MTR: Week 11

MTR: Week 11

This week in marathon training brought about some temporal changes—afternoon/early evening runs shook up my usual morning run routine, and a busy day on Wednesday called for an early morning run.

Saturday’s run ended up being more of an impromptu run, since I needed to go by the grocery store to pick up some much-needed essentials for dinner. In total, I was able to run a speedy 2 miles while checking-off an errand 😉

 Needed to grab some dinner essentials on Saturday night so...running was obviously the way to go ;)
Needed to grab some dinner essentials on Saturday night so…running was obviously the way to go 😉

Sunday – LSD 10 miler afternoon solo run at 9:28/mi

Monday5 miler morning solo run at 9:13/mi

Tuesday Rest

Wednesday –  5 miler early morning solo run at 9:18/mi

Thursday –  Rest

Friday –  5 miler morning solo run at 9:18/mi

Saturday –   2 miles total (run to the grocery store in the early evening!)


Total Mileage ->  27 miles

Since I had company over until Sunday afternoon, my 10 mile run had to be squeezed in sometime in the afternoon. Despite there being a rainy forecast, the rain subsided for me long enough to get in my long run. I felt super accomplished after this run, for sure 😀 !

It was harder for me to get in my 5 mile runs as the week went on, but I’m glad I was able to in the end, and keep in line with my team’s training plan. Rest days were more than necessary this week, since I felt myself wanting to sleep in for longer than usual. I also feel like this has something to do with my added emphasis on weight training. I’m also continuing to keep an eye on my food intake, especially my protein content, as according to everything I described in this post.

This coming Sunday’s run is a 13 miler welcome-back run with my team, but we have a 16 miler planned for the following week! Marathon training is approaching the ‘serious threshold’, folks—soon it will be time to nail some PDRs 😀

Finding My Balance, Trusting My Body

Finding My Balance, Trusting My Body

It’s been a while since I really discussed the progress from my disordered eating days. When I started this blog two years ago, I was at a turning point with my relationship with food, and was leaving some of the darkest days of my life. As a result of that, I wanted this “new” blog to be a space that held content relating to the better and happier things that were burgeoning at the time. I still wanted to talk about (the happy aspects) of food, but I also wanted to shift the focus onto a new hobby (running), and also use the space to describe my developing career in science.

But sometimes it’s okay to get a little personal. To go back and reflect. To share your progress, missteps, frustrations, and successes with others, because that’s what blogging and social media are there for at the end of the day. My goal with this post is to show that the “battle” with an eating disorder doesn’t just end. It is a process that requires reestablishing, convincing, conquering, and loving, among other things. The intensity can decrease as one steps more and more into recovery, but traces do and will always remain. After a certain point, it’s more about management than it is about cure.

When I got serious about running at the start of 2013, I was also reexamining my relationship with food: I had stopped limiting myself in regards to fat grams, allowed myself to consume more calories on special occasions/days of “strenuous” physical exertion, and even though I was still counting, I gave myself a newer, higher number that I thought would match the output of my newfound love running.

2013 and 2014 were overall some of the greatest years in my life so far. I was a lot happier in comparison to my first years as an undergrad…definitely. I was certainly in a better place, but in the back of my mind, I knew that I still wasn’t at the place with food and fitness that I thought I was. I believed I was in a healthier place because I wasn’t as strict on myself as in the past, but the restraints I did still have—though not too restrictive—were still at odds with what my body currently wanted and needed.

As I bumped up my mileage to the point where I could run 13 miles as my longest run, I maintained my daily intake at the same newer/higher level that I allowed myself when I first started my running journey. But when I realized that other issues were arising, I had to reevaluate the situation.

Let’s be frank. My periods had ceased for the most part—if not downright amenorrhea, oligomenorrhea was all too real. I was also still experiencing fatigue, food obsessions, and waking up some mornings around 3 or 4AM with intense hunger pangs. I think it was difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that the “new number” was now “getting old”, and that my ever-increasing physical activity required me to consume a number higher than what I thought. Perhaps because it was all happening quickly—and in the midst of other life changes like getting into grad school—is what caused me to push aside the seriousness of the matter.

I think it was also hard for me to accept the fact that I needed to consume more because I thought that on the days I did not keep track of calories (usually long run days, or at least once every 1-2 weeks), I was able to eat enough to make up for my weekly running output. Obviously things were still not adding up, since I still felt tired at points throughout the week, and even after eating the amount I thought I needed for the day, there were times I still felt ravenous.

Still, I continued to push these occurrences aside because I felt good for the most part. I gave myself days when I could treat myself for not only my physical feats, but for “eating well” over a set period of time, so why mull over it any more than necessary?

When I made the decision to train for a marathon, there was a part of me that became concerned with the 13+ miles not because of the time spent on the road and the physical pain that I might have to endure, but rather if I would have enough energy for the journey based on my current consumption levels.

I understood that I would have to take another look at my body, and a new “new number” could not be avoided any longer—no matter how much I despised change. Being a budding scientist though, I needed cold, hard data to convince myself that shooting for an even higher caloric intake would be okay. My body was in a deficit already, based on symptoms like those mentioned previously, so getting a professional’s opinion seemed like the way to get that real push I needed.

I decided to wait until my first semester was over in order to schedule metabolic testing. Call it an excuse if you’d like, but I thought it was the perfect time to get it done: right at the start of the new year, and right before hitting the heavy miles of marathon training. I was also mentally prepared, with my mind free from thoughts of school or lab for the time being. I was ready to hear the results, take a step back to reflect on them, and create a new plan that would make my body happy and put my mind at ease.

I ordered the resting expenditure and exercise expenditure tests, and found both experiences to not be as fun as I thought 😛 . For the resting expenditure test, I was instructed to lie down flat and still for about ten minutes. After that, I was hooked up to an oxygen mask contraption and was given a nose plug. Having to breathe with only my mouth through a dry tube did not exactly aid me when I had to go back into a resting state for another ten minutes, but I managed to get through the test without hating it entirely.

The exercise expenditure test was another story. Since I was getting evaluated for my expenditure while running, the technician had me do a warm-up on the treadmill. Now, if we could have done it outdoors, no problem, but a treadmill?! It seems like the longer and more frequently I run outside, the stronger my hate for the treadmill grows…but, it had to be done.

Before getting on the treads of monotony, I had to get my skinfold measurements. Seven areas (subscapular, tricep, mid-axillary, pectoral, lliac, abdominal, thigh) are usually measured, and then summed up to get a value that estimates body fat percentage.

Once I was warmed-up, and after a quick trip to the restroom, the technician started me off at a 12 min/mile pace. Every three minutes, he ramped up the pace until I was running an 8:34 min/mile as my “strong effort”. After cooling down, I was given a towel to wipe the drool coming out of my mouth once the oxygen mask tube was pulled out (so true, so embarrassing), and then waited for my results.

We first went over my resting expenditure results, which listed my VO2 at rest, respiratory exchange ratio, and resting metabolic rate. Based on all of this, I was also given a breakdown of my substrate utilization (what percentage of carbs vs. fat I use at rest).

The exercise expenditure results were calculated and graphed in an interesting way:

SAMSUNG

Not only was my caloric expenditure while running at different speeds calculated, but also the percentage of carbs and fat that I was utilizing. It pretty much summarized that the faster I ran and the more effort I exerted, the more carbs I used. At a 7 mph pace, I was running on 100% carbs.

I was also given a breakdown of my heart rate, VO2, and RER numbers while running at these different speeds.

SAMSUNG

As well as estimated expenditure values at low/medium/high efforts.

SAMSUNG

I was glad that the technician took the time to sit down with me afterwards to go over my results and answer any questions I had. He was able to conclude from my results that my RER was pretty low (most likely due to the years of not eating enough—even now, in more recent times, when I thought I was eating enough), and that my body fat percentage was veering on the low side of the ‘athlete range’. He added that this could be a good or bad thing based on one’s goals, and of course gender, but then went on to mention some studies that were done that showed the amount of calories consumed over time vs. amount of fat in one’s diet influences a woman’s “cycle regularity”.

Even though it was a lot of information to take in and consider, we were able to get back to concrete numbers. He recommended that I increase my caloric intake to build more lean muscle mass (obviously), but emphasized taking in those extra calories as fat and proteins (over carbs), based on the goals I had for my body and in running.

I would say that both expenditure tests (which cost me $200) were well worth the price, which I found to be on the low side compared to a lot of other metabolic testing centers I looked into. I got what I wanted—the cold, hard data. Now I just have to use it.

This experience really drove the point home that the body is a dynamic machine, and that based on what you have it go through or what you want it to become, its requirements will change. Everyone is built differently, and figuring out what the best things for your body are at a certain time is, in a way, a never-ending experiment.

Taking on this new, things-are-dynamic attitude is the next big step in my recovery process. Understanding that these numbers are not strict rules, but rather guidelines, is something I will also have to continuously remind myself going forward.

Of course, I predict that there will be days I doubt what my body really needs. Accepting that there will be days I can’t get in my recommended protein, or that I ingest “too many carbs”, is all part of the process too. As long as my goals are pure—to build more lean muscle and to eat enough for my activity levels in order to get to a desirable weight that promotes healthy “processes” and an efficient engine for running—and as long as I at least try, there is nothing more I can do but trust that my body will find its balance at any given time.

If you’ve ever had an eating disorder or disordered eating habits, do you find it difficult to talk about the current status of your recovery progress?

Have you ever been metabolically tested?

MTR: Week 10

MTR: Week 10

This week turned out to be quite interesting—I ended up streaking! Run streaking, that is.

Sunday – LSD 10 miler morning solo run at 9:20/mi

Monday – 3.2 miler morning solo run at 8:54/mi

Tuesday 5.6 miler morning solo run at 9:16/mi

Wednesday –  4 miler morning solo run at 9:19/mi

Thursday –  4 miler morning solo run at 9:19/mi

Friday –  2 miler morning solo run at 9:25/mi

Saturday –  Rest (finally)


Total Mileage ->  28.8 miles

This week turned out to be a slow one in regards to work. Since everyone is slowly getting back to the grind, that meant a lot more free time in the mornings for me this week. And since I was up for it, I ended up running each morning at a pace I felt comfortable with. The weather was pretty nice too, and may have also been influential 😉

Sunday’s long run was a harder one to get through because I had just come back from my visit with family. The feeling of homesickness (almost) had me skip out on the run altogether, but luckily after the run, I felt better. On Monday, I felt quite speedy and it showed with my pace. On the days following, I mentally felt ready to run, but my pace began to slow as the days went on—with Friday’s being my slowest for the week. I also focused a lot on weight training and began altering my food intake this week—topics which I plan to go into detail about in a separate post. 

For the first week of January, I’m pretty happy with my efforts, but it would be nice to turn those ‘solos’ into ‘group runs’ again. Thankfully since my running group will be back in session starting this week, there should be a lot more help in the motivation department. I’m also looking forward to the changing scenery of Sunday long runs!

What has been the duration of your longest running streak? 

MTR: Week 9

MTR: Week 9

Cold weather + sore legs from running in the wrong shoes does not equal the most fun running week ever (why didn’t I pack my Hokas?!)…but being able to hibernate and have home-cooked meals most certainly makes up for whatever running workouts I could muster this week 😛

 Thursday's "race": a freezin' 5k
Thursday’s “race”: a freezin’ 5k

Sunday – LSD 12 miler morning solo run at 9:29/mi

Monday –  Rest

Tuesday 1.5 miles on treadmill 

Wednesday –  6.5 miler evening solo run at 9:24/mi

Thursday –  3.1 miler at a NYD Race (!!) at 8:55/mi

Friday –  Rest

Saturday –  Rest


Total Mileage ->  23.1 miles

Sunday’s 12 miler gave me an opportunity to do a little bit of exploring…since I sort of got lost, haha. I planned to originally meet my Dad at his gym, but he actually had to pick me up from the grocery store near where I ended! We did drive back to the gym though, and I was able to soak my sore legs in the hot tub spa—and my legs required that for sure!

Wednesday’s run was a relaxing (mentally) evening run, but my legs still felt sore, particularly my calves and the sides of my quads. It made me yearn to get back to my “real” running shoes, but I kept telling myself things would get back to normal starting next week…I hope 😛 ! It felt nice to kick-off the new year on Thursday with a 5k, and since I was able to run it with a close friend, it made the event much more enjoyable—even in the 43 degree weather (not considering the nasty-cold 14mph wind chill!!).

Friday and Saturday were rest days due to it being my last day with the fam and a travel day. I also used the “free” time to reflect over my schedule for the coming semester, and to see how my running schedule will fit in. Classes don’t start for another week or so, but this week marks the beginning of my second lab rotation. Still, I do think that morning runs will be manageable—along with designating days for cross-training, stretching/yoga, and weight training. I aim on delving into the details regarding my plans about the things I plan to do in support of my running in a separate post, but for now, I know they are some things that have just got to be done 😉

MTR: Week 8

MTR: Week 8

This week in marathon training I would say was better than last week’s—at least in terms of my overall mood and expectations during and after each run.

Sunday’s long run was a solo run that I was able to squeeze in despite having company over 🙂 . I just did a repeat loop of last week’s long run and added an extra 0.7 miles to make it a real 10 miles. I ran in my Hoka’s again, and had to walk with sore calves throughout The Grove for the rest of the day, but it was an soreness I didn’t mind dealing with.

Actually, my sore calves seemed to stick around for the entire week, even when I switched to running in my old gym shoes. I didn’t want to pack my Hoka’s when I came up to my parents’ house for the holidays, so I ran my Thursday and Friday runs in my old gym shoes as well. Despite the soreness, I was able to clock in some paces I was proud of.

 Morning of my trail run.
Morning of my trail run.

Sunday – LSD 10 miler solo run at 9:20/mi

Monday3 miler morning solo run at 9:17/mi

Tuesday –   Rest

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday –  4 miler mid-morning solo run at 9:09/mi (it was quite a windy run!)

Friday –  4 miler evening solo run at 9:17/mi 

Saturday – 6.4 miler trail race at 10:29/mi  (steep and killer hills = not fun)


Total Mileage ->  27.4 miles

Saturday’s run was my last official race of 2014! It was a trail race, so it included some pretty nasty steep hills that eventually got me to let go of my I-have-to-run attitude and just walk up. After the 3 mile turnaround, it was all downhill which meant gaining back some time I had lost.

It was a good challenge and humbling experience though, and the race also gave me an excuse to meet up with my cousin for lunch right after 😉 !

Runners—how do you handle calf soreness?

MTR: Week 7

MTR: Week 7

This week in running was mild on the miles compared to the last several weeks. I originally thought I would be conquering a PDR on Sunday, but since many of the undergrads still had finals, they made Sunday’s run an optional long run day and reduced the mileage to 10 miles (even though it was less than that realistically). I was kind of bummed that it would be my last run with the team until next year, but at least I achieved a new 5K and 10K PR by running at 8:45/mi during the run! Despite having to stop at so many stoplights, running through downtown was a blast—even the especially challenging Bunker Hill area! It felt like my lungs were on fire!

 I had a "rest day" on Friday...but only from running. A 5 mile walk that took up the majority of my morning still kept me active!
I had a “rest day” on Friday…but only from running. A 5 mile walk that took up the majority of my morning still kept me active!

Sunday – LSD 9.36 miler with the team at 8:45/mi [new 5k and 10k PRs!!]

Monday3.68 miler morning solo run at 9:07/mi 

Tuesday –   0.5 miler treadmill “run” [I. can’t. stand. treadmills.]  

Wednesday – 3.6 miler morning solo run at 9:16/mi 

Thursday –  4 miler morning solo run at 9:32/mi

Friday –  Rest

Saturday – Rest


Total Mileage ->  ~ 21 miles

My legs felt super sore the next day (possibly the effects of still breaking in new shoes), but even so, I managed to get in some more runs early on in the week before I finally gave myself some rest days. Thursday’s 4 miler felt much more tortuous than it should have been, so I cancelled Friday’s run and made it an “active” rest day by walking from Marina Del Rey to Santa Monica. Saturday was a complete rest day (besides the walking needed to get some errands/eating out done), in order to save my energy—and stay on track—with maintaining my long runs on Sunday and my marathon training schedule!

What do you consider an active rest day? 

 

MTR: Week 6

MTR: Week 6

So…on Sunday’s run, I ended up with this lovely mark, courtesy of the dirt, paved roads near Brentwood Country Club. 

 Scraped my hand around mile 9 on Sunday's long run...
Scraped my hand around mile 9 on Sunday’s long run…

Sunday – LSD 12.7 miler with the team at 9:11/mi 

Monday – Rest

Tuesday –  4 miler solo morning run at 9:11/mi 

Wednesday –  6 miler group run at 9:23/mi 

Thursday –  Rest

Friday –  Rest

Saturday5 miler solo morning run at 9:07/mi [breaking in my Hokas!!]


Total Mileage ->   27.7 miles

Good thing I was running with others near by. One of my teammates offered some of the water from her water bottle, which I was able to use to rinse out the wound until I got back to the start point. It was also a good lesson for me in regards to what I should be bringing with me (or any serious runner for that matter) for long runs going forward—band-aids, or a mini first aid kit. 

 At least the locale of our Sunday long run was nice. It was route that started on Ocean Ave. in SaMo, and then lined through a residential neighborhood that eventually ended up at the entrance of Brentwood, an adorable area of residences, shops, juice bars, and yoga studios (probably one on each street corner)! We reached the boundary of Westwood before turning around—when I stumbled and fell around mile 9. 

But continuing to look at the bright side of things, I at least had negative splits! I started out with a 9:32/mi pace but after my stumble at mile 9, my pace actually quickened to what was eventually a 8:26/mi pace! 😀 . 

After Sunday’s LSD, I made Monday a rest day (but not a rest day for my brain—studying was in overdrive). I was able to get some running workouts in on Tuesday and Wednesday, but didn’t even try on Thursday morning since that was my day of exams!! Friday was also a take-it-easy kind of day, but Saturday’s 5 miler was actually a lot of fun since I finally got around to breaking in my new pair of running shoes (Hokas!!). I still plan to post a review of them, but I will say I absolutely love them as of right now 🙂 

What has been your worst while-running injury? 

MTR: Week 5

MTR: Week 5

Week 5 in marathon training has been a long & busy one. I have not been exhausted from the runs, but more so from the last week of classes and looming exams this coming week! We also had some crazy weather shifts in LA (raining early in the week), so that sort of influenced my mood in regards to getting out the door to run. 

Despite all of these fluctuations and changes, I did manage to rack up some quality runs over the week, including a speedy 5k race. 

 A 5k over the weekend, and new shoes---posts to come :)
A 5k over the weekend, and new shoes (!!!) —detailed posts on each to come 🙂

Sunday – LSD 12 miler (in the rain!!!) at 9:27/mi 

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday 7 miles total [ 1 mi warm-up at 9:03/mi + 6 miler at 9:09/mi]

Thursday –  3 miler solo morning run at 9:36/mi

Friday – Rest

Saturday – 5k race at 8:45/mi


Total Mileage ->  25.1 miles

Since I was up in Nor Cali for the Thanksgiving weekend, I ran a 12 mile LSD on my own. The team scheduled an optional 11 miler for that weekend, as I learned later, so I’m sort of proud that I ran that additional mile (because every mile counts 😉 ). Monday was a travel day, and Tuesday was heavy rain day in LA, so those events put a damper on my running plans.

On Wednesday, there were some light showers, but I did push myself to go out for a run with the team—more like one other individual—and ran a 6 miler that seemed longer than it was. Thursday was another solo run that I just wasn’t feeling. Friday’s rest day put things in order so that I could run a rock-solid 5k on Saturday. I chose to run the shorter distance because a) the later start time meant I could coordinate it with the bus schedule and b) a 13 mi LSD was on the schedule the following day!

Does the rain interfere with your running plans? 

MTR: Week 4

MTR: Week 4

Hard to believe that one month has passed in regards to my marathon training! In all honesty, it feels like my normal running routine so far, but the LSD miles are packing on—and fast.

Sunday’s LSD run was literally a surprise to me until about half an hour before the scheduled run, since the email notification for our group was down. We ended up carpooling over to Dockweiler State Beach, so we were pretty much in the same area as the Woodchips run from last week.

I was bracing myself for a 11-miler, but when one of the captains “cheerfully” announced that the day’s run would be a 12 miler, I felt as though I should be both smiling and grimacing: smiling for the fact that I would have an extra mile tacked on to my total mileage for the week, and grimacing about the idea of running an additional mile I hadn’t “mentally” prepared for. But the run went well overall though, despite some minor aches in  my thigh/knee area after mile 10. 

TURKEY TROT craziness!!!
TURKEY TROT craziness!!!

Sunday – LSD 12.6 miler at 9:40/mi, with the team

Monday – Rest

Tuesday –  5 miler solo run at 9:24/mi

Wednesday – Rest (although 8 hours on a bus doesn’t seem as restful as it sounds…)

Thursday –  10k race! and ran my fastest 10k to date at 8:43/mi

Friday – 3.3 miler solo run on “old” routine route at 9:21/mi

Saturday – Rest


Total Mileage -> 27.1 miles

The highlight of my week though was the turkey trot I participated in! Recap soon to come, but to summarize, I was able to beat my current 10k PR from this race with a pace of 8:43/mi! Friday’s run was a 3.3 miler on a route most familiar to me since it was the one I always ran on before moving to LA. The rest of the day was spent napping/catching up with old friends while doing homework at Starbucks/watching movies. I would definitely say Week 4 turned out to be a great running week in regards to my marathon training progress 😀 !

Did you do any running over the Thanksgiving holiday? 

MTR Week 3

MTR Week 3

Week 3 of marathon training started off well with a 10 miler—but then hit a rest plateau during the work week. I did however manage to rake up 18.7 miles for the week, thanks to the fact I was able to weekend warrior it out…

 Snacks after the run!!
Snacks after the group run!!

Sunday – LSD 10 miler at 9:25/mi, with the team

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – Rest

Friday5 miler solo morning run at 9:11/mi

Saturday – 3.7 miler solo morning run at 9:25/mi


Total Mileage -> 18.7 miles

Sunday’s 10 miler was a run along Woodchip Trail that crossed through Manhattan/Hermosa/Redondo beaches. Since the trail itself is about 4 miles one way, we had to run an extra 1 mile on the pavement before returning back to home base. We did get to stop by the pier for about ten seconds, breathe in the ocean air, and use that fresh energy to power ourselves back to the starting point. 

Overall, it was a great run, and even though I had some slight tummy issues, it was nothing debilitating fortunately! I was one of the first few girls to finish, and since it was one of the faster guys’ turn to release the snacks for us post-run, I was able to get first dibs 😉 !

Since my Dad was in town from Monday through Wednesday, I put running on hold. Thursday was a jam-packed day regarding school-related stuff, so even though I did wake up quite early, I wasn’t in the mood to set out for an early morning run. On Friday, I managed to garner the energy I needed for a morning 5 miler, and was happy with the faster pace I must have gained from the four consecutive rest days! Saturday’s run was also planned out as a 5 miler, but I was feeling off in the morning (and actually ended up going back to sleep after waking up at 6 still feeling dead tired), so I was satisfied with knocking out a little under 4 miles.

I am looking forward to week 4 though, since I will be running a turkey trot and (plan to) run along old, familiar routes towards the end of the week. All those miles—and good home-cooked food—to be excited about 😉 !

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