Archive for September, 2011

Training Update #2: Half of a Full is Half

Posted in races, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2011 by afuntanilla

So, at the end of my last post, I said a couple of things: One: that racing in Half Moon Bay this coming Sunday, would be questionable. Two: That I was going to see the doctor.

After my last “long” run that day, Sept 13th, I was feeling pretty horrible. Not just tired like I know “normal” tired to feel, but just absolutely flattened out. Legs felt like they were bricks and my entire body felt like it had to exert way too much energy just to keep barely moving. Yeah…not too good when this is suppossed to be a “taper run” as I head into the final weeks pre marathon. Clearly, my body was trying to tell me something.

So, yes…I think part of what’s been happening during this summer training session has been overtraining, as I wrote about in my previous post. It all makes perfect sense. The other part of what has been going on with me is something I just got confirmed by going to the doctor recently. I am anemic! I knew my iron levels were on the the lower side, but didn’t think Anemic. So, this actually explains a lot. It comes into play more because for about 1.5 years now, my nutrition has been all vegetarian. So, these 3 factors together, i believe, have all played a part in how (badly) I have been feeling.

overtraining + anemic + vegetarian.

***I am sure I can continue on with vegetarian nutrition to get my iron needs met, but i think i need to EAT MORE of the same food & incorporate more IRON RICH foods. I have been eating IRON rich foods simply by default of my overall meal “planning”, but obviously I have not been eating enough to satisfy my iron needs. I actually find the whole meal planning, nutrition aspect of my life to be quite challenging. Why? Well, here’s my reasons…or excuses or whatever…I live alone and we all know that cooking for one is challenging and to me, quite frankly, mostly sucks. Not to mention, I end up throwing a lot of food away and I feel guilty as hell.

Here’s a typical example of what i do: i get momentarily inspired to cook for myself. I got to farmers market or whole foods and get lots of veggies and other goodies and make dinner. It turns out ok. Just “ok” because I am not a very good cook, very recipe-following challenged and i do not enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating good, tasty, food, but i am not too good at preparing this type of food. So anyways….i make one dinner for myself. Next day, maybe I use some more of the food i just bought for breakfast or lunch or another dinner. And then, I get very bored with it and i still have lots of food left that I cannot use because I am tired of eating boring, bland meals. So, I go out. Make sense. See my problem!?! Anyways…i will have to keep working on this….nutrition! Please don’t give me advice to follow recipes….i have tried and tried. I suck at it. I really need to make more money or win the lottery to hire a personal chef.

Anyways, back to the training and running. So, after the last post on the 13th, I said I would not run all week. REST.

I made it to Thursday. Ran and felt ok. barely ok. Still struggling.

Ran on Saturday and felt very good. Only 4.2 miles, but really enjoyed the run and had fun. First time i felt like it was FUN in quite some time. Sunday ran another 5.25 miles and was ok.

So…after much thought and consideration, I have decided I will not race in the marathon, but I will run the half-marathon. It feels like such a big decision. And I guess in my world, it is. Why is it big? Because I have been training for this race since MAY. Because I have trained in the heat and humidity that is the summer in Atlanta. Because I have put many hours of sweat, heart and tears into this training. Because it was my goal since May.

And yet, making this decision to only run the half is a good, smart decision. Frankly, the way my body has been feeling, I think it will be more than enough of a challenge for me on Sunday.

So, i am changing races mostly because I’m choosing to listen to my body; because I realize that if i want to continue to run and have fun and enjoy it, i have to listen RIGHT NOW, not PUSH HARDER (which is what i usually do)

I’m changing races because I realize not running this marathon is not the end of the world and with the grace of God, i will run another one when the time it right.

I’m also changing races because this race day will be one not just for me, but for some friends who will be there participating in their FIRST EVER RUNNING EVENTS!! I want to be as present as I can be for them…not broken down and exhausted or injured or full of so much disappointment that i cannot enjoy them and be there for them and THEIR TRIUMPHS!

I’m thrilled beyond words that 4 friends will be there in Half Moon Bay and 1 more doing her own own race in Texas!! challenging themselves and their bodies…trying to see what they can do!! It brings me a great sense of joy and I can’t wait to see everyone.

I have so much to be grateful for…and gratitude for my body in it’s present state is a good place to start. I am where I am.

Thanks to all my friends who keep supporting me, who continue to cheer for me in my pursuits. Your support means so much to me.

Keep Movin’


Training Update

Posted in races with tags , , , on September 13, 2011 by afuntanilla

Well…after spending some time being quieter and trying to really pay attention to my body…I realize that I am somewhere between “overtrained” and “very overtrained”. In the running world, below are the symptoms that characterize such a state:

  • sharp reduction in training performances; sluggishness
  • lethargy, loss of enthusiasm, energy, drive
  • irritability, loss of concentration
  • insomnia
  • loss of appetite
  • lack of sexual energy and loss of libido
  • rapid weight loss
  • diarrhea
  • susceptibility to infections, allergies, headaches, swollen glands
  • increased resting heart rate
There are a few more I read about in the book, THE LORE OF RUNNING by TIM NOAKES earlier today, but i cannot recall them. All i know is that when I read the list and some additional description, it home! I was both strangely relieved and pretty bummed. Relieved because I have been struggling with the training for a while now…some weeks it has been better, but little by little, all these symptoms kept coming up. So, I feel like now i can be pretty certain i know what it is. For days and sometimes weeks, I have just gotten down on myself because I feel like I am not doing enough, not pushing hard enough…well, of course, that just makes you try to train harder and that’s exactly what is NOT needed. Here’s some additional description:

“”We believe the harder we train, the faster we will run, and we ignore the evidence that indicates that this is blatantly untrue. Thus, we train harder and run worse. And then, in the ultimate act of stupidity, we interpret our poor races as an indication that we have undertrained. Consequently, we go out and train even harder.” ┬áTim Noakes

This part below is all from an article by Rob Taylor in Running Times 2008

As I discovered–both from research and personal experience–the process by which overtraining manifests itself is deceptively simple. Every time you go for a run, your muscles tear. When you rest and allow them to repair, you naturally get faster. In contrast, should you fail to allow your body sufficient time to recover from its most recent work, you incur a recovery deficit. Should this cycle continue, and you consistently and repeatedly engage in excessive work without adequate recovery, the deficit grows until full-blown overtraining sets in and severely damages muscular and cellular functioning.”

Perhaps even more distressingly, recent scientific research has demonstrated that continued overtraining has deleterious psychological and neurological effects as well. Indeed, Tim Noakes, M.D., writes in Lore of Running that overtrained runners exhibit an impaired ability to release stress hormones in response to physical exertion as a result of exhaustion of the hypothalamus. As the hypothalamus is solely responsible for regulating the entire hormonal response of the body, such results are consistent with — and help to explain–additional symptoms of overtraining, such as insomnia, depression, and loss of libido and appetite.

In addition, Noakes notes that overtrained runner’s brains also display an impaired capacity to “recruit” the muscles used in the activity for which the athlete is trained, as well as reduced sympathetic nervous system activity both at rest and during exercise. In such a state of physical and mental exhaustion, it is little wonder that overtrained runners’ performance degrades.

For weeks now, I have thought to myself and said out loud to a couple of friends that i think my body needs a break. I’ve basically been consistently “training” for a variety of races since last November with no breaks. I raced 5 half marathons from Dec-May and then immediately went into training for the Half Moon Bay Marathon on Sept. 25th. I figured after this upcoming marathon I would give my body a long break. A physical and mental break from running. Long meaning about 1 month.

Then, yesterday after a very poor run, i was really beside myself. My pace was about 10:30 mile and my Heart Rate was 86% of maximum. THAT IS WAY TOOO HIGH. And so, I really struggled. Legs had nothing. I texted Kera that I was going to take all week off and not run again until next Saturday. I still think that is a good idea…but after more self-evaluation today, I have a sinking feeling I will need more rest. What’s the solution to overtraining? REST. REST. REST. The question is how much am i overtrained and how much rest will I need? At this point, I have no idea. I’ve read where serious overtraining is concerned, anywhere from 6-12 weeks can be needed for recovery. Sometimes, it may only be a short rest…all depends.

Um…I am supposed to run a marathon in 2 weeks.

So. During some of my quiet time, I realized that I just have to “let go” (always easier said than done, right?) I wanted to run another marathon and do it on my birthday. That was the plan. But, clearly my body is trying to talk to me…send me a signal…get me to pay attention. It needs something and the something is rest.

Right now, I have no idea what that means for the marathon. I will still make my trip out to the bay area as scheduled, but racing is totally questionable. I’m also going to make an appointment to see the doctor…something I have neglected to do for too long now. As much as I demand from my body, i must listen to it and care for it the best I can in ways that don’t relate to exercise. That’s just as important, right.

I’m trying my best to not feel defeated. These thoughts and feelings have been with me for a while now so it’s good to actually get them written out.

Thanks for listening.

P.S. If anyone has experience with overtraining and can provide feedback, please do. Thanks


Posted in motivation, photos with tags , on September 6, 2011 by afuntanilla

Some of what I love about running is simply noticing the people out exercising while I am out too. Yesterday, I began my run at the Silver Comet Trail at 8am. Parking lots already packed with vehicles and lots of people milling about and getting ready for their training; cyclists pumping their tires, putting their wheels on bike, runners stretching and filling their water bottles….

I began my run and within the first mile, I recognized a woman who was walking in front of me. I recognized her because whenever I have seen her, she always wears the same thing; long blue pants, white top, and a funky looking hat…like one of those hats you see people wearing who are on safari. The previous times I have seen her, I have been running in the opposite direction and when I am close to her, she always smiles and says hello. As I ran by her, I said “HI” (she’s also always wears very dark sunglasses) I just dig her. She’s just out walking…humming along and saying hello.

A lot of runners were running in the opposite direction and many of them said hello to me. I wave or smile, i usually don’t say hello. I do my best to acknowledge other runners, no matter if they say hello or not. I saw a pretty heavy fella running along. He was listening to music and looked like he was struggling; came across 2 young gals who had stopped and taken a quick rest at 7 mile marker to down some gels and then they kept going; got passed by a petite gal who looked about as fit as can be and she was just zooming by, effortlessly, it seemed. At one point, a heavier woman was running in front of me, pretty slowly and someone, perhaps a husband, was riding bike behind her. She wore a marathon t-shirt. She was moving at a slow pace, but she was moving and he was there to support her. I saw them again on my return portion and he was running beside her.

Solo runners. Runners with friends. Runners with partners. People running fast. People running slow. People walking. Everyone out there just finding their own pace, their own rhythm, their own place. I absolutely love and get inspired by it all.

Over these last 3 days, I have run 28 miles. Making a final push and then taper for Half Moon Bay Marathon. It will be my own challenge.

To all who are out there….keep doing your thing. keep at it. keep finding your pace.