Tag Archives: Training

Cupid Q & A

February is typically known as “Love Month”. Of course this celebration of love and romance hits its peak on February 14, Valentine’s Day, the day you are supposed to feel all the feelings, gift all the gifts, and eat yourself into a state of bliss and oblivion, which, if not done correctly, could destroy a night of good romance.

Jessica’s PRO TIP  for “Love Month” and any other ecstasy filled holidays: Even if it’s a supposed aphrodisiac (IE chocolate), especially if you’re in a long term relationship where all guards and barriers surrounding your holiday eating habits have long since been removed,  kiss all your kisses and get cozy before you eat so you can embrace the comforts of long term love and sweat pants for the rest of the day/evening without fear of physical side effects.

In honor of this love holiday, I want to tell you a little about my relationship in case you were curious. If you are not curious, that is OK. At least this post will jog my memory when I’m 118 and I forget details about the man laying next to me.

  1. Who’s oldest?Me by 18 months. I was a cougar before I knew what one was.
  2. How did you meet? We met in college when Jonathan was on a spring break drama tour for his college that came through my town for a performance. His thespian skills riveted me and I’ve been in his audience ever since.
  3. Who was interested first?Technically he was putting the moves on me first the night we met and was chatting me up, however, I was the first to AOL Instant Message him a day or 2 later.  It was the infancy of such technology and my dial up didn’t know what was about to hit it.
  4. Same high school? I’m a public school casualty and he was a homeschooling hermit on the other side of the world.
  5. Most sensitive? This is difficult. Depends on how you define sensitive. While Jonathan is very empathetic, I would say that I tend to get emotionally involved in things at a greater rate than he does.
  6. Worst temper? Unfortunately, me. I have grown enormously in this area though and the fruits of the spirit are ripening. If Jonathan is having an impatient day or moment though, he can get highly annoyed very quickly and be sure to let those closest to him aware of his annoyances.
  7. More social? I am definitely more classically social. I don’t know a stranger and I love to network. I’m a sucker for gabbing. We both have very social occupations and callings though, so you will find us with people and groups all the time. In our personal and friendship lives,  we enjoy spending time with the right people.
  8. Hardest working?Again, another tough one. I would like to say that we both bat 1,000 in this area. We are both highly driven and goal oriented in our professional world, marathon runners as a hobby, and extremely present, hands on parents.
  9. More sarcastic?Definitely me. I’m the joker with a sassy comeback for most anything.
  10. Who makes the most mess? Jonathan It’s not like he “makes a mess”, but I’m definitely the one always picking things up and putting them back where they belong. I don’t have too many complaints in this area though as he is way more cognizant of the trails he leaves behind than 99.9% of men.
  11. Wakes up first?Me most mornings, but only by necessity. I have to get up at Dark O’ Clock to get in my workouts before the day begins. He is, however, the naturally inclined morning person of the two of us and wakes up early even if it’s a day off and even if we are on a vacation. Therefore, I am a hostage to mornings. Even if I want to sleep in, either my schedule won’t let me or I’m awakened inadvertently, or sometimes overtly, by Jonathan.
  12. Bigger family?We both have exactly 1 brother and both of them have 1 wife and 2 sons. We are tied. However, my father is already deceased, so he has one living father up on me.
  13. Who cooks the most? No meals would occur without my planning, shopping, prep, and litany of instructions. He does do spaghetti and eggs, as well as put meat on the grill in the summer if I’ve prepped it all and planned in advance for it. He forgets the planning, shopping, and shelf stocking part and I hate to send him to the store anyway as he always pays way more for everything than needed. My brain is a calculator at the store after years of practice.
  14. Who cries the most?Neither of us. We both are dry as a bone most of the time. I think we need to work through our issues so we can stinking cry.
  15. Better singer?While he can harmonize and sing on key, I’m the singer of the pair.
  16. Hogs the remote?Our kids.
  17. Better driver? He’d say it’s him.

Most patient? We are both tied as works in progress on this, although, he is a faithful, diligent plodder and extremely sweet, kind and caring to me and our sons so I really have no complaints. We are pretty patient with people and circumstances. We have experienced a lot of life, both really good and tragically bad, so the patience virtue has been slammed into us and I’m thankful for it.

Life is a journey and people are work’s in progress. The sooner those tenants are embraced, the happier your life will be.

So that’s that for now. Happy Valentine’s Week all!

funny-akron-marathon-2016This is a tragically bad and yet terrifically accurate photo of our marriage. I look like I’ve gone to the nut farm. Here  I am, tired, sweaty, worn out, and yet still crazy , acting funny, and ready to party. Jonathan, looking ever so neat and polished like a politician, by my side, ignoring my insanity, intensely focused, and keeping his eye on the goal. This was captured at the Akron Marathon September 2016 at the finish line.

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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 🙂

 

Why Monday Matters

Monday has long been the bane of human existence. If you follow the generally accepted calendar, Monday is day one of the “work week”, and thus the perceived dreaded bearer of bad news. Those who are more optimistic try to convince themselves that Monday has magical fairy powers to motivate the otherwise immobile sacks of human flesh that we all have felt like at some point.

From the Garfield comic strips, which tell a tale of Monday woe, to the the ever present social media memes declaring Monday to be anything from the day for Motivation and fresh starts to the 24 hour time period in which we should all retreat into an apocalyptic style shelter and pray for survival.

Whether you cheer and “rah, rah, rah” on Mondays because this is your week, your time, your chance, your moment to shine, or rather choose to pull your blankets over your head in anxiety ridden sorrow, Monday seems to carry with it a certain mystique.

For better or worse, Monday is not going anywhere anytime soon, and the call to responsibility and action has been sounded from deep within its cavernous expanse. Monday matters because to manage Monday means to manage yourself. To prioritize your time, tasks, and energy on day 1 of the week, means to produce and move forward with the behaviors that become accomplished actions, which in turn result in accomplishment and accolades.

I will be the first to admit that this Monday, February 6, 2017, tried to kick my tail. This Monday truly played its role as the playground bully quite well. You see, this isn’t just any ol’ Monday, it is the Monday after the Super Bowl. When my alarm went off at 5:45 AM, which is actually later than the optimal for me 5:15 AM needed to squeeze things in, I forgot that it was Monday. I actually thought it was Sunday. Once I realized that “Groundhog Day” had already passed (ancient movie reference which makes me seem old, but wise), I was faced with a choice.

  • I could get up, dress up, show up, and never give up, or
  • I could reenter my carb, fat, and sugar induced coma that I justified due to it being Super Bowl Sunday. The good news is that I do not drink alcohol. The bad news is, studies have proven that unhealthy eating, habits, and patterns can knock you for a loop and produce a legitimate state of “hangover”.

I am happy to report that I chose the former. I got my sorry tail out of bed and went about my usual running and strength training routine. I then caffeinated myself, put on business clothes, and went to live out my calling and purpose ( I said I don’t drink alcohol. I never once mentioned my drug habit. If it’s from a bean (coffee) or a leaf (tea) and produces hyper focus and productivity, I’m all about it.)

The moral of this story is that Monday Matters.

  • Monday provides us with 24 hours to make progress on our goals.
  • Monday offers up the balance that need to in order to discover and live out purpose.A drum that plays at random and with no rhythm is a cacophony of noise, not the beat maker and dance director that it was created to be.
  • Monday reminds us that we can’t eat like a 897 pound gorilla and expect to jump out of bed with pep in our step.
  • Monday mentors us into making choices that benefit our future selves, verses always living in the sweet siren call of present self.
  • Monday means we are alive to live another glorious day on this planet.
  • Mondays that require an alarm mean we are either gainfully employed, or have people in our lives that are counting on us to provide diligent care. It reminds us that we are not alone.

So, on this Monday, remember that self-care means living in a way today that will help you thrive tomorrow. If you cast off restraint on the weekends, know that Monday is your personal trainer, chef, guide, assistant, and friend to make sure the entirety of your life doesn’t go off the rails.

 

A marathon is much more than 26.2 miles

If you ask a person how long a marathon is, you will get an extremely wide variety of answers. Of those answers, it is absolutely maddening to a full marathoner when someone tells you that they themselves have run a marathon, or their cousin has run a marathon, only to find out that they were referring to a random 5K that they did once. I don’t want to burst your bubble, but a 5K is only 3.1 miles. The “marathon” that these people supposedly ran can range anywhere from a friendly 1 mile charity run to an actual full marathon. I wish that when co-workers, family, friends, and strangers shared with me the tales of their tragedy and triumph, knee pain, and shin splints which resulted from their “marathon” that I could just smile and celebrate with them, but, in fact, I seethe inside. I arrogantly wonder how your 3 mile walk can compare to the 1700 miles I logged in the past 12 months, as if the marathon was my lover and you offended him.

You see, a true full marathon is 26.2 miles in distance, but it is, in fact, much more than that. The marathon is the story of a full season of dedication and preparation, discipline and dedication, fun and labor.

A marathon tells a deeply personal story.

I feel sorry for the people who have signed up for a marathon on a whim, and are just lucky enough to have youth on their side, so they finish this majestic event without giving it the proper training and respect that it deserves. Sure, if you are youthful and you haven’t let your muscles atrophy with disuse, you can stumble your way through this event. You might not be able to walk the next day, and you might curse the moment you were born, but you will receive a medal nonetheless.

To truly appreciate the marathon though, one should get a training plan, set a goal, and persevere through the entire season. The marathon won’t change you unless you fully invite it in. I would venture to assume finishing a marathon without embracing its essence is like the difference between a one night stand and a monogamous blissful marriage. They are incomparable.

As I train this season for my 10th full marathon, I am reminded to respect the distance, lean into process, and know that this journey to the finish line has very little to do with the actual event and everything to do with putting the work in day in and day out. This year, at least for the Pittsburgh Marathon, I am freeing myself from a time goal at the actual event and attempting  to run each training run with the respect that it deserves. My daily and weekly mileage exists for more than an arbitrarily set time by my ego and my comparisons of myself to others, it exists to make me stronger. I have no control over many of the conditions that I will face on race day, but I can determine the degree to which I allow myself to celebrate my trip to the starting line. Even a bad run for me is a good run because I am becoming the person I never dreamed I could be and yet always wanted to be.

I am alive. I am healthy. I am strong. I am fit. I am fierce. I am free.

The marathon, with all of its agony and beauty, has made me a better leader and person, but most importantly it gave birth to my identity as an athlete.

Marathon, you might be 26.2 miles on race day, but my journey has no finish line.

I get asked a lot about my training plans, nutrition, weight loss and maintenance, and running journey. I look forward to sharing with you about this and encouraging you on your path.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Here is Jessica, with her amazing cousin Paul, before she and running hooked up. This photo was taken exactly 1 week before I began my nutrition and fitness journey, and about 4 months before I started run/walking to speed up my fitness journey. The rest is a beautiful love story because running spoke to my soul and no long was about weight.

“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?