Thursday, May 21, 2009

Week 4... Working on my mental game

Yesterday I finally started Week 4. Usually I run Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Last week my weights routine was a little thrown off and I ended up doing legs on Monday (instead of on Fridays so I know I'll have a rest day before running again) and doing the workout that Trainer Dana gave me. She warned me that if I did the workout like I was supposed to, I would have trouble sitting. She wasn't joking! Dana gave me a set of exercises to do on some sort of reclined-on-the-floor-on-your-back leg press thing to help me build muscle endurance in my legs. She calls it Triple Sets. I do 20 regular squats (upside down, mind you) at 60lbs, 20 froggie squats at 40lbs, and 15 one-leg squats on each leg at 20lbs. I have to have someone take the weights off because I'm not allowed to stop in between those sets, except to change the weight. And I'm supposed to do all of that three times. Poor Daniel was on weight-switching duty and got his own upper body workout by unstacking and restacking my weights. He's a trooper. He kept asking if I was okay... apparently my "focusing really hard to finish what I started" face looks a lot like my "holy crap I'm going to pass out and throw up" face, which he saw regularly when I was pregnant with Ethan.

After that lovely booty-kicking workout on Monday, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to run on Tuesday. Should I take a rest day and let my muscles recover? Would running count as not resting? I'm still learning a lot about cross-training and how our bodies work to get stronger. So I chose to skip the gym on Tuesday, which turned out to be a bad idea. What I should have done is at least do some sort of cardio to keep the blood flowing and my muscles loose. Why I did instead was baby my legs - lots of sitting and napping and such. By the end of the day I was so stiff that I was shuffling everywhere and grunting whenever I went to sit down. Lesson learned: recovery does NOT equal opting out. Opting out = cramping and looking like a ninny.

When I finally got around to my run on Wednesday I was so "itching" to run that I got off to a pretty aggressive start. My easy jog is about 4 mph at this point, and when I'm really warmed up and feeling good I usually work my way up to about 5 mph. I started into my first running interval right at 5 mph after a not-so-impressive warm up and quickly reached my "this is uncomfortable" point somewhere in the middle of my first set of 3 minutes.

Here's the intervals for week 4:

5 Minute Warm-Up
3 Minutes Jog
90 Second Walk
5 Minute Jog
2.5 Minute Walk
(Repeat 3/90/5/2.5)
5 Minute Cool Down.

Having only a minute and a half to walk before the "big scary 5 minute jog" was really messing with my head. When I finally started into the five minutes the "ohmigosh we can't do this we're going to pass out and fall off in front of all these people" voices started immediately. I've discovered that the thing I say to myself the most often during runs is, "quit thinking about how far/long you have to go and BE HERE NOW." When I'm watching the clock or counting down in my head the mental game gets so much harder. It's actually easier for me to sort of tune everything out and just focus on my breathing. I've found myself following a sort of 3 step rhythm, three steps while breathing in, three steps while breathing out. The only sound I focus on is the sound of my breathing, and I focus on that. Just keep breathing. Just keep moving. That concept sounds a lot like the child birth tips we heard in our birth class. When I was constantly being prodded and talked to and nagged at during labor, it made the whole process seem so much more painful. But in the few moments where it was just me and Daniel and I could focus just on breathing and moving (I was rocking for a bit) the pain seemed much more manageable. When we have our next baby, I look forward to using these principles to help me stay focused and present for an unmedicated labor. As well as the whole, "I CAN do this, I AM doing this" message I've been using for running as well.

I finished the run! I ran all the parts I was supposed to, and walked the parts I was supposed to. For some reason afterwards instead of the usual "runners high" that I've enjoyed so far, I actually was feeling a sort of "runner's funk." I think pushing myself to run so fast in the beginning pushed me so far outside of my "good burn" zone that I was stressing myself out. When I lowered my mph to 4 for the last 5 minutes of running, part of me felt disappointed. After talking this out with Daniel, I decided that critiquing my runs is just as much a part of the mental game. I did what I set out to do. So I'm not going to beat myself up for what I "could have" done better.

I'll try to keep that in mind when I'm critiquing myself a little too harshly in other areas as well.

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