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Failed New Year’s Resolutions (and why that’s ok)

30 Dec

I’ve found a trend in the healthy living blog-o-sphere lately, and that is the non-resolution. Several blogs I read are bucking tradition and opting instead to focus on little changes. I totally get it, because statistics show that only 8% of people who make resolutions stick to them! New Year’s resolutions have gotten to be some what of a joke, and I myself have fallen into the trap of planning big on December 31st only to fall flat by March.

Image source: http://ideas.time.com/2013/12/30/new-years-resolutions-are-bad-for-you/

Click image for image source

However, I do feel there is something to be said for New Year’s Resolutions, even if you don’t always stick with them. If you’ve read this blog before (or you go back in the archives) you can see that one of my resolutions last year was to run 600 miles. Well, to make a long story short: I didn’t. However, I did run a lot more than I would have if I hadn’t made the resolution. You see, somewhere around June, my priorities changed and it didn’t seem as important — I joined Crossfit, and I wouldn’t change that experience. My fitness interests wax and wane, and now that I’m no longer a member of a Crossfit box, I’m more focused on running and yoga — and I’m enjoying every minute of my fitness pursuits.

Another New Year’s resolution I had last year was to run another half-marathon, shooting for a PR. Another failure, but again – I’m ok with it. I saw my opportunity to run a half-marathon this year come and go, and I think I made the smart decision to abstain this time. I hadn’t trained properly, and although I probably could have finished the 13.1, I wouldn’t have gotten a PR and I might have aggravated my IT Band injury from 2012.

So despite these failed resolutions, I’ve still progressed. And both of those goals are still within my reach, and here are three reasons why:

1. I got a treadmill!

<3 <3 <3

My awesome husband got me this baby as a Christmas/Birthday present and it’s wonderful having it in the house. It’s so much easier to hop on the treadmill if the weather is bad, and if I just don’t feel like working out, it’s easy enough to hop on and try it out. Usually I’ll just end up finishing a mile or two and that’s better than nothing. I’ve set my yoga mat out right next to the treadmill to remind myself to always stretch afterwards!

2. New shoes!

Hello, lovely.

Hello, lovely.

I love these shoes. They are the Asics Gel Nimbus 15, which is the same model I got last  year, but these feel so much better somehow. The man at the running shop really showed me how they will bring my knees in and help with my IT band issues.

3. The biggie — I did this this weekend:

flying pig

My first out-of-town half marathon! This could be the PR that I’ve wanted for so long (2:00 or under) — although I’ve heard it’s hilly! I’ve got some friends (including veteran marathoners) who I’m training with and we’ve already started (we’ve got 19 weeks). I’m super stoked to be doing this.

I guess the moral of the story is this: Even though you may not reach your goal by December 31, 2014, don’t give up on it. The other moral of the story is: Don’t be afraid to fail, because you might learn something if you do.

Question of the Day:
Do you make New Year’s Resolution? Why or why not? What’s your resolution for 2014? 

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Marshall Half Marathon Recap

12 Nov

 

 

Yesterday, I completed the Marshall Half-Marathon in Huntington, WV.

As of yesterday, I have completed two half-marathons in two years. I’m often envious of other bloggers who log many, many miles a week and seem to breeze through distance races with ease. I love a good 5k, but half-marathons take a bit more mental and physical preparation for me.

If I’m being honest (which, of course I am) my training was not up to par. I didn’t get the required mileage under my belt, and I didn’t run as often as I should have. As you may know from my previous post, I paid for it in what seems to be an injury to my right leg. After sleeping on it, I can localize the pain to the outside of my right knee (IT band?) and my Achilles tendon. I can walk (slowly), so I don’t think I’ve sprained, twisted or fractured anything. It’s weird because I can’t pinpoint any moment during the race where I actually hurt myself, so I guess I just pushed too hard and my legs weren’t ready for it (is that a thing?)

The first 5 or 6 miles went really well. I was pushing my pace, and was definitely on par to PR under 2 hours (which was my goal) or at least come in a few minutes over 2 hours. By mile 7, my leg started feeling a little weird. I took a few breaks to walk/stretch it out and kept running. Mile 8 was painful. I started feeling terrible pain and was in tears (p.s. don’t cry while running. It turns into hyperventilation pretty quickly). I knew that Zach would be waiting for me right after mile 9, so I pushed it until then. By the time I saw Zach, I just collapsed. I was hyperventilating because I was crying so hard, and my leg felt terrible. I wasn’t in a good place. I honestly considered just quitting. Then I thought about getting that medal, and I thought about having to report a DNF here. I couldn’t do that. I had started this race, and I only had about 4 miles to go, so even if I walked the entire time, I was going to finish.

Those next 4ish miles were hell. I tried running some, but it became so painful that I had to stop and walk. I think maybe I ran more than I think I did, because my finishing time wasn’t quite as bad as I expected (2:22:40). By the time I was about half a mile from the finish, I went ahead and pushed it. I ran the whole way, even sprinting across the finish line. At the very end of this race, you go down a steep hill to enter the stadium, and then you run the length of the football field, and then another length to the finish line. The downhill entrance was probably the worst part of the whole race. The pain was so intense I thought I might fall.

But, I finished. I immediately started crying when I crossed the line, luckily Zach was right there. He’s incredible, did you know that? He told me so many times yesterday how proud of me he was. His pride rubbed off on me, because despite the fact that I have a lot of reasons to be disappointed with yesterday’s race, I’m not. I’m proud that I pushed through to finish. I’m proud that I managed a halfway decent time despite an injury. I’m proud that I just did it.

I took my first ice bath yesterday as well, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and it made my legs feel much better for a while afterwards.

We had beautiful weather yesterday.

So now I have a decision to make. I really would like to finish a half marathon in under 2 hours, but I’m not sure I’m a distance runner. I enjoy races of the 5k variety, but the training involved to do distance races ends up being a problem for me. I enjoy doing so many different types of exercise that the time that you must put into training never really works out for me. I’ve got some time to think about it, because I think the next time I’ll consider running this distance is next year.

Until then, I’m planning on trying out Jamie Eason’s Live Fit Trainer starting as soon as I can comfortably walk again.

The first four weeks require you to do no cardio at all, which shouldn’t be a problem considering I don’t think I could even run a mile right now. I guess 4 weeks will be just the amount of running rest I need!

Question of the Day:
What’s the longest distance you’ve ever run? 

I’m a Puppy

10 Nov

All of the images in this post were borrowed from Run, Puppy, Run! 

I’ve been very down on myself about the race tomorrow. I haven’t run more than 9 miles in 2 years, yet tomorrow I plan to run 13.1.

I haven’t trained enough. I’m not ready. Why did I sign up for this race anyway?

All of these thoughts have been racing through my mind, and it’s been bringing me down.

Then, something amazing happened.

 

My friend and neighbor, Ashley, hosted a yoga class for some friends this morning. She did a “hip opening” class, and explained that the hip chakra is where we store our emotions. She warned us that this class may release some emotion.

As we moved through our first poses, she told us to pick something that had been holding us back, and let. it. go.

 

I thought about my negativity towards this race. I thought about all the times I told myself, “You’ll never run this in under 2 hours.” — and I decided to let it go.

As we stretched our hips, balanced and sweated through some pretty intense poses, I told myself that it was a privilege to have my strength and I thought about all the people who couldn’t do what I’m doing tomorrow.

 

As we lay in our final relaxation pose, Let It Be played while Ashley read us a passage from a book called “The Little Book of Letting Go” by Hugh Prather.

Underwear on the floor can break up a marriage. But the eyes of a puppy light up when they see boxers or briefs. To them, dirty socks are not a reason for fights, but a reason for play. Obviously, most little animals are hooked on something quite divine. Something within them releases enormous freedom. I suggest that something is simplicity and purity, and that we can experience the possibilities of this natural state as well. 

As she read that, tears popped out from behind my closed eyes. I can blame it on the opening of my hip chakra, but really I was feeling the release of my negative attitude.

 

So now I’m approaching tomorrow with a new attitude: With that of a puppy. How exciting to get to do something as awesome as lining up outside of my Alma Mater, and running 13.1 miles with a thousand other people. How amazing that we will run on a balmy November morning. How lovely that I get to see friends and acquaintances lining the streets of my hometown.

Tomorrow, I am a puppy.

 

On Rest and Recovery Before a Big Race

2 Nov

Happy Friday!

I’m so excited about this weekend. The weather is supposed to be nice, I have a girl’s night planned (Dance Central 3 on Kinect will be involved — YES!), and Zach and I will be celebrating our 2 year anniversary! Woo hoo!

I have been crazy tired this week, and feeling just a little under the weather. After not getting a good night’s rest on Tuesday night, I was completely wiped out on Wednesday night. I ended up in bed at 8:30 pm! I woke up at 2:30 in the morning (that’s what I get), read for a little bit, and surprisingly enough fell back asleep until 8:00 AM, making me late for work! I guess I needed it! Then again last night, I was in bed by 9:30 PM. I was up and ready to go to the gym this morning, though, so I think I got the rest I needed.

At the gym, I took the morning yoga class, followed by a shortened version of Clare’s Tabata Sprints workout.

I took my sprint speed up a bit this time, and boy was I feeling it. I was dripping with sweat!

On my way home, I sneakily took a photo for Grow Soul Beautiful‘s Yoga A Day challenge (a day late!):

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Boy, did yoga feel good this morning! I got really deep into some stretches that I felt like I needed, and when I hopped on the treadmill, I had zero sciatica pain! Woo hoo! I’m feeling really hopeful for a pain-free half marathon a week from Sunday (!!!).

This week has been good for workouts. I’ve done something every day. Since I slept in yesterday, and trick or treat was at 6:00 PM (don’t ask why my town doesn’t do trick or treat on Halloween, because I have no clue), I didn’t have much time to squeeze something in. I did 20 minutes of Pilates, though, and I’m feeling it in my core this morning! On the running front, I’ve done a lot of short distance speed work. I’m setting myself up for a low-to-no running week next week. I can’t promise I won’t go for a little jog if the weather is nice, but I’m planning to stick to lots of stretching and maybe a little pilates to rest/stretch up for the half marathon. I’m still a little nervous, but this morning, while I was sprinting on the treadmill, I realized that fitness-wise, I’m good. I know I can run 13 miles if I need to, and I will. I don’t know if I’ll do it in under 2 hours, but I know I have the capability to do so.

Because I know I have the fitness, and I know I have the capability, this week I’m going to focus on having the mental strength to run 13 miles. I’m also going to focus on getting enough rest, and fueling my body properly (I’ve been struggling with this lately). Wish me luck!

Question of the Day:
How do you prepare for a big race? 

My Running Story and A Lesson Learned

19 Oct

I have a confession to make. I’ve been running pretty consistently for a long time now, and I pretty much never stretch after running. Well, I used to never stretch after a run. Now, I have to. Here’s my story.

I started running in 2010 (it seems like longer ago….) after losing about 50 pounds and deciding that I wanted to focus more on fitness (I started out focusing mainly on diet changes, which turned out to be a great way to lose weight). I did the Beachbody Insanity program from start to finish and after I was done, I thought I’d start running. I just…did it, starting out with walk/running and moving up to running consistently. I ran 3 miles non-stop for the first time one week before my very first 5k. I ended up finishing that hilly course in 30:05 and finishing third in my age group:

After that, I set my sights on doing a half marathon. Remember, I had only run 3 miles non-stop as of August, and the half marathon was in November. I immediately set about a training plan, during the hottest summer/fall that I’ve experienced in West Virginia. I was nervous, but I knew if I just paid the $50 entry fee, I’d have to run, so I did it. I finished that race in 2:15:45

Photo courtesy of my dear friend Jenni. The race finished in my Alma Mater’s football stadium, and she was up in the stands.

After that race, I signed up for our local Turkey Trot and got my fastest 5k time ever. I’m planning on running it again this year, because I think after training for and running a half marathon, 5k’s seem like a breeze:

After the Turkey Trot in November of 2010, I took a big break from running and started focusing on other forms of exercise. I purchased a YMCA membership and got really into doing group fitness classes and weight training. I still ran here and there, but nothing like before.

In spring/summer of 2011, I signed up for a local 5k class which was sponsored by my Alma Mater (Marshall University). Once a week, we went through running and agility drills, which led up to the West Virginia 5k Championship (the largest 5k in the state). I set a PR in that race of 27:31:

That’s when I was running in glasses. So glad I don’t do that anymore.

I get side stitches sometimes because I forget to breathe, so that’s me in pain. Also, that guy in the gray shirt in front of me? Yeah, he beat me pushing a stroller. Sigh. After that 5k, I didn’t run another race for a while. I kind of felt like I had lost my running mojo. I had thought I would run the half-marathon again, but I just couldn’t get into a consistent training schedule. Zach and I had started dating around Halloween of the previous year, so I was focusing a lot of time on just falling in love 🙂

Fast forward to this spring. I decided that I wanted to start running again, in a big way. I had to push myself, but I started running consistently and signed up for the WV 5k Championship again. I focused on getting a PR, and ended up doing it — barely. I finished the 2012 WV 5k Championship in 27:28 — beating my previous time by 3 seconds. Hey, a PR is a PR, right? I’ve done a few other 5k’s here and there, but I’ve never run a 10k or a marathon. Someday, perhaps.

Now, we are about 3 weeks outside of the half-marathon and I’m in the same place I was 2 years ago. I’ve trained, I’ve paid my $50, and I’m hoping to just make it through. I’m faster than I was then, but I’m also not as healthy. Which brings me to the lesson I’ve learned since I’ve started training for races again:

Never, ever skip the post-run stretch. 

I never stretched after I ran. Ever. I used to think I was super-human or something. My muscles were alway loose, and I always felt great. Well, after my re-introduction into the sport of competitive running, I’m feeling it. My hips are tight and sore. My hamstrings hurt after a run. It’s awful! I wonder if I had focused on a proper stretching regime when I started running if I’d be having these issues today? I guess I’ll never know. But here is what I do know: If you’re a runner, please focus on the stretch and strengthening your muscles as well as logging your miles. Trust me, you’ll thank me.

I’ve got to give a big old shout-out to Tri-State Racer, a local website that has all of the local races listed, links to the online registrations, and most importantly: A database of all the race results, dating back to 2000! I’d never know my race times without them. Thanks!

Question of the Day:
Be honest, do you ever skimp on your post-run stretch? 

TGIF!

5 Oct

…am I right? I’ve got a busy weekend ahead, but I’m looking forward to a few days off of work.

Yesterday, Zach and I went to Macy’s to start a registry. Macy’s was having an event where you could win gift cards, but we didn’t win any. We did start a registry, however, and boy is that overwhelming. I don’t want to register for out of this world, expensive stuff, so I tried to stick to the basics and I put a wide range of price points on there. We will still do a few other registries, because I don’t want people to feel obligated to buy us some extravagant gift. If I’m being honest, though, I do think that it is nice to get some things for our home that we might not be able to stock up on otherwise. So, I need to get over that icky feeling of I’m ‘asking people for gifts’ and just make sure our wedding is a gracious, beautiful event where everyone has a great time.

Ready to scan at my beck and call! My knight in shining armor!

We decided to make a date night of it (and I had a coupon), so after registering, we went to Ruby Tuesday to have dinner. I know I’ve said this a few times, but I love their salad bar.

I wish that was more in focus, but I was starving and ready to dig in. It was so good. I’ll be honest and say I went up for a second, smaller salad after that. I ordered the petite sirloin with coconut shrimp (fried, but love coconut shrimp!), and since I was so enamored with the salad bar (and I wanted one of their pumpkin spice cupcakes), I didn’t eat much of my main meal:

The aftermath….

I got their mashed cauliflower as my side, and it was really good! Luckily, I have all of that at home which I will be warming up for lunch. Yum! They were advertising their pumpkin spice desserts, so I had to get a cupcake:

I swear, these photos looked in focus when I took them…

It was pretty good, but not as good as I expected. After that we went to have a couple drinks and then it was home to bed, because I wanted to get up to go to the gym this morning.

I’ve been having some back/hip/leg pain lately. After reading about Abby’s sciatic nerve issues  (I read her blog over at Back At Square Zero), I’ve self-diagnosed myself. I really do think that is the issue, and it’s not severe enough at this point to see a doctor (plus, even when you have health insurance, doctors aren’t cheap), so I’m focusing on taking it easy and reintroducing stretching into my life.

I’ll be honest, I’m terrible at stretching. I rarely stretch after runs (I KNOW!) and up until now, it hasn’t really caused me any problems. Mainly because I was regularly doing yoga. Lately, I’ve been trying to fit all my training miles in and hit the weights so yoga has seriously suffered, and I can feel the pain. So this morning instead of going to my beloved HIIT class, I went to yoga and boy am I glad I did!

Penny was glad to see me when I got home from yoga.

I wish I had taken my phone to the gym, because the room we did yoga in this morning was hilarious. My gym is the YMCA, which is a converted church. There is exactly one aerobics room, so when there are two classes at the same time, one class has to meet elsewhere. Since the HIIT class is in the aerobics room, yoga was meeting in one of the raquetball courts, but recently they moved it to what is called the “Board Room” — I had no idea where that was and I panicked a little this morning until I asked and someone pointed it out to me. But yeah, the Board Room has the painted portraits of every President that the YMCA has had since its inception. So, basically the entire room is plastered with painted portraits of men staring at you. It’s funny/creepy. When we were doing our balance poses, I just looked one of the guys in the eyes, and I was steady as a rock. Ha! I will definitely take a sly photo for you next week.

Anyway, yoga felt great this morning. I told Elizabeth (the yoga instructor at the Y) about my sciatic concerns and she said she has had similar issues and has cured it with regular yoga, so I really need to focus on going to her classes and doing some extra at home. In fact, tomorrow I have plans to do TWO classes with my friend Ashley in the morning and I think I’m going to hit up Elizabeth’s 8 AM class before that. So, three hours at the gym? I can handle it!

Question of the Day:
Have you ever had a repetitive stress injury? How did you correct it? 

 

 

Half-Marathon Training Series #2: The long run

17 Sep

On Saturday, two things were going on in my town:

One, it was the day for the annual Chilifest! I look forward to this day every year, because I love chili.

It’s tough to find a chili that is both spicy enough and has enough flavor. I went to one booth and they said that they had a ghost pepper chili that was very spicy. Since I’m a lover of spice, I told them to bring it on. They acted as if it would blow my socks off. It was basically cold tomato sauce with some ghost peppers thrown in. Yeah, there was some heat, but there was absolutely no other flavor at all. I almost thought it was a joke. That photo in the middle of Zach is as he is eating the only true spicy chili that we found, and that was only after the addition of the “hottest sauce in the universe” — it was incredibly spicy! It burned the back of my throat, and it also had a good flavor. I think that people are afraid to make things too spicy because not everyone is a fan.

After Chilifest, we went to a Marshall University Football game. Zach and I both graduated from Marshall, so we are big Herd fans!

It was a perfect day for football. Early fall heat in the afternoon with a nice chill once the sun set.

I took the first photo and Zach said, “Wait, my eyes weren’t open!” So that is what happened when I took another. haha.

Our team ended up losing  a really close game! We were pretty bummed about that, but we were impressed with how they played.

Somehow on Sunday morning, I felt fine when I woke up so I immediately got ready to go out for my long run of the week. I haven’t had a long run since before we went to the beach, so I was kind of nervous on how I’d handle the 7 miles I had on my training schedule. Which brings me to the point of today’s post.

Half-Marathon Training: The  Long Run

A ‘long run’ when you are training for a distance race is basically the longest run you’ve done on your schedule thus far, plus one mile. Ideally, you do one long run a week during your training. If you’re a beginner and you are training for a half-marathon, most likely the longest run on your schedule will be 10 miles. The first time I trained for a half-marathon, I did 10 miles exactly one week before my race (no tapering). I wouldn’t suggest doing that, but I didn’t really follow a training program per se. I just knew that I was supposed to get my mileage up to 10 miles and, according to the sources I’d read, the adrenaline would carry me through the last three.

Well, that is true, but after 11 miles, I was pretty spent. I’m glad that this time around I’ll be up to at least 12 before the race:

The Long Run can be a bit daunting. I usually have to really psych myself up for them, and (this is a personal preference) do them first thing in the morning or they just don’t work out.

First, let’s talk about the logistics of the long run, starting with why they are important. The point of the long run is to build your endurance for running distance races. You shouldn’t focus on speed on your long runs, in fact, you should try to run them slower than any other training race. The reason for this is that while you will get the same endurance benefits, but you will recover much more quickly so you can continue your training the next week (or even the next day) without taking too much time off.

If you find yourself huffing and puffing (where you wouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation) during your long run, you are going too fast. It’s even important to take water, stretch or walk breaks during your longest runs of the week. The point is to take it easy, but keep running for a sustained amount of time.

Despite the fact that I sort of dread getting started on a long run, I never, ever, ever regret completing one. Sure, there have been times that I’ve not completed my mileage because I just wasn’t feeling it, but I always try to get at least a few miles in. Also, a good tip is that even if you split up your mileage (do half in the morning and half in the evening), it still counts as a long run on your training schedule, but remember that on race day, you won’t be able to take a several hour break at the halfway point.

One point that Jeff Galloway makes when talking about long runs (and one that is often overlooked), is the mental benefit of the long run. There is something about finishing the longest run of your training schedule that really builds you up for the rest of the day. Also, I love ending my week with a long run in the morning, because when you’ve completed 1+ hour of running, you get to be completely lazy for the rest of the day 🙂

What about entertainment on long runs? Well, for me, music is fine for a run that is less than 5 miles, but once I get into higher mileage, music gets a little old. Two things that have really gotten me through longer runs are the NPR  This American Life app (a great radio show about remarkable things in everyday life), and audiobooks. If you have a smart phone or an iPod touch, these two things are right at your fingertips.

While we were at the beach, I read about half of a book that was at our beach house. Of course, I had to leave it behind when I got home, so I picked up the audiobook from the library and I’ve been listening on my longer runs. It’s the perfect way to get in some “reading” while running!

Question of the day:
What is the longest distance you’ve ever run?