In the last blog post I talked about how I want to pass boot camp. In the spirit of clearly defining my goals and making them measurable, something I’ve never been very good at, I looked up what the qualifications were for staying in the military for women in my age group. Rather than refer to the qualifications as my “targets”, I’m going to refer to them as my “future state” (failing is not an option!). As expected, I had mixed results last week. Here’s the current breakdown:
|Current State||Future State|
|2-mile running time||25:46||20:30|
- 11 Push-ups: I consider this result respectable for me right now, especially when I consider the fact that I’d lost the ability to even do one push-up when I first started going to Empower. I still feel like a boss when I do these! I consider this a WIN and am pumped to get better them.
- 45 Sit-ups: This result didn’t surprise me so much. I figured beforehand that this one would be my strongest showing. I’ve always had surprising stamina for sit-ups. Core work is actually the only area in which I am somewhat competitive with my hubby. I either need to reassess this goal in order to make it more challenging for me, or I may replace it entirely with another core exercise. My understanding is that sit-ups aren’t so great for the back anyway. I’ll probably talk with Angelo, my trainer, for suggestions. One idea I have is a new target for how long I can hold a plank.
- Oy…I knew the running time would be a little disheartening, but it was actually worse than I estimated. The first mile ended up okay (which is progress!), but the running techniques I’ve been working to establish start to break down after my first mile.I’m not going to let the running result get me down. I’m stubbornly sticking to my guns, and am not going to back down from this target. I still feel that a 2-mile running time of 20:30 is achievable for me this year.
I wouldn’t call this an obsession (yet), but I’m very interested in why the running is so difficult for me. If I were trying to do a marathon, the difficulty would be understandable, but this is just running a few miles! I understand that not everyone is “built” to be a good runner. After all, I run more like an elephant than a gazelle, so I get it. I’ve read about other supposed genetic limitations, both in books and online, but like with everything these days, I get so much conflicting information, it’s difficult to know what is actually true. I have all of these tidbits and factoids swirling around on repeat in my head. I don’t even remember what the source material was at this point, and I have no clue what is right or what applies to me. Here are some examples of ideas that have stuck with me to the point that I’m concerned they’re becoming mental hang-ups:
- Genetics – It may all come down to my muscle fibers. I suspect that I’m fast-twitch dominant, which means my body generates more power and strength, but isn’t so impressive endurance-wise. Slow-twitch muscle fibers can sustain activity for longer amounts of time. This may be part of my issue with running, but I argue that a few miles should hardly be considered “long distance”. Assuming I am fast-twitch dominant, then sure, I may never become a great (or even decent) marathon runner; however, I feel that fact shouldn’t be a stake in the heart of my running ambitions. With enough work and dedication (stubbornness), I feel I could still become a badass at a 5K.
- Proper form – I’ve consulted both books and the Internet on this one. There was general consensus on some things: Back straight? Check. Shoulders and hands relaxed? Check. But when I got to foot placement? Holy cow. There is a deep and very passionate divide between ball-of-the-foot versus mid-foot strikers. Running on the ball of my foot comes very naturally to me. The “mid-foot” proponents claim that running like I do wastes more energy and will cause me to have tighter calves. Yeah, all of my leg muscles in general are tight. Plus I diagnosed myself last year with metatarsalgia, a fancy word for inflammation in the ball of the foot (and it can hurt like a you-know-what). Based on this history, I’m thinking I should probably experiment with the foot placement?
- Proper breathing – Everything I’ve come across says I need to synchronize my breathing with my running strides; however, there are many differences of opinion on the best way to do this. When I first started, my breathing rhythm was pretty random and my breaths were way too shallow. I just didn’t think about it, honestly. As a result, I often sounded like a wheezing rhinoceros and probably scared a few people. I’ve seen improvement from just attempting to synchronize my breathing with my own pace. The problems occur when I get past the first mile and my rhythm starts to breakdown. This, I feel, is my largest hurdle on the path to my 10-minute mile.
- Boredom – This one drives me crazy, and I hesitate to even mention it because it’s an unacceptable excuse in my view. But it is a reality I’m dealing with, so here it is: I get bored when running. I keep hearing about people who claim to achieve this “meditative” state while going on a long run, which would be great for me and no doubt extremely beneficial. I just never seem to get there. I eventually get to the point where all I notice is the discomfort and it becomes my focus so much that my mind can’t wander. I’m not mentally stimulated when running like I am when kickboxing or doing circuits. I’ll inwardly whine to myself, “Where’s my runner’s high??” I can’t say I’ve ever experienced it. Some people even tell me that eventually the discomfort starts to subside, and it becomes much easier to keep going once I get over that initial hurdle. I guess your legs and feet go numb or something? Or maybe your mind develops more of a tolerance for the discomfort over time? Apparently I just haven’t run far enough or long enough yet.
Like with most anything worth doing, consistency is going to be the key. I’m not a very good runner right now, but with a strong will and enough dedication, I have every intention of killing a 5K this year. And who knows? Perhaps I’ll choose to conquer a 10K next year? I will say that I actually do like running more than I used to. I am seeing enough progress that it’s keeping me motivated. I may never transform into a gazelle, but despite whatever genetic limitations I may have, I will eventually be leaving the elephant in the dust.