Showing posts with label taking the long way home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label taking the long way home. Show all posts

Friday, January 22, 2016

5 new songs that will ROCK YOUR RUN!

I love to listen to music when I run. Back in the olden days, before there were iPods and iPhones and digital downloads, I rarely listened to music on the run. It simply wasn't convenient. I had a handheld Sony cassette walkman that I would run with at the gym. But when I ran outside, it was just me and nature. Sometimes it was really hard to finish a run with nothing to listen to but my ragged breathing.

Thankfully, that has all changed. Spotify has transformed my runs. Instead of having to listen to a whole album or making a mixtape, I can change songs on my playlist in the blink of an eye! And running is so much easier with tunes to push me. Music is the great motivator. I found this great article on Runners Connect, which cites the connection between running and music. If safety is a concern and you don't want to run with music, there's a benefit to listening to high tempo music before you run as well!

What kind of music do you listen to? One of the studies cited in the article above found that louder and faster music predictably made runners run faster. But according to one expert, who was interviewed for Women's Running, the effect of music on running wanes over time. This is because the brain adapts to the stimulus, the music. He recommended running 2 days with music and one without. He also recommended changing your playlist frequently.

Which is something I do on a regular basis. There are always a few songs that stay on my playlist forever and ever. Songs like Tom Petty's Running Down A Dream, which bring me memories of great runs from the past. There are a few other songs that when I hear them, put a little extra pep in my step, based on the success I had while listening to them in the past.

The research doesn't recommend one particular genre of music. Music choice is highly personal. But when I'm looking for new songs to add to my playlists, most of the recommendations I receive are pop songs or dance songs, genres which are not my favorites. When I need a push, I listen to rock or rap. It's loud, it's fast, and it's the perfect prescription for a long run.

Either that or more cowbell...
Here are 5 new rock songs that are pumping me up with great beats and motivating lyrics:

Halestorm I am the Fire

"I am the fire, I am burning brighter, roaring like a storm, and I am the one I am waiting for, screaming like a siren, alive and burning brighter..."

Coldplay Adventure of a Lifetime
(author's note: I hadn't seen the video until I wrote this post. I wasn't expecting the dancing I have to get that image out of my head...)

"Turn your magic on, um she'd say, everything you want's a dream away and we are legends every day..."

Cage the Elephant Mess Around

"...she'll show you what she's made of, yeah she's comin' for ya, she's gonna try to break you, yeah she's comin' for ya, no she don't mess around..."

Tame Impala Let it Happen

"It's all around me, all this noise, but not really as loud as the voice saying let it happen, let it happen (its gonna feel so good)..."

X Ambassadors Superpower

" I'm gonna superpower, it's a bird, it's a plane, Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, I got that, I got that, I got that superpower..." 

Are you on Spotify? I'd love to follow you! You can connect with me here.

What's your favorite genre to run to? What songs are you loving lately? Got any recommendations?

I'm linking up with the DC Trifecta for Friday Five aka Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia! It's free Friday and I was thrilled to share my music faves. Check out what everyone else is fiving!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Less is more: Quality race training

Streaking, setting mileage goals...those posts are filling my Facebook feed these days. Kara Goucher challenged followers to run 2016 miles in 2016. Her husband Adam is sponsoring the challenge on his Run This Year website. You can sign up for $25 and complete the challenge solo or as part of a team with 1 or 2 other runners. 2016 miles? That's a heck of a lot of miles for the average runner.

I've already posted about why I won't be streaking. And this year, I won't be setting any mileage goals. In 2015, I set a goal to run 2015 kms, which is 1252 miles. On December 31, I completed that goal, which is the most miles that I have ever run in a year. After that, I took 2 weeks off to let my body recover.

That mileage goal of 1252 miles in a year was harder than you might think. I'm a recreational runner, a nurse practitioner who works full time, and a married mom of 2 teenage boys who runs a few half marathons and maybe one marathon per year. I have a full life outside of running. I run for stress relief and health. My average weekly mileage is between 20-25 miles. My highest weekly mileage during marathon training was 38 miles. I simply can't do more than that without risking injury.

In the past, I've gotten some flack for my low mileage marathon training. Common wisdom for runners is that to run fast, you have to run far. According to an article by Matt Fitzgerald in Competitor magazine, "the more we run, the better we race". Makes sense. But he also says that there is a point where too much training leads to injury. The key, it seems, is to know where your limit is.

For me, that limit is pretty low. I'm ok with that. I've been running for 25 years, and there are a lot of miles on these legs. I'm grateful to still be running and at paces that make me competitive in my age group. But when I train for a race, I try to make every run a quality run. So for those 4 runs I do in a week, each one has a purpose. There's a long slow distance run, speedwork, and 2 short-mid distance runs at race pace.

My marathon training plans capped the long run at 18 miles. What, no 20 mile run? Yep, I heard plenty about that from other runners. Bring it on! There's nothing magical about that 20 mile run. Legendary running coach Jack Daniels sums it up nicely:
"Don't worry that you won't be able to complete a 4:30 marathon if you have never run beyond two and a half hours in training. In fact, it is not necessary to train at such a high percentage of your race distance no matter what the course."--Jack Daniels
Remember too, I'm not only running during marathon training. There's cross training in the form of cycling and those HIIT workouts that Becky has me do. Some weight training as well, and yoga to stretch me out. The naysayers are going to naysay.

This is marathon training.
I read a funny quote in an article about CrossFit Endurance attributed to Jay Johnson, a former track coach from the University of Colorado regarding CFE: "No Kenyan has ever seen a kettlebell."

This non-Kenyan sees a lot of kettlebell.
Most likely not. But I'm not a Kenyan. That's a whole different genetic makeup. Have you ever really looked at the runners around you at a race? Unless you line up in the front of the pack, most of the runners are made up of all shapes and sizes. Not a Kenyan amongst us in the middle or the back of the pack. Since the majority of us are not genetically gifted like an elite runner, we need to ask ourselves, why are we training like elites? Why not cross train? Why not run for time instead of distance? What about running quality miles instead of massive quantities of miles? Why risk injury?

What about "junk miles"? Laura at This Runners Recipes sums this up nicely. A lot of runners run "junk" miles. I do too, especially when I'm not training for something. Sometimes it's nice to "just run" without a goal in mind. There's still that love of running, and those "junk" runs are all about that. We all need those runs. But in a low mileage training plan, there isn't room for junk miles. Adding in a run just to run is increasing your chance for injury. That includes streaking.

I'm not saying you should do CrossFit Endurance to train for a marathon. In fact, my coach Becky, who is a CrossFit coach instructed me NOT to read the book. But what she has me do is a happy medium of some of the components of CrossFit incorporated with smart running. For me, this has kept me mostly injury free (I'm currently battling PF) and running at paces I haven't seen since my 30s. Her approach is all about quality workouts. The proof is in my finish times.

Besides, this training is fun!

Fun for my coach too!
You know my motto, everything in moderation. So that's why you won't see me streaking or chasing a high mileage goal. I love to run. I love to race. I like to have fun. And I don't like to DNS.

I'll see you at the starting line of Big Sur.

Do you run a high mileage plan to train for a big race? Do you incorporate cross training into you race training? What do you consider a quality training plan?

I'm linking this post up with DebRuns for Wednesday Word, which is quality!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Book review: Fast Girl: Running From Madness by Suzy Favor Hamilton

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right?

Apparently not for Suzy Favor Hamilton. She made a name for herself as an Olympian....and as a high paid escort. She was apparently so skilled as an escort that she even ranked #2 on an escort website at one point in time. Go big or go home. While she was touring for Run Disney and the Rock and Roll Race series, she also made arrangements to meet clients on the side. On the down low. Multitasking. Getting the most bang for her buck.

Bad pun, I know.

She didn't just meet clients in Vegas. But Vegas is where most of the action happened.

I don't know who to be more disgusted with--Suzy or her husband. This book left me speechless.

Ok, I'll back it on up. Suzy Favor Hamilton was a top middle distance runner in the 1990s, competing in 3 Summer Olympics. In her final event, she saw she wasn't going to win and faked an injury, falling to the track. She readily admits this.

Yep, she threw the race because she wasn't going to win. Just try and get your head around that one.

After retiring from competition and settling into life in Wisconsin as a partner in her husband's real estate business, Suzy was unsatisfied. Diagnosed with depression, she started taking an antidepressant. For her and Mark's 20th wedding anniversary, she suggested a trip to Las Vegas. The trip included skydiving and a threesome with an escort, both at Suzy's suggestion. She felt a rush from the experience with the escort and suggested to her husband that becoming an escort was something she'd like to try.

And he agreed? My head almost blew off when I read that part.

Suzy blames her promiscuity on bipolar disorder, which she says resulted from the antidepressant she was prescribed. Interestingly, a major side effect of SSRIs is a suppressed libido. Not in this case, it seems.

All Suzy's trips to Las Vegas were made with the knowledge of her husband Mark. I can understand that bipolar disorder leads to acting out in all sorts of ways--excessive spending, drinking and drugs, and sexual promiscuity, but instead of helping Suzy, according to her story, her husband allowed her do just what she wanted. She says he didn't approve, but he knew and he stuck around.

Does this seem odd to you?

Can you say enabler?

Or is Suzy looking for someone to blame?

Clearly she was out of control. I read most of this book with my mouth hanging open. And it's not a well written book but it is a page turner. First I had to try to fathom her husband's complicity. Right now, my husband is trying to wrap his head around my 2 spring races which involve plane tickets and hotel stays. Trips to Las Vegas to have sex with other men? For money? I believe that he might draw the line at that. Although I don't know for sure. I've never tested him on that.

What kind of husband would go along with this?

In the book, Suzy talks about being afraid of failure. First as a runner, and then as a prostitute. On her prostitution journey, her ego got the best of her and she became careless with her clients, who eventually figured out who she was. It was finally a reporter with The Smoking Gun who outed her. On the day the story went public, Suzy convinced her husband to go hiking. While they were driving, she tried to throw herself out of the car. Finally, her husband drew the line, and she got some help.

It takes a lot to get Suzy's husband to stand up to her. I probably should cut him some slack. But this story is just so hard for me to believe on so many levels. There's so much drama and so much blaming of everyone around her, as well as blaming everything on the bipolar disorder. I never felt that she had any regrets or took any responsibility for her behavior.

Initially, I found Hamilton's book to be dragged down by superfluous detail. But as the story moves forward, the storytelling improves, and I found it hard to put the book down. It was like reading a tabloid story or watching a car wreck. You know nothing good is going to come out of this story, right?

Personally, I was disappointed that there was so much detail and glorification of her sexual conquests. Clearly, she was proud of her prowess. She talked about how she wanted to be the top escort in the world.

I would have liked more detail about her life as a collegiate and Olympic athlete. She had so much talent and tons of opportunities with companies that wanted to sponsor her, based on her reputation as a runner. But that's not what this book is about. I will admit that it was fascinating to read about someone who had it all but was so willing to live life on the edge.

Maybe she was so out of control because no one around her threw out a safety net. Everyone just let her do her own thing. It seems like she had so much power over all the people in her life. The whole time I read this book, I kept asking myself why no one tried to intervene.

I should cut Suzy some slack because of her illness. There's probably plenty of blame to go around besides her husband. Her parents who pushed her? The University of Wisconsin for putting her in those easy classes that all the athletes pass? The coach who told her that her breasts were too big for a runner? Her competitors who were possibly doping? Her sponsors? Her doctors? Her pimp?

In the end though, she comes back to the realization that she still has running. After reading this book, I'm not entirely convinced.
"I run now for the freedom it gives me. I run because it feels good. I run because it is good for me--for my heart and for my head. But it isn't all I do. I am still constantly in motion: in my running shoes, on my bike, on my yoga mat, exercise is my drug of choice now....
...In these moments, on the path with my feet hitting the ground, I feel peaceful. I am myself, living the life I want, not the one that others expect from me or the one that I created out of fantasy and confusion. My life now isn't perfect. Far from it. But it is a life of contentment, and for this I am incredibly grateful. "

Life goes on, and now Suzy has become a yoga instructor. She also has said she's decided to devote more time to being a better mother to her young daughter.

I hope so.

I didn't attempt to contact Suzy Favor Hamilton for an interview because there are so many stories about her on the internet, as well as some live interviews. She was featured in Sports Illustrated and People Magazine as well as on 20/20. All these stories are readily available.

Did you read the book? A lot of people told me that after seeing Suzy on the news that they had no desire to read her story. I'm curious about what you think. If you don't have a blog post to link up, feel free to post in the comments. Be sure to check out the other reviews. 

Here's the link badge! Link up is at the end of the post. It will be live for 2 weeks, so if you haven't read the book, you've got plenty of time! It's a quick read. Be sure to link back to this post! Remember sharing is caring.

Next month we're shifting gears and reading It was Me All Along by Andi Mitchell. This sweet memoir was written by a young woman who struggles with body image issues and weight loss. It has received great reviews. Should be another good one! Book review and link up will go live on Friday, February 19.

Click on the photo to purchase from Amazon (affiliate link)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The whiner's guide to staying accountable in the winter

What do you mean you don't want to go for a run?

"It's too coooollllld!"

"It's dark oooouuuut!"

"It's haaaaaaaaard!"

"Running suuuuuuuucks..."

Waa, waa, waa. I too speak whinese.

You call yourself a runner?

Whining never got anything done. Trust me. Sure, sometimes it feels good to whine. "I don't waaaaaant toooooo!" They don't call me Wendy Whiner for nothing. Oh wait, that wasn't me. That was an SNL character back in the day.

I won't deny it. I have done my share of whining. I have the whining gene in my DNA.

So how does a whiner shake off the funk and get out there in the cold?

Experience is the best teacher. And I've got a pep talk for you.

1. The first step to resolution is to acknowledge the problem. You're right, it's cold out. Yes, it's dark. The bed never felt so good. But remember this: you're awake now, so you may as well get up and go. You are a runner and that's what we do. We run. So suck it up.

2. Visualize yourself running. Wimps don't run in the cold and dark. Everyone else who's still in bed? Sloths. You are not a sloth. You are a beast. You are superhuman. You are a runner. And you're going to get it done before the sun. As my dad used to tell my sisters and me when we didn't want to do something, "it will put hair on your chest." Think about that as you're running around your neighborhood.

3. Think about the bragging rights you get for running outside in the winter. You can casually drop this little nugget at the water cooler:
"Yep, yep, heh, heh,  I got in 5 miles before I came into work today."
"The cold? What cold? I've got hair on my chest."
Your selfies will already have 100 likes on IG before anyone else even posts their run. Maybe you'll be called a badass mother runner. Maybe you'll be reposted. Maybe you'll be called crazy, which is a compliment in any runner's book.

Last winter. Me.
4. Then there's that whole zen thing to running outside in the winter. You get to be one with nature. The peace. The beauty. There's a pretty good chance that you will see the sun come up. A sunrise never gets old. You get to greet a new day. And you get to brag about it. See #3 above. Of course, you might see skunks or other wild animals, which will, besides giving you some good stories, will put an extra pep in your step.

5. Running first thing in the morning fires up your calorie burning furnace, no matter what time of year it is. You get to eat all the food. While your co-worker or friend is nibbling on an apple and a carton of yogurt, you get to gorge yourself on all the food. Pass the chocolate cake. Smiling like a runner.

6. If none of the above gets you going, remind yourself how bad you'll feel if you skip this run. Oh, trust me on this one. That extra sleep might seem so appealing, the warm bed so tempting, but as the day wears on, you'll kick yourself for skipping the run.And just try running after work. Sure, you can do it. Can you?

7. Remind yourself that this too will pass. Heck, it's already mid-January! Winter goes and spring races come. And guess who will be ready? You. Yep, winter running sucks. Spring is our reward. You have to earn it.

8. Of course, sometimes the weather is just too dicey for even the most die-hard runner. Icy conditions are dangerous, and no one wants to risk that. While there's no glory in running on the treadmill, sometimes a runner just has to. Badass in its own way, for a "real" runner, running on the treadmill is a special kind of torture. Although most non-runners don't quite see it that way, it's ok. You can whine all you want if you take it to the 'mill. A whiner's gotta do what a whiner's gotta do. Just do it.

Any more excuses?

I didn't think so.

Layer up, put on your YakTrax (affiliate link), and let's go! Remember, if running in the winter was easy, it would be called your mom...

The one sign I saw a million times at the marathon. Finally, I get it.
Do you run outside in the winter? (Florida and California residents need not apply.) What tips do you want to share? What pushes you out the door? How do you stay accountable?

I'm linking up with DebRuns and Wednesday Word. Today's word is accountable!

I'm also linking up with the FitFoodieMama, AngelenaMarie, FitfulFocus, and FruitionFitness for Wild Workout Wednesday! Have a wild workout!

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016: Goals, Resolutions, and Intentions #AMRresolutions

Happy New Year everyone!

I've written a few posts recapping my year on the road and reviewing my goals from 2015. Now it's time to talk about my goals for 2016!

Dimity and Sarah from Another Mother Runner are once again hosting their annual declaration of running resolutions. Actually, they call them intentions. Being the goal oriented person that I am, I'm still all about making my resolutions, goals, intentions, or whatever you call them to be measurable and attainable. So here we go....

You may have already read my post a few weeks ago where I've declared 2016 to be my Year of the Destination Races! I shared some of my plans and ideas about how I'd like this to go down. How fun is this going to be? I'm not sure how my husband feels about this, but I'm both excited and nervous about what's to come. Dimity and Sarah say they want this to be about pushing out of our comfort zones. In that post, I wrote about that too.

Ok, then, I'm in.

If you look at the races I have picked already and the ones that I'm considering, there is one common theme here...these races are all about the experience. These are destination races, they are run on beautiful courses, and for me, are not about time goals. Or as I like to say, "it's about finish lines, not finish times!"

Yep, this year I'm going to try to tamp down my competitive urges and enjoy the ride.

Do you realize how hard this will be for me? I love to race and I love to run fast. I'm deliberately taking this year to try to slow down and breathe. I go at 150 mph from the moment I get up in the morning until I lay down to go to sleep. I thought you were supposed to mellow with age, but that hasn't happened to me yet. Can I make it happen? We'll see.

That's not to say I won't try to challenge myself at all this year. I mean come on, it's me we're talking about! I do love me some speed...

On with the goals...

My main goal for 2016 is to slow down and enjoy the ride.

What else do I want to accomplish in 2016?

Stay injury free. Can I have a repeat goal from 2015? Let's make it an ongoing goal. I'm going to continue to be smart about my training with low, meaningful mileage and lots of cross-training. That means for my spring marathon, speedwork on the treadmill and heat training...on the treadmill. For this race, I'll need to do some hill training too. I'll continue to work with Becky on strength training and whatever else she throws my way. It's been a formula for success. I'll also do yoga at least twice a week, once in the studio and the rest at home. I'm going to try to get on the bike at least once/week, weather permitting.

Be more mindful. As I said above, I go full speed every day, and I get overwhelmed pretty easily. There's too much multitasking in my life. Yesterday on my run, I turned around at the halfway point and headed back home. As I stepped gingerly over an icy patch on the path, I realized that I didn't even remember crossing it the first time. My bright yellow running shoes have a big brown mud spot on them now and I have no idea where the heck it came from! I have to work harder at staying in the present moment. This means slowing down and breathing. My family, friends, and co-workers would probably appreciate that too. This also means not attending to every message and text as soon as it comes in. Pranayama (breathing exercises) and mindful meditation. More yoga. Less media.

Meet up with blogging/running friends in real life! One of the best things that's come out of this blog is getting to meet all the fantastic people who I've gotten to know through blogging. If any of you reading this are going to be at a race that I'm planning on running please reach out to me. I love meeting my virtual friends!

Continue to grow the blog. I focused a lot of my energy on Facebook and Instagram this year, and was really rewarded with followers! So now it's time to learn more about Pinterest, which is a huge source of followers for a lot of bloggers. I still don't quite get how Pinterest works, and so I'm going to do some homework to figure out how it fits in with the blogging scheme. I've mostly been using it to store memes and recipes. My Pinterest boards make me look like a hoarder. Time to get organized.

No matter what I do this year, I'm still all about putting out quality content. I won't write just to make a sponsor happy. The blog will always be all me, all the time.


Finally, I wanted to make a comment about setting an intention. Most often at the beginning of yoga class the instructor asks students to set an intention, either for the class, for the day, or in general. Setting an intention isn't goal setting. An intention is more of a guiding principle for how you want to live or guide your life. The intention doesn't stop when you get off the mat. You should carry your intention with you throughout the day. Intentions are heart driven. Intentions can be broad--you might want to be a better person. Or maybe you want to become more kindhearted. By consciously setting an intention, you can actually turn your thoughts around. Kind of like using a mantra during a race.

For me, I've decided that I want to live more joyfully. At times, I find myself getting bogged down in negativity and I don't like the way that makes me feel. This will be a tough challenge, but it is something that I really want to change.

Yes, this is my oldest son at age 2!
If you need help with intention setting, here's a great article to get you started.

Have you set your goals for 2016? Do you ever set an intention? What is the one thing you want to accomplish in 2016?

I'm linking up with the DC Trifecta aka Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia for Friday Five! I'm sure there will a few resolutions, goals, and intentions over there...

And with Jill Conyers for her brand new Fitness, Health, and Happiness link up!

Tuesdays on the Run aka Marcia, Erika, and Patti are also hosting a link up for 2016 goals! Let's do this!