Monday, November 16, 2015

My Running Journey Continues

I've been writing about my running journey over the last year and half (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). I had done two half marathon races the few months before I left for Oxford; the second one was pretty rough. I was needing some consistent good running.

One of the things I loved about my time in Oxford was that I got to run almost daily. It was cool weather for running compared to Oklahoma July heat. There were other people in my group that ran, too. I usually ran with Myron and sometimes Patty or April joined us. It was helpful to have someone to run with most days: more accountability to get my butt out of bed early before breakfast and classes. My college was near the University Parks which had running paths, but I also ran through town or on a country path along the River Thames. The University Parks weren't always open that early so we would jump a wall to get into the park. Looking back, that probably wasn't the smartest. It would have been awful if I had twisted my ankle or something jumping down. I preferred running on the country trail. I always saw lots of rabbits hopping about the trail. I got to see crew teams practicing on the river. I had heard about how it's common for English people to take a quick swim. It's true: I saw some English runners stop and take a dip in the river (clothes and all).

The first couple weeks I averaged about 3-4 miles a day, probably getting over 20 miles a week. By the third week, we started upping the mileage and went on some longer runs. Myron and I got lost on our last long run (we are both directionally challenged), and our 9-mile run turned into about a 12-mile run: almost a half marathon. A group of us are hoping to do a half marathon next July when we are back in Oxford.

I came back from Oxford stronger and faster. Running consistently had paid off. Not only did I lose weight in July, but my diet was better too. I came back home with a better attitude about food; I had learned some things. I'm hypoglycemic, and have lived much of my life in fear of my sugar dropping. It's awful when my sugar levels drop so I tend to overeat at night, hoping to curve a sugar drop before bed. My room in Oxford didn't have a refrigerator so I only had a few snacks in my room. I learned that if I ate a good, healthy dinner, I was totally okay without having a snack before bed. Even if I was a little hungry, my sugar levels wouldn't drop. I learned to tell the difference when I really needed to eat and when I just wanted to eat. I ate a banana each morning before my run and did just fine. I didn't have a hypoglycemic attack the whole month of July and knew that I needed to continue that at home. I cook more often since being home to ensure I'm eating better. I'm mostly able to avoid needlessly snacking. I've lost more weight (I'm almost down to pre-Casen size!), but most importantly, I have the energy to run and haven't had any sugar problems. When people ask me how I've lost weight, it's just the boring answer: watch what I eat and exercise.

I started cross-training in August regularly. I ride the bike once or twice a week to give my knees and feet a break from high impact. I also started lifting, mainly because I enjoy it. I made a work out schedule to not only have set times I can work out (five times a week), but I also have specific work outs. Each week includes speed work, hills work out, and a long run. I usually have one day that I just run 4-5 miles at a decent pace but nothing fancy.

The consistency and hard work are paying off. I get a PR every few weeks.

My big accomplishment will be when I run a 7-minute mile.

I'm hoping to break 25 minutes for a 5K soon.

I can run faster longer now.
 I'm working to reach my time goal next weekend for the Tulsa half marathon (close to two hours). Every time I tell someone I'm running the half in Tulsa, I hear one of two things:
"That's a really hilly course."
"That'll be a cold one; it's always is."

So here's to hoping that I have good news to report in a week regardless of hills and cold!

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