Friday, August 30, 2013

Fitness Friday: Turning 30 and Rededicating Myself to My Goals

What a Friday!

It's only two days before my 30th birthday. Believe it or not, I'm happy about it! Happy that I've worked hard in my 20's, happy (and grateful) that I have the life I have with my husband, family, friends, and cats, and happy to be celebrating this weekend! 

As I mentioned last week, it's a milestone that lends itself to questioning where I am in my goals and my life. I've had a stressful few weeks. I've been quite busy at work, and I'm in a challenging time in my running. I've been trying to run a 30 minute 5K for months now, and haven't gotten there. I've had much less energy and motivation when running. Instead of feeling pumped up and excited, I feel exhausted and stressed about running. I sometimes even dread it. It has been so frustrating that I've even considered (for like, two seconds) not running anymore.

Whoa. I went there. False alarm! You know I wouldn't quit on you!

In times like these, it's important to reflect.

A year and a half ago, I couldn't even run a quarter of a mile. I have now run a half marathon.

In the last years of my 20s, I overcame fears and became more confident through running.

I'm starting my 30's healthier than I've ever been in my life!

It would be dumb to quit! Instead of quitting, let's just address whatever is causing this temporary stall in my running progress. After looking holistically at my life over the last couple of months, I've identified the following factors that are probably affecting my running:

  • Inconsistent diet. I don't talk about diet a lot on the blog. Long story short, I'm "that girl" who obsesses over calories, inevitably fails miserably, feels incredibly guilty, and obsesses again. Don't get me wrong, there are many positives in how I eat - I eat mostly natural foods, I love fruits and veggies, I rarely eat processed or fast food, etc, but the portion control issue is my hang-up. 
    • To get to a goal weight on my birthday, I tried to hit a daily calorie goal (1,200-1,500) that may have been inconsistent with my running needs. When I tried to hit those goals, I'd find myself starving, acting like Betty White on a Snicker's commercial (sorry B!), and VERY weak and depleted while running. Inevitably, I'd break down afterwards and find myself drowning in ice cream or Nutella. This isn't good, people. Don't do this at home. 
    • The whole thing was completely counterproductive. It hurt my running performance, and because I was constantly cheating, I wasn't even losing weight. 
  • Stress. I let this 30 minute 5K goal really get to my head. Instead of enjoying running, it made me feel pressured. I felt that if I didn't reach my goal, I was letting myself and others down. I have to let that go so that I can focus. I've also been stressed about other things in my life: work, relationships with others, etc. I have the unfortunate curse of being a people-pleaser, and I worry about a lot of little things. This is a personal goal I want to work on in my 30's. I hope to write a separate post about this soon.
  • Inconsistent training. Don't get me wrong, I've stayed with RunKNOX and barely miss a practice. I haven't stayed as diligent running on my own outside of our practices as I should have been. Part of the reason was that I was taking "rest days" before the plethora of 5K races I was running. This is why I don't want to race for awhile.
With all of that said, fall is coming and it's a perfect time to rededicate myself to my goals. Here's how I plan to do it.

  • To my running - It's time to take my running schedule more seriously! I'm going to stay diligent to the program each week. I'm also going to wait awhile before signing up for a 5K.
  • To my health - Per my the advice of my RunKNOX coach, I decided to up my goals to 1,500 - 2,000 calories (YIKES!! I thought I was going to pass out when I heard 2,000!). It's a little scary, but I think a more realistic goal that keeps me energized and less prone to cheat could help. I also plan to seek out an iron supplement (that doesn't make me sick!), as my iron tends to run low. I'll let you know how it goes...
  • To my blog - I tend to be really inconsistent in the time I spend on my blog. I'll go for days and not write anything (although I do keep up with social media), then I have to crunch to write at the last minute. If I could just spend a half-hour each day writing, it would go a long way.
  • To my career - While I am passionate about my career and work hard, we can always improve, right? I tried something this week that was really effective. I started going in a little earlier. Few people were there. I used the time to go through my email and sort through all of the things that need to get done. I often have a lot of irons in the fire at work. This "pre-sort" time helped me start my day feeling organized and together before I started my tasks. I plan to keep this up!
  • To my loved ones - As I get older, I start realizing more and more the value of time. We have so many people to see, so many things to do, and so little time to do it all. And one day it will all be over. While I love work, running, and all of the other things I do, I want to make sure that I'm fitting in time for the people I love. It just takes a little more balance.
  • To MYSELF - Again, with the time thing, I never prioritize doing the things I love to do by myself - lighting candles, curling up and reading a book or Real Simple, getting my nails done, etc. While I love spending time with people, I'm an introvert who needs this downtime to recharge. I don't do enough of it!
All of these become effective Tuesday. In the meantime, I have a birthday weekend to enjoy!!!

Have a great holiday weekend! Do you ever find yourself in a place where you need to rededicate yourself to your goals?


See what others around the web are doing with these great fitness communities:

Coffee & macarons

 I was not compensated by RunKNOX for this post, nor is it affiliated with this blog. I am simply sharing my honest opinions and experiences. The views expressed in this article are solely my own. Also, I'm not a health or fitness professional of any kind. See my  Terms and Conditions page.
Want more? Follow the CSRS Blog on  FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+, or Instagram for the latest updates, articles, and more!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fitness Friday...Countdown to 30!

Y'all, it's official. 

As of today, my countdown days to turning 30 is in single digits. Overall, I'm fine with it. I'm excited about celebrating with friends and family and walking around with some obnoxious "30" tiara or sash (you listenin, B? Better make this happen.).

For me, my concern in turning 30 isn't about worrying about aging, it's about questioning where I am in life. Perhaps I'll write a dedicated post on this. This is the first time I've reached this kind of milestone birthday. I think there's something about these milestones that naturally make you question your past decisions and accomplishments. Did I accomplish everything I hoped to accomplish by this point (in terms of career, fitness, personal development)? Sadly, no.

Who am I? What am I doing with my life?

That was a little dramatic. I thought I'd have everything figured out by now. I'd be this cool, confident, perfectly put-together person. I thought I'd have at least figured out what I wanted in life. Instead, I still worry about little things, don't know exactly what I want in 10-20 years, and feel unsure of myself at times.

Will this ever go away?

But I can be proud that I've worked my hardest to reach my goals so far, and plan to continue to do so. I'm proud I earned an MBA and now work in my chosen field of marketing. I'm proud I finally faced my fears, started a running journey, and launched this blog to hopefully help others. I consider myself fortunate to have a wonderful family, friends, husband, and cats. I'll take it! I really can't complain at all.

One accomplishment that I'm especially questioning right now is my current running goal of hitting a 30 minute 5K. After a particularly traumatic 5K race on a track, I've been hovering around 32 minutes lately, and I don't feel close to improving. At the end of running a 32 minute 5K, I'm so exhausted I am dragging myself to the finish line and feel like I'm going to pass out or throw up! I'm not sure if I'll hit it by my birthday, but I'll try my best to get there as soon as I can.

To help me get there, I'm glad that the fall program of RunKNOX has started up again. While B is doing the half marathon program, I'll be doing the speed training program to get to a 30 minute 5K, and then perhaps progress to half marathon training.

With all of that said, here's how the week went:

Saturday: Butterfly Fund 5K

B and I were excited to run the Butterfly Fund 5K Saturday. It supports a good cause (research for childrens' cancers) and we met up with his aunt there who was also running the race. She started a running and fitness journey in her 50's and is doing AWESOME! Proof that it's never too late to start! The weather was a little cooler than usual and we were very familiar with the course. Great conditions for a race!

And how did the actual race go? Not spectacular, but good. I pushed myself the entire time. As I've written before, I don't think 5K pace is easy or comfortable, so it felt challenging the whole time. Not overwhelmingly so until the end. I managed to sprint the last 100m or so and felt like I usually do after 5Ks - exhausted, weak, and nauseous. My time was in line with my last few times, just over 32 minutes. Not a PR, but not a regression either. I had a fun morning, so I'm good with it.
B and I before the race. No makeup + my new Lululemon shorts from my Mom. :) Thanks, Mom!

Sunday: Off-day

Although, I'd argue vacuuming, dusting, and grocery shopping count for something.

Monday: A Harder than Usual Boot Camp Class

Lately, I've been doing a boot camp class. In the past, it has been challenging, but manageable. For some reason, this time it was harder. We did planks with weights on our backs, lunges with weights above our heads, sprints, and all kinds of crazy stuff. We were outside for most of the class, and it was hot. There was a point when I had to slow down, I was so tired! I think it was partially my fault for forgetting to eat my afternoon snack beforehand. I looked around and everyone else looked like they felt like I did! Luckily, we all made it through and had a good workout! I may have consoled myself with ice cream later...

Tuesday: Back to RunKNOX and Sassy Again

The official fall RunKNOX program began! While we continued practicing as a carryover from the summer program, I'm glad to have a fresh start in the program. I saw many familiar faces and some new faces. In fact, I met another lady who is going after a 30 minute 5K, too! It will be nice to have someone close to my level. We ran an easy 3 miles with a few sprints at the end.

Oh sprints. In small doses, I think they are so fun! I was next to a really nice guy in our group while doing our sprints. It just so happened I beat him to finish, and he said he couldn't keep up with me. Out of nowhere, I said:

Oh, it's not a race...but if it was I would have won!

I mean, talk about #nofilter! I can't believe it flew out of my mouth! Fortunately everyone took it in good fun!

Wednesday: 35 Minute Run

Usually, our prescribed runs per our training program are in miles. This time, it was in minutes. I got up early to beat the heat and set a timer on my iPhone. You know what happens when your requirement is minutes, not miles? There's no motivation to run faster!

What's the point? You won't finish any sooner. Maybe that's just me.

So, I cruised around listening to a running playlist on Songza until the timer went off and had a great time. At the end, I realized I had been running really slow for me - 13+ minute miles. Oops. Hey, I ran and enjoyed it. That's a win, right?

Thursday: Core Class

With the beginning of the RunKNOX fall program came the reinstatement of our Thursday night core class. Yay! It incorporates similar exercises as my boot camp class, but I feel like it's a little more focused. We stay on each exercise longer and really focus on strength. This is great for me, because I don't get a lot of strength training. This week it was pretty simple - lunges, planks, side planks, etc. It had been awhile since I'd held these poses for awhile. It was challenging, but doable.

Today: Resting Up

I'm not working out today so that I'll be well rested for another (yes, another) 5K tomorrow. It will be my last 5K in the 25-29 age group.

The ending of an era.

B and I are running the Man Run, which supports prostate cancer research. Yes, women can run in it. :) A friend of ours has started his own running journey in the last few months, and we're excited he's running in it with us! I'll shoot for my 30 minute 5K, and try my best. B has even offered to pace me.

We may or may not be still married afterwards.. :)

That's it for this week!

How have you stayed active this week? Do milestone birthdays inspire you to reexamine your goals and accomplishments?


See what others around the web are doing with these great fitness communities:

Coffee & macarons

 I was not compensated by RunKNOX, or the Knoxville Track Club for this post, nor is any organization affiliated with this blog. I am simply sharing my honest opinions and experiences. The views expressed in this article are solely my own. Also, I'm not a health or fitness professional of any kind. See my  Terms and Conditions page.
Want more? Follow the CSRS Blog on  FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+, or Instagram for the latest updates, articles, and more!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fitness Friday: Moving on and Loving Running Again

Fitness Friday is Back!

So...if you read my most recent post, you've heard that last week wasn't such a great running week. I ran a 5K race on the track, which I let intimidate me and throw my attitude off completely. I was disappointed that I still haven't hit my 30 minute 5K goal. I took some time to reflect on the situation and realized I need to stay in the positive and not put so much pressure on myself each race.

Lately, everything I've been doing has been about speed. I've been really pushing myself in our speed-focused workouts  in RunKNOX. Even on the "easy runs" scheduled in to our training, I've tried to push myself and I've worried about my pace. Honestly, all of this speed work and pressure to get my 5K time down has just sucked all of the fun out of running for me lately. 

I'm conflicted because I want running to be fun and enjoyable. However, my 5K goal pace is not fun and enjoyable. It's challenging. It's uncomfortable. It's hard to keep going sometimes.

I don't think I'm alone in this internal conflict. I happened to have a conversation with some running friends this week, who shared they also want running to be fun. They shared various ways they keep running enjoyable - focusing only on slower, long distance runs, training less aggressively, or even skipping racing altogether and only running for enjoyment and health benefits.

It was great to hear these perspectives and know I'm not alone in feeling this way. Ultimately, I want to keep training towards becoming a faster runner. I know it's going to involve some training runs and races where I will have to push beyond my current capabilities to make real progress. Those will feel tiring, uncomfortable, and sometimes even miserable (like they'll never end). However, there is (and will always be) room for fun, enjoyable runs - social runs, easy runs in my training. I haven't had enough of those lately!

Enough is enough. I'm going to hate running if I keep this up. This week, I took the pressure off myself and tried to enjoy running again. A couple of runs with RunKNOX, as well as a social run with the Knoxville Track Club gave me the opportunity to do just that!

Here's how the week went:

Saturday - 5 mi run

This was my first attempt at enjoying running and not taking it so seriously. I failed at the first of those objectives, but managed to accomplish the second. The problem - it was SO HUMID that morning I could see the humidity hanging in the air. It made running feel miserable. I did my best to enjoy my music, take it slow and not worry about pace, and enjoy the scenery. The temperature and humidity made that tough, but I did enjoy certain parts - especially running in the shade on 3rd Creek greenway.

The one interesting thing about the humidity is how it created a "dreamy" effect as the sunlight came through the trees.

Sunday - Off


Monday - Boot Camp

I really enjoy my new boot camp class right after work. This week we did everything from squats to lunges to mountain climbers to sprints, etc. The toughest exercise for me was side planks. I think planks are hard in general, but side planks are even tougher! I was the only person who couldn't hold the plank as long as instructed. I'll get there. :)

Tuesday - 4 mi Run with RunKNOX


FINALLY! I enjoyed running for the first time in forever! The weather was cooler, several friends close to my pace showed up, and we ran an easy 4 miles. I made a point to run at a very easy pace, listened to a great playlist on Songza (I knew it would be a good night when "Funky Cold Medina" was the first song!), and just chilled out. I only looked at my watch for distance purposes (we turned around after 2 miles). Afterwards, I found out that my pace was indeed slower than usual for me (12:30 min/mi), but that's okay. I consider the fact that I got back out there and enjoyed it a win!

Wednesday - Directionally Challenged...

As we like to do as often as possible, B and I planned to attend a social run hosted by the Knoxville Track Club. This time, we were to meet at 6 PM and were given an address where to meet. I arrived on time, but wasn't familiar with that specific area of downtown (I've never lived or worked downtown). My GPS got confused and took me to the wrong address. By the time I arrived at the correct address, the group had already left.

I was mad at myself for being such an idiot (really, I've lived in Knoxville 8 years), but I turned the evening around. The route we were to run had been posted online, so I followed the directions and ran a little over 3 miles. This was a little out of my comfort zone, as I never run by myself for safety reasons. However, the route took me through very populated areas, and it was still light out. I texted B and sent a Facebook message to the group so that they would know where I was and what I was doing.

I finished my run not long after the group finished theirs, and was still able to meet up with them for dinner. All's well that ends well!


The last couple of days, I've taken a quick break from running. I'm running another 5K tomorrow, however! I don't know if I'll hit my 30 minute goal time. I hope I do, and it is the goal I'm shooting for. However, my expectation of myself is to try my best and maintain a positive attitude!

Do you find it difficult to balance the enjoyment of running as you push towards your goals? How do you manage it?


See what others around the web are doing with these great fitness communities:

Coffee & macarons

 I was not compensated by RunKNOX, or the Knoxville Track Club for this post, nor is any organization affiliated with this blog. I am simply sharing my honest opinions and experiences. The views expressed in this article are solely my own. Also, I'm not a health or fitness professional of any kind. See my  Terms and Conditions page.
Want more? Follow the CSRS Blog on  FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+, or Instagram for the latest updates, articles, and more!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Unexpected Life Lesson: Sabotaging Our Own Success

I never expected to write this post.

If you follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram, you may have seen that I posted this week that I didn't reach a goal I was going for, a 30 minute 5K goal at a track race this Thursday night. I apologize for my demotivating caption. I still have a few weeks to go before my self-mandated deadline (my 30th birthday!), but I was REALLY hoping to get it that night. And I was REALLY disappointed that I didn't get it.

I thought I would write a post on how I did or didn't reach my goal, and the training tips or next steps that went along with the outcome. Instead, I learned a bigger life lesson.

Why didn't I reach my goal? Because I let my own self-doubt and anxiety sabotage my efforts.

I want the CSRS blog to be a positive, inspiring destination that hopefully lifts you up as you work towards your personal goals (whatever they may be).

I also strive to be real and honest. I don't wish to pretend that pursuing my running endeavors are all about me running effortlessly on a magic rainbow in my perfectly messy-on-purpose bun and Lululemon clothes laughing with my running friends about how wonderfully awesome we are (even though my friends are great!). The truth is it's often hard, mentally and physically. I don't always reach my goals and I deal with disappointment and frustration sometimes.

Being real and honest with you doesn't mean whining, and complaining, however. You come here to be entertained and get good firsthand information, not to be my punching bag to whom I can vent.

That's what husbands are for.

Thanks, B!

And let's be honest, it's really not that big of a deal. I'm not a college or professional athlete, so nothing is really at stake. Not to mention, this is really a #firstworldproblem, right?

That's why instead of rushing to get this article out for Fitness Friday, I took a little while to reflect on the situation and draw some learning. I love participating in the link-ups and connecting with my running blogger friends, but it's even more important that I provide honest, real stories with (hopefully) useful and valuable information.

Before the Race

Earlier this summer following my first half marathon, I set out to run a 30 minute 5K before my upcoming 30th birthday. My first race this summer was the Expo 5K, at about 33 min. I was unhappy with my time, which inspired me to work to this goal over the summer. My running program, RunKNOX, was focused on getting us faster. We did all kinds of track workouts -  anywhere from 200m to 800m repeats. These helped us get used to our goal pace in short bursts. It wasn't always fun. The track is an overwhelming environment for me. The workouts were hard.

As much as I disliked them, however, the workouts proved effective. I ran a 5K each month in June, July, and the first weekend of August, each progressively a little faster than the last. I ran the Hotter 'N Hell 5K last weekend at 32:01 - my best time of the summer. Considering that there was a long hill that slowed me down, I figured I was more or less prepared for a 30 minute 5K. Since I'm counting 30:anything as success  (I realized I hadn't clearly defined my goal early on), I was only 1:02 away from my goal. Without hills, I could do that, right?

Hence why I decided to try a 5K on the track. My coach, husband, and friends thought it would be a great opportunity to hit my goal since it was flat. I had already raced a mile two times at a local track race series. I'd even gotten down to a new mile PR of 9:04. I really enjoyed the events, but I wasn't a huge fan of doing a 5K on the track. The idea of it overwhelmed me, but I agreed with the logic that it would be a good opportunity to PR.

Given that last week I'd had a great workout on the track that even inspired some sassy smack-talk, and I'd had a great 5K Saturday, I was feeling confident throughout the week.

The Day of the Race

The day of the race, the anxiety hit me.

I have made such a big deal out of my 30 minute goal on my blog, and to everyone I know. What if I don't hit this goal? My friends are rooting for me - what if I let them down? Not to mention in front of everyone! 

Suddenly, I put pressure on myself and wasn't feeling so confident, and I started to worry about the race. Not to mention, the day of the race happened to be a stressful one. I showed up to the track feeling anxious. Anxious that I would fail, and anxious that the race would feel miserable.

That's another issue. I want running to feel great and be fun. The problem is that kind of running doesn't make you faster. The kind of running that makes you faster feels miserable and hard. I'm internally conflicted by my desire to be fast and my desire to enjoy running.

Seeing and cheering for my friends in their events took my mind off of it. B ran his 5K first with the men. He had a funny moment where he lost count of his laps. He thought he was finished when he really had one left to go! He stopped, realized his error after 10 seconds, finished his lap, and still PR'ed with a time less than 23 minutes. Go B!

The Race

Finally, it was time for us womenfolk to run our 5K. As I lined up, the anxiety intensified. It didn't help that I was standing next to very accomplished local runners and I knew I'd be last. It felt like this was going to be 12 laps of torture - I'd be worrying about my goal, exhausted from running, and mortified in front of everyone.

And that's exactly the reality I created for myself.

I let my anxiety magnify throughout the race. Early on, I felt like I didn't have a lot of energy. I was well hydrated and fueled via my magic running jelly beans. It could have been because I did a bootcamp class the day before, or because I'm watching my calories to hit a weight goal on my birthday (a different story for a different day), but it was likely due to my mental state. I saw in the first mile that I was tracking slower than my goal pace, and resigned to the fact there was no way to make that time up. 

Around me, fast runners were lapping me left and right, and I let that bother me. My heart sank when I heard 15 minutes called out, and I wasn't even close to halfway done. I felt so defeated. Honestly, I didn't even want to finish. But I couldn't quit (at least I had some resolve). It must have been obvious, because B and another RunKNOX friend were kind enough to run a couple laps with me and encourage me. I was thankful the crowd was supportive as well. Round and round the track, I thought it was never going to end. Everyone else finished when I still had a few laps left. I finished, but my time was the worst of the summer. I can't even bring myself to type it.

At first, I was upset and disappointed, and I even thought about not running again. Hence why I didn't write this post that night! Now that I've had time to think about it, I now see that it didn't have to be that way. 

I envisioned this outcome, and therefore it happened. By doubting myself and letting my emotions take over, I sabotaged my own success. I am responsible for this. 

B always says I have a cartoon cloud following me around. Thanks to my mad Photoshop skills, this image has been brought to life.

But how do I know I would have reached my goal had I stayed positive?

I don't know, of course, if I would have reached my 30 min. goal if I'd stayed positive. At least I would have given it my best effort, felt good about it, and enjoyed the race.

Where to Go from Here?

Good question. I'm not going to quit running, and I'm not going to give up on my goal. I only have a few weeks before my 30th birthday, and I'm going to do a 5K race every weekend up until the day. Now that I've seen the impact that self-doubt and negative thoughts can bring, I'm going to work to safeguard myself from negative, destructive feelings. I admittedly have no background in psychology, but here's how I plan to do it in my running:

  • Keep training. No brainer.
  • Not treat each race like a do-or-die situation. I plan to strive to reach my goal at each race, but it's not the end of the world if I don't hit my goal on that particular day.
  • Accept the fact that running in a race isn't an easy, comfortable, fun activity. There are many training and social runs in which I can run at an easy pace, chat with others, and have fun. A race is not one of them. To get the job done and achieve my goals, I need to push myself and not cling to my desire to be comfortable.
  • Envision a race scenario in which I'm positive, energetic, running strong, and successful. Plain and simple. I envisioned I wouldn't succeed, and I didn't. It stands to reason the opposite would work, right?
  • Accept that trying my best (in whatever conditions I'm given) is what I should expect from myself. While I am working towards a quantitative goal, my first and foremost goal should be to do my best each day, taking whatever conditions (weather, hills, uncomfortable environment, etc) I'm handed into consideration.
  • Don't worry about pleasing others. Haha - if I could do this, I would be a totally different person. At the very least, I would have tried out for American Idol.

This doesn't just happen in running, but in many areas of our lives where we hope to achieve big things. I hope that if I can adopt these practices, I'll become this:

Ninja skills, nunchuk skills, Photoshop skills...

Have you ever sabotaged your own success in running or other endeavors? How do you stay confident and positive?


See what others around the web are doing with these great fitness communities:Coffee & macarons

I was not compensated by RunKNOX for this post, nor is it affiliated with this blog. I am simply sharing my honest opinions and experiences. The views expressed in this article are solely my own. Also, I'm not a health or fitness professional of any kind. See my Terms and Conditions page.

Want more? Follow the CSRS Blog on  FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+, or Instagram for the latest updates, articles, and more!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What's Up with SUP?! Trying Stand-Up Paddling

I suppose I should preface this post with a little background. I spent my childhood afraid of water. I lived in a cold part of the country where water sports weren't "a thing". My parents aren't into swimming or water.

I honestly wouldn't have had exposure to swimming and water had it not been for the elementary school in my small Wyoming town, which incorporated swimming lessons in it's PE curriculum. Unusual, I know, but kind of cool in hindsight.

At the time, not so cool.

Early on, everyone else learned to swim except me. They taught us how to do the strokes, kicks, etc, and we even practiced them while hanging on to a wall. I was with them, until they finally wanted us to let go and float.

Let go and float does not describe my approach to anything in life.

I didn't trust I would float. I want to be in complete control of my movement at all times, and didn't want to give up any of my control to water. I wanted one foot touching the floor at all times. Everyone else caught on and started swimming anywhere from 1st to 3rd grade. Except me. While they were swimming laps and learning new strokes, I required a teacher to work with me one-on-one.

I felt like a loser. 

Finally, in 5th or 6th grade, I got the courage to let go and start swimming. I actually liked it. It was freeing and fun! However, even today, I don't jump in. I don't want to fall in. I want to control how I enter water on MY terms. I'm afraid I won't be able to catch myself in the water and adjust to swimming. I use steps to enter a pool. I like the beach because it's a gradual descent.

For this reason, I don't love boats. Ships are fine - they're so big I don't have a fear of falling out. I mean small motorboats. I was once pulled by a boat in a tube and thought I was having a heart attack! I didn't like being pulled by a boat I couldn't control.

Here in TN, water sports are so popular that people think I'm cray.

What, you haven't been water skiing since you were 2?

So why SUP?

In my late 20's, I'm all about facing fears. Plus, since SUP boards aren't motorized, I felt like I would have more control of my movement.

Last week, the Knoxville Track Club partnered with Billy Lush Brand, a new lifestyle and fitness company in Knoxville focused on paddle sports, to provide a stand up paddling (SUP) lesson and experience to complement our usual Wednesday night run.

Haha - back in the 90's people used to say 'sup instead of "What's up?" Long before "totes", "cray" and "yolo".

If you aren't familiar with SUP, it's basically a recreational activity that involves kneeling or standing on a board (which looks similar to a surfboard but seems more stable) in the water, and maneuvering through the water using a paddle. I saw it as an (albeit scary) opportunity to overcome this fear.

What if it tipped over? What if I fell off? What if I start wiggling around like an idiot? What if I get so scared I started telling people it was great knowing them, and to go forth and tell the tale of the girl who overcame her fear, only to meet her untimely demise.

So ironic. Didn't Alanis Morissette sing about that?

Back to reality - upon arriving, we met with Abe from Billy Lush Brand on the river in downtown Knoxville. We had a large group, so we took turns as boards were available. B and I ran two miles while we waited for boards.

I was feeling nervous beforehand, as I was telling my friends.

Total drama queen moment

Fortunately, Abe walked me through the process and taught me what to do.

I was measured for paddle length (based on the height of my fingers when reaching above my head).

He taught me the rowing motion. My left hand went on top, my right hand below, and I was to pull the paddle near me. Paddling backwards could act as a brake or a way to turn around.

He taught me how to kneel on my board, and told me how I'd stand up. It sounded pretty simple. Hold my board out in front of me and rise to my feet.

Finally, it was time to get on the board. Kneeling on it wasn't bad at all. Surprisingly, the board felt very stable. I didn't feel like I was going to tip over at all.

Paddling wasn't too hard, except for steering. I accidentally ran into a docked boat. Apparently, you can't just paddle on one side. A friend showed me how to paddle on both sides and maneuver myself out of the boat.

Once I was finally out in the water, it was time to try to stand.

I'm fine here, thanks.

No, I came here to try SUP, and SUP without "SU" is just "P".

That was weird.

No really, I wanted to say that I at least attempted the real deal. So, I held my paddle in front of me perpendicular to me and slowly attempted to rise to my feet. As I started to rise, my body and the board wobbled all over the place!

I was only halfway up, and I was wobbling left, then right, then left again, I was going to tip over!

Although I admit it didn't look wobbly from the picture

So I got back down on my knees.

I tried again, only to have the same result.

Finally, a friend told me I should get the board going faster in order to make it less wobbly. I paddled and paddled and got to a decent speed. I raised up again, and was slightly less wobbly. I got to that wobbly halfway point again and made myself push through it.

And I was up!! Once standing, it didn't feel that wobbly anymore. I could balance! I didn't feel like I would fall! I had to actively engage my legs and core to do so, but it wasn't too difficult. I paddled around and got some speed and it was fun!

I'm totally a surfer chick now!

B also did a great job! He was also able to stand up (although he wasn't close to a camera when he did), and enjoyed it.

When our SUP adventure was done, it was time to go back to the dock. They tried to explain a graceful way to dismount, but I ended up flopping onto the dock. Whatever works!

The next morning, I was surprised that when I got out of bed, my core, shoulders, and legs were all incredibly sore! I didn't feel like I'd been working that hard! I was hobbling around! It must have been a great workout!

If you try SUP for the first time, I'd recommend:

  • Start with a lesson or demonstration so you learn how to balance on the board and paddle safely and effectively. Here in Knoxville, Billy Lush Brand is a great resource for classes and rentals. They even do yoga on the board, which I can't even imagine!
  • If you can't swim or don't swim well, be sure wear a life jacket (in our case provided with the board)!
  • As you stand, try to let go of the fear of tipping over and don't hesitate too much. For me, that seemed to make it wobblier.
  • Try to SUP with friends or with a group who can help you if you get stuck, or are having issues. I wouldn't recommend doing SUP alone.
  • Start on a nice day where the water is pretty calm.
  • Try to let go and have fun! It took me awhile to do this, but that's the whole point, right?
Overall, it was a fun experience, and I'd definitely do it again! Considering my water issues, that should say something!

Have you tried SUP? What tips do you have for people trying it?


Participating in Monday link-up (a day late). See what Ashley from Coffee and Macarons and others are doing this week!

Coffee & macarons

I was not compensated by Billy Lush Brand for this post, nor is it affiliated with this blog. I am simply sharing my honest opinions and experiences. The views expressed in this article are solely my own. Also, I'm not a health or fitness professional of any kind. See my Terms and Conditions page.

Want more? Follow the CSRS Blog on  FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+, or Instagram for the latest updates, articles, and more!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fitness Friday: Running, Sassiness, and SUP Preview

It's my favorite day!

After a few crazy busy weeks, this week has been pretty fun! My work schedule has been busy but manageable, and I'm back on track working out. It just so happens that I'm REALLY close (just a few weeks) to turning 30, so I'm focusing on that 30 minute 5K goal! I plan to run several 5Ks in August, including one tomorrow, so wish me luck! :)

This week has included a lot of different workouts and activity, so there wasn't really a common theme. My workouts have been more varied this week than usual, which has kept it really fun. With that said, no need for much of an intro, so let's get to it:

Saturday - A Faster 5 mi Run

As usual, I met up with my RunKNOX group Saturday morning. Unlike the last few Saturdays, I was well-rested and well-hydrated, so I felt ready to go! I ran with my usual group of girls in the program close to my pace. Over the past few months, I've had the opportunity to support and befriend a new runner in the program. She ran her first 5K when I ran my first half marathon, and I've seen her continue to progress since. She's catching up to me fast, and I couldn't be happier for her! She reached her first 5 miles a couple of weeks ago, and Saturday we set out for what would be her second 5 mi run.

Since I was feeling energetic, I decided to try to get under a 12 min/mi pace (my usual long distance pace). Since I decided to run faster than usual, I lost some of the people I usually run with. However, I was excited when I saw that my new(er) runner friend was staying with me! We both finished our run in under an hour - and it was only her second time running that distance!

Yeah, we were pretty much rock stars Saturday. :)

Sunday - Rest Day


Monday - Boot Camp at a New (Corporate) Gym

As you have probably already seen (or experienced), many companies today are investing in corporate wellness. To me, it just feels like a common sense investment to both employees and employers. Employees are happier and healthier, and save time and money by having a convenient place to work out. This, in turn, leads to better employee retention, more productivity, less sick time, and lower health care costs for the company. Win-win, right?

I was excited to find out a few months ago that my employer, in line with this philosophy, was working on a a corporate fitness center. The center finally opened this week, and I was so excited to check it out! The facility is brand new, fully equipped with cardio (i.e. treadmills, elliptical, etc) and strength equipment and free to employees to use. Additionally, for a very nominal monthly fee (significantly less than my gym membership), we can take classes.

I really enjoyed the gym I used to attend and got a lot of value out of it, but the cost and convenience of the corporate gym is hard to beat! Instead of my usual Body Pump class at the gym, I tried a boot camp class at the corporate gym. It was so easy to walk over from my office, change, and jump right into the class! The class incorporated a mix of strength, cardio, and body weight exercises - planks, mountain climbers, jogging, lunges, squats. We switched quickly between exercises to keep our heart rates up and keep moving. It was great! The class was over by 6 PM - before my Body Pump class even began! Not only did I get a great workout, but I was able to get home at an earlier time, and I'll save money by cancelling my gym membership. Win!


Tuesday - A Custom Track Workout + Talking Smack!

Since I'm getting close to my 30 minute 5K goal deadline, my RunKNOX coach, Darren, was kind enough to write a custom workout for me to do at the track. Also being very kind, two of my friends came and did the workout with me. There were just three of us. At the track. With a plan.

The plan was to do repeats of 400m (a quarter mile) at my 5K goal pace (30 min 5K = 9:40 mi = 2:25 quarter mile), with a 100m slow jog in between. The total workout was about 3 miles. I was a little nervous, since this would be the most I've ran at that pace.  Once we started into the workout, however, I was shocked.

This pace wasn't all that hard anymore. It didn't feel like a sprint. It just felt slightly faster than my normal pace.

It was also great to have others doing it with me. We took turns leading and pacing, and we hit most of our quarter miles right at 2:25 (a few even faster!). The last two intervals started feeling difficult, but not unbearably so. Overall, it wasn't nearly as challenging as I expected. Which made me feel confident about my goal. So much so, it inspired a sassy email to my coach:

Not wanting to speak for the others, I included the following disclaimer:

I was kidding, of course, but only partially so. The workout and pace really wasn't as hard as I'd expected. While everyone knew I was kidding, Darren did point out that my sassy words have left me NO excuses not to reach my goal. No security blanket. No sand bagging. Time to get it DONE.

Touche. I'll think twice the next time I start talking sassy.

Wednesday: Stand Up Paddling!

While I don't always get to attend, the Knoxville Track Club coordinates great social runs on Wednesday nights. They are open to anyone in the community. They aren't part of a structured training program - simply show up, run at your own pace, and enjoy dinner or snacks together afterwards. Sometimes there are fun twists, like a few weeks ago when we completed a clue-based photo scavenger hunt while running.

This week, the KTC partnered with Billy Lush Brand, a new lifestyle and fitness company in Knoxville focused on paddle sports, to provide a stand up paddling (SUP) lesson and experience to complement our usual Wednesday night run. If you aren't familiar with SUP, it's basically a recreational activity that involves kneeling or standing on a board (which looks similar to a surfboard but I understand is much more stable) in the water, and maneuvering through the water using a paddle.

This was a challenge for me, as I learned to swim pretty late in my childhood, and I'm still not very comfortable on the water. Nonetheless, I kept an open mind and tried it after a short 2 mi run. I hope to provide a full recap about the experience next week. In a nutshell, it wasn't as scary as I thought. Kneeling on the board was fairly easy, as was using the paddle. The hardest and scariest part was the transition from kneeling to standing. It took all of my strength and felt like I was going to lose my balance and fall off! Once standing, it wasn't too hard, and it was a lot of fun! I would do it again (and hope to)! More next week - stay tuned!

Thursday: Major Soreness + My Fitness Assessment

One other note about SUP - I didn't feel like I was working out while I was on the board, but I sure felt it the next morning! I realized it as soon as I tried to get out of bed. It hurt to move my core and my shoulders. Additionally, my legs were starting to feel the effects from the track workout Tuesday. I made the executive decision to take a day off from running!

However, I had a fitness assessment scheduled at the new gym. As part of my new fitness class membership, I had the opportunity to be assessed by one of the trainers at the new gym. They took my weight, height, waist and hip measurements. They took my resting heart rate, then had me step up and down for 3 minutes to test active heart rate and compare to my resting heart rate.

I must have either done really well or really poorly because when taking my heart rate after stepping, the trainer said, "wow".

Finally, they had me do as many push-ups I could do in one minute, and as many sit-ups I could do in one minute. I had the option of doing full push-ups (on toes) or modified push-ups (on knees), and the option of doing full sit-ups or crunches. I chose the full versions of both. I did 11 push-ups and 18 sit-ups.

Next week, they will review my results with me in a consultation, and provide advice going forward. We'll see how that goes!

Friday: Back to Yoga (Finally)!

Due to the crazy weeks I've had lately, I haven't had time to make my early morning yoga class. Due to the (still) ridiculous soreness I'm experiencing from running and SUP, I decided I needed to get myself up early and go! I'm SO glad I did! The class I do is a light basic yoga class that combines stretching, posing, and some flowing. I felt less sore, less stressed, and ready to start my Friday!

And here we are! I'm off to the first of my 5Ks in August tomorrow!

How have you stayed active this week? Did you try anything new or fun?


See what others around the web are doing with these great fitness communities:

Coffee & macarons

I was not compensated by RunKNOX, the Knoxville Track Club, or Billy Lush Brand for this post, nor is any organization affiliated with this blog. I am simply sharing my honest opinions and experiences. The views expressed in this article are solely my own. Also, I'm not a health or fitness professional of any kind. See my Terms and Conditions page.

Want more? Follow the CSRS Blog on  FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+, or Instagram for the latest updates, articles, and more!