Feb 28

Key Points to Staying MOTIVATED

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How many times have you done this?  January comes, New Year’s resolutions are fresh and you’re ready to get healthy. (I will use January here, because it seems to be the most popular month for new beginnings.) You go to the gym, clean up your diet and you’re feeling pretty good about yourself. February comes, you start skipping the gym here and there, eat out a little more, and maybe hit the vending machine a few times a week. March arrives, the gym becomes a “when I have time thing” and the Oreo cookies and chips are now calling you daily from the pantry. By April the “get healthy” initiative is a distant memory and you make yourself feel better by convincing yourself that when things slow down a bit, you’ll get back into it. Guess what? Life isn’t slowing down. Why does this happen to so many people and how can a person sustain the motivation they had in January?

I have a few theories about why people stray from their health goals and some ways to change your thought process and maintain the motivation year-round. First, if you did set a goal for yourself to get fit and eat healthier, congratulations! This is an important step and like other lifestyle changes, may take a few tries before something “takes”. Second, don’t beat yourself up if you stray from your goal. It’s never too late to start over. Try to avoid the following common mistakes:

1. Too much too soon. It’s great to be excited about your new endeavor, but easing into this like a hot tub of water is actually better in the long run. I see so many people start their new training programs in January, hitting the gym every single day without rest. This has several negative consequences. The first is simple burn out. More often than not, it’s a pace the is unsustainable and will soon be something you dread doing everyday. Find a schedule that works for you and be realistic about your time commitments. Secondly, if this starts to cut into time you need for other interests, you may end up resenting exercise. Find the right balance.

2. Feeling the burn is good, feeling scorched is not. If you are out of shape, ease into it. Yes, feeling sore is part of the process, but being unable to get out of bed the next day means your workout was excessive. I’ve seen people work so hard, and get so sore, that the mere thought of going back and doing it again is excruciating in itself.

3. Don’t try to change everything at once. This is related particularly to diet. If you have been eating the same way for years and years, what makes you think you can change this behavior overnight? The answer is simple, you can’t and won’t be successful if you try. Take baby steps and change behaviors slowly. For example, if you typically drink soda, diet or not all day long, start be eliminating one can each day until you wean yourself off of it. Set a goal to pack your lunch and or snacks twice a week increasing that number by a day until it becomes habit to pack. You get the picture. Start slow, gain momentum.

4. Don’t deprive yourself. This is a big one for me. Yes, I follow a pretty strict diet and yes, it’s pretty much habit now to avoid junk, but damn it, when I want pizza, I eat pizza (now and then). I follow the 80/20 rule. Eat healthy 80% of the time and give in to cravings…just a little. If you don’t, all you are going to do is focus and dwell on the things “you can’t eat anymore”. Also, be honest about the 80/20, the only person you are cheating by lying is yourself.

5. Love what you do. Whatever form of exercise you decide to pursue, love it. It’s going to be hard work and if you don’t love it, it will end up being JUST HARD WORD. I love to run. It doesn’t feel like exercise to me because it means so much more to me than that. Think outside the box when it comes to this. Running isn’t for everyone. Biking isn’t for everyone. Maybe your exercise is shooting hoops with your son/daughter on a regular basis, yoga, swimming, hiking, walking the dog, the options are really endless. it doesn’t always have to mean a trip to the gym, just get moving. Once you find something you like, it won’t be something you check of a list anymore for the sake of doing so.

6. Do a reality check on your goals. The best way to explain is like this; if you’ve never run a mile in your life, and make it your goal to run a marathon within a month, there’s a really good chance that’s not going to happen. Think this through, and come up with something a) that you really believe you can accomplish and b) you think is worthwhile to achieve. The second of those being more important. You have to believe in what you are trying to accomplish. If you are truly convinced that getting into shape, running a 5k, being thinner, or eating healthier will truly make you feel better, the chances of you sticking with a program that will get you there is stronger.

Hope these tips help you reach your healthy lifestyle goals.

What has motivated you to maintain your healthy habits? Comments and suggestions welcome!

Feb 01

Monday Motivation

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Jan 22

My Journey to Marathon #10

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Yes, it’s been ages since I posted anything. Just like knowing when to give my body a rest, I had to give my blogging brain a rest too. I got through the holidays, my daughter turning 18, and started another marathon training plan.

I am excited to announce that I’ll once again be running the Pittsburgh Marathon this year as well as participating in the marathon blogger program. This will be my fourth Pittsburgh Full Marathon and my 10th marathon overall. I forgot to mention that marathon #9 is 3 weeks prior to Pittsburgh. I’m also scheduled to run the Athens marathon (Ohio, not Greece) on April 10th.

Athens is going to be the marathon I race, another attempt at a Boston Qualification. If all goes well :)  ,I will run Pittsburgh for fun. Enjoy the crowds and the course. Yep, I’m one of those woman who runs 26.2 miles for fun. So, I’m pretty well into training at this point. I just started week 6 and so far so good. I’ve been inside a great deal because I’m a wimp now (LOL), but I’m getting my miles in for the most part and hitting my paces which is what really counts.

I will be posting my weekly training schedule along with some crucial tips for training for and running your first or twentieth marathon. Many of these carry over to you half marathoners too, so stay tuned.

Week 5 Training Schedule

what was planned:

  • Monday – Rest Day!
  • Tuesday – 8 miles at mid pace (9:05)
  • Wednesday – 4 mile tempo run
  • Thursday – 4 miles at slow easy pace (9:15)
  • Friday – Rest
  • Saturday – 8 miles at marathon pace (8:45)
  • Sunday – 16 miles – slow easy pace

what actually happened:

  • Monday – Rest
  • Tuesday – 4 miles @7:57
  • Wednesday – 8 miles at 8:35
  • Thursday – 0 miles
  • Friday – 8 miles @ 8:22
  • Saturday – SKIING! snow storm – yay!
  • Sunday – 5 miles, went home :(

One of the biggest lessons I learned training for 8 marathons is to work hard (always) but not to force it. Things happen in life and planned runs can’t always be executed. Give yourself a break and remember next week is a new week to crush it.

Not signed up for the Marathon yet? What are you waiting for? Join me!

Follow the links below to register with a discount or to shop for Pittsburgh Marathon training gear.

Registration Discount Code: YOHE2016 ($10 off) Registration

Gear Store Code: YOHE2016 (15% off) Gear Store

 

#GameOnPGH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 21

Monday Motivation

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Dec 14

Holiday Visit in Florida – with of course, some running

This year Madison and I decided we would take a long weekend and visit family in Florida. My brother and his family (wife and two boys) live close to West Palm Beach and my parents live close to him during the winter months. Although we can’t complain about the extremely mild weather we are having up North, it was nice to grab another taste of summer.

It is always so strange to see warm places decorated for Christmas, it just doesn’t seem right. Although lights on palm trees do look kind of cool. We started the weekend with some holiday entertainment; watching my nephew sing in his pre-school program which was really cute.

The next morning, we were up soo early to run a local 5k which was really fun. I never get to do stuff like that with my brother. Madison and my 10-year-old nephew ran as well! It was Alex’s first 5k and he ran the whole way! It was hot and humid, like Florida is, so I ran slightly slower than my last race but fast enough to grab a 1st place AG medal. Madison too – with 3rd in her AG.  Wow, was this course flat as a pancake. Totally not used to that, but I didn’t hate it.  After our stellar performance we hung out at home and relaxed before heading down to South Beach Miami to hang out, drink and eat. Holy crap, the beach in Miami is huge! Very cool place to hang out. Madison loved all the fancy cars.  I did some additional running Sunday morning and my brother Eric wanted to run from his house to my parents house 6 miles away Sunday evening so I did a double dip on Sunday which brought me to 10 for the day and 13.1 for the weekend. Sweet. After our run Sunday, we sat outside my parents house and chatted for a while. Yes, the have a Christmas tree outside. :)  Of course we also did some hanging out at the beach. Maddy was determined to be a beach bum Sunday and Monday. Sunday had driving wind and sideways rain, but we were on the beach. LOL. Monday was a much prettier sunny day. The rain Sunday did produce a gorgeous rainbow that I was able to capture.  We had a great visit and shouldn’t wait so long next time to go back.

Just a quick overview of the weekend. Back to normal here in Pittsburgh. It’s not like we even came back to some crazy cold weather. It’s perfect out today and hovering around 60.

I’m sure the weather will be changing shortly. What would winter training be without the icy cold wind and snow?

Dec 09

All Things Christmas…..that annoy me

IMG_4633Why is it that so much changes around Christmas time? I mean, society as a whole has this enormous “shift”. A shift in priorities, a shift in eating, drinking, working, thinking, driving, shopping. So much changes around the holidays and I can’t say they are all changes for the better. In fact, I get so annoyed with the changes, the speeding up of the days, constant chores, cards, and never ending cookie trays. All. Very. Annoying. Indeed.

People lose their minds during the holidays. They camp out in front of stores. For real. People actually sleep in front of the doors and wait for the store to open to save a few bucks on something. I don’t have a zillion dollars in the bank but I don’t understand this for a couple of reasons 1) isn’t your time more valuable? Mine is. More likely than not, I have a run planned the next morning and I couldn’t get my mind around being able to do both. 2) I just don’t see the pleasure in sleeping on concrete surrounded by strangers for something that will probably be obsolete a year from now anyway. Truth.

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Food. There is food everywhere! I mean suddenly it becomes okay for people to bring in holiday cookies, chocolate covered pretzels, cakes, candies, food, food, food to work. Hey, not that I’m opposed to yummy food, but I just don’t understand why it’s just in triplicate around the holidays? Are we all on some kind of mission to gain 10 pounds. Everyone always complains that they gain weight around the holidays. This is why people!

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Christmas cards. Should I or should I not do Christmas cards? Here’s the thing. I don’t have a family picture (which is a shame) and I feel a little strange sending a photo of my 18-year-old daughter out (awe, she’s so adorable….for an adult) to folks and worse yet, a picture of my dog. I think he’s adorable too, but do people really want a picture of him, no. The answer is no they don’t. So, I can send non-photo cards, which makes me look cheap (and I have to actually WRITE something in them) or nothing. And by the way, two years ago I spent well over $100 to send dreaded photo cards, which I know you threw away days after you got it. Don’t lie. Really? A good use of our time and money? Not so sure. I won’t even get into singing Christmas cards or cards with 10,000 word letters in them. It’s Christmas time, I don’t have time to read them.

You take your life into your hands every time you get in the car. For real. I am scared to drive around during the holidays. What do these people do, live under rocks the rest of the year? Don’t they ever have to shop for anything the other 11 months of the year? Or do they just do it all in December? My god, the traffic. AND, the people who don’t come out the other 11 months, forgot how to drive. They don’t look EVER. Just GO. And don’t even get me started about the parking at the Mall. Yeah, I get real nervous around the holidays in my car. Praise Jesus for AMAZON.

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Parking at the Mall in December

Despite all the complaints, cookies, and irrational people on the roads, I do love watching my daughter open her gifts on Christmas morning. That will never change. Being together as a family in front of the tree on Christmas morning is very heartwarming for sure, or perhaps it’s just the spiked egg nog from the evening before. Either way, there are moments I do enjoy when it comes to the holidays. Those things will never change.

You know what else never changes, even during the holidays? Running. Running stays the same for us die hards. The schedule never changes. Christmas Eve – yeah, we’ll be running. Gifts already opened Christmas Day – good time for a run. Long runs, speed work, tempos and hill – these are a few of my FAVORITE things. LOL. No matter what the season, these remain constant. And I take great pleasure in that. The stress from the holidays, the extra calories, the near death experiences on Business 22, all melt away with each foot strike. In fact – lunch is coming and It’s about that time to de-stress again.

Max! Fetch me my running shoes!

Max

HAPPY HOLIDAYS :)

Oh, and Marathon Training Starts December 21st!

Dec 08

My next 26.2 miles…..

The fall season was great for me. 3 PRs in 3 distances. The 10k, ½ marathon and marathon. The marathon was a BIG one, and although I walked away happy with the 2 minute PR, it wasn’t a Boston Qualification, my ultimate goal. I am however, extremely close now, closer than I’ve ever been, close enough I can feel it coming. Literally.

So naturally, as soon as the marathon soreness wore off, I started thinking about my next move. Which marathon will become lucky attempt #3. Yep, this will be my official 3rd attempt at a Boston qualification. I don’t count Pittsburgh last year because I got “injured”, injured in the brain in mile 8 and barely finished. So, Columbus and Indiana Vets were my first two real attempts at the 3:55 time. I thought about just running Pittsburgh again. I LOVE the home course and I know it, so I feel like I have that advantage. But anyone who’s run Pittsburgh knows that it’s challenging and isn’t the first place people think of when they think “PR”. So I started looking around at my other options.

There is NO easy 26.2 mile course, but there are some that may give you a slight advantage. The Pocono Run for Red Marathon is a course that seemingly does that. Net downhill with some rollers and a couple of climbs – oh man, this is PERFECT. Find my marathon predicts my finish time at a 3:49 – this is a no brainer. But then I heard from someone that the course was deceiving. There were in fact some climbs that fell in the last 6 miles. The downhill kills the quads, it was a zillion degrees last year. I ordered a pace band anyway. The guy who sold me the pace band said “people say this course is tougher than it appears”. WTH?? I mean, the pace band guy? Crap. Now what? I wasn’t intimidated with the hills per say, but I was a little fearful of the weather. I mean last year Pittsburgh soared up of 75 degrees and that race was in the beginning on May.  Placing my BQ on a race in mid-May made me nervous. And I have been deceived by a course description before (cough, Columbus) So I put that one on the back burner but not out of contention. I did book a room, just in case.

Pocono

I could just run Pittsburgh. I was currently registered to run the half as a training run for Pocono. But, I’ve run the full marathon 3 times and have had both, good and bad experiences. Keep that on hold.

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Athens Ohio. A friend of mine told me she was running Athens Ohio Marathon and that it was a small, quiet, out and back bike trail course that happens to be PANCAKE FLAT. Okay. This could be a good one. Another plus is that the date of this race is April 10th which is much more likely to be cool. Room booked. There isn’t a whole lot of information about the course on the website, but Marathon Guide has lots of reviews to read over and so far, from what I’ve seen, this looks like it will be my next 26.2 mile race. I have a friend to travel with, it’s in April and the course sounds like it could be an advantage to me. I’m sold.

Athens

There are a couple of things that concern me, even about Athens. 1) it’s PANCAKE FLAT. I live in Pittsburgh, I train in Pittsburgh. You can’t run 2 miles here without hitting a hill. So, I have no idea what it feels like to run on a flat course for a long distance. My legs don’t know what that feels like. 2) I have to start training December 21.

I have to start training December 21.

While you’re sitting around wrapping presents, drinking egg nog, I’ll be logging my first training miles for marathon #9. So what am I doing about Pittsburgh and Pocono? Well, I immediately switched to the Pittsburgh FULL Marathon. Yay!! So excited. I was kind of bummed that I was only running the half. Two things could happen here. 1) I could qualify for Boston in Athens and not “race” Pittsburgh”, just run it for fun. Or I don’t reach my goal in Athens and have 5 weeks to recover and try again.

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Pocono is still waiting out there in the wings. I have the room booked. I could make it a trifecta.

So, let’s just get through Athens first and see how that goes. Deal. I’m pretty pumped up about training, to be honest, since I’ve been feeling so good. Just make sure you remind me of that when I’m on here bitching 8 weeks from now. :)

Did I mention, I have to start training December 21?

Dec 02

So this is what I’ve been up to

The off season, so much time, so many options! LOL

While I’m training, I daydream about not training and being able to do other things. But then when the season actually ends all I really want to do is keep running. Funny actually. But, I made a promise to myself to do more cross training this time and do minimum running maintenance so I’m not starting over in January.

Sooo, when I got the heads up from a friend about a two hour fitness class to benefit the food bank the weekend before Thanksgiving, I was all over it. I’d been meaning to try Orange Theory Fitness, and the one hour class was coupled with a one hour Barre Code Pittsburgh Class. Holy crap – I could barely walk the next day! But it was really a lot of fun and I would strongly recommend either workout. I hope to get back to both studios soon.

Otheory

As I mentioned, I could barely walk the next day. What I did do however, was run 10 miles. :) Part of my maintenance program – a long run every week. I ran out at North Park with some friends who let me set the pace – yay! It was my longest run since the marathon and I ran marathon pace (slightly below) with ease. As a matter of fact, I ran another 10 miler the following Sunday, this past Sunday, and improved the time by several seconds a mile.Yes, another 10 miles below marathon pace. Mush them together, add a 10k and I have my goal time. If only it was that easy.

10milers

Thanksgiving was awesome this year because I ran my first ever Turkey Trot. I had no idea that many people ran the Turkey Trot each year! 4,394 finishers! I knew some friends who were running, but the absolute best part was that Madison ran with me. I was a little unorganized, we got there a little late and she almost bit my head off, but we both ran a great race and placed respectabley in our age groups

Me: 7 out of 189 (F45-49) 24:33 7:55 pace – this was my second fastest 5K ever! Still trying to break the 2011 PR.

Madison: 14 out of 194 (F15-19) 23:06 7:27 pace

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The rest of Thanksgiving was great too! Wine, and food galore with the family.

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And over the weekend, we started decorating. I say started because my tree is done and that’s about it. I still have so much to do and I want to get it done before I head off to sunny Florida to visit my side of the family. :) Oh, and while I’m down there, we are running anther 5K. How cool, right?

Anyway, tried to keep this short. More to come…Happy Holidays!

My Little Helper

My Little Helper

 

Nov 30

Monday Motivation

Nov 18

Mental and Physical Marathon “WALLS” and how to avoid them

wallIf you are new to marathoning or have been running them for years, you probably hear a good bit of talk about the marathon “wall” and what it means to hit it. I could make an assumption that even the most prepared and experienced runners have hit the wall at some point in their marathon running career. And if you aren’t quite sure what it means, it really is more than just a state of fatigue, it’s an actual physiological thing. Fortunately, the more you train and the more prepared you are to cover the 26.2 distance, the more likely you are to NOT let the wall take you down.

In a nutshell, without getting too technical, the wall refers to the point when your body runs out of glycogen. The body stores glucose to produce energy, about 2000 calories worth. A runner burns calories at an approximate rate of 100 per mile. So, by mile 20, runners will have burned about 2000 calories. See the problem here? Glycogen depletes which cause a number of symptoms. Symptoms can include, but aren’t limited to heavy legs, cramps, cold sweats, and even a lack of concentration. Well now that sucks right? Scientifically we can’t get around the wall. Or can we? The good news is, with proper training we can teach our bodies to use our energy more efficiently. Pair that with a good re-fueling plan and you should be able to be successful.

Obviously, I can be successful because I’ve done it. I’ve finished 8 marathons to date. But I can also say in the same breath, that I’ve hit a wall in each and every one of them. Where that wall was placed during the race and more importantly what KIND of wall it was mattered. I believe there is a non-physiological wall that can occur as well. And in my opinion, it’s way more debilitating than the physical one. It’s the Mental wall. The mental wall is the more dangerous of the two because once the mind gives up, the body is more than willing to stop.

mental wall

Last year during the Columbus marathon, I made a huge mistake. I focused on one single goal, qualifying for Boston. I knew where I needed to be at the half way point, and at mile 20. Mile 13 came and went right on pace, I felt great, but when I saw that I was 3 minutes off by the time I hit 20, I was mentally devastated and couldn’t see past the failure that I already thought had occurred. THE MENTAL WALL. In hindsight, I probably could have PRd that marathon, but instead, I came across the line at a 4:02. My mind gave up and the body gladly followed. I walked, cried, ran, walked, cried, ran all the way from mile 21 to the finish line and was so incredibly disappointed in myself. I still occasionally get mad at myself for being so mentally weak and pathetic that day. It was a good lesson on how I didn’t’ want to feel ever again.

Two weeks ago, I experience a completely different kind of wall. I had a couple of bad miles (18-20) but I didn’t let them rattle me. I had four goals for the race that day (not just one) and I was determined to hit one of them. I pushed though and stayed mentally tough and the body was responding, up until mile 25. At mile 25, the body started to shut down. I was still mentally pushing and willing my legs to turn over faster, but they just wouldn’t respond. Aside from a few other environmental factors, my body was just running out of fuel. THE PHYSICAL WALL. I felt like I was running in quick sand – moving, moving but going no where.

But here’s the difference between these two walls. I wasn’t disappointed with myself at Indiana. I was mentally tough and pushed as hard as I could. My body didn’t respond exactly the way I wanted, but at least I didn’t give up and give in. How can I be upset with myself about that?

Avoiding the mental wall:

  • Make multiple goals and memorize them so when you know you won’t hit one, you have others to fall back on and strive for.
  • Stay mentally tough during workouts. When runs got tough in training I reminded myself  that this is nothing compared to how hard miles 20-26 are. Stay strong – push hard. Your body will always want to stop – but if your mind is tough, the body will follow. (to the best of it’a ability anyway) :)
  • Visualization. I used this so much during this short training cycle. I envisioned myself running strong in the last 10K during training runs. I also used this during my marathon. The Indiana marathon trail seemed to go on forever and all looked the same to me. It was difficult for some reason to envision the finish. So instead, I thought about the end of the Pittsburgh Marathon and where mile 23 is in relationship to the finish. It made it easier to cope with the “never-ending tunnel”. So, visualize a familiar route to get you through tough spots and relax you.

Avoiding the physical wall

  • Follow through with all your long runs to get time on the feet and get your body efficient at using it’s fuel in the best way possible.
  • Practice a good re-fueling strategy. I may change mine slightly since I’ve had repeated problems during those two last miles. Right now I re-fuel at 5,10,15, and 20. I’ve heard recently from more than one source that a lot of runners re-fuel at 5,10,15,18 and 23, which may actually may work better for me. And, it kind of makes sense if you’re running the last 10K at a relatively faster pace than the rest of the marathon.
  • Avoid over-training. Over training is really a post in itself. When I went to the start line last year before Columbus, I was physically tired before I started running. I never really recovered from training during my taper and felt a little beat down. I think the fatigue played a huge part in my mental break down as well.
  • Sleep good the entire week before the marathon. It’s not wise to just try to get to bed early the night before your race. Most people are too wound up to sleep well. But I feel like if I have some solid sleep the entire week before, I can afford one restless night and still be well rested.

There are probably so many little things I can think of to help avoid these two possible walls. They key for me is learning from each race and recognizing the reasons why things went south and try to correct them for the next race. I’ll be registering for my next marathon soon and will take all this knowledge with me into the next training cycle.

If you have a great experience to talk about or some helpful tips, please share them. Have a great week. :)

 

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