New Year, New Class, New Gym Schedule

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The lawn mowing sneakers.

So excited to start some new things this week!  I started a new strength training routine this week called Simply Shredded.  (Here’s a link to the program website: http://www.simplyshredded.com/the-ultimate-female-training-guide.html)  I’ve also just updated my site with a new Training page that outlines my training routine.  I’ve been mostly winging it thus far so I’m looking forward to working through an actual program.  I also got some new lifting shoes!  And by “got some” I mean found in my closet and by “new lifting shoes” I mean my super old canvas lawn mowing sneakers.  My awesome and super supportive SIL suggested using a flat shoe for lifting and man have they made a difference!  Squats are much easier in these shoes than they were in my running shoes.

It’s also back to school week!  My Higher Education Finance class starts this week.  Finance is not my strong suit but anything is better than Statistics II (the course I just finished before the holiday break) so I plan to learn as much as I can and enjoy it.  Friends and family say “I don’t know how you do it” in reference to the busy lifestyle my husband and I lead.  Here’s the big secret: enjoy it!

This is yesterday: Got up early (only snoozed twice!), got myself and the kids ready and out the door, full busy Monday at work (hit the gym on the lunch hour), left work to pick up the kids (hubby beat me home and had started dinner – yay!), ate dinner/packed

Waiting for Dad to get forgotten the jersey.

Waiting for Dad to bring the forgotten jersey.

the car for hockey, watched my eldest’s game (was a nail biter, they lost 7-8!), pack gear back in the car, drive home, boys were showered and in bed by about 9:30, hubby left for his hockey game and I hit the treadmill for some speed work, took a quick shower, logged into my grad course by 10:30, reviewed what was due for the week, prepped my gym bag and snacks for the next day, watched an episode of Downton Abbey and hit the sack.

It was a pretty typical day.  Not without some hiccups.  I spilled the gallon of water I usually take to work and we forgot jerseys for the game, but it was overall a good day.  If I felt like any of this were drudgery, “work”, or if I hated it, I’d be a miserable person.  But I don’t.  I love my husband, I love my kids, I love my job, I enjoy working out.  Now I just need to take the next 8 weeks and learn to love finance. 🙂

Mind Games for the Long Run

Some Back Story
I haven’t been running for very long.  I started in May of 2013 when a friend of mine encouraged me to run a 5k with her.  The very thought of running any distance at all sounded like torture let alone slightly over 3 miles.  Thing is, I love a challenge.  I remember it vividly.  I immediately got on the treadmill at the hotel I was staying for a work trip and walked/slogged through 3 miles.  It took me almost 50 minutes but I knew I would be able to at least finish a 5K.  I registered for it.  I ran it.  Let me say that again… I ran it.  The whole thing.  At the time I had never run continuously for that long.  I crossed the finish line and was hooked.  Here is a little known fact: I don’t really like running that much.  I’ll do it and I have those runs that are just incredible and give me the euphoric runner’s high.  Most of the time though, my training runs are just okay.  I don’t love running.  I love racing.  I live for race day.  I know race day is going to be awful if I don’t get my training runs though so I make sure they happen.

The Long Run: Mind over Matter
Even better than a race day is a long race day.  I’d call the 10 miler my jam.  It’s the perfect distance for me right now.  It’s challenging, it’s long enough to feel like a major accomplishment without the pain and next day soreness of the half marathon.  I’m easing into those feelings about my half marathon but those extra 3 miles make a world of difference.

IMG_0284Total honesty – anything over 5 miles still feels like a long run to me.  I dread it, I get psyched up for it and eventually push through it but I rarely look forward to the long training run.  I’ve learned through trial and error that running is as much about the mind as it is about the muscles.  When I get that feeling of I’m too tired, I can’t do this anymore, I don’t want to do this anymore, I give myself a quick check up.  Legs: Are your legs sore/hurting/injured?  Heart: Are you gasping for breath/heart rate too high? If the answer yes I will slow down or take a walk break.  But usually the answer is no for both at which point I know it has to be in my head.  I need to bring out my mental tool box and fix what’s broken.

For me at least the very worst thing I can do is think about how much is left.  How big of a bummer is it when you’re tired and bored and just don’t want to continue and all you can think of is I have 4 miles left, that’s 40 minutes if I’m lucky, which is almost an hour, I’d really rather be napping for almost an hour, so how much is left now? 3.8 miles, ugh this is going to last forever!  I found myself in that exact predicament 3 miles into my 6 mile easy pace run last night.  I really had to dig deep to keep focused.  Here are some tricks that I use that have worked for me.

  1. Try to think of anything else other than the run itself.  I think about things I want to get done for the week, things that have happened at work, what I might snack on when I’m done running etc.  Usually that will keep me occupied for a little while but if not I proceed to #2.
  2. Look at things going on around me.  Try counting trees or look for interesting people to watch.  Try to remember everything as if there’s going to be a test when I’m done.  If I’m on the treadmill try different music or watching a movie.  When this isn’t enough it’s time for #3.
  3. I visualize that I’m playing a game and I’m collecting “points” (fractions of miles).  For some reason getting something feels better to focus on instead of thinking how much is left.  Focusing on what I already “have” and trying to increase some virtual high score that doesn’t exist helps me avoid thinking about how much distance or time still remains. If you’ve played the Temple Run app, that is a great visual.  In the game you get more points for running longer.
  4. This one’s a little weird so bear with me.  I call it “God’s Thumb”.  If I need to speed up a little (which I probably need to do if I’m considering stopping) I picture a giant thumb applying gentle pressure to my lower back.  This simultaneously fixes my form and speeds me up just a little.  It also prevents me from speeding up by sprinting which will only lead to an energy crash later.  If I try this and still feel like I have nothing left, am super bored and not enjoying the run I move to #4.
  5. This is when I start pulling out the big guns.  This is my last big mind game and I only use it when I really need it.  I visualize my running friends are right next to me.  I imagine my trainers and coaches are yelling at me to push forward.  And these trainers and coaches are sometimes people I have never met!  Dolvett from Biggest Loser and Chalene from BeachBody are just a few.  If they motivate me, they join me on my little mental cheer team.  I also picture my family waiting for me at the end of the big 26.2 when it happens.

These have worked for me although I know I’ll need to add to my mental repertoire as my training runs get longer  Share in comments if you have some of your own!

The Six Mile Sacrifice

Sometimes having it all doesn’t mean doing it all.  Six miles on the training calendar today along with a full work day and an evening out with the girls.  Easy peasy right?

Here was Plan A:
4:00 am – wake up and hit the treadmill for a 6 mile tempo run before work.
5:00 am – get in the shower
6:00 am – get on the road to work
7:00 am – work
5:00 pm – grab a drink with my buddies

Plan A was pretty much thrown in the mental shredder when my alarm went off and I remembered I hate getting up that early and that I also hate working out in the morning.  Snooze, snooze, snooze.  Argued with myself for another 20 minutes and finally negotiated that I would sleep in until 6:00 if I promised to run later after going out.

After work I met up with K and N.  K and N are some of my best friends.  We have known each other for years, work in similar level roles, have shared some amazing memories over the past 4+ years.  Unfortunately we haven’t been able to get together very often due to life, schedules etc.  I can’t tell you how long over due tonight was.  We laughed, they sang (I can’t) and just generally had a great time.  I am so appreciative to have these women in my life.  We left with a pinky swear vow to make the time for each other more often.

10921621_10100436297743786_8163562867677501425_oSo what happened to the six miles?  After the eating, drinking, (singing!) and selfie taking I just didn’t have it in me to lace up the sneakers at 10:00 pm.  Do I have any regrets?  Not a one.  It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day, making sure goals are met and things get accomplished.  Get the run in, get the laundry done, write the term paper, get the kids to hockey, make dinner, (make sure dinner is more than Doritos and cheese sauce), check the homework, clean the house, blah blah blah.  Sometimes it’s okay to put it all on the back burner and make time for fun and friendship too.  I’m so glad I did tonight.

Tomorrow is Saturday.  A brand new day.  Those six miles will happen and I dedicate them to K and N.  Love you ladies!

Treadmill Vs. Cupcake

So you may wonder what lead to this epic battle of treadmill vs. cupcake.  Lets rewind to two days ago.  Monday I hit a personal record on my deadlift of 40 lbs.  Left the gym with shaking legs feeling pretty proud of myself.  Decided to hit the treadmill for about 2.5 miles later that evening.  No big deal right?  Wrong.  Major DOMS the next morning.  Spent all day yesterday trying to move as little as possible.  Walking was almost unbearable.  Stairs?  Forget it.  Yesterday evening after work I threw everything at it I could think of: foam rolling, ibuprofen, epsom salt bath.  Results?  Still really sore all day today.

Other factors at play: I track all of my calories and macro-nutrients pretty religiously and a few work eating events today lead to an over indulgence in fats.  Aforementioned work events also happened to put me on the side of town where my favorite cupcake bakery is located.  Coincidence?  Maybe not since I planned the event. 🙂  So since I was there anyway may as well pick some up right?

Super sore legs?  Cupcakes in hand?  Sounds like the recipe for a rest day to me!

Until I remembered I have a 5 mile run on my training calendar.  Bummer.

Thus begins the epic war in my brain.  Take the night off and eat the cupcake?  Hit the treadmill and hope the legs can take it?  Can’t fall behind on my training.  Can’t just NOT eat the cupcake!  So I could maybe run AND eat the cupcake right?  But then end calories would basically balance out so what’s the point of the run?  This is the time I had to really dig deep and refocus.  What are my goals?  Lose some pounds to get to my ideal running weight and run a marathon in 9 months.  How important is my goal?  Extremely.  Is the cupcake going to help me achieve my goals?  No.  Is the run going to help me achieve my goals?  Absolutely.

So I fired up the ‘mill with the plan to just do as much as I could stand with my sore legs.  Just get walking a little and then see if I’m up for jogging.  Even if I don’t get in the 5 miles, 1 mile is still better than zero miles.

0107152130It only took 45 seconds to fall into a rhythm and the soreness started to dissipate.  I worked up to my easy I-can-run-at-this-speed-forever pace and kept at it for the full 5 miles.  Sometimes all it takes is a reality check and a healthy dose of motivation to get what we want.

Breakfast tomorrow?  You better believe I’m eating that cupcake.

Advice for the Soft Spoken Sports Mom

I didn’t play sports as a kid.  I didn’t watch sports as a kid.  I was very happy to sketch, play piano, read, write and dance.  By nature I’m a relatively quiet person.  That being said, I’ve taught large college lectures to auditoriums of 300 and can give presentations to upper executive management at work with ease.  I can raise my voice when I have to (don’t my kids know it!) but being vocal isn’t necessarily my favorite activity.

IMG_0491This has all worked out just fine for most of my life.  However, I’ve learned when you’ve got your precious little athlete out on the ice (field, court, etc.) making the big play with hands in the air they don’t want to turn to their parent in the stands to see them mildly clapping with a proud smile.  They want standing!  They want jumping!  They want, you guessed it – yelling.  And lots of it.  I think to most this may sound like no big deal but if you’ve never played the sport they’re playing, don’t know the rules, and are afraid of shouting something ridiculous, here are some tips I’ve learned by watching other parents over the years of hockey and other sports games.


 

 Things you can shout pretty much 100% of the time, to any player, for any reason:
“Skate!” (or “Run!”)
“Go (enter kid’s name here)!”
“Keep your eye on the puck!” (ball, frisbee, target, birdie, golden snitch etc.)

 Things you can shout when there are a bunch of players near your goal:
“Defense!”
“Go defense!”

 When your kid’s team scores:
“Way to go (team name or jersey color)!”
“Nice one (enter kid’s name)!”

 When the other team scores:
“Let’s get it back (your kid’s team name or jersey color)!”
“That’s okay (your kid’s team name or jersey color)!”
“Let’s go (your kid’s team name or jersey color)!”


 

10294249_10203661037903332_7509179253222779903_nCheer for the other kids too!  If you don’t know the names of the other players, and their jerseys only have a number or last name, bring the team roster to games.  Odds are your coach or team manager has sent this out via email, or could give you a copy. Nothing helps give you more parental respect than being able to cheer on other kids by name too.  Plus it helps to support the team and you’ll be able to talk about the game more with your kiddo later (“nice work with that assist from Johnny today!”).

At the end of the day, don’t worry about saying something weird or cheering incorrectly. I’ve learned the hard way that yelling nothing at all actually looks sillier than yelling the wrong thing.

 

Strengths of Strength Training

On the road to 26.2 I’ve been advised that strength training cannot be forgotten or saved for something to do later.  I started lifting weights this past May and have (very much to my surprise!) found it to be pretty beneficial.  I am starting to see muscle definition, my metabolism is up and my running speed has actually increased as well!  A year ago I thought strength training was pointless until I had lost every little bit of fat and was super skinny since I didn’t think I’d be able to see any muscle under the fat I still wanted to lose. IMG_0046

So when does one find time to do said weight lifting?  Lunch hour.  Five times a week.  Goes something like this: 5 minute drive to the gym – 5 minutes to change – 30 minutes exercise – 5 minutes to shower – 10 minutes to change/fix hair – 5 minutes to drive back to the office.

One sad little side effect: No matter how much I try to fix the hair it’s never quite right.  So I give it 5 minutes and then it is what it is, whatever that is.  And what it is is usually a mess.  A couple co-workers say they can tell when I’ve been to the gym by my hair (thank goodness not by smell!).  Small price to pay but the health and strength benefits are well worth it. 🙂

Hit a PR on my straight leg deadlift today.  40 pounds!  Not a lot in comparison to some but it took me a while to work up to that.  Feeling good about my progress and happy to be back to the normal routine after the holidays.

First blog post ever!

This is all very confusing.  There’s a lot going on here on wordpress.com.  I told my husband I was considering writing a book to help me organize my thoughts and rambling musings to which he suggested a blog.  So here I am!  Woo! 🙂 I loved journaling as a kid so it sounded like a good idea an hour ago.  Now it seems like a jungle and not sure where to start.  Okay, will not panic.  Let’s proceed to the comfort zone – When in doubt… make a list.

Stuff I want to share:

  1. Introduce myself (who doesn’t like to talk about themselves?)
  2. Day in the life of a busy hockey mom
  3. Updates along the marathon training road
  4. Frustrations on progress with Ph.D. studies
  5. Attempting to accomplish the above while looking fabulous! (Gotta have goals right?)

So, let’s start with number 1.  I work full time doing a job I love as a university administrator.  My husband and I have two boys, ages 8 and 6.  They all play hockey.  A lot.  All three of them.  All the time.  Like, it’s a lot of hockey.  What about Summer you say?  Nope, in Minnesota it’s hockey all year long.  While I’m at the rink (which is often) I’m on the laptop working on my Ph.D. in Education and in my free time I’m working on training for my first Marathon coming up in October.

Well, there we go.  Post number one!  And I can cross that first one off the list.  Feels good.  Let’s see if I can keep this thing going now.  🙂