A New Month ~ A Fresh Start

I haven't done my May training analysis yet but I will. My gut says I have had some successes in better running mileage but some flops in cross training, Logically, this makes sense as there are only so many hours in a day and so much to do. But as I feel depression rearing its nasty head, I need to do something to address my feelings.

Depression sucks and is very misunderstood. Some may be left baffled that I can sit here with a complete inner joy and peace with God but feel weighed down, alone, and incapable of moving or motivating myself. It really is a crazy condition and I think the only ones who can truly understand are fellow sufferers.

But this post isn't about depression.

This post is about a new month, a fresh start, new beginnings.

We are used to the new start of January 1st but each month, in fact each day, is a new start and I am ready to embrace the craziness of June, summer camp, vacation, different work hours, later dinner times, and later bedtimes with a positive attitude.

Geesh! But how?! Even typing that left me feeling burdened and overwhelmed.

That is why I need a plan.

I need to plan to succeed and place my plan up front and center right in front of my face. I need a workout plan at least for the first few weeks of June before vacation. I need structure! I crave structure! And once I have a plan I can work on the timing on how to fit it in between four days a week at the stables while darling rides. Oh nelly!

The number one factor to success I feel is diet. What I eat affects how I feel and how I feel affects what I do so it is time for me to stock up on the veggies I love and yes, some salad kits for easy lunches...or maybe dinners. With a hectic schedule I need healthy, easy to grab food but I also need to stay on a very tight budget.

Is this possible?

I would like to say yes and I am going to start with Costco and look at what I can stock up in terms of healthy foods at bulk prices. What can be frozen for hot prep meals or smoothies and what I need to keep fresh for crunchy delights. And I seriously need to rethink meal planning. It has fallen to the wayside but I think I need that structure back. A dinner plan that uses that crock pot for late nights so maybe I should get some homemade frozen crock pot meals lined up that I can grab, drop, and go and come home to a nutritional dinner. Wouldn't that be lovely?

And the strategic meal planning means less scrambling to get things pulled together and more time sweating myself happy! And less bad food that I turn to.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for this blog holding me accountable.

Daily Bible Verse: The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes to poverty. ~ Proverbs 21:5


Running and Effort

You get out what you put in is a good motto for anything in life but today I am going to focus on running.

Today is day 2.342 of my running streak. That is 6 years, 4 months, and 28 days but ultimately each day, each mile, is a gift from God but in those days I have learned one very important lesson. Listen to your body.

You see, to keep my streak alive I need to run at least one mile every day and that changed how I looked at running in so many ways. The good is that I learned to listen to my body better and more closely. The down is the streak can take a sense of control you never realized would happen but that is a post for another day. Today we are talking effort.

Effort matters and good effort does not always equate maintaining the same pace and mileage.

Things in and out of your control can affect effort so keep a record of how you feel, what is going on in your life emotionally and physically, and what your perceived effort is.

Perceived effort is just what is sounds like. What you perceive your effort level to be and it is a good general assessment you can apply easily. If you are running and able to sing a song perhaps you should try pushing yourself a wee bit harder. If you are running and can`t get one word out perhaps you want to ease up a bit.

But ultimately it depends on what your running goal is.

Long easy run? You want to be able to run and talk but singing? Not so much but you should be able to carry on a short and brief conversation with a running buddy. If you can't form and speak short sentences (being abrupt is okay), you are at the wrong effort level for achieving your goal.

Doing speedwork? Forget about singing or forming sentences of any length. This is when it is okay to push yourself wordless especially if you are running intervals. Be speechless at those fast paces and then bring yourself down to being able to say a word or two before tossing in that next fast interval.

You could even go as far as running by your heart rate. I know this works for many but I just am not at the point where I look at my heart rate on the run but could get to that point. I do wear my Fitbit and have my heart rate at my fingertips....literally. And I could sit down and do the math and determine my personal heart rate zones. I just haven't yet but may do so...one day...maybe.

What I am liking is premium Strava and the relative effort calculations. Granted this is based on generalized heart rate zones but it is a good tool for evaluating my runs and applying more metrics to effort and heart rate analysis. The one catch is it only works for my runs I do outside with GPS data....unless I am missing how to apply it to my treadmill runs and other workouts but that is okay.

I don't need detailed analysis for every run and knowing I get this "added value" for outside runs encourages me to hit the roads more often. Gotta love running motivation!

According to Strava, today's 8.1 miler was tough with a relative effort of 148. Distance, terrain, and heart rate all factor into this. You can get the details of what percentage of your run was in the endurance zone, moderate zone, tempo zone, threshold zone, and more. This was a good effort as lots of my outside runs tend to be in the 75-85 zone but they also tend to be 4-5 miles.

Looking at this data, or just noting your perceived effort, can help you evaluate how hard you are pushing yourself. This is important as yes, sometimes you want to push harder to achieve results but if you want to keep running injury free, or start/maintain a running streak, it is important to have those recovery/easy run days too.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for technology that helps me apply metrics to my perceived running effort to help me stay accountable to my training effort and desired results.

Daily Bible Verse: For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord, because they have called you an outcast. ``'It is Zion, for whom no one cares!' ~ Jeremiah 30:17


Make getting help easier on the roads, trails, and beyond

Recently I started running more outside again and with that I decided it was time to get back into the habit of wearing my RoadID.

I got my first one many years ago after a comment from my Dad. I love that I can share this loving story of him over 8 years after his death. I don't remember all the details but I can tell you this - he did not like the idea of me running around outside without any ID on me. He wanted me to at least carry something. Thanks Dad for caring!

Since I am now a committed Fitbit wearer I didn't want the wrist version any longer and felt it was worthwhile to update my info anyhow. I checked out their website only to find new designs and opted for the slim charm that I could add to my chain I wear everyday.

What is best is you get to completely personalize the info you want and get to pick the style - on your wrist, shoe, around your neck, etc. The info I added was my name, that I am Catholic (yes, I want a priest called if I am found in dire straits), my blood type (almost put darling daughter's and that could have been a deadly mistake so proof read more than once!), and two emergency contact numbers. No, I really am not that paranoid but this made sense. Although if darling daughter reads this she may comment that I am a bit too much like Monk.

I spend my outdoor running time mainly in two states - in my home state, Hawaii, so I have hubby's number followed by HI and when visiting my Mom so I have her number followed by TX. It just made sense to me. Why call my hubby in Hawaii if my Mom in Texas is closer to me?

With the recent disappearance of more than one person coming across my radar I got to thinking. This RoadID could be so much more. It could be a means to help many who are lost, potentially with not remembering who they are either due to injury or illness, find their way home if someone has the knowledge to look.

So here is a picture of what RoadID can look like in its many different styles just in case you come across someone in need.

And on that note, I want to stress how important it is to keep your eyes open and to look at people. So many times we may want to turn our heads and eyes and not see that dirty, homeless looking person on the corner, walking by, or lingering outside the store window. They look grungy and disheveled. Maybe beat up.

But that person is someone's daughter or son. That person may be lost and someone may be desperately looking for them like this man in Vancouver.

I do not know this man or his family but I do know one of his friends who is heartbroken that he is missing. All his friends and family are.....I can't even imagine! And his story is breaking my heart and I am desperately praying and kindly asking for you to do the same. And if you are in his neck of the woods, keep your eyes up.

And that keep your eyes up goes for wherever you live. You never know when you will be the one person who finds a person in need and I can only pray,  if they can't tell you who they are for whatever reason, that they will have some sort of ID on them to help you out. And this RoadID around my neck....it is on my body more often than my phone.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my RoadID.

Daily Bible Verse: And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. ~ 1 John 5:14


Signs of over-training - Signs of depression

It is important to listen to your body. It can tell you so much and we are designed in such a way that our body gives us cues, warning signs, for when to slow down. Like a  yawn when you are tired, your body will tell you when you are over-training in hopes you listen, slow down, and recover.

So let's take a look at this warning signs of over-training:
  1. Exercise performance - you stop improving or start declining in performance
  2. Increased rate of perceived effort - your workouts just feel tougher and not because you are going faster, longer, or stronger
  3. Increased fatigue
  4. Increased moodiness or agitation levels
  5. You aren't sleeping well
  6. Your appetite is waning
  7. Your motivation is lacking
  8. You feel depressed
  9. Your muscles feel sore and don't seem to be recovering with rest
  10. Elevated resting heart rate - If you have a Fitbit like me, this is easy to monitor but in itself, it is not a good clue. I'll get back to that later.
That goes for most of these signs. In themselves they do not mean you are indeed over-training. They can be signs of other things. Like depression.

The popular signs of depression are:
  1. Excessive fatigue
  2. You are easily irritated 
  3. Your sleep is disrupted with you sleeping more....or less
  4. Your eating is disrupted and you may lose your appetite or turn to carbs for support
  5. You feel achy 
  6. You lose interest in things....kinda like losing motivation
  7. You may get harder on yourself
  8. You have problems concentrating
  9. Things may get messier around you and you don't care
  10. You feel numb
There is quite an overlap between those two lists, isn't there?

So how do you know what is going on and how to properly interpret what your body is telling you?

This can be tough especially if you do suffer from depression and turn to running and cross training to help keep your depression under control. You see, you don't need to experience all the signs for either over-training or depression to be present. Just some of them. And the one that seems most grounded on actual metrics, resting heart rate, does vary especially for women along with their menstrual cycle.

But you can still look at the trends and try to discern what is going on. Perhaps give yourself a rest day or two and see if you are feeling better...or worse. If you feel refreshed, then over-training was probably your issue. If you aren't bouncing back, perhaps it is leaning more towards depression but this isn't 100%. Nothing in life is guaranteed but I strongly suggest if you are feeling in the rut and a couple of rest days isn't helping, check in with your doctor. They are in the best position to guide you and help you. And on that note, I am a strong proponent of annual physicals and monitoring your blood panel. 


April 2018 Training Report

Another month has gone by. Can you believe it?! And in just another month it will be summer break! Well, summer break for darling daughter. Not so much for me. I think we need to start a movement that we all deserve breaks like the breaks kids get from school! If only.....

But let's talk goals. My 2018 goals are 1,170 miles and 70 new workouts. I can't say I am on par with both goals but I do feel I am making good progress on the mileage but let's see what the stats say.

In April I ran 123 miles - my largest month this year with the second largest being 100 miles in March. The third largest is 85 miles in January. Let's not talk about February. February is always brutal!

Ironically, with running 23 miles more in April than March, I worked out 1 less hour and that is probably why I feel my cross training has slacked. I am at 21 new workouts for the year, which means I only added 3 new workouts to my 70 new workouts goal. As much as I want to achieve my goals, I feel this is one I don't want to get too wrapped up in because right now, running is bringing more joy. Like the "old days" so I am okay if cross training slips a bit while I run happy. However, I see the value in cross training and refuse to let it totally slip to the wayside. At this point in life, I need to cross train and I do find joy in a good weight training session....or a fun hula hooping session....or MMA....that MMA makes me work extremely hard and has a great happy factor to it. So yes, I am going to cross train but may not need to do so many new workouts to keep working out fun.

What I am finding fun is running outside more again. I learned to download my Fitbit GPS runs and upload them to Strava so I can see how I am doing on segments I have created, look at my relative effort, and really delve into stats that make me want to run some more and gather more stats. I started the Premium free trial for Strava and think it has enough value to go ahead and pay for it...at least for a year. I really do love stats! And I want to see my progress on "Monster Hill".

I am also digging Fitbit challenges. A friend invited me to a weekday challenge to really up our steps and hey, maybe I do like the friendly competition to keep the steps coming along. I like that! Friendly encouragement.

So...watch out May! Here I come! I know my schedule is crazy busy with end of school, Confirmation for darling daughter, horse show for darling daughter, and more but I am ready to lace up and go!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for tools and friends that encourage me to keep on moving.

Daily Bible Verse: So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:26