Training Week 5: I never thought I’d say this

Thank you all for the awesome feedback on my blogging edition of T-Rex Rantz! It’s nice to know I’m not crazy and/or alone in my little hate spirals!

Without further ado, here is what I did this week:

  • Monday: Barre class, 3 mile run
  • Tuesday: 5 mile run, 50 Shade of Glutes – Medicine Ball
  • Wednesday: 3 mile run at lunch, barre class, 30 minutes on trainer (11.4 miles)
  • Thursday: 5 mile run
  • Friday: Morning barre class
  • Saturday: Skiing!
  • Sunday: 90 minutes on bike trainer (35.8 miles)
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My friend Cara was still smiling at this point. That is because she had yet to go down the mountain for the first time.

Week 5 of my marathon training left me with a feeling that I honestly that I would never have or express out loud: I am ready for winter to be over. I love winter (which is easy for me to say since I live in South Carolina and not Canada) and it is historically my favorite time of year for running and just life in general. This year, not so much. We’ve had an extremely windy winter here and if there is one thing I hate more than heat, it is wind. Every run I had this week seemed to be directly into the wind, so I’m glad I had a cut back week in terms of mileage.

My long run this week was only 5 miles thanks to some schedule switching in preparation for my ski trip last weekend, but weekend travel meant I ran four days in a row. I felt fine and wasn’t particularly tired or worn down, but I also am definitely not a person who mentally prefers to run every day anymore. I was certainly ready for a break after the fourth day in a row! This week also marked my second week in a row of running 4 days a week. I am trying to very slowly build up to the point where my back can handle running 4 days a week every week if I want, so my schedule so far during this training cycle has been: 3 days, 4 days, 3 days, 4 days, 4 days. This coming week, I will run 3 days and then go back to 4 days for 2 or 3 weeks. What I’m doing is working, so I want to stick with it! If I feel like I’m getting worn out physically or mentally, though, I’ll go down to 3 days a week.

You might notice my super long trainer session on Sunday! That was the last thing I thought would happen when I got on my bike.   I was really worn out from the weekend but wanted to move my legs a bit and get the blood flowing after a long car ride. I originally had the goal of riding for an hour, but when I got on, that seemed impossible, so I just committed to riding for 1 episode of Friends on Netflix – 22 minutes. I ended up staying on for 4! It wasn’t a particularly hard effort, but I worked up a sweat and had a ton more energy after I got done riding. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

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I always forget how exhausting skiing is

On a fun note, the ski trip was really great. AJ was out of town for work so he didn’t get to come, but a bunch of friends went up to Sugar Mountain, NC and enjoyed the perfect skiing weather – overcast, lightly snowing, and not too cold! I taught my friend how to ski,  got to test out the skis I bought last month, did not crash into any children or otherwise fall down, did get crashed into by another friend, and generally had an awesome time. I love skiing because it’s a great workout but it’s also really fun and a break from the norm! I’m hoping to go one more time before the season is over, but we’ll see. Once winter is over, it will be time to paddleboard, kayak, and hike some more, so there’s always something to do!

What’s your favorite non-traditional workout?

 

 

T-Rex Rantz: Blogging Edition

I’ve been blogging for about 3.5  years now, and in that time, I have learned quite a bit about the blogging world from the perspective of both a blogger and a reader.  Perhaps it’s a function of the expansion of blogs in my reader or the fact that I’ve just been doing this awhile, but I’ve developed some thoughts on the trends in the blogging world. Some are positive, but this is neither the time nor the place for positive thoughts – it’s another edition of T-Rex Rantz, after all. There’s a lot of “me me me” and self-importance that is going around right now, and it sometimes makes me want to stop blogging. Both bloggers and readers have rights and responsibilities that come with being a part of this community, and I think those things are being forgotten about. To be frank, it bothers me. So I guess you can call this T-Rex Rantz: Blogging Edition, as brought to you by (who else?) all my favorite reality tv starlets!

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1. Post what you want, but know your audience. Read what you want, but know yourself. As a blogger, I think it’s incredibly important to be self aware. Who is your audience? How are they impacted by what you say? As a reader, it’s equally important to know what kind of material is healthy for you to read. Does a certain blogger make you feel good or bad about yourself? It’s all well and good for a blogger to say “Well, it’s my blog, if they don’t like MY journey or MY story, then they don’t have to read it, but this is what works for ME.” That’s absolutely true, but not everyone has the kind of self control to simply click away from a blog.  If you have a particularly young or impressionable audience or talk about a topic like eating disorders, as I do, you have even more of a responsibility to be careful with your content. I think it is so important to present both sides of the issue, and above all, be honest to the extent possible. In my eating disorder series, I never talk about how much I weighed, how many calories I ate each day, or any type of numbers at all. Why? Because those things are known triggers, and no matter what, that information is not helpful and does not add to the story. It’s my responsibility to consider my audience and not just hide under the guise of “If you don’t like it, don’t read it.”

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2. Promotion or support of unhealthy blogs just to increase your readership. This one sickens me to my core. I have found, through the various rabbit holes of the internet, blogs in which the author clearly displays disordered eating patterns or unhealthy behaviors and is in complete denial publicly. I know you “shouldn’t judge people you don’t know,” but after 12 years with an eating disorder, I’m willing to call a spade a spade. If you comment on those blogs just because they have a large following and you want to get visibility for your own site, shame on you. Increasing your readership is never worth contributing to and supporting someone else’s decline in health. Likewise, if you’re a reader and you are clicking on those blogs just to watch the train wreck, don’t. If the site is ad-based, you’re funding an eating disorder, exercise addiction, whatever. That’s messed up.

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Surely I am not the only one who misses Danielle Staub, right? Right?

3. The comment section. The choice to moderate, allow, or disallow comments is a very personal one to each blogger. I personally allow all comments, positive or negative, on my blog, because I value your opinions. I think they keep me accountable, and honestly, I don’t have very many trolls or people saying horrible things to me. From where I sit, it is an easy choice to make, and I would never claim that I have it particularly hard. Bigger bloggers sometimes get a lot of nasty comments and hate mail, and they may choose to shut down comments. That’s their prerogative. The important thing to think about when you are making a comment on someone’s blog is: Is this constructive? Is what I’m going to say helpful, kind, or interesting (it doesn’t have to be all 3)? When you are choosing your comment policy, it’s important to consider why you’re doing it. Are people calling you out on your disordered behavior, and you don’t like that? Maybe you need to examine your choices, then. Not everyone has to agree with everything we say, and healthy discussion is one of the best things about blogging and what sets it apart from other forms of journalism. Sometimes our readers see things in us that we don’t – that doesn’t make them “haters.”

4. Non-stop shilling of products and meaningless product reviews. Starting a blog is exciting! Companies will start approaching you for product reviews, sponsored posts, and ambassadorships and it’s fun to get things for free! It’s not always fun for your readers, though. An onslaught of sponsored posts and product reviews, especially for products that you don’t really care about or that have no place in your blog (i.e., a post about furniture on a running blog), does your readers a disservice. They’re smart, and they care about what you have to say. Don’t abuse that privilege. And if you’re a reader and you don’t like a product that is being given away, don’t enter to win it! Leave it for someone who actually wants to win. If you have a problem with the number of sponsored posts from a particular blogger and they ask for opinions on the topic (as we all do at some point or another) share your thoughts honestly. Don’t just write a nice comment because you want to get on the person’s good side. We want your honest feedback! Or at least, I do.

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5. “Expert” advice. I’ve run 47 marathons, but by no means am I an expert at running. I am average at best in terms of time. I am thin, but I don’t give out nutrition advice. You won’t get a lot of “tips” from me on how to run faster, eat better, or anything like that.  I’m not going to tell you how to grow your blog. Why? Because I’m not qualified to do so. Yes, those blog posts get pinned more and shared more and that’s great, but bad advice is bad advice. Now, I will happily give you advice on how to travel cheaply and negotiate for a great deal on a car, because I actually am good at those things and feel that I have some knowledge that is not widely known. I wish bloggers would resist the urge to provide advice just to generate shareable posts, and I hope readers are savvy enough to know that not all advice is good advice.

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Except no, I couldn’t, so I won’t try.

6. The dual nature of blogging.  As a reader, remember that you’re not seeing everything. It can be hard to get caught up in the comparison trap of who is running faster or more races or is thinner or has more money, but the fact of the matter is that you never really know the person behind the blog and what their life is really like. Don’t get down on yourself if you feel like your reality doesn’t measure up to someone else’s highlight reel. You never know when what you’re seeing on social media has been altered or carefully curated or is an outright lie – trust me, it happens. I personally think bloggers have a responsibility to record the ups and downs, but not everyone feels that way. I also wish bloggers would stop putting so much pressure on themselves to take pictures of every moment, blog while they’re on vacation, respond to comments in 20 minutes, etc. Unless blogging is your full time job, go out and live a little. Your readers and your family and friends will thank you for it.

Ok, rant over. If that was too long and you didn’t read it – the short version is that I think bloggers and readers should take responsibility and be honest with themselves and each other. Make no mistake – I’m not perfect as a blogger or person, and I am not operating under that illusion. I just think we all can – and should - do better.

What do you think? Do you have any pet peeves as a blogger or a reader?

 

Training Week 4: Protecting Myself

My workouts this week led me to think about what it means to protect myself during training. Before I tell you what I mean when I say that, here is the week in review:

  • Monday: Barre class, 30 minutes on bike trainer (11.7 miles)
  • Tuesday: 3 mile run, Day 1 of 50 Shades of Glutes Workout (HOLY MOTHER OF GOD)
  • Wednesday: Barre class in the morning, 4 mile run after work
  • Thursday: 3 mile run, 30 minutes on bike trainer (11.5 miles)
  • Friday: Barre class in the morning
  • Saturday: 11 mile long run
  • Sunday: Off

Ok so first up, this 50 Shades of Glutes workout series is NO JOKE. The writer behind the series for Self magazine is actually my friend from high school and my roommate for freshman year of college, and she takes her workouts super seriously! I knew if she made it, it was going to be tough! Um, yeah. I was sore for 3 days and it affected my Wednesday and Thursday runs big time! I plan to do one of the workouts each week in addition to barre. They take about 30 minutes, and there are exercises for dumbells, medicine balls, mats, chairs, and tables. Basically, no matter what equipment you have, there is something for you! I’m shamelessly obsessed with glute exercises and I don’t even care how that sounds.

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This is probably an inappropriate gif for 50 Shades of Glutes

On Friday, I started to get a little mentally fatigued. I hadn’t had a day off since the previous Monday, and although I didn’t physically really want to take a day off, I knew I needed to consider the idea. The theme this week for me is protecting myself. Although it can definitely be a physical thing (such as taking a day off when you noticed a strange twinge in your foot to prevent further injury), this is more on the mental side of things. I’m really glad to be happy with running again, and I want to stay that way. I was so burnt out a couple months ago that I thought I might never run another marathon, but now I feel differently, and I want to protect that. That means taking an off day when my mind needs it, even if my body doesn’t. And although I definitely did feel a little guilty as I laid on my couch and watched 7 hours in a row of Blacklist (not an exaggeration), I also felt a little relieved.

I had a great long run on Saturday, though! Despite a couple margaritas out with friends the night before and a very cold morning in which I really did not want to get out of bed, I knew my best chance for success was to head out with my old running group. It was a great run, and they pushed the pace faster than I probably would have on my own. We ended up around 9:20 average pace (according to my friend’s watch), which I was really happy with, but even more importantly, I got to run with the people who helped define this sport’s place in my life. That’s a great day no matter how fast I ran!

How do you protect yourself mentally and physically during training?

Successes and Fails – New Year’s Resolution Edition

Haven’t ordered your Team T-Rex shirt yet? Get the details here and order now before February 15!

Now that we’re out of the “Resolution Month” of January, I thought I would check in regarding my “focus on health” and how it has been doing. To be frank, there have been some successes and some pretty big fails. Most importantly, though, there’s been a lot of introspection and I’m working hard on self-awareness and being honest about how I feel about different aspects of my health. So, let’s get right to it!

Fail: Challenges and restricting foods

As I touched on in this post, my experience with the Barre3 Challenge was very difficult for me where food was concerned. Although I haven’t talked about it since, I ended up going completely off the rails during the challenge and eating everything in sight - way worse stuff than I ever would have had I just not tried to restrict myself. I have since learned why this happened, and I’ll be sharing it in a later post, but suffice to say that trying to go on any type of diet has not been successful and has made me feel horrible about myself.

Success: Salads!

For most of my life, eating disorder or otherwise, my thoughts about salad have been summed up perfectly by Leslie Knope of Parks and Recreation:

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Nailed it

Can some salads be okay? Sure, maybe. But I never craved a salad and I certainly didn’t look forward to eating one. It was more of a “Oh, there’s nothing else on this menu that I can eat” type of misfortune. As part of my focus on health, I decided to give those mason jar salad things you’re seeing all over Pinterest and Facebook a try. I figured it wouldn’t kill me to try it once, and adding a few more vegetables to my day definitely counts as healthy, right? Well, so far, it’s been a resounding success! I made a Mediterranean salad  that was absolutely delicious. I literally could not wait to eat my lunch on the days I brought it. This week, I am bringing BBQ chicken salads to work. I don’t love them quite as much as the Mediterranean salad, but I think it has to do with the sauce I bought.

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Salad the size of your head

I don’t have a recipe since I made it up on the fly, but the ingredients are (in order from bottom to top):

  • BBQ sauce
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Red Onions
  • Corn
  • Black beans
  • Roasted sweet potatoes
  • Shredded chicken
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Spinach

I’m looking forward to experimenting more with the salads, although I probably won’t eat them every day. Sometimes, I just want something warm for lunch! My stomach also doesn’t handle a lot of vegetables well, so I’ll have to see what amount I can handle.

Fail: Leaning on alcohol

I’m not very proud of the way I’ve been treating alcohol lately. I’m no alcoholic and I don’t actually even drink very much at once anymore, but I try very hard to be cognizant of when I am leaning on alcohol as an emotional crutch after a hard or stressful day. While some people are stress eaters, I’m definitely more of a stress drinker, even if it is just a glass of wine when I get home, which is usually the case. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I got drunk, so it’s not that. The problem comes when I feel like I need that glass of wine. I don’t like that feeling, and I’ve worked very hard over the past few years to get past it and channel my energy in other directions, like exercise or cleaning the house. Fine, exercise.

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I do love a wine glass with a straw.

Success: Running for the fun of it and working out how and when I want

I’ve really been knocking it out of the park on the workout front so far. Not necessarily in that I’ve been doing so much or running so fast or lifting so heavy – because let’s be honest, I’m not – but I’ve been having fun and haven’t been pressuring myself to do anything I don’t want to do. I’ve enjoyed marathon training so far and am just running at whatever pace feels comfortable. I’m adding in strength workouts that seem fun, doing barre as often as I feel like, and getting on my bike and riding how and when I want. It’s a good mix, and I’m really happy with the balance I’ve found right now. I hope it continues!

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Ok no but DO put me down for cardio because I love cardio

So overall, I’m happy with how things are going. If nothing else, I’m aware of my thought processes and why I’m making the decisions I am making, even if I can’t always force myself to make the right decision just yet. I love the way I’m feeling towards exercise and food lately, so that’s a huge step in the right direction!

LEAVE A COMMENT: How are your New Year’s resolutions going? How can you better focus on your health this year?

Training Week 3 Update

First things first – in case you hadn’t heard, Team T-Rex shirts are on sale again! Orders close on February 15, so make sure to place yours now!

I’ve got a few inspirations for posts this week as well, so stay tuned. But first, a recap of my training for the week!

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: Ran 4 miles, biked on trainer for 30 minutes (11.5 miles)
  • Wednesday: 1 hour barre class, biked on trainer for 30 minutes (11.5 miles)
  • Thursday:  1 hour barre class, 3 mile run
  • Friday: 1 hour barre class
  • Saturday: MGC Long Run 15k
  • Sunday: 25 mile bike ride outdoors

Monday was an unexpected off day. I had to head out of town suddenly to help a friend, so I missed my planned barre class and ride on the trainer and had to shift things around a bit. I didn’t mind taking the off day – it was a good thing for me! I wrote a post this week for Women’s Running that talks about why I don’t schedule rest days (i.e. I don’t take one every Monday, for example) and instead let them fall naturally based on how I feel or my schedule.

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Hence why I do not schedule them

Since I ran 4 times last week but am not quite ready to do that consistently, I ran 3 times this week. Amanda was in town, so I was able to do all my runs with her! No Garmins again, just an easy pace and some girl talk. We also ran the MGC Long Run 15k on Saturday! I’ve never done a 15k before, and this is a great race if you are in the Columbia area. Swag included a nice gym bag (like a duffle bag), a long sleeved tech shirt, and a dog tag finishers medal since the race benefitted USO South Carolina. One of the best parts of the race was when a bunch of Army units ran by in formation in their PT gear while doing the 5k, singing the whole time! It was one of the most special race memories, and I wish I had my camera! We kept the pace easy and just enjoyed the perfect weather. I didn’t wear my Garmin, but we finished in 1:31 and some change for a 9:51 pace. I’ll take it! After the race, I rode my bike next to my friend Kristen for the last 6 miles of her first 20 mile run ever! She rocked it!

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After the 15k! From Instagram.

On Sunday, Amanda and I ate a MAJOR slice of humble pie. We did a 25 mile bike ride – out first outside of the season, since we’re big wimps and don’t ride in the cold. The weather was beautiful but windy. You know what’s not the same as riding outside? Riding on the trainer! It just doesn’t prepare you the same way. We did a hilly route and nearly had our bikes knocked out from under us by the wind gusts more than once. I guess I need to be less of a wimp and get out on the road more, because that was ugly!

And finally – my dear friend and running companion, JC, is a GUINNESS WORLD RECORD HOLDER! He ran a 50k every day for 21 days and now holds the record for most consecutive 50ks! He is an amazing person and friend, and he has encouraged and motivated me through more races than I’d care to admit. I’m so proud of him and lucky to call him a friend! I also feel pretty cool because this is basically the closest I will ever come to knowing a celebrity.

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Me and JC together at the Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon last September!

Team T-Rex Shirts – New Colors!

After the success of the last order and some exciting new color options, I’m excited to announce that I’m opening up Team T-Rex t-shirt orders again!

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Me in the shirt (size small)

Here is the information you need to know:

The shirt order cut off is Sunday, February 15 at 11:59 pm.

To order: Send an email to thetrexrunner@gmail.com with the cut (unisex or women’s), size, and color you would like to order. Please send me an email even if you commented on the Facebook post and said you wanted one! I need your email addresses so I can take your dollarz (via PayPal).

Sizing: Here are links to the women’s size chart and the unisex size chart. Shirts run pretty true to size and I am wearing a women’s small. The shirts do not ride up and are a normal length, unlike some women’s cut shirts.

Colors: Colors can be found at the bottom of the size charts, but the most popular colors are lime green, grey, and white. Feel free to order any one that appeals to you!

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Hot pink shirts are a thing now! As are purple, blue, teal, and a bunch of other colors!

Cost: The shirts cost $25 (sizes 2XL and above are $28), which includes shipping. They are a technical/dri-fit fabric and are meant to be worn while running (duh). After I receive an email from you with your information, I will send you a PayPal invoice that you can pay using PayPal or a credit card. Sorry, I cannot accept checks or cash since my Post Office sucks and they get lost in the mail on a regular basis.

International orders: I will ship internationally, but there will be an extra shipping cost and it might take awhile to get your shirt. I’ve sent them all around the world with no problems so far, though!

Warning: These shirts have brought epic PRs to many of the people that have bought them. They even brought me a half marathon PR and almost a marathon PR in the span of one week. If you’re not prepared to start running really fast and making new friends with all of the people obsessed with your shirt, this may not be the shirt for you.

So, to review:

  • The cut off for orders is Sunday, February 15 at 11:59 pm. Shirts generally arrive about a week after I order them and I ship them out when I receive them.
  • Check out the Women’s and men’s size charts to see available colors and pick yours.
  • Women’s and men’s sizes are available. Children’s sizes are available too!
  • Shirts fit true to size.
  • $25 each, including shipping (unless international).
  • Email thetrexrunner@gmail.com with the color, size, and cut you want to place your order!

Note: Some people have asked if these shirts are available as singlets. As of right now, unfortunately, they are not. I am working to find a suitable material, color, etc for the singlets, but I have not been able to do so yet, mostly because the ones I’ve found are pretty expensive, and ain’t nobody got time for that. Trust me when I tell you I’m working on it! For right now, take comfort in knowing that these shirts are very lightweight and surprisingly good at wicking away moisture. I’ve worn them for several marathons and have yet to be disappointed!

Not convinced yet? Just look at all these happy customers!

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Jami and her husband ran an Oktoberfest 5k!

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Look how speedy Jan looks!

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Kevin is looking very dashing (with me) at the Fargo Marathon!

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Look at Ines, all the way from Croatia! Team T-Rex is global!

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The Barefoot Bandito (my friend Eddie, on the left) has a run a marathon in all 50 states and 7 continents BAREFOOT! Jim, on the right, is pretty awesome too.

Training Weeks 1 and 2 Recap

I’m going to go ahead and try something I’ve never done before on the blog – recapping my entire marathon training cycle, week by week. Truth be told, I find mile splits and things of that nature kind of boring (I’m a hell of a runner obviously). However, I think it might be helpful this time, and I am hoping it will keep me accountable as well – if I don’t do a run on my training plan, I have to tell you! We’ll see how it goes.

A little background: the Hal Higdon plan I’m using calls for running 4 days a week. There is no speed work, it’s just all base miles. Since having my surgery, I’ve been running 3 times a week. My doctor and physical therapist said 3 times a week would be best to start and I might be able to work my way up to 4, but that’s it. I’ve now been running again for over 7 months, so I’m going to alternate between 3 days a week and 4 days a week for awhile until I see how it affects me.

Week 1: I was in the field/swamp for work most of this week, so I walked around all day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

  • Monday – 1 hour barre class
  • Tuesday – 5 miles easy
  • Wednesday – 1 hour barre class
  • Thursday – 3 miles hard/tempo. This one should have been easy, but I had a lot of rage that day and I took it out on the pavement!
  • Friday – 1 hour barre class
  • Saturday – 1 hour barre class
  • Sunday – 6.5 miles easy. My first “long run” of training! 2 mile walk with the dog, yard work.

Notes: I had a lot of tightness and aching in my left calf/lower leg this week. I’ve had problems in this area since my stress fracture in my left tibia in 2013. I made sure to foam roll and stretch after each run but still had issues.

Week 2: Last week of the challenge at my barre studio! I’m getting in a minimum of 4 classes a week during the challenge.

  • Monday – 1 hour barre class, 3 mile run
  • Tuesday – 1 hour barre class
  • Wednesday – 40 minutes on bike trainer, 3 mile run
  • Thursday – 1 hour barre class
  • Friday – 1 hour barre class, 3 mile run
  • Saturday – 13 mile run <– oops
  • Sunday – 50 minutes on bike trainer, 2 mile walk with the dog

Notes: My first week of running 4 times was a success! The 13 miles on Saturday was a total accident. I set out to do 7, but ended up running the last 6.5 with a girl who was doing her first 18 miler and was going to have to do the last 6.5 miles alone. I couldn’t let that happen! I felt good and the pace was very easy. It was a big confidence booster, but I’m going to try not to make that type of thing happen too often.

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Not gonna lie, this also crossed my mind.

General thoughts: The foam roller is going to be a very important part of my success during this training plan. I had AJ roll out my legs on Friday after my run, and they felt awesome on Saturday. I could have probably run another 5 miles! Also, as much as I love barre, I’m glad the challenge is coming to a close. It’s been challenging (see what I did there?) to fit in 4 classes a week and run 4 days a week, and I’d rather not work out twice a day too often. I think the core strengthening and muscle work I’ve been doing in barre is helping tremendously,  but I’ll be cutting back to 3 days a week for the most part.

I’m also not blind to the fact that I need to take a rest day. This is a huge struggle for me mentally and physically, but something I will certainly need to work on going forward. As you can see, I’m not using my Garmin to record my average paces, just running by feel. I plan to continue this for my entire training plan, if possible. It really helps take the pressure off, and I find I don’t really push myself less, I just worry about it less.

Finally, I’m also trying to work on my nutrition during this training cycle. I have a pretty decent diet minus the copious amounts of wine, cheese, and chocolate (I know, I’m so basic), but I could definitely stand to drink a little less and eat a few more vegetables, so that’s the plan! I started by making “mason jar salads” for lunch this week.

Yes, I know those aren’t mason jars, but you can only buy mason jars in packs of 12 and I really don’t like salads that much.

Anyway, I’m feeling good about my plan so far! I’m looking forward to spending a little more time on my bike as my schedule (and the weather) allows and scaling back just a tad on barre.

What are you training for right now?

 

The One Where I Accidentally Start Training

For about 6 weeks, give or take, I’ve been running however much and however often I damn well please. I have taken the following steps during this process:

  1. Ditch my Garmin and run by feel.
  2. Give up my idea of how many miles a run needs to be to be “worth it” (previously 6 miles) and run as long or as short as I feel like running.
  3. No set schedule of days I have to run – just go on the days I want to go, whether that’s 3 days in a row or a week off.
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I know, right? I sound almost…relaxed.

I have to say, it’s been glorious and just what I needed. Although I initially found myself worrying that 6 weeks wouldn’t be enough time off to get my marathon mojo back (yeah, things were really in the toilet there for awhile), I’m pleased to say that I’m refreshed, ready, and excited to start a new training plan on February 2! In fact, I’ve found myself counting down the days.

There’s just one small problem. I accidentally started my plan on January 19.

And while you’re thinking “It’s literally impossible to accidentally start a  training plan,” it’s actually not.

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I’ve been waiting like 3 years to use this GIF

I ran according to the above-prescribed rules last week. And when I sat down and logged my miles, I realized that I had actually completed Week 1 of my plan. I thought about it further and determined that by starting a couple of weeks early, I would be able to give myself a grace period over our honeymoon to Argentina in April and not have to stress out about getting in a long run while in the Patagonia.

Most importantly, I feel ready to start again. I’m excited about the upcoming weeks! I’ll be using the Hal Higdon Marathon Novice Plan, which I guess might seem a little odd considering I’ve run 47 marathons. I decided to use this plan because it’s still a step up from the running I’ve been doing since my surgery – I’m bumping up to 4 times a week from 3 times a week. However, I will probably transition slowly into this and do 4 times a week every other week for awhile and see how it goes. This plan includes no speed work and is just about getting in steady base miles. That will help me keep the pressure off myself, and there is a pretty good chance I’ll do the entire training plan without my Garmin and just run by feel.

I suppose there is also a chance that I’ll get halfway through marathon training and just not feel like doing it anymore, but I’m hoping that won’t happen. If it does, though, I think I am at a place in my life where I can be ok with that. The 6 weeks I’ve taken off have shown me that I do love running, but I might get into training and realize that I don’t exactly love that.

When I first started running a few years ago, people used to ask me pretty frequently “What are you running from?” I always lied and said nothing. Today, it’s a different story, because I feel like I’m running towards something – happiness with my life and contentedness with myself. I don’t know how many miles it will take to get there and I don’t know how fast or slow they’ll be, but I do know  that what matters is that I enjoy every step the way I am right now.

Hiking, Skiing, and Writing

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my New Year’s resolution to focus on my mental, physical, and emotional health. So far, it’s going pretty well. I did struggle a bit with the challenge, and although I’m continuing to do the challenge, I’ve also modified it a bit for my sanity, and I’m not stressing myself out over it because I’m pretty sure that’s not the point.

But more importantly, I’ve been making a conscious effort to take this time off of a true training plan (since my next marathon training plan doesn’t start until February and will be pretty light for a few months) to get outside more than usual and add some non-traditional workouts into the mix. Well, non-traditional for me. It also helps that AJ usually finds these activities less hateful than running and is more likely to do them without complaining. I am also attempting to get outside more in an effort to despise living in South Carolina less, since hating it is not doing my emotional health any favors. It’s not something I talk about on the blog, but anyone who knows me in real life knows that I’m not exactly in love with where I live. If I could live anywhere, I’d probably move out west to Wyoming or Colorado or Utah or FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SOMEWHERE WITH MOUNTAINS but for now, I’m stuck in central South Carolina. I’m working on making my peace with that while still plotting my escape and reminding myself (about every 30 seconds) that nothing is permanent if you don’t want to be. Well, except kids and amputations, but you know what I mean.

A couple weekends ago, we headed out to Harbison State Forest, which is about half an hour from where I live. If you recall, I used to do some trail runs out there. It’s a pretty place but the trails aren’t terribly exciting for hiking, although they’re pretty good for running and not killing yourself.

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It’s hard to take selfies when the other person is literally almost a foot taller than you

This past weekend, we went skiing with my best friend from high school, her fiance, and a bunch of their friends. I’m a bridesmaid in her wedding, so we wanted to get to know everyone beforehand. Plus, we do love skiing, even if I am mostly terrible at it and excruciatingly slow. We go a few times a year, and I always have a blast – I’m just not interested in breaking any more bones (12 in one lifetime is enough). I never fall, mostly on account of maintaining a steady speed of 2 miles per hour.

I did end up skipping a day of barre while we were skiing, since that was sort of an all day affair, but I did 13 days in a row and got right back on the horse on Sunday.

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Super fun new friends!

I’m already researching outdoor activities for this weekend! South Carolina people, give me your suggestions. It must include some type of thing that could be considered a physical activity.

One big thing I’ve been considering lately and spoke to AJ about this weekend is the possibility of writing a book. I’ve been approached about it a few times, but it has never felt like the right time. To be honest, I’m not sure right now is either, but I guess you never know until you try. I’ve always thought the idea was odd since I don’t think my life or story are particularly unique or interesting, but I guess some people do. The one thing that gives me pause is that the reasons why I started running, which have not been shared on the blog in any detail, are personally pretty traumatic. I don’t handle them well, and I don’t really like talking about them. That being said, I can’t write a book without including them in some form or fashion (while maintaining the privacy of those involved to the extent possible), which would cause me to have to spend even more time thinking about them. I’m not sure I’m ready for that, and I honestly don’t think it would be cathartic – it’s just a part of the story I can’t leave out. The book (and really, my path in life) wouldn’t make sense without them. With my focus being on health this year, I’ll have to evaluate how the writing process affects me and see if it is worth it. I’ve always known that if I ever did write a book, it wouldn’t just be a regurgitation of the stories on my blog – after all, you can read these for free, so that would be kind of rude. We’ll see.

LEAVE A COMMENT: What are your favorite outdoor activities? Have you ever thought about writing a book?

Challenges and Truth

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’ve been taking part in something called the Barre3 Challenge. I’ve already told you how addicted I am to barre (a combination of yoga, pilates, and athletic ballet moves), and since the local Barre3 studio opened here in Columbia, I’ve been a loyal client. The workouts focus heavily on your core, which is great for my back, and I love the way it is changing my body! So far, I’ve made it a priority to go at least 3 times a week in addition to the other workouts I do. Don’t worry, this is not a love letter to barre. We’ll get to the part that might interest you here in a minute.

For the challenge, we’re supposed to do a 1-hour workout either in the studio (preferred) or online at least 4 times a week, try one new Barre3 recipe, and do one additional 10-minute online workout. We’re also supposed to eat only whole foods, avoid alcohol, added sugar, and caffeine.  I’ve been traveling quite a bit for work lately, so getting to the studio 4 times a week just isn’t happening most of the time. However, I decided to take the challenge one step further and commit to doing a 1-hour workout every day for the duration of the 4 week challenge (January 5 – February 1).

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Thank you to whoever told me about the app for making picture collages. You have substantially improved my quality of life/Instagram account.

Susie over at Suzlyfe wrote a post today about why she doesn’t like fitness challenges, which was rather serendipitous because I actually broke my challenge last night. I had a great day fitness and food wise, but I just really wanted a glass of wine.  I thought about it all day, figuring the craving would pass. It didn’t. And I found myself thinking “What is the real point of this challenge?”  For the majority of people, the point is probably to kickstart weight loss efforts in the wake of the new year, get them addicted to barre, and make some healthy changes in their lifestyle. I think those are awesome goals.

But what is the point when you already live a pretty healthy lifestyle? When you have struggled with an eating disorder and exercise addiction issues in the past? What if the focus of the challenge ends up conflicting with my focus on health because it is placing me in a restrictive and obsessive place mentally, even if I am getting “healthier” physically?

Some things about the challenge have been great – I’ve added some new recipes to my rotation, really focused on eating whole foods (and succeeded despite traveling so much for work) and tried to think about how different foods make my body feel. I’ve pushed my limits physically, and my abs may never forgive me for this if I complete the entire 4 weeks of doing a workout every day. I’ve also learned that I’m capable of more than I think, and I actually found myself craving greek yogurt with granola, which was rather jarring since I used to think greek yogurt was the single most disgusting food on the planet.

I also learned that I need to be flexible and kind to myself in regards to my workout schedule and what I’m eating or drinking. Last night, I planned to get on my bike and ride on the trainer for an hour after barre, but after working in the field all last week and doing a barre workout every day plus running a few times, I was just exhausted. I felt bad skipping the bike, but I’m not training for anything bike-related right now, so really, did I need to ride? Is exercising just for the sake of sticking to a schedule really in line with my focus on whole health? No. So, I didn’t. (For the record, the Barre3 challenge has nothing to do with any other forms of exercise – I just decided I would maintain my normal schedule plus add on all the additional workouts. Makes sense, right?) I was simultaneously guilt-ridden and relieved. And that craving for a glass of wine never went away, so I drank 1. I felt both bad and good about it.

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“If you’re not drinking wine out of a straw, you’re doing it wrong.” – Me

If challenges are about creating healthy habits and setting you up for a lifetime of success, you have to define what you want those habits and that success to look like. If your goal is to jumpstart your weight loss efforts, great! But don’t forget to think about what you’ll do to continue on that path after the challenge is over. For me, the challenge should compliment my focus on whole health rather than sidetrack it. I don’t want to be wracked with anxiety if I have a glass of wine or don’t stick perfectly to my work out schedule. I do want to move my body and be active in one way or another 95% of the time because it makes me feel good. I do want to eat foods that make me feel strong while also occasionally eating foods I enjoy that are just flat out delicious and have no nutritional value. I do want to have a glass of wine sometimes if I feel like it.

In Barre3, the two phrases our instructors always say are “Find your truth” and “Make it your own.” To me, that means finding what works for me on any given day and doing what makes my body and mind feel good. That’s a pretty worthwhile challenge in itself, if you ask me.

LEAVE A COMMENT: What is your “truth” when it comes to challenges? Do you love them or hate them?