Q. I have been running for about 6 months. I try to run slowly, but I am still always out of breath (not so much that I need to stop--I can go 3-4 miles--but I feel like I'm panting like crazy compared to the super fit runners I see on the trails). I always wear a heart monitor and my heart rate is also always VERY high. I've talked to my MD about it and she said it's nothing to worry about. However, I feel like my running fitness is not improving. I am able to run farther distances, and sometimes it is easier than others, but overall I feel stuck. Did you ever have this issue? Did you notice that your average heart rate was lower as you continued to run and/or improved your running?
A. If your heart rate is always very high, it might not be the greatest indicator of whether your fitness is improving. It's good that you talked to your doctor about it, and that she said it's nothing to worry about. But do you notice that your breathing is a little labored and your muscles feel like they're really working when you run? If your heart rate is always high, you might want to judge your effort level by your breathing instead. When I do my long, easy runs, I can carry on a conversation pretty easily. It might be a little choppier than when I'm sitting and talking, but I can talk. When I'm racing for a PR, I can barely get out a word or two and I'm gasping for breath at the end. Those are the two opposite ends of the spectrum.
I find that I improve the most when I run somewhere in-between for most of my runs--an effort level of about a 7 (on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the hardest effort). In the beginning, an effort of 7 would put me at a pace of about an 11:15 mile--and now, when I run at that effort level, I run about a 9:20 mile. I'm putting in the same effort, but going faster, so I know that my fitness level has improved. (But to answer your question, yes--my average heart rate lowered as I got fitter). I still have good runs and bad runs, though--some days an effort of 7 would put me at a 10:30 pace, just because it's hot outside, I'm
Overall, I wouldn't worry too much about it. As long as you're pushing yourself (and not feeling so relaxed that you could take a nap!) your fitness will improve.
Q. When you were losing weight and had a binge, did you calculate/count all of the calories from the binge?
A. I went an entire year without a single binge, and when I did finally binge, I was so angry at myself! But yes, I added up the calories (the best that I could). I would estimate as honestly as possible how much I ate of each food item and tally up the calories. Most of the time, this would help me to realize that the damage wasn't actually as bad as I thought, and if I got right back on track, it would only set me back a pound or so.
When I didn't write it down, I would imagine that I had eaten tens of thousands of calories and that I might as well give up. Writing it down is a reality check that could be good or bad, but definitely REAL. And it may help you!
|Here's an actual binge from my food log|
Q. When I run, my hands go numb. I also tend to make a fist while I'm running if I don't consciously think to keep my hands relaxed. Does this ever happen to you/what do you do to prevent it?
A. This used to happen to me when I was overweight. A lot of times, people who are overweight, and/or don't exercise, have poor circulation. This was the case with me, and it caused my hands to go numb--both while exercising and even while sleeping, knitting, or typing. As I lost weight, it happened less and less frequently, until it just never happened at all.
When you say you make a fist, are you clenching your fist? It's okay to make a fist with your hands while you run, but you should keep them loose--not clenched. At first, it's hard to get used to keeping your upper body relaxed while you run, but you can waste a lot of effort by clenching your fists (or hunching your shoulders, like some people do). It's best to keep your upper body relaxed. (Here is an article on proper running form).
And now a question for all of you...
What do you do to de-stress? I feel SO stressed out lately, and I need some suggestions to help me get over it! I already exercise, which is supposedly the best way to relieve stress. Unfortunately, my favorite way to de-stress is to eat!