Training for injury-free running, please.

Miscellaneous

Well, it has begun.

Real training season is among us. After taking an almost two month hiatus (I ran four times from Thanksgiving to January 20 – don’t judge me), I’m finally back and in it to win it. I was supposed to start my training last week, but my car was in the shop so I was sharing a car with the fiancé, and adding gym time into the mix would have been complicated. It’s an excuse I know, but that’s my reason – BUT this week is the real deal. No more hibernating at home and telling myself that I will start soon. I checked into the gym on Foursquare Monday morning and I was greeted by a message that said I hadn’t been to the gym in two months. I laughed out loud, but felt super terrible about myself. Naturally I decided to snap a picture of it for my own embarrassment. I also used my new Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor Watch for the second time ever. Let me just tell you how awesome it is – it’s awesome.


This week makes 17 weeks to the Cleveland Half Marathon. I am aiming for running a 2:10 or faster. I ran the half distance during the full in 2:10 so I know it’s possible. Granted I was in fabulous shape in September, but I know now that my body is at least capable of it.

Monday I ran 3.5 at a sloooooww pace. Embarrassingly slow actually. I was dying. Holy out of shape! I kept wanting to turn to the people around me and scream “I know I’m pathetic right now, but I SWEAR I ran a full marathon a few months ago!” I was upset with my time and myself, but I keep trying to remind myself that it’s going to take a few weeks to get back into the swing of things. I didn’t work up to running 26.2 miles overnight, so returning won’t be the same either. I also have to remind myself that I suffered injuries last year, so this training and race season might not necessarily be the same. Running religiously and slowly building up miles is my best bet against injury this time around. I’ve got 17 weeks, which is a good time-frame for a training schedule. I know if I follow it and work hard I will be ready. It’s just hard to mentally handle not being able to run 4 miles when I’ve ran a marathon before, but that’s no one else’s fault but my own so I just have to suck it up.

Yesterday morning I woke up sore all over and with a bad foot/ankle pain. It’s weird that I didn’t feel the injury Monday during the day after the run. Regardless of the pain, I ran another 3.5 today and was careful to stretch the area first, although I’m not sure it helped. I also started feeling the “marathon knee pain” in my right knee towards the end of today’s run. If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I had terrible knee pain during my first full last fall. This was the first time I had ever experienced ANY type of knee pain in my life (even after being a softball catcher for 10 years). My friend, Nicole, warned me “Once you run a marathon, your body is never the same.”

Around two miles today I decided I’d better take it easy. My knee was really bothering me and my foot/ankle injury was getting worse with each step. People always say “listen to your body” which I rarely ever do, but today I slowed down the treadmill and opted for an incline instead. It was much easier on my knee and ankle and I was actually proud of myself for acting like a responsible, smart runner. I can’t help but worry about my injuries though, especially after today’s run and that same familiar ache in my knee flaring up. I’m nervous about the way my joints are reacting to running again, considering this is run #2 out of about 75. I’m hoping that my body is just sore and thrown off and that in a week or two I’ll feel fine and will be starting to gain strength.

I used my Polar watch again today and loved it. It’s motivating to not only see the calories that you’ve burned adding up, but you see that you burn calories lifting weights too. My only question though, does it count past 1,000 calories? I’d really like to see that for long runs and I’ll be super bummed if it doesn’t.


I often look for good training schedules and modify a little as needed. I’m not sure where exactly I got this one from or what parts I’ve modified, but this is the schedule I followed for last year’s half and the one I’m currently following.

What training schedules do you guys follow and how many weeks do you train?

Half Marathon Training

Week 1
2-3, 2-3, 4

Week 2
2-3, 3-4, 5

Week 3
2-3, 3-4, 6

Week 4
3, 4-5, 7

Week 5
3-4, 4-5, 8

Week 6
4-5, 4-5, 9

Week 7
2-3, 4, 3-4, 10

Week 8
2,3, 5, 3-4, 11

Week 9
3, 5, 3-6 *tune up race Saturday or Sunday (like a 10K or 15K)

Week 10
3, 5, 4-5, 12

Week 11
3-4, 5, 4-5, 13

Week 12
4, 5, 4-5, 14

Week 13
4, 5, 6-10 *tune up race Saturday or Sunday (like a 10K or 15K)

Week 14
4, 5-6, 4-5, 15

Week 15
4, 5, 4-5, 12

Week 16
4, 4, 4, 8-9

Week 17
4, 4, 4, 6-7

Week 18
3, 3, RACE


Keep Running!

If you’re not scared, if you’re not worried — you’re not taking a chance.

Miscellaneous

I’m feeling very sad today. Not depressed sad, but more nostalgic thinking about this past summer and all the awesome races I got to run. I trained so hard and spent so much time out on the trails early in the summer mornings watching the sun come up. It was so rewarding and fulfilling because it was all so much bigger than I was. I think that’s what draws me to races. There’s something magical about putting on the bib and planning out GU times, pace times and start times. You’re part of this huge, giant race – you’re a piece of the bigger picture. Racing and actually competing is one of the most exciting parts about being a runner. On the other hand, I also like the nice relaxed runs. The runs where you enjoy every moment and you’re reminded why you love this sport. Being a runner is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done in my life. And now, as November rolls around in Northeast Ohio, I am filled with dread as all of these rewards and feelings will now be confined to a small, crowded gym for the next six months.

runnin-quoteIt’s enough to make me cry really. What I wouldn’t give to wake up early on a warm summer morning and hit the trails early before work. Now it’s cold and dark outside as I’m dragging myself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. to get to the gym. Worse – sometimes I have to go to the gym after work when it’s filled with high school meat heads who take up the entire weight area and high school girls who are just there to socialize with one another.

I’m missing my long weekend runs too. Some weeks I dreaded them, while other times I looked forward to them, but I always felt amazing afterwards. I knew I could officially enjoy the weekend after a long early Saturday run. Now I’m stuck running five miles on a treadmill in a stuffy gym with people running directly next to me, stomping away on their own squeaky treadmills. Even worse, sometimes you get kicked off after an hour. I’m sorry, but how am I supposed to get in 13 miles if I have to get off the treadmill every hour and wait for another one to open up? It’s awful and I’m critically depressed and it’s only the beginning of November. not-scared

How does anyone do it?! How do runners stay motivated and on their A game during the long, cold winter months? How do you train hard all winter? I am tossing around the idea of running the full Cleveland Marathon near the end of May, but giant red flags are waving in my head. I HATE INDOOR RUNNING. Why would I put myself through that awful training during the coldest part of the year? Why Cassandra why?! …..…and then right as I am about to make up my mind that I won’t do it, I hear that I quietly answer myself…because I am missing marathon training more then I ever could imagine. Because I know that if I sign up for that race I will feel like I did this past summer. I will have that feeling that I am a part of something bigger than myself and all these past’s winters I didn’t know what that was like, and now I do… 

Eight Days, Two Races – 39.3 miles

Miscellaneous

There was once a time when I thought two miles was a far distance to run. There was also once a time when I thought five miles was even longer and harder to run. The past week has been insane. I can’t even wrap my head around how far I’ve come as a runner. In eight days I ran my very first full marathon and then a half marathon. In those eight days, two races have changed everything for me as an athlete. psalm26.2

I feel like the marathon was a dream. Did it actually happen? I kept telling myself to live in the moment as I ran. I couldn’t believe this dream was actually happening. I’ve wanted to run a marathon since high school, but I was never a dedicated enough runner. In December of last year, I sat staring at the computer screen of a half marathon registration. At that time the longest I had ever ran was five miles. It took everything I had to press submit on that computer screen and then to stick to a grueling 12-week training schedule. Who knew that less than a year later I would have been standing on the starting line of the 2013 Akron Marathon. I wouldn’t have believed you back in December. It’s absolutely insane how far I’ve come as an athlete and grown as a person on this incredible running journey.

I read something online the other day that said “The person who starts the marathon is not the same person who finishes.” I couldn’t agree more to this statement. Everything changes for you as a runner after a marathon.

akron alarm clock

My alarm.

I woke up the day of the marathon at 3:35 a.m. I was scared and excited beyond belief. Would I survive? Would I cross the finish line? What was it going to be like? With my stomach doing back flips, I drove to meet the group of people I was going with. I started the beginning of the race with one of my childhood best friends, Nicole. She was running the first leg of the relay of the marathon to 3.9 miles. If you know anything about me you’ll know that I despise the first four or five miles of every long run, so it was awesome to have a friend there to get me through those terrible first miles. The beginning of the race actually flew by as Nicole and I chatted and cracked jokes. Even as she split off at her relay end I was surprised by how easy it was to continue. Somewhere in between trying to live in the moment and taking in the giant crowd around me, I forgot what mile I was on. I estimated I was probably around six. I looked up to see mile eight a few minutes later and greeted it with a giant grin. I felt great. The crowd was awesome. The signs were hilarious and inspiring. I even took a marshmallow from a local church passing out water and other treats to runners.

flex race

Just flexing by myself around mile 11.

I continued on the route knowing two things. We were going to run four miles on wooded trails at some point and there were hills at mile 18.5 and 22. The trails started off OK, but by the end I was itching to get out because I was beginning to feel claustrophobic. Nicole had called me on the trails and I heard spectators laughing as I ran by as I picked up the phone “Oh hey.” I said casually into the phone at mile 13.1. Nicole told me that was going to meet me at mile 21 and run me into the finish line. I continued on. At mile 17 I began to slow down. There was a huge lack of crowd support and I was becoming increasingly bored. I spotted an open port-a-potty at mile 18 and took advantage. The only thing that began to keep me going was the thought of gaining a companion again at mile 21. When I reached 18.5, I encountered the toughest hill I had ever witnessed as a runner. Even mentally preparing myself didn’t help. I don’t think I saw a single person running it. I got about half way up and realized I was burning a mass amount of energy and power walked (full arm swing and everything) the second half.

At mile 20 I found myself running behind one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen. The image will be burned into my memory forever. A man was pushing a running stroller carrying a handicapped man. (Find the full story here.) It was incredible to see how happy the handicapped man was and how hard the man pushing the stroller was working. I followed the stroller duo into the neighborhood part of the route and the crowd’s cheers and reactions to the two men was an amazing thing to witness. People were shouting and clapping and standing up from their seats as the man and the stroller pasted by. I don’t know if it was just my emotions or my exhaustion or what, but I began to cry every time people started clapping and cheering for the stroller in front of me. It got to the point where I practically started hyperventilating because I was crying and running and couldn’t breathe. I made the decision to hurry up and pass the stroller team just so I wouldn’t pass out. As I ran passed I peaked inside the stroller and caught a glimpse of the man inside. He was grinning from ear to ear and waving to the crowd as he passed.

singmarathonAt mile 21 words cannot describe how happy I was to see Nicole standing below the mile marker waiting for me. At that point I didn’t feel good, but I still had some juice left in me. We saw my mom and the boyfriend at 21.5. Tears began to swell up in my eyes. I was just so happy to see them and I was so tired. I smiled, waved and continued running. When we reached mile marker 22, the race took a different turn for me at that point. I joke that mile 22 was when I started screaming. This is true and funny now, however at the time during the race I had hit pure exhaustion and pain. I have never had knee issues. Even after 12 years of playing sports (and being a catcher in softball) my knees never bothered me. But by mile 22 at the marathon I had full on shooting knee pains like I’ve never experienced. My back also hurt. My glutes hurt. My toes were aching and rubbing themselves raw against my shoes. Music wasn’t even helping to motivate me anymore and every few minutes I would just scream at the top of my lungs. Suddenly all around me the majority of runners were starting to limp, groan and drastically slow down. I knew that this was probably the make-you-or-break-you part of the race. I don’t even know what I told myself to keep going. I don’t even know how I continued.

running

Not even sure if I had a pulse here.

We passed a sign at mile 23 that said “It’s just a 5K now.” I screamed at the sight of the sign. Suddenly I felt a runner next to me. “Keep your head up. Run smooth. Move your arms. Let your legs carry you. You got this.” said a man with gray hair as he passed Nicole and I. I nodded and began repeating out loud the exact same thing the man had just said. I don’t know how long I said it or how loud I was even talking. I was vaguely aware of Nicole saying “You got this girl” over and over next to me. Somehow I found myself at mile 25. As we ran I knew there was a crowd around us, but unlike before I didn’t even look at them. I heard people shouting encouragements, but I wasn’t aware of what they meant anymore. I saw other runners limping all around me. We twisted and turned down roads and around the buildings of downtown Akron. It felt like I was running through a dizzy maze. Every corner we turned I was praying to see mile 26. The crowd was getting louder…

akronstadium

What the finish line looked like.

finishline2

Nicole encouraging me, but I probably wasn’t running very fast!

Suddenly I spotted mile marker 26 and below it was the straight away leading into the Akron Aeros Stadium where the finish line waited. Nicole kept shouting “Just sprint the .2 miles come on! Come on!” I knew I had picked it up considerably those .2 miles, but in reality it probably wasn’t very fast. We turned a corner, ran down a tiny hill and into the stadium to the sound of a giant crowd and the actual straight away to the giant finish line. The big screen showed a close-up of the runners as they entered the stadium. It was like being a rock star for 10 seconds. I was dying as I attempted to sprint. I crossed the finish line and for the first time in 4 hours and 44 minutes I came to a complete stop. I stared at the ground with my hands on my knees, suddenly becoming aware of my limbs aching in pain. I heard my mom and boyfriend yelling from near by and looked up and saw them in the stadium waving wildly and taking pictures.

I limped over to the recovery area and as I looked around, seeing thousands of runners flopping onto the ground, hugging, high-fiving, I couldn’t even believe I had done it. In fact, I still can’t believe I did it. It may have taken me 4 hours and 44 minutes, but looking back it seemed like one bright, shinning moment. It didn’t last very long, but it was simply incredible. It was amazing, yet the hardest, toughest thing I had ever done.

finish line

The finish line!

Afterwards, I could barely walk and my toes were raw. It took a couple days for me to even be able to wear shoes again. Grossly, my toe nails turned purple from bruising. (Needless to say I need to invest in a better pair of running shoes.)

rnrnicoleandi

We look happy, but secretly we are in pain in this picture!

Three days after the race I was up at 6 a.m. running my normal four miles and by day 5 I felt great. On the 8th day after the marathon, I set out at 4:30 a.m. for downtown to run the Rock and Roll Cleveland Half Marathon. A few people called me crazy since I wasn’t fully healed from the marathon, but I felt good. This time I was running the race with both Nicole and the boyfriend. Nicole joked that once you run a full marathon your body is never the same. I didn’t really believe her until mile 6 of the half, when my sharp knee pains from the marathon were suddenly back. The course was incredibly hilly, so that didn’t help either. It hurt just as bad going down hill as it did going up. By the end of the race, all three of us were screaming and groaning from our injuries.

The boyfriend and I sprinted in the last .5 miles even though we were hurting pretty bad. It didn’t make much of a difference though because we finished in 2:25. Our PR from May’s half marathon was 2:20, so we weren’t particularity happy with our time, but we WERE overjoyed that it was the end of the race!

At that point my body was aching and screaming. I could barely walk. Even as I sit and write this three days later, I’m still limping from my knee. I have Plantar Fasciitis in my right foot, which causes me a lot of pain to walk and wear shoes. My toe nails are still gross with blisters and bruises. I don’t regret a thing though. I wear my injuries proudly as a matter-of-fact. I haven’t worked out one day this week. I’ve also allowed myself to not diet or worry about calories either. It’s been a nice mental break, however typical superwoman me is already itching to get back into the gym and go for a run. I’m trying to rest and recover this entire week, maybe, MAYBE I’ll go for a short run on Saturday…

rnrhandfinishline

The boyfriend and I painfully crossing the 13.1 finish line together.

Those eight days felt like a complete dream to me. A dream that was torture at times, yet so sweet and amazing that it makes you want to go back for more. It’s bittersweet really. It’s incredible and life changing, yet crushing and scary and painful. It breaks your heart, yet you’ve never felt so alive when it’s done.

I’ve already looked at other marathons and longer races, but I think it’s probably best to take it easy for a little now. This year (and especially this summer) has been such a journey for me. I’m beyond proud of myself and beyond proud of others who run these marathons. It’s truly an experience. It’s a test of character, dedication and mental willpower.

Like that saying says about not being the same person who finishes the race. You really can’t be the same person after finishing a marathon. It changes everything.

Look in the mirror — there’s your competition.

Miscellaneous

Well…it happened…

I signed up and am officially running the Akron Marathon on Saturday, September 28. marathon

It still seems unreal. I’ve dreamed about running a marathon for years — even when I thought 4 miles was soooo long during my early college years of running. Now, I finally feel ready enough to attempt it.

All summer I went back and forth with the decision to run it or not. I had planned to do it and then suddenly prices dramatically increased. Then I was out of commission for three weeks because I got my wisdom teeth out and developed a terrible infection. Then people I spoke to warned me “Oh no you don’t want to run Akron as your first marathon.” Or “It’s stupid, don’t ever run a marathon.” Etc. Etc. Etc.

I got so inside my own head that I shut out the idea for a little bit. Then suddenly something just clicked inside of me. I trained all summer (well minus three weeks) and I knew that the Akron half marathon would be too easy. I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to feel proud of myself. I wanted to be the person I had watched at the Cleveland Marathon finishing strong and crossing mile 26.2.

Suddenly I felt a huge surge of inspiration and motivation. I would never be more ready then I would be right now. Of course I would (and am) continuing to train up until the race, but if I didn’t take advantage of this right now, I would spend all winter wondering what if?

Of course I’m still terribly afraid. I’m petrified I’ll get to mile 18 and just be done, but I’m also so excited that it keeps me awake at night. The past two weekends I woke up with a giant smile at 7 a.m. because it was the day for my long run.

I’m also nervous because I’ll be running it alone. Of course there will be the other 2,000 runners, but in general, none of my friends will be there running next to me. The BF just could not do it with his bad knee and of course he feels awful about it, but I’m not holding it against him. This is more of my dream now and I’m finally going to make it happen. I’m scared out of my mind, but I was even more scared to have to wait a whole year to get this opportunity again.

Stay tuned, because this race happens in three weeks!

The BF and I at this weekend's home opener.

The BF and I at this weekend’s home opener.

In other races and life news, I’m a happy gal because my Cleveland Browns are back at it! I’m sad that summer is ending (actually borderline depressed), however I love football season!

I also ran the South River Winery Vineyard Run two weekends ago and it was awesome, but undoubtedly the toughest course I’ve ever ran before. It was all grass trails in and around the grapevines of the winery. Of course it was cool and very scenic, but after almost twisting my ankle 28 times and missing my 10K PR time by two minutes, I was happy to see the finish line.

Friends, myself and the BF post race.

Friends, myself and the BF post winery race.

That’s it for now. I am so focused and excited that I’m practically giddy about it being 91 degrees today, because I plan to get in at least five miles tonight after work. I’ve got to keep this motivation and fire lite!

clearurmindpic

My Cleveland Experience.

Miscellaneous

I did it! I did it! I ran my first half marathon this past Sunday! Words cannot describe how amazing it was. The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon is such an amazing experience. I have already considered myself there running this race for the next 85 years.

Lucky #7106

Lucky #7106

I have never been a part of something so awesome and positive! From the very start people were so friendly and the atmosphere was so exciting. From standing in a 30 minute line to use a porta potty before the race, to the total strangers I ran along side with, to the volunteers and announcers and especially the cheering fans. Basically — this race was AWESOME on every level.

The boyfriend and I left my house at 4:45 a.m. Sunday. We reached downtown Cleveland at about 5:20 a.m. The traffic was a little stressful and slow moving, but eventually we found our way to the $5 parking area, which had plenty of spots still available. (I will plan to get there just as early every year, especially because this lot is located so close to the starting line.) The boyfriend and I decided to use the porta potties before the race since it was only about 6:10 a.m. at this point. We stood in front of a group of hilarious women who had us laughing the entire time.

The starting line.

The starting line.

Around 6:40 a.m. we began to make our way over to the starting line. We had no idea where we were going, so we spotted a couple of other runners with the red half marathon bib and followed them at a good distance. Thankfully they didn’t lead us astray because we found the starting line. Well, it wasn’t the official starting line, but it was the line to the starting line. There were signs here and there with pace times so we picked a spot around an 11 minute mile. I read a couple of blogs before the race about being honest about your start times, so the boyfriend and I decided this was a good pace to try since it was our first official half. (It turned out that we could have been up around 9 or so because we ended up passing almost our entire section, but that’s OK.)

I was getting really anxious and nervous in the last remaining minutes before we started. I knew from my other 5K races that I always felt a panic as I started, especially if I saw other runners start to pass me. I reminded myself not to be intimidated and that I belonged there with everyone else.

"Strong" was my power word.

“Strong” was my power word.

Pretty soon we were off (well we started and stopped a few times) but we officially passed the starting line at 7:07 a.m. “Cleveland Rocks” blasted over the loud speakers as the announcers and fans cheered us on. I got goose bumps for the first two miles just because I had never experienced something like this before. I kept looking behind me and up ahead in the distance to see the giant sea of runners bobbing up and down.

The course was smooth with about three or four rolling hills, nothing too insane at all. I would even go so far to say that it’s a pretty easy course. We ran through a few of Lakewood’s beautiful neighborhoods and then into the streets of Ohio City and Tremont. People were sitting out in chairs on their front lawns drinking mimosas and cheering for us. Some people were grilling out on balconys waving and screaming at the runners below. A few little kids and a mother were handing out clementines to runners as they passed. I had a smile on my face the entire run. The boyfriend and I kept nodging each other and pointing to signs that people were holding up. The signs may have been one the best parts of the race, here are a few I remember:

“You trained longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage lasted — keep running.”
“Smile if you’re not wearing underwear.”
“Beer in two miles!”
“I am so proud of you total stranger!”
“Wall? What wall? Keep going!”
“I’m so proud of you – Drake.”

And then of course there was this one:

Only in Cleveland.

Only in Cleveland.

We ran past local churches passing out water, a house that was passing out beer (we passed on this surprisingly) and houses that had hoses spraying water that we could run through. We also passed a guy playing electric guitar, a marching band and a singing sign language choir. There were also two live bands playing at two spots throughout the course.

We started out running with the same group of people. There was a group of three woman, a guy with a giant black afro wig and a few others. After mile 3 we started branching off to run faster and from there the only consistent people we ran with was a guy in a full karate outfit and two girls running with him. One of the girls and the karate guy kissed every mile. The boyfriend and I just opted for high fives.

Mile 11 and some change. Mini fist pump and feeling good!

Mile 11 and some change. Mini fist pump and feeling good!

I didn’t even start listening to my music until mile 11 and even then I had one headphone out to listen to the crowd and the people cheering. Houses were blasting their own music that we could easily hear from the road too. After mile 12 I really picked it up and sprinted the last part pretty good. I was surprised by how many people weren’t sprinting the last straight before the finish line. I was dodging people left and right to get past. I crossed the line at 2 hours 21 minutes and 5 seconds. I wanted to be under 2:30 so I was happy with my time.

After the race we got our medals and a few snacks (chocolate milk, bananas, popsicles). We got our picture taken and I met up with two of my girlfriends who also ran the race. We also got a ticket for a free beer at the 26.3 post race party, but I wasn’t too crazy about a Miller Lite at the time.

It’s crazy because I remember getting sick after running only six miles during my training. I felt like I was near death if I ran over five miles and it would take me the whole day to recover. But after the half marathon I felt great, I wasn’t even sore. My how 16 weeks can change a lot!

As we were leaving, I glanced over to the finish line and saw some of the full marathoners still running and trying to finish. I couldn’t help but feel something inside of me wishing to do that, wishing to run the full 26.2…

When we got home, the boyfriend and I couldn’t stop looking up other races for the summer. We talked all day about how awesome the race was and how much fun we had. We told everyone “Consider us there every year from now on.” And I think it just might happen…

Celebrating our 13.1!

Celebrating our 13.1!

First race down!

First race down!

New mindset — control your mind, control your life.

Miscellaneous

Life is good!

I have never felt stronger or faster in my training. During the past two months I’ve really come into a new mind set about working out, fitness, diet and just overall being healthy.

I’m working out five to six days a week and am doing great on eating clean. May 19 (Cleveland half marathon) is looking so good in 8 days! It’s funny though, I actually have never felt like a real runner until I started training for the half marathon. I used to run around three miles each run and now I’m averaging five to six on a normal run, plus a little over 10 on my long weekend runs. I feel great!

My dad and I after kickboxing class.

My dad and I after kickboxing class.

In my new mindset I’ve made a couple of changes over the last two months, especially in the way I think about health and fitness. I used to only do cardio, which is of course important, but I was missing the bigger picture. I wasn’t lifting weights, I wasn’t switching up my workouts and I wasn’t eating clean. I was frustrated because I wasn’t seeing any results. I wasn’t trying to lose a lot of weight, but I thought I would lose some just by training for the half marathon. My mind set actually started to change when I joined Instagram and started following a lot of health and fitness users. I started to see the importance of how your entire lifestyle has to change to get results. I started to become more knowledgeable on calories, weights, workouts and foods. I have learned so much just by surrounding myself with the right people. My dad is also a personal trainer and teaches spinning and kickboxing. I’ve never went to him for help with diet and exercise until only recently. What a valuable resource I was overlooking! My dad has a vast array of knowledge about training, nutrition and supplements. Him and I actually workout three times a week together at 6 a.m. (Yes that early, but I have found that I actually love it!)

Now eating clean is a constant struggle for me. Everyday I have to fight the temptation to eat Taco Bell or a giant box of mac & cheese (what? Is that weird?) I have noticed such a difference in how I feel after eating crap and when I am eating clean. I have dropped five pounds in just changing the food I eat in my diet. Imagine what I can do if I try even harder? I am starting to understand and respect everything the body is capable of. It’s actually really incredible if you think about it. We have the choice to build our bodies exactly how we want them, it’s just how bad (or how less) we want it that
sometimes gets in the way.

Here are a few things I’ve changed in my diet:

  • I’ve found that planning my meals and snacks is key to success. There’s a reason people say “fail to plan, plan to fail.” I eat every two to three hours and I know exactly what I’m going to eat when I do.
  • I always have a banana or apple on me (at ALL times) in case I’m suddenly overcome with violent hunger. This keeps me from bingeing when I do actually sit down to eat or from stopping at Wendy’s.
  • I track all the food I eat. I use MyFitnessPal on my smartphone and I keep a notebook where I also track the food along with the time.
  • I aim to eat protein and/or a fruit or vegetable with every snack or meal.
  • I eat peanut butter and yogurt when I am craving sweets, which is daily.
  • I kept hearing “DRINK MORE WATER.” So I upped my H20 intake. I now try to drink a gallon a day. It seems like a lot some days, but it does a good job at keeping me feeling full. Try it!
A normal meal now-a-days

A normal meal now-a-days

As far as my workouts, I run outside or on the treadmill, I use the elliptical, I go to spinning class, boot camp, a cycle and sculpt class and kickboxing class. I play on two volleyball teams twice a week. I also try to do abs everyday and I recently started the 30 day squat challenge (see below, today is day 7 for me.)  Working out with my dad has also helped me immensely. Before working out with my dad, I was intimidated by the weight area of my gym. I joked that I needed him for “emotional support” at first and it really helped having him there to spot me on bench and to give me tips and tricks on the other machines. I would have never touched the squat rack before working out with him, nor a drill where you pull down on a giant rope. I love lifting weights now and I’m looking forward to being able to lift more and more and improve.

Snack time!

Snack time!

I continue to do research on nutrition, foods and workouts to help keep me motivated. I would suggest to anymore looking for motivation to actually start on social media. There is a large gathering of fitness experts out there posting things every hour. It not only keeps you motivated, but it gives you more ideas and boasts your spirit that there are other people out there working just as hard as you, if not harder — and that’s why you continue!

What motivates you? What tricks or tips do you have to stay motivated? What changes have you made recently to transform your health and fitness routine?

Try this 30 day challenge

Try this 30 day challenge

Death by Lack of Motivation…and NE Ohio Winters.

Miscellaneous

Ugh. I have not been feeling running lately. Does anyone else ever get like this? I love running, usually. But these past two weeks I have been burnt out both mentally and physically when it comes to running.

I got to week 10 of 18 of my training schedule for my half marathon and suddenly hit a wall. I have not ran in TWO weeks to the day today. Eeeek. Of course I’ve continued cross training with spinning classes and elliptical sessions, even a few cross country skiing workouts, but for real…14 days since my last run?!

Cross Country Skiing Workout

Cross Country Skiing Workout

But the truth is that I just cannot get myself back out there to run. On week nine I ran 11 miles in 21 degree weather. It was awful by every definition. At one point during the 11 miles I think I started crying, but it could have been the sleeting snow whipping at my face for over two hours. The following weekend I set out to do 12 miles (it was about 40 degrees) and then my watch decided to stop working without me knowing, so I had no idea how far I actually ran. At that point I was so annoyed I kind of just threw in the towel right then and there. Then the following weekend was filled with non-stop St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and the next weekend we got four inches of snow and ice in wonderful Chardon, Ohio. With my moral and spirits sinking, I didn’t even put up a fight to skipping my long weekend runs the past two weeks. Of course I felt guilty, but deep down I was kinda relieved.

Even today at 37 degrees, I wanted to get out there and go for a quick four miles, however here I am blogging and finding every other excuse on the planet not to go. Then I beat myself up over it when I don’t run and just settle for spinning instead. And at this point setting foot on a treadmill at the gym makes me want to die.

Hmm...not so much lately.

Hmm…not so much lately.

Is this battle going on with any other runners? What do you do when you’ve just lost it? I cannot even get myself to run four miles, let alone 13. I went strong for ten weeks and now I cannot find that same inspiration and motivation to save my life!

I think the snow and the cold weather have a lot to do with it. I’ve been hanging out at the gym since November and I’m starting to get cabin fever. I need fresh air, sun, pavement, shorts and any weather over 60 degrees would be fabulous.

What is everyone’s secret to keeping inspiration and motivation alive? How do you not give up on your dreams or goals even when you are burnt out and tired?

I’ll leave you with this picture. I seriously laughed out loud when I saw it on Pinterest yesterday.

Seriously LOL

Seriously LOL

New year, first half. Literately.

Miscellaneous

January 1st is such a motivating day. I love the fresh start to a new year and the excited buzz around it. I’ve always been a sucker for New Year’s resolutions, too. I think I love the promise of trying to better yourself, making a change, doing something different. (This love for resolutions probably has something to do with the fact that I love Mondays too.) *Pause for astonishment here* I can’t help it, I just love a fresh new start and reinventing yourself.

For the past few weeks or so I’ve been thinking about my intentions for 2013. Now I’ve been working out about four days a week and I feel good. I feel strong both physically and mentally. I’ve always thrown around the idea in my head about the Cleveland Marathon. Now I’m no where near marathon ready, but they also offer a 5K, 10K and half.

I’ve ran five 5Ks, which are always a fun little workout, but in my book it’s just not that big of an accomplishment anymore. After a while I have begun to expect more out of myself. So I threw around the 10K idea. Hmm 6.2 seems legit. The most I’ve ever ran at one time was eight miles, which was during the peek of a really good summer of running two years ago. (I had also just broken up with a really terrible, very bad, no-good guy though, so that fueled a lot of my fire!) So to prove a point to myself, and to basically just be a smart ass, I ran almost 6.5 miles at the gym last week.

workout6Not so smart on my body, but it did a wonder on my head. I was so ecstatic and thrilled at the end of my workout that for a brief moment I had tears in my eyes. It was truly so, so, SO tough. But I wanted to prove to myself that if I could whip out a 10K distance out of no where, than it wouldn’t be that hard on race day….and so, I would HAVE to sign up for the half marathon if I wanted to challenge myself.

So with Christmas money burning a whole in my pocket, I signed up for my first half marathon on May 19th in downtown Cleveland.

regishalfI am a combination of terrified, excited, nervous, worried and thrilled. I have wanted to be a part of a marathon for as long as I can remember, and finally I am making this happen! No more “maybe someday” or “well I’ve always wanted to but…” excuses. My cool $70. 68 will also add as a little reminder that it’s a done deal! And what’s even more exciting, I’ve talked the boyfriend into running it with me! He still has yet to register, but he’s the kinda swell guy that would pretty much do anything I ask him to do. *Pause for eye roll*

I’ve been researching like crazy the past few days. Training schedules, tips, anything. I’ve decided on this 18-week schedule that I found on the marathon’s home page, which puts me for the week of January 13th to get this baby started.

So what do I need to know? What are the best half marathon/training tips? How do you guys stay motivated? What do you do to train/get ready for a half? Any and all advice is welcome!

You Just Gotta Keep Going.

Miscellaneous

I’ve been good about getting to the gym.

Last week I racked up 23 miles. The week before that I put 26.6 miles on my Nike’s.

I get on the treadmill around 6:15 a.m. and force myself to stay on until about five after seven. It’s terrible waking up at 5:50 a.m. but it makes a great start to my day, plus after a long day at the office and class there’s no way I’m going to the gym at night. (Please, I’d have to wait 45 minutes for a treadmill, then get kicked off 30 minutes later by some girl wearing a matching sweatsuit — who will then proceed to text on her phone the entire time she has the treadmill while walking on a .5 incline at 2.5 miles per hour.)

I’m convinced that the real athletes hit the gym in the early morning.

Everyone’s super serious and focused at 6 a.m. and I can run for 50 minutes and not be bothered or annoyed once. Plus there’s something tranquil about starting a run looking out at the dark world and slowly seeing the sun come up, casting orange and yellow rays of light through the giant gym windows. (This picturesque scene is happening as I’m dying and gasping for breathe on the treadmill while trying not to blow chunks in the garbage can.)

Regardless, today was a break-through day of running. (Don’t you love when that happens?) I found it easy to run 4.6 miles and was pleasantly surprised as I looked down at the treadmill screen and saw my PR time down by nearly six minutes. I have been aiming for anywhere in the four mile mark lately. Some days it has been really discouraging though. I’d like to be able to run six or seven miles comfortably everyday, so I get frustrated that I have to force myself to run just four some days. But today was a good run because A. It wasn’t painful and I wasn’t counting down every second and B. My time was down  — a small victory in my books.

Oh and it didn’t hurt that I burned 526 calories either. (You better believe I’m eating ice cream later, or cracking open that Corona that’s in my fridge…kidding. Well, kinda.)

I just want to keep getting faster and stronger. It can be really discouraging not being able to run as much and you want to, but when you have little break-through moments like today, it really makes the hard work worth it.

But I’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of me.

I’ve been throwing around the idea in my head about running the Cleveland half marathon on May 20. More on that race can be found here.

On days I want to die after my workout I think the 10K is more realistic. I want to run the half so bad, but when it’s a challenge to run 4 miles some days, that’s when I get frustrated. I tell myself I’ll get faster and stronger if I keep at the training schedule, but I just want to hurry up and be ready and able to run 13.1 miles right now!

Who knows what I’ll end up doing. I’m supposed to go to a wedding the same day of the race, but we’ll see how everything plans out.

For now, I just need to keep running.

P.S. I love this …

Sponsoring Races: a PR approach

Miscellaneous, Running

I’m running the Black Squirrel 5K on Saturday in Kent, Ohio. More info about the race can be found here.

As I prepare for the race, I started thinking about the companies and organizations that sponsor races, whether they are 5K’s, 10K’s, full marathons or half’s. Not only do main company’s sponsor full races, but think of all the gift bags and free stuff (YES!) that you get post race most time.

Cleveland Marathon 2010

Cleveland Marathon 2010

I’ve received everything from free T-shirts and ID tags, to free four packs of Muscle Milk, water bottles and free food samples. A lot of time coupons are often stuffed into these “runners swag bag” as one race I ran in June called it.

What are some of the best, worse and even weirdest things you’ve gotten for free after running a race?

As I was saying, why do companies and organizations choose to sponsor races and give out free things?

Of course the most obvious reason – it get’s the company’s name out there. It’s all about the prospect to sell more products. For giving out free things, there’s hopefully a return in getting new customers and sales. Companies sponsor races out of advertising budgets because that’s just what it is, advertising to potential consumers.

Companies want you to sponsor them in the best possible light – I think there is a certain special relationship between sponsors and runners because runners are so passionate about what they do. It’s like tapping into a new consumer demographic.

Sponsoring a race or marathon is great PR for a company or organization, it can show a different side to what one normally see’s in a company.

Dick’s Sporting Goods sponsors the Pittsburgh Marathon (which I’ve always secretly wanted to run even though I hate Pittsburgh with a passion.) Rite Aide sponsors the Cleveland Marathon (which I also want to run if I can whip my butt into shape by then – hey I’m working on it and alright, alright, the half is probably going to be more realistic for me as of right now since there’s only 46 days left ’til race day.)

Sponsorship of race by Rite Aid

Sponsorship of race by Rite Aid

Also the famous Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure organization is another huge sponsor of races and charities. Next time you find yourself in the grocery store take a look at all the pink labels that certain foods like Cambell’s and Yoplait sponsor in turning labeling pink for a certain amount of time.

Take a look at the hugely impressive list of corporate sponsors for Susan G. Komen here. If that doesn’t say good things about a company or organization then I don’t know what does. There’s a certain level of respect and generosity that comes to a company the sponsors races. The company can really benefit from this in the eyes of the community.

As an inspiring PR pro, I want to be a part of a company or organization that sponsors some sort of charity race. Nothing feels better then raising money and trying to help those in need and all companies and organization should strive to try and make that a part of the business’s plan and moral.