My New Habit?

Apparently, the running store near work is going to start having group runs on Wednesday evenings. Perhaps I will make this a weekly ritual - just a fun run near the harbor - nothing strenuous. Went with a friend tonight, she paid attention to her watch but I didn't. There was a glorious breeze and hardly any hills. A little over three easy miles. It felt great, except for the fact that the Brooks Ravenna's I tried rubbed the skin off the back of my right heel.

Track work in the morning. With the pile of chores I have to do in the evening, it's imperative that I get my run in tomorrow morning. I also have to drop my car off at the shop for some muffler work. Yippee! So, short post tonight, I'm off to sleep.

Good night!

In the meantime, enjoy some silliness...

My New Mantra

So maybe this is just a week of new things. Yesterday, a new goal: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Today, a new mantra. In fact, it might be my first real mantra.

Of course, I've repeated things to myself on runs before but each new set of words has lost its meaning in one or two runs. This one came to me a few long runs ago and it's gotten me through a couple of pretty crappy weeks of running. And, today, it got me through a really great five miles. That's right! They were great!!!

Now that I've hyped it up, you are probably thinking this must be some incredible deep, pithy, inspirational, awesome mantra.

Are you ready for this?

When my brain wants to quit, I repeat two questions over and over again:

"Legs okay? Lungs okay?"
"Legs okay? Lungs okay?"
"Legs okay? Lungs okay?"
"Legs okay? Lungs okay?"
"Legs okay? Lungs okay?"

Yeah, that's it. But it works perfectly for me. When my lazy brain is trying to convince me that it's time to give up, these words become a way to check in with whether my body actually needs a break. As I repeat it, the questions repeat with the rhythm of my footfalls and remind me that I can keep going. Eventually, they turn into statements of celebration:

"I am running and my legs are okay! My lungs are okay!"
"Legs? OKAY! Lungs? OKAY!"

If my legs are okay and my lungs are okay, there's no reason I shouldn't keep doing what I'm doing. The flipside of this is that if the answer to either of the questions is no, I have given myself complete permission to walk or even stop. Having that permission is great; finding that I don't need it is even better.

I wonder what will be new tomorrow...

Do you have a running mantra that works for you?
Do you ask specific questions to check in with your body when you're working out hard?

My New Goal

Yesterday, my roommate asked how my run went that morning. Whatever I said and however I said it made her respond with, "You're done with running, aren't you?" Eeek!

Running has become a task rather than a joy. Over the past several days, I've begun to realize that's probably because I'm making it more complicated than it needs to be and putting more pressure on myself for results than makes sense. So, I've been getting all freaked out and "wanting" to quit.

I posted about my mental struggle on the fabulous Sub-30 Club the other day. (It's a private group but if you like running and you like fun people and you'd someday like to hit a sub-30 5k or already have and might like to encourage others in the same pursuit, you might like to join.) I asked for strategies to combat my quitting brain and one of the members, fondly referred to as our resident d-bag (I've never been able to figure out why) suggested this:
The more I can dumb it down the better. The more I think, the slower I get. It's running. It's not rocket science. Clear your mind and run. At least that's what I do.
Today, another member asked whether it was okay to take walk breaks during a run and good ol' d-bag responded this way:
As runners we tend to complicate things. Run. Get tired, walk. Then run some more. The simpler I make running, the easier it gets and the better I become at it.
His comments hit me like a ton of bricks - good bricks - the kind that wake you up and make you stop over-thinking stupid crap. I'm not winning any races anytime soon and I never ever will if I start to hate running. So why am I letting myself get SO stressed out about it? Running is an activity I enjoy that has the added benefit of making my body look great and last longer. I need to stop worrying over every little thing and just do what Dwight says:

In order to pursue this new goal, I am going to start running without my watch at least once a week. This week, it will be a fun run on Wednesday evening with a friend and some other people I've never met before. (It's not even part of my training schedule! [insert shocked face]) Should be good!

A Year Ago

I wrote this post about how I have a really hard time forming habits but have no trouble breaking them. This time last year, I was triumphantly soaring through day after day of getting up in the morning to work out.

This year, right now, I'm having trouble getting myself out the door for three runs a week. Forget any extra like Pilates or yoga or strength-training. And I'm starting to freak out about running an 18 mile race in five weeks. ARG!

The last three paragraphs of the post are an especially good reminder:
...I have done this before. I haven't been a yo-yo dieter, with my weight bouncing up and down regularly, but I have been at this point before. I've gotten excited about exercise and healthy eating and even stuck with it for eight months or so two times in the past. Each time, some circumstance has given me a convenient reason to stop and I've climbed back up to the weight and down to the level of un-fitness I was before - a fact that can be incredibly discouraging to think about.

What I've realized, though, is that letting the baggage of the past weigh me down isn't going to help. I don't know how long it will take before I get to the point that I've truly formed a habit and it's harder NOT to exercise - maybe never. But, I'm committed to taking it one day at a time and not letting one bad day or one bad week or one bad decision derail my efforts permanently.

And I'm sure I can count on a little help from my friends if I do start slipping up.
So, it looks like I made a commitment. Sometimes commitments to myself are the easiest to break. Not this time. Even if I have to hang on with my teeth for the next few weeks or months, I will get back to the place where waking up at 6 a.m. to do some strength-training or yoga is a pleasure rather than a burden. Until then, it will be something I do, whether I want to or not.

Dwight sets us straight.
Also, I paid for races through May already. At the moment, I'm hating myself a little bit for being so eager. When I get to May and am still running, I'll think I was pretty damn smart.

Heard on the radio today: You're not going to get the butt you want by sitting on the butt you have.

True workout confession: I ran 10.47 miles in 2:19:01 - which was about 1 minute slower than my suggested training pace. I'm getting


This morning, I went to brunch at Clementine. I had the Elvis special, a waffle topped with pecans, bacon, banana, and Nutella whipped cream. Pretty sure there was some syrup involved, too. There may have also been a side of cheesy grits and a root beer.

My love of waffles has been resurrected. I would like a waffle maker to take the place of my Cuisinart. I'm certain it would get plenty of use.

That is all I have to share for today. Thanks for having a birthday and inviting me to celebrate with you, Sarah!

Look upon it and drool!


Over the past three days, a bunch of people at work, mostly interns, helped me clean out and re-organize our basement storage area that was desperately in need of some care. As a thank you, we bought them lunch today. We had pizza, carrots, tomatoes, bananas, grapes, blueberries, cupcakes, lemonade, and soda. It was quite a feast. Most of us probably ate more than we needed to.

At the end, there were four slices of pizza left. Since I'd organized the whole shindig and four pieces didn't seem worth an email to the whole building, I decided to take the leftover pizza home. So, on my way out at the end of the day, I grabbed my bag of pizza.

As I stepped out of the door, I realized, with co-mingled guilt and dread, that when I turned the corner I would pass a small group of men and women who are homeless that I see almost every day. We often greet one another but I've never stopped to chat with them.

Often, when I pass, I feel guilty that I can't/won't/don't (depending on the day) give them anything. Today, I had that bag of pizza. I was *really* looking forward to eating cold pizza. Then I realized that, if I really wanted pizza, I could get it on a whim. I had no need for that pizza but here sat some folks who could use it immediately.

So, I stopped, greeted them, and asked if they'd like to have the pizza. This brief and somewhat thoughtless question led to an interaction of several minutes. I met John, his wife, Penny, and their "roommates," Walter and Candy. I'm sure they're not the only ones but these folks live on the steps of the building next to the one I work in. They call it their home - the "white house."

John: What do you think is the greatest nation in the world?
Me: I like Tanzania. *uncomfortable giggles*
John: The best nation in the world is a DO-nation.

We chatted and joked for a few more minutes. When John left me hanging on a high five twice I told him I was leaving. Then I was on my way.

I don't have any great lessons from this story. There's nothing especially good about what I did; I gave out of my abundance. As my mom might say, "Woopty doo." If I had hurried past and kept the pizza, I would have felt guilty for a moment, but I would have forgotten that feeling sooner rather than later.

As I walked away, though, I felt it was important to remember their names. I wanted to think of them as John, Penny, Walter, and Candy, not "homeless people." And, without any fancy insights or exhortations, I wanted to tell you all about what was probably the only part of my day I'll remember weeks from now.

Cleaning the Basement

Hoarding may become compulsive.
I could try to manufacture some deep lesson or insight from the idea of cleaning a basement but, today, I was literally cleaning out our basement at work. The division I work for had a lot of stuff stored down there and we needed to store some other stuff. So, we bribed volunteers with the promise of pizza lunch on Friday and a passel of folks joined me this morning to haul many boxes up to our conference room/staging area and many out to the dumpster.

I've been wanting to do this cleanup since the moment I saw our basement. Today's work was cathartic.

The moving was done by late morning. The organizing was done shortly after lunch. Tomorrow, my co-workers will get to take the things they want and, if there is anything leftover, we will figure out what to do with it next.

For now, I'm tired. I think an early bedtime is in order. I'll save deep and insightful for another time.


I'm currently training for the 18.12 Challenge. When I tell other runners that my upcoming race is 18.12 miles, I get some pretty funny looks. Then I have to launch into stuff about the War of 1812 and how the race ends at a battle site and everyone falls asleep.

I get it. It's a weird distance to run. This was especially apparent as I tried to find a training plan. Half marathon plans didn't have long enough long runs and I couldn't afford a custom plan created by a coach, so I decided to go with a marathon training plan from Runner's World Smart Coach, which creates a plan based on a previous race time.

For the most part, this plan has worked but I've also encountered some bumps along the road... RW SmartCoach seems to be based on the Run Less Run Faster, three-runs-a-week model. Because they are still trying to get in marathon-level mileage, the weekday "short" runs can get pretty long - even longer for someone with a turtle-like pace. AND, if I haven't mentioned it before, the heat hasn't been my friend this summer. So, getting in the suggested mileage has been a challenge - one I haven't met in about five weeks.

This is what rejoicing looks like when I do it.
It wasn't until today that I *remembered* I'm NOT actually running a marathon. I'm only running about 2/3 of that distance! So if I get in 2/3 of the training miles, I should be alright. Which means, the fact that I ran 6 miles today instead of 8 makes perfect sense for the race I'm going to run. In fact, it's probably a little MORE than I needed to run. Which means, I can stop being so hard on myself!

And the people rejoiced because Kate was going to whine less about not running her miles. Happy day!

Also, this puppy in a tortilla because yes.
Another excellent reason to rejoice.

Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Apparently, this is a phrase that Jillian Michaels uses. In my online running group, we say, "Suck it up, platypus!" or SIUP!* The way Jillian says it might be a little kinder but, most of the time, kindness isn't enough to get me out of my comfort zone. What I need is a kick in the behind.

Either way, the point of both mantras is that if a person wants to improve, to do something great, he or she is going to have to do some things that feel really uncomfortable.

If I want to run faster, I'm going to have to run faster. It won't be easy at first. In fact, it will probably feel terrible at first. But, as I do it more, as I train my body, it will become easier. I have evidence that this is true because it's already happened: A year ago, running for 30 minutes straight or breaking a 10-minute mile was impossible. Now, I'm challenged by these tasks but not intimidated by them. I got comfortable being uncomfortable.

If I want to lose weight, I'm going to have to eat differently or more differently. It's not as if I'm eating terribly but over the years, I've developed a lot of food habits. Some of them are good but a lot of them are not as good. I find something I like and then I want all of it or I want it all the time. It may take years, but I need to find new healthier habits to replace the old. I've done this before - it's how I lost the first 70 pounds - and it got easier. My overall diet is drastically improved from what it was a year ago. I got comfortable being uncomfortable.

It's only by getting out of my comfort zone that I'm going to accomplish everything I want to. Sometimes this thought makes me incredibly excited. At the moment, I'm completely freaked.

What have you accomplished by sucking it up and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable?

*Some say "Suck it up, princess!" or "Suck it up, buttercup!" but I'm more comfortable with a gender neutral term and SIUP sounds better in my head than SIUB.

Sneaky, Sneaky Calories

I have been counting every calorie I eat for the past 14 months. It's boring, time-consuming, and, apparently, useless for me. Sometimes, I think I eat more than I might have or justify poor food choices with the thought, "I have the calories, I can... eat that cake/finish that candy bar/drink another glass of chocolate milk" and so forth.

So, for the next week, I am going to stop counting. I've planned my meals, snacks, and some treats and made allowance for a couple meals out. I bought delicious, nutritious food: stuff I actually want to eat. I'm going to be diligent about eating the food I've bought and avoid supplementing.

One week won't be a long enough experiment to know whether I have sufficiently changed my eating habits to keep off the weight I've lost but it will be a good test of how I handle a little bit of freedom.

The bigger question is: What will I do with the extra 45 minutes a week I won't be spending logging in my food?

Do you or have you counted calories to lose or maintain your weight? Were you able to phase out the habit? How?