Category Archives: Running

Nike We Own The Night 10k

I ran my 10k this morning, and it went so well! I was nervous because I really haven’t been running much at all these past few weeks (traveling, getting sick, being lazy), but I know I can handle the 6.2 miles since I’ve run that, and more, many times before in the last few months. For a while, I was training for a half marathon, but I ended up getting off track from my training and not being prepared for the event in Paris in March, though I do hope when I get back home in the summer, I can start training again. I aim to finish a half before 2013 is over.

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Anyway, today’s run went really well. I ran a slow but decent pace and, and aside from pain in my knees (I’ve had IT Band syndrome aka runners knee for years), I felt strong in my heart and in my legs. My last kilometer felt like one long uphill sprint, but I pushed through and was rewarded by thousands of happy, proud women hugging and high-five-ing each other for accomplishing this exciting feat. Instead of a dumb medal (useless), we were given a really cute bracelet as a finishing gift (featured below… The top one is the bracelet we got with our race packet – has a cute Nike Swoosh on the ball. The second pink one is the finishers “medal”), along with tons of great snacks (way better than the ones given at the events I’ve done back home! I guess French people know whats up) like bananas, apples, nectarines, apricots, dried fruits of all kinds, baked fruit cakes and sweet loaves of bread, tons of water and juice… the list goes on. Awesome.

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At one point in the race, there was a station that was playing (on repeat) Run The World by Beyonce, and it was getting us all super PUMPED. I looked around and realized, you know, we’re all just normal-shaped women. Some of us have hips and some have skinny legs and some have big thighs and some are tall and some are small and most of us, no… all of us jiggle. Its what makes us women! But jiggle or no jiggle, celulite or none, we are all strong, reaching for the same goal, and it felt unifying and rewarding to be surrounded by so many motivated people. It was another reminder that I am blessed and thankful to have a healthy, functioning, fit body that allows me to do anything I could possibly want to do. My body is my machine. I want to take good care of it.

 

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Healthy Weekend!

This weekend was such a success! I was traveling, again, this time visiting friends in Brussels, and overall, I’m pleased with my choices. This is one of the few times I’ve come home from a trip and not felt entirely guilty, so I’d call that a small but significant traveling accomplishment.

On the bus ride from Paris to Brussels, I brought a few healthy snacks with me, like a banana (note to self: bananas do not travel well) and some nuts. When we made a quick pitstop, I went to buy some food but of course, as with all gas stations, everything offered was pure filth. Chips, nasty pre-made bacon sandwiches doused in mayonaise, soda, candy… things that people have somehow been allowed to call “food.” (Honestly I don’t know how this stuff looks appetizing to anyone. It’s repulsive. It’s not food! Its like, hey, why don’t we go eat some concrete-flavored sandpaper and dip it in liquid mercury. Yum! Seriously… Unbelievable that processed food-like edible items exists, much less get eaten by billions. Barf.) I found some pre-sliced apples in a package (not ideal, as they have preservatives to keep them fresh… I hear these are often cancer-causing. Eek), but I figured sliced apples was probably my only safe-ish bet, so I ate that, and cringed at everyone on the bus fussing with that packaging that was keeping them from their wholesome, nutritious, life-giving Doritos.

On to the rest of the trip…

One of the friends I was traveling with (who reads this blog and shares many of my same feelings and goals – hello friend!! I see you!) was entirely on the same page as me the whole time, which helped both of us stay on track for the most part, while still allowing ourselves little indulgences along the way. We agreed before the trip to work out in the mornings and to share any heavy meals/treats we might consume, since often times all we really crave is just a bite and not the entire thing (like for example, with Belgian waffles), and we did exactly that. Our first morning we all got a late start so exercise didn’t happen, but at least we walked a lot that day and did not overeat. We shared one Belgian waffle between 3 girls, which was actually perfect (those things are so big and sweet anyway that eating a whole thing makes you feel like dying), we had a small burger for lunch (like, a correctly portioned patty, no bigger than 3 or 4 ounces) which my friend smartly ate without the bun (I ate half of the bun) and for dinner our friend and host made us some pasta with veggies and ground turkey and a little bit of red wine. That night, while out at a bars, we shared a beer and later a mojito (no need to drink the whole thing…), which was perfect. We got the taste, but none of the bad side effects. Not bad for a day of travel, where most of the time I spend too much money and calories on eating out and drinking at restaurants.

Day 2 was started off on the right foot when we set our alarms earlier and went outside to exercise, enjoying the surprisingly sunny weather in the process. We started with a short walk, then a 15 minute run to warm up. When we got to the park, we did a series of running sprint intervals, and after this exhausting set, we buckled down for a short HIIT routine before walking back home. (Our exact workouts are featured at the bottom of this post). After exercising, we bought some pineapple and water and fresh squeezed orange juice and refueled before setting out for the day. Our sightseeing was accompanied by a few healthy snacks (nuts, protein bars, green tea, etc) and of course, a few bites of a Belgian waffle. We shared our beers that afternoon, and all four of us in the group shared a few macaroons, and at dinner time, we allowed ourselves to indulge in our first and only true Belgian meal. I ate a chicken stew with veggies and potatoes and for dessert, a waffle. I’d like to think this was my only real indulgence of the trip, which is slightly amazing and really exciting that I didn’t indulge more than that.

Monday, day 3, was our last day, and I left at around 1pm. In the morning, my friend and I went out for another quick workout (featured below). Before leaving, I ate a panini (not the best choice, but also not the worst) and I took a banana and a raw, all-natural granola bar for the drive back to Paris. Dinner with my host family was, surprisingly, a healthy salad! I was so happy to be eating greens!

As I type all of this, I’m realizing that while its hard to have a perfect weekend, or a perfect trip (with regards to health), it is SO possible to make good choices given your constraints and to not completely blow it in two days. Surely traveling isn’t ideal for staying healthy, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing! This is a big lesson I am just now starting to learn. After my travels through Belgium and Spain a few weeks ago (and my many indulgent moments therein), I’m seeing that it is still possible (though not easy, I admit) to be healthy while exploring the world and having fun with friends.

Another wonderful thing about this weekend was the power of friendship! Having someone who shares your goals and who understands your struggles is such a blessing. Not to mention, having that person be a great travel buddy… it makes all the difference. I know for a fact that I would not have worked out once if it were not for my friend, and its likely I would have eaten a whole waffle (or two, or three), several beers, plenty of fries, etc. But having someone to share the journey with (and to keep you accountable) was what truly made this weekend a success. Thank you, dear friend, for accompanying me on this journey!!

I feel proud and pleased. I had a great time, and food did not consume me nor did it cause me to feel any guilt, and that is something worth celebrating today. I hope all my trips can be as healthy as this one!

***

And now for a recap of our workouts, in case anyone wants to try it out. We came out sweating and sore in every possible way, so give it a shot, if you dare…

Workout 1:

Warm up: jog/run for 15 minutes

Jog (normal pace, resting pace) 1 minute

Sprint (all out, 90-100% effort) 20 seconds

Repeat 12 times

Then, do this circuit:

To warm down, walk or jog for 15 minutes.

 

Workout 2… We did both of these videos:

Then this one

To warm down, walk or jog 15 minutes.

***

Trust me, your ass will thank you after finishing these workouts. I know mine is.

 

Hooray for a healthy, fit weekend!!

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Running Demons

Well, my friends, I ran today. The gods were telling me not to, but a little reminder (you’ll know from my previous post) in the morning was just the encouragement that I needed to drag my tired, mildly sick body out the door first thing in the morning for a slow 4-mile run.

It is so, so hard to get back into the rhythm of exercise, and I see now why it’s so hard for people to start when they’ve never had a habit of exercising to begin with. When you’re in the habit, exercise is like crack. It’s almost a drug. You crave it and you need it to function, the way some people need coffee. But starting, after not exercising in a while, is THE WORST THING EVER. It’s days like today where I hate exercise, it sucks, and I’d rather be buried alive than make the slightest effort to burn a calorie. During the entire run, I was hating life. My knees hurt (remnants of a never-quite-healed running injury) and my legs felt like lead and my feet were sore and my heart felt weak, not to mention it was cold and slightly rainy and all around bullshitty in every possible way. But… I DID IT ANYWAY. Despite my whining and complaining and enormous desires to eat cookies and cry at my miserable existence (ok not really), I just turned off my brain and tied my shoes and ran.

This is a reminder to myself that I CAN. Maybe I don’t always want to and maybe there will always be a million ways to rationalize not doing it, but my body can run, and therefore my mind can too. And the mind, after all, is the biggest, dare I say the ONLY hurdle at all.

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Legs

I had a small but powerful moment yesterday as I began my run. I had just finished writing a long, long post (which I haven’t quite decided if I will post or not) about my experiences over the past 3 years with health, fitness, body image, etc, and immediately after, I went out for a run to clear my head. Within only the first 20 seconds of my run, I happened to turn my head coincidentally at the just right moment to make accidental eye contact with a young man, maybe a few years younger than me, who was sitting in a wheelchair. He was clearly disabled from the waist down and  has likely been in a wheelchair his whole life, and in that brief moment we shared, I was struck with an overwhelming sense of sadness and of appreciation at the same time. Perhaps it was the look he gave me, as I trotted past him in my fancy running gear, or perhaps I am just projecting what I thought he was saying to me with his soulful stare, but he really pierced right to my heart, and right after I passed him, I found myself short of breath and fighting back tears unsuccessfully.

I spend far too much time wondering if my thighs will ever not touch, or if my butt will be as hard as a rock, or if my knees will ever heal from my running injuries, and in that moment I suddenly felt so small and so pathetic for caring about such petty details. I have legs that work! Beautiful, strong, functional legs, and maybe they don’t run that fast and maybe they feel heavy sometimes when I run and maybe I have thighs that touch, but holy shit, how awesome is that?? I have those things. I. Have. Legs. And they work, really well.

I dedicated the rest of my run to that boy, and every time I felt lazy and wanting to quit, I reminded myself that if I was in a wheelchair, I’m sure I’d give anything to just take one step. So I kept putting one foot in front of the other, and being thankful each time I could do so. I am lucky and I want to keep taking care of myself so that I can have this fortune for decades to come.

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Just Do It

Really, just fucking do it. Stop over-thinking it, and go. When it’s over, you’ll be glad you did.

That can be about anything, but today, for me, it was about exercise (as usual). Spent all day feeling tense and agitated, like a dog that needed to be walked, and I was getting annoyed at all sorts of stupid little things. I had plenty of excuses not to work out (there are so many things to see on the internet!) and I didn’t have much time, but I stopped thinking about it and I just mindlessly/robotically put my workout clothes on and head out the door. I considered doing a workout in my living room, but I know myself and I know when I’m feeling unmotivated and hungry like I was, I would find an excuse to stop and head straight to the kitchen halfway through my workout, so I decided to go for a run instead, because I know that way I have to finish my workout if I ever want to get back home. So I did.

The run started okay, but still, my brain was too involved and I kept whining to myself about how I should just go back home and eat a bunch of shit, but I forced myself to turn off all thinking whatsoever, and just run. 45 minutes and several sprints, stair sprints, pushups, and crunches later, I was back home, run was done, and I wanted to break windows and punch people cus I felt/feel so FUCKING good.

Just DO IT.

Also, I have no relation to Nike whatsoever. Their slogan just so happens to be fucking rad and relevant. Deal with it. And I do not advocate consuming Jersey Shore in your diet.

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Great Run

Great run great run great run!

It’s really amazing how exercise can make you feel so much better, instantly. Endorphins!!! It’s like crack, only cheaper.

I’m following through with my intentions from earlier and I’m allowing today to be a good day. I had a great run just now, slow and steady, mixed in with a few impromptu exercises like running up and down stairs (workout below, for those of you that want to replicate) and using whatever I could find for push ups, crunches, etc. Followed by my daily bowl of oatmeal (I was feeling wild and decided to try it with bananas instead of apples today. What can I say, I’m a thrill seeker…), and now the rest of the afternoon will be spent adventuring around Paris with a friend. Like I said earlier… Life is good!

What will you do today to be stronger than yesterday? How will you remind yourself of your own power?

*** Stair workout ***

It’s easy. Find some stairs. Run up. Run down. Repeat.

Run up every step at 70%, keeping your arms strong as leverage. Run down.

Sprint up every other step (90-100% exertion), starting with your right leg. Run down.

Sprint up every other step (90-100% exertion), starting with your left leg. Run down.

Run up every step at 70%, keeping your arms strong as leverage. Run down.

10 push-ups

Repeat that whole set 3-5 times through.

If you happen to have a play structure near by, or a park bench, or a fence or whatever you can get your hands on, try to add some push-ups, pull-ups, and crunches to your run. Your upper body will feel tight and strong as you continue running the rest of the way.

* Remember peeps, I ain’t a personal trainer or qualified professional of any sort, so consult your doctor or whoever before listening to anything I say. For all you know, I could be full of shit!! Ha.

But really though…

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HIIT Running

Today I wanted to go for a run, a steady, easy long run, but my morning got past me and I found myself with only 30 minutes left for running before I had to be back home, so I decided to make the most out of my run by making it a HIIT run, which means High Intensity Interval Training. I adapted my intervals based on a running workout I found a long time ago online somewhere (I wish I could find the link to it!) which looked essentially like this:

5-minute warm up

Repeat the following interval 8 times:

1-minute normal pace (slow to medium jog)

30-second sprint (all out, 90-100%)

After the 8 intervals have been completed and you’re exhausted:

5-minute cool down

 

Simple enough!

Since my sports watch died (battery is dead and I haven’t been able to find a new one here in France), I don’t really have a good way of keeping time while running, so I adapted this general interval running routine to fit with my music. I ran at a normal pace with the timing of the verses of each song and I sprinted through the chorus, or, if the song didn’t lend itself to this pattern, I would use visual markers ahead of me that looked around 50-100 meters away (roughly) and I would sprint all the way to those. By the end, I had finished my 30 minute HIIT training and I had run a distance of around 3.25 miles, so not too shabby for a short workout!

Exercise doesn’t have to take up your whole day if you know how to exercise a little smarter. 45 minutes on the elliptical at the gym (while mindlessly reading a magazine or watching tv) and 15 minutes with pussy weights (5 pounds? Come on, I know you can do more than that) won’t do much if you’re looking for visible results, but half of that time spent doing a short HIIT routine and heavy weight training will go much, much farther. If you don’t know where to start, just search Youtube for HIIT videos and you will find plenty to get you started. There’s no excuse to not exercise!

Get off your ass and move, every day. If you have time to be reading this blog, then you have time to work out. Go.

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