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!!

Chicago 10K Race

18 Aug

There are a few things I’ve been eager to write about, but I spent five days in Chicago and then flew straight to Houston. I’ve been here in Houston for almost a week, and in a few days we’re (my boyfriend and I) are driving halfway across the country. Busy busy!

However, I wanted to take a moment to share what was a really exciting and fun experience! A couple of weeks prior to my brief trip to Chicago, I decided to check to see if there were any races happening in Chicago during my stay (via Active.com). Surprisingly, the Chicago 10K race was taking place on my last full day and only free morning in Chicago. Perfect!!

I was so excited and anxious and nervous. I had run my first 10K on a whim back at home when I went for a run one evening and just kept runnin’ (you know, like Forrest Gump). So when I started this race, I forced myself to keep a slow pace. The first 5K was a breeze, however slow, so the final 5K I pushed hard… for me, at least. The last quarter-mile was a struggle, but it was a phenomenal feeling when I finished.
My goal was 75 minutes, and I finished in 62:30!! Everyone received a baller finisher’s medal, and you better believe I wore that thing all day long.
The official photos taken during the race all show me on my iPhone because when the race ended, my priority (aside from trying to breathe and not die) was ending my Nike+ workout so I could stare at it proudly!
If you had told me five years ago or even ONE year ago that I was going to be able to run a 10K race and have a blast doing it, I would have laughed… and laughed and laughed. Running continues to show me that I am capable of the unbelievable and that my body is truly a miraculous piece of machinery.
Do NOT take your body for granted. You CAN achieve greatness. You WILL reach your goals.

My Gear

27 Jul

I’m a Nike snob. Almost all of my athletic apparel is Nike, and I rarely use my non-Nike apparel. You’ve been warned.

My first pair of running sneakers since becoming a serious runner back in September were the Nike Lunarglide+ 3’s. I love these sneakers. After 300 miles, it was time to retire them as they no longer provide optimal support.

Ah, what beauty.

If you like these sneakers (or perhaps in a different color) I was referred to a website for good deals on sneakers. These sneakers can be found here for only $82 and only $62 in the other colors. I will definitely be purchasing these sneakers in a different color this week.

My newest running sneaker is the Nike Free Run+ 3. They have a little bit less support and more flexibility which is why I was initially hesitant to buy them. I decided to trust some online reviews and give them a shot, and I really do love them.

I have a thing for obnoxiously bright sneakers. It’s my favorite.

I use two types of running shorts: these Nike track shorts (or something very similar) and these Nike Double Up shorts. I love them both. The latter is great if you’re going to be stretching or doing other training that involves, you know, spreading your legs because they have spandex shorts underneath. I think they would be really useful if you have issues with your thighs chaffing when you run.

I also use a Nike sweatband for longer runs in humid/hot weather – it makes a HUGE difference when the sweat is out of my eyes. My shirts are a variety of Nike dri-FIT tops.

If you’re running in Soffee shorts and an old tshirt that you have lying around, I say go for it. You’re amazing just for getting out there and running. The most important article of clothing in your running career is your sneakers!

Don’t forget to check out my Tumblr for fitness motivation, inspiration, and advice!

Running Playlists

16 Jul

It has been requested quite a few times that I post my running playlist. I’ve posted it on Tumblr before, however it was just requested on Twitter, so I thought I would add it here!

I created my first running playlist when I was living in Los Angeles, and by the time I moved back to Pennsylvania 7 months later, I wanted to burn it every time I listened to it.

My mood changes even when it comes to what I like to listen to when I’m running. Sometimes I like to blast some really upbeat dance music, sometimes I like to listen to some smooth tunes like Mumford & Sons, and other times I just put on the playlist at a very low volume and listen to my breathing and my feet pounding the pavement.

I call my first playlist: “Run, bitch!”

My second and current playlist (that has been updated a bit here and there over the past few months) is called: “Run HARDER!”

I hope some of these songs help you out when you’re running, or perhaps you were just curious as to what kind of music I listen to.

Either way, keep running!