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New Year, New You

Hashtag: New Year, New You

This isn’t the typical New Year’s Resolution post declaring my New Years Resolutions.

This also isn’t the post to say that I don’t believe in New Years Resolutions.

This is a post where I think out loud about New Years Resolutions.

I’m actually indifferent towards people who want to begin a new life on January 1st.  Honestly I’m very happy for them to make positive changes in their life.  Every year I hear friends declare they are going to the gym more.  I also hear friends wish these resolutioners would get out of the gym.

Sure, having more people at the gym can be an inconvenience because there are less machines available.  The reality is everyone at the gym is paying for the same membership.  No one is more entitled to piece of equipment because you have been a member for 1 day or 1000. If a person “getting in your way” annoys you, purchase your own home gym equipment.

Every year on January 1st many people begin a journey to better themselves.  New Year’s Resolutions include anything from fitness goals, to life goals, to work goals to chasing your dreams.  The majority of the population makes a resolution or goal they are looking to achieve in the new year.  According to studies only 8% of people keep with their New Year’s resolutions but that is 8% more than last year.

I am no different and I have a few New Year’s Resolutions for 2015.

While people make many different resolutions, this post is thinking about fitness and gym related goals. This post is about the people that join a gym each year to achieve their goals.  This post is about the people judging those that are new to a fitness program.  Each year I see my “in shape” or fitness oriented friends complain about their gyms being crowded.  I have even seen posts about how dumb having a New Years Resolution is.  I’ve seen posts about how silly new people look at the gym.  I have even seen posts that include photos of people.

Please remember that if someone has not given you permission to include their photo on your blog or social media, you shouldn’t.  It is never a good idea.  It is never appropriate to take a photo of someone without their permission, especially to make fun of them. 

Some complaints about resolutioners at the gym I’ve seen (on twitter, facebook, blogs, dailymile…whatever)

The gym is crowded. No space for me! 

Someone took my elliptical (or any piece of gym equipment).

I hate how busy it is, I hope these people leave soon.

These people are wasting their time. 

Those are all rude.  It;s even ruder to post.  Every single person from an elite marathoner to a star quarter back started somewhere.  Who knows where someone started, maybe it was with a New Years Resolution?

Judging someone based on their fitness level is ridiculous.  When people first begin something they are the most self conscious.  New people (anywhere) fear being judged the most. It reminds me of people that won’t follow someone on twitter or facebook because they have 5 followers. It’s superficial.

I can remember the first time I went to the gym.  I was 18 years old and I was nervous the rest of the patrons were judging me.  I tried every machine in the fitness center in 10 minutes.  I had no idea what I was doing.  Slowly but surely I found things that worked for me.  The first few months I was hyperaware of everything and everyone.

Was that person laughing?  Must be at me…

Are those people chatting? They must be chatting about me…

So as you ring in the New Years, remember that a New Years resolution might not be your thing but some people are trying to better themselves.  Sure, some people might fall but many will succeed.  I encourage you to think about when you were first beginning your fitness journey.  Do not be upset with others for attempting to begin their fitness journeys.

Question for you: When did you start your fitness journey?

December Training

I feel like I have overloaded this week with running blogs.  You could say I’m running right through Holidays…ha terrible LOLZ pun.  This is a running blog so I’m glad I have running related topics (with my own training) to talk about.

Anyways, December has nearly left and I accomplished what I wanted too (running wise) this month.

Running Stats:

Total Miles: 246

Range of Paces: 6:40-12:00-untimed

Shortest Run: 2.0 miles

Longest Run: 17.25 miles

Best run: I don’t have a favorite run this month.  As cliche as it sounds, the month as a whole was good to me.  To keep it short, I will say my best was also my longest run.  I felt strong and as if I could just keep going.

Good times with my brother running

Good times with my brother

Races:

Dec 7: Schuylkill River 8.3 Miler (7:01 pace)

Dec 14: Haddon Hearts 5k (20:35)

December 31st (ha ha tonight!): Beat the Ball 5k

Training thoughts:

This whole month went smoothly.  December was the first month I ran the miles I wanted.  Not to beat a dead horse again but during December I finally felt like I was training (not just coming back from injury).

I didn’t do much speed work but focused on building my base with easy runs.  Since I didn’t cross train a lot during my stress fracture, I lost a lot more fitness than in previous injuries.  I’m not complaining about that and I do believe resting was the right thing to do.  My goal in December was to build fitness back up with lots of easy, untimed runs.

Another food for thought:

During the month of December I also began using the GNC products I was sent to review.  The included the protein powder, amino acids, preworkout and bars.

GNC PurEdge 1

I promised I would review them when I had time to finish the majority of products I was sent.  Since I finished the amino acids last week, the timing was perfect to review them now.  I believe some of the products helped me recover quicker from runs so I wanted to include the review in my monthly recap.

It isn’t a secret that the amino acid powder is my favorite (Called complete amino). During December I used the Complete Amono after each run.  I mixed it into whatever I was consuming post run. I added it to pancakes, oatmeal and even milk.  I think my favorite method was actually just adding it to a glass of milk.  I set a goal to have the complete amino after each run and I made that goal. Like running, consistency is key. It’s hard to review a product without using it consistently for a while.  Honestly, I believe it helped me recover from runs faster.

The complete amino does not have an unusual taste (the fruit punch is what I like) so it isn’t gross to actually consume.

The amino acid powder has 30 calories and contains 5g BCAA blend of leucine, isoleucine and valine as well as 2.5g betaine .

Do I think it was the sole reason I stayed injury free?  No.

Do I think it was one of the blocks for building a solid foundation and base to stay injury free? Yes.

I liked the powder so much I ended up purchasing another container from GNC. If you know me well, you know I don’t waste money on expensive foods…hashtag #walmartshopperforlife).  I doubt the point was for me to end up buying the product but I really like it and I have felt better since beginning to use it.  So thank you GNC for opening my eyes to that.

I also enjoyed the protein powder because it made me remember how much I enjoyed making pancakes.  I am just over 75% done with that container.  Once finished with the protein powder, I will probably purchase that again too.  I don’t make protein pancakes every day but I do make the a few times a week again.  I think the protein powder is similar to any protein powder but it tastes good and I have no complaints.

Out of the items sent the preworkout energy drink is my least favorite. I don’t drink caffeine (not even coffee) before I run.  The preworkout drink is geared towards someone who does drink caffeine, so it makes sense it wouldn’t be a fit for me.  While the preworkout drink tastes good I don’t foresee myself using it.  The few times I consumed it I felt as if I had more energy but it isn’t something I would personally use regularly.

Overall thoughts?

I am firm believer the GNC amino acids and protein powder are helping my running. I 100% recommend the amino acids to any runner or athlete.   Thank you to GNC for sending me quality products that I am benefiting from.   I enjoyed being on your campaign.

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Goals for January:

I’m going to lump this into one big post with my 2015 goals.  Briefly, my goals for January are to maintain and grow my base smartly.  I will continue to grow my base appropriately as well as train for the Phoenix Full Marathon.

I also have a few races I’ll be doing:

January 1st: Hair of the Dog 5k Va Beach, VA

January 10: Wilmington Delaware 10 miler Wilmington, Delaware

Anyways this has been a much longer training recap than normal.  That is partly because I think that nutrition has played a big role in my recovery and training this month.

Have a Happy New Year my friends and stay safe! 

Questions for you:

How was your month of December?

How are you celebrating New Years? 

Removing the Word “Only”

Something I have tried to do the last year is removing the world “only” from my training vocabulary.  For instance, I “only” ran 5 miles or I “only” ran an 8:30 paced run…my only could be someone’s best pace.  Their only could be my best pace.  I only had 5 comments on this blog post or I only got 10 page views…It just sets yourself up for comparison.

Plus using the word only, I’m downplaying my accomplishments.  “Only” running a 5k of a bigger race series is still an accomplishment.  Only running a mile or only recovering when needed are equally as important as running that 20 mile long run.

Why do we put ourselves down and belittle our accomplishments?  Why do we compare ourselves to others? 

Part of this (in my opinion) has to do with the fact that you can post everything on social media.  When we have a great race, people say nice job everywhere.  On a blog, on twitter, on facebook, on dailymile, on instagram…everywhere.  It’s almost as if you are waiting for that nice job or wow you did what?!  Has our society moved towards needing and seeking constant approval from others?

What happens when you decide you need more rest or do shorter runs for a while?  Case and point: Last week I ran a total of 47 miles.  This week I will run something similar. For me personally, that is a low mileage week.  I didn’t “only” run 47 miles, I just ran 47 miles.  Not once in my race recap at the NJ half marathon did I mention I had only run a 1:27.  I just said my splits and carried on.  Comparing yourself to anyone (including yourself) just gets tiresome.

With the ability to share and overshare everything, there is an easy ability to compare everything.  It’s not hard to start reading blogs and start comparing yourself.

I used to find myself doing this a lot more with food.  I’m a terrible cook.  About half of the things I cook are burnt/crusty.  I used to read a lot more food blogs and recipes with great and beautiful food.  I would find myself comparing myself to their amazing work.  Why can’t I do that?

Then I would compare myself with blogging.  I don’t get paid to blog. I don’t get a lot of free stuff.  I’m not complaining I’m just stating the facts.  It’s easy to compare who gets more stuff, who has more blog readers, who gets more page views…who really cares is my thought.  Each blog I read is uniquely different and if I didn’t enjoy reading them or found myself comparing them, then I would stop…that was a huge lesson I learned last year.

Then there is there is the comparison of running or working out.  Personally I think this is the hardest to even compare.  No one is training for the same race with the same time goal.  I remember someone once said to me “Imagine taking two identical twins and training them the exact same way for a race.  They do everything the exact same way.  Everything is the same.  Nothing is different.  Training, food, life, environment is all the same…one will progress faster.  One will be better.”  Now imagine if you did that with two people that were not identical twins?  Point blank: you cannot compare yourself to anyone.

Questions for you:

What words do you remove from your vocabulary?

Do you find yourself comparing?

Appreciating the Time Off

In between all of my moves I was left with not having a job for roughly 8 months.  At first I enjoyed being able to lounge around.  That enjoyment lasted about one week and then I began to get extremely bored.  While I didn’t have a job I was actively looking.  That being said, you can only look for jobs so much during the day.

Some people have mentioned that looking for a job was like a full time job.   For me I probably spent 4 hours or so actively looking most days.  Some days (especially in Texas) there were no new jobs to look for, apply for, etc.  That meant it was far less.

Now that I’m actually working and out of the house around 45 hours a week (with commuting), I’ve found myself really taking advantage of my days off. 

Case and point: Last week I had to use my day off to go to the DMV.  The last thing I wanted to do was take one of my few days off, drive to the DMV for a few hours only to sit, wait and then do what I needed to do.  That’s adulthood though and I had to get the necessary paperwork done.

I’ve found myself stuck in the same rut or routine several times wondering…does it get better?  Will I be happier with x,y,z?  I must rush here, I must rush there, I must get everything done.  In college, I tended to have the all or nothing mentality.  I wanted to do it all and I wanted to do it all well. I would like to dabble in swimming, in running, double major, join clubs, have a job…etc.  I wanted to do it all.  I wanted to be successful in everything I did.

The truth is that you cannot be successful in multiple things by burning the candle at both ends.  If you stress yourself out trying to fit every single thing you can into your life, it won’t add quality of life but rather take it away.

I first learned that when I quit swim team my senior year of college.  I no longer had a 2-3 hour commitment daily to the pool.  I had 2-3 hours to work on my studies, to relax and to focus on other things.  I wasn’t rushed anymore and it honestly was the first (of many) lessons I learned.  You don’t need to be amazing at everything.  You don’t need to do everything.

I second time I learned that was in Oswego.  While Tim and I did long distance, I only really focused on working, running and hanging out occasionally with friends.  I didn’t have a lot of outside factors and it allowed me to excel at working and meet many new people (I was injured at running but did go to the gym).  If I had more things piled on top, I don’t think I would have gotten nearly the benefits (and enjoyment) of what I did out of my job in Oswego.

The next time I truly learned this lesson was moving in with Tim last August.  Though I never speak finances on the blog, I had saved enough in my savings to live one year without having a job.  Not one year buying everything in the world but one year living comfortably.  (This means doing the occasional road race, new shoes but also paying what needs to be payed like bills etc).   I knew I probably wouldn’t find a job for a few months (a few not 8) so I had financially prepared for that.

While sitting and applying for jobs I felt the need to apply for every single job available.  Nevermind that it didn’t look interesting, it was an hour away…I qualified so I would apply.  I even found myself thinking if I got one job, should I get two?

All of that was unnecessary.  I found a job I love and I’m happy.  The wait was worth it and it allows me the balance I need in my life.  In the end I am sitting here saying you don’t need to do everything.  You don’t need to thrive on being on the go all the time.  If you are anything like me (you may or may not be) then you do need and truly deserve some rest and down time for yourself.  This is a lesson I struggle with often.

Question for you:

Do you have the all or nothing mentality?

I used to in college but have found that I do really enjoy my down time too.

A Dream Race…

This is an open letter to race directors.  It solely reflects my own personal opinion.  It is not meant to bash anyone or anything, nor am I begging every race I go to make it “perfect” for me.  I am just stating in a dream race situation this would be a winning combination for me.

It’s not a secret I like to run.  As well as running solo I like to participate in a lot in road races.  If I could race every weekend without the possibility of injury or mental fatigue I would.  I would love it.  That being said there are several things that I find to make the perfect race for me.  I’ve briefly listed them.

Registration:

There should be an option to do this beforehand online as well as at the race (for smaller races).  I understand bigger races or marathons and even some half marathons this is dumb idea…but to arrive at a 5k only to find out there is no race day registration is (in my opinion) silly.

Cost:

Some races are overly expensive because of the name attached.  Some clothing is overly expensive because of the name attached.  NYCM was 200+ dollars.  NYCM is the Gucci or Prada or Road Races…you do it once and then buy most of your clothes on clearance at target for a while.

That being said, I do not think no name 5ks, 10ks and races with minimal support and swag should be 50 dollars.  5ks should not be 50 dollars period.  Unless I’m getting a lot of free swag or a good tshirt, sweatshirt, COFFEE MUG, or something…5ks should not be 50 dollars ever.

Here are the prices I am willing to pay for a basic and nongoal race:

5k-9.9k: 30 dollars (the absolute max and I try and find 20 dollar 5ks as much as possible)

10k: 40 dollars

Half marathon: 75 dollars (unless it’s a goal race and falls on a specific date I want…)

The race:

If there is a corner there should be a volunteer or it is clearly marked to tell you where to go.  Nothing is worse than getting lost on a course when you are on a PRing pace.  Even a giant sign that says this way…just please don’t think people know.  I personally catch the dumb when I run.  2+2 begins to equal 3 and my mind becomes even less directionally intelligent.  You think my grammar is bad now imagine if I wrote while I was running.  I would be better off writing while I was drunk.

I normally don’t care as much about water stops.  Unless it’s especially hot, I need 2 cups of Gatorade per half marathon (mile 5 and 8 are my dream stops).   Just please have the appropriate amount of water or stops.  (I realize everyone is different in this issue and essentially it is the runner who should review the water stops…if you need more…carry your beverage of choice) I do think races should have one water stop (yes that even counts 5ks…not every runner is running a 15 minute 5k, some people are running an hour).  We as runners will thank you.

Finish line:

Have a clock at the finish line.  Always have a clock…unless it’s “not a race” I payed to race and have to have some sort of time.

A bit of water at the end is good too but I personally normally have ten water bottles in my car.

Race awards:

I’m sure there are a lot of different opinions on this.  I don’t race to win and pick up awards.  I’ve actually never won a race with a cash prize.  (That’s fine).  I’ve won a few gift cards, lots of trophies, medals and plaques (which I keep every single one) but at least do something for the overall winners.  Even if it’s a certificate we like the extrinsic motivation.  Nothing is better then instagramming a sweet prize.  It makes you look good, me look good and the race look good.

There has been one race that I’ve been disappointed with race awards and that was the Nike Women’s half marathon.  For a 160 dollar half marathon, you would have thought I would have gotten a certificate for winning my overall age group.  Since it was such a large, expensive race I guess I expected too much.  Maybe if I had a terrible race I wouldn’t have been so upset.  Other then that I race for me and have never had an “issue” with race awards.

That being said if you give me a free entry for next year’s event,  that is number one.  I will probably sing your race songs and come back if I’m around. In my dream world, every race I have won, I would get a free entry for next year.  (that’s just me though).  If I get any sort of award, whether it’s a baby medal I’m generally very happy.

One more thing:

What you do for the top male do for the top female.  Yes I understand the top male is winning and there is no one else in front of them but it really stinks when the top male breaks the tape and the top female does not…or the top male gets 3 cyclists and the top female does not…is that selfish I don’t know but I am a woman and I work hard.

In summary:

I love to race and if anything of this really upset me I wouldn’t race.  I do realize that putting a race together is hard work and I will always be in awe for those who do.  I’m just saying if race budgets were not an option and every race was tailored to my style…this would be a perfect race for me.

Question for you: What is a perfect race for you? 

Continuing the Success

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about being successful and my own personal meaning about it.  In summary I thought:

Success is doing something you enjoy, being happy and able to make it. 

Whether you are working and doing something completely different then your major in college…

Whether you are taking care of your child and enjoying it…

Whether you are taking risks and making personal changes…

Whether you are doing something you swore you would never do…

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I hinted last week that I didn’t need material items right now to make me feel happy or successful.  I do crave the support of friends and family-both of which I have.  I can honestly say I have the absolute best friends in the entire world.   It is a great feeling to say that both my family and friends would do anything for me and I would do anything for them.

I haven’t always had this mindset though.  In college and even after, I had the mindset to always bite off more than I could chew.  I wanted to be the best at multiple things.  I would rather be a jack of all trades versus specialize in one or two different ideas.

I’ve been asked a lot about the comparison trap and how I stay content with being myself.  I’m not the world’s best blogger, I’m not the fastest runner, I’m still actively seeking a job and yet I feel happy and content with my life-despite it not being everything I had hoped for post college.

I think about how I desperately needed two solid months off of running after the marathon.  I watch as countless runners and bloggers can do shake out runs the day after or even the week after.  I was barely able to move for two weeks after let alone get into serious running.  I needed far more time to both physically and mentally recover from the marathon.

In college you are given an image that you feel you should strive to be.  Post college you should be applying for jobs and be hired within a couple of months for a job full time with benefits.  As far as your social life, you keep good friendships with your college friends.  Your college sweetheart and you get married a few months after graduation.  You make good friends with your new found coworkers as well as people with similar interests outside of work.

Then within a couple of years you have saved enough to put a down payment on a house.  Now you’re set?  Right?  You have a perfect job, perfect spouse, house and perhaps a couple of pets.  (Lord knows I’m not a pet person).

So here you are at the ripe age of 25 living the dream.  Or at least that was the impression that my college gave me.

I’m only 23 so I guess I have a few years to go.  I can guarantee you that probably none of that will be my life at 25.  I hope to have a job, I know I won’t be putting a down payment on a house and I know I think it’s highly unlikely I’ll have pets.

I do know one thing-that I’ll be content with myself.  I’ll be happy if I am working, enjoying my life and enjoying the process that is life. I think the more I think about this topic, the more I realize that there is no single measurement for happiness.  My life is nothing as I thought post college.  My life is nothing as I thought it would be six months ago…and you know what?

I’m okay with that.  I’m enjoying each stride.

Finally, don’t forget to vote friends!  I’m starting to catch up!  :-)

What is Success?

The last six months I’ve moved and moved.  I guess if you count running a marathon with 50,000 people and meeting various bloggers and Oiselle teammates then yes I’ve been relatively social.   At some points I catch myself feeling sorry for myself as if I am upset for choosing the series of events that eventually led me to New Jersey.

I don’t know why I would even begin to feel sorry for myself since I’m completely happy in my area, I love who I’m living with and I’m happy with myself mentally.  Despite still not having a job and actively looking, everything else is my life is so positive.

I know for me personally I am my biggest critic.  When I race I have always found the imperfections of a race, whether it is taking the race out too quickly, too slowly, being boxed in…ect.  I even go as far as to find imperfections in races that I cannot control such as weather or temperature.  When someone gives me a compliment I find myself accepting it but talking about how I could be doing better.  Or what I could do to be better.  For instance if someone says “nice hair”, I might say thank you but it needs a trim.

I’ve always been extremely hard on myself trying to meet certain criteria that I feel will satisfy and cause me to feel successful and happy.  A new PR in a race?  A new haircut that makes me feel stylish?  Working 50 hour weeks to pay for bills?  The list is endless.  I’m honestly not sure the list ends.

It’s important for me (and us) to realize that while you can have everything you put your mind too, it isn’t feasible to believe that you would truly be happy with every single thing.  When I was working 50 hour weeks I was working, running and occasionally seeing friends.  Was I 100% happy?  No, I wasn’t living with who I am now and found myself wishing I was.  I wasn’t as social as I could be and I often missed important events due to work or to get training in.  I made the choice several times to hang out and be social versus training…but then my training suffered.  I made the choice several times to train versus going to a late night movie…but then my social life suffered.

Sure I was happy because I could afford the things I wanted but I was not truly happy.  My time was spent wishing I had more personal or free time.  I was wishing to have everything in life, bake a cake and eat it too.

Now that I’m unemployed I’m wishing I had a job that will satisfy my needs of what I want to do.  I’m wishing I had less free time and working hours to be able to afford everything I want.  I’m wishing that I had a job that I enjoyed again.  Oddly enough I truly miss working.

I guess what I’m getting at here is that in life you have to prioritize and have balance.  As I grow older I’m slowly learning that.  While there is no one size fits all perfect life,  you can be happy without succeeding in every single life event or thing.  You do not have to “do it all” to be happy.  I have developed a life mantra that you are successful only if you are happy.  Whether you are happy by working out, by working, by being with a significant other, you must be happy to be successful.  Truly happy both inside and out.  That is something I have been working on and I can honestly say I feel I’m accomplishing each day.

Question for you: How do you define success?

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