We are pleased to present our second Orca Ambassador Q&A. Each month, we will chat with one of the inspiring women on our panel. This week, we are sharing Katie’s story. Katie, 28, started her lifestyle transformation in 2011 with water and walking. Now, she’s taking on ultra distances!
Q: When did you start running? And why?
I started my whole lifestyle change in the fall of 2011. A friend of mine from high school invited me to go to Hawaii for Christmas, and I was bound and determined to not regret my trip, and wanted to be able to happily show off my beach photos.
I had recently lost about 20 pounds simply by adding a lot of water into my diet, so I decided it was time for me to start working out for the first time in my life, and to get me to the goal that I wanted to be at for my trip. (My goal) was to be at my high school weight, and I was able to do it!
I lost another 20 pounds, but it wasn’t easy. I started out by walking, then power walking, (and) then I started slowly adding small sections of jogging into my walks. In November 2011, I ran my first turkey trot with my mom. I pushed myself so hard I about passed out! But I made my goal of completing it in 36 minutes.
I was hooked after that 5k. That was the first event I had ever done and there were almost 10,000 people running it that day! I had no idea there were event races that big. The energy and thrill (of it) was so addictive that I knew I had to do another one before I had even finished.
Q: How has running helped you in your life?
Running has completely changed my life! I used to be a glorified couch potato. I wasn’t happy with my life and I was a bitter person hating the world. Once I started working out, I had goals for the first time ever. I started signing up for a lot of local races after my (Hawaii) vacation, and I made a lot of friends along the way. We’d dress up and make costumes for the races and had a blast. Running didn’t just bring in a healthy lifestyle; it brought me friends, as well.
Q: What’s your favorite distance? Why?
I love any distance beyond 26.2 miles. The whole atmosphere of running changes once you branch out into ultras. It isn’t about pace, or what race this, or what race that. It’s about being in a community that supports one another regardless of one’s pace or situation. During my first official ultra, a friend whom I had only met online through the ultra-running Facebook group, waited for four hours just to see me finish, even though he had run the same 50-miler. You don’t get that sense of community in road races.
Q: What is the most challenging thing about running/fitness for you?
The most challenging thing I face is finding the time and energy to go out and get my workouts in. I have been working 60-70 hour weeks for a while now, and by the time I get home all I want to do is sleep! But I try my best to still get out there and at least get a small workout in.
Q: When friends come to you asking how to get started running, what do you say?
I always share how I started, with the run-walk combo. I point them in the direction of Couch to 5K, and also show them that there are many different phone applications out there now for it. I encourage them to sign up for a local 5K to help keep them motivated and also to join one of the local running groups.
Q: What are your running and fitness goals for 2017?
My running goals for 2017 are pretty huge in my book. I am going to be running my first 100K in May. Then in September, I will be running my first 100-miler.
Q: I saw on your blog (Sun-Kissed Redhead with Sole) that you’ve been injured. Did you exercise when you weren’t able to run? How did you keep your sanity/stay fit? Any tips for other injured runners out there?
I was injured a couple of times in 2016. I had a bad ankle sprain in August, which I am still working through, and then in November, I was in a car accident that injured my lower back. So I was completely out of running for about 6 months. I was completely devastated.
My advice for anyone that has an injury is to go to the doctor right away, I went a few times for my ankle because it wasn’t getting better. Then do all of the PT (physical therapy) that they prescribe! Don’t slack off, they can only help you if you help yourself.
I started doing a lot of PiYo (Pilates/Yoga) to help get me through. I wasn’t even allowed to do strength training for several months.
If you have a serious injury that will take more than a couple of months to heal, I would also suggest looking into finding someone to talk to help you get through those hard times. Friends are great resources for a lending ear, but you may need more than that at times and that’s okay, just don’t go through it alone.
Q: What Orca races will you be running this year?
I will for sure be doing Iron Horse Half Marathon this year, along with Captain Jack’s Treasure Run. I may pop into a couple more races along the way.
Good luck with your goals in 2017, Katie! Follow Katie’s journey on her blog, Sun-Kissed Redhead with Sole, and join her this week as she takes over Orca Running’s Instagram feed @orcarunning.
My first marathon was a dream. I finished with my friend’s hand in mine. Angels sang. I think there were rainbows. And all of our friends and family were there to celebrate.
My second marathon was a nightmare. I trained alone. I drove to the race alone. I ran alone. And I crossed the finish line with my hands clenched in fists ready to punch the first person who dared to look at me.
Yet, while running with my friends during a half marathon last summer, we all decided it would be a great idea to train for a full marathon together. Oh, hey!
Everyone knows the first rule of running is to never make plans to run another race during a race! Somehow, I forgot about that.
Over the past 7 months since that race, I’ve had a number of health issues, a major career change, and stressful life events that haven’t left much time for more than 20-30 minutes of running every once in a while. Sure, I have been exercising, but short weights-focused workouts and sprint intervals have been more time efficient and better for my wellness.
Then yesterday, I saw one of my friends post on Instagram that she just finished her first training run for a full marathon. “Which one?” I asked innocently, obviously not remembering our pact. She replied and then wrote, “I thought you signed up.”
Luckily, I didn’t sign up.
Still, I found myself panicking. My brain started spinning. Everyone is running it! I’m totally going to miss out! Hmmm, where can I get some extra money so I can sign up? How can I explain this to Jamey? (That’s my husband, and he has had to listen to me whine about training runs more times than I care to admit. But I will: All of them.)
Then I started thinking about my health, and the toll very long distance running takes on my body and immune system. I am a believer that too much of a good thing is actually not that good for you. But I also believe “too much” is different for everyone. For me, right now, a full marathon is too much.
Before I could make a huge mistake, I forced myself to write back, “I’ll be there to cheer,” and then quickly exited Instagram and headed to the pantry for chocolate.
As it turns out FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, is a real thing. It is rooted in humans’ ancient need to belong to a tribe in order to survive, but is exasperated by our newfound attachment to social media.
These days, I also find myself wanting to “Lean In,” and live my “Year of Yes.” But I suppose I wouldn’t know about those things without…social media.
Instead, I will be living a “Year of No, But...”
This could possibly be one of the best ideas I’ve ever had, and I didn’t even have it while running.
Suffering from full marathon FOMO? Here are some coping tips:
Welcome to the first Orca Ambassador Q&A. Each month, we will chat with one of the inspiring women on our panel. This week, we are sharing Mary’s story. Mary, 39, recently moved to the Seattle area from Minnesota. Find out how she makes time for running even though her commute can be up to 4 hours long!
Q: When did you start running? And why?
I started running when I was a teenager; back then, people called it "jogging." I've always enjoyed the running portion of the physical fitness testing that we had to participate in back in grade school. Do they even do that anymore?! One day, I ended up getting in an argument with my mom, and I just put on my jogging pants and some old tennis shoes and ran a mile as fast as I could. I just remember how empowering it felt that I ran a whole mile! I never stopped running, but didn't seriously start running (running races, increasing my distance) until I moved to Minnesota in 2006. I started by running a 5k and just kept increasing my distance and speed from there.
Q: Do you have any great tips for winter running since you recently moved to Seattle from Minnesota?
Layers, layer, layers, and also Yaktrax are your friend when it is icy out! Don't let the cold weather deter you from getting outside. As long as you are dressed for the conditions, winter running can be lots of fun! I prefer running in the cold to running in the heat, so I may be biased. I ran the Twin Cities Polar Dash 14-miler during one of Minnesota's coldest winters and the temperature during the race never made it above -6 degrees Fahrenheit. That may have been a little too cold!
Q: What’s your favorite distance? Why?
Hands down, the half marathon is my favorite running distance. It is a long enough distance that you have to train for it and short enough to allow you to still have a life outside of running! A half marathon also means that even if the race starts out bad, I have plenty of time to improve before crossing the finish line. I also enjoy a good 5k every now and then, too. It's fun to just go all out for a short distance and work on speed.
Q: What are your running and fitness goals for 2017?
My running goals for 2017 are to get back into marathon-running shape, which besides running, includes lots of weight lifting, as well. I always run faster and stay injury-free when I am also lifting weights. Last year, I had a bit of a setback in running after I broke my arm backpacking. I'm looking forward to increasing my mileage this year, running a 30K (Birch Bay Road Race) and running a marathon. I'll also be running my first Ragnar relay this year, which I am really excited about!
My fitness goals are to get a handle on nutrition and build core strength. Oh, and the usual, controlling “runger” after long-distance running!
Q: When friends ask you how to get started running, what do you say?
Put your running shoes on and get out the door. Just getting out the door can be the most difficult part. Focus on running the mile you are in. Try to run a little bit further every day and try not to get frustrated if every day isn't great. I remember when running a mile was so difficult, how 5 miles seemed impossible and then 10 miles. Signing up for a race is also helpful—it gives you a goal to focus on and if you have money invested in it, you'll likely be more devoted to getting out there.
Friends. The running community is awesome! I've met so many great people through running. Grab a friend and head out for a run together!
Q: What is the most challenging thing about running/fitness for you?
Time and nutrition. Working in Seattle, I have a pretty tough commute—about 3.5 to 4 hours a day. The winter months are the most difficult time for running, as well, because of the short days. I've just started bus/run commuting now that the days are starting to get longer. I basically just hop off the bus early and run the rest of the way back home. It's nice because if traffic is really bad, I can just get off the bus earlier and get a longer run in. The toughest part of it is the changing weather!
Nutrition is always something I struggle with. I've made a bad habit out of skipping lunch and now have to deal with a slow metabolism. I have several food sensitivities that I am still sorting out, as well. Food sensitivities can cause all kinds of issues and also mean some days I just can't run.
Q: How has running helped you in your life?
I love this question because running is such a big part of my life. I run because running keeps me sane. I regularly struggle with anxiety and stress, and running is my medication of choice. Running has also gotten me through some really tough times. Moving, in general, is a non-negotiable for me. Our health is our greatest asset and running keeps my mind and body healthy.
Running has also taught me nothing is impossible if you are willing to work for it. If you had asked me 10 years ago if I could run a marathon, I would have laughed. Now, running an ultra doesn't seem that scary or out of reach. I know I can continue to push my body further.
Q: What Orca Running races do you plan to run this year?
This year, I'll be running the Kirkland Shamrock Run, the Birch Bay Road Race (30K), the Snoqualmie Valley Run (10K), the Iron Horse Half, and Captain Jack's Treasure Run.
Good luck in 2017, Mary! Follow Mary’s running and fitness journey on her blog, Eat Lift Move Explore, and join her as she takes over Orca Running’s Instagram feed this week @orcarunning.
Beyoncé was right. Who runs the world? Girls. Literally.
In fact, if you are thinking of running a race in 2017 and you are a woman, no doubt you will be in good company. Of the approximately 17 million people who ran a running event in the United States in 2015 (the most recent year polled), more than 9.7 million of them were women, according to research by Running USA. That’s over half at 57 percent. And the number looks to be growing.
Racing organizations—such as Orca Running—show even higher numbers for 2016. In fact, last year 70 percent of the registered runners in their events (from the 5K to the half marathon) were women.
Go back to 1990 and the numbers were completely opposite across the country: only 25 percent of finishers in U.S. running events were female, according to Running USA. But in 2010 all that changed with women taking over every year since then. Why?
An article in the March 16, 2016, Wall Street Journal sites Oprah Winfrey’s 1994 Marine Corps Marathon finish as one of the reasons for the surge in female running participants. In fact, Running USA’s research shows a jump from just 25 percent in 1990 to 32 percent in 1995, and then a nearly 10 percent increase in both 2000 and in 2005.
Owner of Orca Running, Porter Bratten, has some ideas of his own. “Women make up 65 percent of all of our races, and in many cases it's a much higher percentage,” he says. “Why it's so high, I can only guess, but I suspect it has something to do with the following observations—entirely my own: women care more about their health, women are more supportive of those around them, running is great me-time—especially for moms, and women are awesome.”
Another reason for booming female participation pointed out by the Wall Street Journal might be the rise of women’s-only race events and running clubs like Moms Run This Town, a training and social group that has nearly 700 chapters across the United States and Canada. There are even groups for young women, such as Girls on the Run, a non-profit organization that partners girls ages 8-13 with adult running buddies who help promote health, confidence and happiness by creatively integrating running.
The Wall Street Journal article also mentions the rise of fundraising-focused road races as a reason for running’s popularity among women. In the article, Amby Burfoot—former editor of Runner’s World magazine, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon, and author of the book First Ladies of Running about female pioneers in the sport—remembers the first time he heard of Race for the Cure in 1995 (now the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure). The non-profit called up the magazine and said they had already registered 10,000 women for their race in the Midwest. “We were Runner’s World,” Burfoot says in the article, “and we were completely unaware that there was this tidal wave.”
These days, most races--including those put on by Orca Running—now partner with charitable organizations by giving a percentage of the proceeds toward their causes and making it possible for the registrants to donate even more money.
But, perhaps, one of the biggest reasons more women are participating in running events is for its health benefits—both physical and mental.
Orca Running ambassador, author of the blog Tamara Shazam!, and mom of two, Tamara L. credits running not only for her 150-pound weight loss, but also for helping her find some time to herself, including the much-needed ability to get lost in the moment.
“For me, running is where I discovered that I get to listen to music loud like I did when I was a kid,” she says. “From that discovery, I realized that as a mid-lifer-mom, I have very little time to myself. I’m working at my job or I’m on call to my army of people. My brain thinks for them constantly and running is one of the few places where I can just go for me.”
Tamara has been chronicling her health journey and her training for distance events like the half marathon on her blog since 2013. “While running only contributed to a portion of that health shift,” she says, “it did the job of showing me that I can do impossible things like run half marathons… Running showed me how to believe in myself.”
How many women will believe in themselves and finish a race in 2017? If the past is any indication, the numbers will grow.
Everyone’s making goals right about now since it’s almost the new year. Goals like to lose 10 pounds or run a marathon or stop eating all the marshmallows out of our son’s cereal. (What? Everyone’s different.)
Goals can be tough to stick to, but there’s one tip that can help everyone with basically any goal they have, and that is consistency.
Sometimes when we miss a day on our training plan or sleep in and miss meeting up with our running group, we have a tendency to throw everything out and say, “Oh well. I messed up. I guess I just suck at this,” and then we never go back. One day missed, two days, it doesn’t matter as long as we get back on the horse when we realize we’ve messed up.
After college, I gained about 60 pounds. I was working in a newsroom (long, non-traditional hours), I was eating fast food for lunch, and I was living alone. For dinner, I would often eat French bread with a few glasses of wine. Admitting that is tough, guys. At the time, though, I thought it was exotic and maybe a little spiritual, and also I was pretty broke. Did I mention I was in my early 20s?
I had access to a gym since I lived in an apartment complex. And I went to the gym every once in a while. Yet, I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting in shape.
Now I know what my problem was (besides the wine and the bread and the fast food…etc.). I wasn’t consistent. A fit body, a well-trained body, a healthy heart—whatever you are after—comes after months and months of being consistent. So if you miss one day, don’t throw it all away. Just pick back up where you left off. Don’t even make a big deal out of it.
In March, I made a promise to myself that I would be consistent with my weight training. I decided to focus on getting lean and muscular, and I made a conscious decision to reduce my running. Here I am in March:
I kept at it—with the help of an online group—and here I am in August:
My point is, be consistent. Just keep at it and soon it will become a habit, and then you won’t hardly have to think about it anymore. It’ll become a part of your life. You won’t feel complete without it—whether it is running, swimming, lifting weights, eating more veggies, cutting down on sweets, etc.
Here are a few tips to help you stay consistent:
Join a Group
Having a group of like-minded individuals—whether they are in person or online—can help you stay motivated and keep you in the right mindset to be consistent.
Write Yourself Notes
Write down your goal and paste it somewhere you can see it. I will put a sticky note on the Lucky Charms reminding me not to eat them. You can also set a reminder on your phone.
A key to being consistent is to just do the thing you want to do right now. Don’t plan to start tomorrow or on January 1 or Monday. Just start now. Be in the moment. Now is the time.
Have a Plan
When it comes to exercising or training, a plan can really help. I had a plan to follow for my lifting goals, but also I use training plans to help me with my running. First, it gives me something to look forward to. When I have an end-goal, I am much more disciplined and consistent. Second, it helps me because I don’t have to think about anything. I just do what my plan says. Just remember not to throw everything away if you miss a day.
Focus On One Thing at a Time
We all do much better when we make one change at a time. This is a tip I learned from the expert nutritionists at Precision Nutrition. Make a single change and do it for 14 days to make it a habit. Change nothing else. Leave everything else the same, just focus on the one thing you want to accomplish.
Think About Quitting
Okay, this is a little unorthodox, but it helps me. After I start something, I try to imagine what will happen if I quit. For example, I started weight lifting because I wanted to be stronger all over (not just in my legs) and I wanted to look like an athlete. When I thought about quitting, I imagined how I would be going in the opposite direction of my goal and that motivated me. Another way to use this tip, comes from the Zen Habits author Leo Babauta. “Become aware of your urges to quit, and be prepared for them,” he writes. This way, you have a plan if you feel like quitting.
What are your goals for 2017? How will you be consistent with your goals?
What is it about the holiday season that makes people decide to go on strict diets?
I’m not okay with this.
Listen, I understand wanting to be fit and lean for races (or just fitting into my jeans in my case), but can we all just loosen up our rules—and maybe our belts—a little?
This time of year sugary treats get put on a pedestal (cookie stand, typically), which can be challenging if you are trying to get healthier and fitter. However, it’s been my experience that making certain foods off-limits does more harm than good.
I actually don’t cut out any foods during the entire year except for those I am allergic to or just hate—I’m lookin’ at you, olives. I’m just a big believer in eating moderately.
I like eating this because when I eliminate certain foods, it puts me in an all-or-nothing mindset. Then, when I do see that particular food, my brain goes, “OMG! I may never be able to have an Oreo again. Must. Eat. Whole. Bag. Now.” And that’s not how a modern first-world country with 24-hour grocery stores and food delivery services work. We can basically get any food we want at any time.
Of course, there are specific holiday treats you can’t always get 365 days a year—unless you want to call your grandmother in July and ask her to whip up her famous Christmas trifle that takes sixteen hours to make. (I dare you to try that—actually, she’d probably do it. Grandmas are the nicest.) This festive season, though, is the time of year where moderate eating really comes in handy. I just try to relax a little, have a cookie, and go on with my life.
Here’s what I don’t do: starve myself all day before the office party and then inhale an entire plate of snickerdoodles. That’s not moderation. Eat your healthy meals throughout the day—lots of veggies, an appropriate amount of protein, and a little starch/carb—then, enjoy a shortbread or two.
Obviously, I don’t want to undo my progress completely, but I also give myself a break in December. The body needs rest from staying lean all year (or trying to anyway) and/or constantly losing weight. Adding a few pounds has actually helped me break through a plateau before. (Obviously, sugar is not really how you want to add pounds, but ‘tis the season!).
Here are a few things that help me not eat entire trays of pumpkin pies between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day:
Drink 8-16 ounces of water during mealtimes. This helps me feel full and also keeps me from eating too many servings if my meal is especially delicious.
Add spices to my meals. Flavorful and/or spicy meals give me more satisfaction, so I’m okay eating one piece of mint chocolate and not the whole bowl later on.
Skip the starch/carb at a meal if I plan to have cookies/ pie/candy/wine/mimosa later. Sometimes, I’ll fill up on veggies and protein, and save my starch/carb for dessert.
Share more. Usually, just a bite or two of a sweet treat is enough for me. It’s easier to stop if I’m sharing, too. I’ll even share bites of candy or cookies with my son, which I’m gonna go ahead and say he likes. Sometimes, I just want to enjoy the taste and that’s all I need.
But occasionally I need the whole thing, too. And I’m totally okay with that.
I started a new day job about a month ago. Twice a week, I get up at a ridiculous hour in order to drive to a bus, which I take into the city where I write for eight hours. At the end of the day, I do the 75-minute commute in reverse. Then, I pick up my son, and we go home to let out our three dogs. My brain is exhausted from writing all day long, and I need to make dinner and get my son’s lunch ready for the next day.
My old schedule was much softer. I got up at 7, got my son to the bus, went to work, and came home before he got off of the bus. I had a choice about when I ran or exercised. I could get up early and work out or I could do it when I got home. No big deal.
Now, having two back-to-back long days of work has given me renewed appreciation of the struggles of full-time working parents. Honestly, I don’t know how you people do it five days a week. You are stronger than me. After eight hours at work, I feel like I’ve gone a couple rounds with Ronda Rousey. The last thing I want to do at the end of those days is work out. But I still manage to get it done. How?
No, I don’t have a coach. And I don’t have some magic energy pill. In fact, I struggle with anemia and Hypothyroidism. Lack of energy is a major issue for me…and all working parents, really, whether you have health problems or not. Because you are tired from thinking all day and commuting, and helping everyone else.
I was talking to some new coworkers and running came up in conversation. The other person mentioned they wanted to run, but didn’t have the time. I understand…especially now. They asked me how I did it. Here’s what I always say when this subject comes up:
First, you have to want to run. Do you love to run? Because if you just aren’t that into running, you will never find the time. So, I say, if you don’t really want to run, why not find something else active that you actually enjoy doing? Trust me, you will find a way to work it into your schedule if you really love to do it. It may not be running for you. It may be water aerobics.
Be realistic about your time. If you only have 30 minutes two or three times during the work week to run, then that is what you have. It’s okay! You can definitely train for races with that amount of time. I once ran a full marathon on just three runs a week: two short runs during the work week and one long run on the weekend.
Run on your lunch hour, if you can/have one. I realize not everyone has a lunch hour these days, but if you do, use it for your run! I used to! That’s how I did my two work-week runs when I was training for my first marathon. Get some unscented baby wipes so you can “shower” before you change back into your work clothes, and you’re good to go!
Consider buying a treadmill. If you are serious about wanting to run—you just looooove to run, but you are having real trouble finding the time, then make an investment in yourself. Get a treadmill. It is a great option for busy people. I like to run outside, but sometimes my workouts are done at 5:30 p.m. while the chicken is baking and my son is doing his homework. I can knock out a 20-minute sprint sesh with little drama. And, no, getting a gym membership is not the same. It takes too much time to get there, and then sometimes the treadmills are full. Use that money toward your own equipment, instead.
There are other little tips and tricks—like putting your clothes out ahead of time or finding a running buddy—but if you don’t love to run, those won’t work for long.
Be sure what you are finding time for is something you really want to do, and I know you will make the time for it.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me.
I used to be annoyingly obsessed with running. If I was talking, I was talking about running. If I was writing, I was writing about running. If I was stressing, I was stressing about running.
It wasn’t the best way to go about being a runner. There’s a healthy balance between running and the rest of your life—and that wasn’t it. But now the pendulum has swung the other direction and running is no longer an obsession. It’s a hobby.
Like many of my hobbies, running has been in a bin under my bed along with a bunch of yarn and acid-free paper. Lately, I’ve been feeling like running on a more regular basis—and knitting—again. (If only I could run and knit at the same time.)
But then when I think about it too much, it all seems overwhelming. Training and planning runs, remembering how use that knitter hook thingy…it’s a lot. And so I just do what I’ve been doing in my free time lately— looking up nail art on Pinterest.
Fortunately, I have been participating in some online classes focused on taking action. When the teacher breaks it down, action sounds so easy. Just do something, anything toward your goal. Just one simple step. Don’t think about it too much, just do it.
Sometimes even the smallest excuses will keep me from getting started, I’ve realized. Excuses like: “I don’t have a clean shirt,” or “My watch isn’t charged.”
These are small little details that really shouldn’t get in the way of my goals, but I let them. I don’t know why. I did not pay enough attention in my college psych 101 class (when I actually went). I know any old shirt will work just fine and that there are about 967 different run tracker apps on my phone. Also, just because a run isn’t tracked, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
So, I’m taking what I’m learning and I’m going to apply it to running. Here are some ways I’m going to help myself take action and get started again:
I was looking up some advice and found a quote from Walt Disney. He said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” So, I guess I’ll shut up now…and go for a run.
If guilt is getting in the way of your workouts or runs, it’s time to do something about it. You should not feel bad about doing a thing that is good for you.
Do you feel guilty about making a nutritious dinner? Do you feel remorse over taking time away from the family to clean toilets? While I would argue that cooking and cleaning are way less fun than working out, they are similar to exercise in that they are healthy, necessary activities.
Okay, don’t start feeling guilty about feeling guilty.
I’ve been there. I had major mom guilt about running. (By the way, why is it mom guilt? Dads can have this feeling, too.) It was especially bad when I first started since I jumped right into training for a big race. It’s not like I had been super into running before my son was born, and all of a sudden after his first birthday, I decide I want to be a marathoner? It doesn’t seem like great timing.
But that thinking is wrong. Whenever you decide to start living a healthy, fit life is always going to be the best timing. It could be when you’re starting a new job—or maybe losing one. Before baby, after baby. Heck, you could even get inspired to start on vacation. Go on and take advantage of that hotel gym.
I know. Easier said than done. Hotel gym equipment is always pretty sketchy.
So, how did I get over my exercise-induced guilt?
At first, I did a lot of my runs with my son. This way, I felt great about what I was doing—getting my child out in the fresh air, setting a good example, and actually spending extra time with him. I also did home workouts during nap time or tried to get him to do the exercises with me.
This worked for a while, but let’s be realistic—I did not take him with me for those really long runs (although, I did hire a babysitter once, but that’s another story that I think I’ve already told too many times). And then later I decided I wanted to lift heavy weights at the gym, which took nearly an hour. Sure, I definitely used the facility’s childcare options and sometimes he stayed home with my husband.
But, you guys, finding somewhere for your child to go while you run or lift or dance or swim does not mean that you won’t feel the guilt as you’re feeling the burn. Like most things that are difficult to do, the solution involves the mind—or re-training it.
I don’t feel bad about taking time to work out because when I start to get that guilty feeling, I remind myself the following things:
Have you mastered guilt-free workouts? What are your tips?
Want to be a faster runner? A little leaner? Would you like to get injured less? Want to be strong?
Back when I was a run-first-everything-else-last girl, I made a bunch of strength training mistakes. Here’s what I did wrong and how I fixed them:
Giving up too early.
When I didn’t see the results I wanted in the mirror immediately, I got discouraged and then I gave up. Why can’t huge quads appear overnight? I had to change my expectations. I also had to change how I measured my results. Instead of looking in the mirror, I had to judge my progress on whether or not I could do more reps or could lift more weight than before. In addition, I had to trust that over time, strength training would make a difference.
Not being consistent.
A lot of people like running because they can do it with friends, but strength training is a lonelier pursuit. Some people may be able to meet up in a gym, but a lot of us runners have to fit strength work in at home. Joining a 12-week challenge, which came with an online community, helped me stay consistent and I started to actually see the results.
Not doing it enough.
When I first added strength training into my routine, I only did it once per week. That’s not enough. In my experience, I need at least 3 days per week of strength training to see results. And, don’t forget rest! Muscles need time to repair (and get bigger).
Not lifting heavy.
When I first started, I only did bodyweight exercises. Bodyweight exercises are great, especially plyometric type moves, but don’t forget to add some traditional weighted squats, lunges and deadlifts. These seem basic, but they can give you a lot of bang for your buck.
I like my strength routine to include both weighted and plyo exercises. I also like a full-body strength workout (because I want arm muscles, too). These usually involve a mix of squats, lunges, squat jumps, switch jumps, deadlifts, curls, overhead presses, etc.
I use a moderately heavy (for me) set of dumbbells where I can still control the weight (and it’s not controlling me). About 15-20 minutes of this and I’m done for the day. Oh, and by the way, sprinting can build strength in legs and abs!
It’s never too late to start getting faster, stronger, leaner and healthier.
Kerrie Turcic is a runner from Maple Valley, Wash. Kerrie is currently a copywriter by day, and also a