Archive for February, 2012

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Preparing for March Madness

February 29, 2012

Confession: I may or may not have (in many years) taken off days of work to watch the Thursday/Friday March Madness games. But that’s not the only March Madness that I’m referring to.

It took me a really long time to figure out that weight loss, eating better, and exercising needed a plan. When I decided to build a headboard, map out a job hunting strategy, and develop research in graduate school, I always started with a plan. Why I thought losing weight or getting into better shape would be any different is…madness, I tell you.

I didn't know how to build a piece of furniture, so I followed a plan. Such is being healthy!

Now I have, more or less, evolving plans. I’m sticking with Weight Watchers and upcoming races are helping to keep me exercising, but with a new month knocking on the door, it’s time to set some additional goals to work toward. So here’s the plan – my attempt to control some of the “madness.”

1. Keep running. First half of the month: keep up the miles, try not to get injured. Mid-month: run first half marathon! End of the month: keep up with post-race recovery miles and begin training for the next race.

2. Put together some kind of quick routine for a few mornings each week that I don’t go for a morning run. Still figuring out what this might look like, but it would include some dynamic stretching and a little cardio to get me going.

3. Tackle my diet soda addiction. Step one: make a note of each instance that I grab a diet soda. Step two: limit to no more than four 12-ounce servings each week, with a goal of eventually making diet sodas a rarity.

4. Kick out any remaining HFCS from my kitchen. I’m pretty good about avoiding this, but I just noticed that my favorite stir fry sauce has it, so March is for finding alternatives.

5. Make some camping or backpacking plans. I’ve been using my weekends for long runs, but a trip out to Harpers Ferry for some hiking this weekend reminded me that I need to reserve time for those ventures, too. I used to backpack 1-2 times a year, and it’s time to add that back into the rotation o’ fun. March is the month of planning for later spring adventures…and whetting my appetite with more hikes.

Nothing like a beautiful day and a great hike above town.

Correction: nothing like a beautiful day, a gorgeous hike, AND post-hike recovery red!

Here’s to a great March!

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Weekend Update: Does a Shakeout Hike Count as a Shakeout Run? Edition

February 27, 2012

Here’s my weekly wrap-up for February 20-26.

Training Mode: Still in the game! This was week 9 of half marathon training, although my schedule is modified from the original based on my injury-induced rest.

Days until the race: 19 (wow!)

Feelings about the race: Still feeling pretty good. Wish I was running with someone, but I hope to look for the pacing folks. I need to figure out what I’m going to wear. 🙂

You can run and tell that: 18.25; long run: 8.4

Busted more moves: One Body Pump class, one yoga class, one 5-6 mile hike the day after my long run. Can I call that a “shakeout hike?”

Busted body: A little tenderness in my left shin and right knee. Right knee feels better with some dynamic stretching.

Ear candy o’ the week: I felt solidly “Back on the Train” this week. [A motivational running playlist with Nicki Minaj, Pitbull, Johnny Cash, and Phish isn’t weird, right?]

The takeaway: I might need to switch the day I do Body Pump or the day I do my long run. My legs still feel a little tired from Thursday night Body Pump if I go for a Saturday morning long run. And: loved the combo of a run/hike for the agenda this weekend. I’m a happy Outdoorsy Racy Stacie.

Things to work on: purchasing a fuel belt of some kind. See below.

Yep, this gets a little annoying for 8.4 miles.

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Three Things Thursday: Running Mantras That Apply Elsewhere Edition

February 24, 2012

By the time I was well into the second mile of my pre-work run this morning, I felt great. That first mile, though? Pretty rough. So I kept repeating a few mantras in my head, and before I knew it, I didn’t feel so sluggish and was nearing my turnaround point.

This isn’t some big magical, mystical revelation, but these three mantras that I tend to use when the going gets tough are pretty universally applicable to other areas of my life. I like when my motivation points me generally toward one path, and I think these are all saying: Suck it up, buttercup.

Probably a little more poetically.

1. “Someday you won’t be able to run, but today is not that day.” Credit goes to a lot of people…I have no idea who the original source is, but my favorite marathoner told me this prior to my December 15K and it stuck. I’m especially reminded of this mantra outside of running when I take special time for myself – maybe just relaxing with a book and a cup of tea or visiting antique shops for hours on end. Someday, I may not have the free time to do those things, and I’m grateful to savor that now.

2. “This doesn’t feel bad, and you don’t have any reason why you can’t do this.” It’s usually easy for me to conjure up some reason why something hurts or I can’t do something. So when a run is going well, it’s good positive reinforcement for me to remind myself that it doesn’t feel bad, and there’s no reason why I can’t keep going with the run. This was my mantra for my first mile today, and it kept me from stopping to walk. The “no reason why you can’t do this” is something I remind myself of when I’m at work and the task seems overwhelming at first.

3. “Look how far you’ve come.” On Saturday’s 7 mile run, I started to lose a little mojo around mile 5.5. Then I thought, Self, look how far you’ve come! What’s 1.5 miles when you’ve already done 5.5? No, seriously? Barring injury, it’s nothing.  And the same is true of other areas in life. In particular, when things generally don’t seem to be going well, I think reminding ourselves of the obstacles we’ve previously overcome puts the ones we face in perspective.

And thus concludes the cheeseball portion of the evening.

Got a favorite yourself? Hit me up!

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Weekend Update: Pretty Sure I’m Back on the Train Edition

February 20, 2012

Here’s my weekly wrap-up for February 13-19.

Training Mode: BACK IN THE GAME! This was week 8 of half marathon training, although my schedule is modified from the original based on my injury-induced rest.

Days until the race: 26

Feelings about the race: I really wanted this race to be better than I think it’s going to be, but, it’s more important to me that I take care of my body and ensure that I try my best at long-term injury prevention. I wanted to hit a pace of 10:45/mile, but now my goal is to just finish, and I’ll truly be happy with that. Plus, some good friends are also running the race and other friends are cheering us on. And, it’s on St. Patrick’s Day. Clearly, March 17th is going to be awesome.

You can run and tell that: 17.85 (what what!); long run: 7.1

Busted more moves: One Body Pump class, one arc trainer session.

Busted body: Some stress-related GI issues (and that’s all I’ll say about that). A little diet modification is helping.

Ear candy o’ the week: Body Pump release 80 (this week marked my third time doing that one) features a remix of Roxette’s Fading Like a Flower by Dan Winter. It’s catchy and I have it stuck in my head for days after Body Pump. So now it’s your ear candy. You’re welcome.

The takeaway: Around mile 5.5 of my long run, I thought: “Self, you could just walk the rest if you wanted.” Then I mentally smacked myself and revised: “Self, you feel just fine. Why not keep running?” And so I did, and it was just fine. Nay, great. I felt great when I was done, and later that day, I didn’t even feel like I’d run (okay, jogged – the miles were slower than my last race pace) 7 miles. Knocking off the self-doubt is big progress for me.

Things to work on: continuing to get in the miles, continuing trying to complement running with other workouts.

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List-O-Mania

February 19, 2012

Yesterday I went for my long run (7 miles – I’m back in the game!) and since I don’t run with headphones when I’m running outside, that was a nice long time to be alone in my head. So I started sorting ideas and making lists. I’ll use this List-O-Mania to keep tabs on progress, goals, and “perks.”

To Try:

  • Attend Body Pump once a week for four more weeks
  • Attend Body Pump twice a week for four weeks
  • Fartleks
  • A new running shoe fitting

To Achieve:

  • Run a 5K (official or unofficial) in 32 minutes or less
  • Run a 5K (official or unofficial) in 30 minutes or less
  • Maintain or beat my December Hot Chocolate 15K pace in my upcoming 10-miler (11:02/mile) (more about the 10-miler below)

To Buy:

  • A fuel belt (because, yes, holding a sloshing water bottle in my hand for 7 miles WAS annoying…and inspired feelings of needing to, you know, use the facilities…)
  • 2-3 short-sleeve tops for running/other activities (the ones I have are mostly old, raggedy, have a slight perma-stench, and…too big!)
  • A new sports bra (Let’s just say that I was…blessed…(?)…in this department, and buying new sports bras is neither enjoyable nor always easy.)

To Think About Buying:

  • A Garmin

As with just about any physical activity, the range of capital outlay for running is broad. You can spend $12.99 at Target on a poly/spandex T-shirt, and you can spend $58.00 for a technical tee from lululemon. Any number of blogs out there will probably tell you which one is better, and I don’t mean to provide those two options as a quality comparison. It’s just to say: wow! There’s some serious variation, and your mileage may vary from any of those options. For example, I choose to spend more on sports bras, but go pretty cheap on running capris.

For more on what you need to run, I really like this summary. And I love this review of just how much bang you can get for your buck from big-box stores.

With the spring and summer just around the corner, folks have started mentioning upcoming races to me. To add to the growing list of running expenses: race registrations. Obviously, you don’t need to enter races to have a fulfilling running life, but I enjoy them. And, well, these days, I’m feeling racy…

So I decided to add a new line item to my budget: The Fund to Keep Racy Stacie Racing. I’m still working out the details, but I started my virtual racing earmark by adding up the number of pounds I’d lost since starting WW and the number of workouts I’ve logged since my last race. [This is virtual because, while I love this idea for rewarding yourself for weight loss or other achievements, putting dollar bills in a jar is harder to translate into an online race registration purchase.] I’ll have to add in some other reasons to add to the kitty to keep up with my goals, but I thought this was a good start. Also, not helpful now because my birthday is in December, but for my last birthday, my parents bought me my registration to the half marathon…that’s now in less than 4 weeks!

So, here’s the first application of The Fund to Keep Racy Stacie Racing:

How perfect is THAT?! Looking forward to my next 10-miler!

How do you budget for your athletic hobbies? Is it a conscious decision for you to budget for races or gear? What other ideas do you have for ways I can add to my Fund?

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Surprise Wednesday Run

February 16, 2012

Life slowed down at work today and I cut out early. Best. decision. ever. It was in the low 50s and sunny, and there was a rail-trail calling my name, beseeching me to run.

I happily obliged and got in a nice 5 miler. I’m trying to get back into my training schedule, and today’s option was a cross-train or a 3 mile run. So…I overshot a bit, but after weeks of not hitting the mark, this felt like a big victory. I felt awesome, the weather was fantastic, and it was nice to run in the daylight and with nothing that I had to “run” off to as soon as the run was done. I don’t like running with the pressure that I have somewhere to be.

And, I realized that I really like 5 miles. It’s a nice distance.

And as a follow-up to yesterday, here’s the 23-pound difference. On the left: me in the dress I tried so hard to find because nothing fit, which then inspired me to try to lose some weight and generally lead a healthier life. On the right: me, today, just before leaving for my run. And wearing the super-cute headband a friend gave me, which so nicely goes with my favorite running shirt (oooh – glad I looked this up – they are on sale right now!).

I’m sure there are other pictures floating around out there that show the difference in my body, but frankly, I probably didn’t save them. I wasn’t too proud of how large or out of shape I’d gotten.

Anyway, going to spend the rest of my night basking in the awesomeness that was leaving work early and having an awesome run. I hope I don’t jinx it, but I think I’m…

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What a “Love”ly Surprise!

February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day! I woke up to a lovely surprise!

There was a gigantic pink stuffed teddy bear

Tuesday is my Weight Watchers weigh-in day (I do WW online, and weigh myself wearing the same thing – I’ll leave it up to you to imagine – at approximately the same time on the same day of the week). I suppose wearing winter clothing this wouldn’t be true, but sans sweaters…today’s weight was my first goal weight!

Perhaps someday I'll reveal the hard numbers, but, yes, that's 23 pounds lost. And, ignore the points averages at the bottom - there were some weeks of not tracking, and I don't track every activity....lazy Weight Watcher, right here.

So! Now what? Well, first, I’m really excited. See?

This is my new stock excited pose!

When you reach your goal weight, you get the option to start maintenance or set a new goal. I set a new goal. At the rate I’ve been losing, I should lose 16 more pounds just in time for my year WW anniversary. But that’s at the rate I’ve been going, which, lately, has been pretty comfortable. At the beginning, I was pickier about what I ate at restaurants, I fretted over food, and appropriate portion sizes haunted me in my sleep were something I thought about quite a bit. Now I’ve taken a more relaxed approach where I still track and pay attention to portion sizes, but I’m a slacker less precise and if I get off course, I try to gently steer back on course. If I want to speed up the weight loss a little (I averaged 0.7 pounds per week for the 7 months I’ve been on WW), then I know I can make some adjustments to get back on a steeper slope, if you will:

Yeah…so that looks like right around…November…that I started slacking a little. Makes sense.

Another day, when I’m not frantically trying to get to work, I’ll write about this milestone from the perspective of what’s changed. When I think back, honestly, nothing too drastic. I am proud and confident in this victory because it hasn’t compromised my lifestyle (too much). I’ve certainly made some sacrifices, but, truly, they’ve been pretty easy and 100% worth it.

Onward toward the new goal!