Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Give a special gift this Christmas

The festive season is here again after one of the quickest years ever. The months flew by before I even got the chance to get to know any of them. And now here we are once again scrambling to prepare for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year before it rushes past us leaving us with the start of yet another year. 

I've always had mixed feelings about Christmas. I love the family gatherings, the festive spirit and the loving and giving of the season. Yet I despise how commercialized and consumer oriented it has become. It overwhelms me to the point that I want nothing to do with it and just want to hibernate until the new year. It has become yet another stress in our lives, which is far from the real 'reason for the season'. 

This year, please give to charity. Any charity. Your choice. Give a little. Give a lot. Give whatever you want. Just don't give to me. I have more than I could ever wish for and I know some other person somewhere is in much more need of some Chrtistmas spirit than me. 

If you see Santa on his sleigh, remind him to make a special drop off at all those amazing charities out there that need some extra support over the festive season! :)

Friday, 15 August 2014

In Marathon Training!

The person who starts the race 26.2 is not the same person who finishes the race. 

I've committed myself to something too many people think is absurd and I'm scared I'm going to fail. I'm worried my hip flexor will scream at me and my feet will blister until the skin is raw. I have images of tripping and being trampled on by all the warriors storming up from behind me. All that could go wrong just might go wrong. To say I'm a little nervous is putting it mildly.

I signed up while ago thinking I have more than enough time to prepare myself. But then somehow the months rushed on by leaving me behind with only a three and a half months left to train and still about 16 miles left to cover. Even the thought scares and exhausts me. Yet, I'm an addict. 

Yes, it's tough and exhausting. But it is such a unique and satisfying feeling when you know you have given everything you have and there is nothing left. It's time to refuel and recover so next time you can hit it harder. 

There was a time when I hardly ever ran. Granted, I enjoyed it in my school days, but then as time passed and I entered my 20's I had a whole life to explore and running just wasn't part of that. Of course as time goes by we worry about our health and fitness and once again I started running again now and then. I remember my first 5k, and feeling pretty chuffed with myself. Now, I run a 5k on my easy days. My first half marathon followed not long after and I remember feeling absolutely devoid of energy at the end. I felt fantastic yet empty at the same time. Since then I have learned lots about training which should serve me well now as I add on the miles. Many miles. 

What goes through a runner's mind during those long miles? That's always a great question. For me it is me time. It's my own therapy. Time for me to enter my own world, put things into perspective, focus and push myself. Music is my companion and keeps my spirits lifted when I start to flounder.

So why take on the challenge? Well, why not? In the past I've often completed my smaller races with the goal of raising money for charity, but this time I'm just doing it for me. I'm doing it to reach a goal I have always dreamed of reaching. I have watched several marathons both on TV and in the streets and always hoped I would be one of them. To experience the joy of making it to the finish line. To become strong enough to make it to the finish line.  

For me to reach this goal takes dedication, organization, planning and sacrifice. I need to train nearly every day. Not just by running, but by including cross training and stretching into my routine. I plan my day to include my workout but sometimes it's a tight squeeze after a full day of work. At the end of the day I'm tired but I have to recover well as I have to do something similar the next day. 

So far I've remained relatively injury free, with nothing major holding me back. My knees and hip flexors are sometimes sore which calls for some nice long stretches and some easy runs to reduce the impact a little. I know when I've had a good run because I will come home and my legs will need several long, tension-relieving stretches. But after a little tlc they all seem to recover pretty well. 

As far as nutrition, I'm not following one specific plan, more like following general guidelines for healthy eating and nutrition for 'runners' (yes, I think I can now say I'm a 'runner'). Being a vegetarian/nearly vegan it's important to make sure I get some protein in my meals each day, which is especially important after my workouts. I'm not following exact measurements as I don't have the time or the patience for that, but I'm just being conscious about including it in my diet. Getting enough carbohydrates is more than easy as I love this food group! Sometimes I hardly have much time to whip together a meal, so the easier the better, but it also needs to be healthy and nutrient dense and junk free. I have several simple meals I rotate through, but I'm always looking out for new ideas to be thrown my way. I know there are lots of ideas out there, it's just a case of planning and having all the ingredients ready to go. 

One problem with all this running is squeezing in any other plans into your day. There is not much time left in the day after a full day of work followed by my run/workout. And the weekends aren't much different as that's when I have time for a long run, so my day quickly becomes filled up. Then when someone comes along and invites me to something, I flinch a little as I know I'm going to have to miss one or the other. And that's annoying. If you work out on a regular basis, missing a workout feels weird. It feels like I forgot something essential such as taking a shower or brushing my teeth. 

I really have to start adding up my miles in the next few weeks, and it's a little hard as it is Texas summer and blistering hot outside. I have to go as early as possible in order to pack in the miles before the sun starts to belt down. Running in the sun really seeps out all your energy, even with on the go energy supplements. I can't say I haven't asked myself "why on earth am I doing this?!" a few times. Then I remind myself it's one of my goals and I'll just have to deal with it until I complete it.

Well, all I can do is keep running and pushing just a little more all the time, and hopefully I remain strong all they way through until December, when the big day arrives. 
Just a little nervous. Only a little.... 

..... P.S. I'm now up to 18 miles. It was a relatively cool morning in Dallas... a fine morning for some running. I've never ran 18 miles before and I can tell you the last couple of miles were tough. My feet and hip flexors are now sore. 8 more to go. Oh my gosh.