Out of Gas

Forgot my pre-workout snack today.

Before I run, especially on “long run” days (5 miles or more), I eat something. Usually a 1/3-1/2 of a banana plus a scoop of peanut butter.

Today, I was a little rushed to get going, yet also focused on making sure I didn’t forget anything important. Garmin, check. Water belt, check. Water bottle, check. Running pouch, check. Towel, check. Hopped in the Jeep and hit the Greenway.

Near the halfway point of today’s 5-miler, I felt great. Cool temps and lots of birds and cicadas out to cheer me on. But by the time I hit 3.5 I hit a wall. I was hungry – out of calories as I call it.

Then I remembered. No snack.

Me on IG stories, trying to explain why I’m hemmed up.

Thankfully, help wasn’t far away. On Saturdays, I plan for 5, but prepare for 6 or more. That means I take a Gu energy gel in case I need an extra push toward the end of the run.

I whipped it out, took a couple of sips of water and was on my way. Looks like I had everything I needed after all.

Don’t Stop Before the Home Stretch

Once the weather is a little warmer, I increase my monthly running goals from 35-40 miles a month, to 50. I set and hit 50 this March and planned to do the same for April. As it turns out, I traveled in April, and was off my usual schedule for the better part of a week. 

This was the longest run of my trip.

I embrace flexibility with my goals – not to let myself off the hook, but to adapt with changing circumstances. It’s not always practical or necessary to reach every goal “no matter what!” Especially in this case, where the purpose of the trip was to unplug from the grind and connect with my boo. Rather than Herculean efforts to rise by 5am and run 4-5 miles, we slept in most days, I ran a little here and there, and that was that.

When I returned home, I immediately adjusted my expectations and changed my goal from 50 miles to 40.  I got back in the mix and resumed my schedule. This included my usual short to medium runs during the week, and long runs on Saturdays.

This weekend’s long run was longer than usual. I crossed the finish line with 7 miles.  When I finished today’s run, my last of April, I knew I had surpassed 40 miles for the month. Imagine my surprise when I discovered my final tally was 49.4. That’s right – almost 50!

I hopped out the car, took a sip of water, and jogged a quick loop in my neighborhood to get the last little bit.  Although I don’t “stress” to get my goals, I do “stretch” to get them. To be honest, adding that additional 5 or 10 minutes wasn’t a real stretch but it was the home stretch. And I had almost missed it!

It was a good reminder to keep my goals and the progress toward them in sight. Because I took for granted that I would definitely meet the easier milestone, I almost missed my ideal.

It’s great to be flexible and make adjustments as needed, but that doesn’t mean I need to be careless or lose site of the bigger picture.

Are any of your goals are closer than they appear? Don’t sell yourself short. Take stock of your progress and keep striving. The home stretch might be just around the bend.

Monday Run Day

Monday morning sunrise miles.

I got those miles in this morning.

Every now and again I consider changing my running schedule. Right now I run – outdoors – on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. I like Monday runs because most runners are off. With the exception of birds, bunnies and an occasional deer, I have the running trail almost to myself at o’dark thirty.

On the other hand, Monday is my processing day. I think about the week, and try to get ahead on a few weekly tasks. And as much as I enjoy running and the energy I feel as a result, the timing never feels quite right on a Monday morning. I always get into my office feeling behind.

On Mondays where the load is soft and I can flex my way through the day, it’s no problem. But more often than not I seem to be a little behind my targets. Not really an ideal way to start the week.

So again, today, I find myself rethinking my schedule. Is it worth it to lose the solitude of the Monday run and gain the upper hand in timing and starting the day?

I think so.

Maybe.

We’ll see…

Optimal Performance Starts with Energy, Not Time

Time is a precious resource. If we took a poll on Twitter or Facebook, you would find few of your friends disagree with this premise. We get mad when others waste our time. We get disappointed in ourselves when we waste our own time. We do everything we can to rearrange our day to maximize our time. We use apps, we take classes, we label tasks as urgent or important or neither or both. We set alarms. We do everything to prioritize and manage our time.

But have you ever put the same amount of effort into managing your energy?

Even if you manage your time well, you must have the energy to do what needs to be done.

We’re busy all day, trying to create work/life balance even though we check work emails on our phones until late at night. We rush to have meaningful conversations that don’t go well. We over-schedule ourselves, overstuff our to do lists. And when it’s all said and done, another 24 hours has come and gone with little to show for it. How do they do it? We ask of our uber-productive faves. They launch projects while we drown in adminstrivia. We think if only we had more time, we could accomplish more and be more satisfied.

I offer you an alternative view.

Energy is the Key

What if the issue isn’t time—or time management. What if the issue is really energy? A focus on energy compels us to reconsider much of what we’ve believed about organizing our lives.  Even if you manage your time well, you must have the energy to do what needs to be done, to think in the complex ways you need to think.

Let’s ponder two new thoughts:

  1. Energy is the fundamental currency of high performance.
  2. Performance, health and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy.

According to Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, in The Power of Full Engagement, the skillful management of energy—individually and organizationally—makes full engagement possible. To be fully engaged in our lives, we must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self-interest. This is a phenomenal insight many of us haven’t fully considered.

Everything we do requires energy. As obvious as this is, we fail to take into account the importance of energy at work and in our personal lives. Without the right quantity and quality of energy, we are compromised in any activity we undertake.

Dragging to the Finish

Energy management is different from energy boosts.

Think about it for a moment. If you have everything planned out in meticulous detail, but you’re dragging with 10 hours left before bedtime, how engaged will you really be in those activities? How productive or fulfilled? How likely are you to accomplish what you’ve planned, before you give up, shut down and try again tomorrow?

No, I don’t want you to increase your caffeine as a way to “boost” your energy. But in my next post, I will offer some guidance to help you become more effective at managing your time by starting with your energy.

Until then, I’d love to hear about your strategies for managing your energy. Is this something you’ve considered in the past? What works for you?

Better Naked

I run three days a week (I cross train with weights or rest on the others).

Some seasons I go more often and once in a while, I’ll go less. Last July I decided to beg off running for a bit. I switched to short runs, or none at all, and favored heavier weights and more rest instead.

As it turns out, the cardio (plus plenty of water) helped my blood pressure more than I knew, so by winter it was time to get real miles back in the mix. I returned to my favorite discipline in December, and have been increasing my mileage since.

Greenway boardwalk at sunrise.

Snap from today’s 4-miler. Mid 30s, but not a lot of runners come out on early winter Mondays.

I’ve run for years. Almost always outside, with the exception of serious cold (below 20° F) or heavy rain. It’s beauty seeking. It’s meditation. It’s goal setting and personal bests. It’s deep thinking. It’s #selfcare. It’s me time. I love it.

Depending on what’s going on in my life, I alter the timing, types and frequency of runs. But I’m getting those miles – usually outside. With all of that, I don’t necessarily advocate running. It’s not for everyone. Instead, I advocate movement. Something sustainable and just right for you. Something motivating, invigorating, pleasurable in one way or another. That may be dance, swimming, walking, tennis, boxing, hula hooping, rugby, whatever.

Work your heart, strengthen those muscles, look better naked. 👀 At least feel better anyway. And that counts for quite a lot.

On Clearing Space and Creating Victory

Over on PhYINomenal, Sojo’s self care focus for November is Elimination – time to release, remove, denounce, deny and let go. It’s a great time to release that which no longer serves you and invite in affirming energy, new processes, and transformative experiences.

If you’ve never checked out her site, today’s a great day to do it. Get the self care calendar for November and see what simple things you can do to release the deadweight and bring new life.

Over the years I’ve found myself in that place many times. One time in particular, I was stuck, stagnant and depleted. I needed something, anything, that could help me recharge my life and get inspired again.

I finally realized that I didn’t need to look outside myself for the answers. With patience and intention I could create them for myself. And I did. I spent several weeks enacting some simple practices, not unlike the suggestions Sojo recommends each month. And in short order, I found my joy once again.

I wrote about that experience shortly after it happened. I shared my story and my steps once or twice and then forgot about it. Earlier this year I sat down to dish with Sojo about templebuilding (listen here!), and it all came back to me. I even found the guide I drafted years ago and decided I’d put it out in the world. Eventually.

As it turns out, now is the time! I tried to convince myself to wait until next year, or next month, or next season. Later. But it’s always later. So if there’s one thing I’m working to release this month, it’s Resistance and his twin sister, Procrastination.

As a 42-year old woman who has lost both parents (momma 13 years ago and daddy 10 years next month), I know for sure that time waits for no one and tomorrow is not promised.

I’m not expecting my work to reach a million people, but I do hope it can create value in the life of at least one. If you’re looking to revive your inner beauty, and do it your own way, consider using my guide as companion in your walk. It’s available here.

Let me know how you tap into your creativity and create your next victory.

A baseline and a stretch

A PR! Or...
A PR! Or…

It was supposed to be an easy run. That’s runnerspeak for conversation pace, or kind of slow.  As in taking it easy.

We began that way, running a 12-minute mile to start. We sped up as we ran, and actually I started to tire out. We walked in a couple of places near the end.

With all of that, I still ended up running a PR!

Well, sort of.

I’ve only completed a handful of runs at 10k (6.2 miles) or longer. The first time was November 2013. I didn’t run that distance again until this year.

RunKeeper has my data since 2011. It  knows the truth – my 2013 run was faster. Garmin only has data since February 2016, so today’s run is the fastest it knows.

That said, today’s run was still a milestone. It serves as a great baseline for my training program. My goal is to run 10k in less than an hour. With 10-weeks left to train, I’m aiming to cut a solid 8 minutes off my current 10k pace. It feels doable, although a stretch. And that’s the reason I chose this goal in the first place.

My training runs have all gone according to plan, so I’ll trust the process and keep on keeping on.

New blues in the Big Peach

IMG_9034I journaled in Aspen, but chose not blog. In fact, I only touched my computer once during the trip. I do want to recap my adventures here, especially my new appreciation for theoretical physics and cosmology. But today, I’ll stick to running.

Typically, I run four days a week: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Because I traveled last Sunday, I ran my seven miles on Saturday instead.

Due to altitude and conference proceedings, I didn’t expect to run much in Aspen. I did attempt one run, and as luck would have it, the trail from my hotel was uphill.

It took a lot of work to eek out 1.5 miles, but I was proud by the end!

I returned home late Thursday, and Friday I visited a local running store, The Big Peach. I purchased a new pair of running shoes. They’re beautiful, I must say. My “old pinks” were Pegasus 29 and the “new blues” are Pegasus 33. They’ve radically changed the shoe, and it’s comfy, lightweight and responsive. I’ve seen these words in shoe reviews, but had no idea what they meant in practical terms. At the Big Peach, I ran outdoors in a couple of brands, and the words sprang to life.

Striding.
Striding.

Although these feel great (!) I’m concerned the responsive feeling may mean I don’t have enough support for the 8, 9 and 10 milers coming up in a few weeks. I won’t know until I put in the miles… I do know I’m retiring my “almost new” Brooks Launch. Hopefully they’ll find a loving home.

Today I picked up the miles I left behind last Saturday. Blue came with, and we ran three miles and three strides. Tomorrow we’ll do an easy six-miler, and restart my Sub 60 plan next week.

#Sub60 10k: Seven and long

Today’s 7-miler had a twist. Last week’s goal was simply to run 7 miles at a steady pace. Ha. Simply. That was just my third time at that distance…

Today’s work was quite a bit more challenging. The first three miles were steady (11:00-11:45 pace), the next three were fast (10:15-10:35), and one more mile at steady/cool down pace. It kicked my ass, but I made it. Better than made it. Blue and I ran negative splits for the six miles, even though I had to walk a few seconds just before mile six.

We stopped during the last mile to chit chat with some friends at a water station (shout out to North GA Running!) and then brought it in for the finish. Last week I said I wouldn’t try for another personal long; I’ve hit the same “long” twice now at 7.27, and a few weeks from now the plan requires 8! But after the water break, I had a little (just a little) energy left in the tank. So we squeezed out a few more steps and hit 7.35!

First 7-miler, Jan 2016. Personal long at 7.35, June 2016. Same finish line, but different route.
First 7-miler, Jan 2016. Personal long at 7.35, June 2016. Same finish line, but different route.

To avoid injury, we dial back the mileage the next couple of weeks, and my first 8-miler is scheduled for July 10, if everything goes as planned. So stayed tuned for my new PR then.

I haven’t had time to soak in a salt bath, and I think that’s the key to last week’s quick recovery. I plan to remedy that sometime later this evening. Sometime before I pack.

Tomorrow morning I’m Aspen-bound!

At the track

Speedwork at the track this morning! I ran:

  • 1 mile warmup
  • 5 min @ 9:34-9:45 pace then 2 min slow
    • ^^repeat 4 times
  • 1 mile cool down
Alysia Montaño

That’s 4.65 in the books. It took effort, yet I felt strong throughout. My legs, a little fatigued from strides on Tuesday and strength training yesterday, held up with no problem.

I haven’t gone shoe shopping yet, so I’ve made due rotating my old pairs. I have another long run coming up soon. In fact, it’s supposed to be Sunday, but I’m flying to Colorado for the week. I’ll skip the official Saturday workout and do Sunday’s 7-miler instead. Based on my travel schedule I may basically skip one whole week of my plan, or at least delay it. Having been to Aspen before, I know it takes a few days to get used to the elevation, making exercise of any type very difficult.

I’ll play it by ear (or breath) and look for blogs about my adventures there.