On my Fitness

Today marks exactly four weeks post marathon. I’ve had a lot of you ask what I think my next fitness or running goal might be, and the truth is, I am still trying to figure that out. Running a marathon was such a big feat for me, it was something I had wanted to accomplish for so long. Now that it’s been done, it’s hard to think what can top it–and be interesting enough to share with all of you.

Although I may dip my toe in the marathon pond another time, I feel like I’ve learned that I have absolutely no interest in going beyond that distance. I am amazed by ultra runners and love reading their stories–I’m captivated by what drives them. Still, I have no desire to join their ranks. I’m grateful to my body that it held up so well during training, and I am willing to do the work to have the strength and flexibility I need to participate in these events once in a while. But after this whole experience, I feel like I have really been able to confirm to myself that my body was not made to run marathons all the time. This does not bum me out in the least. It actually makes me think it’s even more awesome that I have been able to accomplish what I have. More than that though, it’s just made me aware of how much I love and appreciate my body, and how I don’t want to force it into submission.

After four full days of complete rest after my 26.2, I went for a run with my hubs. It was Veterans day, and it just happened to be the only really cold day we’ve had so far. I was watching our mileage on my watch. We had agreed upon a slow and easy 3-4 miles. We ended up doing a little over 7 and for this I blame myself, and the weather. I felt pretty good and my body was finally getting warm so I wanted to keep going, which meant we were going further and further out. When I finally made us turn around, we were quite a distance from our apartment. On any other day, we would have had the option of walking all or part of the distance back. But as many of you know, one of the things about cold weather running is once you stop, you freeze. Since I can’t stand the cold, we had to keep going. Consequently, my whole body and my knees especially started barking at me. This is what they said:

What the hell? We did everything you asked. We have hung in there for you. You promised we would get some rest and you wouldn’t push us for a while. Should we not trust you? I thought we were taking care of each other, I thought we could trust each other.

At the end of that run, I literally talked back to my body out loud. I told it how sorry I was, and that it was right. I reiterated to it what I had many times during training and during and after the race which was how grateful I was for it, and how proud I was to be the soul it was carrying through this life. I thanked it, and assured it over and over that it could in fact trust me, and promised that I would listen to it, and follow what it tells me it needs to look, feel, and perform at it’s best. I felt lucky that we had massages planned later on that day; I think that helped ease some of the distrust between my body and I that was brought up by the premature cold 7 mile run.

Rather than set any firm goals for 2018, right now, I am just trying to work to get my body back to a happy place. As many of you read in an earlier post , while marathon training left me with the best aerobic endurance I have ever had in my life, I was not thrilled with the way it made my body look and feel. While the maintenance of my strength training throughout undoubtedly aided in preventing any injuries, the shorter lifting sessions and longer mileage softened the muscle tone I had worked so hard to achieve the year before. I’d like to get that tone back, and also get my body feeling spry again. I want to feel the bounce and the flexibility that’s been missing since I loaded up the miles and cut down to one yoga class a week. Here’s what I am doing now and how I plan to finish out the rest of the year:

Monday: Rest. One thing I took from training and am keeping is a real emphasis on quality rest. For years I worked out 6 days a week. It wasn’t until marathon training that I learned that my body works better when not in a constant state of fatigue. The extra rest day not only provides me with another morning writing session each week, it also improves my performance in my workouts through the seven days.

Tuesday: Strength training + 3-5 mile interval run. I am getting back to committing an ample amount of time to strength training and being able to focus on the details makes all the difference. My push-up game is still pretty strong but before I started training, I was able to do almost 2 complete unassisted pull-ups. I’ve lost that now and can barely lift my body weight up at all. I’m alright with that being the temporary price I had to pay to complete the marathon, but now I am determined to get that strength back. 26.2 miles is badass, but so are muscle gains.

Wednesday: 90 minute Bikram Yoga class. As many of you read, my new studio  is really working out well. Although I loved my old studio, I am now getting the type of instruction that’s really been missing from my practice for years. In each class I am taking in all sorts of corrections and also encouragement. This second class each week used to be the norm for me, but had to fall by the wayside during training when I’d have to get in up to 10 miles on a Wednesday before work. From the moment I step into that heat in the morning and for the rest of the day after class, I hear my body cooing, yes, more of that, that’s what we want. My knees, my achilles, my hamstrings, they all seem to be singing in unison and I’m happy and grateful to know the yoga is working it’s restorative magic.

Thursday: Strength train + 3-5 mile interval run. I use the circuit strength training method which means that instead of completing one set of one exercise, resting in between, and repeating, I complete one set of an exercise and quickly move to the next with little to no rest in between. I find this method to be more time efficient, and also more effective, I start to see gains rather quickly. This time around I am committing to including 2-3 core exercises in every one of my circuits. I tend to get impatient with core training but from so much of what I’ve read, it’s essential to preventing injuries, relieving back pain, and strengthening other aerobic activities, like running. I’m putting in the work now and anxious to see if my dedication yields the intended results. Another note on these Tuesday and Thursday workouts: they are my favorite. I know some runners hate the treadmill but I can love it just as much as running outside, especially when I am working the intervals. I am finally getting back into speed-work and I am quite certain that at least for now, that is my happy place. I’m getting a monstrous sweat during these sessions. The running is fun and it feels great to remember that I don’t need to go for hours and hours; I can get a glorious runner’s high when I bust my ass for 30-45 minutes.

Friday: Rest. Rest day #2! Again, this has been a recuperative practice that I plan on keeping. Sometimes I forgo the writing time on this morning to instead get an extra AA meeting in. If I go to zero meetings in a week, life sucks, the world is doomed, and I’m pretty unbearable company for both my coworkers and my husband. If I get in one meeting a week, I am content and reasonably happy with life, I have hope for the world, and I’m able to be a fairly tolerant and compassionate coworker and partner. When I get two meetings in a week–watch out. Two meetings usually means no matter what darkness (or tax bill) comes around, I am usually able to see the light. I’m content and happy. I am not only hopeful about the state of the world, but also optimistic. I am able to joyously make choices and act in a way that benefits others more than it serves my own interests. I don’t know why this shit works, but after over 9 years, I’ve stopped asking. I just go.

Saturday: 90 minute Bikram Yoga class. The weekend class I get to go to with my hubs is one of the highlights of my week. Not only am I getting in the curative work that my body needs, I get quality time with my partner and get to be wowed by how much he is progressing in his own practice. His yoga journey inspires mine. Watching him make his way into poses he didn’t even know how to approach before is an incredible motivation. It reminds me that there is always more to learn and room to grow, and that excites me.

Sunday: 6-10 mile run. My long run day. Blah. Yeah, that’s what I have to say about this run right now. Blah. Before this morning I would have written that this day gets an average of an 8-10 mile run, but I got so bored this AM and stopped at 6, so I had to get honest and widen that average. I want to keep about a half-marathon’s worth of long distance endurance going so that is why I am keeping a longish run in for now, but I have to admit, I am not loving it. I am trying to give myself a break-I am sure the love-loss can all be attributed to the hundreds of miles I have run in the past few months. Also, the cold weather is not helping. I really think my African blood is dominant in me in this sense. So much of me feeling good in a workout is my body getting warm and loose and being able to get a good healthy sweat. While I still perspire a fair amount in the cold, my body never gets as warmed up and flexible as it needs to to maintain a nice fluid stride. We’ll see if I continue to tough it out outdoors the whole winter or if I bring it inside for some longer slogs on the treadmill.

I just want to give one last quick update in regards to how I am doing applying sort of a 12-step model to my body issues. As many of you know, although I have not participated in any eating disordered behaviors in several years, I recently stated how I am still dissatisfied with the state of my recovery. The negative voices in my head in regards to my body that society has told me are normal to live with, have become unacceptable to me. I want to conquer my body dysmorphia and be able to see myself clearly. I’d like to honor what my body can accomplish but also understand that these feats are not a consolation prize. I don’t want to have to cross finish lines to love my body. I want to genuinely be able to love how it looks, even though it doesn’t match what society says I should be striving for. I’ve erased my name from the pact we all seemed to have signed that says no matter what, we all have to remain at least a little dissatisfied with the way we look. I’m exhausted with this model, I want something new.

Over the past few weeks I’ve done two things that have made a significant difference so far. Because I know it’s very difficult for me to see my own body clearly, I asked my husband if he would promise to discuss it with me if I ever start to put on an actual significant amount of weight. He agreed. I thought this was a good place for me to start. I am extremely active and I eat really well, so the only way I would ever gain a really significant amount of weight is if something was really wrong, emotionally or physically. In that case, I would want him to bring it up so we could talk about it and tackle the issue. That aside, I want to start practicing eliminating the discussion of my weight gain and loss, because it’s quite frequent–it fluctuates all the time but often says very little about how my body looks or how I should feel. For almost all of my life this talk has been automatic. I’ll skip dessert when I feel fat or indulge when I feel skinny. As long as I’m healthy, I’d like to stop verbally connecting weight gain or loss to the way I feel, and see if if might improve my psyche at all. So far, the change has been positive.

The other thing I’ve done over the past couple weeks is really simple, but I know it won’t be for everyone. Every time I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and am disappointed by what I see as a bulge or imperfection, or every time I walk in the hall of my office and think, I wish my thighs didn’t rub together, I recite the first three steps of the 12-step model (adjusted for my personal use) in my head:

1. We admitted we were powerless over our body image- that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of that higher power, however we understand it

I don’t know why it works. But it does.

Now that we are in the homestretch, who’s got fitness goals to finish out the year? Anyone’s goal to try to take it a little easier or rest more, like me? How about those body image issues? Any particular anxieties coming up as we approach the holidays? Do you often feel like the state of your body (your current weight or muscle tone or fitness level) affects your overall happiness? Are happy moments ever less happy because you are unhappy with how you look? Is that something you want to change? I know I’m asking a lot–I want to hear it all! x

 

 

 

 

header: jason briscoe

 

28 thoughts on “On my Fitness

  1. Great that this journey has helped you know yourself chick. I sometimes wish I could be content in a place, but my mind set is always to push further, even if that sometimes means breaking me 😂. Talking about your upper body strength, have you considered doing some obstacle races next year? They are so much fun! I think you would enjoy them 😁 as regards body image, I’ve always had a strange relationship with my body. It’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve been able to look at at it think, yes, happy with that. But I will then see pictures of myself and think I look huge (muscle wise) and I don’t want to be that big! I’m stuck in a loop. My work means I have to be strong and now with joining the Army reserves I have new strength challenges to face, and this means more super body training. But I don’t want to look like a muscle bound weight lifter 😂 I’m trying to find that balance.

    Love your journey chick.

    Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey girl! Honestly, I’ve never considered obstacle courses—all I see is getting myself hurt! Idk, I feel like it’s something I could have done when I was younger and more agile, but not now.
      I know the body loop you are talking about. Please know though, I admire your strength SO much. I’m trying to get those same kind of muscles!! And I also think it’s amazing that you actually use your strength in your work, I think that’s really a beautiful thing! I know you’ll find some sort of balance, but just remember, muscle bound weight lifters are beautiful too. The thing in your mind that society put there that tells you they are not, is bullshit!!

      Like

  2. LOVE this post. First off, congratulations on your marathon. I am currently awaiting to find out if I got into the Chicago marathon and it would be my very first one. I, too, have to focus a lot on resting and keeping my body healthy. It’s a main goal of mine leading into next year. Unfortunately due to 4 knee surgeries, I cannot train like most, but I want to ensure that I properly “train to my body” since training is definitely not one size fits all (especially if the Chicago marathon is in my future). But aside from the marathon – I’m planning to focus more on shorter distances for running!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thank you lady! Crossing my fingers for you for Chicago. I love Chicago, that would be so exciting! I actually thought about entering the lottery for next year as well but I think my body needs a break from the really long distances. I think it would not be happy with me if I jumped back in again!
      You are so right, training is not one size fits all. I read blogs from people all the time who don’t do strength or yoga and are somehow able to just run and run miles and miles. There is no way my body would put up with that-it would break down, and has! I think the training process makes you really grateful for the body you have though, it really is a wonderful and enlightening and soul searching journey. Whether it’s next year for Chicago or a different one, I hope you enjoy the experience. Good luck again! x

      Like

  3. Like you, I need AT LEAST two rest days a week, sometimes these are back to back. I really need to get in the habit of getting the strength training and yoga back in my week. I let the running take over this summer, but it’s time to tone back up!! I really don’t set goals anymore. I found that when I write them down I’m self-sabotaging!! So these days I just go with the flow. Four years ago when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s with Hypothyroidism, I knew that I was going to have very little say in what my body decided to do. I exercise and try to eat healthy in hopes that it can keep my weight in check to some degree.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am kind of feeling you on the not setting goals thing Jodi. I have been back and forth about them. I really liked looking ahead to the marathon, but now not sure what could feel similar to that. I’d like to start getting faster just cause I think it’s fun, and I like what it does to my body-speed work and lifting and yoga are what I am looking forward to!
      FYI, I think going with the flow agrees with you-especially now after your surgery. You are really glowing! So glad you are feeling stronger every day!

      Like

  4. I have a few things I’d like to work on as this year comes to a close.

    First is to get a handle on my sweet tooth, biscuit binge, etc. I’ve had the presence of mind to give unopened packets to family members for safe keeping, and a packet I bought yesterday I was able to resist opening until I got home. I did end up eating the whole lot in the evening, but weeks prior I would have started as soon as I bought them. Takeaway so far: when I’ve been able to put myself in a position to get the snacks and junk out of immediate reach, results have been better. Looking to break the cycle of eating whole packs per sitting, and when I feel able, introduce them back in with moderation (even if help needed by family members to ration them to me!).

    Second: slowly ramp up the training, and not forget my current mindset that I’m valuing the rest and non-running exercise. For the past four to six weeks-ish, I’ve put together my standard two commute runs plus parkrun on Saturday and a long run Sunday (ranging from 10-17 miles) and have generally felt good physically and mentally. I want to step the long run up slow and steadily, but also understand that I’m walking on average 20 miles to work per week which counts for something. My aerobic base definitely seems to be improving and I was shocked and delighted to post a sub-19 minute 5K last week. Progress has been good, but to understand that it’s all incremental and it’s (literally haha) a marathon not a sprint for me!

    Third: start thinking about how to explore meditation more. It’s been an absolutely huge benefit to my daily life, and whilst just the act of practising every day has been a huge positive influence, the idea of attending a class (or even a short retreat) in the future interests me in the effort to understand it more, get input from others, etc.

    Thanks for the update Cat, I’m glad things are going well post-marathon!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good afternoon, Cat.
    As always, there is so much to ponder in your posts. I really appreciate you listening to and appreciating what your body has to say to you, and what helps YOU to thrive. Your new program with 2x yoga sounds like its a good fit. Keep trusting that knowledge and you’ll do fine. In my experience, when we start ranking outside authority above our own healthy self-awareness, that’s often when we get hurt, tired, burned out, ill, fill in the blank.
    Checking in with guidance on everything from exercise to sweets can feel exhausting, and I’ve found I sure function better when I do, even as it can (and does) mess with my plans. Oh well.

    Cheers to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yikes, you were quick to get back at it.

    I had heard from a couple of different places to wait 4 weeks to run again after a marathon (no clue how true that is). However, that’s what I did, so on Saturday ran 4 miles. Surprisingly I was able to get to 4 miles without being out of breath without any issue. However, like you my knees still didn’t like it after 4 weeks. I suppose it is still going to be something to take it easy with for a while?

    Good luck getting back into it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah I read that too. And then I read a few days, and one week, and two weeks, and three weeks, and two months. Basically I was able to find any answer I wanted in terms of how long to take off. 7 miles four days later was def too much, but there is no way I could take a whole month off–it would make me crazy. I have been going really slow, just slowly picking up the pace, and doing more yoga so things are feeling good. That’s awesome that you still had that aerobic fitness there after four weeks, must have felt good. I am doing a lot of foam rolling and extra stretching so that is definitely helping with the knees!!
      Enjoy easing back into it :).

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I admire a lot about this post – but in particular, keeping to your fitness regime when there is no finish line in sight! I have an awful time putting the work in if there’s nothing to drive me toward it. It’s definitely something I’d like to continue to work on: that there doesn’t HAVE to be a finish line in order to keep me going. Yet another lesson I can take from you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks girl. It’s weird, I was never a person who had to have a specific fitness goal to look to. I mean, the marathon was always a “dream” goal, but I was never in the practice of always having something ahead of me. I feel like after getting into blogging though, it’s made me more anxious to set those goals and meet certain milestones. It’s kind of crazy to me that so many of my blogger friends say they wouldn’t keep up with their fitness if they didn’t have races and goals. It’s hard for me to believe it, cause you guys are all so badass and driven and active!!

      Like

  8. I’m in your camp of the thought of “I did a marathon and am ready to move on to other things now.” Marathon-training just didn’t agree with my body well and after I ran the marathon I was happy to keep running, just not train for and run marathons. Good luck with your fitness journey in 2018!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have def thought of you during this time Donna. I don’t know that I will NEVER do another marathon but it’s definitely not what my body wants me to be doing on the regular. Like you, I LOVE the half distance–still such a challenge but not life altering!! Good luck with your fitness journey in 2018 as well–can’t wait to see what states are left and where you are headed!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Your weekly routine sounds excellent and should give you what you’re after. I love the differences between runners – I am mostly composed of very much Northern European blood with only 10% of my genes coming from Spain / North Africa and I cannot BEAR running in the heat! Give me a lovely cool day, maybe some rain, and I’m happy! Ha!

    I also appreciate your honesty regarding marathons. When I ran my first one I was like, “I bloody love this, I’m doing more,” so I am. But for many people, that’s not their thing, nor should anyone expect it to be. I can’t bear 10k races, although I seem to be signed up for two coming up (one festive fun with dressing up yay, one with a friend for her first 10k so the emphasis will be on her). I feel sad when people do their mara and stop running altogether, and I have a good number of friends who are in post-first-mara blahs at the moment, which also pains me, as we should use running for enjoyment, not as a chore, etc. One thing that’s helped at least one of them is helping other new runners.

    Regarding my own goals, I’m starting a 30 day stretching programme today along with a couple of friends, as well as my own rehab stretches from my post-mara issue. I will get to spin class next week although our gym mucks around with the schedules from now until January which is very annoying! I’ve also tried to give up my chocolate habit a bit, as it was a reflex rather than an active choice to pick up that square of sweetness, so I’m examining things more closely there now.

    I’m sure you will achieve whatever aims you set yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey Liz! I think i have found through blogging that more people are like you–they would prefer the cooler weather for runs. Idk why, the heat has never bothered me!
      I think the aftermath of the first time marathoner is complicated for sure. It def leaves you wondering–“where do i go from here?” I really loved the training, but after stepping away from it, i realized that i love training in a different way–more. I love it though because running the marathon has given me so much appreciation for all the different distances. I think the half is my favorite. I do think I will probably run at least one more marathon in my lifetime though–who knows, maybe a few. I want to do one with my hubs I think.

      Liking your goals for the rest of the year. I know what you mean about the reflex, rather than an active choice. A coworker brought in homemade pastries this morning and everyone went to lunge at them. I am letting myself indulge a bit in the holiday season, but I didn’t have a taste for anything sweet (and prefer not to have sweets in the AM and during the week) so I didn’t have it. Everyone acts like I am so “strong” and restraining myself–but it’s really as you say, about an active choice–do i actually WANT this right now, or am I on autopilot because it’s the holidays and ooh goodies!!! We will see how long I can keep it up. The sugar and the yeast tend to want to stay alive inside of us–so if i get into either of those too much, my body starts yelling for more and more!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Very interesting to read about your running goals. I took up running this year myself and though right now i can run only 10k races, i am hoping i will be ready for my first marathon in a year or two. Thanks for sharing this. enjoyed it thoroughly.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Arjun! Trust me, just keep at it–if you’re running 10ks now, you will def get to your first marathon. Enjoy each step of the way–the whole journey is quite something ;). Thanks for reading, so happy to have you here! x

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Pat Takacs

    Congrats on staying the course and caring for You! When I listen to what you say about your weight and how you see yourself, my humanness falls back near the dark shadows of self accusations. If only this, if only that…..then,this and that…….my deep soul, where Jesus lives says:”NO! You are beautiful as I have formed you. BE happy!” So I let it go, and CHOOSE Happiness!! I also LOOK and SEE other’s pain, their losses, their grief…..and I can see how blessed I am! It seems to help me rise out of my flaws and BE Blessed! A new nurse I work with was talking with me one day and she mentioned her weight. She is gorgeous and blond, blue-eyed, and I was surprised she was so hard on herself. So figured I’d commiserate with her and said how heavy I was. She said:” Yeah, but your so proportioned, you look good…..and so kind!” It hit me…..the TRUTH! Work on my inner self was shining through and surpassed my outer vessel! Awakening! I feel good being with me and Jesus, but not always with others. The nurse’s words let me see I am who I was created to be! And so are you. My internal meetings with my first love, Jesus, bring me back to that great happiness….I am loved….and so are you….the greatest reality! ENJOY You- happiness!!! Peace, Pat

    Liked by 2 people

  12. First of all please listen to What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction and pretend God is singing that song to you instead of the boy band.
    I signed up to run 1000 miles this year. I currently have 36 left to finish the goal. The crazy website already mailed me the medal which made my motivation even more decreased. I signed up for a full in April otherwise I don’t run at all. I just started doing an old 90’s exercise show bodies in motion with Gilad. I liked it back then but was not in shape. It’s much easier now at the age of 50. Life is crazy.
    Thanks for sharing your work out weeks. I enjoy you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I will check out the song Rach <3.
      WOW. I cannot believe you only have 36 miles left to finish the goal, that is so amazing. You should feel really proud. It's inspiring to hear what other people set as goals–gives me ideas ;). And you are right, life IS crazy–just trying to keep up over here! x

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s