I'm. Still. Sick.
Today, at least, I am sitting upright (yay!).
Being sick like this is hard on me mentally.
I pride myself on being tough, determined, the kind of girl who does not back down... unless, of course, her body decides she needs to.
I do this. I don't mean to, but I do. I burn my candle at not just both ends, but anywhere it can burn. I work hard at my job, I try to be the best darn parent I can be, I am trying to write a book, I am training for a marathon, I am... doing too much.
This is my body's reminder of that. I wrote a post a while back called "I am not Wonder Woman." It's true. I'm not.
Sure, I eat healthy and exercise, but I need to step back and take care of myself better. Go to bed earlier. Say "no" to things.
It's not that I'm going to stop giving 110 percent to things -- I've just got to learn how to give that much to fewer tasks at a time.
Quality is more important than quantity.
Just when I start to feel strong, my body reminds me that I am not Wonder Woman.
Reports of sports-related concussions continue to grow, with as many as 3.8 million occurring in athletes of all ages across the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So what can be done to help prevent them, particularly in young athletes whose brains are still developing? The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention at Children’s Hospital in Waltham hopes a comprehensive new exercise program is the answer.FULL ENTRY
Just gorgeous out there today.
I am battling a nasty cold. Lately my pace has been all over the map, so my goal today was just to go easy and slow and tackle some hills.
Mission accomplished. Finished my run with one killer hill. And made this.
My charity team members/friends did their long runs today. I, however, had to juggle my toddler while my better half put in a very full, very long, very early work day.
Early work day for hubby meant I had to swap my long run to Sunday. So the littleman and I got our yoga/foam rolling on, and I lifted weights during his nap. You do what you have to do.
I will say this, I was ITCHING to get out there. Going long tomorrow. Going to tackle some killer hills.
The sound of my shoes against the pavement.
Regular sneakers (Vibrams in the wash).
Back on My Feet Boston.
With only 46 days to Boston, I've been reflecting on the fact that running the Boston Marathon may be a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me.
Hopefully not, but maybe.
And so, just in case, I want to remember everything about my long months of training, fundraising, and working harder than I ever have.
So from here on out, I'll be posting daily until the race. And it won't just be my rambling words. I'm going to post a photo a day -- either from on my run, during my training... whatever.
While I love to write, and am a writer at heart, sometimes images can tell a story all their own. So while there may be days I write as well, there will also be days that I don't.
Today is a rest day training-wise. And while I'm working away at home, my brain is itching to run.
I'm thinking about my pace, about what it will feel like this weekend to run alone again (because I can't make the group run due to my schedule), about how excited I am to be hosting a running buddy I made at last year's marathon during terrible circumstances.
My body may be resting today, but my mind just won't stop running.
Maybe that's why I love this sport: It feels the most like me.
Yes, you read that headline correctly.
I got lost. During my 20 mile race.
I'll pause here while you laugh.
Let me start at the beginning (the part BEFORE I got lost).
My day started with meeting up with Salsman (of #ProjectAdam fame) and my #Miles4Smiles teammates, David and Katie, plus my homegirl Laura (who got me hooked on this race last year).
After grabbing my bib, finding my crew, and making my way to wait for the start, I ran into Dani (of Weight off My Shoulders) this was an epic way to start the race because Dani and I have been trying to meet up in person for oh, at least a year.
The start moved locations from last year, so that threw me off right away, but I felt strong for the first 10 miles, and kept about an 11 min/mile, which was my goal. Not fast, but steady enough that I would have steam left for the last 10.
When I came through the chute to head out for the last 10, I was feeling strong. I thought at first the out and back, and out and back nature of the course would get to me, but it wasn't terrible with so much to look at and so many people.
When I got to mile 15, and had continued to keep my pace steady, I thought, OK, Elizabeth, you got this.
But then, mile 18 hit and something went wrong: Namely me -- in the form of a wrong turn.
Either I was so in the zone that I missed the sign showing where the next turn was when I came back into the center of Salem, or the sign got knocked down -- but I didn't see it. So, I tried to remember where I had come from.
Apparently I could not find my way out of a paper bag.
When I looked at my watch and saw that I had run 19 miles, but didn't see the finish line, I knew I had done something terribly wrong. So, while still running, I pulled out my phone and texted my teammates who had run the 10 mile race (bonus: two of them were from the area, so they could help direct me.)
When I texted Salsman that I had somehow wound up near a Target, he messaged me back that I was WAY off the race course.
I looked down at my watch again, and saw I had run 22 miles. "Well," I thought, at least I didn't stop and walk anywhere, I may be slow but I KNOW I can run this distance.
As I made my way toward Pep Boys and waited for Salsman to come find me, I thought about how nervous I was that I wouldn't have the stamina to run all 20 miles. I'm slow at these long distances, and running without big crowds cheering me on and basically solo for that long had me slightly worried.
Apparently, my stamina was not the problem-- my sense of direction was.
When Salsman finally found me, I had a big smile on my face. Sure, I could be mad that my time was going to suck since I went so far off course, sure I could be mad that my race didn't go the way I hoped.
But the truth is, I wasn't upset at all. Actually, I'm glad it happened.
Today I learned that no matter WHAT kind of planning you have, or prep work you do, you just never know how your race will go. I was worried about the distance for no reason: I got through those 20 miles just fine, and I wasn't fast, but I felt strong. So strong that I even had it in me to run two extra miles.
I also learned a few other things:
- That high-fiving a fellow charity runner buddy of mine out on the course and hearing him say "looking strong" does wonders for a bit of extra pep in your stride (thanks, Josh!)
- That saying "good job" to fellow runners ahead of me or next to me as I passed them was actually appreciated by those runners, who took the time to say it back to me
- That nothing beats a hug from a friend who biked (in the bitter cold) to the finish line just to say "good job."
- That I am incredibly lucky to have amazing teammates and friends who were not only cheering for me when I finally crossed that finish line, but who made me feel like I had won that darn race
- That nothing tastes better than a hot cup of coffee after running in single-digit weather in New England for 20+ miles
- That "wow, Mama, I want to run fast like you and get a pretty medal, when can I race with you" is pretty much the single best phrase ever uttered and makes me want to never stop running.
And today I didn't stop. Not for 22 freaking miles.
I get a lot of e-mails and comments asking me how I've managed to stick with running.
As you know, you won't stick with something if you don't love it or have fun doing it.
I'll often respond to people's questions with a simple "find something you love." Try everything. And when you find something that makes you want to immediately do it again, you've found your "thing."
But the truth is, it's a bit more complicated for me than that.
Sure running is fun to me (most of the time -- there are still runs like this one where I wanted to just pack it in and go home).
But the other thing that has made me keep running is my social network.
Somewhere along the way, I've found incredible people to run with. Some are faster than me, some are slower, but they all keep me running.
Instead of hashing out the problems I'm having with my writing side project over a pint of Ben & Jerry's like the Elizabeth in the days before I took up running would have done, now I discuss such things on long runs with close friends.
If I'm having a bad day, I know running with a friend or two will make it infinitely better.
I'm celebrating a RANniversary with one running friend this weekend, as a matter of fact. She and I met for the first time after my first 10 mile race. Since that day we've logged many, many miles together.
She's seen me run ugly, run fast, run in the snow and rain, and everything in between. If she can put up with me when I'm complaining about something on a long run, I know she can put up with just about anything from me.
That's the thing about running and friendship: It's not always pretty, but it will always be there -- through any kind of storm.
This weekend's run was 10 miles -- a decrease from last weekend's 17. Why? I have a 20 mile race next weekend, and, truthfully, I needed the mental vacation I thought 10 would bring me from those high mileage runs.
The temperature was ideal for a run, the sun was shining, I had good tunes queued up and ready to rock. The icy roads scared me a bit -- I nearly fell/sprained my ankle several times. And my pace? Well, let's just say if I run the pace I ran this weekend on the day of the marathon, I have NO chance of beating my first marathon time.
The first mile was ugly, but I told myself, that my first mile is ALWAYS ugly (because it is) and that I needed to just settle in. But by mile 4 I still couldn't find my groove.
I told myself to just get to mile 5 so that I could turn around and salvage the back end of my run.
But my pace stayed sluggish, my strides felt clunky, and I was generally feeling "the yucks" (as my son calls it) about this "easy" training run of mine.
And so, I turned my watch the other way. Turned off the notifications. Turned off the music. And I turned on my mettle.
I pulled out every trick I could think of to just keep myself MOVING. I didn't care anymore how slow I was running, as long as I wasn't stopping -- which was what my brain was telling me it wanted to do quite loudly.
I pulled out my phone and took a photo of a gorgeous view atop a hill I conquered. I waved to every single car and runner and dog walker out there. I thought of how inspired I felt just a day before, running with the Back On My Feet crew.
And finally, by mile 9, I felt like I was back. I found a comfortable pace and fell easily into it.
This weekend's run wasn't about good form, or quick feet. It was about testing my mettle -- my sheer gut-force determination to not stop running.
I felt more accomplished after those ugly miles than I have ever felt during runs where the miles seem to run themselves.
For that reason alone, I won the gold -- and it was made of the toughest mettle.
I have a confession: Lately I've been feeling like a failure.
Sure, my marathon training is going well, but I'm stuck in this holding pattern with my weight. According to the BMI chart (not the only standard by which one should measure health, I know) I am still overweight.
And I have yet to see that magic number on the scale.
The smart half of my brain knows that the scale alone is not the sole measure of my worth.
In the time since I made the decision to change my lifestyle completely and become healthier I've run distances I never thought possible, completed a triathlon, out-dead-lifted my previous personal record, and more.
I've re-learned how to cook (look, Ma, LESS fat, same great taste!).
I've made friends I never would have made without becoming more active. And yet, every morning, I step on that scale and a tiny piece of me still wants to see that damn "magic number."
But last night, a seemingly tiny exchange I had over Twitter offered me some perspective.
PavementRunner tweeted he had a rough lunch run.
This is what I tweeted back:
@EJComeau true. A couple miles is better than no miles. Thanks for the perspective.— Pavement Runner (@PavementRunner) February 20, 2014
Sometimes it is hard for us to expand the lens through which we see.
And so this morning, with the exchange with PavementRunner in the back of my head, I stepped on the scale.
Instead of my heart sinking seeing only .8 lb lost, I took a breath and reminded myself that the woman who started this weight loss journey 80 pounds heavier should be PUMPED she is only about 15 pounds away from her goal.
An ugly run is better than no run, PavementRunner said. I agree.
And .8 lb loss is just one 35mm shot in the panorama of the 80 I've already lost.
It may not seem like much, but it all helps to fill in the picture.
A zoom lens often excludes other beautiful things that should be in our picture's frame.
It's all about perspective.
The Boston Marathon is 62 days away.
Sixty-two days feels both long a long way off and extremely soon all at the same time.
It has been a long training season. Actually, it has been a snowy, bitterly cold training season.
While I am one of the first people to raise her hand when asked "who loves long runs," doing them every weekend for so many months in a row can feel monotonous.
I did 17 miles on Sunday -- my longest run to date since my first marathon last October. By mile 17, I'm not going to lie, my brain just wanted to be DONE.
A glance at my watch was just the mental motivation I needed for some perspective: I had just run 17 miles at a faster pace than I could sustain for even 3 miles when I first started running.
In May 2012, I ran my first ever 5k in 36:05 -- putting me at a pace of 11:38/mile.
I ran my 17 miles at a pace of 9:43/mile.
I know they aren't the same distance, but to me, it feels like substantial progress.
It has not been easy. Some days (like these cold, windy mornings) are really ugly.
But the progress is worth it.
Even if it takes me longer than I would like to run the Boston Marathon, I at least know I'm working as hard as I can to get stronger every day.
My teammates and I got together to run the Boston Marathon course this weekend.
At various points during our run, one of my teammates would drop back and run with me: slowing their pace to match mine.
This act always makes me smile for a few reasons.
I am content to run alone, at the back of the pack. I run at my pace -- some days are faster than others, but at least I can run -- at whatever speed I can muster.
My teammates -- and generally other runners as well -- don't have to bother dropping back to check on me. But they always do. It's a small gesture that always means a lot to me.
Out on that crowded course this weekend, small acts of random kindness were everywhere, and it reminded me (yet again) that this sport of running is not all about the speed you can sustain for X miles: It is about community.
I was the first to get to the lobby of the hotel where our group meets when a woman introduced herself to me and asked if could please let our group leader know that she was heading out on the course. "I'm the slowest of the group," she told me. I told her my 11 min/mile to 13/mile pace for these long runs and she replied back with "I'm still slower than you."
I smiled and said "you're out there, and you get it done, that's all that matters." She smiled, pulled on her gloves, and headed to grind out her miles.
A few miles into my teams' run, I saw the woman's face coming toward me, headed back to the hotel.
I smiled and we high-fived.
To me, that woman was just ONE of the many rock stars on the course with me Saturday.
There was the skinny beanpole man in a bright yellow running tech shirt practically sprinting by me on a hill who took the time to say "nice job, this hill sucks."
There was the man hand-pouring cups of Gatorade for total strangers and offering Swedish Fish for snacks.
There were the folks from Dana-Farber who let us grab water from the water stop meant for their runners.
But that high-five from that first woman -- who thought she was slower than everyone else -- and who beamed with a giant smile when she saw me coming toward her, that's one of those moments that reminds me: This is why I run.
Members of the US women's Olympic hockey team consider their off-the-ice training at Mike Boyle's Strength and Conditioning in Woburn to be the secret ingredient to their on-ice success. Alexa Pozniak paid them a visit for this Work It Out, Boston video.FULL ENTRY
New verbiage in gyms around the country is long overdue. How we set the stage for fitness activities shapes both one’s ability to adhere to exercise and to maximize performance in the gym. Ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) is the often used technical term for the self ratings given by exercisers about the physical intensity they gave during exercise and this rating can be impacted by how activities are primed.
Machoness seems to be a hot marketing tool when it comes to selling exercise… unfortunately “tough” may be a poor way of creating excellence in the gym. It is not difficult to imagine a fitness instructor preparing an exercise class by announcing, “O.k., let’s get down to work!” or a strength coach wearing a Dr. Evil smirk while instructing athletes, “It’s going to brutal circuit today. Be ready.” These are socially accepted utterances and well intentioned nudges towards toughness… yet there may be costs to the exercise that follows.
The power of suggestion is strong. Studies of perceived exertion have found that verbally cuing heavy or light workloads in the gym will shape both physical efforts and emotional responses. The announcement of a tough lift is likely to induce a bit of added struggle and suffering. How fitness activities are introduced will shape mental schemas that can help or hurt athletic performances. This extends far beyond the pop psychology wisdom of “be positive,” but rather drills down to the subtleties of how perceptions influence exercise behaviors. Priming negative attitudes can encourage inhibited performances – miring one in mediocrity rather than allowing physical potential to thrive.
Perhaps it is time for a paradigm shift in how we talk about exercise. Subtle and purposeful changes in the language of exercise can facilitate a bit extra effort and lead to more enjoyment. How often do you slip into the language of teeth gritting, grind it out attitude? What language could you abandon in order to prime your optimal exercise attitude?
When putting on one’s running shoes or stepping into the gym it is not time for one to get to “work.” Tough talk may sell gym memberships… but it often fails to maximize fitness performance. Perhaps when grabbing the gym bag on the way out of the house it is more valuable to remember that it is time to get to “play.”
Dr. Adam Naylor leads Telos Sport Psychology Consulting and is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Boston University’s School of Education. He has a decade and a half of experiences working with professional through amateur athletes – of note: US Open competitors, NCAA champions, Olympians, Stanley Cup winners, and UFC martial artists. Beyond sports, over the past five years he has served as a corporate performance and wellness consultant. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ahnaylor.
My new running shoes arrived a few days ago.
They replace my old, perfectly worn in ones, which have about 600 miles on them.
It was time for them to go.
But I haven't been able to bring myself to get rid of my old ones.
Those shoes were on the finish line of the marathon with me last year. They saw all the good and the bad that day.
Those shoes were with me the day after the marathon, too, when I didn't know if I find the strength to head out on a training run.
Those shoes have seen mileage I never thought I'd chase down.
They've run alongside world-class athletes and newbies alike.
They carried me to the finish line of my very first marathon.
Part of me just has not wanted to let go.
In 75 days, these new running shoes will carry me to the finish line of Boston.
And as much as I don't want to let my old shoes go, part of me can't wait to get a new set of shoes on that finish line.
Here's to new beginnings.
Have an idea for a fitness feature? Tweet me @ApozTV.
An overabundance of stress has the ability to wreak havoc on your stomach, bringing about unwelcome feelings of pain or general discomfort. A potential strategy to beat the bloat and ease tummy torment lies in a series of yoga poses, which could help to reduce stress and alleviate digestive discomfort.FULL ENTRY
Happy Wednesday, kids!
I've been quiet on the blog as of late (sorry).
Today was a big morning for this little girl.
Let's start from the beginning, shall we?
My during-the-week marathon training runs are short. As in most of them are 3-6 miles because that's really all I have time for given my current morning duties. The long runs, of course, come on the weekends.
So a while back I decided I really needed to get the biggest bang for my buck out of these shorties, and made a goal to run a sub 9-min/mile pace as a goal. I kept it broad: Some days my pace has been 8:59 exactly but still sub 9.
Today, however, I wanted to really push. The road I was running was nice and dry and clean for the first time in weeks. And I decided to run a new route, past one of my old stomping grounds as a kid: my old high school.
Let me remind you: I loathed high school. Although I did every activity imaginable, I just always felt like I wasn't where I wanted to be.
So while part of me was excited to run this new route, part of me really didn't want to see that old high school ever again.
One particularly painful memory sticks in my mind to this day about high school. I was a field hockey player. It was summer. We were in "double sessions" (otherwise known as the time of year you have two practices a day), one in the morning, one in the afternoon.
My teammates and I were instructed to run "trains" around the field. A train was where the last person in line would sprint up to the front of the line until the coach blew the whistle and the next person had to get to the front.
I. HATED. TRAINS.
Trains meant trying to sprint past all of my teammates, who were all faster runners than I was, and get to the front quickly enough so that I wasn't overtaken by the person sprinting up behind me.
It was my first introduction to speed work. And it was miserable. Since those trains, I've told myself I'm built for distance but not speed in every sport I've attempted.
I'd rather row 6,000 meters than 2,000 because 2K means killing yourself in an all out sprint.
I'd rather run 10 slow, steady miles than 2 hard and fast ones.
But this morning, as I headed toward the sign toward my old high school, a part of me got an urge to have a second shot at those train drills.
I ran hard and fast (for me) today.
And it hurt in the great way where you know you left it all on the pavement.
When I got back to my house and looked at my watch my average pace said 7:49.
This morning, no one got to the front of my train.