Marathon #2: Three Weeks In

Monday.  The start of the third week of marathon training.  As usual, I came home from work tired and decided a nap was in order before I got my recovery run in.  But for some reason, I just didn’t feel like sleeping much, and I wanted to do the CrossFit WOD (workout of the day).  Soooo…I decided to combine running and CrossFit.  I only live 2.5 miles from the gym, so at 2:45 p.m. I laced up my shoes and headed out the door.  Don’t ask me why I decided to run at the hottest part of the day!  The good news is that is was only about 97 degrees instead of 101 degrees!  Anywho, I ran a little faster than recovery pace to the gym, did the WOD, and ran even faster coming home.  How did that happen?!  I thought sure 50 deadlifts at 105 pounds would slow me down.  The good news?  The pace was still slower than in times past for recovery runs, and I got my miles in!

Tuesday.  Track day.  Speed work.  Ugh!  Have I mentioned004 that I really don’t like track days???  Today was a 1.5 mile time trial with a 400 meter recovery and then a 400 meter sprint.  I did my 1.5 mile time trial in 11 minutes 42 seconds.  Those 6 laps around the track seemed so long!  But I didn’t stop, as much as I wanted to.  Another 400 meters was a piece of cake after 1.5 miles, and I knocked it out in 1 minute 44 seconds.  Thankfully that’s done for another week!

Wednesday.  Cross training day.  I caught the CrossFit WOD at 5 a.m., rested for an hour or so, then took a 14 mile bike ride along the Arkansas river.  Tulsa really has some great running/walking/cycling trails.  I003 love that about this city!  I’m still working on my cycling fitness.  While I can stay in the saddle fairly easily for an hour or more now, I’m still only riding between 12-13 miles per hour.  The route I rode today also had some pretty good hills which gave me lots of practice with shifting and a great leg workout!  It’s amazing how much harder riding up a hill is than running up a hill.

Thursday.  Today the schedule called for a 3 mile tempo run, running about one minute per mile faster than our base pace.  I caught the CrossFit WOD at 5 a.m. and then headed to a local park/golf course that has a 3 mile walking/running path around the perimeter.  Tempo pace for training is the pace I just naturally default to so it felt good to just run without holding myself back.  On the other hand, my legs were super tired.  Factor in high humidity and the run was rather tough.  Beautiful scenery always helps though!

008Friday.  Rest day.  I got in lots of naps, lots of Netflix, and lots of rolling with my trigger point ball.

005Saturday.  In place of our long slow distance run today, we did the Bedlam run, a fun local run that plays off the rivalry between OU and OSU fans.  Runners could choose between 5K and 10K distances.  Our schedule called for a 1.5 mile warm-up, a 5K time trial, and a 1.5 mile cool down.  Because I’ve run a couple of 5Ks this summer, I decided to just do the 10K.  It wasn’t my best 10K with a time of 58:16, but I still snagged the third place finish in my age division!

Bedlam run 2016 002So what do I need to do differently next week?

  1.  Keep working on recovery pace.
  2. Stay the course with track workouts.
  3. Clean up my diet.  My diet has included way too much chocolate lately, and while I’m not beating myself up, I know that sugar is detrimental to my goals.  Food is fuel, and I want to make sure I’m only fueling myself with the best.  Chocolate ain’t it!


Talk to me:

What did you accomplish this week?

Anything new and exciting on the horizon for next week?




Why CrossFit?

I’m sitting here with sore shoulders from the CrossFit workout yesterday, so I decided today would be a good day to answer the question my sister asked me a while back:  “So why do you do CrossFit?”

It’s a good question when I come home sore, feeling like a noodle, and just downright exhausted.

When people find out I do CrossFit, I get a variety of responses.  Some people are like, “Wow!  I could never do that!”  Other people frown and say, “I’d never do that.  It’s not safe.”  I even had one person tell me CrossFit is too cult-like.  What does that even mean?!  Some people feel intimidated by CrossFit.  Other people think they’re not fit enough to try or are scared to try because of some physical condition.

True, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before you start an intensive exercise program.  And I totally get that CrossFit isn’t for everyone.  Just like running’s not for everyone.  But today, I want to tell you about my experience with CrossFit and why I keep going back for more.  You can decide for yourself if this is an activity you want to try.

I was informally introduced to CrossFit about 9 months into my weight loss journey.  I was exercising at least 3 hours a day, wearing myself out, but not losing any more weight.  You can read about that here. Desperate for help, I signed up to work with a personal trainer at the gym I belonged to at the time.  My trainer was a CrossFitter and so the workouts he designed for me contained a lot of CrossFit moves.  In my whole life, I had never sweated so much that I left puddles of water on the floor, but after one workout with Manoah, I was dripping on the floor.  His workouts were intense and pushed me past limits I’d never crossed before.  But I felt amazing after the workout was done, and I saw my weight start to decrease again.

When Manoah moved away (sad day for me), I thought about his workouts, his own strength, the change in me, and I decided I had to try CrossFit.

One workout later, I was hooked.  Here’s what I love about CrossFit and what keeps me coming back for more:

  1.  I love the community.  That’s right.  CrossFit gyms feel like a community.  The coaches know your name.  You get to know the members in the gym, and they become your friends.  So going to CrossFit for me is more than just getting in a good work out.  It’s about seeing my friends.  It’s a social outlet of sorts.
  2. I love the camaraderie and friendly competition.  I’m not super competitive, except with myself, but a little competition keeps me motivated.  CrossFit workouts are usually set up to do as much work as possible in a specified amount of time or to do the workout as quickly as possible.  Obviously, no one wants to finish last, so that drive to not be last keeps me going hard.  But what I love about CrossFit is that those who finish first cheer on those who are still working.  I’ve been the last place finisher, and to have the rest of the class cheering me on as I struggle for one last thruster or one more power clean gives me strength I didn’t know I had.  It’s competition, yes, but it’s more about celebrating your effort and the fact that you completed the workout.
  3. Everyone can do it.  CrossFit is totally scaleable, meaning if you can’t do a certain move, there’s an alternative.  The coaches will find a movement that you can do that will serve the same purpose.  I have a curve in my spine between my shoulder blades.  It’s caused a lot of upper body weakness and mobility issues.  When I first started CrossFit about a year ago, I couldn’t even pull an empty barbell (35 pounds) much above my waist.  The coIMG_0686ach helped me scale the movement, and now my strength and mobility have improved to the point that pulling those 35 pounds up to my chest feels like nothing.  I still have trouble with overhead work.  It’s taken me a lot longer to progress with those moves because of my spine, and I may never be able to lift as much overhead as other girls in the gym, but I’m doing more than I ever thought possible.
  4. One workout is a full body workout.  When I was going to a traditional gym, I usually had workouts broken up into cardio, leg day, and arm day.  What I love about CrossFit is that every workout targets the entire body and because of the intensity of the workouts, you get a cardio workout as well.  Plus, CrossFit also incorporates balance and agility work.  So in one workout I get everything I need.
  5. The challenge is limitless.  I think this is the thing I love most about CrossFit.  It’s what I like about running.  In running, I can always challenge myself to run farther and faster.  In CrossFit, the workouts are always different.  The moves are similar but because they are done with different weights, different number of repetitions, different speeds, and in varying combinations, my body is constantly challenged.  And there’s such a sense of accomplishment when I finish the WOD.  It makes me hungry for more!
  6. Workouts are planned.  I don’t know about you, but in a traditional gym, I just kind of did my own thing, and because I wasn’t sure how all the machines worked, I tended to do the same exercises over and over.  In CrossFit, the workouts are planned.  All you have to do is show up and do the work.  And the workouts are coached.  I love that there is someone there, a CrossFit expert, encouraging me to pick up the bar, to keep going, to correct my form or technique when I need it.
  7. It’s as safe as any other exercise.  I know that a lot of people think that weight lifting is dangerous, but what I’m learning is that technique makes all the difference.  At my gym, the coaches demonstrate each lift before we do them in the WOD, and then have us demonstrate the lift with a PVC pipe.  During the WOD, I’ve had coaches guide my technique, helping me to get proper form so that the lift is safe.  I appreciat116e that they will tell us to go down in weight if needed to not sacrifice technique.  They are focused on safety.  And just for the record, in one year of running, I lost 3 months of training and spent over $1000 in medical care because of a severe case of iliotibial band syndrome, developed bursitis in my shoulder from lifting weights improperly in a traditional gym, and sprained an ankle when I stepped on a rock.  The most that’s happened to me in my first year of CrossFit are some bruises on my shin from hitting my legs against the barbell and a few blisters on my hands that are now callouses.IMG_0243
  8. I am strong!  I think the thing that makes me excited to go to CrossFit every day is that I see my strength increasing.  When I run hills, I usually pass other people now, and it’s not because I’m a better runner; I’ve just gotten stronger.  Every day activities that involve moving and lifting things are not as difficult.  And that right there is what CrossFit is all about–functional movements.  I like what the owner of the gym told me as my face was in contortions during a WOD, “Remember.  This is so you can do a cartwheel when you’re 90.”  CrossFit is not about looking good, although toning is an inevitable result; it’s about overall body fitness and conditioning to keep you strong and healthy into your latter years.  003So there you go.  That’s why I do CrossFit.  Strength training is an important part of overall health and a great way to bust through a plateau, but whether you decide to take up CrossFit or not is not important.  What’s important is to find an activity you love, something you look forward to doing, and just do it!

Talk to me:

What’s on your agenda for today?

What are your social outlets?

Staying the Course

Confession’s good for the soul, right?  Hopefully, it’s also good for the waist line.  Yup, I have a confession to make.  Well, kind of a confession.  I haven’t murdered anyone, or anything like that, so just relax.

Sometimes I use my cat as a pillow.

001Just kidding.  That’s not my confession.

Ok, seriously.  Here goes.  I have been craving chocolate and junk food like crazy lately…and battling like crazy to not give in.  What gives?  I thought I had this licked.

It takes me back to the point of being within 5 or 10 pounds of my goal weight a couple of years ago.  Seeing the number on the scale go down was huge motivation for me to make those healthy choices, and for the most part, I could choose healthy without too much trouble.

But when I got closer to my goal weight, I began to feel myself wanting to return to my old habits of snacking on things that weren’t good for me.  It was like I began to relax.  I’d reached my goal; now I could let things get back to normal.

But then I remembered.  Healthy IS the new normal!  Yes, my goal was weight loss, but more than that, my goal was PERMANENT weight loss and health.  I didn’t want to lose the weight only to gain it back.  That had been my MO for so many years, and I was done with it.  I realized that the choices I’d made–forgoing donuts and potato chips for apples and salad and trading in my couch potato status for that of runner–were not just temporary choices to reach a temporary goal.  I was in this for the long haul.  These are lifestyle choices, meant to continue from now until the cows come home.

So I’m a little frustrated that I’m battling these unhealthy cravings at the moment.  But I’m also encouraged that while I have had some chocolate, I have not fully given in to my cravings.  These last few years have given me the tools I need to stay the course.

I’m back in that spot of identifying my triggers.  What’s happening that’s causing me to want junk food, especially when I know how yucky it will make me feel?  The big trigger right now is fatigue.  Working night shift takes a toll on me because I don’t sleep well during the day, so after working a couple of consecutive shifts, it takes a while to get caught back up on my sleep.  I know that being tired makes me want bad-for-me things.  So knowing that, I’ve just been telling myself, “Girl [yes, I really call myself “girl”!], you’re just tired.  That’s why you want to eat everything in sight.  You don’t need it.  It’s not good for you.”  And strangely, that gives me strength to pass it by.

Because ultimately, I know that the choices I’ve made are part of a lifestyle I’m able to live with and that I WANT to live out.  I don’t want to go back to junk food and feeling sluggish.  I like being active and energetic and finding adventure in life.  That’s what helps me stay the course.

So to those cravings of chocolate and Cheetos…so long!  Who needs you?  I’ve got my hands over my ears, and I’m not listening to you.


Talk to me:

What are you craving at the moment?

How do you deal with cravings?

Marathon #2: Second Week Down

Monday.  Marathon training week #2.  I had been awake since about 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning, and after trying unsuccessfully to sleep before I went to work Sunday night, I finished my shift Monday morning absolutely exhausted.  I try to get my recovery run in before I go home, but because I didn’t have to work Monday night, I decided to run a bit later in the day.  At 8:00 p.m. after a loooong nap, I decided it was cool enough to run and hit the road.

I really enjoyed that run!  My pace was still faster than recovery run pace but slower than some recovery runs.  Yay!  There was just something so peaceful about running at that time of night.  People walked in the neighborhood.  Kids rode their bikes in driveways.  The moon was out and the humidity lower.  I love the glow of the yard lamps in my neighborhood as dusk settles in.

002Tuesday.  I woke up early to catch the speed workout at the track at 6 a.m.  Just for the record, I HATE speed work.  It is so stinkin’ hard.  It makes me feel like I’m going to puke or pee in pants or something.  It’s just not fun.  But I love the results of speed work, so I went to the track.  It wasn’t too bad this week.  We ran a short ladder of 400 meters, then 600 meters, then 1200 meters, and then back down to 400 meters.  As much as I hated it, I felt great when it was over.  And sore.  Wow.  I was feeling that work almost immediately.

Wednesday.  Cross train day.  I caught a CrossFit class at 5 a.m. and because I ended up doing CrossFit AND cycling 16 miles (!) after the speed workout on Tuesday, I decided I really should take it easy today.  I’ve been getting in lots of naps.  Sunny, on the other hand, has decided to forgo his naps and keep an eye on things in the backyard.

008Thursday.  Today I ran hill repeats with a 1.5 mile warm up and another 1.5 mile cool down.  I found a hill that I could run up in about 30 seconds, walked back to the bottom to let my heart rate recover a bit, and then ran back up the hill.  I did that 6 times.  Here’s the hill I ran up.  The photo is a bit deceptive, but trust me.  That’s a hill!

002It was a tough run.  My legs were super sore from weighted dumb bell lunges at CrossFit on Wednesday, and it was miserably hot.  Today actual temperatures are supposed to reach 100 degrees with a heat index of 105-110.  Bleh!  I just wasn’t feeling it, and my knee was bothering me a bit.  I put an elastic brace on it for good measure, and thankfully, it didn’t bother me at all during the run.

001Friday.  Rest day.  I really wanted to go to CrossFit, but when I realized I hadn’t taken a rest day in over a week, I knew a rest day was in order.  It’s hard for me to rest when I love my sports so much!

Saturday.  Long slow distance!  I love these runs!  Today we went just a little over 9 miles.  It was a good run, despite being super hot and humid.  Seriously, there was not a dry spot on any piece of clothing I had on 5 miles into the run.  I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much.  I had to sit on a towel on my way home to protect my cloth car seats, and the towel was soaked by the time I got home!

Today on our run, I tried new nutrition, Accel gel.  I’ve trained exclusively with Gu up until now, but I discovered during the marathon, that my stomach could just not handle any more Gu after about 18 miles.  I was nervous, afraid of stomach cramping with new nutrition, but I did great with Accel!  And it tasted great!  I’m anxious to try another flavor.

Overall, I’m pleased with training this week.  Here are my goals for next week:

  1.  Continue to work at running recovery runs at recovery pace.
  2. Get to the track again!
  3. Try another type of nutrition or at least another flavor of Accel gel.
  4. Take at least 2 rest days.

Talk to me:

What’s on your agenda for next week?




To Run Fast You Have to Run Fast

When I first starting running in October of 2013, I was more concerned with distance than speed.  It wasn’t until I ran my first race that I started to think about running faster.

One of the things I really love about running is that there’s no bar that I have to meet.  I don’t have anyone’s expectations to think about.  The only person I really have to compete against is myself.  Sure, when I race, I’m trying to beat as many people as possible, but ultimately, I know I’ll never win a race.  My real goal is just to beat MY best time.  To race against myself.  In that way, running poses a limitless challenge.  I love that!

But to race against myself, I realized I needed to run faster.  So I set out to do just that.  Fresh from a speed workout at the track this week, I thought I would tell you how I learned (and am still learning) to run faster.

  1.  Run on a treadmill.  That may seem like a silly suggestion, but early in my running days, treadmill running really helped.  I had no idea how fast I was going when I ran outside, since I didn’t even know Garmins existed then!  But treadmills gave me that information.  So I would start my run at a pace I could run comfortably for 3 miles.  Then, for the last quarter mile, I would increase the pace by 0.10 mph every minute or two.  As the base pace became easier, I would increase that pace by 0.10 or 0.20 mph and then again gradually increase the pace at the end of the run.  It was a slow but steady progression, but it worked!  I finished my first 5K in 34 minutes in May.  Two months later in July, I ran another 5K in 30 minutes!
  2. Run with a running watch.  When I finally decided I was a runner and wanted to be serious about the sport, I invested in a Garmin Forerunner 011220 running watch.  It has GPS so it can track distance when I’m running outside, but it also calculates pace and cadence (how many steps a minute I’m taking.)  I eventually got bored of running mostly on the treadmill, so my running watch gave me the ability to still work on pace outside.  I continued my practice of running at a certain pace and then speeding up at the end, but what running outside did was really help me begin to judge my pace by level of exertion.  So when I began to feel tired and winded, I could look at my pace and know that, “Ok, when I feel like this, I’m running this fast.”  I’m still not great at judging pace by level of exertion but I’m getting better.
  3. Join a running group.  Running with a group has been one of the best things I’ve done to improve my running.  Sure, the social aspect is great!  But having runners of varying levels of experience in the group makes for a great learning environment.  I pick brains as we run, asking questions about form, nutrition, ice baths, whatever.  But running with a group has also been good for learning to run faster.  The coach of the first group I trained with would say, “If you want to run fast, you have to run fast!”  So on runs that we would do tempo runs (running at a faster pace than base pace) or other types of speed work like fartleks (seriously, but farts are optional!), where the pace varies for random distances, running with a group pushes me to run fast.  If I don’t want to get left behind, I have to run fast enough to keep up with them!  I can do tempo runs and fartleks alone, but doing them with a group is so much more bearable.
  4. Do track workouts.  I feel fortunate to live in a city with a college that has an amazing track that is open to our running group.  Every week year round a coach puts us through a speed workout.  Sometimes we run a certain number of 800s (2 laps around the track).  Other times we run 1600s (4 laps) or we’ll run a combination of distances.  It’s always different, but always FAST.  I’m not a fast runner, and I’m not kiddi004ng myself about ever being an elite runner. The pace I just naturally default to when I’m not really thinking about pace is between 9:15 to 9:30 per mile.  At the track, I’m running between 7:05 to 7:30 minutes per mile.  To me, that’s HARD.    It’s so much faster than I usually run and pushes me way out of my comfort zone, but good things are born in discomfort.  I can always tell that even after one track workout I just naturally run faster without feeling like I’m working harder.  This is me after the track workout this week.  Running fast not only makes one tired, it also gives one crazy hair and a goofy smile.  I think it must just be giddiness that it’s over!
  5. Run consistently.  The last thing I did to run faster was simply…RUN!  Even if I wasn’t focusing on speed for a particular run, the more I ran, the faster I ran.  I think it probably had something to do with getting stronger, losing weight, and maybe just getting comfortable with running.  But just run.  It’s like any other skill.  The more you do it, the better you get at it.
  6. Have a yapping dog chase you.  Ok.  I’m totally kidding, but it’s still true.  Sometimes in my neighborhood these little ankle biter yapping dogs chase me down the street.  Seriously, I can run a 7:00 minute mile without thinking about it when there’s a dog at my heels!  I’m not buying that cuteness!

One word of caution–NOT EVERY RUN NEEDS TO BE SPEED WORK!  Change up your runs.  If you’re following my marathon training, you may notice that I only do speed work once a week.  Varying the types of runs (another post for another day)  you do will make you a better runner, but always running as fast as you can go may increase your risk for injury.  That would be no bueno.

So there you go–my unscientific and non-researched guide to running faster.  Here’s to running…at whatever pace is fast for you!  Or to just running!


Talk to me:

What are your running goals?

What makes you run faster?




Mashed Potato Substitute

I love potatoes.  No, I don’t just love potatoes.  I LOOOOVE them!  I don’t think I’ve met a potato yet that I don’t like.  I love mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, french fried potatoes, sweet potatoes (as long as they’re not covered in brown sugar and marshmallows.  Yuck!), hash browned potatoes.  I love them all…and I’d be happy eating them every single day.

The good news about potatoes is they are high in fiber and potassium.  But…the bad news about potatoes is that they’re very starchy.  They provide a lot of carbohydrates which equals more calories.  And what’s the secret to weight loss?  Calories!  Yep, burning more calories than you take in.

So when I began my weight loss journey, I discovered that my diet was starchy carb heavy, adding greatly to my overabundance of daily calories.  So I began to find lower calorie carbohydrates to replace those starchy carbs (potatoes, corn, white bread, pasta, pastries, etc.) with.  Did you know that if you eat a salad with greens and fresh vegetables or an apple that you’re still eating carbs?  Truth!  If it’s not a protein or a fat, it’s a carb!  The key for me to eating carbs is to go easy on the starchy carbs (except when I have a big race coming up!) and to concentrate on those low calorie carbohydrates–broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, cucumber, etc.

But I also like to find ways that I can have my cake and eat it too, so to speak.  I choose not to have mashed potatoes very often because I would rather spread out my calories instead of eating a good chunk of them at one meal.  It was a happy day when I discovered Mashed Cauliflower!

Mashed Cauliflower is a great substitute for mashed potatoes.  It has a mild flavor and is low in calories.  An entire head of cauliflower has about 147 calories!  Compare that to 110 calories for 1 potato and this does not include the butter, sour cream, or other toppings commonly found on top of potatoes.  A cup of mashed potatoes made with whole milk and margarine has 237 calories!

Here’s how I make Mashed Cauliflower:

  1.  Chop a head of cauliflower into flowerets.010
  2. Steam the cauliflower until it’s soft.  I steam it a little longer than I would to just serve steamed cauliflower.  A fork should pierce it easily.  I like to steam my veggies in my microwave steamer.
  3. Use a blender or food processor to “mash” up the steamed cauliflower.  (I don’t know where my head was.  I used a beater instead of my blender which did not get the cauliflower as fine as I like it.)
  4. Add salt to taste.011
  5. Add milk to get the right consistency.  I like to use almond milk; it has fewer carbs and calories.
  6. If you decide to add butter, use real butter sparingly and not that evil, fake margarine!
  7. Serve as you would mashed potatoes.012

Talk to me:

Have you ever tried mashed cauliflower?  Would you?

What other ways have you eaten cauliflower?

Marathon #2: Here We Go Again!

Today marked the end of the first week of marathon training…again.  Yes, I’ve got my sights set on the Route 66 marathon in November.  I know if you’re a beginning runner, reading about marathon training may not be particularly helpful, but I also want to record my training for my own benefit.  My first marathon was a good learning experience, and I want to fine tune some areas in my training that will hopefully make this next one a better experience.  I’m hoping that recording my training play by play will help me stay on track and tweak what needs tweaking.

This first week started with a slow, easy run on Monday.  Mondays are “recovery runs” when we run almost a minute slower than our base pace, the pace we generally run on our long Saturday runs.  Recovery runs are hard for me because the pace is so slow.  I just naturally have a faster pace that I fall in to, but it’s important to run slow to give muscles a chance to heal and recover.  This is one area I really want to work on in this training season.  Last season, I tried to run slow, but all my runs wound up being around the pace I just naturally default to.

So I got off of work Monday morning at 7 a.m., exhausted from a 12 hour shift, but bound and determined to get my recovery run in before I went home to get some sleep.  I did NOT want to start out the training season a day behind already!  I brought running clothes with me to work, and as soon as I finished my shift, I changed clothes and hit the pavement.  I find that if I don’t go home first, I have an easier time getting that run in.  Plus, I like running, and running in new areas is fun.

Unfortunately, my pace was still a bit fast, but I felt great when I finished those 4 miles! (Yes, I know it’s a bad picture but cut me some slack.  I just worked 12 hours and then ran in humid 85 degree weather.)

003Tuesdays are track days when we do speed work.  Unfortunately, my work schedule did not allow me to make it to the track, so Tuesday ended up being a rest day for me.

Wednesday.  The last of my three consecutive night shifts ended at 7 a.m.  I took a nap and then got a CrossFit workout in.  Wednesdays are cross training days where we do another activity except run.  I usually CrossFit and/or cycle for cross training.

On Thursday, I got another CrossFit workout in at 5 a.m.  Call me crazy, but I love those early morning classes!  I planned to run with my training group for a tempo run that night, but a bad storm canceled those plans.  I ended up doing a tempo run on my treadmill instead.  In hindsight, I might as well have run in the rain; I got just as wet!

009Friday was CrossFit again.  And then came Saturday!

I love Saturday runs!  I usually do my weekly runs alone, but on Saturdays, we run as a group with our coaches for a longer distance.  For this first week, we ran just a little over 7 miles.  It’s amazing how quickly 7 miles goes by when I’m running with a group!

006And I am breaking in new shoes!  My feet were happy.  005So what do I want to do differently for the second week of training?

  1.  Work hard at running recovery runs at recovery pace.  It’s crazy that running slow is almost harder than running fast!
  2. Get in the speed workout.  My schedule should allow me to get to the track on Tuesday, but if not, my goal is to do the speed workout on my own.
  3. Keep a good attitude.  I found out I may actually have to work the weekend of the marathon, so that’s put a bit of a damper on training.  I kind of went into the week with a why-train-if-I-can’t-run-the-race attitude, but I’m trying to be positive that training will at the very least keep me in good shape and who knows?  Maybe I will get the weekend off!

Talk to me:

So would you ever consider running a marathon?

What questions do you have about training for a marathon, or for a race in general?

Have you run a marathon?  What is your best training advice?



Taking Back My Power

Sometimes when people see that I’m eating salad for lunch instead of pizza, they make remarks like, “I wish I had your will power.”  Or when we talk about weight loss and eating healthy, I hear, “I just don’t have any will power.”

I don’t buy it.  You heard me.  Baloney.  Hog wash.  That’s a load of…

You do so have will power.  But I get it.  I used to think the same thing.  Somehow, I just could not seem to say “no” to whatever it was I was craving at the moment.  It was like I had no choice but to eat whatever I was thinking about.  Food controlled me, or so it seemed.  It called; I answered.  And it led me all the way to a whopping 180 pounds of feeling worthless, powerless, and hopeless.

But sometime during my 21 day Daniel fast , I had an epiphany.  Here I was hungry, thinking about all the things I’d love to be eating at the moment, but I was saying “no” and saying “no” successfully.  It dawned on me that food has NO power over me.  What do you know?  I DO have will power.  It’s ME that controls what and how much goes in my mouth.  Food is an inanimate object.  It can’t make me do anything.

It’s like what I learned about dealing with difficult people.  In my line of work (nurse), I see all kinds of people who are under tremendous stress and certainly not having the best of days.  Sometimes someone will curse at me, yell at me, demand that I do things that would not be safe to do, threaten to sue me.  Sometimes I feel like I must have blood running down my chin from biting my tongue so hard.  Because what I realized is that I have no control over how other people act, but I do have complete control over how I respond.  They can act like a horse’s behind, but that doesn’t mean I have to respond in kind.  Is it easy?  NO WAY!  I can think of dozens of things I’d like to say, but I practice self-control and try to find the kindest, gentlest, most professional way to respond to this rant.

It’s the same idea with food.  Ok, it’s not cursing at and threatening to sue us, but it certainly drives us mad with the constant taunts and temptations.   But you CAN say NO!  You don’t have to eat it!  Food cannot make you eat what you know would not be good for you or more than you need.

I know.  Believe me, I know saying “no” to a favorite snack is so incredibly hard.  But the more you do it, the easier it becomes. This little girl has saying “no” down to an art!

Here are a couple of tricks I learned that helped me take back the will power I allowed food to steal:

  1.  Am I really hungry?  I know I’ve said this a million times already, but being able to identify triggers for eating is so important.  When you get that urge to eat, is it really hunger or is there something else going on that’s making you want to eat?
  2. Drink a glass of water.  If you think you really might be hungry, drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes.  If you’re still hungry, have a snack but make it a healthy one.
  3. Keep the foods that tempt me the most out of the house.  Out of sight, out of mind, right?  Well, not necessarily, but if it’s not available to me, I can’t eat it.
  4. Chew gum.  Sometimes, just keeping my mouth busy calms a craving.
  5. Find a distraction.  There are times still when I’m just totally stuck on a craving.  I can’t think of anything else, but I’m not hungry, so I don’t need to eat.  So I try to distract myself with another activity.  Sometimes I go for a walk, read a book, watch a movie or a TV show, play games on my iPad…anything you enjoy that will take your mind off food.
  6. Pray.  Yes, I would pray during times of intense craving, wanting to give in, but knowing I would hate myself for eating again.  So I’d pray that God would give me strength to say “no” to that craving, to that delectable brownie or yummy chocolate chip cookie.

Taking back your power is not easy, and there’s nothing fun about it.  It causes a quite intense inner struggle.  But believe me, you DO have will power!  You just need to exercise it.  It’s like any other muscle.  If you don’t use it, it’s just weak and unable to do the work.  But the more you exercise that weak muscle, the stronger it gets, and eventually, you’ll be doing things you had no idea you could do.


Talk to me:

What food do you have a hard time saying “no” to?

Am I a Cyclist?

When I first started running, I had a hard time calling myself a runner.  I mean, I didn’t look like a runner.  In fact, I could barely run.  Or, I guess, more accurately, I ran at a snail’s pace.  Surely, I couldn’t call myself a runner until I was able to run faster, go further, finish a race.  To be a runner, I was sure, meant achieving some level of proficiency in the sport.

Calling myself a runner wasn’t as natural as other titles, or labels, I have.  When I graduated from college, I took and passed the national nursing licensure exam, and BOOM.  Registered nurse.  Holding the credentials of RN had nothing to do with my level of skill or experience but was based solely on the fact that I had graduated from an approved program of study and passed the national exam.  And becoming Aunt Nita had nothing to do with my experience in caring for children.  It just happened when my brother and sisters became mom and dad.  But runner?  Somehow I just couldn’t believe that just because I ran, I was a runner.

Last week, the local running store that coordinates the program I train with kicked off the fall training season with The First Mile event.  Runners and walkers came together for a quick run or walk just to kick off the training season.  I found myself running beside a guy who looked to me to be an experienced runner.  We got to talking, and I found out he was training for a half marathon, his first.  He made the remark, “Maybe then I can call myself a runner.”

I recognized those feelings immediately.  Been there, brother.  But I found myself telling him, “Dude, you’re out here running in 98 freaking degrees.  You’re a runner!”  (Well, I didn’t say it exactly like that, but that was the gist of the conversation!)  But I meant it.  Over the relatively short span of my running career, I’ve come to recognize that runners come in all shapes, sizes, and abilities.  Some run just for fitness.  Others live for the competition of races (guilty!).  But the fact of the matter is, we all run.  That makes us runners.

So while I’m completely comfortable calling myself a runner now, I’m still struggling with being able to call myself a cyclist.  I’ve only been consistently riding my bike for a couple of months.  I’m still learning the terminology, and I ride in running gear.  In fact, I’m still trying to ride at a pace (or is it speed???) of 15 miles per hour.  And I have a lot of work to do on balance.  I feel like I’m going to topple over if I take one hand off the handlebars when the bike is in motion.  But…I ride a bike.

On my recent trip to Indiana I took my bike with me.  That’s a sign of a cyclist, right?

121My head kind of looks cyclist like, in that I wear a helmet.

Indiana-6-2016 017I rode on a bike path yesterday.

001So I do a lot of things that cyclists do, but I’m just not so sure I can call myself a cyclist yet.  Somehow, I feel like an imposter calling myself a cyclist.  I’m back in that spot of feeling like I need to gain some level of skill and proficiency before I can claim the title.

Maybe if I put some qualifications on the title…I’m a wannabe cyclist.  Or a novice cyclist.  Maybe a baby beginner or newbie cyclist?  Yeah, those I feel okay with.  Maybe when I finish my first duathlon, I can call myself a cyclist!

What are some “titles” that you have?

Eating Healthy at Work

So, I’ve been kind of MIA this week.  It wasn’t intentional; just call it working 60 plus hours inside of 6 days.  Yeah, crazy nurse hours.  But it got me thinking about the challenge of eating healthy when work gets in the way.

If your work place is anything like mine, there are always yummy goodies lying around.  I work night shift at a hospital, and I promise you, day shift can find any excuse to have a potluck lunch.  And what’s left over, hangs out in the breakroom for us night critters.  Cookies, cupcakes, candy, doughnuts…When I get tired at about 3 a.m., I start craving sugar, and those sugar laden treats start calling my name.  Not a good combo.

And should I mention that the cafeteria is only open for a short time offering all kinds of delectable meals like grilled cheese sandwiches, french fries, chicken fingers…Or I could take my chances with the vending machines.  Neither is really a good option.

Plus, like most people, work tires me out.  And if you’re like me, when you’re tired, it’s just easier to run through the drive through or pick up some kind of pre-made meal that probably isn’t the healthiest, either.

On a side note, I wish I could sleep like this during the day!

010So what’s a girl to do?  How do you survive the challenges of work and fatigue and still manage a healthy diet?

I go about it like this:

  1.  Prepare food in advance and put it in serving size containers. I usually take a few hours one day and prepare some foods that I can do lots of different things with and that will stay good in the refrigerator for most of the week.  Baked chicken is a staple in my refrigerator.  It’s great in salads, in a wrap or sandwich, or alongside steamed or roasted veggies. Make salads ahead of time by chopping the veggies.  Keep frozen veggies on hand that you can quickly steam in the microwave while you shower or blow dry your hair.  Or put leftovers of whatever you’ve cooked into serving size containers. Having things that I can quickly assemble (10 minutes or less) or just toss into my lunch bag makes it much easier to take a lunch to work or make a quick, healthy meal when I get home.
  2. Bring quick, healthy snacks.  Maybe your work is like mine, and finding time to actually sit down and eat the lunch you brought just doesn’t happen.  That’s why I always have 2 or 3 snacks in my bag.  I toss in 008protein bars, Larabars, a baggie of raw almonds, or a banana–things that provide quite a few mostly healthy calories that I can eat quickly.  When all that’s available to me are the healthy things I brought, I have no choice but to eat that.
  3. Tell your co-workers what you’re doing.  Recently, I decided to see how long I could go without chocolate.  I LOVE chocolate, and for all my healthy habits, I have not yet been able to kick the chocolate habit.  I’m working on it, but I still find it hard to go more than 2 weeks without something chocolate!  When a nurse at work offered me a Kit Kat from her permanent stash of Kit Kats (seriously, she always has a baggie of Kit Kats in her bag!) I declined, telling her I’m trying to go a month without chocolate.  It’s a little thing, but when the people you work with know that you’re working towards a particular goal, they are less likely to tempt you with whatever it is you are trying to avoid.  My co-workers also know I generally don’t eat fast food.  They almost always ask me if I want to order Chinese or pizza with them, but they usually preface it with, “I know you don’t eat this stuff, but…”  I appreciate being asked and included, but I’m also thankful that they know my eating habits and that there’s no pressure to join in.
  4. Chew gum.  When I’m tired and craving something sweet, sometimes I 007reach for a stick of gum.  It keeps my mouth busy and satisfies that sweet tooth.  Plus, with the minty freshness of the gum I chew, I feel like I’ve brushed my teeth which also takes away the desire to eat sweets!
  5. Keep an easy to drink from container of water within reach.  Keeping water handy 009makes me drink more water, and drinking more water helps to ward off hunger pains.  I try to drink half my body weight in water every day.  For example, I just round my weight to 120 pounds and shoot for 60 ounces of water every day.  I keep a cup with a straw in it in a convenient place at work, and as often as possible, I run in and take a few big swigs.  It keeps me going!
  6. Remember that you are empowered to make healthy choices.  Food has NO power over you.  That sinfully delicious looking chocolate chip cookie is an inanimate object.  YOU get to decide if you eat it or not.
  7. Be determined to only eat what you brought!  Decide the food  you brought with you will be the food you eat at work, and stick to it.  The more often you choose healthy, the easier it becomes.

So there you go.  Hopefully there’s a tidbit or two there to help you choose healthy when chocolate doughnuts are calling to you from the break room.

Talk to me:

What challenges do you face in trying to eat healthy at work?

What’s your favorite lunch to take to work?