Friday, February 26, 2010

And So We Run

Want to know about my running history? Well here it is in all its glory!

During the summer after my first year of university, 2004, I started to look at what I was eating and started paying attention to what I was putting in my mouth and exercising. I went with my Mum to see her personal trainer and she had me doing running, elliptical and bike intervals along with lifting weights.

Throughout my second year of university, 2004-2005, I would go to the gym 4-5 days a week and do a  combination of cardio and weights...I loved this new lifestyle. During exams of that year I got into running, just a little bit here and there...I would switch between elliptical and running for 5 minutes, it was a nice start to what would turn into a great relationship. During the summer after my second year of university I started to love running. I can remember the day I ran for 20 minutes without stopping, I was so giddy and proud!

When I started my third year of university, 2005-2006, I kept up my running and weight lifting...soon I was running more than I was biking or spending time on the elliptical. I was in love! At this time I also looked into The GI Diet by Rick Gallop and fell in love, this was no diet my friends, this was a lifestyle change, and I loved every minute of it!! During that year I got my running endurance up and was so happy with what I was doing!

When I got home after exams I did a training session with my Mum's personal trainer and she mentioned that she was doing a 5k race with some other clients and asked me if I wanted to go with them. I said no at first, but by the end of the hour I realized that I had no reason to say no. I remember that 5k so well, it was fun and easy going there was no pressure! That day someone asked if I had considered doing a half marathon, at that time I started looking into training plans and what went into training for a half marathon! 

That summer I ran another 5k, this time with my boyfriend, and I must say he really pushed me! The pictures that our parents took of us that day are some of my favourite pictures there are of us!

    Later that summer (late July-August) I started training for the Prince Edward County Half Marathon (PEC), to this day it is my favourite half marathon route for sure! My boyfriend and I ran that half marathon in October 2006, we didn't run it together because we wanted to run our first races as our own. It was great day and I felt so amazing!

      After that, during my fourth year of university 2006-2007, I ran and did strength training and in February 2007 I joined the Running Room for a Half Marathon Clinic to train for the Ottawa Half Marathon. In late May 2007 I ran that half marathon a little injured, plantar fasciitis, but it was still is a much bigger race than PEC so I was a little thrown off, but I still enjoyed myself.

        A week later I graduated from the University of Ottawa with a degree in English Literature (I just always remember running the Ottawa Half Marathon and then going back a week later to celebrate graduating).

        During that summer I started doing more yoga, I got a month of unlimited yoga to a local yoga studio from my parents for graduation and I spent that month running and doing hot yoga, it was pure bliss! Of course I could not keep up those kinds of payments so I enjoyed my month and then took what I learned with me.

        I was still a little injured, but continued to run all the time, this was NOT smart! Regardless I trained for the Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon because it was a flat course and I would be running it with a friend who wanted to complete her first half marathon. The training went very well and the Thursday before the race I pulled a muscle in my groin area (sorry I had to write that, it's the truth though) and we ran the race at the end of September, it was fun and hot, but I was in pain.

        After my 3rd half marathon in one year I knew I had to take a break! During the rest of the fall of 2007 and most of 2008 I spent time in spin classes, on a stationary bike, and the elliptical mixed with weights and yoga. I did some running every now and then, but mostly picked it up again consistently in the summer of 2008, sadly I was not healed and it wasn't always enjoyable. I decided that my hope of running the PEC half marathon in October 2008 was a no go, and I was ok with that. During December of 2008 I started running again, everything was good and I felt no pain. I took it slow and only did what made me happy, I didn't want to push myself.

        During 2009 I ran and discovered amazing workout videos: 30 Day Shred, Core Fusion, and many yoga videos, my favourite being Shiva Rea's Creative Core and Upper Body.

        Finally in the summer of 2009 I was ready to train for another half marathon! I trained for and ran PEC with my boyfriend, this time we ran it together and it was so much fun! Near the finish line he took my hand and made me sprint, and we crossed the finish line holding hands. It was amazing! I will always remember that moment!

          I just put this board together and it is on a wall in my kitchen, it makes me smile whenever I see it!

          WOW! That is a lot of information about running and very little about nutrition, I guess I will talk more about that later. So what am I doing now you ask? Well I am loving running and am looking forward to being able to run outside all the time again. I was going to do that today but the huge snow storm that hit last night put a damper on that. 

          As for strength training, I have reworked an old plan and I love it, at the same time I just bought The New Rules of Lifting for Women and am looking into doing the plan in the book. I still love doing yoga, if I don't have time for a full video I always do some stretches for runners to ensure I don't injure myself again.

          I am currently on my reading week until March 7th so I am going to spend this week running, yoga-ing, doing strength training, reading, and I should probably do some school work! I have been looking forward to this week off for so long!

          Happy Running!

          Wednesday, February 24, 2010

          Do What You Love

          I am off for another crazy day filled with classes and getting myself to places quickly. Not to mention all the homework I want to get done before my reading week, which is next week. I must say I am very pleased that I got up early (5:30am) and ran and stretched, because if I didn't I would be a little more frazzled. They joy of running and a good downward dog stretch! 

          While I am having a busy day I wanted to leave you with the Lululemon Manifesto so you can ponder some of its sayings.

          My favourite saying (or at least one of them) is, "That which matters the most should never give way to that which matters the least." Think about it! 

          *Edited to add*

          Go and visit Brie, The Fit Bride, and read about what she found in Shape magazine. I love this post so much! I think about the kinds of ads that fitness magazines have whenever I am reading one. I am always perplexed when a magazine that is telling me that there is not quick fix for losing weight permanently (which there isn't, nor should there be) and then they have ads for diet pills. GAH! It is really annoying!! Visit The Fit Bride to see what Brie has to say!

          Happy Running!

          Tuesday, February 23, 2010

          Happy Birthday Little Brother!

          Today is my little brother's 23rd birthday!! By little I mean he is much taller than me and people always ask about my older brother. 

          I thought I would share some pictures with you! They are kind of all over the place because my Dad keeps all his pictures on his computer and doesn't share...either way here is what I managed to get!

          Me and Chris in 1989 after we moved from Toronto and our house, in Kingston, wasn't done being built so we lived in a cottage near the city. 

          Chris in 1995 in Florida. He never got to live there, I did back in 1984-1986, but we still went back to visit. Look at those cool shades! 

          Let's jump ahead to 2007 when we took him out to BC to go to school. The rest of the pictures are from that trip. See I wasn't kidding when I said I had limited pictures of us (that are available on my computer that is).

          Very deep in thought! I think this is a classic pose for us. Ever since he had his high school graduation pictures taken and they told him to look deep in thought and he did that. HA!

          More than anything the mountains are beautiful! I am jealous that he gets to see that everyday when he is in school.

          To follow up on yesterday's post and my need for a strength training plan. Well I put it together yesterday and then did it, it felt so good to do weights again! I will also be posting more about me later on! 

          Happy Birthday "little" brother!! And to all of you...

          Happy Running!

          Monday, February 22, 2010

          Live Your Life

          Good Morning!

          What a beautiful day! I must say that I am getting very excited about the fact that the sun is getting up slightly before 7am, I'm just waiting for the day when the sun is up at 5:30am. OK I swear I'm not weird, this has just been something I look forward to ever since I started getting up early. I look forward to going for a run at 6:30am (or earlier) and watch the sun rise, OR have it already be up.

          Speaking of exercise, I am prescribing me some strength training. Since I came up with this idea this morning I haven't put tons of thought into it yet, I am looking at Caitlin and Jaime's Intro to Iron Pumping Challenge from The Fitnessista. I also have a lot of old plans that I put together with a trainer years back when I needed to work with one (oh there was a time!). So that is something that I will be working on today! Not to mention all the homework I want to get done today because I don't want to have to do it later, HA!

          I am headed to school but in my absence check out the Lululemon Blog called A Few of My Favourite Run Things! It is so funny how my favourite running clothes are the same ones that she talks about!

          What is coming up on here? How about a getting to know you session?! I will fill you all in on a little more of who I am.

          Until then here's a Lululemon picture and quote that I have loved forever. [Source]

          Happy Running!

          Sunday, February 21, 2010

          Everyday Things

          I've had a very productive day! I have done some homework, I have a cheesecake cooling in the fridge for the Canada vs. USA hockey game tonight, I have made a bulgur and shrimp salad for dinner tonight, I did some readings for school, and I have also gotten some yoga for runners in. WOW! I feel like I've done a lot today! I felt as though there was some time for procrastinating so I put together pictures of the magnetic board I have in my bedroom. I also added links to the articles (if I could find them) so you can see what stretches I like to do! 

          This is the magnetic board that is in my bedroom. It is filled with suggested stretched for runners, how to use a foam roller, different kinds of push-ups (I love pushups!), a serene picture of a woman running, a red velvet cupcake recipe which I haven't made yet but really want to do sometime, pictures I love, and of course many magnets that I love!

          Flexibility Routine is from Runner's World magazine (in the picture below), the link has a video and the names of the stretches and pictures. The only stretch that isn't featured that I love for after a run is Downward Dog, it really loosens up my hamstrings.

          The foam-rolling article called Fix the Kinks is from Women's Health magazine and it was great to find that around the time I bought a foam roller. The Flex Time article is full of suggested stretches for calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes. 

          I have a strength routine from Runner's World magazine on here too, it's called Quick and Strong (which I cannot find to save my life, but maybe someone else will have better luck. It is a strength routine that is quick and works really well. I just have to make time to do it.

          I cut this Red Velvet Cupcake out of Runner's World magazine in hope of making it one day. It will happen, my plan was to make them for Valentine's never happened. Maybe they will be a nice spring treat.

          I love this magnet, "Nothing is more beautiful than the love that has weathered the storms of life." - Jerome K. Jerome (that is such a cute couple, holding hands and naked, so cute!)

          This quote is here to remind me just how powerful I am. If I am ever feeling down on myself I go and read this quote and then say it a few times and then I feel super strong and ready to kick ass!

          Happy Running!

          Saturday, February 20, 2010

          The Little Things

          I can’t be the only one who loves to decorate her fridge? Right?!

          It has to be one of my favourite things to do when I move into a new place. Here is my fridge now, I just moved in a little over three weeks ago. I will most likely be adding tons to it in the months to come:

          What are you looking at? Let me tell you. One of my favourite pictures of me and my boyfriend after our first 5k together, a really good no-bake protein bar recipe, my Shakespeare finger puppet (every English Literature graduate needs one of these), a Barack Obama magnet that I got from my Mum (I think she wanted this one, but let me have it anyway, so sweet!), and some of the Lululemon Manifesto.

          Here is the whole Lululemon Manifesto, and classic photo booth pictures with my boyfriend (these happen to be some of my favourite pictures).

          Here we have a classic picture of me, my boyfriend, and some friends at a dress rehearsal for a choir concert (we were in high school when this picture was taken), a business card for a local personal trainer (I just love the card), and a pamphlet that I got with an Amazing Grass order.

          Here is the bottom of the fridge and some more pictures and magnets. I love magnets! The really blue picture is of Sean McCann from Great Big Sea, the picture was taken from the front row at a concert and it is one of my favourite pictures ever!

          Here is a close-up of my favourite part of the bottom of the fridge.

          I wanted to show you guys a little more of what I am about! My decorating of the fridge or my magnetic board in my bedroom (which I will show you later) are not exactly like a Vision Board but it is a start for me. One day I will make a complete Vision Board, but for now I just like posting pictures and stuff I cut out of magazines to remind me of what I love and so I can look at my favourite pictures everyday!

          It makes me really happy to put stuff like this together. Like I mentioned above I do have a board that is in my bedroom, and I will share it with you later. It has full pages from magazines with stretches for runners so I don't forget to stretch. Of course there is more, but there is a little bit of what the board is about.

          Happy Running!

          Thursday, February 18, 2010

          Size Healthy

          Have you ever been discouraged when you are shopping for clothes, have you ever focused on the number that is on the tag? Have you ever been so discouraged that you left the store because a pair of jeans didn't fit the way you expected them to? 

          Enter "Size Healthy"! Are you unsure of what size that is? It is the size that you are, and you are healthy! You are healthy and happy and a number should not rule your life. 

          Thanks to Angela over at Oh She Glows I am now labeling all of my clothes “Size Healthy”. I love the way Angela put it,

          “I never liked the number on clothing. It is so inconsistent and it varies so much by the store. I could walk into a clothing store and leave upset because I wasn’t the size I thought I should be. Some stores have vanity sizing and in some stores the clothing runs really small. You just can’t win!”

          When I was focusing on size (because there was a time when I really cared about it, I cannot tell a lie) I would go to stores focused on getting the same size as the last and I found that sizes were never the same. At some stores you can be one size in one pair of pants and then have to go down for another, and then have to go up for another. Oh my!

          When you really focus on those numbers shopping for clothes is no longer fun. Now that I am a “Size Healthy” I am happy and don’t find myself sweating over the numbers. As long as my clothes fit and I am healthy then I am happy!

          Here is what I have been doing...

          It feels so good to write this on my clothes because I know I am healthy and happy. It no longer has anything to do with what size the tag says.

          I like to focus on how I feel rather than a number, it's as simple as that. 

          Go and visit Angela at Oh She Glows to see what she has to say about "Size Healthy"! I love reading Angela's blog, she always has interesting topics!

          Happy Running!

          Tuesday, February 16, 2010

          Study While You Run?

          Visions of accounting were bouncing through my head on my run this morning. That can only be because I have an accounting test on Wednesday and I have to say that I didn't spend enough time studying for it over the weekend, and I even had Family Day off. I guess I felt bad and because of that all I could think about were debits, credits, and what goes in an Income Statement.

          Normally my thoughts are all over the place, but today it was mostly accounting. I listened to a podcast on my run and I am normally so engaged in what the person has to say and I take everything in. Today I realized that I can easily tune out the other person's voice and do my own thing (no offence to the podcast, I love it dearly, but I have a test coming up!). I think it is differnet when I listen to music because my thoughts will be influenced by the music I listen to, or I will be thinking about something and start singing the song and forget what I was thinking about. Oh the things your brain can do when you are running!

          This morning's run was 6 miles and it was wonderful! I was having one of those moments around mile 5 where I was thinking that it would be nice to stop and start getting ready for school, but out of nowhere something came over me and I just wanted to keep running! Does that ever happen to anyone? It doesn't happen to me all the time so I decided to roll with it and keep moving forward! It is getting so nice out so I want to take advantage of the weather in case it decides to start snowing buckets.

          This is not what I look like when I run, there are no coloured lines behind me and it isn't that nice out yet. [Source]

          You might be asking "why is this blog called Happy (Running) Thoughts?"  Here is my reason...I love running, and I love talking about running and what I think about while I am running. At the same time I think about a lot of other things and do a lot of other things on a daily basis. I cook, read, go to school, find ways to balance school work and play, bike, laugh, spend time with people I love, walk, bake, do yoga, have happy thoughts and SO much more! I want to share all my Happy Thoughts with everyone!

          What do you find yourself thinking about the most during a run?

          In all honesty the majority of my thoughts are on the run and the music or podcast I am listening to. I also plan my day, make to do lists, think about groceries, drool over a recipe I saw on a blog and think about what I need to do to make it, and I think about how to catch up with my boyfriend because he is so far ahead of me!

          Happy Running!

          Sunday, February 14, 2010

          Don't STOP Believin'

          Happy Valentine's Day!

          I have had a rather relaxing weekend that was spent doing a lot of reading and writing for school. I'm in a college program for Office Administration Medical and Legal and there is a lot to do but I cannot say that it is all that hard... yet. I do have an accounting test on Wednesday and that sparks a little fear within me, but I plan on being very ready because I get all of tomorrow off to study because of Family Day!

          We spent Friday night watching the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics, and I have to say that I did enjoy them! In addition to that the events have been on in the background a lot while I've been working, that and Friends season four for white noise. Saturday evening I made something new for dinner, a Chicken and Broccoli Orange is it before I added in the orange sauce. 

          It was very yummy, we also added Soba noodles as a base. Here is some information about Soba Noodles. I got the recipe from the Clean Eating Magazine for March/April 2010, I don't think the recipe is actually on the website, but buying the magazine is always worth it. 

          For Valentine's Day the family got together and had a nice dinner, my parents and grandparents got some fancy meal and my boyfriend and I opted for a pizza from the restaurant Atomica that had a thin crust, pesto, goat cheese and spinach. It was sooo yummy!! 

          I am looking forward to a longer run tomorrow morning, with the extra day off I am going to take full advantage of the free time to run and study. I might even take some time to read The Blind Side by Michael Lewis, it is such a good book with lots of great information about football...not to mention a great story about Michael Oher.

          Now to move on to more exciting things that involve someone writing on a STOP sign....

          Look at what I found written on a stop sign last fall!! I giggled and pulled out my phone to get a picture! 

          Whenever I see this picture it makes me think of all things motivational. I wanted to share some of my favourite quotes with you!

          “What we do in life echoes in eternity.” - from the movie Gladiator

          “It’s not about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” - Rocky Balboa

          "You'll have to walk faster than that. You're gonna have to turn into freakin' Flo Jo to get away from me." - Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls

          "The greatest pleasure in life is doing the things people say we cannot do." - Walter Bagehot

          Does anyone have a favourite quote that makes them smile? I have used the Walter Bagehot as a signature in e-mails it really speaks to me!

          Happy Running!

          Saturday, February 13, 2010

          Thanks For Making Me a Fighter

          Runner's World cover for March 2010 [Source] and a thanks to the article Mind Games that inspired me to dig deep and keep moving forward.

          “Goucher’s candid admissions about her psychological struggles are rare for an elite athlete but they will ring true to any runner who’s ever battled doubts, setbacks, or mental demons. Which is to say, all of us.” That is how the article Mind Games by Bruce Barcott starts off. The Runner’s World article about Kara Goucher, in the March 2010 issue, focuses on how a lack in confidence can really bring you down even when you have the ability to be the best in the world. Barcott describes Goucher as “one of the most accomplished American runners of her generation.” He goes on further to describe Goucher and her accomplishments,

          “[Goucher] was a monster in the middle distances: top-ranked American at 10,000 meters, second at 3,000 meters, and top five at 5,000 meters. In 2008, she decided to try her first marathon…the New York City Marathon. She came in third. Last year she ran Boston – her second 26.2 miler ever – and missed breaking the tape by a mere nine seconds.”

          Goucher has done amazing things with her talent, but from reading this article I soon learned that she had/has those little voices in her head that deter her from being able to do her best all the time.

          In all honesty I do not have the ability to be the best runner in the world, nor do I wish to be the best. Putting that aside I still identified with Goucher’s story because sometimes, no matter how far you are running, your mind can get to you and start saying things you do not want to hear. Here is how Barcott describes Goucher’s mind games, “her head has always messed with her. For as long as she can recall, it's thrown hammers at her feet. Some runners have trick knees or fragile hamstrings. She has an undermining psyche.” I think any runner can identify with these feelings, imagine you are almost finished a half marathon and you see the hills that are separating you from the last few miles that would take you to the finish line, and to add to that you weren’t having a great run in the first place. You start doubting yourself and your ability to run races; all of a sudden you start hearing this voice in your head that keeps telling you that you can’t do this. This is when you need to harness everything you have and start repeating your mantra, mine is “just keep swimming” from Finding Nemo. I came up with this when I started running more often and was running longer distances. 

          Barcott writes of Goucher, “[she is] remarkably candid about her battle with the mental game. “Everyone has their weakness,” she says. “Mine is confidence.”” Goucher’s trainer Alberto Salazar brought in sports psychologist Darren Treasure to help combat these doubts that she was having. In the article I learned that Goucher eventually started using words such as “fighter” and “courage” to get her through the hard times in a race. I thought that that was something different, I have read articles on mantras and never thought of using one that was a single word. Since reading the article I have been channeling my inner Kara Goucher and using “fighter” to get me through the hard parts of a run. I do not run as fast or as long a distance as Goucher, nor do I even run races to compete against the other runners, but I think that using key words and mantras are key to making you feel powerful and strong. 

          So what does Runner’s World think you should do so you can run with mind over matter? Here are their suggestions: [Source]
          1.     Worry early, not late – Gloria Balague, a sports psychologist at the University of Illinois says, “identify your worries and train to overcome them. As you get closer to race day, focus on your strengths and the body of your training work.”
          2.      Employ a key word – Darren Treasure, Nike Oregon Project sports psychologist has athletes focus on a key word during intense training moments, “then when they get to a critical moment in a race, they can invoke that word and get the response they’re looking for.” Treasure does note that just chanting “win, win, win” during the course of your race won’t cut it.
          3.      Enjoy the motion – Balague says you should “get in touch with your body…notice how nice the motion feels when it’s in sync – arms, legs, back, posture. The idea is to relax, not tense up, and if you’re in touch with the positive feeling, you must less likely to be tight”
          4.      Define success by your progress – mental trainer Jeff Troesch says, “measure [your] success in terms of [your] personal progress. If I can do a couple more reps than I did yesterday, that’s a success. I look for ways to get the athletes into the now, to strive for day-to-day victories.”
          I like the idea of focusing on daily victories, I always feel good when I run a little bit further or a little bit faster than the day before. The same is true even if I ran a shorter distance but ran it feeling happy and comfortable the whole time. I can also say the same for just enjoying the weather and the music I am listening to. If I hit a rough patch in a run I repeat my mantra and change the music to something that I know is going to help pick me up.


          Do you have a mantra? What is it? Do you have any songs that pick you up when you are not feeling great?

          I still use “just keep swimming” and have now started using Goucher’s “fighter” to push me through that point where I’m not feeling great, or not wanting to push that extra mile. My pick me up song is an oldie but a goodie (according to me)…Machine Head by Bush off of the album Sixteen Stone.

          Happy Running!