Checking In: My Exercise Routine

It’s been a while since I’ve last posted about my personal progress, so I thought I would spend this week checking in on my exercise, eating habits, and overall health.

I haven’t discussed my exercise habits other than tacking them on as part of my posts and social media updates, so I wanted to spend some time talking about the routines I do throughout the week and my eventual fitness goals.

Exercise and Me

I have always loved yoga and been practicing since 2005 when I took my first class in college. I want to become an instructor and started the certification process several years ago, but I was coping with flare-ups before my diagnosis,  so I had to put that on hold. I still want to get certified and will hopefully pick it up again.

Yoga always appealed to me because of the stretching and mindfulness aspects, but also because it was low cardio impact depending on the practice.

Growing up, I dealt with childhood asthma. I loved being active as a child, but there was always the concern of overdoing it and having an asthma attack. Yoga appealed to the desire to stay active and fit because of all the great breathing techniques and the low-stress it put on my lungs.

Likewise, as a child, I hated to run. I would sprint during games of tag on the playground, but I’d get winded pretty quickly and didn’t like the way I felt if I ran for an extended period of time. I was never a particularly strong or fast runner, either. I just figured it wasn’t for me and turned to yoga as a means to stay active.

My mom started running when I moved to Georgia and because I am super competitive, I was not about to be outdone by her. I started training informally and ran a few 5ks and worked myself up to a half-marathon.

I found that I actually enjoyed running, but I still wasn’t particularly good at it. My stamina was always bad: I would start a race really strong but I could never sustain myself past a certain point and the idea of running up hills always got me to walk.

I can’t specifically remember the reason why I dropped running other than I got busy with work, managing my MS, and life. When Ash and I discussed starting a family I wanted to pick it back up before I got pregnant but that never happened.

After speaking with my health coach around this time last year, I decided to get back into running more seriously. I trained with my mother and we ran a half-marathon back in October 2017. I’ve been noticing a lot of health benefits like mood improvement and more energy, so my two primary forms of exercise became yoga and running.

The Routine – In Theory

If I am having a good week: no bad weather, colds, toddler interferences, or MS fatigue symptoms, this is how my routine looks:

  • Monday: Yoga/Crosstraining
  • Tuesday: 30-minute run
  • Wednesday: Yoga/Crosstraining
  • Thursday: 45-minute run
  • Friday: Yoga/Crosstraining
  • Saturday: Distance run (5+ miles)
  • Sunday: Rest

I get 3 days where I have at least 30-minute intense cardio from the run and then 3 days of cross-training of some sort to help strengthen my legs and improve my breathing.

I use the Galloway method for stamina building and hill running. I officially started running back in August 2017 and couldn’t make it more than 5-minutes down the road and balked at hills. Now I am able to run 20-minutes before taking a break and hills are a piece of cake.

All of this is great, but unfortunately most weeks I am not able to adhere to this schedule as much as I would like.

Because we have to take Jai on the weekday runs, I have to be mindful of the weather and how he is feeling.

The Trouble with Winter (and Cold and Flu and MS)

I am fortunate enough to live in a location that has minimal snow and ice but still gets cold and wet in the winter. Running in these conditions is possible, but I try to minimize running in the cold and the rain to prevent him from getting sick.

That means that my days of running can be severely limited at times when we are having a cold, wet snap. We are in the middle of a particularly harsh cold & flu season, so it feels like I am only able to go a week or two before someone in the house gets sick and we have to take it easy.

Normally, a person could push through a cold and run no matter what, but because of the MS, I can’t push too hard. If I get sick or prolong my illness, I run the risk of getting an exacerbation and that doesn’t do anyone any good. Ash has to stay home to help take care of Jai and it makes me feel bad that he’s wasting days on me.

Personal Motivation

Despite all of this, I still have high motivation to keep going and training. Since August 2017, I have rarely had a day where I haven’t wanted to go out for a run when I am feeling well. I think it annoys my mother because I am not giving her any breaks in our training.

I feel good and I want to keep those good feelings going.

I am staying motivated to keep running, not so much because of the races or personal records, but because I noticed that my mood changes on the days where I don’t get a full workout in. I will be more irritable and find that I have lower energy to make it through the day. Exercising won’t cure my mood/energy every day, but it helps put a dent in any possible issues.

I am also motivated to keep going because I want to model great habits for Jai. I’ve said this multiple times that I want to be physically available to Jai as he grows up. Exercising won’t stop the progression to SPMS, but it might keep it at bay a little bit longer. My stress level is reduced, my body healthier, and my attitude positive and these all help mitigate flare-ups and progression.

Current Running Victories

Some of my running victories since August 2017:

  • I ran an 8k (5 miles) back on Thanksgiving at 59:16:00. I wanted to do it under an hour and succeeded.
  • I ran a 5k qualifier last weekend in 33:35.  I said to Ash, my mom, and anyone who would listen that I wanted to run it in 35-minutes. I also ran the whole race only stopping for 20 seconds to walk halfway through.
  • My mom and I have another half-marathon planned for mid-March. I am hoping we can finish it in ~2:45:00.

I am still not the fastest runner out there, but I am getting better. Never in my life did I believe I could come within reach of running a 5k in 30-minutes. While I won’t be winning any of these races, I am finding that I stay motivated to get faster and faster with the more Personal Records I make.

Future Victories

In July, I plan to run a major 10k that I’ve run numerous times before. Normally I start later because of how slow of a runner I am, but this year I suspect I will be starting earlier and therefore running in more favorable conditions. I always finish it in 1:05:00 when the weather is cool & wet, but I am going to shoot for a 57:00 run regardless of the weather.

As for longer races, I really didn’t enjoy the half-marathon I did last October. Part of it was because I was sick during the run, but partly because it was extremely cold and poorly organized. One of my best friends recommended running a half-marathon in Savannah around the same time of year and I jumped on the opportunity.

It’ll be flat, a little bit warmer, but more importantly: it will be in Savannah. It’s one of my favorite cities in the South and I haven’t visited in several years.

My ultimate goal will be to run a marathon at some point, but for now, I am going to continue to get fitter, faster, and healthier. Hopefully, I’ll get a marathon under my belt before I turn 40.

Until then I will keep training and focus my exercises towards making me a stronger distance runner so I can run any race without stopping.

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