Pace Yourself

On Tuesday I tried my very first speed workout with my Garmin watch. 4 x 800, which is a 1/2 mile or two laps of a 400 meter track. It was rather challenging. I had no idea how fast I should run during the speed intervals. Fortunately my dailymile friends had some good advice. One of them even gave me a link the Macmillian Pace calculator. All you have to do is plug in a distance and time, and it calculates what pace you should be aiming for on different types of runs. I learned that I’m not very good at pacing myself. I shouldn’t be pushing myself so much on all of my runs. Now I have a target pace for short runs, speed workouts, medium runs, and long runs. I can already tell it’s making a difference. Instead of being tired and barely making it through runs at top speed I now feel comfortable during runs and still feel like I can go further after I finish. I need to pace myself.

I haven’t always been good at pacing myself. Okay, I’m still not really good at it. This week has been no exception. Friday I strained some tendons in my left arm. I pushed myself and kept practicing despite the fact that my arm hurt. Big mistake. I know better, but I wanted to do better at my lesson, which I eventually ended up canceling because my arm was bothering me too much to even play. I needed to pace myself. I always feel like I push myself to meet the expectations of others instead of pacing myself and making sure things are right. Before my senior year in high school I was at a summer program when I ended up severely straining my left forearm tendon. I still had concerts, and an audition coming up and I kept going. I did 5 concerts in three days. It landed me in physical therapy for the next four months trying to get rid of the pain. I missed the audition, and my college auditions didn’t go well. I pushed, and I had bad technique.

Fast forward to grad school. One day I was walking from the library and a lovely gust of wind turned my violin case into a kite. I strained a tendon in my right shoulder three days after my graduate violin recital hearing (thank goodness it was after the hearing!). The doctor I saw gave me a note to all of my music teachers. He didn’t want me to push, and he was going to make sure no one else pushed me either! I had to take a week off. My violin teacher wasn’t happy at my next lesson (he was out of town when I hurt my shoulder so I at least had a break from lessons), but I had paced myself and was pain free and working hard toward my recital which was three weeks later.

You would think I had learned my lesson after all of this. Even when I’m not hurt I still push. I feel like I disappoint people a lot when I’m not at the level they want me to be, or doing what they think I should be doing, but I’ve learned that it’s more important to do things right than to have all of my pieces up to tempo, or anticipate what people think I should be doing. It’s better to do things right than to push and only do them half way. I keep reminding myself of that. Yesterday I practiced for the first time this week. An hour and a half all pain free. I didn’t get to everything, but what I did do was good. I’ve set a foundation for the week to build off of as things get better. I keep reminding myself that it’s more important to make sure things are right than to push myself with the amount of material or speed. This week I’m focusing on pacing myself!

Overwhelmed and frustrated

Right now I have ice on my shoulder and wrapped around my left wrist. Things were going pretty well earlier in the week. I finally found the right spot for my chin rest so I can hold my violin without messing up my shoulder. It also means I can get around the fingerboard much easier, which means I play better. Things were sounding really good. And the came Friday. I put an IKEA bookcase together and apparently did in my left shoulder and wrist. I couldn’t play at all on Friday. It still hurt yesterday, but I practiced anyway. I felt like if I called and canceled my lesson I would be in big trouble. Today I was doing okay. Still a little sore but getting around. I’m pushing myself. I know what I’m doing is wrong. My lesson last week didn’t go well. I feel like everything is suppose to be up to tempo, and perfect. I can’t seem to get there, and it’s making me very frustrated and inpatient. It makes me feel like I’m never going to get to where I want to go. I’ve messed my left wrist up pretty bad before. It took 4 months of PT to be pain free after a serve tendon strain. My doctor thought it was tendonitis, the hand specialist he referred me to rolled her eyes. I know that I shouldn’t be playing when it hurts.

So, I’ve stopped, which is incredibly frustrating because I have so much to do. But I know that I’m never even going to get to the audition if I don’t stop and take care of things. I’m sure tomorrow’s lesson is not going to be great, but I can’t help that or worry about it right now.

I’m going to take the dogs for another walk, make some white bean chicken chili for dinner, and wish I had a chocolate cupcake instead

No more knots!

This morning the knots in my calves disappeared!! While this may not sound like a big deal, it a huge step forward. I started noticing after my first marathon 2 years ago that I get a lot of really bad knots in my calves after a run. I would stretch and use my massage stick, but I could never really get rid of them. Until this week. I have done more squats, push ups, lunges, and sit ups than I have ever done in my life this week, and I can tell they are making a difference. I suspect that the combination of squats, lunges, some awesome stretching, and my massage stick have made the difference. Despite a less than stellar run this morning (everyone has a bad one from time to time) I currently do not have any knots in my calves! Despite some tired legs from strength training it feels really awesome. If this is a sign of what is to come, I’m pretty darn excited!

On a completely unrelated topic, I found a few things yesterday that I wanted to share:

The New York Times had an article yesterday about figure skater Tanith Belbin. She talks a lot about her struggles with eating and how it affected her training. I think it’s so brave to share such an important message. I started running as a way to get healthy, and to try and avoid the health problems that have plagued my parents. Within the last year I started making small changes to how I eat so that I can be an even stronger runner. I think that’s part of the reason this article has been on my mind so much. How you eat can play a huge roll in how you feel.

The other is a video made by a fellow Team in Training member about her honored hero. It is so beautiful and moving. There were a few tears while watching it.