How to train on vacation

I always tell people my favorite race distance is 10k. Part of that is I just think it is a fun distance to run but the other reason is that I am really, really, REALLY bad about training consistently for any distance longer than 6 miles. I don’t tend to enjoy getting up early on Saturday mornings (SHOCKING, I know…) and so my long runs seem to just not happen. All this means that whenever I decide I want to do a half-marathon it never seems to end well.

So. Many. Injuries.

Well crazy me decided it was time to attempt my second half-marathon (last year’s never happened when I came down with bronchitis the day before). To ensure accountability I signed up for a half marathon training program with my local running store! I am (fingers crossed) hoping this will end in a successful half-marathon finish! Training started a couple weeks ago but I was only able to attend the first run and then I missed the next three runs because I was off for a 10-day vacation to Mammoth Caves, Kentucky, Chicago, and Naperville. This was my first test of dedication.

Prioritizing my homework runs (especially the two long ones) while on vacation was a challenge for me. I like to sloth it up on vacation and do a whole lot of nothing.

However, fear of showing up to the next training run horribly out of shape and unable to keep up was a great motivating factor. With my sister as my cheerleader we were able to complete all but one of my homework runs. Considering it was replaced with LOTS of hiking and sightseeing I am going to call that a success.

Here are the five things I do to ensure I reach my fitness goals while on vacation:

  1. Pack everything and then double check: Nothing is worse than starting your vacation with the best of intentions only to reach your destination and notice you forgot your running shoes, or sports bra. I make a list, and check it twice, and then I check it again just to make sure that I’m not missing any of my non-negotiables.
  2. Have a running buddy: This will make it easier to stay motivated when all you’d rather do on vacation is laze about. My sister was able to run with me, and it made it a lot more fun, especially since we were running new, unfamiliar routes.
  3. Have a plan: Before leaving I reviewed my Training Program’s schedule and talked to my pacer to ensure I knew what I should be aiming for with my runs. I couldn’t follow their schedule exactly but I was able to create one that ensured I met the program goals.
  4. But be flexible: It’s vacation! A time to relax, not increase stress, so if you miss a run because you wanted to do something else instead, your pace isn’t quite right, or your workout got cut short, don’t worry about it. Give yourself permission to be imperfect and instead figure out your plan moving forward.
  5. Mix it up: Does your hotel have a pool and you love swimming? Then go swimming! Take hikes, or runs in new places! Practice yoga outside! Incorporate your workouts into your vacation and you’ll find they’re a lot more enjoyable!  

What are some things you’ve done to ensure your fitness routine stays on track even when on vacation?

Let’s do this! (again…)

It has been almost a year since I updated this blog and over a year since I opened up about my break up and the abuse I had lived through for five years. There were several times where I thought “I should update the blog…It’s just sitting there” or someone would tell me “I love your blog! You need to post more!” I really wanted to, but I found it hard to be honest enough to open up about how I was coping, and more importantly how I wasn’t running or eating healthy.

“Make sure you’re working out. It will really help you feel better!”

I quickly lost track of how many times I was provided this, admittedly well-meaning, advice over the past year whenever I opened up to someone about the amount of anxiety I was feeling. Exercise is supposed to make you feel better, it increases your endorphins, and as Elle Woods says “Endorphins make you happy!”

Runners often talk about the “runner’s high” they feel, the high that justifies running distances that non-runners find crazy. Once I started running, it was always a sure-fire way to improve my mood, that is, until it wasn’t. 

I have old posts about how running has made me feel emotional and, while rare, I’ve been known to cry after an especially strenuous workouts or races. However, those tears were rarely accompanied with feelings of sadness. Last year, that was not the case. Every run caused me to break down into, often uncontrollable tears, and a need to stop running catch my breath and inevitably end my workout to go home feeling more depressed and anxious than when I started.  I don’t think it would surprise anyone to hear that I dreaded my runs and very quickly decided to take a break from running.

I threw myself into other workouts. I was going to find something that worked! I joined my coworkers for a free introductory Crossfit class. But while they left the class feeling amped and ready to sign up for a membership. I went home, took a quick shower, and crawled into my bed crying for the rest of the evening wallowing in sadness and anxiety.

My therapist recommended Zengo, and while I truly loved the workouts, will probably do it again, it also left me in tears at the end. Yoga wasn’t any better for my emotions.

A quick Google search reassured me I wasn’t broken and it is actually incredibly common to feel this way after working out. Still that didn’t make me feel any better, and it’s hard to vocalize to people why you aren’t willing to try their fail proof suggestion of working out more in order to feel better. It’s hard to motivate yourself to do something that you know is just going to make you cry and feel crappy, so I didn’t.

I threw myself into anything that would make me feel better. I ate whatever the hell I wanted, calorie and carb counts be damned! I found a therapist knowledgeable in narcissistic emotional abuse and began seeing her weekly. I surrounded myself with friends and activities, became more active in my church community, and prioritized my alone time to help me recharge when necessary.

None of the above was easy. Every time I ate a piece of pizza or cake, decided to see friends instead of work out, or noticed that my clothes that once draped over my body were becoming decidedly tighter I heard my ex’s voice in my head chastising me. “Why are you eating that?” “You could be skinny if you wanted, you’re just lazy,” “It isn’t hard to lose weight you just have to do it.”  My therapist helped me work through silencing those voices. While I still hear them occasionally, now they are so quiet I can easily drown them out with my own positive mantras.

Running again and feeling great about it!

I am running again (and training for another half marathon!), and slowly resuming my health eating. This past year wasn’t easy and building my stamina back up was, at times, frustrating, but the end result was worth it. Mentally I feel better than I ever have with a more positive outlook on life than I could have hoped for. The hard work was worth it, so here’s to the next year!

Frederick Running Festival Relay Recap

The 10k may be my favorite race distance, but I am quickly becoming a fan of relays. I think it’s the comradery of having a team of friends that are all working together to finish a race. So when I found out the Frederick Running Festival had a relay race I knew I need to run it! I had previously participated in the Frederick Running Festival 5k a few years back but this year I managed to convince my sister to run the half marathon relay with me.

Being the incredibly organized pair of sisters that we are it was we decided on our legs of the race two days before. I ran the first leg (7.7 miles) and she ran the second leg (5.4 miles but with way more hills). Yeah…we love to procrastinate which was apparently the theme of this race.

Neither of us felt entirely prepared for this race. Due to a combination of horrible weather, and the fact that this race occurred right after the last week of my old job and right before starting a new one, I wasn’t able to properly train for the distance due to the stress of wrapping things up at work. However, both of us managed to run the Kennedy Krieger ROAR for Kids 5K without stopping the week prior, which made us feel better about tackling our distances in the relay.

The morning of the race, the weather was, thankfully, cooperating and I knew it was going to be a great day! Unfortunately, we didn’t properly plan for the traffic getting to the start line and my sister ended up missing the bus to take her to the relay exchange point. See, procrastination…theme of the day.

                            Obligatory pre-race selfie

Luckily her husband was able to drive her, and two other runners we randomly bumped into who also missed the bus. On the bright side, this meant that she was able to cheer me on as I crossed the start line! Silver linings!

Check out all the runners!

To say I was nervous about this race was an understatement. With everything going on I am still struggling to motivate myself to get out and run on a consistent basis and I didn’t feel as prepared as I did when I ran the Sole of the City a few weeks prior. However, I surprised myself!

Despite starting off my leg a bit too fast, I managed to slow down my pace enough so I made it four miles without needing to stop. After mile four I took brief walk breaks for each mile after but each walk was minimal. Then when I hit mile 7 something weird happened.

I became incredibly emotional. Please comment below if you have ever experienced this, but this isn’t the first time this has occurred. This doesn’t happen often, but occasionally, during a run, I will feel a huge swell of emotion (usually when I am really pushing myself and it is almost always during a time of stress in my life). Most of the time I am able to hold it together and suppress the tears but that wasn’t happening during this race.

The tears just started flowing, I am thankful it was just tears and not ugly crying, but it was enough that other runners noticed. That moment, my friends, was when I realized how much I LOVE the running community and how supportive they are. All of a sudden two runners beside me yelled “Relay runner! Yeah you! You’ve got this, you’re almost there you’re looking great!”

I wasn’t crying because I was struggling, but hearing words of encouragement kept me from feeling embarrassed, and pushed me to run even faster. By the time I reached the exchange I felt so proud of myself and with a quick hug my sister began the second leg.

I did it!

My sister did great too meeting some of her own personal records, which I say made the Frederick Relay a success all around!

The sister squad!

Afterward, I celebrated the best way I knew how with brunch at the Family Meal and then driving four hours to Roanoke, VA halfway to Asheville, NC where I spent the next week on vacation. In case you were wondering, driving four hours after running over seven in the morning didn’t become my favorite decision in the world. I wouldn’t advise it. However, I did manage to end my day with a delicious Patty Melt in my hotel room, #treatyoself!

It was 100 worth it

Have you ever gotten emotional while running? Please share your story in the comments so that I don’t feel so weird and alone….🙂

It’s time for a new goal!

I’m not sure if the iron supplements have started working or not but I’ve been running and going to the gym again! I ran twice last week, and have managed to go to the gym every evening this week for either Body Pump, Body Combat, or Body Flow (and sometimes two in one night).

 It’s still a struggle to wake up in the morning, and more often than not I’m losing that battle, so it’s been a lot of evening runs and gym visits. I miss my morning workouts, and getting home earlier than 7:30 or 8 pm, but I’m optimistic I’ll be able to get back to it once everything with my iron deficiency evens out.

Anyways I’ve been so focused on getting back into some sort of routine that I haven’t had the chance to write any posts. However, I am excited that I’ve started to find my motivation that I decided it was time to celebrate, by signing up for the Baltimore Half Marathon.

And I am so excited!! And nervous, and intimidated, but mostly excited. It’s hard to believe that a little over two years ago completing the 3.1 miles required for the Baltimore Women’s Classic was such a challenge and now I’m thinking about adding 10 miles to that distance.

 CRAZY!

Also I can't believe how tired I looked!
Also I can’t believe how tired I looked!

 Last year after completing the third leg of the relay (which I didn’t realize until race week was the hardest leg, lucky me!) and not feeling like I was going to die, I knew it was time to start pushing myself and go for the half next year. The original plan was to run the Zooma half marathon, but grad classes got in the way and so plans had to be adjusted.

So October it is! This race is going to bring about a lot of firsts for me. I’ve never used any sort of training plan for any races, but I know I’m going to need to for this. I’ll be working on what that looks like in the next week or so, including cross training. Which is another first for me. I’m loving the Les Mills classes I’m taking at the gym and fully plan to incorporate in my half marathon training as I go along. I’ve always wanted to focus on cross training more, and I’ve improved over the last few months, but I want to make it important part of my half marathon training.

Moral of the story? I can’t wait for October!

 Do you have any races that you’re looking forward to?

Happy 2015

I had a week and a half off work during the holidays, which I ended up taking full advantage of to sleep, rest and just relax. It was definitely needed, I didn’t realize how overdue I was for a vacation. Still it was far too short and the last thing I wanted to do this morning was go to work!

I had a great break and a lot of fun over the holidays. Now that it’s the new year I was being cliché and reflecting on the past year and thinking about what 2015 would bring. I’m not usually one for making new year’s resolutions, so I won’t. Let’s call them my 2015 goals:

  1. Become a morning runner – I’m already well on my way to achieving this goal. The move to Rockville, gives me an extra hour in the morning, meaning waking up earlier before work isn’t such a burden.
  2. Run a half marathon this spring – I have yet to decide which marathon to choose, but I want to run a half by the spring, in addition to the Baltimore Running Festival Half Marathon. I think this is totally possible, it’s just going to require some dedication on my part.
  3. Continue my healthy eating – I have done so well with making my own meals and indulging only on special occasions. That isn’t to say that I didn’t throw caution to the wind and eat whatever the hell I wanted over my time off during the holidays (because cookies! So many cookies were consumed in a week and a half!). It does, however, mean that I have more confidence I can get back on track and continue with my healthy habits that I started last year.
  4. Make strength training funI said earlier that I want to introduce strength training into my fitness routine, and I did, but to be honest I didn’t do a great job of keeping up with it. I find strength training so boring, so I’ll always find an excuse to do something else. Therefore, instead of making a goal of doing more strength training, I’m going to try to make it fun, so that I’ll be motivated to do it more often.
  5. Read – I know this isn’t fitness related, but it’s something I think I need to do more of. I used to read voraciously, but I stopped a while ago. For Christmas my boyfriend got me the Kindle Voyage, which in my opinion is the perfect excuse to read more books this year! My ambitious goal is 20 books in 2015, but honestly, I’d be happy with 15.

Well, that’s it for my resolutions. Comment below and tell me what your resolutions for 2015 are!