Sweatin’ My Way To Happiness

I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll keep mentioning it: I ran my first half marathon 13 months ago. This past year has been somewhat overwhelming and I’m sad that I didn’t participate in another run. The plan was to do the same one again. Due to school, the loss of my beloved Pushkin, and that wave of depression that took over for a few months, I put aside my overall health.

The idea of running an entire 13.1 miles (i.e.. only slowing down to drink some water, no walking whatsoever, etc.) has been lingering in the back of my mind. I’ve decided that because I love the idea of getting out of the Bay Area, I will use the Portland R&R half marathon on mid-May as an amazing excuse to get out of town. This trip will be a completely positive one.

I have six months to train for this half marathon. Six solid months of getting to the gym, hitting hiking trails, eating well, and taking honest care of my body. Setting this goal for myself is exactly what I need. There is no “I must drop 50lbs and/or four dress sizes,” just a simple goal of exercising, eating well, and being mentally prepared to run for 13.1 miles.

A week ago, I started back at my gym, spending at least 45 minutes on the treadmill. As I haven’t really run much this past year, I’m starting slow and easy, walking between 3.6-3.8 miles per hour and varying the incline. The regular cardio will help my muscles and heart ease into the action of running. I am also very mindful to do strength training as well. Having strong muscles, a strong heart, and strong lungs will make training a breeze.

My plan for the next one and a half/two months is to stick to 45-65 minutes on the treadmill, varying the speed and incline, easing the running into it. By January, I hope to do two or three consistent 2-5 mile runs per week. Also, by then, I hope to have a good strength training program down, doing it once or twice a week.

Nutrition is a huge deal. Much like exercise, what I eat will instantaneously determine how I feel, as well as determining how an entire day, week, or month will turn out. I am back to being more mindful what I am putting into my body. The way I see it, I should put into my body what I expect it to put out. The more colorful, tasty, enticing, enriching the food, the more stable energy I will have. My body will be able to rebuild itself more appropriately with the proper fuel. And, there is no point in hopping on a treadmill for two or three hours a week if I’m not going to eat the right food. I have to remind myself that the worse I eat, the longer I have to exercise. And that time spent chugging away at tedious exercise could be spent at a dance class or on a bike ride or outside hiking with friends.

Come May, I hope to be a positively different person. I am not going to put any pressure on myself to “succeed” at this half marathon. If I run the entire way, AMAZING! If I get to a point where I have to walk a mile, that’s still great. As long as I cross that finish line, I’m happy. It is the journey I am taking right now that is the most important. It is all about the happiness and positive shift I am creating within myself.

Dear readers, what are some healthy things you like? It could be a healthy dish, a form of exercise, an event you like to attend. Please share!

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Walking Backwards

For those of you who aren’t close, personal friends, I’m going to let you in on a lil’ secret. I’m finally running my first official half-marathon. Official? I’ve managed to run 13 miles once in my life, back in my varsity cross country heyday when 4-6 miles was the (almost) daily norm. I trained for a solid six years of my life and ran competitively almost that entire time. When I was a teenager, I dreamed of running a half marathon, even possibly doing a triathalon. The triathalon idea was a result of working at the local pool as a lifeguard. My two modes of transportation to begin with were jogging or cycling there. On down time, I got to swim for free, developing stronger swimming skills.

Cut 13 years later (wait, I just got that, YIKES!), and I’m finally doing something I wanted to do all those years ago when I had the body & stamina (but no emotional drive) to do so. I was approximately 50-60 pounds lighter than I am now and was exercising somehow six days a week. I will admit, my training for this half marathon started with a bang, then slowly dwindled…

Today, my passion to get in shape and finish something I started was reignited. I made my way to a famous “landmark” & frequented recreational trail, known fondly to Peninsula denizens as The Dish. This huge chunk of land is used for research by Stanford University (and other scientific orgs., I believe), as it is home to a rather sizeable radiotelescope dish (hence, the name) and a few smaller ones. The acreage also serves as an environmental restoration and habitat conservation area, allowing Stanford biology students to learn. What the rest of use use it for is to get a healthy dose of vitamin D & some milage under our belts. The complete “trail” is approximately 3.5-4 miles, but where I park, at least half to three-quarters of a mile is added on. I think I covered about 4.5-ish miles while at The Dish today. I jogged some flat and downhill bits, walked most of it, and when no one was near, I even walked backwards up some of the hills. I hadn’t planned on doing the entire thing, just up & over, then back. I got two thirds of the way around and decided to keep going, and I am so happy I did.

I’ve been so used to training on a treadmill. Treadmills give the ultimate control and I can force myself to run at a certain pace. Running outside without stats blinking in front of me is so much harder to control when I am training. But, I’ve decided that once a week, I am going to make myself train outside, whether it be at a track or to the library & back or at The Dish. All I need to do now is invest in some high quality running socks that don’t scrunch or chafe or wear thin. My shoes are top notch. Now I need socks to match. Our feet are extremely important, especially when they are pounding away on cement. So, if any of you have suggestions for some great quality running socks, I welcome them!

If you can’t guess, my favorite for today is The Dish. If you live in the Bay Area, I do suggest you utilize this area while the open hours are still extended! Once Autumn & Winter come, the access is limited to reflect the amount of daylight hours. Plan accordingly!