Twinkle Toes on the Treadmill

Who says running on a treadmill is boring?

I’d like to say I could totally swing this, but despite being a dancer for many years, I can barely follow a Zumba instructor these days. The only dancing I do is in my house for the sole purpose of horrifying my husband and son. Which is fairly rewarding, but not what I’d call graceful.

This dude rocks.

What’s Next: Marathon Coach Certification

Here’s something that surprised me: if you google “what to do if my child failed out of college”, you’ll find pretty much nothing useful. Not even lame advice from Dr. Phil. I did see an alarming statistic that only 50% of students who enrolled in college actually graduate. I really don’t understand the disconnect here. I’m sure it’s not all kids who failed and probably partly financially driven. But still, I’d think there would be more resources for parents with kids struggling.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/649/41544898/files/2014/12/img_3447.jpgIn the meantime, instead of dwelling on being stuck not knowing what to do with my son right now, I’ve decided to sign up for something I’ve been thinking about for awhile: Marathon Coach certification.

I’d looked into the RRCA and USATF programs, but neither really seemed quite what I was looking for. For one, the USATF programs seemed more suited for people planning to coach at schools, which isn’t really in my line of sight right now. The RRCA program required a weekend away, and while I probably could swing that, I wasn’t sure the program got into the depth I wanted. Much of my interest in coaching lies in the continual self-education I’ve been going through as a runner.

Enter North American Academy for Sports Fitness Professionals (NAASFP). They offer a certification program for Marathon Coach (or Running Coach if preferred) that seems to be a bit more comprehensive. I don’t have to go to a two day seminar and pay for travel expenses. Instead I will study the course manual and the two supplementary texts (Precision Heart Rate Training and Running Anatomy) then take an online exam during a three hour window. The program also requires completing a case study and getting my First Aid and CPR certification. Lastly, I will have to recruit a runner and design an 18 week training program for him or her. Their performance and feedback will be sent to NAASFP for monitoring.

The course covers (from the NAASFP’s website):

• Coaching fundamentals and philosophies
• Principles and practices of athletic training
• Exercise physiology and energy systems
• Anatomy and biomechanics
• Conditioning programming and testing
• Sport-specific training exercises and drills
• Sport psychology
• Injury prevention and reconditioning plans
• Sports nutrition
• Training cycles and progressions
• Heart rate based training
• Training plans
• Individualization of coaching
• Client screening and assessment
• Business of coaching

I’m pretty excited about all of this. I’ve got some cool ideas of what I’d like to do with the certification (which is not necessarily start a business with it), but I don’t want to talk too much about it yet.

Running this week has gone decently. I finally had a solid long run yesterday after having one iffy and one horrible one. I ran 16 miles with the last four at faster than half marathon pace. The only snafu was that my Garmin inexplicably froze at exactly 7 miles and I couldn’t get it restarted because it needed a satellite link and I was indoors at the Y on the treadmill out of range. I just used the treadmill readings for the remainder, but the numbers geek in me is bent out of shape for not having the whole run recorded for posterity. Hopefully this was a one time glitch, but it’s also a reminder to not be too dependent on technology.

Courage to Change the Things I Can…

Compounding last week’s events, the last few days haven’t been so hot either. I guess I’m feeling resigned, if not frustrated. Basically, my son failed out of college and we’re trying to figure out where to go from here. The last thing we need to do is coddle him or scream at him. He’ll be 20 years old next month and he’s made his “adult” choices and has to figure out how to live with them.

But like I said, I feel sort of resigned. It’s done. The official letter from the school came this morning. There’s nothing my husband or I can do to reverse the bad grades or the choices our son made to get them. All I can do now is let my kid know I love him and will help him navigate what decisions he has to make (if he wants help) and that he is always welcome to come home for a meal and to visit.

There really is no way to feel anything but terrible about this situation.

Sometime last week I started writing a lengthy post about my irritation with healthy living/fitness blogs that espouse “everyone’s body is different, this works for me” when justifying some of their weirder food restrictions and exercise habits. But I’ve decided to hold off on posting it, maybe indefinitely, because I’m snippy due to my family circumstances. I think I have an excessively critical eye because it gives me something to be annoyed with that is neither my son nor myself. It is a concern I’ve had about how these portrayals of healthy living can be dangerous for both the blogger and their audience. However, I want to be at least somewhat objective and less bitchy if I’m going to be somewhat controversial.

I’m painfully aware that this is shaky ground for my alcoholism, feeling like I’ve failed parenting. While I am unlikely to pick up a drink, I have to watch myself about using my running as a way to beat myself up. I am trying to relax about that. I still want to hit my training paces, but I’m not going to run myself through the shredder if my anxiety makes it harder to do so.

I did have a good long-ish easy run on Tuesday. I went in with low expectations, but I felt pretty great. My heart rate was back to where it should be, and my pace was significantly faster than my aborted run on Sunday. Comparing pace and HR, on Sunday by mile 8 I was running a 10:06 pace and my HR was 155. On Tuesday, my 8th mile was an 8:01 with close to the same HR. My average heart rate for the Sunday run was 146 and it was 145 on Tuesday, which is well within my easy/long run HR zone, and I was pushing a bit at the end of the run on Tuesday because I felt good. Just goes to show that stress really does have an impact on performance.

Yesterday I was able to get outside for an easy run. It was about 36 degrees with a 10 mph wind. I wore a new getup from Asics that I scored for $50 (black capris and a warm zip jacket in a gorgeous shade of turquoise) that worked great for the temps. Several sections of the park were still icy, which slowed me down and were hard on my perpetually tight calf muscles. I didn’t look at my watch and just breathed in the fresh air. Just before I hit 4 miles, I realized that even though this was not my best run by a long shot, I felt good, like I was doing what I should be doing. That this feeling was why I run. That even though I got passed by a guy in a Boston Marathon shirt whose easy pace would lap my hard pace, I was totally happy to be where I was just in that moment.

I hope my son can find a place like that for himself.

Salty Running liked me!

Thank you to everyone who wrote words of encouragement to me yesterday when I needed it. I ran today, a kind of slippery run through the park (I was right about the paths not being cleared), and I enjoyed myself. It wasn’t my speediest run, but it was the run I needed.

IMG_3443.PNGLast week, I received a very cool email from the Salty Runningg website, which is one of my daily reads. I had left a comment on one of the posts about a breakthrough I’d had in running, and they chose my comment as the “Comment of the Month”! It was a complete surprise because it wasn’t a contest or something they hosted for the best comment, I simply felt inspired to share something on one of their posts. Click here to read the post about my comment.

If you don’t already, check out the site. They have really great content and I love reading the training logs of the contributing writer-runners. They are of every ability, so you’re bound to find a runner similar in ability as you.

How Much Can Stress Affect a Run?

I feel like I need to start this post with a disclaimer: I am not attempting to provide information about how stress affects running performance. Just wanted to get that out there in case you googled your way here hoping to be educated.

No, I’m trying to figure out if stress can be blamed for my craptastic run today. If you happen to have any intel on this, please let me know.

I’ve had a bad week. It starts off with me not liking Christmas very much (I really want to, but I find it difficult in large part because of my family of origin, which always stirs up tough feelings this time of year) and being annoyed that I haven’t been running outside due to weather. Add in the car-sliding-off-the-driveway incident on Wednesday and unplanned close to 4 hours of snow shoveling. And a seemingly tiny comment on my blog that implied I am a pessimist (I don’t think I am nor does anyone who knows me, but fuck all if my blog doesn’t make me look like a miserable asshole sometimes?) has made me feel all ooky and misunderstood and also castigating myself for not being a shiny happy people. (Totally not the commenter’s fault)

Plus, one more insult to my ego: I found my two first gray hairs. Ugh.

Then I did a tough workout on Friday. It actually went fine. I had a 3-2-1 tempo workout, which started with a 30 minute warm up followed by 3 miles at tempo pace, 5 minute jog, 2 mile tempo, 5 minute jog, and 1 mile tempo, finishing up with a 30 minute cool down.

To address my desire to start pushing me into “failure” so I can better find out my fitness level and help me push more in races, my coach suggested I increase effort throughout the workout. Therefore, I increased my pace within each tempo segment. My tempo goal range was 7:50-8:05.


You can see that I did what I set out to do, averaging a 7:49 tempo pace. It felt pretty hard, harder than I wanted it to, but my heartrate didn’t do anything nuts during the work segments (a 161 average), and it settled down during the recovery periods.

Saturday was a scheduled rest day, which was good because this is where I spent most of the day:

This is Tuft’s Hospital in Boston. My son was supposed to be on an Amtrak home from college yesterday and instead my husband and I had to go get him because he said he’d knocked himself out somehow.

Let me tell you, I understand why HIPAA exists, but I was extremely frustrated with it yesterday when I got kicked out of triage because my son didn’t want to answer certain questions in front of me. He was diagnosed with a concussion. He also missed two of his four finals. I wish I could say I was shocked, but the best I can say is that I am numb.

Anyway, we finally got home around 11pm last night after having picked at a salad for the entirety of my food for the day besides my normal breakfast of a banana, Clif Bar and coffee.

Today was long run day, and I was supposed to do 14-16 miles. I considered trying the park, but I figured that they probably wouldn’t have plowed the running paths and I didn’t feel like dealing with running on the roads stuffed with Christmas shoppers in their vehicles and being doused by melting slush.

I maybe regret the decision to treadmill it today. My run sucked. It was slow, my heart rate was elevated given the pace I was running, and when I tried slowing it down to a crawl and even taking some recovery breaks once I passed 6.25 miles, it still sucked. I’ve still got a lingering cough, and I’m not sure if it was just psychological or a real physical thing, but it felt like something was catching in my chest when I breathed. I kept thinking I should go to Urgent Care to get a chest xray, but the idea of sitting in a medical waiting room so close to yesterday’s experience sounded awful.

I tried to convince myself that the long run was about time on my feet, and if I could just string together 2-mile sets until I hit at least 14 miles, I was good.

Well, I tried. My heart rate at the end of mile 10 had steadily climbed to 153 despite that I was running a whopping 10-minute mile (as compared to Friday’s run where I was running a 7:25 at the end of the tempo segment and had a heart rate of 162). When I got towards the end of mile 11, I realized I was ridiculously sweaty given my pace, but I was also cold. Remember, I was indoors on the treadmill. There was no real reason for me to be cold and I was drinking plenty of fluids. I’d already refilled my water bottle.

I decided that it was time to call my run “done.”

Can I say how pissed off this has me? I’m so angry at, I dunno, everything. My run was supposed to help me de-stress and instead I’m doubting my ability to run. Because, of course, one lousy run means I’m no good.


I sound like a big, whiny loser here and like I’m making every excuse in the book for a shit run. And that all pisses me off too.

The upside, if here can possibly be one, is that although I am emotionally wretched right now and the idea that a drink would take the edge off did skitter through my alcoholic brain, it really and truly sounds like an abhorrent idea. Which sort of surprises me in a good way. I do feel like my mind was my biggest enemy today, so this is a silver lining.

To sum up my tale of self-pity, I am trying to understand how today’s run went so poorly. What I discovered is that running is decidedly not therapy for this runner. At least not when there is too much shit hitting the fan. I do think running can change your mood to something more positive and can help with outlook, but at the end of the day, you can’t outrun your troubles.

Does Snow Shoveling Count as Crosstraining?

So, this happened yesterday:


We have a 525 foot driveway that is curvy and uphill (as much as a 12% incline in spots). If it were up to me, we’d have a truck/crew come clear it for us when we get snow. But my husband doesn’t like the way other people do it, so he clears it with a combo of a tractor/snowblower and shovel.

Yesterday wasn’t supposed to get a big weather dump, so he didn’t clear the driveway before leaving for the morning. When I got home, I couldn’t get my 4-wheel drive car up the driveway. It got stuck on an incline. I called my husband to come get me out, and I though we’d be shoveling around the vehicle then driving it up to the garage.

My husband had other ideas, and suffice it to say, the car ended up off the side of the driveway and needed AAA to tow it out. My car now needs body work done to fix boo boos from the trees he hit.

We needed to clear off the driveway for the tow, and because it was the wet, heavy kind, we both took to shoveling.

Man, am I glad I’m in decent shape (yay core workouts!) because that was not fun. Nearly 4 hours later, I stopped. My shoulders are hurting today. I really want to hire people to do this. How the heck do you plow a driveway the wrong way anyhow?

And it continued to snow and my husband hasn’t cleared the driveway before he left again and I’m afraid to leave the house. I guess I’ll just abandon the car at the foot of the driveway if I do venture out.

Last night, after AAA left, my husband said to me, “In retrospect, we should’ve been more patient and shoveled around the car and used ice melt to get it out of where it was stuck instead of driving it off the driveway.”

You think? :-/