Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Challenging


Do you challenge yourself?

Or are you content to run the same route, the same miles, at the same pace, on a regular schedule?

Or do you mix it up?

No matter how it you slice it, running is, in and of itself, challenging.

There's something to be said for playing it safe. I know that when I want to "just run", I can head out into my neighborhood and run my 5-6 mile loop without even thinking. Don't lie, you've got one too. That route where you can run mindlessly because you know where to turn every step of the way. I know exactly where mile 4 is (at the garden plots in the park) because that's where I stop to take my selfies.

Seriously. Even though it's a run, it's kind of a lazy way to run, really. But we all need days like this because sometimes, just getting out the door is challenging. On those days, it takes just about all the effort we can exert to move those feet. Sometimes it just feels good to just run.

On the other hand, I'm not going to meet any of my goals if I just run easy all the time. Besides not challenging my body, playing it safe, running the same routes, the same distances, at the same paces can get somewhat boring too. When running becomes routine, it can start to become more of a chore. That can be a challenge too, because it's hard to motivate yourself when there's nothing to excite you.

When my boys were little, that's exactly what I did. I ran the same route, 4 days per week. Back then, just getting a run in and done was a challenge. There were plenty of days that I had to push myself to get up and out the door. My husband leaves for work early--sometimes before the sun comes up--and I used to get up at 430am to get 5-6 miles in. It was sometimes scary dark out there, and I'd see coyotes and skunks in my neighborhood. That made me run fast! The roads were all mine, but the few drivers I encountered weren't expecting to see a person running, and I had to watch out for them. I felt like I could never let my guard down, running that early in the morning. Those runs weren't relaxing. The goal for those runs was to get the miles in and get home before my husband left for work.

An early morning long run, this past winter. Mile 4 at the snow covered garden plots.
It's easier to get in a run now that my boys are teenagers. I run in the morning, after I get them up for school. My only time goal is to get home to get myself ready for work. I can do speedwork, tempos, longish runs, or an easy run--whatever I need to do in the time I have. Since I do this before work, I guess it would be easier on me to just to leisurely jog around the neighborhood, on my usual routes. However, I've never been one to be complacent. I like to move it, move it! and if you've been reading my blogs for any length of time, you know that about me. I like to push myself. I've written about training uncomfortably to run faster. I do it on the road and in my training sessions with Becky. I won't lie. It doesn't always feel good to push that hard. That's what makes it challenging. But it is satisfying. To me, there's no better way to start my day than with a hard run. That's why I do it. I feel so accomplished. And that's what's going to get me a sub-4 marathon this fall.

Especially in the winter.
You know what else is challenging? Getting up in the dark of winter and running outside in the cold. I won't lie. But I know how badly I feel when I don't run and get some fresh air, so I do it all winter long. Because even more challenging is the prospect of running those miles indoors on the treadmill. Safe? Yes. Boring? Yes.

A few years ago, one of my cousins, who lives a very pampered life, asked me why I keep pushing myself. She wanted to know why I couldn't just be content with the status quo. My response? Pish posh. I bit back what I really wanted to say. And asked her the question: What fun would that be?

Here's what's fun to me: crossing the finish line of a race that I wanted to quit on and making my goal time. Last week's half marathon? In our new found warm temperatures? Woo, that was tough. I pushed myself so hard. I knew it wasn't going to be a PR. But I wanted to finish sub-2. And I did. Challenging? Oh yes! But rewarding? Yes. Did I feel like crap for the rest of that day? Yes. But would I have been happy if I had stopped to walk?

I'll let you answer that one. Priceless, right?

That was one tough race. Challenging, actually. And I couldn't have been happier with the outcome. Those tough challenges are like notches in my belt. I cross them off the list, and know that the next challenge that comes my way isn't impossible.



How do you challenge yourself? Do you mix it up? Or do you run the same route, do the same routines? 

I'm linking this post up with DebRuns--she hosts Wednesday Word, which has become my favorite link up!











And with Sheila and Diatta and their Workout Wednesday link up! Head over to all their blogs to see what everyone else is saying!












Also with Fit Foodie Mama and Wild Workout Wednesdays. So many link ups, so little time!

82 comments :

  1. Oh gosh, your paragraph about the challenges of running with young kids--that is exactly me right now. My husband leaves for work so early, so I'm up and out the door at 5am, running the same few routes in an effort to get my miles in before he leaves. And you're right, for now that IS the challenge! I do look forward to when my kids are older and I have more time to drive to a scenic jogging path, or use the high school track, etc to mix it up. Until then, I will have to find new ways to challenge myself on these same old roads. :)

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    1. Sometimes the challenge is all about just getting the run in.

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  2. I don't change my routes up all that much, because of safety issues and wanting to be close to home when I am on single Mom duty. I always try to push myself in regards to pace and distance, tho, despite what my race results show. LOL

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  3. I definitely like to push myself. I like training for a particular race and doing the intervals and the hills etc. ! I have a few "safe" routes, as Michelle mentioned above, but by changing speed (during intervals) etc, it keeps things interesting.

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    1. That's exactly how I like to do it. Some days, I just want to run, tho.

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  4. I love a good challenge. For me, a big event is an easy challenge to embrace. The day-in-day-out training to a plan and watching what I eat is a more tedious challenge. I like to find the balance of getting in some playtime (not all structured workouts) and some "cheat days" while still honoring most of my plan.

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    1. Love that balance! That's exactly what I like to do!

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  5. I usually set out with a certain number of miles I'm going to run...5 or 6 or 8 or whatever....I just decided that once a week I'm going to set out on a run with no specific number of miles to run and just listen to my body and see what happens...I'm going to make sure to take some nutrition with me in case I'm in the mood and it becomes a long run....this idea came to me this weekend when I was finishing up a 6 mile run and felt great and wanted to run more, but hadn't eaten anything before setting out and didn't have any food or money with me., so I had to come back home because I knew that I'd end up crashing if I kept going.... Will see how it goes!

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    1. I do that sometimes, pack a gel or a couple $$ just in case...a lot of times, I'll just keep going and inevitably I run out of gas...

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  6. I try!! But I'm such a daydreamer I love my regular routes - means I can concentrate on not thinking about anything too important!!

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  7. I tend to stay in my comfort zone--and often that comfort zone changes a bit, but it is still a comfort zone. I would love to get uncomfortable, but then I get hurt it seems! A new challenge for me right now has been getting back to the pool for strength training while I can't run. But if it pays off in the long run, then it will all be worth it!

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    1. That cross training will be key! Last year when I was in the boot, I rode my bike a lot. That kept my fitness level up. I haven't been able to get out on the bike much this year because of our lovely spring weather...

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  8. You're a trooper! I'm terrible at being a morning person, especially these days, so I've been doing my workouts in the evening. I switch up the intensity by adding more weights!

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    1. And I couldn't muster up the energy to workout at night! I'm always pooped after work...

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  9. I'm all about getting uncomfortable! That probably stems from what I call Routine Burnout. What I've started doing was running and riding without a route and without a Garmin! GASP!!! I have to say, it's been liberating. Road. Trails. Combination. Whichever. I find it keeps me motivated AND HAPPY! Switching it up is good- mind, body and soul! :-)

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    1. I used to run without a Garmin. This year, I'm running a mile challenge (2015km for 2015) so I have to keep track of my miles! Yep, another challenge!

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  10. I like to push to see what I'm capable of - helps keep the negative thoughts in check when I can breakthrough an imagined limitation!

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    1. Keeping those negative thoughts tamped down is a challenge in itself!

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  11. me personally - i'm taking a break from running! but the hubby gets up at 4:30 AM while i workout at home he goes out with his head lamp on for a 3.5mile run...#commitment

    You rock!

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    1. I'm on a little break right now while my foot calms down, but I miss running!

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  12. I used to get up at 4:30 too but now that my kids get themselves to school, I don't have to. It feels lazy to sleep to 5:30! I need something dangling in front of me. Running X number of halves has been my challenge of choice for a while now. Letting that go will be challenging!

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    1. Maybe after you run your full this fall, you'll find it easier? I like to do 4 "big" races a year. Either 4 halfs or 3 halfs and a full.

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  13. I tend to do the same workouts and not challenge myself enough sometimes. Good reminder :)

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  14. I like to pick one or two fitness goals a year to challenge myself, though this year I still haven't settled on anything and am doing things like running the same route slowly and not increasing the weight I lift. After reading this I think I need to get serious about training again, as I notice my progress and fitness have stalled! Thanks for the reminder :)

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  15. Unfortunately I have not been challenging myself lately. I just need to recover from this injury so I can just return to my "normal" running.

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    1. Sometimes we challenge ourselves too much, and get hurt. I'm trying to avoid that, but my foot is telling me to back off.

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  16. I think you know how I'm challenging myself this year. Waaay out of my comfy zone with this tri thing, but uncovering some strengths too, I didn't even know I had.

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  17. I find it hard to break my comfort zone when it comes to my bike rides.

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  18. love it. I have much of the same neighborhood routes but do try to switch it up - mainly for safety.

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    1. I get that! I have a variety of routes and I switch, them up, but still not a whole lot of variety!

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  19. I love the challenge of running, but I do think that I don't push myself as much as I could. It's probably because I'm afraid of getting injured again. I am finding my typical running routes to be boring, so I need to continue to mix up where I go run! Sometimes routine is nice but it can hold you back sometimes. Great post as always!

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    1. Thanks! Adding the speedwork to the mix really helped challenge me, even tho I do it at the path where I train all the time.

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  20. I love that last quote! Like you, I need to push myself. If I just run the same route at the same pace, I'll get bored and my body will get bored. I like to do interval runs, tempo runs, long runs, and I just started doing CrossFit to take my cross training up a notch, as well. There's really nothing like a good sweat to kick start the day and know you've already overcome one great challenge before breakfast!

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  21. Pish posh! I'm going to start using that! I love that you don't let yourself get worn down by status quo! Keep up the killer workouts - you will be running till you are 90!

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    1. There's so much negativity out there! I just try to shut them out.

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  22. I run around the same area in the mornings, but I constantly change how I tackle it. Sometimes I make loops, sometimes I go up hill, backward, it always feels a little different. I am not sure how I feel about challenging myself right now...I began marathon training, got a stress fracture, and now I just want to run healthy. I always find other ways to challenge myself, even if I can't push the running as much as I want right now.

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  23. I usually mix it up to keep myself challenged, just feel more accomplished that way! Great job giving it your all and accomplishing your goal!! Congrats!! And thank you for linking up! <3

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    1. Mixing it up definitely makes it more challenging, but more rewarding in the long run!

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  24. Struggle of running with young kids- you hit the nail on the head!!! Great post my friend!!!

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    1. I don't know how you all do it...I guess I did it but wow!

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  25. Oh Wendy... I just love you! We should be friends :) ( he he ). I run in the dark ---- almost ALWAYS!!! I find that 5AM is really the only time my running goes uninterrupted, but also I don't disrupt the crazy two little boys chaotic life. Absolutely on the skunk comment. They love the wee-hours - one morning, I SWEAR I missed the skunk by seconds, I'm also pretty sure I ran RIGHT THROUGH his trail. My son actually said ''OOOHHH!! Mommy you stink" when I walked in the house. But, thankfully, I run with my girlfriends, so we have a little strength in numbers and multiple flashing lights for cars.

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    1. I had skunks chase me once. It was on garbage day. Ewwww.

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  26. Love this post! I am currently on a run streak. So during the week I run really short runs. I run the same route because I have to get it done quick and early before the hubby leaves for work. But on the weekends...the world is my playground and I change the route up as often as I can!

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  27. based on my monday post, you know I LOVE new routes haha! Every time I go by a path I'm like "OH I WONDER WHERE THAT GOES" and try to lead my friends into it.

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  28. I challenge myself by running different paces by doing speed work and tempo runs. I tend to run the same route and know where all the mile markers are. Every once in a while I'll run down a random path or street, but usually not too far off my route. I'm also nervous about getting lost... :)

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    1. I do the same...I may run the same routes but try to mix it up with speed work, etc.

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  29. What a great post Wendy. I've got the dedication part the I know I've got to get out there. I have the need to feel better with a run on days I feel like crap. I do change up my routine do different things different runs. What I don't do much is run hard. I only run harder in a race. I know I would greatly benefit from a coach or a real training session an I am making small steps by hiring a pt. I'll get there. You are a great inspiration an motivator. Keep it up we need you!!!

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    1. Thank you! I do love to push myself. Self punishment? LOL...

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  30. I think it's pretty obvious I love pushing myself and taking on new challenges :)
    I think there's a big difference between being content and wanting to push yourself and being malcontent and looking at challenges as a "fix" for your problems.

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  31. I am constantly trying to mix it up! I love exploring new roads and trails. Sometimes I run with friends, sometimes alone. Sometimes fast and sometimes slow :) Challenges are great!

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  32. This is why I need races to compete in: If I have a race to seek a PB in, I'll push harder. Otherwise, it's always so tempting to coast!

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    1. I feel the same way. Having goals to pursue make me push a little harder.

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  33. I try to challenge myself! But even with challenging myself, I seem to always add in the same running routes into my routines. I know. Bad habit

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    1. Well, we only have so many routes we can run, right?

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  34. you do a great job of mixing it up and of challenging yourself. i try to mix it up too - both with running and pure barre. luckily, pure barre does that part for me :)

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    1. Mixing it up makes it more fun and motivating!

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  35. First of all, I love your response: "Pish posh". That made me laugh out loud. I, too, have a dedicated 'easy' route that I run - actually a couple. One from home, one from work. But I try mixing it up - go a bit further, run in the trails. Or, like yesterday's lunch run, make it into interval training. But it's not easy. You've inspired me. I'll keep working on it!

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    1. So even though my cousin has all this money and a beautiful home, her life seems so dull to me! It's nice to have an interesting life!

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  36. I have found that, after 25 years running, dealing with exercise induced asthma, and now that I'm approaching 60 (yikes!), I frequently enjoy just "going for a run." I've been there, done that after all. Years of running 60+ miles a week, two speed workouts, long runs galore. But, I've got to say that I do occasionally enjoy pushing myself (after all, I was just training for a marathon, even if an injury prevented me from actually doing it). I guess I need a new goal, I'm pretty sure that will inspire a little more challenge :-)

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    1. Isn't that funny about us "older" runners? We still enjoy a good challenge!

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  37. same ol' same old run isn't getting me anywhere- that is why I decided i am mixing it up this summer and this lady is going to learn some new tricks. I did my first Tabata work out this morning (really wasn't sure what is was before I started) and you know, I am pretty damn happy with myself :) Shaking it up sister!

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    1. That's exactly why I sought out help from Becky! Same old same old wasn't doing it anymore!

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  38. Wendy, I loved this so much! Just like with you, when my sons were little, the challenge was to just get my run in, so I ran super early and always on the same loop. These days even though I push harder with my training, I still have a favorite loop through the woods behind my house where I'll meet friends for an easy conversation-pace run. Those runs are therapeutic and equally rewarding.

    As always, thanks for linking up!

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  39. I tend to fall into ruts with my workouts by doing the same routines over and over, but sometimes I need a challenge, especially if I'm trying to achieve a goal.

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    1. There's nothing better than a good challenge to kick start things!

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  40. An easy 5-6 miles. Wow! I wish I could run one lol. I am more of a weight lifting girl myself. I used to run 3-8 miles per day like 5 years ago but then I stopped and never when back.

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