Category Archives: Yoga Mat to 5K

Yoga Mat to 5K: RACE DAY!

We’ve come a long way, baby.

November 4th, 2010 was Run #1 in my Yoga Mat to 5K Challenge.  Four months and nine days later I ran my first official 5K.  With a posted time of 33:10 and a 10:41 pace, I feel elated, tired and strangely humbled by the whole experience.

Running in an actual race is everything you hear: the people cheering, clanging cowbells, the incredible energy of the crowd and the cute kids hanging out for “high fives” along the race route, it all contributes to an experience that literally races by.  3.1 miles have never gone so quickly.

While the experience itself, which I’ll get to more of in a moment, was amazing, the days leading up to the race were awful.  My last pre-race run was truncated by both calves seizing up to the point where I couldn’t flex or point my feet without significant pain.   Even the day before the race, they were still really tight and I was worried I’d start running only to have them freeze again and I’d be done.

The issues with my physical body created a vicious negative feedback loop in my brain.  I’ve talked about self-talk here before, and that for 30 years I have believed, with out a doubt in my mind, that I am not fit, not athletic, can’t run and am hopeless at sports. In the past year, I have started dismantle these beliefs. It is a slow, gut-wrenching process with some mild successes and some failures.

When the issue with  my calves came up and I thought that maybe I won’t be able to run on Sunday, it fed right into three decades of negative self-talk. All the “of course you can’t.  You’ve never been able to do this.  Why think you can do it now?  You’re hopeless/worthless/not good at things like this” was right there at the surface.  I was a mess and it just got worse as race day approached.

The night before I got about an hour or two of sleep.  Most of the night was spent tossing and turning and trying to shut off the mental noise. I couldn’t get the voice to zip it. No matter what, though, I had committed to running this race and I was going to give it a try.

In the months to prior, I told people that all I wanted was to cross the finish line with a smile.  Total horseshit.  I wanted to do WELL.  I wanted to run a respectable time (anything less than an 11 minute mile would be disgraceful) and I wanted to finish strong.  Talk about putting pressure on myself!

smiling thru the jitters

Race day came, whether my mind or my calves were ready or not, so I got all dolled up in my little “costume” (hey, it’s a St Patrick’s race!), had a bite to eat (sprouted whole grain raisin toast with raw almond butter, sliced bananas and cinnamon), slugged down as much water as I could handle without having to pee mid-race, and off we went.

Luck was with us for weather: it was cool (COLD if you weren’t running) and it sprinkled just a little, but as I was told, the cool, humid air is perfect for running.  I can see why.  We warmed up quickly, thanks to a hill right off the bat, but my run buddy and I set an even pace and just kept hoofing it.

I was amazed at how quickly the first mile passed.  Mile #2 was less thrilling as my calves started to tighten.  I told them NO WAY IN HELL!  I am not stopping.  So I ran through it and while the tightness remained, the pain stayed away.

The rest was a blur, especially once we came around the final corner and saw the finish line.  I really wish I had a camera but I was way to focused on running to take pictures.  We were somewhat thwarted in our final sprint at the end. About 50′ to the finish line was a traffic jam of people, forcing everyone to stop and slowly walk over the finish line.  Oh well.  No photo finish but I finished.  And with a HUGE smile.  🙂

Thirty years of negative self-talk dismantled in 33:10. Out of the 5112 registered runners, I don’t think anyone could have been happier. There was a LOT to celebrate.  I am so grateful to all the wonderful women I ran with, those who supported and cheered from the sidelines and those we raised glasses with after.

So what does all this mean?  Well, it means I know I’m not useless when it comes to running and that’s a big step in eliminating negative self-talk.  I’ve been told that the “running bug” will bite and next thing I know I’ll be training for a marathon.  Never say never, but right now I’m thrilled with completing 3.1 in a reasonable time. 🙂

(But I did register for the 18th Annual Corrib Classic 5K on June 5th. ::wink::)


Yoga Mat to 5K: At the Starting Line

Getting psyched and trying not to let nerves get to me less than a week out from my first race ever.  Doubts are starting to creep in a bit, even though I’ve run 3.2 miles twice over now.

Last week I ran with my marathon-runner friend and she shared good advice about training this final week: one short run on Monday (check), a 3.2 miler on Wednesday and then no running until Sunday.   Sounded great to me … until about 2.7 miles into my penultimate run.  My previously fractured right big toe just gave out.  It HURT!  I tried to run through it for about a tenth of a mile and then my right calf seized up so that I couldn’t even step. OUCH!  We walked the last half mile back to the gym.

I’m hoping that the run prior to a race is supposed to be crappy: like the last tech rehearsal before the curtain goes up on a new show.  Last night was crazy painful and this morning wasn’t much better as I limped/hopped to the bus station.  The worst part isn’t the pain though, it’s the frustration I feel at my body.  I’ve been working towards this goal for MONTHS.  How DARE  my body get in my way!  {Deep yoga breaths}

Between elevating my foot, massaging my calves, rolling around on a foam roller and popping Advil like it’s my job, I’m resting, breathing and taking it easy until Sunday.  Really looking forward to a gentle home practice tonight and a longer practice tomorrow in the heat.

In the meantime, I’m trying to find things to be grateful for so I don’t end up wallowing in useless self-pity.  I AM grateful that I made it this far and I know that I can run for 30 minutes without feeling totally winded.

I am so grateful for the yoga teachers who let me roll around on my mat in the back of the studio.  After the sun salutations I tend to veer off and do my own thing in an attempt to stretch/strengthen my quads, calves, hamstrings and hips. This usually means skipping some of the standing and balance poses.  Side angle lunge (parsvakonasana) is feeling GREAT these days, stretching side body and opening chest and shoulders, which get so tight when I run!  Other poses I’m loving are triangle, dancer, low lunge, double pigeon and a good loooooooong frog.  I could just MELT in frog. Love love love love it.  Gratitude for frog pose!

Run #18
Time: 39:01
Distance: 3.3
Pace: 10:04 (!!!)
Terrain: Charles River trail
Music: none:  ran outdoors with a girlfriend

Run #19
Time: 19:30
Distance: 1.7 miles (ugh)
Pace: 10:40
Terrain: DREADmill
Music: iPod Run Mix (will post soon!)

Run #20
Time: 34:02
Distance: 2.7
Pace: approx 10 min mile
Terrain: Charles River Trail
Music: none

Will let you all know how the race goes on Sunday!

P.S. Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead when you go to bed on Saturday!

Yoga Mat to 5K: The Countdown Begins!

Two weeks left!  I’m really starting to hope I can just finish the race without having to walk, but after this week’s run, it seems less and less likely.  I’m hoping it’s like tech week before a theatre performance: the worst performance is always just before the best.  The “dreadmill” played a huge part in creating running apathy and boredom.  Not being able to run outside is really frustrating.

Run #17
time: 31:51
distance: 2.4 miles
pace: 13:15
terrain: treadmill (ugh)
music: Podrunner Intervals; Week 7

It was supposed to be a 35 minute run, with a 5 minute warm up, a 25 minute jog, then a 5 minute cool down, but I got so bored/tired/frustrated about 18 minutes in that I just called it quits and walked the rest of the way.  Blah.


Yoga Mat to 5K: 3 Weeks Left

Only three weeks left in my training. Starting to get excited and a little nervous, but feeling more prepared than I was even a week ago.  This is mostly due to a small mistake in timing I made in Thursday’s run. I’ve never had a great sense of timing, especially when it comes to judging distances.  I thought it would take me 30ish minutes to run from HBS to the BU Bridge along the river and back. HAHAH!  I both way overestimated my pace as well as the distance, and what was supposed to be a 25 minute long jog turned into a 40 minute jog.  The upshot is that I proved to myself I can jog at a steady pace for 3.2 miles (3.6 in this case).  The downside is that my legs are TIRED.  Not sore but very, very tired.  But hey, I jogged a 5k!!!  Didn’t mean to, but sometimes mistakes turn out alright!

Thursday was also the first outdoors run since December 6th.  Boston’s had a gorgeous few days with temps well into the 50s.  We’re even starting to see some bare ground!  There are still some icy patches along the trail, but most of it was clear and perfect for an early morning run.  It felt SO GOOD to be back outside.

Run #15
time: 32:23
distance: 2.67 miles
pace: 12:06
terrain: treadmill
music: Podrunner Intervals, Week 6: Mix 2

Run #16
time: 45:26 (!)
distance: 3.6 miles (!)
pace: 12:36
terrain: Charles River trail, HBS to BU Bridge and return
music: Podrunner Intervals, Week 6: Mix 3 and “Run1” mix on ipod


Yoga Mat to 5K: Update

the only time treadmills are cool

I’m averaging one run a week right now.  Not good.  Not good at all.  Inability to run outdoors is the number one issue.  Other complicating factors are time and work/teaching schedule.  Even though I let go of one class, I’m still having a hard time fitting in my running, let alone time to practice yoga.

Here’s my question to those who live in winter climates: how do you fit in time for your running? I would especially love to hear from people who also juggle multiple work/fitness/teaching/family commitments.

This week’s run was awesome: felt great, energized and even amped up my pace a little to a little more than a 10 minute mile.  This is FAST for me 🙂

Run #14
time: 33:35
distance: 2.75 mi
pace: 12:10
terrain: treadmill to nowhere
music: Podrunner Intervals Week 6:Mix 1




I hate writing. I love having written
– Dorothy Parker

I read this quote in Caroline Myss’ Anatomy of the Spirit.  Myss was referring to developing personal power and how “it feels like heaven once we’ve arrived, but the journey getting there is long and arduous.”  In the margin next to that sentence I wrote “I hate meditating/running.  I loving having meditated/run.”

When I posted the “I hate running. I love having run” statement on Twitter, there was a flurry of replies and retweets, mostly along the lines of “YES! Exactly!”

Anything worth having is worth putting in effort for, be it personal power, growing a meditation practice, training for a run, or starting yoga.  I felt the same way about yoga when I first started the way I now feel about running.  I had to bribe myself into going to class, usually with some little treat or going with a friend.  Once I got into the class, then it was self-reinforcement of “just try three more breaths.  Two more.  Last one. OK, now you can go to child’s pose.”  My yoga practice wasn’t meditative at all for the first couple years because I was keeping up a running dialog with myself, trying to keep myself going and keep myself from quitting.  The biggest reason I didn’t quit: I felt so damn GOOD after class.  There’s really nothing to describe the feeling in your body and mind after a well-balanced yoga class.  It defies description and can only be experienced.

With running I’m back to the self-bribery.  Hey, what can I say?  It works for me. I bribing myself with “run until the clock hits 20 minutes, then you can walk” or “run until this song and the next are over and then you can dial the pace down” or, my personal favorite, “run another 3 minutes and you can have hot chocolate after dinner.”  The things I do to motivate myself.

However, I love the feeling after I run.  The feel of well-used muscle, the freedom of breathing without exertion, that almost-lightheaded feeling, which I think might be “runner’s high”.  It keeps me getting back on the treadmill, despite the numerous conversations I have with myself to actually get me there.

It’s also far more mentally challenging to run on a treadmill (running to nowhere = SO BORING) than running outside, but until Mother Nature decides to stop dropping 10+ inches of snow every week, I’m stuck indoors, running to nowhere.

I hope that, in the near future, I can get back to a meditation practice.  I tried this fall and had to let it go.  Perhaps self-bribery can work for that too.  “Just sit another two minutes and then you can go running.” LOL!

What do you have a love/hate relationship with?


Yoga Mat to 5k: Run #12 and #13

Here’s hoping the recent warmer temps clears some of the ice off the paths and I can get back outside for some running.

In the meantime, I’m duking it out for a treadmill with the students who are returning to campus and determined (for the month of January) to get fit.

I’ve also introduced some upper body weight training.  I’m already noticing some extra strength not only in my running and endurance but in my yoga as well.  It’s no longer quite so hard (but still not easy!!) to hold the low plank/chaturanga dandasana.  Currently I’m mostly working with machines, but would love to learn more about free weights if anyone has any good recommendations and resources on weight training.

OK — back to the subject of running.

Run #12
Time: 29:31
Distance: 2.28 miles
Pace: 12:54
Terrain: treadmill
Music: Podrunner Intervals, Week 5:2

Run #13
Time: 29:34
Distance: 2.2 miles
Pace: 13:9
Terrain: treadmill
Music: Podrunner Intervals, Week 5:3

As I was warming up and listening to the intro to week 5, mix 3, I was shocked when I heard I’d be running for TWENTY MINUTES.  WHAT?  I honestly wasn’t sure I could do it … BUT IT DID!  YAY!!!  Feeling a huge huge huge sense of accomplishment.

While I like the Podrunner interval series, I’m starting to look forward to when I have the fitness level and endurance to run to my own music.  Right now the interval training is still the best thing for me (the walking breaks are perfectly timed!) but I long to listen to some of the fun, cheerful music I’ve got waiting for me.  Always good to have something to keep you motivated 🙂