Friday, February 22, 2013

How To Wake Up Before 5AM

I usually have to bribe myself to get out of bed in the morning. If the bribes aren't strong enough, or if my brain isn't awake enough to form a sentence within my own mind, well then I usually end up telling myself it's OK to go back to sleep. The days I allow this to happen are usually early on in the week when I have the whole week to make up a workout. However, lately the whole week is jam packed with specific training, so my brain doesn't have openings to fall back on. The bribing is in full effect. 

The number one easiest way to get myself out of bed is if the dog rises with my alarm and makes it known she needs to go. Her whining and pacing and eventual tongue in my face is a guaranteed method to get my butt up and out. There is nothing more effective than a 60 pound pit bull crying as she sits on your chest. 

This early of a wake up is usually for the pool since I have a very small window of opportunity being as their lap hours are from 5AM-7AM. I have an obsession with being early so if I'm not going to make it there by 4:50AM I'm not going. If you aren't 10 to 15 minutes early you are late in my book. This is why the alarm is set for 4:15AM. 

My favorite bribe is telling myself about the awesome nap I am going to get to take when I get home from the pool. Work doesn't start until 10 and if I don't have another workout planned, that leaves a whole lot of time to sleep. Naps are amazing. My best, longest running, and most creative dreams are during naps. Usually fighting some alien species that have invaded our planet or flying a plane that is about to crash into a snowy field filled with Grizzly bears and T-Rex. I have a problem with recurring dreams featuring Tyrannosaurus Rex, but that will be a story for another day. Having something to look forward to always helps early mornings not feel so much like... for lack of a better word... suck. You know you agree, waking up early feels like suck. Not like awesome just like suck. 

My third method of getting myself up is my favorite. The promise of an awesome breakfast. If I get up and swim, whatever I cook up when I get home is going to taste incredible. The longer I swim the bigger and better breakfast will be... I am food motivated. Why do you think I started running in the first place?

When I was thru-hiking we could eat whatever we wanted as much as we wanted and still lose weight. We were hiking all day everyday with 30 plus pounds on our backs. It didn't matter what we ingested as long as we were getting enough calories to keep us from the skin and bones look. Another thru-hiker mentioned one day (when we were all sitting around lamenting on how we would miss shoving snickers bars and cokes down our throat every chance we got) that if we wanted to continue to eat like a thru-hiker we just had to train for a marathon. I swear I heard angels singing as soon as the words escaped his mouth. A marathon, running, eating like a thru-hiker forever, that was all I needed to hear. The rest is history. Although the older I get the less this is true... I am going to have to thru-hike again. Hence the Pacific Crest Trail Idea. All food motivated. 

This morning was easier than normal to get up, I had been border line awake since 3AM along with the pup. She has a way of knowing the exact moment I open my eyes in the morning, no matter what time it is. The first thing I hear in the morning, if not my alarm, is her tail thumping on her bed. This is Zoe language for "I see you." 

The pool was quiet and I was gifted a lane to myself for almost the entire hour. 2550 yards done, still slow, but feeling stronger with each swim. I'm starting to love the water again, which will end quickly once we start doing open water swims and my irrational fear of sharks rears it's ugly head. 

After Wednesday nights run and spin my legs were trashed. I was so spent the idea of a two hour ride outside in the wind made me shudder and I took the easy (not really) way out and set the trainer up in front of the TV. 

This was a slow, pathetic ride, but I got it done and with how beat up my legs felt that was all that mattered. I watched a documentary on David Horton's run of the Pacific Crest Trail for the first hour. Watching someone trudge 40 some odd miles a day over high peaks and deserts did nothing for my motivation. It did keep me occupied though and added fuel to the fire for the next Thru-hike. 

I was hoping to be running at this moment, but instead I'm drinking coffee and procrastinating. Did I mention my legs are trashed? I'm going to give them the afternoon to get their act together and get in my run after the gym tonight. 

For now I'm content relaxing in my sweats and basking in the knowledge that I don't have to wake up before 5:00AM tomorrow. I love a good sunrise as much as the next person, but I love my sleep much more.

How does the saying go? Pink sky at night sailor's delight.
Pink sky in the morning sailor's take warning? Something like that. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Slacking Because I'm Not Slacking

I am going to start today's post off with a few solid facts:

1. I have been slacking on the writing, blog and book alike.

2. I have NOT been slacking on the training plan, full steam ahead on that front.

3. My favorite color is green.

4. I have a serious weakness for fruit snacks.

Things are off to a great start, I am on my third week of structured training and feeling stronger and faster everyday. I no longer feel like I'm drowning in the pool and swam a solid 2600 yards yesterday without feeling like someone had hooked me up to the back of their wagon and dragged me along a pot hole filled back country road. The running is running, it sucks, it's hard, and that is just how it should be. There has been a lot of trainer riding and little to no road riding or Mountain biking, which is starting to make me loopy...

I'm talking like Kanye West loopy from all this time on the bike inside. Tomorrow I am going to brave the outdoors no matter what mother nature decides to throw in. I have two and a half hours of riding on the schedule and I don't plan on suffering that out while watching a movie, I need some fresh cold windy air. Truthfully guys, if the wind is in the 25 mph and up range, I'm going to be a total wimp and stay inside, there I said it. I read this paragraph over and thought, who am I kidding, cold I can take but wind? Wind is my kryptonite. Tonight is the indoor spin with the group as usual. Crazy is always on the menu for this work out. A little run before hand as the appetizer to make me extra beaten and battered.

That just about does it as far as catching up. I had so many ideas to write about and wrote them all down, but they have all expired in my mind and now I'm left with rotten stale ideas. I need to get back to a more steady writing pace so I can put the fresh ideas to good use. Until then you just get boring run downs of the training I have been doing so far... and pictures of surfers that you cannot see because they are too far away and I don't have a real camera. I'm concerned I no longer remember how to work a real camera.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

This Is Your Brain On "Nurse Jackie"

Yesterday I watched about 5 straight hours of Nurse Jackie, season one and season two. Wow my brain is fried and I am now convinced everyone is hooked on pain killers. On the bright side we finally got a decent snow storm and it just so happened to land on my day off from working out. Perfect timing, thank you mother nature.

When you cannot possibly take another minute of Showtime dramas standing barefoot in the snow is a great alternative. If you are like me and your feet are throbbing from a week of killing it, I highly recommend this. The dog does not agree. She lacks the fur coat that her wolf brethren have. Winter is not her season.

This week of training was right on target and left me totally exhausted yesterday afternoon. I switched Sundays work out with Wednesday's to accommodate our group run and spin class here at the store. This meant all the major training ended up bulked into a few days. Today I have off, with just a few walks with the dog on my agenda and tomorrow a lifting session, if the gym ever reopens from the snow Apocalypse. This means you Gold's Gym! Slackers. Just kidding. Sort of.

I hope everyone gets out and takes advantage of what may be our last snowstorm for the season. I'm tempted to skip out of here grab my snowboard and find a good golf course. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How to Light a Fire

February is off to a "fire lit under your ass" start. Just as I was hoping, the excuses are fewer, and the workouts are harder. For the first time in years I am following a structured training plan for this season and it feels great. January was very unstructured and uninspired. 

I take that back, the last two days of January were pretty inspired. With a spin work out right out of a deep dark place that no one should ever really want to go, to treadmill speed work that may very well have come from the same ugly place. Those two workouts led to a lot of time spent in the cave.  

I finally got to wear my Mv2's for a workout, but have yet to get them outside on the track so I will save my thoughts until then. They do look cool. 

From there it was a trail run on Friday for the first time in I don't know how long. I missed running on the trails. I picked up a pair of Kinvara trail runners to keep in the car along with my mountain bike and bike shoes. I like to be ready to run whenever, wherever. With these guys in the car I will no longer have an excuse to bail out of a quick run after a mountain bike session. 

My thoughts on these? They are sleek and light, very much like the original Kinvara. The grip is excellent. The most important part, to me,  is that they allowed my foot the freedom to maneuver the trail without the shoe hanging me up on roots and rocks or whatever else is in the way. When a shoe is too bulky or too supportive, running the trails with it can be hazardous to your ankles. In these kinds of shoes when you hit a rock your foot cannot react, the stability of the shoe chooses which way your foot turns leading to rolled ankles and a lot of pain. That is my experience anyway. I've rolled my left ankle more times than I'd like to recall. I have finally learned my lesson.

Overall the Kinvara TR is a great trail shoe, simple and low profile. I can't wait to get them completely torn up and muddy so they fit right in with the Mountain bike in the back of the Subaru. 

Monday marked the start of my planned training. It began with an hour swim at the pool. This swim begins at 5:00am which is a wonderful time to get up and out into the cold only to drop yourself into freezing water. But I exaggerate, yesterday the pool was a moderate temperature and the air was actually quite warm. I was pleasantly surprised that I actually lasted for a mile swim and then some. I have only gotten my feet wet once since October, and that was barely a 800 yards and I was dead. 

Today I had an hour ride and 20 minute run on tap, in other words a moderate brick workout. The snow and ice on the ground kept me indoors for both the ride and the run. Luckily the gym is right below my apartment, so it was an hour in the pain cave and a quick jog downstairs to the treadmill. 

Zoe, of course, supervised the ride to make sure I was working hard enough. 

Side note to all you hardcore folks: I wasn't reading the book while I was on the bike, I just happened to leave it there looking suspiciously like a bit of reading material for my time in the cave. I promise you there was no reading of any kind going on during that ride. Only a bit of picture taking since Zoe was posing so nicely. 

All in all I am two days into the plan and have followed it word for word. Each day the training goes according to plan is a small victory to celebrate. 

Post work out I made a green monster which has just recently made it's way back into my life. Pretty good, and packed with good for you everything. I feel a noticeable difference in my recovery and endurance when I have at least one of these guys a day. 

Today's concoction had spinach, a whole banana, a handful of blueberries and 3 blackberries. Plus skim milk, natural protein powder, creatine and vitamin C powder. Doesn't look that great, but it tastes wonderful. 

Meanwhile in the present world, my new Newtons just showed up at the store. Out with the old in with the new is taking place as I type this. I finally had to pull the trigger and order a new pair. My old Gravity's have 495 miles on them. This morning was their last run. I will retire them to the old Newton's cabinet until I find it in me to throw them out.

The Ikea desk cabinet: Where Newtons go to die. It is always a little bit sad trading in my favorite pair of running shoes for a fresh pair. They are so perfectly worn and light from all the miles, the new shoes feel so heavy compared. But with weight comes cushion and that is exactly what I have been lacking the last 50 miles or so. Time to move on. Cannot wait for tomorrow night's run so I can begin the mileage count all over again. The pink color of these bad boys I can do without. But trust me when I say they will be filthy in no time and all the girlie-ness they are exuding now will be extinguished with mud, sweat and anything else I happen to trample through. 

What, if anything, can you take away from this? New shoes and a solid training plan are a good way to light a fire under your ass and get going towards your goal...

Or you can use a book of matches and make a teepee. Your choice. 

What is your favorite recovery shake/meal? 

How do you light a fire under your ass?