This last week I’ve had a hard time getting out the door by 5:00 to run. The cold weather is anything but motivating. In fact, last week I only ran once.

Last night I was determined to set myself up for success for this morning’s run. I pre-programmed my coffee pot to start brewing at 4:30, laid my warmest running clothes out, along with my favorite socks and shoes. When my alarm went off this morning I knew I had no excuse. I got up, got dressed, had my coffee and instantly felt like a new person (I might rely on coffee a little too much). I drove to Flo’s house, where we usually start our run, and was greeted by the rest of our group. Seeing them dressed in their running gear, ready to go, always energizes me and gets me in the mood to run. A friend that I run with four days a week gave everyone the cutest, most ingenious Christmas present ever. I had to take a picture of it to remember to make them for friends next year.

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Gel packs wrapped in a hankerchief! Such a clever gift for a runner.

Ok, at this point I was glad I got up. I have a great crew that I run with; they inspire me and get me presents. Wait, that’s not the right thing to say, is it?

But really, I do have a great crew. This morning we ran a 5k, which is my least favorite distance to run because I don’t enjoy running fast. I got off to a good start, but had trouble with congestion and ended up falling behind. The same friend that gave out Christmas presents stayed behind with me and helped me finish this morning’s run.

All of this gets me thinking about the season and the love Christ has for us; agape love. Sacrificial love. Typically this time of year I’m so busy thinking about shopping, cooking and making the holiday perfect that I forget the true meaning of Christmas. That we’re to step back and reflect on the love God has for us, so much love that He came down from heaven to save us all. And to do that He made the ultimate sacrifice, to die so that we may live.

Of course, He is alive and today we are called to live sacrificially, as He did. We can do that in our day to day lives. We can do that on our morning runs. We can do that in the toy store, the grocery store, around the fireplace or around the Christmas tree.

Sometimes a bad run can humble you and bring you to the place you need to be spiritually. It certainly did for me. Christmas is more than presenls, candy, stockings and reindeer. It’s Jesus.

Upping the Mileage (and what it feels like to be beat by a 71 year old runner)

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that during my marathon training this time around I have a goal other than to “just finish.”  In January I had zero thoughts of a time goal, I just wanted to get through the race in one piece. I took my time and had fun; it was Disney World! It ended up taking me (don’t laugh) 6 hours and 20 minutes. This time around I have a goal in finishing under 6 hours. That sounds impossible considering most people struggle to take just 2-3 minutes off of their marathon times, but at Disney I spent 20 minutes waiting in line for the bathroom several times. My time was slowed way down because I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t push myself because I didn’t know if my body could actually do it. This time around I have a better grasp on bathroom breaks, water breaks, nutrition breaks. etc. and find every minute to be valuable.

This week my training is getting serious. I am to the point in my training where I need to start logging approximately 30 miles a week, and I’m almost there.

My training this week will be as follows:

  • Monday: 4 Miles
  • Tuesday: 5 Miles
  • Wednesday: 3 Miles/Cross Train (weights)
  • Thursday: 4 miles
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 9 Miles
  • Sunday: Rest/Cross Train (cycling)

My marathon training last year looked something like this:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: Run 45 minutes- 1 hour
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Run 45 minutes- 1 hour
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Long Run (eventually working up to 20 miles)
  • Sunday: Weights

Looking back, I really wasn’t running enough last year. Even now I’m still building up my endurance; I would eventually like to be able to run about 50 miles per week. Little by little I will get there.

This weekend I was really encouraged and inspired by a woman that I run with. She is 71 years old and can outrun just about anyone I know. She’s been running for 40 years and is simply one of the best. She wasn’t naturally a great runner, she worked hard to become one. It’s very humbling to run with a 71 year old woman (when I myself am not yet 25) and have her smoke you. It’s not just humbling, it’s incredibly inspiring. And with that  a thought hit me, “I am young. I am capable. I can push myself harder and I can be great.”

With proper nutrition and dedicated training, I know I will become better. My 71 year old running partner gave me some wisdom this morning: “It’s not the pounds that get heavier, it’s the years.” I have a few more good years in me, and I’m going to put them to good use. I want to wake up at 71 years old and be able to outlast a bunch of 20-some year old runners myself.

 

 

Running Fears

Saturday mornings I wake up at 4:30am and prepare for my long run that I usually do with a couple friends. This morning I woke and was flooded with anxiety and doubt.

I began noticing every tiny ache or pain and thinking of how I could use it as an excuse to cut my run short. I had every intention of only running 4 miles today, blaming a pain in my ankle. It was 4:30 in the morning, I was tired, I ate pizza yesterday which is COMPLETELY out of my healthy eating plan, and last week I really struggled with the route that I would again be running today because it is full of steep hills. I was allowing myself to be beaten down by the enemy.

I got around, hydrated, ate a small pre-run meal and put on my running clothes. I grabbed my socks and shoes and started to lace them up and thought “just suck it up and do it. You have no real excuse. You’re not injured, you’re intimidated.” So I got in the car to drive to the starting point of my route and began to pray. I asked for the strength, the endurance, and the confidence to be able to complete this run.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

Christ gives us strength, He knows what it means to endure. A run is nothing compared to the pain He endured while on earth. But He promised to give us strength, and in that moment I decided to rely on Him to get me through this.

I think many will agree that the biggest challenge in running is the mental aspect of it. We often have the physical strength to actually run, but mentally we are weak. It takes an incredible amount of mental discipline to run a marathon; to tell yourself that you’ll be OK, to just keep going even though it hurts. This is why running brings me closer to God. I don’t have the discipline, the focus, the confidence or the mental strength to run on my own. But every time I call on Him, God provides.

After a moment of quiet prayer in the car I was at peace and I was ready. I pulled up to our starting point, said hello to my friends and we were on our way. As I said, this route is tough for me because it is full of steep hills, and I typically don’t run hills very often. Every other Saturday I have fallen behind my group and had to stop and walk to try and get the cramps out of my side after hauling up those hills.

Today was different. My body felt strong, even comfortable, the entire time. Even the largest hill that I dread the entire way didn’t slow me a bit. I ran up it without even being winded. “Wow!” I thought, “Are we running slower than last week?” No, our pace was actually 20 seconds faster than last week’s. And this time I didn’t get left behind.

So why was I struggling with so much fear? Because today my fullest potential was going to be unlocked, and the devil didn’t want to see that happen. My friend Hannah shared this last night and it couldn’t be more perfect:

“Keep your head up. Don’t look back. The pain is momentary. The finish is worth it. We run because our God is good.”

5:00am, cookies, and the guy that doesn’t like running

When you’re behind on blogging your blog titles never make sense because you try to cram everything that has happened into one post. Or maybe that’s just me.

Training the last two weeks has been consistent and good. My (very vague) schedule goes a bit like this:

Monday: 3.5-4 mile run at 5am

Wednesday: 3.5-4 mile run at 5am

Friday: 3.5-4 mile run at 5am

Saturday: Long run at 5am

Note, they all happen at 5am, which has left me feeling utterly exhausted. I’m not quite back into the swing of marathon training. I’m doing it but my body hasn’t adjusted to the early runs yet. I took about 2 months off after my January marathon which was a big mistake. After the break I began running small distances at 5am once again, but something about steadily increasing my mileage plus these early mornings is just wearing me out. If you are naturally early riser, I’m envious.

I’m so very thankful that I have a great group of friends to run with this year. Last year I ran just about all of my long runs solo, which I don’t mind doing, but once in a while it’s nice to share the pain of those runs with someone. My runner friends also never let me skip 5am in favor of my bed, so I am very thankful for them!

I have yet to incorporate speed work into my training. I know I need to because I want to improve my marathon time desperately. My plan is to work on speed every Wednesday starting next week. I plan to incorporate speed drills and tempo runs into my schedule. I am a newbie at speed work so I really have no idea what I’m doing. Last time I trained I simply wanted to finish the race. This time I want to be better.

Now onto my addiction to cookies…

I love baking, and last year I tried a new cookie recipe and gave some of them to our neighbors. A few weeks ago she asked me to make more of her “favorite cookies” so I obliged. My husband and I are both eating very healthy diets so I planned ahead and made plates of cookies for all our neighbors, leaving my husband and I four cookies left so we wouldn’t blow our diets. Little did I know, one of my friends was eating healthy like we were, so she politely denied her cookie plate. This left me feeling a little bit like this all week:

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I ate the cookies. I did it; I’m a terrible person. Lesson learned, I have no self control. I’m paying for it in the gym and on my runs this week. Oh well, moving on…

 

Often I come across people that don’t like running. That’s fine, I used to hate running. I really do understand. I worked at it and somehow forced myself to like it. And now I love it! But it’s not everyone’s thing.

Last week we had dinner with some newer  friends of ours. I had to decline staying out late because I had to be up at 4:30 the next morning for a long run. A gentleman we were with gave me a scolding look and told me that “it’s a terrible addiction” and wouldn’t I rather “wake up late and have pancakes and enjoy the day?” Well yes, I would. And I do that on weekends from time to time. But that next morning I had a plan and I wasn’t going to stray from it. Sometimes it’s tough to have people stare you down and tell you what you’re doing is “very unhealthy” and “an addiction.” The main thing I focus on when I train is listening to my body. If I feel even a tiny tweak in my knee, foot, or anywhere else that might be an indicator of an injury, I rest until it’s back to normal. Thankfully eating a fairly healthy diet (you know, other than the cookies) and running with proper form have saved me from dealing with any serious injuries. All I know is that I feel healthier, stronger, more disciplined and more determined than I ever had before I started running.

Not only that, but running is a time when I feel very close to God. I use that time to pray and seek Him. I’m sticking to it.

 

So friends, how do you handle sticking to your training plan when friends try to convince you to stray from it? Let me know in the comments; thanks for reading!

-Mel

 

 

 

From Altras to Newtons! Taking my new kicks for a spin

 

This weekend my awesome husband took me shoe shopping. I have been running in Altras for about a year and a half and have loved them. A few months back I was at an expo and my friend encouraged me to try on a pair of Newtons. Her legendary “shoe guy” was there at the expo so I knew I needed to have him fit me. I had heard from several running friends about Joe the shoe guy. Joe has been running long distances for over 30 years and opened a running store about that long ago. I have heard legends of his shoe fitting super powers. He looks at your feet, puts you in new shoes and perfects your running technique forevermore. I went to him at the expo, unconvinced that anything could top my Altras, and was so surprised when I tried on a pair of Newtons and they were above and beyond. It was like Cinderella had found her glass slipper. I have been wanting a pair since that expo and this weekend I finally got them!

I took them out for a spin this morning, wondering if they would still be as comfy a few miles in. Wow! They knocked my socks off. They have the same minimalist approach as Altras but have more cushioning, which I didn’t think I needed until I ran in them. I did 3.5 miles this morning and will go further distances with them later in the week. I’m excited to see how they do.

This morning was a nice 76 degrees but man it was MUGGY! I was out the door at 5am hoping for cooler weather, but with the humidity it felt more like 85-90 out.

 

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I still had the shoe box sitting on my end table when I got back so I grabbed my shoe, plopped it right on top, and snapped a picture with my awesome camera that went through the washing machine and survived. Now I’m left with weird purple blurry dots in my photos.

Note that I left all my crap sitting on my table in the picture; I felt that this accurately summed up my life in a nutshell. Eat to Live cookbook, coffee, essential oil diffuser, running shoes. I need to get out more.

Hope everyone had a good weekend! 🙂

It’s official: I’m addicted to running

This summer marks one full year that I’ve been running. That’s so short compared to so many of my avid runner friends, but what a milestone it is for me. For years I tried to be a runner but could not run for more than 1 minute at a time. I tried the Couch to 5k plan countless times but just never followed through with it. I had convinced myself I would never be able to run for 30 minutes straight, so I never got past week 1 of C25k. I would finish week one, then repeat it the next week, then stop for a week, then get discouraged and just quit.

Looking back on the old me I think “what the heck?!” What was wrong with me? I had created a mental block and could not get past it. I was healthy, capable, a perfect contender. I just didn’t want to put in the effort. It wasn’t until one day when I realized that I had Christ strengthening me. If I had God as my helper, what is there that I possibly could not achieve? So I said I would run a marathon. I signed up for one having never completed a race in my life, and I started training. And I did it.

And I’m going to do it again. I just signed up for my second full marathon that I plan to run in February of 2015. Hopefully with a year of running and several races under my belt I will be able to improve my time a bit. I know what to expect this time around, what I need and don’t need (large hydration pack that got tossed at the WDWM at mile 20 was a lesson learned) and have become comfortable peeing in bushes…that’s already saving several minutes! Last year I had one goal: don’t die. This year I would like to put a little more “umph” into my training and set a time goal. Nothing too intense, but something to aim for other than just finishing it. Now that this blog exists I plan to record all of my training on here. It will be fun to post pictures, times, and watch progress unfold. It’s easy to forget how far I’ve come.

I am just in awe of the way God has carefully constructed our bodies and what they are able to do. I feel so blessed to be able to go out and run. I hope some of you will follow along this journey with me.

Mel

Just Keep Running

Sometimes after a big race it’s hard to get back in the swing of training. This has been me for the last two months. I’ve been stuck running 3-4 miles 3x a week and not pushing myself to go any further. After the marathon, I experienced a sort of runner’s depression. I’m a newbie, it was my first big race and I wasn’t sure how to get back into the swing of training after completing such a big goal of mine. My body was tired, and my head wasn’t in the game. 

Yesterday I watched a documentary on the Badwater Ultramarathon, and of course it flipped that little switch in the back of my mind that made me crave more (not that that is something I’ll be attempting any time soon). I realized that to keep on trucking I need to continue to sign up for races. Races make me train, they give me a goal. I’m still waiting for the day when I’ll wake up and go run 25 miles just for the sake of running, but sadly that day hasn’t arrived yet. 

Next up on my list is the Williams Lake 10k Trail Challenge next month. This will be a fun race and my first ever trail run which I am SO looking forward to! 

Just have to keep moving. Complacency is no state to live in. Bigger challenges stretch my faith, I want to rely on Him more. 

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This moment changed my life. This picture was taken after I completed my first full marathon this past January with my mother in law. This was my first race I had ever run…I hadn’t even competed in a 5k! (Probably not advisable, but I enjoyed myself). I still remember the moment I decided to do it. I was on a treadmill at the gym struggling to run for 30 seconds at a time. I thought…if there are athletes who run marathons relying solely on their own willpower, surely I can complete one if I rely on Jesus. For 9 months I trained hard, praying daily that I could run just a little bit further than the day before. 

Christ held my hand through that race. Yes, it took me 6 hours to finish it…but I FINISHED IT! I ran 26.2 miles and I truly loved every step.

Today the scale didn’t reflect the progress that I wanted it to. It’s a day that I feel like drinking coffee for hours while snuggling up with a book while the rain beats down on my window. But I saw this picture and was reminded, while this was one of the biggest accomplishments I’ve ever achieved, it was just the beginning. This picture marks a turning point in my life. I must press on, because Christ is with me, holding my hand, ready to take me on the next journey. The work hurts, but it makes me strong.  Sometimes I’m tired, but He gives strength to the weary.

I have a half marathon to run in November, and am planning on another full next January. Those are great goals, but today isn’t about those goals. Today is about realizing that it isn’t about race day. It’s about every day that leads up to that starting line. It’s about the small, daily decisions that at the time seem insignificant but in the long run determine who is successful and who is still stuck in a pit. Today I choose to look forward, to press on, to get off this couch, shut my coffee pot off, praise God for another day and work hard. 

Those are my thoughts, and now I gotta run!