stepping away from the sneakers.

Cooking isn’t the only thing that flew south over these past two months…

Running.

Running slowly but surely transitioned from a typical 15 mile week to a 10 mile week to a 6 mile week.  I became solely focused on afternoon walks and a twice weekly yoga session (kitty play time doesn’t count, even while I *am* the one who does most of the running.)

I did just enough to make me feel energized, healthy, fit.

Despite having my own personal hangups with taking a hiatus or a cut in mileage, I’m actually a really big supporter of resting.  Many trainers send their best runners into a hiatus during the holiday months, as a way for them to both physically and most importantly mentally take a break from the regime of running.

Anyone who loves running will tell you that a good run makes them feel on top of the world (the legendary “runner’s high.”)  But running can and does become exhausting.  It’s important to know yourself; to know when you need to step away.

 

Returning to running after a complete hiatus or a drastic cut in mileage doesn’t have to feel like the end of the world, by the way.

I’ll admit that my fitness level did deteriorate some, but not a lot.  I continued running, just not nearly as much, which kept me in the groove.  And while I’m not exactly ready to go out and run a marathon anytime soon, I can still keep a pretty steady pace for my typical 3-5 mile loop.  The body can retain its fitness. as long as it’s continuously moving along with some form of cardio.

If you find it difficult to rest, like I often do, it’s important not to lose sight of what fitness is really all about.  Health.  And sometimes being healthy means taking a step back, lowering the intensity of the workout, and just enjoying the very movement and strength that your body possesses.

Sometimes, it’s okay to say cut back, which in the end helps us to move forward.

Sometimes, resting is a very good thing.

QUESTION: Do you have a favorite “high intensity workout”?  Do you take regular breaks/hiatuses or do you stick with your regime?  

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active and shopping.

Yesterday’s workout:

5 mile run.

Today’s workout:

6 hours of retail therapy.

And for the life of me, I just can’t decide which I enjoy more. 😉

Today’s Steals and Deals:

H&M polka dot peasant blouse, $13

H&M Black and White Floral T, $10

The Loft’s green 4-inch shorts, $39.95

(thinking summer already :mrgreen: )

JCPenney Top, $18

I think I was following some sort of color scheme!

You can really get a lot of walking in during a full day of shopping.

And there’s lots to show for it at the end of the day.

What’s not to love about that? 😉

QUESTION: What activity have YOU been most enjoying lately?  I’ve really been getting back into a running groove, which I’m really excited about.  I’d also like to reintroduce the 100-day burpee challenge (and actually stick with it!)

putting on my running shoes.

It’s been almost a month since that running injury.  Meanwhile, I’ve been doing little bouts of running in between my daily walks, along with two yoga sessions a week.

I figured it was about time to test the waters, so I set out for a slow little jaunt.

First thought: “This is ridiculously hard.”

It was hard to enjoy the run when I was so focused on trying to gauge how my heel was feeling.  And apparently (as the huffing and puffing clued me in) the walking hasn’t kept me quite at the same running peak which I was at a month ago.

This made me feel frustrated.

Running has been a pretty consistent part of my life for 8 years.  It clears my head, keeps me focused, reminds me to slow down.  Enjoy the moment.  So when I lack the feeling of strength that comes from running, I feel slightly unglued.  Like something just isn’t right.

Second thought: “I’m running.  I’m breathing hard.  I’m really slow.  BUT!  I’m running.”

The first run that takes place, after taking some time off, is always the toughest.  But as I’ve learned from past experiences, it doesn’t take long to get back into it.  I’m just going to take things slow and let my body tell me when to back off.  My heel felt pretty good, but I don’t want to jinx myself by getting re-injured!

Slow and steady, Sarah.  Slow and steady.

When I came back from the run, it was time to hit Whole Foods.  Mom and I were on a quest to find the perfect piece of meat for Christmas.  I think we’re both feeling ambitious this year. 😉

Two women with a very important mission. 😉

Anyways, we found a nice top sirloin roast.  Which, thankfully, mom will be in charge of, come Christmas Eve.  I don’t touch expensive cuts of meat.  Too much pressure. 😉

Lunch came from the salad bar and bread department…

Spinach

Lentils

Shredded Beats

Edamame

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Vinegar and Oil Butter Beans

Sesame Tofu

Roasted Chicken

Seaweed Salad

And a whole wheat cinnamon raisin bagel.

Mmm.  The simple joy that’s found in the variety of a salad bar. 😉

A tall peppermint mocha soy latte became my drink of choice for the drive home.  (I may be slightly addicted.)

Off to decorate the Christmas tree while drinking some hot cocoa!

And.

Off to make some cheesy noodles with spinach.

Stay tuned for the quick and easy recipe to come!!

QUESTION: Have you ever taken a running (or other exercise) hiatus?  For how long?  How did you feel returning?

I can feel it coming.

Confession: Aside from Saturday night’s pizza, I haven’t whisked or sauteed or baked a thing in the past week or so.

Nada.  Zilch.  Zip.

I haven’t served much time in the kitchen.  My cutting boards have been washed maybe once.  In other words. Who am I?

But don’t you worry, not one bit!  That irresistible craving for whisking and kneading is coming right back at me, in one full sweep.  Yep.  It won’t be long now.  And with a fridge full of produce and a $50 gift card to Whole Foods (which my friend gave me for taking pictures of her bridal shower & bachelorette,) I’m more than ready.

Because if that’s not inspiration, what is?

I have however, been all into my newest September goal of getting myself physically active in new and interesting ways.  Today was all about hiking, one of my favorite outdoor activities.

It was so humid today, Dad and I felt as if we had gone swimming after just 10 minutes into the hike.

Totally worth it though.  I seriously need to hit the trails more often.  It gets the heart rate up—just like running—and the scenery was a beautiful change of pace from my typical running route.

But anyways.  I guess, really, I simply wanted to forewarn you of all the (many) recipes to come in the very near future.

Because you can only carry on for so long without a whisk in hand, before it just doesn’t make much sense any more.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

QUESTION: Do you ever take a hiatus from cooking/baking?  Or are you constantly cooking something up in the kitchen?

coping mechanisms 101

I’ve been counseling a lot of patients over the past 8 weeks.  And while the entire premise has been based primarily on diabetes and weight loss, it’s not just about the…well…diabetes and weight loss.

If it came down to just the know-how knowledge of nutrition, most of my patients could be dietitians themselves.  Most, not all, but most of them know what they need to do.  It’s getting there that’s the issue.

The behavioral changes, the way we cope with things, and those things that need to take place before any real life changes can happen are oftentimes so ingrained–such a part of us–that we don’t even notice their existence.

For example.  Coping mechanisms.

We all have them, whether we admit to this or not.  How do you handle stress?  How do you react when you get a huge promotion?  What do you do when you’re burnt, tired, feeling alone, bored, (fill in the blank)?

Some of us smoke.  Some of us drink.  Some of us journal.  Some of us turn to food.  And some of us don’t cope at all.

I always thought I was immune from this “coping” thing.

But then, I felt it last year after I visited my Memere in the hospital.  I felt it again when I was applying for dietetic internships.  And then I felt it this morning, when I realized that the thunder and lightening would keep me far, far away from my much needed run.

Yes.  I am a stress runner.

Coping mechanisms can be a good thing.  We all need to get through the tough, exciting, stressful, wonderful, etc. periods of our life with something.  Something.  

But then.  They can also be very bad.  Messing with our minds, causing us to overeat, or causing us to push too hard in our running regimens.

So.  What to do?  First, find what your coping mechanism is.  Write down your feelings revolving around these emotions and soon you will find a connection.  Acknowledge those feelings (they won’t ever go away completely!) and think about what your coping mechanism does to help you deal.

If you cope by eating, find another outlet.  Another source.  Surround that emotion will a number of possible, healthier outlets, training yourself to turn to these things when you feel the need.  If you feel you deserve to eat something wonderful because of a stressful day at work, replace the eating with going for a walk.  You deserve to leave the stress behind you.  You deserve to treat yourself right.  With respect.  And you deserve to feel the best that you can feel.  Or save money by skipping takeout, make your own meal and plunk some of that saved money into a “massage fund.”

If you cope by running, like me, then be realistic about this.  Don’t go out and chomp out 10 miles when you’re feeling stressed, which will only set you up for injury.  Instead, keep the mileage reasonable and focus on your breathing, your posture, the way your legs feel as you smooth along the road.  Mindful running.  And stick to your mileage plans to avoid overuse!

And when you can’t run?  Like today.  Harumph.  It’s tough, but embrace this as part of your training and find something else to practice mindfulness.  Yoga to strengthen the weaker running muscles.  Or simple sit down, eat your breakfast, drink your cup of coffee and realize that tomorrow your legs will feel fresh enough for that 4 miler you had planned.

QUESTION: Do you notice one (or two…or three) type of coping mechanisms in yourself?

First Half Marathon Recap

Twin Lights Half Marathon, May 15, 2011

WE.  DID.  IT!!!! 😀

This is the race that I have been planning ever since I finished my very first race (a 10k) in Gloucester.  Well.  Not literally this exact race.  But a half marathon.  Any half marathon, really.

And then I got injured.  Sidelined by plantar fasciitis.  And then runners knee.  One after the other.  I was absolutely heartbroken.  Crushed!!!

But then someone wise (aka, Dad) told me, “Sarah, there will be plenty more races in your future.  Just rest and get better.”

And so I did.  I rested and strengthened and busied myself with other things like biking and yoga.  Not instead of running.  But because I was a runner.  I wanted to be stronger and more prepared for the next time around.

Eventually I reached the point when I could run/walk a mile completely pain free.  This was back in May, 2010.  The month when my Memere passed away from esophageal cancer.  I remember distinctly that day, when I went out crying and pleading, “God, please let me run.  I need to run.  Please.”

And I did.  And it was painless.  Not a hint of a knee or a foot injury.  This is when I knew that soon, I would be ready.

My dietetic internship started in August, a month when the days were quickly growing shorter and shorter, and my schedule was becoming more and more busy.  I didn’t have that spare time to run in the morning anymore, and yet I absolutely hated the thought of running alone at night through the dark woods.

And then dad did something I will never forget.  He threw on his running gear and said, “let’s run.”  And so, we did.  We religiously ran two 3 mile runs a week.  Through snow and rain and sleet.  We ran.

And in some quiet but unforgotten place in the back of mind, there still lingered the possibility of a half.

I didn’t announce these plans.  Those dreams and goals.  Not until one Saturday afternoon, after coming home from a 6 mile run.  That’s when I knew–I just knew!–that if ever I was going to make it, this was the time.

Dad kept increasing the long runs with me every Saturday, and we mutually decided that we would start a real training program together.  The Twin Lights Half Marathon gave us the perfect amount of training time, so we signed up.  The rest is history. 😀

And then Matthew–a Boston marathoner–said he wanted to join in on the fun too.

Over the course of the next 16 weeks, we all kept tabs on each other’s progress.  Issuing advice, complaints and advice on everything from foam rolling and icing to nutrition and sneakers.

And then–today–we did it.  We passed through the finish line as the announcers sounded off our names on the loud speakers.  I wanted to cry.

It is surreal.  I still can’t believe it.

I am so proud of Dad and Matthew (they finished in 1:45!!!)  And I am so proud of myself too!  Proud of each mile that led me here.  Proud of each tear that I cried as I ran away the bitter pain from my Memere’s passing.  Proud of each high five that my dad gave me as we finished our weekly long runs.  Proud of each step.  Each hill.  Each hurdle.  Yes.  I am so, so, so proud.

My knee acted up quite a bit today (by mile three!!,) but I’m honestly okay with that.  I plan on giving my body some much needed down time, while incorporating more strength training and biking into my routine.  Especially now that the nice weather is here! 😀

How was the Twin Lights Half Marathon course itself?

Well.  The final verdict from most runners was that it was incredibly daunting.  Steep.  Monstrous.  A bully of sorts.  More than one runner laughed at the finish line, saying that they were so happy that they chose to incorporate hills into their training routine.  I’ve never seen or experienced so many hills in my life.

But.  Sigh.  We made it.  And we made it smiling. 😀

Thank you everyone for all of your support and encouraging words!  They meant so much to me as I went through training.  I couldn’t have done it without you!!

Thank you, Matthew and Dad for running your hearts out with me, each step of the way.

And thank you God, for my health.  For letting me run.  I will never forget.

And good luck to all you readers who are also in the middle of training for your upcoming races! 😀

QUESTION: What is one of your proudest moments?

seeing the cup half full

Yesterday, I ate lunch at 3.

Last night, I skipped dinner and missed my night time snack.

This morning, I ate the breakfast of champions.

Oh yes, saltines.  And an orange, just to round it all out.

And then, for lunch, I had a dole strawberry fruit bar.

There is this vicious bug circulating around, making itself known to anyone and everyone who comes in contact with it (don’t worry, as far as I know, it’s not catchy via internet!)

This bug wouldn’t “bug” me so much, if I didn’t have a half marathon to run on Sunday!  However, in spirit of always trying to stay positive, I made a list of some reasons why being sick might be a good thing.  Bear with me.

(1) I could have been attacked by that mean Jack Russell Terrier today on my run.  Imagine running the half marathon with a dog bite!

(2) I could have been sick on Sunday and not today, which would basically mean an automatic forfeit!

(3) I could have been on the brink of getting injured and perhaps taking today off from running (and walking) was just what my body needed.

(4) Mentally, I’ll be well rested and itching to run by Sunday.

(5) Maybe , as with many things in life, this is a blessing in disguise.

Sometimes I need to let out some steam.  Sometimes I get downright mad and upset.  Sometimes I have to throw a tantrum and shout “this just isn’t fair!”

But usually—mostly always—I feel my best when I remember to look at the positive side of things.

QUESTION: Does staying positive come natural to you or do you have to work at it?  I most definitely have to WORK at it!