Diary of a Crazy Runner: Lemons 🍋 

You know that saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”
Okay, let’s get one thing straight. Lemons, unless mixed with a drink, or followed by a shot, are not necessarily the greatest thing since sliced bread. I’ve had plenty of lemons hit me the past 2 months. Student loans kicking in, work picking up, weight coming on because of a foot/ankle break on top of a declining running career have hit me. My endorphin hoarding passion cannot keep me going, and it sucks. This lifestyle I fight for is sustainable, but right now I am in a place where I need to get myself healthy an stable environment to keep myself going.

I am NOT quitting marathon running. The post I made following my terrible race was obsolete after my Chicago Marathon (holla atcha 1 hour difference in finish times). I’ve gained a lot of weight- like a stupid amount of weight that could have been avoided. This is something I am trying to address. I lack discipline and I need to find it again.


The one thing I’m proudest of today? I replaced a meal with all greens and protein… the Arnie Palmer, however, is my treat.

I have my vices, good and bad, and I think my biggest challenge is undoing all the wrong I’ve done to myself. I am now eating with the “If God didn’t make it, don’t eat it” sense of self. It’s scary, even though I’ve done it before but it’s necessary. I’ve gotten too comfortable and after the year I have had, I need to make sure my health and wellness are a priority.

Right now, I am taking these lemons, and making a gelato or something way more complex than lemonade. I want to grow and challenge myself. I want to get strong and lose weight. This “in between” training is my reset.

From this chubby runner, to you all- Run happy and strong!

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The Bear Necessities: Loss and Reigniting Passion

Over the past month of my life, I’ve faced a lot of hardship. Much of it was caused by brash decisions on my end, but over the past 2 weeks the rest of the bad has felt like some cruel game where all the good went tumbling out from beneath me. I made choices to eat and drink myself into gaining almost 40 pounds since November of last year.

My whole life revolved around being “healthy” and working towards a better me. Recently it’s been hard to get out of bed, let alone run. I was letting myself keep me down, and at 23 that’s just not a plausible way of life. I can stay out late, drink, and eat every now and then but the regularity I pursued since the end of my marathon has brought on so much more negative and repressed feelings than the numbing I sought after. I looked in a mirror and thought “enough”. Enough of damaging myself, because what’s done is done and there is no way that I can let all my hard work go to waste.

On June 27, I lost my best friend. He was my favorite part about St. Louis and running. He loved walks and tried to run but could never really click with it. His name was Bear. I lost him sudden and quick to cancer and every day without him has felt like I was missing my arm. I had no idea how to handle losing him on top of leaving a job and having to move out of my parents house, with the onset of student loans and trouble finding a career job. 

Not even four days later, I lost my childhood dog, Chewy. Both came suddenly, but Bear was so unexpected and seeing him so miserable breaks me down because I know he wouldn’t want to see me this way. He was by my side when I was sick a year ago, but when if get low he sensed it and wouldn’t ever try to be overbearing. He loved energy, positive energy, and with his loss I just wanted to stop feeling anything. 

I never thought I could love something more than what I had lost a year ago, but everyday without him brings a sting that both breaks my heart and fuels it. 


It’s been difficult to maintain any running schedule, but I know I have it in me. I will not start a run without thinking of how much this pup impacted my life, and I will not be taking another drink until I lose 25 pounds. 

I have it in me to become stronger and find the will to succeed. It just takes one step at a time, but I know I’ll have a guardian angel by my side each step of the way. 

Tales of a Chubby Runner: Taper Madness

“Nona, mommy needs to seriously get her shit together.

Curled up under my quilt, I see Noname lightly open her eyes And then close them again.

I took a picture of the moment because she is the cutest little nugget alive.


“You’re right, puppers. Something has got to change.”

Yes, I am aware that my dog did not say a word to me. But seeing her so tranquil and calm in the midst of all my chaos made me think. I am absolutely fucking terrified of what the next 5 weeks is throwing at me. 

The potential threat of not graduating because of 1 class, actually having to kick up my training to make myself run like a real runner and not some average stressed out college student, FINALLY (after an entire year of non-committed nice guys who were actually dick-monsters) being able to work on building a relationship with someone who is so genuinely nice, and having to run a marathon that I’ve struggled to train for since I began back in December. 

If you know anything about what a taper does to a human being while marathon training, you’d know just how much of a genuine birch it is. It’s essentially PMSing for all genders because you’re overemotional, stressed, and hangry. For me, it’s the 1 year anniversary of when my life completely fell apart… On top of PMSing, so really the slightest thing can piss me off or make me cry. It’s great, really, because I’m also bigger on the weight side of things, but at least I’m healthy. That’s more than what I could say for myself a year ago. 


After this week, this marathon, I am only 4 weeks away of my next round of 18 week marathon training for the Chicago Marathon. That means healthier eating, and better sleep on top of finding a job-job and trying my hardest there. Apparently there’s a full-time 15 that mimics the freshman 15, but hopefully I’ll be too far into training to have that happen to me.. Or, you know, not have any problems graduating.

If you’ve actually read this far, I’m sure you’re asking yourself “What’s this tubby tapering girl spouting on about?” We’ll, good question, person. I am going to keep a weekly journal via my blog to keep you up with training and races. I want my transformation, or whatever the hell you want to call it into adulthood and training to be available for people to see whenever their in a rut. Healthy isn’t hard, and I want that to be known. All it takes is hard work and hope. 

Hopefully, I can live up to my expectations. 

Running With Yourself

I love to run. I love the feeling of fatigue, struggling between the realm of comfort and pushing myself, listening to the rustling of leaves, the chirping of the birds, even the short conversations of cyclists passing by. The steps I take become rhythmic while I slowly breathe in and out, my thoughts wandering throughout the present. My body is synced to my every motion as I look forward. When I run, I am one with my mind, my body, and my surroundings. Despite the motion and utilization of energy consistently occurring, this is one of the only times in my life where I feel the most centered. I am a mindful runner. Running is a meditative act for me and many others, and I believe it is a simple transformation many other runners can take on.

We all have routines, things we think and do everyday. Some of our routines serve us well, and some don’t. Something that’s become a big part of my daily routine – one of the...:

What is meditating?

So does meditating mean you need incense, rocks, beads, saying “Ommmm” for minutes at a time? Well, maybe. Traditional meditation can happen in a variety of ways. You can go to a class, utilize youtube videos, or even focus on yourself and just take time to be present for a few breaths, minutes, or hours. Meditation is what you make it, as are the benefits.

Benefits of Meditation

Just Breathe-Ancient Practice of Pranayama can help you detoxify, shed excess weight, and boost overall vitality.:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers the levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety attacks
  • Decreases any tension-related pain, such as tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems
  • Increases serotonin production, which improves mood and behavior
  • Improves the immune system
  • Increases the energy level as you gain an inner source of energy
The one type of meditation that I choose to utilize is mindfulness meditation. This meditation allows you to focus on the now, release any feeling of tension or worry, and truly focus on grounding yourself. Almost as if you find your center.

How is this useful to running?

Your runs are what you make them. Even the most intense track workouts can allow for a moment of clarity. Writer Amy Marxkors wrote about a story she made up about a long stretch of farmland on one of her long runs, and it wasn’t until I found myself making up a story about squirrels on an 8 mile trail run where I realized that she was unintentionally practicing a moment of mindfulness. She was not letting the fatigue hinder her thoughts. There was no complaining about being out on a run. We are in motion when we run, as is the world and by utilizing our very senses and connecting with the moment we are in, we are well on our way to a moving meditation as we run with ourselves.

Benefits of Mindfulness (Meditation) | Lynn Hasselberger for Elephant Journal | #infographic #meditation #mindfulness:
As runners, we utilize music, strobe lights, groups, and fight a never-ending battle between cars and cyclists. It is easy to allow our mind to be cluttered with stress and unhelpful thoughts as we put our foot one in front of the other. A good way to start practicing mindful meditation is to eliminate distractions. Maybe start by ditching the music and playing a senses game. One run you focus on all you hear, and, maybe on a later run, you try and point out all of the changing colors on the tree- just being mindful of not cluttering your mind with homework, work stress, and other thoughts that only bring negative emotions.
On a recent trail run, I was overwhelmed to the point of tears. Two miles in, I stopped on the side of a cliff because I was too jumbled to continue. My legs felt like bricks and I was worried about work, relationships, finances, you name it. As I stood on the cliff, I paused. I listened to the boaters fishing speaking to one another. There voices echoed between the leaves and it felt as though they were only a few feet away. I saw a hawk circling around some trees, and as the boat took off I watched the waves ripple. I felt like I was slowly coming back into my body, and as I breathed, I closed my eyes and rooted myself in the ground. I felt like me again, and in those few moments my run was altered. I ended my 8 mile run on a strong note.
How to be happy now. Things you can do to be happier, thanks to science and the power of positive psychology.:
It is amazing how a few moments can change the outcome of a stressful day. I know this is something that works for me, however, I think every person- runner or non-runner- can benefit from meditating daily. Take time to focus solely on yourself and live for the now. It’s not something that’s only spiritual, but it truly allows you to be able to appreciate the little, and big things in life.
Go The Distance 69:

 

10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My First Marathon

  

1. Have an 8 mile base before you start.

Arguably, you should have trained for a half marathon by this point. Marathons happen to be something that you can’t just jump into without some type of prior training or running experience. The thing about a marathon and it’s training is that it’s completely unpredictable. You could have an awesome training, and then a shitty race. Or your training could be one of the hardest things that you’ve ever done in your life, and you just stop. It takes a lot to run a marathon. 

Having that comfortable 8 miles as a base is great because you’re almost halfway done with your distance right there. Plus, that the distance of your first long run!

2. You need a fuel belt or hydration pack. 

Running any distance carrying a water bottle can suck. Problems arise, like the extra weight hurting your arms or maybe being a jerk-bag litter-er.

You can look on Amazon, at Marshalls, TJ Maxx, any running store, or even Dick’s Sporting Goods. There’s all types of varieties. The main difference is usually bottle size. For me, I have a hydration Pack that holds normal size water bottles. For some people, that’s too heavy. There’s a lot of options in size. It just comes down to how much weight you’re comfortable carrying, and how much water you believe that you need.


3. Invest in Gu or Jelly Beans
 

Believe me, on a long run you will feel fatigued and tired. Those little jellybeans or nasty gu can give you the energy to push you through to the very end. Sometimes, water and a pre-run meal don’t finish the job!

The cool part about these electrolyte carrying goodies, is that a lot of them come in sizes that you can carry in your field. It doesn’t really add any extra weight. And, so that actually do taste good. I choose the jellybeans for that option. However, salted caramelGu, is, from what I’ve been told, the Mecca of runner run foods. 


4. It costs more than an entry fee, but the pay off is worth it. 

Shoes, clothing, the sudden increase in pasta, Olive Garden, pizza, essentially all items that require food prices going up, having to take time off from work for recovery days, and, last but not least, all of the stuff that you didn’t realize you needed that you find at the expo add up.   Running is an expensive ass hobby. Much like dietary changes, it is a lifestyle change in itself. Something that you definitely have to budget for. I would say the most important thing you don’t budget for is how much you von love with running. That “you-time” is priceless.

5. You may need multiple pairs of shoes.

 As I said before, you definitely have to keep shoes and mine. It’s not good to just train in one pair. Having a variety will also help your knees get used to different feelings of shoes. They say you’re never supposed to run a race and new shoes, but by trading off shoes, that happened to not be of the same type, you’re really helping yourself become a stronger runner and saving mileage.

6. You NEED to follow a training plan.

Experienced runners, or people that I’ve had training in running may not need this. But, having a training plan requires accountability, and helps you set goals for yourself. Knowing that you’re going to have a 10 mile run at the end of the week definitely helps you reconsider a couple of choices. Maybe you won’t stay up late binging on Netflix, or you think those hot wings might be a bad choice before 20 mile run. Knowing what you have coming and seeing what types of runs that you can do for yourself helps the marathon become easier. Not too many people can just go out and run a marathon. 

I’m only a month removed from mine, but in that month I rested, was sick, and have just started getting quick again. It takes time, and I probably could run a marathon right now. It just wouldn’t be at the time I wanted it to be. Your body needs to get used to what you’re putting it through, and training plans are safe route to do it.
 
7. You need to ignore the scale.

You’re going to gain some weight marathon training. I have been lucky in the fact that in the weight I’ve gained, it’s really bad muscle mass. So I’ve actually been looking like I’ve lost weight. However some people pack on the pounds.  Don’t worry- your body needs that fuel. That energy is not fat. It is something that your body will feed off of. And you’ll find that once your marathon training is over, and you’re resting it’ll fall right off because your body is just so fatigued. The scale is not your best friend. Your goal time is. 

8. You’ll develop a race ritual.

This may sound weird, but many runners already have one. It’s something that you don’t really notice until you think about. I have to fit in active waffles with butter and syrup, I sit with my dog and share them with him, and then I go drive myself to a race, parka ballpark Village, and then jog to soldiers memorial and go to the starting line. That, so far, has been my pre-race ritual for my two marathons.

my dog being judgemental before a long run

My long run ritual, includes the same shirt and shorts, waffles, and, most likely, Forest Park.  You’ll find what helps you groove. Whether it’s music playlist, a favorite pair of socks, or just an area where you feel at home. It all becomes a part of the ritual.

9. Carb load 2 days before a long run.  

Don’t ask, just do it. It kind of goes along with the whole “don’t listen to your scale” thing.  Before it 18 or 22 mile run, you’re going to eat about 4000 cal the day before, and even the day before then don’t be afraid to eat some carbs. Your body needs it. It is your only excuse to ever just pack on the food.

10. Post Marathon resting is just as important as cross training and resting.

Me and the rest day don’t get along. I run at least 3 miles a day. Currently I’ve been on the 3 to 6 mile street for the last week and a half. This coming week I’m pre-training for my next marathon so I can begin to get the fee of what I’m in for. 

 
However,  after winter where I  was essentially side mind for a month and a half, I have learned to take pure pleasure in a rest day. I may only run a mile, but I’m still doing something. However, I run a lot so my body reacts differently. For new runners,  this day is one of the most important because it allows your muscles to grow. 

Embrace the rest day. It is your friend, just like running.

The Supplement/Wrap/Diet Free Way To Lose Over 100 Pounds: Starter Edition

   My name is Sam. I’m 22 (pushing 23) and over the past year and a half I have lost a considerable amount of weight. 

In August of 2013, I was over 275 pounds. I was interning at the little place in Orlando called Walt Disney World.  That was where I began my journey. However, I’ll give you some  background information in myself so you can see how exactly I got to that point in my life.

   
Here I am at the end of my freshman year.

  

Here I am sophomore year

 

Finally, me on my 21st birthday when I first got to Disney World.
Within my first three years of school, I both literally and metaphorically did a lot of growing. For me, Disney was a roller coaster but, in all of my years of college, I had never learned about what I really wanted to do with myself. I was comfortable. Comfort brought on settling and I dug myself into a whole where I felt settled rather than happy. I was having a rough time adapting to being so far away from home, so, during a phone conversation after a visit home my mom said that I needed to fill my excess time up by doing something for me. In here mind that was going for a walk.
My mom is a marathoner.

She a bad B

My walk was her half marathon at the time because I was so out of shape. I was drinking, smoking, and eating in an attempt to fill a void in my life. I don’t know about many of you, but free time is my downfall because I get bored. Boredom leads to me getting bummed out from over-thinking, which then is closely followed by a bad mood. It’s a viscous circle. After years of her telling me to get healthy, I finally agreed. 

I got my ass on an elliptical and started my journey.

  
It took me 1 month to move from elliptical, to treadmill, followed by running 2-3 miles outside. From October, when I started, to December I went from being unable to jog 1 mile to consistently running 6 (at a 12-13 minute pace).

So, when beginning your journey there are some things to keep in mind.

1. Don’t starve yourself because you aren’t dieting. 

Eating right for a healthier you is a lifestyle change. Not something you’re going to give up once your body is how you want it to be.

Food is your friend. 

Think of your body as a vehicle. Your car is going to weigh lighter without gas, but it doesn’t have anything in the tank to get you anywhere.

Indulge when you feel like it, and enjoy your food.

2.Progress takes time, and is a roller coaster. 

It is SO easy to get discouraged.  One of the main roles that I follow is that I don’t live by my scale. A scale just tells you how much mass you have on this earth. It does not tell you that you can run a half marathon. Those numbers are merely there to help you realize where you are. A scale is not you as a person. 

People call themselves that all the time. Here’s the thing, you aren’t fat. You have fat. If you so choose to work out, you can do something about that. Or, for some people they may choose to have more fat on her body. Who are we to judge others for their own life decisions. When it comes down to it, no two bodies are the same. Men and women are two very different entities. And when you look at each sex, you’ll find that there’s variation between everyone uses those identities. 

There’s an adjustment period, or moment of realization where you realize that you aren’t happy. But does it mean that somebody else your size is wrong and being happy. Everyone has their own individual goals to strive for. I like to think of weight is running a marathon.

You put ours, hundreds of miles, and blood sweat and tears into training. You train for one day. You have no idea what could happen. There could be an unexpected injury, a bad storm, or could be the most perfect conditions and you just don’t feel right. Just because you don’t feel good or you’re upset doesn’t mean that you can’t change it.strive to be the best version of you. It takes time, but you’ll get there.

3. Be mindful of what you eat.

Grilled chicken, salmon, good cards, pasta (when measured accurately), fruits are all awesome. If God didn’t make it, avoid it. 

I could never, ever, fathom giving up my believed diet coke, but I monitored my intake. I never once starved myself in the beginning because it’s hard for your body to shift its habits. 

You will be gassy, having to go to the bathroom because your tummy is upset, even go through being bloated but that is apart of the process. Just like you, your body will need a reset and time to adjust all of the changes you’re going through.

 
Even where I’m at now, I’m unhappy- or unsatisfied. A couple months ago I was more than this. Health problems caused me to gain weight. I’m doing everything that I possibly can to fix that. It’s a lot of effort at first, counting calories, being sore, finding motivation, and most importantly getting enough sleep. Once you get into the habit of it though, it just becomes natural. 

If you have any questions, or just want to know what else I’ve done when starting out, please feel free to post in the comments section. I’m glad to make any edits or updates. In the future, I’m planning on making a post about maintaining weight loss, how to make healthy food good, and what to do when you get sidetracked! 

For some additional information, check out my piece How Running Changed Me on Runners World!

Always A Runner

IMG_2369

 I am a runner.

For a few months now, I didn’t let that title define me, and now I realized just how wrong I was to strip myself of that identity.

I used to be over 275 pounds. I shed that weight by running. It’s easy to forget the person that you were for most of your life because the past is in the past. I embrace the long, grueling run by thinking about where I came from.

I work through hurdles (no pun intended for you deer out there). I can battle 26.2, injuries, and physical and mental barriers that stop most normal people in their tracks. Not just anyone can run a marathon. Even the most talented of runners collapse in the distance because of the mental and physical walls that have to be broken down. I am going on my third June 13th, and am planning on running many more. I can beat 276 pounds and I can beat this mental monster that was created over months of losing myself. I don’t think I’m lost, I found who I am and this journey just got more exciting.

The book Once A Runner talked about the trial of miles, and this whole experience is my trial of miles. In order to be in peak physical training you have to put in the time and effort. There is no secret- just time, sweat, and energy. There is no special pill or serum.  You run the miles, no matter how grueling they are. They are repetitive and at times you feel as if there is no point, but, the thing is, there is a point. You have to discipline yourself to keep putting in the effort to become your greatest.

People are too soft to put in the Trial of Miles. We are scared to be uncomfortable, looking for the outcome without putting any work in. It is the same western philosophy that teaches us that work is not required to get what you want. This is fundamentally flawed, because we must understand that the journey, the trial is where we find meaning.

Thus, this quote can be applied to anything worthwhile in life. You have to work to achieve anything. You may refer to it as the miles of trials or the hard yards in running, time under the bar in strength training, hitting the books hard in school, or jamming until your fingers bleed – all sayings encompass the notion of work and time.