Dusting Off the Keyboard

You know it’s been awhile when my browser history doesn’t even remember my web addy.

single tear for the forgotten blog

single tear for the forgotten blog

But I did that to myself…and to those of you who still read this – sorry y’all! To say that life has been crazy would not be an accurate enough statement…because in truth life has been LIFE. I’ve thought about writing, but then wondered what would I write about? If you follow me on Instagram I’m sure you’ve noticed a steady dwindling of fitness related posts and more of my personal self spilling over..and with it tons of selfies, lol.

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My selfie game is strong.

Let us take a walk back in time, shall we? I’ve been in this very strange place over the past year or so since I’ve stopped running regularly. Change of jobs, refocus of career, but more importantly a change in my exercise and food routine. I still haven’t quite landed into a regular pattern since I’ve stopped running. CrossFit kinda came in and with it a new community and new “norms” and apparently a new interest in lifting heavy things. How running fit into that lifestyle was quite easy…it didn’t. *shrug* Part of me felt kinda weird writing for a blog entitled TheCurvyRoadRunner, when I technically don’t really run like that, nor do I consider myself a runner. The Curvy CrossFitter or The Overweight Oly Lifter don’t really work for me either, lmao…I’m none of those things. I’m all of those things. I’m just me. I like to run…and lift weights…and these days it seems I’m gaining a new love for yoga. I just like DOING THINGS. There’s a lot the human body can do if the human mind and spirit would only endeavor to try.

My weight has fluctuated, and I’m on the heavier side of the scale…but I’m stronger than I’ve been in awhile. And I’m challenging myself to do things that I never thought I would…like handstands. Something so simple, right? Yet…here I am at 270 lbs (yea I said it) doing handstands. Who said I couldn’t do that? Apparently I did. So I’m about changing that. I’m for challenging the notion that I can’t do ______. I can. Or at least I can try, right? And with trying…you get better.

handstanding in 4 inch heels? don't mind if i do!

handstanding in 4 inch heels? don’t mind if i do!

For awhile I’d considered changing the name of this blog. I know the name I want it to be…Find Your FIt….because I think that’s what this journey has really been about for me. Figuring out what I want to do, how I want to do it, and what being fit looks and feels like to me. So I suppose you can say I’m “back” though I won’t be posting daily. For my own sake and sanity, I’ll at least try to use this space to share my own thoughts and experiences as I go about finding my own fit.

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I Want to do ALL the Workouts…ALL of Them

I need a minute to complain. So hear me out for a lil bit – just humor me on this one. There is simply not enough time in the day to do all of the physical activities I love to do. There’s not even enough days in the week to plan out a schedule that allows me to feel fully fulfilled with the workouts I do have. It’s annoying. So I’m pouting right now.

doallthethings

If only…but yes, this is how I often feel.

Running has been my main hitta, my number one, for about 3-4 years. But then? CrossFit. And then? Olympic Weightlifting. I kept telling myself that I’d find a way to run still, that my forray into the world of wods and 1RMs wouldn’t stop me from hitting my favorite trail a couple of days a week. That I’d still find time to incorporate yoga into my routine. Lies. There are so many options…sooooo many. Of course I find happiness in several of those options, but I’ve yet to find the right balance – the right mix of things. Oh, and still manage to go to work, eat, and ya’know…live.

Here’s the real rub though…to be good at something, ANYTHING, one must put a good 85-90% of their efforts towards that. I’ve never been good with ultimatums though, so naturally I am having a rough time with that kind of logic. Oly makes me happy. Running gives me peace. CrossFit gives me community. Yoga gives me clarity. It’s beautiful that I can get all of these wonderful, beneficial things from such varied forms of working out. But how to successfully enjoy them all in a way that is not detrimental to my goals? And body?

Truth moment? I need to revisit my goals. Which is right on time actually, as I spent the majority of this year working on and working towards the goals I’d set for myself last year. I took a break from running to dedicate myself to CrossFit. I dedicated myself to CrossFit to figure out which competitive lifting style (strongman vs powerlifting vs Oly) I wanted to pursue further. Well? The verdict’s in and the lady has chosen Oly. Now that I’ve discovered what area I want to focus on, I’m hoping to build out a schedule that’s a little more realistic of time constraints and my rather divergent interests. Any trainer or coach will tell you that when it comes to setting goals for yourself, you need to make them SMART:

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Timely

S.M.A.R.T. Reason being, if you start out with goals that are too vague and unrealistic, then you’re gonna bomb out. Know what you’re working towards and chart a course for getting there. I don’t always use SMART goals, but when I do, it makes my life a lot easier, as I have checkpoints along the way to map my progress. I start big, with my ultimate goal, and will work my way backwards from there. Detailing my steps helps to see what the steps are to get me to the goal. Then I assign a timeline to it. Or, if it doesn’t seem realistic…I’ll adjust. So, if right now my main issue is figuring out a way to do all of the physical activities I love to do, then I need to prioritize those activities and figure out what my baseline of participation needs to be for maximum happiness and wellbeing.

I’m thinking ahead to 2015 already…and I think my BIG goals for the year will be:
1. Participate in an Open (Olympic lifting competition)
2. Run a race – either a 10-Miler or a Half Marathon
3. Maximize the hours in a day to work, play, sweat, and rest.

It’ll get me back into running again and allow for me to push myself with the weights. Integrated training. It can work. At least I hope to stop whining about not having the time to run. *shrug*

Anyone else out there have that same issue finding balance? Or is it just me?

Run less…lose more weight?

Earlier this week I had a conversation with my trainer about my weight loss progress. Things have been moving along well and in spite of the occasional lapse in proper eating, I’m still losing weight. However, it feels as though it’s happening at a slower rate than before. Her suggestion? Stop running so much.

WHAAAAAAA???

She went on to say that running produces a hormone that, in essence, when produced in large amounts can cause you to have issues losing weight and may even cause weight gain. Being that I trust her opinion…and that I wanted to take it easy this week with the Atlantic City April Fools Half Marathon coming up on April 7th, I decided to rest for most of last week. Per her suggestion I just went on a couple of walks…leisurely walks at that. It was kinda nice, kinda refreshing, and by the end of the week with the weather getting warmer I was very much looking forward to my Sunday run today.

But still I wondered…how could running less help me to lose weight? So in my true fashion I decided to do a little research. Apparently my trainer was saying that running produces a this hormone called cortisol….cortisol is a blood pumping stress enducing adrenaline raising kinda hormone. Like anything, too much of it can be a negative. As in…too much cortisol production can lead to crankiness and weight gain. So she surmised…since I run a lot…I’m probably producing too much cortisol…which inhibits my weight loss progress…ergo I should take a break periodically to reduce excess production of the hormone…thereby assisting in the weight loss process. Basically…run less to weigh less. If it sounds counterintuitive to you, no worries – sounds the same way to me too.

Cortisol itself is meant to give us the energy boost we need to make it through stressful situations. Exercise is a stressor on the body, in that it challenges and pushes us to go beyond our normal resting state of being. In my readings, it seems as though cortisol itself is released in dosages that are appropriate to the amount of stress you put on yourself. But the funny thing is…the more training you do, the more your body becomes accustomed to that stress. Think of it this way…maybe when you first started running, a 5k was a really difficult distance for you to handle (more stress = more cortisol to deal with the stress), but now you can easily run those and have even increased your mileage. How? Because you’ve trained yourself to handle that distance and likewise the stress associated with it, which means the same levels of cortisol you used to produce for that same activity have now decreased as your body isn’t as stressed while doing it.

Where cortisol and its overproduction can become an issue is when we are in chronic states of stress on a regular basis. Which, if you think about it, these days most of us are. Working too much or too hard, not getting enough sleep, overtraining, not allowing yourself to properly recover…all of those things and more can attribute to stress levels. I firmly believe that the day that running becomes a mental stress for me would be the day I would need to re-evaluate why I run in the first place. There are a lot of instances in which we can become stressed and that blood gets pumping and the adrenaline flowing to deal with whatever is challenging us. But when it comes to running specifically, if you are constantly going hard and potentially overtraining yourself, you can put yourself at risk for a great number of things: injury, fatigue (physical and mental), and yea even the production of too much cortisol (which, by the way, can make you super cranky too). Not a good place to be right?

In my VERYnonmedicalSTRICLTYpersonal opinion…I think that too much of anything can be a bad thing eventually. Cortisol and its effects aside, too much running can cause a great number of issues if recovery breaks are not taken regularly and if it is not supplemented with some kind of cross training. Cortisol itself is meant to be the body’s way of dealing with stressful situations. I don’t know about you, but I have a number of stressful situations that occur on a daily basis…and that’s before I even lace up my running shoes! Running happens to be my exercise of choice, and I know that this year in particular I have set some pretty audacious goals for myself…rather than overdo it, I’m going to approach it intelligently. Meaning, cross training, resting, and taking a few days off from running on a regular basis. There are a number of things that we can all do to reduce stress (and ergo cortisol production) in our lives. Here are just a few:

  1. Get an appropriate amount (7-8 hours) of sleep on a regular basis
  2. Meditate or begin some other practice of mindfulness (yoga is GREAT for this)
  3. Taking supplements like fish oil, vitamin B, rhodiola, vitamin C, ginseng, zinc, magnesium to help lower cortisone levels.
  4. Don’t overcommit – it’s ok to say no and set your boundaries. We aren’t meant to do it all.
  5. Go easy on the coffee (again, moderation).

For  more reading, check out the following:

Happy (and healthy) running!

Hurts So Good

Tonight I write to you all in a bit of pain…you see, that intense weight-training session I had yesterday was a bit more intense than I’d thought. I woke up this morning extremely sore, pretty much all over, but especially in my quads. Which made this morning 5 mile run a bit more interesting. I ran through the soreness, as I figured I wouldn’t notice the pain as much after awhile (and I was right). It was a good run, nice 5 miler with some hills thrown in there. I walked when I needed to, but mostly ran the whole thing and finished in good time with an avg 14:45 min/mi pace. By the time I got to work, my poor legs felt rather misused and abused. My quads are really very sore, but I know it’s just because I really pushed myself hard yesterday during my session. I’m going to go soak in some Epsom Salt, and then call it a night. I’m thankful tomorrow is a rest day, because my legs will need it. Till next time!

Cross-Training…Yay or Nay?

I came across this article today and it got me thinking…How exactly do other runners feel about cross-training? From reading the article and some of the commentary following, it seems as though cross-training is an afterthought for most runners. Is that really the case? If so…then why? What’s the harm in doing a little extra outside of your area of ‘expertise’?

I’m a believer in being well-rounded. Running is many things for me, and one of those things is a tool to stay fit. That said, I have always enjoyed other physical activities (like weight lifting and yoga), so when I can I throw those into the mix as well. I don’t think it’s necessarily good for the body to be proficient at only one thing. I don’t cross-train to be a better runner, I cross-train to be a healthier runner. Meaning, the strength training helps me feel stronger, more balanced in my core, and more apt to perform under high stress (like when lifting heavy weights). Yoga gives me the stretching, the calm, and the inward focus needed to assist me in runs as well. It all ties in in its own special way. A friend of mine who’s a personal trainer once told me that “being strong in one area only highlights the weakness lurking in other areas.” Of course, I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point. Cross-training isn’t so bad, it helps us to strengthen the areas we may not be paying attention to or even using as much when we run.

So why the big fuss? Why the big debate over whether cross-training helps runners do better or no? If you want to run faster, do drills and push harder. Want to run longer? Ok, learn to pace yourself so that you can endure. Nothing is going to make you a better runner save doing more running. No rocket science involved in that. But to be a stronger and healthier runner, a more well rounded runner, then try to do some things outside of hitting the road/track for a run. Use parts of your body that you don’t usually get to put to work on a run. Do a few push ups. Try a spin class. Go for a swim. Just get out there and allow yourself to push all parts of your body. Not just the one.

21 Day Challenge: Day 21

Day 21: Weight Training

21 Days complete!!!! Woooohooo!!!! It doesn’t feel like it’s been 21 days, but I feel a lot more rested than I usually am at the end of a training week. I think I like this method a lot more than the standard 7 day work week; I’ve been able to incorporate more of what I enjoy into my training (like shorter runs and yoga), while making sure I’m getting ample rest. Tomorrow begins my second ‘week’ and I think I may take a look at it to tweak things a little. For example, I don’t feel as though I’m getting enough strength training in there so perhaps I will start taking that on to the end of some of my shorter runs. Now that this 1st week is over, I could go back to my sporadic posting (continuous posting was a part of my 21 day challenge as well)…but I don’t think I will. I’ve grown accustomed to writing these daily posts, and I think its been good for me to document my progress and share my challenges.

But anyway…

Today was weight training, which I haven’t done nearly enough of, but it was a good session. A quick 30 minutes and I loaded the weights on and added a few more reps and an additional set just to push myself a little further. It felt good, though admittedly not as interesting as when I run. I’m considering getting a personal trainer, just to try things out. I need a little more variety in my workout when it comes to the weights, and I think a trainer could help mix things up a bit. I’ve been thinking about it for a little while, and perhaps it’s time for me to begin looking for one. Of course my gym has several trainers available, but I want to explore my options. Ideally I’d be able to work with a trainer who either runs or knows something about it…the main point of getting a trainer would be to maximize my strength training by focusing my efforts on becoming a stronger and more balanced trainer. Anyone out there ever use a personal trainer? What was your experience?

Oh, and I weighed myself again this morning…my how the body fluctuates. Yesterday I weighed myself midday after I’d already eaten. Today I weighed myself first thing in the morning, before having anything and I showed a 1.4 lb loss from last week. I’m not sweating it…though it DOES feel good to see that scale go down, I’m not going to obsess over it. I’ll just stick to doing my weekly weigh-ins in the morning from now on.

21 Day Challenge: Day 10

Day 10: Yoga/Cross-train

Today we did yoga! Yaaaay! The class was great, though I got there a little late and wasn’t pushing myself as much as I could have been. I feel pretty good right now. Haven’t done any strength training lately, but I’m not overly concerned. My main focus is to run and get my yoga in there too. This weekend is another rest period since I have to work. I miiiiiight try to sneak some legwork in on Sunday. I keep saying that, lol. Eventually it’ll happen. Till next time!