Doubts

I have always tried to keep things pretty light and positive on this blog.  I believe very firmly that maintaining a positive perspective is one of the most important things you can do in life in general.  I also feel like I am probably one of the luckiest human beings in the world and have no right to complain about anything.  I am, however, committed to staying honest.  The reason for having a blog in the first place is to be honest about my goals, my progress, and all of the challenges that I may encounter.  So here is a very honest post about some of those challenges, as I stare spring racing season in the face, and try to decide when to bite the bullet and sign up for my first half marathon.

Spring 2015 is going to be absolutely nuts at my house.  Joe is finishing residency, which means 2 things.  1.  He is writing his royal College Exam this spring, and 2. We are moving to a new city.

Let me explain.

1.  The Royal College Exam is kind of like the Bar Exam for doctors, except it’s on steroids.  Not all doctors have to write it; it’s for specialists, but since Joe is an Emergency Medicine specialist, he needs to write it in order to be Royal College Certified.  I think this is only a thing in Canada, but it’s similar to the American Board Exam for doctors.  Except that in Joe’s program, they write the American Boards for practice every year, starting in their first year, and he has been passing every year.  The Royal College is a lot tougher than that.  People are very afraid that they might fail…  they start studying a year in advance (a year) and they are all working full time as well.  So as you can see, this thing is big, and it’s been a major player in our lives ever since this past summer, when Joe’s study schedule started.  We are now entering crunch time for Royal College, meaning that the next 3 months are all about survival for Joe, and me doing whatever I can to be supportive so that he can pass this thing, and we can all move on with our lives.

2.  Because Joe is graduating from residency, pending he pass his exams in May and June, he has accepted a position as a real, grown-up doctor in another city.  He got a few offers, and we’ve considered all the pros and cons and visited different cities and attended interviews and mulled it over, and we’ve finally settled on Toronto.  So this summer, we are moving to Toronto…  meaning that I have an exam of my own to write, in order to be licensed as a nurse in Toronto.  And jobs to apply for, and interviews to go to, and apartment hunting to do…  all while Joe crams for his exam, and we both continue to work full time, because life has a way of throwing everything at you all at once.

The good news is, when the exams are all finished, and I’ve officially left my job (a whole other post on how sad that day will be for me will, I’m sure, appear on this blog at some point), and we’ve found a place to live and we’ve moved all of our stuff…  after all of that has happened, we are taking a month long vacation to Asia, where we will finally get the Honeymoon we never had because we were too busy when we first got married.

OK, so what does all of this stuff have to do with running?  Well, I’m honestly not sure what to do this spring…  Part of me wants to just sign up for a half marathon and go for it.  Jump in with both feet.  I feel like if I don’t sign up, I’ll never get motivated to push myself, and it’ll never happen.  I know I can do it, even if my time isn’t fabulous, and it hurts a bit (or maybe a lot), this is something that I want to do.  The problem is that we’ve got so much big stuff happening in the coming months, I’m not sure I’ll be able to commit to training.

So there is another part of me that thinks I should wait it out until fall, when things have settled down a little.  Find a job, find an apartment, move, go to Asia, come back, join a running group in Toronto, and aim for a fall race.  But there’s part of me that is worried about that too…  will I be able to stay in shape while on my belated Honeymoon?  Will I have enough time to train when I get back?  Will I be too overwhelmed at my new job to stay committed to my training goals?

So this is my dilemma.  I feel different about it every day, and I’m honestly not sure what decision I’m going to end up making.  But in the name of honesty, there it is!  What I do know is that running will help get me through the chaos of the next few months.  And as crazy as this spring and summer are going to be, I am wildly excited for all of this.  🙂

Do you have any big races coming up this spring?

How did you decide to run your first marathon or half marathon?  Did you plan it all out, or just jump in with both feet?

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The Playlist Post

Well, hello, friends…  Just checking in quickly.  I`m about to head out to the gym for an afternoon of cardio…  So, what will I be grabbing as I walk out the door?  Aside from the obvious house keys and water bottle, I never leave the house without my headphones.

There are times when I do a full workout without any music on at all.  I know people who never listen to music when they run…  I generally nix the music when I’m having a post work workout, and I just need to de-clutter my brain after a long day.  I actually find an hour of silent cardio very therapeutic on days like that.

Today is not one of those days, however.  This is my only day off all week (including last weekend AND next weekend, both of which I am working) and if I’m going to fit a workout in this afternoon, I could use a little pumping up.  So I thought I’d share some of my favourite workout music, and invite you to share yours!  I could always use some new music ideas!

What do you like to listen to on a run?  Are you into the slow burn of laid back tunes that carry you through a nice, relaxed jog?  (I went through a phase for a while where all I would run to was Band of Horses.)  Or are you all about the upbeat pop?  I, myself, have a heavy preference for rap and hip hop, but there’s a bit of “hipstery” stuff thrown into that mix, too.  (What does “hipster” even mean?  I use that word semi-sarcastically.)

Sometimes I like to just throw on an album and listen to the whole thing, and sometimes I put on my running mix.  Either way, here is a glimpse into my music taste…  a pretty strange little mix, I will admit, but hopefully you will discover something you like!

My top 3 workout albums right now are:

Kanye West Presents Good Music Cruel Summer (you cannot go wrong with the song “Clique” and it helps to have a lot of Pusha T in the mix)

CHVRCHES, The Bones of What You Believe (I love just putting this album on and listening to it from start to finish on a run)

J Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive (mainly because this is my favourite album in general right now)

My favorite songs for working up a sweat are:

Worst Behaviour, Drake (I just put this song on repeat sometimes, and run to it for like, 3 miles, before switching to something else)

Partition, Beyonce

Sweatpants, Childish Gambino (working out to this song is great for your ego…  unless, of course, you think having a huge ego is a bad thing…  in which case, i guess you shouldn’t be listening to any rap songs at all…)

The Mother We Share, CHVRCHES

Workout, J Cole (obvious, but still very motivational)

Midnight City, M83 (never gets old)

Underground Kings, Drake

G.O.M.D., J Cole

Clique, Kanye West, Jay-Z and Big Sean

Bad Girls, M.I.A. (because I like to pretend that I, too, am a “Bad Girl”)

Believe Me, L’il Wayne feat. Drake

0 to 100, Drake

Trophies, Drake (yes, you ARE sensing a theme here, but this one’s really awesome for getting pumped up and being all “f*** the world, I’m RUNNING!” …as I’m sure Drake intended when he wrote the song)

XO, Beyonce

Chandelier, Sia (I know, that one seems a little random, but hey…)

Love Me Harder, Ariana Grande feat The Weeknd (for once, the Weeknd doesn’t totally ruin this song, and it’s got a great driving beat to keep your feet moving)

When I’m Small, Phantogram (one of my all-time favourite songs, period)

Can’t Tell Me Nothing, Kanye West

Annnnd, as ashamed as I am to admit it, I can always get a good run in listening to old school Mariah Carey.  There, I said it.  Now the whole internet knows that I still listen to “Always Be My Baby.”  (Even if you can’t run to it, it’s always a gem at karaoke.)

Happy running, everybody!

Fun at the gym

I think it is a good thing that I took yesterday off training, because it meant I was rested for today`s trainer session.  And still, I almost died.  It was the first day of a new program, so I know I`m only going to get stronger after this.  I`m really starting to love the first couple of weeks of a new program, because it`s so challenging, and I know that within a couple of weeks, I`ll be much stronger.

So my warmup today was all body weight exercises.  Burpees, squats, pushups, pullups, and then some time on the rowing machine.  Then repeat, x5…  I love how that was only the warmup.  I was feeling pretty good about myself until my trainer ran me through a new upper body routine and my new leg day routine.  We did each new exercise once, to get a sense of how heavy I should lift to start out.  I`m telling you, by the end, I was done.  There were multiple points where my muscles just failed.  It is hard to do one armed pushups after “warming up” with pushups, pullups and burpees!  My trainer would be yelling at me for “one more!”  And my arms would just stop working…  I had no juice left.  I couldn’t finish my new ab circuit either.  Again, my muscles just stopped working, and all I could do was laugh at myself.  One more felt like an insurmountable task at that point.

So today was super challenging and fun.  I won’t see my trainer again for two weeks, but it’s really cool to think that I’ll be able to complete my entire program by then without hitting total muscle failure.  She’s really pushing me, but I like it!!  It’s really nice sometimes to have one of those workouts that is totally ridiculous, in the sense that it’s so challenging that the only thing you can do is laugh at yourself.  I’m telling you, we laughed a lot today.  🙂

When you’re out there killing yourself to get through a workout or a run, try to take a step outside of yourself and remember to laugh.  It’s ridiculous what we put ourselves through in the name of fitness.  But keep it light if you can!  When you’re hurting and you’re sweating and you’re pushing so hard, I mean, that’s what it’s all about, right?  And when you hit that wall super hard like I did today, take a mental note of it.  Remember that moment.  And come back and try again tomorrow…  the wall will be further and further away every time.

Saturday Night Failure

How do you know if you’ve been a nurse for too long?  You can no longer tell the difference between weekdays and weekends…  That is what happened to me tonight.

Maybe it should have been a sign that something was off when I left my freshly made coffee at home this morning.  I have felt like this all day:

first world problemsAnyway, so I had this big plan to head to the gym after work today and get in 45-60min of cardio.  Of course, silly little me…  I forgot that it’s Saturday!!  My gym closes super early on Saturdays (I think at 5pm) and so when I arrived, it was closed!  How could I forget??!  Am I the only one who’s done this?

I am upset about this.

Seriously, I’m super disappointed to miss cardio day.  As tired as I was after work, I know that when I get in some good time on the elliptical or the treadmill, I not only feel amazing afterwards and sleep super well that night, but I have more energy the next day.  I’ve really started to rely on post-work cardio to help get me through my back-to-back-to-back shifts…  and tomorrow is going to be a huge day at work for me, so I was really looking forward to my gym time.  I’m actually cranky without it.  I never thought I’d be this person, but here I am.  Little miss I didn’t get my run in today crankypants.

crankypants

I considered running outside, but it’s 15 below and super slippery out there.  Walking home from the bus was harrowing enough.  It just isn’t an option tonight.  So I ended up coming home and doing a Gillian Micheals workout DVD.  I used to do these and think that they were super tough, just pouring sweat the entire time, so I thought it might be a good substitute for cardio day.  Sadly (well, maybe not sadly, I guess this is a good sign) I am left feeling completely unsatisfied after that workout.  It wasn’t that hard, and it only lasted 25min.

Insert your that’s what she said jokes here…

So the good news is, I’m much stronger than I used to be back when I thought Gillian Micheals was tough.  Silver lining, I suppose.

Tomorrow night is a day off because I have post work dinner and drink plans with friends, so my next gym day is Monday.  I have a trainer appointment, so at least I know it won’t disappoint.  Until then, I am going to be spending the rest of my night online looking for genius at-home cardio ideas for those who live in small downtown apartments and don’t have treadmills (and whose husbands are at work so they can’t box together right now.)  I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

Two workouts, some yoga, and hot new threads

Today was yoga day at my house.  After two back to back intense gym days, where I managed to run a total of 5 miles and do every possible kind of squat, pushup, lunge, dip and pulldown/pullup in the book, today was yoga day.

Oh boy did I need it!

I’ve had a pretty successful week of working out since being back from vacation.  I’m moving up in weight for most of my exercises, and I’ve started being very purposeful with my warmup cardio.  Instead of just warming up for 10 minutes, like my trainer suggests, I make sure that every minute I spend on the treadmill has a purpose.  Either it’s a mini 3-4 mile tempo run, or a maybe couple miles of intervals.  I’m really starting to feel stronger, and it’s super fun.

I have to admit, though, when I get crazy intense about strength and cardio, I always end up getting injured.  I was considering heading to the gym tonight after work, but my glutes and thighs were suggesting that maybe it’s time for a rest day.  I’m carrying a lot of tightness today, and spent pretty much my whole shift on my feet taking care of a sick little cardiac surgery baby!  So I gave my body what it wanted.  Runner’s yoga!   (Is this the beginning of an addiction??)

Here it is, boys and girls, the runner’s yoga I did today.

And here is the quick little ab circuit I tagged on the end, just for kicks.  It’s day 6 of the 30 day yoga challenge that I am (sort of) following.  (And by sort of, I mean that when I decide to do yoga, I pick up where I left off in this challenge.  So I guess that means I’ve done yoga exactly 6 times so far this year.)

I am still absolutely terrible at most poses, especially downward dog and runner’s lunges…  I actually thought I was getting better last week, but after all those squats and treadmill runs this week, I must have looked pretty pathetic tonight doing my sort-of-downward-dog.  But I’m just beginning my weekend of work, which means working 12 hour days Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and this really is a beautiful way to kick it off…  my legs feel AMAZING after that runner’s yoga, and I think I’ll be ready for some post-work cardio tomorrow night now that things have had a bit of a rest, and a chance to loosen up.  🙂

Oh, and ps, I almost forgot!  I got some awesome new workout clothes for my birthday this week!!!  Wuuuut…  I really considered photographing myself in them for this blog, and then quickly realized how terrible I am at selfies.  I’m just not the girl who photographs herself in the change room and posts it on the internet…  So you’ll have to just trust me on this, but I got some great Under Armour and Adidas stuff, and I am in love.

So happy running/training/yoga-ing to all of you this weekend!!

Don’t think about it – Just do it

The last few workouts I’ve had have really started to get fun.  I recently had a great session with my trainer, where she introduced a new circuit that involves rotating between different kind of pushups, among other things.  The first time I tried the pushup circuit, I was really dying.  She could see that I was determined to get through my third set, but I knew it was going to be tough…  so she yelled at me “Don’t think about it, just do it!”

I really stopped thinking and just did it.  It was truly that simple…  turn off your brain, and let your body do it’s thing.  It was like magic, having her say those words to me.

During that same workout, I was chatting with my trainer about how quickly I’ve been increasing my weight on my strength training exercise.  When I look at my workout plan, it has me going up on weight after 3 workouts at a given weight.  That means that I generally increase my weight every week if I’m doing my workouts regularly.  In my mind, that seems fast.  I look at the number written down on paper, and I’m surprised that I’m able to lift that much.  My trainer just laughed at me when I told her that.  “It’s mostly psychological,” she said.  “Sometimes you just need someone to tell you that you can do it.  Your body adapts fast, it’s your mind that needs to catch up.”

Woah.  Is she ever right.  Maybe this is one of the best parts of working with a trainer.  I have someone telling me that I can do it.  Someone who is there to yell at me to turn off my brain when she sees me starting to doubt myself.  Stop thinking!!  Just do it! 

I never realized how much my own self-doubt figures in to my training until I heard my trainer say those words.  It really stuck with me.  I look at a distance, and I say to myself Nope, that is farther than I’ve ever run before.  I don’t think I can do that today.  I see a number written down on paper and I say I can’t lift that much, that’s more than half my body weight!  How crazy of me to be the first to count myself out.  I am my own worst enemy.

I know I didn’t make any official 2015 New Year’s resolutions.  It’s not really my style to do stuff like that…  but I have officially made a new goal for myself.  I’ve decided to stop being my own worst enemy when it comes to training.  I don’t want to be the only thing standing in my own way of achieving my goals.  I will set workout goals, and I will meet them, because I can.  I can do it. 

When it comes to training this year, I’m going to stop thinking, and just do it.

Staying fit on vacation… even if your vacation is to Austin, TX, and all you do while you`re there is eat

Joe and I just came back from a somewhat last-minute long weekend trip to Austin, Texas.  This weekend was my Birthday, and we both managed to finagle a couple days off from work (which rarely happens for both of us at the same time) so we hopped on a plane to someplace where the temperature was above freezing and where we knew we`d have lots to explore.  So please forgive my lack of blogging over the past few days, I`ve been knee deep in BBQ, Tex-Mex, Super Bowl festivities, more BBQ, and my 29th Birthday celebration!

I had an absolutely fabulous time, but I’ll admit that I was a little concerned about this trip from a fitness perspective.  I’ve been very consistent about going to the gym, but I always struggle to maintain my consistency while on vacation.  Add to that the fact that I’m a pretty heavy drinker when I’m on vacation, and that a trip to Austin is almost exclusively about eating way too much…  I wasn’t sure how I’d keep up with my workout routine.

Time Out:  First, everyone please take a moment to stare at this photo of the best BBQ ever.  (Thank you La Barbecue for the fantastic eats!!)

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I would say that I was about 80% successful in sticking to my routine.  I had 2 really good workouts, which included a good cardio workout as well as a complete weight routine.  I spent an hour and a half at the gym each time, so that was a huge success.  I didn’t feel like I was rushing through my workout, and there was enough equipment in the hotel gym to keep me occupied.  I would have been happy if I’d made it to the gym one more time during the weekend, but there was one day where I almost died of BBQ (yes, that is a thing that you can do) and I took a nap instead.  So that was a bit of a fail.  But the goal of the weekend was to relax, so I didn’t beat myself up too much that I took that nap…  Joe and I both desperately needed to get away and get some rest, so in that sense, I think we were successful!

Here are the things I did this weekend to make sure I didn’t totally neglect my fitness while on vacation.

1.  I intentionally booked a hotel with a nice gym.  I’m the kind of person who will couch surf, stay in a hostel, sleep in a bus station, etc…  but this time around, I stayed in a real hotel with a real gym on purpose.  I visited the gym when we checked in, and made a mental note of how I would adapt my workouts for these facilities.  For example, the only weights in the hotel gym were free weights, with no barbells or machines.  I took a few minutes to consider what modifications I could make to my usual routine in order to maximize the equipment that was available.  And that sort of leads me into my next point…

2.  I had a plan.  I had 2 solid workouts planned before the weekend even started, which made it easier to stay focused.  I like showing up at the gym knowing exactly what I intend to do.  More on this in future blog posts, I am sure.

3.  I didn’t drink until after my workout was done.  I know this seems obvious, but I honestly used to be the kind of girl who could knock down a 6 pack at a party, peace out early and still be able to run 4 miles before bed.  The only problem with that is that once you’ve had a couple beers, it’s that much easier to justify skipping a workout.  “I’m too tired, I’m on vacation…”  So that meant no boozy brunches and it also meant skipping the free beer in the lineup for lunchtime BBQ.  As hard as it was to do, I know it was worth it.

4.  Don’t cut corners.  This has actually become a mantra for me, and I’m sure you’ll see me writing about it a lot.  I wanted to be able to go up on my weight in my strength training routine when I returned from Austin, which meant that these workouts were more than just maintenance workouts.  I needed to be building my strength just as much as I would be at home.  The only way to do that is to show up and work your ass off, no excuses.

Here’s a picture of me mid workout sweating like a toilet in the Texas humidity, but loving every second of it.

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I have about a trillion photos from our trip, because it was just so much fun and we ate so much great food, but I’ll hold back and only share a couple so that you don’t all get sick of me…

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And finally, the best birthday meal I’ve had in a looooong time at Barley Swine (with my goofy and wonderful husband.) If you’re a foodie, this definitely needs to be on your Austin to-do list.

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