It is that time of year again. You know the time where you are running around trying to get everything done, making everything jolly and bright while at the same time working, taking care of the house, working some more and also trying to be present for your loved ones.
Yeah, that time of year….. Oh wait, that really seems like all year long. Although December brings a whole new level of things that “must” get done. So with that said, I am going to challenge myself to spend 30 minutes a day doing something healthy for myself. I’ve never been one for running streaks and to be honest with as sore as my legs have been lately I know I won’t be doing one soon. This is why this challenge is just what I need.
That’s it. Can be more, but no less. Can be yoga, walking, biking. stretching, weight training, running, or combo of it all and even more. I need to claim these 30 minutes. Not just for my body but for my mind. 30 minutes to unplug, unwind and just focus on taking care of myself.
The beauty of this challenge is that I have taken some of my friends along for the ride. So we are going to keep ourselves honest. Plus they are all training for the NYC Half which I am so thankful that I didn’t get in which is a big indicator how happy I am to e giving myself a break from training for anything longer than a 5K.
We all need this. I have already realized how beneficial this has been for me mentally. There is no goal in trying to run further or faster, lift more weights, plank longer. The goal is just to take 30 minutes to do something physical.
Who else is up for the challenge? You know your worth it!
So since this is supposed to be a running blog, I thought I would do something novel and actually talk about my running…. I know, shocking!!!
As you know my training for NYC Marathon has been all over the place. I started off great following my training plan right up until I didn’t. And while my training hasn’t been stellar with following the plan. I feel (especially after yesterday) that I have been doing ok.
You know the expression….. You do you
Well I have been doing me and it has been working. With all my issues both mentally and physically, I just started loosely following the plan and doing what I felt would work for me. Before all my issues, I’ve followed training plans to the letter T (what does that even mean?) with great results. The problem with cookie cutter plans is that when you are not the ”ideal” runner, they might not work for you. Even though I took that into consideration in the beginning, I took it to the next level recently. After yesterday, I would say it has worked for me.
What have I been doing?
Well not as much running as my plan has called for. On days where I had foundation runs, I might have done HITT, biking, combo of biking/running, or even yoga. Since my goal has never been about time, I really stopped worrying about training runs where I needed to hit certain paces/training zones. I would do the run my way. Once I got back on ”schedule” with my plan, my biggest thing was to make sure that I was getting in the miles for long runs which is really where I was lacking. Even then I needed to make sure not to jump my miles too quickly as I was behind. So I adjusted.
Having run multiple marathons, I also know what works for me in training and what doesn’t. I know runners who feel the need to run multiple 20 mile training runs for their marathons. I have done them and I know that for what ever reason they don’t work for me. I find them defeating. I find them hard in a way that is not good for me mentally going into an event. They just don’t work for me. I would much rather do 16 to 18 miles and then the next day do a few miles on tired legs. This works for me.
Now all that being said, yesterday I went out for my longest run this cycle and I started at noon which is about the time that I will be starting NYC. I wanted to see how my body would be at that time of day as normally I run right after I take my morning meds.
It went well. To be honest, it went MUCH better than I expected. I continued with the walking the first 3 miles as I ALWAYS start off too fast. Plus since being Hypopara it does seem to take my body a bit to warm up. Then my goal was to keep the pace in the mid 12’s. To keep it at a level that I felt that I could run more than walking. There was no walk/run time. There was just doing what I could. I found that if I paid attention to pace, ran the “slower” pace, and didn’t try to run something I can’t sustain that I could run. I could run without the need to walk. Now don’t get me wrong…. There was walking, but there was much more running.
In order to conserve my battery, I did the first 6 miles with no music. Just me and my thoughts. I am not a runner who minds being alone and it was nice. Maybe a little boring, but I reminded myself that NYC will not be boring. I normally do not listen to music on race day as I LOVE to listen to the crowds, the runners feet hitting pavement, and just taking it all in. Out alone in my town though it does get boring.
Holding back is what I realize that I need to do if I want to have a good day. Yes, I can run faster BUT I can not sustain those paces AND they are not good for my body or feet. As you can see, I kept a fairly steady pace. At the end though, I wanted to push it to see what I still had in the tank. You know the Finish Strong mentality. I pushed it to the point that my arms literally went numb (you know the feeling like you laid on them). It was a good training run both mentally and physically.
What I learned…… Starting later, I do need to adjust my calcium intake. At mile 10, I added Calez to my water for added calcium but maybe I should start earlier. I also need to add more as miles add up. Maybe even taking a calcitrol at some point during run. This is why my arms/hands went numb at the end. As soon as I finished my run yesterday, I came inside and popped 500 mg calcium and a .25 calcitriol as I felt a crash coming. This also may have been due to the faster pace at the end. Either way, I need to pay attention and adjust accordingly. One thing with calcium levels is that they fluctuate and you have to pay attention to the signs to adjust with them.
Another thing that I made a mistake on yesterday, but to me I think it was a beneficial mistake……. I forgot my bag of fuel. This time around, I have been trying not to use gels but more natural (ok still processed) food. Since I started at 12, I didn’t eat lunch. So I ate a protein bar before starting out. I had a bag of almonds and some bars with me. I left the bag on counter, so I only had one Nutrigrain bar for the entire run. I ate half at mile 6 and then finished off around mile 12. While not ideal, I view this as a win because just think of how much better my body will feel when properly fueled on course. Learning to run/push when the tank is literally empty is not a bad thing.
When I came home, I stretched. I took added meds. I had a chocolate cake batter smoothie (Sadly no actual cake batter, but healthy proteins). Then I soaked in some epsom salt. Followed by the use of my foot massager. Overall recovery was good. Although I know that I did not replenish both water and nutrients enough. We ordered Thia food and I really couldn’t even eat much as I wasn’t hungry. Weird…. but I will do better today.
Today as I sit here typing, I feel good. I feel like I just ran 16 miles yesterday. My feet are sore, but normal sore. My legs are tired, but normal tired. I will do some restorative yoga and be kind to my body. I will also make sure today’s smoothie has some properties that will benefit recovery.
One expected. On unexpected. Both were not meant to be long term commitments although I had no end goal for the walking. I enjoyed it but it was starting to become part of a stressor to get out for a mile than the stress reliever that it was supposed to be. Life got in the way and unless I had planned to go for an 11 PM walk it was not happening. I had contemplated going, but then thought what am I doing this for?
So I called it a day. Time of death Auguest 21rst which is exactly 2 months since I started the 1 mile a day streak. It was supposed to keep me moving through summer and it did. I no longer need this motivation as I have other motivations. I am part of a team of 7 in a fun team competition. I have some virtual events coming up and I am training for the NYC Virtual Marathon. So it is all good.
I will say I give major props to those that are dedicated to keep up a streaking challenge. Come rain, sun, snow or life events off they go to keep the streak alive. I’ve said before that I was never big on streaking (for me) and after doing it for 2 months, I am happy that I did it. I am even happier to be done with it.
As for the Yoga, I really enjoyed the 30 Day with Adriene Challenge. I was committed and every day I tuned into my practice with her. It was just what I needed. Some days I did more. Most days I did no more. As the days progressed, I allowed myself to just realize that yoga was more than just movement but connecting mind to body. It wasn’t necessarily about pushing my body to achieve positions but about coming to the mat. This challenge was good for me.
When I first went to yoga, I attended Hot Yoga. It was about the movement but it was also about feeling like I pushed myself. When I started the 30 day challenge at first I felt like I wasn’t pushing myself enough. That I wasn’t challenging myself enough. That I should be doing more. With some deep breathing and reflection, I realized that I was missing a big part of what yoga can be. It can be about relieving stress without pushing your body to the limit. That small movements over time bring about big changes. That sometimes in life just showing up to the mat is enough.
Isn’t that the truth? Sometimes we just need to show up. We need to show up for our family. We need to show up for our friends. Most of all we need to show up for ourselves. We often forget that last one putting ourselves at the bottom of the list. The saying is true that you can’t pour from an empty cup, yet so often we try to thinking that if only we try harder we can get more out.
Taking the time daily to go for a walk and do a short walk made me take time for myself every day. I needed to not squeeze it in but plan for it. It made me realize that we should be doing more of that in life. We need to not just think that we can keep on pouring without ever taking a sip for ourselves. There is more than enough to share, but we have to make sure to not give it all away.
So with both of these challenges now over, I am going to plan time to continue with both yoga and walking. I will plan these on my terms because it is something that I want to do and not have to do. It will be a way to replenish and find time for myself when during a pandemic when everyone is home ALL the time, I can find space just for me. Some days that will mean alone time. Some days it will mean joining a friend (safely). Most of all it will be about showing up for myself.
So this post might be a little different, yet not. So stick with me!
Something exciting happened recently that I have been waiting to share. I’ve been waiting because I wanted to be able to actually see if I would it really was something that I could be excited about. Since the mail arrived two days ago and I’ve done my own testing I can say that I’m excited.
So here is the thing….. I was recently asked (yes ASKED) to become a Pineapple Clothing Ambassador. This was not something that I sought out, but through my Instagram account they reached out to me. Now I will say, that I’ve gotten DM’s in the past but nothing like this. Usually they are the random “How you doing today?’ messages where you immediately block them or the guy who liked EVERY one of my feet pics (you know as a runner, we do those things). This DM was different though.
Anyway, they were reaching out to me to see if I was interested in becoming an Ambassador for their company. Now who knows maybe they asked everyone, but you know it’s nice to be asked to the dance. Plus I don’t know that ask everyone but either way I was flattered. I’m really not going to lie, it was very flattering with all the content out their to be asked (so please don’t pop my bubble).
Here is the thing and these are the facts I know….. I am not a young woman, but I am not an old one either! I do not have a traditional athletes body. I will never have a traditional athletes body. I’m just not built that way nor do I have the desire to do what it takes to get down to whatever size the world thinks I should be. What I do have though is an athletes heart and will to push through challenges. I may not be the picture that comes to mind of what an athlete is but make no mistake I am an athlete. Many times athletes like me are under-represented but that is slowly changing.
This under representation of people who like me sometimes hold other people back from taking the first step for a positive change. You look at yoga studio and it seems like everyone is under a size 4 and can bend themselves in a pretzel. Me…. I am still working on not falling down and my balance. You look at fitness blogs (obviously not mine) and you see the finished product. I will never be that finished product. When you look at ads for fitness and runners, you see the top athletes. The thing is those are people at the top of their game while most of us are still deciding what we want to play.
We’ve all had a friend say or maybe we have even said it that before the great pause that they will start going to the gym/running/yoga/any group activity that they need to loose 20 (fill in blank) pounds FIRST. That’s not the way it works.
We need to be willing to show up as we are today not as we want to be tomorrow. If we can’t show up as we are we will never be happy even when we finally deem we are ready to show up. Who we are is not determined by the size of our jeans or leggings. It is not determined if we have the “perfect” body. It is not determined by anything on the outside, but on what we carry on the inside. You can never be happy with anything else unless you can love the inside. (yeah I know hokey expression but could not be more true).
This past year, someone I know who looked like they should have it all together fell apart. They have the right look. They appeared on the outside to have everything that should make them happy. They weren’t and they hit rock bottom. Someone made a comment about being surprised because she was the last person you would expect and their in lies the problem. Often we focus on living how we think others think that we should live – looking a certain way — Being part of the “right” group —– doing the “right” things —- on and on it goes, when really all we need to focus on is who we are and what we need to make us happy because if you are not happy with that nothing else can fill that void for you.
So when I was asked to be a Pineapple Clothing Ambassador and determined that their USA made products were something that I could endorse, I jumped in.
As I said in my Instagram post today: Proof you don’t need a fancy workout space. You don’t need a size 6 body. You don’t need negativity. You just need to show up!
So I am showing up. I am sharing my not ready for prime time shape.
This expression can be most peoples motto. Sadly though it is usually people who know the least who think they know the most. Although truth be told now days everyone thinks they are an expert. Everyone thinks that if they Google something that they know more or as much as those who study something their entire lives. We are all superstars with infinite wisdom. I mean if you have Google or watch a YouTube video that has to count for something?
Nope. Not really. It is a good way to start your education journey on something, but it by no means makes you as qualified as “an expert.” You know those people who have gone to school. Who have trained. Who have taken tests for degrees, certificates and all those fun things that used to make someone an expert. But that doesn’t compare to the internet expert.
What we fail to realize is the the experts are the best of the best (usually not always). They are the superstars who didn’t start off that way but earned their capes with hard work and experience. To do that, they knew that they had to listen to people with more wisdom than them. They could not rush their status as the reigning expert. They had to earn it.
Many times due to our ego, lack of patience and pure stubbornness; we do not want to start at the beginning. We want to skip over a few steps thinking somehow we don’t need to start at square one. Everyone else should but not us. We are somehow the exception to the rule. We can jump over the foundations. We already know what we need. We would be wrong.
We don’t know what we don’t know until we take off the rose covered goggles and look at ourselves as we are and not how we like to think we are. Once we do that, we are open to actually learning something. We are open to being better than we were. If we do that, we can maybe one day actually become the expert that we initially thought we were.
On my walks, I have been listening to some great podcasts on my walks lately. One of them is the series Silence is Not an Option by Don Lemon. While listening, I thought to myself that there are several people that I know who would benefit from it. They never would listen because they don’t know what they don’t know. When I thought that, I realized that I was the same when it came to yoga as there is much I don’t know.
As I mentioned the other day, I have realized that I was trying to skp steps in pursuit of certain yoga poses. I was doing this purely due to my ego. Purely due to focusing on a goal and not the practice. Thinking that since 4 years ago I did yoga on a regular basis that I could now skip steps. So with the knowledge that I also did not know what I did not know nor can my body do what I think it should, I am stepping back in my yoga practice.
Let me explain….
As I said, I am goal orientated. I need a new challenge. I need a new goal but I need a smarter beginning step goal. I have started the 30 Day Yoga challenge with the Yoga With Adriene on YouTube. I finished day 7 today. Each day is a going back to basics. It is building the foundation of a good yoga practice. It is learning. It is building flexibility and strength. It is being patience and know results will come but maybe not as quickly as I would like. It is not easy, but it is also at a level that I should be working as a beginning.
In my opinion that the biggest failures in life are those individuals who refuse to learn. Those who remain rooted in one place refusing to open up to something new. Some let their ego keep them from reaching their potential not being willing to open themselves up to admit that they don’t know everything. As said previously, only a fool thinks they have nothing to learn.
I am still reaching for my goals. I am just adjusting them. My first goal is to complete the 30 days. With that I will continue to open myself up to practice other poses. Fear of failure won’t stop me and I will continue to try. Sometimes fear of failure keeps people from reaching for the stars and leaves them only to be looking at them. I will reach
I have often said that we need to focus on the journey and not the destination. I realized when doing my yoga practice today that I was not taking my own advice. I have been so focused on achieving certain poses that I have been short changing myself and my practice in pursuit of them. Cheating myself of fully learning and building the strength necessary to achieve them fully.
I think part of this might stem from being a goal orientated person. I run not just because I love it but for events that I sign up for. I started this journey with a goal of completing a Sprint Triathlon. I wasn’t a runner, swimmer, or biker but I had a goal. Goals to me are part of the process. I’ve set goals for distance. I’ve set goals for times. I’ve set monthly/yearly mile challenges. I took this thought process with me to my yoga mat.
Goals…. Goals…. Goals.
To be honest, I know that for me I need goals to motivate me. Big goals. Little goals. Even on a run, sometimes a goal is as simple as running to the next utility pole. Goals are important. Goals are necessary. Not just in running, but really in life. Goals in life might be a simple or grand, but everyone has something. It could the day or master plan goals of finishing finishing school, finding a better job, buying a house or planning for retirements. Goals can also be as small as your daily To Do List to make it to the end of the day. Without these small goals, I might just sit on the coach all day. If you don’t set goals, you might not ever move forward. Staying stagnate is not a way to grow as a person….. as a runner…. as an athlete. Most of all it is not the way to accomplish anything in life.
So with this attitude, I went into yoga. While having a goal to achieve certain poses in my mind is still good, I realized that I was starting to solely practice yoga in pursuit of these poses. I was not giving myself to the mat fully nor was I getting out of my practices what I should. Practicing yoga only in pursuit of poses was short changing my practices and myself. So with this aha moment, I had a mind shift in my practice.
I took a step back. I gave myself fully to the practice allowing myself to not simply pursue a pose but to pursue giving myself over to the practice. On recommendations of some Moms in my MRTT group, I tried some YouTube Yoga classes. These classes were different than what I had been doing because they had the feel of actually being in a yoga studio with the same mindset.
I also realized that while I do still have goals of reaching certain poses that in order to get to the level of fully achieving them that I must build a proper foundation. I was skipping the foundation building required. You can’t finish a marathon before you have trained to run one any more than you can reach more advanced poses without being more in touch with what your body can do, build up the required strength, and learn to trust in your ability.
By the way for those who think that yoga is not a workout, I encourage you to take a class. Holding your body up with your arms will cause you to break out in a sweat especially when your body is build like mine! Standing (or attempting to stand) on one leg will not only test your balance but your leg strength and as you age you do begin to loose balance, so you must work on retaining it. Trusting your body enough to ask it to do things you never imagined possible comes with time and practice.
So while I have goals. I have had the realization that practice might not make perfect but if allowed can be beautiful. I am not sure if I will ever reach my very lofty goals of handstand, wheel pose (backbend) or crow pose but I will pursue them in a more honest fashion now. These are not easy poses and for those that know me, you know that I very rarely take the easy road, so it is fitting.
I am not sure if I will ever obtain these goals but stepping back to go to the basics and build my foundation will help me more than single minded approach. As in life, your might not always reach your goals but if you stop reaching not only will you never achieve them but you will never know your true potential.
I admit that I am not an expert in anything. I am not an expert at baking. I am not an expert at cooking. I am not an expert at parenting. I am not an expert at running.
You might be wondering what your doing here then. While not being an expert, this does not mean that I do not have much knowledge. It simply means that I recognize that I still have a lot to learn. I have learned a lot along the way… through trials, failures and success.
I think this is what sometimes makes or breaks people sometimes. The truth of the matter is that everyone no matter what your level can learn from others. Anyone who thinks they have nothing to learn is probably someone you don’t want to listen to anyway. Have you ever talked to someone who has the attitude like they knew everything (even if they knew tons)? Usually these people don’t know half of what they think they do.
I am not an expert baker, but I know that I could teach a thing or two about making the perfect chocolate cake. By no means am I an expert parent, but I have taken parenting classes and have experiences that might be helpful to others. I am not a running expert, but I have run around the block enough times to give some advice. (You know 7 marathons, 50K and I don’t know how many other smaller events).
The thing about expertise is that it usually comes with experiences. You have to be willing to try. You have to be willing to fail. You have to be willing to learn from your mistakes, successes, and others. Most of all you have to be willing to keep going. The thing is no one is every born an expert at anything and the only way you become one is to start at the beginning.
Many people are afraid to embark on new adventures for fear of failure or worse thinking that they need to be an expert before they even start. You see this with people thinking they need to get in shape before they start going to the gym. People think in order to start running that they need to be able to run. People are embarrassed to go to a yoga class because they can’t hold the poses. Here is the thing, everyone has to start somewhere and usually that is at the beginning.
Often when we are thinking of starting something new, we do a little research or at the very least Google it. The problem with that is that usually you only see the finished product. You see the runner with a medal. You see the fitness guru. You see the Yogi contornting themselves into positions that make you scartch your head. You see all of these things but you don’t normally see the struggle that it took to get them there.
Everyone has struggles. Everyone was once a beginner. Everyone has failures, but in a Facebook/Twitter world most people don’t share those things although I do. Life is not perfect.
They share the perfect cookies.
Not the ones that burnt.
They share the truimphet finish line photo.
Not the one showing how hard the day actually was.
We need to realize that life is not a facebook update. We all struggle. We are fail. We all have imperfect lives. If we keep comparing where we are in life to someone’s Facebook page, you might get depressed. Life is not a Facebook Status. Actually we need to bring a little more reality into our virtual lives. We need to start sharing how we got to where we are going. Who knows maybe someone needs to see that they are not the only one with imperfect lives. Sometimes the best way to be inspiring is to show reality.
I’ve been practicing Yoga pretty regularly since March. Using Nike Training App. I used to do Bikram Yoga a few years ago and loved it. In the Nike Training App one of the classes was a beginner inversion class which go me hooked. I admit….. I am not flexible. My legs are usually tight. I am (ahem) overweight. These things do not make for a good Yogi, but I still practice.
I’ve been working on new inversion skills. My goals are a handstand, crow pose, and wheel pose (backbend). All of these are not beginner poses. None of them am I close to conquering. All of them when Googling for tips, only show perfect Yogi’s with perfect form. I get that. Same reason runway models look the way they look. If I could go to a studio, I would see a class full of people in different levels of their practice.
So here I am not even close to being a Yogi, but starting at the beginning. Willing to try.
Willing to fail.
Willing to show myself in my imperfect state with imperfect form and just being willing to try.
That is all we can do in life…. Try. Give it our best. Be willing to pick ourselves up when we fall and try again. The journey is equally as important as the destination and we would do well to remind ourselves of that more often.