Happy New Year! I love looking back at my stats for the year and – wow, I am impressed by my running miles. I beat 2017 by 200. On the other hand, I’m super underwhelmed by what I did swimming and cycling. I am going to beat those numbers in 2019.
Swim – 40,480 yards (23 miles)
Bike – 250 miles
Run – 1200 miles
Strength – Once per week
In looking back at 2018, it was definitely a running year. I set a new 10K PR and while my marathon was a big disappointment, I learned a lot about fueling (hello, more iron)! I really want to increase my strength training this year and plan to attain a personal training certification.
Here’s what I raced:
Two trail races (25K and 7 Mile Night Race)
Three half marathons
One swim meet
One Olympic Tri
I’m not running a fall marathon this year, or maybe ever again. Running in the summer in Florida, sucks. I do plan to get myself in the pool again to hit up the aquathlon nationals this year. I am also thinking some sprint tris over the summer will be a blast! And I want to see my athletes race as much as I can!
Now on to my list!
10 Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2019
1. First and foremost – Growing my coaching business. This year, I’m focusing a bit more externally and seeing how I can better help my athletes. My rebranding from Discombobulated Running to I Heart Finish Lines was the first step in that process. I’d like to grow my business even more, but also really focus on helping my athletes get to where they want to be. I believe in them so much and if I can get them to believe in themselves even more, I’ll be one happy camper!
2. Reading more! This is super nerd status right here but I read 15 books this year, and while I know that’s not a ton, I really enjoy reading and look forward to more knowledge and entertainment. (I beat 2017 by 2 books.)
3. Travel gets bumped up this year, though I’m not sure how we are going to top Iceland! Hopefully we can go to several new places and explore.
4. Meditation and yoga. I fell way out on yoga and I’ve recently returned to it. Not a lot, but by dipping my toes into gong and meditation recently I think it’ll be a push to get to the mat a lot more often this year. I also started using the 10% Happier app and it’s really helpful. You only need to meditate for a minute to feel the benefits.
5. Healthier eating! Oh man, I started 2018 off so strong and lost a few pounds, but then I fell off that wagon. HARD. I know that I cannot coach people to being the best version of themselves when I’m not doing it for myself. I feel better when I eat better. It’s a no brainer. (And, I’m not making ANY sweeping statements about “no sugar” or “cut carbs.” I’m just going to eat better. The end.)
6. TV I can’t wait for – Game of Thrones and Stranger Things! Plus, The Good Place and all the baking shows!
7. Movies I’m looking forward to are: Avengers, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Men in Black, Where’d You Go Bernadette, and Zombieland 2.
8. More time with family and friends – as per usual! My nephews are growing so quickly and I hope to spend more time with them in 2019, you know, they really like fart jokes right now and I think this will be a great year for me as an Aunt.
9. Mental health. This goes along with my meditation but I have started some therapy again and I plan to keep checking in on my mental health as the years get going. I vote you all do that same – no matter how “ok” you are.
10. I’ll keep this one the same for 2019 … more blogging! I promise to do my best to get a post up at least once a week. Seems I’m off to a good start. Ha!
Here’s to 2019 everybody! What are you looking forward to in 2019?
I always see folks post about how they want to start running in the New Year but aren’t quite sure how to go about it. If 2019 is the year you want to start running, I’ve got some tips that can help you! Before we get into that, let’s talk about the benefits of running.
- According to a study done in 2017, “runners have a 25%-40% reduced risk of premature mortality and live approximately 3 years longer than non-runners.”
- Running, and other aerobic exercises, are mood boosters and can help with depression according to this study.
- In this study of 2,637 participants, both male and female, running was shown to actually improve their knees by keeping their BMI’s in check.
- It’s good for your bones.
- It can help your brain as you age.
Ok, so those are just some of the benefits. And I’ve linked to the studies themselves, versus just some Joe Schmo saying how much running has helped him. Though, as a Joe Schmo runner, I can attest to it helping me. Ha!
I have cyclical depression. Or seasonal. Or whatever term the therapists are using these days. I’ve had it since I was a pre-teen and while I strongly believe in therapy and medication if needed, I also believe that physical activity of any kind can help. Running is my go to as nothing else gives me quite the same mood boost both during and after.
The author, shown here, happy as a clam while running.
Anywho, if you are looking for any of the aforementioned benefits or you just want to see what you can do, here are the tips on how to get started running in 2019.
Start slow and short. If you can’t have a full-on conversation, then you are running too fast. And as with anything you have to uh, crawl before you can walk. Or in this case, run for a short period before you can run for a long period. Start with a half mile, then do that a few times, preferably within the same week. Then bump it up a bit. The general rule of thumb for building distance is no more than 10% overall increase in mileage per week.
Run with a friend! Accountability is HUGE in any type of exercise and I find that meeting someone for a run gets me out of the door much better than heading out solo. Bear in mind you want someone who will enjoy it with you and not dissuade you, into say, going for coffee instead. You need a buddy who’s into this just as much as you are. Then after you run, you can go grab that coffee.
It’s probably gonna hurt. Don’t get discouraged! At least at first, it’s not going to feel comfortable. Runners aren’t out there pounding the pavement thinking, “Gee this feels like being caressed with a feather.” Running is hard and even on the slow and short build up, it’s probably not going to feel like a hug. But! Stick with it and it will start to feel easier. Plus, again, so. many. benefits.
Have fun with it! Don’t be afraid to try various workouts. From fartleks, to track workouts, to learning warm up drills – there are countless ways to mix it up and maybe even a have a bit of fun! Even fartlek is fun to say! Say it. FARTLEK!
Set a goal. It doesn’t have to be a race. You can set the goal to run a mile without stopping. Or to just run three times per week for a month. The point of the goal is to keep you motivated – not make you feel bad! Make it something attainable and after you hit that one, you can bump it up.
Ok, so running ain’t for everyone. Gasp! How is this a tip? Well, quite frankly, if you just flat out hate it after giving it a few weeks, it just may not be your thing. For example, I don’t love cycling. For me, cycling is an activity stuck in the middle of swimming and running in the triathlon and I do it for that reason. But I just do not love it. And that’s totally fine! I am saying try it. And then if you decide you hate it – hit the pool or the bike or group fitness. Whatever works! We are not all meant to love running.
Well, low and behold, you find out that you love running! If this is the case, after you’ve given it a whirl, feel free to get all the gear. Fancy shoes (they just have to feel good!), a GPS watch, hell, even a coach! If this running stuff is your jam, then live it up and let it take you to see places and meet new people. Welcome to the community, Runner.
I know the year isn’t quite over yet, but I wanted to go over a few things I’ve learned as a coach in 2018. I feel like I’ve really hit my stride as an endurance sports coach this year, and while I definitely don’t know everything I feel confident that I can help others reach their goals. Here’s my list for five the things I’ve learned about coaching in 2018.
1.Be Flexible. As a coach of adult athletes, I have come to truly realize that life happens for all of us. (No matter what perfectly curated social media images say!) And unfortunately, life is hard. I aim to be flexible with the athletes I coach as I understand that working full time and getting in the training is tough – not impossible, but definitely challenging. I would love my athletes to complete their workouts every week, every day, but I know that sometimes it’s just not gonna happen. From sick kids to sick pets, to maniacal weather – there are more important things than getting a green box in Training Peaks.
2. Ya Can’t Force Motivation on Someone Else. I recently spoke at a company about run coaching as part of their health initiative. As part of my talk I asked what the number one reason for hiring a coach was. One of the first responses I got was motivation. And man, I wish that was the case! I can’t force someone to be motivated. I don’t believe that is my job. Motivation comes from within. As much as I want everyone I coach to succeed if the drive isn’t there internally, there’s not much I can do. My answer to that question, by the way, is accountability. And accountability is much different from motivation.
3. Every Coach Has Their Own Method, But You Can Still Learn From Them. I have been fortunate to work with a slew of outstanding coaches and while I don’t agree with every methodology or philosophy out there, I have learned a lot from other coaches. I love to work with different coaches and discuss training with them. I also enjoy seeing athletes coached by others succeed. Successful athletes only help raise the sport and community for everyone else. In addition to learning positive styles and training tips from other coaches, I’ve seen some stuff that I don’t want to do. It’s less than the good stuff I’ve seen, but I will acknowledge that sometimes bad examples are still examples to learn from.
4. Athletes Change Coaches and It’s A-Ok. In the adult world, breakups happen. Firings happen. And at the end of the day, an athlete needs to do what is best for them. I myself have switched coaches and mostly it boils down to what my needs as an athlete are at that particular time. I will never be angry with someone who wants to move to a new coach. In fact, if they aren’t progressing with me, I encourage it! I wholeheartedly believe that the athlete-coach relationship is a collaboration – not a dictatorship.
5. My Athletes Teach Me. Being able to coach a variety of abilities and people from a lot of different backgrounds is a real blessing! My athletes are always teaching me things. Coaching is just as much a growing process as it is a teaching one. If I ever say I know everything – please throat punch me. I feel like athletes make the coach and not the other way around.
I am looking forward to 2019 and I will have a New Year’s post for you. Plus, I’ve got another trip lined up for the Gulf Coast at the end of next month! Who else is running Big Beach?!
After much thought on my next marathon, I’ve decided to downgrade to the half marathon at Jacksonville in December. I had intended to run the full but in light of some new discoveries, my coach and I decided it would be best to push that next full into a different race for 2019. So, what’s the story?
Well, let’s look back at Chicago. And my training. I did all of the training – in the Florida heat and felt pretty tired through most of it. I felt like garbage in Chicago and after. And I still feel really wiped out after long runs. My coach suggested I have my blood work done to see if I am low on iron and/or ferritin. And, as it turns out, I am. And I’m not. Wait, what? Let me explain.
*First up, what’s ferritin? According to the internet, it’s an “intracellular protein that stores iron and releases it in a controlled fashion.” In reviewing my blood work, my ferritin was at 33. Now, for normal people, meaning non-runners, the levels are quantified as 12-300 for men and 12-150 for women, so this would mean I was good to go. Right? Eh….
The internet says that this number with regards to performance feels different for everyone and that the recommended numbers are probably different from those who are sedentary. Iron, in general, is needed by everyone but a surplus is good for runners as without it, we experience fatigue and that can cause a drop in performance. (Please understand I am not a doctor, this is just all internet research and working with my coach.)
Everyone loses iron in the same ways: through their feet from striking the ground while running, through sweat (ah, hello, Florida), and through the intestines (AKA pooping). But we women are especially lucky and also lose it through our monthly visitor. Apparently, female runners are more likely to be iron deficient because their dietary intake of iron tends to be poor. I mean, I like red meat now and again, but I am pretty terrible at leafy green vegetables. And to top it all off, training induces an additional loss of iron. Awesome.
I’ve read that ferritin levels in some studies for women suggest the minimum be raised to 40, and that elite runners try to get their ferritin levels up into 70. Some of this is trial and error and having blood work done regularly throughout training. Now that I know mine could use an increase, I will take a supplement and wait for the two to three months for it to raise my levels to see if I feel better. Unfortunately, since it is getting cooler out it may be tough to decide if I feel better due to the ferritin or if it’s just no longer 11 billion degrees. The true test will come next summer.
I’m not sure why this wouldn’t have been a problem for me before now, but I ain’t no spring chicken and we do know how things change as we age. I am not sold on this being a magic bullet and all of the sudden I start crushing races like I’m Mo Farrah, but I don’t think the iron supplement can hurt. I plan to take it with Vitamin C for better absorption and pay attention to any side effects I may encounter. I will keep you all posted on this as I start taking the supplement this week. Fingers crossed.
*Again, not a doctor. These are just my opinions and research on this matter. If you think you have low iron/ferritin, go get blood work done. See a doctor.
Iron Deficiency in Runners
Iron Level Upkeep For Runners
If you are confused and thought you were coming to Discombobulated Running – don’t be! You are in the right spot!
Before I get into all that I have to say hello to Bob and Kevin! Both are readers I got to meet IRL this weekend while volunteering and spectating at Ironman Florida! Heeeeeeey guys! (Bob, I promise not to post about how I’m sorry I haven’t posted. Ha!)
Ok, back to this here new blog page and coaching services.
I’ve been feeling a bit disconnected from Discombobulated Running for a while now. Not because I no longer love running and blogging, but because somewhere along the way these last NINE years, I’ve become, well, less discombobulated. I’ve grown as an athlete and as a coach. I have always maintained that my favorite thing about endurance sports is the finish line. And I’ve had that I Heart Finish Lines verbiage in my head for quite some time. I did print up and sell some shirts with the name a while ago, and it’s my coaching business name. It only made sense that I rebrand everything to that.
After several edits to the logo design, I was thrilled when we (the graphic designer) and I finally landed on the one you see now. I have several different color options I’ll work with moving forward, but the one I chose for the blog seemed the best for both men and women. This way, with my coaching clients and anyone else who wants to wear I Heart Finish Lines gear it’s a fairly neutral design. I truly love it and the direction I’m headed with all of this.
The direction is to continue growing my coaching business and keep blogging about all the things! It’s really what you came for, right? I’m not promising to blog weekly at this point, but I will continue to do my best to pop on here and opine about this sport that gives so many of us so much joy. And, I will be flying my I Heart Finish Lines flag at my races. And other people’s races. And probably to sleep in. Basically, I’ve got merch!
Speaking of merch, I have a gear store open from now until December 2. I don’t make a profit on this but I would like to hit the minimums and see all of you in a sweet I Heart Finish Lines tank or tee, while you cross those finish lines! (The “flowy” tank runs large, so size down.) Click HERE to shop.
As always, thank you all for reading. Can you believe I’ve had this space for NINE years? It’s crazy!
Howdy! I just flew in from Chicago and boy are my arms tired!
Chicago was almost two weeks ago and I’ve been back for a while. I just haven’t had the time or desire to put this down on (e)paper. I *think* the ego bruising has healed and I feel mostly better about my day, if not still a teeny, tiny bit bummed.
Let me preface this by saying, racing and finish times are all relative. My slow is someone else’s fast, and my fast is someone else’s turtle crawl. I’ve never been one to post “Oh, I am so slow!” or “Oh, I am so fast!” as I know you can easily be putting someone down OR making yourself look like a jackass. I’m comfortable with my ability and just like every runner out there, I want to get better. I am proud of another marathon finish and extremely proud that I gutted this one out to finish because there were moments of “just go jump in an Uber and get the hell out here.”
As mentioned in a previous post, my training was good. It was steady. However, in the last few weeks of training, there was a bigger taper with less speed than both I or my coach would have liked. We did this because I had some hip/groin pain that was lingering and we didn’t want to make it worse. So I headed into Chicago very, very rested and feeling good.
I got to Chicago on Thursday, hung out with my dude and then spent Friday and Saturday doing short, non-walking tourist stuff and resting. We did the expo, and pasta dinner, and yadda yadda. My goal for this race was to run anywhere from 3:59:59 to 4:15. I felt this was reasonable and I would see how the day started. I did have pep talks to myself ahead of time about how I could run nine-minute miles for 26.2, no problem. I didn’t feel unconfident, but I didn’t exactly feel confident either. I was, as they say, cautiously optimistic. The weather was looking good, save for rain, but I don’t worry about rain. I’m from Florida. We know all about the rain.
On race morning, I got up and ate. I said goodbye to a still sleepy-eyed S.O. and headed down to the start shuttle. I walked quite a bit from shuttle to my gear check area and then I just kinda hung around. It was drizzling off and on so I headed over to slap on more Vaseline to avoid Thunder and Lightning (my thighs) from chafing. I didn’t feel nervous at all. No crazy porta potty struggles or anything. I didn’t feel super excited either. In fact, you all remember that scene from Sex and the City where everyone keeps asking Miranda how excited she is for the arrival of her baby? And she’s just like Meh. I felt like this everytime anyone asked me about Chicago. I wasn’t jazzed about it and I don’t know why. I think maybe part of it was that everyone kept telling me how amazing it was that I was hoping to get there and be like ZOMG! But that never came. It’s very unlike me. I promise I am in no way, shape or form too cool for school. I am the nerdiest, run Geek around, but I just couldn’t get to that Jessie Spano level of “I’m so excited!”
Where was I?
Oh yeah, gear check. Jeez, I better speed this up or we’ll be here all freakin day.
Ok, so I got to my assigned corral and was shivering. I was cold, for sure. But I only had on a long sleeved t-shirt and I knew as soon as I got going I would warm up quickly. The temps were in the low 60’s with a dew point to match. Not bad racing weather at all. I met a very nice woman in my corral and we chatted for a bit. We had similar goals and were both ready to get going. It felt like we had been standing around forever. (I did get up at 4:30 and didn’t start running until 8:00ish.)
Announcements, anthem, fanfare, wave 1, wave 2, FINALLY my corral!
I got started and was shuffling a bit due to the massive amounts of people. Chicago is a race of 45,000 runners and boy can you feel that. It’s like a sea of shorts and spandex and sweat and other s-words. Swords? No, I didn’t see any.
I knew it would be hard to get on pace at first and I was A-Ok with that. I wanted to start about 9:40-9:45 and then ease my way down to 9:09. Unfortunately, due to the Chicago buildings and massive amounts of folks all trying to hit satellites at the same time I never knew what pace I was running. From start to finish my Garmin was all over the map. I knew this going in as well and had to do the dreaded maths. Not a big deal as I’m an old school runner who used to run with a -gasp- watch. I knew I was doing ok at mile three and that I just needed to pick it up a bit. And I did.
But then, by mile five, my feet were on fire. I was thinking I had something in my socks and I couldn’t imagine how I’d gotten something in my socks just standing around but man it felt bad. I wondered if my socks were bunched up or if I had swollen feet. It was so bizarre. And the pain grew. And it hurt every step. It was really fucking dumb. That’s the best way for me to describe it at this juncture. Fucking. Dumb.
As I ran I looked at the enormous amounts of spectators. I tried to follow the blue line that marks the course. I saw some pretty awesome signs. And I definitely could not get over how many damn people were in this race. The biggest race, besides this one, that I’ve run is the Marine Corps Marathon. And that was a while ago so I remember that one being crowded too, but maybe not as much? I dunno, I be forgettin.
The rain wasn’t bad, or at least I don’t remember it being bad. I just remember that my feet hurt. Badly. And I tried to ignore them, but I finally stopped around mile 10 to adjust my left shoe and sock. I swore that sock was bunched up. It wasn’t. The ball of my feet were just blistering. And there wasn’t much I could do but run on. My legs didn’t feel fresh and I kept thinking about how I’d run 20 milers where my legs didn’t start to hurt until mile 19! I was also feeling very warm, hot almost.
When I got to the half I had successfully sped up the pace and hit it at a 2:04. I saw the S.O. and friends just beyond the half. They were awesome! Rocking signs for me and another friend and dressed as sumo wrestlers.
I stopped for a hug and said, “This isn’t going too well.” But I hurried along and I did my best to pull myself together. I’m not sure where I crack. It could have been 14, it could have been 15. All I know is that at this point, my feet and my legs were furious. I couldn’t understand what was going on. As an aside, I’m listening to Deena Kastor’s book, “Let Your Mind Run,” and she talks about these thoughts at her national track meet in high school. The whole book is about the power of our thoughts and trust, me, I’m all about fixing these thoughts I have when shit goes south. (I haven’t finished it yet, but I’ll get you all a book report!)
Back at the marathon, I was legit driving the Struggle Bus. I tried to smile. I tried to enjoy the course and the people and blah blah blah, but again, for whatever reason, I. Was. Done. My feet continued to kill me and my legs were almost as angry. I saw my friend Sylvia several times along the way and she gave me encouragement and used it as much as I could. (I didn’t see her with the unicorn, but her headband and sign were adorable!)
I knew if I made it to mile 19 I had salvation by way of a small redheaded gal. I could not wait to see her! I knew she and Spike, her husband/my friend, plus their adorable twins would be there. With signs and a bullhorn and she was going to keep me company for a few miles. I desperately needed it. I’d have probably run with just about anyone at that point, but the fact that it was my long-time running bestie made me that much more desperate to get to mile 19. In fact, I was chanting it in my head. “Get to 19, get to 19, get to 19….”
That is the face I made when I finally saw them! I was relieved and immediately told Red I was suffering. She was fantastic. She just told me about their morning and what Spike and the kids were yelling to runners. This, of course, made me laugh because they are supreme spectators. Also, please note that she is wearing tiny bat earrings. I heart this girl. 4-eva.
Things were still mostly ugly in my legs and feets and I stopped twice to use the potty. The first time, that porta potty was locked. Hilarious. The second time I just wasn’t moving very quickly, but there wasn’t a line, so hey, there’s that.
I did enjoy running through all of the neighborhoods of Chicago, but I think the section of Korean spectators with their flags and Gangnam Style blasting was my favorite. Also, the row of charity groups was really awesome. Those folks were super happy when they saw their runners and it made me happy to see so many people running for great causes. That area definitely lifted my spirits.
After what seemed like a damn eternity I saw the finish line. Regardless of how I felt, I still felt that surge of happiness in seeing that big, huge FINISH LINE sign. I will always heart finish lines. I was relieved I had finished and yes, more than a little disappointed in my day. My final time was 4:39:43.
I hobbled through the chute and promptly dropped my medal and yelled, “OH NO!” at the thought of bending over to pick it up. A lovely volunteer chuckled and handed it to me. I shuffled on to the gear check where no less than five volunteers looked for my bag and walked away without finding it or telling me they hadn’t found it. In hindsight it was hysterical, but at the moment I was cold, wet, and dying to get in a warm Uber. The last volunteer who got my borderline meltdown request was very nice and finally found my bag. I sat my butt down and called the S.O. I admit that I had a big lump in my throat and wanted to cry but felt silly in doing so amongst so many very happy finishers. He and I decided to just meet at the hotel since I was in no shape to walk anywhere but straight to a warm car.
After more walking, an Uber ride as close as it could get to my hotel, and more walking, I made it to the hotel room. I got in the shower while the S.O. headed down to the hotel quick casual restaurant to grab me a grilled cheese. I stayed in the shower until he returned. Then, I decided I was going to live in the shower and never leave it. It hurt to move and standing there was, in my mind, the best option. I ate my grilled cheese like a sad Kramer in the shower. I got crumbs everywhere in the tub and was so beat that I neglected to even rinse them out for my poor Celiac having boyfriend. (I promise I wasn’t trying to kill you, honey.)
I finally got out of the shower and gingerly got myself into bed.
After my nap, we got up to meet our friends for dinner. I wanted to keep sleeping pretty badly, but once we sat down and got talking and laughing I am so glad I got my busted ass up. The best part of this race was seeing all of these people the whole weekend. I got huge boosts from seeing friends spectating and I love eating pre and post race meals with friends. Congrats to everyone who ran and thanks to everyone who cheered us on. They definitely aren’t lying when they say the crowds in Chicago come out in full force!
My feet were kind of wrecked with blisters in between my big toe and second toe on both feet that extended down to the balls of my feet. It was not a pretty picture the next few days. I couldn’t even wear flip flops when I got back to Florida. The horror.
I can’t say the Chicago Marathon was my favorite but mostly because I just didn’t feel good for the majority of the race. The course, the spectators, the volunteers (even the special gear check ones), and everything was top notch – I just wish my body and brain had matched it. I can’t pinpoint exactly what went wrong. Maybe it was negative thoughts that I didn’t realize I was having? Maybe it was too much taper? More than likely it was a combo of several things. I can only move forward and chalk this up to another learning experience. The marathon will highlight any weaknesses you have. If it’s your legs, your feet, or your mind – you better believe the marathon will find it. I’m not done though, the marathon hasn’t seen the last or the best of me.
Until next time…
Thanks for reading.