Compliments.

This has been whirring about in the back of my mind a lot lately….

Compliments.

Giving them.

Receiving them.

Spreading the love.

Compliments – in my view – are similar to a giant bear hug.

And I think we should give them out even more freely.
…not to mention receive them as graciously as we can, and as freely as we can.

It dawned on me after seeing a string of super-cute comments and ‘likes’ on a pic I quickly instagrammed yesterday morning after a sweatastic run (more on that run in a sec).

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And it made me smile – not just the ‘likes’ on the pic which are always fun and I love seeing them, but the compliments or shouts of support or encouragement.
…like a giant bear hug.
And it got me thinking – why don’t we do that even MORE with one another?  I mean, what does paying someone a compliment take – two seconds?
…and you never know what that two seconds meant to the person receiving the compliment.

It could be the ray of sunshine on an otherwise dreary or bummed-out day.

Or the boost of confidence needed to hold their head high as they walk into an important meeting at work.

And a motivator to keep on keepin’ on.

So today, which just so happens to be Valentine’s Day (total coincidence, I swear!), I’m making a vow to make an effort to reach out more, pay more compliments to friends and loved ones and even strangers, and yes, to work on graciously receiving compliments too. (I noticed I have a horrible habit of *really* brushing off compliments when they come from my husband, and I have no idea why. I picked up on it during our snowed-in weekend actually. Got me thinking…)

So lovelies — will you join me on this mission? 

*****

In other news? My run yesterday was awesome. Another surprising one for me. I’ve had this weird ‘crick’ in my neck for a couple of days so I skipped my run on Tuesday (er, postponed it – to later this week…#accountability) to avoid too much jostling and potential further injury.

But Wednesday rolled around and my neck was still a little sore but not nearly as achy as before. So I went with it – promising myself I’d hop off the ‘mill if my neck bugged me. And part of me kind of expected that to happen. But alas, my neck behaved and off I went. After an hour-long episode on-demand of “Castle” (really good show btw) was over, I looked down at the display on my treadmill (I cover it up for the entire run, upping the speed as needed, but never looking at time or distance until I’m done) and I was shocked to see: 6.98 miles. I happily sprinted the final .02 miles and was SO excited to see that I’d fairly easily hit 7 miles before 7am. I was sweaty, happy, run-high and ready to get a move on the day.

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I’m constantly amazed at the evolution my running continues to take. Since being out of training mode for months now, my running has been on my time, my terms and practically every single run has surprised me – in a good way. My love affair with running is still very much intact, despite how loose and ‘free’ my running has been of late. Kinda neat, if I do say so myself. <3

The simplicity of a workout.

I have to say — I’m really digging the simplicity of a workout.
…particularly when that workout is a ‘me workout.’

You see, my ‘me workout’ time has been so much less structured than it’s ever been. Which is particularly interesting given just a few months ago, I was tied to a pretty regimented marathon training plan intermingled with sessions at the barre.

And not that I didn’t LOVE training or being tied to a schedule of sorts, I actually did. It felt damn good to cross those workouts off the list in my handy-dandy little spreadsheet each day. There were days, however, where I wanted to throw that spreadsheet out the window entirely, too.

And it’s days like that that remind me of how beautiful the simplicity of a workout can be.

Source: habituallychic.blogspot.com via Jess on Pinterest

For example — so far this week, I’ve run twice (yes, on the good ‘ol dreadmill) and both times I was utterly shocked at how great the run felt. Even though in both cases I woke up thinking: “there is NO way I’m getting more than a couple of miles in.” Only to step off that ‘mill after 50 minutes, drenched in sweat, with a serious case of runner’s high (yes, runner’s high on the dreadmill!) and clocking in 6 miles in each case.

And even though I’m sitting here sore as all hell from both of these workouts (plus countless sessions at barre n9ne kicking cute bums this week!), I’m so, so content. Content with this simple approach to my ‘me workouts.’ Content with no structure. And particularly content with how my fitness has evolved over time.

I guess I really nailed it when I said I wanted to embrace simplicity for awhile. Just like the Longfellow quote above, supreme excellence really is simplicity. And right now, I’m digging the simplicity of a workout. No frills. No schedules. No goals to crush. No pace or speed or numbers of any sort to speak of. Just simple — yet killer and effective workouts —  preferably with ample sweat and lots of post-workout aches (the good kind of ‘worked’ ache).

And, this time of simplicity has given me a chance to remember why I love working out, why I surround myself with all things fitness as much as I can and why I am who I am: at it’s very basic – I truly am a fit-geek at heart. No doubt about it.

 

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:

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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… ;-)

16 miles: happy.

Happy. 
…that about sums up our 16 miler on Saturday. 

Happy that we were out there running together – Team Sutera all the way
(we didn’t get to run together *all* week due to something called a ‘new job…’)

Happy that our legs were ready: strong, rested, ready.
(thanks to taper time and learning to pull back…which is *very* hard for me, as you all know)

Happy that the miles felt SO good. All 16 of them. Literally ALL of them.
(which never happens in long run land…at least not in my version of it)

Happy that with every mile, my mind grew calmer, quieter, happier. I have never had this quiet a mind during a long run.
Ever.

Happy that this run proved to me and to Scott that we are more than ready for 26.2. Seriously, if someone told me to keep running for another 10 miles on Saturday, I could’ve knocked out another 10. I felt that good. So did Scott.
(but um, not gonna lie — I was glad we weren’t running another 10, 16 was plenty on Saturday!)

Happy that in 15 days (!) — we’d be running the streets of Chicago. Together. With (as Scott put it), 50,000 of our closest friends cheering us on.
(the roar of the crowd — the mere thought of it — sends chills down my arm every time I think about it)

(Can you see the happy in our eyes here? I can. ;-) )

With every day that passes, every step we take, every mile we cross off our training plan — I’m happier, more proud, more confident, more ready. I stand here continually in awe of how far we’ve come, and where we’re about to go. Feeling especially blessed and full of faith at this very moment. It’s a damn good feeling.

Run happy friends, always. <3

The anatomy of an early-morning run

Yesterday was one of those mornings where I found myself truly grateful to be able to run. And to be able to run early in the morning before the rest of the world wakes up. It was one of those serene, calming, centering and joyful runs. Runs where you remember just why you get your butt out of bed at ungodly hours of the day to log some miles. Yup, *that* kind of run.

So today — I bring you: the anatomy of an early-morning run:

Alarm blares at 5:00 (an ‘even’ time, I usually set it for 5:02 or 5:05 or something…odd that I didn’t this time)
I take one look at the clock and promptly hit ‘snooze’ (another oddity, I never hit snooze, ever ever ever)
Of course, the one time I hit ‘snooze’ and I drift into a deep sleep for 8 minutes only to be rudely awoken again by the second alarm (this is why I never hit snooze…who wants to wake up *twice* by the sound of that thing??)
I roll out of bed, quite certain I’ll be rolling back into bed in about 3 minutes. I didn’t think I wanted to run yesterday. I was tired. Or so I thought. (I got plenty of sleep the night before so this was totally an instance of my mind tricking me into thinking my body was overtired…nope, just the ‘devil’ on my shoulder trying to lure me back to sleep, damn that creeper!)
I threw on my running shorts, sports bra, tank, knee straps and sneakers. And then look at Scott longingly — “are you suuuuure you don’t want to go back to bed?” To which his response was all I needed to hear: “nope, I’m ready to run, let’s go.”

Off we went. Still dark out. But the second I set foot out the door I knew it was exactly where I needed to be. By Scott’s side, in the quiet, cool, peaceful air. Crickets chirping, the sky slowly brightening around us.
The first few miles are pretty dark and quiet – not much chatter between Scott and I. Instead, I found myself simply soaking in the moment.
We were together, enjoying the miles, enjoying the quiet time before the crazy day ahead, enjoying what I know I’ll be missing in a few months when I’m relegated to the treadmill (wah) or to running in the dark, cold, dreary winter mornings/nights.
Instead, I’m running in my favorite tank and shorts, it’s a gorgeous late-summer morning and we’re running. Strong, able, solid.
Love. <3

And then I see it: the most glorious, fiery red sunrise as we head across our favorite bridge over the ocean. The sky was incredible. So bright, so warm, so welcoming, so amazing. I wish I had a camera…or a photographic memory. It was so beautiful.
Up and over the bridge, over that rolling hill that nearly killed me a few days ago (during that lovely fartlek-crazed 10-miler). But this time, I didn’t mind the hill. It was so so so quiet in that neighborhood — a very different scene just a couple of days back.
On the turnaround we were greeted with another beautiful sight — a faint, but very present, rainbow. Rainbows mean promises. Of good things to come. Even if those ‘good things’ take their time coming…they are coming, around the bend. I’m trusting my path.

It was that rainbow, that moment where the run really took shape for me. We were only about 3 miles from home but I seriously could’ve run forever. I felt so centered, calm, focused, strong, free.
Even when the rain started to fall on the last two turns of our run — I didn’t whine over it, I welcomed it. So cleansing. Refreshing. Cooling.
Our final turn towards home and that goofy, runners high-inducing grin was plastered all over my face.

We just ran the best 9 miles of our lives.
Together. Strong and able. Welcoming the day with a fresh perspective. 

The anatomy of an early-morning run.
….and a reminder to never take for granted the ability to run, and the ability to run during such a magical time of day. Noted.

12 miles in the rain. #badass

12 miles in the rain. #badass
(or totally stubborn. You decide.)

(do we look #badass here or just plain gross and sweaty and water-logged?? haha)

I have to be honest, this rain felt sort of ‘off’ from the start. Not sure why. But my head was all over the place for the first half. I made sure to whisper a few words of prayer from the start — you know we’re relying heavily on faith a lot these days in the Sutera household and all — which calmed me a bit but it somehow didn’t last as long as I’d hoped.

I think I was just tired. Yup, this drop-back week was definitely needed. 

The rain at first bugged me. I wasn’t prepared for it. Nor was I prepared for the sticky, muggy air that surrounded us.
…which could explain why I immediately felt ‘off’ about this run.

But we plowed along, even when it started to turn from a slight sprinkle to an all-out downpour.
…we kept going even when Scott suggested we cut this run short, running our 12 miles another day.

Nope. We’re out here already. We’re drenched. We’re sweating. Let’s just do this. 
…so we did. 

And even just committing to the rest of the run like that, being stubborn about cutting things short, and a light seemed to flip on for me. I was back in the game. The second half of our run went by MUCH better, much less ‘up in my head,’ much more joyfully (or as joyfully as one can run when giant drops of rain are pelting you in the face). 

We made these miles count today, in a big way. No junk miles. Just honest, real, hard working miles. Earned miles. Fought-for miles. 
#makeitcount

All told? I’d give this run a solid B. Not a B+ or an A-. A solid “B” performance. 
…just 6 weeks (aka 6 long runs!) until Chicago and I’m running solid “B performances? I’ll take it at this point. (and I’m pretty sure Scott would agree…)

PS. I love, love, love my virtual run sherpas. SO much. They were out in full force this morning…on Facebook, on instagram, and on twitter. I felt surrounded by love, support and smiling crazy runner faces wherever I looked. It was awesome. Thank you Heather, Dorry, Jo, Spabettie, Sareena, Amber, Melissa, Lindsay (how could I forget our queen sherpa??) and Whitney

Drop back weeks are awesome

Drop back weeks are awesome.
That is all.

…no really, that’s all I got today. Blog post: done.

juuuust kidding ;-)

Ok so maybe I’m a little slap happy this morning but I have a good reason — I think I’m in love with drop back weeks.
(I guess you wanna know why, huh?)

Why drop back weeks are awesome:

  1. We needed it. A lot more than I realized until we set out for our 10-miler this morning. Today’s run wasn’t awesome, but it wasn’t awful either. But after last week’s “that didn’t suck” 15-miler, I was kind of expecting 10 miles to feel better than they did. Drop back week: needed. Noted.
  2. We got to sleep ‘in’ until 6:15 today. 6:15 feels utterly glorious after multiple strings of 5am wake-up calls — either to teach a 6am barre n9ne class or to hit the road for a training run.
  3. Less miles this week means itchy-to-run legs for next week. That’s my hope and goal, anyway. I *really* want next Tuesday’s 16-miler to be pretty awesome, epic even. And if that’s my goal, I best embrace the slightly fewer miles this week (even though the competitor in me always wants more, more, more! That’s where Scott comes in and tells me to cut the crap…hehe)
  4. It’s an opportunity to re-focus, re-energize and find new perspective. I mean really — I never, ever thought I’d say that I ‘only’ had to run 10 miles today. Only 10 miles?? Who says that?? Talk about perspective, huh? This week is also proving to be a great opportunity to re-energize…we’re at the halfway point in training, which means we’re about to head into some truly killer weeks of training. (my heart just skipped a beat just glancing at my training schedule for the next few weeks…)
  5. Pizza is still an excellent source of carb-loading fuel the night prior to a back-off week long run. As is oatmeal with sliced banana as a post-run recovery meal. Yum. ;-)

So yeah…you could say that I’m riding a pretty mean runner’s high this morning (whee!), but that I’m also hugging the sh*t out of this drop back week too. (((drop back week)))

On willing it (13), visualizing it (13+)

This morning marked our first 13 miler…’un-raced.’
…as in the first time Scott and I ran 13(.1) miles and it wasn’t in a half marathon race day setting.

Kind of a cool milestone in my mind. So waking up at 5am to the birds chirping, the sun rising, and I felt calm and quasi-excited to run (I say ‘quasi’ because I was suuuuper sleepy when the alarm first went off). I kept thinking about how different running 13 miles today already felt in comparison to running it on a race day. No pre-race preparations…endless bathroom trips, pre-race breakfast, etc. None of that. Just up and at ‘em and out the door we went around 5:15.

Rather than tell you allll about the run itself, I’m going to talk a little bit about what this run meant to me, mentally. A bit of a breakthrough happened today I do believe. I found myself, towards the end of the run, when my legs were really tired and wanted nothing more than to just.stop.moving. literally willing myself to keep going. Willing myself to stay out of that mental zone where panic sets in. That panicky omg-I-can’t-do-this-please-make-it-stop mode. I had to will my mind to wander into different territory.

…that different territory ended up being a visualization game. Thinking ahead to miles 14, 15, 16…20. And I’m not normally one to advocate thinking ahead that way (big fan of the ‘run the mile you’re in, the run you’re in, etc.’ mentality), but today — visualizing 13+ was exactly what I needed to do. I needed to know, from the very soles of my feet to my very heart and soul that this body…no, this *mind* is capable of seeing me through longer and longer distances.

And that’s what this run became for me today. On willing it (13), and then visualizing it (13+).

In other news, we look way too happy in this picture to have just run 13 miles, but I swear, we really did!

And finally, some random notes and things from today’s run:

  • seeing a skunk about 5 minutes into the run is not cool. Especially when your husband does the sprint fake-out to make you think the skunk is after us. Again, not cool.
  • running on trash day is stinky business. Not exactly the breeze I want to be surrounded by mid-run. Ew.
  • the new tank I was so excited about that I got at Dick’s Sporting Goods the other day is not nearly as wicking as the marathon tank I got from lululemon. See? My bank account *should* thank me for spending the extra bucks on the good stuff at lulu. Noted.
  • body glide is Scott’s new best friend. His sensitive areas are thanking him today.
  • 13 miles is tough stuff. 13 miles before 8am on a weekday? tough stuff but kinda badass. I dig it.
  • #marathonmojo: intact.

Rainy run-barre-rundate: #PROOF!

First of all – WOW am I blown away by all of your tweets, FB comments and blog comments on yesterday’s big reveal blog post. Seriously – you know how to make this girl blush like crazy!! You have no idea (or maybe you do!) how much guts it took me to finally decide to post the before/after shots all over the Internet for the world to see. I really battled whether or not I could do it / wanted to do it.

 But the bottom line for me? I wanted to show actual PROOF that hard work, lots of intention, and commitment to YOU can pay off in about five million ways.

So again, thank you for such support and love. You guys rock. <3

While we’re on the topic of #PROOF – I couldn’t help but post about yesterday’s totally badass run-barre-rundate with bestie, Steph. It was seriously so fitting that we chose yesterday to conquer the run-barre-rundate workout on the same day that I’d recap what an incredible year at the barre I’ve had. I thought about it the entire time we were running, barre-ing and running again.

So – for those of you wondering what exactly a run-barre-rundate looks like? This is what a rainy one looks like, I’ll tell you that (kind of hard to tell where the sweat stops and the drenching from the rain starts, not gonna lie…):

This is the workout scheme we concocted last year as a way to get some running in while conquering a sweat sesh at the barre all rolled into one. I figured out that I live exactly 2.6 miles from the studio and thought it would be genius (and environmentally conscious!) to start running to the studio, taking class, and running home – when schedules (and weather) permitted.

I’ve done this run-barre-run solo but it’s way better with friends (and sisters! Miss you Jo!). And what way better than a run-barre-rundate with friends than a RAINY one, huh? Not gonna lie, it kinda felt badass. I was riding a serious barre-run high the entire day (a high that spiked every single time I read another comment from you on my post yesterday!).

Moral of this story? Even if it’s raining, get ‘er done. You’ll feel wicked badass (and WORKED) afterwards. And the post-workout shower will feel like heaven. Trust me on this one.

(Steph, really glad we did this even though we both thought about chickening out for about .32 seconds when we saw the “on-its-just-sprinkling-lets-do-this-no-wait-its-legit-raining” rain, hehe)