Slow, Fat, and Tired

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Do you ever have one of those running days where you feel slow, fat, and tired?  Your legs won’t move, they feel like lead, you are struggling just to keep yourself going.  You glance at your GPS and… “is this thing even working???”

Okay, no big deal. The next run will be better. We all have our off days, and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it.  And yet, the next run feels about the same.  And the next. Then the worry starts to set in.  What if I AM getting slower? Fatter? Run down and tired?  What should I do?

Personally, I like to make excuses.  Or rather, explanations.  It was really hot out.  I was running a harder route.  I’ve had a busy week and just was a little tired.  There are a lot of valid explanations of why I just had the slowest, chunkiest, most lethargic run. Ever.

Sometimes it’s enough to just leave it at that.  Chalk it up to one of the explanations, and trust that things will feel better next time.  But another strategy is to actually give the explanations some credit.  Do you need to take a few days off to rest? Do you need to cut back on mileage and/or speed?

Once I think I am feeling better, should I go out for a redemption run?  Return to my training ready to triumph!!!  Uh, no.  I like to pick a confidence boosting run.  I pick a pace that I KNOW will be an easy pace (and not one of those fake, it’s actually too fast, but “I-swear-it-feels-so-easy!” paces).  I pick a short distance on an easy route.  I stick to my plan and complete the run, resisting any urge to try and make up for a few bad workouts.  No, this run is the “Yes, I can!” type of run, and it’s the perfect way to bounce back from a Slow, Fat, and Tired week.

Why you should embrace failing.

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“Don’t be afraid to fail”

“Take Risks, Be brave.”

 

There are many motivational quotes and phrases out there to encourage you to try new things and take risks, pushing you to step out of your comfort zone.  But do you?  Do you try something that might be scary, risky, or you might fail at? What does it really mean to not be afraid to fail?  Most of us might be temporarily pumped up by one of these phrases, and decide to do something SCARY!! But do we really?  Or do we still stay somewhere pretty close to our safety net.  Pretty close to a “just in case”, or a back up plan.

We play it safe.  We make small changes, or take small risks, try something “kinda” scary.  We make excuses for why the big scary things are just not really a good time for us right now.  We surround ourselves with people who help to talk us out of those big scary risks, of why it’s better to just play it safe (“Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!”).

I recently ran a 15K on a mountain trail.  Wow! That’s taking a risk! That’s pretty brave!  The race went up a steep mountain trail, and then back down again. The up was hard and challenging. I was looking forward to racing back down.  Halfway through, at the top of the mountain, I fell down.  Then I was a little scared.  I was hurt, I was scraped, I was bruised.  It made me mentally back up a little. Instead of tearing down the second part of the race, down the mountain, I suddenly started playing it safe.  Taking my time, gingerly picking my way down the rocks.  I suppose I was a little bit brave, I could have quit the race completely, or insisted on walking down to the finish line.  But I didn’t quite put it all out there, I didn’t quite take the risk I had set out to do.  I instead held back, just a little, to keep myself safe.

What’s holding you back from trying something that scares you?  Is it fear of failure, pain, criticism, rejection, or something else?  Is it better to play it safe than to play your odds with that risk? Fear (even a little) needs to be present to act “brave.”

Some of the risks are very real, and you should make sure you stay safe from them.  My fall on the mountain could have been a lot worse, and I knew that.  I could have broken some bones, hit my head, or worse.  I kept going, even if a bit safely, and I am okay with that.  But other risks are worth taking, and by avoiding them we are only closing ourselves into our own tidy little box, staying much too close to our very big safety net. Perhaps we need to venture a little further away from that net, and risk getting hurt, scraped, or bruised (even if it is a bruising of our ego).  Perhaps we need to look forward to failing sometimes. Because after all, failing forces us to change, to get better, to grow, and to learn.  Isn’t that worth the risk?

Mt. Falcon 15K Race Report

The Floridians hit the mountains!!  I have been wanting to take a trip to Colorado this summer, so Sean and I decided to combine our love of trail running with a weekend vacation.  A few months ago, I found online the Mt. Falcon 15K Trail Race, located outside of Denver in Morrison, CO.  The race sounded fun and challenging, a perfect fit!

The race took place the morning of August 2, 2014.  We had traveled to Colorado the day before, and we were ready to run some mountains.  Sean and I both knew that our sea-level-flat-as-pancake training in Florida would make this race tough, but we also knew we were in it for fun, beautiful scenery, and a new trail running environment.  Since I had just recently been chosen to be an INKnBURN Ambassador (the coolest running clothes ever!!!), we both wore one of our favorite INKnBURN outfits: Lust tank and shorts for me, and the Adversity shirt for Sean. The morning was a bit chilly and breezy, which felt nice in the middle of August.  After checking in, we waited at the trail head for the race to start.

The race started and the pack was off!  We went out nice and easy, knowing there was a steep climb ahead of us: 2000 feet elevation gain in the first 4 miles!!  The first two miles were the toughest, we walked when we needed to, gasped for oxygen often, and took plenty of pictures to let our heart rates recover.  What an amazing place to run!  There were lots of people out on the trail.  We even need to step off the trail at one point to let a man pass by on his mountain unicycle.  What????  Talk about BADASS!!!

We finally made it to the top of Mt. Falcon, and the next part of the race was some undulating trails lasting a bit more than a mile.  This was the prettiest part of the race!  We went along the back side of the mountain where it was shady and forested.  These were some fun trails!  We wound our way along, and finally made it back to the main trail down.  The trail was getting busier now, we didn’t see many of the racers, but lots of people were using the trail for hiking and biking.  It was around this area that I started feeling fatigued, and then the next thing I knew, I had tripped and spilled onto the rocky ground.  I hit hard on my right side, mostly my arm and hip.  Sean came back to help me up.  Fortunately, I was only scraped and bruised, nothing broken.  Our motto is: Nana Korobi Ya Oki*, or: Fall Down Seven, Get Up Eight.  So, after crying for a couple of minutes (because that’s what girls DO! Even if we are tough trail runners!), I dusted myself off, pulled myself together and continued on the three mile descent.  Sean kept the lead and I carefully picked my way down the mountain path.

We finally made it down the mountain and across the finish line!  We were tired, but happy.  It was a great race.  The run was challenging and the scenery did not disappoint!! The altitude and elevation made this a very difficult race, but it is very well done and worth the extra effort! I will definitely be back to Colorado for more trail running and trail races.

*Our trail running pup’s name is based on this saying as well.  Our Belgian Malinois’ name is NiKYO, an acronym for Nana Korobi Ya Oki.  Check out NiKYO’s adventures on his Instagram page @NiKYOpup :-)

5 Tips for Getting Into Trail Running

This post was originally published as a guest post that I wrote for Loving On The Run.

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Perhaps you’ve been running for fun and fitness for a little while now.  Maybe you’ve completed your first 5K, ½ marathon, or even a full marathon.  Maybe you’ve even trained hard and achieved some personal records at local road races.  But instead of chasing the next distance or personal record, you want to try something new with running.  Trail running is a great addition to your current running program.  Not only will it breathe new life into your running routine, but your regular running will benefit from hitting the trails by making you a stronger and well-balanced athlete.  But how do you get started with trail running if you are a complete beginner?  Here are a few tips to help you get started.

  • Look online for local running groups that run off road.  Lots of groups list their runs either on a Facebook group or on www.meetup.com .  These group are usually very welcoming to new trail runners, and will be able to help guide you to the trails.
  • Enlist a buddy.  If you can’t find a group, see if you can get a friend to go along with you.  Not only is it more fun to explore with a buddy, but it is also safer in case you run into any problems along your route.
  • Carry water and gels with you.  It may seem like you won’t need them (it’s only 3 miles!), but it’s a smart idea to have it with you in case you get off route and take a little longer than expected.
  • Bring your cell phone along.  Not only can your phone help you if you need to make a call, but you can also use the map app to look at your location if you get disoriented.  It also makes a handy camera if you see something you want to photograph!
  • Expect to run slower than your usual pace!  Most people are surprised that their pace slows on trails.  Trail running is more challenging than running on a paved road, especially if the terrain is difficult.  Enjoy the process and know that it is making you a stronger runner!

Most importantly, remember to have fun! Trail running is a great way to enjoy running for fitness while exploring some great areas around where you live.  And who knows?  You might get hooked and sign up for your first trail race!  I’d love to hear from you if you’ve given trail running a try!

The Trail to Saturn

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This morning I ran to Saturn.  NiKYO and I started early, heading down the trail shortly after the sun was up.  The trail was tight and twisty, a narrow single track just recently cut through the woods.  NiKYO led the way cutting left and right to keep us on the path.  We launched ourselves around the turns, over roots, and even under a fallen tree.  We picked up the pace to zoom through the dense oak trees, my heart was pounding, my lungs were screaming, and my legs were burning.  The cool breeze encouraged us to keep going, taking in the trail that we were following.  Some quick steps over a rooty section, and then we were out in the open… we had made it to Saturn! (Saturn happens to be part of the Starkey Park Solar System exhibit which is a mile long scale model of the solar system that is built on the paved bike trail.  Our off road trail just happens to dump out right at Saturn.)

Okay, so maybe I didn’t actually run to Saturn.  But in some way I was running through space.  I was focused on the moment and the surroundings I was immersed in.  I was running just to RUN, and to experience the feeling of running and the natural environment around me.

Sometimes it is good to just run to experience running.  I am not against training, making goals, and following a schedule.  I’m a running coach, so not only have I written training plans for clients, I have also used them for myself.  However, don’t forget how adventurous JUST RUNNING can be.  Take a new route, find an off road trail, enjoy being outdoors!  Is your heart pounding, your lungs screaming, and your legs are burning?  Good!  Enjoy the feeling of your heart and lungs working, your legs churning to carry you forward.  This is the essence of running.

Seeking Single Track in Starkey Park

I’ve been on a mission lately to map out all the trails in Starkey Park.  It’s not that they aren’t known, or aren’t already on a (rudimentary) map, but what is out there currently is not very useful, and many new trail runners stay far away from the miles of off road running at Starkey Park, due to lack of information.  My main focus has been on the hiking trails and many off shoots that lead from those trails.  However, I recently found out that a single track mountain bike trail has been cut in Starkey Park.

Back in December, Sean and I accidentally found part of this mountain bike trail, although it had not been cut yet, only marked in pink tape.  We weren’t sure exactly why a rough path was marked.  Then again,  last month, my boys (and NiKYO) and I had also found another rough path, again marked with pink tape.  I had mentioned it to someone I knew, who had informed me that she had heard rumors of a mountain bike trail being created at Starkey Park.  After a little bit of digging, I found that the rumors are true!  The Swamp Mountain Bike Club has been in charge of this recent project, and they’ve already cut and groomed several miles of single track!

Monday morning,  Sean and I went out to find it.  What a great find! The trail was really fun, it had lots of switchbacks and went through different terrain.  Several times it would loop out onto the paved trail (most likely to bypass some water), and would pick back up again just around the corner.  As we were headed back, we actually ran into the president of the SWAMP club, Ron.  He was out there to check up on the trail, they still have some work to do, and they are aiming to have the official dedication in June.  He was glad we were having a great run on the new trail.

Trail running in Florida definitely can have its surprises.  The new mountain bike trail at Starkey Park is definitely a great surprise, and I will be running it a lot from now on!

Vega Sport Bar Review

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I have always believed that eating well helps you perform better in your sports.  I am a huge advocate of eating real, whole foods, organic when possible, and I avoid consuming packaged foods and lots of supplements.  There are some “packaged” foods that I feel are still close to whole foods, and can be a great addition to your diet.

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As a Fit Approach Ambassador, I was given the opportunity to review the Vega Sport Bars.  The Vega Sport line is made for athletes, with products designed to “Prepare, Sustain, and Recover.” Since I am careful about packaged foods, I read the ingredients carefully before accepting the opportunity.  The ingredients are VERY high quality, contains great sources of protein (from sprouted whole grain rice and pea protein),  and lightly sweetened with only brown rice syrup and agave syrup.  This is a great option for when you are on the go, and need high quality food!

The bars taste great, too.  I chose the Chocolate Peanut Butter variety (who wouldn’t??).  Each bar has 260 calories, 15 grams of protein, and 27 grams of carbohydrates.  They are a great post-workout snack or as part of a quick meal.  I had my Vega Bars after my trail runs to jump start my recovery.  These are definitely a product I would add into my diet, especially if I need to pack something along with me when I am on the go!  If you would like to find more information on the Vega Sport line, which includes the protein bars and several other fueling products, you can visit their website here. Get ready to Prepare, Sustain, and Recover!

Jumping Logs!

Both Saturday and Sunday were trail running days at Starkey Park.  Saturday was a longer run of 7 miles, and also some more work on the Map Project.  We did not run on any brand new trails, but went on some that I had not run on in a while, just to get my bearings again.  I will add them to my growing Starkey Map.  I’ve already had a few requests for copies of the map as soon as they are available ;-)

I also took a slight detour (meaning, off the trail), for a little parkour fun.  It’s not a huge log by any means, but NiKYO and I had a great time leaping back and forth across the log while Sean snapped photos.  NiKYO is getting a lot better at hearing commands (“Over”) and reacting immediately to them. That dog sure was born to trail run!!

Trail Training- not what you think!

This morning NiKYO and I set out for “Trail Run Thursday” for some training.  Training?  Marathon training?  Speed training?  Intervals, tempo runs, repeats?  No… not that kind of training.  This morning was “Trail Running Manners for Dogs” training.  NiKYO is a young dog, and running on trails is pretty much like being at Disney World for him (read: over-stimulating!), so I took advantage of a quiet morning at the park to reinforce some of his trail manners.  I brought my dog training clicker and some treats for added motivation.  Running nicely with mom and not pulling on the leash? Click. Treat. Repeat.  He was still pretty excited on the run, but about 50% less spazzy than usual.

We also worked on our Map Project some.  We did not visit any new trails, but instead took some photos of key intersections of trails we have already mapped out.  The old bench is on the main hiking path, right at the turn off to go onto Moccasin Way.  The photo of NiKYO is on the path Deer Crossing, and understandably, he is looking for some deer (we didn’t see any today).  The last photo is Oak Trail Way which leads off of Deer Crossing.

Someone asked me if these were the real names of the paths, or if I made them up.  Yes, of course I made them all up.  But I think it is much easier (and more fun) to describe a path with a name, rather than, “Oh, you know, the one that leads East? And then cuts South for a bit? Yeah, the one that has that puddle?  No, not that puddle, the other one? …”   So, NiKYO and I will continue tracking our progress, taking photos, and making up names. :-)

Why You Don’t Need to “Crush It” Every Time

Thursday morning is my run morning with NiKYO.  We are pretty excited about our map project, so I was ready to go!  There are a few trails that are not too far off the main hiking path that I wanted to check out and add to our map.  We got to one, and started down it.  It was pretty rough, and has not been used in a long time (or ever), plus there were some signs of wild boar being on it (lots of dug up dirt).  We did not get very far when I decided that this would be a better trail to explore when it wasn’t just me and NiKYO, even though he’s a very brave pup.  So we turned back to the main trail.  At this point, it was feeling pretty hot and humid, and my legs were worn out from being busy this week.  I stopped and regrouped.  NiKYO was hot, I was hot, there was no reason to make this run long and miserable.  I changed our route to take us on just a short 2.5 mile run.

You do not have to “Crush It” every time.  You do not need every run or workout to be better, longer, faster, stronger than the last one you did.  I have seen many people training for races, training in the gym to lose weight, training to get stronger, etc. that get too worried about every workout being their best.  While it is good to want to progress and get better, it can be a mistake to think that the path to getting there is always beating yourself up and crushing it with every workout.  Recovery days are essential to making progress, as they keep your body from breaking down.  If you start a workout and just aren’t feeling it physically, then maybe it is a good day to dial it back and go a little easier on yourself.  And then when your body has recovered and you are feeling your best, then THAT is the day to push your limits!

Even though I cut our run shorter and dialed back the intensity today, we did take a detour on one of the “Birding Trails”  which was some nice single-track – including lots of log jumping, tree weaving, and leash untangling!  The photos above are from the bird trail.

Fitness, Health, and Trail Running

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