Learning to Refuel

I seem to be learning a lot these days.  I’m learning about pacing, priorities and now refueling but it is all for a good cause (OKC Marathon 2014). 

Today’s lesson came in the form of a 16 mile run.  I am trying new refueling methods because quite frankly things that worked in the past did not really work in the past.  I am reading about how to equip my body to handle all these miles I’m putting on it (they tell me that I should cut down on the wine but really sometimes a nice glass of wine at night is a way to refuel and let’s be frank, I’m not a world class runner so what is one glass a couple of times a week going to do?)  So back to the point I am trying to make.  Refueling.  It is important to replace the energy spent with enough nutrients to fuel your body through the next miles and it is important to know when to do this.  Not every person is the same and not everyone burns through the calories like everyone else.  Like me for instance, I sweat a lot.  (if your grossed out, I’m sorry, it just happens)  I know I need to drink more when I run so I have to carry my water bottle for these long runs and usually during a race I stop at the water stops if it is a half-marathon or longer.  But the only way I learned this was trial and error.  Well right now I am in the middle of trial and error with my refueling.

Today I tried these Clif Shot Bloksgel blocks I can honestly say, they are the reason I cut almost 20 seconds off of each mile of the 16 but I need to find something better (16 miles at 8:42 per mile pace).  I didn’t mind their gluey texture for the first 5 miles but when I ate them at 11 it was all I could do to force them down.  No visual image here but just think of trying to eat something that your teeth stick together and you are running and barely able to catch your breathe.  Not a great image and thank goodness I didn’t have to go out into the woods to get rid of them quickly.  So I learned that I can refuel for the 5 mile with them but need to use something else after that so next up are these GU Chomps:gu chomps  I really, really, really hope they are good because they are watermelon flavored and who doesn’t like a nice taste of watermelon in the middle of a long run (I hope I do!).

But what does refueling my body in running have to do with refueling my body everyday, well thanks for hanging in there with me my non-running readers, here goes.  We all need to refuel ourselves.  I begin my refueling every night when I stop work by a certain time.  I know many people have 9-5 jobs and they get off and are done.  But that is not how mine works.  I book my own clients and can go as late as clients will see me and believe me that is late.  But guess what, I know I can’t work that way.  I usually schedule 7 clients a day because any more than that leaves me numb.  I can barely remember my name much less ways to help them with their issues.  So I set boundaries, time limits.  I know what I can do and I don’t do anymore.

The next thing I do is have a bedtime routine.  I know right, I am like 5 right!  Well it’s important.  If you have ever had kids you know they thrive on routine.  They fight you with the bedtime but you know if you enforce the same routine each night that they thrive on it too.  They know what to expect.  As I get older, I notice I need that routine too.  I need to turn off technology by 10pm and I need to read or just veg for a little while before I go to bed.  It helps me refuel.

On the weekends I refuel too.  I spend time with my partner in crime and we do things fun or relaxing or adventurous.  But we do things together.  We use each other to refuel our minds.  And it works.  I look forward to my weekends and it is even fun to plan the weekends out in advance to have something big to look forward to like our upcoming trip to Cape Cod for a half-marathon but an extra day to explore together too.

Something else very important that helps in refueling is doing something for yourself, like a massage, mani/pedi, long run through the woods, or just sitting outside and enjoying the fall weather.  All of these are things that help me refuel.

What helps you?  How do you get ready for another week of work?  How do you refuel?

Priorities

prioritiesWhat are yours?  I know mine.  They include stopping work on a Friday early enough to relax and unwind enough to enjoy the weekend.  (This is mainly why I only schedule a few clients on Fridays)  But today I was struck with a new view of priorities or maybe I should say a maturing view of priorities.

Today I picked up my daughter from college so she could come home for the first time since the end of August.  To me it seems like forever since I dropped her off and it is hard to believe it has only been a few weeks (I would say short but they have not been short to me).  We had a wonderful chat on the hour long drive home and I was pleased to hear how her priorities have developed/matured.  We discussed classes and how she hasn’t missed a single one and reports having anxiety over the thought of missing a class (gotta love that she is invested in school) and I attribute it to her priorities.  She is placing value in school and making it a priority.  I’m happy about that!  

But really what pleased me more was to hear about a past priority and how it has rewarded her (have I lost you yet?!).  So here I go trying to explain what I mean.  For the past 19 years I have made my family my priority.  I have made sure my daughter knows that I am fully invested in her and her future.  She knows boundaries because I have shown her or demonstrated for her how to put them into place.  My priority has been creating a wonderful woman to better the world and even at this early stage I can see it has been working.  priorities1

I’m not trying to be pompous or brag about my strengths here but as a parent it is sometimes hard to realize you are doing the right thing.  You think you are but you never see the rewards until now.  My daughter and I talked about the past 3 weeks and how everyone of her friends at school who saw us together talked about our relationship.  They asked her “you must have a great relationship with your mom” and she was able to brag and say “yes”.  When things aren’t going right at school she reaches out, when things are going great at school she reaches out, when she just wants to she reaches out.  One of my best priorities has been her and I am so glad I took the time to make her my priority because quite frankly, “She rocks”.  She is way more confident than I was at her age and I can hardly wait to see what else she will do with her priorities.   

So what are your priorities?  Are you taking time to balance your priorities in this crazy thing called life?  How?

Why?

whyNot much going on this week but sometimes those are the better weeks.  Those are the weeks I begin to ask myself “why I do the things I do?”  This is not meant in a derogatory way in fact, quite the opposite.  I use it to motivate me and it does.

Today I began wondering why I was running.  Not running in general but why I was running today.  See I woke up this morning with one of those Charlie horse cramps in my calf and it has hurt all day.  Then when I went out this evening there were all kinds of strikes against me.  There was the calf pain, the fact the run was going to have to be short because it was getting dark, and then there was the fact that the week had been a really long (but good) week.  So “why was I running and not just relaxing at home with the excitement that Friday was tomorrow?”  As I sit here on my couch enjoying that feeling of accomplishment, that feeling of satisfaction for pushing myself another day the “why” question is answered.  I run and push myself because of this feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.  This is why I run.

I always tell people “I run so I can eat dessert” (well that is true too) but I also run to feel accomplished and as a coping skill for a job that has me sitting all day and actively listening to help clients.  The only things I have to listen to when I run (especially now that I run without headphones/music) are the sounds of my body (what it is telling me about how I’m doing) and the traffic since I am running on the road.

So that is my “why?”  I often ask my clients “why they keep repeating the same actions over and over and what their expectations are for change?”  I can answer that, the reason I run is because I want to stay in shape and improve to get new PR’s (like this past Sunday).

“Why do you keep repeating the same actions over and over especially when sometimes they are painful?”

It’s the little things and Race recap

(Little longer than normal but I hope you enjoy the read!)

You know that book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…It’s all Small Stuff.  Simple ways to keep the little things from taking over your life”, well I’m starting to think we need to embrace the small stuff stuffand let it inspire us.  I get what the author is doing here to make us look beyond all the little things in life that often get in our way.  But what if the little things we don’t stop to enjoy really are the big things.  (Did I totally lose you here!) 

Today was a little thing.  I came home from work and I was going to skip the run.  I ran a race yesterday and normally I take the day off after to rest especially when my legs were as achy as they were.  Upon arriving home I checked the mail (it’s the little things, okay just kidding this is not about checking the mail) this is about what was in the mailbox, my new shirt!  (see photo)  It was my training shirt for my marathon in April 2014.  I knew I was getting it I just didn’t realize I was getting it now.  It seems like last year it took quite a few months to get it after ordering and I bought it the day you could sign up for the race so I had no expectation it would be here now.  I took this moment, this little moment, to be inspired.  To change my mind and go out for a run.  Even the run was longer than expected because I listened to the little things my body was telling me.  It told me to “keep going you crazy woman, you have a half-marathon coming up and you need the miles!” (maybe the small stuff is going to be getting a nicer voice in my head, but I doubt it!)

My new training shirt.

My new training shirt.

Anyway as I have talked about in the past we need to cherish moments, we need to take the time to enjoy life.  I’m right now enjoying the moments I get a fun text from my daughter who recently went to college.  I’m enjoying the fact that this small moment of her reaching out to me brightens my day.  I also enjoy a phone call or text from my other half letting me know that he is thinking of me.  A small moment that means so much.

I also enjoyed the small things this morning when I drove past a bus stop and a middle school aged girl, who I do not know, smiled a great smile and waved at me.  It really made my morning!  (I didn’t stop to tell her so though because I thought that would be a little creepy!)  But that small thing changed my grumpy, I had to get to work too early mood that I was in.  See it is the small stuff.  I challenge you this week to take a moment to cherish the small things, the small moments that make up your whole day.

Now for a little running small stuff, okay maybe a little bigger than small.  I PR’d my 10K yesterday!  It was incredible, it felt wonderful and I would have to say it was the most relaxed race I have ever had (my partner even said that too, “You looked so relaxed”).  It was a beautiful day and I got to run a course I knew along an incredible beach view and large houses that go with that view.  I didn’t listen to music, it was just the sound of thousands of feet doing something we love together.  I even meet someone along the way and chatted with him for a little while (then went on to beat him by a few seconds at the end with some incredible kick that came out of nowhere!)

Crazy though I did something I would never have done a few short months ago.  I changed my eating before the race.  I did more hydrating the week before but the biggest thing was changing my pre-race meal.  I know, scary right for those of us that run, you just don’t do that.  But I did, I threw caution to the wind and ate OATMEAL!  Shocking right!  Okay not really but I had never done that before a race.  I thought it would be to heavy but I think it worked out just right.  So guess who is doing this before her half-marathon that’s right, this girl!

Okay enough of that.  Here are some pics of the race:

Prerace - Walking from the beach to the starting line

Prerace – Walking from the beach to the starting line

Starting line, I'm in there somewhere!

Starting line, I’m in there somewhere!

Looking all relaxed.  Just another sunday running with a 1000 of my closest friends.

Looking all relaxed. Just another sunday running with a 1000 of my closest friends.

Then we were all off on the run and it was wait time for all our cheerers!

Then we were all off on the run and it was wait time for all our cheerers!

Finishing up strong.  I make great faces when I push myself at the end.

Finishing up strong. I make great faces when I push myself at the end.

My little pic stitch of the day!

My little pic stitch of the day!

And my final time was 49:35 with a 7:59 per mile pace.  My only disappointment was because the race has become a USA Track and Field race it means it is wicked fast and if I would have done this time last year before this occurred I would have been in the top 10 for my age but now due to the fast field I was 35th out of 157 women in my age division.  But who cares because I PR’d and when I run other races I know I can set a goal and achieve it.  Like my goal of running this race in under 50 mins.  Smashed it!  Just a few small seconds faster this year made my day!  Some small stuff, okay hard work and some small stuff!

Anticipation

anticipationAnticipation also sometimes interpreted as anxiety.  Well whatever it is, I’ve got it!  I think it is anticipation though.  Tomorrow is my favorite race, the Lone Gull 10K and why wouldn’t I like it.  It was the first real race I ran as a distance runner, it is along the ocean and every time I have run it I have had wonderful weather and wonderful people there to support me.  This year will be no different. 

The course has not changed and since this is my third year I have a really good feeling about it.  The weather is supposed to be beautiful with the race temp being in the 60’s.  I have also got a few more miles under my belt as well as a few more races so I finally feel like I can relax in a race.

My goal is similar to last years which was ”run it in under 50 mins”, last year I missed by 15 seconds.  Here is hoping that that is not the case this year.  Something really fun about this race (other than we run along the ocean at 9am in the morning and it is beautiful) is that the amount of people registered to run is twice as many as usual.  I think that is awesome.  I am so glad for the organizers that they have been able to grow this wonderful race (so now I will be running with 1000 of my closests friends!).

Early morning at the Lone Gull in 2012

Early morning at the Lone Gull in 2012

Now what to do with all this anticipation/anxiety and how to turn this blog post into a little something more than me talking about a race….

For me I burn anticipation/anxiety by redirecting my thoughts and keeping busy.  Today I spent some time doing some things for myself (got an unexpected manicure by a friend) as well as the normal Saturday errands including laundry and grocery shopping.  But the one thing that was missing on this beautiful day was a run.  And believe me that was hard because it was gorgeous outside.  (I try not to run the day before a race no matter how far the race is.)  But usually the best way for me to decrease my anxiety is go out for a run and not one with a determined amount of time.  I find that my body tells me how far it needs to go to help me feel better.  Just last weekend I went out for a run and what was gonna be a 10 mile run turned into a 14 mile run.  But in the end I knew I was able to think through my thoughts and I felt less anxious about beginning my work week the next day.

Some other good ways to decrease anxiety:

  1. Relaxation/Breathing exercises – for me yoga is good especially the low-impact type and breathing is vital to do this well.  Also breathing exercises can be done in a stressful situation to help you regain focus too.  Like today when the cashier at Wal-mart was a complete jerk to me and all I wanted to do was scream at her because she was so rude but instead I just looked at her and said to myself, “you will not still my joy and I will have a good day despite you!”
  2. Exercise – I know right, I keep coming back to this but when you are actively doing something you use that pent up energy and you concentrate more on the activity than the thoughts going on in your head.
  3. Write it down! – Sometimes when feeling anxious, it is a good idea to write down the thought.  Then look at it and see if you can reframe it into something different.  I call it restructuring your thoughts and my clients as well as myself, call it difficult but it does work.
  4. Distracting – all of these are forms of distractions.  But for this one I guess I mean consciously make the choice to finding something distracting.  I have a client who watches movies.  He tells me that he goes by the two hour rule, because that is how long most movies are.  At the end of the movie he takes a moment to reexamine himself and see where he is and if he can’t handle things, he pops another movie in.  This works for him because he has a lot of time on his hands but for others I tell them to try distracting themselves for 30 minutes then reexamine.  If 30 minutes is to long then how about 15 mins or maybe even 5 mins but be sure to reward yourself with positive thoughts after you make the time you have allotted for yourself because only by doing this will you get the confidence you need to continue.  

How do you deal with anxiety/anticipation? 

I’m off to bed early because I have an hour and 15 min drive in the morning to make it to my race and I want to feel rested so I can hit that goal!

Who wouldn't want to run along this scenery!

Who wouldn’t want to run along this scenery!

Learn to pace…

pace1As always I had a longer title to better describe this post, it was something like this, “Learning to pace yourself, making choices and being happy with them”.  Sounds like a great title for a self-help book or a speech, don’t you think!

Today I had a lot of time to think and it really was interesting.  I went out for a run and what was gonna be 10 miles turned into 14 miles.  The weather was beautiful so I couldn’t resist staying out a little longer (my legs weren’t as happy with me but they will get over it, I’m sitting now to write this post so they can relax!)

When I turned around at mile 7 (because it was an out and back trail run so I had to get back to the car) I was on track for a pretty good pace about 8:35 – 8:40 per mile but finished with a 9:00 per mile pace.  Then it happened, it wasn’t a wall it was just a slow down.  I began to wonder if I had gone out to fast because that is what I usually do.  I am never really good at pacing myself.  I just kept telling myself today that it is all about the distance and not about the pace but did I really believe what I was telling myself.  I did begin to think, what is it going to take to learn how to pace myself and not just in the running world.  I tend to go all in on everything I do and sometimes sign up for things or commit to things without really figuring out how it will fit in my life.  Then my pace becomes all off.  I feel like I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off (nice visual right).

So I have to learn to pace myself.  I have to make some choices and I have to live with those choices which is sometimes harder because I begin to think we are in a world that expects us to keep going, be involved in everything because that is where you find value.  But guess what, it is not true.  I find more value in doing less things but being better at them.  (At least that is what I am telling myself)  How much better is it to do something really well then do a lot of things okay.  I would never be happy with that!

The good news is I have already made a choice in my daily life to let something go that I could not do to the best of my ability.  Oddly it felt pretty good.  Now I’m taking a step back to figure out where I am, what I’m doing and what I want from this time in my life as well as what will make my life richer.  (Haven’t figured everything out but I’m working on it.) pace

As far as the running is concerned, I think it comes with time.  I’ve been thinking about buying the garmin watch so I can see how my pace goes up and down and what I really need to work on.  But until that happens, I’ll do some research about working on my pace and keep running (or in finding Nemo terms, “just keep swimming!”)