Infectious Fitness

For the past 2.5 years, I have been running a Fun Run club at my school.  Truth be told, it has sometimes been really discouraging.  It seemed like no matter what I did, no one was interested in running next to me, behind me or in front of me.  Running helps keep me sane and able to do my job.  It de-stresses me and relieves anxiety that can be devastating in the teaching profession.

I tried several different ideas to get people excited. Different days, different lengths, different routes, incentives……nothing seemed to work.  I eventually got a trusty group of walkers.  While I enjoyed spending time with them, I knew they weren’t receiving the mental benefits that running brings.

Still I persisted.  Every Friday, I ran my miles.  I knew that someone was always watching.  Students would see me run by at their after school program.  Teachers eager to start their weekend would see me on their routes home. Parents would see me and honk.  And then finally…..I started getting some real members.  This fall, I started offering boot camp after school.  At first, it was just a reason for me and my friend Nestor to work out together at school.  Then someone joined us. And then more and more.

One of the beauties of working out with your colleagues is that you are all under the same stresses.  You would think that this leads to an hour long complaint session but it ends up being the opposite.  Now, every Wednesday AND Friday, I have a steady group of 5-9 people that show up to sweat.  Even though we finish sweaty and smelly, it’s so rarely about the calorie burn.

I look forward to boot camp days all week long.  We have administrators and teachers, all struggling with the same exercise or interval.   Everyone is at their own level and doing their own thing.  It usually takes some convincing of new members that we aren’t so tough.  But most importantly: WE LAUGH.  I have gotten to know my colleagues in a brand new way because of this.  Everyone leaves smiling and feeling good.

I used to hope that just one person would join me on a run, that I could infect just one person……..this past Friday we held a Boot Camp 5K and 10 people ran.  My heart was so full! I have so many proud moments as a teacher but this one is definitely going toward the top of the list.

Change Your Perspective

Don’t worry: there will be NO ‘glass half full’ references in this post.  In the past 8 weeks, I’ve gone through a lot of life changes.  Instead of dwelling, I’m doing my best to just push forward and look ahead with confidence in the unsure.  It’s actually quite bizarre. But as I spend time shifting my perspective, I realize how many times this habit has helped my in the past.

When I was still 290+ pounds, I could NEVER think about the fact that I had over 100 pounds to lose.  That goal was insurmountable.  There was just no way.  No one loses 100 pounds.  So I decided that I didn’t want to lose 100 pounds, I was just going to lose the first 50.  After losing 50 pounds, maybe I’d be out of plus size clothes? But how cool would it be to say I’d lost 50? And then I did.  When I looked at the BMI Chart, if I lost just another 50 pounds then I would be in the ‘Overweight Category’ and not the ‘Obese’ category anymore……   (****this was before I realized how craptastic BMI is and that it doesn’t actually mean anything)

After I lost the first 100 pounds, I had fallen in love with fitness.  Then I just set goals for what I wanted to be able to do and my body responded.  I set several goal weights along the way and reaching eat one felt great and every fitness goal and finish line made all the work worth it.  It was easy to keep going when I loved it.  That’s how I lost 150+ pounds: in small chunks because losing an entire person is completely ridiculous.

Honestly, I don’t think any one is more surprised that I lost all of the weight than I am.  I’m the one that heard every negative thought and still had to continue forward.  If I had focused on losing 150 pounds at the beginning, I never could have done it.  But when I focused on one goal at time, it seemed easier.  Sometimes it was 10 pounds away and sometimes it was one race away.  But shifting my perspective is what lead me to success and more happiness than I thought possible.

I can count several different times in my life when I did this and had the same results.  So I’m depending on it now.

Recently, I had to quit boxing.  It doesn’t mean that I love boxing any less or that I’m ungrateful for the lessons it taught me.  At first, I was really sad that it wouldn’t fit in my schedule any longer and what I had been working towards was longer important.  But instead of dwelling on it, I’ve shifted my perspective.  I realized that most of the goals I’d had in the last year, ( a PR 5K, completing the Tough Mudder….) didn’t even have anything to do with boxing. So I decided to shift my perspective and get excited.  Boxing was creating a whole avenue of anxiety that I didn’t even realize was there.  I now find it EXCITING to train myself.  I love that I can train when, where and how I want and not report to anyone.  I can change my body in anyway I want!  After 8 weeks, not only have I been getting to my goals quicker, I’ve changed my body composition fairly dramatically.  While I’ve maintained my weight, I’ve exchanged 6 pounds of fat for 3 pounds of muscle.  Pretty awesome.

Also, a month ago, I got laid off at my school.  I was devastated for a few days.  As a specialized teacher in Drama, (and music before that) I always knew I was at risk for being cut when the budget goes down.  I’ve been fortunate enough to always be ahead of the curve when that’s in question.  But this time, I didn’t see it coming.  I had just come back from a weekday getaway with Dan for his birthday when I got called to a budget meeting.  10 minutes later, my job had been cut.  I. Was. Shocked. After a few numb days, I saw the sliver lining.  There’s only been one thing stopping me from going into personal training full time: the love of my students.  I have been 75%ish…maybe sure… that I was going to try to get into personal training next fall.  But I kept coming back to the kids, my guilt of leaving them, my colleague family and the program that I’ve built at my school.  Now, there’s no program to ‘abandon’.  I’m being forced to leave my position, so I’ve decided to just jump ship all together and try something that I want and I know that I’ll be good at.  And for what seems like the first time in my life, I’m sleeping through the night again.

So here’s the moral of this chapter of my story: when you shift your perspective, your goals seem much more attainable.   In the past two months I had to quit the sport I love and lost my job OR I have all the time I want to train myself and I can now dive into a new career distraction free.  It does feel a lot like losing the weight, like standing at a starting line, and maybe when I cross this finish line it will bring me even more joy and success.

How the Universe Works…..

January Sucks.   I mean sucks. It’s cold.  I can’t run outside.  I hate my job, my house, my car, my………..I always want everything to change in January.

Every year you think it’s going to get better right? A clean slate!  A new year!  Everything resets……..right? The real truth is, if you keep making the same decisions you’ve always made, you’re life will always be the same.  The real truth is, if you don’t change anything, nothing will change.   The real truth is that January 1st is no different than December 31st.  I was just as morbidly obese at the end of 2011 as I was at the beginning of 2012.  But for the first time, I was willing to do something real about it.

5 years ago, I was standing on my bathroom scale mortified.  I had ALWAYS promised myself that I would never see a number on the scale that started with a 3.  NEVER would I see 300 pounds.  Well, that day, or shortly after, I hit 285.  What was I going to do? How was I going to get things going in the right direction? It was then that I made a commitment to change.

I first looked at my life and realized I had  no goals, no direction.  Of course I had a career path but I was really just ticking the hours away, day in and day out, with big macs in the middle.  Nothing in my life was inspirational or motivating me to better myself.  The first decision that I made was to change my location.   I looked at my life in the Midwest and realized it did not fit my ideal lifestyle.  I wanted my life to be filled with adventure and excitement and I was heading for death via cheeseburgers and having my skin attach itself to a couch cushion. That’s when I made the decision to move to Colorado.  When I say ‘I made the decision’, that’s what I mean.  ‘We’ (my hubby and I) didn’t.  I did.  I told him he could come if he wanted to but I was going.

I know how that sounds.  I know that seems selfish.  BUT, I knew I could love him better.  I knew I could offer him more.  I knew that I was holding him back, even if he never would have admitted it.  I also knew that if I didn’t change, our lives together would be cut short and full of…….nothing. I think it was that decision that got me to where I am.  Now, I made the decision in 2012.  That summer we moved to Colorado.  It would still take many years for me to lose the weight and get to where I am now.  But that decision, standing on my bathroom scale created a domino effect that has now saved me life.  So………

 

What decision can you make today that will set you up for the future?  Even if you can’t advance toward that goal or change very much in this moment, what decision will you make? The clock is ticking.

2017: Big Announcement!

I would start this blog with a bunch of excuses about how long it’s been since I’ve written…..but let’s be honest.  You’re here because you want to know the announcement, not hear excuses.  Fortunately for you, they are kind of one and the same:

I have been interning with a personal trainer for the past 8 weeks 🙂

 

For those of you that follow this blog, you’d know I’m a full time Drama Teacher.  Since November 1st, I have been attempting to balance two jobs, internship, marriage, workouts and life.  While it has had it’s challenges, I’ve already learned SO much.

I think I’ve been saying “I’m thinking of becoming a trainer” for……….two and a half years now.  So I was thinking maybe I should actually give it a try 🙂  People always dream big when they hear about my weight loss.  They almost always say “You should write a book!” Well, that’s easier said than done.  I don’t really want to wait that long and it seems like a ton of work for something that might not work out.  I want to start changing lives right now!  For the last two years of my fitness journey (of which I’m still on by the way) I’ve been coaching people here and there with handfuls of tidbits.  I feel like I’ve been an inspiration and motivation for a few people at tough moments.  But now I want to be there for the change. I want to help guide others though the WHOLE journey that I’ve been on.

What trainer would you rather have if you were looking to lose weight?

Option A:  Joe Schmo who was a college athlete and has never counted a calorie in his life.  He is highly educated and certified and regularly completes Ironman races without bothering to stretch beforehand.  

Option B: Kim G who struggled with morbid obesity her whole life and knows the personal struggle of losing weight.  She conquered obesity through a healthy diet and exercise and has the same certification as Mr. Schmo. She understands both the mental and physical aspect of weight loss. While she couldn’t run a mile 5 years ago, now she completes half marathons.

You’d pick me right? Right?

So far I am LOVING working at the gym.  During my paid shift, I am a Club Assistant.  I do lots of things: clean, get towels, get water, yell at kids running, show people how to use machines, help trainers……my position changes based on the day, hour, even minute sometimes.  I get to chat with members and attempt to build a client base for when I’m training. One of the best parts is seeing my friends while they work out! (Shout out to Natalie who recently completed Yoga Teacher Training at our facility.  Can’t wait to start taking your classes!!! )

Lately, I’ve been weighing in people for our new Fitness Challenge which is so fun and I’m excited to see how everyone changes over the next 6 weeks.

But my favorite thing by far is my intern training.  I feel very fortunate to be working under Victor Spatola as he leads me through my trainer’s course. We talk about biomechanics, recovery, progamming…….mostly he talks in words I barely understand and then have to study later. 🙂  He assigns me homework and I somehow find a few hours to nerd out and study before the next lesson comes. In a few short weeks I can see my future changing and shaping.  My goals are resetting and my life is being fulfilled in new ways.

I’m in a bit of a life crisis.  I’ve had to totally switch up my fitness (I’m no longer boxing….more on that later), my schedule is nuts and I’m just not quite sure where I’m going……but I have a partner who is supporting my insanity and giving me the space and time to figure it out.  I only know one thing right now but I think it’s the most important thing: it’s exciting!  So here’s to 2017 and whatever that’s going to mean.

I’m a Tough Mudder 2.0

If you follow this blog, you’ll notice it’s been a while. I’m constantly playing the balancing game of work, love, life, working out, friends…..and I’m attempting a whole new journey that I’ll be writing about very very soon. Regardless, sometimes things just slip…..

 

But let’s go back.

 

Last month I completed my 2nd Tough Mudder! I have been looking forward to the next Tough Mudder since completing it last year and knowing I could do better. Here were my goals this year: finish sooner, complete the Funky Monkey 2.0 and grab the bar on King of the Swingers. Let’s see how I did!

 

The Tough Mudder, for those that do not know, is a 11+ mile obstacle race. You can read about my first year here! Everyone claims that Colorado has the toughest course because of the following: it ends up over 12 miles, it has an elevation gain of 3000 feet and the water is TERRIBLY cold due to the altitude. It is the hardest race that I do all year and I couldn’t wait to prove to myself that I could complete it again. My husband ran for the first time this year and I was more concerned about him finishing than myself.

 

My first goal to complete was the Funky Monkey 2.0 which was located 1.5 miles into the race. **Side note: I never look at the map before I run. I just don’t want to know when certain things are going to come up. The Funky Monkey is 20 ascending monkey bars, to a swinging bar and then a transfer to a horizontal bar before making your way to the platform.

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I spent several evenings with Dan over at the playground, working on grip strength just to complete the obstacle. We also rock climb in the winter. Last year, I wimped out and didn’t even try to make the transfer. This year, I wanted to complete it but especially I didn’t want to give up. AND I DID IT! I can’t even explain the way I felt when my dry feet hit the platform. After you complete the first obstacle, everyone can see who did it and who did not based on who is wet.

 

Right after the Funky Monkey, Dan got injured going over a wall. The Berlin Walls are 12 foot wooden walls.  Most people get over them like this:

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One guy was ‘helping’ Dan by lifting his feet and suddenly let go.  This caused him to hit his ribs on the top of the wall.  We were not quite 2 miles in.  I was really worried he wouldn’t be able to finish.  He had no idea what was ahead of him.

The hardest part of the Tough Mudder is the mental aspect.  I know that I can physically complete the race.  But it is the only race that I run all year that pushes me past my mental limits.  When I go out for a long run, I know there is always the option of stopping.  The length is nearly a half marathon, which is the longest I’ve run.  But then there’s the hiking and altitude factors.  We live at 5280 feet.  The races starts at 8200 feet and ascends just into 11000 feet. Oh yeah, and the obstacles.

Somewhere in the middle of that altitude was my next goal: The King of Swingers.  You jump from a platform onto a pendulum swinging bar and attempt to ring a bell before falling into the water below. First of all: I do not like it when you have to get wet even after completing the obstacle.  That being said, up until this point I had not gotten wet.  I had gotten muddy and sweaty but not submerged in water.

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My goal was to get the bar on the pendulum, and I succeeded!  I then missed the bell and fell in the water.  I was so SHOCKED by the water that I could barely breathe!  Near mile 8: my hip and leg were hurting to badly that I thought about quitting.  The only thing that kept me going was thinking about how disappointed I would be if I stopped.  I had to finish the race.  Also, if Dan could keep going; so could I.  He was hurting pretty badly at this point too.  We wanted to finish!

My third goal was to finish in less time that last year.  I think I finished in 5ish hours last year.  This year we were aiming for 4 hours.  We did it.  This is the only race that I ever think about quitting.  It’s the only race that I have trouble completing.  It’s different than running.  It’s amazing.  It’s amazing what the body can do and especially what my body can do.  It’s the only race that I’ll complete for a third year in a row.  It’s the only race I’ll be this excited/nervous for again next year.  And I can’t wait.  14233129_10103658517593519_3395195932218454546_n

 

It took me two weeks to feel like I had healed from the race.  I’m already thinking of goals for next year.  I’m already thinking of how to train for next year if I want to finish even faster. I love the Tough Mudder because I feel like it changes me a little bit every year.

 

P.S.  I bought the Merrell Tough Mudder shoes for the race and they were freaking awesome.  No endorsements.  Just seriously killer shoes.

Everyday: I Beat Her

Somedays I wonder if there will always be two of me.  There’s the new me: confident, fit and outgoing and then there’s always the old me: overweight, uncomfortable and failing.  In my overweight life, I had a good career and an ok marriage.  I was mostly happy and pretty outgoing but part of me always knew there was more.  I knew there had to be more to life: more to see, more to do and more to expect from myself.  I always felt like a failure but I couldn’t figure out why: I was failing at life. I was so happy with living a half life.  Part of me wonders if I would have just stayed that way…..and for how long.

Now I feel like my life is FULL.  My relationships with everything are better.  My marriage is better. I have so much more to give to my husband and we get so much more out of life and our time together now.  I feel like my friendships are deeper and more meaningful because I have more value for myself now.  My job is easier and keeping up with day to day tasks of life are easier.  I feel more connected to nature and humanity as a whole.  I feel like I’m doing life right now.

But somedays I think about how easy it would be to go back.  Of course I have cheat days and rest day but what would it be like to give up? What would it be like to wake up as my old self? Part of me thinks this will never happen and the other half of me fears that it will. I have lived in two different worlds.  I have had two different marriages.  (To the same man!) I have had two lifetimes in one.  So each day I still fight.  I still fight that girl who wants two cheeseburgers and a side of mozzarella sticks.  Some days I don’t want to go to the gym and just get it done as quick as possible. I still beat her every single day.

The easiest way to not go backwards is to remember where I came from.  I 100% believe that if anyone could drop the weight and feel the difference in their body, they would do it in a heart beat.  Every calorie, drop of sweat and running mile was worth it.  Every. Single. One.

I wouldn’t give up anything for the person I am now or the lifestyle that I lead.  Notice: I didn’t say this body.  I didn’t say, I wouldn’t give up being skinny for anything.  I know my weight will fluctuate as my life continues to change. I know I won’t always see this number on the scale. It’s not about being skinny.  It’s about meeting my life goals and being the person I want to be, skinny was just a result.  So every day, every damn day, I still beat her.

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Healthy Friends

Well I did it again already, I tried hiking and had a much better response!  This week I had scheduled to hike the Manitou Incline with my friend and colleague Nestor.  Nestor has also lost quite a bit of weight in the recent past and loves Crossfit.  He taught me how to climb ropes and I’m looking forward to many more fitness related excursions!   Nestor had done the incline countless times and it’s a very popular place to visit but there are people that live near Colorado Springs that incorporate it as a regular routine.

The Manitou Incline is in Manitou Springs, just outside of Colorado Springs.  It’s known for Pike’s Peak and the incline.  The ‘trail’ is less than a mile but climbs 2000 feet in elevation in that short of a time.   (7,000 – 9,000 feet for those curious) I was feeling great and thought I would knock it out and leave him in the dust and maybe even go for a run later.  While Nestor is very fit, I know my cardio is more advanced than his but with his experience, I fell behind by 20 – 30 stairs.  For flatlanders, this hike feels like it’s straight up.  When you have hiking experience, you can tell when it’s not as steep.  I finished the incline in 40 minutes which is pretty advanced for my first time.  I think I could cut off a few minutes easily, just knowing the course now.  While it was hard, I never felt like it was impossible.  I didn’t cry or get too frustrated.

I have been wanting to do the incline for 2 years now but it was undergoing some renovations after recent flooding and I forget about it because of it’s location.  Without Nestor inviting me, I might not have gotten it checked off the list this summer.  It’s so important to find friends that help support your journey.  Fitness and health have brought so many people into my life that I might not have otherwise known.

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Off the top of my head, I can count 7 friends (there’s probably more… ) that I now have in my life because of how I live my life.  When you make a change in your life, it attracts new kinds of people.  As I have changed, so have my friends and who I spend my time with. I don’t consider everyone a friend and I don’t use that word lightly.  I’ve found it difficult in my adult life to make TRUE friends when we moved to Colorado but fitness opened that door for me.  I have cultivated so many positive relationships and experiences with people I have met in my gym life.  One of my closest friends I met at my first gym, and although I no longer go there, we still see each other all the time.

Healthy people attract healthy people. Broken people attract broken people.   Now, that’s not to say we don’t all have our problems or my friends and I only go out for salads.  We drink beer and pizza too but I feel like our relationships are focused on health and well being.  We constantly discuss bettering ourselves and our society through various ways and not just fitness. We hike, climb, run, box and laugh.  We don’t sit around and count calories together or compare waistlines.  But there’s an underlying thread in all of my relationships now: How can I be better?

It’s so important to surround yourself with others who are on a journey.  Even if it’s not fitness related, someone who is trying to better themselves, as you are, is going to be much better support than someone who isn’t.  A stick in the mud is a stick in the mud.  I had to let a few friends go over the last few years because they just didn’t match my new lifestyle.  They would constantly complain about a situation they were in but would never try and change it.  They would claim to want x,y and z for themselves and then sit around and do nothing for two years.  I know not everyone can have the self determination that I do.  I know I am mentally strong and I can’t expect that from everyone I know but I also can only try to support and motivate another person so much. So watch out for these types of people too.  When you start to change, other people that want to change will flock to you.  Give them the support you can and give every friend a chance but over time you’ll see who is happy being unhappy and who is really wanting to change.

Hiking To 14,000 Feet

This past weekend was the 4th of July holiday.  For the past two years, some friends and I have hiked up to 14,000 feet as a way to spend some time outdoors and see this beautiful country from the top.  And well…..I forgot one VERY important thing this year……….I kinda hate it.

Our Hike:

This year we chose Grizzly Peak for our goal.  Grizzly Peak is in Loveland pass and an easy area to go after more than one peak if you are feeling up to it.  Loveland pass is around 12,000 feet above sea level so I expected the 2000 foot elevation gain to be no big deal.  For the first gain, I felt strong.  I felt like I could keep my breathing under control and move quite a bit faster than last year.  I always forget how hard it is to breathe at that elevation.  You’re thinking, it’s only two miles, I do two miles all the time…..but the truth is: that two miles is straight up and you’ll be needing more oxygen…..the whole time.

But then…..you come down and go back up….three more times.  Remember the rough mountains you drew as a kid? A zig zag line? Well that’s what this trail was. 500 feet up, 300 down, 200 up, 100 down, 500 up, 200 down………..(these are not correct, just a rough guess)  The mental aspect of hiking started getting to me two hours in.  At two hours into this hike, we had one more peak to go down and then the final trek to the top.  Even though you can see the top, it seems really really far away still.  This is where I broke.  At this time, your brain has been deprived of the oxygen it needs for quite some time, you’ve burned over 1000 calories and the more water you drink the more you have to pee….outside.  As I flash backed to last year, this was the same time that I started to fall apart.

My body held up ok, although my knees were starting to ache.  Mentally though…. i wanted to stop….but you’re so close that you know you can do it if you just keep moving.  And then….somehow you make it to the top!

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Hiking is different than any other ‘sport’ I do.  In almost every other fitness activity, I just have to push to the end.  Usually, it’s the last 10 minutes that are the worst.  I’m a big fan of referencing ‘my bottom’ in a workout.  For example: When I think I just can’t box anymore, I think about the time I was running on a treadmill through my own tears, sweat and blood while my coach yelled across the gym at me.  So whenever I think I just can’t keep going, I know I can because I did that day. With hiking, ‘the bottom’ or the worst part is half way through.  Once you get to the top of that peak, you know you just have to do the whole thing over again, just in reverse.  So although you’re so happy to get to the top and it’s so pretty!!!!!!!…..you just have to turn around and do it again. Round trip took us 5 hours. (3 up and 2 down)

I think if I want to enjoy hiking more, I probably need to do it more.  Right now, my bottom for hiking is always the current hike I’m in.  I usually hike less than 5 times a year and haven’t hiked at all since my last 14er.  If I hike more often, I could train my brain to know what I can do and maybe enjoy it a little more.

 

Overall here’s what I learned:
While I’m strong, there are still things that push me.  I still have limits.  I cry at 13,500 feet 🙂 and I hope I forget how bad this was before next year. flat,800x800,075,f.u2

How To Be A Runner #5

Today I wanted to finish up my running advice with my number one reason why I think I love running: Control.

 

People ask my how I lost the weight all the time. When they hear that I’m a boxer, they make a certain face. When they hear that I run…..A LOT…..they also make a certain face. I know everyone who has ever asked me “How did you lose the weight?” wants to hear, “I just woke up like this one morning….” But the truth is, it was a lot of hard and sweaty work. Over the last 2-3 years, I couldn’t even count how many people have asked for my advice or help. But in all that time, in all those conversations……I know maybe 5 people on a weight loss or fitness journey. The truth is, 98% of people that ask me about it aren’t going to do a damn thing. It took me a long time to realize, I couldn’t control this. I had to learn to give out free advice with no expectations. Example conversation from real life:
Coworker: I just love your arms! What kind of weights do you do?

Me: I actually do all body weight exercises. For my arms I do pull ups. Lots and lots of pull ups because that what’s in my training routine.

Coworker: Oh. I could never do a pull up.

Me: It took me almost 6 months of trying everyday, but I can do them now! I’m sure you could do it if you put the time in.

Coworker: Yeah. I’ll never be able to do that.

 

And…….she never did a pull up. When people hear how much work it was for me to change my whole life, 98% are not willing to put the work in. It was not easy. It took good decisions every single day and forgiveness when I made bad decisions. It took overhauling my whole life. But every once in a while, I think I help inspire someone to change their life. This used to really bother me because of my control issues. I used to think it was something about me that discouraged them from trying.   Maybe they didn’t see a big enough difference? Maybe I didn’t say it in the right way? Maybe if I…………but it really comes down to:

 

If you wanted to, you would.

 

Control is something I struggle with in most areas of my life. It is hard for me to feel out of control and I love feeling like the puppetmaster of my life.  I carry this into my workouts too. When I run, I know that I’m in control of everything about that run and about my life, even if just for a few miles.

 

I can control my breathing, time, distance, music…….When I set out to go 5 miles, I go 5 miles. It makes me feel accomplished every single time. While there are always some elements that you can’t control: weather, traffic, stop lights, geese, sprinklers……. I love the feeling of controlling my body. With experience, you learn to run at your most efficient. I know when my body and mind are working like a machine and I love that feeling. It really is just me and the road.

 

In the beginning of my running, I thought I had to have certain music, clothes, headphones, etc. and I kind of did. In order to zone, I couldn’t think about anything else. Not my wedgie, my headphone wires bouncing around, my sunglasses slipping down my nose…..Nothing!   Nothing could be a distraction or I just wanted to stop. But now I know how far I can go and how my body should be feeling with each mile.   I can control the speed a little more without giving a ton of effort. I know how my body feels when it runs and my body loves to run.  Yesterday, I went for 8 miles with Dan. It was a great run down the cherry creek path and through parts of downtown Denver. So I figured I shouldn’t run today to rest my legs but then after my usual boxing workout, I still didn’t feel right. My emotions felt ……stuck and I just couldn’t get in the flow of the day. So I decided to run a mile or two. Well…three miles later I felt like myself. For some reason my body and mind wanted to run today and my legs needed the stretch.c168f0ddd0c052ccb4091404605a4b89

 

So my point is this: Running makes me feel like I’m in control of my emotions, stress, energy and basically……..life! Every run is a commitment to myself that I keep. If you can’t keep commitments to yourself, why would you for anyone else?

How To Be A Runner #4

This morning I logged another 5 miles before the sun came up.  In the beginning of my running journey, it took me a while to fall in love with it.  There are still somedays that I have to convince myself to go but I’m NEVER disappointed that I went.  It only took me a few runs to love running in the morning!

Today is #4 in my saga of how to love running. Here’s the other days if you missed them:

How To Be A Runner #1

How To Be A Runner #2

How To Be A Runner #3

1. Of Course there’s apps for that!

There are all sorts of running apps out there.  Depending on what you are looking for, there’s definitely an app for that.  There are apps for: pacing, routes, tracking, planning and even Zombie Chasing.  I’m only going to suggest the ones I know about but I’m sure there are hundreds.

Nike – This is where I track all my miles.  I love the Nike app because it’s the same every time.  I know where I’m going to click over my miles if it is a familiar route.  With this app you can set it to tell you how far you’ve gone, or not.  When you are running, it can post to social media for you and when anyone clicks the like button it makes a cheering sound!  It also has cool photo features at the end of your run.  It has coaching settings and can even sync with your music but I haven’t explored those features much.  It pauses as soon as I stop and can even pause if you get a phone call. I used to use MapMyRun but I found it to be less accurate to the routes and has a lot less features.

Couch to 5K – I have a lot of friends that have used this app.  It is a training program to get you from running nothing to being able to run a 5K. It is based on interval running which I totally believe in.  Lots of people love this app and have success with it.  The app is formatted for an 8 week program, 3 runs a week for 30 minutes.  It takes care of the intervals for you and slowly builds up your endurance.

Runkeeper – I have not used this app at all but I know it’s popular and has been around a long time.  You can preplan your routes or choose ones others have posted and even just free run.  It is like most other running apps but the route feature seems cool. If you live in a big city like me, this might be cool for you but I can see that it would not have many advantages if you live in a less populated area.

ZombieRun – This app is really interesting.  I only used it once or twice but it’s definitely unique.  I have had friends have success with this app too.  This app can train you to go different distances and works much like the others above.  What makes it unique is the Zombie feature.  As you’re running, you can pick up things like health and weapons.  When the app knows you are slowing down, it will send Zombies after you and there’s helicopter sounds and it makes you feel like your in a Zombie War.  Meanwhile you’re learning to run and increasing your endurance.   Props to whomever came up with this app!

For more: Here’s a List from Runner’s World

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My Personal Tips:

If you are running a long distance, running too many apps at once on your phone might make it die. I love to rock out to Pandora when I run but if I’m running more than 10 miles, I can not run my running tracker and Pandora the entire time.  Just keep in mind your battery life.  Finding an app that you like and music makes running much easier for me.  I have 465 miles logged under my nike app so it looks like I’m not switching any time soon!  I do know runners that don’t listen to music or track their miles but I’m a geek and want to know how far and fast I went every single time.

2. Races

In the beginning of your running journey, I encourage you to sign up for a race.  It doesn’t matter how far away that race is and you should pick a distance that seems attainable for you.  Then you can explore training guides and methods that are comfortable for you.  I would love to say: This is the one and only plan that will make it possible to be a super awesome runner overnight.  But the truth is, it just doesn’t happen that way.  Running takes a lot of training of the mind and body.  It won’t happen overnight but it will happen.  And the success of crossing a finish line is something everyone should enjoy. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of racing:

Pros – In a race, there is every type of runner.  Some people are super fast and some people seem to walk the whole time.  Most large races will organize you into pace ‘corrals’ so that your running with other people that run your pace.  This usually ends up being maybe 50% true.  Running in a race is like being on a huge team!  While you’re obviously running solo, you’re all doing the same thing at that same time.  It’s a feeling of human camaraderie.   Most races donate profits to charity or are for a good cause.  You also end up with a t-shirt and usually quite a bit of free snacks and drinks.

Cons – It’s a lot of people in one place.  Some runners I know hate racing because there’s so many people in the way.  Depending on the course, sometimes other racers can slow you down. I’ve been on courses that were not wide enough for the amount of runners and when anyone starts to walk, it forces everyone to walk and bottleneck. The logistics can be annoying.  When you sign up for a race, there’s usually a time to pick up your race packet the day before, or you have to go early before the race and stand in line for your number.  Depending on the race location, parking can also lead to anxiety on a race day. Logistics are the worst part of the race.

My Experience

I love racing but in a race, I’m not usually racing anyone but myself.  Inexperienced racers tend to run the beginning of a race way too fast and end up walking at the end.  I have learned to pace myself throughout the race and run strong the whole time.  I’ve now completed 10 races ranging from a 3K to half marathons.  The course, environment and experience is different every time but I love the feeling of everyone running together!  My favorite moments are right before you start and everyone is nervous but excited.  You can feel it in the air. Races are really fun experiences and crossing a finish line is so exhilarating! Each race I fall in love with running a little bit more.  You’ll see someone you’d never expect to see running a race, cross the finish line.  You’ll see people dedicated their run to someone who has passed away.  You’ll see runners helping each other when it gets too hard.  It’s just a cool feeling and one of the times I feel connected to strangers on the most basic level.

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3.  You’ll Never love it all the time

Running is 90% mental and 10% physical and sometimes, overcoming the mental is the hardest part.  It’s true that sometimes, leaving the house is the hardest part of a run.  Every runner on the planet has slept passed their alarm and missed a run.  Every runner takes days off and ‘doesn’t really feel like it’ today.  Sometimes you leave the house, get half way done and decide that’s enough for today.  BUT……it’s those runs that are amazing that keep you going.  Sometimes you don’t want to leave the house and then have a great run to start your day.  You’ll always feel better after a run! It’s the runs where you learn something about yourself, let anxiety and stress go, push yourself harder than you thought you could or complete a distance that used to seem impossible that make running all worth it.  If you don’t love it this time, there’s always a next time.

I love running* 

*usually

My Nike app says I’ve logged 102 runs.  Of those runs, I think I’ve quit early 5 times or less. Sometimes you just have to listen to your body and not push it passed its limit but it takes a while to understand your body’s limits.  I know the difference between physically tired and mentally tired now and always try to hold myself accountable.  I’ve decided to simply not go on a run probably about the same amount of times.  But I’ve also had the best runs.  Sometimes I think I could solve world hunger if I just ran long enough.  Running allows me to destress and feel my body like a machine.  It makes me feel strong and confident about my day.  I’m proud of myself every time I finish a run even if it’s the exact course I ran two days before.  I don’t know what it would be like to be a super hero, but running makes me feel like I just might be.