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!



Thursday, August 27, 2015

If Everyone Else Jumps, Will You Jump Too?

Have you ever gotten really comfortable with something?  Maybe there was a job, a relationship, something that was fun or made you feel good?  Everyone who knows me well knows that I am NOT a people person.  If you are my friend, then you probably made the first move.  Well, joining my local running group made me a tad more friendly.  I started getting out and (gasp) socializing!  I had a core group of BRFs (best running friends) and for the most part we had similar racing goals and paces (kind of).  And then, IT happened: marathon mania!!!

Why not?  It's only 26.2 miles right?  Everyone is doing it (You know, 10 of the 500 people in my running group).  They said, "Run for the Marines!"  "It will be fun!"  I'm sorry, what???  So I decided that I was going to run a marathon.  In true Natasha form, I immediately decided not to do it, and then to do it again, and then not to, and so on and so on.  I went out for a run and it was agonizing.  Making something that you love to do into something that you have to do is no good!  And by the way, why the f@%$ was I doing this again?

I realized that I was feeling a little left out and trying to hang on to my friends.  I feel like I finally got comfortable and the ground started to shift at my feet.  It highly likely that I will be living somewhere different at this time next year.  Everyone is marathoning or pregnant and I am so happy for them.  Still, I feel a little like the high school senior who's friends are all leaving to go to amazing out of state schools while I work at the local supermarket. 

As it turns out, I don't want to run a marathon.  I have a fitness goals of my own.  I intend to be fully shredded like Serena Williams someday in the very near future, and I am on my way.  So while I may not be down for 17 miles at 4:45 AM, I'm still down for 3-4 @ 6 or a walk and coffee at 9. Oh, and I still fully intend to accessorize to the fullest.  :)