Another dark thirty rundate

God, I love running before the sun rises. 

Like, *really* love it. 
(especially when that run involves Scott, my most favorite running partner of all <3)

This morning’s dark thirty rundate was just what we both needed. Despite those “Pounded” legs of mine. The legs that left me hobbling around the studio yesterday trying like hell to avoid anything plie-related (which is very difficult to do if you’ve ever been t a barre class lol). 

My legs this morning didn’t fail me. They proved to me that despite some lingering soreness, despite how ‘worked’ they still felt even days after Pound training, these legs will always carry me. Always.

What I loved about this run? 

  • I worked for each step.
  • I chased the ‘rabbit’ like a fool — that ‘rabbit’ would be my husband who kept a good pace just ahead of me, knowing I’d try like hell to keep up.
  • The sun started to rise just about 15 minutes into our run. When did the sun start rising at 5am?? I *love* it.
  • I felt speedy, even surprising Scott during our final kick around the corner towards the home stretch and finishing just a few steps behind him (he thought he’d be left waiting on me for a good minute or two!)
  • I let my mind wander.

And where did my mind wander? To this woman. My Nonna. Who I spent a lot of time thinking about yesterday, the three year anniversary since her death. And the moment on our run that made me think of her? When Scott cracked a joke that I just *know* she would’ve giggled over. She loved his humor. She’d pat his cheek and laugh when he’d tell her stories (usually stories that involved making fun of me, hehe). 

We were running along, nearing the ocean along our route, smelling the salty air and listening to the birds chirp. We passed under a bunch of trees overhanging the sidewalk and were overcome by the sounds of birds chirping away in the branches above. There had to be at least 20 birds up there chirping away. Scott said, “it’s like running through a cocktail party!” And I giggled — all I could imagine was a bunch of birds with martini glasses and champagne flutes chit-chatting away in their cocktail dresses. (a totally normal thing for birds to do lol) Don’t ask me why but it struck me as funny and made me think of Nonna and how much she would’ve found it funny too.

Just a little moment that I’m glad I captured this morning. 

I’m also glad I captured this shot, post-run — I just love his face. That smile. It melts my heart. Every. Single. Time. #teamsutera <3

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#FitFriday: ‘smabs

Yayyyyy it’s Friiiiiiday!!!!!
Raise your hand if you are as happy as I am about that! <<raises hand high high high pickmepickmepickmeeeeee>>

I thought I’d kick-off Friday with another “#FitFriday” edition for ya. The last “#FitFriday” was all about accountability, fitdates-for-one and fit communities. And because it’s been on my mind a lot as we head into spring and summer, today’s #FitFriday is all about ‘smabs.

What are ‘smabs, you ask?
Those would be ‘some abs’ or ‘smabs for short. As in: “I really need to do ‘smabs but I don’t feel like it, don’t have time, don’t like doing them, <insert your excuse or complaint here>”

I used to totallllly fall in the anti-‘smabs camp. Meaning — I wanted a stronger, more toned core but I had a  very hard time both connecting with my core and committing to building core work into my workout regime. BUT — ever since becoming such a huge barre n9ne advocate and instructor, ‘smabs are like my favorite area to work, well in a close tie with glutes, shoulders, quads…you get the picture. hehe ;-) In all seriousness though, a strong core comes into play no matter what workout you’re doing, or body part you’re working. Your core is connected to everything, truly. <–this is one thing I never really *got* until I figured out how to connect with my core and started to really gain strength and stability there

So when the May ‘plank-a-day’ challenge came out and started circulating around, I totally jumped at the chance.

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I mean, who *doesn’t* want to be able to hold a 5 minute plank by the end of the month, rigtht?? Which puts us right smack dab at the end of May and the unofficial start to summer up in these parts. #bringiton

Soooo in true #teamsutera fashion, I’ve totally recruited Scott to get in on the plank-a-day action and he’s been SO into it. Always reminding me that we ‘need to get our planks done’ before dinner (so we aren’t full and ready to yak mid-plank lol) *and* he added a twist to the challenge: in addition to holding the forearm plank for the allotted time per-day, he suggested we add side plank to the mix. Who am I to turn down an added challenge, right?? So yeah, we’re a little over one week in and holding a forearm plank and then side planking on both sides for 60 secs at a whack.

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(is he *not* the cutest ever in this pic?? <3)

I’m thinking in order to complete this challenge in one piece, we *may* need to start taking breaks before launching into side planks once we hit that 5-minute mark. A 15-minute plank series would be pretty unreal (but I kinda like the thought of it, hmmm!). ;-)

And now, with this plank-a-day challenge constantly in the back of my mind, I’ve been working even more plank work into my classes at barre n9ne (at least for the classes whose structure allows for plankage!); it’s been especially fun to throw plank variations into arms & abs class (or arms & ‘smabs, hehe)– one of my new favorite classes to teach at the studio (but then, I also love teaching Toned, Firm, Fit & Ready, I love our signature barre n9ne method class….ohh do I have to pick just one?? #b9lovah).

So there ya go — my #FitFriday thoughts for the day, all about ‘smabs. Are you a love-to-hater when it comes to ‘smabs or do you hate-to-hate them? AND, are you doing this plank-a-day challenge too, or planning to get in on the action now that I mention it?? Please say yes. ;-)

A dark thirty rundate

Let’s set the scene, shall we?

4:30am: alarm clock #1 blares

I smash the snooze button as fast as I can. I *hate* the sound of the alarm clock, will do anything to wake up just before it blares just so I don’t have to hear it.

Quickly assessing my sleepiness and decide that yup, we’re doing this. The dark thirty rundate I promised to myself, to eachother and yes, to the ladies of the barre n9ne running group on Facebook. I was totally accountable.

The hubs….well let’s just say he was less than excited to roll out of bed. Even tried the ‘ol roll over and cuddle up trick, thinking that would convince me that an extra hour sleep was a way better idea than getting out for our run.

(doesn’t he know me by now? I mean, really, hehe)

I got up first, brushed my teeth and got dressed. While pinning back my hair in the bathroom, the hubs rolls in and utters (with eyes at half mast): “this sucks.” I giggle. But carry on (of course).

Less than ten minutes after the alarm clock woke us, we’re out the door. It’s semi-dark but brisk and cool. Utterly perfect running weather. Birds were chirping up a storm and man was I a happy camper.

God, I’ve missed this, I thought.

Immediately my mind started to wander. Thinking back to last summer and early-fall during countless early morning, and typically steamy hot #teamsutera rundates leading up to the marathon. I didn’t think so much about the miles (at least not in terms of missing those long distances or anything), but I thought about those miles in terms of how much I missed those shared miles. Those quiet, sometimes chatty, sometimes silent, rundates.

This is what running is all about for me.

Mind wandering. Body working. Shared silent moments with the hubs. And quiet moments with myself, my own thoughts. Letting go of various frustrations from the previous day, thinking about the day ahead, the week ahead, the month ahead, daydreaming, or thinking of nothing at all. Just being.

…and this morning? The added layer of #rundate fun? The fact that my husband kicked my ass on this run. Totally pushed our pace in a way that I hadn’t personally pushed in awhile. I needed that work. So, so much.

I also needed to remember why I run — and this morning’s dark thirty rundate was just the reminder I needed. I run because I can, because it makes me feel so alive, because of that forever love of shared moments and miles with the hubs.

#teamsutera4lyf <3

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*That* moment.

*That* moment. 

The one with life altering, life changing, transformative implications.
…it’s rare that you can actually pinpoint *that* moment. 

But when you do pinpoint a moment like that, it’s kind of amazing. 

This morning, on my way back from the studio after teaching a super sweaty toned, firm, fit and ready class, I glanced at my email and saw this message waiting for me:

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*That* moment — two years ago today, that I took my very first barre n9ne class. I knew, after taking that first class — with the one and only Tanya Croteau! (<3) — that I had to go back. There was something there, something I needed more of. Little did I know just how life altering that day would be two years ago. I know I say this often, but I seriously could not be more grateful for the home barre n9ne studio has in my heart, for the continued opportunity to teach, to pay my own experiences forward, and to see clients transform on their own, right before my eyes. *That* moment. <3

After thinking about the whole ‘moment’ concept, the second life changing moment that came to mind? This one:

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That would be Scott and I (aka #teamsutera!), after our longest Chicago Marathon training run: 22 miles. It was one week after our WORST long run of our lives (this 20 miler...to jog your memory), and we both desperately needed a redemption run, one that would prove to both of us that we could haul ass for all 26.2 miles on race day. It was *that* moment captured in the picture above, where you can see the pain in my eyes and  in my scrunchy lines on my forehead that I knew: we would cross that finish line on race day. And yup, we totally did. *That* moment was life altering, too.

(and you better believe that our marathon experience is VERY much on my mind lately after last week’s Boston tragedy. I can’t say whether or not #teamsutera has another marathon in us or not…but it is weighing heavy on my mind, and on my heart, for sure).

*That* momentwhen everything falls into place, everything fits, and transformations begin. 

On “found” time

So this past weekend didn’t go as originally planned. You see, I was all set to spend a good 8 hours at barre n9ne in training for Pound – Rockout Workout, a training that was *supposed* to happen this winter but a certain blizzard kinda interfered. But after last week’s events, it proved not to be the safest of times to be traveling into Boston for our friends at Pound, so alas, training didn’t happen afterall.

…which lead to a whole bunch of  “found” time on Saturday. 

Both of my usual Saturday morning classes at barre n9ne were already subbed out. I was supposed to be training for Pound, afterall. So just like that — my Saturday was a clean slate, with absolutely no schedule, no agenda, no plans whatsoever.

The ‘old’ me would’ve whipped out my to-do list…or started an entirely fresh to-do list, and gone to town. You see, I think I’ve done a good bit of changing the past 8 months or so — I suddenly remembered this post: the one where I told myself to chill the eff out. And I remembered how anxious and upset I felt, how all up in my head with mind crazies galore I felt, how utterly strained and unhappy I felt. And I remembered how much I did *not* want to return to that ‘self’ again.

So lo and behold — Saturday became a free-for-all, a day where suddenly ‘found’ time became fun time versus productive time. 

It started with an awesome, but very challenging, run with the hubs. #TeamSutera reunited once again to tackle one of our favorite ‘long’ running routes from our very first half marathon training almost 4 years ago. The route is about 20 mins from our house so we drove to the starting point and parked our car — this after sleeping in, awaking to *no* alarm clock, something that happens very rarely at the Sutera Manor these days — and off we went.

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We chugged along and man, it felt a lot more challenging…but in a very good, very ‘worked’ way, a way my body needed to feel. I admit that I battled my head a little bit at first, getting super frustrated that the run wasn’t one of those easy-breezy-could-run-forever runs. But then I remembered that sometimes you gotta work extra hard for the miles and let your body work. And after I gave myself that gut check reminder pep talk, I felt much better and chugged side-by-side with Scott.

It turned out to be an incredible run.

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I think our smiles say it all — it was one of those cleansing, refreshing, replenishing runs. I think all of the emotion of the week needed to escape and the miles were our escape route. We ran along freshly-rained-on pavement and all around us it just felt clean, fresh and new. All of us in Boston needed that ‘fresh and new’ feeling, I do believe. And we got it on Friday night and into Saturday morning in more ways than one. (SO glad both bombers are no longer roaming the streets of Boston…so, so glad. 

Other than that run? Scott and I spent some time pitter-pattering (this is SO a “Scott” word haha) around the house before we stopped to watch the opener of the Bruins and then the Red Sox games…and watching both ceremonies where the city paid tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy but also the heroes, I cried. And cried. I couldn’t be more proud of this city, of Boston, our home. <3

After wiping away those tears, we decided it was time to get out of the house for a bit. We wound up at one of our newfound favorite spots for an afternoon drink. They have ample seating at the bar and lots of TVs to watch the various Boston sporting events — and the pours there? They are generous to say the least, ha. ;-)

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It was an awesome break from reality — we chit chatted with our fellow bar-mates, and I even saw my boss there which was kinda funny. But mostly, we just took the time to get away from normalcy, using the ‘found’ time we had on our hands for fun, carefree time together.

So what’s my point here? (other than to blab on and on about how fabulous our Saturday wound up being??)

“Found” time is a gift. Use it wisely.

As recent events have shown us, life is so short, so fleeting and such a blessing. Live every single second of it. My vote? Let’s live a little more like the sentiment behind this Dove Promise message, hmm?

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Little, simple things.

Given all that’s happened this week, I’ve been struggling (like so many of you) to find peace among the sadness.
…the one thing that has given me some semblance of comfort this week? Little, simple things.

Like running with Scott, reuniting as #teamsutera on a few occasions this week (he’s on April vacation from work so I am taking full advantage of our ability for rundates!), including on Tuesday morning where we ran for Boston, as part of the “Runners Unite” movement that swept Facebook on Monday night.

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Even something as simple as opening up a Dove promise to find this message hiding inside:

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Fabulous *and* flawed — amen, amen, amen. <—Please, please, please remember this the next time you mentally berate yourself, or slip away from self-love and into self-hate, or any other form of self-doubt or mind crazies. I need this reminder as much as anyone else. We are *all* fabulous and flawed and that’s what makes us unique, beautiful wonderful people.

Now, I wouldn’t call this next one a ‘little’ thing so much — but my husband, the man I adore and love and cherish more than anything else on this earth, well — he sure knows how to shower me with love and affection. And this time, the man outdid himself. These showed up at my door yesterday when I got home from work:

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Apparently, Scott spied over my shoulder while I was ogling these beautiful Tieks online over the weekend and took it upon himself to go back and order me a pair (knowing full well I would never spend that kind of money on shoes myself). Seriously? Can I keep him please?? <3

And finally – the simplicity of a long walk on ‘date night’ which is always Wednesday night for us. The one night during the week that neither of us is busy. We cherish that night together. And normally, that night involves a great meal, a couple of glasses of wine and a movie or a catch-up-on-DVR night. But last night? Last night was different. We opted for a long walk after dinner — to a local frozen yogurt spot for a sweet treat. We wound up walking over 10k steps or a little over 5 miles. And we just talked. And talked. And talked. About the Boston marathon tragedy. About the possibility (or not) of running another marathon. About random little things we noticed along the way — like the big dipper in the dark night sky while walking home. Or how the crickets sounded while we made our way back to our house along our favorite running route. There were no distractions. No tv’s with news stations sharing more sad stories. No iPhones with text alerts and Facebook updates. Not even a picture to commemorate the occasion. Just us. And it was perfect.

Little, simple things. #needed

Remembering capabilities.

There’s something I’ve been mulling over the last couple of days.

Remembering capabilities. 

I started thinking about it during that solo run I took on Friday after teaching and continued thinking about it while teaching on Saturday and again while running with Scott on Sunday morning. (yayyy #teamsutera!)

My mind was whirring away while running this weekend — thinking about a few things. About how challenging both runs felt — man, running on the treadmill is just NOT the same as running outside. My body made sure to remind me of that this weekend. But that’s the thing — my body is capable of running whatever I want it to run, I just have to let it. Not get freaked out that my mileage is way down, or my endurance isn’t where it used to be, or whatever. Just simply remembering capabilities. This body carried me all 26.2 miles not too long ago — it can sure as hell get through the transition from winter/dreadmill running to spring/summer outdoor running, that’s for sure.

I also thought about capabilities as it relates to all forms of fitness.

…Of my husband pushing himself to work harder at Crossfit, to improve his strength and flexibility and endurance. Of figuring out just what his body is truly capable of — and then pushing for me. Something he’s been doing an awesome job of (proud wifey alert!).

…Of our clients at barre n9ne — who step up to that barre at all times of day or night and push themselves. To work harder, get lower, shake more. I can almost see it in some of them as they work through class — that moment when they think they can’t possibly hold onto the set any longer. I see them squeeze their eyes shut, and either push through or they literally hesitate when I say ‘push lower’ or ‘hang on, you are almost there.’ And it’s that moment between hesitation and remembering capabilities and pushing for it, that I LOVE to see so much in our clients. That moment where they allow the shake at the barre, they embrace it and just go for it. It makes my day when I see a client who maybe hasn’t gotten to that ‘shake point’ before, finally connect with their body in a new way and right before their eyes and mine, they are shaking away, working through that set, relying on their body and remembering their capabilities.

And finally, I’ve been thinking about capabilities as it relates to life in general.

Trusting yourself to go for it, whatever ‘it’ might be. Remembering that your path is set in front of you, yours for the taking, it’s just up to you whether or not you follow that path and truly go for it. And that’s sort of how I’m feeling lately — that this path of mine is shaping up quite beautifully and I guess I can’t say it enough — things are just good right now. And I know that kind of makes for some boring blog posts from me (a lot of the same theme!) but it’s all I got right now — life, my path, our path, kind of great.

And I know that partly has to do with remembering that I’m capable of creating the life that I want to live, my best life right now. Kind of a neat thing to put into words huh? Living your best life now, the one that yes, *you* are capable of living. 

So my advice to get there — to that best life now? Embrace that moment between hesitation and remembering capabilities — and go for it. Do not hesitate. Trust. And just go.

Everyone needs a little me (workout) time

I hear this a lot — both from clients at the studio, from family and from friends who just don’t think they deserve, need or are ‘allowed’ to have ‘me’ time. Particularly when that ‘me’ time is of the workout variety. It’s seen by some as a frivolous activity, a nice-to-have versus a need-to-have or it’s a selfish thing to want or need that ‘me workout’ time.

But truly? Everyone needs a little me (workout) time. 
Everyone.

Yes, even I need it. 

You see, I’ve been working on a little experiment these past few weeks. Instead of looking at my me-workouts as nice-to-have activity in between all the teaching that I do each week, I’ve been looking at it as need-to-have time. Obviously within reason, balancing it out with the working out that invariably happens while I’m teaching class. But yes, I’ve been making my me workout time more of a priority. Even if it means shifting my focus a little bit — instead of wishing for or yearning for x amount of miles, I get excited about running a quick 30 mins after class or slotting in a fitdate with a bestie mid-week when schedules allow.  And yes, I #makeitcount.

So I have been committing to my ‘me time’ of the workout variety more these past few weeks and I’ve noticed something. Yup, you guessed it — I’m happier.

It’s not rocket science people, putting yourself first and chasing those endorphins produces, yup — happy, joyful energy. 

Sure, I still love, love, love all the hours I spend teaching, watching clients transform right before my eyes. LOVE. But I also love that me time either at the barre or on the mat where I have time to focus on my own muscle strength and endurance. Or the time I spend in my favorite sneakers, running 3 miles or 7, or somewhere in between, those miles don’t matter distance-wise — all that matters is that they are my miles. Miles I fought for particularly hard for on Sunday in the chilly, windy air. But it was worth it. SO, SO, worth it. Especially because it meant a #teamsutera reunion. <3

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So here’s my thinking — I will continue to make my ‘me workouts’ a priority. Within reason, of course, and while still respecting the rest time my body needs. But clearly, based on just the past two or three weeks alone, my mood is just happier, less stressy, more centered. I KNOW part of that has to do with the #presence2013 project. But I also believe it has something to do with the me-workout thing. It’s just needed. 

And please, I hope you all will take that time to remember that you are just important to make a priority as everyone and everything else in your life that is important and that you love. You also love yourself, right? So watch that (self) love blossom, and respect the me (workout) time as much as you can. It’ll only make you a happier, healthier, more content wife, sister, friend, mother, auntie, and daughter (ditto this for the boys who may be reading this post!). It’s important, truly.

Powerful and spring-y

I’m titling this post ‘Powerful and spring-y’ which might sound kind of like an oxymoron, but I promise it’ll all make sense by the end. Hopefully. ;-)

So first up — the powerful part of the equation.

As in a powerful run. Powerful on many levels.

powerful in how it reconnected Scott and I (aka long-lost #teamsutera). Even though we barely spoke a word.

powerful in how present I felt during the run. Present in each and every step I took, present in taking in my surroundings, present in listening to Scott’s even breathing next to me, silently pushing us both along. #presence2013 is a beautiful thing. (more of an update on this project of ours in a future post…)

powerful in how my legs felt pushing up and down the hills on our *favorite* 7-miler rundate route.

powerful in the rush of memories that came flooding back during that 7-mile route we circled. It’s the same route we doubled and tripled and nearly quadrupled during Chicago marathon training. Memories. <3

powerful in the incredible HIGH it gave us both. The rush of the cool, fresh air breezing past our faces. The strength we both felt in our legs, and in our speed. And the incredible DOMS we both felt the next day (and are sure to feel even more tomorrow…I’m a two-day-later kind of girl).

powerful in the JOY it brought us both when all was said and done. As evidenced by our GIANT (albeit sweaty) smiles. <3

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Now, for the spring-y part.

spring-y as in the antsy pants I now have for spring to actually arrive. We went from blizzard conditions on Friday to sunshine and 50 degrees on Monday. Kinda makes me crazy, for SPRING. I love it so. <3

spring-y as in the joy I already feel for the mere opportunity for many more of those powerful runs like I described from Sunday. Those reconnecting, rejuvinating and energizing runs. Trying so very hard to be patient…patience pants don’t suit me so well. ;-)

spring-y and the absolute geeked-out high I get from trying out new fitgear at the studio during three-fer Monday that put a big ‘ol spring in my step as I set foot into the studio I love so very much. You see, sometimes *all* it takes to get me going on an early-start Monday (especially after the daylight savings time change the night before!), is a new outfit. Yup, I’m easy to please. And yup, I’m a giant #luluhoarder. But I won’t apologize for that part. I am who I am. Take me or leave me. ;-P

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Soooooo, that’s all I got after a very long start to my week — but doing what I love most of all, and with that extra spring in my step totally helped matters. So is the glass of wine I’m savoring the heck out of as I type this. (note: blogging with wine is something I need to do more often. #noted.). Happppy (powerful and spring-y) Monday, friends! 

My run-purpose. Lately.

My running. It’s evolved a lot lately.

I feel like I’ve been talking about my running in the context of ‘when I was in training mode…’ vs. ‘now that I’m not in training mode’ but really, what I should be talking about is my run-purpose. That’s the thing that has evolved, running-wise lately.

You see, for the past few years, my running cycle has looked something like this:

  • Summer – run like hell, soaking in as many early-AM (bunny-filled!) runs as possible, learning to love and embrace the ultra-humid runs and being outside with the hubs by my side whenever possible. Oh – and lots of bestie rundates, too.
  • Late-summer/early-fall – ramp that running up in preparation for a race, usually a half marathon (or that run time I ran a full marathon…), a way to close out all those summer months of running on a high note.
  • Late-fall/early-winter – continue to run whenever possible outside, choosing one or two other races to run before winter settles in (usually the Thanksgiving Day 5-mile “Wild Turkey Run” was our ‘swan song’ race for the winter, until recently…)
  • Dead of winter – work my ass off to keep my endurance and mileage up as best as I can, sticking to the dreadmill during the week (tooooo dark) and outside on the weekends, when possible. Doing what I could to work on speed via intervals, dreadmill-style, and working on endurance on the weekend with the outdoor runs.
  • Early-Spring – ramp that mileage back up in preparation for a springtime race, usually another half marathon. And then get VERY excited to continue keeping the miles up during the summer months – aka one of my favorite running seasons.

I repeated this cycle yearly – training, keeping my mileage up, working on endurance…that was my run-purpose. I *mostly* ran with the intent to race a few times a year and that’s what largely drove my running. Of course, above all else – I always run because I love it, because it makes me feel so alive and yes, because it makes me feel badass. But the ‘purpose’ was also usually training-inspired in some shape or form.

But my run-purpose is quickly shifting – there is no real training ‘purpose’ to my runs anymore. And I don’t really foresee that shifting much. And not because I don’t enjoy the thrill of the chase that training for a race provides, that end goal in sight, feeling that rush of crossing the finish line. I *still* really love those moments and like I’ve said about a million times, training for the Chicago Marathon and countless half marathons before that, provided some of the most memorial bonding moments with Scott, my favorite running partner of all. #teamsutera <3

But really, my run-purpose now is literally all about the joy of the sweat.

The rush I feel when I see a cool “7.0 miles” completed on the treadmill. Or I watch my pace quicken during those killer intervals (like these intervals, where my a$$ nearly fell off), and I am incredulous that my legs can actually move that quickly if I trust them to.

My running goal lately? To run. Whenever I can fit it in, for as long as I can fit into my day. It might be 7 miles, early-AM (like tomorrow’s plan!), dreadmill-style. Or it might be a quick 3 miler after I teach or take a barre n9ne class in the morning. Or it might be, the altogether TOO RARE rundate with Scott outside, hitting up one of our favorite 7 mile running routes (that I hope to return to this Sunday, actually!).

My run-purpose: the joy of the sweat.

My run goal: to run. Joyfully.