Before you think someone else has taken over my body or brainwashed my thoughts- keep reading.
Over the last month and a half I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned what I need, what I miss, what I want and what I want to change about myself. All of this came about after my little “life break” I shall call it.
The more I run, the deeper I fall in love with the sport and the more running I want to do. I am so much more than a runner, but I am the best version of myself when I run. My love for the sport just grows deeper and takes me on all kinds of journeys. I know what it feels like to work hard for months and see the improvement. I refuse to just slog my way through a sub-par marathon and say “look at me! I have a marathon finisher’s medal around my neck!”. When I decide to run a marathon again, it’s going to be because I am willing to put my whole heart and every ounce of effort I have into it and right now, I can’t. It’s okay to dial it back a little in order to still work towards my goals. Taking a little time to recharge will give me the focus to push differently for my dreams and realign my passion for the sport.
Last year, I knew I wanted to run the Marathon and I didn’t let anything stop me. I had never felt myself fight for anything harder. I worked hard, my body didn’t fail me, my legs were able to take me all the way to the finish and I had a great time despite my apprehension going into the race. This year, everything and anything has stopped me. I want to enjoy the experience without being a total wreck. I’ve been trying to decide on/train/plan for #2 and I am a complete and utter mess. I don’t feel ready at all. I know people say that and don’t really mean it, but trust me when I say I’m not ready. My training thus far hasn’t been how I’ve wanted it... because- life. It’s been a struggle. I’ve really had to take a step back and look at everything differently. I need to give myself more of a break.
I think I'm going to stick to half marathons for a while and not run another marathon until spring/summer. It might seem crazy to you that I am already thinking that far ahead, but I have to. My mind just works that way. Plus my dreams are real big. I am also the type of person that wants and needs goals to thrive. I crave the routine and the training plans because they make me better, stronger and keep me sane. I’ve been feeling the pressure I’ve been putting on myself to perform better in my sessions with that trainer guy, the pressure of my body to stay healthy and the mental pressure of my real job has been exhausting. I also feel like I’ve been missing out on the small things in life, because I’ve been so overwhelmed and I hate that. The half marathon is my favorite distance and frankly I would like to be much better at it. So, for now, I will readjust my sails and put my focus on feeling good about my half distance. I am so pumped to implement some new strategies and make this training cycle rock.
It might be worth mentioning that I have entered my name into two marathon lotteries fully knowing this is how I felt. Should luck be on my side and I end up with an entry into either of them, I'll be okay since they both are early spring and I wouldn't have to change my focus of running a killer half before moving into full marathon training. I know I won’t be able to make my dreams happen without these moments that push me to do better and force me to go farther than I ever thought I could. Even with all the pain and tears of the last 8 months, I can’t imagine not running. I can’t fathom not having it be a part of my life. I want to experience it all. No one can tell me no. Even if it takes me my whole lifetime (and it very well might) I won’t stop chasing what I want in life.
I don’t hate running guys, I promise I’m still doing it.
I know I’ve been writing a lot of personal things lately, and I really appreciate your support. I read each and every comment on social media, sometimes it just gets overwhelming to respond to them all when it comes to personal posts. I promise I’m going to get this blog back on track with running…..............
Starting right now…..
The only way to get better at running, is to run. Right? Well, that and strength training and drills.... but I digress. Lets talk about my new love- HILLS!
I’ll be the first to admit that running hills is intimidating and I didn’t always seek them out in my training. However, hills are a great training tool for increasing your speed, improving your running form and building your endurance. Hills present a challenge to every runner, but that’s why hill workouts will improve your running: you need to add a stressor in order for your body to make adaptations.
So recently I’ve begun to incorporate more hills into my training in hopes of becoming a better-stronger runner. I’ll admit that I’m becoming a bit of a hill lover already: while I still love my normal flat routes for long runs and harder workouts, hills on my easy run are making me feel stronger and inject a sense of thrill into a normal easy run.
THE BENEFITS OF HILL RUNNING WORKOUTS:
* Improved turnover of feet, which means faster cadence (key for running faster).
* Builds power and strength in the lower body
* Uses a variety of muscles, which teaches you to activate those muscles while running on any terrain (glute activation is important for powerful running)
* Decreased risk of injury (especially hamstring injury) compared to fast running on flat ground
* Hills are speedwork in disguise – a cliche amongst running coaches but true! During the base phase, in lieu of speed work: hills place less stress on the body than speed work, so you can focus on building your mileage while maintaining some speed and power.
* Hills build your endurance and increase your fatigue resistance
* You feel strong and that confidence permeates to other areas of your life and running
So, why avoid workouts that intimidate you? It’s not like those hills are actually going to harm you or ruin your day. If anything, they will only make you physically and mentally strong. So quit avoiding them on your route. ;)
Do you ever feel like you’re running away from something? Something unfavorable that you’re too scared to address? Emotions, long to-do lists, being a better person, bad habits, etc?
Lately, I feel like that all the time. But, it wasn’t until recently (maybe even today) that I realized I’ve been living in a perpetual state of running. And not the endorphin producing kind I’m obsessed with. It's been years since I've run from things, or so I thought.
This kind of running is exhausting. Mentally and physically. My days are jam-packed with anything and everything I can think of. It’s my fault. I realized I live this lifestyle of filling voids with noise, workouts, social events, work, what-have-you, because I fear addressing what’s unpleasant, the truth- grieving hurts.
I went to church today. Yes, on a Monday. As I was sitting in mass it dawned on me. I'm running away from my own life. I’m tired of running. I’m tired of running away from what I’m scared of feeling, thinking, doing.
My anxiety was pretty high, but instead of getting up and running out of church as I so desperately wanted to do, I prayed to allow me to feel these feelings that I’ve been pushing aside for so long. I felt the tightness in my chest and I did my best to embrace it. In that moment I felt tears roll down my cheeks and thanked God for giving humans the ability to express emotion in such a way. I felt my fear – deep- my fear of loss, of love and being alone. And it hurt pretty badly, but afterwards, I was at a different level of emotion.
Recently, a friend told me I needed to feel and express whatever emotions I was feeling because if I push them aside, it’s only going to backfire down the road.
I halfheartedly listened to her.
But she was right.
I had been spending my days “busy” to avoid feeling these feelings. Pushing forward without addressing what was tugging at my heart. Avoiding the unpleasantness at all costs. “I’m strong, I’m OK, and I’m not broken.” And incessantly smiling and laughing in hopes that the unpleasant would just – disappear.
It doesn’t work that way though…. so I’ve come to find out.
There is beauty in addressing the parts of us that aren’t that pretty… The parts that are dark and not filtered through social media. The parts that are real, raw and that make us human.
As one hand lay over my heart, I am aware it beats different now. It misses the rhythm, I wonder if it because the hole in my heart is now bigger. Being alone in my thoughts hurts, but I was able to feel all the emotions, raw as they may be. Bad things happen to all of us, bad feelings arise, but we have to keep moving forward. Face what you fear facing and leave it there. Then, with the strength you have left, move forward. Moving forward dose not mean forgetting, we will always carry those memories with us, we just lean how to live through the pain. I am blessed for the people who have prayed and supported me through this time.
My body is my body and it has its fair share of issues, but it’s mine. And, aside from a little too much caffeine and a little too little sleep, I take pretty decent care of it lately. Self-confidence is something that comes and goes with me. I’ll go a few weeks feeling great about my body, my work and myself and then one morning wake up and I feel like I’ve gained 10lbs (but haven’t), that my entire career so far is a massive failure (it never is) and that I’m a failing at everything in life (I never am). Days like that suck, and it’s so easy to let yourself be pulled into a downward spiral of self-doubt.
My “fitness journey” is less of a journey than it is a turning point. If I wanted to feel good – or even close to good – I had to work at it. So I do, regularly. I choose to make the best of my situation every day and have absolutely fallen in love with the process. I adore running (duh), yoga, strength training and spending time cooking delicious food. Working out and tracking meals has become something I love to do because it makes me feel healthy, happy, and confident. It even helps me manage my anxiety and bad moods, to the point where I less often feel that horrible feeling, that my life has no meaning.
Running taught me to love my body and appreciate it for all the things it could do. Running came into my life at the perfect time. Just when I was in need of something that could open my eyes to the world that I was letting pass me by and needed a little reminder to love myself, running became my beacon of hope. As my body transformed, both inside and out, with running, I fell in love. I may not have the body of an elite runner, but I could care less about that at the moment. I can get outside and go for a run, and for that I am proud and I love my body for that. It’s unfortunate, but we’ve been trained — by society, by our own insecurities, by the ads we see on TV — to feel as though we need to look a certain way in order to do certain things, act a certain way, or flaunt a certain level of confidence. However, read this closely: this is wrong. You CAN. You can do these things, regardless of what your body looks like. You DO NOT need to have a perfect body to have permission to do anything. Regardless of how you look, you should be able to make the same, self-servicing, self-caring decisions you would have made otherwise.
In the past few months I may have over indulged more often than I usually do. And I may have missed a few workouts. But I missed those workouts because I was traveling and spending time with people that I love. I over indulged because I was enjoying the moment with new found, and old found, friends. I have been so broken at times, but I have been surrounded by people that don't make me feel the need to prove myself. I have gained honesty. I have gained lifelong friends. I have gained new memories and moments that now define the life that I once almost let pass me by.
I am by no means perfect - ask anyone that has allowed me to open up to them this year - but I am me. 100%. I used to try to deny that. I used to try to change that. I am done trying to be someone else. I am strong and brave. I took back control of my life and no one person and no one ideal will ever again take that away from me. We are all different for a reason, but learning to appreciate those differences is often difficult. And, that’s okay. Learning to embrace our uniqueness takes time, just like everything else.
The last thing I want to mention is that everyone on this earth has something good inside of him or her. Even that person you think you hate has something to offer. Seeing the best in people is sometimes hard to do. But what’s even harder is seeing the good inside of yourself. You as a human being have so much more to offer than just the way you look. If you think about every good quality you possess and what you have to share with the world, physical appearance will start to seem less and less important. Try it out, you’ll see.
I have found love in myself, for myself, that I never knew existed and I have become more fit and loving than I ever have been because of it.
I remember the excitement of my first race. Heck, I STILL get excited!
I want to tell you some things I have learned along the way...
Be patient in your training. Build safely and slowly.
At the start line, before the gun goes off, tighten your laces then say a prayer.
Don’t pay attention to your time. Try your best and push yourself hard, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
High five all the little ones standing along the course, they have magic energy.
When times get hard, think of that person who means the most to you.
Don’t get upset about the 80 year-old that just passed you. Just make it your goal to be that cool when you’re their age.
If you need a distraction, look at the people around you. They have been doing the same thing you have been doing for the last four months. It wasn’t easy. Be proud of them. Be proud of yourself.
The volunteers holding the water cup, thank them.
Remember the first time you went running and think of how far you’ve come.
When people tell you you’re “looking good!”- Smile.
Take in all the scenery.
If you’re wearing headphones, take them out for the last couple miles. Listen to the encouragement from the crowd. It's amazing.
Ignore anyone who says “You’re almost there!” You’re only almost there when you can see the finish line.
Dig really deep when you see the finish line and pick up your pace.
When someone sees your medal and asks if you won, say, “Yes! Because I finished.”
Let your heart race. Race with your heart. Go get it!
Dream Big. Work Hard.
I spent my entire morning sipping coffee and pouring over cells and cells of run data. 16 months-worth; training cycles, hill training, race results and this year’s half progress. Endless numbers and workouts and “oops probably shouldn't have done that" thoughts.
This is good and bad.
It’s gratifying to see the progress I HAVE made.
It’s destructive because dammit I was in much better shape last year.
It’s motivating because I know what kind of shape I CAN get back into, and that I’m on the right path to getting there.
See, I promised myself this training cycle I wouldn’t fall into the comparison trap – to other people or to the runner I once was. A lot has happened since then, and I really wanted to focus on coming back through the joy of running and enjoyment of the process. Being hard on myself (in a non-constructive way) because this year’s times are all slower than last year’s is not the best way to foster an enjoyable training cycle. But as I looked at all those fast(er) times of the past, I felt a fire re-light inside me – one driving me to WANT to work HARD, to get faster, stronger and be better. Knowing what I was capable of then, and the potential beyond that, is hugely motivating to me. And as I looked closely – comparing times, reps, workouts – I found some silver linings. On the surface the times are different – drastically, even. But this weekend's race/workout had more to say than its splits. I did something hard, I should be proud of that rather than sulking in my "current slowness" . Also, knowing that I am more aware now than I ever was, gives me the power to surpass what I once was.
I have no idea what this means for Squamish. I’m feeling very hippie “go with the flow” about it, actually. We’ll see how the next three weeks go, and how I recover from the Ontario Endurance Challenge – and if nothing else, let’s just hope that Canadian magic carries me through…
When you see me, pull up a chair beside me, and open your heart and ears to the truth of my experience. At first glance it might appear that I seem ungrateful, but I beg you, look again. The depth of my gratitude runs deeper than you know, for I know more than most how quickly my greatest blessings can be taken in an instant. I know the immeasurable pain of being robbed of my greatest joy. I don’t take a thing for granted these days, so please don’t patronizingly remind me to be thankful for my blessings when I share with you the truth of my sadness. I’m not sad because I’m choosing a negative frame of mind, I’m sad because I’m grieving the loss of my precious child. Those are two very different things.
Trust me, I am thankful, grateful and blessed. And I am also still grieving, hurting and sometimes a mess. I wish people could understand that grief lasts forever.
Please don’t assume because I’m sad that I’m not grateful, or that because I’m smiling I’m not still sad and greiving that my child isn’t here. And keep in mind, some days I may decide to close my eyes tight and not move from my bed until that day passes. I’ve clawed my way from the depth of unimaginable pain, suffering and sorrow– when the joys come, however and whenever they do– it is a joy that reverberates through every bone in my body. The love, the grief, the joy, the pain; I feel all of it, deeply. I live from a deeper place. I love deeper, too. The little bits of joy I experience now are far deeper and more intense than the joy I experienced before my loss. Such is the alchemy of grief.
Ask me about the empty chair beside me and I’ll gratefully tell you all about the beautiful boy who should be sitting next to me, the one who taught me how to stretch my love far and wide enough to span the gap between heaven and earth. Ask me about the boy who taught me how to gracefully keep my balance while juggling the impossible. Ask me about the boy who showed me how to love beyond all time and space, how to survive the unimaginable, how to live for both of us.
Ask me about my greatest blessing and my deepest sorrow– ask me about my child.
Remember him with me. Invite him to the table this year, too. I need to know that you remember he lived. Share his stories, his memory, his life, his love. And if you’re open to blessing my aching heart even more, I invite you to say his name out loud with me. Often. And without hesitation. To hear his name is to hear the most beautiful sound there is. May it always be on the tip of your tongue like it is on mine.
Remember that for some of us the days, especially holidays can be very painful and lonely– not full of the cheer they once were. Take a minute out of the hustle and bustle of ever-gratefulness to simply be real with me. Climb into my skin for a while. Feel uncomfortable with me as we wade in the waters of grief. Embrace my grieving heart with tenderness, with compassion, with love. My heart will forever be broken. Remember to treat me gently.
It takes everything within me just to show up some days.
Let me know you’re thankful I did.
Today I’m bringing you my favorite summer salsa.
I could eat an entire bowl of this. It's simple, easy to make, easier to eat, and the perfect accessory for any summer pool party. It’s as if a corn and guacamole met and had a beautiful baby—no one will be disappointed!
1 Poblano pepper
4-5 corn on the cobs
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 jalapeño finely chopped
1/2 small red onion finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chives chopped
1-2 avocados cut into a small peices
Juice of 1 lime
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Brush the Poblano pepper and corn with olive oil and lightly grill.
Once cooled, chop the Poblano pepper into a small dice, and remove the corn from the cob. Toss into a large bowl along with the jalapeño, red onion, diced avocado, chives, lime juice and salt & pepper. Toss together and try not to eat it all before serving to your guests.
Serve with tortilla chips.
Imperfections. Flaws. Mistakes. Weaknesses. Doubts.
These are all part of being human. Not a single person on this earth is without these struggles. I have always been a bit of a perfectionist, and have always had a habit of being a little too hard on myself at times. But over the past few months, it has reached an unacceptable level and I am straight up calling myself out. I treat myself like crap. Yes, the things I say to/about myself on a daily basis are just cruel and how I treat myself mentally negates all of the good things I do for myself physically. I cannot imagine ever saying some of things I say to/ about myself to others, or treating others how I treat myself.
So what’s been going on? The short version is that I’ve been a little stuck. Stuck making excuses, stuck in bad habits, stuck in not being the best version of myself health-wise. I’ve felt sorry for myself and blamed my life and ailments, I’ve lacked motivation, and I’ve been more talk than action. Basically, I’ve been a victim to myself.
I have to be honest… it hurts to admit that. I’m ashamed of it. But I need to own it, accept it, and move on so I can change my situation. So there it is. Self-sabotage at its finest.
I went to a leadership seminar for work a few weeks ago, and oddly enough, even though it was for work, it really opened my eyes to my situation about my personal life. We talked a lot about loving yourself, overcoming self-limiting beliefs, and how your attitude can influence your life.
So back to that whole victim thing. Yeah, I’m sick of that. I’m sick of letting myself down. I’m tired of feeling like crap about myself. I’m done half-assing this.
I want to succeed.
I want to accomplish those goals I set.
I want to look in the mirror and be proud of myself.
I want to feel empowered and confident and happy and energized and alive.
I want to be stronger than my excuses.
I want to set a good example.
But most of all, I want to love myself fully.
I’m still on my journey. I may have taken a bit of a detour, but I’m getting back on the right path. I know what I need to succeed: consistency, support, accountability, and will power. I need to eliminate temptations and obstacles and commit to myself. I also need to think bigger – especially when it gets hard – to remember my “why” and the reason I want to achieve my health goals. That’s what motivates me. Luckily, I have a few amazing, supportive friends behind me to help me succeed.
I haven’t given anyone much of a reason to believe in me lately, but I intend to change that. I know I’m capable of it, I know I’m strong enough. I just have to overcome some obstacles…
Keep Dreaming Big.
Happy 4th of July everyone. I hope you had a wonderful day celebrating freedom. Always take a minute to thank those who have fought for our freedom, as well as pray for those who long to be free. Today is so much more than a day off from work, but also a time to be grateful.
Alright, so lately, I have been focusing on Glute and Hamstring workouts at home. This is one of the (many) areas I lack strength in. I've quite literally got a lazy bum. Honestly. My glutes are not the best... and they’re seriously letting the rest of the team down... my hips in particular. So I’m on a mission to improve my glute strength over the next few weeks. Glute activation exercises are incredibly beneficial because they teach the glutes how to fire appropriately. This restores proper movement patterns and alignment, which ultimately increases the body’s functional capacity.
Read more about weak glutes/hips here.
The overall sedentary modern lifestyle can cause glutes to weaken over time. This means that your glutes are less likely to activate when you run; which means that you don’t have as much force to push you forward since you glutes aren’t activating to their full potential and you are relying then on other smaller muscles to do their work. You’ll fatigue faster, run slower, and be prone to injuries.
What I've been loving lately....
(Make sure you do a little warm-up before starting and stretch after the workout.)
Bridges (with or without resistance band)
Monster walks with resistance band
Single leg deadlifts
I don't do all of these at once, I pick 3 of them and rotate through them at 15x3, 2-3 times a week depending on how much I work them on days I see that trainer guy.
Of course there are a bunch of exercises one could do, but these have been my go-to's lately. Definitely perform these movements before your strength training session or shorter runs... I bet you’ll notice a difference.
Hope you all enjoyed your extended weekend!
Dream Big. Work Hard.