Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes

So the first 3.5 months of 2017 have been a roller coaster, training wise. I do not feel as if I am in race shape and my ambitious time goals for the first half of the year feel out of reach.

I’m trying to shift my perspective.

Instead of seeing this as a failure, I’m shifting to a big single goal for 2017: a sub 3:45 marathon at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 22, 2017. We’ll be six months out from this in a few weeks. So now, instead of getting faster and viewing Mississauga as my goal race, I’m seeing this time as a base-building opportunity so I can hit the ground running in June when my 16-week marathon training program starts.

This feels a bit like a failure. But I’m trying to see it as a learning opportunity.

I can’t commit to a difficult work season and a difficult training season and hope the weather is on my side.

I can’t burn myself out in the first six months of the year.

I’ve made a lot of progress in my running, but I need to set achievable goals with do-able action plans.

I need to prioritize my training over other leisure activities and other fitness. I once had a basketball coach that said my priorities should be “Family. School. Basketball. Everything else.” Today, it should be “Family. Work. Running. Everything else.” if I want to achieve my goals. And if those priorities don’t work for me, well then I should change my goals.

Right now, I’m thinking about what my life would look like if I truly prioritized things that way. I think I’m into it, but it seems like a lot.

But is that fear of failure talking?

Maybe we should just go home

March is my most bananas month at work. Lots of work on the weekend, overtime, and general busy-ness. I love it, but it means work/life balance is thrown out the window.

I used to beat myself up over this. For missing workouts because I had to stay late or came home totally spent. For eating crappy food instead of making a salad because it was easy and I needed to find comfort in something simple and straightforward. For taking the extra 30 minutes to sleep in instead of running or going to a class.

I’ve started to give myself a pass on all this. We only have a set amount of time and energy. And when my workload is normal, the pie is better evenly divided. But when work gets bonkers, I can’t expect the pie to get bigger. I just need to accept that work is going to take a way bigger slice of pie than normal and cut myself some slack elsewhere.

Now it’s the beginning of April and I’m a little heavier and a little less fit than I was at the beginning of March. I’m disappointed and frustrated with this setback, sure, but I’m working on accepting it. My balance in work/life/fitness is returning and, with that, time and energy for workouts, prepping healthy food and getting up early will return – as long as I prioritize it accordingly. I’ll get my body back, my fitness back, my life back. I just ned to decide what I want my life to look like now, understand how much of the pie each aspect of my life requires and make it so.

We all have stuff we value. And we all have responsibilities. It’s about making the balance work for you to get through whatever moment you are in, it’s not about living an Instagram-worthy life.

I say this to myself and I still don’t believe it, but I’m getting there.

I want it all, or nothing at all

I am a very all or nothing person.

Sometimes, this is a good thing. When I care about something, I go all in. I am a passionate perfectionist. Shit gets done.

But when I don’t care – or care only a little bit – it’s in peril. It won’t happen.

If I am doing a fitness challenge, you don’t have to worry. Until I miss a day. Then I am a failure and there’s no point in completing the challenge. No point in anything.

If I am restricting my diet, I follow the rules, make the meals. No problem. Until someone brings cookies to work. Then I’ll eat one and my diet is over. I failed. I might as well eat 10. And eat a cookie again tomorrow.

This is a cycle I am trying to break. One cookie doesn’t ruin a well-intentioned meal plan. Missing one workout doesn’t mean my entire training plan is ruined. A health life is about sustainability and balance – at what level can you be your best self without compromising other things you care about, and can maintain for a very long time?

I’ve been an active person since I was a child and this is still a struggle. It’ll be a struggle for the rest of my life.

I think I’m getting there. I need to constantly remind myself it’s a journey. I can take a step back for a minute or a day and it doesn’t mean I need to get off the train. Every day, I need to ask myself “What is the best way to take care of me today?” Every day, the answer is different.

That doesn’t make me a failure. It makes me human.

Now get to work, bitch

I’m the one in the back row, probably laughing too hard to do yoga properly. Image: Tribe Fitness

2017 is going to be hard. It’s going to be work. And it’s going to be lit.

This weekend, an amazing thing happened. A movement began.

And so did my 2017 fitness plans, haha.

It feels trivial to talk about running when there are more important things to be done and said and chased after. But I believe there are parallels in putting in the work to better yourself and putting in the work to bettering the world.

On Thursday, I did a MuscleFit class at the YMCA. One 2017 goal down.

On Friday, I did a yoga class. It was boy band themed. I stretched and laughed and had a great time. It was one of the best yoga classes I’ve done in a long time, thanks to the soundtrack but also thanks to the challenging and clever sequences put together by the instructor, Heather Gardner of Tribe Fitness.

On Saturday, I was too sore to move. Ah, the re-set of fitness after a recovery period.

On Sunday, I ran for the first time since Dopey. It was at the Running Room, it was 8k and it was relatively easy. The more important thing I did on Sunday, though, was purchase and commit to the advanced 10-week NYRR half-marathon training plan. I used this system for NYC and I loved it. The plan begins on February 28th, so my plan is to get back into a fitness and running groove so on the 28th I can hit the ground running. The advanced plan is intense – it has me running 6 days a week and the slowest pace is 5:45.

But if you want to see change, you have to put in the work.

So let’s get to work.

I’m gonna put my body first

It’s been a week since I got back from Disney. Almost two since I ran Dopey. And since then I have gone to yoga. Once.

Normally, this would make me feel guilty, anxious, ashamed. That I am setting my level of fitness back. That I am being lazy. That I am not working hard enough towards my marathon PR or losing weight or being stronger and faster.

This time, though, I am tying really, really, really hard to give myself a break. I ran two marathons in two months. I got sick in December and again in January. (Probably a sign I am pushing myself too hard.) Work is ramping up. So I’m trying to focus on being generous and gentle with myself. Let my body heal and get some rest. Enjoy sleeping in a bit later because I’m not heading to the gym or a fitness class before work. Enjoy spending a few hours reading on my couch when I get home. (I am childless, so I have the luxury of time when it isn’t consumed by fitness.)

This is difficult for me. But I’m trying. And I know it will be better for me in the long run. It goes back to working on my word of the year, after all.

My plan is to ease back into a routine the last week of January. Get rolling in February. Then on Feb 28, kick off a really, really hard half-marathon training plan.

Being still isn’t easy. In my body or my mind. But I need to keep trying.

Fitness goals for 2017

1. Run a sub 1:50 half-marathon Planned: May 7, 2017

2. Run a sub 4:00 marathon Planned: October 22, 2017

3. Do an Olympic triathlon Planned: July 10, 2017

4. Do the Dopey challenge Completed January 8, 2017

5. Hold a 5:00 plank

6. Go to a boxing class

7. Go to the new yoga studio near my house Decided it was too far and the classes weren’t my thing

8. Try a MuscleFit class at the YMCA Completed January 2, 2017

9. Try a kettlebell class at the YMCA Completed February 27, 2017

10. Get weight under 160 pounds

11. Be a pace bunny

12. Do a headstand

13. Run a sub 45:00 10k

14. Do 25 pushups

15. Find a few new running buddies Hi Julie! And Tribe!

16. Go for a BQ at STWM

17. Volunteer at a race Planned: May 14, 2017

18. Go to the new yoga studio near CBC Bought a 20-class pass!

My 2017 fitness plan

I’m making bunch of fitness goals for 2017, because that’s what I do.  But my 2017 is about two things: getting stronger and getting faster and, with this in mind, I am structuring my year around 3 goal races:

May 7: Mississauga Half-Marahon, MAYBE Full

The distance depends on how I feel coming out of Dopey. If I commit to the half, I want to run sub 1:45. If I commit to the full, I want to run sub 4:00. I plan to chill after Dopey, then commit to a very tough 12-week training program beginning Feb. 28. I did a 16-week plan for NYC and it felt like too much. I was burned out by the end. So I’m going to cut the length, up the intensity and see how I respond.

July 10: Toronto Triathlon Festival Olympic Distance Tri

I’ve done four sprint tris now and it’s time to upgrade. So let’s double the distance and see how hard it is. I’ll take two weeks off after Mississauga, then put together an 8-week training plan.

October 22: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

This is my A+ goal race. I’m going to run as fast as I fucking can. I have the idea of BQ dancing in the back of my head, but will set a more realistic goal closer to. I’ll take the rest of July off, then, depending on how I respond to Mississauga training, commit to a 16-week or a 12-week plan.

Bring it on, 2017.

Advent challenge failure

I set a goal of running every day during the holiday season. An advent running challenge, if you will.

I failed by day 6.

I am disappointed in myself. But you learn more in failure than in success.

I learned that my body still isn’t recovered from my last marathon.

I learned that you can’t prioritize your social life, your fitness and your job at the same time.

I learned that forcing fitness into an already busy, stressful season turns exercising into a stress-inducing chore – when it should be the opposite.

I am learning to be less hard on myself.

I am learning to forgive myself.

And I am learning to just embrace the holidays, the food, the events, the togetherness. The cold. The snow. The holidays are not the time to sacrifice family and friends and relationships for an arbitrary fitness goal.

This is what I am telling myself.

I hope by the time the holidays are over, I’ll believe it.

2016 going on 2017

In 2016, I got a lost faster. I set a 3-minute PR in the 10k, a 6-minute PR in the half-marathon and a 24-minute PR in the full marathon.

In 2017, I want to get even faster.

In 2016, I discovered the joy in social running. How it holds you accountable and pushes you to be faster and stronger.

In 2017, I want to connect even further with the Toronto running community and use it to become an even better runner.

In 2016, I developed a regular strength training routine. I went to bootcamps and yoga regularly.

In 2017, I want to add a weights class to my routine and step up yoga.

I’m proud of 2016 and happy with how far I’ve come, but my PRs in the half and the full marathons were annoying – both were shades above the time goals I set for myself. I crossed those finished lines annoyed and a smidge disappointed.

In 2017, I want to cross a finish line exhausted and elated – having crushed a goal completely, no asterisk, and knowing I left it all out there.

This year was about reconnecting with hard work.

Next year is about embracing it.

Recovery is the worst

It’s been two weeks since I ran NYC.

I’ve worked out once.

It sucks.

I know it’s important to heal. Give your body a break. Re-focus on things you ignored while you were training. Get more sleep.

But I feel restless, purposeless, anxious.

I always need a goal. I always need to be working towards something. And while recovery is indeed that – working towards healing my body so I can tackle another training cycle with injury- and burn-out- free – it’s less tangible than training. There are no runs you need to do. No strength classes to take. No obsessing over splits and average paces and perceived effort.

There’s just rest.

This is an important lesson for me. That being still is as valuable as being on the move. That doing nothing is as valuable as doing everything. That just because you can’t quantify it or put it on a calendar doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. This is more about me than my marathon recovery.

I hate it. But I am trying to learn from it and trying to grow because of it.

It’s so hard.

But so necessary.