Monthly Archives: April 2013

Low Mileage

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bumper car

I have been using the same marathon training plan I pulled out of a book 3 years ago. I know that’s not the best way to go about marathon training; but the book was a good one, and frankly, it’s worked the past 4 marathons. I’m scared to deviate from it because it’s all I’ve ever known.

I’m not a superstitious person, but I do know that as a runner, I can be a little odd.

I didn’t like the race number they gave me for my upcoming marathon, so I had them delete me and ADD me back into their system to get a ‘better’ number–all in German (which I am loathe to use because my German sounds like I pulled IT out of a college textbook a decade ago, which, in fact, I did.)

I wonder if all runners are quirky? or if it’s just me? Are there certain shoes or socks you HAVE to wear? A particular water bottle? A special ‘last meal’ before a race? I’m not quite as picky as I used to be, but still, there are these little traditions I cling to.

When my CrossFit coach said I didn’t have to run quite as many miles for my marathon training (since I’m also doing Crossfit) I was skeptical.

When my coach also said he was going to “Change things up,” I was scared.

So not only do I have to let go of my magic feather of a training plan, I have to learn an entirely new act. 

But Crossfit is producing results. I can now do pushups from my knees, and it will be no time before I’m doing them ‘for real.’ It wasn’t THAT long ago when I was crashing to the floor in a trembling heap because I couldn’t lift myself an inch.

I actually have muscles now, and I really, really like it. Sort of in a freakish way, like when you have a mole shaped like Mickey-Mouse that you want people to see. I keep walking around the house in a tank top and showing my husband my shoulders.

“See!” I say, flexing, “There are MUSCLES there!”

He usually responds with his sweet, “Yes dear,” look and pats me on the back, which I also flex because I have muscles there now too.

One of the coaches said he didn’t recognize me while I was doing pull-ups because of my newfound muscle tone. Okay, I wasn’t actually doing pull-ups. I was really dangling from a giant rubber band connected to a bar. But I was bouncing up and down sufficiently to count them.

Even though intellectually I know I am more muscular now, I step on the scale and suck my breath between my teeth. Muscle weighs more than fat, and how am I going to run a FASTER marathon if I keep ‘gaining’ weight?

These things are a mystery to me. But I do know that I ran my fastest 6-miler ever–clocking in at just over 54 minutes, which is pretty great for me.

I won’t lie–it wasn’t an ‘easy’ run (is there such a thing?) but it DID flow. I had on my barefoot shoes and my arms and legs and core all worked together to keep me moving along.

I am nervous about my next marathon. I don’t want to get worked up about numbers, because really, this is not one for a PR. I want to run a mountain marathon and finish it well.

I think CrossFit is already helping!

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Absolutes

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Sun rays

I do believe in evil, and evil showed itself at this year’s Boston marathon. I know that in our current age, each viewpoint is supposed to be equally valid. But that is nonsense in light of events such as this. I know no sane person who can say that killing or maiming others is simply an alternate expression of one’s self.

Rubbish.

There are no fuzzy corners on evil: it is a sharp as a sword and would cut the good things to pieces given the chance.

Don’t tell me (in irony) there are no absolutes, because evil is one of them.

However, however, however, however…

…there IS Good.

And Good is also absolute.

We cannot recognize the face of evil unless we have already seen good.

Good is programmed into the human conscience, provided we have honest enough eyes to see it and courage enough to act upon it.

Envy, malice, murder, strife: the list of evil things could go on for pages.

Love, joy, self-sacrifice, peace: these things are good, and they are from God.

There is no other suitable explanation.

My prayers are with the Boston marathon victims and the families–that they will once again experience good, even when faced with evil.

Marathon Season

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Pitztal Tirol

When the snow melts and the smell of damp earth is in the air; when the manure trucks flock back to their annual nesting grounds, and your lavender candle, no matter how Yankee it claims to be, no longer masks the scent of the frische Landluft, you know spring has arrived in Germany.

And springtime, as everyone knows, means marathon shopping.

If you trained for a marathon during this dark frozen season, you have my respect. While I did some running this winter, I mostly complained about the weather on my blog. I just grew tired of my skin being cold–and I think that’s natural. People were meant to wear fig leaves and flip-flops, not to be wrapped up head-to-toe in Gore-tex.

But now, though it’s only 43 degrees and the wind is blowing the rain sideways, it feels more springlike somehow, and my thoughts turn to marathon season.

One of my long-term goals is to run a mountain marathon. I don’t live near any mountains, but I won’t let a little thing like elevation stop me.

I did some online shopping and found a marathon in Tirol, which is one of my favorite places on earth. And as if that isn’t incentive enough, it is mostly downhill.

It makes me a little nervous since all of the people on the website look like Olympians, but I looked at the stats from previous races, and if I train really hard, I might be able to keep up with the 70 year-old finishers.

A girl has to have dreams.

I have twelve weeks to prepare, so naturally I began by slamming my right knee into a counter at a restaurant after eating curly fries (yes, curly fries have invaded Germany). My knee is thus a little achy from the blunt trauma.

In sympathy, my left knee began to make a popping sound. It doesn’t hurt and only pops when I keep it straight and lean forward. Fortunately my leg is rarely straight when I run, so I had no difficulty with my nine-miler Monday.

I am thinking that I need to go back on the Eat to Live plan for a while. Before I found Amy’s Organic gluten-free mac & cheese my knee problems had completely vanished. So with a marathon in sight and a 40th birthday rapidly approaching, it is probably a good time to start eating healthier. 

More baby spinach.

Fewer curly fries with mayo.

Yes, training begins now.

After this bowl of sugar popcorn.

Crossfit and Long-Distance Running: A Comparison

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WOD Charlie

I know I’m not supposed to run long distances before Crossfit, but I can’t help it.

On Monday, the sun came out, and even though it was cold enough to freeze my extremities, I quickly geared up and headed outside. I ran six miles, and in the afternoon, I went to Crossfit.

I promised myself a day off on Tuesday, but as we were eating breakfast, the clouds cleared, leaving our village in a beautiful splotch of sunlight. Without giving it much thought, I pulled on the first running clothes I could find (I admit…they were in a pile on my floor from the day before), and I hit the road. I didn’t mean to run another six miles, but I had to avoid manure trucks, and thus altered my anticipated 4-mile route.

When I went to Crossfit on Monday, my abs were still sore from Saturday, and when I went on Wednesday, my shoulders were still feeling Monday.

But it is the kind of sore that says, “Hello, you have actual muscles here,” and not the kind that has you limping to the health clinic.

I love running, and I love Crossfit, but there are differences.

In running you are (usually) solo.

In Crossfit, you have a whole group of people welcoming you as if you’re a long-lost cousin.

If you fail on a run, nobody has to know about it.

You never fail in Crossfit (even if you’re struggling under a barbell, somebody is there to tell you to stand up and start over).

If you run, you stop going for pedicures because your feet are hopeless.

If you Crossfit train, you stop going for manicures because really–who cares about your hands?

While running you can let your mind wander.

During Crossfit all you do is focus (so you don’t do needless reps).

Running requires putting one foot in front of the other.

Crossfit requires using muscles you didn’t know existed.

You can take the dog running with you.

You can take the dog to Crossfit, but he can only observe.

When you run, you pray that God gives you strength to endure life.

When you do Crossfit, you pray that God gives you strength to endure the next rep.

Crossfit and long-distance running are like children: they might be similar, but they are wonderfully, uniquely, surprisingly different.

I love each of them.