Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Something Is Better Than Nothing

The biggest problem I have been having with finding the motivation to run is that I have so many other responsibilities that should take precedence over running. I am a full time student taking six classes this semester, which means I have a lot of schoolwork. Just this week I have 2 quizzes, 2 tests, and 2 papers. And over the next few weeks my workload is only going to get larger.

There have been many days where I ended up missing a run so I could do schoolwork. I am not here to say that school is not important, but rather that I need to work on my priorities a little. When I was in high school, I managed a harder course load plus twenty hours of swim practice a week. For me, swimming was just as important as school, and as a result I managed to do well in both fields. I knew that missing swim practice was not an option to achieve my goals, and that missing school wouldn't enable me to receive the grades I strived for.

Because I am not a professional runner nor am I on any sort of team, I often let running take the backseat to my schoolwork. I know that school is my top priority right now but I need to work on making running more of a priority in my life. I have seen a lot of improvement in my running over the past few months and I am excited to think about how much more I can improve if I actually stick to a regular routine and give running a little more attention.

The problem then, is figuring out a way to balance everything. I knew that this was going to be a busy week so I got as much work done over the weekend as I could. By planning ahead and trying to stay on top of my schoolwork it has allowed me to not feel so overwhelmed and have more time to do other things such as running.

I need to understand that I do not need to be a perfectionist and that sometimes it is better to run a few miles than no miles. I often find myself skipping a run because I won't be able to get in as many miles as I had planned but that doesn't mean that I should run no miles. Something is always better than nothing.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Running Is Always a Learning Experience

I wish I was reporting that I had a great run today and that it made me fall in love with running even more, but that wasn't the case. I woke up this morning really tired after a weekend jam packed with studying and homework. The sun was shining and there were no clouds in sight though, which instantly energized me.

After class I grabbed a sandwich and got to work on some more studying before my run. I was so excited by how warm the weather was because I didn't get to enjoy last week's warm weather since I was sick. I think my sandwich was a little too much for me before my run but I'll address that in a minute.

From the minute I left my apartment I was smiling ear to ear. It was such a beautiful day and there was nothing else I wanted to be doing at that moment (wanted being the key word- I should have been studying). But after a few minutes I knew this wasn't going to be the glorious run I was hoping it would be. My legs felt tired and heavy, and were barely moving. I just figured they would loosen up as I ran.

Avg Pace

Not so much. The more I ran the worse I felt. I started feeling dizzy and my stomach was becoming heavy. I ended up taking a few walking breaks and my splits are all over the place but I still ended up running 4.21 miles. Then I walked the rest of the way back to my apartment.

It may not have been the run that I envisioned but it was still a decent run and in the end I am stronger because of it. I try to learn as much as I can from each run, and the main thing that I learned from this run is that I need to start paying a lot more attention to my nutrition. I had half of a bowl of oatmeal this morning around 8:30, a veggie sandwich at 3:00, a few sips of water throughout the day, and left for my run at 4:15.

She is hydrating properly. I need to do that.

I did plan on getting lunch at noon during my break but I had forgot my ID which has my meal swipes on it. Still though, I need to do a better job of fueling my body to do what I am asking of it. And more importantly, I need to drink more. I brought a 32 oz. water bottle to school with me and I hardly drank any of it. I did bring about 1/3 of a gatorade with me on my run (thank god!) but I think that also played a role in the heavy feeling in my stomach.

I have been doing a pretty good job of maintaining a dairy free diet, but I think I can do better. With all of my schoolwork piling up, I stopped paying attention to what I was eating and would just end up grabbing whatever was most convenient.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Run in the Rain

I think I am finally over this horrid cold. I still have a little bit of a cough but nothing too terrible. I was planning on waking up early yesterday morning to attempt a quick run and see how I felt but that plan fell through after I didn't set my alarm properly and ended up sleeping through my first class. Oops.

Not to worry, though, because I knew I would have time to run in the afternoon. I checked the weather forecast and saw that it was supposed to rain all afternoon so I knew there was no avoiding running in the rain. After I cam home I made some lunch and did some cleaning before heading out.

The plan was to run for however felt good and go at a really easy pace. I started off the first mile feeling surprisingly quick but I was convinced I was probably moving at the speed of a snail. I kept trying to slow down so I didn't burn out but that it relatively hard to do when that first mile is all downhill.

Since I hadn't run in awhile the plan was not to look at my watch. I didn't want to see how slow I was moving and try to run any faster than necessary. A little after the first mile I could really feel myself slow down. I felt like I was barely moving but at the same time I still felt pretty good, so I kept trucking along.

I decided to stop to stretch my legs out after two miles and then run back to my apartment for a total of four miles. I could tell that I hadn't run recently because my entire lower body was rather achy. The stretching really helped and I felt much better during the final two miles.

Avg Pace

I finished up the run curious about what my pace was and was shocked to see ow fast I had been running for such an easy run. Since when does being sick and not running for two weeks make you faster?! Needless to say I was happy that I didn't lose all of my running abilities in those two weeks.

I was thinking about possibly biking after my run but decided that some stretching and foam rolling would be much more productive for my body. After, I finished cleaning and got ready because my dad was stopping by to take me and the boyfriend out to dinner.

We ended up going to some Mexican restaurant not too far away. I was so happy to see my dad and catch up with him. After dinner the boyfriend and I came back to the apartment for a relaxing evening of watching movies and making homemade cinnamon bread. A pretty good Friday night is you ask me!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Little Bit of A Panic

I am so over being sick. Besides the fact that being sick just sucks in general, it has made it nearly impossible for me to go for a run. I tried to go for a run Tuesday morning but only made it a mile before my obnoxious coughing made me walk back to my apartment.

I have a tendency to overreact in life, but right now I am really panicking that I am not prepared for the Rock N' Roll USA Half Marathon. The longest run I have done so far is only seven miles and I have only run twice in the last two weeks. I have been itching to get outside for a run but I can't stop coughing long enough to hit the pavement.

I know I still have a few weeks until the race but I really don't have a solid base to fall back on. My training for this race has been sub par and I am really kicking myself for that. I am hoping, though, that tomorrow will be the day that I can get back out there. It is such a sucky feeling to want to run and not be able to, not because of my legs, but because I have a cough.

On a better note, I have been able to get in some cross training while I've been sick. After my failed run Tuesday morning I did the Insanity recovery workout Tuesday afternoon and felt great. I love waking up sore from a good workout!

Do you workout when you are sick? How do you manage running with a cough?

Monday, February 20, 2012


It is officially cold and flu season! Everyone I know is sick with something and there is even a case of tuberculosis at my school. Luckily that is already being taken care of. Unfortunately, I came down with some sort of a cold this weekend. I woke up Friday morning feeling a little funny and knew right away that I was about to get sick with something. So far it has been very mild and I am hoping it stays that way.

When I woke up on Friday and realized that I was getting sick, it didn't take long for me to figure out that it is most likely because I have not been taking care of my body properly. In general I always try to be cautious about catching germs and the like, but I neglected to think about the consequences my body would face after being run down from trying to juggle too many things. In an effort to kick this thing to the curb, I am pulling out all of the stops. Basically, I will be acting like a germaphobe this week.

In all seriousness though, I think it is really important that we all try to take some time this week to put our bodies and our health first. The two most important things to prevent yourself from getting too rundown are getting adequate rest/sleep and eating healthy. In addition to my body reaping the repercussions of all of my busy work lately, I became mentally exhausted as well. I started feeling overwhelmed and should have seen that as a warning sign that I needed to take a break.

I am using this post as a PSA to take care of yourselves and realize when enough is enough. We can only do so much before our bodies begin to shut down and cry for help. Germs are everywhere this time of year and being rundown weakens the immune system leading to more illness. Nobody wants to get sick, and although sometimes it is inevitable, take precaution and do the little things to keep you body happy and healthy all winter long.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I Can't Do It All

I am really bummed to tell you that I have hardly been running the past two weeks. The work for my classes was starting to pick up and I felt overwhelmed. The feeling kept growing and now I am sick and I am pretty sure it is because I was trying to do too much. I am not making excuses because I know so many of you do way more than me and still find the time to train for events such as Ironmans.

Going into this semester I had big plans to join a bunch of clubs and try all sorts of new things. I wanted to join the ultimate frisbee intramural team, learn how to rock climb, join the transfer student honor society, participate in relay for life, continue being a member of the Russian Club all while taking six classes. And add training for a half marathon and finding enough time to spend with my boyfriend.

After the first few weeks of school I realized that while some people may be able to juggle one million things, I am not one of those people. When I do something I like to do it well and put a lot of effort into it, and I finally realized that I could not do all of those above mentioned things well.

I have decided to take a step back and realize what things are most important to me right now and only focus on those things. Of course school and my relationship come first. And even though I have not exactly been diligent about my running lately it is actually really important to me and I need to do a better job at finding time for it. As for the clubs go, I am going to keep participating with the Russian Club when I can.

I am also making it a point this semester to work on creating some sort of social life for myself. I had the same two best friends my entire life but now they live four hours away. I miss having that interaction and being able to just kickback with some girlfriends and have a good time.

So now that the Rock N' Roll USA Half Marathon is only about four weeks away, I am kicking my running into high gear. I have been working with my calendar to actually schedule times to both run and study so that nothing has to be compromised.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Let's Talk About Shoes

I love my Brooks Adrenalines. I really do. I just bought my second pair in the limited edition purple ones and can't wait to try them out. I guess I need to get it out there before I continue with this post: I love shoes. It is possible that I have a shoe obsession. And of course this obsession includes running sneakers.

When I first started running I wanted a pair of Nike somethings. I don't remember but they looked so cool. When I went to the running specialty store though, they told me that I need shoes with a lot of support because I overpronate. As a result I ended up with my first pair of Brooks Adrenalines.

A few weeks ago my boyfriend and I were shopping at Dick's for some ski gear when I spotted a pair of trail running shoes that didn't look obnoxious. I have only gone trail running once but I really want to take advantage of the trails near my apartment once the warmer weather sets in. Guess what that means.. I need want to buy trail running shoes!

Now I probably don't need trail running shoes at all but they look so sweet! Maybe if I start trail racing I will need a pair of trail running shoes..

When I was looking up trail running shoes online I ended up at the Brooks website and stumbled upon their Pure Project collection. I have seen these shoes before but had no idea they released them in more colors. I instantly loved the newest color collection, a white with coral (ish?) highlighting.

I love this color combo and how summery the shoe looks, but hate how dirty they would get on the dirt trail where I run when at home. So maybe they would be best for racing since they are a lighter shoe! But I also like them in the black/purple combo..

When I was at my local running store I was told that a new edition of the Brooks Adrenalines were released a little while ago, which of course means new colors! 

Of course there is a limited edition color for the new editions too. They are not as exciting as the others sneakers but are still a funky color combo that will not easily go unnoticed.

I'm sorry if you are wondering if there was really a point to this post because there is not. Simply put, I like shoes and felt the need to share some of my favorites with all of you. Don't judge me based on this post alone.

What shoes do you run in? Do you love shoe shopping, even for running shoes?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

10 Things I Love About Running

In honor of Valentine's Day today I decided to celebrate why I love running. I know a lot of people dislike Valentine's Day but I think of it as a day to celebrate all of things in my life that I love and am grateful for. As happy as I am to spend Valentine's Day with my amazing boyfriend and was even happier to start the day off with a four mile run.

So here we go:
1. The challenge. Running is one of the few things that always challenges me no matter what. Some days the challenge is hitting a certain pace while others days it can be as simple as just getting out the door. Maybe it is because I am such a new runner, but I truly feel that I have a lot of room for improvement both in the speed of my running and my overall running endurance. Running is the best reminder that nothing comes easy, and that the best things in life are worth fighting for.

2. The stress relief. Being a full time college student can be very stressful, especially during midterm & finals week. When I am feeling overwhelmed I always force myself to go for a run because I know I will feel a million times better afterwards. Running lets me get my mind off of whatever is bothering me at least for a little while.

3. The time to myself. I am a huge introvert. I absolutely need time to myself to simply gather my thoughts and be alone. So many of things in my life are shared with friends and family and it is such a great feeling to have running all to myself. It is my time to just be by myself and think about whatever I want.

4. The feeling of accomplishment. I love the feeling of knowing that I accomplished something that most people will never do. Running makes me feel like I am getting out there and doing something productive while others are lounging on the couch. I love going for morning runs and starting my day off with a sense of accomplishment so early.

5. The confidence is gives me. As I have mentioned before I have struggled with my confidence. I feel so great about myself about a few days of consistent running, like I am on top of the world. In turn, this confidence transfers back into my running and starts a very beautiful circle.

6. The feeling after a great run. This goes along with the feeling of accomplishment. No feeling beats that after an awesome run. I had a run like this a few weeks ago and I was riding my runner's high for the entire weekend. I felt truly unstoppable and like I was completely in my element. No better feeling seriously.

7. The time I spend outside. Growing up I didn't really enjoy spending time outside. Running, though, makes me appreciate nature so much. Whenever it is a beautiful day outside all I can think about is going to a run to enjoy the beautiful weather. Consequently, I have spent many days running outside in the rain.

8. The strength it gives me. As a swimmer I didn't use my legs very much. It was very difficult for me when I first started running because my legs were not used to constantly being used. My legs are so much stronger now and I absolutely love it. Running has also made me stronger mentally. I struggled mentally as a swimmer and had frequent bouts of anxiety and the occasional panic attack. Running has been the complete opposite for me and I couldn't be more grateful.

9. The community. Even though I don't know many other runners, I love being a part of the running community. I love the support of the blogging community and having the ability to chat with other runners on Twitter. Going to a race and being with other people who are there for the exact same reasons is such a unique experience. Runners are all so friendly and welcoming.

10. The shoes. I'm not going to lie, I love my running shoes. I love all shoes in general and any excuse to buy new shoes is okay with me. I recently switched to a bright purple pair of Brook's Adrenaline's and can't get over how awesome they are.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Building Strength

One of my goals for this year was to start strength training. I had planned on going to the gym at my school to use the weights there but I learned UMBC has a pretty crappy gym. Big disappointment. I considered just giving up on strength training but after a few days it occurred to me that I don't necessarily have to go to a gym to strength train.

A little while ago I went with my boyfriend to his gym while we were home and that was the moment I realized I need to do some form of strength training, even if it is just at my apartment. I guess I should mention that my main reasons for incorporating strength training into my half marathon training is to build strength (obviously) and prevent injury.

Ever since I started having trouble with my right IT band back in the fall, I have been trying to do whatever possible to prevent it from getting any worse and hopefully help heal everything. When I was reading up about IT band injuries I kept reading about how important it is to strengthen the gluteal muscles as well as the quads and hamstrings.

Compared to my upper body strength, my lower body strength has always been pretty much nonexistent. I have always had issues with my knee caps sliding out and was told by my physical therapist awhile ago that strengthening my quads would help stabilize my knees. Well now I have more than one reason to strengthen my lower body.

What I have been doing lately to get in some strength training without going to the gym is lunges, squats, step ups, and the Insanity recovery workouts. I have some free weights at my house in Pennsylvania that I am going to bring down the next time I am home.

Do you strength train? Do you belong to a gym? If not, how do you workout at home?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I Feel Good

After the awesome week of workouts I had last week I was ready to tackle this week head on. I decided to stay at my boyfriend's house Sunday night after the super bowl instead of driving back to school with all sorts of potential drunk drivers out. I had to leave pretty early Monday morning to make it to class on time because of rush hour. Between staying up late for the game and getting up early for class, I was pretty beat come Monday night. I had wanted to get in an easy run but my body had other plans.

I can definitely tell the semester is in full swing because I got nailed with work this week. I had no free time to do anything other than study, eat, and sleep. By last night I was tired that I went to sleep at 11:00 and slept straight until 9:00. I woke up this morning feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.

Although it was a little cold outside, there was not a cloud in sight and I was itching to go for a run. I debated lacing up my new sneakers or sticking with my old pair for a few more days. I was only running four miles so I thought it was the perfect time to try them out. Plus they matched my outfit. Yes, I do try to match my shorts, shirt, socks, shoes, and even sports bra. I'm that cool.

My legs were really sore at the beginning of the week from the higher mileage plus going to the gym but they felt great today. I have been experimenting with a higher cadence (more on that later) and my legs were loving it. The new shoes feel so much more supportive, which I guess means it was time to replace my old ones.

I wanted to run four easy miles to get my legs used to running again but my legs just seemed to take off. I had to keep slowing myself down during the first mile so I didn't burn out. I kept running at a comfortable yet quick pace and ended up finishing four miles in 37 minutes, the fastest I have run four miles on campus. (UMBC's campus is pretty hilly.) I can't wait to go for another run in my new shoes. They feel great and I felt like I was running on clouds.

Avg Pace

How often do you buy new sneakers? Do you have to break them in or do you just go big in them?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

On Learning to Love My Body

One of the goals I set for myself for this year is to learn to love my body and feel confident about myself. This is really a never-ending goal and something that we could all probably work on. I won't lie and say that the only things that bother me are my fingernails or something silly like that. As I'm writing this post though I can't really think of much about my body that bothers me. Yeah, of course I would love a flatter stomach, a smaller booty, and more toned legs. But honestly, there isn't really anything that I truly hate.

I have never had a real reason for having such low self esteem. I just always feel like I am not good enough. For awhile I hated my red hair growing up because I didn't know anyone else with red hair. In high school I considered dyeing it a dark brown. But when I told people my plan I received no support. I was told over & over that I had beautiful hair that people pay hundreds of dollars for at salons.

I am not trying to convince you all that I have great hair because it still drives me crazy. It is unbelievably thick which causes it to be very unruly. I can't cut it too short or grow it too long or else it turns into an animal. Recently I got my haircut and it was shorter than what I am used to. I was so panicked that I was going to have an afro of red hair and look like Carrot Top that I was considering getting it professionally straightened.

After a few hours I calmed down though. I started getting scared about not having my usual curly, crazy hair. I realized that my hair is one of the things that makes me stand out from others. It is a part of who I am and despite how annoying it can be, it is something that I don't want to change.

The moral of this long, random post is to listen when others compliment you. You really are beautiful and strong and smart and it is so much easier for others to see it. Most of us are very humble and don't take compliments very well but I am telling you to start listening to others and realize just how fabulous you are.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Decision to Go Dairy Free

One of my February goals is to eat a dairy free diet. I have been thinking about going dairy free for a while but now seemed like the perfect time. I am working on a post about my plan for going dairy free but that will be coming later, hopefully this week.

In order to fully understand why I am cutting dairy out of my diet I need to let you in on my history with dairy. When I was a baby dairy made my stomach really sick. Growing up I couldn't eat any dairy products until I was around 4 or 5. I was told that I just grew out of my dairy allergy and could start eating dairy.

After then I never had any problems with dairy until a couple years ago. While I was in high school I developed this annoying cough after I ate. After a long time of casually thinking about what I was eating I came to the conclusion that dairy was the culprit.

Recently, though, I was having some stomach issues. I have been struggling with eating before running (that is a whole other post) and I again think the culprit is dairy. The weird thing is that my stomach feels heavy but that is it. Problem is, my stomach feels so heavy that I can't really accomplish much.

At this point, I am struggling with properly fueling my body. Lately I have been feeling sluggish and I think it is directly related to what I am eating. I think it is important for me to figure this out so I can start feeling my best.

Besides my stomach issues, eating a dairy free diet is healthy for the body in many other ways. I am going to address the nutrition issues in a later post, but I will say that I am doing this the healthy way. I am going to be close attention to my diet in general to make sure that I am getting all the nutrients that I need.

Monday, February 6, 2012

It Was a Great Week

Last week was probably my best training week ever. I started the week off feeling motivated by the unbelievable warm weather maintained that motivation for the entire week. I ran five times, which is the most I have ever run in one week, for 21 miles total. I also biked twice, and went to the gym for strength training for the first time.

I am really not sure if I have ever had a week in which I was so happy the entire time. Despite the stresses of being in college, I managed to stay composed and optimistic. I even started most days cheery with a smile on my face.

After last week I am even more excited about the upcoming weeks of half marathon training. The Rock N' Roll USA Half Marathon in Washington DC is March 17, which means I have five more solid weeks of training plus a final week for a taper. I am not good at following training plans but I am ready to kick it into high gear for the rest of this training cycle.

I have been enjoying running so much lately that I am thinking about switching around my race plans for the rest of the year. I was planning on really focusing on triathlons over the summer and then only one or two fall half marathons. I have never done a triathlon though and I want to learn more about the sport and how to properly train for a triathlon before I jump into any big races.

With that said, though, I am really excited with what I have lined up for the rest of the year and can't wait to try so many new things

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Today Was One of Those Runs

The plan for today was to run 6 miles on my own and then meet up with my dad to finish up for 9 miles total. I was so excited to be able to do a long run on the trail near my house that is flat. I was also excited to be running with Nuun for the first time and trying my first GU.

I set out for my first 6 miles, aiming to drink a few sips every mile or so and take the GU around mile 5. I stuck with drinking a few sips around every mile but I didn't get to take the GU.

I felt great during the entire run and was running at a much faster pace than usual. But I felt so strong so I decided not to slow down. I was willing to risk crashing & burning. This was only the second time I brought a drink along with me during a run and I definitely noticed a difference. I felt more energized after every sip.

I turned around at mile 3 after having something to drink and saw two other runners who were off in the distance. I kept my pace and continued to run comfortably. After another mile or so I realized I was gaining on them. I had no intentions of making this a hard run but I really wanted to catch them.

Once I decided that I was going to catch them, I picked up the pace. I didn't want to push too hard so I ran at a pace that was still comfortable yet fast. I still wanted to take my GU around mile 5 but it just so happened that mile 5 was when I was going to pass them.

As much as I wanted to take the GU, I didn't want to pass these two runners (one of whom was a man who was none too happy to be passed by a teenager) and then stop to take a GU and have to repass them. Ultimately, I passed them with my head held high and continued a fast pace to make sure they didn't hang with me.

This was also the same time that it started raining. And it was cold! I finished 6 miles and met up with my dad. We wanted to 3 miles together but the rain was mixed with ice and we were not dressed for that in the slightest. Since we opted out of the last 3 miles of the run we went back to the house and finished up on the elliptical and bike, respectively.

Avg Pace

In the end, I am really glad I ran a little faster than I normally would have since I only got in 6 miles. They were the fastest 6 miles I have ever run and they felt amazing. Today's run made me feel like a superstar. I ran fast, strong, and chicked my first guy. All in all I would call it a darn successful day.