Why tri?

Here’s why:  http://www.everymantri.com/everyman_triathlon/2012/01/at-74-years-oldthese-are-your-legs-on-triathlon-these-are-your-legs-without-triathlon.html

It’s a pretty fascinating study that shows the legs of a 40 year old triathlete compared to a 74 year old triathlete and also a 74 year old sedentary man.  The results are astonishing.  The legs of the 74 year old triathlete really aren’t all that different from the 40 year old triathlete but the poor legs of the sedentary guy- his are full of fat and without much muscle.

While this study was done with triathletes, the bottom line is the more active you are, the better!  No, you don’t have to take up tri’s in order to see long term benefits but you should certainly maintain your fitness for your lifetime.  Don’t think of fitness as a seasonal activity. This is your life and these are your legs, on and off exercise!

 

Doctor’s Orders

“So, have you decided on an Ultra yet?” is how my cardiologist started our conversation on Monday.  This was his way of telling me the good news, that my last test had good results and that I have no restrictions.

Over the past 5 weeks, I’ve had 5 visits with the cardiologist and 4 different tests.  In this time, I’ve learned that i have leaking mitral and tricuspid valves and that I have a heart murmur.  My first test was an EKG which was negative (this is a good thing) but there was still no explanation for my chest pains so I had a stress-echo.  The stress-echo is what showed the leaks in the valves.  This led to a second EKG which was positive (not what you want but is now being called a false positive) so the coronary cat scan (CTA) was in order.

The CTA was the test that my cardiologist wasn’t crazy about running because of my age and the radiation but he said this would be my final test.  This would be the one that would tell us everything.  The last thing he said to me when he was ordering it was, “if this test comes back good, I want you to run an Ultra.  I want you to push yourself more than you ever thought you could.”  Keith and I agreed that if I decided to have the test, I would need to really listen to the results, whether good or bad, and not second-guess them.  Keith, knowing how I am, said “if the test is fine, you have to quit worrying.  You have to trust in the results and in the cardiologist.  You have to figure out a way to get over the mental hurdle and not place any restrictions on yourself.”

Well, the results are in and I am being challenged to an Ultra!  The good news is that I have no blockages and no heart disease.  The bad news is that I now know that I am living with some heart “abnormalities” that I’m not to be concerned with.  I have no restrictions and the “bad” things that they were looking for are non-existent.  The “bad” things that they found in the meantime (catch 22 of having so much done!) are things that i will have checked yearly but not bad enough for worry.  The leaks are slow and while they will never reverse themselves, they may also never get any worse.

There is still no explanation for the chest pains as they are apparently unrelated to the murmur and leaking valves but they are hypothesizing that it is an artery that is spasming when I run.  Whether this is what it is or not, he is completely unconcerned with it and wants me to be unconcerned with it as well.

Ok!  So we agreed that I have to move on.  I have to quit worrying about it.  I cannot place restrictions on myself that don’t need to be there.  I will get checked yearly to be sure nothing has progressed but, in the meantime, I have to be grateful I have the information I have.  He tells me that I am very healthy and cannot let this hold me back.  His nurse practitioner says they could use me as their poster child for stress-echo’s because they don’t ever have people do as well as i did.  Funny because i was super bummed that i only made it 16 minutes when my cardiologist told me to try to get to 18.  She cracked up when I told her this.  Apparently my cardiologist is a crazy man and was just challenging me to see how hard I could push myself.

Well, his challenge for me now is an Ultra.  I am certain that he is a crazy person but I can’t help but wonder.  Is this a challenge I’m willing to take?  We’ll see…

Worthwhile Read

I’ve been anxiously awaiting Kara Goucher’s latest blog in which she’ll recap her awesome finish at the Olympic Marathon Trials.  I love Kara.  She seems so normal although she’s really a total badass!  Well, anyway, she still hasn’t posted anything but Adam (her husband and fellow badass runner) did so i thought i’d check it out.

I loved every word he wrote!!  I really related to so much of what he wrote.  He says, “The people who really have to suffer are the coaches, the parents, and the spouses. Our nerves do not go away when the race begins. Our nerves persist every step of the race causing a completely different type of agony than what the runners are experiencing.”  So true!  Every time Keith has done a race and i’ve been on the sidelines, I’m a wreck!  We know more than anyone, how hard that person has worked to get to where they are; how many countless hours they’ve put in and how many sacrifices they’ve made.  We’re also the only people that truly know how much that race means to them.

I thought about this not only from the perspective of watching Keith though.  It is the same way for me when I have runners out in a race….and will certainly be this way when i have first time triathletes.  As a coach, we are really submersed in the details, the good, bad, and ugly.  This is kind of like the pat on the back though.  The icing on the cake.  You’ve taken these people from point A to point B and the race is the grand finale.

It’s so exciting to see a runner pushing themselves to reach new goals and soar beyond the limits they thought they had.  Every runner second guesses himself at some point in training and we, as fellow runners, get this.  While I will never stand on the line at the Olympic Marathon trials, I was just as excited for the girls who did as if they were me.

Adam says in his blog, “One thing that has become increasingly clear to me over the past few years is that although each runner is incredibly unique, we are all the same.  No matter the level, we are family. It is why we can get just as excited when a runner qualifies for Boston or breaks seven minutes in the mile for the first time, as we can when an elite runner makes an Olympic team….Meb Keflezighi, Ryan Hall, Abdi Abdirahmani, Shalane, Desi, and Kara all earned the chance to represent the United States in London. But as runners we know they are also representing each of us who share these roads with them.  Because they are just like us.  Because we understand what it takes to reach our maximum potentials. Because we are all part of the running family.”

I’ve always said, i really feel like my fellow runners are my family.  Maybe a little odd, dysfunctional family but isn’t that what family is.  Runners support fellow runners, understand the disappointment of a bad run and the excitement of a PR, and share a special bond.  I’m happy to be part of such a big family.

I really encourage you to read Adam’s blog here:  http://www.blog.runtheedge.com/2012/01/karas-ticket-to-london/  It’s definitely a worthwhile read!

 

Buddy up

Runners World posted an article today about group workouts (click here for full article: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-267–14183-1-1-2,00.html ).  I love it when i see articles about working out as a group.  Obviously, right!

Some excerpts from the article:

“Sports psychologists have known that athletes perform better in groups than alone since possibly the first study of social facilitation among cyclists was published in 1898. Simply put, this study shows athletes will exceed their expectations or personal bests when performing with a group or in front of a group, says Steve Portenga, Ph.D., the University of Denver’s director of sports psychology.

“You’re more focused, and less distracted by pain when others are watching or running with you,” says Portenga, who is also the sports psychologist for USA Track & Field. “The key is to find someone who keeps you focused on your goal.”

All runners can benefit from group training. Less experienced striders may find that the accountability a partner provides is what they need to commit to a 5 a.m. run. More motivated runners prize buddies for helping them add miles and shave minutes.”

I often have people tell me that they don’t “need” a running group.  Very true.  Not everyone “needs” a group but whether you need it or not, you can certainly benefit.  I wonder if people who run on their own, without any coaching or accountability, will go do 800m drills or tempo runs.  Hmmm, probably not.  Of course you don’t have to do any of these things to be a runner but the fun of running is the challenge!

Some of the suggestions for group running provided in the article are as follows:

Pick Wisely:  i totally agree!  you have to feel at home with your running buddy and / or group.  Star Runners isn’t for every runner out there but i sure hope those runners who have chosen us are feeling good about their choice.

Make Pace a Priority:  very important!  as the article states, it’s ok to sometimes run with someone slower or faster than you but it’s very important to run the pace you need to be running.  Again, why a group is so great because you have numerous runners to “buddy up” with.  You’ll be a happier runner if running the pace you are comfortable with versus always running someone else’s pace.

Avoid “Friendly” Competitions:  oooh, i’m big on this one!  i love running because it doesn’t have to be competitive at all.  “When you get too competitive, you lose sight of your training program and you deviate from what’s ideal for you,” says Portenga.  i wish i could “like” this!

Compartmentalize:  “The bond between running partners is unique: It lacks the shifting dynamics of a typical friendship, the baggage of family, and the professional distance of co-workers. “It’s like being in therapy,” says Lonneman. “The act of running somehow allows the words to flow easily. We share things on our runs that I might not even tell my closest girlfriend. What else are you going to talk about over 20 miles?”

Walker says that maintaining clear boundaries in her running relationships has been essential to her success as a marathon runner and triathlete. “My running partners and I have an agreement that what’s said on the trail stays on the trail,” she says.  i completely agree with this!  i have close friends that i have had forever and then i have my running buddies.  in some ways, i feel closer to my running buddies.  it’s a bond that people who don’t run or who run alone will never understand.

I, of all people, don’t “need” a running buddy to go for a run.  I’m obviously motivated and passionate about running or i wouldn’t be a personal trainer and running coach.  I do, however, lOVE to run with my running buddies, love the accountability, love the support, and love the comfort of seeing the same friends on a regular basis.  Don’t get me wrong.  I also love my solo run every now and then but i certainly wouldn’t trade one for the other.

I can’t help but wonder, all those people who don’t need a fitness buddy, are they challenging themselves?   Are they getting up and out the door for their 6 am workouts?  Are they setting and achieving new goals?  Are they starting the day with a laugh, a “good luck at your meeting today”, or a pat on the back?  I kinda doubt it 😉

 

 

Heart

It hit me yesterday, as I was at Stern for another heart test, that your Power Word (old post: https://starrunnersmemphis.com/2011/06/13/strong/) doesn’t only come in handy during runs.  My word for the St. Jude training was “strong.”  I used this word a ton on tough runs.  I wrote it on my arm, had it on my pace band, and had in on repeat in my head during the race.

Well, yesterday wasn’t a whole lot different.  I didn’t have it written on my hand and I had no use for a pace bracelet but, boy did i repeat it over and over before and during my test.  “You’re strong.  Be strong.”  Over and over.  As the anesthesiologist was placing the IV, the nurse told me to ‘go to my happy place.’  Instead of picturing myself sitting on a beach, sipping pina coladas, I repeated my power word over and over.  My body and mind knew I wasn’t sitting on a beach sipping pina colada’s so I figured there was no point in pretending.  My body and mind couldn’t argue with me that I am strong and could be strong though!

I was thinking about all of this as I was driving home ; how my power word for running became my power word for life in general.  That’s when it hit me.  My new power word is HEART!  This has a ton of meaning for me, both psychological and physical.  I am running FOR and WITH my heart.

I’m ready for a run.  I’m ready to put this new power word to work!!

 

In 2012, i will…

As I’ve said before, I’m not big on New Years resolutions.  Maybe I just don’t like the term “resolution.”  It seems that resolutions are always vague and a little harsh.  You know, like “i want to be healthy” but then you eat a hamburger and fries and you hadn’t really defined what “healthy” means to you but then you beat yourself up because you ate the fries and just give up so then you’re no longer, for the rest of the year, trying to be healthy!

Anyway, it just seems to me that specific goals are better and i do agree there’s no better time to reevaluate all aspects of your world than at the beginning of the year.  New Years day is an easy reminder for all of us to take a moment to think about what we want for the upcoming year.

I had to laugh as i read over my goals for 2011 (posted here: https://starrunnersmemphis.com/2010/12/28/2011-here-we-come/) .  I didn’t do the best job keeping up with all of it but I figure I did better than if they hadn’t been goals at all.  The 2 i’m most irritated that I didn’t do are:  read a book a month that doesn’t really feel like work and practice yoga at least once a week.

Unfortunately I only managed to read 2 or 3 books all year that aren’t about running or nutrition (not that i don’t love these types of books but sometimes i feel like i never stop working!).  I’m really going to do better this year.  I love to read and I owe it to myself to have some down time and enjoy a good novel.  I did more yoga in 2011 than i did in 2010 but still not enough!

So, what are my goals for 2012?

*  Become a better advocate for my own healthcare:   With my recent health scare, I am reminded that I cannot be timid and passive when it comes to my own health.  I hate to be a thorn in my cardiologists side (see, the passive part of me) but I cannot allow myself to sit around and wait on answers to come to me.

*  Yoga / Pilates:  I’m throwing this one out there again this year but adding in pilates.  My goal is to do one of these at least once a week.  I know how much better i feel when i do so I’m going to work really hard to meet this goal!

*  Read a book a month:  I’m adding this one again.  I think it’s a great goal for me to have. I love to read and sometimes sitting down to read a book feels gluttonous but I figure a little gluttony might not be bad 🙂

*  Take better care of my legs:  Rather than waiting until I’m in pain or injured, my goal is to roll my IT band and stretch every day so i can hopefully prevent the injuries and pain!  How ’bout that for practicing what i preach 😉

*  Eat more fruits and veggies:  I know this sounds kind of vague.  I plan to eat some sort of fruit or veggie every day.  This might not sound that hard for most of you but I have plenty of days where i don’t see a fruit or veggie- not that i’m eating bad but so much of my daily intake consists of almonds, granola, peanut butter, etc. so i need to make a conscious effort to get fruits and veggies!

So, this is what i’ve come up with so far.  It’s certainly not anything earth shattering but it works for me.  I tend to live a pretty healthy and happy lifestyle and there’s not much I can think that I want to change but I figure I can always do something to better my world.

I’m on track so far- I have another cardiologist appointment this week, I have a pilates date with Susan this week, I started reading a new book yesterday, I am getting on the foam roller as soon as I get off the computer, and I just left Easy Way with bags of fruits and veggies.  Yes, it may only be day 2, but that’s better than nothing, right!

So, what about you?  What are your goals for 2012?  Oh, i forgot one more thing.  I really, really, really want to PR a Half Marathon this year.  I’m going to work really hard to make this happen.  We’ll see…