Building A Better Running Body

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My little kettlebell friend 😉

Hey boys and girls…. off to another day….  my thought on waking this morning… “there are parts of me that are tight and ache that I’m not used to” haha

Enter… doing new exercises or hitting others harder than you have recently. I actually, in a twisted way, kinda like that feeling. I know I’ve worked m body in a different way and that’s a good thing.  We do adjust to the same/similar work over time and  have to step outside our comfort zone, whether it’s adding something new, increasing our weights or our reps, or running a little farther.

As a runner I do try and find exercises that will build and strengthen me for running…. is there a more glorious form of exercise ? 😉 I have found that my strong upper body really does come into play when I’m in those last hard miles of a long run and my legs might be asking “are we there yet?”

I’ve also read a lot on how runners can rely more on their legs than the strong powerful glute muscles to drive their run and how those muscles, even though the largest on the body, can be weak or neglected leading to potential injury. I’ve been focused on doing some specific work in that area for awhile now.

Yesterday’s workout was one I enjoy ’cause for me it’s constant movement and variety. I do some boxing for like…3 songs (that will get you breathing hard) and it’s great upper body/core work. I move into doing some weights, back to some boxing, then core work on the floor, weights, and maybe end with the final song hammering on the bag. ( seriously, if you ever need to release stress, anger, frustration…. get a punching bag 😉 anyway, put all that together, it’s a good workout that I feel the next day. I like that.

So some moves I’m doing lately I think are helpful ( and hey if you’re into that aesthetic thing, they don’t hurt for that either 😉

Squats. I do those suckers wherever I can. I can knock off like… 50 brushing my teeth. Do that twice a day… that’s outside of my workouts… bonus… I use  a 35lb kettlebell to do my squats with in my workouts. Yeah, you’ll feel that after awhile.

Deadlifts. Again, if I’m moving through a quick workout, that kettlebell really comes in handy.

 Glute Bridges. I think one of the single best moves for runners. Do single leg also… that’s where you find out pretty quick that you’re a total badass   wimp. Single leg really isolates the muscles on one side and you have to intentionally focus (embrace the discomfort…. I try not to make squealing noises at the end of a set haha)

Lunges. Those are always a good standby and can be modified for your needs.

My newest favorite though, has taken me a little practice working on the form, is the single leg deadlift. Oh I’ve got it now… I’ve even got it using my 35lb kettlebell through the move. The movements are slow, controlled and focused….. and yeah…. you should feel it. I love that this exercise isolates and focuses on one side without making you over-compensate. It’s best done barefoot so you can really plant your foot solidly on the floor. This move will also bring out every balance skill you have….. perfect for an old person like me to keep that sharp 😉

Even if you don’t run, these are great lower body strength moves that benefit anyone. Incorporating a variety of exercises and athletic movements into your routine will make you stronger for your overall daily living =)

Do you have any favorite “go to” strength exercises ?

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Strength

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Strength~ the quality or state of being strong, bodily or muscular power, vigor. Mental power, force or vigor.

It’s no secret, I love running. However, one thing I found I enjoyed a few years ago was tossing around some heavy metal objects, namely weights. When I first started I had these cute little 5lbers ( don’t give me a hard time…. I didn’t know better 😉

I moved up to 8’s, then 15’s, 20 and finally to what I use mostly now, 35’s. I got a 35 lb kettle bell for Christmas I like working with. At this point, I’ve built some wicked arms. Not only that, building my upper body has made me a stronger runner.

When I slip on these gloves…. it makes me feel all business. I know I’m planning to work. I love how strong I feel when I’m doing it and I love the strength and muscles I’ve built. These gloves are like… work clothes 😉

Strength has become one of my, life words, in the past year. Strength isn’t just necessary in a physical way, but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally too.

Strength became such an important life word to me that I made the (very) permanent decision to have it tattooed on my wrist as a bracelet. The word is in the banner, and chains surround my wrist to reflect the strength of iron, while the flowers bring my feminine side into it.

I guess I feel rather, passionate, about it.

There are so many times I glance at that when I’m going through something and it reminds me: I can bring home the final miles of a marathon. It reminds me when life situations threaten to swallow me. It challenges me to look beyond what I think is difficult, to fight back and push against the very pressures that are (ultimately) giving me strength.

The culmination of events, good and bad, in my life have forged this out in me.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times I wish I could’ve passed on, but then, would I have developed the mental and physical strength I have now ? Things happen for a purpose and if we let them, they shape and mold us to be stronger.

Do you relate? Have you been through things that you feel have made you stronger ? Share with me in the comments.

50K Road Adventure Continued……

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My first ever ultra bib…. and my first time to have my name on it!

20150228_14023920150228_14515820150228_144823-120150228_141130Hey boys and girls!  It’s been a busy couple days and I’ve missed writing and talking to you… time to make up for it 😉

Warning… this is kinda like a mini novel…..

As you learned in my last post, I was road tripping it to Ft. Worth Tx. for the Cowtown Marathon/Ultra Marathon race. I was super excited to be heading into the event that would be really, the culmination, of my months of training and essentially kicking my own ass… (oops, can I say that??) Not just that, months of making sacrifices, pushing myself in new ways, training in all kinds of weather, taking on more and more mileage, managing my nutrition as well as mentally training myself for the task before me.  I’ve learned so many things about myself preparing for this endurance run.

I’ve learned I have great strength, determination, a strong will, an unwillingness to “settle” without asking as much of myself as I can, that my mind is a huge factor in my success, and that I really can, always, do a little more.

I headed off on my road trip as prepared as I could be………

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Excitement and eagerness at a high octane level…..also helped along with some caffeine……

I had scaled my mileage back to taper and really focused on eating good carbs days out. I hydrated constantly ( well, that I always do) I increased my sodium intake ’cause I sweat out a ton when I run, I was getting to bed earlier… basically doing everything I could physically to ensure I went to the line as prepared as possible.

It was almost show time.

Saturday it was off to Ft Worth….  as we got closer…. the weather started looking different….. there was ice on roads and bridges….. and snow blanketing roof tops and filling fields. I had received e-mails Friday saying that they had cancelled Saturdays races, but Sunday’s half, full, and ultra were still on.

Ok, no worries, I had googled the weather for Sunday and it promised chilly with some precipitation but nothing horrible.

I am… always … the eternal optimist.

But then Saturday going to expo to get my runners pack and number ( see my first ever ultra bib …with my name.. how rocking is that ??)

I see this…. which is basically the area the race starts in……

20150228_145951do you see those streets? Ok… still upbeat…  hoping that stuff would go away ….magically…. overnight….

I kept checking my e-mail for updates like a school girl waiting for a message from her boyfriend. About 5:30 an update came through.

It was simply stated: The Cowtown Marathon and Ultra Marathon…are cancelled.

It took my breath away. My chest felt tight. My stomach felt like I had been punched. I tried to choke tears back….pointless…I was trying not to cry like a baby…..

Even typing this now brings tears to my eyes.

I wish I could fully describe all of what I was feeling.

Frustration. Major disappointment. Agony realizing…. all… of my work for these past few months… to this one… single… moment…. gone. The culmination of my efforts… to not take place.

Don’t get me wrong… I understood why. I had seen many of the streets…. can you say….slushies ?? This was one of the areas the race was scheduled to go through….

20150228_170122see those streets?

But still….. I wouldn’t be running the biggest event of my life the next day. I felt crushed. They were running the half and offered it to the full/ultra runners to participate.

I hadn’t gone all that way NOT to run.

But I’ll tell you , the next morning, waiting in the corral with temps lurking above freezing, my ultra bib on amid mostly half marathoners and some marathoners, I stuck out like a sore thumb. I tried not to think how different this day was playing out from what I had imagined. Or the comment from another runner… “oh, this will just feel like a warm up race to you” ( I didn’t want to tell him that was pretty true)

I was going to run but definitely going easy because even though I had trained in cold and pouring rain and heat, this day was literally my first time dealing with slush and ice. They had done a good job of mostly clearing the course but there were still lots of areas to exercise caution.

I will honestly say there were moments of emotion in that race I had to just work out.

Coming around the corner to the finish line….. another moment I had imagined so differently. I did shed a couple tears crossing that line… I just couldn’t help it.

But I did it. I ran the race. I did my best.  I didn’t back out or quit because it wasn’t what I had planned to do. On the bonus side… I got the coolest medal I have to date.

20150301_14484220150301_112614-220150301_125045 You can see my pics….. one is obviously post-race cold and sloppy look…. and my “hey I clean up ok!” look. Being all comfy in my fav RBX gear.

Sooo there you go….. my 50K…… crunched….. I will freely admit I’ve struggled with frustration … and tears have even cropped up writing this.

I don’t know what my next steps are yet. I already had a half marathon I was aiming for at end of month. 50’s are a bit harder to find.

I will do it though. I’m strong. I’m a fighter. And I don’t flippin’ quit.

I will do it even if it means I take off on my own and do my own personal 50k… I will do it.

Oh and before I go… I gotta give kudos to this amazing guy in my life who supports my craziness…cheers me on…and loves me when I’m sweaty and stinky 😛

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and thank you reader for sticking with me this far.

Come back and check in and see what life lessons I’ve pulled out of this situation…. because I know there are lessons to be learned…. it’s how we grow….

Bigger. Stronger. Faster.

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How do you get bigger, stronger, faster?

You do one more rep. You keep pushing yourself farther each mile… pushing your pace. You don’t back off when you think you can’t do anymore… because you can always do a little more… you can…it’s in you. Sometimes you’ve gotta dig deeper than ever…. but it’s there.

Do that enough… and in time… things happen.

I was reminded of that on my last “long” run (before my 50K). I had 15 miles set to do which kinda turned into 15.73 😛

I realized I was almost at 13 miles and still felt really strong.

That is a half marathon distance.

I thought of my first half I did Nov 2011. I had trained through 10 miles. All training plans assured me I’d be able to pull off 3 more miles even though it would be my first time doing it.

And I did. I remember thinking after the 10 mile marker…. “ok Toto, we’re totally in new territory now” but I did those miles and crossed the finish line, tired, but feeling victorious.

And then the other day…. pounding out those miles… feeling strong and like I was just getting warmed up… yet running my own personal half (and a little more) but understanding it’s taken some time, work, and not settling and being comfortable remaining where I was in my first half marathon to get where I was today. If I hadn’t continued to push and challenge myself ( 4 more half marathons, and 2 full marathons) I wouldn’t be heading into the biggest endurance race I will have ever done this upcoming weekend.

And you, my friend, if you take on what you’re doing, press on, and don’t allow yourself to settle and stay where you are, will continue to improve and hit new goals for yourself. You’ll reach new heights. Do things you never thought possible before.

Bigger. Stronger. Faster.

You have everything you need deep within you to do it…. trust me…. you do.

No Excuses

20150224_120352-1If you’ve spent any time on the internet, or follow any fitness pages, you most likely saw a post with a young woman in extremely good shape, with her kids, and the title “No excuses” posted over it. Besides her age, it’s also evident she took care of herself before, during, and after pregnancy. And let’s not forget this too…. she’s also blessed with some really good genetics.

It got a lot of attention in good and bad ways. I’m not naming names here ’cause I think there’s been enough advertisement on that particular person. It made some people mad. It “inspired” others. There was LOTS of conversation in both directions.

Don’t get me wrong. I really understood what she meant. I did. It was simply meant to say (now this is my opinion here) I have a life, family, work, and stuff going on but I make time for my workouts as well.

See, I get it, ’cause several years ago when I started my own health and fitness journey, I had to remind myself…. “No Excuses”. As you can see in my pic, I made a simple Post-It note that was in my bathroom staring me down. .. reminding me… every morning…..to do it.  As my journey progressed and I lost weight, I added my labels from my diminishing pant sizes to remind me why I wasn’t making excuses to not put my workout into my day. Those were victory moments for me at that time. I cheered myself every time I finished… sometimes… I still do.

You see, in the beginning, it wasn’t easy. Some mornings when it was cold and grey it was tempting to say…. “not today, but tomorrow”…. and I realized if I succumbed to that thought…. day after day…… could potentially go by with me finding an excuse to not make time to take care of my body.

You know what’s way cool ? You do something long enough it turns into a habit.

Something you can’t imagine NOT doing. Like the “OMG I forgot to brush my teeth!” kinda feeling.

And as time went on, it got easier. I got up in the morning and landed in my running gear prepared and ready to do it as soon as everyone was launched for the day. I got over the “it’s cold, grey, wet” whatever feelings and just did it.

Now days the only thing I won’t run in is 1) lightening 2) icy conditions… both are obvious safety issues. On those days, the plan I developed years back, was to start strength training or boxing when I absolutely couldn’t run. I’m glad I did because the strength training has also made me a stronger, more fit, and healthier runner.

That Post- It is still in my bathroom.

I really don’t need that reminder anymore. I’ve landed in a comfortable, slim size pant so those numbers really don’t drive me so much either. I moved to a point of viewing exercise as a gift to my body and to my mind as well. Now I schedule appointments around my training!

Maybe, you’re somewhere in that zone. Perhaps you need “no excuses” to be a challenge to you…. that you are worth that small investment of time in your day to be a better person, parent, spouse, worker. I realized after my workouts even being tired, I felt better prepared to deal with the rest of life… and I don’t know about yours…. but mine can get crazy at times! It might be cliché but running really is good therapy for me, on a lot of  levels 😉

Don’t let the words “no excuses” be a form of condemnation, but rather, allow it to challenge you, to move you onward to your goals and overall health and wellness =)

50 years.. 50K… What was I thinking ?

20150119_181146-1 I’ve always been one to want to step into a challenge. As my fitness journey has progressed, obviously, my challenges to myself have increased. As a runner, I was thrilled to take on my first half marathon in Nov 2011. I would do three more before I felt the call to the full marathon distance. I did my first in Nov 2013, and immediately started plotting my second, which happened Dec 2014. However, in  July 2014 I had a big milestone, my 50th birthday. While many of my friends were plotting cruises and drinking parties to celebrate I determined running a 50K seemed a “fun” way to celebrate that impressive day. So I set out looking for a race that would be done within my 50th year.

That… goes down this coming weekend. I’m excited to be heading to Ft. Worth for the Cowtown Marathon/Ultra Marathon. It’s a pretty big deal for me…. it’s my first out town race and it’s my first “ultra” run. Coming out of the marathon in December, it just seemed perfect to keep moving towards March as long as my body was trained into peak condition. I mean… just keep running a few more miles, right ?

FYI a 50K is 31.7 miles.

I’m as ready as I can be. I’ve trained.. hard. I’ve trained in all kinds of weather. I’ve run fast…and slow. I’ve learned to eat gel blocks like a champ. My longest run a week ago was 28.52 miles in about 5:14. I know my mental game will have to be strong.

The bottom line is… I’m doing this for me. I want to know I can do it. Will it be the only one I do? I’m not sure. There is something…. freaking empowering…. about distance running. And it carries over into my life… if I can run for miles and stand up under the physical and mental struggles… I can press back against those things in life that come at me.

Running has made me strong… mentally and physically.

Not only that, it builds some killer legs too haha 😛

I’m super excited to be able to share my upcoming adventures with you this weekend…. check back and stay tuned for updates…

Why Hello World

I feel like I’ve given birth today.

True, it’s been a lot easier than the delivery of a small person from your body, but it’s been a birth process none the less. It’s how I always feel when an idea finally gets launched out of my mind and into action.

Something creative is born. Future plans are made. Vision and goals are set.

In this instance, finally having the ” idea” of a blog, to actually moving forward to making it happen. Getting out of my personal world of Facebook, Instagram, and small town writing, to flinging myself into the vast world to share my version of life and all it entails.

Given that this is my first post, and you don’t know me from your third cousin twice removed, there’s a lot I can tell you. However, if I don’t tell you ….. you’ll have to keep coming back to find out… more 😉

I’ll tell you this though…. I do love life, people  the weirder  um… more interesting… the better, running, health and nutrition, being strong and fit and helping others get on their own journey of  health and fitness. Actually, nothing delights me more than seeing someone “get it” and the confidence and strength they gain as they learn to make better life choices. I love sharing my fitness journey with others so they know I can relate to where they are, that I’ve experienced the same struggles, feelings, and frustrations.

BUT….. in the sharing of that I want them to know if I can take daily steps and get where I am, they can too. I haven’t always been a running girl (you’re gonna hear lots more on this topic) nor have I always been concerned about what foods I eat or how they make me feel or the impact they have on my body. It has been a process and I’ve taken it one day at a time.

I believe in a practical, realistic approach to losing weight and getting fit. I don’t “do” diets. I believe life is to be lived and enjoyed and food is a gift. We just need to handle it in an appropriate manner. The old school way of moving more, eating better and in moderation led me to a 55 lb weight loss, as well as dropping about 5 pants sizes.

Now days I’m more interested in how my body performs for me when I run, or do strength training than I am about numbers on the scale.  I eat well because I know it fuels my body for activities I love. I don’t view exercise as something I “have” to do, but more as a gift  to my body.

And other random things…. I’m a free spirit. I’m not interested in being kept in a box where someone else defines the rules. I’m not interested in conforming to “the norm”. I love black coffee, Peanut M&M’s, reading, laughing, and unexpected treats. Pink and black are the perfect combination of colors. I love clothes and the more unique and fun, the better. I’m 6’0 tall but love to wear crazy high heels… because I can… and because I don’t care what someone might think about a tall chick wearing them. I love piercings and tattoos..no apologies there…see previous sentence.  I love finding adventures in every day life and I have an off the wall sense of humor.

Ah well…. enough of me… and you already got that in my opening blog line.

Older. Smarter. Stronger.

Come back again… and in the meantime…. welcome to my world.

Share. Let me hear from you 🙂