Out with the Old in with the New!

 

Well, the year is about over and it’s time to welcome a new one. With new years, new goals typically come forward. I’m one who likes to believe that each day is a new chance to make a change and start fresh, but I do enjoy the good ol’ New Year’s Resolutions. This time, I’m doing the Triple F Focus: Fitness, Financial and Fun

Fitness is both the physical activity and my diet, I’m pretty good with one, not the other. I have mileage goals, 2,017 to be exact (split between mostly running and some cycling). I would like to achieve a personal record in the marathon distance and begin work on reaching my personal record in the half marathon — though I know it’s not too likely to happen within the next 12 months, but maybe. Maybe if I can focus on the more important goal of healthy diet. I am going to accomplish eating better with these steps:

First, reduce. Reduce the junk. Less sweets, smaller portions and generally not going for fast food as much as I had this past year or two. I’m not going to 100% cut all this out, because seriously what is life without ice cream? Just as long as it’s not every day, not massive servings and I’m “earning” it with a good, hard workout too.

Second, increase. Wait, what? You just cut back. But this time it’s increasing the good stuff….or more specifically the good-for-you stuff. Tons more veggies, more fruit and more seafood <— I really like the sound of that! Just need a reminder that all-you-can-eat sushi isn’t exactly on this list.

Third, well third is mostly just to continue to repeat #1 and #2, but I’d say I also would like to learn to cook. I need a wider range of options besides cereal.(only slightly exaggerating). Possibly a bigger kitchen if this should happen. I’ve also wanted to do more legit meal prep. These will all be the icing on the cake, the carrot cake. The pile of carrots….you get the point! Just some bonus goals if I can master the first two.

Financial is pretty straight forward. I simply MUST follow a budget. Also part of this relates to my second job. I’ve been struggling the last few weeks, being overwhelmed with two jobs and wanting to quit. Do I need the side job, not really. But it does make life a bit easier. Instead of quitting I have decided to make good use of my side job. I am going to work a minimum of 12 hours per month for my needs and 3 hours pay per month will be donated to charity. If I can donate more, I will. I am also going to tie this in with the fun & fitness by organizing at least one monthly run that will collect donations for a charity.

Fun sounds easy enough, but when you work two jobs and place a high priority on your hobby (running) there isn’t much time for other stuff. Luckily my running groups help keep the running a social activity a lot of the time, but I do want to re-connect with others doing things other than running.  Reducing the hours I work at my second job will also help. I’ve been doing 20 – 30 hours a month, so I’m gaining a decent amount of free time by cutting back to 15. I will also be working on scheduling my regular job a little better, maybe not working EVERY weekend so I don’t miss out on too much.

This sounds like a lot even for just three topics and to accomplish it, I can’t try to do it all at once. Planning and baby steps. I also find putting up reminders of goals in places to be helpful. For the last 2-3 years I use my work log-in password as key reminders for things to do or goals, such as eatmoreveggies or sub2half …these passwords have expired, so don’t bother trying them!

I also have a slight, ok major, addiction to calendars and planning. I write out my mileage plans and fitness classes and I need to start adding food/meal plans and putting more well-rounded social activities on my calendar, but not to overdue it. My biggest problem with this is trying to plan EVERYTHING like seriously, the entire year out. Pulling myself back to maybe just focusing some things in the longer term and most just for the next couple of days.

Bring it 2017!

Less is More….

I’ve been reading a lot about fitness plans and reaching goals. How to structure your running routine, switch things up, adding strength. It can be overwhelming. One article I read had a blurb that a potential reason for a plateau in your fitness levels is due to doing too much. Yes, working out too much might be getting your no where – and no where fast. Read about it here.

This less is more goes hand in hand with my (third) attempt to follow heart rate training. I’ll have a full review on that after I have a few more weeks under my belt, but I can say I see great benefits, as difficult as they may be to swallow.

Coming from someone who loved hitting 100 miles a month, at least 25 a week and trying to work back down to 9 minute miles, running less and slower seems like the most idiotic thing ever. But maybe it’s not.

So far the benefits I’ve found….

After runs I place a high focus on easy effort, I’m able to function after running and not utterly wiped out — although I must admit having a part time retail job over the holidays on top of a full-time gig, I’m pretty wiped out anyway. However, after my long runs on Sundays I can actually get my laundry done and a few extra things around the house instead of being a vegetable in front of Netflix.

Less running is opening up time for some other activities, still fitness related, but I am spending more time on my indoor bike and getting a few more regular strength sessions in. I’ve read a LOT about the benefit of strength training for improving running and I am working on increasing this in my routine.

I’m also placing a higher importance on working out based on feel. Last week I had a pretty awful migraine on Wednesday, normally I would have just pushed through, cranked out a few miles and extend my misery. I didn’t run this time. I also focused on counteracting the lack of exercise with better choices for food, which is very hard for me. Sadly that night I also got a major calf cramp, so my run Thursday wasn’t looking to promising, but I hoped on my bike for a spin instead. Something > nothing.

I managed to do a nice and easy run on Saturday and to my surprise I saw a pretty significant improvement just between Tuesday and Saturday. My run on Tuesday was 45 minutes and 3.25 miles, I stayed within zone two in the heart rate monitor for 71% of the run, which was a new record for me. By Saturday, having taken some needed recovery time, possibly eating *slightly* better, I ran the same as Tuesday, but was in zone two for 83% of the time.

 

On Sunday I had a race, the Hot Chocolate 15K and I had NO clue how I would perform. I wasn’t sure if I’d do an easy long run, try to “race” it or what, so I just ran. Not quite slow, not quite as fast as I probably could have gone – at least I’d like to claim. I was thinking I’d average 10:45-11 minute per mile. I managed to hold a steady pace from start to finish, even with walking through three of the aid stations – I mean M&Ms, of course I’m having some! I averaged 10:30 per mile, and I know I could certainly do better, but I was very pleased with that.

Heart rate training started on Thanksgiving week, so I don’t have that much under the belt. I think after my next race (RnR Arizona Jan 15th) I will have more of a in-depth review of the program and decide whether it’s something I’ll stick with through my marathon training. So far, I think I’m liking it!

‘Tis the Season

While winter technically doesn’t start until Dec 21st, winter weather is upon us – well at least here in the Midwest. And I hate it!

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Maybe it doesn’t get quite THIS cold, but it sure does feel like it must be and a lot of the last week has been windy so it’s been extra fun to run outside. The not-so funny thing is, it’s only going to get colder, since ya know, winter hasn’t REALLY started yet.

Cold weather running sucks. If you need reasons why, watch this vlog I couldn’t agree more!

Things I recommend for winter running & staying motivated:

  1. Get your gear ready the night before. If it’s already out you are more likely to use it.
  2. As always, signing up for races helps. Even if it’s just a short race you could do sans any training, you’ll at least get out for the race, right?
  3. Buy a new piece of gear, unless you are like me who has obscenely too much stuff, a new item might help you get excited about using it. At least you can never have too many shoes.
  4. If you really need motivation call a running buddy and have the accountability to meet someone somewhere. Solo runner? Find a running store that has a weekly group run and go to that, you don’t necessarily have to run with someone, but it’s something to get you to go to. (Bonus, some stores might even have incentives to coming often, a local store here offers $20 store credit every 10 group runs you attend SWEET!)
  5. Find an indoor option. I absolutely HATE treadmills, or as I call them dreadmills. However, as I’m trying to do heart rate training, the thought of walk breaks in frigid temps is not exactly appealing, so I’m sucking it up and hitting the hamster wheel of boredom. It isn’t all that bad and will help if you don’t have the winter running gear.
  6. Bonus tip, follow Nike’s lead and JUST DO IT. You will thank yourself later. As they say, summer bodies are made in the winter! We are less than 200 days away from summer!!

 

‘Tis also the holiday season…

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I probably can just stop with that, but I need to call myself out…again, still? Not sure, but whatever, I just know that I’m not going to get anywhere unless I can contain my eating habits properly. The holidays are not going to help. Cookies, fudge, pies and did I mention fudge?

My goal is to try to tackle healthy eating a little at a time. My first plan is to map out my eating for the week. I may not have enough time for the meal prep you probably see filling your Instagram feed, but I can make a mental note and do some prep – making hard boiled eggs and filling up pre-portioned sizes of my snacks. If I can work on getting my eating at least 50% better, than that is progress and I will be able to keep making improvements.

Time and money are probably my biggest road blocks to eating better. Followed jointly with lack of will power and the fact that my sweet tooth turned the rest of my mouth into a cult of sugar-craving monsters. Or maybe I somehow did that to myself. I don’t know.

So hand-in-hand with this goal is to budget my money and time better. If I budget my money better I can quit my second job and thus have more time. Which I don’t really need the job anyway, but it’s a nice way to justify a purchase — new shoes, sure I can pick up an extra shift at my other job. Then I wonder why I haven’t been to the grocery store in 4.5 weeks because I’m just too exhausted and haven’t eaten a piece of fresh fruit or veggies in over a month…everything is tied together!

I have goals and I am going to reach them, with plans that start right NOW!

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Thankfulness

I don’t have a lot of time to write and quite frankly typing on my Surface keyboard is annoying, but I didn’t want to have Thanksgiving weekend pass without touching on it.

Last night I watched the HBO documentary on the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. I don’t think I lasted 3 minutes before I was sobbing on my couch and nearly went through an entire thing of tissues by the end of the program.

It’s so easy to take so much for granted and to let little things bother you. Believe me, I am incredibly guilty of this – too much so recently.

Watching the documentary was a good reminder that there is so much to life and things that you think might ruin that life, you can and you will overcome them.

Don’t feel guilty that you are upset over something you label “insignificant” True it may not be a terminal illness or a life-altering injury, but if it bothers you, it bothers you.

Acknowledge it.

Take a step back and find something positive about it. (Are you annoyed you have a flat tire? Be thankful that your tire didn’t explode on the highway throwing you into a car wreck).

Find a way to be pro-active to not find yourself in that same situation or to be able to go into that situation with a more positive attitude. Is your “issue” a bad job? Instead of going into work hating life, go in grateful to have a job and do what you can to make it better or work toward finding a new job.

One last piece of advice is to remember to be thankful the other 11 months of the year.

 

The Road Back

 

 

Half marathon #17 will oddly enough be my first half of 2017. Which I just realized and find funny because I’m the person who is planning to wrap up 2016 with a 16 miler on New Year’s Eve! So hopefully that is a good sign for this race and 2017 as a whole.

It’s just two months away and with plans to use this as a kick-off to a year of strong races, I have a LOT of work to do. I started off this month planning to eat right, workout consistently and overall just take care of myself – which included sleep and reducing stress.

Of course, within the last few weeks there has been World Series Game 7 and Nov 8th happened.  So, clearly stress and sleep are still doing the whole Freaky Friday thing.

As far as my general fitness, well it’s not horrible, but there was 50% off on Halloween candy and I may or may not have had candy corn for dinner last week. Twice. Overall though, I have been doing better with how much I eat (except for candy), but there is certainly tons of improvements needed on diet.

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#truth

Now, will I be able to PR in January? Probably not, but I can begin to get stronger and faster every day and hopefully be able to PR sooner rather than later!

My four-steps to success are:

  1. Smart running. Don’t ramp up the mileage too quickly. Do not place a high focus on weekly/monthly mileage. Focus on effort vs pace — which means I will be using my heart rate monitor more frequently.  Don’t be afraid to take breaks – a walking break, a full-on rest or just simply skipping a run or cutting a run short.
  2. Cross training. This is something I’ve known I need to do more of, but I never seem to find the time because I’m always focused on reach my monthly mileage goal. For a while I’ve only been doing about 30 minutes of strength training a week (though sometimes I count yoga as extra because down dogs are HARD). I’m working on doing strength training twice a week with a goal for hopefully three 30 minute sessions a week. Plus getting at least a weekly spin done and 3-4 yoga sessions. I probably should write up my resignation letter for work because clearly I will not have time for that.

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    Found via Google Search Visit Page HERE
  3. HEALTHY EATING! Ok, this probably should be number one on my plan because no matter what I do in #1 and #2 above, if I don’t get my eating habits under control I’m never going to make progress. My main goal is going to be meal prep. Maybe not so much buying groceries in bulk and spending 19 hours on Sunday cooking & cleaning — but to plan what I’m going to eat and eat that instead of half a bag of candy corn for dinner. (What, Halloween candy was FIFTY percent off!) More veggies, fruit, less carbs and continued efforts to drink more water.
  4. Self-Care. Okay isn’t #1-3 self care? Sure, but I’m talking sleep and stress issues. I work two jobs and being one is retail and it’s the holidays I’m flat out exhausted. I’m also under a lot of stress at work with a key problem that literally has no solution that will appease everyone. Two things I hope that will help with this, is finding a good schedule and sticking with it and writing short, daily to-do lists of just a few things I can accomplish each day to make life easier.
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I know those last two are really going to be the hardest. It’s easy to go through the motions of running and cross training, even if you are feeling sluggish you get it done. Eating right and getting everything done will be the hardest part of my training for the next two months, and really beyond.

Now…off to write that schedule & workout plan!

 

 

 

 

November Confessions

 

 

First of all, how is it November already? Geez where does time go?!?!

Anywho, my November Confession:

I am OUT OF SHAPE!

 

How is this possible? I ran 93 miles in October. I ran three half marathons in October.

Oddly enough, running, particularly marathon training can cause weight gain. Don’t believe me, read other reports!

 

The bad part is, I’m not marathon training, and I haven’t been since wrapping up training on Chicago 2015 — yes LAST fall!  When I ran my first the year prior (RnR STL ’14) I picked up some bad habits of justifying eating an entire pizza because I ran 16 miles. Now I’m eating just as much, without “earning” it. That must stop.

I don’t really weigh myself too much, oddly enough I always seem to be at the same weight give or take 3-5lbs. However, I can not only see my issues, but I can feel it in my running/fitness activities and in the way clothing fits, err, doesn’t fit so well anymore.

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So here I am, putting this out into the universe, I would like to get back on the lower end of the weight range my scale spits out at me.(Which I’d say is losing 5-10lbs) But more than the numbers it reads, I want to feel the improvement in my performance and how my clothing fits, because let’s face it, I can’t afford to buy any new clothing!

First up will be cutting out the crap in my diet and adding more healthy options.

Second will be adding some of the workout routines I was doing 2.5 years ago.

Lastly, I know part of my issue is revolved around stress – so I need to find some ways to get that in check as well.

Working two jobs can be tough, but if I map everything out, I think I will survive this holiday season!

 

 

October 2016 Race Re-Cap

It’s funny how life changes so drastically and so quickly. Six months ago my fall race line-up was one out-of-state half marathon. When my former best friend backed out of the race without telling me (I found out via Facebook post), my race calendar became blank. Clean slates and fresh starts are my forte, though.

At first I was set to go to the race solo if I couldn’t find anyone else to go with, but then realized the race would be overshadowed by the hurt of being betrayed by the people I had viewed as my closest friends. This was late-May.

By mid-June I was just coming back from being sick for about 6 weeks when I was looking at trying to make it to the Chicago Rock ‘n Roll race. Long story short a few friends I know connected me to new friends who needed to split costs for Chicago, so three strangers met via RnR Chi. It was awesome – I’ll have to write on that full experience later.

Anywho, the reason I mention Chicago is because it was a package deal for me. Rock ‘n Roll caters to my inner 5 year old, enticing me with shiny bling. Run both RnR Chicago and RnR St. Louis (where I live) you get a super cool extra medal. And I just HAD to have it. So there was fall race #1

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I mean, seriously, how cool is this medal?! I could watch it spin all day long. And I can, because I have it!

Shortly after running Chicago a friend forwarded me an email about becoming a pacer for the Rock ‘n Roll St. Louis, I had started pacing in December and really enjoyed it, so even though I was already registered I applied.

Then one day I kind of stumbled onto the pacer list for another local race and dug around until I got some contact info and emailed them to ask to pace that race. Which was two weeks before RnR STL. They added me to their pacer list and I now had two fall races.

I hadn’t heard about pacing RnR so I proceeded to train for pacing MO Cowbell, which was a much slower pace than I normally run, so I worked on making that my typical pace. Of course as soon as I succeeded I got word that I was on the pacer list for RnR — just a mere 3 weeks in advance. Time to ramp it up with some dual training!

On top of that, the MO Cowbell pacer organization reached out asking for pacers for the Halloween Half marathon, the week after RnR. Of course I said signed up.

That was how I ended up running three half marathons in four weeks. Here’s how they went:

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Well….

First up, MO Cowbell. It was my first time running this. It was supposedly mostly flat with one hill at mile 10. Let’s just say there was more than 1 hill, they weren’t bad, but let’s be honest when discussing elevation, please! I went out of my way to train on flat routes! It was also 97% humidity and they made pacers wear a pseudo-performance T-shirt (I typically wear sleeveless into December). I overheated about half a mile into the race. I may have also had some nutrition and sleep issues and I bombed the race. I came in 5.5 minutes late. Nothing in my training indicated I wouldn’t reach my goal. I was running faster pace in probably more difficult conditions, but I am only human and this happened. Nothing I can do about it, but try to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Boy was I nervous about RnR. Not only was I pacing, but I was signed up to the be the 2:15 pacer, which was 15 minutes faster than I finished MO Cowbell. I was doing well with training and running well under pace, but my confidence was pretty broken. I decided to bail from pacing. I was already registered, so I could still run.  Well, in chatting with the folks at Fleet Feet, I agreed to pace the 2:30 half & they refunded my registration fee, which made the stress of pacing worthwhile.

I was really glad that I went with the slower pace, it ended up being another warm October day in STL plus, I ended up having the great honor of helping two-first time half marathoners reach their goal. It was probably one of my favorite race experiences.

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Pretty spot-on! 

The Monday after RnR was kind of rough. I was hurting. It’s funny how running slower than your normal pace hurts SO MUCH! I was slightly worried about pacing ANOTHER half in 6 days. I rested, used my foam roller & air compression boots, went to every yoga class I could and kept running to a minimum. It worked and I was feeling back to normal come the end of the week. Which was good, because I couldn’t fail two pacing duties with the same organization in a row — and my first two at that. Could. Not. Fail. Period.

So Halloween is by far my favorite holiday and I LOOOVE to dress up and I love to run in costume, but I’ve obviously never paced in costume and we have pacer shirts to wear, so I opted for knee-high Halloween socks, but then was worried about the socks, whether cushioning would be enough (blisters mid race are NOT good), would they be too hot with my compression sleeves underneath? Probably I gamble I should not have taken under the circumstances.

 

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Results!

HUGE sigh of relief! It was a very weird day. The race was delayed 15 min & the 5K before the half was re-routed. The news later reported that a suspicious package was being investigated at the start of the race. Mile markers were off, a car was driving down the race course and at the end a runner passed out and I went sprinting to the finish to get medics to the scene. Also, I didn’t really have any followers from start to finish. There was one who stuck with me through 15K and was very appreciative of my support, but she decided to take a walk-break. Which, as I know, sometimes you got it, sometimes you don’t.

That’s what I love about running. A runner is a runner and we are all the same, regardless of our pace. Some days we have good runs, some days they aren’t so good, but the thing about runners is that we continue to lace up and do our best.

While October isn’t completely over, my racing/pacing is for a while. I’m looking forward to a little rest & recovery and getting started working on my next set of goals.