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Saturday, February 27, 2010

I love watching the Olympics. Watching athletes in phenomenal shape motivates me to work a little harder when I'm running or biking. I know I'll never be in the kind of shape the athletes are, but I know I can improve and be better than where I am today. Knowing this has made me make adjustments to how I'm working towards the sprint tri, and because I'm seeing some real improvements in the three different areas, I see a tremendous effect on my mindset, not just with working out, either. Other areas of my life are benefitting from the time being spent on the treadmill, the bike, and in the water.

One major turn in my outlook is not to waste time. I put a post-it note in my office with the message, "Every second counts." Everyday I see this as I'm working, and I've been so much more productive in getting papers read, assignments drawn up, and other work-related matters taken care of. I don't watch as much TV anymore, either. This has been an area of my life that I have wanted to change, but it's just so easy to come home after work and flop on the couch to veg out for several hours at a time. With the idea that every second counts constantly at the forefront, I can't justify spending two or three hours watching something that isn't positively affecting my life. Now, I spend the time reading or writing, cleaning the house or helping the kids with whatever they are working on. I find something positive to do.

Another area, probably the most important, of my life that I've been working on is my relationships with others. I hurt someone who was a friend, to the point that she would no longer talk to me or respond to invitations to get together. I initially thought she was being petty about the situation, but then I woke up one morning and admitted I really missed her friendship. I'm trying to mend the rift I created. Now, what happens will happen. Another relationship I'm working on is my marriage. I've been rough on my hubby, mostly because I have expectations that are not easy to fulfill. I needed to relax, be happy with what is right in front of me. So I stepped back and decided that each day I am going to look for as many good things about hubby as I possibly can. I still have moments of being negative, but I do see some change; I'm not nearly so tense and I find myself laughing with him more.

My life is so rich, and though I still have a ways to go, the changes already are good. I like what I'm seeing, where I'm going, and how I'm feeling. All because every second counts.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tabata Protocol

I read recently about the Tabata Protocol, a way to ramp up a fitness program and help get you in better shape quicker. The idea is to do an exercise full out for 20 seconds with a 10 second breather, repeating this 8 times. I tried to do the Tabata Protocol on the treadmill last night. I lasted through three repeats. At that point, my legs were jelly, my heart felt like it was going to explode through my jog bra, and I thought if I try to do more, I might end up shot off the back of the treadmill and splattered against the garage door. That wouldn't be good.

Though I didn't get the full 8 repeats in, I was happy with what I was able to accomplish. I'm going to do it again in a a week or so and try to get four repeats in, then continue with this once a week until I can do all 8 repeats. It may take months for me to actually get to the 8 repeats, but I'm thinking if I can do at least four or five before the sprint tri, I might have a better time with the run portion of the event. I'm not scared of the swimming or the cycling parts of the sprint tri. I'm terrified of the running. I have such a hard time running.

I realized last night, however, that my pace is increasing. After I finished the three repeats and my heart slowed to somewhat normal beating, I settled in at 5 mph. This actually seemed too slow, so I increased to 6 then to 7 mph to finish off 20 minutes. In that 20 minutes, I was just shy of 2 miles. I was basically at a 10-minute mile pace. A month ago, I was certain I couldn't do better than a 12-minute mile. Ever. Now, I know I can, and I'm eager to get out there today to see if I can actually maintain a 6 mph pace without easing up. I'm going to do the run after biking for 20 minutes, so the legs will be shaky when I first start, but I want to simulate what I'm going to face on race day to get an idea of what I'm up against. Hopefully I won't go down in a heap on the treadmill. Hubby will be out there with me, so if I do go down, at least someone can turn off the treadmill to keep me from getting belt burn.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cool Couple of Happenings

The first cool happening occurred last Friday when I took my daughter to the thrift store to see if there possibly existed a dress suitable for prom. We found one that with a good dry cleaning would be very nice, but Lovely Daughter thought she'd like to shop around at the various thrift stores in town before making a decision. I'm afraid the dress won't be there if she decides she wants it, but that's the chance she'll take in shopping around. I probably should have bought it since it was only $10. At that price, we wouldn't be out much if she found a different dress elsewhere. But I digress.

The cool happening took place after we examined the dresses. Because I received a turn-table for Christmas, I've been collecting albums, most of which have cost only $1. The most expensive record bought to date has been a Beatles album my son wanted, and that one was only $5, so we've been having fun bringing home records. Last week I thought it'd be nice to find the soundtrack to the movie One on One, starring Robbie Benson. I saw this movie when I was in seventh or eighth grade, and I had the eight-track tape to it. I played that tape over and over, mostly for the one song on it, "Fair Share." I'm not sure what it is about that song, but I love it. Well, while we were at the thrift store, I was rummaging through the box of albums and lo and behold, there was One on One. I was stunned. And very, very estatic. I held up the album and exlaimed my joy to my daughter who in turn laughed at me. I've now listend to the album several times during the last week. Funny thing, though--the rest of the family doesn't share my enthusiasm for the music.

Cool happening number two transpired Tuesday evening. I help coach a 7th grade boys basketball team, mostly just giving encouragement to the boys during practices and games. Tuesday, the head coach had to be out of town, so the role of coaching the boys during the game fell on my shoulders. The team we faced was a team that blew us out of the gymnasium the last time we met. They whomped us good. Tuesday, the other team only had five players, which meant they couldn't press us all game like they had the previous game. Without the press to worry about, my boys played as if they were out to prove something. And they did. We won the game. The other team started pressing the last five minutes, but unlike last time and because I shifted some of the boys around, we were able to score easily off the press. This win was very, very sweet. The boys played so unselfishly, passing, and helping out on defense. Mostly all I did was tell them they knew what to do, so go do it. They did.

I truly believe cool happenings take place when we relax and let the cosmos do what they're designed to do. When we try to control everything, that's when the cosmos get out of sync. I'm guilty of trying to control things often, but lately, I've been trying to relax, meditate, let the karma that makes up life take me where it deems is best. It's a good feeling.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snow Day!

For the kids anyway. Not for me. But since I have several personal days I need to use before the end of the semester, I went ahead and took one so I could stay home, too. I'm glad I did. While the plan was to sit here and work all day, getting these papers read, responded to, and ready to return on Thursday, I still haven't started. I've been doing everything but sitting here working. I'm not so different from my students. Just as they put things off, so do I. Just as they don't feel guilty about procrastinating, neither do I. The work will get done. Just as it has in all the semesters I've been reading and responding to papers.

Instead of working, I read an article about staying motivated in Runner's World. I helped guide my husband through a lasagna recipe; said lasagna is now filling the home with a most delicious aroma. I spent twenty minutes at 11 mph on the bike then twenty minutes at 5 mph on the treadmill, increasing the incline until I reached 10% (and almost dying because of this foolishness). I went grocery shopping and bought my favorite wine that makes me look at my husband with lust in my eyes (he's all for the wine). And I found out the book my grandma wrote, the book I took from a difficult-to-read handwritten draft to a polished manuscript then to a self-publishing program, can now be seen on a very popular online shopping site named for a river in South America. It's not available for purchase since I'm still working on getting the cover righted around, but I'm excited and am very motivated at this point to finish the cover (I've been working on this part of the book for--cough, cough--three years). Yes, I know it's time to bite the bullet and just finish it.

The sad part about my grandma's book is she died a couple of years ago, so she won't get to experience the excitement of seeing it actually for sale. She did see the copy with the first cover, and from what I was told, she was okay with how it was set up. Perhaps I should have just approved that copy and released it, not worrying about the cover. Wondering about what I should have done won't do me any good at this point, so I'm just going to finish the dog-gone cover like I've said I was going to do for the past three years.

All in all, today has been good, and there's still plenty of day left to actually get some work finished. Right after watching a movie.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day Two of Interval Training

The other day I talked about how I was going to work on doing interval training to see if I can improve my run time for the 5k. After I talked about doing so, I read a lot the next day about how to go about doing effective interval training. I learned the low speed I had planned on wasn't low enough and my high speed wasn't high enough. I was only going from a low speed of 5 mph to a high speed of 7 mph. One source suggested that to have success with interval training the runner should really slow down. A significant difference needs to be evident for the interval training to be effective. Because of this advice, I changed my workout strategy. I ended up warming up at 5 mph for five minutes then went to 8 mph for 30 seconds then down to 4 mph for a minute and repeated this 8 mph/4 mph back and forth for 20 minutes. I loved it. And according to my treadmill, I did 2 miles in under 22 minutes. I've struggled with running an 11 minute mile but was able to do it by doing the interval training.

Today I did bike for 20 minutes, doing interval training. My interval low was 10 mph and the high was 17 miles per hour. After 20 minutes on the bike, I went to the treadmill and continued the interval training for another 10 minutes, doing the 4 mph/8 mph back and forth. My heart was pounding, but I truly felt like I worked out compared to what I was doing before. While I was running three miles and working up a little bit of a sweat, my heart rate wasn't rising all that much. Today, especially on the bike, I was feeling it. When I came in and calculated my calories burned, I found I'm burning more calories in much less time than I had been doing with my very comfortable three miles. I'm really hoping by April I will see a significant difference in how long I can go at the higher speeds. I need to be able to sustain these higher speeds for longer than 30 seconds. I also know I need to go for longer than 30 minutes when I work out. I'm going to shoot for adding a couple of minutes to each workout now; I figure two minutes tomorrow, three minutes Tuesday, etc. will be helpful.

Overall, I think I'm on the right track. I guess I'll know for sure come April.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

And The Training Has Begun

This week marked the first week of a ten-week training schedule for the mini-tri. I've been running since June and biking since December, but when I went to our first group run on Thursday, I felt like I hadn't been working out at all. The reason--I've been allowing myself to workout at a level that caused no pain, or heavy breathing for that matter. I got so used to running a 12-minute mile and biking an easy 10mph that anything above these put me to the test. I had hoped to complete the training listed for the intermediate level, but I barely finished the easy level.

On top of this failure was my having to watch a woman around my age run faster than I could though she took these teeny-tiny steps. I really concentrate on my stride, on keeping my upper body relaxed, and still she easily out-paced me with her teeny-tiny steps. I set my steps to mimic hers, and I was stunned at how much more ground I covered in less time with less effort. I was under the impression that longer strides cover more ground more quickly. After all, I was a hurdler in high school, and the three-step hurdlers almost always beat the four-step hurdlers simply because they covered more ground with each stride. I'm so confused now as to what I should be doing with my running form.

Yesterday I biked and incorporated some interval training, though not much. I just have to admit to myself I totally misjudged my fitness level and need to start at the beginning. When I began swimming, I knew I wasn't going to be able to swim two or three laps without stopping, and I was good with that. I didn't have the fitness level necessary to do so. I thought I'd do better with the running and biking because I'd been doing it, but now I need to admit I wasn't pushing myself all along. I'm only going to improve by pushing myself, by making myself go out of my comfort zone. I know this is going to be painful, but if I'm going to be happy with my performance at the mini-tri I'm going to have to put in way more effort.

Today is running again. My goal is to do the 15 minute warm-up at 5.5 mph, ramp it up to 6 mph for 3 minutes, 7 mph for 2 minutes, then down to 5 mph for 1 minute and repeat this sequence for a total of 3 sets. Cool down will be another 15 minutes at an easy pace. Hopefully I can accomplish this, and hopefully in a week or so I can increase to 5 sets. Over time, the larger goal is to increase the interval times and speeds.

Just writing this and thinking about the interval training has my body reacting in a very resistant way. I know it's my mind leading the way. The body is just responding to the negative, the idea of pain, the dislike for discomfort. How can I change the mindset?