lover’s quarrel: running

Within, you will find the many faces of my post-running experience- there are two expressions, I’m either in agony or thrilled to be done. I can lift heavy, jump all around, but nothing makes me feel stronger than a solid run. This stems from my not natural ability to run. I believe some bodies are made easier to run than others. Being short and stocky is not an example of this, however, the fact that I have been able to run miles despite this, is a point of pride.

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I started running in February of 2012 on a treadmill in the basement gym of my college. 30 seconds of running, 4 minutes and 30 seconds of walking for 30 minutes. Every week or so, I would add 30 seconds to my running time. When I reached 10 minutes, I decided to see what would happen if I kept going, a mile wasn’t far out of reach.

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The first time I ran a mile, it took me 15 minutes. By the time spring came, I could run two miles straight. Being outside and off the treadmill helped me to go longer and faster. I hit 5 miles by that summer.

Running is my most tumultuous relationship as I have been on and off with it for years. Throughout spring, summer, and fall, my running is in peak form, but when winter comes around, it’s back to the treadmill (unless the ground isn’t icy or snowy) and it falls off a bit.

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The most miles I’ve been able to run is 10 and my legs were shot after. Usually I stick to 3-6 miles. Right now, my goal is to hit a 30 minute or under 5k. My most recent run on Sunday was 4 miles at a 10 minute and 20 second pace.

I can sometimes tell how my run will go based on the first two miles. If those feel like a breeze, I can extend my mileage to closer to the six mark. Sometimes I really have to push myself through those first two and then the third doesn’t seem as bad. Once I hit my groove, it starts to feel easier and I naturally gain speed.

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I’m not far off, I just need a better warm-up plan- better than just lacing up my sneakers and getting out there! Practice always makes better! And I hope that with my continued weight loss, running will become naturally easier as well. Considering I started off the summer with a pace of 12 minutes and 59 seconds with walking mixed in, I think I’m making vast improvements!

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Music is everything. I have a proclivity towards musicals and pop music, something that has a little pep and motivation to it. Much of the time, I will also listen to podcasts because it feels like I’m within a conversation- hello My Favorite Murder!

I love the feeling of finding my stride and cruising. I hate struggling and feeling like every step is a battle. Either way and in-between, my runs are always worth it.

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Running is not for everyone and I respect those who keep it from their workout plans. It’s the same reason I don’t do burpees. I HATE them. For me, running is a test of endurance and strength of which does not come easily to me and I enjoy the challenge- most of the time.

What’s your relationship like to running?

Guest Post: Cait

If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll know I like to refer to myself as a runner, but my friend Cait is an actual, competitive, marathon runner. She inspires me to hit the pavement and keep going, even when my body disagrees and was kind enough to answer some questions about running and her passion for fitness with us.

Thanks, Cait!

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Can you give us some background as to why and how you started running?

When I was about 5 years old I started running the Town day road races with my family.  Soon after that it became a hobby that me and my dad did together.  We would do weekend runs together and Christmas morning was always a fun run.  Next I started my first team in elementary school, and the rest is history.

Why running?
Running is the easiest way to get a quick workout in and you only sneakers and an outfit, and if you need a watch.  Other than that its simple, you just go out your door and explore.
How do you prepare for runs? Whether it’s race day or just a casual jaunt?
Race day and a casual run are completely different preparations for me.  A causal run I just get dressed and go out my door. But a race preparation starts really when the entire training starts, hydration, nutrition and sleep. Typical day of prep would include a bagel with cream cheese a coffee and apple juice, and depending time 2 hours before I run I would have a power bar and some water. I additionally 1 hour before race time will start to stretch and warm up.
What have been your greatest achievements with running?
My greatest achievement would be finishing the Boston marathon, or should I say swimming! (A/N: It was pouring the day of the marathon this year!)
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What was running the marathon like, both physically and mentally?
Besides training your body to run for 4 hours, the hardest part was getting over the fact that you are in pain and you are tired.  If running a marathon was easy, everybody would do it.  It takes mental and physical strength that will push you past your limits, and you truly find out what your body is capable of.
Are there any negatives or downsides to running you’ve felt over the years?
I ran competitively for 12 years so there are deff some negatives.  Injury’s will pop up but you can bounce back, the biggest challenge i have faced would have to be the mental burn out. Over training is a common you can experience mental fatigue.
How was it being a collegiate athlete?
Being a collegiate is something I am so happy I was able to do.  I loved being able to compete and miss being able to toe the line and feel the adrenaline pumping.  I wish I could do it all over again.
How have you made the transition from collegiate athlete to casual runner (if you can call it that)?
Transitioning from a collegiate runner to a casual runner was a weird experience.  I didn’t know when to start running again after my break and so I ended up just starting to sign up for 5K’s and half marathons and then some how I got a number and ran the Boston Marathon.
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Any suggestions and advice to offer those who are looking to get into or improve their running?
One thing I would say is to be proud of yourself for getting out there, it is an amazing feeling when you suddenly feel yourself getting better. It is also a great stress reliever so that is a plus.

Lately and Onward

Hi, everyone! I’ve been on the DL lately thanks to all the studying I’ve been doing. As I mentioned, it’s crunch time and I’m following a strict plan I’ve laid out for myself. The good news, I’m not just flipping through, but clarifying points I was confused on and I feel like I’m making actual progress. Here we go!

Things of late, we have mostly breakfasts.

Scrambled eggs, waffles, fruit. I think I actually might be off my waffle kick now.

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Fancy pancakes. I tried to do a design, but then I plopped the pancakes down on top of it and the fruit smeared.

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More scrambled eggs, fruit, and toast.

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Exercise-wise, I’ve done my usual strength training with bouts of cardio. Monday included triceps, chest, legs, and core with a few intervals on the bike thanks to a sore hamstring/glute. Thanks to the foam roller, or self-myofascial release if you want to be technical, it’s been feeling a lot better. Tuesday was biceps, shoulders, back, and core followed up with a sweaty walk/run/sprint cardio session on the treadmill that stretched out my sore spots. Stair climbing was really the pain-riddled issue. Wednesday was a rest day so that things could return to normal.

I leave you all with this link to my cousin Erin’s blog: https://queenbucks.wordpress.com.

One of us writes about food and exercise and the other is all about fashion and beauty. I’ll let you guess which is which.

I even dressed myself.

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(Reminder: this is from yesterday when I was in serious study mode and had no reason to leave the house until work much later on and in a completely different outfit. Don’t judge me!)

Weekend Catch-Up

The world is a darker place after what happened on Friday, but the truth is, it’s been darkening for awhile now. Bad things happen when people remain driven by anger, hatred, and cowardice. We will mourn, cry, and suffer, but terror and violence cannot persevere when we live our lives to the fullest, with love, hope, and kindness.

I’m starting to suspect that writing is bad for a person’s health. I’ll put together a carefully composed essay on the meaning of life and draw in few readers and no response, then I’ll type a silly story that has no purpose or sense of direction and get a high in likes for the day. Not to mention how the act of writing itself is difficult. It’s a muscle that needs to be trained and used, but it’s a battle to hone it. Sometimes, the spindles contract with you in ease and other times, tension is high and it’s a struggle.  And yet, here we (okay, maybe just I) still are (am?). Nothing that comes easy in life is worth it, right?

Anyways, as I type this up, I’m munching on a greek yogurt with grapes and a scoop of peanut butter for my post-workout snack, sipping on a warm cup of coffee, and listening to Adele. I’ve been angsty in my music choices these days- Adele, Hozier, Ingrid Michaelson.

After two weekends full of excitement, this one was tame. On Saturday, I had an early morning at work, but first, I fueled up with this simple and delicious peanut butter toast.

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After work, I came home craving breakfast food, so I chopped up a ton of veggies and scrambled everything together with an egg and a couple of egg whites. So good and the perfect meal for a run!

It was cold! The wind made things almost unbearable, but my legs were itching to get out there, so I bundled up and didn’t feel like the temperature was too much of a hassle once I got moving.

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I was in a complacent mood when it came to dinner. My stomach was screaming for Indian food, but my body didn’t want to get off the couch. I settled for paneer tikka masala from Trader Joes! I beefed the meal up by adding sautéed spinach and mushrooms. Forgot to take a picture, but once it was on the plate, it looked pretty!

The first meal of the day on Sunday came in the form of an egg and egg white omelet with cheese and an English muffin. I also had a few strawberries, but we were out of most produce at this point.

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That Indian craving was not going away, so for lunch, I had another meal thanks to Trader Joes, this time chicken tikka masala. I added the peppers, mushrooms, and spinach.

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Someone else was feeling the chill of November and needed to be warmed. The best part of this picture is his expression because you just know he is plotting all of our deaths. I try not to be a crazy pet person, but I couldn’t help myself this time. Every time I see it, I burst out laughing. And to be honest, these days, we take all the happy, laughing moments we can get!

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Though it was my rest day from formal workouts, I met up with my friend Molly for an hour or so for a walk. We covered about four miles and it felt great to catch up and stretch my legs before hankering down for an evening of studying. It’s crunch time, friends!

Dinner satisfied another craving I’ve had as of late- chicken cacciatore. Chicken, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, and pasta- yum!

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This morning, I was more than a little excited for breakfast. Yet again, I made an egg and 2 egg white scramble with cheese (breakfast of the moment). This time, I paired the eggs with a bagel slim with a pat of butter, blueberries, blackberries, and a half of a banana.

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The meal well-prepared me for the day’s workout! Yesterday, I spent a good chunk of time developing a new workout plan for the month or so. I’m quite excited about it too as I put a lot of effort into choosing grueling, effective exercises that don’t leave me in the gym for such a long time. Today, I did a series of circuit training that focused on my triceps, shoulders, chest, and core. For cardio, I hopped on the stair master (ouch) for 12 minutes and the rower for another 12.

That takes up to this moment, yogurt now finished, and me very much ready to hop in the shower. Happy Monday- here’s to a great week!

Celebrating the Small Things

After breakfast yesterday, I got started on my workout. Up first was a dumbbell circuit that included bicep curls, standing tricep extensions, shoulder raises, weighted lunges, alternating front raises, and inverted rows. I performed each move in 6 sets of 8 reps and felt strong after my rest day on Sunday. For something a little extra, I went through a plyometrics/cardio circuit of box jumps, jump rope, rope swings, push ups, and sit up twists.

To top things off for the day, I hopped in the pool for a swim. I’ve learned the hard way that my watch does not track swimming, so I still have to count laps to make sure I’m staying on track. It can be a pain, but I break the laps down into groups of twelve, as each set is 1/3 of a mile. When I started, it took me a good 17 minutes to finish each round of 12 laps, which totaled approximately a 51 minute mile. Swimming is slow, especially for me, but I’ve been growing stronger and faster as I practice and learn good form. Yesterday, I swam a consistent 13 minute 1/3 mile swim and put in a little extra effort that last bit to make up a 39 minute mile. That is three year’s dedication right there! I think, when you put in effort and determination, we’re allowed to celebrate the small things as much as the big.

Whether in swimming, running, or lifting as of late, I’ve been noticing myself growing stronger and I take a lot of pride in that. For exercise to be effective and consistent, you have to find what works for you, what you enjoy, and be mindful of how it takes care of your body!

This should be the motto for anything we do in life. It’s hit me lately that if I put as much work, consistency, and determination into other things in my life as I do exercise, I can really make things happen. I consider myself lucky that the greatest challenger to myself and what I do in life, is myself. Not everyone can say that.

To recover from my workout, I enjoyed a lunch of leftover whole wheat spaghetti with peppers, mushrooms, and spinach along with a piece of parmesan crusted tilapia I had prepared the day before. I will share that recipe soon!

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While grocery shopping on Sunday, I checked out the sushi section and decided to try something different. I’m new and unadventurous to the sushi world, but I went with the spicy tuna roll and thought it was delicious! For an extra hit of veggies and protein, I enjoyed a side of carrot and celery sticks with peanut butter for dipping.

Breakfast this morning was a one-egg, two egg-white omelet with spinach, peppers, tomato, and jalapeño and some cheese. I paired the delicacy with two pieces of buttered whole wheat toast and a side of fresh blueberries and raspberries.

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With a little blogging and digesting, I’m off to the gym to fit in another great workout!

Errors Don’t Lead to Smooth Reading

As I was typing up tomorrow morning’s post, I was noticing how my ipad was autocorrecting correctly spelled words to nonsense. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I decided to glance back at last week’s posts and there are quite a few nonsense errors! I am a little embarrassed because I pride myself in spelling, especially when supposedly backed by autocorrect. You have failed me.

Siri just said I failed myself.

Siri May have a point actually. I could blame it on the winter and snow, waking up early and having long days, but lately I’ve been in a bit of a funk. I’ve not been utilizing my time to be as productive with things I should be, and want, to be doing.

For instance, I blog fairly consistently during the week, but when it comes to my other writing, I’ve been lacking. It’s a ton easier to sit down in front of the tv and just watch. Mindless fun. There’s a time for television and writing and I have to be better at finding a balance. Especially in that this is something I want to pursue further. I’ve been good these past few days and I feel as though I have been awakened with a new mindset and diligence, so I think only positive things lie ahead.

One thing that is helping me get back into my writing groove is journaling. I bought a new one last night for a fresh start. Journaling my random thoughts or a recap of my day helps spark my creative process so I can turn it on in other endeavors. I can’t say what, but I started a project last night that I’m really excited about.

Another way to maximize my time is to take advantage of my commute. It’s not terrible, but it is time exhaustive, so I’ve been trying to think of things I can do. Obviously, I’m limited in the fact that I drive. Instead of the radio all the time, I’m going to start listening to audiobooks and I just downloaded a tape recorder app that would allow me to speak out story ideas and plots. It will definitely seem silly at first, especially when having to playback, but I think it will turn out to be an excellent tool.

How do you maximize your awake time to make sure everything you need, and WANT, to do gets done?

A Review of…January…Kind Of?

Are we supposed to start a month by our first words being, “Rabbit, rabbit,” or something? I’ve heard that somewhere, so if you’re superstitious, I hope you remembered to say it…

I’ve been bad and haven’t finished a book in a few weeks. I’ve mentioned before how I go through phases. When I do read, it’s the only thing that I can do, but when I’m not in that mode, I get distracted. There simply does not seem to be enough hours in the day sometimes when it comes to extracurricular activities. I’ve been trying to focus much of my attention and energy on writing, which has been better in the past few weeks, but I am feeling the itch of getting lost in a good book.

My problem is that by the end of a long work day, I’m tired and don’t have much energy to expend on things in which I have to focus. Starting my day at 5:00 AM always makes me feel energized and able to take on the day, but it cuts down on the hours I have at night because I need my sleep.

My problem is that I am a giant procrastinator when it comes to doing things other than browsing the Internet or sitting in front of the television. It’s jut so easy! In some ways, I am diligent and disciplined, especially for my workout routine, but I’m unfortunately not quite there yet when it comes to reading and writing. I know that in order to be successful, I have to work at it extremely hard, but the hours and the days get away from you and all of a sudden you realize you haven’t been very productive in some facets of life.

A new month always brings a new sense of hope. I’m actually not certain where January went. In some ways, it feels like Christmas and New Year were a lifetime ago, but then I wonder how it’s already February. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the snow all seems to be falling at once now after we’ve had nothing at all for so long. I mean, the day after Christmas I was running outside with my jacket around my waist!

I’m trying to reflect back on January and though I know I have a lot to be grateful for, I’m struggling to remember the specifics. The winter in general tends to do this to people. Just from the number of days in the month, I know that February is going to pass by even faster, so now is the time to pay attention to how I spend my free time.

At the very least, I’m happy to be able to say that I have kept up with my blogging! Even for this though, I feel as though I have only done the regularly scheduled posts that I typically do- Meals on Monday, Rave Review Tuesdays, and Workout Wednesdays- but I haven’t contributed any extra, fun material lately. I hope my blog hasn’t been boring, but I will try and make more of an effort to post more than those allotted topics.

For the reading, I am making my way through two interesting nonfiction books on writing, the one on screenwriting that I discussed and another on writing in general that I read a bit from college. They are pretty inspiring and enlightening, but they also say a lot of what I should already know- in order to be a good writer, you have to write.

I always had a romantic view of creative outlets, like writing, thinking that people could simply rely on pure talent to succeed. To be fair, I don’t think I can be entirely blamed for this perception based on what our culture sees as “quality” entertainment, but the more I grow up, experience, and observe, I’ve noticed how hard people have to work in order to pursue any of their passions. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done.

There will always be excuses not to do something, and it’s much harder to actually get yourself to do things, but that just means it will be worth that much more in the long term. The expression that the journey is far more important than the end result rings truer the more I experience in this world. No one is made by successes and failures on their own, but by the processes taken to reach them.

Now let’s see if I can put my money where my mouth is…or so they say.