Are You Practicing Self Awareness?

You know when you hear something and it just clicks? This happened to me the other day while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, RunnersConnect. This episode is about conditioning your mind the way you condition your body. If you have trained for a marathon, or just being a runner, you should know running is just as much mental as it is physical. I think an argument could be made that it is actually more mentally (and emotionally) harder than physically.

Thoughts are powerful; things like visualization, setting goals, appreciating your journey and positive thoughts during your runs/training all help prepare you on race day. I know when training gets hard for me, I visualize running down L street in Sacramento during the CIM.  I can see myself running through Midtown, past de Vere’s (where there are always drunk people cheering us on!) I visualize turning left down 8th street, then another left down Capitol Mall. Running down the chute with the California State Capitol in the foreground. I can see all of that, and it is my go to when training gets tough because the California International Marathon was my first marathon and it is in the city I love and call home. It helps me remember why I do this crazy thing – running marathons.

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October 2015 I got injured and running has been tough for me, off and on, ever since. After the CIM (pictured above) I completely reevaluated my goals. I wanted to BQ at CIM for the past 2 years, but why? At the end of 2015 I thought to myself, “Why do you care about setting a PR or qualifying for Boston?” Truth be told, it is because that is what everyone else was doing. Sure I want to improve and challenge myself, but as I mentioned before, I was putting too much pressure on myself and not having fun.  I had no balance between hard work, proper rest and self awareness.

So of course, today was another tough run. I don’t think I warmed up well enough when I went out on my run, and my glute and hamstring were both pretty painful – IT issues. I only ran 2 of 4 miles. While I could have been pissed, had a pity party for myself or try to push through, I decided to listen to my body. I cut my run short, went home and did some yoga. Yoga is another great conditioning tool. I focus on my breathing, if thoughts come into my head they are positive and I am always 100% happy after class. Completely stress free – which has been my biggest battle lately. Honestly, it is probably one of the only times I am in the present. I’m not thinking about work, running, or anything I have going on that will eventually need my attention. I am definitely lacking in my yoga skills, but I feel great after class or a solo session in my living room or garage gym. Focusing on all aspects of training – physically, mentally and emotionally – and finding the balance that works for me, right now, that is what matters.

Chicago Marathon Training – Month 2 

The good: I ran today and yesterday after a week off of running.

The bad: I am still not recovered from my cold.

The ugly: I am coughing up shit again.

After being sick last week and having chest congestion, I thought it was finally gone Monday. So when I flew into Sacramento on Tuesday I was super excited to go run. I ran an easy 3 miles yesterday, and had a 4 mile cut down run on the plan today. I knew running fast wasn’t going to happen today so I opted for an easy run. After my 7 miles today I found out I am not fully recovered. My chest is burning again, and I am coughing up…stuff. So I am back to taking it day by day and hoping this stupid cold, cough – what ever I have – goes away soon.

Other than that today’s run felt great. It is so good to be running the familiar routes I love here in Sacramento. Today’s route took me through McKinley Park, the State Capitol, Tower Bridge, River Walk…this city is beautiful.

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I was such a tourist today!

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I unintentionally ran by one of my favorite murals in Sacramento this morning. If you look up from your phone while walking around this city you will see many beautiful works of art from Demetris Washington (BAMR).

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I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed how training is going so far. My cold has taken me out for over a week, and I will probably be out another week or so. I’ve been having pain in my glute that travels down my hamstring to my calf – not to mention all the itis’ I am seeing a physical therapist for. On the bright side, every time I go to the PT he tells me I am improving. And I can feel it, I’m not in as much pain as I was before I started my PT routine. Honestly though, I want my running to be back where it was in 2014. The year I set all my PRs, and I ran 4 marathons and was having fun! That isn’t to say I’m not having fun, running is always fun to me. But perhaps I’m putting too much pressure on myself to hurry and get back to where I was in back then. You can’t rush progress, and you definitely can’t rush healing.

Being injured has taught me patience, and to enjoy being healthy – which is obvious but as I always say, too often we take our health and ability to move for granted. I never want that to be me. So for now I will slowly continue to progress and enjoy my training. I may not be as fast as I’d like to be but there is much more to running than being fast.

Happy running!

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This Body Can – Laura

Social media can be awesome. It helps keep us connected, tell and hear each other’s stories, and understand that we can all learn from each other – even if we have never met in person. This is where Laura comes in. We “met” via Twitter, where posted something from her website, F#@k Skinny , that really resonated with me. She is another amazingly, strong woman out there who is sharing a different message from the one that has been shoved in our faces for years. Her message: “One of the most detrimental things happening to women in America today is a focus on food as a means to be either fat or skinny when all along it should have been about healthy or unhealthy. These two things are not the same. We NEED to stop our obsession with being skinny. It is killing us emotionally and physically. It divorces us from the purpose of food and, therefore, warps our understanding of what we see in the mirror. ‘Skinny’ confuses the real reasons why we need to make responsible decisions regarding what we choose to eat.” Here is her story:

For me, working out and eating healthfully never made me skinny. I have always been curvy with a belly. If the only benefit to moving my body, daily was weight loss, I’d have given up a long time ago. Had I done that, I might not physically look much different than I do today, but the picture of my life would be dramatically changed. I’d have had fewer life experiences. I would not have been fit enough to climb a mountain, solo, on a trip to Wales. I might not have had the strength to run the Cronulla Sand Dunes in Sydney, Australia, or jog the coastal paths from Coogee to Bondi Beach. Without fitness, I wouldn’t have met my best friends. It wasn’t until I became an athlete that I developed the strongest, most positive relationships I’ve ever had in 36 years of life. The people who encourage me to show up and be my best self every single day in every area of my life are my friends from Team In Training and from November Project .
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Running brought me closer to my mother and my sister. It provided us time to bond while doing something that made all of us feel positive and accomplished. And, most importantly, adopting a healthy lifestyle has helped me whether a very serious health condition. A year ago I was diagnosed with Primary Hyperparathyroidism, which are tumors that grow on one or more of the parathyroid glands, causing hypercalcemia. Calcium plays a critical role in many of the major functions of the human body. I am working with my surgeon and endocrinologist and have a plan to have these tumors removed, but I firmly believe I’ve been able to maintain an active and functional quality of life as a result of being strong, fit, and otherwise healthy.
Becoming a runner, a triathlete, a weight lifter, and an all-around bad-ass did not come naturally to me. I wasn’t always athletic. As a teen, I used to think I had exercise induced asthma because running was such a struggle. Lack of sleep, chronic yo-yo dieting, and no coach to train me properly was probably more to blame than my ability to run, but at the time, there wasn’t anyone in my life with enough expertise to help me see this. Through my early 20’s I always claimed to be a “bad runner,” but by the time I approached my 27th birthday, I’d made so many lifestyle changes with regard to diet, non-running cardio, and weight lifting, I was primed to be pushed into the world of running. All it took was a cute t-shirt, namely a race t-shirt that my friend had earned and that I wanted. Badly. I started talking to her about running and she introduced me to the concept that you can take walk breaks when you feel you can’t run anymore: an idea my high school gym teacher had neglected to share with me. It was as though a lightbulb had turned on in my brain. That very week I began training for my first 10K. Three years later, for my 30th birthday I ran my first marathon. Six years later, I’m a multi-seasoned marathon coach and ultra distance triathlete. And I’m still not skinny. But who cares? My life is incredible. I am strong. I am sexy. And damn, it feels good.
You can find Laura on IG/Twitter @forgetskinny
Her book is F#@k Skinny: How I Quit Dieting & Found My Health available on Amazon.com

Am I An Adult Yet?

Remember when you’re a kid and you can’t wait to be in your 20s because then you’ll be an adult? Then you turn 21 and think you know it all. In your mid-late 20s you realize you don’t know it all. Maybe in your 30s you’ll feel like an adult…but then your 30s come around and you realize you may never feel like an adult. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t know that I will ever feel how I thought being an adult was supposed to feel like. Today I turn 32. While I don’t feel like a lost little kid (teenager, or 20 year old) anymore I also don’t feel how I thought I would when I was younger. If you asked me what that even means, I don’t really know. Older? Responsible? Wiser? Accomplished? Who knows. But when I think about it, I do feel those things and more, but the feelings are different than what I thought they would be.

Remember when you are young and you’re told to do this or do that to be successful. You have to make a lot of money to be successful. You have to be married with kids and a house at a certain age to be successful. Everyone has to like you to be successful. Maybe we aren’t told that, but I certainly know those were the ideas I had in my head growing up. Well, I don’t have every one of those things I just listed – and a few of them I don’t even want. What I do want, and what I am doing is what I love. Personally, I have found it to be true that if you do what  you love you will be successful. When I started running in 2011, I had no idea how it would change my life. Running has opened up so many doors for me. From coaching for the Muscular Dystrophy Association  and Kaia FIT , to representing the Sacramento Running Association  and BibRave. Everything that I am involved in has helped me to realized what I am passionate about and what I want to do “when I grow up” – which is a lot of things. Most importantly running gave me the courage to be comfortable with myself and helped me to realize my dream of starting my own business of helping people and cats (check out My Cat Friend ). You may wonder how running and starting a business with cats is related. The short answer: confidence, dedication and belief. If I can dedicate so much time to training and running marathons, and be successful at that, then I can apply those same concepts to life. And I have. I’ve also become so sappy the older I get. It comes with age, I suppose.

 

Craft Classic Marathon – San Diego 

Disclaimer: I received  a free entry to the Craft Classic San Diego as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Today I ran my first half marathon since the Urban Cow Half Marathon last October, so you know, almost a year. No big deal. Being that I am currently training for the Chicago Marathon, I used today’s race as a long training run. Isn’t it the best when you run races as training runs? Fuel, water, course…all taken care of for you.

The Craft Classic San Diego is all about having fun and doing what we runners do best – run and drink good beer! This race also boasts some pretty nice swag.

  • Knockaround sunglasses
  • Pint glass
  • Race shirt
  • Free beer
  • Free race photos

Check out the medal! It doubles as a beer opener.

I really enjoyed this race. It wasn’t easy, which is one of the things I liked about it. The scenery was okay, the first couple of miles we ran along the 56 Bike Path (I think that is what it’s called – still newish to the area) which was along the freeway.  We ran past the Penasquitos Creek, and some nice neighborhoods. From mile 6ish we ran through industrial areas, big buildings, neighborhoods. The views weren’t great, but it was nice because there were people out there cheering for us. Mile 6 is when the hills started. They were all pretty gradual climbs, but they were loooong! Around mile 10 I did have to stop and walk a bit. This hill was killer!! While walking I got a shot of a sign they put along the course. It’s always fun when races do something like that to take your mind off the pain!

You can see from the elevation chart how hilly this course was. Can you tell where mile 10 was??

The course flattened out some after mile 11, mile 12 – 12.25 was a nice downhill, then the finish was up a final hill and down the chute with a great finish line in front of the brewery. There were a ton of people cheering us on and plenty of space in the chute and across the finish. I appreciate a nice, roomy finish line.

As I mentioned, I haven’t run a half marathon in 9 months and the longest distance I have run is 10 miles in the past 7 months. In the past this would have worried me, but today I wasn’t worried about this race, and I wasn’t trying for a PR. I just wanted to finish around 2 hours and not have any pain. I have been seeing a physical therapist for plantar fasciitis, peroneal tendonitis and achilles tendonitis. I am happy to say I started and finished this race pain free! 7 hours post race, I am still pain free. In the past I have pretty much skipped stretching post race so today I made sure to cool down correctly, stretch and even roll out. It’s all about training smart!

If you ran this race today, or any other race over the weekend go review it at www.bibrave.com! You can read my review of the Craft Classic here: Craft Classic San Diego.

This Body Can – Paula

This Body Can guest post #4. I am really excited to introduce my friend, Paula. Many of you reading may already know her. She and her family are very active in the Elk Grove/Sacramento (and ALL over) running community. I actually think we “met” via Instagram or some other form of social media, and the first time we met in person was at the SacTown 10 Miler race. I caught up to her and her husband and ran with them for a few miles – I remember thinking if it wasn’t for them that race would have been more of a struggle than it already was.

What I love about Paula is that she is real. Real about running, life, the struggles of a mom (and dad) raising 4 boys, and real about her love of family, running and community. I don’t have kids of my own (unless you count my cats, which I do) but seriously, I don’t have human children so sometimes I don’t get it. I don’t get how hard it can be to train for a race when you have others needing you. I don’t get how hard it can be to raise children to appreciate their bodies and what they can do. I also don’t get how rewarding and fulfilling it is, but knowing Paula I have gotten a glimpse of that life. I have nothing but major respect and admiration for the moms (and dads) out there making fitness a part of their family life. Here is Paula’s contribution to the This Body Can Series:

Media is both an optimistic mirror of possibility and a cruel beast.  In one moment it can be a source of inspiration and motivation; in another instance it can be a contributor to self worth and self esteem.  Women and men are inundated with images of perfectly coiffed bodies, gorgeous “natural” hair, glistening skin, just the right amount of muscle and tone. Young or old(er), no one is immune.  Even the person with the best self esteem will have moments of looking at magazine covers or watching their favorite TV show or movie and feeling just a twinge of “wish I could…”.  The saying is “Comparison is the thief of joy”, but in reality, comparison is natural.  It is just how one choses to use that comparison.  Think about it, think about those individuals who you follow on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or their blog.  You look at them and their results and you are motivated.  There is some type of comparison, but positive.  You see the possibility in yourself through them.  Yet, there are times when that comparison truly is the thief of joy.

 As a mom of 4 boys, I know this awkward, uncomfortable, struggle of a relationship with oneself too well.  As you have read in previous #thisbodycan posts, as young girls and women we are told what the ideal perfection is – behavior, emotions, appearance, etc.  (I must add that young boys are also sensitive to what their ideal image should be, but I digress).  Yet, when you become a mom the push for “perfection” is taken to new height.  There are magazine and entertainment news shows that profess headlines such as “How (fill in the blank) stunned 4 weeks after giving birth” and “(fill in the blank) got her before baby body in record time”.  There are also mommy bloggers who seem to capture the perfect life in a small square on social media, not only able to look perfect in their workout gear 6 weeks after baby, but their house is clean, food made from scratch and all done before nap time.  Oh the pains that new moms go through when comparing themselves to others.

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I have been through all those emotions, the multiple times a day weighing myself and wondering how to make the number on the scale lower.  Heck, after my first son was born, I weighed myself the day I got home.  Ladies, I highly advise against that.  DO NOT DO THAT!  I did cardio and strength training before my body was ready.  I will admit I did damage.  I had ab separation after each pregnancy, but didn’t know until after my second.  So you can imagine all the crunches, sit ups and planks I was doing only aggravating that Diastasis Recti further.  Ok, yes the rational side of me told myself that these women had resources I didn’t, told me that everyone is different, that I had no idea what they were going through as new celebrity/blogger moms.  Yet, the emotional side of me questioned why I couldn’t look so great a week after I gave birth?  I worked out during my pregnancy and although I did indulge in cookies at times, I ate healthy.  By my last two postpartum experiences I learned to listen to my body and returned to exercise at different times and different ways. I refrained from the scale.  After my 3rd and 4th child, I made a huge effort to focus on ability, on what I could do after baby in a healthy way to return to what was normal life for me with 1, 2, 3 and eventually 4 children.

Throughout my life I, like many others, have had insecurities about my body.  Post pregnancy only amplified those insecurities because my body looked drastically different and let’s be honest, all those erratic hormone emotions and lack of sleep does not help.  For decades, I hated the way my thighs looked.  In my youth they were too skinny and I was made fun of for my “stick legs”, after children they became “thunder thighs”.  After 4 kids I have stretch marks and extra skin that no amount of exercise will make go away. I have learned to be ok with these things, but that’s not to say I don’t have days where I am insecure.

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My body can birth 4 boys.  Yes, I have stretch marks and extra skin.  My belly button used to be an inner, that is no longer the case.  Ha!  And I will say this is huge that I am even putting a picture out there with my stomach exposed. But I am learning to value what my body can do rather than what it looks like.

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Chicago Marathon Training – 1 Month Down

Wow. 1 month into my Chicago training. Time flies when you’re having fun! Um, yeah, marathon training IS FUN!

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So far things are going well. I am still dealing with achilles tendonitis and peroneal tendonitis on my right foot and plantar fasciitis on the left. With the help of my physical therapist and coaches at RunnersConnect I am definitely improving. I still get nervous that one of my long runs or speed work days are going to take me out again, but I know if I train smart I will be okay. Which is exactly what I have been doing – physical therapy isn’t always the fun part of training but I am diligently following my doctor’s orders. After half a year of not being able to train, I don’t want to miss out on Chicago and CIM this Fall. You know, the thought of not being able to run long distances or do speed work is scary. Sure I have many other forms of movement that I love but nothing makes me feel the way running does.

In addition to physical therapy I have FINALLY been making yoga a regular part of my training. I am so proud of myself! A major contributing factor to this is having a yoga app. There really are no excuses to not do yoga when you have an app and can do yoga anywhere! In addition to that I go to yoga classes that are donation based, which helps a ton when you are working part time in a city that is waaaay more expensive than were you moved from. So garage gym, knowledge from my trainer in Sac, yoga app and yoga donation classes – you really don’t need a ton of money to train well. #noexcuses!

The Chicago Marathon is now less than 100 days away! Just thinking of running a marathon right now scares me, that is how rough running has been for me since last year. Next weekend I’ll be running the furthest I have run since the CIM, which I am admittedly a little nervous about. I’ll be running the San Diego Craft Classic half marathon (there is a 5k option too). Which by the way still has spots open to register! Use code ‘BibRave’ for $10 off the half and $5 off the 5k. Running & beer, what could be better? See you there! I’ll be in the orange BibRave shirt, so yell out some words of encouragement when you see me. I’ll be needing them!