Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Facebook This

I often wonder if people get tired of my posts on Facebook and Twitter about exercise. I guess they always have the option not to read them or remove me from their friend list. But to be honest I post things like “I’m going for a run”, or accomplishments like “Set a new personal best in the 5km” for very selfish reasons, these posts motivate me! If I post on Facebook that I am going for a run I feel like I’ve just told a two-hundred people my goal and if I don’t accomplish it I’ll be letting them down.  I often think during a tough workout “I have to finish this I posted it on Facebook!”. 

I don’t mean for posts to come off as I’m bragging, though I am proud of a lot of the things I have accomplished, I mean for them to drive me to succeed.  I love seeing a friend’s status say “Off to the gym!” or “Decided to run a 10k!”…you go girl/guy and yell it from the rooftops! I’d much rather see people tooting their own horns on Facebook and Twitter about setting goals than the constant negative status updates about weather, ex-boyfriends, celebrities and day to day malaise.

I do hope that some of my posts are motivating and encourage others to get active but really I use social media to make myself accountable to the dozens of people I haven’t seen since High School but somehow thanks to Facebook seem like we’re all in the same little town again, to the acquaintances I’ve made over the years, to current and former colleagues, and of course to my family. Twitter I use primarily to make asinine comments about people in line at the grocery store…I’m not perfect.

I thank you for motivating me to push a little bit harder and being my virtual cheering section.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Positive Thoughts

It’s 13-weeks until the NYC Marathon and surprisingly training is going well. I ran 32 km (20 miles) on Friday and didn’t start to fall apart until I had 4km to go. That has helped my confidence. Training in the heat this summer has been kicking my ass and I didn’t have a great long run last week as my brain was poaching itself in my skull. 

I get so paranoid that any little ache or pain is going to manifest into a sidelining injury that I am taking rest days, having regular massages and brace yourself…stretching!  Not to jinx myself but if things keep going this way I might actually have a great race. As a chronic over-exerciser this marathon training program might be just what I needed to learn how to set realistic goals. There’s irony for you, what other human would need to train for a marathon to learn how to take rest days?

As physically taxing as all this running is, the hardest part has been the mental game. When you have been running for a couple of hours little thoughts start to creep in, "take a walk break, you can’t run this far, you are going too slow, it’s too hard". Last week I struggled with not caving into these negative thoughts and as a result had some excruciating runs.  My goal for 20 miles, which I had never run before, was to start thinking positively before I even put my sneakers on.  Walking the dog before the run I kept repeating in my head “This is going to be a great run! I can’t wait to start!”…and it worked. I held on to that positive mantra all morning and during my run I was smiling, singing along to my music and loving life…well until 28km when my quads started a boycott, but I slowed down and took a few walk breaks and finished with a big ol’ grin on my face.

Think of all the things we could accomplish if we didn’t give into those doubts? I hear them all the time…I can’t do that I’m not strong enough, I’m too old to take that class. Well I didn’t think I could run 20 miles, and I did.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Instant Gratification

I admit it I have a problem with instant gratification. If I want a Diet Coke, a piece of chocolate, Mexican Food, it doesn't matter, as soon as the craving hits I want it immediately. Some days I can squash the overwhelming urges by distracting myself but some days I'm like a sniffer dog at the airport just waiting for some heroin laden passenger to pounce on so the guy at the end of my leash will give me my squeak toy.

I know there are rational reasons why we crave certain things, dehydration makes us hungry, lack of sleep makes us crave caffeine, sugar and carbohydrates, overeating fats makes us crave more fat and so on and so forth. So how do you break the cycle? I can't always be fully hydrated, well rested and eating a perfectly clean and healthy diet. We only live once! So where do we find the discipline to resist temptation when it knocks on our door?

Admittedly training for a marathon has pushed my appetite into overdrive and running 40+ miles a week has given me an easy excuse of "Oh I have a big run tomorrow I'll burn it off." Based upon my recent consumption of chocolate and baked goods I need to up my mileage to 100+ miles. Thankfully I've gotten back on track with recording my food intake and even if I do crave a little something sweet I've been working it into my daily calories.

I am nothing if not a work in progress, now where did I put those M&M's?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Leaving Someone in Your Dust

I had an interesting conversation the other day about running a race with a friend and if you should ever leave them in your dust. I've had great races where I have felt fast and light and ran on my own. I've had races where I have struggled with injury and a friend has stuck by me even when I told her to go on without me and I've had races where a friend struggled and I stayed with him until he eventually forced me to leave him behind.  It's a tough call when you have spent weeks training but every race is different and there is no way to tell how you are going to perform on any given day.

I guess the best rule of thumb is to have those conversations before race day. I hate feeling like I am holding someone back and would be absolutely ok being left in their dust. It gets tricky when you haven't discussed it, to show up race day and either be the one slowing you both down or equally frustrating is being the one who feels like they could run a great race but don't want to take off ahead.

Maybe I'm too competitive or just maybe some people don't make finish times their priority. I'd love to just run a race to enjoy it but I know that no matter what I will push myself until I am falling apart at the end. I ran a horrible half-marathon where I was fighting through terrible knee pain and couldn't bend my right leg for the last eight kilometers, race officials asked me if I wanted a ride in, it was -26C and my friend stuck with me. I told her to go on but she didn't...I'm not sure if I could have done the same. She stuck with me for the entire painful race as I refused to quit. Yes I was proud that I finished but I also felt guilty for ruining her race day as well.

Now I am a solitary race runner. I am happy to join friends at the start line and run the first few hundred meters together but then it is every man for him or herself.  If I'm having a great race I'll see you at the finish line, if I'm having a horrible race I'll see you at the finish line because no matter what I'll finish.