Before I start this post, let me just say that I am not a nutrition fanatic, nor do I force my two children to eat broccoli 24/7. But, my wife and I do like to incorporate some nutritional value into our kids’ meals when we can. Having said that, I’d like to lodge a complaint.
My younger sister gave me (and by extension, my family) a wonderful birthday gift last November: four tickets to the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the Indiana Pacers. They live in the Cleavland area and are huge Cavs fans. In fact, we got her 4 year old a Lebron James Fathead for Christmas this year! The tickets were for the Friday night game in Indianapolis, so we decided to make a fun trip of it. The game was great. My boys were absolutely blown away by the size of the NBA players when seen live. But I digress. This post is about childhood obesity.
So yesterday, rather than heading straight back, we decided to take the boys to Indianapolis’ Children’s Museum. The museum was great and the boys really liked it. When it came time for lunch, we went to the food court inside the museum. Since the museum is focused on children, and because the majority of the exhibits were related to science in one way or another, I expected the options to be decent. Boy was I disappointed. Here were the choices:
- (Fried) chicken fingers
- (Greasy) pizza
- (Fatty) hamburgers
Remember, this is at a children’s museum. It seems hard for me to believe that we complain about childhood obesity when, at an institution built specifically to foster learning in our children, the best we can offer is fried chicken. Knowing I was going to be running later that day, I looked around for something decent to eat to fuel me up a bit, and the best I could come up with was pre-packaged yogurt. Had I wanted empty, deep fried calories, my options were limitless; something even mildly good for me (and my children): one item.
I will now officially dismount my soapbox.
I never thought I’d get here, but I am. I am now running long enough and hard enough to worry about hydration. I set a goal to make my long run 8 miles this past weekend, and I was able to do it, which felt great. Until later that evening when I was hit with a pretty bad headache. And then my puny little brain managed to remember that exactly the same thing happened last weekend when I ran 7+ miles. The two things in common between the two runs was that I neglected to bring any kind of water or drink along on the run and that I felt incredibly thirsty afterward. And while I grew up playing the typical sports like baseball, basketball and football, one thing I do remember the coaches yelling at us was, “Once you’re dehydrated, no amount of water will catch you up.” So it turns out that the guys in the too-tight Bike shorts did know something.
No, I’m not talking about the economy, I’m talking about running. It was just a few days ago that I decided to push harder and run at a faster pace, and it already feels normal to run more quickly. For today’s run I set out to run a nice, easy 5 miles. I even kept telling myself to relax and go easy. And it felt like I did, yet when I got done, my Garmin told me I ran at a 9 min/mile pace, which is faster than any run I had done prior to Monday.
So after a terrible week last week, I almost slipped into a funk, but mid-run on Monday, I got mad. At me. And then I ran harder than I thought I could. And my splits (for a 5 mile run) looked like this:
- Mile 1: 10:00/mile. Feeling sorry for myself.
- Mile 2: 9:50/mile. Still being an idiot.
- Mile 3: 9:37/mile. Starting to turn green. You wouldn’t like me when I’m mad.
- Mile 4: 8:58/mile. Complete turnaround in attitude.
- Mile 5: 8:04/mile. Felt like I could climb a mountain.
I think running (after some base level of fitness) is as much about your head as it is your legs/lungs. It reminds me of a famous quote by Bobby Jones, the professional golfer:
“Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course…the space between your ears.”
I followed that run up with another 5.12 mile run yesterday with an average pace of 8:53 which is a new PR for me at any kind of distance. And once again, I felt like a million bucks at the end.
Since I started running again in September, I had yet to have a bad week of running, so perhaps I was overdue. I’d had a tough day of running now and again, but never an entire week. But last week felt that way. Oddly, I set new personal distance records for myself both on an individual run and for the week, but the week still didn’t feel very good. I actually wonder whether I had a mild case of the virus that was going around because I just never felt strong physically.
The plus side is that I got a lot of practice running when I felt like quitting, but I never did. That will come in handy at the end of longer runs in my training, and certainly in the half marathon itself.
On to a new week.
I’ve been making some good progress in my training for the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon in May. In fact, the miles I’m logging puts me a bit ahead of some of the people I know who are training for the full marathon. My plan has been to run the Half Pig, then run the full Chicago Marathon in the fall, but I’m wondering whether I could be ready for a full marathon by May. What I really wonder is whether I’d end up injuring myself by trying to go too far too fast. I think I’ll stick to the plan.
When I put Yak Trax on my wish list for my family’s Christmas gift exchange, they thought I had lost my mind, but I absolutely love them. It’s been very cold and snowy here in Cincinnati for the past couple of weeks, so my choices are to run inside, on a treadmill (which I clearly hate), or get out and run (which I love). Yak Trax let me run, yet I’m not constantly worried about slipping. Once you put them over your running shoes, you can barely tell they’re there.
The software that drives this blog is called WordPress. One of the great things about WordPress is that it tells you when you need to upgrade, and today was one of those days. So I dutifully went through the upgrade process, and I noticed this message go scrolling by in the middle:
Man I wish I could do that. One click and whammo, a strong core. No more planks for me.
So as I mentioned on Sunday, I have started to do some core work to help strengthen my runs, especially the longer ones. This morning I had my second core workout, and it was longer, and much tougher. I had been told how important being stronger in your core is to running, but honestly, I never really felt it was a big deal.
But today I learned a lesson, and a hard one. After having a really tough core workout this morning, I was sore all day. My abs and lower back were completely shot. But it was the “good” kind of sore you get after working hard, so I didn’t think much of it.
Tomorrow, Cincinnati is expecting a pretty sizable snow storm, so I decided to try to get a quick run in tonight, abs or no abs. Thus beginneth the lesson. I was wobbly, my feet felt like they were all over the place, and was running at a terrible pace and couldn’t do much about it. Then it dawned on me. No core. They were completely shot from this morning. So now I am a believer.
I finally gave in and decided to run on a treadmill tonight. The weather wasn’t horrible but people were slipping all over the place in their cars and one-on-one, I lose to 4000 pound pieces of machinery every time. However, a little piece of my soul died as I put one foot in front of another and didn’t get anywhere on the damned treadmill. Man, what a bore.
Back to snow covered roads for me, I hope.