Pick your battles

I’ve tried a lot of fitness-y things over the past 3-4 years. One of my personal philosophies in life is that I’ll try anything twice, because one time is just not enough to conclusively decide that you hate something. It’s that second, third, and fourth attempt that pushes you further outside of your comfort zone, past the initial gut reaction to a place where you can actually assess if this is something you might grow to love. (For the record, I feel this way about pretty much everything in life – food, books, travel destinations. That first-time reaction only tells a very small part of the story, and you need to give everything at least a second shot before making a final decision.)

Sometimes this philosophy helps me out. For one example, consider my GHD panic, documented in my last post. I went from actual tears-in-my-eyes panic over the machine, to grudging respect, to now actually loving the equipment. I had a similar moment with handstands last night at Crossfit.

The Crossfit box I go to (Crossfit Iron Spider in Salem, MA – not remotely convenient to where I live or work, but I absolutely adore the coaches and the members, so I’m hooked and I tolerate the traffic. Seriously, it’s that good.) posts the WODs on their website the night before, and on Monday night, I saw that handstands were on the menu for Tuesday’s workout. Bear in mind this was my first day back at the gym after eight days off, so I was already a little skeptical about how the workout would go. Throw in handstands, and I started talking myself out of the workout before it had even started.

Turns out handstands aren’t terrible. Now, I didn’t actually manage a real handstand. I did the modified wall walk-up, which isn’t nearly as awful as it sounds, aside from the fact that I was walking up a whiteboard wall which doesn’t exactly have traction or grip. The problem, though, is that my upper body is my weakest area, and I’m not exactly a petite individual. Supporting my weight on my arms? It’s a tricky situation. I really struggled with getting my body up to near-vertical against the wall, because while I could walk my legs up without any trouble, when the time came to move my hands in closer, I just couldn’t do it. It’s partially a strength issue and partially a mental block – I’m convinced that the second I try to move one hand closer, thereby shifting all my weight to the other hand, I’m going to come crashing down face-first onto the floor. It needs work – a LOT of work. But I’m excited to keep working on it. I expected to hate everything about the handstands, but instead it has become another item to conquer as I keep working out at the box.

Every coin has a flip side, though, and that brings me to the item that I think I need to break up with once and for all: running.

Here’s the thing – when I say I hate running, it’s not because I’m slow, or because I’m not good at it. I genuinely hate everything about it. Nothing causes more knee pain than running. Last night’s WOD incorporated 100ft jogs in between activities, so I probably ran just around a quarter of a mile total over the course of the workout – and today I brought an ice pack to work to keep on my knees because they’re so angry with me. I also just can’t find the mental peace, the “runner’s high,” that so many people claim exists. Most of the time I find workouts almost therapeutic. I zone out, I find peace, I finally shut up all the voices in my head. Yoga class, spin class, alone at the squat rack – you name it, I will find it calming. Except for running. The entire time I’m running, the voices in my head scream at me. “We HATE this. This is TERRIBLE. This HURTS. WHY are you doing this?”

There’s this sense that everyone who wants to be fit should also be a runner. I caved to the pressure, too – witness the great half marathon debacle of 2015. I felt like distance running was something I HAD to do if I was going to legitimately call myself someone who’s interested in fitness.

Guess what? That’s just not true. I could put my running sneakers away and never touch them again and still be fit. I actually GAINED weight while I was training for my half marathon, because running left my body so sore and beat-up that I didn’t have the stamina to cross-train or do any of the things I really loved to do. Give me a Soul Cycle class where I’m actually enjoying pushing myself to improve. Throw me on an erg and let me row a 5K. I’ll happily do incline intervals on the treadmill as long as I don’t have to go over 3mph, and I’ll hike in the great outdoors all day long, as long as you give me a map and some bug spray. But running? Nah. I’m good.

So sorry, running, I’m just not that into you. I’ll have to check in with you from time to time when you end up in a WOD, but I’m not going to seek you out anytime soon. Life’s too short to waste time on something I hate, and there are too many other opportunities that I haven’t tried yet.

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Guess who’s back, back again…

Im baaaaack miss jay

Well. It’s been a while, huh?

I don’t really have any great excuse for my disappearing act. I just wasn’t really feeling inspired. The winter took a toll on my fitness, and it felt insincere to blog about health and wellness when I wasn’t putting in my best effort on my own end. However, I’m really making a push these days to get back to where I was this time last year, and it seemed like the right time to get back to posting. So… hi! Here I am, and here’s what’s been happening since I went silent back in February.

You may remember that I signed up for the Boston Athletic Association medley, committing to run a 5K, 10K, and half marathon between April and October. Well, apparently that wasn’t quite enough for me, because I also registered for the Las Vegas Rock & Roll Half Marathon in November. I’m running that with some awesome friends from college and I’m really excited for the mini-vacation and the chance to share this activity with some of the people who mean the most to me.

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After completing the BAA 5K, 4/18/15

Since I’m not really great at sticking to training schedules on my own, I signed up with BostonFIT to help with training and accountability. This is a great group for beginners like me; the half marathon training team has people from all experience levels and I wasn’t at all intimidated heading into our first meetings. I loved that the weekly runs got me out of my normal routine and that the group helped to keep me on track with my training.

The 5K, the first race in the medley, was held April 18 in Boston and was a blast. This is hands-down my favorite race every year. It’s held during Marathon Weekend in my hometown, and it’s hard to describe the energy in the air – if you haven’t experienced it, you can’t possibly imagine how vibrant the city becomes. Tens of thousands of runners and their families stream into Boston for the race, and the city comes alive. We had amazing weather – perfect clear blue skies and a slight chill in the air at the start. I definitely should have ditched the long sleeved layer before beginning the race – I was super sweaty at the end. I unfortunately didn’t PR like I had hoped to, but I figured that would improve with training.

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Trying really hard to grin and bear it through terrible conditions and killer hip pain during the BAA 10K

The 10K was two months later, held on 6/21/15. I thought I would be fine in this race. Training was going well, and I was building up my mileage. On my training run the week before the race, I noticed that my right hip was feeling pretty sore after about 5 miles, but I figured I would just foam roll it out and it would be fine. The ache went away after some rolling and ibuprofin, so I shrugged it off and geared up for the 10K. Unfortunately, race morning brought with it torrential downpours. As a newbie runner, I still haven’t quite acclimated to the “run in any conditions” thing. But I had committed to the medley and I knew I would be super disappointed in myself if I gave up at this point, so I stuck a hat on and hoped for the best. According to the race results, just under 6000 people finished — and there were over 8,000 people registered, so the weather definitely scared a lot of people away!

Things were going fine until the turnaround. I don’t know what happened, but at that point my right hip just decided it did not want to run anymore. I tried switching to run/walk techniques, and ultimately had to walk for the fourth and fifth miles. My mom was waiting at the end of Comm Ave, right at the turn onto Arlington – the last stretch of the race – and hearing her cheers gave me the boost I needed to finish strong, but I paid for it in the form of a seriously pissed off hip joint.

Following the race, I tried ice baths and foam rolling, but the hip pain was not going away. I paid a visit to the doctor, who diagnosed bursitis, along with the completely unhelpful suggestion, “Maybe you just aren’t a runner.” Thanks, pal. Under his orders, I took 6 weeks off from running. After about a week of ice and anti-inflammatories, I did head back to my yoga and pilates classes, modifying the leg activities to nurse my still-angry hip joint.

This week marks my first week back in my running shoes, and it’s slow going. I’ve got 4 miles scheduled for Saturday and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous, but I’m still determined to finish the two half marathons on the book for this fall.

So that’s why I’m back here… I need to keep myself accountable. This blog has been reborn as my race training diary. I’ve got 9 weeks until the BAA half, and 14 weeks before the Vegas half. I’m not deluding myself into thinking that I’ll be setting any race records come October in Boston, but I’m hoping to use that course as a way of testing the waters and seeing what areas of training I need to focus on during the 5 weeks between Boston and Vegas. I’ll be more intentional about my strength training and cross-training, and I’ll also be more focused on keeping my nutrition on point — and I’ll document all of it here.

For those of you who are still sticking around, thanks for the support. I hope you’ll join me on this next adventure!