Limited potential?

third

So I am back at it.  Third shift.  10pm-6am.  My daytime sleep has been only ok so far and I am afraid the old woes my body feels when I work this shift are creeping back in.  Here is my physical effects breakdown:

1) Weight:  Start weight for this rotation (12 weeks) is 128 lbs.  I typically creep up a few pounds, have trouble with IBS (have got to start greens powder again) and deal with bloating.  Sweet.

2) Eating pattern:  I have almost mastered this one.  I start my “day” around 4pm with a protein packed breakfast.  Lately this has been farm fresh eggs, turkey bacon and fruit (fresh pineapple this week).  I have my next “meal” (very light dinner) around 8pm with husband and then my third meal between 1:00Am-3:00AM.  I incorporate protein into every meal, snack on fruit, cheese, whole grains in between and lay off the coffee best I can.  I have been better about integrating decaf (thanks to the new Kuerig!)  I am no longer starving all night, something I have battled with for 13 years.

3) Sleep: I do my best to get to bed by 7:30AM and sleep eight hours.  Have not gotten 8 hours since Sunday into Monday this week prior to starting my 3rd shift rotation.  Fail.

4) Exercise:  I had a fantastic run on Sunday in Northwood.  Best run so far this year.  I went to crossfit Tuesday (holy heat, holy workout, holy almost threw up) and had a 3.5 mile trail race on Wednesday night.  My breathing was a mess during this run… maybe it had to do with the 80% humidity at race time?  Or third shift?   I want to do more, but I am out of hours in the day/night.  I want to try running in the AM after shift sometime soon.

All this being said, I got to wondering about my athletic potential on third shift.  I think like many other things, it is going to naturally suffer.  Fighting circadian rhythms isn’t good for the body to begin with.  Follow that up with fatigue and change in sleep patterns, I think I am just doomed.  That means for 6 months out of the year, I lose training ground no matter what I do.  Six months represents the rough amount of time we spend on overnights and late nights (getting out at 1:00AM or later).  I have seven years left in this role if I stay in traditional patrol shifts.  That  may make the difference in me ever reaching my goal of being an ultra runner before age 40.   That goal may have to wait simply to keep me healthy enough to train.  The good news is many runners do spectacular in ultras after age 40.

Just another late night revelation to contend with.

Is my overall athletic potential limited by shift work?
I think the simple answer is hell yes. 

How can it not be?  All training plans consistent of getting ” a good night’s sleep” and completing scheduled runs.  My work schedule kills both of those primary goals.  The fact that I can do what I do on the limited amount of dayshifts I get is actually unbelievable to me.

It’s just the harsh reality of doing what I do.  Here is what I am doing to help my health along during third shifts:

– Just ordered  a bright light “box” at the suggestion of my doctor.  She wants me to use right after waking up for 30 minutes and again around 1:00AM to shut down melatonin production and help me get through my shift.

– Back to using REM caps by Hammer to assist in getting 8 hours.

– Reducing caffeine intake after midnight to none if possible.  If I am struggling, I have one K cup by 4:00AM.

– Sleep mask: LOVE THIS THING!  I have been using one for about 2 years and it helps me sleep deeper and tricks my body into thinking it is dark.

– Never go to bed hungry.

– Long runs on second day off only (full nights sleep the night before)

– Slow down regular runs to make heart rate and breathing a priority (harder to control when I work 3rd)

– Lower expectations and continue to just enjoy the runs and workouts!

 

Stay tuned to see how well I do in the next three months….

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I don’t give a crap

I don’t give a crap… and it’s INCREDIBLY LIBERATING!!!!

I finally made a decision.  I have delayed both my plans to run the marathon and the ultra in 2013 and instead am focusing on getting strong, staying healthy (so Tony stops calling me Bubble) and build an incredible base that will carry me over many miles for years to come.

The first week I made this decision, I was so tormented and conflicted.  I felt like a failure.  I shouldn’t have felt that way, but I did.  I puttered along on some runs, went to a core class at the gym and generally just tried to get used to the idea of being a little lost.  Then something incredible happened.  I stopped caring.  Literally stopped giving a crap.  It was like someone flipped a switch for me and suddenly not only did I want to run, but I started to get this incredible feeling every time I put my shoes on.  It was like f*&ckin’ magic.  Seriously.  I started to run to just feel…. to connect with my legs, body and nature.  I have had nothing but solid runs since it all clicked. I am not saying crap runs won’t still happen, but I have NO PRESSURE!   So if I have a crap run, who cares?  Doesn’t matter.  Won’t lose any training ground.  No pressure.  It’s liberating!

So what did I do next?

Two races in 24 hours of course 🙂  This was Amanda’s idea and of course I had to go along to support.  My best friend of nearly 10 years tackled the Runner’s Alley 5K group this year and has kept it.  Our friend Christine did it too and ran the race with us today.  I am so incredible proud of them!  I was them.  Nasty shin splints, lack of motivation and 19 extra pounds ago…  Here is a quick recap on each race:

Pat Polletta 2 Mile Rail Trail Race: 

This was held in Salisbury last night.  HOT HOT HOT!  Katie met Amanda and Katie down there (driving in on two wheels 10 minutes before the start of course!)  I chose to stay with Amanda for the whole run.  I am so happy I did.  I got to work on form the entire time.  And I never got winded!  Plus I got to get Amanda around.  She kicked ass!  We finished in 22:30… her best time yet per mile!  The whole time I ran, I just reveled in how good it felt.  My body is humming.

Bobcat Bolt 5K: 

This one is held around the campus of UNH.  Here we are pre-race:

bobcat

I tried a warm up technique Tony suggested for giggles.  Warm up super slow then do sprints with a full recovery in between.  Once again I couldn’t believe how good my legs felt.  It was a bit muggy, but it stayed cloudy for the run.  I warmed up and knew I wanted to run.  I told the ladies I would probably do my own thing and off we went.  I kept my pace between 9:30-10:00 for the first mile.  I intentionally held back.  I didn’t want to burn too hot (figuratively and literally!).  I hit mile 2 and decided to start alternating sprints with recovery.  I was still good.  No pains, no stiffness, wearing my trail shoes (yup…. whatever… I love them), and had my own water.  I just cruised.  I poured it on around 2.5 and pulled into the finish at 28:43 according to Garmin.  Not my fastest 5K, but my BEST 5k ever.  I loved the power I felt in my legs, I loved the comfort I had, I loved my music…. I am just so full of love right now!!!      I got back in time to watch the ladies roll in!  They did so great too!  All in all…. a very fun morning.

So I have learned the falling about not having running goals…

1) I won’t fall apart.

2) I won’t stop running.

3) I may just enjoy it more without pressure.

4) I will continue to get strong.

5) I will run an ultra someday. 

I do still have races planned, but this girl is GOALESS for a while!

Re-Evaluation

I have been all over the place lately.  Emotionally, physically, mentally.  An absolute mess.  Sleep has been off, brain won’t shut off.  I have so much good going on right now but with some of the good comes added stress.  For example, my business is running so well it’s kind of hard to believe.  When Amanda and I started our pet sitting business in 2010, it was a part time venture we joked about taking full time someday.  She is now fully supported by our business and is our full time sitter, plus we have three other girls who work for us.  And I fill in sporadically.  For instance, I got to walk Jade, a new client a few nights ago.  She is a doll….

IMG_20130614_063531

While our business is busy and awesome, it does add stress to my life from an administrative and scheduling perspective.  I handle this around the 40 hours or so I put in a week at work.  Then there is work…. I am re-evaluating the direction of my career.  I love my career and many aspects of it, but I have some big decisions to make over the course of this year.  More stress.  Plus I am working a HUGE case right now.  More stress.

And finally, there is my health.  I have a cold.  Not a big deal for most, but since I have had two respiratory issues this year I am not messing around.  I started coughing yesterday when my head cold moved from my face to my throat and saw my new doctor last night.  She is concerned about residual inflammation in my lungs and I am on a regimine of herbs, rest, and codeine at night to get the sleep I desperately need right now.  And…. no racing.  I am on a strict light workout plan until I am recovered.  This means no Fort Rock this weekend (challenging 10 mile trail race).  And I also learned earlier this week I will not be doing Bear Brook due to a professional conflict.  So, no marathon in July.

I am a firm believer in “everything happens for a reason.”   I have always lived my life this way.  So, it is time to re-evaluate my running/racing expectations for 2013.  While my body – my physical muscles – keeps getting stronger, my health is only marginally improving.  I mentioned a few weeks ago that I needed to listen…. I get it now.  My body is SCREAMING at me.

Doctor said I could definitely keep running, just easy… lightly… and she emphasized I need to do it to relax, de-stress and enjoy the experience.  Her words.  She is so right.  I have no doubt I will still make the Vermont relay (19 miles) at the end of September and should be able to handle the fall races I have signed up for.  But this is not the year for my marathon.  It IS my year for tuning in to what works for me.  I want to run/hike some 4,000 footers.  I want to explore new trails.  I want to train my heart rate.  I want to get strong.  And I want to run for many years.  I also want to run to stay calm and live a long, full life.  It is so easy to get focused on racing, especially with my nasty competitive streak (competitive with myself, not others.  Comes from my horse background).  I am still planning on hitting the Harmony Hill Races at Northwood.  I am still planning on light runs during the week, crossfit and yoga.  I just have to take it easy and get healthier.

Time to breathe and let some shit go.  Life is too short.  Everything happens for a reason.

Rest week… kinda

I had some trouble with my ankles… so much so I had to STOP running and give them a break.  This was definitely more hard mentally than physically.   I should have completely rested post mucky 25K but didn’t, thinking I could keep motoring on.  Luckily, I stopped before I did any damage.

I spent last Sunday and Monday just stretching and resting my body.  Tuesday morning I finally got to go back to Body Flow.  I needed that very badly.  Especially considering I attended my first cross fit session that evening….  We are luckily enough to have a professional instructor who hosts a group session for friends once or twice a week.  He has been badgering me for a year to come and finally, FINALLY, it fit into my schedule.  Here I am experimenting with ball slams:

xfit

Here is the WOD:

45/15 Work/Rest x 4 Rounds

See Saw Press
Ball Slams
Sandbag Step Ups
Goblet Squats
Ab Mat Sit Ups
Sumo Deadlift Highpulls
Seated Rope Pull

This was ALL new to me.  I have never been to a crossfit session and still have so much to learn.  But guess what?  Loved it!  My legs did not!  By the time Thursday rolled around, I was crippled.  In a good way.  Mostly in my quads.  Can’t wait to go back!

My first test run in my new shoes was also Thursday.  I got me some Pearl Izumi Peak II.  These shoes are delightful.  I have been on a mission to find a trail shoes I could go back and forth from road to trail with.  My Salomon Speedcross are just too knobby for road work.  I will give you a full review on the Peak II as I am in LOVE!  Four slow road miles and my ankles were in good shape.  Quads…. tight but greatly benefitted from this run.

Finally, I put in my first long run since Pineland last night.  Katie, Steve and Tony and I hit up the Sweet Trail (aka Sweet Bitch cause she kinda is).  This is quickly becoming one of my FAVORITE runs.  Nine miles (4.5 out and back).  I usually hate out and back, but this runs completely different in both directions.  We got into the woods around 6:00PM and out around 8:00PM.  We were racing the sunlight at the end.  What a pretty night.  This run felt good overall, despite 65% humidity.  No major complaints in my legs either.  I am definitely getting stronger and more nimble.  My foot work over technical terrain is improving by leaps and bounds.  Here is the one shot I got last night:

sweet

It was a beautiful (humid!) night for a run.

So here is what is on tap this week:

Monday – Swim or light run

Tuesday – Crossfit

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday –  Hills

Friday – Rest

Saturday – Light run

SundayFort Rock 10 miler

The bad from this week:  My appetite was up and down all week.  Makes it really hard to get my calories intake correct.  I was not hungry at all on Friday afternoon through Saturday so fueling for my run was tricky.  Used Tailwind in my pack which helped.  Not hungry after my run, so I made a protein shake for dinner.  My TMJ is flaring something fierce too.  My jaw is a mess right now.  Most of the time I can deal with it, waiting patiently for my face to relax!  I have SO much going on personally and professional so it isn’t really a surprise.  Finally, my right hip is still sore.  I must get that addressed by chiro this week.

Shoe review soon!

Listening

It has been a week since Pineland.  To sum it up in a word, it’s been a rollercoaster for me.  Longest run ever, longest and toughest race to date, hardest effort and most rewarding run yet.

Mentally I couldn’t believe I did it.  Even after I did it.  It finally sunk in and I walked around with a huge grin on my face for days.  I was also super motivated to run.  Come to find out, that wasn’t going to work for me.

Physically I went through a variety of “issues.”  The first was bloating.  I drank well during the run, continued to hydrate (ok fine I had two beers) after and into the night and my urine output was good.  My weight was a little high the day after the race, but that came down by Tuesday.  I was up about 3 pounds.  My left ankle where the Achilles attaches was sore and required icing for two days.  Finally, my ankles just generally felt sore.  I attempted three runs this week:

Wednesday – Road run (4 miles) in my Kinvara road shoes.  Ankles were super sore, but my legs felt good.

Friday – Special Olympics Torch Run:  This was supposed to be 11 miles, but due to the heat they reduced it to 6 miles.  The group started out way too fast for me (sub 9 min pace) and my ankles felt like someone was stabbing them.  I hopped in the car 2 miles in and didn’t try it again.  Not my day, not worth the injury.

Saturday – Braved the heat to run on my trails at home.  It was about 90 degrees when I went out, but the woods are very well shaded.  It felt about 10 degrees cooler there.  My ankles once again SCREAMED at me.  How frustrating.  It was even in both ankles and the pain went into my feet.  I did three miles and went home to ice.

I realize now that I may have pushed too hard post race.  I also did not warm up and cool down well the day of the race. 

I am not going to run again until my legs feel comfortable.  I am also making a plan to start adding the cross training piece back in.  My gym offers cardio swim classes so I am looking into those.  I also need to get back to Bodyflow and start some light weight work too.  I have failed to keep up with the total body strength approach and intend on starting it again this week.  Hoping to get back in my shoes by the end of the week.  My ankles are still reminding me first thing in the morning they are unhappy… and I am finally listening.

Leaving you all with my favorite race photo!

Photo taken at 11:00