Run less…love it more?

Ever since the marathon in October (which feels like a lifetime ago, btw…), I’ve been running less and less. Not entirely by design mind you, I had every intention of keeping up the mileage to a certain extent, trying to stick with a longer run per week, yadda yadda yadda.

But then, that didn’t happen.

For lots of reasons –

– I needed a break from the intensity of marathon training. I didn’t realize it until a few weeks had passed, but man — marathon training is no joke. I *may* have mentioned this before. ;-)

– I missed the barre. And wanted to have time to weave in a couple of classes to take vs. ‘just’ teaching classes at barre n9ne. I missed embracing the shake at the barre on my time, not teacher time.

– I also started teaching more classes at barre n9ne (thanks to the studio growing by leaps and bounds, whee!) Slowly but surely and over time, I picked another up class and then another — and now, I find myself at the studio almost every day teaching a class(es). *Swoon* I’m LOVING it every second of the way, clearly. <3

(sorry, digressing…)

In the midst of all of that, which took place over the course of the past few months, I did run but it was along the lines of that #runsimply mantra I set for myself a couple of weeks, post-26.2.  I chose to run when I wanted to run and I chose not to really plan the runs all the much — just running because I loved it, wanted a good sweat, was looking for that runner’s high that truly nothing else compares to.

And now? I honestly don’t even know where my mileage stands per se — I’m mostly running 2-3 times per week, MAYBE 4 times in a week but that’s been a stretch of late. And the distance varies from a quick and dirty 3-miler to somewhere in the 5-6 range if I’m on the treadmill during the week or in the 5-7 range if it’s the weekend and I have the luxury of running outside.

What I noticed the other day, though? Was that even when I’m running on the treadmill – the TREADMILL — I’m running something fierce. I’m the happiest runner you ever saw, my legs are humming along, the miles seem to just tick by, and I’m even returning to those hilly intervals I did a few weeks back that nearly killed me (the one where my a$$ fell off, yeah those…).

To run less has meant loving it more.

I am in deep passionate love with running. I’m not obsessed with it, I’m not thinking about my distance or pace or speed or runs-per-week constantly, I’m not thinking about it at all — unless I’m in that moment, that ‘run-moment’ and then? The love story continues.

It’s sort of like those friendships where you may not see that friend for months or even years at a time, but you can pick up right where you left off, as if no time had passed at all — never once skipping a beat.

That’s what running has become for me — a love story with no ending in sight, no definitions or rules or boundaries needed. It can change at any time and it’ll certainly continue to evolve this year, that much I am certain of.

But for right now, love? Running less means loving you more. <3

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The proof is in the sweat — and that smile on my face after one of those NEEDED get-out-of-my-head-shake-the-funk runs is all the proof I need.

Hills + Speed (er, sprints) = FUN

So I’m titling this post: Hills + Speed (er, sprints) = FUN. 

But really, the title *should* be: The workout where my ass fell off. 

Seriously — if you EVER need to get your ass literally handed to you, just talk to my fit and fab friend Meaghan who happens to be my running idol and one of my dearest friends (reason #3,478 why I love blogging: ‘finding’ friends like Meaghan who I’d NEVER have met if I never started blogging to begin with…)

This was our text exchange midway through my workout this morning:

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And this was what I looked like when all was said and done:

photo (3)

What you can’t quite see in that pic is just how sweaty I am — particularly my hair: I. Was. Drenched.
…and exhausted

But deliriously high from the rush of the endorphins this workout gave me. For real, it was KILLER. But I managed to keep my promise to Meaghan – I had FUN with the workout even though it was quickly kicking my ass. And you know what? That, to me, is what working out *should* be about, bottom line: having fun.

Sure, we all have goals for ourselves when it comes to our own physical fitness and those goals come in many shapes, forms and sizes. But honestly? Setting hard and fast goals aside can be such a liberating thing and can be just the reminder you may need to get your ‘mojo’ back. At least that’s what I’ve been LOVING lately — having fun with my workouts, not focusing on any real goals other than staying as fit as I can while having as much FUN as I can. And making as many fitdates as I can fit into my schedule (something I’ve been failing at miserably lately, but I’m determined to fix this in the new year!). 

While I’m not going to share every last detail of what this workout looked like (since it was Meaghan’s creation, I think it’s only fitting that she share it if she so chooses…maybe if you ask nicely, she’ll post about it soon, hehe #peerpressure), I will share what it felt like:

The warm-up was fun, nice easy pace and it shook the cobwebs out (fighting off some weird sniffly thing over here, bah #notsicknotsick)
The first set was all about hills mixed with speed. There were SIX (very intense) rounds with tonnnnns of incline work.
The second set was all about speed, speed, speed. Sprinting FAST, but not so fast that form suffered. My core is now killing me from focusing on my form so much during this set (it also didn’t help that I taught arms & abs last night at the studio, heh)
The final set was a mix of moderate speed mixed with a small hill. I needed this set, like whoa.

In all? I managed to kick out 6 miles of INTENSITY all before 6:30am this morning. If THAT doesn’t make you feel badass, nothing will I’ve decided. 

And on that note — I’m off to find my ass, it fell off somewhere around mile 3 or 4 during that first set… ;-)

Just #makeitcount.

I think I’ve mentioned that my schedule has taken some time to adjust to now that I’m in a new job (which I LOVE) that has me in the office most days of the week.  A very big shift from my last job where I was only in the office once per week (trade-off: I traveled pretty often). The other shift happening right now? Teaching a *lot* more at barre n9ne. Which I LOVE to death. Adore so, so, so much.

But combine a ‘day job’ that has me commuting daily, pair that with teaching at barre n9ne anywhere from 5-7 classes per week (with more to come when the new room in the studio nearest my house opens in a week or two! woo!) and my “me time” workouts are fewer and farther between. Right now, I can *only* take 1-2 classes per week realistically (I used to take 5+ a week before I really started teaching a lot more). I just can’t fit much more than that into my week, plus teaching does takes it’s toll…even if I’m not actively ‘doing’ the entire class…I’m doing enough of it that it adds up over time (plus being ‘on’ for the whole hour is exhausting too…in a *good* way though, suuuuch a rush!).

And then there’s running. Which has most definitely taken a backseat of late. Mainly because I only have two mornings during the work week for ‘me workouts’ and it’s SO dark out now that running on the treadmill has become the norm mid-week (sad face). And then weekends are my  only real time to get outside (unless I feel like running in the dark at night during the week…again: sad face).

So where does that leave me? Why am I telling you suuuuch a long tale leading into the whole point of this post?
(there’s a reason, promise)

It’s forcing me to truly make my ‘me workouts’ count. #makeitcount.
…every. single. time.

As in — never regret a workout for one; but also never take for granted the sheer ability TO workout (physical ability plus literal ability to fit it into the schedule, as it were). #makeitcount

So last night when I got home from work and knew that workout I’d blown off that morning (extra snuggles with the hubs took precadence…priorities!) was looming: I had two choices. Blow it off. orrrr #makeitcount.

I did exactly what I’d tell any one of you to do: I made it count. Every sweatastic mile. Even though it was on the dreadmill. Even though I was tired. Even though I was hungry. Even though, even though, even though (I could come up with a million excuses).

After 45 minutes of sweatastic intervals (I did a variation of this version — third one down), I was riding SUCH a high. So sweaty. So fun. So badass.

Yup, it was awesome. Just what I needed. I enjoyed the sh*t out of those speedy intervals. And for one reason: it was MY turn to workout. I have never appreciated that fact more than I do right now. With time a lot more precious than before. I embrace that #makeitcount mantra.

So again I urge you: anytime you consider blowing off that workout for a million reasons, think twice. #makeitcount.
…embrace the ‘me time.’
…remember that not everyone is able.
…not everyone has the opportunity.
…not everyone can #makeitcount.

(((#makeitcount)))

Source: wanelo.com via Jess on Pinterest

If all else fails…

…intervals FTW. 

Seriously. I was a sweaty, smelly, exhausted mess after this, but I NEEDED this workout. Like, whoa. 

Before: 
I was grumpy (needlessly)
I was annoyed (again, for no real reason).
I was snippy (I hate when I get that way, especially for no real reason). 

After: 
I was energized.
I was renewed.
I felt like me again. 

…just a sweatier, smellier, more exhausted version. ;-) 

So my advice to you — if you’re ever whacked by the grumpy stick out of the blue like I was last night: run intervals. Preferably like the ones I did last night (a throwback from last winter’s stash of interval runs). 

I say it again: Intervals: FTW! 
(that’s all I got today, nothing more profound than that lol)

 

Remember that ‘un-routine’ thing?

When I closed one chapter on my life and opened another chapter (or chapter and a half, really) at the start of this year — switching from one job to another, while also pursuing my passion for all things barre n9ne — I started to wrap my head around the concept of un-routine.

…of allowing myself to embrace new routines, changes, etc.

…of learning to get out of my comfy little corner of the world and focus on the ‘new’ in my life.

…of pursuing discomfort in all that I do.

A big part of this new chapter in my life was getting used to a job where I’d be traveling pretty often, something that would most definitely push me out of my comfy little routine on a regular basis. The first two trips out to California for work were eye-opening and filled with lots of “new.” It was scary. It was uncomfortable. It was exactly what I needed.

Now that I’m in the throes of my third trip out to Cali for work, I’m finally getting the ‘hang’ of this thing. And y’know what? I kinda dig it out here. Don’t get me wrong — I totally miss my comfy little corner of the world (and my husband’s cute smiley face!)but what these trips have taught me is just how much I need un-routine from time-to-time.

I’m finding a new sense of independence that I sometimes allow to lay dormant when I’m in my cozy little routine. In fact, this trip I’ve even had my own rental car which is a whole new world to me! Kinda neat toolin’ around San Jose all on my own — for some reason, this felt huge to me this week. Also helps that I’ve been driving a bitchin’ set ‘o wheels- a Toyota Yaris. It’s HOT lemme tell ya. ;-)

I’m really getting to know my coworkers better and better with time. Hell, I went on that hilliest-ever rundate with one of them just the other night! (I swear, I’m still riding a high from that run!)

I even embraced the treadmill yesterday morning, something I was totally dreading on this trip. I even told myself I’d avoid it entirely this week given these few weeks leading into marathon training, I’ve tried to make running less of a focus, allowing my body to recover and prep for all those miles coming up. But who knew? I ended up CRUSHING my interval session after I got past the dread part of things. I have never felt more badass after stepping off a treadmill in my life. For reals. Just check out that sweatastic smile!

And most of all? I’m truly embracing the whole concept of creating new routines while I’m out here which is actually helping me not to long for my routine at home *quite* as much as I used to. I’m finding ways to maintain my love of healthy eating out here. Continuing to bring my own breakfast and snack options, finding ways around some of the meal choices that aren’t in my control and ultimately just making good,  healthy choices while I’m out here. Again, don’t get me wrong — I miss my barre n9ne family. I miss my rundates with Scott. I miss my yummy homecooked meals. I miss all of that. But this trip? It’s shown me that I can thrive in un-routine if I’m open to it.

And I think that’s the key. Being open to un-routine. Truly open to it. That’s what this week has been all about for me.

(that and discovering Jamba Juice steel cut oats — Oh Em Gee. A ‘fill-in’ for my beloved bowl of oatmeal at home! A huge thanks to Naomi for telling me about them during our sushi date on Monday night! I nearly died from joy when I took my first bite on Wednesday before a meeting. I’m not kidding, I may have shed a tear. )

A return to badass status: interval-style!

This happened last night:

Please note:

  • The glint in my eye
  • The sweat glistening off my shoulders
  • The hair completely drenched (if you saw the back, it was literally dripping down my neck and back, HOT.)
  • and the sneaky little smile.

That, my friends, would be the smile of someone who has reclaimed badass status as a runner.
 (for more on what exactly ‘badass’ status is all about, you might want to refer to Momma Sunshine’s post on the topic from awhile back, she does it much better justice than I ever could!).

You see, I’ve had some decent runs lately, my longer runs have gone better and better, but I haven’t really been focusing on intervals as much lately. Last night I decided it was high time to test out the speed factor. The half marathon *is* in less than two weeks and I do kinda, sorta wanna rock it out come May 6th.

Soooo, intervals it was. And here how it looked:

Building Intervals, Mile Repeat-style

Warm-up: .5 miles at 7mph
Interval 1: 1 mile starting at 7.0 mph and building at each tenth of a mile to 8.0 mph (every tenth I’d up the speed by a tenth)
Recovery: .2 miles at 4.0 (walk)
Interval 2: 1 mile starting at 7.1 mph and building at each tenth of a mile to 8.1 mph
Recovery: .2 miles at 4.0 (walk)
Interval 3: 1 mile starting at 7.1 mph and building at each tenth of a mile to 8.1 mph (same as previous interval round)
Recovery: .2 miles at 4.0 (walk)
Interval 4: 1 mile starting at 7.2 mph and building at each tenth of a mile to 8.2 mph
Recovery: .2 miles at 4.0
Finish with a final recovery round: 6.8-7.0mph until I hit 6.0 miles.
…and then pat yourself on the back, tweet out your success and promptly devour dinner. <–or wait, that was just what I did last night after I was all done, you can choose an alternate ending to this badass tale if you so choose ;-)

Sometimes all it takes is a good old-fashioned sweat fest to put a gigantic smile on my face.
…I. Love. Sweat.

(That and a phone call from Tanya, shortly after the above badassness took place, asking me to sub the 6am barre n9ne class in the AM. Even though I’m teaching my regular 9am slot in the AM too. This goes back to me fully appreciating any and all opportunities to teach. A total and utter priviledge in my book. I “get to teach,” I don’t “have to teach.” Bring. It. On. <3 )

Intervals. FTW!

Monday morning, this happened:

That would be me, covered in sweat, totally worn out but with such a look of glee in my eye, I just couldn’t help but post this pic to twitter right after I finished my interval rounds. <–what? I was proud of myself, ok? ;-)

Plus, it goes along nicely with what you might already be seeing a lot of on twitter and in bloggy land — for us FitFluential Ambassadors (a group I love more and more by the day!), we’ve gotten into the habit of not just talking about our workouts, but PROVING them out by tweeting and blogging about that hard work with picture proof. So if you see me talking up the whole #PROOF thing a lot more up in here, you know why. I love seeing everyone’s sweaty, post-workout glow, it’s so cool!!

But anyway, back to those intervals I mentioned. The reason I was so proud? Not only was I able to push faster during my favorite go-to mile-repeat style intervals, but I felt REALLY strong and happy throughout. <— Happy during intervals? Is she crazy?? (yes, yes I am)

The intervals in question – looked like this (you’ve seen these before):

Mile 0-.5: warm-up @6.8-7.0 mph
Mile .5-1.5: speed round@ 7.6 7.7 mph <–improvement!
Mile 1.5 – 1.6: recovery round @4mph
Mile 1.6 – 2.6:
speed round @ 7.6 7.7 mph
Mile 2.6 -2.7: recovery round @4mph
Mile 2.7-3.7:
speed round @7.6 7.7 mph
Mile 3.7-3.8: recovery round @4mph
Mile 3.8-4.8
: speed round @7.6 7.7 mph
4.8-5.5: Recover!

Thank you happy and really well-rested legs for pushing me through some speedtastically fun intervals to kick off Monday morning in style. I guess the whole 9-miler that didn’t happen this weekend was what did it for me. Maybe that’s my body’s way of telling me that a little speed work in lieu of endurance work isn’t such a bad thing now and then, hmm?

Either way, I was really happy with this, especially the progress I’m seeing with my speed and my ability to push through the pain. I’m hoping this translates well on race day – which is almost a month away. Eeks. How did that happen??

Run-strength (and weakness)

My blog friend Amanda wrote a killer blog post yesterday on running strengths and weaknesses. Her post had such a great message behind it and was a really good exercise for her to go through as she continues to get and keep her head in the game while training for her first marathon (go girl, go!).  Side note – if you don’t know Amanda, get your butt over there -she. is. awesome.

Since I’m on a fun little journey over here as I also get my head in the game for my first-ever full marathon, I thought the strengths/weaknesses exercise was a good one to give a whirl.

Run-strengths…

  • I’m a “free” runner by nature — most of my running is of the “just run” variety. Get out there, log some miles, enjoy the fresh air, the “me” time, the sheer ability to be able to run. “Free” also means – no garmin, no iPod, no distractions.
  • I’ve gotten pretty good at getting out of my head when I run — my favorite motto continues to be “run the mile you’re in” which has saved me many a time when a run started to get the best of me and all I could do was focus on the finish “line” versus powering through each mile as it’s own entity.
  • I’m not afraid of hills – yup, I said it. Now the Universe is bound to throw some crazy hills at me on my next run, just becaues I said that, huh? ;-)  But anyway, I am not afraid of hills — mostly because my routes around my house are all fairly hilly. So I’ve never been the one that has always run flat routes and freak out a little if a course on race day is hillier than I expect. I hope this bodes well on May 6 — the Providence course has a bit of a ‘rolling’ aspect to it. So there’s that.

Run-weaknesses…

  • I sometimes like to think I know more than I do – call me stubborn (no really, go ahead and call me stubborn, I know I am!), but I often find that I bristle at *too* much advice giving my runners out there. It could even be a magazine article that I’ll scoff at. I figure, I’ve been running on my own, without any sort of hardcore training coach or personal trainer, I know what I’m doing. Of *course* I do. Bwahahaha. And then I realize that I’m not perfect. Far from it. And I’m always learning. Running definitely falls into the “constant learning experience” camp. So I should probably heed advice more often and quit letting my stubborn side take over.
  • I strive to be faster but sometimes I hate speed work — Yet, sometimes I love it depending on the day. Usually once I’m into a speed workout, I’m ok with it, it’s the anticipation that kills me, haha. On the one hand, I know it’s helped me speed up the pace (my last PR proves that!), but on the other hand — I don’t ever want to be that person that runs and races with an eagle-eye focus on time, time, time. For me, there’s a time and a place to focus on a PR and there’s also a time and a place to focus on the run itself. And running it proud. That’s huge for me – running strong, sure, but running proud. Way more important to me.
  • I need to learn how to fuel/hydrate better – this also falls into the “stubborn” camp above. Tuesday night’s run proves that. The nausea I felt after that run was partly due to exertion, but it was also partly due to the lack of water on a warmer-than-usual night in March. Thanks to some great advice from a couple of running friends, I’m (about to be) the proud owner of two Nathan hand-held water bottles (the iFitness belt I bought last summer just doesn’t work for me, too slippy) – a smaller one and a larger one, depending on my needs on a given day. I’ll also be giving honey stingers a try on my longer runs. And more frequent fueling than I’m used to doing during a longer run. I’m doing everything I can to avoid that “OMG I’m gonna puke” feeling after a long (or challenging) run or race. I get that feeling after EVERY half marathon I’ve ever done — and I am sure it’s due to lack of proper fueling (I’m sure you’ll yell at me, runner friends, but two shot blox for an entire 13.1 mile course *probably* isn’t enough). I am determined to figure out the right balance for me — I don’t want to overfuel or overhydrate (I run “heavy” very easily when my stomach has too much in it), but I certainly need to fuel/hydrate better than I have in the past. Note to self.

Whew. That was a fun, but very mind-churning exercise. My mind is now going in a million more directions, running-wise. But the bottom line in all of this?
I am a runner.
…I love to run.
…It brings me joy.
…I am filled with gratitude that I’ve been blessed with an able body that can carry me through the miles.
…and I’m determined to continue to learn and evolve as a runner.

But most of all? I want to continue to trust my body to do what my mind thinks isn’t possible (why hello there 26.2 miles!). Which is precisely what drew me into running in the first place. To face down (what I thought was) the impossible.

The sneakers or the runner?

Picture this scene:

It’s Tuesday morning.
The first day of half marathon (#4) training.
Intervals on tap.
Brand new Brooks Ghost 3’s arrived in the mail the night prior.
This girl hadn’t run hard speed in weeks.
Off she went…

(anyone want to take a guess at what unfolded next?)

An EPIC round of mile repeat-style intervals ensued.
…it looked something like this:
Mile 0-1:
warm-up @6.8-7.0 mph
Mile 1-2: speed round@7.6mph
Mile 2 – 2.2: recovery round @4mph
Mile 2.2 – 3.2:
speed round @7.6mph
Mile 3.2-3.4:
recovery round @4mph
Mile 3.4-4.4:
speed round @7.6mph
Mile 4.4-4.6:
recovery round @4mph
Mile 4.6-5.6
: speed round @7.6mph
Mile 5.6 – 6.0: recovery round and cool-down @6.0-6.2mph

RUNNER’S HIGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Now. Not gonna lie. At first I wanted to chalk it all up to the brand spankin’ new kicks I was sporting, figuring that was the added boost I need to kick out some awesome speed yesterday. But then two thoughts occurred to me.
1 – I haven’t been running very much this past month, at most 15 miles a week or so. (for obvious reason – hi barre n9ne training!) 
2 – Half marathon training started yesterday and I am SO jazzed about the race it’s not even funny. It’s equal parts being back in training and loving that feeling and the fact that I’ll get to run this race with friends (yay Sam!).

So, my conclusion to this question: Was it the sneakers or the runner?
In this case (while I love my new Brooks!) – I’m giving all the credit to the runner this time. This girl worked hard.
…and has very happy feet to prove it. :-)

#digdeep

I’ve found myself using this hashtag often this week on twitter:
#digdeep

Because truly – I’ve had to #digdeep, really deep, throughout this week:
…to put my game face on each day, meeting TONS of new faces, and learning way too much (all at once) about the company I now work for, all jammed into two days of back-to-back meetings.
…to get my butt up each morning to the hotel gym to log some miles this week. Tuesday’s run was what I’d call a sad 6-miler. Wednesday’s run was a puketastic 6-miler. And tomorrow’s? I’m hoping it’s a happy 6 miles’ worth of recovery (intervals nearly killed me). It might not be perfect, but the miles are happening and that’s what I need right now. A small semblance of normalcy.
…..to stay strong when all I wanted to do was crumble and cry because I’ve been missing Scott, particularly after a trying week of frustrating news (perhaps more on this later…).
…to embrace un-routine, learning to navigate healthy eats amid lots of catered meals during the day and dinners out at night. *really* glad I packed so many healthy options in my carry-on – has come in VERY handy every single day. <pats self on back>
…to stay “me” in a brand new environment, way out of my comfort zone, far away from familiarity. But a “me” that’s open to change and taking risks. As you’ve seen me blogging a LOT about this week in particular. Apparently it’s been on my mind or something??

And by far? This #digdeep week has shown me that this was absolutely the right career move for me but more importantly, I’ve surprised myself by being as confident on the outside as I feel on the inside. I *can* do this. I *am* doing this. And it feels pretty damn awesome, not gonna lie.

#digdeep in all it’s glory, people.
Worth. It.

(Editor’s note: Here’s to hoping I remember this post tomorrow AM – since I drafted this post last night – when I’m up at 4:30 to log those miles before heading into the office early to get some work done before my flight home. But as my fab blog friend Heather mentioned in her very well-timed post last night - no excuses. Despite, a very long day ahead. And, yes, this is my mental note to self, thank you for indulging me…)