Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Running on Empty

"If one could run without getting tired, I don't think one would often want to do anything else." 
-- C.S. Lewis

The last 9 months have been arguably some of the busiest months in my lifetime. I've been busier in the past, yes... but this is probably the busiest I've been in both my work life and personal life at the same time. I'm not good at this whole work-life balancing act. I tend to focus all of my energy into one or the other (usually work/school), but in an effort to give more to my personal life, I've just jammed in more personal activities without really reducing or better managing my work. There are a few reasons for this, mind you, but I have been determined to give my personal life more attention regardless.

I really started to concentrate on giving my personal life more attention last fall, mostly by way of spending less of my days off at work and hanging out with friends more. Small wins. By November, I had begun more steadily incorporating exercise into this new routine, albeit on a less regular schedule. Several circumstances in December drove me to focus even more attention to exercise - as a way of not only improving my health, but also reducing the stress that was dramatically increasing both at home and at work. Since then, I have mostly kept to this workout routine, starting more heavily focused on strength training at first and more recently focusing on cardio.

As you know, I decided that I wanted to go back into running more seriously earlier this summer. I used to run regularly in college, and missed it terribly. I know that the activity is not the best for someone with a history of back and knee issues, but cycling doesn't really do it for me and I cannot stand the elliptical. So, I started run/walk intervals in May, steadily building up to a run by June... and finishing my first 3 mile run in August. I was stoked! 

As you also know, a series of setbacks (excuses) have brought me to where I am today. A combination of heat and smoke derailed my running efforts in late August, and a disappointing finish at the Dodger 5K demotivated me tremendously. My morning miles slowed down, my strength training slowed down... I just couldn't find my mojo! To top it off, my work projects have become insanely busy, and I often find that I barely have the energy to walk my dog, let alone run a few miles after work every day. I've been just so dang tired! 

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I co-chaired and hosted an industry conference in California for the last half of last week. Our hotel was less than a mile to Venice Beach, and I committed to myself that I would at least walk to same every morning before our conference began. AND... I DID IT! The first morning, I ran to the beach, grabbed a coffee, walked a mile drinking it, and then ran back just in time to kick off the conference. The next day, I did it again... this time skipping coffee and just completing the run. Success! Mojo found! And just in time... I only have 16 weeks until my half marathon. Eek!

I know that not everyone has the luxury of finding themselves at a hotel near a beach for a few days to find their mojo... Frankly, I often pinch myself that I am even given such opportunities! But I do think it is important for people to find or recognize their happy place. Is there a park near your house that you enjoy visiting for a sunset stroll? Do you find yourself motivated by certain friends or people? Perhaps you enjoy a certain class, or a specific workout song? It took me visiting the beach to remember why I love running, and why I shouldn't give up. What will it take to remind you of why you are working towards a goal? How will you find your mojo?

I officially started the 1/2 marathon training I mentioned in my blog that I posted last week on Sunday, even though I unofficially got back to my strength training and cardio routine last Tuesday. Today was a 2 mile run/walk routine, which I unfortunately broke out into a mile this morning and a mile tonight. The bad thing with being busy is that you must find creative ways to fit in the things you want to do between the things you have to do. I'm hoping tomorrow will be better. I have cross-training tomorrow, another 2 mile run/walk Thursday, a rest day on Friday, and a 3 mile run on Saturday. Will I accomplish these things? I certainly hope so! But even if I end up walking more than I run, I am determined to finish. My energy may not be there, but perhaps the exercise will help with that too.

I know this has been a long, meandering post... I appreciate you bearing with me. When Natasha and I started this thing, we promised to show you our trials as much as our successes! I just hope that going forward you see more of our successes and less of my whiny posts :) While I'm sure they're less than entertaining, I certainly appreciate the forum to vent. Thank you all for continuing to be so encouraging! I have the greatest friends!



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ten Tunes Tuesday: Baby Got Back (Pain)

"One good thing about music: when it hits, you feel no pain." -- Bob Marley

Last week was not a good week for me from an exercise/health and wellness perspective. I spent the early part of last week sick with an upper respiratory thing, got very little sleep midweek due to a scare at my house, and majorly messed up my back somehow at the end of the week, essentially ruining my weekend plans. UGH! This coming off of a poor performance at my Dodger 5K last Sunday too... such a bummer! 

When I started last week, I was incredibly motivated to hit my marathon training with gusto. I had modified a Jeff Galloway training program I found thanks to RunDisney to incorporate lessons learned from another 1/2 marathon training program I read about on Women's Running Magazine's website. I am a little more partial to the Women's Running program as it incorporates strength and cross training, but both programs have received excellent reviews. After much deliberation, I wrote my own 16 week program utilizing philosophies from both programs, and was excited to try it. I did pretty good all week until Thursday, a casualty of my sleepless night the night before. But when Friday rolled around... it went downhill pretty quick.

I'm not sure if it was that I was kind of fighting some illness, if I was training too hard, or if I simply slept in a weird position... but whatever the case, I woke up on Friday feeling pretty beat up. As the day dragged on, I was experiencing ever increasing upper back pain, so much so that I was near tears at lunchtime. Yikes! A couple of Advil and two meetings later, I did something I never do... I left work early and tried to get some rest. I spent the rest of the day alternating between light walks in my neighborhood and sleeping while sitting up. It was SO much fun (... not).

Which brings us to Monday... I type this now with the minty smell of Icy/Hot burning my nostrils and sleep heavy on my eyelids. Yes, my back is still sore. While it has improved day by day, I can't believe I'm sitting here on my couch on Monday still annoyed by the pain. Sigh. I did finally return to the gym today, but I haven't ran in almost a week. Maybe tomorrow I'll feel up to it again.  Maybe. I'm so mad that this happened - I need every single training day I can get! I'll be at the beach for a conference for the rest of the week, so I intend on taking advantage of the area and get some good runs in while I'm there. Here's hoping my back holds up! 

Since most of you won't read this until Tuesday anyway, I figured I would leave this post with my Ten Tunes for your day. Music is my favorite mood booster, and is often the only thing that cheers me up more than strength training in the gym these days. Today was an especially frustrating day at work, so I was oh-so-glad to have good tunes and heavy weights to carry me through the end of the day. Without further adieu, here are your Ten Tunes for this week. These are a bit beach inspired as I definitely have the beach on my brain for my week ahead. Enjoy!
  1. Bob Marley - "Trenchtown"
  2. 311 - "Love Song"
  3. Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat - "Lucky"
  4. Mamas & The Papas - "California Dreamin'"
  5. Rihanna - "Pon de Replay"
  6. The Beatles - "Here Comes The Sun"
  7. Ziggy Marley - "Drive"
  8. Jack Johnson - "If I Had Eyes"
  9. Weezer - "Surf Wax America"
  10. Colbie Caillat - "Bubbly"
PS - A big thank you to so many of you who have reached out to me in person and via Facebook with helpful suggestions on how to reduce my back pain. I think it was a combination of these recommendations that have me feeling so much better today! While I intend to take the strength training easy for the rest of the week (I'll be doing it - I just might not go as hard as it as I often want to do), I definitely plan on getting some miles on my feet while I'm working from the beach. Hope each of you has a happy and healthy week too!



Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ten Tunes Day (LA Dodger 5K Edition)

I don't know - could've been a lame jogger maybe,
Or someone just about to do the freeway strangler baby,
Shopping car pusher, or maybe someone groovie...
One thing's for sure - he isn't starring in the movies...
'Cause he's walking in L.A.
Walking in L.A., nobody walks in L.A. 
---- Missing Persons

Hey friends! Hello again from your friendly Californian blogger! For this week's Ten Tunes Tuesday (this was a thing... should I bring it back? Do you hate it? Hmm)... Anyway, for this week's Ten Tunes Tuesday, I thought I'd put together a list of songs about Los Angeles (or songs that simply remind me of Los Angeles). Why, you ask? Well, I thought it would be fitting considering I just finished my first 5K of 2015 over the weekend benefitting the Los Angeles Dodger Foundation. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, I haven't been doing much by way of racing lately. I did a few 5Ks when I first moved to California in 2011/2012, but I think it's been well over a year since I last participated in one. I've been steadily increasing my runs over the summer, with the longest continuous one lasting right at 4 miles about a week ago. I thought I was prepared, so much so that I even warned my 5K buddy that I intended to run most of Sunday's race. But did I? Nooooooo. And while I could sit here and list a million reasons excuses for that, I won't. What I will say is that I did run some of it. I also learned a lot about what I need to work on as far as training goes before my half marathon in January. I definitely need to find a trail that incorporates more hills. I also really need to strengthen my core - I think part of my problem on Sunday had to do with my weak core, and that's probably because I've increased my cardio but haven't been maintaining my strength training lately. All said... I had a great day with a very good friend. We finished the race, got a really cool medal, and got to walk around the field of Dodger Stadium. Winning!

Without further adieu, here are my Ten Tunes for this Tuesday night:
  1. Missing Persons - "Walking in LA"
  2. Decemberists - "Los Angeles, I'm Yours"
  3. 2Pac - "To Live and Die in LA"
  4. Randy Newman - "I Love LA"
  5. Guns N' Roses - "Welcome to the Jungle"
  6. The Doors - "LA Woman"
  7. Ice Cube - "It Was A Good Day"
  8. Weezer - "Beverly Hills"
  9. America - "Ventura Highway"
  10. Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Under the Bridge" <-- admittedly not uplifting, but sometimes such songs pair great with a good long hike too!

Did I miss any of your favorites? (I know, I know... some of you don't have the same adoration as I do for the fair City of Angels...). Anyway, I'm going to close this with a post-race picture of my friend and I at Sunday's 5k. She and I are looking for another one to do between now and the end of the year. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them. Otherwise... Stay tuned!

Until next time, my friends. Cheers, and GO BLUE!


Monday, September 14, 2015

NOTHING tastes better?

So, as part of my 90 day fitness challenge, I also have access to an online support area via Facebook.  I didn't find out about the online support until about 60 days into the challenge (which appears to have been more of a blessing than a curse).  As a result, when I found it I was glad that I would have some people to commiserate with.  Well, that was not really the case.  For the most part it's just people posting selfies of their ripped bodies.  I'm not a hater, but I was a little more interested in finding people who are in the same boat that I am (tired of egg whites and ready for ice cream). 

I made a ranting post about how I was about to eat everything that wasn't nailed down and asked for support.  The majority of the commentary was supportive, but one comment stuck out from the rest.  "Nothing tastes as good as being fit feels."  Seriously?!?!  Never mind the fact that this is the most cliche cliche imaginable, but for some reason I found it to be very insulting.  Nothing tastes better?  I immediately starting thinking about some statistics that I heard about how 60+ percent of this country is over weight and nearly a third are obese.  Nothing?  Now I have been thin before and here is a (limited) list of things that taste better than being thin feels:

Green chile chicken enchiladas
Hot funnel cake with powdered sugar and cinnamon
Duck Donuts
Hot fudge sundaes
Cakes/Pies/Chocolate anything. 

I also got "eat to live, don't live to eat."  As a native(ish) New Mexican, this is nearly impossible.  Maybe it's possible over here in bland city U.S.A. AKA the east coast, but I can think of something mouth watering to eat in New Mexico every day of the week (carne adovada anyone).  Maybe I'm just blessed to be surrounded by people who like me just the way I am, whatever that is at the moment, and the incentive to be extra slim just isn't there.  Yep, that's it.  One more treat and back to the gym. :)


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hot in Herre

Happy Tuesday, y'all! I hope everyone was able to have a good holiday weekend. My weekend was jam-packed, but it was fun. With my first 5K of the year coming up next weekend (yes, in September... I know...), I knew I had to get on board and start running with more gusto. I had committed to doing at least 1-2 miles/day throughout the summer, but with a 3+ mile run this month and a 1/2 marathon in 4 months and counting, I can't afford to slack off now. 

I had made plans to spend Saturday in Hollywood with friends, so I didn't make a huge effort on Saturday to get much running in. I did my morning walks with my neighbor, and got a short mile jog in, but I really didn't count any of that as exercise. I did manage to sneak a total of 16K steps in, but it was really a relaxing and fun day.

Sunday was a bit different. I really wanted to hit the trail hard, and boy did I! I kicked off the day with a morning mile with my neighbor and the dogs at 6am. We hit the neighborhood again a few hours later, sneaking another 3/4 of a mile in before I met a friend for brunch. Sometime around 4, I decided to go for a jog. There's a baseball park about a mile from my house, just across the (dry) river to another large and beautiful park. I figured that running from my house to the park pond and back would put me just over 3 miles, which I felt would be pretty good...

Um, yeah... that 3 mile estimate was a little off. Fifty minutes later, my Map My Walk app was advising me that I had hit the 4 mile mark. FOUR MILES! Did I mention that I was foolish enough to attempt this in 90 degree heat? Yeah... not the brightest idea I've ever had. I was a hot, sweaty, and slightly burned mess at the end of it. On the positive side, I maintained a 13 minute/mile pace, so I was pretty happy about that. One final walk with the dog at the end of the day brought my step count to just over 17k steps, and made me the Weekend Warrior champion against my friends on Fitbit :)

After finishing my morning mile with my neighbor and our dogs this morning, I made the wise-ish decision to get my run (read: jog) in on Monday morning instead of the much warmer afternoon. After filling up my water bottle, I slathered on some sunscreen and hit the trail. I started off fairly strong, finishing the first mile right at 13 minutes (I usually get faster after that first mile, so I thought I was pacing great!). But then....

Somewhere between miles 2 and 3 I decided to hop across a patch of grass (where the trail changes from asphalt to concrete). Normally, this would not be something to note, but this time... this time, my foot landed poorly, and I sharply twisted my ankle as a result. I also fell on my knees, which is super embarrassing. Stupid clumsiness. I was so mad at myself.

I was determined to jog out the last few minutes, and I nearly hit the 5k (3.2 mile) mark before I gave up and started limp-walking the rest of the way. My average pace? 14:52. Dang it. On a positive note, I still finished a total of 4 miles, limp or no limp. And I still kept a pace that will let me participate in and finish the Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon in January (although I have to maintain that pace for 13.1 miles, not just 3.18). But that 77 degrees? Truly no better than 90 when there's no shade and no wind. And my ankle? Still hurting somewhat as I type this post, but I think it will be fine by morning. 

I finished the day with one more walk with my neighbor and my pup, putting my total steps for this Labor Day right around 17k. Not shabby for a holiday, especially when I spent a good chunk of my day watching Netflix. Ha! I'm back in the gym tomorrow, so not likely to hit these longer runs like I did over the weekend. Probably a good thing... I don't need to hurt my ankle more than I already did. But on Wednesday? It's on like Donkey Kong, yo!

With all these running posts, I'm wondering... How many of you run, walk, or jog? Is cardio your thing, or do you prefer other aerobic exercise? Do you weight train too? It's interesting how much I've learned (or relearned) on this journey this year. I'm making a TON of mistakes, but it's refreshing to see me go back at it with gusto each time I fail. Making new fitness-focused friends hasn't hurt any, and I hope that it helps inspire some of you too. Just keep telling myself, "I think I can, I think I can." Until next time, my friends...



(PS: Don't get excited that my picture above says that I'm in the top 25%... that's against other walkers, not runners or joggers. I don't see the point of downloading Map My Run since I already have Map My Walk, so I'm just putting up with it. I'm soooo not that impressive yet.) 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fat-bottomed Girls Make Running World Go Round

"You don't encourage people to take care of their body by telling them to hate it." -- Laci Green

photo credit: James Farrell/Women's Running Magazine

My favorite response when people find out that I run (or am trying to run)? "But, and don't take this the wrong way, you don't look like a runner." When I started running in college, I was roughly the same size that I am today. Within two months, I had dropped significant weight and was running an average of 3 miles/day. By the end of my first year at UNM, I was running 3+ miles every weekday morning, another 3+ miles every weeknight, and the occasional long run on the weekend. By this point, I did look like a stereotypical runner with my lean physique but... I wasn't very healthy at all. I survived off of very few calories/day, and actually fainted on a treadmill once. Yikes! 

Two back-to-back knee injuries sidelined my running career for a fairly long stay, but I had tried to pick up running from time to time since I stopped in 2001. For the longest time, my biggest fear returning to it was the fear of another knee injury. In the last few years, however, I've let my physical appearance be my excuse. Despite my years of effectively avoiding bullying (or at least not allowing bullies to affect me much) as a young adult, I let one stupid guy in the gym ruin my love of running as a woman in my late 20s. "Don't break the treadmill, fatty." OUCH. I think I cried later. That comment stung for a very long time. I finally tried running again in 2010, but having to watch myself run in a mirror every day (our gym's treadmills faced a mirror) just made me think of that stupid guy every single time.

Turning 30 a few years ago was the best thing that could have ever happened to me; turning 33 was even better. As a woman in my thirties, I have been able to let go of these negative thoughts started caring less about what I thought people might think of me. Finally, in the summer of 2012, I slowly started running (well, walk/jogging) again. I completed three 5Ks that year (walked one, walk/jogged the other), which was more than I had done in the over 5 years previous. And last December, I ran a for 10 minutes... the longest continuous run that I had done since 2008. It felt amazing! I didn't run fast, and I didn't run far... but it felt good to have my body move for as long as it did. Even better? I couldn't have cared less at how awful, funny, gross, or delightful that I might have looked while I was doing it! (Full disclosure: I was a hot, sweaty mess. It was gross. I don't care!)

I was casually perusing Yahoo's homepage one morning before work when I was delighted by the image I've posted at the beginning of the post. Finally... a runner that looks like me on the cover of a magazine! I have been a fan of fitness magazines for years, but often found their covers disappointing. (Women's Health... I'm looking at you! Why are all your models nearly naked on your covers? This isn't Cosmo!!!) The girl featured on Women's Running Magazine's cover is 18 year old Erica Schenk, a model from California. She's been running since she was a child, and maintains a regular fitness routine. So much for the "typical runner's body," am I right ladies and gents?

It doesn't take a super observant person to notice that runners come in all shapes and sizes. Yes, plenty of runners (especially those crazy distance runners) do have a leaner physique. But plenty of runners come in rounder shapes too. Basset hounds aren't known for being super energetic dogs, but check out Diego with me in the picture above! He can't run very long, but he loves to run with me from time to time too. And no, I don't look cute when I run... but at least I'm doing it. And I enjoy doing it, so why not!

I don't expect everyone reading this to go out and become a runner tomorrow. Running isn't for everyone; frankly, it's pretty hard on your joints and there are plenty of other ways to get your cardio on. The point of this post was to ask each of you to please, please, please not let fear or your perception of your appearance negatively affect your workout. Don't be afraid to start a workout routine just because you don't look like a fitness model. Don't be afraid of the weight rack at the gym... ask someone to show you how to use them, or check out some routines on Youtube for free! Walk, run, bike, dance... just get your body moving! Your heart, your health, and your body will thank you!