Tag Archives: Sport

Marathon Musings

This week began week 7 of the above 18 week Full Marathon Hal Higdon Training Plan. 564 miles of running are virtuously mapped out in this handy and easy to follow guide.

Said mileage is not counting the final 26.2 mile parade/death march/symposium on masochism, in celebration of the hard work, early mornings, chaffing, blisters, endless loads of laundry, and buckets of sweat and tears.  I have been following Hal’s plan for every single 26.2 mile event in which I have ever towed the line and definitely recommend it.

Hal’s stuff is precise, easy to follow, and doesn’t have all kinds of weird pace and tempo calculations thrown in the mix. My brain is always processing, running is my mediation and time away from precision. Essentially, Hal could’ve written “Running for Dummies.” In fact, he may have. (Someone look into this and let me know)

This week, Valentine’s week, week 7 of the Intermediate Level Training Plan is very significant for me. Now that I’m training for marathon #10, my training doesn’t really kick into gear until week 7. My “off” season running patterns consist of 25-30 miles a week with cross and strength training in the mix, so until I jump above that mileage threshold, my training is more mental prep and anticipation than anything.

I am often asked about my routines, practices, and mileage, so I hope to give the inquiring minds a glimpse into what a very average, middle aged, slow long distance runner does to maintain her mediocre paces as the weeks progress.  (That sentence needs read with all the sarcasm in which I wrote it. I actually kick my tail, own my nutrition, and strive for my best, and yet still come up as a solid mid packer. I guess not every long term love story exists in the land of non stop bliss and progress. Sometimes love is grand. Sometimes it’s mediocre. Sometimes people are oddly inspired by normal. I’m banking on this. I want you to read my angry running rants, sappy running love stories, runs that were inspired into sonnets by nature and birds and joy, and those runs which end with my hip cursing me out.)

I had anticipated telling you about the struggles running and I have been having lately with our relationship, but since it’s Valentine’s Day, I want to honor running for the goodness it has done for me and save the honesty, authenticity and bad mouthing for some upcoming posts. While we are never “on again/off again” (There is no off. Maybe that’s my problem. Maybe I’m worn out.), running and I definitely vacillate between engaging in a great sordid love affair, and me playing bitter, angry, and jealous because running seems to dole out the awards and gains I know it has stashed somewhere to other less dedicated people at high rates than it does to me.

Maybe I’m just tired today. Maybe I’m still upset that my husband kept up with me on our pace run Saturday even though he was suffering from some bird flu deal and I, a perfectly healthy specimen, couldn’t even leave him in my dust no matter how hard I tried. Why does he get to snot, cough, and pant his way to a fast finish while I dug deep and pushed hard, only to find him still at my heels? I did have a minor emotional melt down when we hit stop on our Garmin watches, but then I recovered. I can’t break up with running just yet. Passion is a 2 edged sword and you can’t have endorphin highs to the moon without dealing with some demons that creep in and try to convince you to call it quits on occasion.

The true, unadulterated psychotic hold that running has on me exists, in part, because of how hard I work at it sometimes. Can we ever appreciate fully what we don’t have to pour our heart and soul into?

Perhaps, yes, I should revisit what training plans and approaches I use as I endeavor at some point to run the all elusive sub 4 Hour Full marathon, but for now,  the hectic pace of life, work, family, and marathon seasons past is telling me to run for fun in Pittsburgh in may and remember, I don’t have to do this, I get to do this.

A Glance at my Running Week:

Mondays I do the run scheduled for Tuesdays plus strength training/core work
Tuesdays I do the runs scheduled for Wednesdays (medium length)
Wednesdays I cross train plus
strength training/core work
Thursdays and Saturdays I do the 2nd medium length run (which is when I squeeze th pace run) and the other day I do the long, slow run and sometimes do a fast finish or mimic race pace towards th end to get used to keeping it up while tired. It depends no my work and life schedule on which I do on which day. Flexibility is the only way to get it done. The training plan is not a legal document, just an excellent guide. Get it in when and how you can.
Fridays  I do the run scheduled for Thursdays plus strength training/core work
Saturday, see Thursday
Sundays are my “Rest” from fitness day.  I go for a walk before church by myself to pray and prepare, and then often go for another walk in the evening with the dog.

 

 PSA: Dressing in the dark for a 5:30 AM Run and Strength Training Session could result in a deadly mix of color palettes (Although, navy and white on black and purple could be the new trend. Who knows?) . Thankfully, the “lunks” at Planet Fitness are also in a semi sleep deprived state and most likely don’t notice. Also, I don’t want anyone looking at me when I work out. Also, don’t talk to me because the suns not even stinking out yet. Also, I smell. Please breathe my sweaty air and let it keep you away from engaging me in an overly giddy pre-dawn chat session. I’ve come to get the job done so my productivity can kick off, not to make new BFF’s 🙂

 

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Is February the new January?

I am noticing a new trend emerging on social media and throughout the internet where people are shouting from the rooftops the magic of February 1. Many of these people are declaring that their New Year’s resolutions are just now beginning, and their slates are wiped clean from this day forward. We are already on day number 32 of the new year, and it appears that a majority of people have just now shaken the carbohydrate induced coma of celebration.

Is February the new January, or are February 1, March 1, April 1, and beyond just the ameatuer happy hour? Are they the new excuses du jour?

Is February the new January, or have the “resistance” and monster of “self sabotage” just gotten dressed up as grandmother, and all of us Little Red Riding Hoods can’t even recognize that the wolf pack is in the corner laughing?

The truth is, professionals have a bias for action, and results eventually follow action. Success and progress are attracted to motion.

Amateurs, however, spend a lot of time planning, tweaking, dreaming, over analyzing, debating, lollygagging, justifying, and bellyaching, all while expecting results to find them. After all, they deserve results, “likes”, accolades, trophies, and cheers just because they intended to do something and talked about it for a while.

Don’t get me wrong, my life is a series of fresh starts, new mercies, and big vats of grace piled upon grace. I love nothing more than a fresh month, a clean slate, a new virgin monthly calendar just waiting to be devoured and discovered. Calendars and new days are my thing. I have a phone calendar, a wall calendar, a work calendar, and a personal 3 ring binder of calendars, to-do lists, and productivity hacks. All of these are linked together, and all of these track every member of my family, our whereabouts, and the plethora of things that need managed, juggled, and overseen to make our home, church, jobs,  little league sports leagues/extracurriculars, and marathon training plans stay on the rails and moving in the right direction.

The problem I’ve discovered with juggling all of these things is that it is easy to convince myself that the most important things can wait because the urgent is crying out. I am an expert of what I have identified as positive procrastination. It is not procrastination in the traditional sense of putting off work, but positive procrastination is its own animal. Positive procrastination is where you put off your purpose, your destiny, and the most important life changing tasks and habits in favor of something that brings a more immediate gratification or diversion in the short term, but actually robs you of the gains and growth of just diving into the hard stuff head first.

For example, how many of you have already faded out on your January fitness resolutions because you had laundry to do? When it’s cold outside, it’s easier to fold warm laundry, even if you hate it, then to go out into the cold and log some miles. Laundry keeps you in the comfortable confines of your home (if you are so blessed to own the machinery) and away from the cruel world. In the face of getting a college education, working out, going to the grocery store to buy healthy fresh ingredients so you don’t eat Little Caesars one more night,  laundry sounds like the equivilient of a carnival cruise. After all, those who keep up on laudnry are in the running for sainthood. It appears to be the crowning achievement of the working mother.

We relish in the “how does she do it?” narritive. She works from sun up to sun down and yet her family is robed in luxurious, soft, clean and fragrant linens ornately folded and stacked in color coded piles waiting with eager anticipation for their return to the dressers and closets.

Now, laundry, in and of itself is necessary, and of course evil, thus a necessary evil. Should you keep up on your laundry? By all means. I shudder to think of this household of 4 sweaty humans and all of their piles upon piles of clothes if I decided to abdicate that responsibility. In fact, I just had an argument with my 11-year-old who is now wearing up to 4 different outfits a day. If you thought having boys would preclude you from this nonsense, think again. The desire for swag is real!

However, laundry (or insert other appropriate form of positive procrastination that makes you feel angelic and accomplished and loved and worthy) is not the single most important part of your day.  Taking care of you is. Spending time in prayer and devotion is. Taking care of your loved ones is. Discovering and living out your purpose is. You must prioritize destiny over doldrums, your daydreams will become realities.

You are the missing link between the person you WANT to be and WISH you could be and the person that you are frustrated with right now. What would your future self want you to do today?

What do you want to have accomplished by February 28 so that on March 1 you don’t have to post cute meme’s and selfies of March 1 being when resolutions really start. March 1 is the new January, you’ll be tempted to say.

So, whatever you call them, intentions, resolutions, goals, one words, focus points, targets, etc (See, even the SEMANTICS of life change will distract some of us enough to keep us from actually doing anything. We will just argue in a comment section about why we do or do not set resolutions and why they do or do not work, all the while we are slipping further and further behind in the journey to become our highest and best selves.)

Whatever it is that you want to term them or define them as, just start moving towards destiny today. Make a month-long streak of something you want to do. Try to form a new habit to replace an old habit. Try to visualize yourself on February 28 celebrating whatever accomplishment you have set out for and don’t let month after month after month in 2017 slip by. (Hopefully said celebration will be done with clean clothes on because laundry, although a distraction when inappropriately prioritized, is at some point a necessity. You win some. You lose some.)

Create a vision. Make it plain. Write it down. Do something right this second to move on it. Ready….Set….Go!

Early morning date with myself, some amazing podcasts, the stair master, and my weight/strength training routine. Wednesdays are for cross training. The resolution crowds have dwindled too, giving me my pick of weight benches. When it comes to working out, sometimes the early bird doesn’t get the worm because there are swarms of others looking for their piece too.

“Ceilings, Values, and How to be anything you want to be”

I am nothing if not a personal growth and development junkie. Even as a child, I asked for books on topics that even some hard working professionals have to force themselves to read.  For whatever reason, I distinctly remember in 1998 waiting with baited breath for the latest John Maxwell title “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” to be published so I could get my hands on it. It still, to this day, rocks my world. I definitely recommend that if you have not yet read the book, you owe it to yourself and everyone around you to do so.

The memory of receiving that specific book at that time is so vivid to me because my dad was a member of Maxwell’s VHS and cassette tape club much of my childhood and to me there was no one smarter, determined, or loved by others than my dad was. I know those words expose my age even though my youthful glow does not.

VHS and Cassettes! What excuse do we have now with the capabilities of all the audio files and knowledge in the world in the palm of our hands?

All of that being said, the principal that stands out most to me is

Law #1: The Law of the Lid – Leadership Ability Determines a Person’s Level of Effectiveness. To reach the highest level of effectiveness, you have to raise your leadership lid.

Essentially, you are your own worst enemy or biggest asset.

What are you doing right now, today, at this very moment, at this very hour (outside of reading my amazing words of inspiration and gleaning from my deep wells of knowledge) to improve upon yourself so that you can go further?

We love to think that the things that hold us back are outside of ourselves. This way we can blame people, places, and things for our inability to produce rather than take a cold hard look in the mirror.

Like children, sometimes we can’t move beyond the slight discomforts of action and execution to gain the bigger prize of accomplishment and achievement.

My sons would often rather lose a privilege and be disciplined then to admit their mistakes. They have more invested in the arguments, nitpicking, and faultfinding than they do in just getting their rear in gear and just do what I have asked them. “I can’t put the leg of the recliner down. I’m not the one who put it up.” “I can’t take the dog to the bathroom. I did it last time.” “It’s ______ fault I have poop on my shoe. He didn’t scoop it off the ground.” (Never mind the fact that you could have just watched where you were walking, especially since you already knew that he didn’t clean it up! Instead of letting me know it needs cleaned up, or just cleaning it up himself, it is much more fun to drag poop into the house to prove some epic point and tattle.)

I have amazing sons, but this competitive and argumentative list of excuses  could go on for eternity when all of the disagreements and conflicts just boil down to the fact that no one wants to accept responsibility and just move forward. Even when I say, “You aren’t in trouble. I just need to know”, the human experience dictates that self-preservation is preferable to self-awareness.

At the end of the day what does this mean to you and me?

We need to:

  • Immediately stop telling ourselves false narratives. While other people, places, situations, scenarios, and things inform our daily life and decisions, they are not in control of them and they do not hold the keys to our success and destiny.
  • Identify where the ceiling is. What is truly holding you down? Once you identify your ceiling, the things that you once thought were ceilings will become floors to your next level of personal growth and development.
  • Establish personal responsibility and growth as a core value from which you make all of your decisions. Core values are constant. They are not descriptions of the work we do or the strategies we employ, they are just simply the basic elements of every day of our lives.

In 2010 when I started my fitness and weight loss journey, physical health and being in shape started to become a core value of who I am.

  • I don’t run. I am a runner.
  • I don’t just fit in exercise. I am a physically fit person.

See how that wording shifts the conversation?

If you just say, “I run”, you can easily dismiss the act of running if you don’t fit into your day. However, if “I am a runner”, it is the essence of who I am and I make it happen. I don’t just “mother” my children. I am their mother. There is actually a big difference. Anyone can “mother/nurture” them in a pinch or for a moment in time (School teachers. Babysitters. Grandparents.), but nobody else in this world can be their mother. It flows from my essence.

To begin exploring your own values and begin taking the limits off what you are capable of, think about your life and all of its components and begin rating them.

  1. Things I value very much: These are the things that are your very ESSENCE. An example for me is my physical fitness. Most people don’t value this as much as I do and therefore make excuses about why they can’t or won’t engage in daily exercise.
  2. Things I value: An example of this for me is financial gain. I do value financial gain and I want to be a wise steward of my family’s income and spend with frugality, however, money is not a top priority for me. I don’t value it enough to chase it over something I value very much.
  3. Things I don’t value very much: An example of this for me is a jam packed extracurricular social schedule. Every aspect of my daily life and work is to be surrounded by people and in relational and social settings, as well as run like wild, dragging kids between sporting events, hangouts, and practices full of even more people to socialize with. Because of this, I oftentimes neglect getting into social settings that aren’t work/ministry/leadership/parenting related because I value a little silence here and there. This can be a slippery slope because I know I need my relational cup filled instead of always being the one pouring, so I’m working on balance, but the point is, you most likely won’t find me at a RAVE until 2-3AM every Friday and Saturday craving a party.

I will continue to write about personal development, growth, and life changing transformation, as it is my sweet spot, I have experience in and with it, and I think it is fun to be encouraged and challenged. That said, Are there any particular topics or avenues in this space you would want me to cover?

“THAT” Girl

Look in the mirror, that’s your competition.

Today marathon Jessica was officially back. After taking the month of May to not think about training schedules and to focus on falling in love with running again, running and I moved our courtship back to engagement levels today. I ran my first 10 miler since May 4 (the day I ran the Capital City 13.1). I’m not going to lie, being engaged again feels nice and mother nature smiled on me hugely with some amazing running weather. My marathon training plan for June is to run one 10 miler, one 8 miler, one 6 miler, three 5K’s, and my 2 mile “rest” day every week. For me, this is a reasonable way to stay in medium to long distance shape without the risk of overuse or injury. My official training plan is 16 weeks long, but it is much much easier to train for a Marathon with a super solid base than it is to jump from 4-5 mile days to 18-20 mile days too quickly. Therefore, these first 3-4 weeks are just going to be base building beast mode. Wish me luck!

This lady is my competition. (Pic from 2011)

This lady is my competition. (Pic from 2011)

I’m starting to become “THAT” girl. Recently I noticed a phenomena of all of my random neighbors, which includes people who live up to 6 miles away from me because I frequently run past their homes, to start commenting to me and staring at me. I think this is funny because my husband runs nearly (notice I say nearly because clearly my mileage this year is blowing his out of the water. I’m several hundred miles further than him this year) as much as I do and nobody ever looks at or says anything to him. A couple of weeks ago a neighbor commented that I make him dizzy and tired because he sees me out all the time at random and nocturnal hours of the morning just running in circles. He said just watching me makes him feel exhausted. I wasn’t sure how to respond to that except to say to myself that he needs to up his fitness routine. In addition to that exchange, people will ask how many miles I’m going today or say they see me all over town and it blows their mind because I’m so far from home. My neighbors landscaper told me that I “get around”. Thankfully there was good context for a comment like that :)

Anyway, today a man I have never seen stopped me on the sidewalk and just asked me why in the world I’m always running. He said, “You must really want to be in shape. I just saw you an hour ago running and here you are still going.” I explained to him I was on my long run (I guess the super stylish fanny pack like fuel belt and hair saturated in sweat didn’t give me away) and that I enjoy training for and running marathons for the stress relief, the solitude, and the mental health benefits I feel. He was pleased with the answer, which is good because if he wasn’t I think he might have broken my legs to get me to quit running.

So, my question for the blog is, do random strangers ever comment on your running?

I can’t believe I’ve become “THAT” girl. What I mean by that is there was man where we used to live that everyone in the town talked about all the town because he would speed walk for hours on end, miles and miles everyday. People speculated that he must have HIV/AIDS or some other horrible ailment and that he was trying to stave it off with fitness. People would regularly refer to the man in conversation, even though nobody had even met him. He seemed to have endless energy. I used to giggle when I would see him zooming by. He was a MEGA fitness walker. He was probably speed walking as fast as a lot of people run miles. I think of him when people comment on my running and take it as a compliment. Hopefully I’m inspiring people in my community, but if not, at least I’m meeting a lot of people and having an open door of conversation to let them into my life. Jesus modeled relationships and neighboring, and although he didn’t use running as his method, I’m sure he’d be glad I exchanged dusty sandals for springy Brooks tennis shoes and bring people together.

20130604-142623.jpg

Speaking of relationships, the sounds of my boys using their imaginations, creating, playing, and jumping outside with neighborhood kids makes my heart glad. I’m thankful that they are living childhood the way it should be, and not in front of a TV screen, a computer, or a video game. Don’t get me wrong, they spend plenty of time on iPhone apps and in the company of angry birds, but as adventurous boys, the call of the wild is strong for them and I am more than happy to appease that drive to get dirty, loud, and sweaty and let them be kids. I am so thankful for the nicer weather. In the winter sometimes you have to resort to Wii Sports games for any semblance of exercise for your kids, but when it’s nice out, forget all these expensive childhood obesity campaigns and just help encourage people to get their kids outside. Imaginations don’t cost money and they teach everything from fitness to team work to what it truly takes to succeed in life.

20130604-142501.jpgVolunteering at Reese’s school for field day. Keeping that giant ball up in the air and chasing it down for several hours and getting several hundred students to do team work games was both fun and exhausting. I probably added at least a couple miles to my run total for yesterday at this event.

20130604-142515.jpgField Day Potato Sack Races

Come back later and we will talk about food and other equally exciting things like how people like to tell you running will cause arthritis or that with all the running you do you should be skinnier or that they just can’t fathom how you have so much time to train for a marathon. ( Preview: Everyone has the SAME 24 hours in a day, some just choose to set a ridiculously insane alarm, or stay up when every else is snoozing so they can fit all of the work, dreams, and desires into their life. Also, most marathon runners I know are the busiest people I know. Presidents have run marathons. Medical Students have run marathons. CEO’s, actors, lawyers, and moms with full-time jobs plus a husband and 4 kids. The secret is simple, remove obstacles and excuses.)

Stuff Happens

Ingredients for success – attitude, discipline, self-control, belief in yourself, willpower, be teachable, set your plan and no excuses, ever.

Today I ran 3.1 miles, just a little 5K, to keep the Run Streak alive and get my muscles ready for my strength training routine. I know that a lot of runners struggle with fitting strength training into their weeks, but I seem to be a little injury prone and strength training has greatly reduced my pain in running. Since I have been hitting the weights hard and consistently, I have had very little trouble with my Achilles, and muscle cramping on long runs has gone away (this also has to do with the fact that I have learned the art of fueling and hydrating). Most runners suffer from overcompensation injuries created by weak muscles. There are some muscles that you don’t use much when running, but are needed to be strong to support the muscles that you do use. The moral of the story is, some strength training will do you massive amounts of good. You do not have to be aspiring to Ms. Universe, and you definitely don’t want to bulk up if running is your goal and not your side note.

I have noticed a great change in the way my body looks too in the year and a half I have consistently worked out at the gym to supplement and grow my running. I actually have abs now, which is a miracle. How many women do you know that look better after giving birth to kids than they ever did at any point in their life before they had kids? Yep, I’m one of the few. I just wish that I would’ve done this when I was younger so I would’ve reaped double benefits. I do have one recurring nagging running related pain/injury that I will discuss on a blog, but for now I want to address the very sad issue of……….

Runner’s Tan: A condition experienced by those that run outside. Runner’s tan includes a very distinguishable sock line, a glaring block on your arm where your sleeve once was, and a bizarre space right above your knee where your bottoms hit. In summary, I am tan from a blocked off space right above my knee, to a blocked off space right around my ankle. This is a very fashionable look when I am wearing a summer skirt and sandals.

Runner’s Face: A condition experienced by runners where your face is aging light years ahead of your body. I am fighting Runner’s Face tooth and nail. They actually addressed it in an issue of Runner’s World once. Because running reduces your body fat, your face tends to be thin and lean when you are a runner and you lose face fat the older you get anyway, which is why wrinkles and lines become more noticeable. What happens to runners is that their face becomes super thin and mixes with the sun damage from running outside creating a phenomena where they have the body of a 25 year old from all the exercising and the face of a 78 year old from the constant face jumping and thumping that happens when your feet pound pavement and the sun is scorching you. Last year I just made sure to wear sun screen, but this year I have a running hat. I hate wearing it. In fact, I have only worn it once, but I will start being faithful to it. It will keep the sun off my face and hopefully preserve my skin. I don’t want to have to choose between being fat with plush skin or fit with the face of a leather boot. This is a tough conundrum because I look better with a little sun kissed color, but I guess being cancer free and looking young is a higher trade off.

On a semi related side note, my husband Jonathan told me that someone introduced him to their boyfriend as having the most gorgeous wife they had ever seen. I about fell out when he told me that. Apparently they  haven’t been around very much. This lady said that I was 33 but looked 23 and was filled with an enormous amount of spunk and energy. I think I’m pulling off the charade 🙂

Does anyone else have issues with gym etiquette? Since I have addressed my strength training in this post, I will take a moment to say that I get super annoyed when people camp out on the nautilus type machines and take naps, read the newspaper, and have gossip parties. All of these things happen on a frequent basis where I go. In fact, today I had to skip an entire machine because it never came open. The guy sitting there on it wasn’t even moving or working out. He was chit chatting with three other people who were surrounding him. YES! The men in my gym are far more of a problem than the women.  I have overcome this astounding lack of good gym etiquette by learning more free weight and kettle bell work outs, which, in the long run, are more intense and better for you anyway. I also enjoy them more because you have more control over how you position yourself. I have seen increased results from moving some of my muscle groups to free weights instead of circuit machines. Regardless though, there are a few that I like that seem to be confused with lazy boy chairs or a chaise lounger because that is what happens when these guys beat me to the circuit. (In full disclosure I will tell you they are old and retired so that is why I don’t say much to them about their lack of movement. I do believe in honoring those that are my elder, allowing them to burn their 7 calories an hour,  and I am sure they need the socialization.)

20130521-212057.jpgSometimes stuff just happens. Sometimes you are trying to cook a good healthy meal and the little plants your kids have put together for you fall off the window ledge into your sink creating a fun mixture of dirt, water, and dishes for you to clean up. Sometimes when these things happen, the little boy who potted the plants for you starts crying and feels hurt and dejected. Yep, life can throw you dirt, but it should not throw you off. Just expect the unexpected.

20130521-212110.jpgHere I am practicing before church with some people from our worship band. The running keeps me fit to jump all around singing like a maniac without getting breathless and missing notes. Mind-Body-Spirit Our lives can be limitless if we could just grasp this concept of everything about ourselves and others being intertwined without end or beginning with Mind-Body-Spirt. Don’t focus on just one to the detriment of the others of you can’t and won’t grow to your full capacity.

Any advice on runner’s tan besides running in booty shorts and a sports bra?

What is your greatest advice for avoiding premature aging due to sun exposure?

Does anyone at your gym annoy you?