With All My Sole

The Power of a Run

“If you had
one shot
or one opportunity
to seize everything you ever wanted
in one moment
would you capture it
or just let it slip?” – Eminem

 

November 5th, 2016, that was my day. My opportunity. My moment. The one I had trained and worked so hard to reach and capture as my very own. To show up, work hard, and bathe in the excitement of my accomplishment. So the question is…did I capture it, or did I let it slip away? My emotions of how it all turned out have been all over the place, but I have also been reminded of the lessons that can be learned through running. The power of a run can be found in both the good ones and the bad ones, and sometimes…even more so in the bad ones.

Here is my very first half marathon recap…

It has been almost 2 full months since I “ran” my first half marathon. I use the quotations because there was very little actual running involved in those 13.1 miles. It was probably something closer to 3 cumulative miles of running, 5 miles of walking, and 5.1 miles of painful limping. So that alone should tell you how well it went…not so well at all. Yet when I reflect back on that day now, it was actually kind of perfect (in a very imperfect kind of way). How confusing, I know, so let me explain…

Going into race day, I knew that the outcome was completely up in the air. Because of my injury, I had been forced to decrease my mileage significantly during the last several weeks of training, and I didn’t run at all during the two weeks leading up to the race. I had only reached 10 miles before my training came to a halt, and so the whole event had a huge question mark surrounding it. Just two days before my half marathon I was seeing an orthopedist to confirm my diagnosis, start a treatment plan, and to make sure I wasn’t overlooking an even bigger injury. Thankfully, I was only dealing with my original diagnosis of piriformis syndrome which could certainly be treated, but my body needed time. But time wasn’t something I had going for me. I saw a physical therapist later that afternoon and we did as much as we could without irritating the muscles even more so before the race. I had reached the “it is what it is” mentality, and I knew that all I could do was give it my all, hope for the best, and not let it steal any of my joy. So that is exactly what I did. I had absolutely no idea what to expect and I was definitely cautiously optimistic about the outcome, but I was also very excited. And I wasn’t going to let anything take that away from me.

I always imagined I would be extremely nervous right before my first half marathon. I assumed I wouldn’t eat well the night before or sleep much at all, and I definitely thought I would be a big ball of nerves on race day morning. But much to my surprise, my excitement seemed to take over, and the nerves never really showed up. My husband and I traveled with friends to Savannah, Georgia for the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon, and I was soaking in the entire experience. The night before, our friends’ sister opened her home to us all and prepared a wonderful homemade pasta dinner which served as our pre-race fuel. I met new people, talked about our upcoming race, and ate two delicious platefuls of spaghetti! Even while I was talking to others about running those 13.1 miles, I still never got nervous, but I remained very aware of the reality of my situation. I knew I wouldn’t be able to run the entire time. My goal was to take it easy and do walk/run intervals throughout the race, hopefully keeping the pain at bay, at least most of the time. While I once had a finish time goal, my only goal at this point was to finish, and preferably pain-free. But I really had no clue what my body would be able to do, so I simply enjoyed the company and embraced that no matter what, this race was about to become a big part of my running story. I laid out my clothes before going to bed, slept fairly well, and was ready to go the next morning. I still never experienced those nerves I kept expecting to show up. I think I was just so anxious and ready to get going and see how it was all going to play out for me…

Ready, Set, Run!

 Standing at the starting line, I was super excited and hopeful. More than anything though, I was ready to get going and find out how the miles were going to play out for me. I wanted to start running, realize I was okay, and reach the point where I knew I was going to make it just fine. But I was still cautiously optimistic, and I understood that I would likely reach a point where I would struggle with my injury. I just never thought it would happen so fast, or that it would hurt anywhere near as much as it did. There is this feeling I would always get before the pain set in, a slight tug or pull that acted like a little knock to my muscles, letting its arrival be known. It was my body’s way of offering a fair warning that it was about to get painful and that I should probably stop. I had listened to this warning during training…I slowed down…I stopped…I rested for days and even weeks at times. But on this particular day, stopping wasn’t one of my options. I had arrived at the starting line with one goal…to arrive at the finish line through the hard work and energy of my own two legs. Unfortunately, I felt that little tug to my muscles at only about a quarter of a mile in, way sooner than ever before. Over the course of my injury it had initially shown up around mile 2 or 3, and eventually, through listening to my body, resting, and cross training, I had been able to hold it off until closer to mile 4 or 5. So the fact that I felt that unwanted knock at only a quarter of a mile into the beginning of 13.1 long miles…absolutely crushed me. I remember trying to put on a happy, outwardly positive face. I tried not to let my husband and friends see how discouraged I was right from the beginning, but I knew the pain was coming, and since I had never had to push through it over such a long period of time…I was scared. Scared of the pain, scared of hurting myself even more, scared of not being able to finish, and scared of letting them all down. I vividly remember the sound of dozens of watches ringing aloud when that first mile was reached. My heart sank along with the sounds….I was only one mile in. How could I possibly do this for 12.1 more miles? I felt like my dream of finishing was getting farther and farther out of my reach. Sadness and doubt were setting in fast, and I found myself feeling like I was somewhere I didn’t even belong. But then I heard familiar voices. The voices of my husband and friends telling me that we were going to do it together, that they were not going to leave my side, and that I would make it across that finish line. It was their encouragement and support that helped me shut down the voice in my mind that was telling me I couldn’t do it, and got me to continue on with the long journey ahead. They let me go the pace I needed to, to run when I could and walk when I needed, and they constantly assured me that I would make it to the end. It was that love, friendship, and support that kept me going even through the slowly increasing pain. I wanted to finish not only for myself, but also for them. The people who had not only stuck by me through many miles of training, but who were also giving up the outcome of their own runs in this race to ensure that I made it to the end. By mile 5 the pain was pretty constant and it was really starting to weigh on me that it would only continue to get more difficult…and painful. My mind was racing on how I would possibly be able to finish, but I wasn’t giving up. I found myself bargaining with my body…begging it to please let me make it through the remaining miles. I promised it rest afterwards, that I would go to physical therapy, and to take a break from running however long I needed to. I just wanted this so bad. How could I not…I had trained for months, given up sleeping in on so many Saturday mornings, and pushed myself through sweat, exhaustion, and the fear of even being able to do this. The exact fear I was experiencing in that moment. I ran when I could, but the running intervals were getting much shorter and the walking intervals were turning into a limp. Somewhere between mile 5 and 6 we stopped at a medic stand and made an ice pack to hopefully help with the inflammation. I limped along to mile 10 and that is when I hit my major wall. The pain had reached its all time high and in my mind, there was absolutely no way to continue. I was fighting back tears…tears of pain, anger, and confusion. And then I received a text from my best friend and my very first running partner that said “I would carry you if I could! Do not give in. Do not stop. God will carry you.” Her message filled my eyes with tears and when I looked up from my phone, I had reached the mile 10 sign which read “Finish! Get what you came for.” The combination of those messages sent a flood of emotion through me in that moment, and while I was hurting incredibly bad and wanted to stop just so the pain would stop, I also knew then that I was NOT going to give up. I knew I was being carried…by the love, support, prayers, and encouragement of those surrounding me both near and far. And so I stopped for a refill of more ice and I pressed on.

Those last few miles were really painful, but I tried to hide it as not to worry my husband to death. I tried to enjoy the beautiful day, the charming streets of Savannah, and the company of great friends beside me, but the pain made it difficult to concentrate on anything else. I gritted, I beared it, and I didn’t quit. I remember watching the pacers go by and getting discouraged when I realized just how long this half marathon was taking me to complete. But the closer I got to the finish line, the more I started to see my strength, determination, and perseverance in a new light…the light it so rightfully deserved. If you would have told me before I started that I would take 4 hours to finish the race I would have thought it to be a complete failure. But after living out those hours…hours of giving it my all, pushing my body beyond what I thought was possible, and not allowing myself to give up…I had a whole new perspective on a 4 hour finish time. I remember looking up at my husband and telling him “If I finish this race in 4 hours in this amount of pain, I am a complete bad ass.” And I meant it. That initially horrible finish time sounded like an amazing accomplishment after working as hard as I did to get there. And then the moment arrived where the finish line was finally in sight. Regardless of the pain, I knew I wanted to run across that line, and thankfully, my husband and friends wouldn’t let me give up on that dream either. As we turned that last corner and could see the end in the distance, we started to run. And as soon as I did, I wanted to stop. It felt like nothing short of a dozen knives being stabbed into my left leg and lower back….over and over and over. I couldn’t remember experiencing any type of pain like that in my entire life and I started crying immediately. I looked at my husband who was running to my right and I told him I had to stop, but he encouraged me to keep going. He assured me “You can do anything for one minute. You CAN do this. Keep going. You’ve got this.” He may have said more, I don’t know. I kept repeating that I couldn’t go on and that it was too painful, but he talked me through it until the end, and I didn’t stop until I was done.

At exactly 4 hours and 8 seconds after crossing the starting line, I finally crossed the finish line. All of that doubt, fear, pain, and perseverance…and I had actually arrived and reached the goal I had desired so much. So to answer the original question of whether or not I captured my moment or let it slip…I totally captured it. But I certainly didn’t capture it alone. I did it with the people who never gave up on me. Because when others believe in you so much and they don’t let you give up, they never leave your side or they continue to send you encouraging messages until you make it the rest of the way, it provides motivation and strength that you didn’t even know existed inside of you.


Looking back on that moment I am overwhelmed, not just that I did it, but in all of the life lessons I learned on that day, and that running continually teaches me. The power of a run is more than your body moving you forward. It is realizing that you are capable of so much more than you ever believed. It is achieving something that you once though of as impossible. It is realizing that it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to finish something…it’s the finishing that counts, and the hard work that was put in between the start and the finish lines. It is thinking that you have nothing more to give, digging deeper, and finding out you have SO much more inside of you. It is realizing that we don’t only run with our legs, but also with our hearts. It is about discovering what we are capable of, and discovering the power of love, encouragement, and support. It is about more than just ourselves…it is about being there for each other, believing in each other, and cheering each other along on the journey.

Life is a series of moments that are constantly passing us by, and these moments in time are what make up our beautiful, wonderful lives. Capture all of your moments and experience them fully and completely. Feel the power and joy they bring to your life. Embrace them, enjoy them, and never let them go, for they are yours to grasp and keep in your hearts forever. I wouldn’t change a thing about my perfectly imperfect moment on this painful, memorable November day. Not one single thing…

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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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

Ditch the Diet

“It’s not a short term diet. It’s a long term lifestyle change”

 

In my last post, Eating to Live, Not Living to Eat, I challenged you to think about your current relationship with food, to start keeping a food journal, and to recognize your eating patterns and habits, both the good and the bad. Reading back through a food journal can give you a pretty good idea of changes you can make in order to improve your diet. Maybe you need to cut out junk foods and replace them with healthy, nutrient dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Maybe you need to eliminate sodas (regular or diet) and replace them with water. Maybe it’s your meal timing or portion sizes that you need to work on, or maybe it’s a combination of all of the above. Whatever changes you need to make, now is the time to recognize them and muster up the confidence that you can successfully make these long term changes. It’s time to think positive thoughts, make positive changes, and prepare for positive outcomes that will lead you to a healthier, happier body.
Read more

Friends With Running Benefits

“The road seems much shorter when shared with a friend”

Recently, my husband and I were invited by a friend to join him and some of his fellow running friends on a Sunday morning 5 mile run. First, let me say that at this point, my average run was about 3 miles, and I had only ran a full 5 miles once before, which was when I completed my first 10K earlier in the year. So needless to say, a 5 mile run with other runners (who I should mention had all already completed a several half and full marathons at this point in their lives) made me slightly anxious. To be honest, meeting new people in general already makes me a little nervous. A whirlwind of questions and worries usually go through my head, such as – Will they be nice? Will they like me? And in this case specifically – Will I be holding them back by running annoyingly slow and will they hope I never run with them again?? However, despite being a little nervous about meeting new people, keeping up with the group, and being able to run 5 miles at all, I was super excited about making new friends, especially ones who shared my love for running. So without hesitation, we accepted the invitation, set our alarm clock for 6:30am and gave up a sleep-in Sunday morning to meet some new people, hit the running trails, and bank some miles.

A couple of pretty awesome things happened that morning. One, we made new running friends (and they were very nice and supportive I must add!), and two, I was reminded to stop doubting myself. I completed those 5 miles with the group and felt great afterwards. I am capable of so much more than I give myself credit for, we all are. After making these new friends and experiencing what it’s like to run with a group, I realized how beneficial running friends can be. Let me take some time and convince you; below is a list I compiled of the benefits of running with current friends, making new running friends, and joining a local running group! Read more

Run with Me: The Basics of Where to Start

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great” – Zig Ziglar

There was a time in the not too distant past that I would have laughed if someone told me I would one day be a runner. Even funnier, if they were to tell me I would actually enjoy it. At one point I thought it was completely out of my reach to run because it was so strenuous and exhausting on my body, I became so out of breath, and I always ended up with painful side stitches. Looking back, I now realize that my only problem was that I was out of shape and full of excuses. I had the “I can’t do it” mentality, and a little of the “I don’t have time to do it” mentality, and the switch just needed to be flipped in my mind. Over the last two years, I have been asked many times for advice and tips on how to get started, how to continue and not give up, and how to love something that seems so completely exhausting. This one is for all of you who are ready to get started, and who are ready to flip the switch. Let’s do this. Read more

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