Friday, June 14, 2013

Fitness Friday - Not Quitting!

Last week, I completed my first running series, Running Newbie to Half Marathon in One Year. In writing it, I relived all of the emotions and ups and downs of my first year of running. Whether I was training for my first 5K, a faster 5K, or my first half marathon, each stage of my first year of running came with it's own unique set of challenges. In the end, however, rewarding feelings came as I reached each goal.

After my half marathon in April, I wasn't sure where to go next. I felt burned out from running long distances, and needed to switch gears yet again. I found out that RunKNOX was going to offer a new speed-based program that would focus on a faster 5K time, as well as incorporate more circuit workouts to increase our fitness.

My husband, Brandon, was all in from the time we found out about this program. He and I have different outlooks and preferences when it comes to running. He (being the much faster of the two of us) enjoys running short distances (i.e. 5Ks, 10Ks) and focusing on running fast. He'd like to just go as hard as he can for 3 miles and be done.

I, on the other hand, find the pressure and intensity of running faster at shorter distances to be overwhelming. While more physically taxing, I liked training for the half marathon when I could just get into a comfortable rhythm and run longer. Because I remembered the anxiety I'd felt last fall when I was training for a faster 5K, I was a little apprehensive to do the speed-based program. However, other option of running 5+ miles in the summer heat didn't sound appealing at all. Our coach, Darren, recommended that I do the speed based program and transition back into half marathon training later this year, so I went with it.

Over the last few weeks, I've been writing about this current journey in my Fitness Friday posts. This new stage didn't start as smoothly as I'd hoped (it never does, right?). First, I dealt with a lot of heel pain. Luckily that was a quick fix with new shoes. Since then, my latest struggle has been dealing with the heat. It's getting hot here in Tennessee! While I prefer warm weather in my normal life, I'm struggling with it while running. I've been very careful to hydrate (including electrolytes) before, during, and after workouts. I've also been very careful to watch for early symptoms of overheating.

It's very frustrating to come to a workout with an objective (i.e. work on a certain pace, etc), but not be able to work to your fullest potential due to these issues. However, I've put safety first and do the best I can. Nonetheless, I'm still working towards my 30 minute 5K by 30 years old goal (#30by30), and believe that I'll reach my goal.

Now that my running series is over, I plan to go a little deeper into my Fitness Friday posts. It doesn't matter how long I've been running, there is always something new to learn! Sometimes, it's something simple like the importance of good shoes, and sometimes it's something a little more deep. I plan to share what I'm learning each week as I continue through my running journey.

This week, I learned the power of not quitting.

Saturday - A rough start

As I mentioned in last Friday's post, I spent last Friday in an all-day outdoor low ropes course as a professional development exercise. It was a lot of fun! I'd actually participated in a similar course by the same company, Mountain Challenge, when I was in grad school. This time, I participated in all kinds of team-building exercises, such as working with a group to keep a tennis ball balanced in the center of long strings that we as team members circled around and held, or deciding how to best fit all team members through a spider web of ropes. It reminded us how important it is to plan and communicate together as a team, instead of only focusing on our own individual tasks.

While we only did the low ropes component of the course on Friday and it wasn't extremely physically taxing, being active in the heat all day left me feeling a little drained. I was drinking lots of water, but still felt a little dehydrated and tired when I woke up Saturday to head to RunKNOX. For a few seconds, I considered skipping. You know I wouldn't do that!

Luckily, it was a little rainy (and therefore cooler) that morning. I ran 4 mi with a couple of girls near my pace. Once we got into the run and started chatting, I felt much better and made it through the run. We then did a circuit workout including all kinds of squats, planks, push-ups, lunges, you name it. Done!

Sunday - Rest

Enough said.

Monday - Back to the gym

I kept my usual routine of heading to the gym after work. I did the elliptical for 30 minutes, then headed into a Body Pump class (a 1 hr circuit routine using various weights). I happened to notice that most of the exercises have gotten easier. Perhaps it's time to use heavier weights on some of them? I'll think about that.

Tuesday - A rough running practice

So, as you know, last week, we ran repeats of 800m (1/2 a mile). Not only do I think that is a difficult exercise in general, but I started noticing early symptoms of overheating (i.e. dizziness, feeling very tired, and even feeling cold in the heat), and had to stop running to stay safe (our program enforces safety). This week, I was initially excited because our workout was broken into even smaller chunks, 200m (an 1/8 mi), with breaks in between. This will be so much easier!

Yep, I may have underestimated that workout.

While breaking the workout into smaller pieces did make it more manageable, I didn't think it was at all easy. I should have known better. It took me a little over a minute to run each 200m piece at my goal 5K pace (more aggressive than my usual running), but we did it so many times I thought it was never going to end! Not to mention, it was even hotter that day.

Here's the deal: physically, yes, it was a difficult workout. However, the real challenge that day was all mental. After struggling so much last week, I was a little scared going into this week's workout. Even today, I struggle with a lot of fear when running. If you feel this, too, please know you're not alone.

What if I got dizzy again? What if I passed out? Or died? Or even worse (my biggest fear ever), what if I threw up in practice?

I've never taken a psychology class, but I think there is a certain "healthy" level of fear that reminds us to be cautious and safe. Then there's the irrational fear where we imagine unlikely worst case scenarios.

Tuesday, I managed my "healthy" fear (the first kind) by making sure I was taking the proper precautions against the heat (i.e. hydrating, taking electrolytes, monitoring symptoms, etc). The second, "irrational," fear had to be managed. The biggest thing that helped me were my running friends. We encouraged each other and chatted, which kept my focus off the fear. Thanks guys! :)

Afterwards, I felt so exhausted and drained, I collapsed on the couch with Coco.

Wednesday - Too Legit to Quit!

The following morning I got out to run 3 miles on my own. It was still pretty warm, even at 6 AM. I felt like I was made of lead. I felt SO exhausted after just one mile and thought I must be running faster than usual.

Let's not get ahead of myself.

So I looked at the Nike app on my phone, and realized I was running slower than my usual pace (almost 13 min/mi*). I stopped and thought, why am I even doing this? It doesn't even feel like I'm making progress.

I probably would have quit and headed home at that moment, but I had set my running goal on the app to 3 miles and didn't want to let it down.

I'm not just a people pleaser. I'm also a phone pleaser.

So I dragged myself through the rest of the run. It was slow. It didn't feel fun. However, Tim Tebow congratulated me through the app when I finished (no opinion on him since I don't follow professional football, but that was a nice gesture).

I was glad I'd at least finished the run if nothing else. This was confirmed later that morning on the way to work, when I heard "Too Legit to Quit" by MC Hammer on the way to work. So fitting!

Thursday - Core

As per our usual schedule, I went to a core circuit class offered by RunKNOX. It's amazing how I can do planks now (although they still aren't easy), when a year ago I could barely do them for 15 seconds.

Friday - What????

After Tuesday's and Wednesday's runs, I had zero expectation for my performance when I headed out this morning for a 2 mile run. I decided that to stress myself out less, I wouldn't look at my app during the run. I wouldn't run super fast; I would push myself just enough to not drag along. It was a much cooler morning than before, and it was the best I'd felt running in awhile. Imagine my shock when I looked at my app after a mile and saw I had run the first mile in 10:30! I kept the momentum going during the second mile and finished both miles in 20:53! I felt closer than ever to my #30by30 goal!

I share all of that to give you hope. Sometimes you may have periods where it's really tough and you feel you aren't making progress. It's tempting to quit. Stay with it! Results may not happen right away, but I do believe that hard work pays off over time.

Have you ever experienced a time when you wanted to quit (running or any endeavor), but were glad you didn't?


See what others around the web are doing with two great Fitness Friday communities:

*I am in no way saying that a 13 minute mile is a "bad time" for myself or anyone. I believe that paces are all individual, and it's all relative to where you are right now. This was simply slower than where I've been lately.

I was not compensated by RunKNOX for this post, nor is RunKNOX affiliated with this blog. I am simply sharing my honest opinions and experiences as I began running through the program. The views expressed in this article are solely my own. Also, I'm not a health or fitness professional of any kind. See my Terms and Conditions page.

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  1. I have had many moments where I have wanted to quit, but winners never quit, and quitters never win.
    I ran 16km on the weekend. I got to the 12km mark and I ran out of steam. The cold that I had at the start of the week, obviously took more out of me than I thought, but I didn't give up, just went a little slower. Didn't get a sub 80m time, but I did get a sub 82min time, which I'll take, considering the circumstances.

    1. Thanks, Matilda! So true - you'll never get anywhere if you quit. I believe that if we stay with it, we'll see results over time (they may just not happen as soon as we want). :) Way to push through your run! It sounds like you did great! I hope you feel better, soon!

  2. I'm the same when it comes to short distances and running faster, they intimidate me despite having run MANY 5ks in my time. But a little speed work is never a bad thing either! :)

    1. Totally agree! Pushing for faster speeds puts a lot of pressure on me. Like you said, though, it's a good thing that will hopefully make us more well-rounded runners! :)

  3. What a nice post! I absolutely agree on the speed vs. distance thing. I hate the pressure it comes with and I think that I want to just run at "my" pace.
    However, I am always happy when I come out with a little faster pace at the end of my run :o)

    1. Thanks, Stina! Yes, pushing for a faster pace is stressful, but it's a great feeling when you realize you've run a faster time than usual! :)

  4. Great post.. Glad I found you!

  5. I honestly think anything worth doing is always going to be a struggle where we might want to quit or where we doubt ourselves. However if that goal or thing is worth it to us we will stick to it!

    Awesome post and question.

    1. Thanks, Christopher! I completely agree! It's probably not worth doing if it comes easy. :)