May – Be Running, but definitely Raining

May weather has been may-be a bit disturbing. Used to be April showers, May flowers, only there’s been a lot of May showers and flowers! We’ve had two and a half weeks of vacillating weather jumping from one end of the spectrum to the next and everywhere in between. That is to say, I’ve run in the cold, wet, chilly, windy, hot, humid, mild, and even had the odd perfect day, all in just that space of time. Odd weather much? Mind you, I’m not complaining, not really, for while I dislike cold weather, I’m game to work with anything else, and it hasn’t been that bad really just inconvenient. I’ve slowed down on the running for the past four weeks, which is kinda, sorta, maybe, a bad thing given I spontaneously decided a week ago to run away to Vermont for the memorial day weekend and marathon.

Since my last run, I’ve been careful to keep up with my once-a-week group speed workouts while I do a longish run at least once a week with other arbitrary shorter runs here and there, but my long runs have all but disappeared. Weekend before last, in lieu of a long run, I opted for a 26 mile, 10,000 feet hike that turned into an all-day-into-night affair and left me pretty depleted and struggling all week after. Heavy legs, tight muscles, and laboured breathing were the highlight of my runs for the past 10 days. I’m thinking it’s good I decided on a slightly relaxed, – slightly because I know myself and running just for fun is hard when I’m running a marathon – enjoy the view, and take pictures kinda run this time around. So ideally, I’m under no pressure regarding projected pace or finish time. I hope. This will be a first.

Last weekend it rained so hard, I copped out on running. My body was also just plain ‘ole exhausted and I was in no mood for the rain to add insult to injury if I pushed myself to go out there only to catch a cold. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it (cheeky grin). Turns out I had it coming, the rainy run, not catching a cold thank God, as I got caught in a downpour while running a medium- paced 7 miler on Tuesday. It turned into an all out splash and race to the finish, which actually ended up rather well. Since I happen to love running in thunderstorms, it wasn’t too hard to pretend as the day was overcast and a tad humid. Getting rained on turned out to be a God idea.

With all this “May” weather, it’s CrossFit that’s been getting all the attention. I’ve been at it in the gym consistently working on strength, skill, and conditioning; It’s no wonder I remain fatigued. I sorta owe myself some rest this week: to take it easy and try to get in a yoga session or a massage, whichever is cheaper (lol), in preparation for this weekend. I have a lot of faith in God and in me but only in so far as I listen to my body and take care of its needs. Its been giving cues for a while now: “Rest is very necessary for recovery and remaining injury free.” I am listening.

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Celebrating One Year of CrossFit and 10+ Years of Running 🎊🎊🎊

If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be an avid Cross fitter and runner, approaching my sixteenth marathon in a week’s time, and living in New York City for seven out of those 10 years, I’d probably have believed you on everything but surviving seven winters here in the Big Apple state. It’s a testament to my spirit of adventure, and, I might add, survival skills, that I have lived here this long despite vowing to the contrary when I was younger. It is that spirit of adventure, with which I credit my athletic proclivities and the propensity to push and redefine so-called limits.

One year ago, after much ado, and yeah I had a few misgivings with my running in full swing, I started CrossFit. I didn’t know then if I would be able to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to, what seemed back then, such an aggressive form of fitness training. I mean by all accounts it was tough and demanding. Did I have the time and ability to commit to that type of thing? I didn’t know. But dammit I hoped so, since the buzz was it could help my running. So yeah, I was a bit trepidatious, actually a helluva lot. After all, those guys lifting looked mad strong in all the pics I’d seen, and I’d seen a lot combing the internet and other media images. A year later, I can safely say that you should never let apprehension get the better of you.

These days, I like to say, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s unlikely I’ll ever be able to go back to a regular gym. I now know all gyms are definitely not created equal. But while CrossFit boxes might hold the edge in the exercise arena, which is possibly because of their badass reputation and commitment to High Intensity Training and Olympic Style Lifting/ Weight Training, I’m also aware that there are many competing fitness ideas popping up all over the place. CrossFit’s ability to maintain their edge will depend on their ability to diversify, develop, and reinvent their core concepts in the coming years. In the meantime, it’s been pretty interesting, challenging, and invigorating.

Those who know me know that I have never been one to back down at anything , even less so when it came to exercise. So that CrossFit was or rather is a challenge means only that you can be sure I’ll give it my best. Thus far I’ve enjoyed the competitive but encouraging spirit among gym members and the variety in the programs offered at my gym. The comraderie among athletes when we do class WODs (work-out of the day) and at in-house competitions have been truly inspiring as have been the coaches’ knowledge, experience, and willingness and ability to impart said knowledge. The CrossFit environment is one where one can thrive with the right attitude no matter their level. We can all agree that you don’t pay a lot of money for someone to kick your ass and have nothing to show for it. The gains are where it’s at people.

So yes, I’m feeling the gains some: I’m already so much stronger than I’ve ever been, my lifts are getting better all the time, though I do struggle in a couple of areas..my damn humanity..and I’m developing a host of existing skills while learning new ones and new ways to do old ones. Next Monday I’m running the Boston Marathon, yet again, and I’m hoping that, weather aside this time, I can possibly see some of those gains extend itself to stronger running, better endurance, a lot more confidence, and the absence of injuries. Yay! Go me!

CrossFit and Running Update

“So how’s that going?…” is the question on many a mind I’m guessing since I’ve been asked it over a dozen times since I started CrossFit back in March. What if I told you, “It is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!” That to this day, since March, I’ve adopted the lifestyle of the over-zealous gym chick who covets her workouts and cannot conceive of the idea of a regular gym. In fact, regular anything no longer exists – is it even a thing – and if so the idea is simply unthinkable.

Right away let me point out that this method of exercise is not just something I do. It is, for all intents and purposes, a way of life I’ve adopted into and I couldn’t be more pleased. As with everything I do, I dove in fully prepared to give 100%. After all, anything less would have been unacceptable and surely wouldn’t have worked in an environment where giving 110% is routine. The term “bring it” well describes my daily workouts as each one seems designed to have you leave it all out there on the floor dripping, exhausted, and hurting, but oh so good. As it is I’ve become rather good at complaining aloud at the demons that drive our coaches when in reality I’m really struck with their ingenuity and creativity in coming up with varied WODs (workout of the day) that keep us interested, excited, and eager to return.

My only complaint is that of there not being enough hours in the day. I find the days slipping away so quickly and I have yet to figure out a sustainable workout schedule that will merge CrossFit workouts, running, and my relatively infrequent but necessary yoga and soul cycle sessions. The truth is now that marathon training has begun and it’s smack in the middle of Summer, I have to schedule my workouts around my job, which has intensified things somewhat and leaves me with but one option of training runs in the morning before work, CrossFit workouts in the evening, and long runs on the weekend. This of course is based on the premise of being well rested ie. getting to bed by 10pm so I can be up and ready to go at 4:30-ish and getting my mid-day nap. At this point, I’m still struggling with making this my reality and know that I will eventually figure it out.

Meanwhile, the jury’s still out on the physical impact CrossFit is having on my running. This is of course largely due to my inability to find a fixed schedule to maximize both workouts. On the other hand, my physicality has improved tremendously: I’m stronger, more flexible, certainly more skilled and adept in the gym, and I’m told I look fit and strong. To that point, I feel great and look forward to the time when I’m able to combine the best of both worlds. For now, I remain chasing dreams and perfection.

February Is Heart Health Month

img1519497740564_1.jpgFebruary brings to mind: hearts and flowers, and hugs and kisses, and endless mushiness. Cute and necessary I think, but ideally it’s how we should live everyday, receiving and sharing love with those in our lives and those we have the opportunity to meet. Before and beyond that though is the notion of loving ourselves. Just what does that mean anyway. Aside from pampering oneself and giving others the permission to treat us with dignity and respect, how can we engender love for ourselves that has a multiplying effect that extends beyond us to make a lasting impact on our world? I posit that how we treat and care for our bodies, minds, and spirits speaks a helluva lot more to how we care about ourselves and in turn determines whether we can truly care for others.

Every February we celebrate Heart Health Month. During this time we talk about physical matters of the heart (monitoring our cholesterol & sugar levels, diet, exercise, and other risks factors) all super important..but what if we paid equal attention to the emotional and spiritual aspect of our hearts as well. What if we approached the heart as more than just an organ that beats and transfers blood throughout the body, but one that is intrinsically linked to the very nature of our existence. After all, there is no life without it.

So with just a week left, it’s not too late to encourage you to consider:

(1) A healthier lifestyle this year. Give some thought to embracing a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lots of greens and color, whole grains; reduce your intake of unhealthy fats and oils, processed foods, refined sugar, and sugar additives.

(2) Visiting a doctor. Get all your vitals checked including your cholesterol and sugar levels and for heart and breathing irregularities, and blood pressure levels. Use the opportunity to take all the necessary annual blood and other tests that are recommended to make sure you’re healthy and whole physically.

(3) Exercise. Not over rated, exercise has been proven to have positive effects on your heart and reduce your chances of heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, or to have a stroke if you are physically active. Some experts recommend at least 30 minutes per day of some time of exercise that accelerates your heart rate, while some cardiologists even suggests running ( particularly interval training) as a means of achieving cardiovascular fitness. Most often getting involved in group exercise to motivate and support you can work to get you started and keep you going.

(4) Volunteering, giving back, and embracing our spiritual selves. Engaging in individual or community efforts that relates to reaching out and cultivating and building relationships with the aim of encouraging and uplifting others works to create feel-good endorphins and empathy in us and toward those we engage with. It also opens us up the reality of our place and purpose in life to being a blessing to others. We begin to recognize that there exist a common thread that links all that we do. Our desire to be healthy and whole individuals is tied to our need to live with meaning and purpose, which helps us in our pursuit of happiness. Ultimately, and altogether, it all has an over reaching positive impact on our mental, emotional, and thus, physical health.

A Case for Cross Fit

image

Source: gethellthy: “Neyxi Barraza by Pedro Matute ”

I should be enjoying some downtime. Ideally, freeing myself up from training for any long-distance event should see me enjoying some kickback time, a snooze fest or two and some down right lazy days, no doubt designed to get me just that- lazy. Only, I haven’t really gotten round to breathing much since getting back from that Ragnar event two weekends ago far less to get lazy. Sure I haven’t been running as much, but that only means I’m doing a hundred other things. In fact, I’ve been so elbow-deep in a project, I haven’t even had time to write on here; it didn’t help that the project was sort of writing-related. Thankfully it’s over and I can get down to some fun, i.e., exercise fun. I mean, my body really knows no other way and I don’t do lazy; what I do is get antsy, anxious and a tad crazy.

So I’m changing things up a bit and because I can, I’ve decided to explore my limits and push my boundaries, well kind of, with CrossFit training. If you’re wondering, why CrossFit?  Well, aside from the fact that I love a challenge, I’ve been slowly building a curiosity about it for some time and it’s not so far out of the left field given my passion for exercise and fitness. In addition, it is on my new year resolution list this year inspired by the stories I’ve been reading and hearing from others who have dived into this sport/lifestyle.

CrossFit, according to Stacie Tovar, CrossFit athlete and co-owner of CrossFit Omaha, is varied, functional high intensity movements meant to help people become more physically prepared for anything. Many people hear CrossFit and think weightlifting and more weight training but according to Stacie and others like her, who enjoy the sport, CrossFit is so much more and its participants exist along a wide spectrum from the curious, young, adventurous and self-motivated to the student, business owner, competitive athlete and everywhere in-between. Many, while touting its biggest challenge, that it’s hard, have talked about the benefits of getting you to a fitter and stronger level, if not your fittest and strongest. It goes without saying that this does not happen overnight, as with any sport it requires commitment, motivation, a desire to succeed and the ability to stick with it.  Beyond that, it encourages a healthy lifestyle as exercise is wont to do and, if anything, even more so than other forms as persons become aware real quick of the time, effort and sacrifice that is being applied to achieve the success they desire. Then it becomes a matter of course to pursue a lifestyle in keeping with that goal.

I am beyond inspired by the determination, commitment and pure mettle of those who pursue this course to achieve their desired results. While I can promise I won’t ever be a pro, let’s just say faint-hearted I’m not.

Motivate, Inspire, Encourage..Run to the Power of Words

Source: shape women's magazine

        Source: shape magazine

It’s not the average person who gets up on a typical day and decides – you know what, this is it..this is my kick-butt, bad- ass day; today I decide to stop with the excuses and show up and do shit ( yep I said it). No, even if you’re a veteran in the game, most days you have to do some heavy self-motivating to get those feet moving out the door. So for the newbie or ambivalent, I imagine it’s much harder. Lucky for you, I’ve been there, I’m still here and likely to be here for sometime into the indefinite future. That way I can always motivate my and your asses to lace up those sneakers and hit it up for some mileage.

Very often I’ve found that if you distance yourself from the naysayers and immerse yourself in an environment that’s supportive of your goals and ideals, you’ve gotten rid of the biggest obstacle to your success. We’ve heard it often enough – words are powerful, they have the power to change the world..to start wars or bring about peace (on a global scale). If this is true, and history tells us it is, then consider if we use, or allow them to be used, to allow positive change in our lives. Of course this is already the case with all the self-help books and other motivational material out there, but what if you and I, we, decide to make it our personal goal to immerse ourselves in those positive, transformational and inspiring words to motivate our next step? What if we make it so it’s the first thing we see and ingest in the morning and the last thing we breathe at night? I think crazy stuff will happen..blow-your-mind stuff.. I mean, we’d be unstoppable, both physically and emotionally; talk about goal achieved!

See, I’ve always believed that our destiny is inherently ours to decide, granted it’s guided and overseen by our Heavenly Father, but ultimately ours, as a by-product of His gifts of unconditional love and freedom of choice to us. We get to take these beautiful, and often self-serving machines, and make it into what we will. And the funny thing is words can help us, be it ours or someone else’s, verbosely, orally or in print. Stick it up, write it down, tattoo it on..however works best to get and keep you moving on the good days and not so good days.

Here are five of my favourite get up and kick ass quotes:

“Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to a stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.” –  ascribed to Leonardo Da Vinci

“Once you make the decision that you will not fail, the heart and body will follow.” – Kara Groucher

“Nothing great in this world was ever accomplished without passion.” – ascribed to George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

“It’s when discomfort strikes they realize, a strong mind is the most powerful weapon.” – Chrissie Wellington

“Our limitations and success will be based, most often, on our own expectations of ourselves. What the mind dwells upon, the body acts upon.” – Dennis Waitley

Of the millions out there, these are my every day mantras. You need to suss yours out and wear it like a talisman, Scouts (runners) honor it will serve you well!

 

 

 

Happy New Year: 13.1 reasons to stay running

new-year-2017-fitnessTwo Sunday’s ago despite my best intentions and feelings that day I couldn’t pull of the goal time needed to qualify for NYC’s marathon next year. Off the top, I could come up with a few reasons as to why – as there are always excuses when a run doesn’t go our way. However, this time I’m owning my failing and moving on. While I have yet to figure out how I’m getting into said marathon – you didn’t think I’d just give it up, did you? I’ve already set my sights on ways/runs to keep me on point with training for my next big goal in 2017. I figure if I ever needed to keep my running mojo happening during winter, then now is the time to focus and get my game face on. Perhaps you too may have found yourself stranded in the valley of indecision as it pertains to running in the cold weather. Here’s why you need to stay strong and focused:

  • Running this winter provides an opportunity to add cross training and other versatile methods, encompassing the treadmill among others, to improve performance.
  • Less crowded streets and parks to get your workout in. Amen!
  • Easier and more flexible schedule over the holidays to employ a training plan that will bring about the desired results.
  • A consistent running schedule and/or plan ensures maximum fitness for racing in the Spring.
  • Running is a great way to off-load those holiday calories and then some.
  • Running is convenient and mostly accessible to provide stress relief or as a means of getting away or even when seeking inspiration.
  • It’s a good way to meet people and make new friends, especially now to help carry out your new year goals.
  • If you ever needed motivation to get outfitted and be fit and healthy running is it.
  • Despite the cold weather associated with winter, running generates enough heat to give you a good sweat and keep your temps at a comfortable level leaving you better off than when you started.
  • They say summer bodies are made in the winter, they’re right. Put in the work now and reap the rewards when it counts.
  • Running is a great escape for winter blues. What better way to give it a well deserved kick than getting some miles under those shoes.
  • In a time that often comes with so much change and ups and downs, running can provide necessary routine and balance to your life.
  • Just in case you didn’t know it, people who exercise and run are known to be, aside from healthier, happier, more confident, driven and successful. Now this definitely is the way you want to step into this new year.

There’s no denying challenges abound, in society, our lives and the world at large. Our best chance at getting this right and making the most of life is to give it our best shot and we can only do so if we’re healthy and happy. Don’t think me bias if I say running may be the way to get you there.

Hello Summer, Runners

source: welland good.com

source:
welland good.com

I’m probably the most excited runner you’ll meet for the entire summer. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard, “are we there yet?” It’s finally safe to say we are! Gone are the coats and heavy jackets and reels of scarves etc. Bring on the hats, sunglasses, shorts, tanks and well.. gallons of sunscreen. It’s all good; as long as we’ve got trees, breeze, trails, dusk, dawn and the gym, we’ve got this.

source: she knows.com

source: she knows.com

Some may argue that summer is just about the hardest time to get yourself motivated to exercise – it just being so hot and all. I beg to differ. Summer implies a time of adventure, frolicking, fun and getting out and about. Many of us grab some time off to go on vacation, whether for a week or a month, what better time to get and stay active giving all the running around that entails. Some of you may know of my penchant for destination marathons, I try to get at least one good adventure run in during these months, but there are so many more runs going on, whatever your style it’s out there. Add to that some exciting activities one can get up to and man.. you’re talking three months of endless fun.

source: indiatimes.com

source: indiatimes.com

Summer fun activ-ities include hiking, camping, trail running, obstacle racing, surfing, kayaking, roller blading, biking, dancing, cross fit and yoga and its variations. There are many other options for the average runner or person to add some variety to their regular schedule; summer provides the opportunity to do away with routine and shake it up, to wring from these sunny days all the fun they’re worth. Regardless of how you choose to do so, it’s a bonus when you look and feel better as a result of actively engaging those muscles to stay fit and strong. An important point to remember is to try to run at the sun’s lowest point to minimize heat & sun exposure. This means early mornings or late evenings as well as sticking to the shade when necessary. Couple that with lots of fluid to stay hydrated and loads of sunscreen and you’ll have a summer to run for.  Beach bodies you’re welcome!

summer-fun

Summer Fun Runs Allowed

source: healthista.com

source: healthista.com


One of the best things about Summer and nicer weather for us running folks is the mix of wild and crazy runs out there. Time enough for the serious long races; summer is about getting out; adventure, travelling, and discovering the free spirit within. All the better if you can do it while running and in a group; just add some color, mud, friends and obstacles and what you are promised a summer you’ll remember for some time.

Based on my experience and a bit of digging around, I’ve put together a list of eight of my favorite races for some of the best fun running around these United States. Here are my “easy” (wink) running picks. Hmm decisions, decisions…

(1) Rugged Maniac 5k & Obstacle Race, Brooklyn New York, June 25. A combination of about 26 obstacles including Piromaniac, Leap of Faith and the Warped Wall.

(2) Wicked Wine Run, Houston, El Paso, Fresno CA, Louisiana just to name a few this Summer with many other locations in Texas and a few other cities all the way through Fall.

(3) Tough Mudder, Long Island NY, July 23, 24. Option for 10-12 miles, 20+ obstacles or 5 miles, 14+ obstacles. Obstacles include the block mess monster, swing arm, electroshock or cold shock top and a lot more.

(4) Rock n’ Roll Chicago Half-Marathon, July 16-17. Fun Option: run the 5k on Sat & the half-marathon or 10k on Sun and you earn the spinning guitar remix challenge medal.

(5) Reebok Spartan Tri-State New York Sprint, June 18-19, 3-5 miles, 20-23 Obstacles. Vie for the fastest finish time.

(6) ROC (Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge), June -NYC, June – SoCal, July – NoCal  and August – Washington DC & New England. A fun, untimed race with 12 larger than life obstacles.

(7) Warrior Dash, from May 14, till early September from Maryland then New York to Colorado and everywhere in-between. 3-4 fierce miles featuring 12 extreme obstacles including leaping through flames and over the vertical vicious valley. You could earn a spot to compete in the world championships for the grand prize of $100,000.

(8) The Color Run; June, July & August at various locations in Pennsylvania. It’s the original paint run dubbed the happiest 5k on the planet. Of course they’re all over the country throughout the year but it’s happening in PA.

There’re a lot more summer races: for fun, bragging rights, competitiveness, challenge and yes, prize money too. For almost every one of them, you can pitch in for a good cause, which is super worth it. The way I see it, running can at times be not about the marathon, summer is the reason, plus more often than not it’s way too hot for that sort of distance anyhow. The rest of the year is all about training and racing so if I can get a couple runs in, for variety sake, heck yeah!

A quick disclaimer: races appear easier than they actually are and though fun can be grueling and extremely challenging; a slighty above-average level of fitness is required. Be prepared in most cases to get down, dirty and bruised. And finally, race at your own risk but always with company as that’s a big part of the fun.

New Year, New You or Cliché?

Happy-New-Year-2016-Wallpaper_2

happynewyear2016quotes.com

No one puts aside time and make the effort every year’s end to come up with a set of goals that they plan on never seeing to fruition. Truth is, by the time January 1st comes along we’re totally excited about putting the old year behind us and stepping into what we perceive as a new opportunity, another chance to make some changes or get it right – if you will. And why shouldn’t we? The new year does indeed provide an opportunity for a fresh start for many of us. The startling, but then, not-so-startling, thing is why when fostered by so much determination, strength of purpose and the personal drive to realize our goals at the beginning of the year do they fall through? And oftentimes when we’re less than halfway into the year. Survey results show that an average eight percent of our new year goals are achieved by the year’s end. What is it that causes us to fall by the wayside leaving goals, resolutions, determinations – however you see them – as dissapointing slivers of what-could-have-been-if-only-I-had-the-wherewithal-to-stick-with-it.

Chances are we may already have a fair idea for the reasons behind our inability to follow through, but I’ll go ahead and posit anyway that those very said goals that we are bent on achieving at the beginning of the year need to be mainly two things: realistic and subject to time constraints. This is the reason why many psychologists and other professionals agree that goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. I particularly latch on to realistic and time-bound because we need to be clear on the difference between dreams and goals as this can mean the difference between success and disappointment.
Dreams fall somewhere along the lines of fanciful and wishful. While many dreams do and can come throug it may not be prudent to set a dream you have as something you would like to achieve in a year’s time. Because a dream is inherently lacking in direction, focus, strategy, planning and sometimes even in reality it does not fulfill the “SMART” criteria and can be viewed as setting oneself up for failure. For example, I dream of running the World Marathon Majors Series; however, the chances of me fulfilling that next year is akin to impossible due to varying factors such as opportunity and money. Thus, that wikl not be listed as one of my goals for next year; maybe in a few years but not in 2016. See, goals need to be realistic. I can dream of doing many things, even talk myself into thinking I can do those many things but if at the end of the day there are insurmountable obstacles to prevent them happening and they remain unachievable then they are unrealistic. Realsitc goals are goals that can be achieved with resources you either have or can obtain in the time-frame needed. In addition to realistic, goals must be bound by a period of time. This way they’re easier to manage and provide you with the focus to get it done. An example would be to say, “next year I will run 4 marathons, 1 in each season.” From this you can tell I am pacing myself and providing ample kopportunity to run a marathon every 3 months.
While I could go on about goals being “SMART,” we’ve been over that so many times already I feel it’s important to point out that if you remember anything in setting yourself goals for next year it is to try to do it with someone – a buddy –  who can hold you and you can hold accountable. We, humans, respond better when we are held accountable to someone. We tend to be more committed, more focused, more motivated, we’re all-round better at performing or even out-performing when we have someone supporting, encouraging, demanding and providing insight. It is no secret we were never meant to walk this life alone nor should we have to face challenges alone. Life is better in twos or threes or fours or… you get the picture. Your Happy New You depends on you.

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