Shape Shifter

Remember when I used to be able to run long distances? Me, too.fatty

I remember in my head. My body doesn’t seem to recall that at all.

I’m trying to diversify my workout. I genuinely love running and haven’t been doing enough of it. And I need to get out and do more of it- whether it’s sprints or short or long distances. I live in a paradise. I need more excuses to both exercise and get outside. Running combines both of them beautifully.

I remember why I took a break from running and I’m ok with it. I like lifting. And I will always maintain that lifting and variations of lifting are a more effective and efficient way to get your body into better shape than any other form of exercise.

I just miss running. That’s all.

My body is out of running shape. I went for a run around my neighborhood this week. I didn’t go fast. I didn’t go far. But I did feel it.

I hurt. I had side stitches quickly (that I simply yelled at and pushed through). I was breathing really heavily. I know because people would turn to make sure I was ok. I took out a headphone to hear myself. It was like a person learning the accordion but not giving enough of a push to make the note come out fully so it just sounds pathetic.

Like I’ve said before, it’s not a matter of getting super slender. It’s just a matter of feeling strong. And when I run, I feel weak.

But I guess it’s always nice to have something to work on.

And based on the amount of chocolate I ate post-run, I’ll be working on it plenty over the next few months.

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Fit in every size

I often talk about my own fitness goals and ambitions on this blog. I like sharing my own personal goals and motivations.

As I got to thinking about it, I realized that I probably (unfairly) emphasize size for my own fitness. I’m happy with my body. I like to keep it healthy while still working on constantly improving it.

But I want to be clear about something- you can be fit and healthy at almost any size. I happen to be in an industry where what you look like can often determine what roles you get a chance to go out for. So I spend a decent amount of time making sure I can stay competitive. But I spend the rest of my time making sure I’m showcasing my talent that should get me work no matter what I look like.  It’s both.

I’ve been working a lot lately with a very talented comedian, Justin Harrison, who wrote a book about being a bigger guy and still having confidence in this world. He also has a bunch of cool projects in the works that are similar themes. In working with him so much, I realized that I may articulate a skewed perspective of health. First and foremost, take care of your mental health. Love yourself. If you love yourself, you’ll care more about your own physical health. As you take care of your own physical health, you’ll realize your own strengths and weaknesses. You can slowly but surely improve- whatever that means for where you are in your life. But it all stems from loving yourself first.

I go through phases as a hardcore runner. In doing many races, I see runners of all sizes. I see “big” people competing in half marathons and keeping great paces. I see “curvy” women running full marathons (something I’ve never had any desire to attempt). And guess what? They do it. Good for them.

So just because so many fitness blogs- myself included- can focus on small measurements and celebration of the slightest hint of abs peeping through, please don’t let that discourage you from loving yourself no matter what you look like.

As James Blunt says in a cheesy love song I’ve been playing non-stop lately on my cheesy love songs playlist, “You’re Beautiful.”

I didn’t run the race

Yesterday was America’s Finest City Half Marathon.

There were two medals there waiting for me and a packet with my name on it- all that went unclaimed.

Even though I accepted a couple weeks ago that I would not be running this race, it’s still sad to come to terms with. The race is over. I can’t change my mind now. There’s no going back.

I know this was the right decision. I know in my heart, soul, and gut that there are a number of factors that I would have had to push way too hard- and likely hurt myself- to make that race reality. I’m really happy with what I chose to do this past weekend instead of doing the race. I know in the end, it’s the right decision. But I had a lot of time and training invested in that race. I had already visualized the volunteers at the end putting both medals on my exhausted but happy body. I had looked at the race course and thought about how each mile would feel and how I’d pose for the pictures this time. I’d even picked out my outfit.

Like I said, I had a lot invested in this race.

I’m only human, so I didn’t know the best way to go about not running this. Do I try and sell my ticket online at a discount so I can recover some of the costs? Do I call them ahead and talk about my injury and how I wouldn’t be able to run? Do I go anyway and pick up my packet so I can at least get the t-shirt?

I don’t know. I don’t know how to do these things. I don’t know the best way. I don’t know if I did the best thing. I just distracted myself in other work and -though I accepted I wouldn’t be running- I didn’t give up my registration because I think I held out a sliver of hope that maybe my foot would magically heal and all my issues would go away and I could do it after all.

But that didn’t happen. And it can’t happen now. It’s passed. Things change. There’s no going back. I will not get that T-shirt or those medals or pose for those race pics in the perfect outfit I chose.

And that’s ok. But may take a bit to accept.

And I think I’m still taking about the race…right?

To Rest or Not To Rest?

That is the question.

I really need to whip my body into good cardio shape because in one month I have to run another half marathon race.  The problem is, every time I try to get back on the cardio bandwagon, my foot gives out. I did something to it (see my previous post about it) and I don’t know how best to go about fixing it.

I was grateful enough to get the perfect new running shoes, which have been extremely comfortable and I’m excited to run many miles in. But some damage has already been done to my shoes from my last long run and I don’t know how to fix it.

I’ve been trying to massage it with a tennis ball daily to keep it a little loose. It seems to help. At least I’m not waking up in the morning hobbling like I was the week after I pulled it.

But when I go to the gym, I need to do some cardio. At the very least, I need to lift my legs to keep the muscles working and challenged. Unfortunately, these two activities right now are making my foot worse.

I know I should probably just rest it. Just let it go for a week and take it easy. But I don’t “take it easy” well. I want it to be better and I want it to be better now and I don’t understand how I can’t just talk my mind out of the problem.

But I’m gonna try and respect the pain. I’m gonna spend the week lifting other things. Maybe every time I get angry about not being able to run, I’ll do ab work. Try and get my weakness to be my strength. That’d be making a positive out of the situation, right?

I can’t even get on the elliptical, you guys. The elliptical- the dumbest cardio ever created- hurts my stupid food. I feel likek such a weakling…

Me Time

I understand people have gym buddies. It can be really good motivation for the right type of person. A few weeks ago, my girlfriend asked me if she could tag along when I was going to the gym as motivation for her. I was totally fine with this once in a while.

I get it. Everyone’s different.

I happen to be a personality, though, that prefers to workout alone. Unless I’m doing specifically training for some team sport or playing an active activity with friends, my workout time is my me time.

I’m out and about a lot amongst people. My day job requires that I talk to people and be pleasant throughout the day. My career is filled with working with different personalities and getting to know people from all over. And I love it. But it requires a lot of energy.

So when I workout, that’s my meditation time. It’s my reminder to breathe in my nose and out my mouth. It’s when I quietly check in with my body to see how it’s feeling and what it wants. It’s my time to listen to ridiculous, fun music or great podcasts and just relax.

In a world where I’m always (happily) giving myself to others in some capacity, my workout is my time to give back to my own mind, body, and spirit.

There’s a reason I gravitate towards running and don’t like spinning. Running you’re quietly by yourself taking in the sights and sounds and going at your own pace. Aside from the anonymous people in traffic, nobody notices you. You can zone out. You can relax. You can be invisible and invincible all at once. It’s magical.

Even lifting is as rejuvenating for me. I like being by myself and focusing on getting just the right form for the lift. I like to push my body hard but also listen and know when enough is enough. I like to take breaks between sets and just bop my head to the music I’m listening to and let my body recover. I like to scan around the room and let my mind wander to the personalities around me without investing in any one or anything too much. These people don’t know me. They don’t know the first thing about me. And they don’t care. And I love it.

So now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go run to the ocean for a training run and some me time.

Shout out!

I wanna give a very special shout out to a fantastic blog that inspires and entertains me (and has for two years!) called Bad Angel Rules for Running.

They’re fearless. They’re hilarious. They’re helpful, and they’re in great shape.

Check it out.

That is all for today.

I ate Chipotle and had frozen yogurt so…I don’t have anything else healthy to contribute to this post.

I did it! … but ouch

My Runner’s World Quote of the Day was perfectly appropriate for the day after a very difficult race.

Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all about. – Patti Sue Plumer, U.S. Olympian

Basic recap- that thing was extremely difficult. It was, as promised, excruciatingly hilly. But the weather was perfect (no sun, perfect wind, crisp air) and there were plenty of water stations. My knees stopped wanting to hold my body up. I got floppy and sloppy for the last two miles. I managed to dig deep and finish while accelerating, but if there is any truth in the above quote, it turns out I’m made of whiney floppiness with just a hint of stubborn pride. Whatever that means.

Today- the day after- my body is sore and I’m eating a ton and letting it rest.

Tomorrow- the day after the day after- I start a new workout regimen for six weeks. Focus on weight training with only the occasional run. Booyeah. If I made huge body strides, I’ll post pictures. If I don’t, I won’t. Because I’m vain and not in this to look a fool.

Speaking of awesome-looking-ness, check out this picture I took during the race. We climbed that hill in the background. It never ended.

Until, of course, it did.

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Rock on.

Expo time!

The La Jolla Half is here… despite my body being incredibly unprepared for it. Last race felt so good, I promised myself I wouldn’t drink the weekend before a race because I wanted to feel that good again. Unfortunately, I decided not to train very well for this one and will hopefully just finish. In order to cope with that, I’ve decided to drink. Lots.

Had a beer last night. Had champagne this morning. Will probably have wine with dinner tonight.

So now I go with a buzz from my champagne to pick up my packet at the expo*. And resign to my fate of a very difficult morning run…

LET’S DO THIS.

 

*I have a designated driver. I’m not that pathetic, people.

Slow down.

I’m a fast person. I walk fast. I talk fast. I move fast. I drive fast.

So when I run, I (of course) like running fast. Duh.

After reading a book called “The Little Red Book of Running” (which I highly recommend- quick read, great information), one of the tips was not to treat every run like it’s a race. Each run you do while training has a goal behind it- and only sometimes is that goal speed. And for most of your long runs leading up to your next race, the goal is not at all speed. In fact, it’s much more beneficial to your training if you just SLOW DOWN.

I’m not pretending I don’t like to take it easy while exercising. I often most certainly do. But, as I said before, I like to go fast fast fast and I don’t like to slow myself down if my body is feeling good enough to go faster.

But, I figured if this book suggests you do it once in a while and my next race is still a month away…so why not just enjoy the 1 hour 45 minute run by going at a very leisurely pace. And that’s just what I did.

I ran slow. I kept repeating to just relax and run slower than normal. Let my pace be calm and relaxed and maybe my mind will follow. And you know what? It did.

About thirty minutes into my run, I started to really take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the world around me. I smiled at the animals and breathed in the fresh air. I should add I have the benefit of living in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in one of the most gorgeous places in the world (Los Angeles, CA). But the gratitude for this life is not lost on me. I love the fact that I can run to the ocean, took time to look at the waves, and took deep breaths of the salt water air. I work hard for this life. I am lucky. And I know it.

As I worried less about my pace and pushing my body to the limit, I was able to really calm my body down. My normally frantic pace (at life) was forcibly slowed down and my normally frantic mind followed suit. I was half listening to a podcast and half immersing myself completely in the running experience.

I felt such zen.

It was so weird.

I even had a woman pass me mid-way through my run. Normally, I would be extremely annoyed by this. You’d better be sprinting if you’re going to pass me. I AM THE ONE WHO PASSES. (I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS.) Instead of being competitive, though, I took a moment to feel the competitive edge rising within me, breathed, and let her go about her merry way without bothering me at all. Her going faster than me in that moment had nothing to do with me or my run. I don’t know anything about her- how far she’s running, what her goals are, what her normal pace is, if she ever races…nothing. What the hell do I care if at this moment on this day in this place, she’s faster than me? Let it go. Let her be.

As a normally fast (and competitive) person, that realization was absolutely liberating. Other people’s journeys are just that- other people’s journeys. They say nothing about what I’m doing, what my goals are, what I happen to be trying to accomplish that day, where I’m heading…nothing. So let it go and let them be.

Towards the end of my slow run, it began to get cloudy and small water droplets were forming in the air. Not really rain, because this is LA after all. But just a thin layer of mist. And rather than thinking, “OH MY GOD IT’S GONNA RAIN AND I’M GONNA BE STUCK IN IT AND IT’S GONNA SUCK AND I WANT TO RUN HOME FAST,” I thought “Huh. Mist. Feels good. It might be nice to get caught in the rain.”

WHAT WAS THAT VOICE?

And how can I have it in my head always?

I loved my long, slow run. I learned so much about my body, mind, and spirit. And enjoyed every minute of it.

And tomorrow, I’ll go back to my frantic sprinting.