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    Collective Thoughts, Health & Fitness

    Life Lessons in a Half Marathon (A Belated Recap)

    Back in April, I ran a half marathon. Doing this was one of my goals for the year and I am happy to say I was successful! It was also right about then that we put an offer on a house, got accepted and started the craziness of moving. Hence I am just now writing this post!

    When I hear most people speak of running of half marathons, they often refer to it as a race. It is not that way for me, because I am not at all racing. I’m aware that I am pretty slow in comparison to many other runners. I have done four half marathons and each time I have seen it more as a competition with myself. There’s a lot I could write about how I prepared for the half marathon, things I learned along the way. But I wanted to write today about the half marathon itself, how I got through it and what kept me going. This first photo is me during my first half marathon five years ago. The last photo is from my most recent half marathon. It was amazing to think about all that has happened in those five years!

    Run your own race/run

    This is literally one of the first thoughts I had at the start. In a race of over 2000 people, it would have been easy for me to think about all the people that were already passing me, or all the people that were ahead of me, or started out faster than me. But in the end, it’s about my own race/run.

    Set goals but be willing to adapt

    I had a couple of specific goals for this race. Some I met, others I didn’t. I could have let the fact that I wasn’t going to meet one of my goals cloud the entire rest of my run, but instead I chose to focus on the most important one which was, to me, finishing the race.

    Find your motivation

    Along the course, I used to different strategies to find my motivation. For the first five miles or so, I didn’t need a lot of external motivation. I was cruising along, listening to my music and feeling pretty strong. Around mile five, I started to lose mental focus a bit and so I started thinking how I could motivate myself. At this point, I knew my family would be around mile 6.5 and this kept me motivated for that next mile and a half. The funny thing is, I thought I would see them a bit sooner than I did, so when I didn’t see them I was so disappointed. I lost a little motivation and had to really pump up the music to get myself going again! But then there they were a little ways ahead and I was instantly motivated again.

    It’s okay to slow down, but don’t quit

    Of the four half marathons I have run, I felt the strongest on this one. This doesn’t mean it was easy. I did all of my training on a treadmill so that I would have childcare. About mile ten, this fact really started to wear on my knees. It was at this point I knew I most likely was not going to meet my goal time, but I could still finish. I slowed down, took a minute to regroup and started back up again. I got to the finish a little slower than anticipated, but I finished.

    Beat the mental battle

    So many times, little thoughts crept into my mind. There were points were I was sure my legs would not go another step. There were times where I was sure I would have to stop to use the restroom (thank you childbirth). Those were the times I really just had to push through and beat my mind. Another key to a successful finish, was starting with the end in mind. I started the run believing I would finish. That in and of itself got me through many parts of the run.

    Overall, this half marathon was an inspiring experience for me. I was focused and my mind was clear and all of these life lessons and thoughts came to me as I ran. I feel like this year as already been one of reflection and action. I feel confident and in control of my life. All of this is not to say that I felt “lost” or somehow less confident before, I just have felt very aware and much more deliberate in my daily life. I average about 2 years between half marathons, but it’s just about that amount of time where such a goal is really motivating and leaves me feeling inspired and feeling on top of the world.

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    Health & Fitness

    What’s In My Gym Bag + Half Marathon Training Schedule

    The first time I ever really “exercised” consistently was in college. My roommates liked running and so I decided to do it too. I signed up for my first 5k shortly after and I remember thinking that 3.1 miles seemed like a really long time. After that, I was off and on with exercise for the next several years.

    About four years ago, I ran a half marathon with my sister-in-law. I went on to do three over the next three years or so, really only exercising consistently when I was training for a race.

    In the last year, though, I have really become consistent with exercising and it is one of the best things I have done for myself in a long time. Back in this post, I talked about how fitness changed a lot of things for me and I still believe them all to be true! Since I feel a little more confidence in myself as someone who “works out”, I thought I would do a post about what I use when I work out.

    As far as workout clothes go, I am pretty simple. I wear a combination of basically the same thing every time I go. A work out shirt, black leggings and my workout shoes. For Christmas, Brian got me a few new workout shirts from Target and I love them. They’re fitted, but not too tight. I love the Old Navy black workout leggings. I actually love them any day of the week, whether I am working out or not. I probably should buy a few more pairs of those.

    Also, for Christmas I got new shoes after about five years of wearing the same old ones. They are these Adidas shoes, and I am really liking them! The padding inside is really comfortable and nice to workout in.

    It took me several months to finally think about getting a gym bag. I’m not sure why, but before that, I would just hold everything in my hands, or stick it in my pockets, all while trying to get two kids into the childcare. Finally, I saw the light, and got a gym bag together.

    If you were to ask me where I got my gym bag, my answer would be that my husband got it for free at a business conference. And it works great! As of today, this is what is in my gym bag:

    • A pouch to hold my license- Instead of bringing my whole wallet in, I just stick my license in here. There is a clear cover, so I don’t even have to take it out when I check in my kids at the childcare.
    • A towel- I don’t normally sweat a lot, but some of the classes I go to really get intense, so I throw one in, just in case.
    • Gloves- I don’t use these every time, but when I go to Body Pump classes I do. These are just the most inexpensive ones at Dick’s Sporting Goods and they have worked great for me.
    • Water bottle- I got these water bottles forever ago at Costco in a 3-pack and they still work great!
    • Tissues and chapstick- Because a runny nose and dry lips are never fun, especially in the middle of a good workout!
    • A calculator- This was in my bag from a day my son brought it in with him as “his phone.” He then asked me to hold it while he was playing so he wouldn’t lose it.

    It’s been two and half years, so it’s about time to do another half marathon. I put off starting my training for a few weeks because I just couldn’t give up my classes. But now I’m coming around and am getting into a groove. I read a lot of training plans and I wrote one out for myself that would work for me. It’s the most basic of basic formats, but sometimes that is the best. So far, I successfully completed Week 1 and am feeling confident for the seven weeks to come!

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    Health & Fitness

    Running Challenge Update

    Remember that time I set a goal to run 30 miles in November? Yeah. Then my whole family contracted some sort of illness that lasted about ten days. It was one of those illnesses that manifested itself in different ways in each person. It started with a cold in my oldest. Then at the end of the week, we got an email that no parents wants to receive from her teacher that four students were out with a stomach bug and not one hour later it hit our house. It made it’s way through everyone and after a random couple of day of 100+ fevers at the beginning of this week, I think we are finally over it (knock on wood).

    Back to the running challenge. Obviously, I did not keep up with my plan. My mileage currently is at 1. Yep. Just one. I am still going to push for 30 miles by the end of the year. It is still a goal I have, just modified. Sure, I missed my goal and an earlier version of myself would probably have been much more disappointed than I am now. I’ve learned as I have gotten older (I know so old and wise), that you can’t sweat the small stuff as much or it will really affect the way you live your life. So I’m moving on, keeping my goal with a new deadline.
    fullsizerender-11

    But one thing I did learn through the whole ten days that I didn’t exercise really at all was that I have made exercise a habit because I really truly missed it. Again, another earlier version of myself would have said, “TEN days of no exercise, woohoo!” but instead I found myself waking up thinking to myself, “I really hope the kids don’t have a fever, or don’t throw up, or have a runny nose, because I really want to go to the gym today”. I’m calling that a win!

    I’m learning that the road to self-improvement is not a non-stop fast track. It can be bumpy, there could be traffic, maybe you have to pull over for a bit, but you’ll eventually get there! There’s some wisdom for your Friday.

    In other news, it’s Friday! The Friday before a week off of school! I’m excited to spend some quality time with my family and have a few fun posts coming up in the next week.

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    Health & Fitness

    Getting Back Into Running With A Challenge

    I’ve established a fairly consistent workout schedule over the last several months. Two to three times a week, after I drop my oldest off at school, my younger two and I head to the gym. I love going to classes at the gym. It has been the single most effective way for me to establish a regular exercise routine. I love it. But more on that later.

    Today I wanted to talk about reinstating running into my workout routine. In 2012, I ran my first half marathon.

    first-half-marathon

    Since then, my total is now up to three. My times were never impressive. In fact, in my third half marathon, I was one of the last few people to finish. In my defense, it was a very small somewhat disorganized race with probably a hundred participants. At least that’s what I tell myself, so I feel better! But I enjoyed doing the half marathons because they forced me into an exercise routine. Well, the first one, I was naive as to what running 13.1 miles actually took and the highest mileage I got to in one run was six miles. I walk/ran that race. The next two, my goal was to run the whole thing, which I did both times.

    I am planning on doing another half marathon in the spring of next year. It will be two and half years since my last half marathon and since running has been pretty nonexistent in my workout routine this year, I will be pretty rusty to start out. I’m hoping the strength training and cardio that has been a part of my workouts will help me be a stronger (and maybe a litttttle bit faster) runner. My goal this time is to beat my fastest half marathon time, which was about 2:35 if I remember right.

    To ease myself back into the whole running scene, I am challenging myself for the month of November. My goal is to run 30 miles this month. I am not going to make a specific plan (like 1 mile/day) right now, but I will have the goal in mind and fit it into my schedule. My goal is to build up my running stamina for the next two months, and then start a half marathon training plan in January.

    I’ll recap my running at the end of each week (or so), to keep track of how I’m doing. Follow along if you are interested in my progress, or if you want to join in, please do!

    novemberrunning-challenge

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    Health & Fitness

    How Fitness Has Changed Me

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    Hint: It has nothing to do with the scale!

    I haven’t ever been truly consistent with exercise. I have run three half marathons, so I did the training for those, but outside of that it has usually been hit or miss.

    After I had my third baby last year, I knew I wanted to be more dedicated to my physical health. I was tired (third baby!), my mind was foggy, and I knew I could do better. I kept a few things in mind as I set out to make my plan.

    First, be consistent. For me this meant I needed to find a gym A few years ago I bought four or five workout DVDs (hi, Jillian Michaels!). I actually love them and still do them when my kids are sick (no germs at the gym), but to be consistent, I needed a place I could physically go to that would keep me motivated.

    Second, make a plan. Once I found a gym (an inexpensive one, with free childcare), I made a plan. For the first few months I just ran on the treadmill, lifted some weights, or wandered around pretending I knew how to work all the other machines. Then one Saturday, I got up the courage to go to a class. Life changed. Now, I have 2-3 classes I go to each week. We drop off my oldest at school and head to the gym. I am motivated to go, because someone else is running the workout, I just have to keep up!

    Third, don’t set yourself up for failure. From the nutrition side of things, I knew I wanted to make healthier choices, but didn’t want to commit to a way of eating that would leave me stressed and overwhelmed. Instead, I just made better choices for me. If we had tacos for dinner, I had taco salad. If we had a meal with rice, I ate it without rice (or I had cauliflower rice, which is surprisingly enjoyable!). I still enjoy treats and all the aforementioned things occasionally, but I was making a conscious effort to make different choices.

    Those three steps were simple and easy for me to follow and over the last few months I have been fairly consistent and the changes I have noticed are significant and have changed how I feel in so many ways:

    • I have a clearer mind and more energy: Now, this is not to say I never want to take a nap around 2 pm. But it has changed from, “I have to take a nap now” to “Well, I’ll just lay here with my eyes closed for a few minutes”.
    • I feel stronger and am generally more confident in how I look and feel: While I have only lost a pound or two over the last several months, I feel so much stronger and feel much more confident. I think it is part the internal knowledge that I am taking care of my body that helps, and the fact that my body is getting stronger and healthier.
    • More patience and generally lifted spirits: Last week as I was buckling up my kids after our gym time, I said, “Okay, do you want to go the library?!” and my two-year-old said, “No, I want to go home”. More energy then my two year old? This is for real.
    • Increased motivation in other areas of my life: As I have made physical health more of a priority in my life, I have been more motivated to focus on other areas of my life. Overall, I feel like all areas of my life have improved since I have implemented this more consistent routine.

    The best part about this for me is that it has been simple. These few changes have been simple, relatively easy changes and additions to my life, but they have made a world of difference for me. Can’t wait to share my future fitness and nutrition goals and plans–another half marathon is in my future, for sure!

    What can you do this week to improve your physical health?

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