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