The Art of Not Freaking Out

I was blissfully going about my day yesterday when an email popped into my inbox.  This was the subject: “Welcome to the 2015 Zumbro Endurance Run”.  I immediately felt nauseous, sweaty and shaky.  I hadn’t forgotten about the race I registered for months ago.  Far from it.  I had been purposely not thinking about it (there’s a big difference).  Here’s what enters my brain every time I think about this race.

I’m in over my head.
I’m not this kind of runner.
I’ve never completed a trail race or run of any distance.
I’ve never completed a run or race of this distance.
I’m estimating it will take me about 4.5-5 hours.  I’ve never exercised for that long.  Ever.
And I don’t like mud.

And then there’s my distance running history to nag me as well: Here is how I’ve felt after my previous half marathons.
2013 Sioux Falls Half: I thought I was going to die. I honestly couldn’t believe I finished it. I cried in my husbands arms when it was over.  I was incredibly sore the rest of the day and for two days following.
2014 Sioux Falls Half: Ran fast and hard the whole way, set a PR 17 minutes faster than the same race last year.  Legs and lungs felt great but my feet were killing me.  I don’t think I could have taken another step solely (see what I did there?) due to foot pain.
2014 Monster Dash Half: Went out too fast.  Wound up taking walk breaks around mile 11.  Legs were just dog tired.  Finished 3 minutes slower than my PR the month before.
12.5 Mile Training Run (three weeks ago): Almost didn’t finish it.  I was just really tired.  No excuse either, ran the whole thing slow and easy.

I can’t imaging running another 4 miles (for me that’s 40-60 minutes) after any one of these.

I hate feeling anxious.  Anxiety just feels like poison coursing through my system and I won’t put myself through that for the next 4 days.  Since it’s this Saturday, I know not thinking about it is no longer an option. So I have two choices: 1.) Drop out and just decide to rain check until I feel more ready. Or 2.) Get over myself and find a way to not freak out about this for the next 4 days.

Well, I don’t quit.

Time for option 2.

Positive thoughts for consideration: 
My training has been solid the past couple months.  I have been running.  I’ve been running a lot.  I have in fact focused only on running and dropped the strength training completely (on Dr.’s orders).  Usually that has bummed me out but right now it’s my beacon of hope.

It’s fun to run somewhere new.

I will set a PR (for distance) no matter what, because I don’t quit (see above).  Even if I wind up walking/hiking most of it, it will be the farthest I’ve ever traveled on foot.

Most importantly, this is not the race.  It is a race.  This is a fun way to train on the way to the race.  I can’t get too hung up on races that are not my ultimate goal.  My goal is to finish the marathon in October.  And I know when I’m 4 days out from that thing, anxiety will be back in a very big way. At that point I will be able to remind myself how well I did on a little 17 mile trail race back in April. 🙂

Training Plan #57

Guess what kids?  I have a new training plan!  Shocked?  You really shouldn’t be.  I change my mind on my training every 10 seconds.  When it comes to picking a plan I have the attention span of a 3 year old.

What happened to Simply Shredded and 20 miles a week?  I will spare you the details (because they are boring) but in a nutshell, no strength training (not even body weight training) on Dr.’s orders until mid April.  Definitely cuts out the dead lift, bench press and barbell squat in Simply Shredded.  Also, as it turns out 20 miles is a lot to squash into my schedule each week.

Capture2

I have been wanting to run this route for over a year and finally did it! Victory!

And thus, a new training plan is born. 🙂  Since I can’t do any strength at the moment, I have the opportunity to focus on my running.  Last week I ran sprint intervals a couple times, did some cross training on the bike and topped it off with a 12.5 mile run from my house to work with a friend on Saturday.

My BRF just started using a new app called Gipis so of course I had to check it out.  I really like that it gives you an estimated race time and shows how you can improve.  It is super customized to you and your goals.  It adds a good combination of easy runs and speed work.  So I’m going to try the Gipis, spruce it up with a little cross training and some hypothetical strength training days (for later).  And there you have it, my latest and greatest.Capture

Monday: run & strength
Tuesday: run
Wednesday: cross training & strength
Thursday: run
Friday: REST
Saturday: long run
Sunday: cross training

I’d like to say that this is *the* training plan that will support me all the way to marathon day.  But let’s be honest folks, it probably isn’t.  I know I will probably “upgrade” to something newer, better, shinier, fancier.  The good news is, I’m still learning what works for me, I’m still getting stronger and faster.

And I’m not stopping.  Ever.

And… We’re Back

Back in school, that is.  With a full time job, a house full of active hockey players and running/fitness aspirations, I’ve been taking my Ph.D. studies at a relatively leisurely pace.  One class at a time. Usually with 2 or 3 week breaks in between.  I’ve taken two 3 month breaks for the past two summers to focus on the kids’ sports, the race season, and mental sanity.  That’s unfortunately not an option this Spring/Summer and the way things shake down I’m on just 1 week breaks between classes until sometime early November.

Last week was that one, short week off.  Last month I took a brief glance at the required textbooks for this class that has started this week.  One was the beloved APA manual. Got it, no worries.  Two other books were used in another course – done, no big deal.  The third was new to me so I ordered it.  Done and done.  Logged into my course yesterday to glance at the syllabus, read the instructor welcome, yada yada – essentially giving myself “class 1”.

Today I decided to gather all the books together and start going through the week’s material.  I busted open the box from Chegg (should have done that a couple weeks ago).  The used book is falling apart but at least I have it.  APA manual, have it but probably don’t need it.  (Most of that stuff is available on the internet and I’ve been writing with APA for so long I could do it in my sleep.)  Where are my Tochim and Creswell texts?  Searched all over and wouldn’t you know it?  These two happen to be the only two books I’ve ever borrowed and returned from Chegg.com prior to this course.  A quick check on my Chegg order history confirms what I was dreading.  I have never, ever, ever returned or sold a book before these two.  Not for my undergrad.  Not for my masters.  $200.00 and 15 minutes later, one text is on it’s way rush shipped to me and the other is loaded on my kindle.  Thank you technology.

The lesson here kids? DO. NOT. GET. RID. OF. YOUR. TEXTBOOKS!!!  Like, ever.

Lol Amazon.com - No.  I will not be buying this book for a third time.  Nice try though.

Lol Amazon.com – No. I will not be buying this book for a third time. Nice try though.

While it is tempting to sit here and continue to blog and research the latest and greatest running tips I will get started on my homework and do what I can.  Working in the education industry as instructor and administrator, one of the most frustrating excuses a student can give is “I don’t have my textbooks for X reason, so I didn’t do the work”.  I’m not that student.  That’s not how I roll.  My rushed book (which is the majority of this week’s reading) will be here Thursday.  In the meantime there is plenty else I can do to get started and enlighten myself on the intensely interesting and gripping subject that is quantitative research design.

1,000 Days of MyFitnessPal

Crazy milestone.  I’ve logged into myfitnesspal.com (MFP) every single day for the past 1,000 days.  I’m not sure if that’s dedication or insanity but there it is.  Here are some things I’ve learned through my experiences the past 1,000 days.

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Before MFP in March 2012

Let’s first paint the picture:  Rewind to June 2012.  I had previously tried tracking calories using SparkPeople.com with little success.  I would use it, not use it, use it, not use it – you get the idea.  I was visiting my sisters in Virginia when my youngest sister suggested myfitnesspal.com.  She said her (now) husband started her on it and liked the

My first day logged on MFP.

June 3rd – My first day logged on MFP.

usability.  At first I was a bit skeptical since I already had SparkPeople but figured I’d check it out.  Loved it.  When I found out there was a streak counter for days logged in, one thought came to mind “oh it’s on like Donkey Kong!”.  I’ve logged in every day since.  When I first started using the app I wasn’t very active.  I hated working out and just figured if I ate less I didn’t have to exercise.  I was a busy mom, chasing my kids, playing with them in the yard etc. and figured that was enough.  Looking at my diet now, I ate pretty poorly back then.  Lots of pizza, convenience foods (think EZ cheese, pop tarts, mountains of girl scout cookies).  Whatever was easy and whatever I wanted.

I started using the app to just see what I was eating.  From there I started slowly reducing my calories and did my best to stay within about 1,200 daily since that was what MFP recommended for my height.  It wasn’t easy and I often had “cheat” days where I didn’t feel like logging all my food.  But I did continue to log in.  Every. Single. Day.

January or February of 2013 I realized I needed to start exercising.  I realized I liked the MFP app so much I might as well see if there is anything that rewards consistent exercise the same way.  Enter Nexercise.  I don’t use this app anymore but I can’t tell you how big of a part this app played in my journey to health and wellness.  You get virtual badges for doing different kinds of activities or more minutes of an activity.  It counts everything from house cleaning to badminton to swimming.  It even listed specific brand exercises like those found on BeachBody.com.  There were weekly points where you could compete with strangers or your friends.  And boy did I!  I told myself that it didn’t matter what exercise I did, I needed to do something every day.  And I did.  And I discovered a whole world of new activities I love.  I jumped rope, I logged seemingly endless hours on the elliptical, I played baseball with my kids, I did yoga, I walked (I walked a lot), I biked, I took fitness classes for the first time in my life.  I was so excited to see my Nexercise steak continue and rack up the points.  I also noticed that MFP gave you extra calories for eating with all of this activity.  Now we’re talking. 🙂  I started logging my food more consistently.

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First 5K – May 10th, 2013

Enter (my now very best running) friend.  I saw on her Facebook page that she had registered for a night time glowed up 5k.  It looked super cool.  She invited me to come.  My thought was I could never run for 3 miles.  She was super encouraging and said it was okay to walk and some of the others who were going would be walking too.  I remember this vividly: I was at a hotel in Wichita Kansas for work and wanted to see if I could do it.  I got on the hotel treadmill and huffed and puffed for about 46 minutes.  I walked, I jogged, walked some more, cursed a little.  But I survived 3 miles.  I registered for the race that night.  I kept up with my other activities but didn’t really train for the 5k.  When race day came around I some how ran (okay, slowly jogged) the whole darn thing.  I was on such a high, within the week I was asking her when we could do another race.  I was hooked.  I registered for a 10K, but knew I needed a training plan.  I completed every day of the couch to 10K program sometime during that Summer in preparation for the race at the end of August.  In total I ran 9 races in 2013, including my first half marathon.

With my boys after finishing my second 1/2 marathon - September 2014.

With my boys after finishing my second 1/2 marathon – September 2014.

I kept up with running and eventually didn’t need Nexercise anymore to motivate me to exercise.  I continued to log everything into MyFitnessPal.  I took a couple months off in Winter for a surgery but jumped back in with my first race of 2014 in March.  Eventually after much research I realized I need to start strength training.  I discovered that endless Capture2hours of cardio are not going to get me to where I want to be in regards to my physique, strength and endurance goals.  In May I began the ChaLean Extreme program from BeachBody but abandoned it after about a month when I joined LA Fitness and started working with a trainer instead.  My sister also helped me get started with eating IIFYM-style after I saw her using it with great results.  Increased calories to support my fitness was great.  Additional muscles and strength were also an added bonus.  I kept running.  I racked up a total of 467 miles in 2014 and finished 20 races. I continued to log into MFP.

January 2015

January 2015

MFP has changed my life in a gradual yet wonderful way.  I wake up, I shut off the alarm, I log in.  Every day.  I’m the most in shape I’ve ever been in my life.  I love trying new things and being active with my family.  I have discovered a love of racing and am excited to start training for my first marathon in June.

And that, my friends, is how I’ve spent my first 1,000 days on MyFitnessPal.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Smoothies

Yesterday I was sick as a dog.  Picture death warmed over.  I’ll spare you the details.  Let’s just say I was super sick.  Got some work done in the morning then spent the rest of the day trying to recuperate.  Yesterday was also Hubby’s birthday – I felt terrible that we couldn’t have the celebration he deserves.  (Sorry Honey, I will make it up to you!)

Despite still feeling nowhere near 100% today, after not working out at all yesterday I resolved to at least get myself back in gear today.  Got my gym bag ready, packed a healthy lunch and a bunch of Dayquil gel tabs.  As I’m at work on conference call #1, it starts sleeting.  Yuck.  As I’m on conference call #2 it starts snowing.  By the time I’m off conference call #2 it’s snowing… snowing hard.  Several projects and another conference call down and I realize it’s stopped snowing all together.  Yes!  Going to the gym on the lunch hour will be that much simpler.  I’ll get to the gym, get in that workout I should have yesterday, get a quick shower, post workout smoothie and back to work – easy peasy.  Popped another couple Dayquil, grabbed a few tissues and was out the door.

I would like to say I pranced to my car but it was more like a lumbering shuffle.  Turned on the car and started dusting off the snow only to discover a layer of ice.   A thick layer of ice (remember that sleet?).  So I started scraping, and scraping and scraping.  By the time I was done I was covered in sweat, dizzy and nauseous beyond belief.  At this point I felt like clearing the car was the workout.  But I wanted to get that workout darn it!  I didn’t come out to the parking lot just to dig out my car and go back inside!  I told myself I had to at least drive the short distance to the gym and scan my key tag to get my check-in for the day.  If I felt up to it by the time I got there, I’d do the workout.  If I was still feeling like crap I would reward my puny efforts with my smoothie anyway and go back to work.

So what happened?  I finished the work out.  I hit a PR on my bench press of 50 lbs!  (Let’s not get too excited folks, the 2.5 lb plates were about the size of my hand – and I have small hands – but they were plates none the less.)  After that I pretty much phoned in the rest of it because I wasn’t feeling great but a half assed workout is better than none at all.  A little exercise did rejuvenate me and that post workout protein smoothie tasted all the better because of it.

Got to scrape the car again before heading back to work.

After work I had to scrape the car again.  Oh joy.

Went to my 8 year old’s hockey game.  They lost but he skated hard and played well.

Then I got to scrape the car again.  Yippee.

Home now, and the car is in the garage.  No more scraping for me today.  I think I may have earned myself another smoothie. 🙂

ABD in One Year

September 2012 I started my Ph.D., this was my Facebook status update “AH! Writing my first paper in 8 years. What did I get myself into??”.  It’s been a long three years and there’s still a long road ahead but one year from now, if all goes as planned, I will be starting my dissertation research.  February 1st, 2016.

So what exactly needs to happen between now and February 1st 2016?  A lot.  The most daunting of which is this: Comprehensive exams (comps) during marathon training.  If I keep all my ducks in a row though, I should be starting to taper my training for the marathon when I start my comps.  I had a momentary panic attack today when I realized how close I am to the end of this whole big Ph.D. thing.  Yes, I still have 4 classes left…and then some big tests…and then the really big paper but other than that I’m almost done!  Seriously though, I’m now legitimately more than half way there and that feels good.  One year from now, I’ll be All But Dissertation (ABD) and done with college coursework.  That’s a darn fine feeling if you ask me.

Channeling the Energizer Bunny

Some of you may remember those old battery commercials about the Energizer Bunny featuring the rabbit with the drum who would “Just keep going and going and going and going…”.  (I don’t watch much TV anymore – is that guy still around?)

The bunny had his pros and cons.  At face value it looks pretty darn awesome to have that much energy!  To just keep going!  (And going!) Forever!  I’ve had a week of doing my best to emulate that rabbit.  Get the kids to school (just keep going…), get to work (and going…), work all morning/workout over lunch/resume work (and going…), get the kids/make dinner/clean up/hockeyhockeyhockey/check homework (and going…), kids in bed/Ph.D. studies (and going…), chat with the hubs/pack snacks & lunch & water gallon for the next day (and going…), wake up and do it all the next day! (and going…)

I know I’m not the only one with this type of nutty crazy schedule – we’re all so busy!  It’s great to feel so productive and accomplish so many wonderful things in the day.  That said, the Energizer Bunny also seemed a little boring.  All he did was bang that dang Energizer drum all day.  I truly believe it’s so important to work as hard as you can but then also play as hard as you can.  This weekend is Superbowl Sunday.  I don’t necessarily enjoy football but I love the eating and commercials.  I truly believe that having something fun to look forward to is super important for mental health and overall well being.  So this weekend, I’m seriously looking forward to playing hard (and eating mountains of greasy food).  🙂

Until then, I’ll just keep going and going and going and going…

Rest is Overrated

Running twenty miles a week in November was tough.  Twenty miles a week over the holidays was almost impossible.  Turns out I actually do need serious and legitimate study time for this class I just started.  So as I was doing my weight lifting today I was trying to figure out how I can get back up to my 15-20 miles per week.  I looked back and reconsidered why I had the goal of this mileage in the first place.  The whole point was to build running back into my life on a regular basis in preparation for actual marathon training which will require 40+ miles per week.  Goals need to be realistic and I need to face the music that right now 20 miles a week, with this particular grad course also on my plate, isn’t actually realistic anymore.

However, 15 miles may still be doable.  My lifting program is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday.  That leaves 3 days.  15 divided by 3 is… yup, 5 miles.  So it works out perfectly if I run 5 miles on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday each.  I’ll only have to get up early or sacrifice one evening a week (more likely) to exercise on Wednesdays.  The rest of my evenings can be devoted to this finance course for the remaining 7 weeks.  Weekends are easier to flex in a run around kids hockey practices and games.  (If it’s nice out, a run from my house to the rink is actually about 5 miles on the nose.)  Only minor down side to this plan is that leaves 0 rest/recovery days.  That said, I’ve had plenty of weeks without an official “rest” day before and have lived to tell the tale.  I think this will be fine.  This will also put me at 10 this week, and then back up to 15 starting next week which is a nice ramp up.  Once I’ve got this down I can look at increasing back up to 20 miles per week and beyond.  And if this doesn’t work… I can always re-evaluate again. 🙂  The important thing is to not throw in the towel and give up.

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. 🙂

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.