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?

Workouts of Late

This week, I am down 1.8 pounds.

I’ve collected quite a few sweaty selfies of late thanks to my fitness Instagram- Stronger with Caitlin. Here’s a few of them, along with what I’ve been doing for my workouts lately.

Lots of running.

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Summer into fall is my absolute favorite time to run and I always pick up my pace and length once the weather cools down just a bit. Of course, I try to run outside in the winter, but it’s never for as long. I also detest the treadmill and cannot go for miles unless I’m somehow in a trance-like state.

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I’m excited to see how fast and far I can go now that I’m dropping a few extra pounds. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts, ranging from True Crime to Disney World themed, during my workouts, although I’ll always return to my favorite playlists and upbeat musicals when I just want to cruise.

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I’ve also been a sweaty mess during my strength training workouts, which I do three times a week. I try to add 15-20 minutes of faster cardio to the end or throughout. My cardio of choice on these days has been jump roping. It’s such a great workout that you don’t have to suffer through for an extended amount of time. I like to do a set of jumps 50-100 after each set of exercises to get the heart rate UP.

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In conclusion, I aim for six days a week of challenging workouts. 3 running days and 3 strength training days. Thus far, I’ve been enjoying the results.

Stay-tuned for the fall when I’ll be mixing things up!

At least you’re not the Yankees today…

Welcome back from the weekend, we’ve survived another hot one.

My Friday started, as it usually does, nice and early thanks to a 4:30am wake-up call. This also means my weekend kicks off early, so I can’t complain. After work and a solid strength training workout, I lounged around the house for a bit before it was Red Sox v. Yankees time. I almost feel bad for the Yankees, but not quite.

I headed into the game with a friend who happens to be a Yankees fan. I did feel bad for her team of losers and made sure to sing along to Sweet Caroline nice and loud for her.

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In college, I was so used to walking to and from the game from just down the street and afterwards, driving into the city, that taking the subway was an adventure. A very hot, sticky, and crowded adventure.

On Saturday, I had a leisurely morning, sleeping in and enjoying breakfast.

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My niece and sister came over for the day and we had a great time just watching this little face.

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It’s crazy how fast they grow!

I went to bed early for a Saturday night and was up early on Sunday morning to fit in a run before my hair appointment. It was warm, but dry outside and I cruised for a solid 4 miles of running. Felt strong!

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After grocery shopping and touching up my roots, it was meal prep time. I chopped up a ton of veggies for salads and made my breakfast for today.

I started watching Sharp Objects on HBO, so far so good.

How’s your Monday treating you?

Perfect Summer Weekend

Hi! I hope the weekend was glorious! We had great weather all the way through, even though rain was threatening on Saturday.

After work on Friday, I fit in a sweaty total body workout with a little dose of cardio at the end. When I got home, my sister and her family came over to hang outside and I got some quality auntie time.

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I was woken early and abruptly on Saturday by a cat who was ready to seize the day, but once I set him loose, I fell back asleep until almost 10am. I guess I needed my rest!

When I was up for good, I started the day with two poached eggs on a whole wheat toast and a big bowl of watermelon.

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As I digested and hydrated, I watched an episode of Safe on Netflix. I started it on Thursday and was dismayed that I only had time to watch one episode. I was hooked from the start!

I tore myself away from the screen long enough to crush a 3.1 mile run. It was super hot, but my usual trail is shadowy and there was a nice breeze to guide me through. My legs felt strong!

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Upon my arrival home, I jumped in the pool to cool down- much needed- and dived into this Greek salad with chicken. Perfect fuel to re-energize. It looks a little bland because of the blanket of dressing, but I promise there was a load of veggies underneath, including baby spinach, bell peppers, carrots, cucumber, and tomato!

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My mom and I went grocery shopping in the afternoon to prepare for the week- lots of healthy choices! On Weight Watchers, it’s good to mix things up so we don’t get sick of certain foods and turn to less than great options.

I settled down to finish Safe- there were only eight episodes- and was sad, but satisfied when it ended. I sort of predicted the ending by the penultimate episode, but I wasn’t disappointed.

For dinner, I grilled up some shrimp in blackening seasoning, lime juice, teriyaki sauce, and sriracha and they were so good! I threw them atop two corn tortillas with bell peppers, broccoli slaw, and a dollop of sour cream mixed with the same ingredients as the shrimp. Note to remind myself to do this more often, maybe with Greek yogurt! Such a little detail added so much flavor to my meal! I also had a few chips to round out my meal.

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I assume this meal would pair well with cold beer or a tequila beverage of some sort, but I was saving my extra calories for some Saturday night ice cream! What can I say, your girl’s got a sweet tooth.

The rest of the night, I watched the Red Sox and played hard with my main dude. He’s been very busy lately and is constantly on the prowl. Of course, I mean the Sim-dude.

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On Sunday, I was up early to hit the beach! We got breakfast to start off the day. Two eggs over easy with whole wheat toast and a big bowl of fruit. My mom shared a slice of bacon with me too.

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My favorite part about the beach is going in the water. It was chilly, but the waves enticing, and we stayed in for quite awhile twice.

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I think that’s actually a person’s Shoulder and not my thumb. And no visit to the beach is complete without some ice cream. It’s all part of healthy living!

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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.

Love Letter to Exercise

It was the summer before my senior year of college and I had no idea what to pursue in my professional life, but I knew I did not want to present myself to the world in my current condition. I was obese, self-conscious, and overwhelmed. Rather than sink further into this black hole, I decided to pull myself out of it.

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After work, every afternoon, I put in 15 minutes on the clunky elliptical we had in the basement. I blasted music and endured it. As the days and weeks passed, I started putting on episodes of favorite shows, like Friends and Golden Girls, and worked until the end. It wasn’t long before I realized how much I enjoyed the effort, the slick sweat and short of breath feelings grew addictive.

I could go for an hour, playing with speeds and intensities. I was losing weight and I felt good about myself for the first time ever. I was in complete control, pushing my body to limits I thought I would forever detest. My body craved more. After my elliptical session, I would do sets of jumping jacks and started lifting the light weights we had lounging around. By the end of the summer, I was more determined than I had ever been in my life and I knew I would keep going once I was back in school.

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At my college, there were two gyms- one in the main building of campus and the other in the basement of a dorm. I loved both, they became safe spaces of comfort. Lifting weights awakened my body in new ways. I’d feel sore the next day, but it was a result of achievement rather than a painful deterrent. I had no knowledge about how to lift weights, no idea what exercise worked what muscle group, I just tried what I saw other people in the gym doing, or what I read about online.

In these days, I racked up one-two hours every day at the gym. It’s not what I recommend for everyone, nor something that is doable for busy people, but it was my saving grace. Gone was the anxious girl who ate her emotions. I found my strength.

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February of that year, I decided to tackle the treadmill. Growing up, I loved playing sports, but I hated to run. I started at 30 minutes, walking for 4 minutes and running for 1 minute in 5 minute increments. By Red Sox opening day that year, I took my runs to the outdoor track down the street and was running 3-4 miles at a time. I was a runner- and that is not something I offer lightly. To this day, I am not quick or smooth or a model of running perfection by any means, but I can run for miles and I will never forget what that means to the girl in the summer of 2011.

By graduation, approximately one year later, I was 100 pounds down, exercising six days a week and maintaining much healthier (and happier) eating habits. I was sad to be leaving school, but I was excited to see what the future held. That is not to say that I didn’t struggle after. I’m still confused as to what to do in my professional life in many ways, but that is the product of living.

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But this journey that I continue on, allowed me to be okay with putting myself out into the world, to experience and experiment. I tried several different jobs and trusted my instincts enough to walk away from something that wasn’t right for me. I studied to become a personal trainer and help others who struggle like me or just need a little guidance and push. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dreams and listened to my heart when I knew it was time to come home to my family.

My life is not perfect. I am not perfect. I eat too much, I have a lazy exercise day or choose to gasp- take two days off from the gym sometimes- but mostly, I’ve maintained these healthy habits. Eating is a large part of losing weight and maintaining a healthy life, but exercise was my gateway. Without it, I would not have the strength to endure, two of my favorite words.

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Exercise is my time. No matter what, I will always have that hour in my day that I take for myself. It doesn’t have to be a full hour, it doesn’t have to be a perfect mixture of cardio and strength training, and it doesn’t always have to be crushing and exhausting.

Embrace the messiness of fitness- the sweat, the confusion, the pain, the results. It does wondrous things for the body, physically and mentally.

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Let the Rain Come

Hello Monday and hello to you!

Once again, I can’t believe how fast the weekend flew by. I had a ton of fun in the sun and spent the majority of the weekend relaxing. It might be a rainy week ahead, but at least we’ll all be at work anyway.

My friend/client snapped this shot of me training her on Friday afternoon. We were laughing, but really I was trying to get her to stop talking long enough to actually exercise!

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Lunch was a BLT salad.

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That afternoon, this guy had his annual check-up. He’s doing great! I can’t believe it’s almost been a year since I adopted him. He’s the joy of my life.

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Later, I got to cuddle with the cutest baby I know, little Lily.

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On Saturday, I woke up and had a breakfast of an egg on toast with a sprinkling of cheese.

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It fueled me through a 2.25 mile run, including a massive hill at the end. Woo.

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My reward was an afternoon on the beach with my BFF!

It was a blast soaking up the sun and diving into waves. We headed into the city after for a drink and to walk around. It was such a lovely night outside and it was great walking around our old college neighborhood.

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Sunday morning included what I’m branding the BELT- bacon, egg, lettuce, and tomato. Delicious! We attended mass in the morning in honor of the anniversary of my grandfather’s passing.

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It was a nice moment to celebrate with family and we all went out to eat after.

That night, I went on a long walk with my parents, made these Skinnytaste bagels, and got some Sunday night things done.

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Anything great happen this weekend?