Monday, August 19, 2019

Embracing That Post-Weekend "Tired"

Recently, rest days have become essential in my weekly schedule. Even though I'm not training for anything at the moment, there are so many places I want to run, so many classes I want to take, and so many tracks I want to race on. If there was no rest day thrown in, I would be unintentionally overtraining, making mistakes and constantly dreaming of a nap. Due to the usually hectic pace of my recent weekend workouts, Monday has become the rest day of choice. This weekend, Saturday included a 7:30 a.m. spinning class, followed by a 4:00 p.m. BMX practice with a race after, then on Sunday I woke up at 6:00 for a 7:00 a.m. group 12 mile (for me) long run with a local running shop in Westport. 

Rollin' that table like...
Sunday morning 12 miles done! By the time I left my mind was on some pancakes. Yum. Pancakes. 
The time we have to train is valuable, and I pushed myself 100% all weekend, including a much stronger and faster long run, so by the time I was done on Sunday I was DONE. DUNZO. FINITO. I picked up some well earned hotcakes and an egg McMuffin, took a long Epsom salt bath, tried unsuccessfully to take a nap, and ran around town a bit with my boyfriend, all the while feeling happy but tired. Have you ever experienced the kind of tired where you're SO pumped up and excited you can't sleep, but your eyes feel like they've been through the ringer? That was the kind of tired I felt on Sunday, and for the most part, I actually like it. 

I learned a long time ago to embrace the tired, I look at it as the sign of a successful few days of training. To me, tired is similar to that slight ache you feel after a long run. Not a "you hurt yourself and something's wrong" ache, but the type of muscle ache that tells you that you will be stronger in the days after it goes away. I don't mean to say that constantly running yourself to the point of complete and utter exhaustion is close to being the best plan or an overall indicator of a successful workout, but when it's there after all my hard work, I don't actually mind it. It's not good to be tired all the time, and that's where those much needed rest days come in.
After my group run, I stayed around to chat with some of the more experienced runners, and when the topic of recovery came up I was surprised to hear that Epsom salt baths were taken an preferred over ice baths for achy muscles. I have yet to try an ice bath, but I think I'm getting close to it if there are any more long hilly miles next weekend (which is pretty much a given). I also heard that you sleep REALLY well after one, so there's that. So here we all are on Monday, we made it through the weekend, so let's take a moment to appreciate that, embrace our "tired", recover, and do it all again soon! 


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

RUN(derful) & RI(derful) Wednesday

HAPPY WEDNESDAY GUYS! Ahhhh! We made it! It's all downhill from here (and that's GREAT news when it comes to running and biking). 😄

No matter what goes on in our lives, it's important to live in the moment and to focus on what's important to us. It's important to appreciate the time we spend doing what we do, whether that's riding with new friends at the track, picking up a new hobby or learning something new in a class. Lately, I've been thinking about several key items and changes that has taken me to where I am now, and I don't mean a big move or a new job. Have you ever had a time in your life when you look back and finally realize how much you've changed? Your mindset is different, so you begin to think about how you got to where you are now and realize it wasn't any one thing in particular. However, it might have been that ONE tiny thing you changed, and that caused a change, and so on, and so on, and so on... So here you are.

This week's thoughts include:

For most of us it can be exceptionally easy to fall into a schedule and stay there. We get up, brush our teeth (and sometimes our hair 😋), have breakfast, go to school or work, workout, eat dinner, watch some TV and go to bed. That's fine for the most part, but when we begin thoughtlessly going through those motions we stop learning much of anything new and we resign ourselves to doing whatever we need to do in order to make it to Friday. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be caught in a cycle or doing the same things over and over again. I want CHANGE! I read somewhere that if you don't try anything new, you keep repeating the same cycle, and you continue to get the same results over and over. This theory could apply to a range of situations, and because of this, is quite valuable in its simplicity.

Aside from trying something new with my training/workout schedule (more on that to come), I'm also dipping a toe into the unfathomable (at least to me) world of cooking. I've never been much of a cook; it just wasn't something I gravitated toward and it wasn't something that gave me happiness. I ate because I was hungry and that was it. Besides the innumerable health benefits to knowing exactly what goes into the food we consume, cooking also saves money. No matter how many times I watch Anthony Bourdain on Netflix, smiling excitedly over perfectly simmered and seasoned noodles, cooking will most likely never fill me with utter and absolute joy- but it's something new, and it's good for me. Armed with a few- and for the most part unread- cookbooks I packed during the move and absolutely ZERO oven mitts, I will be stepping WAY out of my comfort zone and trying not to let sizzling hot olive oil jump out of the pan and ding me on the arms.
Oh GEEZE, I own these two cookbooks for runners/athletes - BIG shocker, I know. But, there ae some REALLY cool and easy recipes in these. I just need to find the box they're hiding in now. They must be around here somewhere...
Cooking might be far from new for some, but everyone's different. A common misconception when thinking of something new to try is that it must be done on a grand scale. For the most part, trying something small can have just as big of an impact.
Some examples of new things to try are:

  1. Sign up for a new workout class - been aching to try that spinning class? Do it! It's awesome!
  2. Skip the drive-thru for something home-made
  3. Volunteer somewhere for the day - races always need help with packet pickup and on race day, BMX races can always use volunteers too. Homeless shelters, libraries, yard maintenance for the elderly, road clean up- you name it, I did it during college with my sorority, and I actually missed it after graduation, so every once in a while I'll volunteer somewhere. It's a great way to meet people as well.
  4. Have a salad for lunch one day a week, it's healthy and it's a small change as well.
  5. Finally get that hairstyle you've been thinking about, you know you want it. Now's the time!
  6. On the track, take one extra pedal on your way to the double- talk about something that can get you ahead!
  7. Change your stance slightly on the gate, you may discover something new and helpful!
  8. Offer to help someone with something you're good at
  9. Ask someone to help you with something they're good at
  10. Try a different kind of spaghetti sauce on your pasta- vodka sauce, anyone?
  11. Go to bed one hour earlier twice a week, you'll notice a difference. 
  12. Run on a new route (just be safe and don't get lost)
  13. Join a group run, especially if you're an introvert. You might surprise yourself.
  14. Check out some art at a museum or gallery- there's nothing like gaining new appreciation and a new way of seeing things. 
  15. Read a biography, other people can be really interesting.
  16. Keep a succulent alive (I'm still terrible at this one). Just remember, very very little water. 
  17. Travel to somewhere you've never been (this doesn't have to mean far or expensive)
  18. Listen to music you normally wouldn't listen to 
  19. Help out on track-work day
  20. Paddleboard - Take the dog or a friend, go find a lake that has them and rent one (make sure the lake is safe for dogs), along with life vests.
  21. Make your bed every morning- Warning: this one's harder than it seems.
It's time to try something new so you can get to where you're going. It might not feel like it now, but change happens all around us. Be that change, and who knows, you might find something you love to do! 

Saturday, August 10, 2019

To Learn How to Run Fast, You Have to Run Fast

Going faster - It's what most, if not every runner, BMX racer, etc. aspires to. No matter how fast (or slow) you are out there, you probably always want to be faster. For the last few years of my running life, going faster was always on the list. However, other things in life always seemed to get in the way and made increasing my mile and lap times a distant blip on the horizon. The fact that I was able to remain active through a depressing time in my life a few years ago was no small feat, and I'm proud of that on its own, but emotional eating, lowered mileage and a lack of goals took its toll on my health and well-being, and that alone was enough to send my physical fitness levels soaring back to before I began running in the first place. It was frustrating to say the least, but I'm very thankful for Justyna, Tiffany, Robyn and Victoria for always being there! Good friends are a blessing.

It's been a long road to get back to where I was, and I'm still striving to be better than I was before. We learn from what we endure, and there's strength in that. Recently, I have been able to get my mile times down a full 2 minutes from what it once was, and I have several things to thank for that.
This may seem like the simplest concept, but to get faster, the only thing that will do that is to TRY harder - in essence, to try to go faster. Running those long-ish miles at your normal pace will get you good at long slow mileage, but it won't significantly decrease your mile time unless you pick it up. No one can make you go faster but you. Fast for you may not be fast for someone else, and vice versa. I've also changed my training up since I moved to Kansas, and it's definitely helping, like:

Hills - I know, I know, I've talked about hills since I got here and started training outside. They're everywhere, and I decided lately that they are my new best friend. I actually enjoy the terrain changes, and they've been doing wonders for my muscles, breathing and endurance. I began noticing that when I would do a track workout or run on flatter ground, my mile time began to creep lower and lower. If you don't have hills where you are (I lived in Houston, so I feel your (non) pain - it's flat almost everywhere), crank up that treadmill incline and keep running!
What treadmill inclines feel like sometimes! Haha!

Running Classes/Interval Training - I'm not new to running classes. I actually began taking them at a studio in Houston a year or so ago, and I was beyond excited to find a similar one with Woodway treadmills in the KC area. These classes help with my interval and training and the HIIT + Core classes also incorporate a KILLER core workout, and we know that a strong core = better running. I love these classes! KC Endurance definitely put you through the paces. Besides taking indoor running classes, I located the closest high school to our house. I run there for a mile warmup, do a simple track workout since I'm new at it, throw in some bleacher runs and head home for a mile cooldown.

Running Coaches - Running coaches are something that is just not in my budget these days, so the running classes and other classes I take through my Class Pass help a lot. There, I can get instructor help and apply it to my out of class workouts.

Shorter Miles & Higher Cadences - During the week since my runs mostly take place outside around the house (I just don't want to hit rush hour again if I don't have to, you know?), the Summer heat has me focusing more on shorter but effective mileage, so I use that for speed work. Even though the Summer can get super hot, you can still get out there and get things accomplished. Running faster also means you will get back to your house faster, and in the heat that's a plus! Just don't forget the SPF and water bottle.

Diet - Over the last few years my diet has taken a huge turn for the worst. When I was unhappy with my job in Austin I made it a habit to stress eat and pick up fast food whenever possible. Doing that once or twice isn't a bad thing, but when it became a habit I knew I had to break it. Eating empty carbs and fried, greasy food wasn't doing my body or my mind any good. Recently, I've begun eating a lot healthier and I feel so much better during the day, including maintaining a more positive mental game, and keeping positive during hard training runs is essential.

Mental Game - I briefly discussed how cleaner eating helps me maintain a more positive mental game, but it goes further than that. Maintaining a positive space is something to always work on, especially during a trying training period/workout/race. Who you surround yourself with also affects your head space, in a big way. Always strive to surround yourself with people who want to see YOU win just as much as THEY want to win. Distance yourself from toxic people and you will find it MUCH easier to maintain- and work on- a positive outlook. This includes keeping things FUN! 

So go out there, move those legs, push yourself, and you WILL be faster! Don't compare yourself to anyone else, just do it for you. Persistence and consistancy pay off. 👍😄

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

RUN(derful) & RI(derful) Wednesday

HAPPY HUMP DAY GUYS!!!! Woohoo! We made it! It's all downhill from here (and that's GREAT news when it comes to running and biking as well). 😄

With all the new and at times hectic experiences going on currently, it's been awhile since I've taken time to focus on the small things, and the things that make me smile. No matter what goes on in our lives, it's important to live in the moment and to focus on what's important to us. Today I want to share one of my all-time favorite inspirational quotes with you. It's something that helps me not only understand, but put in perspective why I do what I do, and it might help you as well. 

This week's thoughts include:

Stay Strong

I love working out, training, and my (very new) goal of eating healthy every day. Most days, there's nothing that can eclipse the satisfied feeling of doing something good for yourself, especially when there are so many external things in our lives requiring our attention elsewhere. Training can take a significant amount of time though, and there are days when happy hours and group hangs must be turned down in favor of 15 mile runs, track practices and gym time- not to mention turning down the social aspect of lunch or dinner at the local fried wing joint or Chinese buffet in favor of a roasted tofu-vegetable bake at home (healthy AND saves money). As much fun as I have in my health and athletic endeavors, there are moments when I wonder if the sacrifices I place on my time are worth it (not very often, if I'm honest, since I'm an introvert, but we'll get into that on a later post 😋).

Awhile back, I heard this quote somewhere. I forget where I heard it but it made an impact. "I will do what others won't so tomorrow I can do what others can't (~Jerry Rice)." This simple line inspires me to get out there and try my best at each workout with no regrets. Even if no one wants to go on that long run or I need to join a group to do it, never giving up and always showing up (thanks for that one, Desi!) will mean that I am that much closer to accomplishing the goals I set for myself. That marathon isn't going to run itself, and if I want to get better on my bike in turns I need to put in the time. Remember, even if no one wants to practice those hills, YOU do!

Even if nobody wants to do what you're doing, keep doing it anyway. 👍😎