Category Archives: Fitness

Blame It On The En-En-En-Endorphins

I’m either crazy or ambitious, I haven’t decided which category best describes my impulsive race registration from this past Wednesday.

It all started with a run. Or rather, a run that wasn’t going to happen. I was technically supposed to cross train that day, but I couldn’t help myself. I could practically hear the pavement calling for my feet to come hit it. So I did.

I took the dog, but left my iPod at home. I wanted to be able to hear my breathing, and increase or decrease my pace based on how I was feeling. I ran my usual route along the Wisconsin River, which ends up being about 3 miles when all is set and done.

The run felt incredible. I could tell I was pushing it, but my legs and lungs were up for the challenge. I didn’t miss my usual music mixes, and enjoyed being more aware of my surroundings and in the moment.

By the time I got back home, I was riding a wave of endorphins. I plugged in my Garmin and, low and behold, I ran a 9:29/mi pace. That would be my fastest run thus far! Prior to that day, my fastest was a 9:51/mi.

This is where the crazy vs. ambitious debate comes into play! Feeling pretty good about myself, I decided that I couldn’t wait till September to run my half. What did I do? I signed up for another half that I’ll run in New York over Memorial Day weekend in May. Because one just isn’t enough! Oh and did I mention that the week before I’ll be graduating from college, packing my life into a U-Haul, and moving to NYC?

I’d like to say I’m ambitious. The event is one of the Holiday Marathon races put on for free, and you can choose the distance you’d like to run. I am looking at this as a trial to test my training, and to better prepare myself for the race in September. This is my way of dipping my big toe into the racing pool!

Have you experienced an endorphin-high after a run or a good workout?
Ever sign up for a race on impulse? If yes, how did that go?

Getting Out of My Own Way

Source: Cathy on Pinterest

I have not always been a confident individual. For a long time, I wouldn’t even bother to set goals for myself. In my mind, I wasn’t an athlete, so I didn’t try out for a single high school sport. I didn’t consider myself capable of being a straight-A student, which allowed me to excuse the occasional bad grade. I knew I was a good person, and I never got into any trouble. I just had no desire to push myself outside of my comfort zone. When I looked in the mirror, I saw an average girl and I never once tried to prove myself wrong.

When it came to running, I utterly refused to believe I could last a single mile — let alone more than one! I saw runners as strong, powerful, and somehow above me. I looked up to them, and to me they were people who were able to push themselves to limits that I could only dream of. My freshman year of high school, I actually yelled at my gym teacher when he got frustrated that I was walking the last lap of the required mile run. I made some excuse about how I was hurt, but I’m sure he knew I was full of crap. I was a relatively quiet girl, and that was the only time I ever talked back to a teacher. But I had predetermined what I was capable of doing, and what I was not capable of doing. In my mind, there was no point in setting myself up for failure.

I don’t know what changed, exactly. Part of me seemed to get tired of watching everyone around me achieve greatness, while I stood on the sidelines. My husband, Nick, helped push me for the first time in my life. He saw potential in me that I wasn’t aware of. The first time we went running together, he took me on a mile jog. I felt like I was going to die by the end of it, but he didn’t let me quit. Instead, he had me sprinting the last stretch! At the time, I wanted to kick him in the shin — not literally of course! I was exhausted and angry that he didn’t let me rest. Looking back, I can now see that it was the best thing anyone has ever done for me. He didn’t let me give up, and I haven’t wanted to give up since.

It seems the biggest obstacles that we all have to overcome lie within ourselves. We have to stop letting our negative thoughts and self-image get in the way of what we want out of life. You have to believe in yourself enough to set goals for your life — even if they’re small ones, and find a way to make it happen. Don’t expect success to arrive overnight, or without any hard work. It might take a lot of your time, energy, and determination. You might feel like you want to quit. Don’t do it! Keep it moving, keep putting one foot in front of the other and push through the wall. Prove to yourself that you are capable of doing what you set your mind to, and it will propel you in whatever you choose to accomplish next.

Okay, I will now step off my soapbox. 

Anyone ever have a similar experience?
What walls have you had to push through?
What are some goals you hope to accomplish?

 

Twitter Road Racing and a Progress Update

My version of snow shoes

It seems the Twitter Road Race was a huge success, and I’m really happy to have been a part of it. There was a total of 376 runners that took part in this event from 14 different countries. People every where, from the U.S. to Switzerland to Saudi Arabia, all pounded the pavement yesterday. The results are in, and I am pretty content with how I did!

My time for the 5K was 31:54.

Overall, I was #248 out 0f 376.

Out of all the women who raced, I was #109 out of 202.

In my age group, I was #35 out of 60.

(The overall winner was a man from Iowa who ran the 5K in 16:54!)

So it seems I fell right in the middle in each category, which I’m happy with.  I improved my pace down to 9:50/mi.  This is important because it shows that I’m getting faster.  I’m also becoming more and more consistent in my pace.

Let’s compare, shall we?

This is from right around the first week of January

This is from yesterday

So in about 3 weeks, I’ve cut quite a bit off my pace time. I’ve also become more of a steady runner. Being able to look back and see where I’ve been, and where I am today is very motivating to me.  I’m so thankful for my Garmin and warm running clothes. Yesterday was so cold and the roads were slippery. I was at my parent’s house and was running on the back roads. Every time a car came, I had to jump into the snow to keep from getting hit. Luckily, they don’t get a lot of traffic!

Another tool that I’m seriously utilizing is MotionTraxx. I’ve mentioned this podcast in another post of mine, but I’m still hooked. I’ve used their 150-160bpm episodes, and I feel they’ve helped me with my breathing, pace and just to keep me going. The music gets my blood pumping, and sometimes I don’t even notice that it’s below freezing and I can’t feel my nose. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend giving it a try.

This week, my mileage increases a little bit.

Monday: 3 miles

Wednesday: Cross-training

Thursday: 3 miles

Saturday: 5 miles

I might do some extra non-running exercises like yoga or the elliptical on the off-days. For cross-training, I’m thinking of hitting up the gym to use their stationary bike. I’ve read that it’s a good choice for runners because it mimics the running motion, but without the impact.

Is it wrong to imagine people holding up signs like this when I go running?

Okay, enough about me.

How was your weekend? Anyone get in a workout, or break a sweat? If you got caught in a snow storm, I would say shoveling counts.

Realistic Running: Being Mindful of Where You Are

As a woman relatively new to running, I often find myself comparing my progress to others. I see other people flying down the road with ease, and the voice in my head tells me I should be able to run faster, go longer, and tackle serious mileage each week. When my legs get tired or I’m out of breath, I get frustrated because I expect my body to be able to do exactly what I want it to do. The problem is, I think my body is smarter than I am. When I increase my mileage too quickly, and my legs are aching and flimsy, my body is telling me to slow it down (and/or do more strength training). I need to be able to recognize the difference between when I need to push through, and when I seriously need to pull back.

This is especially true for my half-marathon training plan. I ended up changing to a new one because the original one increased my mileage too quickly. While it would have been perfect for me this past summer when I was running 6 miles at a clip, I had to admit to myself that I was biting off too much at once. After taking a couple months off this fall, I needed a plan to go off of that eased back into the heavier mileage totals. This is one that I switched to:

My New Half-Marathon Training Program

This is actually a training plan a friend recommended I look into, and I feel it is a better fit for me. Unlike my previous program, the Prevea schedule is a little longer and more gradual in terms of mileage increases. I believe it was actually developed for people planning to race in the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon this May. They have other schedules to refer to if you’re interested, and can be found on the race’s website.

What I’ve found since starting to train for the half-marathon is that many of these training programs claim to be designed for “beginners,” but then have you running a 5 mile day the first week. I believe the term “beginner” is completely relative. You might be a beginner in terms of never having raced before, but still able to run an 8-minute mile without breaking a sweat. Or you may be a beginner who has never broken into a jog a day in your life. Either way, you need to find a program that fits your fitness level. In my case, I wasn’t new to running, but I hadn’t ran more than 3 miles consistently in the last 3-4 months.

If you’re starting a program, don’t just pick a program and go with it. Take into serious consideration your goals, and be realistic. Also, be willing to stray from the program or modify it to fit your needs. There might be a day when running 10 miles just isn’t going to happen. Maybe your body needs to rest. Maybe you’re just not into it that day. If you can’t make the full 10, split up your run by doing 5 in the morning and 5 later in the day. Just give it your best, but remember that your best will change from day to day.

Be mindful of where you are in your training, listen to your body, and make adjustments accordingly. Know when to push yourself harder, and when to ease up. Find a balance.

Have you used a training schedule to prepare for a race or goal? Did you have to make adjustments to your training? I’d love to hear from you!

Holiday Rewind

Once again another Christmas season has whirred past like a red and green blur. After all the wrapping paper is torn off the presents, and the last morsels of Christmas dinner are finally devoured, I’m always left with the feeling of remorse.  I don’t love winter, but I love this time of year.  I enjoy the time with family, and the excitement and anticipation that Christmas brings.  After it’s all set and done, I’m left feeling like a girl who just got dumped and wondering, “Is it really over?”

About all the decorating I could handle this year

This year was especially strange because none of our typical holiday traditions took place thanks to the stomach flu epidemic that invaded our household a week before Christmas! Instead of baking my traditional fudge and setting up decorating our tree, Nick and I took turns heating up Cambell’s Chicken Noodle soup for the two of us.  Very romantic.  I sound so sarcastic, but it really was awful.  The upside is we were feeling MUCH better by Christmas Eve, and managed the drive down to my parent’s house in time for “Santa” to arrive.

Luckily My Parents Got It Right

Christmas Day, I came to the realization that I am either completely spoiled, or I was a very good girl this year.  I received a Garmin Forerunner 305 from my husband, which was the exact one I was pining over.  My brother gave me a running journal and a gift card that bought me a pair of Brooks Infiniti Tights and an Asics soft shell running jacket.  I now feel like I can get down to the more serious training because the below freezing winter weather can no longer stand in my way.  I won’t be a slave to my gym’s treadmill any longer.  Ha!  And last but not least, my parents gave me my favorite Lola perfume, so now I can smell delicious whenever I’m not sweating it out on a run.  All in all, I feel completely blessed to have such a thoughtful family.  But the gifts were still not my favorite part of the holiday season!  I love the food.

Green Bean Casserole

I still managed to run despite all the hustle and bustle of the season.  I did 3 miles in the great outdoors before the flu bug struck.  I took my dog, Dixie, with me using my hands-free leash (which I still love).  She needs the good ol’ stretch of the legs as much as I do!  I even cut a minute off my running time compared to my pace on the treadmill.  I haven’t ran since Christmas, but personally I wanted to give myself plenty of time to rest and recover.  Plus, I truly feel spending time with family during the holidays trumps my running plans.  I know I can make up for the time off, and it only happens once a year.  I’m sure the more dedicated runners of the world were out running 15 miles, while I was watching Muppets Christmas Carol and sipping a cup of hot cocoa — but I enjoyed myself!

I love this picture

I hope you all had a lovely holiday!  

What were some of your favorite moments? 

You’ll Run Your Legs Off Kid

I Can Totally Relate

“I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle,” screams Ralphie as he clings to Santa’s red slide.  Ralphie, I can totally relate.  You want a Red Ryder BB gun, I want a Garmin Forerunner 305 with a GPS Receiver and built-in heart rate monitor.

Let's Hope Santa Reads Follows My Blog!

How I long to break free of my treadmill, my phone’s GPS applications, and MapMyRun.  To slap on this little beauty and head out in any direction imaginable for a serious run is all I’ve thought about since I made up my Christmas list this year.  Yup, we still make wish lists.  I think I’ll get lucky because this model isn’t the newest out there, so the price is reasonable compared to others.  Keeping my fingers crossed!  I’ll be so happy to tear open the wrapping paper and find myself holding the forerunner in my hands, I imagine I’ll bust out the front door and immediately start running down the street to test it out!

Other items on my Christmas list include:

Cold Weather Running Tights

I wasn’t very specific with the running clothes, as long as their made for cold weather.  For someone who lives in a state with frigid winters, you would assume I already have warm clothes to workout in.  Nope!  I had two pairs of long underwear, and somewhere along the line they’ve disappeared into the abyss that is my closet.  I have a pair of sweatpants, but they’re capris — not too good for running through slushy roads.  So any cold weather item would be greatly appreciated!

Because I Like to Not Smell Bad

I remember smelling this perfume in the department store a year or so ago, and I haven’t forgotten how much I loved it!  I’m one of those girls who loves nice scents and perfumes, but I can never justify spending so much on such a little bottle.  So I decided to put this on my Christmas list because it’s something I’d never by for myself. Plus it just looks so pretty!

A Water Bottle with a Built-in Filter

This whole concept intrigues me.  I would love to be able to fill up my water bottle at the gym or school and always have good tasting water at my fingertips!

That about wraps up my Christmas list this year.  Obviously, I don’t expect to get all of these things, if any!  It’s fun to dream and no harm in that!

What are some things you’re hoping Santa brings to you?  What is has been your Red Ryder equivalent?

 

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.

20111201-173424.jpg

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!