11.03.2017

Mission Complete: Hadrian's Wall

Things have been crazy busy in my life but somehow I managed to complete a virtual mission of running Hadrian's Wall in less time than predicted. Yay me! I knew running was becoming bit of a challenge for me so I selected a mission that was doable but yet pushed me, 90 miles for Toby.

Who's Toby?

Toby is an amazing little boy in Nebraska who I run for. We were matched in the I Run4 Michael program way back in 2014 if I remember right. Geesh! Time does fly! Toby has Down syndrome so every now and then I will post some Down syndrome awareness posts and you can search for those in the blog's search bar if you want to learn something today. But right now, Hadrian's Wall.

Hadrian's Wall is the third mission I have done through My Virtual Mission. My first was a self-created mission where I ran from Maui to Nebraska for Toby connected our homes over miles and miles and miles. Obviously this mission took some time as 3,614.4 miles is a lot of running! After that I opted to do one of their hosted missions and tackled LEJOG and those 1,083.8 miles seemed like a breeze after 3,614.4 but I kept falling behind time after time. I needed a mental boost - Hadrian's Wall. I will post more on LEJOG later but if you want to do a mission yourself, follow this link and please use the reference code EG276. And yes, if I get enough referrals I get to do a free challenge for my buddy. Just saying.....and being honest.

And now for a little history - what is Hadrian's Wall?

Hadrian's Wall was built in the 120's AD under the direction/order of Emperor Hadrian as he wanted a wall between Scotland and Roman Britain. The wall extended from Wallsend to Bowness and in 140AD another wall was ended further north. The completed wall had 80 milecastles (small rectangular forts usually placed one Roman mile away from the next), numerous observation tours, and 17 larger forts. You can still visit the wall today and see remnants that are still standing in various locations such as Housesteads and Heddon-on-the-Wall.

Here is one picture of Hadrian's Wall (source)


I started my mission on September 8, 2017 to run the 90 mile course. My goal was to complete it in a reasonable amount of time, hopefully by the end of October with how my recent mileage has been.

Take a look at my recent mileage.....


I think you can see how August plummeted and why I wanted to get my focus back on. This graph is from Daily Mile but I have now switched to Strava. You can find me HERE. I made this switch mainly because the Daily Mile app is so outdated it no longer functions on my phone and doing the whole web updating, either via computer or phone, was too cumbersome. I want that time to go to fitness not logging in and other issues. 

I completed my mission on October 23, 2017 and immediately received this certificate via email and was prompted to verify my mailing address so the medal could be sent to me, which I always quickly receive and that says a lot for a girl living on Maui. 


All in all, I love these challenges and feel they are a value for the cost involved. I do wish this one had the post cards associated like LEJOG did but that is a story for another day. Stay tuned....

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the kind and loving heart of my daughter who truly shows me the grace and love of God. 

Daily Bible Verse: Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders. ~ Isaiah 49:22

10.30.2017

Marriage Post Round-up

Marriage is tough. It is hard work and I come across some in life who seem to have it down pat and some are struggling. It got me to thinking, are there some key elements involved in all of this? Of course, I have my ideas but I am asking you today to take 2 minutes out of your time to answer a quick 10-minute survey. All it requires is that you are married or have been married.

Marriage Survey -- just click the link for quick and easy access to the survey. Your responses are completely anonymous and I am collecting NO personal data, not even your email.

If you want to ensure you read the survey results, subscribe to the Erica Gorman Fitness newsletter.

Thanks so much and God bless!

10.20.2017

The benefits of napping

Did you know more than 85% of mammals are polyphasic sleepers? That means they sleep for short periods throughout the day. Think of your pet dogs, cats, or guinea pigs. Ever catch them napping? And what about our young kiddo's and elderly….do they nap?

There is a reason for that and unfortunately, at least in America, we are so busy, so driven, so pressed to get things done, that napping and sleeping often fall to the wayside.

To me, a good nap is 10-30 minutes long and guess what?! This falls into industry standards of the proper time length for a nap. I often aim for the shorter naps (15-20 minutes tops) but I was happy to know I was on target with length even if a nap happens once in a blue moon.

Naps can be categorized as planned, emergency, or habitual. I am the emergency napper. "Darling, I need to catch a few z's right now or I am going to collapse!" Planned napping is just like it sounds. You schedule it into your day. Hmmm….maybe a 20 minute nap today at 2:00 pm? OK! It is on my schedule. Habitual napping happens each day, same time, same place, kinda like those nap schedules you tried to have with your kiddo's when they were young. Oh how I  miss those days! I would either nap or run on the treadmill while darling slumbered.

Naps can improve alertness and performance but don't go too long or they will leave you groggy and may negatively impact your sleep performance that night.

But are they any other benefits to napping?

Yes! Napping can improve your memory, prevents burnout and information overload, heightens your senses and creativity, improves your mood, and improves your health as when you sleep your body releases growth hormone. This boosts your immune system and is a natural combatant to cortisol, or your stress hormone. Growth hormone also aid in muscle recovery and that is good news for runners. Hey, it may even increase your running performance!

Click HERE to learn about factors that impact running performance.

Some argue that longer naps are acceptable for certain reasons, such as resting your mind for a test, but please, don't nap too close to bedtime. You need at least 3 hours of awake time post nap to get a good night's sleep too.

Personally, I do not like long naps. They mess with me so I guess I am the "caffeine boost" energizing 15 minute napping type of gal. I wonder what darling daughter will think if I become a habitual napper?

"Mom, you are so boring!"

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my occasional naps.

Daily Bible Verse: And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. ~ Mark 6:31

10.13.2017

Factors that Impact Running Performance

As time goes by, my running pace has been slowing. I have battled a lot this past year. Anxiety. Depression. PTSD. I have gone to a healing retreat, therapy, on and off anti-depressants, and am tired. It has been a tough year for me physically and emotionally but not only for myself but for others. So many of those I love are facing their own challenges and as much as I tried not to focus on my running pace in the grand scheme of life, it kept coming back up in my mind, I am getting slower. Why?

I love science and try to look for good solid proof to support my ideas. I had many ideas of things that could be impacting my performance but what could I do, or should I do, to turn things around?

In a nutshell, I researched a multitude of my thoughts starting with alcohol. You can read more about alcohol and running HERE and yes, alcohol consumption can impact your running performance but the thing is, I didn't drink that much. And when I stopped, my running pace remained the same although I do sleep better and have less stuffiness without alcohol. Those are two good things. I won't go deep into the effects in alcohol on your body as I recently blogged about alcohol and running.

Sleep quality also impacts running performance as sleep is when your body heals and refreshes itself especially during the deep sleep and REM phases. And yes, with early wake-up times I was getting less hours of sleep but with no alcohol, etc. my sleep quality is improving. Less hours but better quality sleep. My FitBit helps me monitor this and even though some days I wonder if sleep is a factor, over the grand scheme of months of decreased performance, I can't blame sleep.

Heat also impacts running performance. The higher the temperature, the more you can expect your pace to decrease. I blamed this while I was in Texas this summer running but once back on Maui, to the temps I am used to, and still experiencing the same sluggish pace, heat obviously was not my issue.

Weight impacts running performance. Sorry it does but even though I have gained a few pounds over the past months, I am pretty much at the same weight I have been for years. I tend to fluctuate between 118-125 pounds so I don't think I can say, lose a few and get your pace back. Plus, I feel this is my healthy weight as I always gravitate back to it even when a few times it has dipped down to 110-115 and I am happy with my range as way back when I was in college, I was much heavier. I am in a good place and thankful but for those who want more weight details here is a chart on how weight loss can impact your pace.


Please note, as the race distance increases, your BMI (body mass index) comes into greater play but yet, this still did not seem to be the reason for my decline. 

What about nutrition? I eat well but am dairy free. Is there something there that could be coming into play? My routine physicals are coming back good and in range but one thing that was not checked in my past physical was my Vitamin D levels and this is something I have been low in during the past and something I do not supplement well on a regular basis. And believe it or not, Vitamin D at adequate levels can improve your running performance. It can be found naturally in tuna, eggs, and soy milk - three things I consume on a regular basis so I feel I may be okay but I did start trying to take my Vitamin D on a more regular basis.

After crossing thing after thing off my list I had to face the fact I was trying not to face. 

Perimenopause.

Perimenopause is something I have blogged about and pondered over four years ago. You can read that post HERE but with that in mind, it is something worth taking seriously so let's talk about it a bit more today.

Perimenopause can last up to 10 years and the average age of menopause for women in the US is 51. Ladies, that means you can be venturing into perimenopause at age 41! Ironically, that is about how old I was when I first blogged about it. The good news is running is good for you during this time of transition and it can help mitigate hot flashes. Yay! And I got to say, hot flashes are not an issue for me. But the decrease in estrogen does not only trigger hot flashes but also insomnia, weight gain, headaches, anxiety, and depression. You already know from sentence one of this post that some of those fit me perfectly...and FYI, I am battling a headache as I type this post. 

You are also more sensitive to heat, need to protect your bones with essential Calcium, watch your Vitamin D levels, and be aware that muscle mass can decrease. I am hoping my over one year commitment to added cross training and weight training is helping with keeping my muscle mass intake and just recently bit the bullet and bought a daily multi-vitamin formulated for women that has calcium, Vitamin D, iron, and other important nutrients in it to ensure I am getting what I need on a dairy free diet. I am also trying to ascertain if there are some dairy items my body can tolerate as I like natural best. 

I would like to say after all this research I found the golden ticket to get my pace back to what I loved but my golden ticket may not be what I or you want to hear. It may just be, ready or not, that I am getting older. Yes, my age. YIKES! My research ended on Runner's World Age Grade Calculator and yes, I input my race/running times and guess what --- according to the results, I am running the same adjusted pace compared to me in the past and in all reality, I am running a few seconds faster. 

This was a sobering revelation. I do believe in continual growth but also realize we all have our max performance limits and this may change over time. Trying to go beyond your max performance may just beat you up and rob you of your running joy. I want my running joy. I love my cross training joy. I have so many ways to grow and so much to give and I will remind myself over and over and over again, I am not defined by a number whether that number be my age, the number on a scale, or the number related to my pace, or the number of miles I have run. I am more than a number and so are you.

Daily Gratitude: No matter the pace, I am thankful for running today on day 2115 of my running streak. Now that is a number I can be proud of!

Daily Bible Verse: Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. ~ Proverbs 3:3-8