Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Envy and Figure 8 Intervals

I've had a bit of a set-back in terms of my OCD behaviors recently. Part of it has to do with the fact that I haven't been able to run regular intervals in a while due to frequent races and injuries and I fear I'm becoming slow. In my mind, the easiest, most effective way to get fast again is to lose weight. And then, as I start my OCD eating and exercise patterns again, I get down on myself because they aren't working fast enough. And then (and here is where I explain how all of my problems stem back to Helen Lavin :)...) I saw this picture of Eve Rukavina on Helen Lavin's blog:

She is accepting her award for winning the Afton trail race 50k in Minnesota in 4:24:11.

Talk about envy. I KNOW that this is always where women go wrong. They see a picture of a woman and think THAT is how I want to look and become unsatisfied when they continue to look, well, just like themselves. If I were wise, I would say "Eve is beautiful and fast and I can also be beautiful and fast but may never look exactly like her". But I am not wise. I am, as always, foolish and get angry at myself for not sticking to my strict diet plan (gosh darn body getting hungry - why do I give in to you?!) and my unrealistic goal of "looking like Eve".

SR had the day off today and offered to pace me in "Figure 8" intervals on the trails in the woods behind our apartment. Well, you know I LOVE intervals, because they are so effective, but I also dread them and start acting like a lunatic if anyone gets near me before I start running them. As SR and I were warming up, I actually started crying, and even sort of accusing SR: "If I were as skinny as Eve, you know I could run 5ks faster!! Why do people tell me I need to weigh MORE to get faster?!?!?"

He always runs away without saying anything when my lunacy starts. Here he is taking a couple pictures of me, still with tears in my eyes before we start the intervals (I am hopeless).

So here is what we did:

8 x approx 1 km intervals each in 4 minutes. This consisted of out-back in one direction, out & back in another direction in the shape of an 8 on the trails and then repeat. 2 minute breaks. Half way through I felt a turtle head. So I squatted down and SR started yelling "go! go! go! 30 seconds" (of course this made me mad, but I love how he pushes me to keep on the schedule. The way I expressed this at the time was "give me a fucking break! I'm taking a shit here!" I think he knew this meant I was glad he was there).

Okay, so the interval session went really, really well and was amazing fun. SR seemed pleasantly surprised that I could consistently run just under 1km in 4 minutes all 8 times. I was surprised, too. But then again I wasn't. I mean, why do I get so down on myself? And even if I couldn't run fast intervals, there is still no reason to get down on myself.

Anyway we are planning to do it every week we can. Hopefully I can run further and further in each of those four minute intervals as time goes on.

As usual, after I get done running intervals, life just seems to make more sense and I can look at my little obsessions and see that yes, I am a fool. But then again, part of me is thankful that I have my obsessions, which help keep me fast and in shape. I have been converted into a lifelong runner of intervals by my husband. And I love him for sticking by me, despite the fact that I don't look like Eve.

When I run intervals, I have noticed I tend to like songs where the lead singer is being tortured in some way. Actually during our last marathon it was a song about drowning and today it was about sinking into quicksand. The song was Quicksand by La Roux. And if you are just too annoyed by La Roux, then I will recommend Some Girls by Nenna Lavonne.


Danni said...

It's fascinating to me how you and I have pretty different envy-meters. I sometimes feel jealous of other women too, but when I see super skinny women I feel greatful for my build. I guess we just have fundamentally different taste :p

SteveQ said...

At every race I go to that Eve races, I see women point at her and say something rude about how skinny she is, how they'd hate to look like that, how if that's what it takes to run that fast they wouldn't bother...

olga said...

I would probably be one of the women Steve is talking about. In fact, I know I would be. Although it is unproven whether she is so fast because of how sickly skinny she is, or because she has a great talant (of course, the thing that she likely trains like hell is a given).
Love the last picture.
Also liked the sound head talking at the end of the post:)

Kate said...

I may disagree with a lot of what you envy, but I totally respect your ability to discuss your OCD tendencies so honestly. It's kind of incredible, really.

cherelli said...

I'm with the others - to me Eve is waaay to skinny. In fact I think you have a beautiful build - could I have your legs please? Glad to hear the intervals brightened your day. I think that is the first time I have seen "turtle head" used that way in a blog :)

sea legs girl said...

Danni, Just to defend myself a little, I actually don't envy just any super skinny woman. In fact, anorexics are gross. But skinny, muscular, in-shape women. That is a different story.

Steve, but what people say to her face is, "Eve, wow, you look so AWESOME!" And the people who say that are not really sure if they believe it (and probably say rude things behind her back), but she gets lots of positive feedback. I'm sure of it.

Olga, I will say that YOU would not be one to compliment her to her face and then talk badly behind her back. Actually you'd probably just run and talk less. Hmmm. Yeah, I love the last pic, too. And "sound head" is such a cool phrase. And that is exactly what I am, or try to be, I guess.

Well, thanks, Kate. That was a great comment. I guess it's not like schizophrenia where people have no insight whatsoever. No, I pretty much always know when I take things too far.

Cherelli, thanks. Well, I guess I will keep my legs, and do actually like them. It's my stupid pot belly I hate the most. Oh and how my legs rub together (under my shorts).

Karen said...

I like that your blog isn't just the "I ran x miles today and it was great" blog, but one that shares thoughts on being a runner... it makes yours more real and a heck of a lot more interesting. Keeps me coming back.

olga said...

Yeah, you're right. I simply don't blabber unless I believe in what I say. My friends (and the rest of those who know me) say they can always count on hearing the truth. I saw another woman on Helen's Picasa from that race, and she was skinny, but muscular-ly so (is that a word?) and no sickly. I liked her. Especially her wash-board abs. I am not immune to envy other gals who in my opinion look strong, not fat, with a solid (but not insane) amount of muscle, and are cute to boot. Now that I am figuring I am gluten/wheat sensitive and trying to minimize the damage, may be, just may be MY pot-belly (that every night extends to about 7 month pregnancy size - and not your, SLG, pregnancy size, but a regular one) will get a bit smaller. Than I might get inspired to shed some fat and work on that six-pack I used to have just 8 years ago. Heck, I had a glimpse of it even 2 years ago! Damn it!
Oh, yeah, your legs are nice, and so is your haircut.

Anonymous said...

One key that you're headed down the wrong track is you are seeing your lack of results as a direct product of giving into temptation and not adhering to a strict diet. You are not an idiot. If you want to train hard and reach a certain elite runner's level, you have to take in fuel, and since you keep craving water/sodium during your runs, it stands to reason that there's some sort of nutritional issue holding you back. Have you considered talking to a nutritionist, one who caters to athletes? My friend was an elite level gymnast and had to consult a nutritionist for her meal plan.

in the long term, upping my calorie intake helped me lose weight - of course this was after a crash diet that I made myself adhere to for about 18 months. You stick to it for that long and the weight loss plateaus and you can't find the energy to increase your workout, and you're in a rut.

Helen said...

I need to defend myself (and my blog)!! For those who don't know Eve she is a super talented athlete (sub 2:50 road marathon) and she does train hard. I would guess she is naturally that build and just has great biomechanics.

You just gotta work out how to balance speed and power with weight and with your own natural body build. I do think you should focus more on energy levels - and track that with what you are eating and how much rest you are getting - weight is definitely a measure and an important factor for racing (less so for ultras as has been discussed here before) but you'll never perform well if you are not giving your body the fuel it needs.

Anonymous said...

I have never posted to your blog but like to follow it, being a Wisconsin gal also.

I agree with Helen and have to fuel your body. You can sure diet down to very thin, but the fact remains, you have to train fast to be fast.

I have been running for 33+ years, I have run a 2:46 marathon PR, as a Master I have run 3:02. I am 5'2" and when I did my 3:02 I weighed 120 pounds....most runners that short often don't top 100lbs. So I was "big" compared to most.

So it's not always about being the thinness...yes it helps to be healthy lean, but if you train hard and train fast the proper weight will follow naturally.

If you "need" to obsess about something( most runners do LOL)keep doing those repeats and get those times down, by doing then weekly!

Good Luck...

Karen S

sea legs girl said...

Karen S,

Okay I just need to clear this up... are you Karen Schoenrock who still holds the 5,000 and 10,000 records at UW Madison from like the early 1980's? If not, I still love you! It is just super cool to meet women from Wisconsin through this blog now that I am so far away. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. And, yes, you certainly can't argue with the fact that you ran a 2:46 marathon! Point well taken that your weight was right for you (and I'm sure it was muscle from what I am gathering about you).

sea legs girl said...

Karen, thanks, great to hear from you again. The nice thing about having a boring blog, though, is that you never lose sleep over what you write. I KNOW I'm too honest when I wake up in the middle of the night and think "Oh, wow, I need to erase that sentence" and get a stomach ulcer lying there, contemplating it.

Olga, I know who you're talking about and she also looked SO awesome. But as Danni said, my envy-meter is a bit "different" and Eve won the beauty pageant in my mind.

Anon, I think you're idea of seeing a nutritionist is a really good one and I would love to get ideas from one.

Helen, When I was as thin as Eve, people said to me nearly daily "you are naturally skinny." Well, no, I was an overweight kid who learned to restrict, restrict, restict and exercise. I am certain that is what Eve does, too. Though I am not convinced what she is doing is healthy, I sure miss how it feels. But if she IS healthy, she is lucky, and again, I envy her. No need to defend your blog :). Everyone loves it.

sea legs girl said...

Oops Karen, I mean UW-Eau Claire.

olga said...

I actually didn't mean to come across as mean but this translation and hurrying up always get me. I was planning to say that I am certain Eve is naturally thingly build, and probably doesn't eat much (some people just aren't as keen of food) and with crazy training that she does it gets the results of looking super-skinny. So, notr that she is sick, it just the look of it is (IMHO).

SteveQ said...

A good photo comparison of top MN women marathoners at the Oly trials:

Only 1 of the 6 is skinny!

Fast Bastard said...

I've said this before and I stand by it: as a result of society's beauty ideals, most female runners are either just right or a little too thin. Most male runners, including myself, would get faster if they lost some weight. Both statements hold true even into the elite ranks.

I think Eve looks good, by the way. I see plenty of sickly skinny women; she looks too fit and toned to be sickly.

Helen said...

Yeeeessss the one and only Karen S rockstar from WI!!! And if we can convince her to run Voyageyr you guys could meet :)

Helen said...

PS Karen S - what SLG really wants to know is what you weighed when you ran 2:46? :)

clea said...

As usual your blog is honest and funny. I love it! I think most runners can drift into somewhat irrational thoughts, and you are just brave enough to put it out there. Keep writing!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Helen has called me out. One and only. I think UW-Madison had this fast girl named Suzy Favor. ;)

I would guess my weight in 1987 (were you guys even walking yet) was about 115-117. I do have pictures somewhere(yes in color. LOL
Honestly back then I never gave it a thought, ate what ever the heck I wanted.
I was thinking about going up to help a Voyaguer....

Karen S

Lisa said...

This has nothing to do with your blog, sea legs, but I am very excited to report that I just won my age group in a 5K, which is the first time I have ever won any running event! I keep reading your blog for inspiration, especially because it shows me that training DOES work and you can become a much faster runner (thin or not!) if you train hard and fast.

Anonymous said...

I feel envy when I look at YOUR photies. haha

Thanks for your honesty.

sea legs girl said...

Wow, having a blog is fun sometimes. Thanks, guys.

Olga, No worries. I don't think we mininterpreted your comment. Though if Eve comes to Texas and throws eggs at your car, I claim innocence.

Steve, I admit, great link. Not as skinny as I would expect for such amazing marathon times. Thanks.

Fast Bastard, Are you saying she looks better than me? I will just add that I think men can get REALLY skinny before it is unhealthy whereas women experience negative health effects sooner due to loss of menstrual cycles. But it is (often :)) hard to tell from a picture whether or not a woman ovulates.

Karen and Helen,
Yes, yes! We want you to come to Voyageur. It would be fun. Would you consider running?

Clea, your comment really meant a lot to me. Thanks for taking the time to write that.

Lisa, that is AWESOME! Of course it has everything to do with my blog (I hope) and I am so glad you let me know. I have left a comment on your blog, which I am sure you have seen...

Anon. :) Well, thanks. I know I shouldn't get down on myself and none of us should. A little envy, I think, is healthy.

PiccolaPineCone said...

I love, love, love those pictures of you & SR.

Anonymous said...

Actions speak louder than words...................................................................