The best cure for a slump? Goal Setting!

goals

Over the winter, I spun my wheels a lot. So much so that by early spring I had no tread left on the tires. I thought I was doing everything right. I had a ton of motivation, I worked really hard, I’m naturally very organized, but I was always exhausted and felt frustrated about everything. I just thought I needed to work harder. Be better. Something was wrong with me because I wasn’t getting there.

Finally with the help of two books, “Peace Broken Pieces” by Iyanla Vanzant as well as, “The Ecstasy of Surrender” by Judith Orloff, MD and finally shutting my mouth for a second and opening my ears to the smart and awesome people in my life, I finally figured out that it wasn’t motivation or the ability to achieve that I lacked…

I had no clear vision. I was dealing with abstract vagueness. Sure I knew what I wanted, we all do, but in a very abstract way. They’re kind of like bubbles of wishes that float over our heads that we see from time to time, sometimes we get one, sometimes they drift away, pop, or you run around like a crazy person trying to flail your arms to catch them as they blow away in the wind. I was the last example which is why I felt like I was on a perpetual treadmill to nowhere all the time.

It was a long process that took over a month to put into a linear focus. A lot of it had to do with listening to those whispers of intuition, surrendering my need for constant control, and simply believing in myself. It seems simple, because it is on paper, but think about what’s in your mind right now. Sure you think you can run a 5k, but what if you fail? What if you look stupid in running shorts? What if your muscles hurt for a full month? At the end of the day, our inertia is fear based.

So back in April, I came up with my plan. Five goals a month. Real goals. Scary goals. Things that require daily frog eating that I could achieve because I believed I could achieve them. There’s something about putting that abstract goal floating in a bubble outside your mind that makes it a true reality. It’s on paper now, so I HAVE to do it.

I did it. I wrote those things down and it was HARD. April started out pretty crappy…but then it ended and I was bursting with happiness that I had accomplished what I had set out to do and great things came my way.

Now goals need to be actual goals, not things you’re supposed to be doing anyway. This is stuff that’s supposed to inspire you and put a fire in your belly, not make you roll your eyes, shrug your shoulders, and take up camp on the couch. 5 things you’ve been meaning to do, give yourself 8 weeks to do them. You can do ANYTHING for 8 weeks. Put it on some bright construction paper, either hang it up or put it somewhere it will haunt you and make you take action, and just do it.

For example I put ‘Dean’s List at School’ on my goal sheet because I don’t just want to complete my assignments and get a decent grade. I did that when I was 20. I know I can do that. I want to see my name on the list when it’s posted. For whatever reason, that motivates me to crack open a text book late at night instead of falling into a deep coma after a couple glasses of wine. You want people to call you, “Doctor Jenn” when this is over? You better work, girl. The wine can wait for your celebratory dinner when you see your name posted, then it’ll mean something.

That kind of stuff. It should be something that makes you jazzy and something you really want to do. Not something that makes you hate your life. You want to finally write that book you were putting off? Write 500 words a day for 8 weeks. Boom, you just wrote it and it wasn’t even painful.

Basically, you have to find out what it is you really want and draw that map to get there. Slumps happen because we grind our gears and get tired. Find your inner beast and get there.

 

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

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Keeping Cool on the Run

homer_running-1

 

It’s that time of year again…hating your life running outside because it’s hot, and this is what the weather forecast says…

heatwave

This week in Chicago has probably been the worst as far as heat and humidity, and you would seriously walk outside the door and instantly become covered in sweat. Then you start out on your run and while you feel like you’re putting out an Olympic speed record, you look at your watch and you’re not even sure if people can tell if you’re running or not. It’s so frustrating. I did 3miles of hill repeats yesterday and thought a major organ was going to become dislodged from my body. The sweat was an actual situation, like the brim of my hat was wet. The brim.

sweat

So like last year, I’m going to hit you up with some tips for staying cool during your run when it feels like Satan’s jockstrap outside.

Freeze a bandana or scarf and wear it around your neck

This is my favorite, and works like a charm. Just get a pack of those cheapie packs of bandanas at Walmart or Target soak them in water, freeze and tie it around your neck before you head out. It should keep you cool for about half an hour before it totally melts.

Don’t run at high noon

File this under ‘duh’ because, duh. Get those morning runs in early, or run later at night when it cools off a bit. When in doubt, go inside.

Have hydration on hand

I run with a handheld bottle, you might like fuel belts or camelbacks better. You’re going to lose gobs of sweat, and you don’t want to get yourself into a dangerous situation where you’re depleted and looking at a bad case of heat exhaustion/stroke. I like to freeze my bottle half full and then fill it with regular water so it stays cold on my run.

Dress for success

Now is not the time for cotton, or anything that doesn’t move and breathe. Loose fitting, tech fabrics in light colors are the way to go.

Sunscreen

Believe it or not, sunscreen can make you feel 20% cooler on a hot day.

Cover your head

I used to be a hat snob. I thought running with a hat on was just lame looking and I wasn’t about to go out there and look lame now! Then I almost died during the 2013 Chicago Women’s Half Marathon, and I started wearing a visor or a hat during the summer. It works. Do it.

Most importantly, go easy and be kind to yourself if you’re running at a way slower pace or need to take walk breaks to get through your training runs. Welcome to the human race. Your body will eventually acclimate and the struggle won’t be so real anymore. Also know that you need to stop if you start feeling cold, tingly, light headed, or short of breath. Those are danger signs and you need to see a medical professional immediately.

Happy Running! Or at least sorta happy running.

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

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Race Recap: 2014 Steamboat Classic

steamboat start

Oops I did it again…

I ran that stinkin’ Steamboat Classic again. The great thing about being a runner is that you get this thing called ‘amnesia’ and you forget that last year you ran the 15k distance of this race, saw Baby Jesus, begged a frat boy to spray you with a hose, and pretty much came a hair away from a DNF. Never again! I yelled shaking my fist to the sky. But I then remembered that the Steamboat Classic also has a 4 mile and a 4k race. I can stage a comeback and possibly not die over 4 miles, right?

Or maybe even win.

 

steamboat winner 1

And no, I’m never running that ‘Worlds Toughest 15k’ again as long as I live. That’s just crazy talk. When I watched the 15k runners head off into the park to go climb up endless mountains, I was like, “So long suckas!” and continued on the much better ‘World’s Fastest 4 Miler’.

Oh and I won (did I mention that already?). Not overall, don’t be silly, but I won my division, and after 7 months away from racing, that felt really rad.

So let’s talk about it.

Once again the packet pick up was at the River Plex, and it still went with old fashioned shoe-chip timing, and I think there were issues with the timing system this year. They seemed to have worked out the kinks, but at first the results were bananas. Like, how could a person I beat pretty solidly have a pace time just .02 slower? So it was nitpicky things like that. No big whoop, but not something you see very much anymore.

Check in was easy peasy, not much of an expo, and I was in and out of there in 5 minutes. Everyone is super friendly and it’s just a fun atmosphere. It really is a ‘runner’s race’.

Now let’s get down to business.

Race Day again was super easy to navigate. The start had moved to Main and Adams, which wasn’t a big deal. There seemed to be a LOT more people racing this year. Unlike last year when it was 2349° with 115% humidity, the weather was cool and dry in the mid 50’s at the start of the race. So idea conditions all around. I was so nervous. Like freak out, banana pants nervous. So I had to head to the porta potties before the race.

Last year I wrote about the biggest problem with this race was the porta potty situation. There just simply weren’t enough. Same goes for this year, too. I don’t know if it’s a city ordinance or what, but they need more potties. It was ridiculous. I wound up sneaking in to the Capital Building and heading up to the bathrooms on the 4th floor, but as I waited in line, the flushers started to fail from the overuse. I’m a jerk, but I’m not, “Drop a nervous deuce in a toilet that doesn’t flush” jerk, so I ran back downstairs and headed to the now empty porta potties as the announcer called 5 minutes to the gun.

Just like last year. My warmup will be sprinting to the start corral.

I made it with about 45 seconds to spare, probably with toilet paper hanging off my shoe, and lined up in the 9 minute corral. I knew I had a chance at a divisional placement, but I hadn’t run with a watch for a month, on a new training plan and diet, and a total headcase, so I thought it would be best to play it conservative for the first mile and see how it went.

Looking back, I think I went through the same thing last year. There is a lot of newbie traffic in this race. Tons of little kids, dogs, strollers, first timers, etc. So the start corrals are a bit of a waste because it seemed like all of the 9 minuters were really running 12’s. And that’s fine! Just glad to see people out there running, but for future reference, I need to remember to line up in the 8’s for a good start. Did a lot of bobbing and weaving, and it mentally frustrated me.

First mile: 9:18

I actually raised my eyebrow at that because since I’ve been running on pure effort lately and not time, I wasn’t even pushing myself for that split.

Mile 2 was still congested because we were running with the 15ks and didn’t split off until the turnaround which was still jammed with people, narrow and slow, now I was being a jerk and silently cursing people out in my mind who were just trotting along like this was some kind of shakeout run. WE’RE RACING, PEOPLE!

Dude Gif

Second mile: 9:08

I still wasn’t feeling like I was putting out that much effort yet. I usually really struggle in the first 3 miles of any race, especially in miles one and two because I’m slow to warm up. Could this be all of that dreaded speed training and weightlifting paying off? Not mindfucking myself daily with the watch and running based on feel alone? Wow. Maybe there really is a method to my evil coach’s madness after all.

Now as we headed back into town, the crowd was gone and I opened up the ol’ engine. I half expected the ‘Worlds Fastest 4 Miler’ to be completely downhill, but in reality, it’s almost identical to the ‘Shamrock Shuffle 8K’ course in that it’s really flat. Little hiccup elevation changes, but nothing memorable. It was a complete straight shot from mile 2 to mile 3 and I just sat back and kicked.

Third mile: 8:53

Wow. In my entire life I have never run a negative split race. Ever. Not even in my younger days. I am usually all over the place. This is pure insanity. I’m actually doing this right and I don’t feel like dying yet! Holy crap!

Now I was excited, and I kicked even harder. This was better than SF 10 miler last year and I was probably in the best shape of my life for that race.

I wanted to break 36 for this race. Missed it by 16 seconds.

Fourth Mile: 8:42

I crossed the finish line pissed that I missed my goal by exactly those 18 seconds I wasted weaving through traffic. Then I stopped myself and I was like, “You just ran a negative split race after 7 months off, pretty damn fast too. SHUT UP.”  Then after I cleared that madness out of my brain, I was like, wait a minute…I might have a divisional placement here.

photo1

So I did what every champion does…shotgunned a couple of beers before 8am, ate some of the food they had out and chilled with my homies til the placements were posted. The Steamboat Classic has one of the best post races out there. Band, food, endless beer, fun, it’s the best.

Finally, they start posting the time sheets, and I ran up there to see how I did, expecting maybe to eek out a 3rd. Maybe.

My name was at the top. I freaking won.

Maybe it was the beer before 9am, but for whatever reason I started crying. I know it was only a divisional win, but for whatever reason it meant a lot to me. Every race is special and an accomplishment, but I think because I got serious and listened to a coach for a change, putting trust into a training plan and surrendering my need to control everything, the win was symbolic of that.

So there’s that. I’m going to sit down with good ol’ Patches tonight and come up with another goal race and training plan…something that’s going to keep me on my path to the 1:45 goal at the Chicago Half and defending my Oak Brook Half title this September. But I can’t stress enough how much having a plan that works for you is everything. I’m not just talking about cutting out a magazine training plan and trying to follow it, but looking at who you are as a person. For me, my large muscular frame was treated as an asset and not a reason why I could never be fast. I can’t eat pasta, bread, and the like and do endless miles, I’m not built for it. Just changing that mindset helped a lot, but it wasn’t easy. I had to trust, put my watch in the drawer for a month, and give up control, admitting to myself that I really don’t know everything. Track workouts, a cyclical ketogenic diet, and weight training made all the difference, and actually made me a better runner than I had been when I had to take a break last year. Truth to the fact that if you surrender your own head noise, have some faith and trust in those who want to help you, things can only get better.

 

**The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Happy National Running Day and Overcoming Discouragement

discouragement

Happy National Running Day!

I don’t know what to say about that beyond, “Go for a run today, everyone is doing it!”

So go run.

What I really wanted to talk about today was overcoming discouragement. As a runner, I am an intense Type-A looney tunes and can get discouraged quite easily. Perfectionism and all that jazz. Which is why I left my watch at home when I started race training again because I knew if I just coughed up a lung giving a long run all I had and looked down to see something ridiculous I would probably eat my feelings on the couch for the rest of the day.

It’s also really easy to sit here and regurgitate a lot of platitudes and cliches about being discouraged to motivate you, and I don’t even believe those things myself. This morning I saw the requisite “Wake up and be awesome!” meme on my Instacrack feed this morning and I was all, “Die. I’m sore as hell, out of coffee creamer,  and today is stupid.”

I should be a motivational speaker with that attitude, right?

Anyhoo, I wanted to talk about this because I hit a wall of discouragement while out on my long run this weekend and it was a tough thing to overcome. I went into my long run feeling super jazzy because I had just received a box of lululemon swag to review, and I had been sticking to my training plan like a damn boss and feeling great. I was ready to eat those 8 miles for breakfast. It was hot, but I had my cool refreshing drink in hand, so let’s do this.

It just didn’t happen that way. Everything went wrong.

First of all, now that I’m not running with music, I hear birds. I am terrified of birds. Have a fear of spiders? I have that same fear of birds. Especially since I was attacked by both a bird and a goose at this time last year.

My long run starts off on a pretty wooded trail, and this red-winged blackbird, aka flying asshole, was keeping tabs on me by flying directly overhead and squawking the whole time. Then eventually determined that I was some kind of predatory threat and dive bombed the crap out of me. So I ducked and screamed my head off like I was being killed, of course. Obviously that bird had issues and was definitely rabid and violent.

After that, I keep chugging along through this office park and fml, there’s a damn goose and his wife ready to rumble. So I crossed the street and like the damn scaredy cat I am, I kicked it into high gear to avoid certain death at the beaks of obviously deranged and rabid geese.

So by the first mile, I’m freaking cashed out. I just had two heart attacks and two 4oo meter dead sprints. Only 7 miles to go!

I’m on a main road now, getting ready to climb a pretty challenging set of hills. Apparently Red Winged Asshole Blackbird, alerted his buddies up the road, and one of them harassed me up the biggest hill. Nothing like sprinting up an insane hill to get the blood pumping and killing your legs dead!

By the time I got to the first stoplight, I was like, okay, whatever. Maybe I should just double back and call it a day. The birds hate me, my lungs are on fire, and my legs are dead. I do not have another 6 miles in me. Nope. This sucks, running sucks, and I should just spend my summer at the pool drinking. Whatever.

Somehow I talked myself into soldiering on, I don’t know why, I just did, and by the time I made it to my first water stop, I was feeling a bit better. So I literally told myself that, “You’re feeling better, Jenn! Of course you were tired, you just did a speed workout! But you kept going and that’s good!”

It’s true. I’m that simple of a creature.

For the rest of the run, I played all sorts of mental gymnastics with myself. Reminding of the long run last year on the same route I bailed on because my legs absolutely died and I was probably in peak condition then. So it just happens whether you’re mid-training or just starting. It’s not indicative of anything other than you’re just not having a good day. It can also be turned around.

And that’s what happened. I talked to myself like a total mental patient, and by mile 5, the run had totally turned around and I finished a lot stronger than I had just the week prior. I even kicked out the last 800m really hard, whereas last week, I slammed on the brakes as soon as I hit the street corner. Many pats on the back, atta girls, and what started out as the worst run ever turned into a great long run.

I think overcoming discouragement basically boils down to believing in your ability to go on. Just surrendering yourself to the truth of, “Yeah this sucks right now, but it isn’t forever” and staying on course can result in a totally different outcome. If it doesn’t, at least you can relish in the accomplishment of not giving up, and that’s still something.

5 Tips For Running With Your Dog

dog running

 

Since the weather is finally getting nice and summer is just about here, you might be giving running with your dog a thought. I run with my dog Kina, a Malamute/Husky, and even though she’s literally, “Born to Run,” our running relationship hasn’t always been a great one. You’d think you could just hook the leash on and go, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. So here’s some tips I came up with if you’re thinking about taking Fido for a spin around the park.

 

1. Know your breed and get a clean bill of health BEFORE you start running

It’s important to know what kind of runner your dog is genetically prone to being. A dachsund isn’t going to have the running ability or endurance that a collie will. If you have a mixed breed dog, research the breeds you believe the dog to have and go from there. Big doesn’t necessarily mean, “great runner” and small doesn’t disqualify a dog from being a good runner, either. For example, a Great Pyrenees is a terrible runner, while Corgi’s are fantastic even though they have short legs. Also keep in mind that dogs can also have bad hips, knees, elbows, shoulders  and backs, just like us, so be sure to get a clean bill of health from the vet before beginning this adventure. You want this to be a great experience for both of you. Not one where you’re dragged on the concrete chin first (this may or may not have happened to me. It did.)

2. Have the right equipment

You would think the longer the leash the better, right? Nope. Save the long retractable leashes for leisurely strolls. When running with your dog, the safest way is with a shorter, sturdy leash no longer than 4′. This will give you control over your dog should there be a distraction, “Squirrel!” and help in training your dog to heel to whichever side you’re most comfortable with. When you’re running both of you will have less time to react to obstacles, so you will need to keep the dog as close to you as possible. Also a harness is the safest way to run with your dog versus a collar or lead to again have the most control over their body you can in the safest way. You can get really sturdy leashes and harnesses at Target or Walmart for less than $20 combined.

3. Start slow and work on training

Even though I have a dog that was ‘born to run’ Kina still needed to build up her fitness before she could run 3 miles at a steady pace without a rest. Just like when you started running, you will need to start slow with the speed and time out running. A good rule of thumb is walk a quarter mile, run a quarter mile, and increase that time in slower increments. ALWAYS LET THE DOG BE THE JUDGE OF FATIGUE. A dog can’t talk and tell you if they’re tired or if they’re hurting so watch their body language. If they stop running, you stop running. If they sit or lay down, let them until they are ready to get back up. Never, ever push them. As far as training is concerned, you want them to heel to one side while you run, and other basics like yielding to other people and dogs on the path, as well as not chasing bicycles.

4. Always, and I mean ALWAYS, bring water

Dogs don’t sweat. They cool themselves down through the pads of their feet and panting. Even a bald dog doesn’t sweat. It’s so important to give your dog generous water breaks each and every single mile, especially in the summer months, when you’re out running. Old Navy has a great traveling water bottle for dogs for about $5 that clips right to the leash. Also let your pup stop at puddles and get her feet wet. Study signs of over heating and heat stroke in dogs and be aware of the symptoms should they start.

5. Watch the surfaces you run on

Hot concrete and asphalt in the summer is not easy on your dog’s paws, so if you have to run on these surfaces, do so during the coolest part of the day. If you can run on grass, crushed limestone, or a groomed trail, that’s ideal. Be sure to check your dog’s paws at the beginning and end of every run and never make them run on cracked pads or other foot injuries.

So with these tips in mind, running with your dog should be a really great experience for both of you!

 

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 

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Your Super Rad 4 Week 10k Training Plan

10k post

What up runners and fitness freaks? If you’re following me over on the Instacrack, you’ve been seeing my jazzy runner self covering some mileage and signing up for races. I’m super jazzy about coming back full throttle now. I even did a track workout today! Huzzah!

Anyhoozer, I have committed to some races over the summer…even the dreaded Steamboat Classic! But the 4 miler this year…not the crazy pants 15k where I saw Baby Jesus a few times. A handful of shorter distances on the calendar, and I’m hoping to whip my hienie back in shape to conquer that 1:45 half at the Chicago Half Marathon in the fall. Maybe even running for Team Bright Pink again.

My first race is coming up in less than a month. I’m hoping it’s the Possum Run 10k outside of Atlanta, but if my travel plans fall through, my fallback race will be the DG Five Miler here in good ol’ Chi Suburbia. Either way, I have a month to whip dis ass into shape. So I consulted everyone’s favorite crotchety local coach, Patches O’Houlihan, and he gave me this rad 4 week plan. Now, this is an advanced/experienced runner plan. If you’re a newbie or coming off a long hiatus, consult someone who knows what they’re talking about to tailor this plan for your needs. Also, if you’re some kind of good runner, you might need a little more in your plan. But if you’re a average age grouper competing against your best, this so far is my most favorite plan to date.

Now I only take one complete rest day a week. My body is ok with that. Yours might not be and that’s ok. Take two. Also, after a hard workout, go easy on yourself the next day if possible. You will get faster if you recover than if you go run your pants off everyday. You also don’t want to injure yourself. That would defeat the purpose of running a plan at all.

Week 1:

Day 1: 4 mile tempo run

Day 2: 2 mile speed fartlek

Day 3: Rest (or active rest: yoga, cycling, swimming)

Day 4: 3 miles easy, plus three hill repeats

Day 5: 7 mile long run

Day 6: 2.5 mile shake out run

Day 7 rest

Week 2:

Day 1: 4 mile tempo run

Day 2: 4 x 800 meters

Day 3: Rest (or active rest: yoga, cycling, swimming)

Day 4: 3 miles easy, plus three hill repeats

Day 5: 8 mile long run

Day 6: 2.5 mile shake out run

Day 7 rest

Week 3:

Day 1: 4 mile tempo run

Day 2: 5 x 800 meters

Day 3: Rest (or active rest: yoga, cycling, swimming)

Day 4: 3 miles easy, plus three hill repeats

Day 5: 10k practice time trial at tempo pace with 5 x 30 seconds at race pace

Day 6: 2.5 mile shake out run

Day 7 rest

Week 4:

Day 1: Cross train for 30 minutes. You’ve earned it.

Day 2: Sit on your couch and eat chips. I’m kidding. But it’s a total rest day.

Day 3: 2.5 mile tempo run.

Day 4: Sit on your couch, part 2.

Day 5: 3 mile shake out run. Super duper easy pace.

Day 6: Sit on your couch and hydrate. You’ve got a race tomorrow.

Day 7: WIN THAT RACE, YO!

So we’ll see how this goes. I’ve never ‘trained’ for a 10k before, so it’ll be interesting to see how this works out. Tweak this plan to work for you, of course. The philosophy is to gain strength, endurance, and speed quickly. Turns out you really can make that happen efficiently without running a bajillion miles a week. I’m still a skeptic, but I didn’t puke after my track workout today, so there’s that, I guess. I do add a lot of strength training and core work to this plan, because I have to do a lot of this training in the gym, so since I’m there…

What are some of your favorite race training plans? Do you always need a plan for racing or do you mostly wing it?

 

  


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**The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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You Don’t Have To Eat Sad Food To Eat Clean Food!

food post

Oscar the Grouch is apropo of nothing. He just works.

The term “clean eating” is getting a lot of use lately. Which is great! I think a lot of the issues in American health today have to do with our garbage food supply. I’ve been working with the National Restaurant Association’s #KidsLiveWell campaign over the last week, and it’s nice to see that they are taking the initiative of expanding the average child’s palate beyond corn dogs and chicken fingers. I happen to be one of those dirty hippies who believes a lot of the additives in our food are the cause of the increase in certain childhood disorders, like autism. Here’s a pretty eye opening article on the effects of certain dyes found in many popular foods.

While “clean eating” has many definitions for many people, mine is pretty simple. I like my food to have as little processing as possible, no GMO’s, artificial sweeteners, refined sugars and HFCS, and no factory farmed dairy or animal protein. That shit will kill you quick. I began eating clean last July, and sang of its benefits for the better part of six months over on JSJ! No super vegan-paleo-glutenfree-nastyshake-ickypoo just good food. You can still get yer meat and taters, bro.

 

Food Post 2

A couple of healthy living bloggers I love to hate just seriously died upon viewing this picture. The carbs alone killed them. Sorry not sorry.

But that’s the thing! You have to eat, yo. Even if you’re trying to lose weight, you have to give your body the food it needs. Any ‘guru’ out there telling you they’re running a bajillion miles and taking a psychotic amount of spin classes then eating egg whites with a pound of red pepper flakes is A.) Totally lying and hitting that drive thru HARD when they leave the gym B.) deep in a disorder you do not want to emulate because it will kill the average peasant C.) Probably has really stinky farts.

Exhibit A…a post on Instagram that is indicative of oh…the majority of what ‘Healthy Living Bloggers’ post…

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This is a spaghetti squash frittata with coconut sautéed mushrooms; topped with mashed avocado and strawberry slices.

This is sad food, people! Don’t let the happy red strawberries fool you! This dish is practically weeping it’s so sad. Like, who is getting joy from eating this? Who puts “Eat more mashed avocado that isn’t guacamole” on their bucket list? Close your eyes and imagine what these flavors as described must taste like. Are you gagging yet? It’s like a baby food medley that hasn’t hit the food processor yet.

Now I get it…people have actual reasons for eating weird stuff. There are certain disorders and health conditions that benefit from a restrictive diet. I was a vegan for a very long time. I totally get it. But why the sad food combinations? Let’s compare two cereals.

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This is a happy, clean cereal. It would be vegan without the honey, but you get it. It looks like oatmeal. Oatmeal with the delicious awesomeness of coconut milk.

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This is another blogger’s food post. Yes, this is a sad cereal and representative of something Kina horked up this morning. What is it you ask? Oatmeal soaked in something called InBru. Coffee made out of rice hulls. This is SAD CEREAL, PEOPLE.

I’m not trying to be a brutal hater, but I just think more people would eat a cleaner, healthier diet if they weren’t shown that this is the way to go. You can pretty much adapt any recipe you want to suit your needs without it looking like the charred remains of what food used to look like, or dog vomit. You’re living a healthier lifestyle to LIVE life, right? SO LIVE LIFE and eat happy, clean food.

So there’s that. My .02 on the whole thing. Whatever.

Just an FYI, I’m going to be posting my daily workouts again over on Instacrack because I don’t have time to bloggy blog every. single. workout. everyday, and besides that supes boring. I’m training for a race in Atlanta (The Possum Run 10K) on June 21st, while I’m down there visiting my prison wife, Kristi. I’ll probably write more about that tomorrow, because I’m following this awesome 4 week 10K training plan you might want to give a whirl for yourself. It’s been going SO WELL, I’m eyeballing other races in July and August. Methinks my mojo has been restored! Or it’s temporary insanity caused by Hi-Ball energy water. Who knows.

**The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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That Time I Went To A Group Fitness Class

group fitness

‘Sup peeps? Had some Adventures in Fitness® here over the last few days, and when that happens, I write a blog. Lucky you, right?

So for the 5 of you who didn’t just back click to whatever you were reading, here’s what’s going on in my neck of the woods.

Still on track, training is going very well, can’t complain about much… I’m doing everything I can to be consistent and stay injury free. I have been in a huge time crunch this week with work, life, staring off into space, etc. so I’ve been looking for ways to get as much bang for my buck, so to speak, with my workout each day. I need to keep rebuilding my fitness, but I have no time. WHAT AM I TO DO?!

I was lamenting this with my home slice Cara on Saturday night while we dunked various shellfish in drawn butter and drank wine, you know, what awesome champions do, and she suggested, “Take classes all week!” Then proceeded to tell me the various forms of human torture our chain of healthclubs offers us for free. All with insane names like, “Shred your brain and pray for death!” and “Insane sweat beasts dancing with dumbells!”

Group fitness? Like Jazzercise? Someone cute and perky on a headset yelling out choreography to sped up club remixes of Top 40 songs? Uh…no.

But Cara insisted that these classes were just like those videos from “The Firm,” which I actually quite like, and I would get a huge workout in a small amount of time.

Ok, then. I’ll give it a whirl.

The first class I tried was a cardio/light weights/step aerobics class called, “Two left feet and a sore ass” or something. All I know is that as soon as I walked in, I was living my life-long nightmare of being the big, slightly awkward girl, in a room full of gorgeous lululemon clad, perfectly ironed ponytail, housewives. Great. This won’t suck AT ALL.

Actually, it was fine, and I’m typing in a full body cast today it was such an intense workout. My glutes haven’t been this sore since that time in Tijuana… maybe I don’t have to tell you every story.

The next day it was time for, “Ninja Turtle Calf Shred” or whatever. Basically it’s a kickboxing, karate, plyometrics class with weighted weapons. Again, the band of gorgeous people were there, and my red-faced moose self towered over them and the ground probably shook a little when my feet hit the floor. I was DONE by the end of this class. Insanely hard. As I huffed and puffed, clutching my chest, screaming, “BUT I RUN MARATHONS!” while everyone bounced around me with what seemed to be endless energy… no wonder these women are tiny. I felt like I needed an all you can eat buffet after this one.

It also left me so sore I can only move my eyelids at this point.

While I wasn’t happy that Group Fitness classes seemed to bring me back to my insecure ginormous 9 year old self sick with envy over all of the cute, tiny girls…it is fun to try different things and see where exactly your fitness is lacking. You get comfortable in thinking that running handles most of your needs, maybe you do some core work and lift weights here and there, but one of these classes doing total body fitness is an eye opener for how weak your body truly is in spots.

Will I stick with it after this week? I have no idea. Right now it’s fun, and I’m feeling the burn so to speak. Tomorrow I’m taking a class called, “XTREME Body: You’re Going To Wish You Were Never Born” so that might change. I guess the real test will be how it has improved my running fitness. I ran a quick 4-miler after class yesterday, and it was ridiculously easy after juggling 15lb weights while standing on my head. If I start wearing lululemon instead of regular clothes and flat ironing my ponytail before class, though, I demand someone stage an intervention.

How to Run Hills… Without Hating Your Life

JAR Hill post

During my hill workout yesterday, I thought to myself, “Self, you are really good at running hills. Mayhap (I always talk to myself in Shakespeare) you should write about running hills. Because it’s not a topic that has been covered 7 million times or anything…”

I know. You can get actual knowledge from real experts about this exact topic. Most of which say you should lean in to the hill, slow your pace, shorten your stride, and use your arms to help power you up, then make your way down. I’ve actually listened to this advice when training, because WRITTEN BY EXPERTS, but I never found it helpful. To me I found it to be too much to think about while trying to do something hard. That simply doesn’t work in my brainspace. I’ll trip or something. Also, you look dumb leaning forward with a short stride, furiously pumping your arms. I might wear wacky compression socks in public, but I’m not about to look dumb, people.

So while I was chugging up that monster hill that I swear on all things holy (it’s in front of a monastery, so yeah) will get you in shape in a matter of days, I decided to put my own spin on things and talk about how me, a person naturally good at running hills, runs hills. I made a point to check in and make a list of the things I was doing to help you, my fellow runners.

Flat backs, people. 

I used to have a skating coach that would scream, “FLAT BACK!” because a natural tendency for a human is to either break at the waist and pitch forward when things are physically hard, or sit back on your heels and arch your back. A flat back is important for both going up and down hill because you will want to break at the waist while you climb, then sit back on your heels when you descend while arching your back. Both will get you eating chips on the couch rather quickly because these postures will get you injured. So think “belly button to spine” which will engage your core muscles and make your glutes handle the work. Yes, you will pitch a bit going up, and lean back a bit going down because gravity is a thing, but you will have your body in alignment and working efficiently.

Put your booty in it

Like I briefly touched on in the last point, you want your glutes (your big ol’ butt, anatomy flunkies) to do the work. They are one of the largest muscle groups in your body, and are built to handle some work. Not your hamstrings, not your knees, your glutes. This is where foot placement comes into play. You have to…HAVE TO…have a forefoot strike. Even if you try to strike oil and heel strike your heart out when the hill is over, while you’re doing your thing ascending and descending, STAY OFF YOUR DAMN HEELS. This will engage your glutes, take the stress off your knees and hamstrings, and let the big muscles handle the big job.

Don’t mess with your stride or pump your arms like crazy

Your stride isn’t going to make or break your hill speed. Maybe it does if you’re like, a real runner, but for we mere mortals, we aren’t typically climbing mountains, and our regular old middle of the pack stride is just fine. Also, don’t flap your arms and pump them like a mental patient. All that’s going to do is make you tired and give you a side ache…and you will look really dumb. Like, really dumb.

Breathe

I always take a deep breath at the base of a hill and just start chugging. The faster you get up, the faster you’re done. Because they’re hard work, you tend to puff like you’ve shoveled asbestos your whole life and pretty much give yourself a coronary by the time you get up the hill. This is where I like to use good ol’ Yoga breath. Breathe in for three counts, breathe out for three counts. It also keeps your mind off the “Holy freaking cow I’m on a freaking hill that isn’t going to end, I’m probably going to die here, and oh yeah, I HATE MY LIFE.”

Distract yourself

Mind games always work. Just like I pointed out in the last post, doing something like counting your breathing will occupy so much space in your simple animal brain, you will simply forget you are dying whilst running up a hill. Some runners I know do math, I happen to be rapping my favorite Jay-Z song as loud as possible because I don’t want to look dumb, I want to sound insane…whatever you have to do to get your mind off the task at hand, pull a Nike and just do it.

I’m not an expert, but I’m good at getting this body of mine up hills pretty easily so maybe a little bit of what I do will help you. Or maybe it’s more useless running information you file in the back of your mind. Really though, the only way to get really good at running hills is to…um…run them. Don’t treat this like a speed workout on the track (me) and put it off. You’re going to be at the end of a 15k race when you turn the corner and oh look, there’s a monster hill and you’re going to go up that thing hating your life and wonder why you didn’t run more hills. So go run some hills already!

#1000Miles – Mid-Week Check In

midweek check in

So it’s Thursday, and I just thought I’d check in and let you know how the week is going since I laid down the gauntlet and decided that I was officially back on the horse and this was happening.

The good news? So far so good. I’m being committed and consistent.

The bad news? Mars is in retrograde and the 19th couldn’t get here fast enough when it finally stops.

Workouts

Monday: 3 mile tempo

Tuesday: 4 miles nice and easy/core and strength circuit

Wednesday: 3 miles of hills/coached soccer practice

Today: Scrapped the speed/strength workout for pushing my dead car up a hill and doing a lot of walking because I had to push my dead car up a hill. Damn you, Mars in retrograde!

The running is getting better. Yesterday’s hill workout was a full 15 seconds per split faster than when I did it three weeks ago and had to yak up an Egg McMuffin in the street because my lungs were firmly lodged in my throat. I’m still not happy with any splits in the 9’s after how fast I’ve been training indoors all winter, but I did discover that a lot of that has to do with my gait changing a bit and adjusting to the terrain. I also need new shoes. First car, then shoes.

I’ve decided that I hate Yoga Sculpt because it’s not at all based on the principles of Yoga, it’s something a fitness marketing expert invented to get lululemon clad housewives in the door at lunchtime. Just because you do a few down dogs and end the class in Shavasana, doesn’t mean it’s Yoga. It’s basically ‘barefoot bootcamp in a hot room on a yoga mat’. Burpees and shadowboxing violate my inner Yogi’s sensibilities. So I scrapped that class and went back to my good ol’ strength/core circuit. It gets results and I don’t have to do any of those damn mountain climbers.

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For tomorrow I have a 4 mile fartlek planned, a yoga day and soccer bonanza on Saturday, and then a 7 mile long run with a yoga chaser for Sunday. It’s still making me nuts that it seems so easy and I feel like a slacker-face.

Nutrition

I’ve been eating clean, and watching my intake as well as cutting out the booze. Well except for last night when we recorded ‘Wine and Sass!’ because it’s called WINE and Sass, not Sober and Sass. Oh well, one night a week isn’t killing everything…

Green Drank

I haven’t had an Egg White Delight McMuffin since last Saturday, and I am doing the good ol’ Green Drank for my afternoon snack every day. Yesterday I had to have a rainbow roll for lunch or some kind of homicide was going to happen. I’ve been craving salmon like a lunatic lately, so I must be deficient in my daily fish breath quota. No wonder my cat is bothering the crap out of me lately. egg white delight

With the help of my old faves, Vitamin Water and Raspberry Honest Tea, my hydration is getting better. I just wish I liked water. I freaking hate water.

Mental

I’m ok as far as trying not to be a nutcase perfectionist heaping a ton of pressure on myself. I have to say that focusing on my fitness routine and training plan has been super helpful in dealing with some of life’s shitstorms this week like both my car and computer deciding to make good on a suicide pact they made five years ago. Good grief. Couldn’t the toaster short out? Why’d it have to be both the things I need for my livelihood? At least the sun is out so I don’t have rainy day depression making this a huge crisis.

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A huge help has been my gratitude journal, the ‘Until Today!’ daily devotional I read with my coffee every morning, and the Headspace meditation app. I highly recommend them all. Or tearing your hair out and screaming into pillows. That probably works, too.

So not the suckfest I thought this week was going to bring, so I got that going for me. I still haven’t gotten a speed workout in…but I never do those. I hate them, and right now I refuse to do anything I hate until I have to.