Category Archives: exercise

Where I Landed When I Fell Off the Face of the Earth

Yet again, it seems I have fallen victim to life and all its curve balls. My blogging and training have been in an ongoing battle with my to-do list, and I’m sad to say they weren’t doing too well. This is probably obvious from my absence on all things social media! But I haven’t been just sitting around, twiddling my thumbs. And I certainly haven’t given up hope that my half-marathon will happen come hell or high water! First, let me fill you in on all the things that have been stealing my attention.

The LARGEST factor can be summed up in one word: school. As the time ticks down toward my final days as an undergrad, I have a bunch of projects and exciting assignments that need my full attention. Luckily, they are all things I’ve found to be rewarding as well as time consuming, which make them more worth the effort.

I’m currently in an Editing and Publishing class which operates as an independent publishing house called Cornerstone Press. Every year, the class publishes two books–reading through manuscript submissions, choosing which to publish, and then taking that manuscript from its raw form to a beautifully printed book. Each student is elected to a certain position: Copy Editor, Designer, Marketing Director, etc. I was elected to be Director of Sales, which means I coordinate all sales efforts of our previous titles and the current book chosen by our team.

This semester, we’re publishing a historical fiction novel about Adele Hugo, Victor Hugo’s daughter, titled Syncopation by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt. I’ve read the whole thing, obviously, and it’s phenomenal! I highly recommend you buy a copy after it is released April 20th! Plus, you’d be supporting me and my school in the process! <—shameless plug.

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A great book club read!

The other class (actually ran by the same professor!) is Book History, which I’m happy to say is the most absorbing class I’ve ever taken. I haven’t missed a single day because I am always excited about what we’re going to be covering. It definitely brings out the book geek in me!

Aside from school, I’m applying for grad programs and getting ready to move to New York. Over spring break, I had the chance to spend a week there. Nick and I found our apartment too! Our dog will be happy because there’s a dog park a block away, and I’m happy because there are running paths a block away!

Speaking of running, I actually fulfilled one of my life-long dreams of running through Central Park. Yippee! I did a 4-miler and my time wasn’t ghastly either, considering I was out of my routine.

Since I was visiting over St. Patty’s day weekend, I was invited to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Manhattan. I felt like quite the rock star!

Nick still had to work while I was there, so I bummed around the city and saw all the touristy sights I missed on my last visit. Of course, I hit up the New York Public Library first because I have an obsession with all things books and libraries if you haven’t noticed. Another day, I went to the Statue of Liberty and stood in awe of her incredible beauty for what seemed like an hour. I can’t imagine what my ancestors’ reactions were as they immigrated from Finland, and saw her on the horizon. One thing I already love about the city is all the history that it contains.

This picture doesn't even do her justice.

These are just little tid-bits of what I’ve been doing lately. Still, I MISS RUNNING! I cannot stress that enough. I guess I know things are only going to pile-up more and more until May, when school is over. My trial race is the end of May, and I’m absolutely still set on giving it a go. I won’t be anywhere near the shape I should be in to do it, but I think it will be a good test. I’ll run as much as I can and walk when I feel like I’m about to die. After that, I’ll start my training over (or back track a little) and be in full swing by September’s race.

Enough about me…
How are all my fellow bloggers and followers these days?
Anyone else struggling with a crazy schedule?
Any running stories to share? I miss you!

Finding Motivation through…Pinterest?

I feel like I was one of the last few people among my friends to jump on the Pinterest bandwagon. The last thing I thought I would need is yet another computerized distraction to keep me from getting real work done. That being said, I finally broke down and joined the pinning community. I had no idea I would find so many useful tips, tricks, quotes, or workouts to help with my training — or simply to get my butt off the couch and out the door!

Last Saturday, I was facing my first 6-mile run of this training program. I felt overwhelmed by my fear of failure. The little voice in my head was trying to talk me out of it. I was tired. I had an essay to write for class. The weather would be better the next day. All of these excuses flooded my brain as a result.

I was procrastinating, which is usually what happens when I’m faced with a challenge that I’m not sure I’m ready to tackle. I found myself browsing Pinterest, and wasting time. Thankfully, the fitness category was chuck full of motivating tidbits that managed to tune out the negative self-talk. Before I knew it, I was double knotting my tennies and strapping on my Garmin — ready for the challenge. Before I left the house, I grabbed a pen and wrote, “6-miles. Don’t quit and don’t stop,” on the back of my hand, just for good measure.

The first 3-miles seemed to breeze on by. I didn’t check my pace as I went, but instead listened for the beeping of my Garmin to tell me when I completed another mile. I thought that sneaking a peek might psyche myself out. By the last stretch, I could tell I was getting tired and my legs felt heavy. I was almost within view of my house, and kept up the pace. I rejoiced when I heard the final beep telling me that I had reached my goal for the day!

The sense of accomplishment was amazing. I can’t imagine what I will feel like when I cross the finish line in an actual race! I’ll probably laugh, cry, fall over from exhaustion, and be looking for a snack all at the same time.

I have to say, my attitude toward Pinterest has certainly changed. It may be a weird way to find motivation, but it worked for me that day and it has worked for me since. I guess anything to get me out the door!

The week after that infamous 6-miler was pretty easy, and this Sunday my long run was only 4-miles. But from here on out, the training will become more grueling and those 6-mile runs are going to feel like a drop in a bucket compared to what lies ahead. Can’t wait!

Have you found inspiration through “pinning”? 
 How do you get yourself pumped before a long run?
Do you get intimidated by new distances? 

What I LOVE Right Now.

Minutes ago, I was attempting to bake a chicken breast in the oven for lunch.  Being the lazy dishwasher that I am, I thought I would cheat by lining my baking pan with wax paper – it says right on the box that it should work for “easy” clean up! Well…no.  Seconds after I popped my healthy lunch into the oven, my smoke alarm starts obnoxiously sounding throughout the kitchen.  Oops.  Maybe I need to re-read what the heck wax paper is supposed to be used for because clearly it can’t sustain itself in the oven.  The smell of nasty chemical compositions aerated through the house.  I needed help.  Which brings me to the first item I am in love with at the present moment!

Lemon Verbena Soy Candles

Lemon Verbena Soy Candles

1. On a recent Target escapade, a good friend raved about these candles.  They burn clean and the scent in incredible.  I can’t tell you how fast my kitchen stopped smelling like burnt nastiness and started smelling clean, fresh and invigorating!  The best part is they don’t cost an arm and a leg – I believe I got away with this one for around $10.

Kindle + Third Book of the Hunger Games Series = Epic

2. Now, I realize I am late in the game here.  I’ve been hearing about the Hunger Games for a while, but I couldn’t get myself to read it.  I guess I had expected something along the lines of Twilight, which I couldn’t get into.  Plus the whole premise of the book was not anything I ever would have thought to pick up in the past. BUT! I couldn’t have been more wrong! I savored the first book.  The characters are so well developed, the plot moves along fast and is well thought out, the action is exciting and leaves you on the edge of your comfiest chair.  I’m currently midway through the third book, Mockingjay, and it hasn’t disappointed so far.  Even better? I get to read it on my Kindle.  I can’t tell you how much I love toting that to the gym.  I can’t read and run at the same time, but when I ride the bike or the elliptical I can get my fill of reading.  Plus you don’t have to fumble trying to turn the page while in motion, something I always had trouble with.

Saucony Kinvara 2

3. One thing I can’t get over is how much I adore these shoes.  I was in dire need of a new pair to run in and I’m not a big fan of too much cushion.  I wanted something lightweight and supportive, but I had no idea what I was looking for.  Before I just ran in my old, old tennies (yucky and smelly), so this was to be my first real pair of running shoes.  After visiting our local shoe store, my eyes immediately sought out this fiesty model on display.  I oogled and awed for about 10 minues, going to look at other shoes and finding my way back to these show stoppers.  After trying them on and giving them a brief test drive around the store, I was convinced (perhaps too easily, but my heart knew what it wanted).  I have never once regretted that decision!  These shoes are perfect. Everything I was looking for and more.  When I was running 6 miles over the summer, my feet never hurt or had blisters.  My high arches never ached.  Wonderful.

If you want more professional reviews for this shoe – click here.

Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joe's

4. Tis’ the season for all sorts of yumminess…egg nog, hot cocoa, homemade pies and all those sorts of things.  Obviously my waistline doesn’t appreciate these in the same way I do, but I am not one to cut myself off from having a little something sweet every now and then.  At my recent trip to Trader Joe’s, I was intrigued by the idea of candy cane oreo-like cookies.  The whole concept sounded pretty amazing.  What closed the deal was a man who ran up and grabbed three boxes right in front of me, while going on and on about how he can’t get enough of them during the holidays.  Good enough for me! I bought two boxes.  Lo and behold – they’re fantastic.  Creamy peppermint filling with bits of candy cane sprinkled in for good measure and then pressed between two chocolatey wafers. The result is perfection, especially with a cup of hot cocoa.

A Man and His Dog

5. Finally, I had to squeeze in my husband and our dog.  They’ve been cracking me up lately.  I catch them snuggling on the couch all too often.  This picture says a thousand words.  Apparently I have competition! <3

What are some things you love right now?

I Think I Can, I Think I Can

One thing I’ve discovered about running is that it keeps me honest. If I’m stressed or mentally exhausted, it’ll show by making my run that much more difficult. Running puts it all on the table in front of me and forces me to face whatever it is – be it fear, weakness, emotions or lack of faith in myself. I think that is what draws me to it.

When I’m huffing and puffing, I’m overcoming personal obstacles within myself. This is something that forces me to work hard and push myself, something I don’t do often enough.

Today, I ran 3 miles. Not much, but I’m building back up and this was a challenge for me at this point. I increased my distance by about a mile or so, but I did give my legs a short rest midway through when they felt heavy. I did notice this seemed to improve compared to the other day – I’m hoping this means I’m getting stronger!

Also, I have been throwing in some cross training on the elliptical and stationary bike. The bike especially is a nice way to end the workout.

So far so good! Clearly the road to the half marathon isn’t going to be a relaxing, flat path paved in gold. Instead, I’m finding it to be full of surprising hills and various obstacles and paved in loose gravel. I guess that’s life and I’m totally up for the challenge. I know I’ll learn more about myself in the next few months than I ever could have imagined.

Revisiting Square One

My body has gone on strike. It’s amazing how I spent all summer building up mileage only to lose a good chunk of my progress in a month! I guess I’ve learned from my run today that this is not a sport that you can take a break from and expect to be just as good. My run today was a slow 2 miles, but just 1.3 miles into it my legs felt heavy and almost stiff in a way. I tried to pick up the pace at the end and oddly that seemed to help. I’m wondering if my slower pace was actually making the run more difficult because of the shorter stride? Who knows!

Regardless, I’m taking this a day at a time. This week I’m not running everyday simply to let my body ease back into the swing of things. I rented a couple of yoga tapes from my library to incorporate into this whole shebang. I’ve been doing about a half hour a few mornings a week to help with my total lack of flexibility…plus it’s a peaceful and energizing start to the day!

I refuse to be discouraged about my temporary regression. When the going gets tough, I have a tendency to throw in the towel – especially when it comes to sports. I’m in no way a natural born athlete, but I’ve decided I don’t care! Running is not something I do for anyone else. I just want to prove to myself that, in the words of Winnie the Pooh (cause you’re never too old!), I am braver than I believe, stronger than I seem and smarter than I think.

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Making a Comeback

The whole concept of not knowing what you’ve got till it’s gone could not ring more true to me than it does now. I’ve missed my Fit Chick Diaries! I feel sharing this aspect of my life with whoever stumbled across my site helped keep me on track with my goals and aspirations. I got bombarded with a load of craziness this summer, which made this all move to the back burner. But no more!

Over the summer, my husband took an internship in NYC and I had quite a bit of time to myself. I ran 20+ miles per week…not bad for a girl who used to cringe at the idea of a light jog! My longest run was 6.2 miles – a 10k – but I have yet to do an actual race!

My current goal is to build up my endurance and complete a half-marathon this spring or summer. I haven’t registered yet because I still am not sure which one to enter.

I have quite a bit of training to do and, unfortunately, I live in the arctic tundra where we had 6 inches of snow fall already. I’m not letting the bitter winter hold me back, but I did ask for warm running gear for Christmas! Let’s see if Santa was paying attention!

Anyways, any tips you can give this long distance newbie would be much appreciated!

Remember to Wag Your Tail: Finding Inspiration from (wo)Man’s Best Friend

There’s nothing better than coming home after another trying day of life itself, only to be greeted by a wagging tail and sloppy kisses the minute you cross over the threshold.  When the rest of the world seems out of place and cruel, it’s nice to know you can come home to an animal that passes no judgement and doesn’t care if your hair looks awful, your clothes don’t fit or you’re just having a total bitchy day.  While any other human in the world might think you’re a hot mess, dogs will forever think you’re the most wonderful person on the face of the planet.

My Running Buddy, Dixie

My dog, Dixie, is no different.  Although there are times when she chews my socks or the corners of our throw pillows, ultimately she never fails at turning my frown upside down.  For a long time, I couldn’t get over her energy.  Being an English Pointer, she’s born to hunt and run for miles and miles on end.  Tiring her out is nearly impossible.  Don’t get me wrong, she can be a bigger couch potato than my husband and I put together, but when she has pent up energy…look out!

Since I’ve taken up running, I wanted to find a way to include her.  In the past, I had tried holding the leash, but running isn’t enjoyable when you’re arm is being tugged out of it’s socket because you’re dog wants to go faster and you are in no where near as good of shape as your pet (sad to admit it).  I would get so frustrated trying to keep her from dragging me down the street.  I tried harnesses, I tried gentle leaders, I tried it all.  Finally, I got frustrated and called it a day and went for my runs solo.

Then I found this lovely device called a hands-free leash.  Basically, it’s a belt that goes around your waist and allows the dog’s leash to attach to it.  This allows you to pump your arms or change the song on your ipod without having to putz around with a leash in your hand.  Also, you have more leverage if your dog does decide to yank you down the street. There are many types online and range from $20-30 dollars on average.  Some have bungee cord-like attachments to further prevent pulling.  Mine hooks up to my retractable leash and I use a no-pull harness which seems to be a perfect combination, along with the belt.

My Hands-Free Leash

This makes running with my dog a breeze and I’m now enjoying her company and learning from her in ways I could never have imagined.  Watching her prance down the sidewalk and stopping only momentarily to look at the occasional squirrel or goose in the parks; I see her in her element and I remember all of the reasons I began to run.

Of course, I want to be in shape, but there’s a freeing quality about hitting the pavement.  There’s a connection being built between myself, the dog and the world around me.  I’m not thinking about what I need to do tomorrow or the next day.  I’m not concerned with homework or housework, bills or paychecks.  My mind is dedicated to the moment itself.

When I come home and I am not in the mood for a run, I see my dog laying on the couch looking at me with eyes that are begging to go sniff some random patch of grass and stretch her long, gangily legs.  Suddenly, I’m motivated to lace up my shoes.  These are usually the days when I forgive myself if I’m not reaching any kind of PR or going quite as hard as I planned.  I remember to relax and in the end I find another reason to run…because I love it as much as my dog does.

To find out if you’re dog is a natural born runner or which dogs make the best companions for your running lifestyle, check out the article on Runner’s World.  According to this, my dog is capable of runs over 10 miles which isn’t surprising for anyone who has seen this dog run free.

Top Running Dogs according to Runner’s World

Other Reasons to Make Your Dog Your Running Partner