Running

Run Happy?

Why yes, I will.  Why?  Because I lucked out last night, my friends.

All day at work I had been looking forward to quittin’ time when I could hop in my vehicle and haul tushie over to Fleet Feet to pick up a new pair of running shoes.  I noticed that my joints and feet took a pounding on my long run last week – I woke up the next morning more/differently sore than usual – so even though I had just gotten shoes in June, I was overdue for a new pair.  Seemed kinda soon to me but those babies were shot.

Anywho, when I arrived at the shop, old shoes in hand (to donate, of course, cause the last thing I need lying around my small-ish apartment is a stinky old pair of running shoes…and it’s for a good cause) I was greeted by a sea of runners decked out in flourescent clothing.  What, pray tell, was this?

Turns out I had happened by the store during the “Switch on Your Run – Brooks Fashion Show, Contest, and Run.” What?!?!?!?  Oh, yeah, baby!

You see, Brooks is my brand.  I have some screwed up foot issues that in turn affect my knees and hips and can sometimes make running a bit tricky for this chickie.  Brooks Ravenna are the only shoes that correct this issue which allows me to hoof it for 15-20 miles at a time.

If not for Brooks, I wouldn’t be able to be the runner I am.  Yeah, I owe ’em a lot.

After slingin’ my old Ravennas into the donation box and gettin’ fitted for my new pair (I don’t know why I even bother with a fitting anymore – Brooks Ravenna, size 9.5, please), I walked on over to the Brooks demo table to talk to the friendly rep and impress upon him my devotion to his brand.  Well, I must have been pretty convincing – or he was just sick of hearing me talk – cause half-way through my Ode to Ravennas he stopped me to ask, “Hey, have you gotten one of these?”  “One of these” was a neon green dry-wick shirt that everyone who showed up for the aforementioned “Switch on Your Run” received for participation. 

I love neon.

Well, friends, it took all my willpower not to jump across the table and give this man a great big smooch!  I hadn’t made it in time for the event – all the runners left while I was tryin’ on my new shoes – but he still gifted me the shirt!  The only thing I love more than free schwag is free neon green schwag :).

Folks, things just got better after that.  Every Brooks item in the store was 20% off.  Yes.  I do not lie…but I did buy…this:

My love of neon is such that it is no surprise my formative years occurred during the 80s.

Yay for new running gear!!!  I was so excited to try all this stuff out that I headed directly home, laced up my new shoes…

Nothing makes a run feel easier than new kicks.

…pulled on my new shirt…

AH!!! Hurts my eyes!!! But, hey, I’m visible.

…and headed out for a quick – not to mention safe (who could miss me in that shirt?) – run.

When I got home, I had a mini fashion shoot…

Always so happy after a run.

…to nerdily document…

I heart thumb holes.

…my hot, new gear.

Pockets are da bomb. Diggity.

So, thank you Brooks rep whose name I don’t know!  And thank you Fleet Feet for catering to all of my running gear needs!

Do you have a favorite brand of shoes and/or athletic clothing?

Categories: Runner's High, Running | 4 Comments

Unavoidable Lemons

I got some depressing news at work this past Friday.  Icktastic news that I’d rather not re-hash for you all.  Essentially, though, I’ve lost a part of myself and it’s made me sad.  So very, very sad.

Normally, when confronted with a situation that I find unappealing I like to employ a method entitled “Practicing the Fine Art of Avoidance.”  It’s a spectacular coping mechanism that requires one to ignore a particular situation or problem until it resolves itself, someone else fixes it, or it simply just goes away.  Easy peasey.  It is clean, efficient, and, best of all, protects one’s fragile emotions.

However, sometimes nasty stuff is unavoidable and “Practicing the Fine Art of Avoidance” is not an option.  So, how do you cope when you have to face negativity and hardship?

TCT #8: How do you deal with the negative feelings that come along with unavoidable, nasty situations?

Aside from dealing with the problem itself – let’s face it, at some point in your life you’ve gotta be an adult – here are the various methods I employ to get me through the ick:

Tactic #1: Cry.

Yes, as mentioned above, we must be adults, but, my friends, big girls DO cry.  It’s therapeutic.  It’s a release.  There’s something very freeing and soothing about letting the tears come and getting all snotty and having your mascara run and blowing through a box of tissues in 2.2 nanoseconds.  Attractive?  No.  Professional?  No.  Necessary?  You better believe it.  At least for me.

Tactic #2: Call Mom.

After I’ve cried my eyes out – or while still in the process of – I pick up the phone and speed dial Mom.  No one else in the world has the calming effect that that woman has on me.  The planet could be imploding – a scene straight outta 2012 – and all she has to say is “It’ll be alright, Baby Girl.”  All of a sudden, the clouds part, the sun goes back to its proper place in the sky, and all is right with the world.  She’s a miracle worker.

Tactic #3: Go for a run.

The act of physical exertion goes miles – heh, heh, pardon the pun – towards alleviating an emotionally hazardous situation.  Sometimes I focus on my breathing and footfalls to distract myself from what I’m feeling and sometimes I let those feelings wash over me in waves and cry and run and cry and run and cry and breathe and run and cry, breathe, run, breathe, cry…  Inevitably, I feel better after a run particularly when faced with scenery like this:

Atmospheric, no?

Tactic #4: Go shopping.

Let’s be honest: sometimes retail therapy is a must.  I sometimes try to avoid this route, but, when practiced with mindfulness and a bit of restraint, it can work wonders.

Friday’s haul.

Tactic #5: Redecorate.

Whether it be of the everyday variety…

New artwork in the living room.

…the comforting variety…

Who doesn’t love new bedding?

…or of the holiday sort…

Happy Halloween!

…a change of my surroundings is, occasionally, just what the doctor ordered.

So, darlings, what do you do when you cannot avoid the lemons that life throws at you?  How do you cope with unpleasant feelings?

What are your two cents?

Categories: Running, Two Cents Tuesday | 1 Comment

There’s No Junk In My Trunk

In my perusal of exercise/running related blogs last week, I came across a post that really ruffled my feathers.

Angry Bird.

The subject of the post is “Running Lingo 101.”  In the post, the blogger in question kindly defines some common running terms for those new to the sport and/or just unfamiliar with the terms she frequently uses on her blog.  For the most part, it’s an informative, informal run-down of some common running related words and phrases.  Fair enough.

However…

One of those terms just doesn’t sit right with me:  Junk Miles.  The blogger (I am purposely not identifying her or her blog because I don’t want to point fingers or make anyone feel bad) defines “junk miles” as “low quality runs used just to get your mileage for the week higher.”  Um, excuse me?  Hold up.  I take issue with this.  Hence…

TCT #7: Is there such a thing as “junk miles?”

To be fair, the blogger is not alone in her description of “junk miles.”  Traditionally, there have been enough runners who subscribe to this notion that it has wormed its way into the lexicon.  However, the times, my friends, they are a changin’ and this idea of “junk miles” is being exposed for the hogwash it is.

Just from a quick google search, I found valuable articles here, here, and here that serve to debunk the myth of “junk miles” and finally set the record straight: all kinds of miles are valuable for various different reasons.

I don’t care if you’re doing speed training, logging distance runs to increase endurance, or just running cause you’ve got nothing better to do – if you’re hoofin’ it, you’re hoofin’ it.  Period.

Who’s to say that if I run “just” to clear my head, enjoy a beautiful day, or spend time with a friend that the miles I cover on those particular runs are “junk?”  Did those miles work my muscles?  Yes.  Did they exercise my cardiovascular system?  Yes.  Did they burn calories and benefit my overall health?  Yes.  Most importantly, did I enjoy myself on those runs and feel good afterwards?  Yes.  Call me crazy, but that doesn’t sound like “junk” to me.

This doesn’t just apply to running either.  Any time you choose to move your body rather than sit on your tush it’s a good thing.  A 15 minute walk is better than 15 minutes on the couch.  Biking to run errands is better than driving.  Walking to your co-worker’s office to ask a question is better than emailing.  Heck, dancing to a live band at a bar is better than sitting on a bar stool.

Excellent band. Great covers. Heck yeah, I danced.

Any kind of activity that reduces the amount of…ahem…junk in your trunk is worthwhile.  The motivation behind your exercise should not define its overall value.  It doesn’t matter if you’re running to train for a race, lose some weight, or just kill time.  You’re running.  That’s it.  And that’s not junk.

Your turn, dear readers: do you believe in “junk miles?”

What are your two cents?

Categories: Exercise, Running, Staying Active, Two Cents Tuesday | 4 Comments

To Race Or Not To Race…

…that is the question.  The question that periodically haunts this runner’s brain and so makes a fine topic for this week’s Two Cents Tuesday.

TCT#6: Does one have to race to be a runner?

There’s no doubt in my mind that I am a runner.  When someone asks me to describe myself, it’s one of the first words that comes to mind.  As I write about in the “Run with me…” section of this blog, running is so much a part of who I am and what I do that it almost doesn’t bear mentioning at all.  It’s sorta like breathing – everyone breaths all the time but do we ever really talk about it?  No, cause it’s just what we, as living beings, do.

That’s like me with running.

However, as much of a runner as I consider myself, I rarely enter races.  The one exception is the Manchester Road Race.  I’ve run that race every single year of my running career (except for 2007 when I was living in England), but that has more to do with family tradition that anything else – my dad ran it for years before I started running; I picked up where he left off.

I’ve run a couple of half marathons in addition to Manchester but that’s really it.  I also don’t keep close track of my mileage or times.  Sure, I know my ballpark figures but I don’t put much stock in them – looking at distances covered and average mile times is more just a way for me to see where I stand year to year.  I may improve or I may even decline.  Regardless, I keep on running. 

In fact, running is such a way of life for me that it’s almost stopped being exercise.  My body is so used to hoofing it that I rarely look at my every day runs as “working out.”  Oh, I know I could push myself harder – go longer, go faster – and occasionally I do, but “going for a run” is much more mental for me than anything else.  Moving my legs, sensing my muscles propel me down the road, hearing my breathing in my ears, feeling the sweat trickle down my neck – all of that combines into a meditative state in which I think about everything and nothing at the same time.  My mind roams free as instinct takes over and my body just runs.  There’s nothing else like it in the world.

However, despite my passion and my belief that I truly embody what it means to be a runner, I feel a weird guilt every time anyone asks me the last race I ran and/or what next race I’m training for.  I also feel guilty when people assume that I’ll be running a particular race (because I live nearby the route or I’ve run it before) and I have to tell them that I’m not.  I feel like they must think I’m not a true runner if I’m not entering races.  Cause that’s what runners do, right?  They race?

Not me.  I don’t care for racing.  I don’t like the pressure.  I don’t like the restrictions.  When I run I want to run on my own terms.  I want to run for however long I feel like at whatever pace I feel like.  Races take that freedom away.  Still, I can’t help but feel sorta guilty for thinking that way.  Must I run races to be a runner?  I think not.  But then why do I sometimes feel judged for not signing up for every road race that comes my way.  Where does this guilt come from?  Is there some great public perception – that I am inadvertently buying into – that to “run” means to “race?”

What do you think?  Must a runner race to be a true runner?

What are your two cents?

Categories: Exercise, Runner's High, Running, Two Cents Tuesday | 4 Comments

Feelin’ Peevish

We all have ’em.  Those little annoying things that will niggle at you every time you encounter them.  The seemingly insignificant frustrations that, without fail, just get your goat.

Yup, I’m talking about pet peeves. 

**I must digress for a moment.  Did you ever stop to think about the etymology of that phrase?  Why are we giving pets a bad name?  I had a pet hamster once.  Her name was Carla Byrd. 

Meet Carla.

She did not peeve me.  Well, except for when she ran so exuberantly in her wheel that she made her whole cage shake.  At 3 o’clock in the morning.  For two months straight.  But, alas, her running got the better of her and she gave herself a heart attack.  Let us all learn a lesson about obsessive exercise from poor Carla Byrd.

Anywho, as you now will know – if you clicked on the “etymology” link above – the “pet” portion of the phrase springs from “petty” and in no way references our furry domesticated friends.**

Part of what is inherent to pet peeves is that we each have our own – what bothers one person may not bother another.  I have a problem with people leaving dirty dishes next to the sink rather that in it but, from run-ins with roommates, I know that this doesn’t necessarily bother everyone.  To each person, his/her own pet peeve…I suppose.

Sure, I don’t like the whole dishes-next-to-the-sink thing and I have an issue with when people pronounce “idea” as “idear” – come on, can you read?, do you have eyes?, there’s no “r” anywhere in that word! – but I realized just the other day that the pet peeves that really set my blood to boil…

 

This is my “Momma Gonna Knock You Out” face. I’m not a violent person…unless you peeve me.

 

…all have something to do with running.  Maybe it’s cause I spend so much time running but there’s really nothing that annoys me more than the following – these are my “Meesh-is-on-the-warpath” pet peeves:

1.  I can’t stand when I’m running on the road – particularly narrow, twisting rural roads – and cars come zooming past me like they’re on lap 82 of the Indy 500.  Come on, people!  Slow down!  Do you really want “involuntary manslaughter” to appear on your permanent record?!?!  Have some consideration for us pedestrians!  Do you even know how fast 40 miles an hour feels to someone who is not in the car?!?!  No, you probably don’t.  But still! 

GOSH!

2.  I also cannot abide other pedestrians walking too slowly in pedestrian-congested areas and/or taking up the entire sidewalk.  Granted this happened more when I lived in a tourist city but it still does happen on occasion and it makes me want to scream: “Get your ass*ss out of my way!  I am clearly on a mission here, people!  Can’t you see I’m trying to improve my physical conditioning while you are lazing your way down the road talking on your cell phone and scarfing a bag of Fritos?!?!

Get outta my way!!!

Well, gosh.  I feel better.  It helped to get that all outta my system.  I should be good for a while now…until one of the above happens on my next run…

What are your pet peeves?

Do you have any extreme annoyances when it comes to exercising?

If you’re a runner, can you relate to the above?

Categories: Running | Tags: | 4 Comments

Two Cents Tuesday: Are you a Monica or a Phoebe?

I’ve never been a fan of that late 90’s TV phenomenon known as Friends but I couldn’t seem to get two of its annoying beloved characters out of my brain as I sat down to write this post.

Gotta love awkward TV stills.

You see, today’s TCT has to do with “planners” and “wingers” – and, for the life of me, I couldn’t think of two better representations of those personalities than the gals pictured above.  **If you can think of better ones, please let me know cause I don’t particularly care for the whole Friends reference.**

TCT #4: Is it better to have a set weekly exercise schedule or to switch it up daily and just go with the flow?

As you all know by now, I am a creature of habit.  Organization, planning, and order make me happy.  I can’t help it.  Blame my mother – I get it from her. 

She is wonderful, by the way. We do cool stuff like climb mountains together.

So, it should come as no surprise that I have a pretty definitive weekly agenda when it comes to fitness:

Monday: Run 4-5 miles

I always feel best after a run. Look, I’m literally shimmering with happiness.

Tuesday: Run 4-5 miles

Maybe not the prettiest, but definitely the most used shoes in my closet.

Wednesday: Walk 3-4 miles with that lovely mom pictured above.

Thursday: Cindy

Don’t hate. Cindy’s got it goin’ on…and she will kick your a**.

Friday: Run 10-12 miles and spend a little time on my arms and my core while watching OnDemand.

This has been my show choice of late. Please don’t judge me.

Saturday: Run 3-4 miles and/or walk 3-4 miles with my lovely mom.

Sunday: Run 4-5 miles (if I didn’t on Saturday) and/or get in 1 hour of pool time. 

Water aerobics is not just for geriatrics.

Finally, Work Wife and I get in our daily 1 mile lunch-time walk and 5-minute plank.

Smokers get smoke breaks. Athletes get plank breaks.

I like my exercise schedule.  It keeps me active.  It’s got variety.  And it allows for a bit of wiggle room. 

BUT…

Come on, you knew there had to be a “but” somewhere in there.

Because I have such a set schedule sometimes I feel unfulfilled if I don’t stick to it.  For instance, if I miss a run on a Monday or Tuesday, that day seems incomplete – like I didn’t check everything off of my to-do list or something – and I end up feeling “off.”

I don’t like the fact that missing a work-out has the potential to ruin my day – makes me seem too obsessive.  So, sometimes I’ll force myself to “wing it” and just exercise according to what mood I’m in on a particular day.  However, if I do that too often I find that I slack off too much and my work-outs are not as frequent, as long, or as intense as they are when I stick to my schedule.

As with anything in life, I suppose it’s most important to find balance in terms of exercise.  As long as you can maintain a healthy lifestyle, I suppose it doesn’t much matter whether you are a “planner” or a “winger” – you’ve just gotta do what works for you. 

In that case, I’m stickin’ with my “planner” tendencies.  Sometimes I may get down if I miss a run but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just ensures that I’ll keep exercise a part of my daily life – having a schedule to rely on just makes it all the more easy to do so.  I mean really, why should I try to force a Phoebe when I’m much more comfortable being a Monica?  🙂

Your turn: When it comes to exercise, are you a Monica or a Phoebe?

What are your two cents?

Categories: Exercise, Running, Schedule, Staying Active, Two Cents Tuesday | 8 Comments

Hurts so good…

My mom and I went to get our nails done last night.

Pretty piggies, no?

Like many women, I enjoy this stereotypical girl activity not only for the massage and pampering aspect of it but also for the pretty polish.  However, like far fewer women out there, I have ulterior motives when it comes to that pretty polish – sure it’s a festive fashion statement but it also does a phenomenal job of covering up blackened toenails.

Yes, you read that right: blackened toenails.  As a distance runner, I get these quite frequently.  They’re generally a sign that I’ve been increasing mileage and sometimes indicate that I might need to size up in a particular shoe.  I once drastically increased my mileage over a short time span in shoes that were just a touch too small and I walked – more like hobbled – away with two bruised toenails and five with blisters under the nail.  Yes, I popped them – rubbing alcohol and a safety-pin are all ya need – and yes, three of those seven injured nails did eventually fall off. 

Here’s the weird part, people: I liked it.

Call me a masochist, but that’s not the only disgusting and painful thing that I like about running.  For instance: chafing?  Ew.  Ow.  For the love of Pete, it burns!  But…  YES.  Bring it on.

And sweating?  Oh, yeah.  There’s nothing quite so satisfying as a good sweat.  Especially the fine crust of salt that forms as the sweat starts to dry.  It’s like I just took a dip in the Dead Sea.

A trip here is definitely on my short list.

I don’t even need to get into the physical pain pleasure that comes with running itself – sore muscles, labored breathing, blissful exhaustion – namely because I already have. 

**Now is when you are supposed to scroll through all my earlier posts to find those previous mentions.  Hey, I’m not above shameless self-promotion.  Why else would I have a blog?**

So, why do I, along with the vast majority of runners out there, derive such pleasure from such pain?

There’s a very interesting scientific theory behind it that I largely agree with but, for me personally, there is a much simpler explanation.

Feeling running-related pain in all its various manifestations makes me feel like a bad-a**.  It makes me feel tough.  It makes me feel strong.  It makes me feel like I’m capable of heroic feats.  It makes me feel like Beatrix Kiddo.

Bada** Mother.

I realize that I’m not superhuman and pain/injury might occasionally get me down.  But don’t EVER count me out.

I’ll just put polish on those bruised nails and revel that it hurts so good.  🙂

What makes you “hurt so good?”

Do you wear exercise related injuries like badges of honor?

Categories: Injuries, Runner's High, Running | 4 Comments

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Truer words were never spoken, my dear readers.

I’ve spent the last couple of days feelin’ annoyingly shi**y.  Not in a funk but just ick-tastic enough that it’s put a damper on things.  If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll know that I’ve also not been able to squeeze in much physical activity during the past few days either.  Whelp, therein lies the source of the shi*…

Things started to turn around yesterday afternoon when I killed the Static Five-Minute Plank Challenge.  Feelin’ pretty impressed with myself, I then went for a run and that was all it took – the blues were gone, the slight sniffle that had been developing over the course of the day disappeared, and I slept better than I have in the last three nights.

All this only confirmed what I already suspected.  I’m addicted to running, guys and gals.  Just a couple of days sans run and I start to feel withdrawal symptoms.  I’ve been good about fitting in other kinds of exercise when I’m too busy to run and I’ve been really good about cross-training and building my upper body strength…

Those shoulders are coming along nicely, no?

…but nothing quite does it for me like a good ol’ run.  Exhaustion, sweat, endorphins, serenity.  Yup, running is the only drug I need – well except for the occasional glass (or two, or three…who am I kidding, sometimes I need the whole bottle) of wine.

I may be addicted, but it’s a healthy addiction and if it keeps me sane then fair enough, right? 

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I can also apply this adage to the foods that I eat.  I’ve stuck to pretty much the same basic diet for the past eight years or so.  What can I say, people?  I’m a creature of habit.  Far from being boring, this routine cuisine has served me quite well – it’s nutritious enough to keep me energized and healthy while also offering enough “wiggle room” and indulgences to keep me happy.  Again, I must say…

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

So, my darlings, this week’s edition of What I Ate Wednesday shall be renamed What I Eat Always.

Mornings always start out with coffee.  Must.  Have.  Coffee.  Just one cup, mind you – and no caffeine after 10:00am – but I’ve gotta have that one cup.  Oh, and if you’ve ever lived with me, you know that you probably shouldn’t talk to me before I’ve had that cup.  Fair warning…

Say hello to my little friend.

Breakfast typically starts with fruit – an orange, a peach, some grapes, a pear – I’m not picky.

Little friend #2.

There’s only one fruit that has not ever made an appearance in my breakfast – or any other part of my diet, for that matter: an avocado.  Ew.  They taste like how sweat smells.  And the texture?  **gag**  Don’t even get me started.

Anywho, breakfast continues with an english muffin or toast – there’s usually a variety of spreads involved, one of which is always a nut butter of some kind – …

Sometimes the nut butter doesn’t make it to the muffin…

…and a handful of vitamins.

Cocktail includes: multi, fish oil, B-complex, MSM, calcium, and a pro-biotic.

I haven’t hidden the fact that I have a sweet tooth – mid-morning usually involves some sort of candy.

I go for the classics.

Lunch is a relatively staid affair – not very exciting but it does the trick.

You know what they say about an apple a day?

Throughout the day there are many refillings of this…

Green is my favorite color.

…because we all know how important it is to stay hydrated.

On days I’m not enjoying a glass of vino, dinner is preceded and/or accompanied by a glass of seltzer mixed with one of these…

I told you I had a sweet tooth…

…and drunk out of this…

Ahhh…

Quick sidenote: The glass is from Nashoba Valley Winery – good wine, worth a visit.

Dinner is usually centered around a HUGE salad.

Big Bowl of Friends.

This one included iceberg, romaine, cherry tomatoes, celery, red onions, some olives, a crumbled up Morning Star Farms Garden Veggie Patty, and a generous dusting of nutritional yeast.

I keep my nooch in a tiny little tupperware – you know my love of tupperware.

With a random gathering of crackers on the side…

Yes, those are animal crackers – a lion and a bear, maybe? No, I am not five-years-old.

…and a cup o’ pudding or cottage cheese concoction – two slightly melt-y Pumped Up Strawberry Cheesecake Bites and a spoonful or two of Friendship Whipped Cottage Cheese – for dessert…

Doesn’t look like much but it tastes delightful. In other news: cute spoon, huh?

…dinner is complete…except for the mango that’ll come into play when I realize I want just a little something extra to tide me over till morning.  🙂

The lovely cashier at my local grocery store – who sees me nearly every week – once told me that I have a mango fetish. She is correct.

And that about does it.  A day in the life of Michelle’s belly.  🙂

Do you have a “standard” diet?

What foods are staples in your culinary repertoire?

Do you have a particular form of exercise that you just can’t do without?

Categories: Candy, Cottage Cheese, Nut Butter, Runner's High, Running, Salad, Sweet Tooth, What I Ate Wednesday | 7 Comments

Two Cents Tuesday!

Welcome to the first ever Two Cents Tuesday!

Every Tuesday I’m a-gonna post about a random topic and then ask you all, readers and bloggers, for your Two Cents.  I hope this eventually turns into a link-up party a la What I Ate Wednesday, Marvelous in my Monday, and Foodie Pen Pals – I’ll post a topic the week before so that any bloggers who’d like to participate can write their own Two Cents Tuesday post to link-up to mine.  Until then, however, I’d appreciate if you’d all leave your Two Cents in the comments section :).

I realize it’s a little early in my blogging career for me to start this kind of thang but I figure, what the heck.  I might as start strong, jump right in, hit the ground running, if you will…

**Chuckle** **Chuckle** That’s a knee slapper, that is…as is my outfit in this photo.

So, here we go!

TCT #1:  When is enough too much?

This question popped into my head while I was on my run last Friday afternoon – in 93 degree weather with 70% humidity.  I was sweating so profusely that I sort of looked like a drowned rat:

Ew.

Sweaty me:

I have no shame nor, apparently, much vanity…

Notice the similarities?

Not only did I look like poo, I also started to feel pretty ick-tastic.  My breathing was labored, my muscles were achy, and I had the chills.  I’ve experienced these symptoms while running a handful of times throughout the past years.  They spring up when I run in insanely hot weather and are a sign of dehydration and the beginning stages of heat exhaustion.  Basically, it’s my body telling me “HYDRATE, STOP RUNNING, JUMP IN THAT ENTICING BODY OF WATER OVER YONDER!”  However, rarely do I listen.  This is stupid, I know.

The thing is, while my body is telling me “Enough, already!” my mind is saying “Oh, come on, you winkle wuss, ignore it!  Push through these last two miles!  You’re almost there!”  Often times, by the time I finally do finish my run “enough” has turned into “too much” and I spend the rest of the day (and occasionally the next morning) with a wicked headache and insatiable thirst.

In most cases, our bodies inherently know the difference between “enough” and “too much.”  Too much exercise and you get cramped muscles, too much eating and you get a tummy ache, too much drinking (of the alcoholic variety) and you get a hangover, too much computer time and you get eye strain, too much shopping and…  Actually, my body doesn’t know when I’ve had too much shopping.  My body always loves new clothes.  No, it’s usually my wallet that inherently knows when there’s been too much shopping…

I digress. 

Anywho, even though we often physically feel the difference, our minds have a way of telling us differently:

“OMG, this frosting is SO good, I’m totally having one more cupcake.”

“I don’t have to work tomorrow, it doesn’t matter if I feel like poo, I’m having a great time – sure, gimme me one more glass of wine.”

“I have to finish this blog post, I should probably take a break but I’m on a roll…”

“You can do one more rep/run one more mile.  Pain is weakness leaving the body, after all.  You have to push yourself to improve.  PAIN IS TEMPORARY.  PRIDE IS FOREVER.”

It’s this last one that I – and I think many athletes – struggle with the most.  Part of training for any kind of physical activity is “mind over matter.”  Often our bodies are capable of doing much more than our minds, at first, realize.  No pain, no gain.  However, this becomes problematic when you get too good at ignoring discomfort in favor of physical improvement.  Sometimes you really do need to stop.  But how do you determine that?  I don’t think I have the answer.

In which case, readers, I turn it over to you: When is enough too much?

What are your Two Cents?

Categories: Running, Two Cents Tuesday | 2 Comments

Let’s talk about FEAR, baby…

…Let’s talk about you and me.  Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be…

Ah, great song, right?  That’s a classic.  Believe it or not, Salt-n-Pepa is still around.  Who woulda thought…

No joke.

Anywho, as much as I love old school tune-age, that’s not the point of this post.  No, today we are here to talk about fear.

Yesterday was supposed to be a “stop-and-smell-the-flowers” rest-ish day for me.  Which meant a walk was in order.

Those flowers are low…

That’s better.

It was right about then – when I was thinking, “Wow, these flowers kinda smell like poo.  Note to self: When stopping to smell the flowers, pick ones that smell good…” – that a roll of thunder rumbled its way across the atmosphere.  The flowers – and their lack of olfactory pleasantness – were quickly forgotten as I turned tail for shelter.

Running scared…but somewhat graceful, no?

You see, I am TERRIFIED of thunderstorms.  I morph into a quivering three-year-old – shaking, grasping for mommy, fat tears rolling down my face.  I’m proud to say I haven’t peed my pants…yet.  It’s a distinct possibility every time a severe storm pops up.

Yeah, I was bookin’ it. Running so fast, I got blurry.

I’m getting heart palpitations and sweaty palms just thinking about thunderstorms – or any related form of severe weather.  The odd thing is, though, I’ve never had a particularly traumatic experience involving thunder or lightning or torrential downpours or hail or – gosh forbid – tornadoes.  I’ve never been struck by lighting.  I’ve never been injured by flying detritus flung up by gale force winds.  Never caught in a flood.  In short, I have no real reason to fear storms.  So, why then, do a flash of lighting and roar of thunder have the ability to make me so dang bajiggity?

Some may be compelled to refer to this irrational fear of mine as a phobia

Astraphobia, Astrapophobia, Brontophobia, Keraunophobia, Lilapsophobia. Yes, people, my phobia has five names. FIVE names.

Now, in terms of the pure definition of the word “phobia”, my issues with storms certainly fit the bill.  However, I believe this phobia – and phobias in general, for that matter – have more to do with control, or lack thereof, than anything else. 

Anyone who knows me knows that I have control issues.  I like to be the Queen of my own Domain, if you will.  I like for my decisions to be my decisions and for my schedule of life events to transpire because I set things out a certain way.  I like to be in control of my circumstances, mind, and body – this is why I have never done hard drugs and why I do not take cold medicine.

Please, don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not a complete and total control freak.  I realize that I obviously cannot command many, MANY things in my life.  Accordingly, I have developed coping mechanisms over the years to help me deal with this.  Namely, running, breathing exercises, and…

My Chickie is decidedly more worn than this one.

However, none of these things work in a thunderstorm – no, not even Chickie.  Why?  Well, I think thunderstorms are the true manifestation of my fear of not being in control.  At least in other situations I can find one small thing to grasp onto that makes me feel a bit like the author of my own destiny (ah, nothing like waxing poetic, hmmm?) but not so for extreme weather.  There is no predicting (I don’t care what the weathermen say) what havoc Mother Nature might wreck upon us mere mortals and there is certainly no reasoning with her once she gets started.  We are all at her mercy, whether we like it or not.  And she can be one crazy bit**.

Damage courtesy of Hurricane Katrina.

Dealing with my astra-, astrapo-, bronto-, kerauno-, lilapsophobia is an ongoing struggle but one I’m willing to work on.  I’ve got to try more mindfully applying the coping mechanisms that seem to work for most anything else life throws at me.  Though something tells me I should leave Chickie at home – the sight of a grown woman carrying around an aged Puffalump might give people the wrong idea…

And ya know what?  Giving up control every once in a while and just going with the flow is probably good for me – as long as Momma Nature doesn’t choose that moment to strike me down with 40 kiloamperes of heavenly electricity.

What are you most afraid of?  Would you consider your fear a phobia?

What kinds of coping mechanisms do you use to deal with your fears/stresses/etc.?

Do you think it’s sometimes best to give up all control and just roll with it?

Categories: Rest days, Running, Thunderstorms | 6 Comments

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