Health and Wellness, single-parenting

Diary of a Reluctant Runner: Why I Train

I am in a season of change. My job has changed and changed again, causing my income to flux in response. My schedule has changed and will change again in 2 days when my daughter’s school releases for the summer break. Being rather dependent upon external structure to provide my internal structure, a significant amount of change will produce some equally significant anxiety in me. I’ve known this about myself since the 6th grade when I requested that my mother buy me a Day-Timer, because on some level I’ve also known that life isn’t always that great about providing consistent external structure. Sometimes you have to make it up on your own, and that has been an ongoing process of maturity for me. 

In my 38 years, I have picked up some great ways to cope with change, and I’ve picked up a few bad habits. If Netflix, Candy Crush, and trips to the fridge or the neighborhood frozen yogurt shop have become the things I’ve organized my life around, I’m trouble. I’ve descended into the hell that is anxiety-riddled boredom and general malaise. As you can imagine, I’m not an enjoyable or productive human being when I’m in this place. It is, however, often my go-to when I hit a level of anxiety that feels paralyzing and I want to avoid the reality of my situation, even if the reality of my situation is actually closer to an exciting, new adventure rather than a rough season or tragic life event. 

Recently, I finished watching all 4 seasons of Schitt’s Creek on Netflix and conquered level 443 of Candy Crush Soda Saga, if that tells you anything about the current state of my affairs. If I weren’t so broke right now, I’m sure that my frozen yogurt card would also be fully punched, and I would be relishing in my free bowl of triple chocolate mixed with strawberry cheesecake topped with crushed Oreos. Since I’m currently eating cauliflower and grape tomatoes, I feel like I can say that I’m still hanging on, but not by much. 

My solution for this lack of external structure and need for healthy ways to cope with the resulting anxiety was to sign up to run a full marathon. “That’s insane!” you say? I couldn’t agree more. It feels completely bonkers, especially since I spent the winter in hibernation mode, recuperating from some pretty significant health challenges and gaining a pound for each week that I spent inside recovering. And yet, this is the only decision in my life that I feel truly at peace about. Why? Because it has worked for me before. 

Throughout my school years, my grades would be highest during volleyball and track season and routinely take a dip during the off seasons. As an adult, when I have needed to grow in my ability to focus, prioritize, creatively problem-solve, and be more self-disciplined in executing the steps necessary to achieve a goal, it has been running that provided the training ground to develop and refine those skills. Training for 5K and 10K races helped me take those first steps towards learning to set realistic expectations for myself, as well as the highly important lesson of patiently completing all of the smaller steps required to meet the bigger goal rather than simply making a mad dash for the finish line. It reinforced the lesson that thoughtful and patient preparation is just as important in life as it is for running. 

Training for a half-marathon helped me take steps towards learning how to properly nourish my body. It also taught me that I can do things that I never in a million years would have dreamed I could do. Surprisingly, I also learned that all of my best ideas come to me when I am out on a long run. Something magical happens when you are out on a trail and several miles into a run, and you realize that you have all the time and space in the world to put some big questions out into the universe and the silence and solitude to hear God whisper the answers back. Given all that I have going on in life right now, some serious Q&A time with the Divine seems warranted. Thus, training for a marathon seems to actually make some sense. 

Having such great experiences with the St. Jude Memphis Marathon weekend at the 10k and half-marathon levels, I knew that I wanted my first marathon to be St. Jude. Attempting to wrap my mind around the idea of actually running a marathon, I have researched training plans, nutrition advice, and even bullet journals to track progress and maintain motivation through the training process. I ended up selecting this optimistic llama as the keeper of all my training hopes, dreams, goals, and stats, along with all of the angst that comes with the mental, emotional, and physical challenges of training. He says it’s no problem, and I guess I’ll have to take him at his word, but I hope he knows that I can get pretty angsty in July and August when the heat index is 125. 

In addition to committing to run the St. Jude marathon, I also committed to the St. Jude Hero program, which means I’ll be fund-raising as I train. As a parent, it feels so important to me that the St. Jude families get to focus on getting the best treatment for their child without having to worry about bills piling up, and I am happy to support that in any way that I can. It is also a powerful reminder of how grateful I am for my own newly minted clean bill of health. Perhaps my wise llama guide can help me generate a gratitude mantra about this, and I can chant it to combat the heat-induced angst. (Summer is here. I’m dreading it. Can you tell?!)

Llama jokes aside, training for a race and racing for St. Jude has always been a powerful experience for me. When life got hard and I was feeling squeezed by all of the pressure coming at me from every direction, my first thought was “I need a big race to train for. I always do better when I have a race to train for”. I tried to wait it out and let a return to sanity dismantle that idea, but weeks and months came and went, the squeeze continued, and the idea of training for a big race continued to beckon with it’s promises of growth and peace. Answering the call by signing up has already settled some of my nerves and increased my focus. 

I suspect that, like before, if I keep showing up and putting in the work (even when it’s ugly), training will faithfully deliver all the growth I need and more. The beauty of it is I get to take all of those blessings from running and use it to fuel the professional and creative goals that have been stalling out and causing me stress. That is what I’m most excited about. Who knows what answer or stroke of creative brilliance is waiting for me around mile 9?! I can’t wait to find out. 

single-parenting, Uncategorized

It’s Training Time!

The Garmin is charged, the half-marathon schedules are out, and My Fitness Pal has been downloaded. It’s training time!

After such a great experience last year, I’m REALLY looking forward to running the St. Jude half-marathon again this year. It is officially 18 weeks away, which kind of makes my heart stop. Slow down life!

Unlike last year, I’m taking that whole “6 weeks of pre-training” thing seriously, because I chose to sit out the summer and didn’t run at all. Today is Day 1 of the pre-training.

What that looks like in real life is doing 3 sets of 15 squats with no resistance other than my own body weight. And when I trotted down the steps of the porch this morning and my legs went all wobbly, it affirmed the level of seriousness with which I need to approach this pre-training season 😂.

But, what I am MOST pumped about for this running season is that I’m working with Coach Kala Duncan of the OmniFit to get my nutrition sorted out (because my stomach always rebels long before my legs or lungs).

Plus, the insights she offers into the mental piece of nutrition and exercise is invaluable. Let’s just say, I have some issues around those things, I’ve thrown them all at her, and she ain’t scared 😂.

Christian, Uncategorized

Gratitude & The Blessing of Health

After reading The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown, it is has been on my to-do list to create a practice of gratitude that May Lee and I could and would consistently do on a daily basis. November 1st ushered us into the season of Thanksgiving and provided the catalyst for simply doing something to express our gratitude. The something we came up with was verbalizing one thing we are grateful for as we drive to school in the morning.

With the daylight changing in step with the season, it has been really easy to contemplate our many blessings as we drive toward the pink and lavender hues of the sunrise. In fact, that was our first statement of gratitude. Yesterday, May Lee stated that she was thankful for playgrounds. Feeling the sore muscles and aching joints from running, I said that I was thankful for healthy bodies that allowed us to play on playgrounds.

Those sentiments rang in my ears and pricked my heart today when I received the text message from St. Jude that it is officially 30 days until the race. So many children and parents are battling cancer instead of playing on the playground together. I am so grateful for my daughter’s health, and I am working daily to increase my own. What a blessing to know that if our family ever does hear the word “cancer” that a place like St. Jude exists.

If the blessing of health is on your gratitude list this year, I invite you to honor that by supporting St. Jude.

http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=3466532&pg=personal&fr_id=59186

Christian, Mom, single-parenting, Uncategorized

St. Jude 10K: Week 2

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I’m happy to report that I am mostly recovered from whatever illness attacked me so ferociously. For most of the week, I still had a major cough and no stamina. By the end of the week, I was feeling like I could do a little something without completely collapsing into a coughing fit. To test out this theory, May Lee and I went on a little jog on Saturday. We ran for the whole 6 minutes, and I was fine. No coughing. Inspired by that little bit of success, I also threw in a set of crunches.

saturdayjogOn Sunday, I went for a longer, slower run and was able to get 2 miles in. There was definitely some coughing after this run, but more importantly, every muscle in my body now hurts. Tired and grumpy are additional adjectives that come to mind, but also glad to be on the mend and back out there.

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All in all, I have high hopes for this week. To prove that, I added push ups to my routine this morning using another Fitness 22 app. I love those apps, because they are so beginner friendly. The app has 3 different levels: counter push ups for beginners, knee push ups for intermediate (this is where I am starting), and full body push ups for advanced. This is the link for the app: https://appsto.re/us/YxOkH.i

To be completely candid, blogging about this training process really has kept me motivated. It has created an out of this world level of accountability! Thanks again for all your support! The link to my St. Jude fundraising page is below. If your year has been anything like mine, than it has been full of people you know and love fighting cancer. What better way to honor the fight than supporting St. Jude! 

http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=3466532&pg=personal&fr_id=59186

 

Christian, Mom, single-parenting, Uncategorized

St. Jude 10K: Week 1

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As is the story of many a runner, I started training for a race and then promptly fell ill. What started as allergies moved into a sinus infection, which I chased out of my sinus cavity with a mix of over the counter medications and essential oils. The illness then took up residence in my chest, leaving me to sound like a whiskey-soaked, chain-smoking lounge singer.

Early in the week, when I was still in denial about this infection that was growing stronger by the hour, I did complete 45 minutes of yoga. It was “very easy yoga for beginners” that I found on Amazon Prime, and it primarily involved a lot of twisting. My back felt great after that, but as for the infection, the next morning I woke up feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. Needless to say, super easy yoga for beginners has been the extent of my working out this week.

A couple of days ago, I worked really hard to convince myself to get out there and run again, but I was so wiped out that I resigned myself to simply eating Aunt Bunny’s Chicken-ladas and going to straight to bed. On Sunday, I actually felt much better, and still I had to lie on the couch and nap for 20 minutes after church. Then, the trip to the grocery store required a 30-minute recovery nap. Bedtime has been promptly observed at 8:00 each evening.

Week 1 will have to go down as a recovery week, and I’ll be easing back into working out during week 2. As it stands currently, inhaling too briskly can send me into a coughing fit that feels and sounds like death, so strenuous cardio is not on the schedule for this week. Even so, I still appreciate your support as I work toward the St. Jude 10K. You all have been a great encouragement!

http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=3466532&pg=personal&fr_id=59186

 

Christian, Mom, single-parenting, Uncategorized

St. Jude 10K: Pre-training

woman-1562560_1280As you may already know, I have been taking a graduate level course this fall, in an effort to gain a professional certification that I have been working toward, slowly and painfully, for many years. If you have read any of my other posts, you also know that my daily schedule has been jammed packed to the point of insanity. It was becoming more and more apparent to me that I was doing many, many things, but I was doing none of them well. So, after some serious soul-searching and prayer, which led to some chart making (yes, God speaks even to my inner nerd), a conclusion was reached: there will be a better season to take this class. You know, a season that is not smack dab in the middle of a major overhaul of my job responsibilities or my daughter’s kindergarten year. Even though I completely adore my instructor and absolutely feast on the content of the class, it is time to drop it like it’s hot.

Clearly, this will free up a great deal of my time, and we may finally be able to wear clothes that have not been sitting in a wrinkled heap in a laundry basket for 2 weeks. But I quickly realized that since I will no longer be in class, I will be able to participate in the St. Jude 10K that I signed up for over the summer. This is a big race and a big deal, and may I just say, that I am not prepared. I gave up running the second I started class and realized that I wouldn’t be able to participate in the race. Yes, I have tried to keep up with strengthening my core and working in a quick HITT workout when I could, but that is not the same as training for a 10K. Also, have I mentioned that I have not successfully run a 5K? I have work to do, people.

I am tempted to be overwhelmed, which would essentially be trading “class overwhelmed” for “training overwhelmed” and I really don’t want to go down that road. So yesterday, I hit the running trail to see where I was in my running game and try to find a little motivation to get after it. Even though it is completely embarrassing, I’m going to share my stats with you so that you can a) feel sorry for me, and then b) maybe offer some encourage and motivation to keep me going now that you know how far I have to go in this journey.

stjudepennySince I just wanted to see where I was physically,  I just did a mile at a pace I felt good about to see where I clocked in. So, according to the FitBit, I ran 1.1 miles at a pace of 12’24”. This is much slower than where I left off at the end of last season’s running clinic, but it’s a start. I found this penny along with way, and I picked it up and deemed it my lucky penny for my training. You will notice that it had landed on tails, but that did not scare me away. To me, it was a perfect metaphor about how this thing isn’t going to come easy, nothing in life ever does. But my life is not altered or directed by bad juju, it is authored and perfected by my faith in God. God has been asking me, begging me, pleading with me to get healthy, and that is the true reason I am out there doing this. So, game on.

Friends, I need all the support I can get, and by support I mean accountability. That is why I am putting this out there, so it will not be easy to just quick when it gets hard. If you can support my fund-raising effort with a few dollars, I would really appreciate it. But even more so, I covet your encouragement! This is the link to my St. Jude page: http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=3466532&pg=personal&fr_id=59186
Thanks in advance!