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Turning thirty

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Thirty. I survived. I feel this birthday has more expectation placed on it than any other. Does anyone else feel that? When I pictured myself at thirty I imagined being married and having at least one child. I imagined spending a warm, sunny weekend at the beach with friends. HA! Nope. I allowed myself to have a girly cry for 30 seconds then came to the realization that it was okay. I was okay. God’s plan for me is better than I could imagine, even when I struggle to understand His timing. I am thankful for my family, my boyfriend, my friends, my job, and I’m learning to be thankful for things delayed.

Cut to my actual thirtieth birthday – my boyfriend was on the road, it was forty degrees and raining, and dear friends from work took me out to lunch at Fido after walking a 5K, in said rain and cold, while people threw painted cornstarch at me. And yes, with some coaxing from my friends, I had signed up for that. The morning started off with some lovely GI distress, which meant walking most of a race I had trained for. I hadn’t eaten because the past few days had not been kind. I talked with a dietitian this week about avoiding whey vs lactose in general and after an intake/symptom review we decided that the issue is most likely lactose. Dang it. I love(d) cheese. Anywho, back to the 5k. My friends were incredibly sweet and walked with me. The color stations were swirling dust storms of purple, yellow, green, pink and blue. I had a bandana over my mouth and nose and wore a hat and jacket. Let me stress to you – for someone who doesn’t like to get dirty this was not enough. I needed a HAZMAT suit or at least a beekeepers hat/veil. Maybe I would have looked more ridiculous than my fellow “color runners” but flying paint and inhaling foreign substances freak me out. On the plus side the course went through downtown Nashville and we took advantage of some fun photo ops.The Color Run, Nashville 2014

When the boyfriend got back in town he brought me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers and a book that I’d had been wanting to read. Y’all. He even had the florist change out the pink ribbon for a neutral linen one. He knows me well. We went to Cork & Cow in quaint downtown Franklin for yummy dinner then went to see Noah. Did any of you see it? I liked it. It was entertaining and thought provoking. In fact, much of the car ride home was spent in pensive silence until we began comparing it with what we remembered the Biblical account to be. It was a dark film. And rightly so. The world was so corrupt and wicked that God regretted creating the human race and the animals. I mean, whoa. God regretted creating mankind! (It’s in the Bible, folks). Yet Noah “found favor” in God’s eyes and the Creator saved mankind through Noah and his family along with two of every kind of living creature. Yes, there were Hollywood storytelling deviations from the biblical account in the film but to know the specifics I had to go back and read Genesis 1-9. I encourage you to do the same. The writers also used artistic license to fill in some gaps. Could God have spoken to Noah in a dream? It’s possible. So before someone condemns or boycotts the film I hope they can see it for what it actually is – man’s creative attempt to flesh out the creation-flood story and what Noah’s days may have looked like prior to, during, and after the flood in an entertaining and Hollywood blockbuster way. Audrey Assad, a Nashville based talented artist, with whom the boyfriend has had the privilege to play drums for occasionally and shared the road with, had a similar impression of the film and described it brilliantly here. She also includes an interesting perspective on Genesis and the Bible. It’s a good read. Plug – you should check out her latest album, Fortunate Fall.

All in all, turning thirty included time with friends, exercise, a date with my boyfriend, two delicious local restaurants, spending time in the Word and beautiful gifts. What more could a girl ask for?

Birthday flowers

More to come on matters of the heart in my next post. Stay tuned!

Plot twist

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125 days

One hundred twenty-five days ago I was awakened by sharp neck pain, chills, headache and unable to turn or bend my neck more than a few degrees. It’s been 18 weeks since I’ve been consistently pain/stiffness free. Months of physical therapy later I am back to the low range of normal in neck mobility. I’ve worked on flexibility, posture, core strength and shoulder and back strength. I’ve learned that my neck stiffness and pain correlate with stress and poor posture. The toughest part of work involves my time in an ambulance – the most ergonomically void box ever. Understandably, it’s not about me in the ambulance. The next toughest part is looking down for long periods of time. I have made modifications within my work environment that make it tolerable. Thankfully, most days are pain-free now but I still occasionally struggle with twinges and stiffness in the lower right side of my neck. It’s more annoying than anything but improves with staying calm, stretching and self-mobilization of my cervical facet joints.

It’s also been 125 days since I’ve done anything remotely close to triathlon training. I’ve gone on walks and jogs here and there but nothing like before. There were many days of tears and I returned to unhealthy eating while embracing limited mobility, not just in my neck, on the couch. The result: weight gain, muscle loss, weakness and depression. These 18 weeks also served as a reminder, a painful one, of what life was like before I focused on being healthy. Boy, I would have much preferred a verbal reminder instead of a physical one. Apparently I needed the 2×4. But you know what? My story doesn’t stop here. This is my plot twist.

KeeperThrough the tears and frustration I prayed that God would let me see that He still cares about me. Richard and I joined a new community group in the fall and last week we studied the parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32. A couple of years ago I went through a study by Tim Keller called Prodigal God. It was life changing for me and I encourage you to read the parable then listen to Tim’s sermons. Anyway, for several reasons I look at God as my father and at community group we were given minutes to ponder on and thank God. I thanked God for His keeping love that night. I believe that He has a hand in everything that happens in my life and that the purpose of my life is to glorify Him. Boy, do I fail time and after time and feel like a road block sometimes but His love redeems and keeps me. I don’t understand why he let’s things that I perceive as bad happen to me but I understand that His story is bigger than mine. His perspective is different and at each turn, good or bad, He is revealing himself to me and teaching me to trust Him. I know my neck issue pales in comparison to some of the sorrows you guys are currently walking through. It’s been my struggle though and I’ve been discouraged. In addition, my grandma, whom I love dearly, is my go-to for wisdom and who is just plain awesome, almost went to see Jesus. She spent time in an ICU during a winter storm that veered 120 miles off predicted course. Because of the storm her procedure had to be repeated when the correct device could be delivered to the hospital and she had the same ICU staff for ~ 60 hours straight. Working in an ICU I know that fatigue and stress can play a huge role in medical error. I prayed that God would protect her, knowing full well that she was ready if He wanted to call her home. Good news, with some living modifications she is recovering and doing well! It’s heart-wrenching knowing those you love are hurting and struggling. Then later in the week I had a stressful day of work when I wasn’t even there. How does that even happen? Tell me I’m not alone in that!?! As I was driving to meet some friends, completely caught up in life’s recent stressors, I played the song “How He Loves”, by John Mark McMillan, on repeat. Many of you may know the version performed by David Crowder Band.

“He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.”

“Afflictions eclipsed by glory” – I finally experienced and understood those words! Have any of you ever been so overwhelmed by His love when the world would tell you to doubt, to give up, when something tragic or completely frustrating happens? That was the moment I had in the car. A time of worship despite my circumstances, a time of thankfulness for His keeping love that I can’t be too good enough not to need or disappoint him too many times to lose. It was some good truth time. John Mark explains more about his song in the brief video, link below. It’s worth the five minutes. Trust me.

How He Loves: A Song Story

Now for what’s to come after the plot twist…

Triathlon training is far from practical at this point. Realistically, holding my neck in the position for a ride on my road bike may no longer be possible. It turns just far enough to be able to breathe while swimming freestyle. Which leaves me with two sports, running and swimming. The good news? I can run and swim. I can walk, talk, breathe and dance. Well that last ones debatable, but I can move! Some triathlons have relay events available. I don’t have to completely leave the sport but I will have to modify and completing a race may now be dependent on friends competing with me. (If any of you are interested in the future let me know!)

Over the next several months I will focus on becoming healthy again. It was a long road the first time and there’s something to be said for naivety. This time I know how hard it’s going to be. My pride wants to go outside right now and bust out a 5K in 20 degree weather but my body and mind aren’t there yet. Getting real – today I completed T25’s Cardio workout, fully modified, focusing on correct form and building muscle strength. So what is getting healthier going to look like? That’s what I plan to blog about over the next year. Week by week I plan to share lessons, thoughts, struggles, wins, workouts and recipes. And I’ll need your encouragement. If any of you are going through something similar maybe we can keep each other accountable. I’m not giving up. Remind me of that.

New goals:

– Exercising 3-4x per week. I’m working a mixture of 12h day and night shifts until March so working out before or after work will be a challenge.

– Eating clean 80% of the time. Shoot, even 50% at this point would be huge!

– Two 5K events. One on my 30th birthday and another two weeks later. I’d like to run both of them. We’ll see 🙂

Blessings,

Clean and Curvy

Happy 2014!

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Happy new year, friends!

A few years ago I adopted monthly goals instead of a yearly resolution. I find it much less daunting to think in terms of a few weeks and it allows for freedom to shift goals as life changes. My fit-focused goal for January is to drink an adequate amount of water each day. I pretty much walk around in a dehydrated state… not good. Water. It seems so basic yet it’s one of those things that is essential to life, to health. For a few fun hydration facts and study findings click here and here. Nurses are at particular risk for dehydration, as well as athletes. Add in my predisposition for kidney stones and I’m doomed! So I was completely thrilled when I opened a Christmas gift from my mom last month – a HydraCoach Intelligent Water Bottle. I know what you’re thinking – really, a water bottle makes you excited? Yep. It’s not just an ordinary water bottle. The Intelligent part means that it not only calculates how much water I need to drink but also keeps up with my intake and reminds me when I need to drink more!

HydraCoach Intelligent Water BottleSo, how much water do we need? The answer is not necessarily 8 glasses/day. Rather, it depends on a few things like weight, environmental temperature and moisture, age, gender and daily activity level. Here’s a good rule of thumb for a person of average daily activity level:

  1. Weigh yourself. It’s the beginning of a new year – always good to know where you start.
  2. Divide your weight in pounds by 2. This equals your daily water/liquid intake requirement in ounces.
  3. For every hour of exercise you’ll need to drink even more!

For a quick calculator go here. For my European and Aussie friends – the calculator can be adjusted to the metric system (which makes more sense and I wish we used it in the States).

Not everyone needs a “fancy” water bottle but the calculator is a great tool to help toward hydration. For those of you who are a tad absentminded like me, the HydraCoach water bottle might be a good investment.

Shifting to spiritual health…. My faith-focused goal for January is to be in the Word everyday. I am praying that the Lord will make me more disciplined in my walk with Him and increase my awe of Him. Today I spent time in the book of Hebrews. One of my favorite verses is one of hope and comes from Chapter 11, verse 13: All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.

From this verse, and the context listed below, it is clear that “the ancients” (believers) who came before me were faithful. The lived their faith. It was not a one-time deal. They trusted God in the ins-and-outs of daily life. The lived expectantly. Just because they didn’t receive what God had promised during their earthly life didn’t mean that they weren’t good enough or that God didn’t honor his promises. They knew that God had been with them from the beginning, He was with them during the trials and times of rejoicing, and that they would see Him in the future. They had confidence and hope in God and believed through faith that His promises would come about. It wasn’t about their time schedule. It was about God’s. Something better was coming. Talk about perspective! Matthew Henry’s Commentary puts it this way, “Many, who have a part in the promises, do not soon receive the things promised. Faith can lay hold of blessings at a great distance; can make them present; can love them and rejoice in them, though strangers; as saints, whose home is heaven; as pilgrims, traveling toward their home. By faith, they overcome the terrors of death, and bid a cheerful farewell to this world, and to all the comforts and crosses of it. And those once truly and savingly called out of a sinful state, have no mind to return into it. All true believers desire the heavenly inheritance; and the stronger faith is, the more fervent those desires will be. Notwithstanding their meanness by nature, their vileness by sin, and the poverty of their outward condition, God is not ashamed to be called the God of all true believers; such is his mercy, such is his love to them. Let them never be ashamed of being called his people, nor of any of those who are truly so, how much soever despised in the world. Above all, let them take care that they are not a shame and reproach to their God…. The apostle tells the Hebrews, that God had provided some better things for them, therefore they might be sure that he expected as good things from them. As our advantages, with the better things God has provided for us, are so much beyond theirs, so should our obedience of faith, patience of hope, and labour of love, be greater. And unless we get true faith as these believers had, they will rise up to condemn us at the last day. Let us then pray continually for the increase of our faith, that we may follow these bright examples, and be, with them, at length made perfect in holiness and happiness, and shine like the sun in the kingdom of our Father for evermore.”

From the book of Hebrews, Chapter 11:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.

23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.

31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.[d]

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

From the book of Hebrews, Chapter 12:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Let’s approach this year with faith and confidence; not in ourselves but in our Heavenly Father and may it be a year of faith and health.

Blessings to you and your family in 2014,

Clean and Curvy

Happy New Year!

My first run (again)

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My first run (again)

Yay for vacation! The past week I got to celebrate the birthdays of my dad, Grandma, Aunt B, Aunt Debi, and a second cousin. The best part was I got to celebrate with each of them which is quite a feat considering we’re scattered between Alabama, California, Arkansas and Tennessee. After a 36-hour visit with my aunts, Grandma, Mom and cousins my boyfriend and I headed to the Gulf Coast to meet up with my dad and brother for a short vacation. We’re staying on a boat. Fun, right? It’s docked in the bay and for those of you who’ve never “boat camped” it feels a little like being in the WC on an airplane, it rocks a little and I felt a tad unsturdy at first but I hardly notice it anymore. There’s a marina nearby with bath facilities but there’s a couple bedrooms and bathrooms on board. We cooked meals ahead of time – Veggie and Quinoa Chili, Mediterranean Penne, Eggplant Parm (recipe to come in November), Pumpkin Loaf, and brought ingredients to make salads. Both the chili and parm were frozen leftovers that reheated deliciously. Check out this view of the bay when we took the boat out.

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The bay was beautiful! My brother captained us out from the bay into the harbor then back into the slip with ease (I was nervous but he did great!). The fun was only cut short by neck pain. Dang neck. The drive and waves near the harbor proved to be too much. I took it easy the next day and we went “exploring”.

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This morning I woke up before seven without an alarm (um, I thought this was vacation!), hung out a little then set out for a test jog. I reset my jog/walk intervals on Map My Run to 2 min/ 4 min. Forty-six minutes later I had gone 3.6 miles. No tingling, numbness or pain! Except that I was now out of shape and had to jog slowly 🙂 I completed my intervals then stretched on the dock. Man, I know I’ve written it before but this place is just beautiful. The pics below are of places along my route.

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We spent the afternoon at the beach. I absolutely love the beach in the fall – 75 degrees, sunny and breezy. I leave you with our view of sunset from the boat. Hope everyone has a great week!

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Scalenes and PT

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Scalene muscles

I’m back! The headache, stabbing neck pain, chills, tingling, burning, and numbness may have been related to a pinched nerve high in my neck followed by severe muscle spasms and strain. Only once have I had neck pain before and it was after a car accident. I wish I had some great cause of the pain like saving a child from a burning building but nope. Just woke me up in the middle of the night. I rested two days and didn’t feel like I had the flu so I went to a chiropractor. I called first to see if he would take x-rays and he said it depended on my “condition”. Okay, well I can hardly move my neck and I have shooting pains down my spine and into my arms. He took a brief history when I arrived then took me back to the adjustment table. Insert the scary music – Dun done DUN! He made a few adjustments. There were specific points along my neck almost sent me through the roof when he palpated them. He called it “severe” but thought it was something he could fix. At least 12 adjustments later I had to stop. There was a “relief” moment and I was again able to turn my head but the rest of my neck and upper back were on fire. So if being classified as “severe” doesn’t get you x-rays then what does? The medical side of me was frustrated. My fever had gone away and I had hoped it was an easy fix which is why I sought assistance from a chiropractor first. Over the next few hours the pain worsened and my neck tightened. I attempted to go to work the next day. I have a pretty high pain tolerance and worked until the point of extreme pain before calling my doctor’s office. She had an appointment in two hours. Talk about a blessing! I made it to her office and the receptionist could tell I was in a lot of pain. I thought I was holding it together. Then one of the Neos (Attending Neonatologist for you non-NICU folks) from work walked into the waiting room. They asked how I was doing and I lost it. Tears, like crocodile ones. I promise I don’t usually cry in public but I was finally the patient and could let it out. I talked with my doctor, yes tears were still rolling down my cheeks. She is wonderful by the way – smart, practical, compassionate when she needs to be but generally a straight shooter. She assessed me, I had blood work done and X-rays, then we talked again. She took both my hands, looked me in the eyes and said, “Well, the official medical term to describe your x-ray is jacked up.” Ha! My neck was so swollen that the curve was completely straight. Next she asked me why a nurse practitioner would go to the chiropractor first when I knew meningitis was in the differential and I was having so much pain. It’s true. Nurses make the worst patients. We only seek medical care when 1) we are bleeding profusely after an hour of pressure being held, 2) when we’re in enough pain that we can’t function or breathe without hyperventilating, 3) if we’ve had a fever for over a week, or 4) when we’re dying. Anywho, because my fever went away and my headache didn’t make me throw up I kind of self ruled out meningitis. I know, I know. I’m not a doctor. I had just done a lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, on a 1.5 pound baby the day before the pain started. I know there are lots of babies who probably want retaliation for me sticking a needle in their back but I was praying against that. And thankfully my lab worked showed two things – my body was fighting something but my white count was not elevated significantly to pursue meningitis further. I was able to start a 6-day steroid pack after the labs resulted. That and low dose muscle relaxers and pain meds made me feel like a new woman. Energy wise I finally felt like myself again after two days of steroids however the pain didn’t begin to subside until after about a week. I remember waking up the following Sunday and feeling somewhat rested. It took me a week to sleep through the night but I could finally sleep again. Yes, it still hurt to move my neck and I couldn’t lift things but I could begin to move. Over the next week the pain lessened slightly day by day and granted me more mobility but I still had to take it easy. I had to rest my neck and take Tylenol after changing the laundry from the washer to the dryer. Whimp! I know. I began stretching my neck with some advice from my cousin who’s a pediatric sports medicine MD. Thank you, Kelsey! A few days later I cooked by myself and could turn my head fast enough to be able to drive. It sounds silly but I was finally able to wear my glasses and give my eyes a break. Did you know that glasses limit your peripheral vision and make you turn your head to see? Thank you, neck pain, for helping me to appreciate contacts even more. Who’d have thought? Two weeks from the initial pain I was able to return to work. The Lord provided a smooth day and I was able to complete my 24-hour shift with only mild discomfort and tightness after the first 8 hours. I went back and looked at worksheets from my last day at work and my handwriting toward the end looked like that of an angry seven year-old boy. I usually write fairly small, neat and legible. Crazy the way pain can affect a person. And now I am more attuned than ever to ergonomics. Thankful to have incubators that can move up and down and computer screens that tilt. Not everything is ergo but I appreciate what is.

Today was my first day of physical therapy. Really they should call it delayed muscle torture. The therapist did lots of neck mobility tests and muscle strength tests and decided that I had issues with my scalene muscles and around C2 and C3. Then came the exercises. For the next two days I will be doing chin tucks and tipping my ear toward my shoulder while looking up, straight forward and down. Bring on the ice and Tylenol! He said that I should get back to “life” but to let pain be my guide. If something hurts I am to change something about my posture or position and re-evaluate. Sounds simple enough. Hum, maybe both of my hands going numb during that last run was because my scalene muscles were impinging on my brachial plexus? Who knows? I’m scheduled for another two visits this week.

So where does that leave me with training? I’m going to focus on swimming and walking to bring my endurance back. Essentially I’ll have to start from the beginning. But you know what? That’s okay. Completing the Olympic TRI is a goal of mine but right now I need to focus on getting well. I am still planning on training but it will have to be less intense. To those of you who have prayed and thought about me over the last few weeks I really appreciate it! Thank you for your support and encouragement.

New Playlist

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New Playlist

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Music is powerful. It has the ability to communicate, to stir emotion, to provoke thought, to focus your mind on something else. The hospital where I work has music therapists who entertain and work with young patients to make music, smiles, and even breakthroughs. Occasionally there’s a harpist who comes to the unit. The soft music is soothing to those precious ears old enough to be out of incubators and calming to the busy and stressed staff. I look forward to the days that music is accepted at work. Audio streaming in the office is truly a stress reliever for me. I guess its extremely fitting then that I fell in love with a musician about a year after I moved to Nashville. He loves new music. When he drives he always puts on his latest find. Sometimes I like it and other times I don’t see why he thinks its special. He is all about musicality while I first hear the lyrics. He’ll rewind – um, is there a new word for digital music? – and say, “Wait, wait. Here it is. Oh, its SO good!” And then we’ll listen a third and even a fourth time. I love his enthusiasm. He quizzes me when we’re out and a good song comes on. I’m horrible at remembering names so I might know every word and not be able to tell you the artist. We have fun with it though. It’s about the only quiz I don’t get all type A about it. Recently he’s begun creating playlists of artists I should know. Most recently, the Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Anywho, when I started running earlier this year I ran to the beat, which meant my playlist consisted of FAST songs. Most of them I got from Zumba class. However, when I started training using the talk test and watching my HR more closely I had to adjust my playlist. So two weeks ago I created a new one that I call Jog Intervals. It’s composed of various styles, songs that I can get lost in the lyrics or beat and stay on track. (Keep in mind it allows for a five minute warm up walk) Give it a listen and see what you think.

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Oh, an honorable mention goes out to Ben Rector’s tune The Beat. It’s great for an upbeat walk. And thanks to the boyfriend for using his professional drummer skills to assist with the bpm’s. What are some of your favorite training tunes?

Overcomer

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Above all, obey your body and the thermometer–not your training program. – Marc Bloom, Runner’s World

The last two weeks have been rather still due to a bad cold, fever, fatigue, a throbbing headache and pain when I turn my neck. It was really hard not to be frustrated in the waiting. My body screamed rest but my mind worried that I was falling behind, way behind. After seeing so much about pushing through and mind-over-matter I looked for some scientific articles. Surely I shouldn’t run with a fever or when it hurts to turn my head but how long should I wait to return to training? I came across these two that I thought were helpful – Should You Run When You’re Sick? and Principles of Detraining: What happens if you stop training? Missing two weeks of training means my aerobic capacity is ~8% less, my cardiac output is reduced by ~10% because my stroke volume is decreased (even though my HR was higher), my muscle capillary density is decreased by up to 7%, the lactate level in my blood during exercise now is almost 88% higher while my lactate threshold has dropped by almost 7%. If that wasn’t enough negative change my ability to use fat for fuel during exercise has decreased ~50% while the time it takes me to be fatigued is now ~10% shorter. Seriously? I was only three weeks in and now I have to back up a week and omit a week or two in the future. Awesome. Thanks to The Triathlete’s Training Bible for helping me map out a new game plan.

Before getting sick I had one of the best training runs I’ve ever had and posted my first negative splits. I started with a 5 minute warm up walk then jog/walked intervals of 3 min/4 min for 35 minutes.

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I worked the next day then came home exhausted with an incredibly sore throat. I’d feel well enough to return to work for a 12 and 24-hour shift then crash to recover for the next shift. My resting heart rate was higher and I wore out quickly. My chest finally felt light enough to go out for one jog last week. I planned on participating in the Worldwide WordPress 5K, September 23 – 29, but I missed the allotted week due to illness so I counted this training run as my WWWP5K. I ran 3 of the 5 intervals but accidently took my “long” route – almost 4 miles. At mile two my HR peaked at 205 after running uphill. I kept pushing until my hands went numb. Okay body, you win! I considered stopping at a random person’s home to ask for water and to take a breather. At mile three I almost layed out on the sidewalk and wanted to call my boyfriend to pick me up. I was exhausted and parched. I walked the rest of the time and made it home without stopping thanks in part to some encouragement I received from Mandisa on my new jog intervals playlist. The title track of her new album, Overcomer, is an upbeat encourager. I’ve included a few lyrics (written by Christopher Stevens and David Garcia):

Everybody’s been down
Hit the bottom, hit the ground
Oh, you’re not alone
Just take a breath, don’t forget
Hang on to His promises
He wants You to know
The same Man, the Great I am
The one who overcame death
Is living inside of You
So just hold tight, fix your eyes
On the one who holds your life
There’s nothing He can’t do
He’s telling You

You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when He reminds You
That you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer.

I think about Hebrews 12 when I hear this song, specifically verses 1-3: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on JESUS, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before HIM, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of GOD. Consider HIM who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

This is one of my favorite passages in Scripture. There’s so much packed into those three verses! More on Hebrews 12 and my spiritual journey to come.

Training has not been easy and getting worn down by illness is getting OLD. I thought about biking before my neck and spine hurt but I had no energy. It was hard to imagine swimming while I battled the cold. I’m hopeful that a visit to the chiropractor tomorrow will help my neck and back. This journey is painfully slow and I know there will always be challenges but I’m not giving up. And now that I feel well enough I’m getting my flu shot this week. Have you gotten yours?

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Thursday’s Training Tip

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TRI training, week 4 – done

TRI training, week 4 – done

This is one my favorite motivational quotes. I saw it on Pinterest but it’s originally from Gibson’s Daily Running Quotes. I know it’s only week four and I have a long way to go but I’m still moving. Not fast. I’ve struggled and I haven’t seen much progress from a weight loss stand point but I’m not giving up. Here’s what the week looked like:

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When I got off work on Tuesday morning I went home and slept on and off for the next five hours. I was tired – 72 hours of work in five days. I looked forward to the next two days off. Around 6pm I went for a walk/jog around the neighborhood. One thing I love about my quaint little neighborhood is that people are active. I must have passed 10 different sets of dogs and owners and an additional 15 runners. We smile and manage a wave between huffs. My win for this workout is that I added in 3 hills. I ran up each of them. Don’t get me wrong. A headwind would have stopped me in my tracks but I didn’t quit! I felt accomplished. The race I’m training for is in an area that lies “between the ridge-and-valley portion of the Appalachian Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau”. Thank you, Wikipedia. In other words – hilly. My neighborhood is relatively flat but it connects to one with some serious hills, at least from my novice running perspective. Since I’ll be running ~3 days per week I’m going to start running the first one easy, add in some short sprints or hills to the second run, and then the third one will be the “long run”. Maybe one day I’ll be able to run the whole workout. For now I’m happy to see my split times getting faster. I know it makes sense because I’m jogging slightly longer intervals than when I started but it’s progress! I would be ecstatic to keep a 10-minute mile pace for 6.2 miles at the end of the triathlon! I almost wimped out on the final interval. I looked down at my MapMyRun app and it said I had 15 more seconds to go. Oh yeah, I can do this. I kept jogging and completed my interval then threw in an additional minute for good measure. I’m recognizing that the mental component of training is a pretty huge factor. I read an article in Runner’s World today about overcoming mental roadblocks: Negative thinking, rigid goals, doubt and unfair comparisons to others. They do exist! Read their suggestions to hurdle the roadblocks here. If you’re a fellow running newbie also check out their series of articles called The Starting Line. In addition to tackling the hills I paid attention to my footstrike, aiming for a midfoot strike instead of with my heel. It feels like I land on my midfoot and roll to push off my toes. Maybe one of my local running stores will offer a free gait evaluation sometime soon. A girl can hope.

Wednesday morning I slept through swim practice. Oops! I didn’t fall asleep until 2am the night before. When I woke up at 9, I ate a quick breakfast and headed to the Y for a bike and swim. I did 6 miles on the stationary bike because it looked a little stormy and I’m not comfortable enough yet on my road bike to ride in the rain. I’ve ridden on wet roads before and was nervous the whole time. But what’s the worst that could happen? A fall. Been there at least 5 times before. I’m pretty much a professional “faller”. Last time I was able to incorporate a roll and only came away with some road rash and a few bruises. Anywho, I set the bike to an intervals program and kept my rpms 95-105. The weather held off (no thunder) so I was able to swim. No swim team interference this early in the day. Woot woot! I repeated the swim workout from last week and stuck to my intervals. Again, I had to remind myself to kick.

I ended up sleeping and resting though most of Friday after I got home from work. I’ve had some rough shifts in the past week. I incredibly thankful to have a job so please do not take that as a complaint. I’ve just had some really sick kiddos lately and it’s wearing on me a little. Three days off could not have come at a better time.

Saturday morning I woke up dizzy. I could not put one foot in front of the other. I ran into a doorframe within two steps and had to brace myself with the wall. I drank some water and went back to sleep. More hydration issues? Stuffy ears from swimming? I only managed two meals the day before because I slept so much so maybe my blood sugar was low? Low BP when I sat up? No clue but it went away after another sleep cycle. (Mom, if you’re reading this I promise to go see my doc if it becomes a pattern). I got dressed, hydrated and grabbed a quick snack then headed to the pool. I told myself that if I didn’t feel well enough to swim then it would be worth watching others with good technique or that I would do a light workout. I felt better by the time I got to practice so I jumped in. And surprise – warm up lasts 20 minutes on Saturdays! Um, until last week that was the duration of my entire swim workout! I took breaks between my 100’s in warm up. No way would I be able to make it through the rest of the workout if I put all my effort into warm up. The workout was jumbled. Between the 18 of us across 9 lanes and the music the lifeguards had playing I could hardly hear the workout. They turned it down but it’s an indoor pool so the acoustics don’t lend well to hearing someone talk from the water. The guy in the next lane told us what he heard so we went with that. He’s a faster swimmer than I am so I ended up swimming the same distances (most of the time) then taking 5 seconds rest before starting the next thing. I have no idea what the intervals were. I was exhausted by the end but I put in the work and accomplished something. I focused on rotating and pulling through the water with my forearms in addition to my hands. My goggles kept fogging up and I couldn’t see the clock very well so I just swam. And swam, and swam, and kicked. I learned that I didn’t need as much rest as I thought. That night a friend joined me for the jog/walk. She’s a runner and has long legs, lucky, so I’m pretty sure I slowed her down but she didn’t let me feel bad about it if I did. Thanks, friend! I used the “talk test” throughout our workout and listened to my body. My stomach got a little queasy when my HR hit 199 during the run. I slowed down that interval, including the next walk, to allow my HR to recover at 167. After that my stomach and lungs felt better. Around mile four I got a second wind but played it safe and ended my workout close to on-time. It was a good day! I enjoy training by myself at times but today I needed swim club and Claire to keep me going. So thank you, training buddies!

Thursday’s Training Tip

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