Monday, August 2nd ……….So I made a promise to myself that I would “step-up” my efforts to become a more solid all-around runner after Sunday’s “running hangover”. I’m at a point right now where my expectations far exceed my results as far as my performance is concerned. So, after Monday’s six mile TFK workout, I went home and sat in an ice bath (God am I stupid!) and thought about my weekly workouts and what I was missing. The answer that immediately came to mind: I need to add some abdominal work to my regimen.
Abdominal workouts for me have never been easy – they usually hurt and I never had the greatest definition in the world, so I was always very self-conscious about how I felt as I attempted to do reverse crunches. I always had the desire to look and feel fit and trim….but that would mean cutting out the Oreos and Pop Tarts….and that would simply SUCK. So I constantly struggled with my core. As I have begun to take running seriously – as the goals I have placed in front of myself now require more of me physically than I’ve ever demanded before – I find myself at a crossroads: Slowly fade out the crap that I eat and work on my core (since a solid core is a key to good running), or keep eating those Oreos and simply be happy maintaining the status quo as far as my performance is concerned.
Now if you gave me this decision to make a year ago, I’d silently choose the Oreos and then become very disappointed with my noted lack of improvement year over year in my marathon finishing times. This year, however, is MUCH different. This year I chose to fade out the crap and build myself up slowly but surely. So I have begun actually eating things that aren’t deep fried or sugar-coated (which is completely strange to me – people at work probably think I’ve been replaced with my clone which just so happened to be pre-programmed with a bit of common sense).
I give this new-found lease on life approximately 48 hours…..and then things will probably get ugly. Let’s do the simple mental math folks: ME – crappy food = one helluva cranky man with a heavy Bronx accent. The expletives will assuredly fly……
Tuesday, August 3rd …….. So I wake up this morning with a new lease on life. I went to visit my friendly neighborhood fruit stand guy and purchased a bunch of this healthy stuff: cherries, strawberries, blueberries, etc. I loaded up. Lots of apples. Sat down in my office, took a big bite of a big macintosh apple, and leaned back in my chair. Slowly, a real poop-eating (work with me, lab rats – this is a PG blog, and I’m keeping the English curses out of it – but the Italian ones are fair game) grin cracks across my face: this transition is going to be easier than I thought. Three hours later, the lunch whistle goes off inside my head. I grabbed my wallet, jumped into the elevator (yes, I actually DO jump into the elevator – I hate doing anything normally because there’s just no fun in it), and headed out the revolving door onto Third Avenue in the heart of Manhattan. I looked left. I looked right. But my legs refused to head in a specific direction because my brain was….well….at a loss. Where the heck does a person go for healthy food around here? It was at that moment that The Tool made an appearance, and he was determined to flush my new-found dedication to full-body health right down the gabinetto (for those of you playing the home game: that’s Italian for “toilet”….anything said in English sounds so much better in Italian…)
He sat his tiny rear-end down on my left shoulder and began to whisper sour somethings into my ear….
Tool: “Look – there’s nothing healthy around here. Just go to Ranch 1 and pick up the #6 with an order of large fries and a Diet Coke. And don’t forget the chocolate chip cookie.”
Me: “I’m sure I can get a salad down the block. Now STAI ZITO” (Again, Italian for “shut the hell up” – feel free to use that one whenever possible, because it rolls off the tongue with a bit of flair)
Tool: “You have to run in 5 hours. You need the carbs. Get the #6 and be done with it.”
Me: (heading in to the local joint next to my building) “No number 6’s. Ever again.”
Tool: (Shocked that I made it to the salad bar by passing the pastry stand) “Please don’t do this. Please. It’s going to taste horrid. They don’t deep fry spinach leaves, you know.”
Me: (standing in front of the salad station, a look of utter confusion on my extra large melon) “A large spinach salad please with chicken, corn, low fat cheddar cheese and sesame ginger dressing.”
(The words were actually hard to get out. Seriously. Me? Salad? For lunch? You had same odds of seeing this as possibly spotting a rare white elk wandering the plains of Nebraska)
Tool: “Seriously dude. You are beginning to piss me off. Just wait – I’ll have my chance to lay the smack down on your roody-poo candy ass.”
And POOF….he disappeared. I paid $9 for the salad, almost reached across the counter and head-butted the cashier when I was told the price of this rabbit-sized meal, and waddled back to my desk with my healthy lunch.
By 3pm, I had become cranky. VERY cranky. Swearing off of all of the stuff that I normally ate that was no good for me in one fell swoop was not going to bode well for my brain. Already there was a Broadway-style tap dancing number being performed on my skull, and I was fighting off cravings for anything chocolate. A rough training period was about to get MUCH rougher.
I worked out in the gym for 40 minutes, actually completing several abdominal exercises in the process, prior to heading to the park for a 4 mile run. By the time I got home, the headache was so bad that I just wanted to go to sleep. I didn’t eat dinner…which, of course, compounded my crankiness the very next day.
Wednesday, August 4th to Friday, August 6th ……The rest of the week went by in a haze of snippiness and utter childish retorts to anyone / anything in my path. I ran Wednesday with the team, putting in my required speed work. I ran 4 miles by myself Thursday. Friday I took off to rest my heel. Each afternoon before leaving the office I went through a 40 minute gym regimen. By Friday night, I was so out of sorts that I felt as if I myself became The Tool. I’d wake up each morning cranky, and that’s the best I’d feel all day long.
Saturday morning, however, I would turn a corner…thank God. You ever heard of the term “going cold turkey”? Well this week witnessed me going “cold oreo”….and it was NOT a pretty sight.
LESSON LEARNED: Don’t swear off all of your bad habits at once. One at a time probably works better. Take it from me, lab rats: slow and steady gets you to the marathon finish line. Maybe I’m wrong – but that’s just my two cents.
“The five S’s of sports training are: Stamina, Speed, Strength, Skill and Spirit; but the greatest of these is Spirit.” –Ken Doherty