meditate on this.

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it’s like nothing else.

I saw this video over the weekend and had to share it. I love it when I see celebrities running. The “I’m a Runner” column in Runner’s World is my favorite part of the magazine. I just love hearing their reasons for loving this sport the way I do. In the video, British singer Ellie Goulding said that running was the best high she’s ever experienced and I completely agree. Running does something real for you. Something that goes beyond losing weight or getting in shape. It’s about escaping the craziness of the world. It’s about pushing yourself. It’s about learning how to lose your breath and then regain it without stopping. It’s about pushing through that first miserable mile (or 2) so that you can get to the elusive runner’s high. And when you finally get there, you wanna do it all over again.

*song in the video :: Ellie Goulding. Under The Sheets (Jakwob Remix).

let’s recap.

I’ve been really diligent about recording my runs and workouts every day so I figured I’d share them. When I first started running I had no clue what I was doing, and still don’t sometimes. I really wish there were more running blogs for beginners so I’ll start and hopefully there will be more when I’m not a beginner anymore.

So here’s the recap:

Monday, 10/24/11 – Rest

I had planned to do a strength workout and a Zumba class but law school got in the way and I spent the morning finishing a paper instead. An extra day of rest after last Saturday’s 5 mile run was probably good for me anyway. I want to build my mileage slowly so that I can stay healthy and injury-free.

Tuesday, 10/25/11 – 3.1 miles in 40:10 (12:57 avg. pace)

Ran downtown around the Tidal Basin and took a little monument tour. Read about it here.

Wednesday, 10/26/11 – 3.11 miles in 37:58 (12:12 avg. pace)

It was a dreadmill day thanks to the rain, but it turned out to be the fastest 5k I’ve ever run. I’m counting it as my first official tempo run.

Thursday, 10/27/11 – Rest

Like Monday, I had planned to do a strength workout plus a Zumba class but I didn’t wake up until 11am. Once again, I blame law school.

Friday, 10/28/11 – Rest

I had full intentions to hit a yoga class at a new studio I found before I had to go babysit, but Grandma called. And when Grandma calls, you can pretty much forget your plans. I barely had time to eat before it was time to go take care of a few kiddies. And eat kiddie pizza. fail.

Saturday, 10/29/11 – Ghost, Goblins and Ghouls Spooktacular 5k (3.1 miles) 2.51 miles in 31:19 (12:26 avg. pace)

If you read yesterday’s post, you already know that the race didn’t happen for me, but I did do a quick treadmill run. After 2 days of rest, I definitely needed it.

Sunday, 10/30/11 – 5.54 miles in 1:14:27 (13:24 avg. pace)

Super slow long run on the National Mall. I kept a pretty even pace throughout, but I slowed down and relaxed at the lights and when running through crowds. It was the perfect way to end my week and make up for yesterday’s not-so-great treadmill run.

 

Totals – 

miles this week :: 14.26

miles this month :: 41.14

miles this year :: 157.11 (I’m missing my mileage from January and February before I got my first Garmin watch)

great expectations.

I had so many plans today.

I planned to wake up early and attend my favorite Zumba class. What I actually did was oversleep and wake up to the sounds of my dog getting sick (yes, that kind of sick) on my gorgeous duvet cover.

I planned to drive into the city and attend the Marine Corps Marathon Expo at the D.C. Armory. What I actually did was look out my window and saw sleet (in October!) and ended up not driving anywhere.

I planned to PR at the 2nd Annual Ghost, Goblins and Ghouls 5k in Leesburg, VA. Instead I chickened out and stayed home for fear that I’d slip on some ice and ruin my training.

I spent the better part of my day eating Pizza Hut (mostly veggie lovers with a a slice of pepperoni thrown in there because I still haven’t fully grasped the concept that meals can be consumed without meat), eating candy that I should have saved for Halloween and cleaning out my closet. I didn’t want the day to be a total waste so I hopped on the treadmill around 6pm. I was determined to run a 5k today.

After warming up for a few minutes on the elliptical, I started running but still felt out of breath. That’s normal for me for the first half mile so I pushed through it. I had set my treadmill to a 5k course that included some monster inclines. I was really pushing it but I felt sluggish, I was sweating like crazy and I was discouraged by my time. Even though my treadmill said I was running a 12:30 pace, my nike+ app kept pausing for no reason and my garmin said I was running super slow. Like 15:00 – 18:00/mile slow. I know treadmills give you a false sense of hope but not a 5 minute difference! The numbers on my garmin were stressing me out so much that even when I felt my body get adjusted to the run, I couldn’t get my head in it. My feet started to hurt halfway through (breaking in new shoes) and pretty soon I crashed into a big wall. Right after a particularly dreadful incline, my body decided it had had enough. I tried slowing down but I really had nothing left at that point so I stopped at 2.5 miles.

I was really discouraged that I didn’t finish the run, but I realized that bad runs will happen. I felt better when I looked at my nike+ app and saw this…

12:26/mile. Exactly where I wanted to be. So who do I trust? I’m thinking from now on I’ll go with my Garmin outside and my Nike+ app inside. Because obviously my Garmin foot pod hates me.

All-in-all, I’m glad today was kind of a fail. Setting expectations keeps me in check. When I meet them, I feel accomplished. When I surpass them, I feel so proud and eager to find out how much further I can go. When I don’t meet them, I feel determined and focused. I want to find out what went wrong and how I can change it. And I will. I reworked my training schedule a little and now I’ve got another 5-miler planned for tomorrow. Come hell, high water or snow, I will finish it.

powersong.

{courtesy of Nike}

I’m lucky in that I can run without music. Sometimes I even prefer it. I guess I just love running (whaaaat?). But there are definitely times when music distracts me from my tired legs or gives me the push I need to speed up. and I definitely wouldn’t survive on the dreadmill without my iPod. I noticed last time that I wasted so much energy skipping songs though, so I’ve decided to create new playlists weekly to keep things interesting. Here’s the first 10 songs…

1. Coldplay. Viva La Vida :: I dare you to run to this and not run faster. It’s not possible.

2. Coldplay. Lovers in Japan :: “lovers, keep on the road you’re on. runners, until the race is run.” enough said.

3. Rihanna. We Found Love :: The first time I heard this song was during a Zumba class and I literally downloaded it before I could walk out of the gym. Nike would call this a “powersong.” I’m sparing you the actual video because it’s kind of a downer.

4. Kanye West. Power :: First of all, I love Kanye. Second, this song is great for when you’re losing steam and you don’t care about speed or pace. You just wanna keep going.

5. Beyonce. Run The World (Girls) :: I have a love/hate relationship with this song. When I first heard it, I was slightly disappointed in my beloved Beyonce. Then I saw her perform it at the Billboard Awards and my love for her was renewed. Then I put it on a running playlist and magic happened. Plus, I’m really hoping that after a year of running my legs end up looking like hers.

6. Cee Lo Green. Cry Baby :: My brother introduced me to this song last weekend and I haven’t stopped playing it since then. I’m so excited to listen to it on my next long run. There’s nothing better than a breakup song that makes you wanna dance.

7. Florence + The Machine. Dog Days Are Over :: “run fast for your mother, run fast for your father. run for your children, for your sisters and brothers. leave all your love and your longing behind. you can’t carry it with you if you want to survive.” again. enough said.

8. Chris Brown. Beautiful People :: I don’t care what they say about CB. This is my jam. I always play this at the end of a run because I know I’ll finish strong.

9. Kanye West feat. Chris Martin. Homecoming :: I. Love. This. Song. I once spent 20 minutes explaining extended metaphors to my ex-boyfriend’s 11 year old nephew by using every single line of this song to demonstrate. He totally loved it.

10. Tye Tribbett. Chasing After You (The Morning Song) :: This song inspired the original title of this blog. It perfectly describes the way I feel about God and my relationship with him. I fail a lot in this life, but I’ll never stop trying. I’ll never stop chasing Him. Running, especially in the morning, is a great time for me to pray and really connect with God. If you’ve never tried it, you definitely should. And if you’ve never tried Him, you most definitely should.

That’s it for this week, but there’s plenty more where these came from. Keep reading and keep running!

Thirsty Thursday.

Most of my friends are stumbling home from happy hour right about now. Not me. I’m home in my pajamas watching old episodes of Glee and planning my training meal/fuel plan for the next few weeks. It’s no secret that I’m trying to lose weight, but if running has taught me anything it’s that you can’t cut way back on your calories and still expect to run well. You also can’t run more than 45 minutes without re-fueling.

So, friends, I present to you the first installment of my healthy & athletic version of Thirsty Thursday: Running Fuel.

1. Clif Shot Bloks

{source}

These chewy cubes of goodness are my favorite! They taste great without that nasty sports food aftertaste and they are seriously effective. If I’m feeling a little hungry before a run I’ll eat 2-3 for a pre-workout boost. Otherwise, I’ll stop mid-run and have a few with water. For example, last weekend on my first (!) 5-miler, I stopped at 2.67 miles and had 3 with water. ALWAYS follow any type of sports food with water NOT Gatorade or any other type of sports drink. Just trust me on this one. Your stomach will thank you.

2. Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews

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These little gummies remind me of fruit snacks. They’re small and easy to chew while running and they taste really great. I’ve tried the Fruit Smoothie and Cherry Blossom flavors and liked them both. These didn’t give me any stomach troubles, but they also didn’t give me as strong of an energy boost as the Shot Bloks do. I’m going to start eating more than just a few from now on and see if that makes a difference.

3. Honey Stinger Organic Stinger Waffle

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I may or may not be guilty of eating these at all hours of the day instead of before/after running. I can’t help it. They’re so so so good! The waffle is crispy and filled with gooey vanilla sweetness. I have absolutely no idea if these gave me any type of energy (I’ve only eaten them after a run), but I don’t care. I mostly just use them as a small sugary treat after a long run.

4. Zico Coconut Water

{source}

Thirsty Thursday wouldn’t be complete without a little  hydration right? If you haven’t heard already, coconut water is the best hydration drink there is. It’s all natural, it’s packed with electrolytes, has loads of potassium (which anyone who’s prone to muscle cramps will appreciate) and tastes really good. I hate coconut, but I loooove this stuff. Since I know I’m not a coconut fan, I’ve stuck to the flavored varieties. Lima Citron, Mango and Pomberry are my faves. And according to the Tone it Up! Girls, the Lima Citron works extremely well in alcoholic beverages.

5. smartwater / vitaminwater

{source}

People may think that I’m a bit of a water snob, but I don’t care. I can seriously taste the difference. smartwater is hands down the best bottled water out there. It tastes cleaner and it has electrolytes in it, so it’s the best kind of water to drink after a workout. I also love vitaminwater, particularly revive because it tastes the best and it has potassium in it. It also has sugar in it though so I try not to drink more than half of the bottle. I can’t get down with the sugar-free kind. Yuck.

So…there you have it! My top 5 fuel options. I’m always looking for others so if you know of any let me know!

never. stop. running.

I love Nike. I love their clothes. I love their shoes. I don’t love their prices, but no one would ever believe that after viewing my extensive Nike collection. But I think the thing I love most about Nike is their advertising. All of their ads make me want to go outside and run 5 miles. Right after I stop by the Nike store and pick up a new pair of running tights…

freedom from want. freedom from fear.

Today’s run was one of those perfect runs that I never imagined I would experience. I had originally planned to run during my mid-day break from classes, but I forgot a change of clothes and didn’t want to show up for Evidence all sweaty and gross. That meant rushing downtown in 5pm traffic to try to beat the sun. Despite my rush, I decided to drive past the National Mall and park along the Potomac River in West Potomac Park. Best idea ever. The sun was just beginning to set and the park was full of joggers and walkers and, of course, tour groups. I had forgotten my headphones at home, but I was glad. I’ve decided to ditch the music when I’m running in the city (for safety reasons), but mostly I just wanted to be present.

I set off on the trail that goes along the water and, despite just having visited the ladies room before I left school, realized that I must have over-hydrated on the car ride downtown. It happened to be a blessing in disguise though because I followed the signs to the nearest bathroom which just happened to be at the Jefferson Memorial. I’ve been wanting to visit the MLK Memorial for weeks now and I remembered that it was just across the Tidal Basin from Jefferson so I planned to give myself a little running memorial tour.

The FDR Memorial has always been one of my favorites. It’s full of famous FDR quotes and amazing statues. It’s also one of the least crowded memorials in my opinion. The above picture is my favorite spot in the memorial and running past it really made me think. We’re blessed to live in a country that has given us the freedom of speech and worship, but have we freed ourselves of want and fear? I know that FDR’s definition of those two freedoms referred to our standard of living and our relationship with other countries, but today they hit me in a personal way. Have I freed myself from the pressure of “having it all?” A pressure that has purely been created by myself. Have I freed myself from the fear that stops me from pushing myself to be better just in case my best isn’t good enough? I’m a work in progress…

After the tranquility of the FDR Memorial came the chaos of the MLK Memorial. I still haven’t gotten over how amazing it is that this memorial has finally been erected in DC. It’s a long time coming and I’m so excited about it. I didn’t stay too long because it was crowded and I didn’t want to use up all of my energy weaving in and out of tour groups, but I can definitely tell you that it is absolutely stunning. I ran to my next destination smiling because I looked down at my watch and saw that I had run 2 miles at this point without even realizing it.

I finished up the last mile by running back to West Potomac Park and running along the river. The Potomac waters are pretty yucky but today it was absolutely gorgeous. It was the perfect day for a run and the crisp Fall air mixed with the river breeze made me thankful that, after too many years, I finally got my lazy self off of the couch and started running. Around this time I realized that even though I had paused to take pictures a few times, I was still extremely close to my 5k pace from a few weeks ago and I wanted to see how closely I could match it. I sped up and gave everything I had left for the last half mile and finished in 40:10. Less than a minute behind my 39:29 finish (and current PR) at the Anthem Great Pumpkin 5k. Looks like there might be another 5k PR waiting for me this weekend!

I don’t really care what happens this weekend though. It’s been almost a year since I started running, and that first day I could barely run 2 minutes without huffing and puffing. Last weekend, I ran 5 miles (!) and I’ve run 3 miles with no walking consistently for the past 2 weeks. I am so proud of my progress and I’m ecstatic that I’ve come to enjoy running so much. It’s the greatest gift I’ve ever given myself.

FIVE!

The great thing about training plans is that they can be manipulated. You should stick closely to  the mileage but the times and roads/trails are always malleable. If you looked over my training plan, you saw that I had a 5 mile group run planned for today with Black Girls Run! in DC. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately) I was up babysitting until 2:30am and didn’t get to bed until almost an hour later. Needless to say, 8am rolled around and I was nice and warm in my bed. I eventually pulled it together around 10am and realized I had absolutely no plans for the day (if you ignore the loads of homework I always have to do), so I took my time with breakfast and hung out with my brother and his girlfriend who are home from school for the weekend.

Around 2, I headed to the W&OD Trail. The trail stretches 45 miles, all the way from Loudoun County (where I live) to Alexandria (just outside of DC) and it’s one of my new favorite places to run.  Somehow, even though I had eaten breakfast, by the time I got there I was already feeling hungry so I ate 3 Clif Shot Bloks. So far, out of all the “runner’s food” I’ve tried, Shot Bloks are the easiest on my stomach and they give me a fantastic burst of energy. I started off really slow because I wanted to finish strong. I told myself I wanted to finish in 1:05:00. That would require me to maintain between a 12:00-13:00 minute pace the entire time which I knew I could do. (p.s. 12:00 miles are comfortably hard for me. 13:00 miles are easy. I’m hoping that this time next year, 10:00 miles will be my version of easy but for now, this is what I’m working with.) And you know what….

I was right.

My garmin says that I ran 5 miles flat in 1:04:38. Daily mile says I did 4.99. I’m gonna average them all together and say I did what I was supposed to do. I’m really glad that I set a time goal. I know a lot of people say that beginners shouldn’t worry about speed or even mileage and I typically agree with that. But I also know that in order to improve I have to push myself every once in a while. That last mile was painful for both my lungs and my legs, but I pushed through it and I saw what I’m capable of. My goals for the RnR USA Half are completely within reach, I just have to work for them. And I will.

training.

For those of you who are dyingggg to know my current training plan, I’ve decided to grant your wish. And by “those of you” I mean my 3 loyal readers lol. Anyway…I have 3 races coming up in the next month and a half so my training is specifically geared toward making it through those:

 

{click on the calendars to enlarge them}

JRG’s Training Calendar Key:

Easy: 13:00ish/mile pace. This is a slooow pace but it allows me to keep going without walking so I stick with it as much as possible.

BGR! Standing Run: Black Girls Run! group run at the National Mall in downtown DC. This weekend will be my first one and I’m so excited!! Check out their blog and find the Facebook group for your area. I’ve only scheduled the one for this weekend because I want to see how much of a hassle it is to get downtown that early in the morning (8am). If all goes well, I’ll make this my official weekend routine for the next few weeks.

TIU Strength Workout: Tone It Up! is my new fitness obsession. The TIU trainers, Katrina and Karena, post a new workout video every Tuesday and their strength circuits are ah.may.zing. They’re difficult but definitely worth it.

NTC Strength Workout: Nike Training Club is a great iPhone fitness app geared towards women. You can choose what kind of workout you want (Get Lean, Get Toned, Get Strong, or Get Focused) and then the app provides you with videos demonstrating the specific moves and the amount of time you should be doing them. You can also set your own playlist.

*Since I’m a beginner when it comes to strength training, my goal is to start with 2 strength sessions per week. I’ll alternate between TIU and NTC to mix it up.

Zumba: Cross-training (XT) is so important to me because I am deathly afraid of getting injured. I tried a few cardio machines last week (elliptical and arc trainer) and I definitely got a good workout in but I was bored to tears. I think Zumba is going to be my XT of choice for now. My gym has the BEST instructor ever and I know that the dance moves are helping me to condition my entire body. I’m scheduling it twice a week, but if I can ever squeeze an extra class in I will definitely do it.

Yoga/Stretching: I love love love yoga. Last winter I developed a slight obsession with Bikram (hot) yoga but my dad talked to the doctor and came home proclaiming that anyone who does Bikram will end up with kidney failure so…that’s out. This week, I’m going to try to find a studio that I like but for now I’ll stick to the yoga classes at my gym and the plethora of yoga DVDs that I already own. I’m also committed to foam rolling and rolling my muscles out with the stick every night before bed. It’s all about injury prevention people!

The last thing I’ll be doing that isn’t on the calendar is the thing I fear the most: ICE BATHS. My plan is to ice the usual suspects once a day (knees, shins, achilles tendon, etc.) and then after each long run, I’ll take a 15 minute ice bath. I’ve never done it before but I know it’ll make a huge difference in my recovery. My legs are getting cold just thinking about it.

***

So that’s my schedule from now until December 3rd when I’ll run the Hot Chocolate 15k at the National Harbor in Maryland. The next morning, I’ll begin my half marathon training with =PR= Training’s Winter Distance Training Program in Reston, VA which I’ll write more about later.

I’m headed to get a quick yoga session in before a full night of babysitting! Happy Friday :)