Motivation v1.0

A friend recently asked me about motivation. It’s hard to say one single thing that got me into all of this running and gym time. The gym came partially because of the encouragement from my boyfriend. He has been full of support and knowledge about a lot of things that I had no idea about. For instance, he was the one that finally convinced me that girls don’t bulk out from lifting weights and educated me on why lifting was so important.

I started looking at resources for women’s lifting and came across videos of girls doing 300lb deadlifts. I was so impressed that that became my goal. I wanted to be as awesome and impressive as these girls. The girls were often young, not bulky, but strong. Oh, to be so strong! So I started lifting. I started with basic lifts with the barbell: squat, deadlift, row. I was pretty weak to begin with, so the 45lb bar was enough for me at first. I slowly worked my way up. Three months in, I hit 100lbs and kept adding weight. That was unfortunately when I think I started to get less careful and ended up with my herniated disc.

I had been seriously into my lifting goal. I was working with my trainer once a week and working out besides. I don’t know when I ended up back at the gym after my back injury. It was actually before I was diagnosed with the disc problem. I stopped the gym entirely when I started physical therapy three days a week. I have slowly integrated the gym back in and am regularly back in it, but I will probably never lift heavy like that again.

So my goal of 300lbs was dashed. What next? Somehow running came about. I wish I could remember exactly how it started. I hated cardio. Why do cardio when you can lift things? Lifting was my favorite and the deadlift especially. But then came running. It may have been that I could do much less of the other things at the gym that I just ended up on the treadmill more and more. Someone at my gym suggested the elliptical since it was lower impact all around, but I really hate the elliptical.

I looked up beginning running programs and found Couch-to-5k. The goals associated with that really helped get me going. Every time I got on the treadmill, it was a new challenge and I had a real attainable goal. There are other beginning programs, obviously, and I didn’t stick with c25k the whole time. I really recommend finding something to guide and challenge you like that. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to do a race, so there was another goal!

You may be catching onto something here: goals. I would say that’s the real answer to the motivation question. Lots of people have the goal of losing weight or “toning up,” but those types of goals might not motivate you. While those things are bonuses to what I’m doing (and let me tell you, I totally geek out over how my arms look lifting dumbbells now), I think finding a really attainable goal that you can have measured incremental success at will probably get you on the right track if the general goals don’t work. Lifting weights was something I could see improvement at every time I went in. I could add a little weight or know that I was working toward it. With running, I add new distances and I’m in a competition with myself for other things like speed. Races are a great goal to have since you have something solid to work toward by a deadline. You also have to pay entrance fees and that can motivate you all on its own. No one wants to give away their money.

My other motivation for keeping up with the gym and running is how I feel. Regardless of the extraordinary feeling of doing something you didn’t think you ever would, it feels good. I am 100% more aware of my body and how it works. Something as silly as going up stairs is a strange new experience because now I’m paying attention to the way my knees bend or appreciating how my body can do simple things like that. You might think that after over year in the gym, I’d be seeing crazy results. I’m not. I have maintained almost exactly the same weight since I started working out. I have been told that’s impressive in and of itself. I can tell some differences in my body(arms!) or the way it operates (those stairs!), but it’s not like my motivations are coming from a drastically shrinking waistline.

My advice when you’re searching for motivation: find goals.  Find things you enjoy.  If you don’t like working out or can’t find something you like to do right off, you might have to tough it out like I did with cardio until something just catches right (though you may not all of a sudden love running like I do).  Ultimately, you have to find your own good reasons for doing it and make sure that those reasons will drive you.

In Case You Missed It…


It was slow. It was still run/walk/ralking, but there you have it:  I have officially reached a goal.  I even did it below the pacing requirement for the 5k in February.  Afterward, I kind of felt like a superhero.  You read about “runner’s high” and I thought I knew what that felt like since I have enjoyed running so much and feel good after I do it, but this… This was beyond that.  Superhero, I tell you.

So what’s next?  Besides the race, I still have to build up my endurance to actually run steady for the entire distance.  I have really, really improved on my road running endurance.  I can run for much longer periods than I used to, but I am still having trouble pacing myself.  I seem to be averaging anywhere between 14:00 min/mi and 9:00 min/mi, though between 10 and 12 min/mi seem to be the norm.  No wonder I’m tiring out quickly and having to walk. Ha! I like those speeds better and they feel better, but I just can’t sustain them yet.

I’m pretty confident that between now and the end of February, I can work some of these kinks out, increase my speed, and go further than 5k before then.  It will be especially possible if the winter stays so mild here in Ohio and I don’t have to be afraid to go outside in the snow!

But here’s to today!! Yay for 5k!

Running! Update! Again!

Today was a big day.  Today, I ran for 20 minutes consecutively and for over a mile and a half straight.  Both are accomplishments for me.  If you had asked me a few months ago whether I would/could do that, I would have laughed at you.  Thinking back on when I was just having a hard time running for five minutes straight puts it into perspective. I have changed up my training a little as time has gone on.  I realize now that when I started, I really had it all wrong.

I am again using an app for training.  It’s the same app I have been using, but they renamed it and did some altering to the plan since the official Couch-to-5k training is under trademark. Honestly, the offical C25k app is not so good compared to this one, so I’m sticking with it.  The same app makers have other apps for 10k and a half-marathon as well.  Hopefully it will be easy to just keep on training.

As far as current training goes, I have also stopped focusing on increasing my speed.  For awhile, I was really worried about pace and making sure that I was always increasing it. Now, I have kept the same pace but am just working on sticking to what the training requires as far as time is concerned.  When I am running outside and can’t maintain a set pace as easily, I go for distance and usually end up around the same pace.  I can see now that my problem when I finally get to the actual 5k is going to be the pacing.  I try to improve it every time I am off the treadmill, but it’s really hard to stay consistent.  I just think I need to pay more attention to how the pace feels on the treadmill and try to replicate it on the ground. I am not quite fully prepared for super cold outdoor running, but I am planning on getting outside as much as I can until it starts snowing.

All in all, I am super happy with the progress.  After my run today, I have just felt like I can totally kick that 5k’s ass come February.  I’m already looking at the next race after that. Ha!


I haven’t posted resources in awhile, so here are some things I have been looking at…

The Once and Future Way to Run :: written by the man behind Born to Run, includes a video about the 100-up exercise

Stretch It Out :: stretches!

Running with Eric: Run Drills and Technique :: a video of drills and technique, primarily with a forefoot strike focus.

The Clymb :: gear at a discount

Cold Weather Training and Your Body

Capital City Half Marathon :: what I plan on doing after February

Status Update: December

Here it is, almost a month later.  Time is flying by this year.

I’m removing some of these goals and adding new ones.  The reasons will be listed below.

Goal: Run a 5k!
Status: I am going to do a proper running update here in a second, because there’s some stuff going on here.  But all in all, there has been some really good progress. I ran my longest time and distance consecutively today.  That was a pretty awesome accomplishment.  I felt really good afterwards (though my legs were a bit wobbly, I have to admit).

Goal: Achieve previous weight-lifting benchmarks – 105 on squat and deadlift.
Status: I am removing this goal.  While lifting is something that I’m doing in small doses and with small weight, I feel that just getting back into doing a normal lifting routine should be my main focus.  I am doing a little bit more physical therapy to get back into the gym properly and after that we will see how it goes.

Goal: Write every day.
Status: I have been keeping a bit of a December goal going on elsewhere and I have been writing for Awkward Creature, but that’s about it as of now.  I am still hoping to start getting up a little earlier every day and starting off the day writing.  I think getting into a routine is really important with this.

Goal: Decrease sugar, caffeine, and dairy intake.
Status: I have been steadily keeping to one cup of caffeine a day.  My dairy intake has been been reasonably limited to sandwiches. Sugar is something I am still working on, but I think my next goal is going to be just focusing on better nutrition overall.  I am hoping to eat a salad every day, etc.  Still sort of working on what I want to do with this, but the salad is a start.  I definitely do not eat enough vegetables.

Goal: Read regularly.
Status: Finished Born to Run, which I really loved.  If anyone has suggestions along that vein, I would love to hear them. It has been pretty slow going with Clash of Kings, but I have been drifting between a couple of other books at the same time.  Matt Taibbi writes a great column for Rolling Stone, so I picked up his book,  Griftopia. I also grabbed Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein (the guy in the OWS video I posted here), but haven’t really gotten much into that.  Incidentally, you can read the entire thing for free online at Reality Sandwich.  My plan is to stick with Sacred Economics for a bit and then go back to Griftopia, which has excruciatingly long chapters.  For someone who picks books up pretty randomly, it’s hard for me to stick with 50page chapters.  Maybe if I gave more consistent time to reading, but I really sort of snatch time on lunch breaks and other times at home.  Also, I have been trying to keep a reasonable tally of things over at Goodreads.  I started an account there back in 2007 and have only been back and forth randomly.  Lots of old to-reads and such, but I’m trying to keep it better updated.

Goal: Save money/get budget on track.
Status:  Things are going pretty well along here.  I still have some of the surgery bill to take care of and with Christmas coming up, things get a little crazy but I’m feeling pretty good.  I’ve been noticing spots where I can really decrease my spending and am actively trying to pursue doing that.  I’m currently switching internet providers, which will save me almost $40/mo, all of which will go into savings. I also decided to put my heating bill on a budget plan, so no crazy surprises over the winter on that. Progress!

Goal: De-google.
Reason: Let’s be honest: Google is kind of big in a scary sort of way.  They follow you around and house all of this crazy data about you.  All those ads that are tailored to you seem nice, but what’s really going on there? Actually, the real thing that started me thinking about getting away from Google was the fact that they redesigned Google Reader in a bad way and then didn’t listen to feedback from their users.  It was a move trying to force people into using Google+, a service that I tried and left. I’m not really interested in using their services if they aren’t going to listen to their users and force unwanted products upon people.  Of course, I’d like to get away from Facebook too based on how they also follow you around the internet, but unfortunately there are too many people I would probably lose touch with (family especially).
Status: I have officially changed all my RSS feeds over to NetVibes.  I am in the process of changing emails around, but I have used gmail for so very long that it’s hard to get that all settled. I also have the problem that certain things won’t reset to the email that I’d like to use, blah blah blah.  So that’s an ongoing battle.  I have been reading posts like this one and working my way through.  We’ll see how far this goes.

I was actually going to list volunteer as a poll worker for the next election, but I already put in my application for it, so… Goal: accomplished!  There are a couple of other goals I’m working on in the pre-goal stage, so to speak.  But some goals have to wait for other things to fall into place first.  Hopefully by next month, I will have some new things to add.

Running! Update!

My last few posts have been lacking a certain… something… Like running!  Lots of excitement there!

My birthday was the 19th and, as promised, I registered for my first 5k.  Lucky for me, the boyfriend agreed to run with me!  So Royal Family 5k, here we come!  I am really just beyond excited.  Now, if I could just get that pesky sister to come, too…

In light of being officially registered for the race, I got back onto the Couch-to-5k train.  I am almost done with week 5 and I am only doing it when I am running indoors on a treadmill.  I am still having some serious trouble pacing myself outdoors.  I have also been having some trouble with my asthma as well with the air getting colder.  I am going to see if breathing through something like a neck gaiter will help me since the air will be warmer that way.  I’m also going to start just using my rescue inhaler before a work-out, as is often directed for people with exercise-induced asthma. I use my maintenance inhaler every morning, but maybe that’s not enough as it gets colder.

Last week, I had the pleasure of running with different people, something I haven’t done before.  On Tuesday, I went out to a park with my friend.  He helped me on my running form and breathing techniques.  It was really eye-opening just to run with someone else who was paying attention. I felt bad as I am still slow and still walk often during runs, so he wasn’t getting much of a work out, but I benefited a lot from it.  After that, on Thanksgiving day, my stepbrother, his girlfriend, and I went out for a quick go around my sister’s neighborhood.  My stepbrother had us doing fun things like sprints and skips, etc.

I am trying to work on things two-fold.  I want increased distance and increased steady running time.  They will both come together, but I know I have done more distance when breaking up my run with walks. One way or another, I just have to keep progressing so that 5k is in the bag by February.  Even if I don’t get as far as I want, I still have to say that I am learning nothing feels better than getting out there and running.  I don’t always feel like it, but once I get going, I always feel better after.

Status Update: November

Back in August, I started keeping track of some goals…  I have not been super awesome at keeping up on the status or even keeping an eye on my goals in general.  It’s about time to get back on track now that all the surgery stuff is as out of the way as it can currently be.  So… UPDATE!

Goal: C25k
Status: To be honest, I gave up following a program and just started to run/walk/runk at my own pace.  I have goals and I set pace goals or time goals as I can.  I go out each time with the idea of doing at least 2 miles.  This week, I should average almost 10 miles for the week if things go as planned.  I may find myself back on the program more officially, but I can tell you that I do about 2 miles in about 30min and if I stay on that track, I will have no problem with the 5k in February. The required pacing for that is 16min/mile and I’m already above that. Speaking of the 5k, registration will happen on the 19th as a birthday present to myself.  I’m super excited.

Goal: Achieve previous weight-lifting benchmarks – 105 on squat and deadlift.
Status: I just started back to some weights this past week.  I did some squats with a 20lb bag and it seemed to go ok.  I have also been deadlifting with free weights. Jury is still out on whether I will ever get to this stage again.  It felt good to do some strength training again though.  The sore arms and chest the next day felt great.

Goal: Write every day.
Status: If I can get this blog going more regularly, I can write more regularly.  It’s a muscle I just can’t get into a training schedule. I heard someone suggest just waking up and writing for 10 minutes first thing every day.  I am going to try it.

Goal: Decrease sugar, caffeine, and dairy intake.
Status: Caffeine seems to be about 1 drink a day.  One cup of coffee a day is okay by me right now.  Sugar… I have at least drastically decreased the amount of high fructose corn syrup in my life.  I guess that’s a step.  I have been keeping around one dessert like food in the house (the current favorite is chocolate covered almonds), but I’d really like to stop consuming anything of that nature on a regular basis.  Since surgery, I have been hyper aware of dairy intake and would like to see a little more decrease in that as well.

Goal: Read regularly.
Status: Finished Game of Thrones! Am almost done with Born to Run and have also started Clash of Kings. Progress!

Goal: Save money/get budget on track.
Status:  Two weeks ago, I increased my automatic savings. A few extra bucks in each account is nothing to ignore. My car savings is up to about 20%.  Emergency fund is about 25%. I am going to start actively analyzing my spending more instead of just tracking it. First step was getting into the habit of tracking it so that I could analyze it.  Now it’s onto the next step…

All in all.. Progress, I’d say.

One Step at a Time

I haven’t run in 11 days.

My last week at the gym, I did 8.3 miles on Couch-to-5k over four days. The Columbus Marathon was on Sunday and seeing those runners made me so jealous. I don’t have much interest in a marathon right now (let’s complete that 5k first, shall we?), but it was something to see other people doing what I am just not allowed to do yet.

After feeling kind of poorly the last two days, I was anxious to wake up this morning and see about going for a walk. I took my time gearing up. I ate some breakfast, rested a bit, and then put those shoes on.

Post-Surgery Shoes

I was so excited just to walk! I had big dreams of breaking into a jog without any problem, but as soon as I started out, I knew that was unlikely. The movement of walking did cause some discomfort in my stomach at the surgery invasion points. I kept my hands near my stomach for most of the time out. I didn’t need my pillow for stability, but I needed a little something.

I started out walking on a route that I had mapped a couple weeks ago. I have wanted to transition to doing some road running since I have only been doing the treadmill. There are a lot of pluses to the treadmill: always knowing your pace and forcing yourself to adjust one way or another, climate controlled, etc. But there are a lot of nice things about the road. The boredom of a treadmill, whether you’re listening to your iPod or not, is still there. You’re running in place. The benefits have outweighed that downside for me for the most part, but being outside today really made me see how nice that was. I had interesting things to look at, fresh air, no one on the next treadmill screwing up my heart rate monitor (ha!), etc. It was really nice.

I also used the walk to test out two different apps on my phone for the purpose of outdoor running: MapMyRUN and RunKeeper. I did a total of 1.22 miles today, or about half of a mile out and back. The first half, I did with MapMyRUN. Maybe I didn’t understand what I was looking at, but the pacing part of the app was confusing to me. I appreciated the map and GPS capability, but I felt like the pace was off. On the walk back, I used RunKeeper, which seemed a little bit less complicated and more accurate with what made sense for my pacing (which wasn’t fast, believe me). After getting back and looking at what the two apps came up with, it seemed pretty comparable. I liked that RunKeeper automatically gave me 5min interval audio cues on pace and distance (something I imagine you could turn off, if desired). I also appreciated the ease of the RunKeeper website. Both the mapping ability and the work-out input function were simple and did all the math for you. Of course both apps automatically load your recorded work-outs onto their respective sites so you can look over your stats. Overall, I think that RunKeeper wins. I have been tracking my total mileage over at dailymile, but may start to switch things to RunKeeper.

So now, for those of you keeping score, my current running apps:
C25k app – for Couch-to-5k training
Electric Miles – logging miles in dailymile
RunKeeper – outdoor running with GPS, routes/maps, stats, etc.

I hope to get back out and walk a little farther and/or faster tomorrow. I think as long as I don’t overdo, this can only help my recovery.

A Runner by Any Other Name

“I often hear someone say I’m not a real runner. We are all runners, some just run faster than others. I never met a fake runner.” — Bart Yasso

I successfully did a pace of 12:00/mile for all of about a minute the other day.  This would be the fastest that I have ever run. Ever.  Yesterday, I did 2.03 miles, which is my longest distance.  I’m averaging a pace of about 13:57 through my runs.  Not shabby, but not fast.  The longest time that I have run consecutively so far is five minutes.  And I could only do that once during the entire first day of Week 4 on Couch-to-5k. It asks you to do two runs of five minutes.  I broke up the second run into two different parts.

Five minutes is the longest run I’ve done in my whole life.  It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t easy. Of course, I also felt that way about running three minutes at a time, but that seems like nothing compared to the five! Watching the other people around me running for tens of minutes at a pace much higher than mine could be discouraging.  Sometimes it is.

The title “runner” seems like an achievement. When do you get it?  After your first race?  When you can successfully run for more than five minutes? When your pace reaches a certain level? Or does it start with intention?  The most recent example of this I can think of is Kevin Smith.  He has repeatedly said that he started out as a filmmaker by acting like one first.  So maybe that’s how you become a runner.  You get up every day, you put on your shoes, and you go.  Whether you feel like a runner or not every time, no matter the pace, if you’re behaving as a runner… It’s the old “if it walks like a duck and talks like duck bit,” right? And of course this can apply across the board in your life: to get that promotion, you act like the job you want.  To do anything that requires practice to become, you practice and then you are that thing.  Maybe it sneaks up on you in the middle of the night.

So the quote above has become kind of important.  I’m not fast. I’m not going very far. But I’m going.  Almost every day. That seems like something, maybe even something a runner might do.

The Long Road to 5k: The First Race Decision

I want this little badge of honor to be mine.

It’s why I’m doing Couch-to-5k to begin with, right?  A 5k is the goal.  When I first started, I think just finishing the program was my goal.  I had been dealing with my back injury for so long and was so discouraged about my lifting progress, I needed something new.  So far, running (or the equivalent to it that I am currently doing) has opened up a lot of new fascinating things, whole worlds that I never thought I’d have any interest in.  I still have a very long way to go with C25k and a whole lot more to learn, but I’m on the right track.  Now my eyes are on the next prize: my first race.

I stumbled upon the Royal Family 5k via Runner’s World (my new small obsession).  Running through Epcot? You can really do that? Sign me up! I couldn’t think of a better first race. Epcot is one of my favorite Disney parks, plus I could go and see my parents in Florida.  It’s a win-win.  My mom gets to watch me race and my reward will be her famous chicken casserole. It all makes sense.

So I decided that this should be my first race about a week ago.  Since then, I keep staring at the race page, daring myself to go ahead and register. My mom expressed some concerns about having surgery in October and racing February.  The doctor said I could get back to working out 2 weeks from surgery if everything went well. I expect that there will be some catch-up on my training, but I’m sure that if you asked me to do a 5k today I could finish.  I can walk at least as fast as the 16min/mile requirement (It must be a real race! It has a real requirement!), so even if I’m slow or have to walk part of it, I can do this.  But I don’t want to walk it.

I want to run it.

1 month + 1 week status update

Well, I had wanted to do this last week, but some things got in the way (hello, ER!).  Better late than never.  It’s been one month and one week since I started this whole shebang. Here are some goal updates…

Goal: C25k
Status: Week 3 of Couch-to-5k was restarted today. If you remember, I started the program over again in an attempt to get adjusted to the Merrells. It’s gone pretty well.  Week 3 is when you start to really run for a longer period of time, starting at 3min. I was nervous to get this far, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as when I first did it.  I think I only made it to the first day of Week 3 when I first started the program, so I’m on my way to progressing. The Merrells have been working out really well also, which is a bonus. Also started logging total miles at dailymile.

Goal: Achieve previous weight-lifting benchmarks – 105 on squat and deadlift.
Status: Not much focus on this right now.  I’m still at 15lb dumbbell deadlifts and bodyweight squats. They haven’t been the main point of my strength training since I’ve been trying to follow my physical therapy exercises pretty closely.  I’m in the gym with my trainer next week, though.  Maybe we can get some supervised lifting in.

Goal: Write every day.
Status: Ha! I have ideas roaming around in my head though. I think my new approach is going to be mapping things out.  If I have a goal and some sort of endpoint, I think I will be better off.

Goal: Decrease sugar, caffeine, and dairy intake.
Status: The good news is that all of these have decreased, at least in the past week.  I can’t say I was doing so hot trying to stay away from caffeine and dairy before I ended up in the ER. Since Saturday, though, I have made great strides and lost 4lbs incidentally. As far as sugar goes, I am only really allowing myself to buy two of my favorite cookies when I am at the grocery. I consume them whenever and am not currently having any other sugary treats. Caffeine is on and off, but I am definitely not craving it. Dairy has become less of a focus because I am trying so hard to keep an eye on what I’m eating. High fat foods are problems for gallbladders, so most of the dairy I’ve had is a little cheese in my salad at lunchtime.  Yay, improvement! (Even if it’s by force!)

Goal: Read regularly.
Status: 733/1098 in A Game of Thrones. Slow progress.  The book is maddening because I currently hate what’s going on.

Goal: Save money/get budget on track.
Status: I have a plan. I currently have more in savings than I really expected. I doubled the goal for my car down payment, so I’m only at 15% right now. My emergency fund and “other” fund are both coming along nicely. I fear that most of this is going to be wiped out with my surgery bill. I have yet to call the hospital about fees specifically, but if their website and my insurance website estimates are any indication, let’s cross our fingers they like payment plans. Ha. We’ll talk after my surgery on where this all lands. The good news, I guess, is that I will be spending significantly less money while I’m laying around recovering for 2 weeks.