Link

Ever on the lookout for inspiration I bought myself a new book last weekend. I haven’t gotten very far in it because I keep going back to re-read previous chapters. The book is called “The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive” by Jim Afremow.champions mind And for me, who is so not an athlete, this has been a bit of a sociological curiosity; peeking into the mind of some strange creature who strives for excellence. I realized that I so don’t think like a champion or an athlete or anything even closely related to that mindset.

This book is chock-full of helpful advice to get the athlete (or champion if you prefer) to the next level. My goals are not so lofty: I’m just looking to exercise more regularly. But a couple of gems did stick out as applicable to me so far:

Schedule the right number of daily challenges. An unrealistic plan is a self-defeating plan. Undoable plans are disheartening, so schedule a reasonable number of tasks. At sunset savor what you’ve done, albeit done so far.

I have not been able to get myself to do every one of the scheduled workouts for the past two weeks. To my credit I’ve done 4 of the 6, which is not so bad. It’s pretty darn good, actually, and better than it’s been in a while in fact. But my fitness plan for after school, and my gigantic, ginormous goal of the race series are unrealistic. At this time. I have to scale them down because I am getting discouraged and disheartened. And that makes me want to sit on the couch and watch 17 hours of Parks and Recreation. Not that I did that or anything. Just sayin’… Don’t judge me.

Here’s another one:

You are stronger than the initial discomfort experienced in staying disciplined while working hard or changing habits. To achieve positive outcomes, imagine the good feeling of striking off each item on your list. Life is a series of choices, and time is a treasure. That being true, own your game by making good choices and using time wisely.

I don’t like to be uncomfortable. And I am wayyyyy out of my comfort zone with this blog. But I’m going forward. This is important to me. These goals are important to me. I don’t want to throw in the towel because I’m going in too strong and getting overwhelmed. This is a process. Weight isn’t gained in a day and it doesn’t come off after one workout. It’s making choices every day. Healthy choices. Athletes, champions, whatever…isn’t a status you achieve. It’s a state of mind that is chosen every day.

So this week I am going to set a few more realistic goals because the alternative is that I just quit. And champions don’t quit (so I’m told. I wouldn’t really know). Well I guess if they did quit they wouldn’t be called champions. They’d be called couch potatoes. Touche.

I will make a more reasonable workout schedule for the upcoming week. And I will get in a workout today. It’s time to stop working against myself. For the past 2 weeks all I’ve done is tried to talk myself out of my workouts and my goals. Exercise is fun for me. Or at least it was once upon a time. But I haven’t been having much fun lately.

My self-imposed guilt trip stops now.

Off to strike some stuff from my to-do list,

Karen

Reality Check

The worst words to utter are: “what might have been”. I heard that this morning, and it got me thinking…how many of us go through life wishing for something but not having the cojones to go for it? Lots of us, I’m sure. Me obviously. But here’s the great thing – we do have time. It’s not too late to make that dream a reality. I want to get to the end of this year and feel proud and strong.

yoda

Now might be a good time for a reality check:

  • Last week I got in 2 boot camp workouts and 1 run. Total mileage for the week/year: 2.5/8. Not an awful start, but not quite what I planned either. Hey it’s something! At least I’ve started. And I haven’t quit either.
  • I’ve completed 3 weeks of boot camp and the exercises have gotten much easier. I’m getting stronger and that will help make my runs easier too. Win-win.
  • I’ve got to give myself a break. I mean, be kinder to myself. I get so discouraged every time I fall short of my goal instead of picking myself up and going back for it. Continuing to berate myself for every misstep is a surefire way to make me want to give up with the quickness. My inner couch potato has a mean streak.
  • This journey is for 12 months life. It’s not supposed to be easy (in the beginning anyway). Bobby used to tell me (back when we were dating) that we were in a marathon, not a sprint. There are going to be ups and downs. I’m not supposed to breeze through this. This is supposed to be challenging. It’s going to take time for me to figure out the balance between work, exercise, and my couch. Patience, my pet. Patience. You can’t undo years lounging on the couch in a couple of weeks.

Today was a low motivation day. I had some serious procrastination happening. My plan was to go to the gym then do some grocery shopping. And I talked myself right out of that by vowing to do a boot camp at home instead. It took me a while to get out there, but I did it. And that’s how it will need to be done sometimes. And maybe that will get easier too. I certainly hope so. I can’t wait for the day that it becomes nonnegotiable – a complete certainty – in my head.

So the plan for the rest of the week is this:

Monday – boot camp week 3/day 3. Check! Booya!!

Tuesday – 2 mile run

Wednesday – boot camp week 4/day 1

Thursday – 2.5 mile run

Friday – rest

Saturday – 2.5 mile run + boot camp/strength

Sunday – 30-35 min easy run or cross train

go do

Doing, not trying,

Karen

No Excuses

Time for some perspective. This past week was not a total failure as I may have intimated in my last post. I got some workouts in – 3 of them so far, in fact. That is not too shabby. I did 2 boot camp workouts and 1 run so far. I have to let go of the idea that I have to be perfect. There is no way I will be able to follow my training plan exactly. The key is to listen to my body and not my couch potato brain and strive for 90% of the training plan. This week my body said “Rest!”, so I did. But then, I do a lot of resting, so sometimes I have to ignore that little voice and workout.

highway

There are times when I am utterly indecisive. It happens quite a bit actually, and I know it drives Bobby nuts. But there are other times, though few and far between they may be, when I am absolutely certain what to do. Usually what happens is that I will wake up in the morning and know what I need to do to resolve a nagging issue. What I’m saying is that it is possible for me to find clarity (sometimes. I think. I could be wrong. Just kidding…sort of). My point is that some people just fall in love with running, taking off and never looking back. That’s not me. It’s always been a struggle. I’m not passionate about it. I have never had that moment of clarity about the decision to do that race series. Therefore I don’t think I am fully committed to it.

So all week long I found myself looking for excuses (and I found them aplenty). I thought that maybe I’d really get into yoga instead. Or pilates. Or why not just walk? Or run/walk? Running is hard (in my best whiney voice). Waaahhh!

Ok. Can the pity party be over now? Yes running is hard. That’s why a lot of people don’t do it. It is important to me to break through this mental barrier I have. Yes running is going to continue to be hard for a while, but the more I run, the easier it will become. Right?? My mantra on the treadmill these past weeks has been “soon this will be your warmup”, and I realllly want to believe that. My point is that even though yoga and pilates are great and I enjoy them, I want to run.

I have to find that balance between working to mental exhaustion and wanting to plop on my couch with a large glass of wine, to recharging my batteries with a good, sweaty workout after school. Honestly, the benefits so outweigh any lame excuse I can come up with. Even last week when I felt exhausted to my marrow, fall-asleep-on-my-feet tired I could have at least walked. Even if I couldn’t get my head together enough to put one foot in front of the other a little faster I could still move. And I did. And I gave in too. Let’s chalk it up to a learning experience. In the grand scheme of things, it was still a good week. I mean, I’ve had months of sloth-like inactivity, so even this is a vast improvement.

Last night we went out to a nice dinner with our besties. We ate well, drank a lot, and had a really good time. This morning I was up early (thanks dogs, damn you both to hell), and I got my workout clothes on and exercised. Yes I had a headache, but it was fully self-induced. And I powered through it. And you know what? I felt way better after that workout than I would have if I parked myself on the couch all morning with an alka-seltzer. So a pat on the back for me.

Karen with Lotus and Dio

With Lotus and Dio in the yard

wings

I’m not giving up. I will figure this out. Any help is greatly appreciated because I don’t think I can do this on my own.

Searching for clarity in a muddled mind,

Karen

Excuses

This has been a tough week for me. Work was draining. I was exhausted and had a headache that would not quit. So I’m full of excuses why my exercise went off the rails this week. I did get in 2 workouts of the 4 that I planned. I just didn’t have the energy.

I’ve been going to the gym to do my runs on the treadmill. The weather ’round these parts has been bizarre, so I figured indoors was the place to be. In all honesty I’m not crazy about my gym. Here’s why:

  • It’s inexpensive, it’s close to home, and I can always get a treadmill without any waiting (which are all the positives). But it’s bright and loud and crowded all the time.
  • I’m constantly nervous that I’m going to trip and fall and make a spectacle of myself. That is true. Embarrassing and true.
  • I have a hard time getting into a rhythm, maybe because it’s so boring. So I feel like my blood sugar is about to crash, I can’t catch my breath, see previous statement about tripping.
  • I’m terribly self-conscious.

I just don’t know if this race series and this 10k in March are going to happen for me. I have a serious mental block. And I’m looking for reasons (excuses) to get out of it. I guess I’m contemplating scaling down my goal.  Running is really hard and I keep thinking it’s going to get easier, and it will. But I don’t know when. For now I’m struggling, and so this couch potato isn’t having any fun.

mandela

True Confessions and Weekend Roundup

We are two weeks into the new year and I’m officially back at school (work). So that means I am back to my long commute, my super-early mornings, and my mentally taxing job, aka my normal schedule.

Time for some true confessions:

  • It isn’t that I didn’t want to blog last week, but I had technical difficulties and a shortage of time when my computer was actually working. Ah well…excuses aplenty over here.
  • I did get in my workouts as planned last week. I’m proud of myself for that. I don’t always want to work out, but I found that I made it non-negotiable (in my head) then I didn’t try to talk myself out of it.
  • I feel like I gained 15 pounds in the past month. None of my clothes seem to fit me comfortably. I went shopping over the weekend to buy some new pants and was completely discouraged by the experience. I definitely enjoyed myself over the holidays, and I definitely gained some weight. I don’t want this blog to be about weight loss, because that is not my primary concern, but I have to admit I’m not feeling very good in my skin these days. As a side note, I did weigh myself in the beginning of the year. I only want to use that number as a base line, but it is higher than it’s ever been.
  • I do have body image issues. I have always been thin, healthy, and active. And I have always thought negatively about my body. I don’t even want to write the things I think because I would never, ever say them to my worst enemy. But why it seems ok to say them to myself I do not know. There are times that I do catch those thoughts and I am able to reframe them. Like I said, my body is healthy, and this journey is not about weight loss. It’s about fitness and feeling good in my body for once. This true confession could (and should) be a blog post all its own. This is a huge issue for me and it affects me in every aspect of my life. And I think if I can make peace with my body image once and for all I know I can be successful in my fitness goals. These two things are inextricably linked and I will not be successful in one without dealing with the other.
  • I am exhausted. I am so tired even though I’m getting plenty of sleep. I’m guessing this is because I’m back to my work routine and adding in some moderate daily exercise. I feel like I have no energy at all. Thank the gods for coffee!

I think that’s enough over sharing for now. Here’s my workout schedule for this week:

Monday

Boot camp: www.shrinkingjeans.net/bootcamp  week 3 day 1 (Done! Booya!)

Tuesday

Run 2 miles

Wednesday

Boot camp w3 d2

Thursday

Run 2 miles

Friday

Rest

Saturday

Run and Boot camp w3 d3 (or machines at the gym)

Sunday

25-30 min easy run or crosstrain

Last week I substituted Saturday’s boot camp for a strength training session at the gym with the machines. And I felt that sweet muscle soreness on Sunday, so that was a smart move. In case you’re curious I used did 30 reps on: leg press, inner and outer thigh machines, hamstring and quadriceps curls, pullups and dips (assisted). Then I did some ab work with a 10 pound medicine ball and planks. And I always finish up a workout with a good stretch. And Sunday I didn’t run but I did take my pup Dio for a long sniffabout, I mean walk.

So this week is all about establishing this new fitness routine. I’ve gotta make this exercise after school nonnegotiable.

Weekend Update

The tree has been taken down and all the decorations put in the attic until next year. Christmas vacation is officially over. It’s a school night. And I cannot complain because we had two full weeks off this year. I can tell it’s the beginning of a new year because I’m chock full of motivation and enthusiasm and my gym is packed with like-minded folk. So here’s what I’ve been up to since I last posted. I did accomplish my goal of getting in the other boot camp workout and 2 runs. Both runs were on the treadmill because it’s -50* around here (or feels that way.) Yay me. Annnnd I signed up for a 10k March 16th (The Shamrock Shuffle via www.shrinkingjeans.net ). And I’m likely signing up for the Holyoke Road Race on March 22nd too. I actually will, I just haven’t yet. Yes, folks, the big girl panties are on and I am making forward progress.

Today’s workout was particularly good. I pulled it off Pinterest from Popsugar.treadmillIt ended up being about 3 miles, and it was a good, sweaty workout. I felt a twinge of pain in my left hip so I spent several minutes on the foam roller afterwards. Note to self: must purchase a foam roller asap. Mileage total for the week/year: 5 miles.

On the agenda for the rest of this lovely Sunday evening: dinner with my man, oyster shooters, hot tub, and tv. Heaven.

Tomorrow is the official start of my training program. I have a goal – March 16th – 10 weeks to get myself together to run a 10k. I can totally accomplish this. This is doable. As long as I ignore the call of the couch and follow my plans.

The Action is Go

Deep breath.

Ok. It is time to make a plan. The first race in the series is in April, which is a whole 4 months away. The procrastinator in me would wait until March to get on this, but that’s not how I’m gonna roll this year. I’m looking into 10k races in March. Most training plans for beginners are about 8 weeks. That gives me plenty of time to get back into running form. I’ve got a good plan, but I have no idea where I found it. But Runner’s World, Iron Girl/Athleta, and Hal Higdon all have good ones. They’re all different, which means there isn’t one Holy Grail to race training. I have to do what works for me.

So my plan is to follow this mysteriously sourced 10k training plan as well as the Boot Camp from www.shrinkingjeans.net/bootcamp. I’ve already completed 2 of the 3 workouts from week 1, so my intention is to keep tackling those as well.

Week 1 (Starting January 4, 2014)  looks like this:

Monday – boot camp

Tuesday – 1.5 mile run

Wednesday – boot camp

Thursday – 1.5 mile run

Friday – rest

Saturday – 2 mile run and boot camp

Sunday – 25-30 minute easy run

Since today is Friday (and a snow day!) I’ll just take it easy. Kidding! Sort of. No, I will get in the other boot camp workout as well as 2 runs before Monday. That’s doable.

actions

Alrighty then. Enough said. Time to boogie.

Karen

Time to Put on the Big Girl Panties

Yesterday I spent a little bit of time contemplating my goals. One of the things about new year’s resolutions is that they are very rarely kept for the whole year.

fitness resolution

Every time I think about this race series lately I get a stomach ache. I’m overwhelmed by it. It scares the hell out of me. I wonder if I have what it takes to see it through. Will I be the little red stick figure that never starts, or makes it through a week, or 3 months …? I’ve got the tools: the training plans, the schedule book, hell, I even have the time, which is a tough commodity to come by these days. What I’m lacking is the confidence. I’ve lost confidence in myself to see things through. I’ve let myself down time and again – with the same race series a few years ago, to the 10k training I blew off last fall, and plenty of little disappointments in between. The only way to regain trust is to build it back – over time. Prove myself.

Why is this goal important to me? I think it goes back to the very first race I ever trained for back in 2010. It was an 8k (5 miles) for the Rays of Hope – breast cancer treatment. I raised money and trained. I ran further than I ever thought I would. And I did it – I ran that 5 miles. That was an accomplishment I didn’t know I could do. Each week I ran and built my endurance. I loved the challenge of it. I loved completing a difficult run because I was proud of myself. The training runs gave me the confidence I needed to keep running. To keep challenging myself. And I need to feel that way about myself again. I need to feel that I can handle the training, the race series. I mean, I know I can do it. I did it before. But so many times since then I have come up short. Didn’t finish. My confidence is shot.

Ok, in all honesty the first time I tried the race series I was nervous and excited. I hadn’t trained enough beforehand, so I didn’t do the first race – 8 miles. The second race was a 5 miler, which I was pushed to do by the series coordinator. And the course was tough! The final 1.5 miles was uphill. And I was the second-to-last person to finish. That was crushing. I’d like to tell you that it doesn’t matter how fast or slow I am. That all that matters is getting out there and doing it. But I hated being last. And it affected my confidence so much that I ran only one other race that series – a 4 miler – and I didn’t feel so great about my performance then either. So I stopped participating. Dropped out. Quit. I succumbed to the call of the couch.

I let myself down. And I’ve been avoiding dealing with these feelings since that time. Time to get over it. The past is the past. I’ve learned from my mistakes and I’m ready to try again. I want to try again.

panties

I have to get over my recent flops and put on my big girl panties. The time has come to face this fear and regain my confidence. Ya know some might say that my race flops were failures only in my own mind. It is all about perspective. And I am ready to change my perspective. And my underwear.

Gonna run,

Karen

Goals and Obstacles

Happy New Year Everyone! So here is my first post of 2014. And yes I am, like so many others, reflecting on the past year and preparing myself for the new. I have to say 2013 was… not awful. I know some people who had it pretty tough last year, so by comparison it wasn’t too bad for me. For me it was just…meh. No major milestones to report. Some small victories. Some minor disappointments. No biggies. I stayed very much in my comfort zone all year. I got Netflix and got caught up on lots of shows. I didn’t say I was proud. I’m not bragging here. It was a pretty ordinary year and I did very ordinary stuff.

I ran one race last spring. It was a 5k through cow fields and it was cold and muddy and I didn’t feel ready for it. I planned to run a 10k in the fall, but bailed on the training program about 6 weeks into it. Why??? Seriously. That’s the question I need answered. My motivation came and went all last year. And I noticed that when I was in a low-motivation period it might take me a good month to get back on track. That means I had to keep starting over again and again. That is no recipe for success.

Last year I wrote down a few suggestions (because I didn’t get around to actual resolutions):

  • Pick a word to focus on (my word was mindfulness)
  • Don’t go more than 2 consecutive days without exercise (that’s adorable! In that I never actually followed that one)
  •  Box in workouts (i.e. don’t look too far ahead on the training plan or else get overwhelmed). Just deal with the workout of the day and if it sucks then don’t let it discourage me from tackling the next one
  •  Exercise must be at the forefront of my mind. I cannot put it at the back of my mind, bottom of the list. I have to figure out how to exercise despite other people’s schedules
  • PLAN. Plan meals, workouts, work stuff. Plan. Plan. Plan.

Those were pretty good suggestions. I still like them, and I wished I had been more mindful in following them in the past year. I had the best of intentions, as we all do. So, this year, 2014, I am feeling hopeful and optimistic. As I was last year, and the year before that, etc. Those of us who make new year’s resolutions, or suggestions, tend to be optimistic folk.

obstacles

Believe it or not I happen to know a thing or two about setting goals. I help students set goals all the time. To set a good goal, one should follow the SMART acronym:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Relevant

T – Time-based

That’s all well and good, but I need to figure out why I stop myself shy of the finish line, at least with my fitness goals. Well, I tend to focus on my own motivation, willpower, and self-control (or lack thereof). But maybe what I should focus on instead is setting smaller goals with smaller wins, finding ways to facilitate my goals, and monitoring myself better – checking in to see if I’m on track or not. And if I’m starting to stray how do I get back? I tend to be a relatively passive person, so I have to start playing more offense, so to speak. Plan, plan, plan. Use my times of high willpower to get me through my times of low willpower. I am a creature of habit. I like my routine, mostly. What I need to do is surround myself with the tools that will ensure my success. I mean they are my goals after all. Don’t I want to be successful? Just because I have mashed potatoes coursing through my veins doesn’t mean I can’t achieve a fitness goal or two. I just need to make some new routines and new habits.

Mindfully contemplating new goals,

Karen