When Did I Become This Girl?

who you areI try not to run two days in a row, but lately my weeks have been incredibly busy, which means that occasionally the only open times I have for running are on back to back days. The first time this happened, I ran several days in a row and each day progressively sucked a bit more. This next time when it happened, I decided to be a little smarter and do a power walk instead.

I had to drop off some things at a nearby college campus for my freelance work, and while I was there, I decided to walk the campus. It’s a gorgeous place – the college buildings are in a lovely wooded park setting. There are both paved and unpaved walking trails throughout it. A fair number of people from the neighborhood go there to walk.

I don’t know my way around the campus at all, but it isn’t terribly big, so I just took off walking, just picking routes at random. My only goal was to walk as fast as a could, with occasional short burst of running when I felt like it. I was on an unpaved trail and came up upon a steep hill where the path was covered in gravel. I took one look at it – and decided to run up it! I got to the top feeling pretty good. As I followed the trail around, the path became paved, and then I found the downhill segment. It was even steeper – so steep I wondered how students made it up in the winter. I ran down it, feeling like I was flying!

The trail then wound around, and after a moment, I found myself back at the gravel hill. Then do you know what I did?

I turned around, went back the way I came – just so that I could run up that super steep paved hill and then down the gravel one! Half way up the hill I thought, “When did I become this girl?”

I have always been someone who hated the idea of sports, gym, exercise… all that stuff. (You can read all about why here.) More than once I swore that the only way I would ever run is if someone was chasing me… and even then, they had better be darn serious about it. Now, here I am, not only choosing to run, but deliberately choosing to run up hills! It wasn’t even part of my training program. I just did it… you know, for fun.

There have been several of those, “Wait, did I just do that?” moments lately. Here’s another example: for many years I have refused to wear shorts, or even short skirts actually. It isn’t because I hated my legs; even at my heaviest, I had nice, slim legs. And that was the problem – whenever I wore something that showed off my legs even a little I got compliments on them, usually that went something like, “Wow! You have such skinny little legs!” I had a pretty classic “apple” body type, and I was very aware of how they looked compared to the rest of me. More than once I have said that I looked like an egg on toothpicks – with laughter – but still.

That isn’t true anymore. And last week? I bought running shorts. I didn’t even think about it really. I just did it. I also recently bought jean shorts, a short jean skirt, capris and some cropped pants for walking. None of these things have ever before been in my wardrobe. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been pining for them or anything – I can rock a long skirt like no ones’ business – in fact, I always said I hated these kinds of clothes. And I meant it.

And now… I’ve changed my mind. I like them. More important, I like them on me.

It’s had to do with the weight loss and the running combined. Not only do I feel better and have more energy, I am far more ready to try running up a hill, or clothes I wouldn’t have wore, or anything really. I am a lot more open and I have a lot more confidence that I can do whatever I want to do.

Who do you want to be?

 

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Well, This Isn’t Working

Run Twelve – 

Exactly.

Exactly.

Remember the children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Well that was Run Twelve: the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad run. I know why though, and I know how to fix it.

The problem? I went for a run in my neighborhood. It happened on a weekend, and it always just seems easier to run right in my own neighborhood. You know, throw on the shoes and head out the front door. There is a problem, however, I get bored in my neighborhood. Not just bored, I get boooooooooooooooooooored.

I know my neighborhood like the back of my hand. Hermes and I have walked every inch of it. We’ve been down every side road, alley, and sidewalk. We’ve explored all the neighborhoods, parks and shopping districts. When he and I are walking, I kind of zone out and daydream. However, I am too new to running to be able to daydream properly. Instead I find myself thinking about the run – thinking way too much about the run – and my neighborhood doesn’t have enough interesting things to distract me.

That’s one of the reasons I like parks. They are safe, pretty, and admittedly, slightly monotonous, but not too much so. There are still interesting things to see. In a park, I am distracted – in my neighborhood, I am not.

So, Run Twelve didn’t go well. I found myself frustrated, angry and bored. I just had a great run a few days before, so I knew what was going on. I ended up power walking most of it and just chalking it up to a lesson learned. From now on, I am going some place to run. It doesn’t matter which park, I am going to go where I can enjoy myself. Maybe once I am a regular runner I can hit my neighborhood streets again, but for now, you’ll find me jogging down the walking trails instead.

Looking Fit

Healthy Summer Snack by lindaaslundI wrote the other day that I don’t have a set goal for my weight loss. That’s still true, but yesterday, I got a glimpse of of it.

I was at the gas station. There was a gal at the pump across from me who was cleaning out her car while the filling up her tank. She was roughly 10 years younger than me, and obviously was currently, or had been, involved in sports. She was wearing a big college style sweatshirt (though I didn’t notice if there were any logos on it), short running shorts, and running shoes. Her hair was piled up in one of those “I am about to kick some butt at Volleyball” messy buns.

She was very pretty, but that wasn’t what I noticed. The first thing I thought when I saw her was, “That woman is fit.” Fit was the perfect word. She was thin, but you wouldn’t say super skinny. Her legs were really muscled, not perfectly cut or anything, but you could tell this gal had power. Just the way she carried herself was impressive. Her shoulders looked strong, like whatever sport she played used upper body strength too. She wasn’t wearing much makeup, but she had a glow about her. A little bell went off in my head and I thought, “I want that.”

I want to feel good in my body. I want to feel fit, strong, capable. I think a lot of us that are trying to lose weight concentrate on the health aspect of it, which is awesome, but let’s be honest here, there is also a physical component that is important. I not only want to feel healthy, I want to look healthy.

I don’t know what that is going to take. I’m not taking up sports, (I wrote about why awhile ago.) And truthfully, what I am talking about isn’t even looking like an athlete per se’. It is more about not only taking the weight off, but also keeping up with the things I have started – running and weightlifting – to make my body look better. It might mean adding in other new things like taking a class or joining a gym. Honestly, those don’t sound that appealing to me right now, but I am trying to keep my options (and my mind) open.

What I am not doing is letting my asthma, my weight, or my excuses get in the way of that anymore. This is an achievable goal, and someday there is going to me some woman creepily checking me out at the gas station and thinking, “Yeah… that’s the look I want.”

Photo credit: lindaaslund

The Running Continues

Runnin' through the swamp! (This isn't the park, but it looks just like it.)

Runnin’ through the swamp! (This isn’t the park, but it looks just like it.)

The Third Run

Yesterday was my run day. For some reason, I find myself called to running in parks. Maybe it is the scenery. In any case, before I started running I scouted out three parks with walking/running trails that were all fairly close to my office. Monday, I went to the first one, which I will call: Creek Park. (Because there is a creek next to it. How clever am I?) Yesterday I went to: Wetlands Park. (Because the trails go through the wetlands. The cleverness continues.)

There are several really good things about Wetlands Park. The first is that it is right on my drive home from work. It is just three or four blocks off the main route I drive each day. So, if I want to run after work, it is the perfect location. It’s a pretty park, located as mentioned, in the wetlands. When I visited back in March, I was a little concerned that the trial might be too secluded, but I need not have worried – there were tons of people using the park (almost too many – more on that later) and in order for anyone to be laying in wait for a newbie runner to come around the corner, they would have had to been waist deep in mud and cattails!

The park has a loop that it is a little over a mile long. Three quarters of it is a boardwalk winding through wetlands, the last quater is an asphalt trail through fields and woods. I have a special place in my heart for this park – until I was 5 years old, my family lived within walking distance of it. My mom and I used to come down quite frequently so I could play on the playground there. My mother was a teacher at a nearby school at the time, and I remember her going down to the park to cut pussy willow stems for her classroom. On my run, I passed a big pussy willow which just made me smile.

The boardwalk is really nice, but it has obviously gone through a rough patch this winter and hasn’t been repaired quite yet. There were a couple of spots where a boards were missing. It is also set right down into the water, so there are places where the water and mud came up over it. Usually there were boards across at these spots, so it wasn’t bad. Actually, they made it kind of fun – my ultimate goal is to trail run, so it was fun to leap over mud puddles and missing boards, a little like a mini obstacle course.

There were a few downsides, however. One was gnats! Swarms and swarms of gnats! I am running intervals right now, (4 min. walk/1 run and 3 min. walk/2 run) and when I was running these weren’t really a problem, you’d go through them quick. When I hit them while walking, however, they were a real pain. There wasn’t a thing I could do about it – I’m on a boardwalk, there was nowhere to go, and honestly, I am the one in their habitat.

The other slight problem was the people. On one hand it was really nice seeing the variety of folks using the park. There were people running, there were lots of people walking dogs, lots of couples strolling together and several families. (My favorite was passing a mom and two boys, one of whom was singing “nature.. nature…”) The problem is that the loop just isn’t very long, so you end up seeing the same people over and over. It is a little awkward. And of course, someone felt they had to comment. A guy walking with his dog said, “You are dressed for running, but you aren’t running.” I told him I’d been running 2 minutes ago and I would start again in another minute! It really wasn’t a big deal, but it makes me wonder how many people are going to be out there this summer when the weather is really nice… and how many bugs!

The run itself was very pleasant. I started with 4 walk/1 run intervals, and after a few tries, got it up to 3 walk/2 run. I was pretty darn proud of myself for that! The next run will be this weekend. I haven’t yet decided whether I will go to a park, or do some neighborhood running. It will depend a lot on my schedule.

I do like running so far. It’s a little hard to tell, I feel like right now I am concentrating so hard on what I am doing – trying to keep good form, listen to my body, watch what I am doing – that I haven’t yet experienced just a pure moment yet. That will come! As a calorie counter, I love how many calories are burned. Even though I am still so slow that My Fitness Pal doesn’t have a running category for it (so I put it under Brisk pace, Walking) I still burned twice what I do on an average dog walk. That made me very happy!

Do you run? If so, where do you like to run and why?

 

Photo credit: andyarthur

.5 Run, First Run and Second Run

My new shoes!

My new shoes!

Hey all – I have a little confession to make, I was out of town all last week. I didn’t say anything because don’t like announcing that I am leaving my house all empty and abandoned out here on the interwebs.  So, while I was traveling I wrote some simple posts on things I had been thinking about for awhile and kept things short and light. Now that I am back at my keyboard, I’ve got all sorts of things to write about!  The first is: running.

The week before last, I finally got all the basic gear I needed to start: shoes, sports bra, light weight running clothes, and a light jacket. My plan was to get everything together so that when I got back from my sales trip, I was ready to go. I ended up actually starting a little earlier than that! Here’s the scoop:

.5 Run

What the heck is a half a run? Well, they are ones that aren’t exactly planned. Last Saturday I was packing up for the trip and I wanted to pick up some road snacks from our local organic market. As I was getting ready to go, I looked at my pretty, new running shoes sitting there waiting to be worn. Here’s the thing with me – I am a saver. I like to eat the best bite last, as a kid I could make Halloween chocolate last almost to Christmas, I’ve been known to buy bath products and store them for a rainy day so long that I have moved and no longer have a bathtub. See, that is the problem with saving – I always think I am getting a bonus later, but sometimes I wait so long that the thing isn’t any good anymore – or worse yet, I forget about it! Part of me wanted to save my shoes for that “perfect first run” that magic moment. The rest of me knew that that was silly and I would be smarter just putting them on and breaking them in. For once, that is exactly what I did.

And did I, on the way to the market, break into occasional short runs? You bet I did.

Later that day, (still in my new shoes,) I took Hermes for a walk. Then I did what I will call Doggie Lead Intervals. Usually when my hound dog catches a scent and tries to pull, I try to work on his leash manners. This time? I went with it. When he pulled, I ran alongside him. When we got to the source of the smell, we stopped and walked a bit. I would say I was running roughly a half minute to a minute and then walking for five or six minutes. It went better than I ever could have expected. Maybe I can train him to run with me after all!

I am so ready for this!

We will run, run like the wind! We will chase the sunset… and squirrels!

First Run

So, I left town on Monday and returned late Friday night. Saturday morning I slept in a bit, and then… I felt the pull. Hermes was still staying with my Aunt, so I had the house to myself – which meant I could run by myself. Almost before I knew what I was doing, I laced up the sneakers and was out the door. It was cold (low 30s) but sunny, and really quite nice. The sports shop where I took my running form class suggested intervals of 4 minutes of walking, followed by 1 minute of running for beginning runners. That seemed good to me, so that’s what I went with.

It’s kind of awkward to run in my neighborhood, I am still super self conscious. I feel like people (especially those in cars) really judge joggers and runners. I also know a lot of people where I live, and I admit, it makes me a bit uncomfortable. It didn’t stop me though. I picked a route where there was a bit less traffic and out I went. Everything went great. Honestly, I think the cold was in my favor – there weren’t all that many people out either. I know this is just something I will have to face and deal with eventually, but I will get there, step by step. Until then, I’ll pick the quieter streets!

Second Run

Okay, it wasn't this cold. It just felt that way.

Okay, it wasn’t this cold. It just felt that way.

Okay, so this is the big one – the one I have been waiting for. Really, this is the run I have been working on since I first started thinking about this whole thing. I’ve had this whole thing planned out for about a month – doing test drives to local parks, checking out areas for running, planning my schedule, the whole thing. Of course, it was cold that day (spring is coming a bit late to the Midwest.) All day long I watched out my office window. At times the sun would peak out and I would start getting excited. Then, the sky would turn dark and it would start to snow and my heart would sink. By the time I left the office it was gray and windy, with some snow flurries.

I drove to the park. It was pretty darn chilly, but I decided to go ahead. How do I explain this? I think if I had backed out, I would have a harder time starting the next time. Not because I couldn’t do it, but because it was so easy not to. I locked up the car and started off.

The park is very pretty. It has two good sized ponds at one end and an open field/picnic area at the other. There is a large oval walking path that wraps around it. The path has a few splits through the middle, so you can make laps of varying length. There is a stream running nearby and quite a lot of wildlife. In just the time I was there, there were mallard ducks, Canada geese, robins and even a muskrat. There were also a few other people using the park – a couple of people walking dogs, someone else walking laps, and a father and son riding bikes. (The son was in a snow suit and looked like he was having the time of his life, the dad was in a sweatshirt and looked miserable. I give him credit for keeping with it though – that’s a good dad right there.)

When Well Laid Plans Begin to Go Astray

The first thing I figured out was that I needed my inhaler. I’m an asthmatic, and the cold was really hurting my lungs. Fortunately, I packed one… unfortunately it only had one puff in it before it died! Good thing I always keep a spare one in my purse. Okay, so that taken care of, I hit the trail again. This time, my UnderArmor shirt starts riding up! It has never done that before, but suddenly its heading north like it wants to fling itself over my head. It’s my base layer, and I have another shirt and a jacket on top of it, so it isn’t like I can just pull it down. Not only was it weirdly uncomfortable, but my middrift started getting seriously cold. No matter! Onwards!

Did I mention that I didn’t bring gloves? Yeah, gloves. I definitely need to pack gloves next time.

Again I am doing intervals – 4 minutes walking, 1 minute running. Everything is going fine until minute 13. I’m walking along and walking and walking… and then all the sudden it is minute 15! I figure I spaced on 14 and just start running. And running. And running. And running… I fumble in my pocket for my phone. Sure enough, RunKeeper says I am on minute 18. That’s three minutes of running, a lot for me! I pause it the app and try to figure out what is wrong. Obviously it isn’t giving me all the audio cues. Everything looks okay, so I save it and start over. I figure I will do 12 minutes to finish up a half hour.

I end up doing 20. It turns out that when I thought I was charging my phone, the charger wasn’t all the way plugged in. So when I started, it kept track, but didn’t have enough power to give me all the time notifications. Ah well!

So, it didn’t turn out to be the perfect “first run” I imagined! I had a few equipment failures and it was a lot colder than I thought it would be for the first week in April, but that is okay. I can laugh about it, and it will just make me better prepared for next time, (when something completely different goes wrong!) A coworker of mine uses the phrase “progress, not perfection” for times like these, and I think it fits. The important part is that I did it! Now I’ve I actually started – I feel great about it, and I’m excited for the next one!

 

 

 

My Dog, My Trainer

Why are you blogging? We should be walking right now.

Why are you blogging? We should be walking right now.

My boyfriend recently reminded me that while I started losing weight officially in January, I actually started quite a bit before that – back when I got my dog, Hermes.

It’s hard to believe that he hasn’t been with me forever, but in fact, he came into my life August 2011. I’ve always been a walker, but Hermes made me hardcore. Because I don’t have a fenced in yard, and he is a hound dog, I can never just let him off leash. So, twice a day irregardless of wind, rain, shine, blizzards, tornado warnings, hail, thunderstorms, or any other weather, Hermes and I are out pounding the pavement. I walk him roughly an hour a day during the week (a half hour in the morning and then again when I get home) and a bit more on the weekends.

Even if I had a fenced in yard, I’d still be walking him. (I mean, look at that face!) Hermes doesn’t care if I am too tired, or feel like wearing slippers rather than hiking boots. He doesn’t understand weekends or sleeping in, (so, we are up at 6:30 regardless of the day of the week), and he doesn’t care about my bad day or weekend plans.

Hermes has two things that he dearly loves in life.  Walks and naps.

Naps rule.

Fine. I will nap until you are ready to walk me again. Please hurry.

Now, I would never suggest that someone get a dog to lose weight. And even though there are tons of articles out there touting the wonders of a pet on your health, bringing an animal into your home is a huge commitment. It’s also fairly expensive. Not all families or individuals are suited for or have time for a pet, especially a furry buddy who needs long walks every single day.

For me though, he’s been a godsend in a lot of ways. I love the little guy and I am glad we found each other. I adopted him from a shelter, but I am a firm believer that the dog you need will find you. Hermes found and claimed me. He also got me into shape. I don’t think I would be contemplating running right now if he hadn’t kicked my butt in gear with walks. We’ve literally hiked for hours up at my cabin, and that’s built up my strength and ability to determinedly head out – even in sleet.

I’ve considered training him to run with me, but I think that might be a bit more work than I am ready for. There is a reason that you see people running with Labs, Boxers, German Shepards and even Rotweilers, but you don’t see people running with mixed breed hound dogs! Hermes doesn’t love his walks because of the exercise and pretty views – that’s what I get out of it. He gets the smells. When we walk, that brown nose is plastered to the pavement and he moves like a metronome across the sidewalk. If he encounters a particularly enticing smell, he plants all four paws and forty pounds in a dead stop. We’re working on that.

Until we get that worked out, I think I’ll run solo.

 

 

Winter Walking

winter quote

The truth is, I actually enjoy winter walking. All you really need is decent gear. A good set of boots, gloves, a warm coat, scarf and hat, and perhaps a set of ice fishing cleats, and you are good to go. I complain about winter a fair amount, but that is because I hate driving in it. Walking, however, is another matter.

Yesterday the weather was beautiful – sunny, clear and in the high 30s. I went for a walk on my lunch hour, something I haven’t done in awhile. With all the walking I do before and after work with the dog, I haven’t felt the need to walk on my lunch hour as well. It was nice to walk at my own pace though… and not have stop every time Hermes picks up an interesting scent on bush or tree!

I’m starting to think about walking more. A couple of weeks ago we had some pretty severe weather on a night I had a commitment. I am the President of the Board of a nonprofit organization, and that night they were having an event that I had to attend. The snow was coming down pretty hard and driving home from work that night was rather unpleasant. Walking, however, wasn’t bad at all. Hermes and I had a very nice stroll about the neighborhood. So, I decided that instead of getting my car back out and fighting through the snowy streets, I’d just walk it. I wore comfortable clothes, packed fresh makeup and a brush, and gave myself 45 minutes.

It took me 18.

That’s what started me thinking about walking. I burned calories, not fuel, and I felt safer. I also felt a little smug about not having to find parking during a snowstorm. So, this weekend I walked to the salon where I get my hair done. It is about a mile away and took me roughly 17 minutes. (I would have made better time if the sidewalks weren’t still pretty snow covered.) I like walking with my pooch, but as I say, it’s also very nice to walk without him, and since I am trying to lose some wight anyway, I think I will see if I can burn a little more shoe leather, and a little less rubber.