Sunday, February 19, 2012

Affirmations & Realizations

The past two days have offered several opportunities to affirm things I already know and open my eyes to things I didn't (or didn't want to).

Realization #1: I've gained 5 pounds.

At first I tried to rationalize this reality away: "All these ski clothes sure do add on the pounds," or "This is a bad time of the month to step on a scale." Today, I was out of excuses. I was wearing lightweight clothes, in the morning, in my gym, preparing for a fast & furious pre-run lifting session when I dared step on the scale. Yep. Five pounds. No excuses this time.

If there is one thing that's constant for me, it's my weight. There is a "magic number" (I've written about this before, it's called a weight "set point") that my body likes to be. No matter what I do, train for an Ironman or simply walk my dog, exist on salad or pound the ice cream, my body will typically not stray more than two pounds in either direction from this magic number. Today, however, I've realized that I've pushed my body beyond its comfort zone--something I could not do by burning 3,000 calories a day, but something I have managed to do by popping handfuls of chocolate covered almonds several times a day. This lack of self control and judgement has nudged my scale to the upper end of what I consider acceptable for me. There is a number 5 pounds below my set point that I have seen only a few times in my life. On the other end of the spectrum, there is a number 5 pounds above that set point that I also rarely (thankfully!) see. Today, I've seen it. I was not surprised. I can tell by the way my jeans have been fitting.

So, I will now have to find the will power to step away from the chocolates until I have things under control. Or until I'm doing 3,000 calorie-torching workouts again!

Realization #2: I do have springs. Sometimes.

In the 20 runs I've logged since the start of 2012, today was my best run to date--tied for the fastest pace as an earlier (interval) run of a shorter distance. Today, I was only 15 seconds off my PR pace for a similar distance and I felt great! (Though I sucked in enough air during my final sprint to give me hiccups during my recovery!) I felt light, fast, airy--"springy;" something that is rare for me. Which leads me to a list of affirmations:

Affirmation #1: I attribute today's successful run to the perfect storm of ideal factors coming together on the same day:

1) I had 9 hours of sleep; my body's ideal number. 2) I ate breakfast--power oatmeal, and, an hour later, I drank coffee--Starbucks Natural Fusions Caramel-flavored.
3) Then I hit the gym for 30 minutes of super sets; result: I started the run thoroughly warmed up and with an elevated heart rate. 4) I ran at 2:00 PM. I'm often not as motivated to run as the day wears on but I always perform better later in the day. (Statistics prove that afternoon is the ideal time to run, when the body's core temp peaks.) 5) Weather was great: Sunny, mid-40s, calm.

These facts are all things I already knew about myself, that I run better when I'm well-rested, well-fed and caffeinated, and when I wait until afternoon. Today simply affirmed them.

Affirmation #2: Acupuncture works.

In addition to all the above factors, I had an acupuncture treatment on Friday afternoon, followed by a day of rest. When I saw my acupuncturist two days ago, I complained of a whole list of aches and pains I'd been experiencing during my runs, primarily in my left foot and knee. Today I felt no pain. My body felt better than it has since, oh, my last acupuncture treatment four weeks ago. It is no coincidence that when I was first diagnosed with PF that rest didn't work and PT didn't work. Acupuncture worked. After I'd healed, I dropped to a maintenance schedule of one treatment every four weeks and maintained a status quo. Then my original practitioner went on maternity leave and I went 3 months without a treatment. No surprise--my knee and foot problems recurred to the point I had to walk one of my races in August and half of one last September. I resumed a regular acupuncture schedule for the duration of my Ironman training and, guess what? No problems. Now that I'm training for my first Half Marathon of the 2012 season I've decided to be proactive and resumed a maintenance schedule before any problems occurred. I can feel the difference in my body after a treatment--healthy and healed, verses when I'm due for another treatment--when my body has started to break down again.

Affirmation #3: I crave carbs and hot foods in the winter.

Blame it on the cooler temps or fewer hours of daylight, but it is so much harder to eat salads and drink smoothies in the winter. Instead, I want warm breads and pasta and casseroles, but I try to make do with soups and oatmeal. Panera is killing me, though. While I am trying to get Realization #1 under control, I've got to stop buying Bagel Packs for my family. I can smell the sweet, yeasty bagel smell in the kitchen every time I walk by the bread basket, calling to me, tempting me with their soft, warm, doughiness. Today, I avoided the bagel and quickly made a smoothie before I could succomb to temptation.

Awesome post-run smoothie; so easy & so yummy:

Fruit and Yogurt Smoothie Recipe
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup frozen berries
1/2 cup soy (or almond) milk
2 T ground flaxseed
1 scoop of chocolate Whey Protein Powder.

Blend. Mmm, mmm, good!

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