Tuesday, November 25, 2014

TotR: Runner's Gift List

It's Tuesday, and that means it is Tuesday on the Run with April, Erika, and Patty!

Today the theme is Runner's Gift List, so I'm going to share five things that are on my wish list.

This Athleta vest. Something about the color just calls out to me. I'm really hoping it comes on sale as spring gets closer!

In fact, I'm kind of obsessed with this whole Athleta line. It makes me want to take up barre classes and yoga immediately.

A new yoga mat, so I can become all zen and bendy and get to wear Athleta clothes.

These adorable, beachy performance leggings.

Lux Arms Warmers from Oiselle.

A running/fitness retreat. I've been daydreaming about this since the November issue of Runner's World featured Kara Goucher and talked about her gals-only running retreat. How fun does that sound? I've even looked into some that are close by to my house...but it totally doesn't fit my lifestyle right now! But that's why it's called a wish list, right?

A penny for your thoughts: what fitness gifts do you hope are under the tree this year? 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Weekend Report: A Successful Week One

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but this weekend has been wet, wet, wet.

But luckily (drum roll here) I got all of my workouts done this week and I didn't have to venture out in the rain--not even to slog my way to the gym across the street. I am very proud of myself.

I started off the week by weighing myself and recording my body fat percentage, and taking "before" photos. Let me tell you, if I hadn't been motivated to get my workouts in before, the photos would have done it. When did I become eggplant shaped? It was definitely a wake up call. I considered burying them where no one would ever, ever find them, but instead I left them on my phone as a reminder to myself.

I also made a promise to myself that I wouldn't step on the scale for 6 weeks--halfway through my Run Builder plan. I tend to get a little obsessive about the scale.

This week consisted of two days of cardio, arms, legs and chest & back. By the end of it, I HURT. But it was the good kind of pain, so I tried to keep the complaining to a minimum.

I stayed pretty straight when it came to food...I only had one major slip up, and that was mid-week cookie dough. I only ate out once this week, so I'm calling it a win overall.

This is my schedule for this week:

Monday: 45 minutes of cardio, half of which will be day 1 of the Couch to 5k plan
Tuesday: Arms
Wednesday: Legs
Thursday: Rest (and eat!)
Friday: 45 minutes of cardio, half of which will be day 2 of C25K
Saturday: Chest, back, and day 3 of C25K
Sunday: Rest

If I get tripped up, it will be by the back end of the week. After Thanksgiving, my week gets busy. We're not traveling for Thanksgiving, but the holidays start in full force this week--shopping, parties, and general merriment that usually causes me to put on 15 pounds. My fitness plan of attack this week is to get my workouts in early--that way they are done and not looming over my head so I can enjoy the holiday week.

A penny for your thoughts: how are you handling workouts during the holiday week? Do you have a plan of attack or are you taking a week off? Have you ever done before and after pictures?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo...Which Plan do I Choose?

I've spent the last couple of days looking over 5k training plans. I was looking for 2 things in a plan: a timeline I could match a race up to, and a plan that complimented my strength training plan.

There are tons of 5k plans out there. It seems like every fitness organization, magazine and celebrity has one to offer. And most of them are similar...although I was surprised at how many "beginner" plans described themselves as plans for people who can already run for 30 minutes. Since this is my biggest issue, I looked for a plan that would bring me back to square on and settled on the Couch to 5k program.

It's very flexible and it's a 9 week plan, which matches up perfectly with the Hot Chocolate Run in Atlanta in late January. I wanted to run this race anyway--I had a blast last year and I'll be able to compare my pace.

I'm actually really excited about getting started next week. I can't remember the last time I was excited about running, so it's a great feeling! Of course, maybe that's because my first running workout is...20 minutes long, alternating 90 seconds of running with 2 minutes of walking.

I feel sort of silly going out with that as a plan, but I think that's a mindset I need to work on. Just because I'm capable of completing a half marathon doesn't mean I don't need to go back and work on the basics.

A penny for your thoughts: what's your favorite part about starting a new training plan?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Focus on the 5K

Happy Tuesday on the Run! I'm linking up with Run the Great Wide Somewhere, My No-Guilt Life and MCM Mama Runs. Today the topic is inclement weather running--but since I haven't been running this season, I don't have too many tales to tell on that front. Instead, I wanted to talk about my lack of running.

I've been thinking a lot about why I have gotten so overwhelmed by running this race season. Usually as the weather gets colder, I get more motivated to get outside and put in the miles. This year, all I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head and stay in my warm bed.

I think I've finally come up with the reason: I'm no good at running. And who wants to keep doing something they are lousy at?

I know, I know...a mile is a mile whether you run it in 15 minutes or 8 minutes. Trust me, I know all the motivational sayings and I've repeated them to myself over and over as I continued to cross the finish line close to last during every race I ran.

Actually, let me rephrase that: every race I survived.

Because I've never actually RUN a race. I start out with a comfortable-for-me run/walk/run pace...which eventually becomes a walk. I'm consistently under trained, unprepared and under enthused. But despite all those things, I love race days. I love the energy and the friendships I've made and laying out the flat Allyson the night before and posting it to instagram. I love the fun clothes from Athleta and finding the right shoe and the energy gels and all the STUFF that comes with the running culture. Once again, my mind comes back around to the "illusion of healthy". Time to face reality, folks: I've been running for almost three years and I still don't know how to do it.

So I'm starting over.

When I first started the sport, I began it solely to run a Princess Half Marathon. I chose a Jeff Galloway program because that's what the runDisney website suggested. I sort of trained. I finished the race on a wing and a prayer. Then I had done a half marathon, so I felt silly going back and doing shorter races, when in reality, that's what I should have started with. My first PHM was my second race ever. Talk about jumping in with both feet, right?

I'm rethinking my entire approach to running. You know how you always say, "I wish I'd known then what I know now?" Well, I can go into my second running life with all that knowledge from the mistakes I made the first time around. All the information I've garnered from other bloggers, runners, and a gazillion Pinterest pins. I can pick a training plan that is actually right for me (although I suspect that the Galloway method is the one I'll end up with). I can learn how to run a mile, and then another, and then another, until I'm actually successful at a 5k...and not just surviving the miles because I have to get through them to move on to the next step in my half marathon training plan.

A penny for your thoughts: have you ever had to admit to yourself that you've gone about something the wrong way and you need to start over? What do you wish you knew back then that you know now?

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Weekend Report: Simple Autumn Goals

I can't believe how quickly fall is passing me by. The autumn--the whole year, actually--has not played out at all how I had planned. Apparently, I need to start planning in pencil!

As I wrote in my last post at the beginning of October, I was feeling really burned out. I thought I was ready to take on the world again--or at least my little corner of it--but apparently I was incorrect. I needed more time to reassess my goals (both personal and fitness) and to continue balancing real life with the life I was planning. I think I've finally managed to make some goals that are realistic and will carry me through the end of the year. And I'm focusing on simplicity.

First, fitness. I've deciding I'm going to stop watching my weight...

...and start watching my body fat percentage. Which means that running and cardio will be the icing on my proverbial fitness cake, and strength training will make up the bulk of it (no pun intended). I'm not going to stop eating and drinking my favorite foods (especially as the holidays are right around the corner) but I'm going to do it in moderation. No crazy diets, no obsessively tracking my food in My Fitness Pal. I've been trying those things for years and they're not working. When I restrict my calories, I am not a nice person. And no one likes people who aren't nice. I'm just going to eat a normal diet, with food that occurs naturally on the planet with the occasional food that occurs naturally at Krispy Kreme.

Instead of food, I'm going to focus on exercise. Honest to goodness, make a plan and stick to it exercise that involves weights and kettle bells and resistance bands and cardio to keep me happy.  Because as much as I've run in the past 2.5 years and as many miles as I've logged, I'm not getting anywhere. I feel like I'm living an illusion of healthy, saying to myself, "Oh, I can run a half marathon. I'm healthy." I'm not. I feel sluggish and yucky in my clothes, and I've been catching every sniffle and cold that passes through our neighborhood. And there's no excuse for it--I can change it.  It's been hard to label myself as a "healthy living blogger" when I don't feel healthy.

So my singular goal for the last 6.5 weeks of 2014 is to make a plan and stick to it. I figure if I can manage to do that during the holidays, when life settles down in January it will be smooth sailing.

My personal goals for the rest of 2014 are equally as simple. I think one of the reasons I was feeling so burned out was because I wasn't taking any time for myself. My husband works insane hours and since beginning to home school, my life has gone on the back burner. Not only have I not been blogging here, I haven't been writing anything--and that makes me even more cranky than when I try to stick to 1200 calories a day! I've been a writer since I figured out how to hold a pen--it's how I process the world around me. So my goal for the remainder of the year is to spend one hour a day writing. It might not seem like a lot to some people, but between being a mom, wife, teacher to my kid, and exercising--an hour is hard to come by. I wish I felt like exercise was "me" time--but I usually run with a stroller and strength train at home, which means while I'm squatting/stretching/lifting, I'm also a jungle gym/toddler bridge/trying to keep my kid from dropping a weight on his foot.

So that's it. Two simple goals. It sounds easy when I say it to myself but I know it will be challenging. But after being away for so long, I'm ready for the challenge!

A penny for your thoughts: do you ever over burden yourself with goals? What are you trying to accomplish by the end of 2014?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Weekend Report...Hard Truths

Hi everyone! It's been awhile. How IS everybody?

So about a month ago, I started feeling really bogged down and burnt out, but I couldn't really put my finger on why.Our family had some heavy duty job stress and I had just started our first year of home school with Little Man, and it wasn't going as smoothly as I'd imagined it was going to be. I couldn't seem to keep up with cooking, cleaning up (my kid is OBSESSED with Legos and they.are.everywhere) and I felt like I was spending more time planning things than I actually was doing them.

So I took a month hiatus from blogging, hardcore running, organizing and planning. I focused on relaxing and on my kid. I capped the month off with a trip to the beach, and I came home feeling refreshed and ready to start things up again.

During my month off all things unnecessary, I had a lot of time to think about why I was feeling so stressed out and bogged down. Here are the truths I came up with--and some of them were hard for me to admit to myself:

I was dreading the Princess Half Marathon. Yes, you read that right. The thought of the cost, the training, putting together intricate costumes--it just all became too much. I don't have a good group of running buddies close by, and the idea of training alone through the holidays wore me out just to think about it.

I finally had to admit to myself that I just don't love half marathons like I do the 5k and the 10k. And once I finally said it, it was such a  relief. It was a huge pressure taken right off my chest--pressure put on by my own self. Silly, right? I'm still going to go to PHM weekend, and I'm definitely going to do the 5K and 10K--I'm just not sure about the half yet. Instead of making it a big family vacation, it's going to be a shorter trip--allowing for another family vacation later in the year, one where I don't have to get up at 2 AM for days in a row.

I want to branch out from running.  I know I've talked about cross training before, but I really want to incorporate something into my life that is exercise that isn't running. Running on it's own isn't enough to keep me healthy. When I got mono back in April, my doctor told me it would be out of my system in 8 weeks. What she failed to mention was that I'd feel the effects of it for up to a year. I need to be stronger. Being stronger equals running faster, right?

I wasn't sure why I was blogging. I've always been a writer--it's my preferred method of communication and my way of keeping up with life. I have boxes and boxes of journals I kept when I was younger, so blogging seemed like the natural step. But then I'd get hung up on what to write about, how much to share, what to post on social media--once again, pressure from myself (are we seeing a pattern here?). I'd lay awake in bed obsessing over link ups and page views. Aye yi yi.

But after a month away from my keyboard, I started to miss it. And I started to miss you guys--the people I follow that I've never met. I started to wonder how fall marathon training was going, who'd had babies, how back to school was going. And so I came back to my humble little corner of the internet. I'm trying a few tweaks in my blog planning and writing schedule, and I'm doing some heavy duty thinking about what this blog is about. It started out as a place to share my writing and ended up as a health and fitness blog--who would have known it would take on such a change?

And finally, I need to find a balance between my need to plan everything down to the minute and being flexible enough to enjoy life. I don't know what has come over me recently--my type A personality went into overdrive while the rest of my family suddenly became more relaxed and spontaneous. I'll be writing a post dedicated to this topic soon, because it's something I'm still fleshing out.

So there are the first world problems I've been chewing over. And now I'm off to my Bloglovin' feed to catch up on everything I missed in September. Can't wait to hear what everyone has been up to!

A penny for your thoughts: do you ever need to step back and reassess things? Why do you blog?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rise & Shine Challenge and September Goals

My biggest overall goal this month is to enjoy my mornings. Since shifting my workouts to the afternoon, I've been trying to find a pattern for my mornings. My son goes to work with my husband for a few hours in the morning, so it's my alone time for the day--but I'm usually unfocused and end up wasting my time.

I mentioned a few days ago that I was following Abundant Mama's 10 day "Rise & Shine" challenge. Since good mornings have a lot to do with my goals this month, I wanted to share the three biggest concepts I took away from the challenge.

Set a daily intention: The idea that really resonated with me about setting a daily intention is that it changes every day. You focus on what you need out of you morning each day--some days I need that time in the morning to write. Some days I need it to exercise. Some days, I just need to rest. The important part is that you give yourself what you need.
Focus on nightly bedtime rituals: Find something that relaxes you and do it every night. There is no right answer here, Maybe it's writing a to-do list, meditating, doing yoga, or reading. The key is to not overwhelm yourself with it, just to find what works for you.
Make morning rituals: Even though your daily intention may change, there should be something you do first thing every morning that helps you start your day fresh and happy. For me, it's my lemon water. I love that first drink of cold water.

Good Morning!

A penny for your thoughts: what do  you do to to make your mornings better? What are your goals for September?