Friday, June 15, 2012

Are Marathons Bad for Me?

I read a couple of things recently that worry me a bit.  One is an article from Runner's Wotld that shows that runners are generally healthier than non-runners, who run too many miles (more than 20 miles per week), too often (more than 2-5 days per week), or too fast (faster than 8:35) per mile had a higher rate of death than those who ran less.

Exercise: Is It Bad for Some? Is There an Upper Limit for Your Health? What’s Going On?

The other is about intestinal permeability and high intensity running.  It basically says that runners who run at 80% of their VO2 Max had levels of intestinal permeability similar to those with celiac disease or Crohn's Disease.

Effect of running intensity on intestinal permeability

These scare me a bit.  Since I've had problems with my heart and with my digestion during heavy training, I wonder if this is all part of my overtraining problems.

The people studied in the article on intestinal permeability were all healthy, active people around 30 years old.

I already knew, even before reading this article, that my body was telling me I need to take my training a little easier.  These articles make me worry a bit about pushing harder even once a week or so, or even just for the occasional race.  I wonder if it is just running that could potentially be dangerous if overdone, or if swimming or cycling could also be a problem, too.

I'm not getting a lot of comments on my blog, but I imagine at least that I have a few readers still.  Feel free to give me your opinion.  I'd love it if someone would convince me that I shouldn't worry about this stuff so much.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Splash and Dash - June 2012

I did a swim/run AKA aquathlon Thursday.  1500  meter swim in a reservoir, and 3 mile run .

I can't believe it has been 5 years since I first/last did this.  It is a series of three events, once per month in June, July and August.  When I did it back in 2007, it was the inaugural event.

It is funny reading that old blog I linked above. At the time I'd never done a triathlon.  I talked about how much I felt like I didn't fit in, being a little chubby amongst a bunch of muscular triathletes.  I'm about 20 pounds lighter now (though I still don't look like a serious athlete), but the event has changed, too.  There were plenty of other people there who weren't serious athletes with perfect bodies either.

I was excited about doing this race, and nervous in a good way.  I prayed on my way over to the race, thinking about a blog I read that day by a mother I know who is terminally ill with cancer.  After reading her blog, I thought about how precious life is, how fragile and vulnerable we all are, and that any strength that we are blessed with we should receive with gratitude for our Creator.  We all are terminal cases, really, just some of us are closer to realizing it than others.  Maybe those are strange thoughts to have before a race.  It sounds depressing maybe, but it wasn't.  It reminded me how we are all equally dependent upon our Creator, which somehow took some of that burdensome ego out of racing for me.

I really enjoyed the race.  Being a mother really has made me a happier person, but it did change my life completely, and there are bits of my old life I still miss.  Two of those things are open water swimming and being part of a team.  It was fun seeing my old teammates and Coach from T.S.  I didn't get to talk with them all that long or anything, but just a few words of encouragement and smiles made me happy.

As I mentioned in a post earlier, I haven't been swimming much, but I did have a good workout on Saturday, and I realized that I seem to maintain a certain of amount of swimming fitness even if I take a longish break from swimming.  In fact, it doesn't seem to make a difference at all, since I've never really gotten back into shape since I had Rory.  The open water felt like everything I once loved about it, though.  That indescribable feeling of flying, the coolness of the water that soothes my hot running system.  I was surprised I managed to navigate a pretty straight course, sighting every 21 strokes just like I used to.  It was a tight, aggressive swim, but just like I used to, I didn't really mind getting run over, elbowed and having my feet grabbed at.  When that happened I just turned up my legs and swam faster to get away from the offending people.  I told myself going into this that I wouldn't race, but I think I did.  I even negative split the swim, doing the first lap of two laps in 17 minutes and the second in about 16.

I ran the 3 mile trail run hard, but controlled enough that it wasn't torture.  There was a killer hill that I walked up, which was even with walking was the hardest part of the race for me.   I eased off every time I felt a twang of nauseau, breathlessness, or cramps, rather than pushing through.  I knew I'd have to drive myself over a curvy mountain road, which might be unsafe if I got too lightheaded from pushing too hard.  (I took a wrong turn going home as it was.)

I did the run in about 29:47, which includes however long it took me pull on shoes and sock and a race belt.  I don't know what my splits were from a while ago for sure, but I sort of remember doing about 10 minute miles way back in 2007.  My swim was a bit faster then.  If I cared about my times anymore, I guess it would be depressing that my run isn't much faster than I remember it being.  When I did it back in 2007, 3 miles was about as far as I'd run for years, and 6 miles was the most I'd ever run in my whole life.  Now I've put so much more time into running, and I don't seem to be faster.

I don't really care though.  I had fun anyways, and I am proud that I've built up my running distance, even if I've only gotten a tiny bit faster.  And I guess, since I've gotten older, staying the same speed counts for something.  I think I had in my mind that I would get gradually faster with more time spent in the sport, but it seems that most of my gains in speed happened in a short amount of time when I first started.  Not that I wouldn't be thrilled to get faster, but I'm OK with where I'm at.

This was a fun race with a lot of good energy, and not as intimidating as I remember it being. I'm really grateful that I didn't have heart palpitations.  One more example of how I race better when I don't really "train", but just get out and more around and have fun.  It'd be really nice if I could figure out a way to "train" for speed and actually get stronger not weaker, but I don't know how to do it.  I guess if I ever had the money I would find a coach.

I think I will probably do the rest of the series, and maybe do one of more of the three Dip and Dash Races (also swim runs) that are in Flip Flop this summer as well.  That might be it for a race schedule...  I've been invited to join a team of local women doing the Wharf to Wharf as well, but I haven't decided on that one.

I'm sort of inspired to put more time into swimming.  It doesn't seem like putting the energy into running is panning out all that well for me.    I don't want to put the time in expecting to get faster and be disappointed though.  It would involve spending a good deal of my precious free time driving down to Flip Flop to swim while Rory is at preschool.  Is it worth it?  I don't know.  Do I deserve it?  I don't know.  I feel like I get into trouble when I feel like I am entitled to something.

Anyway, this is my third attempt to blog about this race, and I'm going to just hit publish, even though it doesn't seem finished.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Blackened Tilapia - Nightshade Free

I've been a little lax about my diet lately, and am trying to get back on the wagon.  I think after a race (especially a bad one where I need a pity party), I tend to do that.  After watching Rory, Raybon, and lots of other people eat lots of cake, cake pops, and cupcakes at Rory's various birthday celebrations, I indulged in way too much of the gluten free chocolate cake I made.  I've also been eating more nightshade vegetables than I should.  I made some blackened tilapia that was really tasty, but it seems even a milder spice like paprika makes me feel a little inflamed.

So I decided to make some blackened tilapia with a similar recipe, only I substituted powdered ginger  for the nightshade spices. Turned out yummy. Here's the recipe:

Blackened Tilapia - Nightshade Free

2 fillets of tilapia
2 Tablespoons Ginger Rub (Recipe Below)
1 Tablespoon Ghee
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Sprinkle and spread about 1 Tablespoon of the rub over the tilapia.  Let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.  Heat ghee in a cast iron skillet.  Fry tilapia about 4 minutes per side on medium heat.  Squeeze lemon over tilapia and serve.

Ginger Rub:

2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 1/2 teaspoons dried ginger
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme

I said this rhyme to Rory as we ate dinner:

"Fishy, fishy in a brook,
Daddy caught him on a hook,
Mommy fried him in a pan,
Benji ate him like a man."

Rory got a kick out of it and even tasted a tiny bit of fish.  If it wasn't for bacon and sausage, he'd be a vegetarian.  He laughed at the rhyme and tried to make up his own funny saying about a Hungry Wolf eating Mommy.

Anyway, since I have cut back on my workouts I feel like I have more energy to cook, so hopefully my diet will be better from here on.

I did start training again last week.  I got into the pool for the first time since around February on Wednesday.  It was at that tiny little pool up here in the mountains I blogged about a while ago.  Just an  easy 45 minute swim with no clock or watch of anything, swimming alongside a handful of folks, none of whom seemed to be doing a recognizable stroke.  I then did an hour and a half Masters workout on Saturday in Flip Flop at the County's pool.  I was surprised I wasn't much slower than last time I swam there. I guess if you never were in shape to begin with, you can't really get out of it.  I ran on Sunday and today, which was more painful than expected for two really slow 40 minute runs.

I was grouchy after my runs.  I guess I was actually grouchy when I woke up on Sunday.  It might be the hard swim and soreness, but getting woren up at 5:30 in the morning by my angry little 3 year old doesn't help.  I think it might have more to do with hunger and carb withdrawals than working out.  I'm trying to be more Paleo again.  I mostly was still following it, but made an exception for rice, and even occasionally gluten free pizza and sandwiches.  I ate a lot of rice.  I kinda wonder if my body was getting not as good as burning fat for fuel, because for my 20 mile run and my marathon, I took Hammer Gels more often than I normally would, because I was fatigued and hungry.  Sigh.  Well, I don't know that I will do another marathon or very long event again, but if I do, that might be something to think about.