How not to run smart

Today I was an idiot. I will be running in the Denver Hot Chocolate 15k (somehow I thought 5 weeks would be enough time to get in shape) and decided today was my first training run. I proceeded to have the least smart run of my life. So in case you ever were curious this is how not to run smart, please continue reading….

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1. Wake up 3 hours after you planned to get started, so that your run occurs right around the hottest part of the day on a day predicted to be 90 degrees.

2. Even though you know it’s gonna be a hot one, you decide not to bring a water bottle.

3. You also decide you don’t need sunscreen, bc you won’t be out THAT long.

4.  You wear super dorky high socks, so that when you do end up getting a sunburn it’s totally attractive.

5. You go out into the middle of nowhere cow land in the hopes that your Garmin Forerunner can actually get a GPS signal.

6.  That means that you won’t have any tree protection, but instead lots of sun shine and no places to stop and beg for water. 

7. Then not even have charged your Garmin properly so when it does finally find a GPS signal (woo woo!) it dies, so then the fact you are out in the hot waterless sun country doesn’t even matter.

8. When you finally see an apartment complex in the middle of no where, sneak into their gym to try to steal some water. When the water cooler doesn’t have cups, literally stick your mouth under the faucet because you fear you will faint if you don’t get a couple drops in your mouth. 

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9. When you finally get home collapse on your couch in front of the air conditioner and not properly foam roll/stretch it out.

Ya. Don’t do any of that. Unless you enjoy feeling like you are slowly melting into the ground and keep thinking that soon you will be able to identify with people lost in the desert.

Tap N’ Run 4k – Time to get Tapped

This past Saturday I got tapped. 4 times actually. It was hot out, it lasted about 30 minutes and by the end all I wanted was more.

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Of course, I’m talking about the Tap N’ Run 4k event, a fun run event that involves beer, “running” and may be coming to a city near you soon (definitely not Paleo, but good for the soul nonetheless).  I had told my friends our theme should be jungle animals, but then proceeded to make a cow costume. What, you’ve never heard of the rare jungle cow? Yah, me neither…

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Good thing they were adaptable. They showed up dressed as cowboys, complete with cattle prods, and without even realizing it we had worn the perfect Colorado wild wild west costume.  The costumes at the race were amazing, ranging from a group dressed up as Pacman and blinky/inky/whatever the rest of them are called to sharks from shark week.  When the countdown finished and we were signaled to go we drank our 1/2 a beer, dramatically threw our cups on the ground and were off! To give you an idea of the type of “running race” this was, take a look at these two guys who rented bikes half way through from the lovely bike rental stations in Denver that lined part of the course.

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It was definitely very clear that this was an event that was solely to have fun with your friends, not to really attempt to race. I was perfectly fine with that and enjoyed the two “tap” beer stations along the way. When we reached the finish line there was a DJ and an after party, which we only ended up staying at for about 25 minutes due to the ominous rain clouds in the previous picture finally breaking.  It was definitely a different and fun experience. If you like beer, costumes, and running I would recommend trying it if it comes to your city. PLUS, they give out bottle openers as medals. win!Image

#Fitfam: Coverup for Eating Disorders?

Before I had a blog I was a member of the Twitter #fitfam.  The #fitfam on twitter and tumblr is where thousands of “anonymous” twitter users come together to bond over a love of fitness and strength. Or so they say.

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(Common #Fitfam Picture)

I joined looking for people who shared a love of a healthy lifestyle, a place to find recipes, share tips and inspiration.  What I found was a large percentage of #fitfam accounts that used being “fit” as a cover up for eating disorders. It wasn’t hard to get followers, I had 80 within the first day, each one desperate for advice on how to lose weight and for someone to commiserate with. Each one posting things on their own twitter accounts chronicling every single thing they put in their mouth, sharing guilt about missed workouts while at the same time talking about how they didn’t want to be “skinny” they wanted to be “fit”. They would then share photos with the hashtag “fitspo” that showed women equally as skinny as the eating disorder idealized “thinspo”, just with a small amount of muscle mass. (Following pic NSFW)

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(One of the MOST often posted pictures of “#fitspo”, posted with the remarks that this body was attainable if you worked out enough compared to stick thin “starving” girls, even though it’s just as impossible for most to achieve)

In the 72 hour period that I was a member of the #fitfam I witnessed multiple people talk about how their twitter account triggered past eating disorder behavior, while still having multiple exchanges with others about what breads were the lowest calorie and how many calories other girls ate, following it all up with “I feel bad for the girls who want to be skinny, I want to be strong #fitfam”. I would throw out questions asking girls for their fitness related goals, trying to shift the focus on what you could do with your “fit” body and not how being “fit” looked.  While at the end of my 72 hr fitfam experience I had almost 250 followers, not one responded to any post on fitness goals or ability.

Just to see the reaction, I tried posting trivial things like “Wheat will make you look bloated” I would get 15 questions about how much wheat do you need to eat before you look fat, mixed in with “omg no way! Maybe that’s why I look like a blimp.”

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(Things like this showing pride in effort were simply ignored)

After 3 days I deleted my account. It made me too sad to continue watching hundreds of girls, a lot of them in high school, picking apart every aspect of their body and truly believing looking a certain way would bring them happiness. I could relate and I feared if I hung out long enough I would begin to think the same way again. Feeling guilty for missing a workout is not healthy. Restricting and then binging is not healthy. Hating yourself based on what you consumed that day or because you don’t look as good as the unrealistic “fitspo” that you stare at is not healthy.

This article came out last week describing exactly my experience. I hadn’t written about it before because I didn’t want to get personal or offend people. Of course there are people who follow the #fitfam groups to truly find motivation to accomplish goals other than becoming thin and hot. But as the ice was already broken I thought I’d put it out there for people who currently are an active part of the twitter/tumblr fitfam to stop and consider if you enjoy being fit because of what you can accomplish, or if you believe achieving that perfect fitspo body will truly make your life better. Almost all the girls AND guys I saw on twitter were consistently lonely, no matter how amazing their body was, and hoping that they would be happier and have more friends once they obtained that perfect body. Just like I mentioned in my previous post,  image is not what makes you happy. You have to change your relationship with the world from the inside, changing what you value and what’s important. Once you do that, the image on the outside won’t matter as much.

Paleo Cooked Kale with Bacon and Carrots

I am obsessed with bacon. I don’t just like it, I consume it in obscene quantities to the point where I had to implement a “bacon budget” to restrict myself to one pound a week because it was getting out of control.  I know my friends over at 365 Days of Bacon understand. When my fellow bacon loving coworker heard about my new budget he proceeded to bring me cooked bacon one morning so I wouldn’t go through withdrawal , along with this shirt, which perfectly states how I feel about bacon:

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In order to make my bacon limit last longer, I decided to start mixing it into foods I eat normally, in smaller quantities so I wouldn’t run out by Wednesday and be bacon-less until the following Sunday. I wanted something easy that wouldn’t take long to make, hence the Cooked Kale with Bacon.

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Paleo Cooked Kale with Carrots

3 strips Nitrate free Bacon (peppered Whole Foods bacon is the best!)

2 bushels dinosaur kale (also called lacinto kale)

1 yellow onion

3 large carrots

1/2 cup chicken stock (or water if you really have no chicken stock)

1. Cook bacon until crispy in fry pan. Remove from fry pan but leave the bacon grease.

2. Chop the onions and carrots and add to the bacon grease. Cook for about 4 minutes on medium heat until the onions and carrots start to soften.

3. Chop up kale and add to the pan, stirring for 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, cover and let cook at low/medium heat for about 5 minutes or until kale has cooked.

4. Tear/cut bacon into small pieces and mix in with the cooked kale.

5. Enjoy your bacon knowing you are also getting some healthy vitamins from the kale and carrots!

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Taking the Plunge – Olympic Lifting Competition.

I’m doing it. I’m taking the plunge. I’m putting myself out there in a situation I have never been in. I won’t be the best, but hopefully I won’t embarrass myself.  I’m slight terrified, but I’m making it public so there’s no going back. What am I doing?

I’m competing in an Olympic Lifting competition in November. What qualifies as olympic lifts? A Clean and Jerk and a Snatch.  You do one rep and then continue to add weight in set increments until you reach failure. There is a judge who decides if each rep counts, whether you have held it above your head long enough. In the end, they  divide your top weight by your body weight to determine places.

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Now how did I hear about this and decide ” yeah, it sounds like a great idea to go stand up in front of a bunch of people and pick up heavy things and put them down?”

About a month ago I went to an Olympic lifting competition in Colorado at a CrossFit gym.

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The CrossFit gym that I had tried out had sent a team to the competition and there was a big crowd there to cheer them on, including some people I did base camp with. I loved seeing the excitement when people hit weight they didn’t think they could get or the determination when they missed the weight one round and went back to try again in the next round. No shame, no giving up.  I wanted to be that person. I wanted to go up there and give it my all. To train hard for it, to share my love of lifting with other people. I was so inspired I came home, signed up and then realized “holy shit, now I have to actually do it”.

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I started training last week and will get more intensely into it in the upcoming weeks. As I continue I’ll make some posts on the things I am doing to prepare. It’s not just straight strength, there is a lot of technique, flexibility and quickness involved in Olympic Lifting and I plan on improving all aspects. I’m still scared of making a fool of myself or not being able go get my goal weight up.  But, as the saying goes, you miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.

How to be happy.

I have spent a lot of my life content, not necessarily super happy but not sad either. Content and waiting. Waiting for high school or college or grad school to be done. Waiting for summer to come, waiting for me to get that job, to lose that weight. I was sure that once that happened I would move from “content” to “happy”. But there was always something more I wanted, always a better body, always a better job, nicer clothes.

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I watched a documentary the other night called “Happy” that studied the causes of happiness. The producers went all over the world to measure the happiness level of people, from a rickshaw driver in India to an old man who lives in the Louisiana swamps to the busy streets of Japan. What they found was that the rickshaw driver (and people in similar situations that people would assume had unhappy lives) measured higher on the happiness scale than many of the people who appeared to be successful and “have it all”. This was because there was a large difference between what they valued most in life.

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They found that there are two types of happiness that are based on what people valued. “Extrinsic” goals – wealth, status and image vs. “intrinsic goals” – satisfying yourself through personal growth, relationships and sense of community. The people with intrinsic values and goals were far happier, no matter their monetary status, than those with extrinsic values. Therefore, working to get the perfect job, aiming for the perfect body… those things aren’t what will make you happy. 50% is genetic, and the rest is building strong relationships with those around you, setting goals and working towards them, and being a part of something bigger than yourself – that’s what matters.

Another thing that they said can greatly improve your happiness is, you guessed it, EXERCISE. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that plays a role in motivation, reward, motor control and happiness. As you get older you loose Dopamine synapses, but exercise can help to slow down the process. Either you use it, through exercise, or lose it. Also, studies showed that allowing yourself to get “in the zone”, something physically and mentally demanding for no good reason, can increase your happiness levels.

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So if you are currently living your life how I used to, simply being content and waiting for something to happen, to get rich, have a nice car or lose weight, it’s time for a change. Stop focusing on what could happen in the future and focus on the now. Focus on the intrinsic values, the relationships that you form and your own individual accomplishments. And go out and get your dopamine flowing. Go for a run, a hike, lift some weights, and see how good you feel once it’s done.

Life is too short to live it unhappy.

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63 Days Until the First Snow

How is it August? Is anyone else shocked that somehow summer is almost over? If you live in Colorado, we only have 63 days until the first (average) snow. That means we are closer to the first snow than to Memorial Day. So I ask you, have you been enjoying your summer as much as you should be? In two months the daily runners and hikers that are enjoying the post-work sunshine will retreat inside to treadmills, or bundle up in gear like this just to take quick run in the dark.

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Mountain bikers will have to fight the frost and climbers won’t be able to soak up the sun on a rock slab midday. The days will get darker, the couch will be more appealing,  and the childlike delight that summer brings will be retired for another 9 months.

So make the most of these last two months.  If you’ve been trying to get in shape, it’s better to start now and get into a routine/habit before the cold and darkness comes. It’s harder to break a habit once it’s formed and will keep you from staying planted on the couch during the cold days.

Is there anything you’ve been wanting to try but are too scared? Hiking? Climbing Mountain biking? Paddle boarding? Sailing? What have you got to loose? If you don’t want to try it alone ask around to see if a friend wants to try it with you. If not, try meeting people on sites like meetup.com to find people with similar interests. Whatever it is, don’t let fear hold you back and get out there and do it!

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I flew to Boston this weekend to surprise my mom for her birthday. After the initial screams and tears she asked me what I wanted to do while here. The only thing on my mind that had been missing from my summer was the beach. We headed out to a small island about 45 minutes away for some salty air and sand dunes.

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It was mainly empty as we played in the water and strolled alone in the sand watching the boats. It was a blissful day that I’ll remember during the dark evenings of the winter when I long for the warmth and sun (I’m not a cold weather person can you tell?) Image

So I plan to make the most of these last 9 weeks. Go on more hikes after work. Choose to sit outdoors when I read instead of on the couch. Go a lake. Go for more trail runs. Soak of the sun and the amazing bliss of being surrounded by other people happily enjoying the warm weather and the beauty of the outdoors.