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. 

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Do I Dare Disturb the Universe: Buddha and the Runner

  
Before I was pregnant, sick, and left alone to deal with the collapsed sense of self, I utilized mindfulness and yoga in my everyday life in addition to running. I felt a calm that I never experienced before I went into the hospital in February. I figured how to be one with myself, with the moment- with the universe. I gave myself the best tool kit to keep myself mentally and physically sound, but once things went south, I gave it up.

It’s funny how I always say people can “make time” when they claim that they are too busy to run. Yoga and meditation are two of the most calming and self centering exercises an individual can heal themselves with, but I felt that I was too broken. I can honestly say that God never got me through my awful time, but rather another higher power that help light a fire inside of me. I don’t know who or what was there for me, however, I knew it was something. When I was laying in bed crying, replaying the moment I found out I was pregnant through the minutes before I fell asleep I had surgery and wishing something would come and take me out of this world, I had a small realization. 

When I was 19, and trying to get over a rough patch I had a Buddhist Proverb tattooed on my foot. It said “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” I got the quote because I was going through a rough patch, having no idea the future would play out as it did. While laying in bed, I decided to research what this meant and discovered a whole new philosophy. This very philosophy has been something I’ve been transitioning to for a few weeks, and so far it’s changed my life and goals for the woman I aim to be spiritually, as an athlete, a daughter, friend, and young adult. 

 So this guy, Buddha, had this idea that true inner peace is possible, and that finding peace and happiness within ourselves will then project to others, and eventually the universe. The idea seems laughable, but so does the idea of a single God to others. It wasn’t until I started to meditate again that I began to feel whole again.

They say that meditation creates a gap between stimuli (thoughts) and response. In the gap you have a choice. In the gap there is immense potential rather than habitual reaction. I know I have let my words and immediate reactions to intense emotion dictate my reactions. I can’t help but think about how different my life would be if I wasn’t such an intense person when it comes to emotions and reactions, but meditation helps me eliminate the “what-ifs” and the negative thoughts because they do not aid me in the now. 

I credit mindfulness for the strength I found in endurance running. It is not an easy task running 20+ miles without music. It was my goal to find meaning in meditation and mindfulness through running. Suddenly my focus shifted from switching music and pausing to text to zoning in on my breath, cadence, and, most importantly, my surroundings.   The trails, clifsides, uneven surfaces, and twisted roots were no longer intimidating, but rather more welcoming than the cluttered roads, filled with people passing by totally unaware of the sonder around them. I find peace in the physical challenge of my activity of choice, but the joy of seeing, smelling- feeling the world in a whole new light. The thoughts and emotions that would come in waves in the months prior to me starting to run again soon vanished, the person who broke me down the most is hardly a memory, the pain I experienced of losing my child, and trying to pick up the pieces suddenly seemed easier- all thanks to focusing on myself in the moment.

My body and my mind are better Athan ever before, and I wish it was easier for others to find this exciting way of combining to vastly different activities into one. Buddhism is not a goofy “religion” but rather a philosophy that doesn’t require a temple, but rather the willingness to be present in the moment. Losing track of ourselves- our individuality and mental health is easy in our seemingly nonstop world. Making time for ourselves- to be one with the moment and our body and soul can do more good for a person than any distance or time spent in a gym. 

We don’t have to overwhelm our minds and body with clutter, anxiety, stress, and all of the other emotions and feelings that come from our everyday interactions from work, school, training and so on. We can pause for ourselves, even in moments when most people feel overwhelmed, like in a stressful situation at work or school… Or even focusing on the world around you when your hamstring starts screaming on a long run…

The Dalai Lama said that we should not use Buddhism to become Buddhist but rather use it to become better in our lives at whatever else we are doing. Meditation and focusing on the moment is not something for yoga or an expensive class. It can be established and built on in our daily lives, and ultimately better connect is to our universe as we work on our practice. Knowing I have an effective way to manage my anxiety, stress, sadness, anger, and strengthen my connection to the land and trees I grow close to every run I feel so empowered and excited to see what the future holds.  Ultimately, I want to be the best version of myself. I think this is the right direction for the place I am at in life. Buddha said “Just as a snake sheds his skin, we must shed our past over and over again.” No longer am I a victim. I’m a survivor and I will keep pushing forward, training for my marathon and ultra marathon, and hoping that one day I will be able to become a wonderful mother, partner, and reliable friend to others.  

Pace and Mind

I’ve kind of been a Debbie Downer lately. So, if you haven’t read, I have been having a lot of issues with depression and anxiety. Sometimes, life gets a little too real. I am ready to move forward- to focus on my marathon, working, and getting my head straight. 

   
    

What do those instapics mean??

You guys, I AM RUNNING AGAIN! I am slower than a turtle, but with each run, I feel stronger. It’s a feeling that I have not felt in a long time- months even. The fuel that I’ve slowly begin to feel over the past 4 days has helped me feel like I’m doing SOMETHING and that something makes me want to LIVE. Crazy, right? (That’s a joke, because clearly I’m a little wacko when I’m low)
In addition to the wonderful world of running, I am also taking on a 30 day challenge (see picture) 

  Looks pretty fun, right??
So, the cool thing about this is that I think I like working out. Running is mental. Lately, I’ve been envisioning myself running races (which is NOT a Sam thing because I hate paying to run) and finishing strong, like I did in the few I’ve ran.  It sounds dumb, but I’ve also been thinking about my training as week. Anything to take my mind out of the dark place, to be blunt. When I workout, it’s a whole different world. I could close my eyes and not worry about a pot hole or getting smashed into by a vehicle (that doesn’t know pedestrians have the right away). I count, there’s repetitions, there’s a number, a timer, different motions I have to make sure I’m doing correctly. I AM NOT IN MY HEAD AT ALL- and it feels SO liberating. 
I haven’t felt that sense of calm- like nothing can go wrong- in a long time, maybe even years. Working out gives me a security I’m not used to, and when I begin to see results, I know I’ll love it more. 
I’m starting off slow, running in the mornings and doing the challenge and potentially a class at night (when I’m not doubling up at my jobs). I am also cutting all fried food (besides tortilla chips cuz duh) out of my diet. I’ve been sticking to my 2000 calories a day, with fried food but I think having a cleaner diet will also help. 

I know this all sounds simple, but I was in such a dark place… I can’t wait to see where this will take me physically and maybe mentally. 

So you all know- I’m okay-ish, which is better than where I was. I’m getting through this a day at a time. 

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.