Friday, November 4, 2011

The Magic is YOU!

For those who don't know, I'm a nutritionist and a health coach. I get paid to help others set, plan out, and achieve their health goals. You don't always get through to everyone, but I would have to say that I'm confident at what I do and I do it well. I don't talk a lot about nutrition or goal setting on my blog because its what I do ALL DAY LONG and I need a break.

Now despite what I do, I would venture to say that when it comes to my running, I am HORRIBLE at setting goals for myself. I don't have the exact reason for you, other than I'm competitive and don't want to fail- can't fail if you didn't set a goal in the first place right? Yes stupid I know. 

This post is designed to show you kind of what I've been dealing with in terms of my running over the years to get me to where I am now, which in my opinion, is FINALLY a healthy mentality. It's long, so I could be thorough without overkill. 

The past week or so I've been getting quite a bit of emails from bloggers, fb, and daily mile asking me what changed in my running to account for the decrease in time. I've been talking for the last year about wanting to be faster, but it really hasn't happened until recently so I thought I'd share my story.

For those who are new followers ... my pace is consistently inconsistent and during runs and races- generally resulting in an average pace anywhere from 8:30s - 9:30s. As of late I've been consistently running sub 8:00s... WhAt?!?! Thats a huge improvement for myself, so I thought I'd share exactly what happened in hopes that maybe someone can benefit from it. 

I'm what you would call a competitive lazy runner. I'm competitive in the sense that I'm not someone who says "I don't care about my time, I just want to have fun"- screw that (no offense if that is YOUR philosophy, it just doesn't work for me)... I WANT to be FASTER, STRONGER, and BETTER. 

 Now what I'm about to say may rub some of you the wrong way, and if that's the case, sorry, it's not my intent. (but its always YOUR choice to stop reading)  However this is my blog and I feel that I have to share this with you in order for you to understand where I'm coming from. I'm that runner that you probably hate.  I don't do speed work, cross training, hill training, and while we're at it... any training. I run when I feel like it, my mileage is what it is, and to top it all off- I walk... A LOT. This doesn't really affect my times though. For the most part I'm a sub 2 hour 1/2 marathoner. My body is comfortable with that pace and I don't really push myself to go any faster. In the past year I've ran 24  half marathons-- guess how many I walked-- 23. yup, all but 1. The one I hold my fastest time in... ya I walked... quite a bit actually. I don't tell you this to brag by any means, I'm actually ashamed. I'm one of those people that I actually can't stand. I talk about wanting to be better, yet for literally the past year  I haven't ever made an effort to do anything about it. The only reason why I've even been able to stand myself is because I know I'm not better BECAUSE I haven't tried, so therefore in a way I couldn't disappoint myself. 

I used to be fast.... I mean I could run 1 mile under 6 minutes kind of fast. If we're talking about multiple miles in a row then it would average anywhere between 6:30 -7:30 min miles... but an 8 min mile was actually S L O W for me. It's because of this that I stay away from 5ks because I will never be what I once was. So what the heck happened?!?! I grew up... literally. I've been 5'10-5'11 ish since age 13. In high school I weighed between 130-135lbs, at that height. Now I'm teetering (as of this morning at 157)---Although I am a great weight for my height,  20-25 extra lbs is a LOT to deal with on the joints and your speed.  I also don't train like I did, and I don't have any running partners to work with, challenge me, and most of all, hold me accountable. ALL I have is me and up until recently that just wasn't motivation enough. 

So there is my background and here comes when change came into play...

Sometime in Spring my friend Scott asked me to join them in the Las Vegas Ragnar relay. Of course I said yes, however the catch was that I had to be sub 8 miles or close to it by race day (great no pressure)

All summer long I thought about speed work, it was miserably hot so I resorted to burst training on the treadmill. After pushing too hard and vomitting on the machine, I gave that up and decided I would just 'wing it'. Fast forward to my first leg at Vegas Ragnar. I cannot put into words how miserable I was. I didn't think about the elevation change and went out too fast and by the time mile 2 hit it was HARD to breathe- my first time wheezing while running.  My entire run was uphill causing my legs to move as if they were  bricks, and to top it off the  90+ degrees and the bright sun made me feel like I was over heating. I kept beating myself up mentally questioning why I even put myself through this torture. Anytime our van wasn't in sight I walked--- one of my miles was 11:30. I ended the 5.5 miles with a 9:30 pace. 

I was so embarrassed by my less than stellar performance- here I am sharing a van with 4 guys who are all running in the 6s and 7s, and I whip out 930??? I was more angry at myself though. Why do I constantly give up so easily. I had been looking forward to this race for MONTHS, and now I'm here and this is how I run?!?! More than that I was angry that I KNEW FOR MONTHS that I needed to train to get faster and yet I did NOTHING about it. Smart Lisa, real smart.  I have 2 more legs to prove to myself that I can do better...

That my friends.... was my breaking point (sometimes I feel we all need one in order to make a change) I finally reached that point where I was sick of how mentally weak I was and for ONCE I wanted to actually push myself and see, what am I capable of. 

My 2nd run went GREAT- I didn't walk once (which is a HUGE accomplishment for me)- I opened my stride up a little bit and the entire run I just kept repeating self-affirmations. It got to the point where I was going much faster than the guys anticipated and I watched my van pull over in the distance to cheer for me. As I got closer they still weren't getting out, hmm strange. So as I ran by it, I smacked the door and heard one of the guys say "Holy crap was that Lisa, she's flying"--- that MADE.MY.DAY and was enough to keep up the speed. I finished the run, 5.4 miles with a 7:14 average pace (39 minutes) 

Right before my third leg the guys asked me if I was going to pull another fast run out of the hat so they could better prepare themselves- I wanted to prove to them, but also myself, that it wasn't a fluke. Sure enough this run started out even faster. I had a few miles in the 6s, but unfortunately slowed down a bit shortly after 4 miles since my van passed me (it was still pitch black) without realizing it and I had zero water for 4.5 miles (in the dessert that is an eternity) I finished the run, 5.8 miles with a 7:39 pace (44 min)

Ladies and gentlemen this was all I needed to finally realize that I do have the power within me to be better. All this time I never wanted to try because I was afraid to disappoint myself. Turns out I just needed a confidence boost to know what my abilities were, and then push myself. I tried it out this weekend for a 10 miler and 2 4 milers and every single run was faster than I expected. I kept repeating in my head when I was tired 
"I believe in myself, 
I AM faster,
I am stronger, 
and I have more confidence than I give myself credit for"

That's it! There isn't anything special because YOU are what makes YOU special. You are the magic. I know this seems simple and too easy to be true, but seriously think about it for a minute. Unless you've DNF a race, you've always finished. We determine how quickly or slowly we reach that finish line. Our training definitely does help or hurt us, but our mind is what takes over when it gets hard. Jill H said in her post HERE that your strongest muscle is your mind, and I couldn't agree more. I've known for quite some time that I was mentally weak... that wasn't a secret. What I DIDN'T know though, was how to change and overcome that huge obstacle--- not a lot of training out there to 'toughen up your mentality'

So in short (too late) this is what I've learned and will hope to continue to remind myself.
  • Believe you can do it- If you don't believe in you, than who will?? YOU need to be YOUR OWN biggest supporter and motivator. 
  • Ask yourself these questions: 
    • Is this goal for YOU? Or is it something that you're basing off others?
    • Is this something you feel you need to do, OR is it something you WANT to do?
    • Do you have passion for what your are trying to accomplish?
    •  Is it REALLY important to you? 
    • What are you willing to do to make this goal a reality? 
  • Most people would just naturally answer yes to the 3rd and 4th bullet without thinking about it- but when you get to the last question their mind draws a blank. IF your mind draws a blank then the answer should be clear---- IT'S NOT YET BECOME A PRIORITY TO YOU YET. Huge difference between what we'd LIKE to happen, but then what we're actually willing to do to make that like come true. This applies to everything in life... not just running 
  • If you answer these questions honestly there are 2 outcomes:
  1. you realize that you've been chasing a goal that isn't that important to you and that is why you can't seem to obtain it is because there is no motivation there to reach it
  2. You realize you have all the right reasons and now its time to buckle down and stop making excuses and instead make some change.
At the end of the day, they are YOUR goals. If it gets to the point where you start to question your ability or self worth because your not obtaining your goals like you thought, than maybe its time to take a step back and process what it is that you really want. Maybe you still want the same thing, but perhaps the goals are too lofty and you need to start smaller? Whatever the case, there is no shame in changing them. 

So I'd love to hear from you-
What are some ongoing goals that you're hoping to accomplish?

Do you do "pulse checks" to see if your actions are still congruent in obtaining your goals?

Have your goals changed along the way as you learn more about YOU?

off to run the Tennessee Ragnar. My team told me to run slow (they aren't competitive at all) so this should be interesting in comparison to other Ragnars! Have a good weekend!


  1. My goals lately have been around weight loss and running time. I know that one will naturally lead to the other but it is just a matter of making the right choices. I SO needed this post today!!! I know that I need to look honestly at my training and eating and stop saying, "I have no idea what is wrong"! I really need to stop trying to find the next latest and greatest and just look at myself! My goals do change so that I can continue to challenge myself!

  2. I totally agree with what you just said! I was running at a 10 minute pace when a friend suggested I try Yassos, which you have to run at a sub 8 (well, that is what I wanted at least). And I could. I did. It was not as hard as I thought it would be. I think it was all a mindset. Once I changed my mind, I did it.

  3. Running is totally mental. I love that about it. I'm kind of a slow runner, but would love to get faster, I need to keep challenging myself and believing in myself. Thanks for the push!

    Happy Fitness Friday Blog Hopping!

  4. I'm sort of afraid to comment - I either will say "AWESOME POST!" or end up writing 20 pafge response!! Seriously though... This is such an important subject: goals, fulfilling your potential, focus, making yourself proud. I'm totally not talking about you when I say this but I just CANNOT RELATE to people who just run for "fun" and don't push an set goals and want to progress. I'm in no way saying I dont get stuck in ruts, but running is fun to me when I push my limit and surprise myself with what I can do. There's ton of fun to be had in pushing past doubts, pain, etc. I think you have got some amazing race performances coming up in your near future

  5. I'm book marking this to remind me of your post. Really. I need this reminder all the time!

    My ongoing goals right now are eating better and being consistant. I would like to be faster as well... but that's another story!

  6. This was a great post. I totally get the competitive lazy runner thing. Very awesome for you that you were able to find something with you to pull off some amazing times recently! Have fun at Ragnar!

  7. Great post. I am not a competitive runner and I am super slow. I would like to get a bit faster but really have no idea how to do it. I'm sure I could run faster for a mile but then hit a wall.

    Do you have a method to your walking in the 1/2's or do you just walk when you feel like it?

    april@Party of Five

  8. Great post and so right on! I used to run lots of races without stating time goals because I was scared to fail - now, at 41, I'm much stronger mentally than I was in my 20's and 30's. I do the training and I know now that I am capable of a lot more than I used to give myself credit for.

    New follower from the blog hop!

  9. i am SO appreciative of this post and really enjoyed reading about your journey. You have really kicked it up since LV Ragnar and that is so completely inspiring to me. When I first started running I had more confidence than I have ever had in myself with ANYTHING. Then a little injury set me back and i got caught up in a victim mindset and "guess it wasn't meant to be." I have kept at it obviously but my mind has continued to get weaker and weaker over time. So...I think seeing people like you, Ashley and others just totally kick it up...has been a message to me. Why not me? Its time to get mentally strong again. And believe! Have a blast this weekend!

  10. What a great post! Thanks for sharing. I agree 100%: my 1st marathon was a desaster and I know it was all because I let my mind play tricks. The 2nd marathon I was prepared for that and did allow anynegative thought to destroy this again. I finished happy with a 33 minute PR!

  11. I focused my entire year on a 4:30 marathon PR. That was my goal and I was willing to work for it. Regardless of the events at Chicago that were beyond my control I am ending this year knowing that I have it in me to meet that goal. My goals rarely change unless it's due to circumstances beyond my control.

    I'm a big believer in self affirmations particularly when running. Like you mentioned, so much of it is mental...the positive and unfortunately the negative too.

    Have fun in Tenn and I look forward to hearing whether or not you ran slow :)

    Great post Lisa.

  12. My goals are just to basically eat less and move more. The moving is always the easy part for me...I do want to do more races though in 2012 :) Thanks for this post. You shared a lot of good information.

  13. I've had a lag in speed lately too. I blame mine on... well, probably a bit of over-training, and most likely, racing too much. But, time has honestly become a lot less important to me. Obviously I am much happier with a race where I felt like I was faster and performed better, but I'm in it for the race, not the pace. :) (Obviously...)

    I think you are amazing. I've never EVER been a speedster. I have never ONCE run anything sub 7, not even for 10 seconds. I have a few teeny tiny sprints that I've done in the 7 range, and my fastest (well, only) timed mile is 7:47. But I am "mostly" consistent, and I have endurance. Those are my strengths, and I still plan on tapping into that and possibly doing my crazy plan of a 100 miler in March. Maybe ;-)

    Thanks for sharing Lisa, we all have our struggles.

  14. Sounds like you tapped into your essence :) Way to go!

    I also used to be pretty fast-ish...and an elite athlete in a different sport. Now that I am a lot older and took a lot of time off to have kids, I am in the "stay healthy, get fit" goal place :) Have fun at that Ragnar!

  15. This post came at a PERFECT time!! I mean I race all the time and never set any goals. For Portland my only goal was to stick to the Galloway method and give it an honest try. I did it and I got a PR without any training. Like you I don't really train and I always walk. I feel bad because I really can walk in a race and pass people that are running. Then I think I could totally do so much more if I'd try. But I never try. Tonight I actually start preparing for Vegas and WDW and I think you nailed it ... my mind. I have to get my head in check. Looking back at training for my first half I was so mentally into it that I was doing awesome. I sort of just stopped trying. I'm feeling like tonight is perfect for a fresh start and I am going to have my head tell me I CAN do it!!

  16. Good post...we train similarly. As a runner I am fine, but my issue comes from body composition. I am constantly at odds with with my pride wanting to be a little on the bulky side and me wanting to be thinner and leaner. I have battled this for years and come off as being neither...kind of bulky and kind of lean. My body frame wants to be bulky and I am built more like a sprinter, but would love to be lighter and leaner. I am positive it would help my distance running and probably get me to sub 7 pace. So finally, I am going to go all in on lighter and leaner and see where that gets me. I have been going strong at 5'11 195 pounds, but really want to see if I could be much faster at 180 or less.