What it’s all about…

Recently I have had some great fitness moments. I absolutely love to see people meet goals and accomplish things they never dreamed possible. This past Saturday, about 16 of my friends and family joined me for an Extreme 5K at a farm in Owensboro. A few of the participants were very hesitant about registering as this would be stepping way outside of their comfort zones. I assured them that we were just doing it for fun, and that no man – or woman – would be left behind.

As the day approached, I prayed that the race would be fun; I didn’t want all of those I had convinced to try it to be miserable, and even worse, angry at me. None of us knew what exactly to expect. The website boasted a tough terrain and some obstacles, and I had heard that it was a challenging course. This was one of those races at which I was not concerned with my time, but rather wanted to see that everyone finished, and had fun doing so. I ran a little, walked a little, and waited a little. We laughed, cussed, and snapped photos. Most importantly, we cheered each other on. We, as a team, let no one give up.

cornfieldgroup

 

The course was quite challenging. It was literally through cornfields, and the hills were killer. Thankfully, it wasn’t hot. The obstacles, well, they were a bit disappointing. There were only two, and both consisted of haybales. I was looking forward to the obstacles, but these didn’t present much of a challenge. The last one was a mountain of bales that we had to climb over.

This is me on top of the world...or a stack of hay bales.

This is me on top of the world…or a stack of hay bales.

The day brought some joyful moments. When one of the ladies who is in my Tabata group pushed through and finished, even when it was super hard, and then came up to give me a hug at the end, I was thrilled. Seeing my husband encouraging her and pushing her to keep running made me so proud. And when my friend Mary placed in her age group for the first time, I couldn’t have been happier. My daughter Addie and her friend Mary also participated, and both scored medals and corn hats. What could be more fun than a corn hat? And, our team won the team competition! We were the only team that had everyone finish the course! 

cornhats

That race was possibly one of the most fun I have done. This weekend Gary and I are running a 5k in Newburgh, and this one will be for me. I want to see what I can do (which might not be much since that will be my 69th day straight running…I have some tired legs!).

I also had a couple of great fitness moments this morning. After I teach my HIIT class at 5:30, I do some weigh-ins for our Biggest Loser and Corporate Challenge competition. One lady was doing the weight-loss challenge for the first time, and had been going to classes for the last week. When she got on that almighty scale and saw that she had lost eight pounds in a week, the tears started flowing, so, of course, I got all teary because I was so happy for her. She had just done spinning and HIIT, and it wasn’t an easy morning for her. Seeing that number on the scale made it all worth it. I bet she’s still smiling!

Before I left the gym, one of the weight-lifting guys stopped me and asked just what we do in the morning in the studio. When I explained the HIIT class, he said, “Oh! So you really are doing something! It isn’t just cardio.” Nope. We are busting out squats, push-ups, burpees, crunches, planks, and so much more. We talked about how beneficial HIIT workouts are, and he told me he would show me how to flip tires. That might not sound appealing to everyone, but I really want to try it. 

Do you think I'll look like this when I flip tires? Oh, wait! I have brown hair!!

Do you think I’ll look like this when I flip tires? Oh, wait! I have brown hair!!

As I mentioned above, I am still going strong on my running streak. I completed day 66 today. The first forty days I had to stick with one to three mile runs because my legs were so tired; I wasn’t used to running every day. Now that I’ve gotten used to it, I can run three to six miles, but at least a day or two a week I only run a mile so my legs get a little rest. My running can be so inconsistent. Yesterday, I was sore from Monday’s Tabata, so I really struggled to run five miles at a slow pace. Today I planned to run three flat miles, but felt so good during the first couple of miles that I ran five hilly miles. For some reason it just felt great today. It certainly helps that the weather has been cool in the morning. My goal is to get to 80 straight days of running, and then I plan to take some rest days to begin training for a 10K in Chicago, and a half marathon in Indianapolis this fall. After all the knee problems that caused me to be unable to run much of last year, I am so grateful to be able to get out there and do what I love. 

What are you doing to challenge yourself? Step out and try something new. Get out and exercise. I promise, you won’t regret it! 

Peace, Love, and Running….

 

When do you feel beautiful?

Today as I was scrolling mindlessly through Facebook, I came across a post by a young man who is in his mid-twenties, and in his post he was making fun of others’ posts. You might have seen that people (women) are challenging friends to post five pictures of themselves in which they feel beautiful. As I read through the comments on this young man’s post, I saw that his friends had joined in making fun of these pictures and challenges. I found it irritating (and somewhat immature), and later when I was out cleaning my car, I  couldn’t get it out of my mind – I was pissed.

What right did these kids have to make fun of others’ posts, especially when these people are supposed to be their friends? My first inclination was to delete the poster from my friend list; I don’t really know him very well. The more I pondered, I realized that he and his friends are just young, and have not yet experienced the extreme highs and lows life has to offer. They are at an age when they are likely confident and don’t have to think much about their looks. They haven’t had kids, experienced the middle-age pooch, or had wrinkles and gray hair suddenly appear. One of the commenters said something to the effect that we can only feel beautiful when we compare ourselves to others who are less attractive.

As a fitness instructor and Tabata coach, I work to help women see their beauty. So many do not feel beautiful. What I have seen in the pictures that have been posted is women not comparing themselves to others, but rather to their former selves. I see women who have raised their children, and finally have time to focus on their health and fitness, and are discovering that they are beautiful. I see women who have lost weight that had held them back for years, and are now confident enough to step out of their comfort zones and post ‘selfies’. I see young mothers who feel beautiful holding their babies; I see girls who feel beautiful when their new husbands see them in their wedding dress.

Feeling beautiful isn’t easy. I can’t think of many times when I actually felt beautiful. I guess it depends upon our definition of beauty, which depends upon whom you ask. I think beauty means strength, confidence, kindness, and happiness. There are people who might appear to be beautiful when we first see them, but the moment they open their mouths, they become ugly. Likewise, I’ve seen people who might not be physically beautiful according to today’s standards, but their compassion, determination, and personality make them stunning.

I much prefer to see women encouraging one another to feel beautiful than posts in which people are constantly complaining or making fun of others. I hope as the young people mature, and they realize that beauty sometimes alludes us, they will have more compassion and understanding. I’m sure when I was in my twenties I made fun of people, and it probably wasn’t appropriate. As I have aged, had kids, battled weight, required more makeup, and experienced true grief, I have learned to be encouraging and supportive.

So keep encouraging your friends and telling them they’re beautiful! Be grateful for the positive posts. If you are entertained by making fun of others, perhaps you should find a new hobby.

Do something nice for someone just because you can. Peace…

Every once in awhile…

…I have one of those runs. It isn’t particularly fast or incredibly long, rather it makes me appreciate my body’s ability to just get outside and run. Today I set out to run six miles. While that typically isn’t a big deal, today was also my 49th day straight of running, and I had run hard at a 5k yesterday, so my legs were tired. I haven’t run six miles since I embarked on this summer running streak; I wasn’t sure I could do it.

I should have gotten up at dawn and taken off before the Southern Indiana humidity engulfed the streets making it difficult to breathe. I didn’t. I slept in, which these days means I was in bed until 7:15 (that’s my momma coming out). I was in town by 8:00 ready to run. Because I had run a race yesterday, and I actually ran kind of fast (8:55 pace), I didn’t plan to worry about my pace today. I just wanted the mileage. I put on my running playlist, hit the Runkeeper app, and took off. Usually my first mile sucks. This morning, it wasn’t too bad. I kept a slower pace, embraced the sunshine, and tried to get lost in my thoughts.

I made it through to the four mile mark without incident, and found myself at the entrance to the river greenway. I decided to run down the greenway and back because that would be my last two miles, and I could walk back to my car, which was about 3/4 mile away. One mistake I had made was not taking water. Usually if I go for a longer run on a hot day, I take a bottle along, but this morning I didn’t even think about it. There is a fountain at the end of the greenway, so I stopped for a quick drink before finishing the last mile. The last mile. That’s when I had that running moment that I value so very much. 

As I was running along the greenway with the Mighty Ohio River on my left, I looked down at the boat ramp. There were two men fishing, and they had a dog with them. The dog was playing in the water, right at the river’s edge. I don’t know why, but it was just a beautiful moment. I then looked out at the vast river, and was reminded of how fortunate we are to live in such a quaint community along this beautiful body of water. I run along the river so often that I take it for granted. As I continued to run, I noticed large birds gliding above, and a small bird perched atop the floodwall. I thanked God for putting these beautiful creatures along my path. A little further along, I peered out toward the river, and there was a barge making it’s way upriver. An American flag held its position on top of the tugboat. The barge truly is a symbol of an American way of life, and I was taken by its simple beauty and strength. After a short distance, I had finished my six miles. The last mile was my favorite, reminding me why I love running. 

Running makes me not only appreciate my health and determination, but also my surroundings. We all live such busy lives, and are always worried about getting to our destinations, whether it’s a kids’ baseball game, band competition, practice, work, the grocery store…you get the idea. We don’t even notice the uniqueness of our own neighborhoods or towns. When I run, I notice. I see homes being remodeled, kids playing with friends, animals dodging traffic, and the beauty of the moment. We always make it a point to run when we are on vacation or away for work. It is the best way to ‘tour’ a new place because I have time to take notice of more than when we drive by. I have run in Chicago, Virginia Beach, Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, and Indianapolis, to name a few. I can’t really say which was my favorite because each holds special memories and unique qualities. 

Get out and explore. Notice the beauty around you and appreciate the little things like lovely trees, small critters, and laughing children. You don’t have to run; just go for a walk or ride your bike. Maybe you’ll have that special moment, too. 

Peace…

40 Days and a Race

The 40 Days of Fitness Challenge certainly took off! We now have 165 participants! When I first posted the challenge, I thought it would be great to have 40 or 50 people sign up. I had no idea that people near and far would take on this challenge. It has been fun reading what people are doing each day and hearing the positive feedback. Some people were at a plateau in weight loss, and have seen the number on the scale move again. Others have exercised when they didn’t really feel like it, and were glad they did. And still others are realizing that working in some type of exercise every day isn’t quite as impossible as initially thought. One hundred sixty-five people are moving more! We have shirts picked out and a dinner planned. People are signing up for races, encouraging one another, spending more time outside, and getting healthier. 

On the 4th of July, I ran my first 5k in a year and a half. It was an unusually cool morning for July – perfect race conditions. I ran the race with my daughter, and enjoyed every minute of it, even the moment toward the end when I was encouraging Morgan to push through, and she told me to shut up. Morgan later told me that at the same time, a spectator had yelled something encouraging to her, and when Morgan told me to shut up, the lady thought she was telling her to shut up, and apologized! Morgan was spent by that point, and didn’t have the energy to tell the poor lady she was just telling her mother to shut up. The poor lady will probably never yell for racers again.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy 5Ks. When I run half marathons, it’s a struggle just to finish. 13.1 miles is a long way to run. I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I could finish the 5K; I could just enjoy running. We are running another race this weekend, and possible three or four more in the next month. One of the races we are running is an Extreme 5K that is run through farm fields and involves obstacles. I have lovingly convinced some friends to join me, and I think we will have a blast! I am a little frightened to try a Tough Mudder or Spartan Run, so this will satisfy my need to step out a little. 

This Saturday, Gary, some of our friends, and I will run a 5K on the Runway…yes, we will run a race on an airport runway. How many runners can say they’ve done that? My plan is to run these shorter races until school starts (at which time band and golf will take over our Saturdays), and then begin training for the Women Rock Chicago 10K at the end of September, and then the Monumental Half Marathon in Indianapolis in November. I am working on my speed while I am running everyday since my runs are shorter. Although I will never be fast, I hope to improve, and then to be able to maintain some speed as I add mileage. In my mind I’m 20, and this is highly possible. My 47 year old body might have different ideas. 

40 Days of Fitness

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I have blogged! I am not sure where June went, but I do know summer is going much too quickly. We will be back in school in no time. I love my job, but I have so many projects left to complete this summer that I need more time.

As many of you know, on Memorial Day I began the Runner’s World 40-Day Running Streak, and have run every day for the past 39 days. Tomorrow I will run a 5K with my daughter and husband, wrapping up the running streak. I hadn’t planned to run any races this summer, but my oldest daughter is just getting back to running after the birth of her second son, and wanted to run this race before she moves next week. I haven’t run a 5k in a year and a half. Last year I was plagued with injury all year, and the only race I’ve done this year was a half marathon. I plan to run the race with Morgan to help her get through since she hasn’t run three miles yet. I thought it would be a great way to end my running streak.

I have found this streak to be very motivating and empowering. I had never run more than maybe seven days in a row, and that was maybe once or twice. I had been running three or four days a week, and cross-training with Tabata and HIIT three days. I wasn’t really certain if I would even be able to run 40 days in a row, but I wanted to try it because I wanted to challenge myself. The challenge only required that we run at least a mile a day, and on busy days or days that I normally wouldn’t run, I would only run one mile, but I ran. I tried to run fast (old-lady fast) on those days so that I could improve my speed. I didn’t have many days that I dreaded the run; most of the time I looked forward to it. Even on those few days I dreaded it, once I finished I was so glad I had gone.

Yesterday morning, while on a three-miler, I started thinking about how much I’ve enjoyed this challenge, and how proud I felt because I had stuck with it. In the end, I will get nothing – not even a shirt or a pat on the back. I did this just for my own satisfaction, and it has been well-worth the effort. I wanted to challenge others to step out of their comfort zones; I wanted my friends to feel the same sense of accomplishment I was feeling. My mind started spinning…We could do a Perry County 40-day running challenge…but a lot of my friends can’t run everyday…and what about those who don’t run?…We could do a walk/run challenge….(By this point I was home and in the shower) Or…We’ll just do a fitness challenge so people can do any type of exercise they choose…Yes!!…And they can challenge their friends…and why limit it to Perry County when most of the communication will be online?…I can post the challenge on Facebook and see if anyone is interested. By the time I got out of the shower, I had a plan, and within 30 minutes it was online and a few friends had signed up. Since this is a big commitment, I decided participants should have the opportunity to get a super-cool shirt for their efforts, so I began looking and designs. Then I thought it would be fun to have a celebration at the end, so we will meet at our new establishment, The Pour Haus, following the completion of the challenge. And in case you are wondering, my mind usually works like this (Can you imagine how my husband feels!); sometimes my ideas work out well; sometimes they suck.

As of this writing, 100 people have signed up for commit to 40 Days of Fitness. This is a three-part challenge: 1) Commit to exercise every day for 40 days. 2) Challenge a friend to also commit. 3) During the 40 days, try something you’ve never tried before (Zumba, yoga, Spinning, Pilates, running, cycling, kayaking, etc). I plan to try kayaking. One never knows where this can lead. Ideally, by exercising every day for 40 days, we will create healthier habits. Some parents have signed up their children, which is awesome. Because I work with kids, I see the evidence of unhealthy habits that are negatively impacting our kids. We have to get our kids moving again, and tear them away from the video games. When I was a kid, we played outside all summer. When my girls were young, the neighborhood kids rode bikes, played baseball, swam, and just played. When I am out running or walking, I don’t see many kids outside, and that makes me sad. What are they doing? We need to challenge our children. Childhood obesity is a serious problem, so we need to model healthy habits, make fitness fun, and let kids know that their health matters.

I am really excited to see how this works out (If you haven’t done the math, since I am starting this challenge the same day I finish the previous challenge, I will be running 79 days in a row! I hope I can complete this second challenge). If you are interested in joining the 40 Days of Fitness, here is the link:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1h_yf6tW5vohlWzEUq2FqwnBHaXrtjo7uTGoUBSzOdf4/edit