Training Tip Tuesday: 10 Minutes

Training for the NYC Marathon is getting tough.

The financial commitment is looming out there on the horizon. And even the logistics of navigating the city on race day is starting to burden me down.

The running itself has had its ups and downs, too. My 17-mile training run left me wobbly and sore for days; I was convinced I’d made a mistake and would never be able to finish the race. However, my 18-mile training has left me feeling strong and ready to take on this challenge. Strange how much can change from week to week. Even day to day.

Some days, getting in a 5-miler is no problem. Easy-peasy. Other days, it can be extremely challenging to get inspired to lace up – especially when life is throwing curve balls (like floods and fires) at you.

But, to succeed on November 3, I have to get out there and do it. Right? (Yes. The answer is yes.) And for you to achieve your goals, you’ve got to keep going too, right? (Also, a yes.) So, how can we get out there and do it day after day even when we’re tired, sore and unmotivated? What is there to do when sheer will, determination and stubbornness have worn off?

My suggestion: Trick yourself.

It works for me just about every time. If I’m having trouble mustering up the motivation to get out there and run, I just tell myself I’ll only go for 10 minutes. And if, after ten minutes, I still feel like I don’t want to run then I can stop.

Over the course of my running history, I think I’ve actually stopped once after tricking myself with this method. Every other time, the little bit of energy produced from that 10-minute warm-up (and the creeping endorphin rush) took over and I completed my full workout.

It’s kind of silly because deep down I know that I’ll go for longer. But, saying it’s okay to stop and take a rest day when my body really isn’t responding to a warm-up seems to get me going every time (except maybe that once). And, quite honestly, if your body isn’t responding after ten minutes, you likely really need the rest day!

So, next time you don’t feel like running, walking, or participating in your chosen physical activity, just try doing it for ten minutes. I bet you’ll surprise yourself by how often you get in a complete sweat session. It totally works.

So, how about you? Do you trick yourself into a workout? Does it work?

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Thankful Thursday: State of Mind

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Happy Thursday!

Well, it’s another day of rain for Northern Colorado and things aren’t looking good out there. Lots of flooding in our part of the state and the rain is still coming down. Please send us good thoughts to dry us up! And, if you’re in the area, be careful out there!

But, that said, I am thankful for today. I would be more thankful if there wasn’t flash-flooding but I am thankful nonetheless. Why?

 …. Running!

I know, you’re getting sick of me talking about running. I can’t help it! I think about it all.the.time.

This week, I’m thankful for running because it has had a very positive impact on my state of mind in recent weeks. Endorphins aren’t just giving me a runner’s high every so often. Oh no. I’ve been better equipped to handle stress and all the ups and downs of life. I’ve been happier, more calm, more relaxed, and have experienced less anxiety. And, I believe it’s due to running a lot (like a whole helluva lot).

There are a ton of great quotes that sum up how running really does impact your overall well-being (you can find 41 of them here) and these are a few of my favorites:

  • I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought. – Arthur Blank
  • If you train your mind for running, everything else will be easy. – Amby Burfoot
  • Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all about. – Patti Sue Plumer

And this one seems especially fitting this week:

  • When it’s pouring rain and you’re bowling along through the wet, there’s satisfaction in knowing you’re out there and the others aren’t.  – Peter Snell

I hope you find your never-ending runner’s high. Stay dry out there!

Happy Thankful Thursday!

P.S. Clearly the image above isn’t about running but it is amazing state flag art I recently purchased from my friend, Matt. (State of mind. State flags. Kind of all goes together, no?) Aren’t they awesome!?

Image via Matt’s Instagram

Training Tip Tuesday: Love It.

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Training is hard. Whether your training for a race, trying to get healthy or hoping to lose weight, training can be difficult.

Every day, you have to get up early or skip your lunch hour or make time in the evening to do your training. And it can quickly become an exhausting, cumbersome task.

But, there are people who do it. Those people used to leave me wondering, how?? How can you go the gym so diligently? How can you dedicate hours to a club sport? Who on Earth has time for training?

But, I’ve figured it out. And it’s my #1 training tip: You must love it. Whatever sport you choose, for goodness sake’s, choose something you like to do!

Whether you’re a runner, a swimmer, a tennis player, or weight-lifter, you have to truly enjoy what you’re doing to be successful at it. I mean, getting healthy, getting in shape, acheiving a goal, participating in an event are all fine and likely on most of our ‘lists.’ But, if you’re doing something you don’t enjoy, you will fizzle out.

The good news? You can stop doing whatever you don’t like and start doing what you do like! No one said you have to run to be in shape! No one says you have to lift weights to get in a workout! You can play basketball or go hiking in the mountains or ride your bike.

I write this because I am often asked why I run (specifically why in the world would I actually want to run a marathon). People think I’m crazy (along with all the other runners) or some kind of health nut. Quite honestly, for a long time I wasn’t sure how to respond. Did I run solely to get in shape? Was it to lose weight? Why a marathon? ‘Cause it’s on my list … but, why is it on my list? Why am I not interested in riding in a 100-mile bike race or participating in a weekend softball tournament?

Because, simply, I don’t enjoy those activities. I mean, I do to an extent … but I don’t love them the way I love running. I LOVE the feeling I get after a good run. I actually crave losing my breath and sweating. During particularly hot runs, I have actually lied down on the ground, put my face on the concrete sidewalk to cool down, and then got back up and kept running. And, I’m sorry, but you only put your face on the sidewalk for something you love.

It’s like when my good friend (who I write about all the time on here) was pregnant, she played tennis until, like, her eighth or ninth month of gestation. Yeah. You couldn’t have paid me to play tennis when I was that pregnant. But, with the go-ahead from her doctor and a very healthy lifestyle overall, she played like a boss! Why? Because she loves it. And she figured out that running every day or lifting weights weren’t going to keep her active throughout her pregnancy … doing something she loved would.

So, the point of all this: Ask yourself why you’re pushing yourself so hard to do something you don’t enjoy. If you’re struggling to get the gym or have a tough time lacing up your sneakers, it’s okay to stop and change (don’t totally stop being active, though!). Choose yoga, go swimming, or try kickboxing. Test out activities and sports until you find something that you like to do. You’ll be surprised at how far you can go when you do something you love (you might even run a marathon).

Training Tip Tuesday: LOVE what your doing (go ahead and apply that to life, too).

P.S. I am fundraising for the Jackson Gabriel Silver Foundation for the NYC Marathon! Please consider donating! Thanks a bunch!

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Find Some Place …

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And pray. Pray for the runners. Pray for the bystanders. Pray for those who lost their lives, their legs, and their loves. Pray for those who didn’t get to finish what was likely the biggest race of their lives. Pray for the volunteers and the first responders.

And pray that we won’t have to keep praying for victims of senseless tragedies. Pray for peace, for understanding, and for hope for our society. And then go for a run.

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Where Are You, Runner’s High?

Nearly a month ago, I did road race. It was #5 of my Summer List items and I’m glad to say I got to cross it off before the Fall Solstice.

The race was the Crossroads 5k here in Fort Collins. I was supposed to do the half-marathon but I wasn’t ready for 13.1 miles so I had to settle for 3.2. It was a pretty decent run, I finished in 26:46 minutes. Certainly not a PR, but not a terrible time given my current workout regime.

(I forgot to take a picture at the race so here’s me training for it. I take pics of myself while running…I’m a weirdo.)

So… my current workout regime. Here’s the thing, I’ve really been struggling to get on a regular training schedule these days. Between work, the little guy, and whatever else I do all day (still trying to figure out exactly what that is), I just can’t seem to get a routine started.

I still love to run and I want to be in better shape but I keep failing to actually go on a jog. I can’t seem to wake up before work to sweat out a run. I rarely get to take a lunch break these days and, if I do, the only running I do is running errands. And, by the time my little man goes to sleep, I’m way too wiped out to get moving in the evening.

I know, I know. I’m just making excuses…. I’ve always thought if something was truly a priority that you make time for it. But, as much as I swear I want to, I regularly choose reading a book or watching tv over running these days.

How can I break these habits and get back to my runner’s high!? I miss it! I need my endorphins! I miss the stress release! But, there’s more…..

I miss being myself. I don’t believe being a mom means giving up who you are, but somehow I’ve let go of two of the biggest things that defined me pre-baby, which was running and blogging. I don’t really know who I am without those pieces and yet they seem to be the two things that I can’t squeeze into the day.

Today, I’m writing a blog and I’m going to go for a run (on my lunch break). And tomorrow, I’m going to do it again. And the next day and the next (although I probably won’t post the blogs until next week) because I have to get these critical elements of me back! It’s important for my well-being which ultimately impacts the little guy’s well-being.

So, if any of you busy runners have advice on how to get back into a good training program or if my lovely blogging friends have tips on how to keep writing when the words don’t come very easily, I’d love to hear it!

Thanks for reading my self-indulgent post and have a great weekend!

P.S. If you were keeping up with the Simple Summer List – I didn’t manage to go on a bike ride (unless you count my stationary bike), get to a pool, or buy a swimsuit. Blarrgh. But, we did squeeze in home-made ice cream (#4)….it was everything I’d imagined it be.

Here’s to the Olympics!

Are you excited to watch the Olympics?

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After a summer of anticipation, I’m pretty darn glad the Olympics are here! I admit, I’m not incredibly knowledgeable about all the events that take place during the games but I have a few favorite sports I’ll be following.

When I was younger, my favorite events were all gymnastics. What little girl didn’t want to be a gymnast at some point in life, right? I even took gymnastics for, like, a week. But the grace of a gymnast is a quality I do not posses (nor is balance or flexibility), so I took to soccer, running and rugby (where you’re encouraged to fall).

For the 2012 games, I’m hopeful for U.S. Gold Medals in all events but my energies will be focused on rooting for the U.S. Women’s soccer football team.

And I’ll be checking in on the running events, swimming and the triathlon, too. Hopefully, I’ll glean some inspiration from the athletes and get motivated to get off the couch!

Happy Olympics, World.

USA! USA! USA!

New Kicks

I went for my first post-baby run yesterday. It hurt….a lot. In fact, I was surprised at how little I enjoyed it. To cheer myself up, I decided to reward myself with new running shoes. When looking at this post the other day, I realized that I’ve had the same sneakers since my marathon in 2010. That’s a looooonnngg life for one pair of kicks.

What I’ve heard time and time again is that runners should change out their running shoes every six months or between 300-500 miles. It’s like changing the oil on your car, whatever you hit first. These guidelines drum up a few questions: Seems like a lot of sneakers, is it really necessary to replace them that often? And why, oh why, as a fairly avid runner, would I have the same pair for nearly two years now?

Well, it’s like this….listen to your body.

When sneakers start to break down, you start to break down. Shock absorption fades and the structure of the shoe doesn’t provide the support you need leaving you with achy knees, soreness, shin splints, foot pain, and other discomforts. Often times, the shoe itself will start to show that it’s wearing down on the sole. If it’s looking worn (like a car tire starts to look bald) then it’s time to get a new pair.

A great test to determine if you need new shoes or not is to go try on a new pair. If the new pair offers significantly more cushion and support than your current kicks, it’s time to trade them in.

So, why have I had my running shoes for nearly two years? Honestly, a combo of procrastination and being cheap. My running schedule significantly changed last year (with the bump and all) resulting in a much, much fewer miles and I often thought, “Oh…I’ll look for a new pair soon but I’m just not running that much right now.” And I’m cheap. I’d consider buying a new pair but then talk myself out of spending the dough.

But, after yesterday’s run, I know I need a new pair. Also, mine are visibly falling apart. And while most running shoes cost between $90-$130, I really shouldn’t be too upset about spending a little cash. I mean, seriously, I got two years out of the last $100 I dropped on a pair of sneakers….I’m embarrassed now that I’ve had them so long.

So, what pair to get? I usually love Adidas or New Balance running shoes. They seem to provide my feet the most support. But, I’m also looking at Saucony and Asics. There are so many options…. almost too many! I think I’ve narrowed it down…I’m looking for a lightweight, breathable shoe with a little extra support for a high arch. Now I just need to go try on a few pair and pick a winner!

Shoes Clockwise from Left: Adidas CLIMACOOL Seduction, Asics Gel Turbulent 2, Saucony Omni 10, New Balance 870

Thankful Thursday: Sweatin’ It

Earlier this week, I was given the thumbs up by my doctor to finally start exercising again! Woot Woot! A little background: I stopped working out somewhere around my 37th week of pregnancy and was instructed to do nothing but walk or pick up the baby since having the little dude….which was seven weeks ago.

So, in total, I’ve gone at least ten weeks without a sweat session which is the longest break in physical activity I’ve had in….hmmm…maybe forever? Despite the freshman 15 (that hung on for a lot longer than freshman year) and my beer-guzzling weekends in college, I played rugby and managed to workout every now and then (even if it wasn’t consistent). Going back further, high school and junior high were full of sports. Surprisingly, this is the longest I’ve ever not worked out. Woah.

So, ten weeks and…… not sure if I ever divulged the awesome total to you all, but on the day my baby boy was born, I had gained a total of 44 pounds. 44 POUNDS! Yeah. That’s, like, a first grader. I gave birth to a first grader. Oh, wait. I didn’t…..he was only 8lbs 7.5oz. So…uhm, what’s the deal with the other 35.5lbs? I guess that’s where all those egg nog lattes went.

Ten weeks, 44 lbs, countless egg nog lattes. I’ve got a lot of work to do. Although, I have to admit that most of it has shed itself over the past seven weeks. My little dude keeps me pretty busy and I thank the heavens for the energy I had to keep up physical activity while pregnant as I’ve lost all but the last six pounds. However, I was six pounds heavier than I should have been before I got knocked up, so I really need to lose twelve pounds. And it’s a stubborn twelve pounds and it all resides on my midsection.

Twelve pounds in the donut roll? (Read: my family’s catchy little name for the ring o’ fat around the waist.) Yeah. Buh-Bye bikinis! As if I ever wore a bikini before, I’m way to self-conscious for that. At this point I should probably be saying farewell to swimsuits entirely….but I have goals. And those goals include palm trees, ocean breezes (I think that’s the name of a cocktail, if not, add beachy-sounding cocktails) and swimwear.

So, needless to say, I’m anxious to get back on the workout wagon. I absolutely cannot wait to lace up my running shoes but, in a weird twist of fatty fate, I’m suffering a cold this week and probably shouldn’t push the cardio. Puh. Too excited to wait any longer, I busted out my yoga DVD and got work with it yesterday. It was everything I’d hoped it’d be. In fact, it was more. This may be a whole different post, but I’m digging ‘mama and baby’ yoga. It’s fun…and the little guy seems to like it, too.

One day of exercise complete and, despite this stuffy head, I’m already feeling back to myself. And I’m excited about the activities to come. I have visions of myself being all super-yogini and, like, balancing on one finger with my legs twisted in the air while radiating some kind of calming essence. Or of being the fastest mom ever to run. Ever.

Hey, visualization is important. But let’s be realistic, those things likely won’t happen. Regardless, I’m super thankful to be able to run, do yoga, and get back to feeling like myself again. On today’s Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for exercise! Enjoy your day and bust out a little shweaty-sesh if you can!

Me. Post-marathon 2010. I will feel like this again. I will feel like this again.

Resolution 5k

On Sunday, I ran what will probably be my last race before having a baby. At 30 weeks, I felt good running…most of the time…but have a hard time imagining I’ll do that distance again before the little man gets here.

I’ve been jogging/walking about 2 miles per sweat session over the last few weeks and to bring it up to 3.1 was a bit more challenging than I anticipated (you’ll note a significant drop in speed on mile 3). However, I’m really glad that I participated and it was definitely the healthy start I needed for a brand new year.

It was a lovely Sunday morning for a race, not too cold and very sunny. All the runners were given running gloves instead of race t-shirts, so I instantly counted the event as a success (the gloves are pretty darn sweet!). There weren’t a lot of participants (shocking that more people weren’t lined up to sweat post-NYE..picking up on the sarcasm?) but I gathered rather quickly that those that were present were more seasoned runners. I knew one thing…I’d be one of the last finishers.

Understanding and accepting my sure-to-be-last fate, I decided to stand near the back of the group at the start. I typically get myself as close to the starting line as possible so as not to be slowed down but on this day I wasn’t too worried about that.

The run started off a little too fast, I had to pull it back right away but found my groove and kept a steady pace for the first two miles with short walking breaks here and there. In mile three, things started to deteriorate and I had to slow it way down and walk for quite a bit due to a side-ache. Once the side-ache went away, I was able to finish the race at a pretty strong jog. I was greeted with a lot of “Wow,” “Congrats,” and “When are you due?” statements from surprised race volunteers as I waddled my way across the finish line.

My splits are below:

  • Mile 1: 11:44
  • Mile 2: 12:23
  • Mile 3: 13:30 <– SLOW lady!

Add an extra minute or so for the last .1 miles and I finished up at 38:43 mins. Pretty slow compared to this and even this, but completed nonetheless! I laughed at myself when I hit Mile 2 because as I looked at my watch I realized I was already 30 seconds over my fastest time completing an entire 5k (previous 5k PR was 23:36 mins). Things sure have changed in the last 7.5 months!

I should have turned to the side so you can get full bump view…he is a large one!

I’m glad I got in one more race before delivery day and look forward to starting up again next spring! Hope you all had a healthy start to 2012. Good luck with this year’s racing!

Sweat = Sleep

One month ago, I left my running shoes at home when I went on work a trip. No biggie, right? I could do yoga in my room or go for a walk to burn some calories. Did I do this? No. Well, I did go for a walk but I got gelato while on said walk so…

Those couple of lazy days kicked off a month-long exercise drought. It’s amazing how quickly one can slip off the wagon. Sure, I got in a run or two here and there, but for the most part I was totally lazy. For the first time since I got pregnant, I let myself use my new body shape as a reason not to workout.

And you know what happened? I stopped sleeping (and, er, things on my person got, uh, squishy). And since I wasn’t sleeping properly, I was overwhelmed, irritable at work, stressed, etc.

I’ve been waking up at night multiple times (read: every hour) uncomfortable. My legs fall asleep and my tummy feels like it’s pulling me down into the mattress. I’ve tried using a pillow between my knees or propping myself up so I can sleep on my back. I tried sleeping in to get some extra rest, taking naps, and staying up late to really tire myself out. Nothing worked.

And then a little light bulb came on overhead. I realized I stopped sleeping (and everything else became stressful) at the exact same time I stopped working out consistently. Eureka!

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So, being that I’m a little out of shape, I’ve started small. I jogged/walked a slow 2.5 miles to ease my way back into running. I revisited prenatal yoga allowing myself do most of the easier poses.

And guess what….I’m already sleeping better. No lie. I feel stronger (although still very squishy…I haven’t been at it that long yet).  I’ve accomplished more in the last few days at work than in the whole month of November and I’ve been a much more pleasant person.

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To keep these good vibes going and to set a goal for myself (inspired by this idea), I’ve come up with a modified workout schedule. It  includes jogging/walking (sometimes with my pups), prenatal yoga, and light strength training. I think this low-impact, light-weight plan will be manageable as I continue to grow and will hopefully keep me and my bump healthy.

Think it’ll work? Do you notice that you’re life seems to get a little out of control when you’re not regularly exercising?