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Beat Records and Run with a Friend!

31 Oct

Happy Halloween!

October has been a great month for running. The weather was perfect, and my motivation was restored and even better than before. Not only was I reaching my best distances, but twice in the same week I beat my own personal records for distance and running duration.

On Monday, October 22nd, I beat my personal distance record of 6.22 miles (10k) and ran 7 miles. My ankles and knees were in serious pain (I do not recommend pushing to pain), but I just couldn’t stop running.

Sadly, I realized that it was my shoes that were causing me pain. I’m no longer wearing my Nike Lunarglide+ 3’s for distance running. More on that later.

Now that I no longer run in Nike sneakers, I don’t have the Nike+ sensor. I still use the Nike+ Running app that uses GPS, but it makes it more difficult to screenshot my results to share.

On Thursday, October 26, just three days after beating my record, I beat my distance and duration record AGAIN, only this time without the pain that I dealt with in my Nike’s.

Just because my running has been beautiful and challenging doesn’t mean that I’m perfectly motivated every single day. I’ve been doing really well, but there is still the occasional morning that my bed just feels extra comfortable!

This morning, for example, I was feeling lazy after spending two full days not doing much as a result of Hurricane Sandy blowing through Pennsylvania. I texted my friend to go for a run because I knew I wasn’t going to get out there without someone there with me. Thankfully, she was all for it. We weren’t feeling as strong as we were a few days ago, but we still knocked out 3.5 miles!

Long story short, find a running buddy. Push yourself to surpass your own limits. Go go go!!

Autumn Running

12 Oct

Autumn running is the best kind of running. Honestly, I just can’t get enough of it!

The only reason I’m not currently outside pounding that pavement is because after running 16 miles in three days… my sore legs are in serious need of recovery.

I thought that blogging about running instead of actually running would ease my craving for the scent of drying leaves in the breeze against my skin, however, it’s only amplifying it!

My favorite things about running in autumn (specifically in the northeast of the fifty, nifty United States (I hope you know that song and now it’s stuck in your head for the rest of the night because it’s sure stuck in mine now!):

1. Cool, crisp air. I could run for hours if only my legs would let me. My lungs and heart feel stronger than ever when I run in this weather.

2. Ever-changing, never dull scenery. Every tree changes color and lets loose its leaves at its own pace. I’m never bored looking at all of the trees changing!

3. The leaves fall all around me. There are times when leaves literally fall onto my head or blow in the breeze all around me as I run by. If you filmed me running in slow motion, it would be MAGICAL.

4. While I do love the sunshine with this chilly temperature, I really love the clouds that blow in with the cold breeze. I don’t need sunglasses, and I can run at any hour without fear of heat exhaustion.

5. I love my Brooks running jacket. I feel so cozy running in shorts and a running jacket and not sweating, even after 10k.

Alright, legs. Recover your muscles quickly so I can tear up the road tomorrow morning before work.

Zombie Mud Run

7 Oct

I’ve a newfound love for obstacle courses. Who knew?

On September 22nd, my friend and I participated in a Zombie Mud Run. Tis the season! It was essentially a mud run complete with serious obstacles (we passed a few runners down with broken bones waiting for an ambulance), along with playing zombie apocalypse.

Basically, you’re equipped with three red flags velcroed around your waist in the same way one plays flag football. The zombies attempt to grab a flag as you sprint, dive, crawl, and jump past them. If you lose all of your flags, you’d consider yourself a zombie at the end of the race. Even if you lose all of your flags, you finish the race as a human.

What I love about these kinds of races is that they incorporate fun, a full-body workout, a whole lot of dirty, and a competitive edge. It was certainly difficult, but I surprised myself with my ability to sprint away from zombies. I have a weird thing about being chased. I never really liked playing tag. Competition kicked in, however, and I outran a whole mess of zombies.

I also swatted a lot of zombies and apparently made funny faces while doing so.

For anyone who wants to mix up their races or just have a good time with friends while getting a fun workout, I recommend mud races, color runs, obstacle courses or a zombie run!

A Rough September

3 Oct

September was a struggle. I don’t know if it was the back-and-forth change in climate, alternating between summer heat and autumn chill, the total upheaval in my weekly schedule (having quit my full-time job), my increase in health issues (migraines, dehydration, etc.) or just a break in my motivation streak, but this September was not a month to be proud of.

My boyfriend just moved in with me at the end of August, and it has been a struggle to balance my personal goals and spending time with him. We’ve only known a long-distance relationship in the 3.5 years we’ve been together, so I suppose it’s natural to take a month to balance out my schedule again.

I’ve officially been running for just over a year. Throughout the year, I’ve been steady in my determination and my motivation to keep my body in shape. Last month, however, I only ran 1-3 times per week instead of 3-5 times per week. Moreover, I wasn’t quite reaching the distances I’d grown accustomed to.

This week, this first week of October, I’ve turned everything around again. I’m hoping my health keeps up with me because I really want to move forward with my half marathon training.

I’ve already run three out of four days this week, one of which was 5k. I intend to keep up with this, and I’m going to join a fitness studio again. I’d really built up muscle prior to mid-August, so now it’s time to gain it all back.

I’ll be back to posting here more often as I reach new distances beyond anything I’ve ever run before in preparation for the half marathon. I’ve said it a million times before, but I definitely need to take my diet more seriously. Clean eating is in my near future!

Life-Changing

11 Sep

Running has changed my life in ways I had never anticipated. It’s more than just a workout or a calorie-burning exercise. Everyone has their own reasons for running and how it has impacted their life, but here are my own reasons:

1. One of my absolute favorite aspects of running is feeling my body getting stronger. I’m always reaching new distances and speeds. I can remember feeling like a champion for being able to run a mile without stopping. With every week, I felt like a champion all over again. That feeling never goes away. I know there are people out there running the same distance is less than half the time, but it doesn’t matter. In that moment, I feel like the strongest, fastest person in the world.

2. I frequently say “I can’t”. Everyone makes goals for themselves, whether it’s completely planned or just passing thoughts. “I can’t” and “I wish” are two of the worst ways to begin a sentence. I’m extremely conscious of my attitude toward goals and dreams because I never (ever!) would have dreamed that I could run a 10K race and have a blast doing it, but here I am running 10K’s and loving every minute of it (even the minutes when I’m tired and out of breath). I refuse to say that I can’t run a half-marathon. I WILL run a half-marathon in February, even if I can’t fathom it just yet.

2a. This extends way beyond just running. I feel like I can do anything when I work hard enough at it. Nothing ever really comes easy to me – I don’t hold any special talents. It’s my perseverance that brings me to success… not that I’m always so dedicated. I know I just need to focus my energy to really working for what I want in my life, and now I know I can¬†achieve great things.

3. Endorphins! That “runner’s high” you hear runners talk about? It’s REAL.

4. Running creates a schedule for my day-to-day or even week-to-week routine. I thrive on having a solid schedule. If I don’t have a schedule, I start to go a little crazy. I get overtired, moody, and frustrated. I like to get to bed at pretty early hour and wake up in the morning for breakfast and a solid run. Of course I take one to three days off from running a week, but if I can’t keep that schedule going, I’m just not happy.

I would really love to hear about how running has impacted your life, even if it is as simple as losing as few pounds!!

Streeetch!

2 Sep

Someone requested that I post about stretching over a month ago, but I’ve been terrible and things kept happening. I’m finally getting to it!

As always, I’d just like to remind everyone that I do not hold any training or medical certifications, and I am merely sharing what I’ve learned and what works for me.

Most articles that I’ve read and advice I’ve heard from trainers that I’ve spoken with say that it’s best not to stretch too hard prior to exercise because your muscles are not yet warmed up. This could lead to more injury than the exercise itself!

Before I run:

1. I do a basic quad stretch by lifting my foot and holding it by my butt (you know the stretch I’m talking about, I’m sure).

2. After that, I stretch my calves by standing on my heels, pointing my toes up, and reaching down towards my toes.

3. Finally, I just sort of reach my hands to the sky, and lean to each side to stretch out my sides.

What I’ve learned to be far more important is a post-exercise stretch. You may notice you turn into a pretzel after running or basic exercise because your muscles are nice and warm.

I once found a stretching image guide on Tumblr that I use for my post-running stretches, so I’ll just share that with y’all! I don’t necessarily stretch for as long as this guide instructs, but the stretches work wonders after a good, long run.

I hope this helps you when you’re stretching before/after your exercise. It’s very important – don’t leave it out! Consider it part of your exercise routine.

Heat Exhaustion/Dehydration

2 Sep

On Monday, I went for a decent 3.5-mile run around my hometown. I’d been away from home for almost three weeks (yet managed to go out for a run almost all of the days I was away), and I was eager to get back on my feet in familiar territory.

I still don’t understand why my legs wouldn’t get into the flow, and I felt like I needed to consciously force every step. I just assumed my body was tired, so I kept going.

I finished my run down the street from my house, and within minutes I knew I was about to pass out. I felt like I was going to vomit, my vision went dark, and sounds were fading. I knew I wasn’t going to make it home, but I managed to make it across the street to my neighbor’s house. I rang the doorbell, sat on the porch, and when my 15-year old homegirl opened the door, all I could say was, “Water.”

I felt better enough to walk home after I drank some water, but it didn’t end there.¬†For hours, I felt like I was going to pass out. My migraine was so intense that my vision was spotty. I was vomiting, shaking, and forced down over two liters of SmartWater (electrolytes!). Even with all that water, I didn’t have to pee for almost four hours.

I have yet to see a doctor about this (and I really, really need to), so I don’t know if it was heat exhaustion or just severe dehydration. It was only 80 degrees out, and I’d spent a couple of weeks prior running in 100-degree weather in Houston, Texas, so it just doesn’t make sense to me.

Now I have anxiety when I run. I’ve only run twice since Monday’s dehydration episode. I only managed to run 1.75 miles on Thursday because I kept thinking as soon as I’d stop running, I’d pass out. I felt alright, though. I ran again on Friday morning, only this time I managed 2.5 miles. By the time I got home, I was feeling faint and nearly passed out in the shower.

I’m so frustrated because running is what keeps me motivated in so many other aspects of my life. It gives me time to think, and those endorphins are important in my daily life!

I’ll see a doctor this week, but in the meantime, go grab a glass of water!!