jump to navigation

The first week September 5, 2016

Posted by mareserinitatis in career, education, engineering, work.
Tags: , ,
2 comments

I finished my first week teaching in my new institution, and I have to say it was very strange.

I started college at a small university, but it had twice as many graduate students as undergrads, and it was in the middle of a large metropolitan area.  While the campus wasn’t huge, it was relatively busy.  I finished my undergrad at a mid-size state school, but the department I was in was tiny.  I had very small upper-level classes but most of my generals were in very large classes, one even having about 500 students. For my MS, I switched to one of the largest departments, which was a jolt.  While my classes weren’t huge (15-20 per class in the grad program), there were a lot of people around and pace and flavor of the department was far less intimate.  There were people in the building nearly 24 hours. For the PhD, I was in a very large state university in a big city but in a small department.  Even so, my classes typically had at least 20 people in them.  At all of these places, it seemed like, at least during the school year, the pace was hectic and there were a lot of people always around.  I always felt like I was busy.

Now I’m in a new department (I’m one of two faculty) in a small liberal arts college in a small town.  The feel is completely different.  The classes are smaller, and the students always seem to be off at class.  The campus quad is usually quiet, unlike the last place (the really big university in the middle of city).  At the big school, people would eat lunch while listening to the Christian hippy-looking fellow standing on a ladder in front of the library, preaching fire and brimstone or playing inspirational music and singing slightly out of tune.  Other students would be playing frisbee or football.  Now I mostly see people walking from one building to the other (usually on the sidewalks!), with the occasional line coming out of the student center because everyone decided to grab lunch at the same time.

While I’m kind of surprised by the quietness, I am also enjoying the lack of everything feeling so hectic.  My colleagues generally seem to be laid back, the students are mostly pleasant and polite.  Everyone is getting things done, but no one seems to be running around all frantic and the campus doesn’t feel like a beehive.

Of course, it’s early in the semester; I’ll have to revisit this train of thought in December.

Advertisements

Confessions of a really slow and often achy runner October 2, 2014

Posted by mareserinitatis in running.
Tags: , , , , ,
1 comment so far

This month marks three years since I started running.  In May of 2011, I walked a 10k with older son with very little training, and we had great fun doing it.  This was already a big step for me because when I had moved back from Minneapolis the previous year, I’d been having so many problems with asthma and my health in general that I was walking about 2 miles per hour.  That’s all the faster I could go.  After a year of training, I was up to 3 miles per hour.  While that’s a huge improvement, I wanted to be able to go faster, so I started looking on the internet for training plans.

There was a couch-to-5k app, so I figured I could be done with that by Christmas and then start on the 5k to 10k bridge app and be ready to go for next year.  Three weeks into the couch-to-5k app, I started having awful knee pain.  I went into the doctor, and it was basically tendonitis.  They suggested that I not run, just walk.  I was angry when I left.

I didn’t know what to do, so I sat around for a week.  Then I decided to try again and found my knees didn’t hurt.  So early on in this process, my body and I had a talk: we agreed that my body does pretty much what I want it to, and I don’t push it very hard and give lots of rest time.  So when I started having aches and pains after another two weeks in the couch-to-5k, I took another week off.  All told, it took me twelve weeks to do a 9 week program.  I later heard of people who do every week twice.

I realized very early on that most training plans are not going to work for me and that my body needs a lot more rest than most people.  Even when training to do half marathons, I do not run more than three times per week and very often I will only run twice per week.  I always give myself two days of rest after any run that is longer than six miles.  I also give myself two weeks between runs that are longer than eight miles.  In the winter, I don’t run outside if it’s below 20 degrees: I can’t warm myself up enough to make running comfortable, and my asthma acts up.  I use the treadmill for short runs and run at an indoor track for long runs.  (Fortunately, the local high schools have tracks that are open to the public during the winter.)  I’ve found that I don’t really progress well on the treadmill, but it at least keeps my cardio stable.

I know that a lot of people would look at that and scratch their heads, probably saying they’d never progress on a schedule like that.  Maybe not, but I guess I would amend that to say that they would not progress very quickly.  A year after I walked the 10k, I did it again and ran the whole thing.  My pace was 16.5 min/mile and I cut 20 minutes off my time.  I also developed tendonitis in my ankle and had to get custom orthotics.

Shortly after that, I found out about the Jeff Galloway run/walk method.  The following year, I used the run/walk method with a 1:1 ratio of running to walking.  I cut another 15 minutes off my time and dropped my pace to 14 min/mile.

After that, I decided to try doing a half marathon.  That was incredibly trying.  First, I made the mistake of using Jeff Galloway’s ‘magic mile’ in the middle of my training.  I discovered my pace had improved enough to go to a 2:1 running/walking split.  Between that and buying a completely different brand of shoe, I gave myself shin splints.  I have discovered that changing time splits, at least for me, should be done very gradually.  I also discovered that I was better off doing very different splits for my long runs versus my short runs.  When I did my first half marathon this summer, I walked 1:30 for every minute I ran.  I gradually shortened that up for the second half marathon so that I walked 1:15 for every minute run.  I am currently in the process of dropping that ratio by 5 seconds per month on the walking side.  By next spring, I will be at the same ratio for my short runs: walk 30 seconds for every minute run.

During this process, I found out that I have to pay attention to fueling.  If you run as slow as I do, it takes a LONG time to finish a half marathon, and I discovered what bonking was.  I also found out that I needed more rugged orthotics to handle the longer runs.  Finally, I found out that I need a month between races.  I considered doing another half marathon next weekend, but I realized this week that I’m not fully recovered from my previous half marathon.  When I run, I run at whatever pace is comfortable.  I find that when I’m feeling well, I run faster.  When I’m not, such as this week because I’m still recovering from the half marathon I ran a week and a half ago, my pace just naturally drops.  I actually ran a 5k at a slower pace yesterday than I ran a half-marathon a week and a half before, and that was after a week of just walking to help myself recover.

I promised not to push myself too hard, and pace and achiness are both really good ways to tell how I’m doing.

Admittedly, a lot of my progression is probably due to discovering that I have celiac disease and going on a gluten-free diet two years ago.  However, I went from a pace of 30 minutes per mile four years ago to under 13 minutes/mile now.  I also managed to drop by resting heart rate by nearly 20 bpm, which is a good indicator of how much better I’m doing.

It’s agonizingly slow…probably too slow for most people to do keep it up.  The running improvements are like a house remodel: they take a while and involve at least a little planning.  🙂  The time improvements are just a benefit, though.  I found that I really enjoy running, particularly as a form of stress relief.  I used to try to convince myself to run because I wanted to be healthy.  After a couple weeks, though, I found that I didn’t have to convince myself because I really enjoyed having time to myself and, more importantly, I noticed how much calmer I felt when doing it.  I am not running to get faster: I’m running to feel better, and when you do something because it feels good, it’s easy to want to keep doing it.  That’s probably the only reason I’ve managed to keep it up over three years, even with a lot of achy, sore days.

%d bloggers like this: