Category Archives: Workout

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? 

A Few Minor Setbacks…

This past week has been the worst since I began seriously training for this half. Granted, I’m not very far into this process and I imagine I will have to face many more difficult challenges in the future, both metal and physical. But compared to past runs, everything this week seemed off.

Let’s recap, shall we?

Monday: Wisconsin got hit with quite the snow storm. The night before, roads were coated in freezing rain. By morning, these dangerously slippery conditions were layered with 4 inches of fresh, white powder. Did this keep me from running? Nope. But I was supposed to do 3 miles, and instead it was a lousy 2.54. I was too afraid to run on the street, for fear that a car might slide into me, but sidewalks weren’t even remotely clear. I could hardly tell where they were, and half the time I was probably running through people’s yards. Sorry neighbors!

Tuesday: This was supposed to be a rest day, but I couldn’t resist doing a little something at the gym. In between classes, I got in a half-mile warm up, and 8 miles on the stationary bike. I felt nice and energized by the end of this workout! I got to my next class probably smelling like sweat and B.O. because I didn’t have a chance to shower. To the guy sitting next to me in English 385, my apologies.

Wednesday: I decided to bust out my P90x DVDs for some real cross training. I did the full Plyometrics video, which definitely got my heart rate up and my muscles engaged. I used the heart rate monitor on my Garmin, and it showed my average HR being 144 bpm, and max HR at 170 bpm.

Thursday: This is when things went down hill. I was all psyched up to do a solid 3 miles, and I thought I could fit this in on the treadmill at school. I used it quite a bit in the past, so I wasn’t expecting this run to feel like so much work. Almost immediately, shear boredom set in. Watching TV with captions just doesn’t do it for me anymore, and my music wasn’t enough to occupy my mind. After a mile and a half, I said forget it and went home to run the other 1.5 in the great outdoors. While I still got in 3 miles, I hate splitting them up because I feel like, for me, I need to challenge myself to suck it up and keep going.

But I'm sorry, this made for much better scenery!

And, Friday

I’m pretty sure I hit what all you experienced runners call a “wall.” The weather was nice for a Wisconsin January. I planned to make up for my lack luster performance from the day before by running a 3 mile do-over. My mind couldn’t get into the game. I couldn’t find that driving force to push me through to the end. My left hip flexor was beginning to get increasingly painful, and I gave up after barely a mile. Yuck.

I went home to re-evaluate. I read up on all the potential causes of my hip flexor pain, and decided to take the weekend to: ice, stretch, elevate, yoga, pilates and repeat. By Sunday, my hip still ached and I could tell it wasn’t at 100%, but it had improved drastically.

This week my focus is on keeping my head in check, and practicing what I preach! Wasn’t it just last week that I wrote a post about not giving in when you hit a wall? Yup, that was me. I make no excuses, I was totally weak. I absolutely need to find the strength to stop quitting mid-run, and tough it out. Boredom, or no boredom. Snow, or no snow.

Luckily, I’m off to a good start! I’m repeating last week’s training since I clearly bombed out in the running department. On the bright side, at least I identified my weak points and can now work to improve them!

Do you have any tips to help me push through these walls?

How do you keep yourself from throwing in the towel during a run?

Also, how do you know when it’s safe to push through the pain and when to give yourself healing time? 

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.

Birthdays, Cheese, and Happy Feet

Well Winter has officially hit Wisconsin.  Yesterday morning I stepped outside to find that it was easily -8 below zero, and that is not including the wind chill factor.  I don’t know if there is such a thing as it being “too cold to run,” but I wasn’t brave enough to lace up my shoes and head out into that ice box!  Overall, I’ve been sticking to my schedule though.  Last week, I ran a total of 8 miles — Saturday was my longer run of 4 miles.  I guess it’s not a lot of mileage compared to what I was doing last year, but it worked out well because the runs were easier to schedule around my Winter semester of classes.

And if you haven’t already heard about it…

TWITTER ROAD RACE THIS SATURDAY!

Oh yes, it’s happening.   created the Twitter Road Race, which will be this Saturday, January 21.  The distance is a 5k, so you basically just go out and run anywhere at anytime that day.  They have over 600 people registered so far, and probably more by now.  It just seems like a fun event — no one really wins.  After you run, you’ll submit your time and they’ll get everyone’s together and have the results posted.

If you want to register, this is where you need to go: Twitter Road Race Registration.

You can even get a bib!

In other news — my brother, Matt came to visit this week from England.  Of course we all gathered around to watch the Packers lose to the Giants on Sunday.  We all felt like crying, and eating away our sorrows.  So to recover, us cheese-heads took a trip to the local cheese factory.  I’m talking the best cheese factory of all time.  I guess that’s a little presumptuous, but not much.  People literally drive from surrounding states to get this cheese.

Matt making a goofy face, while shopping for some cheddar

To top off the week, January 16th was my hubby’s birthday!  Every year since we’ve been together, I’ve made him chocolate chip cookies instead of cake.  This year, I officially made the most delectable batch of cookies yet.  They were HUGE, and very chocolate-y.  Not too crispy, not too soft.  If baking cookies is an art, I just mastered the craft.  I can’t take credit for the recipe though, that was all thanks to Allrecipes.com.  If you too want to make the “Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie,” click here.

Just hand me a glass of milk, and I'm good to go!

So now you’re all caught up with my life as of late!   

Anyone else running the Twitter Road Race this Saturday?

 

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? 

I Run Because…

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Last weekend was my mom’s 50th birthday party, which I got to help plan. We kept it super casual and laid back. My mom has multiple sclerosis and isn’t able to do a whole lot anymore. The disease has progressed quite a bit over the last three or four years. Being home reminded me of a main reason why I initially started running.

My mom was diagnosed right after she got married, at the age of 23. Growing up, I would have never known she was sick because this woman was always doing something. Every morning she would run a mile or so and then do an hour of a Denise Austin workout video. I remember being a little girl waiting till she finished so I could watch cartoons! I had my priorities!

For the last few years, her legs haven’t been able to work. She can no longer walk and I know it kills her to not be active anymore. My mom always talks about how much she wishes she could run and she has refused to give up on that dream.

I remember thinking to myself (back when running still seemed like torture to me) that I wanted to run because I still could. I wanted to run because I knew my mom would love to have that ability again and if she couldn’t do it anymore, then maybe I could do it for her. I guess a part of me feels like if I stopped running, I would be wasting a gift that people like my mom would never take forgranted.

I think a part of staying motivated to lace up the tennies and hit the pavement (or the treadmill) is keeping mental notes of all the reasons why you’re doing it. There doesn’t have to be one singular reason. I have a bunch!

1. I enjoy food, a lot!
2. It’s a mental and physical challenge
3. I set a goal and I am determined to reach it
4. I relieve a whole ton of stress (especially now, during finals…yuck!)
5. I enjoy it

But my mom is always going to be the motivation that pushes me farther and gets me out the door. I hope one day they’ll find a cure for this disease and her and I can run together!

What are your reasons for running?

Winter Blues? Wacked Hormones?

Those who reside in the arctic tundra of Wisconsin tend to pride themselves on their ability to gracefully survive the bone chilling cold and excessively long winters. Some people claim they love that wet cold that freezes over their face and pride themselves on their ability to drive through a couple feet of snow.

I am not this Wisconsinite. I hate winter. Ok, the first month of snow is pretty and I appreciate the winter activities like snowboarding. Other than that, not so much. Last winter, we had snow into early May and by that time I had a serious case of winter blues. So these last couple weeks, when I noticed my mood changing significantly, I assumed it was just those same blues settling in early.

But this was so extreme! I would cry at nothing and go from happy to sad in seconds. Anyone who knows me, knows this is completely out of character. I’m a genuinely happy person! This was not from simply the weather changing.

I decided it could be stress. I’m taking 17 credits this semester and things are coming to a head with finals looming on the horizon. I tried taking naps and exercising more to relieve that built up tension. Nope! Still felt awful! For whatever reason I couldn’t shake the constant feeling of sadness or heaviness inside.

After a brief search online for any ideas as to what this could be, I found my answer. The only prescription I am on is for birth control, which I had been on for almost a year. Turns out I’m one of MANY who are on the pill and suffering from “depression” like symptoms similar to what I had been feeling. Even though I’ve been taking the same one for a while, it seems these symptoms can show themselves at various times.

I imagine this is different depending on your body and how it reacts to various hormones. Mine apparently doesn’t function well under this one! I stopped taking it and made an appointment with my doctor to talk about alternatives. I can already tell I’m much less anxious and on edge.

I just thought this was something I should share because someone out there may have had similar issues.
Obviously talk to a doctor because I am not one! But I was so relieved to find an answer to my problem that I couldn’t help but tell someone else!

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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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