Running Motivation in a Cupcake

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Where do you find motivation? I’ve found that it’s OK to truly love running and still have those days when you just don’t feel like it.  Why is it sometimes so much easier to do something unhealthy, then it is to do something healthy?  You know the days – when the only thing you want to do after a long day is to go home, take a nice shower and crawl into bed with a good book and the television blaring your favorite movie.  Those are the days, however, when I have to look outside myself for motivation.

Sometimes we find motivation in the strangest places. Yesterday my motivation was a cupcake, actually a black forest cupcake.  So sweet, yet so simple.  One of my staff had a birthday party, which I was unfortunate enough to have missed.  Always thinking of me, however, she left a delicious surprise on my desk – a black forest cupcake just for me.  Next to chocolate, this is one of my very favorites.

I had spent the last two days practicing clean eating. Grapes were my “sweets”. I was loading my plate with vegetables, feeling pretty proud of myself, in fact.  Here I was, however, at 6:30 p.m. with a cupcake smelling good and staring me in the face. It doesn’t take a PH.D. to figure out what happened next, yes I ate it….and I was so happy.

Time to leave work…I had planned to go to the gym, but home was calling my name; after all there was always tomorrow. The dilemma set in as I drew nearer the time to make a decision; a left turn to go home, or drive straight to get to a treadmill.  Left to comfort, straight to go for a run.  That was when the memories of the cupcake spoke to me (not literally, but imagine).  Did I enjoy the cupcake? Yes.  Did I have any trouble lifting the cupcake and eating it? No.  Then why should I have a problem going to the gym? I shouldn’t. Then go…and go, I did.  Amazingly enough once I got there, I did my complete workout as planned – and thoroughly enjoyed it!  So what did I discover yesterday?  Even on days when I’m not feeling it and I know better – just as good as I can devour a yummy cupcake, I can go for the run.  So I guess I can safely say that my motivation – was a cupcake.

First Run

ImageNot really a “first” , but that’s what it felt like.  Not the first run ever, but today I put on my sneakers to run for the first time since the half marathon on February 23.  When I got home, I looked at the calendar and realized that today was March 23. Somehow, it felt like an appropriate day to have a first run.

Procrastination….Yes I admit that I vowed to begin my running again on March 15th, but you know how it is (or feel free to pretend to not), I’ll do it “tomorrow”.  Day after day, I kept saying, “tomorrow.”  I always felt like I had great excuse. No, the pain will come back.  No, I need a new pair of sneakers. No, I don’t have time to pack a bag to run after work.  Funny enough, they sounded good at the time, but they really did nothing to alleviate the guilt I was inwardly feeling.

Today – I don’t know what sparked me to go out for a “first” run. I must admit that the bed was tempting. It was soft, warm, comfortable and safe. Tomorrow sounded like a good idea, after all – I just got my Jeff Galloway Running Journal yesterday and IT starts on Monday.

Reflections – I want to run. I enjoy the time to think. I want to be in better shape. As I lay in bed remembering the fun of the Disney weekend, I remember how good it felt walking through the parks congratulating medal winners and for the first time having my own half marathon medal around my neck.

Results – I didn’t go out for time or distance and it was only 2.5 miles. I went out to enjoy the moment and get started toward that awesome feeling. No pain… no problems, first run.

Mid Run Nutrition from a Grandma Point of View

I read an interesting article in my daily Runner’s World email today. The topic was concerning mid-run nutrition, particularly for first-time long distance runs.  I found the article particularly insightful and truthful in that everyone has to find what works for their own digestive tract.  This point is visually driven home by the memories of all the multiple porta-potties lined up at every race – believe it or not, a constant reminder of the importance of nutrition.

The article suggested trying a variety of different items to find what works for you. Some runners find it difficult to chew, swallow and run all at the same time.  Another visual, when the failure of coordinating all of these activities brings a smile to my face.  I can see where it can be a bit of a challenge. The importance lies not only in what works for your stomach, but that you can also maneuver while keeping the gait going.

I started my half-marathon day at 3:00 a.m. I was hungry, but too nervous to eat. Tips from the “experts” floated to my mind with a twist.  They said if you normally drink coffee, then it’s fine to have a cup-o-coffee early on race day.  My interpretation was a diet coke and a bagel.  Lesson one, eating a dry bagel and a flat diet coke are items to boldly and firmly strike off my list.

Belt material, not what the thing is made of, but rather what to include.  I must admit, I sure was feeling rather smart having carefully packed gummy bears and gel packs.  The problem was that the zippered opening was in the back, making it difficult to access without stopping, unhooking, twisting it around and digging past the plastic baggies to find the “right stuff”.  Note to self for future races, easier access and absolutely never try a gel pack for the first time on a long race. Don’t believe me? Give it whirl.  You might learn like I did.

Did any of it work?  I must say, while my own gel packs and gummy bears were a little challenging, I did find that slowly sucking on the gel packs followed by swigs of water were lifesavers when the leg cramps started about mid run.  No worries though, I have time to run, test and play to find the right race nutrition snack for me. 

Getting Ready for Next Year’s Half Marathon

ImageWow, it’s funny. I never thought I would say these words – I’m getting ready for next year’s half-marathon on Disney Princess Half-Marathon weekend.  I will admit, as I was preparing for my first ever half-marathon, I was determined that running (loosely speaking) a half marathon would be a one-time event; a bucket list item; something that I can say, “I did it” and move on.  Somewhere between miles 12 and 13.1, I started to reconsider. I was in pain, yes, pretty much, but with better and more consistent training, I think I can actually do this again.

I learned from the experts that you should rest a few days after such a major running event.  I’m definitely doing so. Not really by choice, but still working the kinks out my calves and the long drive home. I’m not wasting the time; however, I’m busy working on a new plan to get ready for next year.  The plan currently consists of re-constructing my vision board, framing my bib from this year (visuals always help), scouring for training plans (there are so many free plans available), looking for healthy recipes. High priorities also include signing up for races, including the most important one – a timed 10 K race so that I can place in the corrals next year. This grandma’s got some planning and running to do.

A Half Marathon – 13.1 Miles of…

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It took one whole year of training. It’s pretty amazing. All of the training, all of the effort led up to the most amazing moment, crossing the finish line!  Yes, I did. I finished. Step by step, moment by moment, I moved in awe of the runners who could run those 13.1 miles practically in their sleep.  While that wasn’t necessarily me this year, I managed to step over the finish line.

Funny, the marathon was a week ago and the pain is gone. (Oh, I’ll talk about the pain soon), but it’s still sinking in. What I remember the most about that day was being afraid. What was I afraid of? What was the worst that could have happened? Not finishing? Putting everything in perspective, however, once I stepped up to the start line I had already won.

Self-doubt at mile one? During one of his sessions at the expo, Jeff Galloway talked about the three stages of a half marathon.  Run the first five miles with your head; the next five miles with your legs and the last miles with your passion.  I have to admit, by the third mile, I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to be using.  Was it my head? My heart?

Mile ten, oh the legs. I remember at mile nine, feeling a small twinge in my right calf. By mile ten, however, the twinge had turned into full blown cramps in the calf muscles on both legs. Oh no! To get so far and have to quit? Bio-freeze, two stowed-away Tylonel, sipping on PowerAde, I did whatever I needed to do…all in an effort to get back to the safe zone of Epcot. What kept me going? The slim half mile lead I had on the balloon ladies was quickly dwindling. Seeing those balloons bobbing at the bottom of the ramp spurred me on.

The finish…I would like to say that I raced over the line with my arms raised in triumph.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it was until a full five minutes after the race that I realized – I finished! I had a medal in hand. My time was not great, but technically it was still a personal record.  When I think back to the fact that I finished my first half marathon, with double leg cramps – I have to say, this grandma did it. Next year… here I come!