Monday, September 30, 2013

Running Again . . .

I haven't written about my running for eons, have I? Other than the DailyMile widget in the column to the right, along with the occasional mention of my heading out on the road, I've not said much here since I let go of last year's hope of running the Vancouver Marathon in May. Subsequent to posting about that decision, I lost my mother, then my father-in-law, and the grief over these losses was compounded by a rift in the family. We were away for six weeks and then came back to summer's erratic schedule. Throughout all that, I dialled back my running considerably, dropping to perhaps 20 kilometres a week, but I walked and walked and walked.  (I did manage some runs in France, a few pleasant ones with Paul in Bordeaux and through the countryside in St. Galmier -- and some wonderful 10 km solo runs to the nearby village from Espedaillac)

Meanwhile, I did some thinking about the injuries I had bumped into as I'd piled on the distance through the winter and spring. What I recognized was that although I'd made time for the extra running, I'd done some of that at the expense of my regular stretch-and-strength workouts. I'd dropped one of the two weekly Pilates classes I'd done for almost a decade, promising myself I'd substitute a yoga class for that spot. Instead, that second workout often got scrapped when the schedule needed to accommodate meetings or medical/dental appointments or catching the ferry for a Vancouver visit. Months went by with, at best, only one cross-training session a week, and that just wasn't good enough.

So I realized that if I want to add distance again, I first have to ensure a routine that prioritizes stretching and strength-building. To that end, I started a twice-weekly yoga practice in mid-July, when Pilates doesn't work as well for my schedule. At the beginning of September, I got back to my Pilates Reformer class, once weekly, and so far, I'm also managing to fit in a Friday morning yoga class (although this did get scrapped this week in favour of a colloquium I had to attend for work).  I'm committed to two classes a week, one Pilates, one yoga, but I'm going to allow one missed per month -- more than that skipped, and I'll have to look at the rest of my work/life balance because this health and fitness stuff should not be messed with, post-60!

Meanwhile, I've been running again, 3 or 4 times a week, with no hurt that gets worse during running, nothing that doesn't resolve itself by the day after a long run. And I have been doing some long runs -- this Saturday, I ran 20.5 kilometres, and they all felt good. I've been enjoying a real change to my training, the joy of running with neighbours, all women so far, who make the four or more island loops (4.1 kilometres per circumference) pass by easily while we catch up on each other's news. Even better, because two of them have been training seriously for road races, they're working with Garmin time/distance watches, and they keep our pace steady for the Long Slow Distance -- on my own, I tend to run a faster pace than I should for these, and that's just not productive training.

The other element of my new training regime is a visit that I finally made to a physiotherapist, one who had been recommended by these same running friends as particularly good with running injuries. She checked out the foot sensitivities I've been worrying about, and she found no evidence of any damage, no spot that responded with any acute pain. She did, however, see signs that the foot would benefit from targeted exercises to avoid the possible injuries it might be signalling down the road (ha! Sorry!). I'm working to strengthen arch and ankle, and I'm icing conscientiously after every run.

I'm averaging 35-40 kilometres a week now, and I'm just going to follow my intuition in deciding whether or not to keep increasing my distance. I've thought about signing up for the Fall Classic Half Marathon, a race I've done twice before, but I'm holding off for now. And I'm also holding off on making any commitment, even a quiet mental one, to a Marathon. It's too easy to get pulled into external goals and not listen to what my body needs.

One more component to my current health and fitness, but I'll leave that for a future post. Meanwhile, I've got to run. . . . While I'm gone, tell me, how regular a fitness routine do you follow? Do you find it helpful to change it up from time to time, or do you prefer to follow a set schedule quite rigourously? How much has your routine changed in response to aging? And anything else you want to share about the challenges and rewards, frustrations and joys of staying fit and healthy at "a certain age". . . .

12 comments:

  1. I gave up my Yoga studio classes as the gal who led us flew off to India to work with elephants and then she is traveling extensively. Her replacement just does not feel right and for now I walk 5 km every day. It is good for me to keep moving and I love the fresh air and scenery.
    I have never been a runner but I do appreciate how toned people are when they run regularly. My husband runs every morning.
    Running with friends must make it so much easier as you can chat and the time must pass quite quickly.

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    1. So much depends on the instructor, doesn't it? I'd really miss my Pilates instructor if she moved or retired. Walking is a great way to get exercise AND to get outside -- and even better if you can schedule walks with friends.

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  2. Oh, how I would love to still be running! I ran for years and love the freedom of it, the time for contemplation and the "portability" (being able to throw on my sweats and sneakers and run at work during the lunch hour etc). But I pronate badly and did not know it until I had pretty much wrecked my knees and sought physio treatments. Now I wear orthotics but, when I tried to start back running, my hips began to mutter that they were not happy! Okay...it was time to find something new.
    Now I cycle 2-3 times a week (spring, summer and fall), cross country ski in the winter and use my exercise bike the rest of the time.
    When I retired last winter I was determined to try yoga classes. Unfortunately that did not work out so well. I was undergoing physio for problems with my right shoulder and hip... and I'm sure you will appreciate this!...apparently sustained from many, many years of marking English papers and twisting weirdly in my chair. Yoga just seemed to irritate my problem areas and the instructor did not seem able to help me to modify the poses. Maybe I should give it another try at some point.
    I just started adult swimming lessons. (gulp,,,slightly embarrassing the first time, I must say) I know swimming is very good exercise but when you can't swim well enough to get any benefit...then lessons seemed the thing to try. Besides, I'm not going to miss any more chances for fun activities when travelling. (Like swimming off the boat in a beautiful bay when we went on an Ecocruise in New Zealand a couple of years ago.) And I just found out that our local arena has public skating in the mornings. That should be fun. So great to be able to do these things when everyone else is working!
    My goal is to workout 6 days a week. I'd like for as many of these as possible to NOT be on my exercise bike in the basement! Although....I love to listen to books on my i-pod when I pedal. I don't want to fall behind in my "reading."
    Two classes and 3-4 runs a week, sounds great. Which do you prefer...classes or running? I found over the years that sometimes I like to just be alone with my thoughts when I'm exercising...and not have to talk to anyone, or listen to instructions.

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    1. Wow! You sound really committed to staying fit and to having fun at it -- I'm really impressed at how you make yourself adjust to new activities and you keep changing it up, which is what we are told is the best way to keep challenging our body and getting the training effect. Swimming, skating, cycling, cross-country skiing -- excellent!
      Quite honestly, I think my preference is the solo running, but I've realized I'm getting set in my ways and I've been missing the socializing I used to do more of -- so I've added group runs recently. As for the classes, I find I do much better with an instructor to guide me through the moves -- I don't really want to have to think them through on my own -- too lazy!

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  3. Your fitness routine is impressive! I'm averaging 12 miles per week on average between the arc trainer 3 times a week and walking 3 times a week. I do my own stretches but need to build in more time for stretching. Have a lovely week!

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    1. That's great, Susan. Now you've got that base to build on, it will be easy enough to build in more stretching time. That seems to be key, for me, to avoiding injuries. Hope your week is a good one as well.

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  4. I was wondering about your running! Well, I've recently made a notable commitment (but one I've been escalating to for quite some time) to fitness. I will write about it - no hope that I'll keep it to myself :-) - but the short story is I've been doing 45-60 minutes of yoga daily - deep poses, focused on inversions and back bends to help support my hormones. This is in addition to the walking to and from work (when I do both it's 8 km) or to work plus a walk at lunch. And then there's the headache yoga I do - a much more reactive, and quiet, form of movement / non-movement that I practice in the headache timeframe.

    I've known for a long time that I need to bring the depth back into my practice. I just struggle to find the time to do everything and I've let it slide for too long. And I'm doing the practice for my mother, as well as myself - as I do believe in the healing quality of meditative movement with a loved-one in mind. I can be strong in my practice and share the results of that, energetically (so to speak), with my mum.

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    1. I would love to do more yoga, but just can't stand the idea of spending more time "in town" when I'm working. Running is just out the door. . . .You've got years and years of training and practice to guide you through -- and at 45-60 minutes daily (!!), you must really be finding some changes starting up deep within. What a positive force to share with your mom. xoxo

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  5. Good luck with your revamped schedule.My husband runs and is always hoping I'll join him - but that's just not going to happen. We do enjoy walking/hiking together.
    We recently spent an afternoon puttering around on Mt. Hood.
    I've long known that a desire for grace in aging means I need to be more active and proactive about my health, but I've finally made the commitment to pursue wellness. Earlier this summer I began a kickboxing class combined with strength training and stretching - you can't imagine how far removed from even my wildest dreams this decision took me. I love it. And I've seen results - changes in my endurance, muscle tone, weight and attitude. The discipline of a class setting is necessary for me and I enjoy the camaraderie.

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    1. Kick-boxing as a commitment to grace in aging -- I love it! And I'm really curious about how this came to be -- it's not an obvious choice, is it?! From what I've heard of kickboxing, though, you'll be getting a serious workout AND a lot of fun -- do you come home from class exhausted or energized? I agree with you about the discipline of a class setting, and I imagine someday I'll be taking more classes, once retirement makes for a freer schedule.

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  6. Sounds as if you are well-tuned-in to your body and the mix it needs. I stopped running by late 40s, too hard on my joints and discs. Can't say I miss it (Iwalk instead). My rule is, move it for an hour most days, any way I can, and add in yoga for other benefits. (Also did Pilates for many years, but sustained a major injury there, even in the hands of an expert, attentive teacher.)

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    1. It sounds as if you're also very cognizant of what works for your body and your spirit. So far, I've been very fortunate with my Pilates, over 10 years now which rather stuns me, to tell the truth. I love how I feel by the end of a yoga class and hope someday to get that feeling more often. But I will really miss running when I get to that point, although I, too, really enjoy walking. It's all about finding the right mix for the right stage, isn't it?

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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