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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Tales of a Chubby Runner II: Post-26.2 Blues


Have you ever had a week where legitimately everything (and then some) went wrong? Well this, my friends, is that week. 

Let’s backtrack to April 30, marathon day. It was rainy, cold, and I ran the absolute worst race of my life. 4:46:30. I could go on and on about a pot hole and tweaking my knee (no, really I can) but what it all comes down to is training and stress.

I have put my body through the ringer this past year. Weight gain, poor energy, and low drive all contribute to poor training, which was my own mistake. Accountability goes a long way, and it’s one of my weaknesses- believe me, I’ve got a few of those. I’ve been told that I always had an answer for everything, but it’s because I’m always thinking (SEE, answer). Anxiety does this thing where you run through scenario after scenario, trying to figure all of the outcomes. 

If it’s a stressor, I’ve overthought about it. It’s part of the reason I run without music, actually. Running allows me to think, to physically allot time to everything stressing me out. With the post-marathon body/hobble, as well as this knee injury, AND job hunting, I am struggling to keep myself happy and healthy, which means I have to find a new healthy and efficient way to cope. 
Many people view healthy as what you eat or how many times you work out, when it truly encompasses so much more. Allotting body time for activities when working a night job, understanding physical limitations a few times a year due to an illness that’s never going away, trying to long-run, plan and organize having a tiny social life all fall in the realm of healthy (for myself, I’m sure we can all lost out our positives and stressors). The way you share yourself throughout life is what embodies health. Sleeping, monitoring food intake, putting in the time to work out, growing your faith, doing something fun, budgeting financially all leads to a healthy fluid life, and I think that’s what I am missing.

I graduate in 9 days. I have finals and projects on top of pain, stress, and managing a job. Right now, my plate is full but I know bombarding myself with life is necessary to move forward. My marathon was AWFUL, it’s 4 days later and I am still crying. Yeah, I’m scary overwhelmed. But the truth is, this too shall pass. My frustration and anxiety have been spilling over to people I care about, and that totally defeats what I am working towards. I’ve had so much life happen within the last year I sometimes forget not everyone is out to get me. 

Where I am in life, right at this moment, heavily relates to how I ran my marathon. “No walking.” I pushed, despite the pain and swelling. I had to alter my gait, throw off the trash bag I was running in, and just move forward even though conditions were less than ideal. It was awful, but I’ll never forget the Illinois Marathon. 

Cheers to a new chapter. 

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.  

Comeback

 

I’ve heard that the one who falls and gets up is so much stronger than the one who never fell. From April to June I was at rock bottom. I lost the person I thought I couldn’t live without, a child, my ability to run because of physical problems, and a lot of respect for myself. During those dark months it never hit me that things could ever get better. I was physically limited and mentally torn down. Weight that I fought so hard to lose came back, but being pregnant followed by a major health issue didn’t help me physically or mentally. Before the doctor put me under for my surgery, he held my hand and told me I was going to feel like a whole new woman when I woke up. I never could have imagined how true his words were. 

Within a few weeks post surgery, I started running again. I was slow, which was a kick to my confidence, but I was running. Despite my troubles with speed and building endurance, I was amazed at how the pieces of my life slowly started coming together. By August I started a new job that happened to be centered around my passion. I enrolled at UMSL (and plan to graduate in May). I began talking to a doctor and taking medicine to better regulate my mood and keep me as stable as possible, but most importantly I decided to embrace the future rather than be caught in the past.

It took me 6 months to finally enter the dating game again, and, thanks to tinder, I’ve met some pretty cool people. When it comes to having a job, school, and a running career the bars are not always the best place to meet your potential soulmate. According to others, neither is Tinder, but to each their own. Going into the dating game after a traumatic and abusive relationship was almost as difficult as those first few runs after surgery… But after more than a few “crash and burn” dates I finally figured out how to master the dating scene, and, lucky for me, learned how to set high standards for what I want in a partner. The parallels that I felt with dating and running were scary, but I now feel like I’m coasting through both. 

  
To give whatever readers I have an update, I have completed my third marathon- missing a PR by 3 minutes- and have began training for my first 40 mile ultra marathon in February and my 4th full marathon this coming April. The best part about this training season is how the training differs from my average “running”.

  
Trails are beautiful but DIFFICULT. My 8:30 pace is challenged by rocks, roots, cliff edges and steep inclines that mimic stairs more than hills. I can barely stay under 11 minute miles, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying the scenic trails. I’m only in the beginning of my training but I’m excited to see how I will grow through trail training as well as ultra training. My last round of marathon training was therapeutic and I think this round will bring me to peace from the trauma I faced.

Today I go rid of the past. My surgery paperwork, the papers that had my due date, all of the random things I’ve held onto for no reason. There is no point to hold onto thing that have no meaning or use. Sometimes I think about how I would look right now and wonder about what I would’ve done had things not happened the way that they did, but I can honestly say that I now believe fate is a very real thing.

  
I didn’t die when I was weak and hoping not to wake up because I felt so empty and hopeless. I didn’t give up when I had to fight to give myself some kind of motivation to get out of bed. I kept fighting to give myself something to look forward to, and, even though there are still bad days, I am so thankful to be the woman I am today, to have had the experiences that I’ve had, and to still have dreams and aspirations that guide me into everyday life. I’m not the fastest I’ve ever been, I’m not the skinniest version of myself, I still feel self conscious, but I know that this is my one life and I’m going places because I will not settle or let the past break down the person I’m meant to be. 

  

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!