Small Victories

Last week, I guess I hit a huge bump in the road.  My hip was sore, my feet hurt and I had a rough work week.   My running buddy was injured and out of the marathon and I was seriously questioning my ability to finish this thing.   Sunday, I planned to skip my long run as I just didn’t think I had it in me to do.

Sunday came and I decided to just give it a try.  I had nothing to lose since I already felt lost.   I put one foot in front of the other and started running.  13 miles later, I  met my husband down by the beach.  I was so proud of that run.   It was slow and steady and mostly pain free.   Could it be?   I felt like I had one foot on the ladder, ready to climb out of this darn pity party.

This week was a short work week. I met my trainer in Central Park on Thursday.   We did an hour of strength and she rolled my legs – ouch.   Off I went for a short 4 mile run in the park.  It felt slow, but when I got on the bus and looked at it I saw I had some nice segments.   Central Park is a tough run, so those PR segments really boosted my bruised ego.

This morning I met my trainer for our Saturday morning session.  I was sore from Thursday so her rolling helped.  After an hour of strength, activation and rolling I was ready to run.  I only needed a shorter run today as this is a recovery week.  I set my sights on Cat Hill and off I went.

Today’s run also had some strong segments, but overall these legs were tired.  I’m feeling like I’m in a much better space today.   My belief that I will finish marathon this has returned.  I wish I had more time to prepare, but it is what it is.

In speaking to other runners, there are many who are hurting right about now.  But, guess what, it’s supposed to be hard, it’s a marathon for heavens sake.  If it were easy it wouldn’t be a challenge and everybody would be doing it.  Just like I tell my students, the growth comes at the point of the struggle.   This week, I realized that I’m tougher than I thought.   It would’ve been easier to quit, truly.   But, then I’d be full of regret and have to do this all over again.  Nope, I’m not a quitter.  I’m in it to finish.  How about you?

Thanks Jessica for picking me back up off the floor.   Today I ran Central Park hills, tired but pain free.  http://runpainfreenow.com

How’s your training going?   What do you do when the going gets tough?   Leave me a messsage below.

Emotional Toll

Nobody warns you about the emotional toll of training for a marathon. You only envision the glory of the finish and even the accomplishments along the way. You hear all about losing toenails and the endless hours of running. But the emotional toll just kind of creeps in around 7 weeks out. Suddenly, that race that seemed so far away is fast approaching. You find yourself questioning your sanity and ability to even do this thing. You forget why in the world you even wanted to do it in the first place.

Unless you are an elite, professional runner, you are trying to fit this huge feat into your daily grind. Starts out ok, but trust me as the weeks move along it can become stressful. I happen to have a high stress job that pulls me in a million directions, usually at 90 mph. This is stress I manage pretty well on a daily basis. It is what is is. But, when you tack on this hefty training commitment it can become a bit much to handle.

During the summer, I have a ton of mind space for running and meal planning. There aren’t all these other demands on my body and emotions. An extra hectic school opening this year, full of life’s curveballs, has left me really tired this week. Whenever you deal with the emotions and needs of others you are bound to hit some bumps in the road. This training cycle has made me realize just how much of myself I give to everyone else and sadly how little I give myself.

My wonderful coach Jessica, http://runpainfreenow.com spent a lot of time today listening to me fall apart. She was patient and kind and for that I’m eternally grateful. Some days, I guess we need more than just a training session. Sometimes we need to hear that it’s ok to put ourselves first. To hear that while it is my job to shield my students from the stresses I absorb daily, that doesn’t mean I can’t share the load with the adults in my building. They, unlike my students, are adults. They too, if we are a team, should know the realities of what is faced on a daily basis to keep our school afloat. Maybe then they could gain some perspective beyond just their own. It can only serve to strengthen our team.

So, today I decided to put myself before anyone else. I’ll admit it felt quite selfish of me, but that’s the mindset that needs to change. Today, I spent time reading and relaxing after my trip to the city. I spent time in bed reading up on things I’m interested in. No news was on and no negativity permeated my zen space. I didn’t respond to work email, in fact I didn’t even read them.

Last night’s inability to sleep was my body warning me it’s on overload. I need to reel myself in and begin to set aside some time just for me. I am human like everyone else in my life and I too need time to recharge and rest. I can’t continue to put myself last.

As I move into this last phase of training my body is tired. My emotions are taking over and self doubt about my ability to finish are creeping in. I’m doubling down though and kicking that doubt to the curb. My coach and my running buddies will pull me through this race. The lessons I’ve learned about how I treat my own emotional needs will stick with me beyond the finish line. I matter and I am important.

Has your training begun to wear you down too? Do you have a coach like mine who is available 24/7 to get you through? If not, how are you surviving it? Leave your comments below.

Scaffolds

In education when a child is not quite ready for a task we offer them a scaffold.  If a math problem is too complex for them we break it into smaller, more manageable parts.   In reading, we offer them books at their independent reading level, rather than expecting them all to read the same book.  Yet, when it comes to exercise tasks we tend to reject all scaffolds offered.  We look at these scaffolds as a sign of weakness rather than what they truly are, a way to lift us up and enable us to finish the task.

On today’s run, I started to think about this connection and realized I’m just as guilty as anyone of rejecting scaffolds.  I like to say I’m stubborn, determined or a true warrior.   Somehow lately I’m realizing that I’m foolish and letting my ego guide me rather than my common sense.

Scaffolds for runners are meant to help, not hinder, their development.  If the body is not quite ready to do what you are asking of it, you could end up getting injured.  Trust me, this I know first hand!  Building and developing the right muscles for the activity you want to perform is not an option.  You must spend the time and do the work to have proper functionality.   If something along your muscular chain is weak, something else will become overloaded and injury could follow.  My coach has finally got that point seared in my stubborn, I mean foolish, brain. I have now added some scaffolding to my training to ensure that I make it not only to the starting line, but also to the finish.

Since my Achilles has been giving me trouble, I’ve added the scaffold of running intervals on my runs.  This scaffold builds breaks for this muscle into each run.  Without them the repetitive motion over three hours could really put a strain on my Achilles.   It’s also been allowing me to work more on my form, hopefully developing the right muscle groups.   Another scaffold I’m embracing is slowing my pace on long runs.   Long runs are meant to develop endurance, not pace, so I’ve given myself permission to turn off the app that tells me my pace as I’m running.  My friend who has run 7 marathons shared with me that you can never run too slow on a long run.  He said during his training for his first marathon he ran himself into the ground.   During that race he barely finished with anything left in his tank.   Sounds like I need to slow it down on those long runs immediately.

Finally, today I gave myself the accommodation of flexibility.   I’m a very schedule driven runner.   I like to run super early to avoid car traffic and heat.  If I don’t go by 6:00 AM, I start stressing and thinking about running another day.  I never sleep in on weekends either.   Today, after two exhausting days at work, I woke at 3:00 AM ready to get moving.  I came down, had a bowl of oatmeal and cup of coffee. I then walked right back up and got back in my bed. I turned on the hurricane reports and before I knew it I decided to go back to sleep thinking I’d run tomorrow instead.   I woke again at 8:00, got up and did my pre-run activation routine. Then I went out and did my scheduled long run.  Honestly, it felt good to not rush out to run.  Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to change the plan, but not permission to skip it.

Scaffolds do not mean you’re any less or a runner than another.  They mean you are focused on completing your task.  Thanks coach Jessica for readjusting my perspective.

How are your workouts going?   Are you forcing yourself through them, or loving them?   If, like me you are running in pain, consider calling Jessica for a consultation.  She can truly help get you back on the road again.  Her site is https://www.runpainfreenow.com and her Twitter handle is #runpainfree .  Tell her Laura recommended you and get your consultation booked.  Let me know how it goes. It could be life changing.

Functionality

Today before my run I met with my new trainer in Central Park.   Jessica from #runpainfree has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in working with runners.   She’s no nonsense and a true force to reckon with.   She’s traveling all over NYC most days lugging her tools and gear to meet runners where they are – out in the park.

Jessica spent time rolling my body with her torture stick.  Sounds bad, but really it’s oh so good in the long run. She then had me do some balance and strength work to fire up my glutes who never really want to join the party.   More rolling followed by some warmup moves that again got the glutes going.  After the hour, I was sent off to do my run and report back to her later about how it went.

I must say I really did feel a difference on the run today. Central Park is a tough place to run and the loop around it today felt different from last week’s trek. It wasn’t perfect, I mean she’s great but one session won’t fix 57 years of damage, but it did feel better.   I felt my glutes engage at some points during the run and it was awesome.   I did my 8 miles today feeling excited that I too can run pain free.

Jessica has great positivity, a trait I seek out always.   Don’t ever settle for anyone who isn’t positive or encouraging. Jessica adamantly told me not to let anyone tell me I can’t do this race. She carefully explained some of the functions of the muscles, tendons and connectivity between body parts in a way that I could understand.  She explained the motion of running and why my feet are hurting all the time. It really made sense to me and I truly want to learn more about this wonderful body and how it functions.

If you are struggling with pain and not getting anywhere with PT and/or chiropractor care, I strongly suggest you think about working with an Athletic Functional Movement Expert:Corrective.   Find the actual root of your pain, which may not be where you think it is. Work on your form and build your strength in targeted ways that will actually impact your running. And, if you are lucky enough, contact Jessica at https://www.runpainfreenow.com for a consultation and plan of action. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Today I have renewed hope that I will indeed finish this race. Thank you Jessica for your guidance and belief in me.

Are you dealing with any issues as you train for the marathon? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to connect. And, if you meet with Jessica mention my name (Laura Kump) so she tells me.   Then please let me know how it goes.

Money Trees

Ever wonder why healthy living has to be so darn expensive?  From higher prices on organic food to expensive gym memberships, it never ceases to amaze me how people take advantage of those seeking to live a healthy life.  There are so many scammers out there preying upon those desperate to lose weight.

Recently, I fell victim to one of the latest fads.  I knew going in that it was overpriced and told myself I’d just take the free class.  I think a gym membership of over $100 per month is totally ridiculous, but people were plunking down their money around me.  I was looking for a cross training option to eliminate one run per week so I thought I’d give it a try.  People from my school were going so I thought it’d be fun to go with a group.  I decided to call to set up an appointment to take the free class they were offering.  I should have known at that moment not to get involved!  The bells were ringing, but I chose not to listen.  When I made the appointment for the free class, they asked for my credit card to hold a spot.  I said, no way.  I am not buying anything so I will not give my card.  They said they needed it in the event I failed to show up.  Hmmmm  My friend graciously used her card (she was a member) to hold the spot for me.

After the class, which I did enjoy, I agreed to sign up for one class per week at $89 per month plus tax.  I did think the price was high, but felt ok about it as I used to pay that for yoga classes.   When I arrived for my first class at the studio (not free) I was informed that I had to purchase, or rent, a heart rate monitor.  I informed them that I already owned a chest strap and was in fact wearing it with my watch.  They told me I had to purchase, or rent, theirs in order to have my results up on the board and emailed to me after class.  I asked how much the strap was.  The monitor would be another 80ish dollars.  When I refused, the person at the desk seemed shocked.  I guess nobody every refused before.  When she reminded me I wouldn’t get my results displayed, I informed her without my glasses I couldn’t see them anyway.  But, you won’t get your emailed results, to which I replied I’d get them from my watch.

After going a few times, I realized that I wasn’t getting to replace a run after all.  When you take this class you run/walk for 30 minutes on a treadmill every class.  At this point I decided to cancel my membership as it was not really meeting my needs.  I knew you had to do so in writing so I emailed and texted the owner my request to cancel my membership.  I asked for confirmation and the date my membership would end.  Of course, cancelling is not an easy thing either.  I received a voice message stating I’d have to come in to the studio and fill out paperwork to cancel.  Wow.

This newest fad in gym memberships, the boutique gym is really just another way to rip people off.  From the first phone call I knew this gym was out to make money at every turn.  While it is a nice workout, it is surely not worth over $119 per month which most girls in my office are paying, some as much as $179.  The brand new, very nice gym my husband joined costs him $20 per month.  They have the exact same equipment.  They don’t even advertise and they are doing just fine.  Clearly, the other gym is appealing to women who will pay just about anything to lose weight.

Today I will go over to the gym and fill out the paper work.  I am sure I will get a hard sell to stay and that really annoys me.  I hope my experience serves as a reminder to us all of what I already knew.  You don’t have to pay through the nose to get a great workout.  I gave up my gym memberships long ago in favor of working out at home.  I am motivated and don’t need a boutique experience to keep me on track.  I can lace up my sneakers and do that exact same workout right here.  I have all the same equipment they had.   Here are some great workouts you can do at home for free.

Walking/Running – just lace up your sneakers and go.  Keep a pair in your car at all times and you can walk at lunch during work, or on the drive home.  Sometimes, I pull over at the local park and do just that.  I purchased a treadmill for home and keep it in my basement for those bad weather days and months.  Best investment ever.  I got mine at Costco and they even came and assembled it on delivery.

Elliptical – I also purchased an elliptical machine at Costco and have this in my basement.  I’m not a total fan of it, but it got me through many injuries.  Blast the music and go.  I like to alternate songs, one fast – one slow.

Yoga – I purchased yoga burn for under $20 and it has many workouts, but you can truly find so many classes for free online.  Google on youtube for any type of yoga class.

Weight training – Many classes are online for free.  You can purchase some hand weights.  I have a professional weight bench and set up (from my husband).  We’ve had it for over 20 years.

The options are limitless and again in most cases free.  Want a boutique experience, invest in a great sound system and spend the money fixing up your personal gym.  Me, I like to exercise some days in my pajamas.

Have you called victim to a fad recently?  What happened to you?  Please share, as we all need to remind ourselves often that expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better!

 

Mindset Matters

In the past, I primarily lived with thoughts of all the things I couldn’t do well.  Negativity permeated every inch of my inner dialogue.  I couldn’t run as fast as my friends, I couldn’t run without experiencing pain in my ankles and feet afterwards and I couldn’t lose weight as fast as others could. When asked to slow down my heart rate during runs, I whined about how slow I had to run and called it slogging (slow jogging). Listening to this week’s podcasts reminded me that my power to succeed resides in my mindset, therefore developing it must be a critical part of any training plan.

As part of this type of training, we must tap into our inner dialogue and begin to shift it.  I’ve begun shifting my thoughts and tapping in to focus instead on all the things I can do.   Filling my head with all the things that were going well has helped me remain positive about my training.   Here are some simple ideas to help change your inner dialogue and develop your mindset.

Meditation

I wish I could say I do this regularly, but I don’t.  Research does suggest that meditation has major benefits to many areas of overall wellness.  Mindspace app is one of the tools I downloaded.  I’ve used it during the night when I can’t fall back asleep, but I’ve yet to develop a regular routine.  I do, however, think of my long runs as meditation as I am in a mindfulness zone and think deeply.

Podcasts

There are tons of podcasts you can listen to for developing your mindset.  I have found many motivational speakers and love to listen to podcasts on long runs.  Sure does make the time pass by with less focus on the struggle.  My favorite podcasts right now are put out by Another Mother Runner and Running Lifestyle.  Find what speaks to you and listen to learn.

Read

One of the best books for me was recommended by my yoga teacher a few years back.  It still is the one that I reread when I need reminding of the power of mindset.

I wrote a summary of this book here Life Change

How has your mindset affected your training?  What have you done to develop and harness the power of positivity?  Please share in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Try Something New

When you find yourself in a rut and can’t seem to snap out of it, try something new.  Step outside your comfort zone and you may be surprised by how it rekindles your workout motivation.  That’s been my mission these past two weeks and I slowly feel myself getting excited again.  This week alone, I tried two new things Galloway running and Orangetheory.  Both were enjoyable and both proved to spark my motivation levels.

Galloway running is based on the premise that continuous use of specific muscles and tendons can lead to exhaustion and injury.  The Galloway run-walk-run method builds recovery into your runs. You should be able to continue a training regimen for a whole season leading up to your goal race without injury and wouldn’t that be a nice change!  I actually joined this running club last year, but never attended a session.  My mindset was one that if I am running, I need to run.  I rarely took any walk breaks over my distances.  During one very hilly 10K distance race last year, I allowed myself to walk up the steep hills and run the downhill and flat sections of the course.  Imagine my shock when I had the fasted 10K time ever that day.  I did think there might be something to this walk/run idea but still didn’t embrace it.

This week, I decided to go out and try it.  A local club member agreed to meet me out at the park and take me through the paces.  It was an enjoyable three mile run for me and I felt refreshed and ready for the full day ahead of me.  We conversed the whole run and I wasn’t worrying about when it would be over, or even about my next breath.  It didn’t matter to me if the run signal came midway up a hill.  I thought I’d hate the stop and start nature of the run, but it felt fluid and natural.  I will most definitely do this type of run again, hopefully next week.

Last night I decided to take a free class at a new local box gym – Orangetheory.  The sales girl has been calling me for over a year, but I’ve never gone.  Since many of my friends have been going and talking about it, I decided to take the plunge and add it to my, Try Something New list.  The group class is conducted wearing a heart rate monitor and your results are projected on a screen for all to see.  I guess they think that’s motivational to the competitive ones in the group.  Me, I couldn’t even see the screen without my glasses so not so much.  My friend was next to me during the 30 minute treadmill segment and she was looking at it and updated me a few times.  The workout is high intensity interval training, keeping yourself in the right heart rate zone throughout the sessions.  It is a 60 minute group class split into cardio and strength training.  I started the class on the treadmill doing what was comparable to the walk/run workout I did in the park.  I alternated between slow jog, push pace and all out running for 30 minutes under the direction of the instructor.  I then moved to a rowing machine segment and strength training.  We rowed for a bit, then did some TRX work, push ups, squats, planks, then back to rowing.  It was a fun, fast paced work out.  For me, I don’t need the competition aspect, seriously who cares what anyone else is doing.  I did like the equipment, music and change of pace though.  I did commit to doing one of these classes per week.  I would have done two, but the price to me is over the top.  Once per week will have to do and I will count this workout as one of my weekly runs.

Overall, doing new things does add spark to your life.  I felt better this week than I have in a long while.  I think it’s the combination of trying new things and being around people.  I am looking forward to this week’s workouts and will continue my climb back from the long winter of broken toes.   What have you done this week to step outside your daily rut?  How has it helped rekindle your motivation?  Be sure to leave your comments below.  I look forward to reading them.