On a Snowy Day in February…..

Yikes!  It’s been colder than I would like since being back in Toronto. Perhaps since being in California my tolerance for the colder climate has gone down. I’ve been using my treadmill and staying indoors as much as possible. Yesterday, I managed 13K on the treadmill. I of course, could not have completed this without the help of my iphone. I am grateful that I own a treadmill, however, any run that exceeds 8K becomes boring and definitely uninspiring. I have no idea how some runners train for marathons on treadmills.  I recently have taken to my iphone to watch some TV shows and it definitely has helped to pass the time.  Yesterday, I got my inspiration from The Biggest Loser and How I Met Your Mother!

In other news, I wanted to let everyone know that Urban Running Girl has just launched a 20% off sale.  Just enter the code : URGFEB in the code box when ordering and you will receive this offer.  Don’t miss out!

Prior to leaving for California, there was a wonderful review written by Stephanie M for Urban Running Girl. She was the lucky winner of the PushPumpProgress blog giveaway. I wanted to share it here. It was a nice surprise and her review definitely made me smile.

URBAN RUNNING GIRL REVIEW by Stephanie M
Original link – An Essential Piece of Clothing
A few weeks ago I won my first blog giveaway ever from Michelle over at Push.Pump.Progress. When I saw the giveaway I wanted it SO BADLY! And then when I saw I won it I was SO EXCITED!

What did I win?

A running shrug!

What’s a running shrug? Well, according to the Urban Running Girl website, the company that makes these shrugs:

A shrug is a piece of clothing that’s designed to cover the shoulders and arms ONLY. Shrugs by Urban Running Girl are made of a light-weight 100% dry-wicking polyester, typical of other tech wear worn by active women. You can wear it over a tank or running shirt in place of a jacket. When you’ve warmed up enough, it’s easy to take off and tie around your waist, and unlike a jacket it won’t weigh you down.

The idea of a running shrug came about from the need to keep warm while warming up during an early morning run, particularly in the spring and fall. It’s too cool to start with only a tank top or t-shirt, but once warmed up and/or the outside temperature rises, it’s too warm for a long sleeve shirt or jacket.

So, you get warmth and cover without any unnecessary weight or flapping jackets once you don’t need the layers. Plus, the shrugs have built in mitts to keep your hands warm on colder days. Plus (!), this company is a small business based in Toronto, so if you’re interested in getting yourself this essential piece of clothing, you’d be supporting a local company instead of a big corporation. I was in Dick’s Sporting Goods a few weeks ago and saw that Nike is now making a similar product but it is twice the price and it’s Nike. Go local! (Also, I’m using the photos from the website because I have neglected to take a picture of myself wearing it. But I swear I have one!

I’ve worn my shrug a number of times and I am so happy with it. I wore it while running along the coast in North Carolina before Christmas and it was great with the wind and slight chill to the low-50s weather. When I was warmed by running and the humidity I took it off and couldn’t tell I even had it around my waist. I had to keep checking to see if it was there, which, of course it was.

I also wore it while running along the coast in Northern California after Christmas in similar, albeit slightly less humid weather, and it was again perfect for a mid-40s kind of day. After a few miles off it came. But once I was done running and was walking through my cool down it was great to have a layer to take the edge off the chill.

It’s been sub-30 degrees(F) here in Reno for the past few weeks, so I put away my running shrug, figuring I would have to wait to wear it until it warms up. BUT, yesterday I went on my long run with a wool short sleeve base layer, long sleeve tech shirt, and lightweight wind breaker. After 3 miles I was too hot and had to take off the long sleeved tech shirt and tie it around my waist for the remainder of the run. Lame.

So today, I wore my running shrug as my second layer under my windbreaker and it was perfect. I stayed warm but did not overheat. I may even layer it with other long sleeved shirts for days when it is too cold for just two layers but too warm for three.

I’ve already told some friends and family about this and I’m thinking that these shrugs will make great gifts for anyone I know who runs. Or really for anyone who does anything outside. My friends who hike and bike would probably like one, and really, it’s just a good layer for all kinds of uses. I could probably even layer it underneath sweaters to wear at work because my office has been freezing lately. Hmmm…note to self!

So, go on over to Urban Running Girl and check out the array of colors and order yours today! (Sorry, that sounded infomercial-y, but seriously, just get you one! You won’t regret it.) I love my shrug, and really do believe it is an essential piece of clothing. I am going to log a lot of miles in mine this year. Many thanks to Urban Running Girl and Michelle for hosting the giveaway and for randomly picking my name! Score!

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How Do You Measure Success?

I am a firm believer in setting goals.  In relationship to running, my goals change depending on what race I am running, or the type of commitment I give to a training plan.  When I first starting running, my first goal was to train and finish a 5K race without stopping to walk.  It didn’t matter to me how long it took me to finish; only that I did.  I remember on race day, I was about 3K into the race, and all I wanted to do was walk.  My stubbornness kept me going and I finished the race keeping with my goal.

Those days are long past, and I’ve learned a lot about running, but more importantly, I learned about my own body and how it reacts when running.  One of the things I learned, is that walking during a race, isn’t a bad thing for me, and usually my race plans do incorporate a walk/run interval plan.  I generally do better from a time perspective with this type of plan than a full out running plan.  Although, I initially had a goal of running a race non-stop, my success when learning how to run, was really based upon learning about myself, my capabilities as a runner, and finding out what works from a training perspective.  Sometimes, we find our successes are not necessarily measured by our initial goals and our successes help to build us up to be the best runner we can be.

As time moved on, and many races later, I’ve had different goals.  Many goals were to finish a race.  Such was the case with running the Goofy Challenge.  Although, I did measure my success in physically finishing the Goofy, I also measured my success in staying positive during the race.   Positivity definitely played a role in physically getting me over the finish line.

I’ve had other goals, such as timed goals.  As well, I sometimes have seasonal goals such as running a number of races during a specific time frame, or making goals as to how many times per week I train.

I think it’s important to note, that success can also be measured in how you feel towards your running.  Are you still excited to put on those running shoes after a long day at work?  Do you still enjoy that feeling you get when you cross the finish line?  Perhaps your success is based on motivating your children or family members towards an active lifestyle.  It might even be about running for a cause and raising money for your local charity.

Do you put to much pressure on yourself to achieve your running success?  Goals can be a tricky thing, and it’s always important to stay realistic.  For example, if you’ve run a 5K race and your time was 37 minutes, it would be unrealistic to set your next 5K goal at 25 minutes.  A more suitable goal might be to shave off a few minutes, depending on one’s training schedule and endurance level.  While it’s always great to strive for new goals, putting too much pressure on unattainable goals; which may seem enthusiastic to some, only leads to frustration and disappointment if not within reach.

No matter how we measure our success, it’s important to know, that you can change your goals or focus.  You can learn something new about yourself each and every time.  Sometimes, the best observations come from being in the journey and having those ‘A-HA’ moments you never thought you’d have.  When I think about all the stories of the disappointed NYC Marathoners this past week, and how they found a way to adapt to the cancelled race and move forward to help the victims of Sandy by donating their time to the clean up effort, I can only think how some were emotionally fulfilled.  Some may even say, their success was in their motivation to help their fellow man, to help them ‘cross the finish line’ in order to build back their lives; putting aside their personal goals and unselfishly giving of themselves.

How do you measure your success?  Is your success always what you set out to do or do you find new successes as you go along?  Do you find success even when you don’t achieve your goals?  

New York State Of Mind

I arrived back home this morning from a whirlwind trip to the Big Apple!  What a trip!  Had a fantastic time walking around the city and soaking up the New York atmosphere.  This city is definitely alive in so many ways.  This was my second trip to the city this year and this time I made sure I got up early to run in Central Park.  It definitely was the highlight of the weekend.

I arrived in the park just after 7am, and as I entered the park, I immediately saw the New York Road Runners in full swing for their 18 Miler Tune Up.  This was a tune up, in preparation for the 2012 ING New York City Marathon.  I immediately started running along the opposite side of the road (not in the pack), and almost felt like a part of the group!  It was an amazing experience.  I could feel the New York ‘Running’ energy, and boy, was it strong!  I have not yet run the NYC marathon, however, I hope to one day.  The run yesterday gave me an inkling of what it could be to experience the NYC marathon.  Everyone who was running looked in great form, and eager to take on the marathon challenge in November.  It was a beautiful morning for a run.  I was testing out a new pair of Saucony running shoes I bought the day before, and was having a ball running and enjoying the sites around me.  After 20 minutes of running on the main path, I carefully cut into the group so that I could enter the path that goes around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.  I love this route.  There were a few runners, and some walkers, but generally speaking it wasn’t too busy.  For me, it’s a relaxing and serene place.  I pretty much lost myself, both figuratively and literally.  For some reason, I got into a zone, and by the time I decided to run off the reservoir path, and enter the main path again, I completely lost track as to where I was located, in relationship to where I entered the park.  I have a terrible sense of direction sometimes!  I continued running back with the race for a bit and then decided to ask someone where I was located. Although, I could have kept running, I was supposed to be back at the hotel by 9am to meet up with the group I was travelling with for the day’s excursions.  As it turned out, at the time of asking where I was, I couldn’t have been farther from Columbus Circle (where I entered).  Who knows how many loops I did.  I was somewhere in the Upper East Side.  I continued running back and eventually found my way back to the subway entrance.

Running in Central Park was just an amazing way to start my day on Sunday and I definitely will do it again on my next trip to NYC.

If there are any New York runners out there, thank you for letting me run in your beautiful park as it inspired and motivated me in so many ways.  🙂

Motivation

There seems to be a common theme on blogs regarding motivation.  More specifically, the lack of motivation.

I believe most people have the best intentions to commit to a running plan; however at times, they still can’t get off the couch.  Perhaps the daily grind of life is prohibiting them from finding the energy, which leads to making excuses and then blaming or being hard on themselves for not going.

With all things in life, running included, I cannot give a formula to encourage another person to run.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a special motivation pill.  We are not the same, and what may motivate me, may not motivate another.

Perhaps you are someone who needs to have an exercise journal to measure your progress as a means to motivate yourself.  For some, maybe they need a trainer to kick them out of bed.  For others, perhaps they just need a good jolt of coffee and they are out the door.

The Run a Weigh blogger complained that her school schedule was getting the best of her, and that trying to fit in a run was impossible due to her energy levels.  I suggested, since knowing her education was a priority and she loves getting high grades, that perhaps she try thinking of her scheduled run as a class.  Getting out there, and showing up for a run, she gets an A.  No run, no A.  Apparently this did the trick.  I won’t take credit here though….she really did it herself.  Despite her low energy and other commitments, she found a way to motivate herself to get out the door.

How do I motivate myself?

It can be difficult to get out the door.  I’m not immune to giving myself excuses not to run.  I tend to beat myself up when I lack the motivation.  It’s not uncommon for me to say things to myself like, “You idiot, put on your running clothes”.  “During the amount of time you sat here procrastinating, you could have been done by now”.  “Fool.  Do you want to crawl to the finish line or finish strong?”.  The list of things I say to myself is endless.  Ultimately, I get the gear on and go.  I try not to think about it when I start to prepare for my run.  I just do it. And always, 100% of the time, I feel better afterwards and think to myself, “Now, that wasn’t that bad, was it?”.

Perhaps some just need to ask, “Why do I run?” and that’s motivation enough to get out the door.  Is it to PB on an upcoming race?  To feel better about yourself?  To accomplish a goal like running your first race?  Perhaps it’s for the bling or crossing the finish line.  Do you do it to stay healthy for yourself and your family?  Perhaps you want to run to encourage your kids to exercise.  Is it the fresh air and the outdoors that you love?  Is it an outlet to control stress levels throughout the week?  Maybe it’s to enjoy the alone time.  We have different reasons to run.

Equally important is to stay away from the negative.  If you say you can’t.  You won’t.  I didn’t sign up for the Goofy Challenge in 2010 believing I couldn’t finish the race.  I didn’t train from September to December, putting miles upon miles on my feet, saying…”Silly girl, you can’t run a half marathon and a full marathon back-to-back!” Throughout my training, I had to reinforce to myself, that “Yes, I can do this!”.  I had to visualize myself running the race and achieving my goal.  Otherwise, I would not have succeeded.

Also, Don’t beat yourself up.  If you have a lousy run, ask yourself why and build from that experience.  Brush it off.  Learn through your mistakes, and continue on your running journey.  Use the mistakes to help guide you and to motivate you to improve.

Celebrate your mini triumphs.  If you ran extra hard one day, congratulate yourself.  If you increased your mileage and ran farther than you ever had, give yourself a pat on the back.  I would even say, give yourself a treat every now and again, to recognize your achievements.

Find inspiration from friends, co-workers, running partners, other bloggers or perhaps it’s by reading a good book or watching a movie.  There is inspiration beaming from everywhere if we look towards finding it.

We all have our good days and our bad days.  Treat running as your friend.  I truly believe running and all things running related, is a journey; Perhaps just one goal for many, or endless goals for others.  Find the motivation that lies beneath the sweat, or the paths in which you run.  Enjoy the ride.

How do you stay motivated?

If a uterus falls out on a race course…would you hear it?

Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of female sport role models.  Perhaps I didn’t look into it much, as my outlets for information at the time were our daily newspaper and my public school library.  (No Internet here folks!)  The library was filled with books that dated back to a pre-Canadian Flag era, so nothing too current.  Although, I have to exclude Judy Blume’s, Are You There God?  It’s Me, Margaret.  That book was written in 1970, but it didn’t arrive in our school until 1980, so it was new to me.  I was on a wait list to read it.   I believe I reserved it in grade 6, and I’m still on the wait list to this day! 😉

Getting back on topic here, it was a different time.  Sportswomen weren’t discussed as much as they are today.  At least not celebrated and written about as much as they are today.   Generally speaking, there seemed to be an unwillingness to accept the female long distance runner.  Up into the 70’s, many female runners were running marathons by crashing them, aka marathon bandits, or in the case of Katherine Switzer, registering under her initials.  It wasn’t until 1972 when women were allowed to officially run the Boston Marathon.   For many years leading up to these events, there was a lot of struggle for women runners and it wasn’t until the late 70’s into the 80’s that women finally got some major recognition.  In 1984, the Olympics held the first women’s marathon.

That was only 28 years ago.

I’m going to type that again because that sounds so wrong……

28 years ago.

(Insert a moment of silence here to reflect)

For me, that number is just mind-boggling.

The good news…

Today, women are running everywhere and in record numbers.  In fact, according to stats in America, 55% of total participants in road races are women.  Women beat the men in all running category distances with exception of the full marathon.

GO WOMEN!

And if you are wondering about the title of this blog….

Years ago, there was a time that women were told their uterus’ would fall out if they ran.

*shakes head

While I’ve heard of uterine prolapse, I’ve never heard of running being the cause of it!  Anyone?

How do you feel about the progress women have made in the running world?

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