Friday, March 26, 2010
I was really looking forward to posting tonight, but apparently Blogger had other plans in store for me. ;)
Imagine spending 2 1/2 hours writing an article & being very pleased with the end product, only to have it snatched away from you at the last minute. Now before you rail at me for not saving my work or not backing up my hard drive's files to another location, please understand that I was working online and Blogger autosaves every few seconds.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
As many of you may've noticed, I've gone back to writing posts of a personal nature again. And by the word "personal," I don't mean "revealing everything" or "TMI," but rather, as in "a personal account" (of my experiences & life observations, etc.).
Hopefully, most of you will be pleased with this new direction, as some of you have expressed that you prefer the more intimate style of personal posts to the more cut-&-dried delivery method of solely factual, information-dispensing posts. In all honesty, I actually like to combine a bit of both styles, because, while each provides a different sort of reading experience, both are equally valid & insightful modes of expression.
So yes, I've decided to temporarily shift the current direction of this blog -- that is, a primarily article-based blog sharing facts & tips about fitness & nutrition -- back to its original conception & raison d'être -- a journal of observations, documenting my journey back to fitness -- since that's exactly what I'm doing at the moment. :) Of course, while I'm starting over again in terms of my fitness level & corresponding training program(s), I'm happy to say that I'm thankfully not starting from the exact same spot, in terms of my nutrition or weight management. :)
So, that's the plan, at least until I get back into the full swing of running again, & work my way back to my previous physical state of being. :) Once I return to marathon-training, I will continue to document the journey as time allows (marathon training is very time-intensive!), & then once the goal has been attained -- the completion of my first marathon -- I will then re-evaluate this blog, & see what I want to do with it. Most likely, I will go back to article-writing at some point, but either way, I don't want to make any promises or set anything in stone, as this blog is basically a representation of me & my thoughts -- a living, breathing, work-in-progress that needs the freedom to be whatever it was meant to be. :)
In other words, the bulk of my training observations now will go here, instead of DailyMile. :) While I like using DailyMile for logging runs & interacting with & motivating others, I don't necessarily want to turn the entries there into full-blown blog posts. I used to do that in the past, & while it felt good to describe the experience of a run in detail, it also, frankly, became rather involved & time-consuming. And right now, I need to be especially mindful of where I direct my time & focus, as I've got a book to write!
Some of you might already know that I'm currently in the process of writing a book, healthy gourmet cookbook, to be more precise. (Of course, I'm writing it especially with runners & other health-minded individuals in mind.) And then, after that, I intend to write a completely different book, i.e., a novel. As some of you might know from direct personal experience, this takes an awful lot of time, & so, in the interest of practicality, I've decided to curb certain writing activities in an attempt to get others done. :)
That doesn't mean I won't post much anymore, but rather that when I do, the posts will probably be shorter & more focused than they have been in the past. As for the regularity of posting, I cannot comment on that, since I have no idea what my book-writing schedule is going to look like three months or three years from now.
While I'm fairly disciplined in my writing, I'm not the kind of book-writer that can robotically turn out a page a day. I prefer to work organically. I sit down every day to write: Sometimes I write a page or two, & sometimes I write pages and pages. I'm not going to force the writing process in a way that threatens to cut off the source of creativity. :) All I can say is that I sit down every day to write & put in the effort; what comes out or how much comes out is not always something that can be fully controlled or directed by me. This might seem like an odd assertion to some, but those people who are creative souls will understand exactly what I'm talking about. Creativity is a mysterious force, & while I acknowledge that there are some aspects of the writing process that are fully within my control, I also realize that there are other parts of the process that are best left to percolate on their own schedule. :)
It's also the type of writing I'm doing: It's not like I'm writing a white paper, journalistic-style article, or technical manual. These types of writing (i.e., writing done with a fact-finding focus) have a different overall process than what is generally referred to as "creative writing," or at least that's the way it tends to work for me. Please note, I'm not making any sort of value judgments or saying that one process is easier than the other, because neither statement would be true.
Speaking of which, I need to take a break from article-writing anyhow, as I was frankly getting a bit burnt out on it.
On that note, I must say that I'm really glad that I never went to journalism school, because I always knew from the start that I wasn't cut out for it. While I do enjoy interviewing people, reporting on my findings, & writing journalistic-style articles from time to time, it's not in my nature to gravitate towards this style or method of writing.
Likewise, you'll note that most of the articles I do write here (& elsewhere -- i.e., in the form of magazine publications, etc.) usually take the form of either advice or personal observations. Even the race reports I write aren't strictly just a "report" in the traditional sense of the word. I would go batty if someone told me that this is all I was allowed to do from now on. :)
I don't like feeling hemmed in by these kinds of restrictions. If given the choice, I'd honestly prefer to write short stories, novels, poetry, or essays. I'm essentially a creative soul, who enjoys bringing new ideas into being, versus focusing upon existing ones. :) (That should also explain my love of emerging technology, new music, pioneering scientific research, & basically anything involving the discovery of new frontiers.)
In a way, this blog is going to follow the same path. I will share practical knowledge of the new discoveries I make as I train, & while some of these findings might not to new to others who have been there before, they will be new to me & to others who are either currently going through the process or have yet to go through it. In this way, I hope to create solidarity with fellow runners who are also in the process of striving to reach similar goals.
So, while this blog will continue to be written from a personal perspective, I will just be easing up on the research-intensive writing for now, as I don't really have the time for it at the moment. Speaking of which, I need to get back to the cookbook writing. Later!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
For posterity's sake, I'm archiving a snapshot of the previous list of goals & PRs (from 2009) here:
--FIRST marathon training program, 3x/wk.
--Strength: HPC + 300 crunches, 3x/wk.
--Drink 8 8-oz. glasses water/day. --Eat 3 meals & 3 snacks (Eat 6x/day).
--Take multivitamins & Osteo Bi-Flex daily.
SHORT-TERM GOALS (1/01/09-11/15/09):
Train & run races (on calendar).
--Lose 5% BF by 4/5/09.
LONG-TERM GOALS (10/02/08-3/31/10):
--Reduce BF% to 14-18% by 11/22/09. --Run 5K in 27:54 & 10K in 55:00 (9 min/mi).
And now for 2010's training goals (which have also been updated on the "GOALS" tab of this blog):
TRAINING GOALS CHECKLIST:
--C25K program, 3x/wk.
--Drink 4 (16.9 fl. oz.) bottles of water/day.
--Eat 3 meals & 3 snacks (Eat 6x/day).
--Take multivitamins & Osteo Bi-Flex daily.
SHORT-TERM GOALS (3/20/10-12/31/10):
--Complete C25K program by 6/5/10.
--Run 5K after completion of C25K program.
--Run BOHR program next, followed by modified SDP, & then FIRST.
--Add strength regimen: HPC + 300 crunches, 3x/wk.
--Lose 5% BF by 8/5/10.
LONG-TERM GOALS (2010-2011):
--Reduce BF% to 14-18% by 12/31/11.
--Complete marathon training & race full marathon distance by December 2011.
--Break a 7:30 min/mi. (1997 PR).
--Run a 5K in 27:54 & 10K in 55:00 (9 min/mi).
I recently saw a quote that went something like this, "I want to continue to celebrate where I am and not be apologetic."
There's something about that statement that really resonates & hits upon a deeper truth, both as it applies to running & life in general. When we continually focusing on what's ahead of us -- the next road race, the next training plan, etc. -- we can become caught up in our plans for the future, and forget to celebrate where we are. I'm not just talking about the importance of celebrating our recent accomplishments & milestones, but also the value of acknowledging our current state. Sure, we might not be where we ultimately want to be, but the way I see it, we are all "works in progress" (hopefully throughout the entire course of our lives!), so why not stop to sniff the roses along the way & celebrate what we are & how far we've come?!
Please note that I'm not saying that we shouldn't strive for change, but rather that it's important to acknowledge & celebrate who & how we are in the moment. Instead of beating ourselves up for what we are not or haven't yet achieved, let's focus on what we are, have accomplished, & are striving to become in all our imperfect glory.
While I felt like my achievements & the many races I did last year were a badge of accomplishment, there were also times when I admittedly became wrapped up in "the chase," looking for the next rush of satisfaction from running & racing that I hoped to find just around the bend. As I got more & more serious about my training, something in me began to change on a fundamental level. And while many of these changes were improvements, others might've looked like improvements on the surface but ended up working towards my detriment in long-run. The scales began to tip, & the balance I'd worked so hard to maintain suddenly began to elude me. However, it happened in a non-obvious way. Here I was, trying to maintain a healthy life -- focusing on eating healthy & nutritious foods, carefully spacing my fueling & hydration around my runs, & gradually building my level of fitness in a moderate fashion, etc. -- but what I didn't factor in nearly enough was how my laser-focus on health & fitness was affecting the rest of my life, i.e., the part that didn't involve running & sports nutrition. :)
I can't pinpoint the exact moment when this change began, but I know it began sometime in early 2009. In all honesty, it probably began sometime after I signed up for my running club's speed clinic. While the program was for great for improving my running, I became so hardcore about my training that I began to lose perspective on the larger picture. Running, running, running. It was all I thought about. Constantly. The other things & interests in my life began to take a backseat. I built my social activity with family & friends around running & racing events -- no joke, even vacations & trips home were focused around running & racing, & most of the people I hung out with were runners. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with leading a running-focused life. However, what I am saying is that I didn't set enough limits on where those boundary lines were.
And so, not surprisingly, looking back on 2009, I'm not sure I relished the moments & the achievements enough.
And then there were the times when I added in even more road races as "training runs." Or so, I told myself. :) In these cases, I think I just felt the need to know whether or not I would be up for the challenge on any given day. It was a constant battery of tests and as a conscientious "student" of running, I wanted to pass them all with flying colors. :)
After a while, somewhere along the line, I stopped enjoying racing. Maybe even "dreaded it" towards the end. August 2009 was officially the last month I raced in 2009. It wasn't really all that surprising, all things considered.
Sure, I ran after that -- I was still in marathon training mode -- but things began to head off course after that. I had one bad experience that ended up being the beginning of the end for me, at least for the remainder of 2009. And that was back on September 23, 2009.
If you haven't already heard me tell the tale, here's what happened: I was running to catch up with a few of my running buddies as it was getting dark, & feared that I would be left behind on the trails in the forest -- and so I ran a bit too fast. I didn't feel comfortable at all with my pace, & furthermore wasn't at the same point in my marathon-training as they were -- I was only 4 months in, & they'd already been training for 6 months or more.
Anyhow, I was really mad at myself for doing this, as I ended up having knee/leg problems & other issues (upper-back/shoulder/arm pain, etc.) as a result. When it comes to my pace, I'm usually really good at knowing where I should be, & what I should be doing. It's just not my style to court folly like this. I know how to train safely & effectively. All through my run & for several days afterwards, I was having difficulty processing & accepting what had happened. I kept telling myself, "What the heck was I thinking?! Hey, I'm smarter than that!" It was like an unsettling recording playing it over & over in mind.
Philly came & went, as I heard my friends talk excitedly about their plans. I was happy for them but it was also a painful reminder to me of a race I'd signed up for but had missed due to various obstacles -- admittedly, almost all of them being of my own making, with the exception of one particular, purposely-unspecified "roadblock" that's still presenting challenges to me as I write this.
I'm not going to lie or paint a rosy-colored picture; the above situation was a disappointment, as I'd been looking forward to accomplishing the milestone I'd been working towards for several months. I'd unwaveringly set my sights on that goal since I'd first restarted my running regimen (back in 2007), & had been running fairly consistently from July 2007 to the end of September 2009. So, with that kind of laser focus, it wasn't so easy to give up on that prospect. I still haven't given up on that dream; I've just extended the timeline for making it become a reality. That means restarting the quest from where I currently am (i.e., zero fitness!), & establishing new (but often familiar-sounding!) short-term goals, along with a new set-point & frame of reference.
Anyhow, flash forward to the present. I'm OK with where I am, & am not looking for external validation. I can see what happened, & it's only going to make me the better for it in future training sessions.
So here I go, celebrating where I am. Right here, right now. It might seem like I am nowhere at present, but even so, I will celebrate it, because it signifies both the hard-won knowledge acquired in those several months of quiet reflection & also the start of me taking that first step back towards a running life. And that is something I'm truly excited about. I just cannot wait to feel how I felt when I was running several months ago. When I was running, the rest of my life & the way I moved through it almost seemed... effortless. The running wasn't effortless :) , but everything just seemed to flow with ease. Run, & the whole world seems to run with you. :)
So, in a strange way, I'm grateful for this ebb in my (running) life, because it has allowed for the flow. Just like writing, sometimes you need to give the silent empty spaces a place to exist, so that the motion & renewed spark (of creative energy) can be let back in again.
So, in that way, the downtime has actually been quite productive.
I know that starting all over again is not really going to be so bad. I've done it before & know how to do it. The good thing about it is that as I go through the motions once again, I know that, along the way, I'll be reminded of some really good recent running memories & accomplishments. :)
And furthermore, I know that this time around, I'll make a point of savoring the moments & the milestones, & not get caught up in the "rat road race" :) & the crazy noise of the world at large. I will instead go back to the formula that's consistently worked for me in the past -- following my own path & listening to my instincts. And of course, I fully intend to cut back on my racing schedule so that there's room for other activities. As many of you surely know, the tricky thing about marathon training is that it takes up so much time that achieving balance with other aspects of one's life can be very challenging indeed. Well, since the marathon training probably won't start until much later in the year, that should allow for plenty of time for other activities until then. :)
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Jake Rosen (@JakeRosen) recently listed this blog, along with several others, as one of the "Best Running Blogs 2010." Wow, that is such a cool honor! Thanks so much, Jake!
Coincidentally, several of the honored blogs happen to be written by longtime blogger-buddies of mine -- i.e., Steve Speirs' Run Bulldog Run (@britishbulldog), Tim Wilson's 26.2 Quest, (@virtual4now), Kara's Between the Miles (@runnerkara), Stuart's Quadrathon (@quadrathon), & Jim's Kiltrunner (@kiltrunner) -- and also some newer social media pals as well -- i.e., Jill's JillWillRun (@jillwillrun) & Denise's Run DMT (@denisermt) -- to name but a few.
I'd like to congratulate all of the honorees & again thank Jake for taking the time to mention all of us in his latest post. Also, I'm looking forward to checking out the other blogs on his list, as well as further exploring Jake's blog. It's always great to discover interesting, new blogs via people's personal recommendations! So thanks for that as well. :-D
Monday, March 15, 2010
You might be interested to read an article I wrote called "My Definition of Healthy Food," which appeared on my recipe blog two days ago. It's obviously about nutrition, but it's also about the need for change in the food industry. As we runners tend to be healthy eaters, I figured there'd probably be a few readers of this blog who'd be interested in reading the article.
Due to the number of passionate responses this article has received (mostly in other electronic & social media formats), I've decided to run a follow-up article, which will hopefully be posted there later today.
As many of you know, I write about nutrition there as well. The running blog tends to focus on sports nutrition in specific as well as general nutrition & wellness issues, whereas the recipe blog tends to focus on general nutrition.
Anyhow, I just wanted to give you a heads-up regarding this article, in case you weren't already following my recipe/nutrition blog. That blog has a lot of healthy recipes that are made with runners & other athletes in mind. :-D