/pace. I could have gone faster, but see above about being chronically injured.

2/4MTV Pilates. Yes, I use the youtube version. My mom used to own this back in the day and it did wonders for me the last time I had IT Band issues. Back when I felt the most fit, I did this about once a week.

Total : 18 miles

All in all, I feel pretty good. My hips feel fine. My IT Band though is still cranky. I know that not running has not helped with this, so I’m just going to keep my eye on it and keep doing the strength exercises. This upcoming week is a lighter week, so that should help.

Alright, I’m off to enjoy the rest of my birthday!

xo, Ali

 

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things : January 27 – February 2, 2018

favorite things

Greetings from sick-land. I almost never get colds. My sicknesses are typically the chronic kind migraines, ulcers, etc. But viral, never. But, I fell asleep last night and woke up this morning a total mucous monster. Not even chugging down Eat Slow Run Fast‘s grapefruit ginger juice (which is essentially a swift kick in the you know what of vitamin C) could kill it.*

Weekend plans? Run eight miles, keep on, keeping on writing the dissertation, and hopefully finish up the phenomenal Patti Smith’s Just Kids.

And now, without further ado, this week’s favorite things.

Not exactly a favorite, but in the news: I have a Strava that I used to use all the time, but not so much lately. Still, even I knew to turn on my privacy on max setting. American military, I love you, but an increase in military spending is not going to fix stupid.

Former novice nun, PCT trail-hiker sounds like a total bad ass.

I’m kind of in love with this dress. It seems like the perfect summer day dress. Yes, black is totally appropriate for the summer.

I’ve also been on the hunt for the perfect black turtleneck. I think this one might do it.

Short favorite things for this week due because feeling unwell equals lack of enthusiasm.

Have a great weekend!

*In full disclosure, I initially wrote that as Eat Fast Run Slow. Freudian slip?

Running: A History, Pt. 1

running

This is a history of my running.

It is not a history filled with finished marathons, ultras, Boston qualifiers, but rather it is one with persistence without the glory. And sometimes, I feel, in my more disappointed moments, with little pay off. I have not become faster. I have signed up for more races than I have ran. And strangely, I’ve yet to become bitter. I just keep hoping, trying, and trying again.

I ran cross country when I was in junior high. I ran a 5k and managed to get myself lost, cried, and my pulled the part off part of the bib to make it “look” like I finished. I was mid-pack runner and probably could have been better, but was, frankly, immature and uninterested in hard work.

I began running again about eight later at the age of twenty. While listening to tunes on my iPod (I did not have a smart phone yet!), I would circle laps in my college recreation center. That summer in 2011, I ran a 5k. And I ran it in under 30 minutes, so I was relatively pleased with myself and thought bigger.

267752_1863227506817_6706418_n

My younger brother, my mother, and myself at the Five at the Fort 5k.

It was my senior year. I ran the Oktoberfest 10k in the fall and felt like a runner. In fact, fall 2011 is around when I began describing myself as a runner. And after the 10k I thought bigger.

Moving forward, still senior year, but spring this time, I happen to take a class with a history professor who is now, seven years later, one of my dearest friends. She sent me in the school mail-box a half-marathon plan. And so, I began training. And I discovered I loved training. I was pretty haphazard about it before, just increasing willy-nilly. But training with a real plan, I began to feel even more like a runner. I ran the Toledo Half-Marathon in 2012 and began to think bigger.

528734_3047093102717_1997379885_n

Preparing to run my first half-marathon in Toledo with my professor/friend Emily.

 

This is where things start to take the turn for the worse. Hurdles begin to present themselves, notably, that I began to get injured. And not just in the same place, but different places all over. That summer, I signed up to run the Columbus Marathon. But had IT-Band problems so badly, that I do not think I made it past three miles the entire summer of 2012.

It was heartbreaking, but by the winter, I began to feel much better. I did little exercises to keep my IT-Band in check. Every time I went to the restroom I would stretch, wall squat, and air squat. For myself, I was intense. I began training for the Dayton Air Force marathon.

Training went well. It was perfect. As with the half-marathon, I fell in love with training. I loved the whole damn process, the whole routine of it. And I felt and looked strong. To this day, I do not think I’ve ever been in as good of shape as I was the summer of 2013.

My twenty mile run went beautifully. The last five miles of that baby where two minutes per mile faster than the first five. I finished that long run strong and felt energized. I was so excited and ready to see what the marathon would bring.

Two weeks later a cyst in my left ovary burst, putting in me in the most excruciating pain I think I have ever been in. I did not, unfortunately, run that marathon. That day was one of the saddest days I think I have ever had. I worked so hard. I was so strong. I was disappointed, heartbroken. I signed up for a marathon the week after, but the cyst rupture still had not healed.

It took me another three months to run again.

To be continued.