Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Facing Your Fears and Giving it Your All


People say you should face your fears in order to overcome them. Well, in some aspects I think that's stupid, because I've faced plenty of spiders and cicadas, and we still aren't friends. And never will be. End of story.  

But have you ever thought about your fears when it comes to running and/or CrossFit?

Everybody plays the "What If?" game with themselves.

What if I can't keep up the pace?
What if I can't run that far/lift that amount of weight?
What if it takes forever to see results?
What if I get injured?
What if I look stupid?
What if I fail?

Notice all of the negatives?

Now, what if you changed those "what ifs?" into a positive outlook?:

What if I could run faster/perform better?
What if I could run further/lift more weight
What if I were more patient with the results I want?
What if I'm smart and pay attention to my body's needs/perform proper technique so I have a lesser chance of getting injured?
What if I realize that everyone makes mistakes, but no one looks "stupid" for trying?
What if I put all doubt out of my mind and just go for it?

I like that "What If?" game better. 

I'm applying this post to CrossFit, as well as running. I have lots of fears when it comes to CrossFit, because it's still somewhat new to me. I'm comfortable with running; I know running. I don't fully "know" CrossFit, yet. Proper techniques are frustrating; not being able to do a certain skill is frustrating; not being able to lift a certain weight is frustrating. See the pattern? Running is frustrating too, sometimes. Whether you've been running for 12 days or 12 years, everybody experiences their frustration and fears when it comes to running (or whatever it is you are applying this to.)

Even through all the frustrations, I can see improvements in CrossFit. I'm getting stronger - mentally and physically (probably more so physically than mentally. I still have that mental block that gets in my way.) I just need to find a way to carry that over into running, when I'm not feeling up to par with my success. 

Sometimes (okay, a lot) I let my mind win. There are times when I know my body is capable of something, but my mind says "nope," and I listen to it. As an extremely stubborn person, I hate "giving in" to mental weakness. Sometimes it's due to heat, illness, or fatigue. Other times the only excuse I have is "I just don't want to." That normally comes about due to burn out and/or a negative attitude. It happens. 

For the past few months I had been working on speed work. Recently, though, I've stopped. Not because I don't want to improve my speed, because I do. I always do. But because I mentally (and physically, because of the heat) can't seem to push the pace right now - no matter how hard I try. A 9 minute pace feels like 8, which means when I'm doing speed work at a 7:15-7:30 pace it feels like I'm running a pace I've never even held before. All because of the weather. 

And I'm okay with that. 

I'm okay with slowing down the pace right now, so my body can acclimate to the rising temperatures. 

I'm okay with knowing if I were to race right now I would be so far from a PR it wouldn't even be funny. 

I'm okay with knowing other people are able to suck it up and have successful speed work in this heat. 

I'm not giving up, I'm just not there right now. I'm still running, and I plan on slowly starting to pick up my speed once I feel like I can again. I'm not scared that I've lost my speed. I know it'll come back. I'm not afraid of not being able to push the distance when I start marathon training. I'm not afraid of failing. 

I'm afraid of not giving it MY ALL. 

That's what I'm afraid of. Every time I cross a finish line I think to myself: Did I give it all I had? Could I have run faster? Smarter? I know if I go out there and do my best, I can't be upset about my results. Same goes for training. 

Fears and doubts are natural, but ignoring them will just cause you to lack improvement. How are you going to know what you are capable of until you step out of your comfort zone and try? Find out what it is that's keeping you from that next level, whether it's distance, speed, technique, a mental block, or just starting your journey altogether. Write that fear down, conquer it, and prove to yourself you are fearless. 

What scares you most about running/working out in general: Failure? Pushing the pace? Increasing your distance? Being injured? How have you overcome your "fears"? 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Running Q & A

I came across this fun little running Q & A (from The Hungry Runner Girl) when Evelynn, a fellow runner on Twitter and RunChat, posted a blog about it. 
1.  On average how many races do you run a year?
It varies from year to year. This is only my third year running (and I didn't start racing until October of 2011.)  My first year of running I raced three times - from October to the end of the year. By the beginning of 2012 I was HOOKED! I ran 9 races that year (I think?) So far, in 2013, I've run 5.  (P.S. If you are a runner and don't have an Athlinks account, sign up. It keeps track of all your races and results. Well, most of them. Some you have to put in yourself.) Anyway, my goal is usually to average one race a month, but I've gone from focusing on "how many races" to "how well I race." And sometimes that means stepping back from racing and just focusing on training. 
2.  Head accessories, things you have to run with:  a hat, a visor, sunglasses, chapstick, sunscreen, head band, ponytail, braids, sweat band?
My hair is in one of those messy buns probably 70% of the time (and that includes when I'm not running.)  I just throw it up and go. But when I'm running, it takes three ponytail holders to keep my hair up. No joke. If I leave just one out, my bun will start flopping around and eventually fall down, because when you have thick hair the ponytail holder will only wrap around your hair so many times, ya know? It's a complicated procedure. And REALLY annoying. I would braid my hair but then I'd have to put 50 bobby pins in it to keep all the layers tucked away. Plus, I suck at braiding. Anyway, enough venting about my hair. I wear sunglasses, even if it's cloudy. And sometimes I wear my JUNK headband, to keep sweat out of my eyes, but I don't normally have that problem. 
3.  Where do your workouts come from?  A training plan, a coach, whatever you feel like doing that day or what your training partner is doing that day?
My husband makes my schedule for me. He always has, from day one. Lately, I haven't been consistent (because I'm not training for anything) so, I get a little lazy sometimes and skip. Or I just do 3 miles, because that doesn't take much time.  I try to stick to whatever he tells me to do, though because I have to have structure when it comes to running I can't just go out and do whatever I want to. Although, sometimes that's what happens. 
4.  How many miles on average do you put on a pair of shoes?
Around 400 for my Saucony Kinvaras.
5.  Cell phone: do you bring it with you on your run or leave it at home?
I never run with my cell phone. Knowing me I'd drop it. I have one of those arm band things that my phone fits in, but it weighs my arm down, so I don't wear it. Sometimes I see things on my run and I wish I had my phone to take a quick picture, though. (Someone should invent sunglasses with tiny cameras in them!) 
6.  What was your last running related injury or have you been an injury free runner?
I was "injured" right before my last two half marathons (and I still set a new PR both times!) I say "injured" because I don't really know what was wrong. Something to do with my hip/IT band. All I know is I couldn't run without limping. And I couldn't run for 4-5 weeks.
7.  Is your current running goal about running a farther distance (adding more mileage) or getting faster or BOTH?!?
I have multiple running goals at all times. I was working on a sub 23 minute 5k, but am having to acclimate to the heat instead. I'll start training for a half PR (sub 1:50) pretty soon and also, in August, I start training for my first MARATHON, which is in December! 
8.  Speed work – at the track, on the treadmill, on the roads or never do it?
If you want to get faster you have to incorporate speed work into your run schedule. I like it, just not in humid weather. And I do it on the same course I do all of my runs. No treadmill for me, ever. 
9.  Stretching after a run:  hit the ground after a run and get stretching, stretch in the shower, stretch once you get to work/school, skip the stretching?
I used to be really bad about forgetting to stretch after runs. That's why one of my injuries occurred, though, so I'm pretty adamant about stretching right after a run, now.
10.  What was your reason(s) for starting to run?
See here

Thursday, June 6, 2013

26.2: The Road Ahead

As a runner, I feel like I'm never completely satisfied. I'm always reaching for a new goal, no matter how far-fetched it may seem. Yesterday was National Running Day, and while I hate to admit I didn't run, I did do something even more monumental (in my opinion.) I did something I would not have even considered two years ago when I first started running. I decided to go out on a limb and reach further than I've ever reached before. 

I stepped out of my comfort zone, as a runner, and signed up for my first marathon. 

That's right, people, on December 7th I will be running A FULL MARATHON!!! 26.2 MILES! The longest distance I've ever run is 13.1. And sometimes there are days when just 6 miles seems long. I'm not going to wuss out, though. I'll probably complain along the way, but I won't give up. Promise. 

Over the past year I've come in contact with a lot of inspiring runners via Twitter, who I can honestly give credit to for helping me take this leap. It wasn't until I started reading stories/blogs/tweets about other runners taking on this 26.2 mile adventure that I thought I could do it. And wanted to do it. 

I had been contemplating running a marathon for awhile. Originally, I told myself I wanted to run one for the same reason I ran my first half: Just so I could say that I did - to cross it off a list. But within the past few months my thought process changed. I didn't just sign up to say "I ran a marathon," I did so because I'm confident that I can. Because I legitimately WANT to. And that's a good feeling.

Registering was the first step I needed in order to commit. And that took FOREVER. I sat at my computer for nearly an hour debating on whether or not to do it. The fact that capacity for the race was already at 85% made me even more nervous. Finally, something just clicked. I thought, "You said if you ran a marathon you wanted to do it before you were 30. If you don't sign up are you going to regret it?" And the answer was yes. (Seriously, was nearly crying at this point.) That's when my decision was made. 

What I'm racing for: 

I signed up for St. Jude Memphis Marathon on December 7th. Not only is it a flat course (yay!), but I registered as a St. Jude Hero, which means I will be raising money for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital prior to race day! I'm really excited about participating in this. Once I receive my username and password I will be able to activate my personal fundraising website and start raising money. I'll go ahead and say you can expect lots of tweets/posts about this in the upcoming future. And I hope some of you are able to donate! These kids are the true heroes, and I want to do all I can to help them. This race will be about two things: accomplishing something I never thought I would do, and running for someone other than myself - these kids. Every other race I've ever signed up for has been all about me. This is a selfless race. I have to remind myself that no matter what kind of physical and mental pain I might go through during those 26.2 miles, it's nothing compared to what those kids have gone through - sitting in those hospital beds.


1st step: sign up.
2nd step: make a training plan. 

Luckily, I don't have to worry much about that. I'm pretty sure the only reason I'm still running, and have improved with my running, is because of my husband. He was there for my very first race (a local 10k) and from every race then on out. He ran right beside me, pacing me every mile for my first two half marathons. He is the one that has kept me running. I honestly can't say I would be a runner if it weren't for him. Plus, he makes my day-to-day training plans - no matter what it is I'm training for. Know what my plan would be if it weren't for him? Me, either.

Anyway, when I first thought about running a marathon I told Chris that the only way I would be able to do it was if he ran it with me. He said okay. Then I thought "Maybe I can do it on my own..." But then I realized I am much more likely to give up without him by my side than I am with him right there pushing me along. And I don't want to give up. Plus, he said he wanted to run it with me. And coming from someone as competitive as he is, that is probably the most selfless thing he's ever done. So he signed up, too :). He came through the door yesterday afternoon after work with a tentative 18 week training plan (one he had used for his first marathon) in his hand and ready to go. He's just as excited and anxious as I am, possibly more.

Even though this race is about the kids, I still want to set a goal. Chris said a good goal would be 4 hours, but depending on how my training goes, I want to try to break that.

I'm going to blog about this journey, in hopes it will inspire someone to aim high in life; to dream big and go after whatever it is they want. Don't make excuses; don't think "it's too hard," or "it'll never happen." Just do it. The first step is the hardest. Everything else will fall into place.

"Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you're young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on, to accomplish everything you want to do. Don't let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.

- John Bingham (running speaker and writer)