It's almost time for me to get on an airplane and head out to California to run my first marathon. It's exciting and a challenge I am looking forward to, but it's also petrifying. Here is what I have been reminding myself of everyday this week...
FAILURE IS NOT FAILING
English majors may disagree, but hear me out. I've spent months training, run further than I've ever run before, and committed to something that challenges me and scares me. How many people can honestly say they've done that recently? Not to mention how much I have grown from the training process alone. I have more confidence than ever that I can push myself, push my body, and accomplish the things I set my mind to (even if I don't actually accomplish this goal).
So, while I am mostly confident that we will complete the full 26.2 miles, even that nagging voice in the back of my head that asks "what if you don't finish?" doesn't get me down. If I fail on race day, that one failure doesn't mean I'm failing at life or that the journey wasn't worth it. You don't get anywhere in life without failing along the way. In fact, I've found that the faster you fail the faster you can succeed and the more you fail the better the successes are.
It may sound simple, obvious, or something that doesn't need to be said, but for those of you holding back on trying something new, on setting that goal, or challenging yourself, I hope this is your sign. Go for it! Don't be afraid of the chance of failure, embrace it. The journey will be worth it regardless of the outcome. So sign up for that race, register for that class, apply for that program or job, and remember... Failure is not failing.
As I gear up for my first marathon (1 week to go!) I've been worrying about my gear. Do I have everything I need to be comfortable for 26.2 miles? While my workout clothing drawer is brimming, not everything in there is meant for running. Since I've been analyzing my options, I thought I'd share my experience and insights with workout clothes thus far...
Shoes: Having a great pair of sneakers that are properly fitted for your feet is essential. Just recently, after sustaining a scary foot injury, I went to a local running shop and got myself fitted for shoes. Despite years of running and working out, I had never been fitted for shoes because my lack of injury made me think I was wearing the right ones. Well, I could not have been more wrong. Turns out I have fallen arches and am nearly flat-footed and need stability shoes rather than the standard neutral shoe. (For those of you who are curious, my current running shoe is pictured above, the Asics-GEL Kayano 19) What's worse is that I have most likely made my arches fall faster than they would have had I been wearing the right shoes all this time. So, while it took me years to get into the right shoes, I hope you heed this warning and get yourself fitted and aren't afraid to spend the money on a good pair!
Tops: When it comes to running a few miles, I think whatever is comfortable for you is best and whatever makes the most sense with the weather you'll be running in. However, when you get to long runs, the type of gear you have becomes more important. Technical shirts that wick away moisture are really important to keep your body cool and dry as you go along. A wet shirt can cause you to be chilled to the core once you stop moving and that can be dangerous and horribly uncomfortable. The other issue, and for me the much more important one, is combating chafing. There is nothing worse than having a scabbed up arm or chest or neck because a seam on your shirt rubbed you raw. Trust me, it's painful. This is also a concern with sports bras. I recommend looking for any technical gear that's titled "seamless" or at least have flat seams (these are usually selling points that companies will note on their tags). And definitely try out your top on a long run before race day so you know it's not going to bite you.
* For those of you more interested in weightlifting, I strongly encourage you to get some workout tank tops so that you can see your muscles working as you lift. Sure, it's a little vain, but it's also useful for making sure your form is correct and really appreciating all that your body can do and is doing.
Bottoms: Similarly to tops, it's when you get to the long runs that getting real technical gear becomes important. For me, capris are a must for long runs. My legs, no matter my size, rub against each other a bit when I run, so shorts are not an option when I'm running further than about 6 miles. Don't be afraid to wear bottoms that are fitted. Pants that have fabric around the ankles can be irritating and can potentially trip you up. In a similar vein, sagging pants an be just as frustrating, so go for the spandex!
Socks: I have often heard that when it comes to running if you've got good shoes and good socks, you're all set. Personally, I have had a fight with some of the "running socks". Compression socks are nice, especially after my foot injury, but the ones I have go up over my ankles and the pressure there can make my calves/ankles swell. I have some cushion-y socks that I love, but they are short and every once in a while slip down and that puts the backs of my heels at risk for rubbing against my shoes. Right now I'm still on the hunt for the perfect socks, but I make due with what I have and make sure to wear running socks on long runs (short runs I wear whatever socks I have on that day).
Accessories: Hydration is key when running long distances or lifting weights or doing an intense cardio session. Make sure you've got a water bottle handy that you like and feel comfortable with. It may seem silly to find the "perfect" water bottle, but it's amazing how different bottles can feel. Some are easy to drink out of, some feel too heavy to be dragging around with you, some leak, some don't hold enough water, etc. So take the time to try out a few. Also, when I do really long runs, I use a hydration pack so that I have easy access to water without having to carry a bottle or have a belt around my hips. Again, a personal preference, but if you're running for longer than an hour, you need water!
While this post is really running focused, I hope everyone finds it useful to start thinking about whether or not your gear is right for you and your workout needs. There is a lot of great technology out there, and plenty you can spend your money on, but I believe that if you get a couple of basic essentials, you don't need to spend a fortune just to stay in shape.
I just got back last night from an amazing 4 day trip to New Orleans, a city full of drinking, debauchery, beignets, and rich/spicy food. Needless to say, I was not on my usual healthy lifestyle routine while there. But that doesn't mean I completely ruined my body or undid all of my hard work from the past few months. Now that I'm back and working on getting back to a healthy routine and preparing for my marathon (2 weeks away!), I've been reflecting on what I did right and what I could have done better while on vacation.
Let's start with the positives:
- WALKING. It's simple, easy, and really a great way to explore a new city as you get to really take everything in as you mosey around the side streets and take in the views and the architecture. Not to mention it's a great way to keep your body active and burn a few extra calories if you're not going to get a really good workout in. We walked everywhere we went, and while not all vacation destinations will be conducive to exclusively walking around, if it's a major city, chances are you can get a lot of places with your own two feet.
- Not every meal was a full course meal at a restaurant. As someone who loves travel but is still functioning on a budget with limited disposable income, it financially doesn't make much sense for me to eat out at a restaurant every meal of the day, and really, nutrition/diet-wise it doesn't make sense either. Restaurant portions are always big, the food is always worse for you than if you made the same thing at home, and we're usually tempted to try the richest, most indulgent thing on the menu when traveling and trying local cuisine. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed some great New Orleans food, but it was one meal a day that was large restaurant portions.
- Knowing where to get something quick and healthy. While I'm all for enjoying local flavors and supporting local businesses, it can be good to keep an eye out for quick meals that you can trust. For me, it's Subway. It's pretty inexpensive, I know I can get fresh veggies and the subs are low-calorie (if you do them right), and you can find them in any city.
- Using the hotel's fitness center. I did not do enough of this (in large part because the hotel charged to use their big facility), but most hotels have some sort of fitness room and if you just get a workout in and out of the way early, you're set for the day. Packing workout clothes is definitely worth it as getting in a good workout and a good sweat will make you more energized to take on the day!
Now for the things I wish I had done better:
- Drink lots of water! I did not drink enough water and I know that would have helped me have more energy, kept my digestion a little more regular, and kept my hunger on a regular schedule.
- Make time for enough sleep. I struggled with this for two reasons. 1) While we were in a city known for it's nightlife, we were there for a conference, so there were morning events to be up and ready for everyday as well. 2) Alcohol messes up your sleep schedule. Not much of a drinker usually, enjoying a couple of drinks at night definitely made my sleep less satisfying and usually woke me up earlier than I would have liked. Being tired definitely made it harder for me to be motivated to make my way to the gym in the morning.
- Find some fresh fruits and veggies. I wasn't completely devoid of veggies (a wonderful side effect of being vegan which means most meals include some sort of vegetable), but fresh, raw fruits and vegetables were few and far between. Fresh produce is great for your body, always, and while on vacation the fiber and nutrients can definitely help your body cope with the rich and unusual foods you may be eating. Definitely wish I had sought out a farmer's market while there.
So basically, yes, you can have a healthy vacation, or at least one that isn't a complete health disaster. Doing small things can help to not set you too far back on your plans, and remember, the harder you work when you're not on vacation, the better your body will be able to handle the extra calories and reduced exercise for a few days without gaining pounds or losing strength.
lover of fitness, sweets, veggies, adventure, travel, and feeling confident.
If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done. - Thomas Jefferson