Day 13: Variables Investigated

7 Jun

So in my last blog I was pondering the deep, world-changing topic of running variables that affected my increasing speed. Well, I have done some research and the verdict is in…there are too many variables to determine a cause and effect relationship. On the plus side, one of the consistent explanations was that I’m getting fitter, I’ll take that! Not wanting my findings to go to waste, I have shared some of them below. Check it out:

Joey and I heading out for a late afternoon jog

Variable 1: Running with a stroller vs running without

Pros for running with a stroller:

  • Burns more calories
  • Run is perceived to be smoother.
  • You can still run even when you are home alone with your baby.
  • Gives you an upper-body workout through the resistance of pushing the stroller.
  • You have a place to carry your water, cell phone and store your sweatshirt when it gets too hot.

Cons:

  • It is heavy, especially going up hills, and gets even heavier as your baby grows.
  • Slows down your running time by 10-30 seconds per kilometer
  • You have a child with you so any number of things could slow you down from a dropped toy, to boredom, to the desperate need for a drink or snack right NOW
  • It is annoying and zaps the awesome ‘free’ feeling running gives you.

Advice for running with a stroller:

  • Push with one hand at a time and switch every 500m or so. Also, if you have adjustable handles, make them so your arm can be at a right angle when you are pushing.
  • Give yourself time to get used to it. You may feel awkward for a while but it will become normal soon
  • If you have a lockable wheel put it in lock mode for a safer and smoother ride
  • Give your baby time to get used to it. They love routine and will come to love or at least tolerate the ride. Probably best to not go when your baby is due to eat. I have found that late afternoon works for us at the moment because bub is tired and I either get a bonus nap or he is content to watch the world go by.

Variable 2: Running with music vs listening to the world go by

Pros to running with music:

  • Helps get you in a rhythm
  • A good distraction from listening to your breathing and the negative self-talk or over-thinking…or is that just me?
  • It can be inspiring and motivating and help get you in your running space

Cons:

  • If you have your music too loud you may be a safety hazard – running out in front of traffic, taking up the whole sidewalk…I’m being a bit facetious because I am a granny when it come to listening to music through headphones but I have heard that these problems exist. On a more serious note you do need to be aware of your surroundings, especially in  quieter areas
  • You may get out of touch with your breathing and footfall so you aren’t familiar with your symptoms when you are tiring – good to krace for a race.
  • I don’t know about you but running is a great time to clear your head of the clutter, listen to the rhythmic (if not laboured) breathing and footfall and let your mind wander.

Advice:

  • Research shows listening to music is most beneficial for low to moderate intensity runs so maybe use it on your easy running days
  • Find music with a beat that is slightly above your stride rate so you are motivated to ‘run to the beat’. It is especially helpful right at the start when you are trying to set your pace and towards the end when you are getting tired.

Check out these great websites for further information:

Day 9: How to knock 30 seconds off your PB PB

3 Jun

PB PB? No, it’s not a typo, it stands for post-baby personal best…and I would love to be able to share the secret, as soon as I figure it out (sorry to be a tease).

On Friday, I went for a run. It was late afternoon, the husband had just returned from 3 days away and I was able to leave the baby at home. I cranked up my ‘old-school motivation’ playlist on the iPod (who doesn’t find MJ’s ‘Beat It’ great to move to) and off I set on my usual route. I usually run for time rather than a particular distance and no one was more surprised than me to find that I had to run an extra 30 seconds when I got back to my starting spot.

I really need to start taking actual photos but you get the idea

I figured it was a fluke but felt pretty chuffed about it none-the-less. Today, I went for another run and this time it was a family affair. I pushed the stroller, hubby got pulled by the dog and then we swapped at the turn-around point. Not only did I keep the new pace, I went slightly faster.

I have no idea what happened but after reading what I have just written, there are a few variables that require further investigation:

a) running with a stroller vs just plain running

b) running with a partner vs running alone

c) listening to my iPod while running vs none.

So my task this week will be to uncover what (if anything) hinders and helps my running. Do you have any tips that help you get in your running groove or variables that affect it?

Day 7: Food Fight Friday – Minestrone

1 Jun

As I’ve delved a bit deeper into the blogging world, I have come across some seriously great blogs. The idea of ‘Food Fight Friday’ was one such find on Run DMT’s blog, and seeing that finding healthy recipes is something I need to keep this challenge on track, I thought I’d jump on the train and share my most worthy meal this week: Hearty Minestrone.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 rashers short-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic / 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 1/2 sweet potato, diced (usually the recipe calls for normal potato but I didn’t have any, I think this worked even better)
  • frozen peas and corn
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 1 can 4 bean mix (drained)
  • Vegeta used as vegetable stock to make up 1-1.5 litres
  • 1 cup soup mix (you know those dried grains and lentils)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed herbs
  • 1 cup macaroni
  • 1/4 cabbage, finely sliced

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tbs oil in large saucepan, add onions and bacon. Cook till fragrant.
  2. Add garlic, carrot, sweet potato and celery. Cook 2 mins.
  3. Add canned tomatoes, vegeta stock, 4 bean mix and soup mix.
  4. Bring to boil and then simmer on low for 30 mins to 2 hours
  5. Add peas, corn, macaroni and herbs. Cook a further 20 mins or until macaroni is al-dente
  6. Serve with a sprinkling of raw cabbage and crunchy bread (I love toasted turkish bread)

Day 6: Ode to Can

31 May

There is an ad on TV at the moment that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Not because it is Super Bowl worthy but because it appeals to the frontal lobe for a change. Actress Toni Collette simply recites the poem below. Poetry is so under-rated in today’s society unless it is accompanied by a catchy beat and sexy voice. Yet when I look at these words, on the page, in their raw form, I see art. There is so much scope to evoke emotions and images in a personal and individual way. ‘Ode to Can’ definitely helped me stand a little taller and straighter today.

Image

enough said

Ode to Can

There’s a four-lettered word

As offensive as any

It holds back the few

Puts a stop to the many.

You can’t climb that mountain

You can’t cross the sea

You can’t become anything you want to be.

He can’t hit a century

They can’t find a cure.

She can’t think about leaving or searching for more.

Because Can’t is a word with a habit of stopping

The ebb and the flow of ideas

It keeps dropping

itself where we know in our hearts it’s not needed

And saying “don’t go” when we could have succeeded.

But those four little letters

That end with a T

They can change in an instant

When shortened to three.

We can take off the T

We can do it today

We can move forward not back

We can find our own way.

We can build we can run

We can follow the sun

We can push we can pull

We can say I’m someone

Who refuses to believe

That life can’t be better

With the removal of one

Insignificant letter.

T.S. Elliot

Day 5

30 May

This afternoon I found a new style of motivation, I’m still working on a name for it though: circumstantial motivation, survival motivation?? I was walking (a non-running day today) twenty minutes away from home when I got a flat tyre on the stroller. Not to be deterred, I just over-compensated for the slight lean to the right and carried on. Within five minutes, however, I added to that a run-away dog, a screaming baby and rain. I was definitely deterred and decided to run home in order to get there sooner and end the misery. On the plus side, my incidental exercise tally went up for the week. Don’t know if the exercise endorphins really cancelled out the heightened stress levels though. Aahh, just another day on the road to discipline.

Day 4: What’s my motivation?

29 May

As I was filling out my entry form for the impending race yesterday, I came across a question that was a bit more abstract than the rest: “What is your reason for competing in this race?” While I responded quickly off the top of my head, I have been thinking about that question ever since. What is my reason/motivation/goal/purpose for competing in this race? Is it just to prove that I can be disciplined?

ImageLosing myself along the back streets of Blogland today, I stumbled across a link to lifehack.org, and more specifically, to an article about motivation by Royale Scuderi. He gave a working definition of motivation as:

the force that compels us to action. It drives us to work hard and pushes us to succeed. Motivation influences our behaviour and our ability to accomplish goals.”

Here is a summary of the six types of motivation that Scuderi outlined (and my responses in italics):

Image

1. Incentive: (Extrinsic motivator) how will I be rewarded for achieving a certain target or goal? Hopefully lose some of that bonus baby weight and seeing that chocolate after the race doesn’t really fit this whole discipline philosophy, maybe I’ll add some new shoes or training top as a wager.

2. Fear: (Extrinsic motivator) What consequences await me if I don’t do this? The can’t voice wins again.

3. Achievement: (Intrinsic motivator) How will I become competent by completing this? I’ll prove to myself that I can be disciplined and run that distance. (External motivator) What positive feedback will this lead to? “Wow, your still breastfeeding and your baby is only 5 months old, good for you!” 🙂

4.  Growth: (Intrinsic motivator) how will this propel me to change/grow/improve? I will be more confident in my ability to stick to my plans and not give up which in turn will motivated me to find my next goal and keep disciplined.

5. Power: (Extrinsic motivator) How will this lead to more control over myself or others? I guess it will justify the need for self-control but the connotations for power are a bit full-on and confronting in my mind.

6. Social: How will this help me to connect with others? An in with the stroller group for sure and cement some of my new acquaintances into real friendships through shared experiences.

So I guess none of this is rocket science but it helps clarify in my mind how I work and why I want to do this. I know you’re just dying to find out what my off-the-cuff response was in my entry form, aren’t you.

“I want to do something to help me find my identity outside my new all-consuming role as a stay-at-home mum”

Mmm, I could look really deeply into that as well but I’ll choose to believe that a little bit of each of the answers above are appropriate and relevant, depending on the day and mood. The point is that I’m motivated to stay disciplined and do this race and this proves that I have many reasons to make it happen.

Day 3: I love Mondays

28 May

A good day today, back on track! Monday’s are one of my favorite days of the week. It feels like a chance to start again and get back in routine. Two things that helped:

1. I had stroller group this morning and it was a great motivator. We did beach runs, kettle ball exercises and hill sprints – all with our babies barely contained in their strollers, propped with toys and snacks. There were five other girls there who are training for the same race so we compared notes and kept a competitive eye on each other.

Image

not actually us, but put a beach in the background and it might as well have been. Will have to get the camera out next week!

2. ‘My Fitness Pal’ is an iPad app that tracks calories eaten and exercise undertaken each day. After my revelation yesterday about eating, I decided to start using this app again. After only one day of records, I now have it in writing, I am a carb addict. Mmmm, will have to work on that one.

So this week is off to a bang. I officially registered for the race today and between the blog, stroller group, calorie tracker and money missing from my bank account, I definitely have the tools in place to keep me accountable, now do I have the real-life discipline?

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