Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lazy

So...yeah...there is no nice way to say it. I've been really lazy for the past week. I've been sleeping in instead of getting up early to run. Then, when I get home from work, I'll make excuses for not doing a full workout. I'll go outside to run for about 10 minutes, then decide that I'm tired and go home.

I'm trying to turn things around this week, and not just because I'm running a 5k this weekend.

I went straight from work to the gym last night because I've figured out that once I make it home, I'm much less likely to go running or go to the gym. And this morning I actually woke up early and went to the gym BEFORE work (what?!? I know! I was very proud of myself.) and had an awesome hour of strength training.

Then, at work today, this arrived for me in the mail:

The Blerch is my spirit animal. 
I had completely forgotten that I had pre-ordered this book through amazon, so the book's arrival was a nice little surprise. I'm taking it as a sign that I need to suck it up and get out there and keep running. 

I need to focus on the things I like about running (the way I feel after completing a run) and push through the things I don't particularly care for (the way I feel at the beginning of a run).

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Nature

One of my favorite things about Chicago is how many beautiful parks there are throughout the city. Although I usually just run through my neighborhood, I've been trying to make more of an effort to enjoy some of the awesome parks and paths that my city has to offer.



Sometimes, I'll head to the Lakefront Trail for a run, or I'll slowly plod along the North Channel Trail. If I ever have one of my rare days off, then I'll hop on the Metra and head out to the suburbs to take advantage of some of the running and bike trails just outside the city.


More often than not, however, I'll just make sure that my usual run through my neighborhood passes through at least one of the neighborhood parks. 


I think one of the reasons that I'm falling in love with running is that it allows me to see more of my city while still being surrounded by nature.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

No Days Off

Oof.

I have my October work schedule from both jobs and I have exactly zero days off. October is going to be rough, you guys.

Fitting running into my schedule is going to be a little tricky and will take some real self discipline, but I'm going to make it work.

This is going to become my personal mantra. (Image Source)
I know...I know...a lot of people work harder than I do. A lot of people work longer hours than I do. I'm extremely thankful that I have work and can afford an apartment and groceries and all the niceties of life, and I'm lucky that my work is relatively easy and comfortable.

Although I am incredibly lucky, I want more from life. Just like everyone else, I want to be happy. My days off, rare though they may be (I've only had one day off this month), are my chance to rest and relax and take a moment to reset. I haven't seen any of my friends in several months (if I even have any friends anymore), I'm always tired, and my few joys in life (cooking, running, reading) have begun to feel more like chores.

Hannah has the right idea. Let's all take a nap.
This week, I have two goals that fit together:

1.) Get up early enough to run before work, so that I can 2.) come home at the end of the day and relax, even if only for a moment.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Please, Don't Call Me a Jogger

This morning, a man called me a jogger.

If you've ever read any of my posts or checked out my race results, then you know that I run slowly. I run very slowly. But I still run.

Although jogging is technically just a slower form of runner, I'd still rather be called a slow runner than a jogger. Why? Because there is something to the way people tend to view jogging and running differently. When people talk about "joggers" they usually do so in a flippant way. Jogging is unfairly considered not worthy of respect and is viewed as being somehow "less" or "fake". This is the meaning that was given to me and my effort this morning when I was called a jogger.

This morning, a man ran by me, loudly complaining about all the "damn joggers" using his running trail and getting in his way. He made a point of turning to me as he passed and yelled, "Learn to run or stay home!"

At first, I was confused. I wasn't walking or skipping or dancing...I was running. I knew I was running slowly, but I didn't think my running was so bad that it would upset people. I was also keeping to the right of the path, and there was no one coming from the opposite direction, so I couldn't have really been in his way, as there was plenty of room to pass me.

I got angry. I was enjoying my morning run until this dude ruined it. He used the word "jogger" as an insult, and by doing so, he caused me to doubt myself. Calling me a jogger implied that my effort and passion, my miles and pain and sacrifice, my goals and achievements were somehow less valuable and less meaningful than his.

I'm sorry, but that is bullshit! Yes, I'm slow. Yes, I'm struggling. But you know what? This is still new to me! I haven't been running my entire life. I started running and have stuck with it, even though it is difficult.

And the awesome thing is that every time I run I'm seeing improvement. I'm getting stronger and faster, and no one, not even this asshole, can take that away from me. I could be at home, asleep in my bed or sitting on the couch watching tv. Instead, I was outside by 6:00 on a Saturday morning to makes sure that I would have time to go for run and still shower and have breakfast before I had to head to work.

So call me a jogger, if you must.

In my heart, I know I'm a runner.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

An Awesome Day

Today has been a good day. In fact, it has been an awesome day.

First of all, I woke up to this furry face:

Hannah is my real alarm clock. No one is allowed to sleep when it is her breakfast time.
I adopted Hannah earlier this year. It was honestly the best decision I think I've ever made. Even terrible days are better with Hannah around. Just look at her little kitty face!

Of course, I overslept, as usual. This meant that, as usual, I was rushing to get ready for work. I grabbed the first clean clothes I could find in my closet and threw them on. Apparently, this was a good thing because I found $5 in my pocket on my way to work this morning. I love surprise pocket money! I used my surprise cash to buy a coffee and the most delicious donut I've ever had: Banana Boston Cream. The folks over at Glazed and Infused know how to make some pretty epic donuts.

I want to eat this donut for every meal. The banana filling was amazing!
Once at work...well, it was work. It has been a pretty slow day today, which gives me time to type up a blog post. Shhhh...don't tell my boss. Or do. She knows what I'm doing. She also brought her dog to work today, which is awesome. We have a fairly pet friendly office, and any day adorable dogs come to visit is a good day.

This is Peanut. I'm pretty sure that we're best friends after hanging out together all day.
And, just to really make it a day for the history books, I also got my Stitch Fix box in the mail. Yay! I can't wait to get home and try everything on! I'm super excited, as it looks like they sent me some awesome pieces for fall. If you don't know about Stitch Fix, then you should check it out. It is a delivery service for clothes. You fill out a profile about your personal style, sizing information, and likes and dislikes, and then a stylist picks out various clothing items for you and ships them to you. You try everything on, keep what you like and return what you don't. You can do it as a subscription, getting boxes on a regular basis, or you can do what I do and only get boxes when you specifically request them.

New clothes! I super excited about the dress and the jacket. I hope they fit!
I'm almost finished with work for the day and get to go home in about an hour. The weather looks like it will perfect for a run this evening (low 60s with clear skies), there is left over Thai food in my refrigerator, and I have a pile of library books to read. So it looks like it will be an awesome night to end an awesome day.

Why can't every day involve pastries, adorable animals, new clothes, and awesome running conditions?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New Job = Less Sleep

Remember how I got a new job at the beginning of this month?

No?

Well, I got a new job at the beginning of this month.

I officially started the new job last week, and everything is great, so far. The job is easy to get to on public transit, I seem to get along well with my co-workers, the pay is great (at least compared to my other job), and I'm slowly learning all the various tasks and info that I need to know. So far, so good.

The only problem is that I'm finding it harder to make my runs and workouts fit into my new work schedule. The new job keeps me away from home for longer hours, so if I want to run in the morning, it has to be EARLY morning. I'm talking 5am. As I've said many times, I am not a morning person. On the other hand, if I want to run at night, then I'm not heading out until I get home at 9pm, at the earliest.

I'm sure that I'll eventually figure out a schedule that works better, but right now I'm getting little to no sleep. The lack of sleep is starting to really show. Why can't I run while I sleep and kill two birds with one stone? Sleep running. Is that a thing? Because that would be awesome.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Back on the Treadmill

We meet again!

My nemesis.
Dun dun DUUUUNNNNN!

I've mentioned before how much I hate the treadmill, but sometimes it is the most convenient option. 
Although I'm much more self conscious at the gym (I know people are focusing on their own workouts and aren't watching me and judging me, but that is what it feels like), I find it much easier to focus on the task at hand and get things done there. There aren't as many distractions at the gym, and it is very nice to be able to run inside when it is chilly and rainy outside.  

Cold and rainy, but still very pretty. I love my city.
I had planned on going for a quick run this morning, but my plan didn't quite work. Yeah...the snooze button is a dastardly device. Instead of getting out of bed at 6am to run, I rolled out of bed at about 8am with just enough time to throw on some clothes, feed the cat, and head to work. 

Serious question: how do people do this whole morning thing? I thought I was making progress, but this morning proved otherwise. I just can't seem to get mornings under control.

Anyway, I changed clothes as soon as I got home from work and made my way to the gym. After stowing my things in the locker room, I made my way upstairs to the treadmills. I started off with 5 minutes of walking to warm up. Then, I don't know why, but I decided to see just how fast I could run, even if it was only for a very short time. It was...well...it was a disaster.

I almost fell off the back of the machine. On one hand, I almost died (at least that is what it felt like). On the other hand, I did get my heart rate up.

I think these machines may be out to get me.
Luckily, the gym was pretty empty tonight, so there weren't too many people there to witness my embarrassment. But I'm pretty sure the handful of folks who were there got a pretty good laugh out of my antics. You're welcome, everyone!

I slowed down to my usual slow, but steady pace. It seemed like the safest option. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Running in the Rain

This morning I woke up early to go for a run before work. I only hit the snooze button once, which is real progress for me. I rolled out of bed, fed the cat, and changed into my running clothes. I slathered on some sunscreen, grabbed my phone and id, put on my hat, and made my way to the front door of my building.

I opened the door and stepped outside. It was dark and grey. It was raining sideways. Yeah...it wasn't pretty. I headed back into my apartment, hoping that the weather would clear up with enough time to still go for a run. It soon became clear that it wouldn't. I made my way downstairs again and looked out at the dank and dark morning. I usually don't mind running in the rain. In fact, I kind of like it. But this was different, somehow. I don't know if it was the wind or if I just wasn't in the right mindset, but whatever it was, I just wasn't feeling it.

But guess what? I went running anyway. It was pretty much miserable, but I did it. I finished four miles with only one walking break. I'm still hovering around an average of 12 minutes per mile (technically, my average pace was 11:52 today), but I'm confident that I'll be able to get that number to creep lower as long as I keep running regularly.

When I was back home, I showered and had breakfast before getting ready for work. The good thing about the rain? It made my post run shower feel amazing! And my morning coffee while I prepared breakfast? Delicious!

So, today I learned a couple of lessons. A.) Always check the weather forecast and plan accordingly, but B.) don't sit around waiting for ideal conditions, because they may never come.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Pretty Much

This was my day today:

Damn! Now I'm craving brownies! (Image Source)
I've been hungry since I woke up, and I've pretty much spent the entire day eating. And during this evening's run, all I could think about was what I was going to eat as soon as I got home.

I'm trying really hard to eat healthy, but cookies and ice cream and chips just taste so good. This whole moderation thing is tricky. I just want to eat ALL THE THINGS!

Some days I run to feel strong. Some days I run to quiet my mind and relax. Today, I ran so I would have an excuse to eat ice cream for dinner.

I think I may need to get this shirt:

(Image Source)
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to continue eating all of the things. This is why I'll never be skinny.

Worth it!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Days Off From Running

I've decided to take a few days off from running. My legs (specifically my shins) need a little bit of a break.

I've been having a lot of trouble with shin splints the last couple of weeks, and last night's run was excruciating. A few days off to rest my legs seem like a good idea. I don't want to risk real injury or do any more damage. I'd rather take a few days off than risk an doing some real damage that requires me to take a few months off.

This isn't an excuse to sit around on the couch watching tv, though. I'm going to use the next few days to get in some cross training. I pay for a gym membership, so I might as well use it. I also want to improve my overall health and fitness, not just my running.

This morning was strength training. Tomorrow will be something different. Maybe I'll hit the gym to use the elliptical or stationary bike. Or maybe I'll face my fears and finally take one of the group classes the gym has to offer. Spinning, yoga, pilates mat, Body Pump...it all sounds terrifying, but perhaps my shin splints are a sign that it is time to try something new.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Race Pictures Are Scary

I made the mistake of checking out the official pictures of me from a couple of my recent races. Yikes! Let's just say that I won't be posting those here any time soon. I need to be a little less self conscious before I show those to the public.

This is disturbingly accurate. (Image Source)

Celebrate!

Guess what?

I got the job!

Weeeeeeee! Employment!

I'm super excited because this new job pays much better than my current job. Though I won't be able to quit my current job, I will be able to finally pay off my credit card and may even be able to splurge a little on some fun things.

I'll be celebrating tonight with a run followed by dinner and a movie. Weeeeeeeeeee!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Big Day Ahead

I have a big day ahead of me, you guys. I don't have a lot of things planned. In fact, I really only have three things planned. But those things are...well...they are big for me.

1. I have a session booked with a personal trainer at my gym this morning. That's right. I'm now paying someone to force me to workout. I've been meeting with her for a while now and have really noticed improvement in my overall health and fitness for the first time in my life. Before I started meeting with her I was working out regularly, but I was seeing no improvement and was getting really frustrated.  My trainer gives me homework and holds me accountable. She works with me to find my strengths and weaknesses and helps me set fitness goals and figure out how to achieve them.

These personal training sessions aren't cheap. No one needs a personal trainer, but for me, it is a good investment that keeps me motivated and forces me to push myself to be better. Several months ago, I sat down and looked at my finances and figured out what was necessary (rent, utilities, groceries, cat food) and what was not (pretty much everything else). After determining how much I had to spend after all my necessary expenses were taken care of, I went through and ranked all those little luxuries in my life by their importance to me. I'll gladly give up dining out and buying new clothes to afford a race entry or a personal training session.

Restaurant food (dining out and delivery) is something I've given up to be able to have my gym membership. 
2. After my training session, I have a job interview this afternoon. Listen up, folks. Mama needs to earn some dough to afford that gym membership and those personal training sessions! Although I won't be able to quit my current job if I get this new job, I'll be much better off financially.

After I hit the gym this morning, I'll have just enough time to get home, shower, and eat lunch before I have to get dressed up, slap on some makeup, and do my best to make a good impression while pretending that I'm not super awkward. I don't really want another job. I do, however, want to continue being able to enjoy those luxuries that I've deemed important, such as my gym membership, personal training sessions, and Netflix. I really love Netflix, you guys. If I can get this new job, then I might even be able to treat myself to a new sports bra. Ooooohhhh...fancy!

Hannah also loves Netflix.
3. I have a 4 mile run planned tonight. During the 5k on Sunday, I was able to average about a 12 minute mile. Yes, I know that is slow, but it is not nearly as slow as I once was. My next few runs will be between 3 and 4 miles and will be testing my pace. If I can consistently pull off a 12 minute mile, then I'll be one step closer to my speed goal and will be able to start working on getting that down to 11:30, then 11, then 10:30, and so on and so forth.

I'll never be fast or able to really compete in the races I enter, but that doesn't mean that I can't compete with myself and become the best runner that I'm capable of being. I know that I can run faster than I currently do. I know that I can run longer distances than I currently do. I also know that it will take a lot of work to do these things. Since I set my goals, I've been running regularly (I know it has only been a couple of weeks so far, but it is an excellent start), and simply running regularly has already helped with my speed and endurance. In the last two weeks, I've noticed huge improvement, and that is a great feeling.

Because of my training session this morning, I'll have to get my run in tonight. I'll probably wait for sunset or a little after in order to have a slightly cooler temperature outside while I'm running. Something that I've learned this summer is that early morning or late evening runs kind of suck when it comes to convenience, but the cooler temperatures during those times more than make up for any small inconvenience. I'd rather be comfortable and sleepy while running in the early morning or late at night than feel sick due to the heat while running during the day.

Running at night is always a little scary, but it is does offer some beautiful views and cooler temperatures.
Now, if you'll excuse me, it is time for me to finish breakfast and get ready for the day ahead.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Run/Walk in the Park

For yesterday's run, I decided to actually alternate running and walking. I've started having trouble with shin splints again (shin splints were a major problem for me when I first started running), so I wanted to take it a little easy, but still wanted a good workout.

I chose to shake things up a little and headed to a nearby park for my run. I usually just run through my neighborhood, but every now and then, I decide that I just don't want to deal with traffic, waiting for street lights to turn, cars that don't stop for stop signs and red lights, etc.

I'm really glad that I went to the park. It isn't the most impressive park in Chicago, not by a long shot, but it was still so pretty!

The river on the way to the park.
I was there early enough that there weren't many people around. I mostly saw other folks running or walking. In the evenings, the park is full of people. Kids playing, families spending time together, the random birthday party or BBQ, people using the tennis courts or softball field, people just hanging out...people love their parks!

It was great being surrounded by nature. During my workout, I covered all of the paths that run through the park.

Nature.
Instead of my usual running app, I decided to go back to the 5k training app that I used when I first started running because I would have several workouts alternating walking and running. I chose one in the middle of the training plan.

I started with a 5 minute walk, then a 5 minute run. Next, it had me alternating walking for 30 seconds and running for 1 minute, then doing heel lifts, and then repeating the whole drill again. I repeated this drill 8 times. Next, there was a 10 minutes "free form run", which, for this 5k app, means that you can run or walk as much as you want - run the whole thing, walk the whole thing, or alternate the two. I chose to slowly jog for the 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes were up, there was 5 minutes of stretching (I chose to only stretch for a minute or two and then walked for the final few minutes) followed by another 10 minute free form run.

Once I was finished, I walked home, heading back the way I came. I prefer to stay on the side streets during the day - less traffic, more scenery, and sometimes I discovers things I didn't know were in my neighborhood.

Ducks!
Once home, I stretched, showered, and fixed some breakfast - oatmeal with sliced banana, pecans, and a little brown sugar along with a cup of coffee. It was a good way to start the day.

I think I'll need to head to the park more often for my morning runs. I have several parks near my apartment, and there are also the bigger Chicago parks and running trails along the lake front that are easy to get to on public transit. Not only did I enjoy being in a green space, but I loved not having to stop to wait for a light to change. Also, the paths through the park were much easy on my legs than the sidewalks on which I usually run. There are so many great parks and trails in Chicago! I don't know why I don't take advantage of them more often, but that is something that I need to change.