Tuesday, February 24, 2009

0 Track Workout: 7 Miles of Survival :)


Tonight's track workout was 1 mi warmup run + 5 x 1200 I + 5 x 400 E recovery + 1 mi cooldown run. That's 3.75 mi of speedwork + 3.25 mi of easy running, for a grand total of 7 mi.
Frankly, I just didn't have it in me tonight & found it near impossible to sustain either the 9:15 or the 9:30 pace group's recommended interval paces (i.e., 2:09 & 2:11 respectively). So I just did what I could. For several laps, my times were probably closer to the 9:15 threshold pace (i.e., 2:20).
My legs were stiff even before I began tonight's workout & needless to say, they felt like mush after tonight's track workout. (Sometimes running actually stretches them out, but tonight's workout seemed to only make them even sorer!) I think that after this Sunday's 10 mi race what the legs really needed was a recovery run, & not a track workout. ;-)
Tonight's track workout wasn't a good gauge for determining which pace group I should be in, due to my legs being in "recovery mode" from this past weekend's race. At any rate, it looks like the 9:30 pace group is probably more appropriate than the 9:15 for the time being, at least for the track workouts!

0 Are You a Newbie Runner in Need of Advice? Check Out This Blog's New Series, Entitled "Newbie Corner"!


As part of the "adopt a new runner initiative," I've decided to expand that concept to a virtual one & open up the floor to questions from newbie runners, & will do my best to answer your questions.

That being said, I should mention that, while I've been running on & off since the age of 5, please note that I'm still relatively new to marathon training. :) As most of you can see from the opening caption of this blog, I'll be doing my first marathon this year. Thus far, I've spent the majority of my running years covering short & middle distances. Honestly, my body type is optimally better suited for these distances, but as I get older, I've realize that it's going to be more advantageous to redirect my focus towards stamina & endurance versus outright speed. :)

At any rate, I believe that, as runners, we all have to start somewhere & that, no matter how much of an expert one considers oneself to be on the subject of running, there are still things that we ALL can learn from others on the subject. In running, as in life in general, it's all about the process of growing & learning, & not just the end-point.

As part of "Newbie Corner," I'll also be recommending good resources which are particularly geared for newbie runners.

For starters, I recommend that newbie runners check out the following two resources:
Runner's World "Beginners" section
Active.com's "Newbie Runners" section

Sunday, February 22, 2009

5 Race Report: RRCA 10M Challenge


I'll spare you the blow-by-blow minutiae of the road race & for now, (since I'm still fairly exhausted!), will just reprint here what I wrote at DailyMile.com. :)

"This was my very first 10M race. Whoa, they aren't kidding when they call this race the 'RRCA 10M Challenge.' This course puts the "challenge" in "RRCA 10M Challenge." :)

While I can usually easily sustain a 10:00 pace for 10M, this extremely hilly course challenged every fiber of my being & not surprisingly, made it very difficult to sustain this normally "very easy" pace!

I went out at a decent pace & was able to keep up with one of the girls in our running clinic's 9:15 pace group for about 6 miles of the race or so (although I have no idea what our actual pace was!), & then dropped back. By the 9 mi marker (?), some of the people from our program's 10:00 pace group caught up to me & then passed me! Oops. :)

And here I thought I was so strong & tough & full of stamina. That certainly taught me a lesson in humility. I later caught up to chat with these ladies from our club's 10:00 pace group & found out that most of them had done at least three 10M races or more, so that helped put things in perspective. (I bet they also had a lot more weekly mileage under their belts too!)

Temperature at the beginning of the race started out around 34°F, & then warmed up to around around 37 or 38°F or so. Towards the end, it definitely got colder & windier as it began to snow. The snow felt refreshing, especially as I was starting to fatigue. Wish I'd have brought my waterproof running hat because the flakes falling in my eyes made it difficult to see on the final stretch.

All in all, this was a very tough race. Right now, I'm just glad I survived the experience. Hehehehe. :)

After the race, I napped like a baby for several hours this afternoon. In fact, I just woke up. It's now 7:30 pm. :)"


Frankly, I didn't do as well as I'd hoped, but then again, I didn't know what to expect, other than I'd heard people from our club mention how hilly this course was. It was one hill after another. I was certainly really thankfully that we were done with most of the hills by Mile 8!

Seems like these longer races really bring out the more well seasoned runners, & the competition was fierce! Normally, I can place in at least the top half, but here, in this race, I was closer to the bottom! I placed 555/603. However, at least there were twenty seconds between me & the next finisher. :)

Race results: I ran 1:43:36.43, or about a 10:21 pace. For a complete listing of race results, please see this link.

Yikes. Oh well. Hopefully I'll do better next time. It was a tough course (lots of steep hills!), & also my very first 10M race.

Well, what can I expect?! Guess I shouldn't be too surprised at the outcome. It seems that the only miracles one can expect in running are those accomplished with lots of hard work! :)

Frankly, I need to put in more weekly mileage, as I'm just barely scratching the surface of what I need to be doing. I'm averaging closer to 25-26 mpw these days. Need to significantly bump that up to 30-35 mi at a bare minimum!

OK, I'm not going to overanalyze or beat myself up over my performance. What's done is done.

What does feel good is to say that I completed my very 10M race. And it'll certainly help to get a few more of these longer distance races under my belt this year in order to build stamina & train for my upcoming first marathon this November. :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

2 Exercise Psychology Tip #13: How to Avoid Pre-Race Jitters


Now this might sound crazy to some of you, but here goes: The best way to avoid getting pre-race jitters is not to think about the race at all until the gun goes off. :)

I know that this idea probably sounds contrary to popular wisdom (i.e., as we're supposed to "mentally rehearse" & visualize our performance, etc.), & that this strategy might not work for everyone, but hey, it works quite well for me. Please note, this doesn't mean that I don't prepare physically & mentally for a race, or pack my race bag & lay out my clothes the night before. :)

Rather, I find that if one is going to visualize oneself at a race, it's much better to envision oneself striding to the finish, versus thinking about the starting gun going off. Images of starting guns going off are probably guaranteed to put in a spike in one's adrenaline, but it's not exactly the kind of feeling you probably should be focusing upon before a race. :) You'll probably find there'll be a more than ample supply of adrenaline kicking when the gun actually does go off, so why rush things, right?! Try to stay in the moment & keep your head focused on concepts which help center you mentally.

If you must picture yourself at the race, try seeing yourself in either in the middle of the race or sprinting to the finish line. :) Now, I don't know about you, but that's the kind of rush that motivates me in a positive way.

Also, here's another tactic you can use: Schedule a zillion races on your race calendar. That'll help curb any pre-race anxiety because racing will then become so commonplace after a while that it'll be just like brushing your teeth. Really!

It's not that the events in & of themselves aren't special -- each race is unique in its own right -- but rather that the activity of going to races will help acclimate yourself to the process of mentally & physically preparing for races.

Also running in less populous or low-key races can also help to build your racing confidence & give you enough "practice races" so that you can learn to just chill out & enjoy your racing experiences!

(For example, our running club hosts a "low-key racing series," in which races are free to club members & a minimal fee for non-members. These races are fun & have a relaxed mood. So this atmosphere definitely enhances the overall racing experience in a very positive way!)

In general, I find that it's most useful to form strategies which help build "mental mojo" & eliminate unproductive behaviors. This means practicing behaviors which increase one's confidence and also decrease or curb one's less-helpful proclivities.

With some particularly ingrained habits, it's going to take a bit of repeated mitigation to get rid of them, but if you really are determined to change for the better, chances are that you will do so. :) For example, some people have a tendency to overanalyze or dwell on events too much before they happen. Not that I would know anything about what that's like. :)

So once you're conscious of something like this, you can work on mentally "checking" yourself in a conscious manner, so you don't slip into old habits.

When it comes to mental blocks & attitudinal issues, this usually means stepping out of your own way, & practicing what I like to call "realistic optimism." Habits became habits because you did them a zillion times, so it takes the mind & the body time to self-correct. So keep at it & you'll get past it!

Racing is physical, but a huge part of it is mental. And you want to make sure, as much as is humanly possible, that your head is in the right place -- before, during, & after your road race. :)

That way, no matter what the outcome of your race, your experience will be a success.

0 RRCA 10 Mile Challenge: The Thrill of Something New!


As you can see from my race calendar, this Sunday is the RRCA 10 Mile Challenge. There are several people from our club running it, & we are entering the race as a club team. While I've run 10 miles many times before, I've never raced this distance, nor have I run this particular course ever before. People from our club (who've either run it before or know others who have run it), have told me that it's fairly hilly & challenging.

Now I wasn't really nervous before, nor was I even thinking about being nervous. However, now that people keep telling me stuff like this, it's got me thinking about the course, & I actually really don't want to be thinking about it. Especially since it's exactly these kinds of thoughts which lead to "cranking it up a notch." :) While I'm certainly not the type to get psyched out that easily, all the same it simply does no good to focus on what one can't possibly know until it's experienced first-hand. :)

Honestly, I'd rather go into a race having zero idea of what it's like -- the course, the atmosphere, etc., etc. -- because that way, I can be in the moment & just run the thing, instead of thinking of what's to come. :)

Now maybe I'll feel differently after I've run MCM three times (LOL! OK, I've yet to run it once!), but for now this strategy is working for me, so I'm going to keep not thinking about races before I run them. :)

What I do want to be thinking about is how I'm tire myself out enough the night before without actually running, so I can go to bed on time & still feel fresh the next day. :) You see, a lot of us have to get up super-early just to make it to Columbia by 8 am. :) So that means any of the usual time I waste thinking about trying to go to sleep early (LOL!) must be done a lot earlier at night. Otherwise, I'll be running on only a few hours sleep. Did this a few times before road races & while this sometimes surprisingly led to clocking some PRs, I think I'd rather get some sleep & stack the cards in my favor this time around. :)

Maybe I'll do pushups & situps, & then read a book before bed. That ought to do the trick. Floor exercises, & then all it takes is two paragraphs in & I'm out like a light. :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

3 Track Workout: Pushing Past Mental & Physical Fatigue Makes You Stronger!


Tonight's track workout: 1 mi warmup + 8 x 800 I + 8 x 400 E recovery + 4 x 100 R + 4 x 100 E recovery + 1 mi cooldown. That makes a total of 7.5 mi.

For the 9:15 pace group, that translated into the following paces: 800 I = 4:17, 100 R = 0:30, 400 E = 2:45, & 100 E = approx 1:11.

(Key: I = interval pace at 85-95% level effort, 3-5K pace; R = repetition pace at 90-95% level effort, nearly all out - pace can only be maintained for short period of time; E = easy "conversational" pace at 60-70% level effort.)

Temperature was about 35°F.


Honestly, I couldn't WAIT for tonight's workout to be OVER. Not only was the workout extremely difficult & challenging, but I was already feeling tired & my mind & body just weren't into it. However, I still did the workout all the same.

Being already tired before your workout begins is never a good sign. :) The fatigue was partly mental & partly physical: In addition to my mind being restless & shall we say, "uncooperative" ;-P, I also ran 7 mi yesterday & did 3 challenging sets of 4 x strides. Looking back on it, maybe that wasn't such a good idea. :)

As a result of all of the above factors, I found it difficult to keep up with my pace group. Frankly, I could barely hold on for the first two laps & then just lost them after that. Bluntly put, I flat out failed to meet tonight's pace objective. At the very least, I can console myself with the fact that it wasn't due to a lack of effort!

It's hard to determine what I would've done had my legs been feeling "fresh" (instead of my attitude :) ) & my head been in the right mental zone. It might be that the 9:15 pace group is too ambitious for me, & that I need to drop back to the 9:30 group. In order to come to that decision, I've decided to use the next track workout with the 9:15 group as a "final test" of sorts. And yes, I fully intend to approach this next workout with a rested body & a much better attitude before reconsidering. :)

While I'm not exactly ecstatic over tonight's performance, I still realize that every time we try & fail, valuable information can still be gained through the experience. Our failures often teach us more than our successes. The lessons we learn through our experiences can only make us stronger & better-informed, not to mention better human beings.

Monday, February 16, 2009

4 7 Mile Run + 12 x Strides: All Caught Up on My Running!


Ran 7 mi tonight at an comfortable pace (an approximate 10:00 pace or possibly faster!) to make up for the missed 6 mi run + 4 x strides workout on Thursday & the 2 sets of 4 x strides that I missed from the previous 2 weeks (i.e., 1 set of 4 x strides per week).

At the half-way point, did 3 sets of 4 x strides with intervals of slower running in between; it took 1 mile to complete all sets of strides + recovery intervals. Then just finished out the run with the remaining mileage at a steady recovery pace. Finished strong!

Was supposed to run yesterday, but just couldn't motivate myself to run 6 mi + 4 x strides after running 14 miles only the day before. Was probably for the best. ;-) The body needed a break!

(Saturday's 14-miler was a little bit rough, due to Thursday's missed run -- which meant 4 days between runs -- & a lack of proper fueling beforehand & during the run itself. Of course I knew better, but was really pushing my boundaries out of a lack of appetite for breakfast & some other reasons best left unexplained ;-) Of course, it was totally avoidable, but hopefully I've since learned my lesson. ;-) What a contrast to the 14-miler only a week before, which felt almost effortless. Proper fueling/preparation & the proper spacing of one's runs makes all the difference between having a fantastic run or burning out & struggling. No need to say which one happened on Saturday. ;-) And no, you didn't miss Saturday's post; that 14-miler has yet to be posted to DailyMile or this blog yet. Ah yes, that'll be another backdated post.)

Anyhow, it feels great to have another run in the bag & rectify the "running ledger" for those missed workouts. Ka-ching! :)

It's really important to stay on schedule & get the proper mileage in each week; since today is technically a holiday for most people in this country (i.e., "President's Day"), maybe today's workout can count as part of the extended weekend & thus, still go towards last week's mileage tally. LOL. OK, maybe not. Or atleast not according to DailyMile, which counts Monday as part of the new week. ;-)

Now I've just got to motivate myself to get those push-ups & crunches done. Frankly, I'm not really feeling up to it, but can't let that stop me from getting them done. Otherwise, it'll only get harder to do them. Better just buckle down & get 'em out of the way......

Sunday, February 15, 2009

2 Tyson Invitational: Two American Records Broken!


I won't regurgitate information about the Tyson Invitational, but you're welcome to read the news coverage about the amazing record-breaking feats of Galen Rupp & Shalonda Solomon on the official Tyson Invitational website.

0 Looks Like Those 15 Minutes of Fame Will Have to Wait :)


OK, well that was a lot of hype for nothing. ;-P

For those of you who didn't catch the televised events on ESPN, most of the footage from today's "Track & Field" programming was solely of the racing events, with a few sparse interviews with athletes.

All in all, ESPN ended up broadcasting only a few minutes of the USATF XC Championship; this footage was interspersed between the various heats of the Tyson invitational track meet, so there wasn't enough time for "fluff" interviews with volunteers. :)

So, not surprisingly, we didn't make the cut. :( Or rather, we WERE cut out. Hahahaha. The programming dude probably took one look at the footage & said, "Oh no, not that mouthy chick in the yeti getup. Cut!" :)

Juuuuust kidding. We probably barely registered on their radar. And frankly, I'm actually feeling relieved that our clip didn't air. Gee, I wonder why?! ;-)

Phew! Erik & I can continue enjoy being anonymous "nobodies" for a bit longer. :)

Regardless, thanks to everybody who tuned in to watch & also of course to those of you who emailed & commented!

Did any of you end up watching?

Have to say that it was really great to watch the athletes in both events. What amazing talent, eh?

6 Exciting News: Cyberpenguin & Friends Will Possibly Be On ESPN Tonight (5 PM)!!!!


Just a quick blip of a post to say that Erik, myself, & Brent Ayer (the current president of the RRCA) were all interviewed by ESPN at the USATF XC Championships, which was held on February 7th.

So, in other words, if that segment doesn't end up on the cutting room floor, you might see us all on ESPN tonight at 5 pm. :)

Before you get too excited, the whole interview was extremely impromptu & short. We were all volunteers at this event, & the ESPN cameraman just came up to us & started rolling tape. It was totally random, & before we could even get our bearings, introduce ourselves to each other, or find out what network he was from, he just came up to us & started interviewing us about the event & what we were doing there, & also about our running club, etc.

We didn't even know what network the cameraman was from until I asked him afterwards!

When I asked him, I honestly thought he was going to say he was from some dinky & obscure station (like an amateur college TV broadcast or something), or if not, perhaps the footage would end up as local network TV coverage. I never expected it to be ESPN. :) Whoa.

If they end up airing our segment, you will probably see me being my usual mouthy self. :) Erik was teasing me afterwards, because I dared to correct the President of the RRCA on national TV. Oops. :)

While the cameraman was interviewing me, Brent interjected that the MCRRC (i.e., our running club) was one of the top 3 largest clubs in the nation. I responded with something like, "Well, actually I think it's the largest club in the nation, but I could be wrong about that." ;-)

In my defense, I had no idea at the time that this person that I'd just corrected (& hadn't even yet met!) happened to be the president of the RRCA, nor did I know we were being broadcast on national TV. :)

Oh well. Thankfully, there was no ensuing drama, & Brent turned out to be a rather nice guy. It's a good thing the cameras weren't rolling afterward:
My face probably turned eighteen shades of red after we were properly introduced to each other. :)
We continued to discuss the MCRRC, RRCA, & of course the USATF track meet for a bit, & he told me about the program he coaches at Hood College. We also met a few others from his program who'd come out to volunteer for the event as well.
And now, speaking of which, I have a little confession to make: There was actually supposed to be an earlier detailed blog post about the USATF XC Championships, which I never got around to posting. I started writing it on February 7th, but due to my crazy-busy life & perfectionist editing/writing tendencies, it's still sitting in this blog's "Drafts" section as an unfinished post. Hopefully, I'll get around to finalizing & posting it sometime soon. ;-)

Anyhow, Erik & I have never been interviewed on TV before (& at that a major network), so hey, it's kind of a big deal.

Guess everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame, eh?! Or possibly not. :) We'll see.....

There was the one time I accidentally appeared on network TV, but that's another story for another time. :) You can ask my father about that. He was actually featured on "Call the Doctor" on WBRE about a zillion light-years ago (when I was a very little girl). Guess who made an unexpected entrance on stage to feed him his cue cards while the show was broadcasting live? ;-)
Anyhow, even if you know us personally, you still might not recognize any of us on TV, since we were all bundled up & wearing shades. So you might want to look for the "yetis" in the navy USATF hats. :)

So set your Tivos to stun, er, I mean tape. ;-0

Friday, February 13, 2009

0 Change of Plans


Uh-oh. You know when you start to feel a bit achy, & then go from burning hot to shivering cold? Well, that's a bit how I'm feeling right now. Was supposed to run tonight, but am going to take it easy, so I can run a nice & easy 14 miles early tomorrow morning with the group.

Think I'll postpone that 6-milers + 4 x strides until Sunday. Would rather skip tonight & run the 14 miles tomorrow with the group versus pushing it tonight & then not being able to run at all due to a potential oncoming illness.

OK, looks like it's going to be an early bedtime tonight. :)

Have a good night, everyone! And try to stay well; there are a lot of germs floating around with the ongoing fluctuations in the weather. Erik's not feeling great either; lots of people at his workplace were sick & it looks like he caught some kind of bug from there. I've been trying to keep my distance from him to avoid getting sick, but it looks like it didn't do any good. ;-)


0 HPC (D1W3): Some Procrastination & Then Some Pushups :)


D1W3 (HPC): Today's pushups workout called for intervals of 14+18+14+14+max 20+ (with a minimum of 60 seconds rest in between sets). Did 14+18+14+14+25.

Actually, I was really supposed to do these push-ups two days ago, at the same time I did my crunches. Oh well. Did them today instead.

Just realized that it's now been 8 days since I took the HPC W2 exhaustion test (i.e., on 2/5/09). And prior to that, there were 6 days between this exhaustion test & the previous push-ups workout. These gaps between push-ups workouts just can't continue or it's really going to make doing this program even more difficult than it already is. :)

On that note: I was also supposed to run 6 mi + 4 x strides last night with our usual running group but then changed my mind about an hour beforehand & decided to run alone instead, except I never actually made it out the door. :)

I could say that I delayed yesterday's run because the weather was so abominable & I was feeling so tired & also a bit ragged -- wah, wah, wah, etc. -- but I won't, because while those are both true, they are not going to be used as excuses. Frankly, I just didn't feel like it. ;-)

Now while I plan to run 6 mi + 4 x strides this afternoon to get caught up with our running clinic's schedule, that's not the point. There seems to be a slightly disturbing trend taking place. :)

And I know exactly why that is happening. It's not really about a lack of motivation. It's something else entirely. I actually enjoy running, & it's not a matter of the running itself. All the same, I know that that when I'm feeling that internal resistance to working out that it's due to one reason & one reason alone: I'm feeling resentful.

There I said it. The resentment is from feeling like my schedule is not my own. With a strict schedule & exact times that I have to meet the group for our runs, I have to say that there's a little part of me that just wants to scream out "Noooooooooo!"

Now don't get me wrong, I signed up for our club's running program as a conscious choice, & really do want to be there. I diligently show up for all the track workouts & the weekend long runs like clockwork, but on Thursdays..... Well I'll admit that, on Thursdays, sometimes just want to do my own thing & run alone instead. (While there are no formally scheduled practices on Thursdays, we do have the option to run with regularly organized groups that meet in various locations.)

Now, it's not because I don't enjoy running with the group, because I clearly do. And it's not because of the weather, because there were many times that I showed up to run with the group at 6:30 pm in snowy, icy weather & sub-zero temps. :)

It's just that sometimes I need to run alone to clear my head & be alone with my thoughts. This usually becomes most necessary when the "stress freight train" comes barreling through. And right now, with all of the simultaneous projects & "to dos" I've got to finish in the next 2-3 months, that's definitely been the case! :)

While running with the group is great because it allows a person to "get out of their own head" & engage with other people's thoughts & "inner worlds," there's also a time for "alone time" on the road. This balance of "personal space vs. socializing" is different for everyone; sometimes it's a matter of being used to one or the other, & other times it's about really needing one kind or the other.

Also, sometimes I just need to "shake it up," especially when the regimentation of a program is starting to get to me a bit. Every once in a while I want to break free from the pack & "do my own thing." OK, if I were honest, it's not "every once in a while"; it's more like "most of the time." :) However, I realize that I can't always run where & when I want, due to various circumstances &/or scheduling, but there are times when the "wild horses" in me just have to be let loose or I will go bananas. Call it the "rebelling inner artist" in me, or whatever you like, but that impulse for freedom can't be denied, & the little bit of "roaming adventurer" in me isn't going away any time soon.

One thing I do know is this: Deny or go against your nature, & you will make yourself most unhappy. On the other hand, acknowledge your nature & work with it, & that is how you will make your own path to success. Note that I say "your own path," & not just some generic "path to success." Everyone makes their own way. You need to do what works for you, & only you know what that is. This is just as true of running & training as it is with life in general.

So, while I'm committed to seeing this program through, I've also still got to be me, & carve out my own space. This is absolutely essential. :) This is why, in any good workout program, you need to go by a realistic time-table, & also "build in room to breathe." Otherwise you will drive yourself nuts over-scheduling your life ad infinitum. Believe me, I know this all too well from many years of gasping for freedom from my own (& other people's) carefully planned schedules. :)

Yes, there's a delicate balance between structure & chaos. ;-)

So whenever you get restless, you might want to "check in" & "take the temperature of your temperament" like I often do. I find that it usually explains the behavior & helps set you back on course.

Better to acknowledge when you are feeling restless, bored, resentful, or unmotivated & find the "inner workout resistance" building as a direct result. Chances are might also be simultaneously yearning for a bit of diversity in your exercise program, a break from the usual routine, &/or a bit of "scheduling leeway" in your training. Heed those signs, because they are clear indicators that something in your workout program needs to be changed & fast.

Because those restless "wild horses" that are inside of you will eventually get out one way or another, & in my experience, it's better to let them run free from time to time. :) If you give them free reign & get them out of your system, then you can return to your workouts with your "head fastened on straight" (i.e., mentally focused in the proper place & direction) & your mind & body back in sync with one another. :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

0 Busy, Busy, Busy! Or Why I Haven't Been Tweeting Much These Days. :)


Frankly, there's a lot going on right now & my head is spinning from everything that has to get done in the next 2-3 months. It's been full-on, high intensity in multiple areas of my life -- and let's not even get started with the subject of tax season. :) The scope of it all is simply astounding, but I refuse to freak out or get overwhelmed about it, because that never helps. When this happens, I shut down & go into "basics" mode -- or as I like to call it "cheetah survival mode." The priority things get done & everything else, well, it just has to wait.

You know that expression, "Something's gotta give"? Well, that basically describes my current life in a nutshell. :)

Frankly, the only online activity going on right now is "just the essential stuff" -- emailing people back, recording workouts, etc. Realistically, that's really all the online time I have time for at present. Hopefully, my "to do" essentials list will shrink sometime soon, but for now, that's the breaks.

Not surprisingly, many tweeps have noticed (& also remarked upon ;-) ) my recent absence there. While the tweeting is certainly a very pleasant distraction, it also is very hard for me to just "tweet the essentials" & then stop. That's because Twitter is a whole social world unto itself, & I feel compelled to respond to DMs & tweets directed specifically to me. There's probably a prescription gel to fix that. Hehehehe. But seriously, it's just not in my nature to be rude; I try my best to reply to tweeps (for those tweets requiring replies) whenever possible.

Honestly, with all of the different social networking sites out there & their corresponding individualized email boxes & groups, it's simply impossible to keep up with it all. This is why, although I might occasionally bop around to the myriad sites & forums to which I belong, I tend to concentrate my focus (& interactions!) upon a limited number of sites.

Even the blogging has been limited to the "bare essentials." Believe it or not, the blogging is actually helping right now, because not only has it been a bit of "stress relief," but it also helps to crystallize the mind, at least where fitness plans & goals are concerned.

The running is mostly stress relief too, although I'm going to be honest, the "having-to-be-on-time-everywhere-even-at-7-am-in-the-morning-on-a-weekend" thing is hardly a low-key affair for me. ;-) (It's not just the physical preparation; there's a lot of mental preparation that goes into the process as well. :) ) I'd much prefer to be leisurely about my runs, particularly on the weekends. Plus, in winter, it's a whole lot warmer at noon or 2-3 pm than it is at 7 or 8 am or at 6:30 pm!

Some of you who were raised with the "0500 lifestyle" probably won't understand what I'm talking about or be able to relate to what I'm saying, but that's just fine. It seems like I was descended from a long line of people (mostly on my mother's side!) who don't like to get up super-early in the morning. Now it is true that my Dad gets up at unseemly hours of the morning (4 or 5 am!) to play racquetball or go to the gym, etc., before work, but he is a notable exception to this rule rather than the rule itself. And, even with my 6-6:30 am weekend rising times for runs, that still makes me the second earliest-rising family member in our brood. :)

All the same I still get up early on weekends regardless of this tendency, because it's really important for me to do the running clinic, volunteer, & race in events.

On the most basic level, I need to exercise. Hence, why I run & race, & workout in general. It's what keeps me sane & protects the rest of the world from my occasional crabby outbursts. Hehehehe. ONLY kidding. Er, sort of. :) Now while I'm pretty good at not taking stuff out on others, every once in a while my family & fiancé might need to duck & run for cover. LOL. So it's best to hedge my bets & workout for everyone's sakes. :)

And of course, it's important to volunteer in our running club's activities for obvious reasons. Not only does it feel great to help out & support the running community, but it's a tangible way of giving & being part of something larger than yourself. Volunteerism seems to be reaching a new prominence/popularity these days, & there are many ways to contribute to one's community (i.e., it's not just about donating money!). And even while many of us are finding our financial resources to be a bit more limited these days, we can still give our time to help others.

And speaking of a sense of community, that's one of the best parts of belonging to a running club. Even though we live in a city, the world seems a whole smaller (& cozier) ever since we joined our running club. Last night, I bumped into someone from the club at the supermarket. It was right after our hill workout, & we chuckled upon seeing each other both still dressed in our running clothes. There was an instant recognition, not just in terms of literally recognizing each other as known individuals, but also in the fact that we share a bond that originates in our mutual love of running.

And the weekend before last, a really nice couple from our club offered to give me a lift home after our group long run. We had a really nice chat in the car, & I hope I get the opportunity to do something nice for them in the future.

The social aspect of the running club, its programs, & road races have really been something fantastic. We started out knowing just a few club members -- mostly people we already knew from other affiliations -- and it's just snowballed from there. Every club race we go to we know more & more people.

So if you don't currently belong to a running club & have been mulling over the idea of joining, I will say this to you: Join. You'll be really glad that you did. You can participate as much or as little as you like -- and that applies to racing, running clinics, volunteering, club parties & awards ceremonies, etc.

That sense of connection & community you will get from participating in your local running club is reason enough to join!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

0 300 Crunches: Just Checkin' 'Em Off the List


Today, did 300 crunches of various kinds: 100 crunches, 50 right-side obliques, 50 left-side obliques, & 100 vertical leg crunches.

This has got to be the shortest post ever on this blog. LOL. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

0 Hill Workout (6 Miles Total): Feeling Maxed Out!


OMG, tonight's hill workout was TOUGH. We did 8 hill lengths interspersed with 8 downhill recovery laps. I had a bit of trouble sticking with my 9:15 pace group on the uphill runs, & was about 20 seconds behind the group each time up the hill. I tried REALLY hard to keep up with them, so it's not for lack of effort. My lungs were just maxed out, especially on the last quarter of the hill, & I frankly couldn't go any faster, although I leaned forward & really pumped my arms, trying to get all of the leverage I could to get up the hill. :)

The funny thing is that the running clinic's Tuesday night speed work really taxes my lungs, but my legs seem to be just fine. (My legs have always been strong.) On the longer running days, I have no trouble with either. However, a lot of other people I talked to seemed to find the opposite to be true for them; they struggle more on the distance & find the track workouts hardest on their legs, not on their lungs. Maybe that's because, unlike me, they've been in the 9:15 pace group all along & their lungs are more accustomed to the pace. :)

According to one of the assistant coaches, each hill length is about 0.25-0.30 of a mile. So using the lower figure, that'd be about a 400 at threshold pace (2:20). So tonight's speedwork would be about 8x400 T hills, with 8x400 E recovery. If you include 4 warm-up laps & 4 cooldown laps around the parking lot, that'd probably total around 6 miles.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

0 14 Mi Run + 10 Mi Walk: Almost Covered A Marathon Distance!


Just a brief post which I might update later:

Did 14 mile group run this morning, & then walked 10 miles immediately afterwards. It was such a beautiful day (i.e., mid-fifties & sunny), it was impossible to resist the urge to be outside all day. :)

Ran with a really nice lady today; we were the only ones in same pace group who were doing 14 mi, so we kept each other company the whole way. You can really get to know a person running 14 miles with them! :) We had a lot in common, & I really enjoyed her company.

We ran a bit faster than the prescribed 11:00 pace we were supposed to do. :) Felt like the "wild horses" were taking over again. Had lots of energy & felt surprisingly good covering the distance.

During my walk, I saw several people I knew along the trail (i.e., we saw each other as we were walking towards each other); so we stopped & chatted for a good bit. Some of these friends I hadn't seen in quite some time, so it was nice to see them again after so long.

Can't believe I've been outside from 8 am until 3:30 pm! Wow, that's an entire day of exercising outside.

Friday, February 6, 2009

0 IOU For Two Sets of "4 x Strides" :)


Just realized I still haven't done those "4 x strides," which can be done anywhere. Since I'll be dressed in running clothes tomorrow, volunteering for the USATF XC Championships, maybe I can knock out both sets sometime before or after the event. ;-)

0 An Easy 6.5 Mile Run: Getting Stronger & Faster!


(I didn't end up running with our usual running group last night; got there 5 minutes late & they'd already taken off. So instead, I decided to finish running my errands & then just do the 6 mile run the next day, i.e., today. :) )

Today's workout was supposed to be 6 miles at an easy 11:00 pace. Ended up running 6.5 miles in 1:05:58, or about a 10:08 pace. As you can see, I ended up running a little bit faster than that. :)

[To be more precise, I ran the first 4.46 mi in 45:58, (10:18 pace) before my iPod's batteries died on me. :) I guestimate that the final 2.04 mi were run at about a 10:15-10:30 pace. (So, the above overall pace calculation is a rough approximation.)]

Frankly, it's been a real challenge to slow down on the easy days, especially since my unconscious "easy running set point" these days seems to be around a 10-minute mile. However, I know that it's necessary, as the body needs to recover after all the effort put into weekly track practices (on Tuesdays). Otherwise, I'll be "biting the dust" by the time Tuesday rolls around again. :) Got to to be fresh for track practice!


What a great day for a run! When I left to run around 5:25 pm, it was 42 degrees! Only needed 2 top layers & light weight convertible gloves. (No neck gaitor needed at this temperature!) Surprisingly, I kept both top layers & gloves on for the entire run; this was really strange because normally at this temperature, I'm peeling off the gloves & top layer by about the first or second mile into the run. (Whatever temperature you run at is supposed to feel 20 degrees warmer!)

Here's the simple explanation: Slower pace = less effort expended during the run = less perspiration = less body warmth = all layers staying put. :)

Also, here's another reason: After four weeks of the running clinic, I can definitely feel a tangible improvement in my overall fitness. The obvious signs/evidence of this: A 10-minute mile pace used to take more effort to sustain, now it feels a bit too easy.

I was breathing really easily at today's 10:08-ish pace, & didn't start to tire until about the final 1/2 mile. The speed work & increased mileage are definitely paying off!


Other news: Tomorrow is the USATF XC Championships. Erik & I, along with several of our friends from the running club, will be volunteering for this exciting event, which features many elite athletes along the lines of Deena Kastor, etc., etc.

If you'd like to attend this event, please visit this link for more information.

If you do decide to go to this event, please keep in mind the following:

--There will be no parking at the race site & access to Agricultural History Farm Park is closed to both private vehicles and foot traffic, so you'll need take the shuttle to & from the event. The shuttle runs approximately every 10-15 minutes. (See the aforementioned USATF link for additional information regarding shuttle schedule & stops.)

--Also, spectators will need to purchase a full day event pass (i.e., wrist ID band), which costs $10 for adults & $5 for minors (cash & checks only). These wrist ID bands will only be available for sale on the event shuttles & include unlimited transportation & access to all activities. This wrist ID band is required for entrance into Agricultural History Farm Park.

0 "Tri Team Penguin": Ready, Set, Swim-Bike-Run! :)


Who-hooooo! I'm very happy to announce that we've finalized our 3-person triathlon relay team for the 4th Annual Lewisburg Triathlon.

This is exciting! We've got a really strong team, with each relay leg playing to our corresponding team member's current strengths: My dad will be biking 14.7 miles of hilly country road, a long-time family friend of ours will be doing the 300 yard pool swim, & I'll be running the final leg, a fairly flat & fast 5K road race.

If you're interested in participating in this event as either a triathlete or a volunteer, registration is available online for free via GoLARA.org or via Active.com (for a small surcharge). To register for this event online, you must first have a login (it's free for both sites) in order to register for this event.

Registration is limited to 300 participants.

Race proceeds will benefit the Lewisburg Area Recreation Authority (LARA). This non-profit organization provides year-round comprehensive recreational activities, facilities, & programs for the community. Contributions help improve the overall quality of life in the community by funding the maintenance of local area recreation facilities like the community pool, parks, playgrounds, outdoor ice rink, athletic fields, and trails, as well as assisting in new project & program development (i.e., new running/bike trails, etc.) & supporting the organization's ongoing operational needs, including their scholarship fund.

For more information on this event, please visit the Lewisburg Triathlon website.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

0 HPC (W2 Exhaustion Test) + 300 Crunches: Uuuuuuuuuuh. :)


Today was the HPC W2 (Week 2) exhaustion test. We are supposed to do as many good form push-ups as we can manage before collapsing into a small pool of mush onto the floor. :)

I did 40 good form push-ups. To be honest, I took a few milliseconds break after 25 & then continued on to do the last 15. Hopefully that still counts. :)

Again, did the usual 300 crunches, but this time added even more variety: 50 bicycle crunches + 50 regular crunches + 50 right side obliques + 50 left side obliques + 100 full vertical crunches.

The left & right-side obliques are similar to bicycle-style ab exercises, except there's no "cycling" going on with the lower portion of the body. :) See below for photo illustration of this exercise:

BTW, if you're curious to know which abs exercises are the most effective, here's a list of the top 10: http://tinyurl.com/cgqrs.

0 Great Article: "How to Be More Like Your Pet"!


You gotta love an article entitled "How to Be More Like Your Pet." :)

If we only take the time to observe & pay attention, our pets can teach us valuable lessons about how to chill out & take life in stride.

So check it out: "How to Be More Like Your Pet" (from the publication, Canyon Ranch Connection).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

0 HPC (D3W2) + 300 Crunches: There's A Good Reason To Do Those Push-ups Three Days A Week!


OK, there's been a bit of a break between pushups workouts. It's been a whole 6 days. Yikes. Frankly, I've been feeling a bit fatigued (which is most likely due to the combination of my running mileage & increased pace!) & needed a little break. Of course, what that really means is that I paid for that time off in today's workout. :)

D3W2 (HPC): Today's push-ups workout called for intervals of 15+17+14+14+max 20+ (with a minimum of 120 seconds rest in between sets). Did 15+17+14+14+25.

This time around felt a LOT more challenging on that last set. The arms felt like Jell-O afterward & the last 5 pushups were -- OK, let's not mince words -- sheer hell. Yep, that'd be the exact phrase I'd been searching for & quickly found. :) Only let out minor noises of effort on those last 2 pushups. Otherwise, it was a pretty soundless experience. Good thing too, especially since the cats were still napping. :)

Also did my usual 300 crunches earlier in the day, but this time did 140 regular crunches, 80 right-side obliques, & 80 left side obliques to switch things up a bit.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

0 Track Workout: 5.75 Miles of Pure Effort!


Just got back from track practice. Phew! Tonight's speed work was challenging! Did 1 mi warmup + 5 x 1000 T + 200 E recovery + 1 mi cooldown. Doing the math, that makes 3 1/8 mi of speedwork & 5/8 mi of recovery laps. So, if you factor in the warmup & cooldown miles, that adds up to a total of 5.75 mi.

For the 9:15 pace group, our pace was supposed to be as follows: 5:50 for each 1000, 1:23 for each 200, & 11:00 for the warm-up/cool-down miles.

Frankly, I was just barely able to hang on the prescribed pace for the first 3 1000s & wasn't able to hold to that pace on those last 2 1000s. Am wondering if this is a direct result of training for 3 weeks at the slower pace group before being moved up to the 9:15 group. :) Have a sneaking suspicion that maybe I truly belong in the 9:30 group, although I have no trouble keeping up with the 9:15 group's pace on the Thursday & Saturday group runs. :) For now, will stay with 9:15 group & continue to challenge myself. I'm determined to do my best to hang in there.

Since Tom Ryan (http://tinyurl.com/68dnej) trains at a slightly higher level to get faster, I figure that, since I can almost manage the faster speed work pace & am not hurting afterwards, it's probably a good idea to follow the same strategy. :)

After all, one doesn't get faster by being "comfortable." ;-)

Have a good night, everybody!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

0 Back On Track: Missed Mileage +Track Workout All Made-Up Now!


What a beautiful day for a run! During today's workout, the mercury almost hit 60°F today (i.e., 59°F). And this was at 4:41 PM! Almost had to pinch myself, because after the 10 degree weather we had during yesterday's run, the weather just felt too good to be true! :)

As planned, I went to the track this evening to make up the 2 miles I wasn't able to run yesterday (during the long weekend run) as well as Tuesday's cancelled track workout. The only remaining work that still has to done are the 4 strides which were supposed to have been completed after running 6 mi. this past Thursday. Oh well. I'll most likely make them up either tomorrow or at some other time during the upcoming week.

Did 2 mi. warmup run + 6 x 800 T (i.e., at threshold pace) + 6 x 400 E (recovery laps) + 2 mi. cool-down run, for a grand total of 8 mi. Normally, we're only supposed to do a mile each of warm-up & cool-down, but this way, (by adding an extra mile to each end), I was able to make up the missed mileage & give the legs extra time to feel limber. :) It worked out perfectly.

My iPod died somewhere around the last mile or two of the cool-down, but since I was able to retrieve the workout start time (4:41 PM) from my iPod once it was recharged (!) & had also noted the end time (6:23:46 PM), it was easy enough to calculate the approximate pace.

I tried to keep to the proper paces for the splits (4:40 = 800 T; 2:45 = 400 E), which was very challenging due to track conditions: There were three large ice patches situated around three different turns of the track, but I did the best I could under the circumstances. I know that I added a few seconds at each turn as a result, which translated into about 10-15 extra seconds for each 800 & 400.

There was a really nice moment that occurred about half-way through the track workout that I'd like to share here: As I was rounding the third "corner" of the track, a doe bounded out from nowhere & was "running" along beside me for a very brief while (on the opposite side of the track fence, of course!). In no time at all, it'd dashed past me, hopping along very happily. Of course, it wasn't like I was going to catching up with the doe, but seeing this graceful creature bouncing along made my heart "leap for joy." Pardon the corny pun, but it gave me a bit of unexpected inspiration, & stirred something in me that put an extra kick in my step.

It was dark by the time I finished the track workout & had gotten considerably colder. I'd only worn 2 layers (a singlet & thin pullover layer), & after the first warm-up mile was only wearing the singlet. However, by the start of the last 2 cooldown miles the second layer was back on & the hands were a bit cold. :) I did one of those maneuvers of pushing down the ends of my jacket sleeves, grasping onto them, & turning them into makeshift "gloves." :) Actually, the nice thing about this particular pullover is that it has cuffs that fold over for this express purpose. It sort of has that "just-released-from-a-mental-ward" fashion statement going on. :) The funny thing is that the pullover was white, which made it look even more like I'd been released from "Ward 9 From Outer Space" ;-) -- All you'd need to do is pin the sleeves et le voilà -- but who the heck really cares when you are freezing your chatkes off, right?! ;-)

Anyhow, I felt good for most of the run. Knees started to get sore on the last cool-down mile, but that's not really surprising considering the way the runs had been spaced out over the week. :)

6 Just Keepin' It Real: What I'm Trying to Accomplish By Blogging & Tweeting


I believe in the importance of being honest & "keepin' it real." And that means being true to oneself & listening to one's "internal compass" so to speak, regardless of the type of flack one might from others for doing so. Now that doesn't mean behaving irresponsibly without regard to consequence, expressing every thought or emotion without regard to others, &/or saying things that one will later regret, but at the same time, people clearly have the need to express themselves & say what's on their mind.

The other day I saw this principle in action in a rather unintentionally humorous way. I can't remember what channel I was watching, but there was an accomplished speechwriter & editor who was being interviewed about his book. He was obviously there to "pump product," & after being interviewed by the host for several minutes, the line was then opened up for calls. The funny thing is that zero of the callers' questions & comments were actually about his book. Instead, people just ranted about random political topics & in almost all cases, the questions asked of him were completely unrelated to anything about speech-writing or his book. It was utterly hilarious. Of course, sometimes this fellow, who happened to be the editor of a very prominent magazine, declined to answer political questions that were particularly partisan in nature, as he was trying to very carefully skirt around questions which required him to reveal his political opinions/inclinations, & other times he tried to tie in related components of his book into his answers, in an effort to keep the callers more "on topic." ;-)

It was clear that the callers just needed to express themselves, like they'd been holding it in for so long that they were going to burst if they didn't speak their minds. I can't remember if the calls were anonymous or not, but regardless, there was a lot of passion in those callers voices, & in several instances, this passion was accompanied by factual evidence in support of the opinions expressed.

Sometimes I think that this is also why people blog & tweet. They have a need to express themselves. I know I certainly do it from time to time. Ya think?! ;-)

We are all human, but I think it's important to not underestimate our need to be understood in addition to our need to be loved. I know I've personally experienced the frustration of having one without the other, & also the joy of finding people with whom both can be experienced. And by the word "love" I mean something larger than just the concept of romantic love.

Of course, as far as blogging is concerned, there are people who write blogs which mainly serve the purpose of dispensing information & news on various topics & then you have the types of blogs which are primarily there for the express purpose of an individual or individuals who have the need to sound off regularly. ;-) In fact, a tweep who goes by the Twitter ID @gonzofish just recently wrote an interesting article which delves into this very same subject, entitled "What Blogging Means to Me." Without giving away the entire article, he discusses "the two types of bloggers, the "experts" & the "socializers." I thought it was well-written & enjoyable, & certainly worth a read. So check it out.

So which type of blogger do you think you are? Are you the "expert" who deals primarily in ideas & (factual) information, or are you the "socializer," who's seeking friendship & community? (And perhaps some "love, peace, & understanding" in the process.....) Or are you perhaps a little bit of both?

I personally feel like a hybrid, with both the need to share information as well as to express thoughts & feelings, exchange ideas, & interact with people & build a sense of community on a very real & human level. If I am dispensing news or information, I typically like to put a "human face on it."

Also, I realize that since most people aren't being held at gunpoint to read other people's blogs (or at least I surely hope not! ;-) ), that it's a truly magnanimous gesture when people choose to spend their free time reading another's blog & composing comments. So I figure that, at the very least, I might as well try to make what I write interesting, funny, or compelling in some way, shape or form. My hope is that people are at least getting something from what I've written here -- whether that be information, a laugh, a shared emotion or thought, pride in their own accomplishments, or a feeling of comfort &/or connectedness.

Even on those posts when I'm simply journaling thoughts & experiences, I hope people can see that it's not just about me needing to talk about myself like some "narcissistic boob." Like everyone else, yes, I do have the need to express what I'm thinking & how I'm feeling, but hope that people can see that I'm trying to share experiences which will hopefully also help them in some way. And sometimes to get to the core of those experiences, I'm going to write about the mental & physical challenges in the immediate sense, instead of sitting up on high like some armchair guru pontificating about this & that, like I've never made a mistake in my life.

So yes, this is why I am not afraid to let people see my "imperfections" on this blog or via Twitter. Even the best of us can't be perfect, & it's time we stop idealizing others or putting them on pedestals & instead look at them for who they actually are. Yes, "warts & all."

In a similar way, this is also why I think that job interviews might be a lot more productive in most cases if people opened up a bit and truly communicated, instead of saying what they think other party wanted to hear. Really, no one truly benefits from BS-ing, atleast not in the long term. ;-) True, most of us need to make a living to survive in this world, but it's better to discover up front whether or not you'll be able to stand working in an environment for longer than a few weeks. :) After all, you don't necessarily need to make yourself miserable in the process. ;-) An interview is a two-way street, & it's just as much about the interviewee interviewing the interviewer as it is the other way around. Getting down to "brass tacks" & asking real questions & getting honest answers is surely a good way to reveal for both sides whether they are a fit/match for each other. Better to find out upfront whether you can co-exist in a potential place of employment than to be sorry later. When interviewing people, I have found it especially useful to put them at ease, not as a way of getting them to make missteps or reveal something embarrassing but rather as a way to determine whether we were both on the same page. :)

Anyhow, back to the point of why it's important to be OK with being imperfect & letting others in on the "secret." ;-) When people are on a path to improving themselves, they need to see other real people doing real things, falling on their faces & then getting up, dusting themselves off, & going back for a second, third, or fourth attempt. Or however many tries it takes. This builds character. And can also be an excellent source of humor as well. :) Resilience & persistence aren't built by being afraid to face challenges & then promptly avoiding them. They come as a direct result of engaging in them.

When people see other very real people moving forward & succeeding, they also need to see all the steps that got them there, & not just the end product. Too often, so much is made of the end product of fitness -- the weight loss, the change in physical appearance -- and not enough of the process that got them there.

Seeing the process is what makes people say, "Hey, that ordinary person did that, so maybe I can do it too."

And when you show people how you really are, most will at least respect you for your honesty. And if not, they are most likely just insecure & afraid & unable to honestly visit that very same area of themselves.

So I am not going to present my "perfect self" here. If you are looking for that person, this person has since "left the building" a long time ago. :)

So, yes, I might say some things that make you uncomfortable or express some not-so-cheery thoughts from time to time, but that's not done to intentionally discourage you or bring you down. Rather, it's done exactly for the opposite reason. You can't have sunshine without rain, you can't have growth without learning from your mistakes, etc., etc. You get the metaphors.

I want people to see that it's OK to exist as you really are instead of what other people want you to be. And I mean that from the deepest level, not just in terms of exercise -- but also in terms of obtaining a healthy sense of self & body image.

Too many people focus on what (or where or how) they want to be, instead of what (or where or how) they are, & this can sometimes work against them. Now what do I mean by this? Here's a good example: When we dress the body we currently have instead of wishing & hoping to be "like we used to be" or to look like someone else, it's a sign of acceptance & ironically, usually helps us to feel better about ourselves. Conversely, living in la-la land & beating ourselves up for what we "aren't" only serves to make us feel badly about ourselves. We are living in the now, & wishing to be otherwise or focusing on what we think we "lack" isn't going to move us forward. So, instead of doing this, it's really important to make peace with who you are right now. Yes, you heard me correctly. Stop wishing to be the perfect this or that, & instead just love yourself for who you are. If you do that, I promise you'll be able to love others more freely & be more generous & giving of yourself with them, & you will also be able to stop picking yourself apart like you are prime cuts of beef. You are more than just an assemblage of body parts, so if you are treating yourself this way, you are missing out on all of the other wonderful things that make up your being & personality.

A human being is literally more than just the sum of their parts. Also note that, in great contrast to the above diagram, that for a runner, the head & legs are truly valuable, & would never be considered "waste." :)

OK, so how many times can I say this? Exercise is not just something you do to lose weight or trim down a particular part of your body! Really! If you approach the process like a heat-seeking missile & only focus on this singular aspect, you are not looking at fitness with a longer range perspective, & will usually peter out once your short-term goals have been reached.

It's my hope to change people's attitudes about exercise & get them to think beyond its superficial or short-term benefits.

Frankly, I see far too many people (& a lot of them women!) focusing on narrow goals when it comes to their exercise, & frankly, it scares the crap out of me. I worry that these people are just missing the point of getting out there & sweating up a storm. Yes, I just used the word "worry." It truly concerns me, because what I'm trying to achieve here is not just "snappy little takeaway tips for exercising & living a healthy lifestyle," but rather something much more profound. This "something much more profound" is so all-encompassing that it's frankly very difficult for me to summarize what this particular philosophy is all about.

If you've pored over the archive of past blog posts surely you can see some evidence of what I keep hammering away at again & again. A lot of it has to do with trusting oneself & listening to one's inner wisdom, as well as learning from each other, but it's even larger than that. I could say that it's about building community or defining sportsmanship in larger humanistic terms, but even that doesn't quite approach what it's all about either. And yes, it's also about honesty, patience, moderation, gradual change, & balance, & obtaining good health & fitness, but somehow all of these words just seem completely inadequate. Maybe I need someone else who can step outside of the picture to help me define the scope of what this life & fitness philosophy embodies. I just don't yet feel like I've gotten there yet. This philosophy is still in a "state of becoming." Maybe at some point there will be a way to summarize it, but so far, I am failing miserably at it. :)

Yes, it's good to talk about the "other side of coin," instead of pretending like we all have to be perfect. Life is not just about what can be (i.e., our ideals), but also about what is in our current reality. Progress is made when we exist in a state of honesty, instead of hiding from ourselves & others. Feeling repressed or suppressing that kind of stuff in oneself usually drives people coo-coo anyhow, & it's really just not worth it. It's unrealistic to expect that you will be feeling wonderful all the time, so why try to pretend to others that this is always the case?

So feel free to blog or tweet about feeling sad or crabby. I promise I won't hold it against you. ;-) Or, if you don't feel like sharing it with the world, confide in a trusted & supportive friend or family member, or keep a private blog diary & put it there instead. By expressing it, you'll let it go, & won't feel like you are going to go postal.

Plus, a lot of us already keep enough stuff in our personal lives battened down tighter than an undercover black ops mission, so what's the harm in letting some of those emotions & thoughts out of the box once in a while?

After all, moods are temporary. ("This too shall pass." :) ) They come & go like water, & if you can just unclench a bit & instead get into an observational mode about them (for example: "Oh OK, apparently I'm PMS-ing today." :) ), then you put yourself in the driver's seat & not let them get the best of you. Or put another way, giving your less-than-lovely thoughts & emotions their space allows them the ability to fly away, & allows the happier ones to stick around for a bit longer. :)

This is why I sometimes rant & rave, & yes, tweet about being crabby or frustrated & the like. Also, I'm trying to break a lifetime habit of "only showing my ideal, happy side" to others. It's most likely from years of being raised in a very closed environment in which privacy & discretion were valued above self-expression -- It was like a dash of "Omertà" & "La Cosa Nostra," except minus the blood & guts. Mostly. :-0

But all kidding aside, I'm trying to overcome this tendency because living like this is ultimately really unhealthy. Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't the same thing as complaining or being confessional about one's deepest innermost thoughts & feelings. It's just a statement of one's current state of mind. Please note, there's a big difference between "emotional openness" & "factual openness." I prefer the former over the latter. After all, expressing general feelings doesn't exactly reveal anything other than one's mood. :)

It might seem hilarious to some that I claim to be a "private person" while still tweeting & blogging openly about "highly secretive topics" like -- oooooh, oh my goodness -- running, fashion, & food (LOL!), but yes, it's true. :)

OK, point proven. However, maybe it's time that the idea of "knowing" a person is redefined. The point is not to make people say "OMG, TMI!" :), but rather to understand that knowing a person is more than just knowing concrete facts & figures about them -- like where they're from, their favorite color or food or basketball team, etc. Knowing a person's nature & character is far more useful & will allow you to find out whether you want to bond with this person or run away quickly in the opposite direction. ;-) Don't believe me? Try connecting to people solely on a superficial level -- "Hey, we both like the same baseball team or ice cream flavor," etc. -- and see how long that friendship lasts. :) OK, well it might last, but it surely won't deepen. These topics are merely "conversation starters." If you're only looking for superficial friendships, then please go ahead & keep talking about nothing but the weather. :)

The way I look at it is that behaving honestly is not the same thing as confessing everything. You don't need to tell everybody everything about your childhood to feel bonded to them. :) Discretion is still important, & one might also add, very much missed in this age of tell-all media exposés & very public mobile phone conversations that we'd mostly rather not overhear. We still need to keep some things private & preserve some personal boundary lines. ;-)

But that doesn't mean we can't talk about our flaws & failures & still see them as beautiful things. And while some people might think it's ill-advised or bad form to do or suggest this, I will politely & repeatedly disagree with them. Why am I encouraging all of us to rejoice in our imperfectness? Because as soon as we stop being real & honestly recounting the process of our "becoming," then we will cease being human & feeling connected with others, & instead start to live from a past script instead of a current one. When a person is in a state of "becoming," then they are most often continuing to learn & grow. And that, my friends, is a truly beautiful thing.

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