With All My Sole

My Half Marathon Training Recap: Ready or Not, 3 More Days!

I have thought about my running journey a lot this week. It has been an emotional path of nervousness, excitement, determination, accomplishment, and a whole lot of hard work. I think about where I started… a very unhealthy, unfit body that struggled and hated everything about running (actually, I hated everything about exercise in general) and where I am now… in love with running and always anxious to get home, lace up my tennis shoes, and get some miles in… and this total transition still amazes me. Three short years ago I couldn’t even imagine running an entire mile without stopping…but then I did. Even after that major accomplishment, I never thought I would run in a 5K race… and I did that too. Then a 10k?? It seemed impossible, and I remember the overwhelming feelings of fear and doubt that filled my mind… and yet I did that too. And here I am today, staring in the face of thirteen point one miles… and I don’t fear that number at all. Because if I have learned anything on my running journey it is this – I am capable. It took a couple of years and hundreds of miles to reach this point, but I finally know that I can do anything I set my mind to do when I put in the hard work and give it my all. For me, this is the greatest gift running has given me, and one of the many reasons I love it so much. I will never give up on running or on myself ever again. But (yes, there is a but…) despite my unfailing confidence in my ability to run this distance, my body has placed certain limitations on me these last few weeks, and I don’t know what that will mean for me on race day. Let me start from the beginning….

Running put living back into my life. What exactly do I mean by that? Simply this… running has greatly increased the quality of my life physically, mentally, and emotionally. It released me from chronic stomach pains. It released me from stress, anxiety, and worry that weighed heavily on me every day. It released me from thoughts that I wasn’t good enough or that I wasn’t capable of certain things. I am so much happier and healthier now, and for all these reasons… running gave me my life back. Some of the most exciting parts of running has always been setting new goals, reaching them, and of course, celebrating them. And while there was a day that I never thought I would have the ability to run a half marathon, I eventually gained the strength and the confidence that I would, just as I had conquered those other milestones.

There is a distinct mixture of excitement and nervousness when you register for an event like this, and I have spent the last few months getting even more nervous but equally excited. Thankfully, I have not been alone on this journey, and I have had the opportunity to share the nerves and excitement with not only my husband, but also the best running friends I could have ever asked for. They have encouraged me, celebrated with me, and they have been there every step of the way to remind me that I can do this. It is with their encouragement that I finally reached that “I’ve got this” moment and I hope they know what a priceless gift that is to me. Together, we followed a training plan that increased our mileage safely and gradually, and we stayed hydrated and fueled for every run. My alarm went off at 4:30am many Saturday mornings for our long runs, and my husband and I met up with our running group with sleepy eyes and lots of yawns. But I can’t tell you how much I loved being with my friends, working towards this once unimaginable goal, and watching the day awaken with them. I put in the miles. I stayed focused and determined. And while it was hot, humid, and very hard at times, I have loved every single sweaty mile. Ten miles is my number though; to date, it is my longest consecutive running distance, and I remember the emotions that soared through me when I hit that milestone like it was just yesterday. It was a really good run. I left feeling strong and excited, and it was just what I needed to keep my confidence alive and strong. Just remembering that feeling is making me smile (my post 10-miler is my feature picture for this blog). My next Saturday long run, however, did not go as well. Sciatic pain caused me to cut my run short by a couple of miles… and so it began. This was the point I realized that piriformis syndrome had joined me on my training journey. Which really, really threw a curve ball into what I considered my perfect path to the finish line. A wave of constant emotions began. One day I was mad, and I yelled. The next I was sad, and I cried. The reality of it is…this is not the reality I had envisioned in my head. I had done everything right, I had put in so many miles, so much effort, and so much determination. The question of why this happened continues to race through my mind every day. But many times it doesn’t matter what we do or how well we plan, because life steps in and reminds us that we don’t have total control. What is to come, will come. What happens, happens. It is what it is. That doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it or that I understand why, but it also doesn’t mean that I’m giving up. That is the furthest thought from my mind.

For the last several weeks, I have read plenty of articles on this injury, I have seen a chiropractor, and I have been consistent with ice, foam rolling, stretches, and strength exercises. I have rested, cross trained, eased back into running with intervals, and rested some more. But the pain keeps creeping back up when I run. It has been extremely frustrating, heartbreaking, but also humbling at times. But while my frustration and concern seem to take over from time to time, I assure you that it has not taken away my excitement and my hopefulness. As I was reading story after story from runners who have had injuries that interrupted their training and even kept some of them from running their race, I realized something very eye-opening to me. These were their stories, their struggles, and their memories to share. It wasn’t the end but rather a part of their running journey to look back on and grow from. Life isn’t seamless, and things don’t always go as we plan, but that doesn’t make it any less a part of our story. The important part is how we choose to move forward from it and let it grow us as a person. Ultimately, this has been one heck of a rollercoaster ride for me…major highs to major lows…but I am not stepping to the side. The only place I am stepping is across that start line in three days.  I have dreamed of how it will feel to cross that finish line for too long to step aside and give it up. I will fight until the end, and no matter what the outcome may be, I will be thankful and embrace it as part of my journey. I am a runner. And this is simply part of my story…

Three days. One goal. It is my journey to embrace no matter what.

This one is dedicated to my biggest running supporters…you know who you are heart

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Nutrition Talk: An interview with Brandon Booth

You may never know the impact that your words, encouragement, and advice may have on others. What may have been a simple, already forgotten conversation to you, could make a life-changing difference to someone else. I know I have said this before, but I will probably continue to repeat myself because I believe it is so true and so important to realize. Your words make an impact.

A little over a year ago I was feeling frustrated, confused, and unsure of what to do differently with my diet. I needed some major guidance with nutrition but was unsure of where to turn. I had been running for about a year at this point and had subsequently lost a good bit of weight, and the weight was continuing to drop to an unhealthy number for my body. Running has always been my escape…my release…my therapy…my time to recharge and renew. I loved it and was not willing to give it up, but I was beginning to lose energy and feel weak rather than strong. So while I knew I needed running to remain a constant in my life, I also knew that I needed to maintain a healthy weight and be stronger. I desperately needed to find my balance.

My understanding of how crucial diet is to our overall health and wellness all started with a conversation I had with Brandon Booth one day. In addition to being co-owner of the gym I belong to, he is also a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, so I knew he had to be full of knowledge that could guide me in a better direction. My question to him was simple – how can I keep running the amount I want while remaining strong and healthy? I told him my concerns about my consistent weight loss and we briefly went over my diet. Brandon said things I needed to hear – the dangers of being underweight and more specifically, what would happen to my body if I was to continue on the path I was currently on. He opened my eyes to some major deficiencies I had in my diet, but most importantly, he changed the way I thought about food. I had spent so much of my life viewing food as the enemy, counting calories, and avoiding certain foods because I thought they would make me gain weight. So even though I had majorly changed my lifestyle at this point, I had not really changed my view on food, and it was affecting me in a very negative way. Until this conversation with Brandon. He helped me realize that food was the fuel my body needed to function at its best, to keep me strong, and to keep me running. He created the spark that made the lightbulb go off in my head, and his words made a powerful impact on my life…

When I first started blogging, I knew I wanted to interview Brandon, to learn even more from him, and to gain his insight to some common nutrition questions many of us have. Recently, I had the pleasure of getting that interview, and I loved all of his answers – he keeps it real, he keeps it simple, and he keeps it relevant. And so this week, it’s time to talk nutrition.

Brandon Booth, MS, RD, LD
Masters of Science, Registered Dietitian, and Licensed Dietitian

First, I wanted to learn more about his career specifically.

Brandon received his Bachelor of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from the University of Alabama, and continued his education at Florida State University by earning his Master’s degree in Nutrition, with an emphasis on Sports Nutrition and Exercise Science. In addition, he held his personal trainer certification for 6 years during his career, founded Benchmark Nutrition, and is co-owner of Helena Health Club.

What interested you in this career and what do you love most about your job?

This is obviously a two-part question so let’s look at part one first – what interested him in this career. After discussing this question with Brandon, I learned that there was more than one level to his answer. First, he mentioned that he was always overweight growing up and while he understood how exercise played an important role in his health and weight management, he didn’t have a clear understanding of the nutrition piece. At the same time, his family (who owned a gym) was having the same realization for their clients, and were recognizing the need to have someone available to educate and guide their clients in regards to nutrition. The other part of his answer was that he knew he wanted to work with sports and athletes somehow. He took all these things – his desire to work with athletes, his own need to understand the role of nutrition, and seeing that other people needed the same guidance with this vital part of our overall health – and he found his career. Brandon is really a one-stop-shop of health and wellness knowledge. He understands how the body works and what the body needs from a strength and exercise standpoint all the way to the science of nutrition and what the body must have in order to perform at its healthiest.

Then I asked what he loves most about his job. His answer was simple really, “It would definitely be helping people reach their goals.” He went on to say “I love helping people achieve something that they didn’t think they could.” I love this answer. What a rewarding job it must be!

Food labels – what should we really be looking for?

The first thing Brandon mentioned in response to this question was how much it depends on the individual. For example, someone with high blood pressure might be more concerned with sodium while someone with diabetes might be more concerned with sugar. And someone with heart disease may be more concerned with fat content while someone trying to lose weight may be more concerned with calories. I love that he pointed this out because it is so important to understand that nutrition is very individualized. We are all created different, we all face different challenges and even diseases, and our bodies all respond differently. Knowing your body is a key component to achieving your personal nutritional goals.

He continued by mentioning one key thing everyone should be looking for on food labels which is the serving size. Because really, what good is paying any attention to the nutritional value of a food if you aren’t going to pay attention to the serving size – they must go hand-in-hand. He also pointed out that the ingredients are listed in order based on weight. This means that the first thing listed on the ingredients list is the heaviest and therefore the most abundant in the food. My personal rule of thumb is to glance at the top three ingredients and say no if I see the words enriched, bleached, partially hydrogenated, or high fructose corn syrup. Brandon’s suggestion of checking the list is very important in order to know what you will be consuming!

Three meals a day or several smaller meals?

His response to this one was quick and confident: “Whatever works best for the person.” I really love this answer because again, it is based on the individual. He pointed out, for example, that a nurse doesn’t have the option to eat several smaller meals throughout the day (actually, some days they may not get a lunch at all!) and he brought up this excellent point: “It’s what you eat more than when you eat.” He went on to explain that for weight loss specifically, it is really about your calories in versus calories out, and that we shouldn’t overcomplicate it by trying to time our meals a certain way that may not be conducive to our lives. “Do what works best for you” he said, and “Just watch your daily caloric intake.”

Which is most important when trying to lose weight – low-fat, low-carb, or low-cal?

There was no hesitation with this answer: “Total calories, definitely.” He pointed out that if a person decides to eat low-carb, for example, they will be cutting out things like heavy pasta meals, and the additional breads we add to our meals, but ultimately, this also lowers our caloric intake. He stated, “It all comes back to calories.”

He also pointed out that your calorie needs are based on your activity level, so it is important to factor this into your calculations. Applications such as MyFitnessPal are good tools to track your daily caloric intake as well as your activity level, and is geared towards assisting with weight loss.

In your opinion, what is one food we should stop eating altogether and why?

I was actually surprised by his answer to this one, but again, I loved his response! He stated, “There is no food I would take away” and “It can all work when you practice moderation.” He brought up two very important words that go along with this: portion sizing. We talked about the extra large portions that we receive when we go out to most restaurants these days, and he mentioned the “portion distortion” that has been created within our society. I really did love his answer to this question because we all have unhealthy foods that we enjoy and crave from time to time, but he is right… “You don’t have to give up what you love. It can all work.” The two key things to remember here are moderation and portion control.

Diet or exercise, which one is the most crucial when trying to lose weight?

First, he mentioned that both diet and exercise are super important, however, he went on to say that “Diet will have the largest impact.” This reminded me of a shirt that Brandon wears often which says “You can’t out train poor nutrition.” We talked about the importance as well as the many benefits of exercise (including weight loss) but the statement on his shirt still rings true. If you aren’t eating healthy and you don’t focus on your nutrition, all that time at the gym may be futile. But while Brandon mentions that nutrition will make the biggest impact on weight loss, he also mentions that is the harder of the two to manage. It takes knowledge, work, willpower, and planning. But you can do it.

What are your thoughts on skipping breakfast? And eating past a certain time at night?

Another two-part question so first up – skipping breakfast. Brandon simply stated “I don’t like skipping breakfast” and he had many positives for waking up and eating a healthy meal. He described to me how your body is going from a catabolic to an anabolic state when it wakes up (from breaking down to building) and we talked about how a healthy balanced breakfast can sort of wake up your brain and make you more alert. He also warned that skipping breakfast can possibly cause back loading or binge eating later in the day, which can often lead to an over consumption for the day. In short, a healthy breakfast is a really good thing, why would you skip it?

Part two – eating past a certain time at night. Since I have heard so much over the years about not eating past a certain time, I had to ask this one (I was very curious!) Brandon responded with an assuring “This is crap.” Ah-ha, this is good, I like this answer! He went back to our discussion earlier of the nurse who doesn’t have the option to eat several small meals a day and may not even get a lunch. Some people simply don’t have the option to eat dinner until later in the evening. He reassured me that it’s not the timing we should be so concerned with, it’s your daily caloric intake. “Just eat your caloric needs for the day” and “Eat your meals when you can.” He does mention, however, that a good rule of thumb would be to try to eat at least 2-3 hours before bed. This will give your body time to digest and utilize the meal.

What is the most important aspect of your diet if you are a runner?

The number one thing he mentioned is hydration and he stated, “A lot of runners are dehydrated which negatively impacts the joints and performance.” However, he added that there are other important aspects in a runner’s diet including total calories and total carbs. Hydration and energy to burn…we need these things to keep running!

For someone who wants to eat healthier but feels overwhelmed, where do you suggest they start?

“Start small.” That’s it! His suggestion was to look at what you are currently doing and make some small changes. He warned not to make too many changes at once because this will only lead to being overwhelmed and eventually giving up. We talked about the kind of changes someone can make in their diet from things like increasing your water intake, replacing an unhealthy snack with a piece of fruit, and eliminating things such as sodas or mayonnaise. Again, everyone is different so these small changes will be based on the individual and their current diet. Brandon added this powerful statement to keep in mind “Small changes lead to big results.” Don’t give up, just keep it simple, keep it small, and watch your little changes lead to bigger results over time!

What are your go-to favorite snacks? How about top 5?

I love talking about food so I had to ask this question! His answer was: “Fruit (specifically Gala apples), Greek yogurt with some kind of nuts on top, jerky, carrots and hummus, and crunchy peanut butter.” They all sounded delicious and nutritious and started to make me hungry…it was about this time in the interview that I realized I should have brought snacks!

What is your best piece of nutritional advice?

Brandon had two pieces of advice he wanted to give. The first was “Eat a rainbow at every meal.” He explained that by doing this you will be eating a variety of fruits and vegetables which helps to ensure you get as many vitamins and minerals as you can in your diet. The second piece of advice was “When choosing your protein, the less legs the better.” I found this one so interesting because I had never actually thought about it. He explained how a four-legged animal such as a cow doesn’t move much and is a fattier protein. Then you move to a two-legged animal such as a chicken who is more active and you have a much leaner protein. And lastly, you move to no legs such as a fish who is constantly moving, and you have the leanest protein you can find.

I loved this advice, and I definitely enjoyed the opportunity to sit down with Brandon and talk about nutrition. One of the major themes that I noticed throughout the entire interview was the focus on the individual. Let’s face it, we are all different and the right answer for one person doesn’t mean it will be the right answer for everyone. One of the things Brandon mentioned during the interview was that “Nutrition is not black and white.” This is so very true. I want to give a huge thank you to Brandon Booth, not only for taking the time to chat with me during this interview, but also for changing the way I think about food. And to all of my readers out there – no matter what your nutrition goals are, take it slow, never give up, and don’t be so hard on yourself along the journey…

Why a Virtual Race May Be for You

Someone (a fellow runner actually) recently asked me what a virtual race was. I was a little surprised that they had never heard of them so I thought…what a great post for the blog! Races help you set goals and create new fitness challenges, they give you something to look forward to, and they give you a boost of energy and excitement to keep you running. They are fun and exciting for the new runner who has yet to participate in one, as well as the experienced runner who has crossed many finish lines. But not all races have a set start and finish line or even a specific day they have to be ran on. What if I told you that you could participate in a race by just stepping outside your front door on the day and time of your choice? If that kind of flexibility and convenience is just what you need, a virtual race may be just for you!

What exactly is a virtual race?

Simply put, a virtual race is a one that you can run (or walk!) at the location of your choice, the pace you need, and the time that works best for you. For the most part, you will find a race and distance you would like to participate in, register for it online, complete it on the day/time that works best for you (usually within a certain timeframe), and then receive a medal in the mail! It is that easy! While some virtual races require that you upload your time before mailing your medal, many of them rely completely on the honor system, and you are accountable for your own commitment and completion of the race.

You choose the distance, you choose your starting line, you choose the time. These are some of the great benefits of a virtual race, but there are so many more!

Convenience is Priceless

The convenience of a virtual race is absolutely priceless for some people. Let’s be honest, life can get hectic, and it can be really hectic for some people. Attending a race is not something everyone has the ability to do because of time restrictions alone. Races are not only a dedication to the actual race time, but also to the travel time, and for many people, that time is simply just not there. Life commitments such as being a caregiver, having children, or having a job where you are on call often are examples of major time commitments in our lives. One of the great benefits of a virtual race, however, is that it cuts the time commitment down majorly, and it allows you to easily adjust your racing plans in the event of unplanned schedule changes or general time constraints.

The Affordability

Races can get expensive, and depending on much travel is involved in getting there, they can get really expensive. Not everyone has the financial ability to fork over the extra money for race fees, travel fees, and all of the little things that add up over time. Virtual races, however, eliminate your travel fees, and usually come with a lower registration cost. I have seen some expensive entry fees, and some of them don’t even offer a medal, however, with virtuals you will usually pay less to register and get some amazing bling! This opens the door for many more people to join in on the racing fun!

Support a Charity

Another great thing about virtual races is that many of them support a charity and a portion of your registration fee will go towards the cause. This is a great way to donate and show your support for something near and dear to your heart, and to run with purpose. And in addition to the financial contribution, you can help raise awareness for the charity by sharing your race photos and medals on social media! Running with purpose and for something that has meaning to you is the best in my opinion. What a wonderful reason to get out there and run!

Stay Motivated

I have definitely talked about this one before…the running rut. Eventually we find ourselves not so excited about getting our miles in and we need a little motivation to keep us going. Signing up for a virtual race may be just what you need to add some fun to your every day running or to your current training schedule. You can even grab a friend or a group of friends to run it together and create more accountability, fun, and memories! Adding a virtual race into your training gives you a goal within a goal, and keeps the motivation going!

Race Day Rehearsal

You know what always comes along with race day for me? Race nerves!! Especially for my first race…I will never forget how nervous I was waiting at that starting line. Another one of the great benefits of a virtual race is that you are not overwhelmed by the nervousness and the intimidation of being surrounded by hundreds of other runners. Signing up for a virtual race is a really great way to have a “race day rehearsal” that may eliminate some race day nerves as well as give you a good practice round of what to expect. It’s a great time to try out what you will wear, what gear you will carry with you, and any energy supplements you may take during the race. Any time you practice something, it becomes a lesson of what works well as well doesn’t, which in turn will build your confidence and help eliminate some of those nerves.

Be a Part of Something Bigger

While many virtual races are completed on the day of your choice (but within a certain timeframe), some of them are held on a specific day such as Earth Day, National Running Day, or New Year’s Day. For me, it is an awesome feeling to know that I am one of many thousands of people running for the same purpose on that one day. It is a great way to involve runners from all around the world, but yet feel united with a common purpose. In some cases, a race event will also offer a virtual race option in order to create this feeling of involvement and participation for a cause. I love being a part of something bigger, and creating running memories set apart from the everyday mileage!

For Love of the Bling

Okay, who doesn’t love the bling?! A virtual race is a great way to earn your first medal, or to add a few more to your collection. And if you run with purpose or for a cause, the bling is a great way to always remember, create an inspiring conversation piece, and proudly hang on your wall!

How can I find a virtual race?

If a virtual race sounds like a good fit for you, here are a few websites to get you started. I have used each of these in the past at least once, although a simple Google search will help you find plenty more than these!

https://www.virtualstrides.com/

http://usroadrunning.com/

http://www.willrunforbling.com/

http://www.goneforarun.com/current-virtual-races/

My Virtual Racing Memories

Shine for Brey

Shine for Brey photo

Shine for Brey was my very first race (ever!) and I was honored to contribute to the cause, support someone else’s dream, and to dedicate my run to them. This 5K virtual run will always remind me of strength, courage, and perseverance in life. My family and I were actually staying at an extended stay hotel while our house was being renovated after a kitchen fire and I ran this race on a treadmill at the hotel gym. I was a new runner, and I didn’t feel confident enough to enter a race yet so this virtual was perfect for me. I was able to do it on my own time when I was able and ready, and it gave me the confidence to know that I had the strength and the ability. Being able to support a wonderful cause on top of that absolutely warmed my heart…this is one I will never forget.

Supermom and One Bad Mother Runner

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Two virtual 5K races, one day, and one medal from each of my kids. I always want my virtual runs to have a purpose for me, and these two are my absolute favorite ones yet. My kids are my life, my heart, and my soul and nothing is better to me than being their mom! I ran these on Mother’s Day for both my son and my daughter and I ran with a truly thankful heart for the blessing of being their mom. When I walked in the door after completing these races, each of my kids put a medal around my neck…I will never forget that moment! Supermom benefited Project Sunshine, and One Bad Mother Runner benefited STAR, both truly wonderful charities that I was proud to run and support!

Feet on the Street

Feet on the Street

This 5K race was in honor of National Running Day, and it was a time to simply celebrate the joy of running! I was super excited to be able to run this one with my sister-in-law (it was our first run together!) and to create a fun memory with her. It absolutely poured down rain on us during the middle of our run, but just like every single day of our journeys, we just kept pushing to the end! This event also helped raise money for Back on My Feet, which is a charity that helps combat homelessness through the power of running, a truly wonderful charity to support and run for!

Disney’s Virtual Running Shorts Series

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This one was so much fun for me because I absolutely love Disney! And what could be better bling than Disney bling (in my opinion of course!). This was a set of three 5K virtual runs, and by completing all three, I received a bonus medal…score! I wore my Disney tank or hat, sported my Minnie ears and colorful race bibs in my pictures, and I even got to run one of them while on vacation at the beach! It was pretty neat being a part of Disney’s very first virtual races, and they certainly did a magical job on the Mickey bling. And in addition to being fun, these runDisney virtual races also benefited the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society!

Whether you run alone, with a friend, or even with a big group, a virtual race can be a fun, flexible, and motivating event to add to your schedule. Check them out and consider running one of your own!

Happy Virtual Running everyone!

Princess wears running shoes

Summer Running: It’s Getting Hot Out Here!

I am currently training for my first half marathon. Oh my goodness, just typing that makes me beam with excitement! But what isn’t making me so excited right now is the summer training. It is seriously SO hot, humid, and brutal outside. I am usually drenched in sweat just walking to and from my car. It is awful…terrible…smothering. But I know I don’t have to explain to anyone how hot it is…we all know…we all feel it! And while I am anxiously looking forward to running on a perfect fall afternoon, I am also constantly telling myself not rush life along and to enjoy each and every day (no matter how blazing hot it is!). So regardless, my feet will continue to hit the hot pavement, the training will carry on, but I am also doing all I can to be a smart runner, have a plan, and implement as many “beat the heat” strategies as I possibly can. They say that knowledge is power, however, the knowledge alone rarely does us any good unless we put it to good use.
Here are a few of my own planning strategies when it comes to keeping cool in the summer heat: Read more

The Moment I Became a Runner

“I am a runner because I run. Not because I run far. Not because I run fast. I am a runner because I run.”

I am a runner…I’m pretty sure I couldn’t hide this fact about myself if I wanted to, which I don’t! I am a happy runner, a proud runner, and a dedicated runner – it is ingrained in me now. But at what point did I transition from someone who was simply introducing exercise into my life in order to feel better to actually considering myself a runner? Was it one moment that flipped the coin, or was it a combination of many moments? There are plenty of things that remind me (and all of my family and friends!) every day that I am a true runner. Here is a brief but entertaining list –

    – The amount of clothes I now have to wash has doubled, and the basket is overflowing with mostly sweaty running clothes.
    – If I see someone else running and I am not running, jealousy strikes.
    – I have never been so excited about buying socks in my life, nor have I ever been so willing to pay so much for only one pair.
    – I enjoy shopping for running clothes more than anything else now…and I think my wardrobe mostly consists of running attire at this point. Actually, I know it does.
    – Race fees: they have their own line on my budget now. Priorities and all.
    – New running shoes = happiness. Enough said.
    – Rest days are brutal on me because it means I can’t run!!
    – Calluses on my feet…yup…those happened. But I am actually oddly proud of them; they remind me of my journey and all of the miles I have pushed through over the years.
    – If I am injured, I worry about not being able to run rather than the fact that my body is actually hurt. Not being able to run is just not okay – it makes me an emotional mess!
    – My perfect Friday night is staying at home to hydrate, fuel up on pasta, and get to bed early in preparation for my Saturday morning long run. Again, priorities.
    – When I see a car with a running sticker on the back window I smile and think “Oh look, another runner!”
    – Sitting in bumper to bumper traffic makes me want to get out of my car and run home. I could get there much faster that way, right!?
    – Pretty much anything can be related back to running, just ask me.
    – My social media is often filled with updates on my latest run, personal records, pace, or distance. Don’t hate.

    As silly as this list may seem, all of them are true and have come about as a result of me being a runner. But none of these make me a runner. The moment I became a runner was the moment I laced up my tennis shoes, walked out my front door, and ran for the very first time. I didn’t realize it then, but looking back on that day I now know. I had made a choice, and thankfully, I never looked back. I certainly wasn’t fast on that day…I had little to no endurance…I didn’t make it far…and I definitely didn’t enjoy running yet AT ALL. But there is no checklist or set of criteria you have to meet in order to be a runner. You don’t have to be a certain age or have a certain body type. There is no particular moment that has to happen to you. You are a runner simply because you run….

    To all of my fellow runners out there…what reminds you (and all of those around you) every day that you are a runner? And was there a specific moment you look back on and recognize as the moment you became a runner? If you aren’t yet a runner but have a small dose of curiosity of what it’s all about…my advice to you is just run…you will never look back and regret it. Find your moment and celebrate it forever.

    Happy running everyone!!

    Shoelaces Face

A Healthy Dose of Vacation

 

“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul” – Robert Wyland

Oh happiness, it’s vacation time. This week I get to write from my beach chair with my toes in the sand, the sun soaking into my skin, and the ocean air blowing through my hair. My thoughts are rolling in with the waves, and I am enjoying the opportunity to relax, write, and just be still in these moments throughout the week. The beach is so beautiful, peaceful, and relaxing, and it offers just what my body, mind, and soul have been craving: time to recharge, to take a break from my day-to-day responsibilities, and to enjoy time with my family without any distractions.

In the days leading up to our vacation someone asked me if I was going to run or rest. My answer…running is my resting. This moment that I am sitting in right now…the clear blue skies, toes in the sand, cool breeze against my skin, and the relaxing sounds of the waves rolling in…this moment is happiness and relaxation all rolled into one big beach ball. And this is exactly how I feel when I run…happy, relaxed, and at peace with myself (of course add a little exhaustion and sweat, but still, I absolutely love it). Clearly the two are completely different scenarios, but if I could bottle up the way this moment makes me feel sitting here on this beach as well as the way I feel when I am running, both bottles would be overflowing with these same positive emotions. So, running is my resting and yes, I am lacing up my tennis shoes and getting some miles in this week. I have actually been very excited about being able to run on the beach during on this trip!

This question of running or resting got me thinking about other questions often pondered…

Should you exercise on vacation or take a break? Read more

Just Keep Swimming

 

“It doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger”

This week is simple really. I just want to offer encouragement to never give up. Or should I say….to just keep swimming? In honor of Dory and her big movie release (and because I’m a huge Disney fan and I incorporate Disney anywhere I possibly can), let’s go with that!

JUST. KEEP. SWIMMING.

Or biking, or walking, or running, or lifting, or dancing, or whatever you do to keep moving…just keep doing it! We all need the encouragement from time to time, especially on those days it is difficult to stay the course and continue pushing ourselves. Some days, you just want to throw in your set of Mickey Mouse ears and be done with it (okay, maybe the saying is “throw in the towel”, but I saw another Disney opportunity here so I took it). These are the days that encouragement is the most crucial, and the days we all need to be mentally prepared for discouragement to creep up on us.

Sticking to an exercise plan is not an easy task; if you were told otherwise you were very misguided. It is a major commitment of your time, it pulls lots of strength and energy from your body, and it takes a large dose of dedication. Someone recently asked me when running became easier for me, which is interesting because I keep asking myself the same question…when will it?? There was one night this week that I only had time to squeeze in two miles, and they were two very difficult, sweaty, messy miles. I just wanted to stop and scream as loud as I could “Shouldn’t this be easy by now?!” My conclusion is that we are using the wrong word completely and creating a false reality around our hard work and dedication. Read more

The Importance of Cross Training

“Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits”

Even from the beginning I was always good about incorporating various types of exercise into my daily routine. In addition to running, I was walking, bicycling, and doing strength exercises at home. My main reason for mixing it up at first was because running alone was so difficult and daunting back then, and I didn’t want to experience burn out or boredom and end up giving up altogether. These are actually really good reasons to cross train as they kept me motivated and moving, but my reasons have grown and evolved since the beginning of my journey. Admittedly, even after I had lost 30 pounds and didn’t need to lose a single pound more, my motivation to keep moving in different ways became mostly about burning calories more than anything else. I remember running outside one afternoon and seeing my shadow on the ground in front of me, and it hit me like a ton of bricks…I had reached a point where I was way too thin. I was a runner, but I wasn’t as strong as I needed to be. And I wanted to be strong, not skinny. I wanted to be a healthy runner so I could keep going the distance and not get sidelined with an injury. I wanted powerful muscles that gave me whole body strength, not just lower body. I knew that something had to change that day, and since then I have come full circle with my cross training as well as my motivation for doing it. Read more

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