Running for Boston
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Running and Asthma

I’ve had asthma for a while, probably since I was stationed in Korea in 1990-1991. For a long time, it was “just” exercise-induced asthma that I could keep under control by taking albuterol before running. While I was in grad school and didn’t have time to exercise (working two jobs, raising two kids, going to grad school full time– I do not recommend that approach), my EI turned into “real” asthma. It was also treatment resistant. I basically have to take a COPD drug (which I hate because it ruins my voice– painful for someone who made a living with my voice for a while.) Recently, I downloaded an app to keep track of my peak flow and discovered that my peak flow is much better on days that I run. I have long suspected that regular exercise kept my asthma under control for nearly 16 years, but now it seems I have proof. I’m going to keep an eye on the numbers and see what happens. I’d really like to have my voice back.

I’m finally reading Daniels’ Running Formula – 2nd Edition. After I finish the Couch to 5K plan and run a couple 5Ks, I’m thinking of planning a schedule built around his concepts. The 5K results will help give me an idea of where to start with my paces. Right now, my fitness is barely high enough for his pace charts! I have a long way to go.

Tonight’s run was week 3 of Couch to 5K, the one that has the 3 minutes of running in a row for the first time. While I can run 3 minutes in a row at a slow pace, I’m trying to get faster. My first 3-minute repeat was at a 9:30 pace, my second at a 10:20 pace. Slower than I want, but I did manage to time my warm-up so that all of my running repeats were uphill. Wednesday, I’ll warm up longer so I have more favorable inclines!

Tag: Plans and Goals, Running
Sep 9th, 2013 - Comments Off on Running and Asthma

I’m Back!

I finally feel well enough to run! I decided to get back into it by doing the Couch to 5K program. I’m running the intervals faster than I normally run– about an 8-minute-mile pace vs. an 11-minute-mile pace. I’m on week two and surprised myself by being able to keep up the faster pace for a minute and a half. Week 3 might be a challenge because there are 3-minute running segments. I’ve never really pushed my speed before in all of my years running. I don’t even understand concepts like “comfortably hard.” For me, there has only been “easy” and “OMG, I’m going to die!”

I also joined Run Your BQ, a site by Jason Fitzgerald and Matt Frazier. I felt strange signing up since I am still so far away from even thinking of running a BQ, but I was happy to see that there are others who are pretty far away as well. It seems to be a good program that includes strength work as well as a variety of running workouts. A key to my joining is that Matt Frazier is plant-based and I really need good resources for getting faster as a vegan. Being vegan is not optional for me, so sites like Spark People, that sneer at vegans, are useless to me. I was so happy to see that this program includes info for us.

I’m very sore right now. I got a great workout Sunday night playing with a four-year-old for hours. I’m fueling now for tonight’s run– Week 2, workout 2. I’m using my Garmin 305 to alert me if I’m running slower than 9:30. I need to get a better feel for pace and I need to work on pushing myself.

There’s a decent-sized 5K in town next month and I think my son and I are going to try to run it.

Tag: Boston, Running
Sep 3rd, 2013 - Comments Off on I’m Back!

Still hurting

My calf still hurts, so I’m still not running. I think I’m just about to the point where I can start walking again. My injuries are educational– they tell me that something is wrong. When I deal with one area of concern, something else pops up, which tells me I am out of alignment somewhere. I’m probably out of alignment everywhere, really. So I’ve been using the Alignment Snacks from the Restorative Exercise Institute to work on various areas. So far, I’m working on Adductor Madness and Balance… with Lateral Hips. They’re about half an hour long and deal with the little alignment muscles and areas that don’t often get a lot of attention. Now I’m trying to decide which one to do next.

I’m trying to be smart about getting back to running. I want to run and I want to run fast, but I also want to run uninjured. I need to walk a lot more and fix all these problems before I can do that.

Tag: Injuries, Running
Aug 17th, 2013 - Comments Off on Still hurting

Calf Strain

I made it to 20 days last Thursday. Thursday evening, my left calf felt twingey, so I decided to rest on Friday. That was probably a good idea. That evening, I decided to take my dogs on the same hilly walk around the block we always take, wearing Vibrams (very common for my walk.) About five minutes into the walk, while going up a hill, I felt a searing pain in my left calf. It’s often described as feeling like someone hit you in the back of the leg with a ball or a bat. It took me about 40 minutes to limp home– a distance of less than a mile.

I spent the weekend resting and icing and compressing and elevating. I have some bruises on the outside of my leg, probably caused by blood pooling, but nothing too bad. It hurts to walk, though, and it hurts when I get up in the morning. At this point I’m still self-treating, since I’m doing all the things a doctor would tell me to do anyway.

It’s possible that ramping up my mileage so quickly contributed to the injury, but I felt great right up until the day that I didn’t. I think a bigger contributor is the cant on the road, the fact that I almost always run on the left, and the hills. Also, my left side is noticeably weaker than my right side.

Obviously, I’m off running for at least a month. I’ll be going to the pool and doing upper body exercises to stay fit in the meantime. When the leg doesn’t hurt any more, I’ll get on my exercise bike. And when I’m ready to run again, I’ll probably spend a few weeks just running a quarter or half mile on a track or the treadmill every other day, only if the leg doesn’t hurt. And I’m going to wear compression socks from now on. I do not want this to happen again.

Tag: Health, Injuries, Running, Streak
Jul 9th, 2013 - Comments Off on Calf Strain


I had kind of a breakthrough today (day 17 of my streak.) Today was the first day I woke up sore. I didn’t sleep very well and I seriously considered taking a rest day from running (which would have been fine– I’m not married to my streak.) Then I thought about the fact that another slow easy run today would be another slow easy run toward my goal. Since I’d be wearing my heart rate monitor, I would know right away whether today was going to end up being a walking day.

Well, as these things happen, today I had a bit of a breakthrough. I run a very hilly course– I’m pretty sure there isn’t even a yard of it that’s not either incline or decline. I tried to focus on running slowly enough that I could run for a longer distance before my heart rate gets too high. I was really pleased that I made it almost the first mile before having to walk and was able to run all the way up and over several of the smaller hills. I also almost ran into a mom running with her stroller and dog because I was focusing so hard on running up a hill! Ooops. I think there were no hard feelings– after all, she’s probably run up the very same hill (which is one of the two very evil hills on my daily route.)

Although I ran slightly slower, I ran more of the route, which makes me feel like I’m making progress. I want to get to the point where I can continuously run at least the easy 2.8-mile route. That’s when I’ll start doing a weekly tempo run.

After the run, I did push-ups, bench presses, flyes, tricep dips, and kickbacks. Trying for strength and endurance without building any mass. Since I’m mostly mesomorph, I build muscle pretty easily, but if I add any more lean mass, I won’t be able to get down to the racing weight that I hope will get me to Boston. Obviously, though, I don’t want to lose any lean mass either.

Tag: Heart Rate, Running, Streak
Jul 2nd, 2013 - Comments Off on Breakthrough


I’m pretty excited because today I saw a number on the scale that I haven’t seen since 1999. 149.5! Yesterday, I was excited because I hit 50 pounds lost, so today was just icing on the cake. Today is the day I start trying to eat more often. And I’m back to logging my food on My Fitness Pal. Whatever I’m doing is working, so I need to track that!

Today was day 14 of my baby running streak. I did the longest run of the streak so far: 4 miles. Tomorrow is “long run” day, so assuming I get up early enough to run outside, I’ll do either five or six miles. It depends on what my heart rate says to do. Yesterday, I didn’t get up early enough to run outside and I didn’t want to run on the treadmill, so I went out after dark. It was not a great run. This morning’s run was much better. Guess I really am an outside, morning runner. I never thought of myself that way, but I guess it goes with my philosophy of acting like a marathoner. A marathoner gets up early in the morning and runs, so that’s what I do. Fake it til you make it, right? (And while I have finished a marathon and I have the magnet on my car, I don’t really feel like a marathoner. That’s my own issue, and should not reflect on how anyone else feels about their marathon time. I just know I can do much, much better– I’ve just never tried hard enough.)

Yesterday, I started doing weights again. I did a short premix of Cathe Friedrich’s Gym Style Chest & Triceps. Today I did core and hips (my own workout based on exercises I found online). Tomorrow will be Cathe’s Gym Style back, biceps, and shoulders. I won’t be doing leg work other than deadlifts for at least a few more weeks, but I do need to strengthen my core, glutes, and triceps particularly. I’m feeling the daily runs mostly in my ribs and triceps. It’s going to be a challenge working through the daily exercises.

Tag: Cathe, Running, Streak, Weigh-Ins
Jun 29th, 2013 - Comments Off on Progress!

Weight Loss = Fat Shaming?

I have been indirectly accused of fat-shaming twice this weekend. Once was in a response to a discussion about a blogger who lost 30 pounds and then was accused of fat-shaming because she answered questions about how she did it and posted before and after pictures. The second hurt more because it was a friend and came just days after I posted about losing 50 pounds so far because I stopped eating crap.

After fighting with my weight on and off for about 15 years, I finally learned that for me and my body, food choices are far more important than exercise. I worked out hard for years without making much difference. When I went vegan and then reduced my soda intake, I started slowly and surely seeing a change. The thing was, I didn’t make those changes in order to lose weight. I went vegan for ethical reasons and reduced soda for a variety of political, moral, and health-related reasons. The weight loss was a side effect and I refuse to be ashamed. Now, I am actively trying to make choices that will help me lose up to 30 more pounds (or get to the weight that will let me qualify for Boston.)

I try to be sensitive. I try to check my privilege. I am painfully aware that my life is better now because I am no longer obese and am only slightly overweight. Some things are easier because the world is designed for smaller people and some things are easier because my small frame was not designed to carry a lot of extra weight. A lot of things are easier for me now, including running, which I did even at my heaviest. I imagine they’ll be even easier when I finally reach racing weight. But to claim I have nothing useful to say about obesity, weight, or fat loss is both incorrect and unfair. Did a decade of my life disappear because I am now smaller? Am I less worthy? Why doesn’t health at every size respect those of us who feel healthier at smaller sizes?

There are people I love who have painful physical problems from being overweight. Their mobility is limited. They can’t try physical activities they might enjoy. Even if you take away the emotional issues from how society treats people who are overweight, their quality of life is worse because of their weight and they know it. I’m speaking of people I know and love– I would not presume to assume the same of anyone I don’t know– I tend to be oblivious to weight. But just my existence as a person who has lost a lot of weight is taken as a shaming thing by some people. Am I not supposed to talk about it? I’m hoping to get lots of support in my efforts to lose 30 more pounds, which will be hard, if not impossible. By asking for that support, though, I am a shamer. People feel okay making value judgments on my goals, as if my goals have any direct reflection on them. If I weren’t trying to qualify for Boston, I wouldn’t even be trying to lose weight. Is my attempt to qualify for Boston as a former obese person also an attempt to shame people who don’t try? (BTW, there are people my current weight or heavier who have qualified for and run Boston– I’m just not one of those who can run fast enough at this weight.)

Just because I’m trying to lose weight doesn’t mean you should. I think people should respect their bodies no matter what they look or feel like. My decisions about my body are not a value judgment on your decisions about your body.

Today was my ninth run in a row. Interestingly, I started to feel fatigue in my shoulders, triceps, and upper back. Legs and feet feel fine, hips feel pleasantly stretched, knees are good. It was hotter today (I dawdled getting ready because of my hurt feelings over the fat shaming thing) but it was my second fastest run of this streak. I can now run further up the hills before my heart rate gets too high. Yay progress!

Tag: Body Image, Health, Heart Rate, Plans and Goals, Running, Streak, Support
Jun 24th, 2013 - Comments Off on Weight Loss = Fat Shaming?

Still Running

Even though I haven’t been updating this log, I have been running. I’ve started a running streak of sorts. I’ve now run eight days in a row and I feel pretty good about it. I’m doing the Maffetone style heart rate training, keeping my heart rate between 135 and 140. This can be a challenge because of the hills and the heat. I’m doing about 14-minute miles right now, which is an improvement from when I started, especially when I consider that it’s much hotter than it was when I started. I’m planning to do the same 2.8 mile loop for two more weeks and then making the Sunday and Wednesday runs longer. This week, I’m adding in bodyweight exercises. I won’t be doing any more workout challenges like the one I tried in May. It was really hard on my knees and I ended up taking almost a month off from running. Amazingly, my knees are fine now. The only tiny injury I have is a little bit of PF pain from when I foolishly tried to “get used to” high heels for a Rocky Horror costume. I’m making sure to stretch it so it doesn’t get worse. High heels just do not work for me.

Weight-wise, I’m still about 30-35 pounds away from what I estimate is a decent racing weight for me. Oddly, that weight (about 120) is kind of thin for me, but still much heavier than the really good runners my height. We’ll see if I end up having to lose more. I’m actually not deliberately dieting. I am being somewhat careful with what I eat, but I’m making sure to eat when I’m hungry. I’ve gotten into making Ethiopian food, so I think I’m going to end up making big batches of the stews and refrigerating or freezing some for the coming weeks. I suspect that as my mileage creeps up, I’ll probably start to lose more excess fat.

Tag: Heart Rate, Running, Streak
Jun 23rd, 2013 - Comments Off on Still Running

Four Hilly Miles

I ran the same 4.20 route I ran last Thursday. Although I ran it slightly slower, I was running it with a lower target heart rate (140 instead of 145.) I feel like I was able to run further on the hills before my heart rate got too high. I didn’t feel any stress from this being the third running day in a row. I’m going to take tomorrow off as scheduled, though I hope to start doing a low heart rate session on my bike on Fridays. Maybe next week. I don’t want to overtrain, so I’m walking a fine line. I am slightly sore right now, so this week, a rest will do me good.

Today is a new moon, so that means it’s a day off from Ashtanga. My wrists appreciate that. So my only other workout is the May Workout Challenge.

  • 60 crunches
  • 100 squats
  • 25 crunches
  • 25 reverse crunches
  • 16 ab twists
  • 25 second plank
  • 35 squats
  • 50 second plank
  • 50 Russian twists
  • 25 crunches

The heart rate breakdown for the run is: 13:20/ 133, 14:40/ 138, 14:56/ 139, 15:42/ 140. The average was 14:35/ 137. You can probably tell that the most significant hills start in the second mile and get more dramatic as I run. The last mile is almost entirely uphill. I seriously need to find a flat run at least once a week, even though I would have to drive to get there. The internet is refusing to stay connected for more than about 30 seconds, so searching for a route is getting frustrating. Thanks, Suddenlink.

Treadmill run

My first extra run. An easy 2.07 on the treadmill at about 139. I ran the whole time, but I did have to make a pit-stop after mile one.

This evening, I was able to do a full Ashtanga series (well, up until Navasana.) My wrists are a little twingy, so I left out the raising up parts and the vinyasas between the seated poses. I also did only two upward bows instead of four. I was really happy tonight because I could stay in headstand for ten breaths! I love being upside down!

Today’s workout challenge:

  • 25 crunches
  • 25 reverse crunches
  • 14 ab twists
  • 25 second plank
  • 35 squats
  • 45 second plank
  • 45 Russian twists
  • 25 crunches

Tomorrow’s workout is an easy four mile run. I’ll be outside unless the storm is way too bad to run outside. Hopefully I can get out before the storms start.

Tag: Heart Rate, May 2013 Workout Challenge, Running, Yoga
May 8th, 2013 - Comments Off on Treadmill run