Tag Archives: caffeine

ideal running conditions

If I’ve learned anything during this short foray into running, it’s that my body and mind depend on a certain set of conditions to be met before and during my run. Those precise conditions are something I’m still trying to nail down.

I had a wonderful 3.15 mile run on a nearby trail this weekend. It felt effortless and smooth. I took a few very short walking breaks but only because there are a few very steep hills on the trail and I didn’t want to expend all my energy climbing them: the breaks weren’t a necessity due to fatigue or breathlessness, a fact I’m proud of. I’ve been anxious to get back on that trail, and I did so today after work. This run felt laborious, difficult, and I was absolutely exhausted. I only completed 2.46 miles and I took a few extra walking breaks that I didn’t take on Sunday (but I did complete a mental and physical challenge: climb one of the steeper hills).

Last week I ate a lot of processed junk and drank a lot of beer, so this week I’ve been paying special attention to my diet: clean eating, lots of fruits and veggies, no beer. I thought this would help my run today, but it didn’t. I started to retrace my every motion from Sunday. What made that run different?

On Sunday, the weather conditions were perfect. It was about 80 sunny degrees during my mid-morning run. About an hour previous, I’d downed two cups of coffee so I was probably still feeling a caffeine buzz. Let’s not forget that it was the weekend so I’d slept a delightfully long weekend sleep. Perhaps most importantly, I hadn’t spent 2 hours in the car and 8 hours working prior to the run.

Fast-forward to today: it was cloudy, humid, and buggy. I had spent 2 hours in the car and 8 hours working before my run. And, though I’ve been trying to eat cleanly, I did eat a clif bar around 1:30 (which was the last time I ate before my run) and my body could have been experiencing a sugar crash by the time I went for my run at 5.

I’m a very calculated person and I refuse to accept that one day, I can run 3 miles effortlessly and three days later, I struggle just to get through the first mile. I’d like to get a discussion going, hopefully from both the running novice and the running extraordinaire: what are your ideal running conditions in relation to diet, drink, time of day, weather conditions, mood, etc.? How do you get through the difficult runs, if you have them? Am I the only one that experiences such inconsistency?

On Sunday, I thought I could easily blast through a 5k and potentially shoot for an eventual (in a year or two) half-marathon. Today, I don’t even know if I could get through a 5k in under 50 minutes. Are these simply the growing pains of the young runner?

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weight loss challenge update

I recently wrote about the weight loss challenge my boyfriend and I are doing together. We took a hint from The Biggest Loser and decided a more fair measurement would be percentage weight lost rather than weight in pounds. Unsurprisingly, he won last week (but only by 0.2%!) and this meant he was able to dole out a week-long punishment to me. He said it was difficult to find a punishment because I’m (usually) so healthy, but he zeroed in on my one weakness aside from sweets (which, let’s be honest, he’s probably saving for next time): coffee.

The punishment: No coffee on days I don’t work out. Obviously, the end goal here is to make me work out every day this week so I can have my precious coffee. Maybe this doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but I start each and every work day with a 22 oz humungous travel mug full o’ joe. I have this vision in my head that me without coffee = trainwreck. It’s probably much more psychological and much less based in fact, but I don’t chance it! I have never, since starting my professional life, forgotten my coffee in the morning. I actually set my coffee pot the night before and have it on a 6:30 am timer. This saves me money and calories I’d otherwise be spending at the Starbucks in my office building. I don’t think I’m really addicted to caffeine, per se…but how would I know, seeing as I haven’t gone a day without it in years? I think it’s more that I’ve always consumed coffee is a treat. It’s a warm, soothing beverage I like to enjoy and on particularly bad days in the past, I’d treat myself with an afternoon Starbucks. Coffee is a little reward I allow myself each day, much the same as people reward themselves with a few squares of dark chocolate, or a cookie, or an after work drink.

So, I didn’t work out Saturday or Sunday (big surprise). I didn’t even work out yesterday (it was Memorial Day, after all!) but he surprised me with a soy latte anyway and chalked it up to a “holiday treat” (can you see why we’ve had trouble losing weight in the past?) Today, I dragged my butt to the gym and suffered through my first workout in two weeks. The flaw in the system is that I consume my coffee in the morning but don’t work out until the afternoon. In theory, I could easily have my coffee and just decide not to exercise after work–but that wouldn’t be fair.

I got home and curiously stepped on the scale, knowing I wasn’t going to like the number after my weekend cupcake binge. The verdict: I’m up three pounds since Friday. Ugh. But, there are factors to consider, like I normally weigh myself in the morning before eating and today I weighed myself after eating all of my meals. I’ve historically had a difficult time keeping weight off. The minute I slip up, the weight comes crashing back to my belly. It’s always belly weight, too, which is apparently the worst place to carry extra weight because of all the increased health issues, like cardiovascular disease. I envy women that pack weight onto their thighs or butts. It seems like a better location for extra poundage–me, I’ve always carried around a spare tire.

This week will be a difficult one just to break even, much less lose. We’ll see who comes out victorious on Friday!

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