May 30, 2011

Running, training, health, etc

Well, I haven't written much lately on my blog. For my regular readers, I apologize for that. It's not that I haven't been doing anything, just the opposite. I've been so busy, that I just don't seem to have the creative energy to post anything new here.

Why, you ask? Because in approximately nine and half weeks, I will be going back home to Kansas City in the US (on August 4th). I had decided not to renew my contract. I am extremely sad about leaving my students, but feel it is the best thing.

But that also means my future is up for grabs. I have no idea what I'll do next. I will probably look for a part-time job in the Waldo area (because I am without a car again). And tentatively, in May of 2012, I'll hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Should take about 4.5 months to hike the 2650-mile trail through California, Oregon & Washington from Mexico to Canada. Might even consider biking south along the Pacific Coast Trail back to the beginning. We'll see.

And even though I've been trying hard to get healthier this last year, it has taken on a new importance if I hope to have a successful PCT hike. Almost half of the 400 who attempt it every year quit, and most of those due to injury. So, getting healthier is the best way to injury-proof myself.

So, as many of you read, I started running again, mostly to lose weight. I'll let all of you know, you can't just run and lose weight - at least I didn't. You have to change your diet. Unfortunately for me, changing diet is extremely hard here in Mongolia. So, for that, I'll have to wait until I get home.
My training chart (miles/month) from

As you can see, my training had a couple of little bumps in the road in December and March. But today I had the thought that "I'm a runner" so I guess that means I'm well on my way. Today was my short run, I almost broke 10 min/mile which will be a huge milestone.

For those interested, the first half of my training from July to November was using a "Couch to 5K" training plan. I think I can honestly say it was my work, not the training which stopped me in December. I tried to kick start it again in January but you can see, 'work' intervened again.

By this time (February), I had decided not to stay another year in Mongolia, and thought I really want to go home looking 'healthy', not 'too-well-fed'. Found a new running program by Hal Higdon called Spring Training (for Novices). And I've been amazed at the results, really amazed.

Besides using a well-established running program, I'm also a regular on, kind of a Facebook of runners, cyclists, triatheletes and walkers. I can't tell you how much it has meant, all the encouragement and feedback I get from others on DM. Of my 'friends', only one, Jen, have I met in 'real' life. The others I've met on the site. You never need to be alone in your training with sites like Join, you won't regret it.

Some days I just don't have the umph to finish the run, but then other days, I exceed my expectations. My goal is to finish Higdon's 12-week program, so I've got 5 more weeks to reach a 10K. Then will either start a half-marathon training program or a long-term marathon program to build myself up for a May start on the PCT.

Once I get back to KC, besides working on my diet, I really want to get into trail running in a big way. Partly because of the PCT but mostly because I think I would love it. I've done a few winter trail races over the years, but used the excuse that I'm not near any trails. That won't change, but I have to stop using that as an excuse. Where there's a will, there's a way.

The other thing I've been struggling to do is bodyweight exercises. I've been following Zuzana on ever since I started this new 'health kick'. Sometimes I do her workouts, but many times I don't. But when I was doing them consistently this spring, I noticed a significant weight loss. But the mind is easily distracted away from what 'works'. So, plan on doing more of these workouts in my last weeks in Mongolia.

For any of you out there thinking of jumping on the 'HEALTH BANDWAGON', do it! Just do it. I'm 53, no spring-chicken by any stretch of the imagination. And I know that if I want to continue doing the things I do like hike, bike and such, I need to be healthy. So, it doesn't matter your age, you weight, or your activity level - to be healthy, to stay healthy, requires your active participation. Period.

May you all be healthy and happy!