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!

Movement Streak Day 10

For a while it has felt as though my physical health has been on the same roller coaster ride that my emotional health has been. I mentioned that for the first month the thought of food made me sick and I lost a considerable amount of weight because I simply wasn’t eating enough.

Sick of all those pesky pounds? Step one: Have your heart broken.

I stopped running, and then once I began discovering that I had in fact been in an abusive relationship the anger came with a vengeance and with it so much emotional eating. It was like waking up from a fog, and then I started paying attention to the fact that every time I wanted to eat something even mildly unhealthy my ex’s voice was in my head reminding me how that piece of cake wasn’t going to help me get any more attractive. I wanted to take back my enjoyment of food and give myself permission to enjoy everything I ate. So I did. I enjoyed healthy and unhealthy food alike whenever the urge hit, and it felt so good.

During these past few months my consistency with running has been on and off. I trained for the Sole of the City 10k, and successfully completed it along with the Frederick Running Festival Relay! Then I got a new job and since then I have been trying to adjust to a new schedule and figure out where running fits in with the many changes in my life.

It’s been a challenge, and now with summer officially arriving the decision to put my runs until after work ends up meaning I won’t run at all because by the time I’m clocking out the temps have reached the upper 90s.

All this long, drawn out explanation, to say my waistline has expanded, my energy has plummeted, and my mood isn’t as positive as it could be. I’m also getting sick far more than I usually do. So last week after reading about my friend’s running streak  on her blog MC’s Many Miles, I decided to do a “movement streak.” I’ve committed to running or walking at least a mile every day for at least this month. So far, I’ve run more days than walked, and in just ten days I have noticed an improvement in my mood and my stamina is already slowly increasing from where it was.

Also forgot how much I love connecting with nature when I run

So why a movement streak and not a running streak? Simple. Injury prevention. Anyone who has read this blog knows I am prone to sprained ankles and injury. I deal with plantar fasciitis every day, and I want to ensure I am listening to my body and allowing it the rest it needs when I feel my muscles tightening up. In addition to all the movement, I’m making an effort to better incorporate yoga into my routine as well.

Mid-run selfies are also important to any fitness streak

Currently, my improved mood and increased energy has been enough to motivate me to keep me moving every day. While my goal is only for a month, I am (not so secretly) hoping I’ll be able to continue it past that.

What motivates you to keep moving and get or stay healthy?

 

 

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….🙂

Is it finally spring in Maryland?

It seems the weather is starting to warm up a little here in Maryland. Yesterday it was almost 60 degrees and today it is supposed to get up to 74 degrees.

I’m just hoping it stays this way, and we don’t get another freak snowfall in April….

After seeing the forecast yesterday morning I decided it was the perfect day to go running after work. I brought my running clothes to work, because otherwise I will lose all motivation the second I get home and realize lying on the couch all evening sounds much more comfortable than three miles…I can’t be the only one who deals with that struggle. Anyone?

Anyway, since this past Sunday I celebrated Orthodox Easter, that meant last week was Holy Week. I spent every night in church, and while I loved it, it also meant I didn’t get to go running at all next week.

Did I mention I have the Sole of the City 10k on Saturday….Yeah I haven’t been feeling very confident about that run as a result.

My run today was great, the weather was perfect for it! I left my Garmin at home, which was a disappointment but based on the mile markers on my route I managed to run about 3.5 miles. Two of those miles without stopping to walk!

Check out that view!

After my hiatus from running I’m still working back up to the endurance I had before, which means all my runs involve walking and rests. Although, those walks are getting shorter and shorter each time I go out.

Then it was back home for home made beef and broccoli with fried cauliflower rice while watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Yumm….have I mentioned this is one of my favorite quick meals?

As long as you end the night with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime and you’re doing life right.

Seriously though, have you watched this show? If you haven’t you NEED to. Best show that is out there right now. Do yourself a favor, ignore the awful title and watch it if you haven’t already.

Did you go running or exercise this week? How did it go? 

Have you watched The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and are you as obsessed with it as I am? 

Let’s try this again…

Disclaimer: This post is going to be full of real talk.

It has been forever and a day since I last posted. Or, more accurately, almost two years. The initial reason? I was finishing my Master’s Degree. I had a capstone to work on, exams to study for, and to be quite honest, ensuring I was successful with all of that, while working full time, didn’t leave time for much else. But then I graduated!

Happy Graduation day to me!

Graduation gave a short break from stress, and then life decided I’d had enough relaxation and that was the perfect time to throw a ton of unexpected stressors my way that invited a whole slew of emotions including anger, frustration, sadness and loneliness.

The most recent curveball was the end of a five-year relationship. I was making plans for a future, and apparently, he was not. Many of my friends, who were as shocked as I was, commented on how strong I was for how I dealt with everything. I felt anything but. I felt crushed and broken, the future I thought I was going to have was no more.

I pep talked my way out of bed every morning. I felt like my feet were dragging each and every day.  For a while, I stopped eating because the thought of food made me sick to my stomach. I lost a ton of weight (at least two dress sizes), and for the first time in my life I wasn’t happy about it (although even I can admit I looked fantastic). I now know what full blown anxiety feels like. Anxiety attacks became something my body was bracing for when the next one would hit. I cherished the five second reprieve I got when I first woke up in the morning and my brain had forgotten everything that was going on.

I stopped running. Initially, for good reason, I had a bad ankle sprain that wouldn’t go away. But then I visited a podiatrist, started physical therapy, was given the go ahead to start running again…and still didn’t run for five months. Since I started running that may be the longest break from physical activity that I’ve had. I don’t even know how many people told me “You NEED to exercise, it will make you feel better!” Hell, I was telling myself that. But saying that, and knowing that, is a lot easier than actually putting on my running clothes, lacing up my running shoes and going out for a run.

I threw myself into social activities, which as an introvert was draining and exhausting, but that was the point. I was too exhausted at the end of each day to deal with all the emotions swirling in my head. I dove head first back into dating, making profiles on dating apps, swiping left far more than I was swiping right. I met someone fast. Someone great. He was nice, funny, cute. We had SO MUCH in common…and I couldn’t open up. I was honest with him, I ended it, he was great about it (which made ending it that much harder). I deleted all my dating app profiles and exited the dating pool as quickly as I had entered it.

I have made some major changes to my life, and changes are still happening. It’s possible some of them were rushed, but, overall, it has been for the best. The anxiety attacks have stopped (thank goodness!) and I have finally started running again. So far it’s been about one month, I’m training for the Sole of the City 10k on April 14. Saturday I had my first 5 mile run since October. It was slow, my legs hated me, and it felt fantastic.  In the past few months I have learned so much about myself. Who I was when I entered my relationship five years ago, is not at all who I am now, in most ways for the better. My strength and resiliency throughout this whole process has shocked me. It’s taken time, and so much patience to get the point where I am finally, truly, excited to see what the future has in store for me.

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?

Everything tastes better in a Crepe and Other Life Lessons

It’s been a little bit since I’ve been able to update (not having a working computer makes that a bit difficult) but I’m finally back with a working computer! I know everyone is as excited as I am.

So what exactly have I learned from this unexpected time off from the blog?

1. Working full time, and taking two grad school classes is no joke, and then just add on the fact that my computer was broken so I couldn’t do any homework at home. This has felt like one very elaborate juggle act, is it summer yet?

2. If I never see this screen again in my life I will be a happy woman.

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3. Also in the six years since college I have definitely not missed studying for midterms.

At least my study buddies are keeping me company!
At least my study buddies are keeping me company!

4. I really love snow days that create unexpected four day weekends. I have, however, really started to hate the snow.

5. Sprained ankles are the worst, but your first week back at the gym feels amazing!!

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6. I have gone a little overboard since my return to running and have started to sign up for every race I can think of…I may need to tone it down a bit.

7. Everything tastes better wrapped in a crepe! I learned how to make crepes and I may or may not have eaten one for lunch and one for dinner yesterday. That’s a crepe filled with avocado hummus, feta, mushrooms and caramelized onions, YUM!

Yes, it is sitting on a textbook. That is my life now.
Yes, it is sitting on a textbook. That is my life now.

 

8. Games on the rowing machine at the gym make things fun, even if I am not very good at them.

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9. White grapefruit doesn’t taste any different from regular grapefruit.

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10. Small apples also don’t taste any different from regular sized apple, but they’re MINI, and cute!

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11. New running shoes are the best!

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12. Wanting to go for a run and then realizing that you left your sports bra at your boyfriend’s, however, is not the best.

13. And lastly, with a midterm coming up on Thursday night what I really should be doing is studying, or sleeping.

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!

I’m Back!

Finally! I didn’t mean to go MIA on this blog, but as I wrote in the one blog post I found a moment to spare, something had to give. This past month has brought about a lot of changes!

Starting with my move!

This is huge and so exciting for me. After living a year in the Howard County and commuting an hour both ways to work, I am now living in Gaithersburg and have a five minute to commute! However, this also means that the distance between my boyfriend and I went from 30 minutes to an hour or an hour and a half depending on traffic. This was a big decision but in the end, for the sake of my sanity, it was decided that money and time saved by a lesser commute to work and grad school would more than make up for the increased distance between us.

Moving means packing, unpacking, cursing your hoarding tendencies, throwing everything away, and then wondering where you put that one item you really really need right now (oh yeah, it’s in the trash).

This has not been much fun, and has eaten up what little spare time I have left for now. Thankfully most everything is unpacked, except for one box hat may never get unpacked, because I just don’t feel like it! My current kitchen is much smaller than my previous one, so fitting my kitchen stuff has felt like a game of tetris, but my room hasn’t been much of an issue. I love my bigger room and walk in closet so much!

My first grad school class is over!

When I wasn’t unpacking I was completing my take home final and my project. Everything is submitted, and all I have left to worry about is my grade. I’m pretty sure I did well, but let’s be honest, I won’t be able to truly breathe until I find out how I did. Fingers crossed!

Running?

Running took a temporary hiatus, and cooking and eating properly was been pretty hard to fit in recently. I wish I could say that despite all these changes I found the time to eat healthy and work out, but the take out containers in my trash would say otherwise. It’s hard enough to find time to be healthy when work is busy and you have to study, but it becomes near impossible when you’re trying to move and get settled in a new location.

Still I was really excited last week to squeeze in my first run in a very long time. Now that I live five minutes from work (!!!!) Waking up in the morning for a run is much more feasible than it was before. Overall, it was great, I’ll write about it later in the week.

Anyways, now I’m just gearing up for Christmas and New Years. I get about a week and a half off from work starting on the 24th. I don’t think I’ve ever welcomed my winter break quite as much as I am now!

Somehow I did manage to send out my Christmas Cards this year.
Somehow I did manage to send out my Christmas Cards this year.