100 Days of Running

Reflections on 100 days of running.

My run streak reached 100 days last Wednesday (and is still going strong—day 108 today)! If you had told me 100+ days ago that I’d run 100 days in a row, I’m not sure I would have believed you.

I’ve accomplished so much over the past 100 days. I’ve run two 5ks (and PR’d in the second!). My pace has improved. I’ve pushed my limits on speed and distance. I’ve learned when it’s time to take it easy.

Most importantly, I’ve learned my body is capable of far more than I give it credit for. This run streak started because of my shoulder injury, which was keeping me from doing yoga and lifting weights. In fact, I had stopped exercising regularly altogether after my shoulder injury.

My run streak added much-needed regular exercise back into my life. It reminded me to be grateful for what I am capable of rather than dwelling on all the things I can’t do.

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The face of someone who spent the last 100 days running!

I have no idea if I’ve lost weight. (My clothes aren’t fitting much looser, so probably not.) But the weight loss (or lack of) doesn’t matter. I feel better. My mind is clearer. My body hurts the way it should after exercise.

Running every day has made me want to improve other aspects of my life, too. I’m trying to make my way back to eating mostly paleo (and I’m planning to do the January Whole30!). I’m trying to make my sleep a priority so I’m rested enough to run every day. And I’m making more time in my days for quiet reflection and journaling.

These 100 days haven’t been easy (I’ve been harassed twice now), but they’ve been 100% worth it. I don’t have any specific run streak goals. I just want to keep the streak alive for as long as possible. I do have plans to run a 10k and half marathon in 2018, though. Stay tuned for my posts reflecting on 2017 and all my goals for 2018!

Have you ever tried a running streak? (Or any other type of streak?) How did it go and how long did it last? Let me know in the comments!

Turkey Trot Recap

PR’d the heck out of my Turkey Trot this year!

IMG_2561.jpgHey there! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends! I started the Thanksgiving holiday off by going to see Rudolph at The Fox the night before with our nieces. It wasn’t nearly as awful as this self-proclaimed Grinch expected, and our nieces loved it.

The next morning, I ran my second Turkey Trot 5k, which was my second race (and 5k) of the year. They moved the race from one of the area high schools to SIUE, so things were a little unorganized compared with last year. The race didn’t start on time, which made me anxious since we had to bet at my in-laws’ for lunch in just a few hours.

Once the race started, though, I felt pretty good. I intentionally started off a little slow so I wouldn’t lose steam by the end of the race. When I checked my pace after mile 1, though, it was at about 10:15. That was much faster than I expected, so I slowed down a little more. Mid-race there was no shade, so I started to get warm. I pulled off my gloves and my ear muffs (which is really like a big headband I wear over my ears…I don’t know what those are called).

My second mile ended up being a little slower, but not by much. I was still well under an 11-minute pace. Around this time the relatively flat course began a slight incline. There weren’t any hills. It was just a slight incline that persisted for most of mile 3. It was brutal.

IMG_2564.jpgAs I approached the finish line, the clock said something along the lines of 34:45. I was determined to finish under 35 minutes since I was so close. I picked up my pace, huffing and puffing the rest of the way across the finish line. I immediately used my inhaler (my asthma is the worst when the weather is cold).

My husband (aka the best cheering squad ever) took my picture as I crossed the finish line. A minute or so after I met up with him, I got a text with my race results. Although the clock was at 34-something as I crossed the finish line, my official course time was 33:20. That’s a full 3 minutes faster than my last 5k! It’s also two minutes faster than last year’s turkey trot.

I am so, so proud of myself. I’ve got an almost 100-day run streak going and it’s been hard to really see progress day to day because my pace seems to fluctuate a lot. This race showed me I am improving, even if progress is slow.

IMG_2568.jpgAfter the race, we went home to shower and then went over to my in-laws’ house for lunch. We ate turkey, drank beer, and looked through the Black Friday ads with our nieces.

Later, we went to visit my grandpa in the nursing home and then went over to my aunt and uncle’s house for dessert. All in all, it was a good day.

Over the weekend, we got our house decorated for Christmas and I went to another Thanksgiving get together with my mom’s family.

It was a weekend full of PR’s, good food, family, and friends. It was crazy and hectic and a little stressful, but it was a great way to kick off the holidays.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! Did any of you run a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving? How’d it go?

 

Race to the Shrine 5K Recap & Other Updates

Find out if I PR’d in my most recent race and what I found out about my shoulder.

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Another race, another medal.

I ran my first race of the year on Saturday! The weather was perfect and the course was hilly.

After 60+ days of running, I expected to do a little better than I did. I was disappointed in my pace and overall time. My official race time was 36:57 with a pace of 11:54.

Despite being disappointed in my time/pace, I was proud that I only stopped to walk twice, and that was at two of the water stations. Aside from that, I kept on running—something I don’t think I’ve ever done before.

Although I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, I know why. I haven’t been pushing myself lately. Part of that is from pure exhaustion (4:30 a.m. wakeup calls from a 5-month-old puppy are ruff rough). But it’s also because I’ve been kinda lazy. I haven’t wanted to put in the work.

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Penny, Copper, & Me. They suck at selfies.

I haven’t pushed myself much to improve my speed. And I haven’t been taking the time on weekends to run longer distances. Finding the time to get enough sleep and run more than a mile has been really difficult lately.

That’s all changing as we speak, though. You see, I quit my job yesterday (for reasons I won’t discuss here). So until I find another job, I’m back to freelancing, which is definitely not the worst thing.

Basically, now I get to make my own schedule again. So if I want to go run a 5K in the middle of the week instead of on the weekend, I can. While this certainly isn’t how I wanted things to happen, I’m going to make the best of it.

It will give me the opportunity to find the perfect job, while also prioritizing my health and my goals.

Speaking of health, I got the results back from my MRI on my shoulder. Fortunately (I think), there was nothing visibly wrong with it. My doctor said it’s possible there’s a microscopic tear the MRI didn’t pick up, but the only way to find out is through surgery.

She recommended I continue taking anti-inflammatory meds and doing strengthening exercises and that we only consider surgery if it continues to not improve, or gets worse.

Obviously, something like surgery is out of the question anyway since I quit my job, but I wasn’t really considering surgery to begin with. I’m frustrated that I have no real solution for my pain, but I’m also relieved it doesn’t require surgery (at least not yet).

So there you have it. No race PR (unless you count not stopping to walk as a PR), no job, and no solutions for my shoulder.

It all sounds rather negative. And just a few short months ago, all this probably would have been devastating to me. Right now, though, I feel like I’m in a really good place. I’m only looking at the positives of all this.

Not getting a PR means I can improve before my next race (Turkey Trot). Quitting my job means I’m creating space in my life for a much better opportunity, whatever that may be. And having a negative MRI means I can heal my shoulder on my own, without painful and expensive surgery.

What’s going on in your world this week? Any recent PRs? How do you handle negative issues and tough situations?

 

2017 Goals Check In

A look back at my 2017 goals and how I’m doing.

Way back at the beginning of the year, I set 12 attainable goals. Or so I thought. I didn’t do a mid-year check-in, so now that Fall is here, I thought I’d take a look back to see how I’m doing on those goals. (Spoiler: Not great.)

  1. Strength training. This was the first goal on my list. At the time I set this goal, I had been participating in the Harder to Kill program with Steph Gaudreau of Stupid Easy Paleo. I was lifting weights and doing functional movements and felt strong and wanted to get stronger. Then I hurt my shoulder. I’ll be honest, I tried to lift weights anyway—more than once. Eventually, I finally realized I wasn’t going to get better if I kept doing that. Here I am months later, still with no definitive answer as to what’s wrong (I’ll do a separate post about my shoulder later). So this goal is (and has been) on hold for a while.
  2. Yoga. My second goal was to do more yoga. During the month of January, I was doing a 30 day yoga challenge. It was a great way to start the year, but I suspect that may have either caused or contributed to my shoulder injury. Again, I tried to keep pushing through it, but eventually had to just give it up. I can’t wait for the day I can start doing yoga again. It’s such a great way for me to de-stress, plus it’s great cross-training, too. Some day, my mat and I will be reunited.
  3. Travel. This one has actually been a bit of a success. We went to Pensacola back in April for our first real vacation since our honeymoon. I also went to visit my husband in Carmel, IN while he’s been out of town for work. Most recently, we went to Kansas City, MO for the Chiefs home opener. And in a few short weeks I’ll be jetting off to Savannah, GA to visit my best friend for a few days! We may try to squeeze in another weekend getaway or two in later this year, too!
  4. Write. I’m a writer, so you’d think this is an unnecessary goal. But I spend so much of my time writing for other people (clients/bosses) that it’s hard to find the time, energy, and inspiration to write for myself. Over the summer, when I was really struggling with depression and low energy levels, I did almost no writing. Now that I’m finally starting to feel “normal” again, most of my writing has been here on the blog. Which I’m totally okay with. I love writing about running and exercise/nutrition in general, and writing about these topics means I’m also constantly learning.
  5. Read. I set a goal to read one book a month. Totally doable, right? Wrong. I’m not sure how many books I’ve read so far this year, but it’s been nowhere near that many.
  6. Business plan. This one has been on hold. I can’t settle on exactly what I want to do and how. And I need to figure that out before I can make an actual business plan. So maybe I’ll make some progress on this later this year. Or maybe next year. We’ll see.
  7. Volunteer. Unfortunately, I can’t think of anything I’ve volunteered for this year. Once I gave up freelancing and went back to a regular full-time job, it got much harder to make time for stuff like this (and exercise, too). I have pinpointed a few organizations that I would like to volunteer with in the future, so that’s a start at least.
  8. Sustainability. At some point last year we started using cloth napkins and really cut down on our use of disposable items like paper plates, plastic utensils, etc. Since then I’ve been trying to find other ways to reduce the amount of waste we create. My progress was pretty minimal until I discovered the magic of Norwex. Their microfiber cloths allow you to clean using just water. This eliminates the need for extremely wasteful things like Clorox wipes (which I used all the time), Swiffer pads, and more. I also love their makeup remover cloths, which are reusable and remove my makeup with just water. So I eliminate the waste of makeup remover wipes/cotton squares and save money! The company itself is also working really hard to reduce waste from plastic, so I feel good about purchasing their products. (Note: I am officially a Norwex consultant now because I really do love and believe in the products, but I’m not here to sell you stuff.)
  9. Minimalism. Basically, I set a goal to accumulate less stuff. I’ve sort of done okay at this, but there’s a whole lot I need to purge from our home, too. I have yet to create a capsule wardrobe, but I do have a pretty limited number of clothes I wear to work, so we’ll call that progress. I’ve also been better about saying “no” to things I really don’t need or want.
  10. Marriage. Our first year of marriage was hard. We really put it through the ringer by packing up and moving to Dallas less than 3 months after we got married. For 2017, I really wanted to focus on making our relationship as good as we possibly can. I can’t say 2017 has really been easier on us since my husband has been traveling so much for work. But we are taking steps to make sure we’re in a good place. I think this is a goal that’s always going to be a work in progress, and that’s okay.
  11. Social media. My goal was to spend less time on social media. I did take a hiatus earlier in the year, which was pretty great, honestly. But then I got sucked back in. No matter what I try, I can’t seem to find sustainable ways to minimize the amount of time I spend mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. My husband and I are trying to be better about not doing that when we’re together so that we’re actually spending quality time with each other rather than our phones.
  12. Outside. My final goal was simply to spend more time outside this year. I’m not sure I did too well with this the first 3/4 of the year. Since I started running again, though, I’m spending much more time outside. I’m also making a conscious effort to get outside once an hour to take a break from work, stretch, and soak up some vitamin D. We’ll see how long that lasts once winter sets in.

Running was not a goal I had for this year, but all the progress I’ve made has me really excited. You can bet you’ll see some running-related goals on next year’s list!

Did you set any goals for 2017? Are you making any progress? Did you achieve any? Let me know!

30 Thoughts I Had While Running for 30 Days

What it’s like to run at least a mile every day for 30 days.

My run streak is alive and well! I hit a milestone this past Monday—30 straight days of running at least 1 mile per day. Below are some of the thoughts I had along the way (in no particular order):

  1. This is hard, I can’t breathe, my legs hurt, I’m dying.
  2. It’s only a mile.
  3. I hate getting up early…but check out that gorgeous sunrise. #blessed
  4. That run was awesome—decent pace and I didn’t die!
  5. My pace is improving. I’m still as slow as a turtle, but small improvements are still worth celebrating.
  6. Holy cow I just PR’d with an 8.25 pace! Is that even right? It doesn’t seem right. If I post about this, will I have to keep running that fast?
  7. Early mornings aren’t so bad, I guess.
  8. I’m starving.
  9. Why does my foot/knee/calf/whatever hurt today?
  10. See #1.
  11. I should probably change up my route/distance.
  12. Maybe I’ll try intervals.
  13. Why is my neighborhood so hilly?!
  14. I shouldn’t drink/eat this; I have to run in the morning. *eats/drinks whatever it was and regrets it the next day*
  15. I want to run that race. Oops, missed the registration. Maybe I’ll run these 5ks instead. I’ll sign up later. *still has not registered*
  16. I totally want to run a half marathon next year.
  17. How am I going to run a half marathon when I can barely survive a mile?!
  18. A marathon sounds cool, but having to stop for bathroom breaks in the middle of a run sounds terrible.
  19. I really need another sports bra.
  20. Why are my shoes falling apart after less than 200 miles?! *procrastinates shoe shopping*
  21. I should by new shorts/capris since mine all have holes. Thanks chub rub.
  22. It’ll be cold soon, I don’t need new shorts/capris.
  23. What the hell am I supposed to look at while I’m on the treadmill? Also, don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall.
  24. I wish I had more time to run in the mornings before work so I could go to parks and such.
  25. Why don’t I go run in a park this weekend? *is too lazy to drive somewhere to run*
  26. It would save me so much time if I could just wear my running clothes all day.
  27. This post-run hair is a frizzy mess. *shrugs and goes to work anyway*
  28. See #1.
  29. How do people run at a “conversational” pace? If I go slow enough to talk, I’m walking.
  30. Woah. I ran every day for 30 days! This feels awesome!

At the time of this post, I’ve extended the run streak to 33 days, and I plan to keep going for as long as my body will let me. And I’m looking forward to the day when I can carry on a conversation while running, or when a mile is just my warmup for a longer run or another workout.

How many of you have had similar thoughts while running—or doing any other type of exercise? Let me know in the comments!

Let’s Talk Sports Bras

I don’t know about you, but sports bras have been one of the worst things about trying to live an active life. They’re either not supportive at all or you have to be a magician to get them on and take them off.

I think my first sports bras were the totally non-supportive Champion ones from Target. And since I’ve been well-endowed since before middle school, I had to wear at least two at a time.

Those are what I’d wear to play softball in high school and during gym glasses. They provided zero support, even when doubled up.

In college, as I got more interested in running, I knew I needed something with better support. Luckily, I found Under Armour. I got two black racerback sports bras, which had actual cup sizes (rather than small, medium, large, etc.). This was so long ago, I’m not even sure they still make these bras, but they look similar to this one (please note the below does not come in cup sizes):

Those were more supportive and allowed me to run comfortably for the most part. I still have them, but they’ve stretched out over the years so they’re less than ideal for high impact exercise.

Later in college I discovered Moving Comfort sports bras by Brooks Running. They not only had bras with cup sizes, but band sizes too—and they had options that were actually cute.

My first Moving Comfort bra was a pink and gray Juno style, which is a racerback that goes over your head, but also has the traditional bra clasps in the back:

That bra served me well for a few years, but they were a little expensive on a college student budget, so I never bought a second one. A few years later (after gaining some weight), I started doing yoga.

I loved yoga, but none of my sports bras were right for it. Although the Juno was very supportive for high impact sports like running, it was a little too small and low-cut, making it useless for yoga. Same goes for my slightly stretched out Under Armour bras.

Basically, any time we did forward folds or downward dogs, my chest shifted around so much that I had to readjust every time we were upright again. Pretty distracting.

Eventually, I went to Lululemon to try some of their bras. I wanted something cute but also supportive. What I left with was definitely cute, but definitely not supportive:

The shifting was worse during yoga with that bra, so there’s no way I could ever run in it. I now reserve that bra for doing chores around the house and other very low-impact, fully upright activities.

After asking around, I had a few people recommend a different style by Moving Comfort/Brooks Running. The Fiona was the most recommended style because it has fuller coverage than the Juno and it’s also easy to put on/take off, because it’s not a racerback.

So I finally went and bought one. The Fiona is not cute. The bigger size you need, the less cute the bra (sports or regular). I went with a black one.

It fits well, it’s comfortable, and it provides the support and coverage I need. It still isn’t the one though.

The Fiona has this lining in it that isn’t sewn down. So it wrinkles and can be uncomfortable in general. I also really dislike the band, which constantly folds up. This may or may not have something to do with that lining issue.

While the Fiona is certainly one of the better sports bras I’ve purchased, it’s still not perfect. Maybe the perfect sports bra doesn’t exist. (Or maybe the perfect ones are all out of my price range.)

For now, I’m alternating between the Fiona and the Juno (with my Under Armour ones ready when I haven’t done laundry) while I search for better options.

Have you struggled to find the perfect sports bra? What brands/styles have you tried? Have you found the one? Let me know!

—AB

Getting Back into Blogging—And Running

I took a long and unintended hiatus from blogging. I started a new job back in May and things have been a little hectic ever since.

I had a lot going on personally, which I decided was better not to share on a public platform. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t muster the energy or creativity to do any writing, let alone blogging.

That low energy also meant I was hardly making healthy food choices. When you have so little energy, eating paleo is hardly practical. I turned instead to fast food and other convenience junk foods.

I gained weight, felt like crap, and definitely did not have the energy to exercise. It was a vicious cycle that I’m finally breaking.

With the exception of my lunch on Monday, I’ve cleaned up my diet quite a bit. It hasn’t all been paleo because a couple things have had small amounts of sugar. But it’s progress.

I also started running again. Since I’m still dealing with shoulder pain (since February!) running is one of the few exercises I can do. I am finally going to physical therapy for my shoulder, which I found out has an arthritic spur that’s causing me pain.

After reading an article on runnersworld.com about a runner who has run 250+ days in a row, I was intrigued. She called it a “run streak”, and the only requirement was that she had to run at least a mile every day.

That’s the part that sounded so intriguing. Since I’m a slow runner, long runs take forever. We’re talking 40+ minutes for 3-ish miles, which doesn’t include warmups or cool downs.

But I can run a mile in 12-ish minutes. That’s a much smaller time commitment to try to fit into a busy schedule. So I figured, why not?

I started this past Sunday, and have successfully run at least one mile every day for 5 days. The furthest I’ve run so far is 1.25 miles. I imagine that I’ll eventually start doing some longer runs, especially on the weekends. But for now, running a mile every day is a small but achievable win.

Have you ever tried a run streak (or any other kind of streak)? How long were you able to stick with it?

Thanks for reading!

—AB