Monday, February 24, 2014

Slow Progress is Better Than No Progress {Weekly Summary}

Total # of Workouts: 2
Total # of Runs: 2
Longest run without walking (time): 9 minutes
Highest total running mileage in one day: approx. 1.25 miles
Total running mileage for the week: approx. 2.25 miles
Fastest speed sustained over a mile: N/A
Progress on training plans: I'm on day 9 of my 30-day ab challenge (which will probably end up taking me more like 90 days to complete). I'm in week 3 of the 5K training plan that I'm somewhat following.
Progress on safety goals: Still slowly getting stronger and faster. Have not pursued self-defense classes yet.
Injury Report: Nothing now. My cold was rough for a couple of days but it's already gone.
Weight: 231
Weekly Change: +2
Overall Change: +1 from new starting weight of 230
BMI: 33.6 (obese)
Jean Size: 20
Waist Circumference: Have not measured lately
Next Goal Weight: My first goal is just to stay under 230 for a whole month. I need to stop losing and gaining the same 2-4 pounds over and over again.
Next event goal: None yet.
Last week's goals: (1) Incomplete: I ran only 2 times. (2) Incomplete: I did only 2 ab workouts. (3) Complete! I wrote a second post last week!
This week's goals: (1) Run 3 times. (2) Do at least 5 ab workouts. (3) Write 3 or more blog posts, including this one.

Analysis: Naturally I'm frustrated not to have achieved all three of my goals for the week, but at least I came close. If I hadn't had a cold, I might have done more! I just need to keep showing up, keep trying, and never quit. Soon I will have more wins than losses when it comes to meeting my goals. I don't really have anything else to say about this week, though I do have ideas for more posts. Hopefully I will be back here again soon!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Silence is Deafening

Once upon a time, I was addicted to listening to music while running. So addicted, in fact, that a last-second decision to run without my ipod in my first 5K helped contribute to my complete breakdown in the race. After that, I tried forcing myself to run without music every once in a while, just so I could do it if I ever needed to again.

Things are different now. I am different now.

Even though I was always careful with my music -- volume low enough and only one ear bud in so I could still hear sounds around me -- being assaulted has caused me to obsess about situational awareness. I didn't really do anything "wrong" in that situation, but still I feel compelled to be even more aware, to the point of hypervigilance.

And so I no longer run with music when I'm outside.

The downside of the silence is that I'm forced to spend all that time inside my own head. As I've shown many times before, that can be a dangerous place for me. I have to dig much deeper to push through my natural inclination to quit when the going gets tough. I also have to face all the demons that lurk inside me.

My head has been an even scarier place of late, full of dark and depressing thoughts. Some of these thoughts are directly related to the psychological trauma I experienced, but many others are only related because the experience has brought them to the forefront of my mind. I've taken stock of my life and been confronted with abandoned dreams, unfulfilled hopes, and a great deal of frustration and disappointment with who I've become and how my life has turned out thus far.

Ultimately, I think it's good for me to face these demons. I am bolstered by a homily I heard at mass recently, about how we shouldn't be afraid to suffer. Suffering unites us to Christ on the cross, and purifies us, much like precious metals are purified in a refinery. I would not do the homily justice if I tried to explain it further, but it really resonated with me and encouraged me not to escape or dull any of the pain I'm enduring.

If I were to try to fill my head with music instead of thoughts, then my running would be an escape -- I'd be running away from the pain. Instead, I need to run to it, and through it. This reminds me of the popular children's song/book, "Going on a Bear Hunt" -- with each obstacle they face on their journey, they discover they can't go over it or under it, so they have to go through it.

I must face all of the obstacles in my head the same way -- the recent trauma and the other issues alike. I can't block them out with music. I can't dull them with alcohol (and thankfully I haven't really been too tempted to try). At some point I'll have to stop trying to escape them by emotional eating, but I'm not *quite* ready yet.

I can't go over them. I can't go under them. I have to go through them. And with every prayer I utter, every word I type here, and every silent step that I run, I am.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Much-Needed Structure {Weekly Summary}

I love order and structure.

This is not to say that I am rigid -- I enjoy being spontaneous and deviating from routine on occasion. But it's very important to me first to have that routine in place before I can deviate from it.

So to satisfy my craving for structure, I'm resuming my weekly summary posts. I am going to keep track of most of the same things I did before, but I've re-ordered them according to my new priorities. I might also add or delete some as time goes by, if I find this list doesn't capture adequately my progress and goals.

Without further ado, I give you my week of Feb. 10-16:
Total # of Workouts: 3
Total # of Runs: 2
Longest run without walking (time): 7 minutes
Highest total running mileage in one day: approx. 1.25 miles
Total running mileage for the week: approx. 2.4 miles
*Fastest speed sustained over a mile: N/A
Progress on training plans: I'm on day 5 or 6 of the ab challenge I'm doing. I'm in week 2 of the 5K training plan that I'm somewhat following. It's a Jeff Galloway plan, and while I don't follow his specific instructions for run/walk intervals, I do take walking breaks whenever needed. At some point I will set goals that involve more running without walking, but for now I am focusing on total times or mileage, with as much walking as necessary.
**Progress on safety goals: Now that I'm exercising fairly regularly, I am working steadily toward being stronger and faster. Next I need to look into self-defense classes. I think I might want to start by just learning a few basic moves to protect myself, and then research and select a particular discipline to study.
Injury Report: Nothing yet. I do seem to be coming down with a cold today, but hopefully that won't hold me back much.
Weight: 229
Weekly Change: N/A
Overall Change: -1 from new starting weight of 230
BMI: 33.3 (obese)
Jean Size: 20
Waist Circumference: Have not measured lately
Next event goal: None yet.
Last week's goals: N/A
This week's goals: (1) Run 3 times. (2) Do at least 5 ab workouts. (3) Write 2 or more blog posts, including this one.

Analysis: I'm a little disappointed in myself for not running over the weekend, but otherwise I'm satisfied with my progress thus far. I know from experience that once I get used to exercising regularly, it will be easier to make myself do so even on the days when I'm tired or just not in the mood. Finding the time is always a challenge for me, but I think I'm doing a decent job. So basically, I want to keep doing what I'm doing, only MORE!

I want to explain my two new summary stats:
*Fastest speed sustained over a mile: Part of the reason I'm getting back into running is so I can run away from would-be attackers in the future, if necessary. Unfortunately, I'm a very slow runner. Normally I don't mind being pokey, but I can't count on the person chasing me also being slow, so I need to focus at least a little on increasing my speed. I don't care if I can't maintain a higher speed over long distances -- I figure a mile ought to be enough for me to get to safety in most situations. This isn't something I will work on every time I run, but once in a while I will hop on the treadmill and see what's the highest speed I can maintain over a mile. Of course, I need to be able to run a solid mile without stopping first, even at my slow speed, so this spot might remain blank for a while.

**Progress on safety goals: I'm not sure exactly what I will talk about here each week. I just know I want to stay focused on why I'm doing this right now. I want to be stronger and faster and better able to defend myself should I ever again come under attack. I'm starting with core strength and running, but I want to add other strength training, cross training, and self-defense/martial arts. Right now it's sort of all open-ended...I will follow wherever this journey leads me. There might not be too many specific, measurable goals to address here, but I want to give myself a chance to reflect on whether I feel stronger and safer, and why or why not, and what I can do to keep improving.

This is a lot of variables to keep track of, but I love to be able to measure my progress. The numbers will only tell part of the story, though, so I'll try to post more often and reflect on all the other ways this process is affecting my life! I'm working on real change here. Big change. Positive change. And the best is yet to come!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

First Setback Overcome

Naturally, when I wrote my last post, I had every intention of moving forward, building momentum, and charging toward my new goals of getting strong and fast.

Instead, I spent two weeks battling strep throat.

After a round of antibiotics and lots of rest, I'm feeling well again and my motivation has returned. I resumed running this week and will resume my ab workouts soon as well.

I have to say, I jumped back into exercise in order to improve my physical health and personal safety, but I already can tell that it's having a positive effect on my mental health as well. My emotions and thoughts have been all over the place the past few weeks, and I've had more bad days than good. But working out boosts my mood every single time, even when it's just a few ab exercises. I'm willing to cling to anything healthy that makes me smile and makes me feel like I have any control whatsoever over my life.

My plan is to try to write more often, especially the weekly updates, because it helps me keep track of my progress. I'm still trying to decide what all I'm going to monitor in light of my new goals. Hopefully I'll have all that figured out in time for an update on Monday or Tuesday to cover this week. Meanwhile, be on the lookout for posts on other topics as well. The Olympics start this week, so I'm sure to be inspired!

Thanks for everyone's kind words to me here or on Facebook. I've been buoyed by your support and will continue to rely on it. I am blessed to know so many wonderful people who truly care about my well-being!