The Journey Of Ordinary

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Ordinary ~  noun~  what is common place or standard.

It had been one of those whirlwind days for me when I realized it was already midafternoon. My morning was behind me and I was full speed into the rest of my day. I received a message from my husband that at first seemed, odd.

“I rarely say anything about your blog other than to discuss the content of what you wrote on that day, nor do I ever really disagree with you on something you wrote. But I’m going to disagree with you on this…”

Well obviously, he had my attention. He is pretty much the only one who’s opinion I want or care about and of course I was wondering what he had issue with in regards to my writing that day.

I waited for the rest of his message to come in…..

“You wrote that you’re an “ordinary” athlete.  I disagree. You are far from “ordinary” as an athlete.”

Obviously, I wasn’t expecting that. Obviously, he couldn’t have said anything cooler to me.

Of course, he was picking it out of the entire context of my post that day. I was simply using myself as an example of someone who wasn’t like… you know… an elite athlete or even one who had been an athlete through school or something like that.

I got what he meant. I know that I do a lot more athletically than the majority of people my age, heck, even those a lot younger. I guess I’ve become so accustomed to doing what I do, I forget that normal people think it’s weird 😛

Here’s where I’m going.

I used ordinary for a reason.

I wanted ( and still want) people to relate to a woman who had no athletic back round,  and who had no interest in any kind of serious athletic events. A woman who was literally smack in the land of “middle aged” who had taken care of everyone around her but herself for the longest time. Middle aged, carrying more weight than she needed, out of shape, with a family history of (potential) health problems in the future if she didn’t change up her ways.

It’s a standard thing to tell people I really started off as a “reluctant walker”. I knew I needed to do something so I dutifully logged my 2 mile walk every day. No matter what, I did it. I did it till it got into the pattern of a new habit.

I grumbled. I complained. I whined.

An over weight, middle aged, ordinary wife, mom, sister, daughter, jack of all trades, woman just kept at it each day.

I had no lofty athletic goals dancing anywhere in my mind… at all… in any direction. If anyone told me I could be a strong athlete, I would’ve laughed. The idea seemed preposterous.

Funny thing about making new habits….

They stick.

New habits turn into new desires. New goals. New plans.

What I didn’t know as an ordinary woman, out on the road, building that new habit, not only was it changing my body, it was changing my mind.

I was learning more about myself than I previously understood.

~ my body could go farther!

~ it could walk faster!

~ that walk could be turned into short runs!

~ those short runs could be turned into longer runs!

When I’d come back tired, I’d think about what I had been able to do. I developed a new appreciation for what my body was capable of, that I hadn’t given it credit for. I saw how it over time, began to adapt and change from the activities I put it through.

My weight dropped off.  I got stronger. Muscles showed up that hadn’t been there. I developed a great endurance capacity.  My mind was getting stronger. ( that, is where the real playing field is boys and girls)  you get your mind strong, you can own the world.

Somehow, I managed to sign up for my first race which was a half marathon ( #overachiever) I found out later that most people start with a 5K.

I just kept moving forward. It’s safe to say at this point I was getting hooked. I actually liked what I was doing.  I looked forward to exercise.

Year, after steady year. New goals, new plans, new dreams.

They didn’t come all together, those goals.

Heavens no.

Safe to say I would’ve felt enough fear? uncertainty? to cause me to run the other way if those things all were presented to me at once.

I was just, you know, an ordinary woman, turning into an athlete.  That’s not said with any vain thought…. it’s just an acknowledgment of where I am now.

I am strong. I am capable of doing more physically than I ever would’ve imagined. I am an athlete.

If I look at where I am today, and where I’ve come from, and what I can do now, then yeah, I guess I’d agree with hubby that I’m not “ordinary”.

Becoming a good athlete has been born from hours and hours of work, sacrifice, dedication, tears, tired muscles, frustrations, down right stubbornness, and an unwillingness to give up.

This is your reminder…..

This is what I want you, others, anyone I interact with, to remember. If an “ordinary” woman like myself can accomplish goals and events she never would have imagined, you my dear reader, can do anything you set your mind to.

If you’ve entertained ideas on doing something specific, write down the steps you need to move that direction. If you just think you’re only goal at this point is to get off the sofa, well, go you! Do it. You never know where the path from the sofa may lead to.

Don’t let your thinking be crowded with thoughts that only certain people can do certain things.

Extraordinary things can happen when “ordinary” people get to work.

Tell me something cool you’ve accomplished that seemed impossible or that you never thought you’d see yourself doing. Did you ever feel to “ordinary” in the sense you thought you didn’t have what it would take to do it ?

 

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Cheers To The Average Athlete

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So yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday here in the good old U.S.A.  to say the results  upset the applecart of many is putting it mildly.  Two big footballs teams battling it out for the top honor of being “the best of the best” in the league. It seemed like the game was in the bag until the Patriots (although not my choice to win 😉 did some pretty incredible athletic things on that field to not only pull from behind, but to take the game into the first overtime ever in Super Bowl history, winning the game and the title.

It’s hard for me to not observe all that goes on in a game from an athletic stand point. I am in awe that these guys can get slammed by 100’s of pounds of bodies on the ground, fly through the air, run at the speed of light, move with the agility of a deer being chased, bounce and land on their feet again. Their moves I often think of as strong male ballet. For such a rough sport I find beauty in the strong athletic movement of it. These are athletes in their prime.

Yes, I know and understand these men train as hard off the field to keep their bodies strong for the sport they play on the field. Nutrition and strength training are vital roles in their success on field.

Ok… so this post isn’t about the fact I may be getting more and more into football…. 😉 it is though, going to be a nod to the average, ordinary, hard working athlete.

To you. To me. To the normal people.

Those  who are disciplined and dedicated in training their bodies for tasks beyond the “usual”. We won’t be under stadium lights in front of a million screaming fans or earning coveted trophies.

No, our rewards will come from the dedication to our own sport ( or if you’re crazy like me…sports…) where we train hard against ourselves, setting new goals, working hard, returning home exhausted with maybe the only one happy to see us being our dog who is happy to wash the sweat from our grimy legs.

We alone know the mornings or evenings we will put ourselves through our sport, sometimes not feeling entirely like doing it. We know the mornings we are up early out getting it done while people still sleep. We understand the aches of a body worked hard and yet somehow, embrace it, preferring that over aches from doing nothing at all.

Our training teaches us more about nutrition and eating smarter to perform better. We learn how to set aside foods we don’t need and focus on foods that are fuel for our bodies to become stronger for our sports. It becomes a learning process that somehow our bodies teach us as we move along. How to eat enough, and eat enough of the right foods.

We set goals, lay out our own “game plan” and train like the world depended on how successful we are at it. We perhaps, have a few events we train for in a year. For some, it could be stepping stones to something bigger.

A 5k that starts off as a lark, leads to training for a 10k, and maybe ultimately a half marathon or more.   A cycling event or  maybe a mix of cycling and running. Perhaps there are loftier goals of full marathons or Ironman competitions or the desire to see just “how far” you can go doing something.

The things we can choose to pursue are limitless… sometimes only hindered by our minds and our thoughts of doubt that could hold us back.

So this post is to all of us, to you, the athletes who are inspiring to every day people who watch you. You may never get a “prize”, or have public accolades, or be famous. But what you do every day, what you work towards, the goals you set, the ambition you embody, the passion you have for your sport, could be inspiring someone else to get out and move. It could inspire them to try something new and different, to get beyond their comfort zone because they see you working it and doing it every day.

And that my friends, is certainly reward enough. To inspire and motivate others is one of the greatest gifts of all.

 

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Olympics And The Average Athletes

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I’m supposed to be writing tonight… but I’m kinda distracted. Why you may ask?

The Olympics are on. This is an event that I don’t care where you are in the world, you’re represented at.

We’re only a couple days in and things are already pretty exciting.

This is a disclaimer… I’m fairly sure the Olympic games will earn more space here in my blog before all is said and done.

First, the amazing and cool thing of having countries from all over the world gathered together is such a beautiful, cultural whirlpool to me. There is such beauty and diversity of the human race.

But the thing that fascinates me the most?

Why, the athletes of course. The best of the best in the world. Bodies that are well toned muscled machines from the labor of their sport.  Years, days, and hours of training and a sacrifice that few will ever understand.

It has taken a huge investment in their lives for them to stand in a starting position at the Olympics.

I’m always a bit in awe when I see these athletes and what they are capable of.

For instance, I happened to turn it on today during the ladies cycling event ( well, you know I was glued to watching it 😉

First, the terrain. The were riding up a mountain with more twists and turns than you could count. I’d love to know what the ascent was but they powered it like they were on flat roads, making it look almost effortless although I knew it was far from that.

Then, the descent was fast and “treacherous” as the announcers kept saying. The cyclists could hit speeds of 45-50 miles an hour on twisting roads back down the mountain.

One cyclist lost control and went flying. Although injured, she was ok.

USA held the lead until the final 200 yards when the pack of three behind her made a swift over throw and she finished fourth.

I literally cried for her. The finish line in sight. She had held the lead almost the entire race and then so close, to not even place for a medal.

I could not imagine what that felt like. Heart crushing comes to mind.

And there were lots of other exciting events going on too… but that’s not what I’m focusing on tonight.

As awesome as these events are there’s one thing it does for me.

It motivates me, challenges me and makes me wanna push myself more.

No, I will never be an Olympic athlete, nothing remotely close.

But I am an athlete and I fully understand they haven’t gotten to where they are without training for it.

They get up every day and make choices to train their body for the sports they do. They eat well. They rest. They train hard. They live the life with a focus on what they do.

I have the same opportunities to train myself for the sports I enjoy and to improve in them.

I am only in a competition with myself. To get faster. Stronger. More fit. To be better at it than yesterday.

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This reminds me 😉

 

 

Maybe you too are an “average” athlete out there working it every day.  Maybe you have bigger goals. Maybe you have smaller ones. Many of us have that “thing” in our lives that we are working towards.

For me, well ha, I’ve got several ideas on a short and long term goal list.

I want to get over this injury so I can run again. That hinders me from an active pursuit of a duathlon. I want to continue to build my miles cycling pushing my speed and building a lot more endurance. I’m strong on hills but want to build that strength even more. I will continue to do strength training to work my body overall to keep it strong for the sports I pursue.

After watching such amazing swimmers during the Olympics it makes me want to work on that skill in my athletic life.  Triathlon someday? Maybe. I have some friends nudging me that way.

And overall, I want to represent the ordinary “middle aged” person who can be athletic and strong. (although my husband always informs me I’m not “ordinary” 😉

If you want to do something, you can.

Ah, but that thought skates into mental toughness, a strong will, and lots of determination that are best saved for another post.

Tell me… are you an “average” athlete? Perhaps you’re even better than that. Tell me about your sport and why you push yourself to be better.

Calories For The Athlete

Hey boys and girls!

So if you read my last post, I talked about counting calories, or for me, the fact I don’t.  I say that until last year when I was in the heaviest training I’ve done since I started getting all athletic(y).

When you’re pushing your body hard most days of the week it comes into focus that your nutrition and caloric needs need to be brought up to speed too.

I was eating healthy but quickly realized on some days my caloric needs were going to be greater than other days. It meant  taking a look at my caloric output for the day (roughly) and adjusting my needs accordingly.

No, I didn’t start counting but knew I had to realistically eat more food. The tricky part for me as a distance runner is that it usually shoots my appetite. After a long run I often drank/ate  because I knew my body needed it for recovery versus true hunger ( ha that often came hours later 🙂

If you have days of high intensity workouts, you need to make adjustments to your overall intake. Obviously, a day I’d run 20-23 miles my needs were greater than a day I only ran say, 4 miles.

I was recently asked how many calories I took in on those high mileage days. Technically, for my personal age and size, after a 23 mile run it was pushing 3,000 calories…. of which I can tell you I didn’t tap into. I ate as my body was hungry and feed it good food when I did.

Although, I have to say there were times when I felt like a bottomless pit haha

It’s very helpful that you understand what your BMR is. This is the number of calories you need to maintain your body doing pretty much nothing all day. I did a blog on this before or you can google up the harris- benedict calculator to find out your exact caloric needs. It then helps you figure what you need with your daily work and purposeful exercise.

I know my BMR is roughly 1500 calories ( can you see why I never managed to exist on diets that let me eat that…all day long ?? It’s not enough food!) quick figuring also showed me based on my day and my physical active level I could take in about 2,400 calories… yes!

A quick assessment if I knew my day was much more physically demanding than the “norm”  told me I’d take in about 2,900 calories.  I will say, I really don’t consume them all, but on some days maybe I should. It’s just hard for me to eat when I’m not hungry, even understanding at that point, food is fuel to help my body recover from the demands I put on it that day.

The beauty of this is understanding and adjusting your needs based on your exercise level. I really am addressing high intensity and duration workouts here ( long cycling or running) usually lasting over an hour or more.

By understanding this, you can feed your body adequately on hard work days, and cut back on easier days.

I found two books to be extremely helpful in the past year as I’ve plowed through my training.

20150924_175442Whereas I found this book helpful athletically, it’s also written and is good for the rest of the world too. Solid, sound nutritional advice can guide an individual to successful  weight loss.

If I could pull one chapter out and make everyone read it that would be Chapter 15… “How to lose weight without starving”  Nancy Clark offers sustainable and realistic nutritional advice and expertise. It’s a book well worth having in your personal library.

Of course she covers meals and nutrition for the athlete, the importance of good fueling for success, snack ideas and lots more.

endurance bookThis book I picked up training for my marathon and 50K. It gets into the science of nutrition for endurance athletes, the need for good fuel, ways to understand and know your fuel needs, how and what to eat for training and everyday life. Areas covered are running, cycling, triathlons, mountain biking, swimming and rowing. If you’re an endurance athlete I highly recommend it.  There is a new edition out, but the one I’m showing I got on half.com for .75 plus shipping… what a deal!

Ok… I’m done plugging books haha 😉 I only plug ones I think are super helpful and beneficial.

You don’t need to count calories as an athlete, but being educated and understanding your nutritional needs is key to success in whatever activity you pursue.

If you do endurance activities, do you follow a certain plan ? Do you adjust your days nutritionally depending on your training ?

I’m An Athlete

So I’ll confess I had a different title for this blog… then I saw this statement on a t-shirt a friend was wearing… and decided it would be my new title.

I told him I needed that shirt… he said he could get me one…  I think… that would be wicked cool.

I guess that statement resonated with me ’cause I haven’t always thought of myself as an athlete.

For years I was this middle aged woman out for walks to help knock some weight off. Even as I eased into running and picked up working with weights a little, I was still just a middle aged woman doing some exercise.

And that’s fine… I mean really… I didn’t give it a thought. I just did my thing.

Besides, weren’t athletes professionals who made a lot of money for their sport and were on cereal boxes ?

I cooked along in my own little happy exercise zone until one day, about a year or two back, someone asked me if I had run that morning.

I told him yes, yes I did, just 5 miles.

His response? “You eat 5 miles for breakfast. You run before some people are out of bed. You run more miles at once than most people ever will. You are the only athlete I know !”

That kinda brought me up short. I mean in the last couple years my running has certainly geared up a lot, my cross training has deepened and I’ve tried to add more cycling in. My nutrition has definitely come into line with my athletic endeavors…. my training more dialed in to what I was doing… but it all just felt normal to me.

Like… you know…  a middle aged woman starting to get some things… right…..

Yet he referred to me as an athlete.

I'm an athlete
I don’t currently rock a mustache 😉

It was the first time someone had specifically referred to me that way and when I shared that with others their response was… “of course you are!”

I guess I was slow accepting something I thought was only set aside for the elite….. the famous….those….were athletes.

However, in these last couple years, I’ve allowed that description to settle on me… to define me somewhat.

Why? Because I got that I was, that I am.

Perhaps I began to understand that being an athlete in it’s truest sense is a lifestyle, a way of living, covering everything from physical activity, to nutrition, rest, recovery and caring for your body in a very intentional way. You think like one which carries over into actions and attitudes in ALL of your life.

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When you begin to think like this… you’re moving that way to getting it.

It’s taking on a sport and learning all you can and striving to be the best you can be in it, regardless if you get paid or if you’re ever really known for anything.

After this past year with some amazing new personal goals conquered, I’m ok with wearing that statement on my chest.

As an athlete, I’m learning to deal with my body during peak training, and off season. Running a zillion miles a week keeps me super lean, off season as I’m finding out this year, I’m adding more muscle ( now all those calories can go to muscle building and not just getting burned off as fuel 😉

It is a change I have to be able to roll with.  A change that is relatively new to me. I physically can’t train at a high level year round, no one can. I probably need to enjoy it ’cause once I start back to serious training in a few months, my body will once again, go through a changing process.

This is what it is to be an athlete. Hard work…discipline…..change. Repeat.

A lifestyle. A choice to pursue your athletic goals with passion. Learning to embrace every aspect of what you do.

I’ve also found the same dedication, focus, perseverance, strength, sacrifice, mental strength, and commitment needed as an athlete carries over into all aspects of my life and that’s not a bad thing.

So, I’ll just remind you, as you pursue your passion and learn to live, train, and breathe what you do, you too are an athlete.

How do you view your physical activities? Is it a hobby to you? Just some exercise?  Or do you consider yourself an athlete?