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Dear Beautiful Girl On The Run…

29 May

This morning, I saw this incredible letter posted on the facebook page of my local chapter of Girls on the Run. It really spoke to me about what it means to encourage other runners, but also, what it means to encourage our youth to run and be active. It also spoke to me about the joy of running and the way it makes us feel…despite our chubby legs and non-six pack abs. I couldn’t NOT share it with you, so I hope you get as much from reading it as I did. Happy running!

“The story behind this…A girl was volunteering at a marathon mile 13 water stop…a runner passing by asked her if she was a ‘Girl on the Run‘. When the girl replied yes – this is what she received.”

Mandy Mayer, you are awesome!

No, I’m Not Pregnant Again.

23 May

It has been 20 days since my last blog post. No, I didn’t forget about it. No, I’m not dead. No, I haven’t hit a block with my writing. I’ve just been…well, busy. Like really REALLY busy.

Since I started this blog, the only time I have gone that long without a post was last fall when Baby Key was born. Everyday that would go by, I would think about all the things that were going on and all the things I couldn’t wait to share.

Well, as a family, we sort of find ourselves at this same point. The last few weeks have been eventful, stressful, busy, and exciting! I know I have been teasing about dropping some big news on my Twitter for weeks, but I really had to wait until the timing was right. So, without further ado…

“Now this a story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down” ~ Fresh Prince

I AM QUITTING MY JOB
Well, technically, I am turning in my 2 weeks notice today. Over the last year or so, I have come to the conclusion that I am not destined to be an engineer. I have learned that just because I can do calculus and physics in my sleep, it does not mean that I have to. In short, my heart is no longer in it and I no longer feel fulfilled pursuing this career. I have realized that I have other talents and gifts and I need to use them.

I don’t get all preachy very often on my blog (though some would argue that I should use my voice to do so, but this is my blog and I will write about what I want, when I want), but I feel that God is opening doors for me and my family and is leading us down a new path. Over the last six months or so, I have crossed paths with several different members of my church who have reminded me that as Christians, God wants us to be joyous in our work. I can honestly say that I find NO joy in being an engineer. In fact, I dislike it so much that I often find it putting me in a bad mood. That is not the kind of person I am and not the kind of person that I want to be. I find joy in helping people, encouraging others, helping people pursue their fitness goals, running, and leading others. The decision has been made to pursue a line of work where I can be happy and share my passions with others…even if it means getting comfortable in a new salary bracket. The value in being happy and healthy far exceeds the salary I collect as an engineer.

But, I won’t be broke for long, because…

I HAVE LANDED AN INCREDIBLE NEW JOB
Goodbye, hard hat…HELLO, RUNNING SHOES! Let’s be real, I have made no secret about wanting to shift my career from engineering to all things running. But how does one actually do that? By working your tail off, that’s how. I have been involved with the management, direction, and timing of races as a side job (or by contract work) over the last several years. However, I have been extended a partnership opportunity with a successful race management and timing company and I have decided to accept it. Two weeks from today, I will literally be immersing myself in all things running and racing…as a career! In addition, this new position will bring the opportunity to do some beginner run coaching. My two new partners are accomplished athletes…one is a successful track and running coach at a university (who also writes about running) and the other is a multiple marathoner and back-to-back Ironman 140.6 finisher (yes, he did a full Ironman on one Sunday…and then did another full Ironman the following Sunday). I have known these guys for a long time and I feel honored to be working with them. I am excited about all the good things this will bring and I look forward to growing our business and putting on first class races/endurance events for our clients! While I have managed, directed, and timed many running events (both road and trail), I will also be expanding my horizons and venturing into the management/timing of cycling events, swimming events, triathlons, duathlons, and mud/obstacle runs. So much to learn! Me…a (partial) business owner! All things running…all the time!  Say what!?

So where is this great new opportunity? Well, this brings me to the next item…

WE ARE MOVING
Sadly, my dream job is not located in Baton Rouge…not even in the State of Louisiana. It is actually located in Upstate South Carolina, so that is where we will be relocating! Although I am originally from Baton Rouge, I spent 6 years in Greenville, SC after I graduated from LSU so this area is very familiar to me. Plus, my husband is from that area and we have plenty of family there (read = lots of family to gush over and spoil Baby Key rotten 24/7). The Upstate is beautiful and I am looking forward to having more places to run (both on the road and on the trails) and being able to do more cycling, as Greenville is a cyclist’s dream thanks to George Hincapie.

I will NOT be driving this 700+ miles.

One of the best parts about this move is that we will be able to buy our first home. Just writing that makes me tear up. We have dreamed about this for SO long. The cost of housing in Upstate SC is 20% lower than it is in Baton Rouge, so that means we will be able to afford a nice house, nicer than anything we could have gotten here. My husband is working with our real estate agent this week and we are hoping to put an offer on a house this Friday. I simply cannot wait! Owning our own home will bring me so much joy! I will have a kitchen with lots of counter space where I can prepare healthy meals for my family. We will have a big backyard where Baby Key and Elvis (our furbaby) can play and run around. Our new home will be big enough for me to have a home office that I can work from…giving me almost three hours (my current commute time) of my day back. Seriously, do know how much you can accomplish in three hours!? Hello long runs and training time!

My business partners and I are currently seeking new office space. With all that I have going on in Baton Rouge, I could not add that to my list right now. I will be tackling that project once we are there and settled. One space that we are seriously looking at is in a specialty running store in town. That’s right…I would get to work out of a running store! That sounds so fun, but I fear I may come home with new gear everyday and it probably take my running shoe addiction to a whole new level. What a sacrifice, right? Ha!

That’s the long and short of it…quitting a job I hate…starting a job I know I will love…and planting roots in a city that makes me happy. Folks, it is going to be good. GOOD.

But wait, what will my husband be doing?
As fate would have it, my husband has also found an incredible new job in the Upstate. His new company is AMAZING and it is one that he has wanted to get on board with for a long time. Plus, it comes with lots of perks…on-site fitness center (that the whole family can use!), on-site doctor/medical facility, great health benefits, and incredible contributions to 401k, etc. He is very excited and I know that he has so much to offer in this new position!

But wait, what about the #RunLA fam?
Don’t worry, friends! I’m not leaving you! C’mon, did you really think I could just up and leave?? No way! I am still working on several races in Louisiana and even after we move, I will be making regular trips back for race planning meetings, expos, conferences, and events. I plan to schedule my trips back to Louisiana on days where I can meet up with my running groups as much as possible! I am so blessed to have established so many wonderful friendships here and I look forward to continuing those relationships…just from a little farther away. Thank heavens for facebook!

But wait, what about your family in Louisiana?
While most of my family will stay in Louisiana, my mom has decided to make the move with us! She is about to retire and is ready to start a new chapter in her life. She always loved visiting me in Greenville when I lived there before, and she is ready to make it her home also! She will not be making this initial move with us, but once our little family is settled in, we will start the process of relocating her. I am so excited that Baby Key will be able to have my mom and my husband’s parents in the same city!

But wait, won’t you miss Baton Rouge?
In some ways, yes. In some ways, no. I will miss my family and friends tremendously. I will definitely miss the food. I will NOT miss the traffic and the never-ending construction. Baton Rouge is my hometown, but I am ready to make Greenville my home. And I’m really, really ready to get my legs used to running in the mountains again!

When does all this excitement go down?
As soon as possible! My husband starts his new job very soon and as soon as we can set a closing date for a house, we will be scheduling the big move! The tentative plan is to be settling in to our new home around the first week of July.
AJC Peachtree Road Race
First week of July? Isn’t the AJC Peachtree Road Race on July 4th?
Sadly, it is. I was so excited to have won the lottery for this race and I was really looking forward to it. However, with all the craziness we will have going on that week, it just is not feasible for me to get to that race. So, as of right now, I am going to have to move it off my race calendar. However, as things develop over the next month, if it looks like I can squeeze it in somehow, I will. After all, it is the largest 10k in the country…and I really don’t want to miss out on it!

What about the other races I’m planning on running this year?
Other than the AJC Peachtree Road Race, my race calendar should continue on as normal. I am currently committed to Hood to Coast in Oregon at the end of August and Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah (half marathon) in early November. Conveniently, one of my Nuun Hood To Coast Relay Team teammates, Corey, also lives in Greenville, so we will be able to train together in July and August and we will be able to be travel buddies! Too fun! I am seriously eyeing the Kiawah Island Marathon (full marathon) in early December, especially since they have changed it from a double-loop course (I loathe double-loop courses!) to a single-loop course. However, I will make that final decision after Hood to Coast, when I have a better idea of what my fall work/event schedule will be. I want to make sure I have the time to train properly.

So, have you been keeping up with TurboFire and Shakeology?
Yeeeeeah…about that. Y’all, I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I tried…really hard…but with still working full-time, working on races part-time, house hunting, organizing everything for the move, and dealing with an infant that STILL refuses to sleep through the night, something had to give. So, I put it on hold. Trying to do it all was creating so much stress, so I had to pare down the commitments. I will say that I LOVED TurboFire and Shakeology and I am super amped to restart the program once we are settled into our new place. I have been able to maintain the weight loss from the few weeks I was on the program, so that’s a bonus! From now until the actual move though, I will just be doing a few weekly runs to maintain my endurance.

As I mentioned above, I have sort of already started my new job and I am currently working on three big races…one repeat race and two inaugural events!

“Super Secret Race” (September 16, 2012; Atlanta, GA)
I am so, SO excited to be part of this race! This race is collaboration with two incredible organizations and although we are still in the initial planning phases, I know this race will be a success. Technically, it has a name, but since the press release for it has not gone out yet, I am sworn to secrecy. Don’t worry, though, as soon as I can spill the beans on this one, I will.

Woman’s Half Marathon (December 9, 2012; Baton Rouge, LA)
The women of South Louisiana needed a female-only endurance event, and the Woman’s Half Marathon is just the thing to fill that spot! The press release for this race just went out last week and we are already seeing excellent registration numbers! The course is awesome, it will have a beautiful finishers medal, and the health and wellness boutique (read = expo for ladies!) will feature all kinds of women-specific vendors, running apparel brands, and information on women’s health. While this is event is focused on the ladies, it really is okay for dudes to register too. All I’m saying is that if you are a single runner guy looking for a fit runner chick, you might want to consider running this. C’mon, the odds are in your favor, man!
The Louisiana Marathon
The Louisiana Marathon (January 20, 2013; Baton Rouge, LA)
I am excited to be working on the Louisiana Marathon again. It was held for the first time in January of this year and I am thrilled to be part of this race team again! It is going to be fun! The extent of my involvement with this race is still being hammered out, and as more details unfold, I will share!

Once I move to South Carolina, I will have the chance to work on some other really fun events! Here are just a few of the races I will get the opportunity to work with…
Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure (Lowcountry Affiliate – Daniel Island, SC) – The largest 5k in South Carolina! (10,500+ runners)
Cooper River Bridge Run 10k (Charleston, SC) – The 3rd largest 10k in the United States! (34,000+ runners)
Spinx Run Fest (Greenville, SC) – A weekend of running events!

I think that pretty much covers all the excitement that has been going on in our lives lately! I promise to not let so much time go by again without posting! The next 6 weeks will be jam-packed and busy, but I hope that you will keep reading and enjoy the roller coaster with me!

As soon as I hit the Publish button on this post, I will start typing my resignation letter.  I am a mixed bag of emotions, but I am ready.

I can do this.
I can do this.
I can do this.

The Ebb and Flow of Running

8 Mar

Me and Running. Two steps forward. One step back. That is the little dance we are doing these days.

Back in the day, when I had “free time”…you know, before being a mom happened, my whole world was running and racing. I was able to keep pretty rigid training plans, knowing exactly what combination of miles/minutes running, cross-training, and strength training it would take for me to hit my targets. I was able to religiously count and catalog every calorie that graced my lips. Yes, once upon a time I was very, VERY dedicated to My Fitness Pal. And one of the greatest luxuries I had back then that I completely took for granted was sleep.

Oh, beautiful restful sound sleep, I miss you. We will be besties again…in a few years….maybe.

Until my life returns to some normal schedule (I say this like that is really going to happen. Is this naïve of me?), I will be content to be caught up in the ebb and flow of running.

Some weeks all the planets will align, my kiddo will get restful sleep (which means, I, in turn, will do the same), he will not spit up on EVERYTHING in sight (requiring me to spend my time doing endless loads of laundry), and I will get the “free time” to get in several regular runs and possibly some time on the bike (Yes, Running, I do occasionally cheat on you with Cycling). It will be these weeks where I think, “Hey, look at me, getting back in the swing of things!” I will get all giddy and whip out my race calendar faster than you can say “fartlek.”

Then the next week will come along, Murphy’s Law will slap me right across the face and say, “You didn’t really think I was going to let you get away with all that fun, did you??” It will be on those weeks that everything that could go wrong, will go wrong. Little Nugget will not sleep, he will spit up on everything in the house…daily, the dog will throw up on the carpet, there will be a massive wreck on the interstate (turning my commute home from one hour into two hours), and I will quite literally find myself with zero minutes left in the day for regular running. It will be on these weeks that I will consider my morning shower as the day’s crowning achievement. These weeks, I will feel like all the progress I had made before was all for naught. Perhaps I will even feel like I am backsliding.

And I am just going to have to be okay with it. I will have not let myself walk around my house all pissy-pantsing because I do not get to do what I want to do. Next week will be better.

Running and I started out having a love/hate relationship. Then it turned into a love/love relationship. We don’t get to spend as much time together as we used to. We still have this awesome lifetime bond thing going on, but right now, we just have to have realistic notions about what we can expect from each other. Right now, things are rocky, but I am confident we will work it out. We always do.

How do YOU feel about the ebb and flow of running? Have there been periods in your life where you can truly focus on training and then other periods where you feel like you just cannot get it together?

Stop Being A Tourist

26 Jan

I know you.

You are the person who looks at all your running friends with amazement. You listen to their Monday morning recaps of races and secretly wish you had a story of your own.

You are the spouse or significant other of a runner. Always present at the finish line, holding the camera and ready with a hug. The whole time you are waiting, you wish you were on the course too.

You are the person who jogs once or twice a week but never signs up for a race, fearing that it might make you “too serious.” Heaven forbid you get on a training plan and push yourself!

You are the person who looks at super star runners like Dean Karnazes or Deena Kastor and thinks that because you cannot run like that that you should not even try.

You are the person who looks at people with their race medals, secretly wishing you could feel the weight of that hardware hanging on your neck.


It is time to stop being a tourist and to start being a runner. Today is the day.

You are not too fat/skinny to run.
You are not too tall/short to run.
You are not too black/white/purple/polka-dotted to run.
You are not too busy to run.
I have no sympathy for you if you do not even TRY.

Running is not as intimidating as it seems and this former Chunky Monkey is living proof that anyone can do it. In fact, I am currently in the oh-so-humbling process of getting my runner mojo back. Hell, we all have to start (or re-start) somewhere. Living on the sidelines is not nearly as fun as being in the game.

Lace up your shoes.
Find a running group.
Hang out at the local running stores like a big ol’ nerd. (We all do it.)
Sign up for a race.
Get in the game.
BE THE RUNNER THAT YOU DESPERATELY WANT TO BE.

We all need a swift kick to the rear sometimes.
You are welcome.
Now go…get running!

“I can’t lose weight.”

25 Jan

YES. YOU CAN.

Mayday! Mayday! Its a plateau! (SHRIEK!)


The first key is to figure out what made the scale stop. Are you actually watching what you are eating? Are you exercising like you are supposed to? Are you doing your cardio in your target heart rate’s fat burning zone?

If you have been pretty sedentary, you will find it relatively easy to drop a few pounds by only adding light cardio and watching what you eat when you first get started. Eventually though, your body gets used to it and the scale gets…well, stuck. I completely understand how frustrating it can be to continue doing all the “right” things and still…nothing. I am currently at that point right now. It is disheartening…and discouraging…and it can even cause the weak-willed to give up on their weight loss goals completely.

Here is the bad news: You have to stick with it.

Here is the worse news: You might just have to try something new. GASP!

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~ Albert Einstein

Provided you really have been exercising and eating right (and, no, that late-night Twinkie you ate because you were STARVING does not count as “eating right”), you may have to break out of your comfort zone and try something different. When I first started on my journey to a fitter lifestyle, if you had told me all the things I would try on my path to improvement, I would have given you the stink eye. At the time, telling me that I would eventually try things like diet cleanses, drinking my greens, and rock climbing all seemed like “hippie” stuff and I probably would not have wanted any part of them. But when you want to reach your goal badly enough, you are willing to at least TRY new things.

Over the years, I have tried what feels like almost EVERYTHING to get my body to a point where I can look in the mirror and say, “I have worked hard and I am proud of this.” Lots of things did not work, but along the way, I found a handful of things that work really well for me. It is high time that I share them with you.

If you find yourself hitting a plateau with your weight loss, at least consider trying some of these things. You never know, you might find something that works for you!

KEEP A JOURNAL
You think you are eating well, but are you SURE? If you are not already, try keeping a food/exercise log. Write down every single thing that you put in your mouth and try and estimate your caloric intake. You might find out you are snacking a little more than you think. Also, reviewing your food choices might help you find alternatives for cutting a few more calories or incorporating a more well-rounded diet. If you do not want to do this old-school style with a notebook, there are plenty of free online tools that are available. My personal favorite is MyFitnessPal. If you sign up, look for my username (katiemkey) and add me as a friend! We can hold each other accountable and encourage each other! I have been slacking for the past…oh, several months…but I am back on the wagon as TODAY!

Don't hate. You know the wallpaper in my office is AWESOME.


MACRO GREENS
I am a steak and potatoes kind of girl. Growing up in South Louisiana, our staple dinners revolved around things served with or on white rice or with or on white French bread. Refined sugars, much? I knew I needed to balance out my diet but the thought of downing broccoli made my stomach turn. One day, while complaining about eating carrots, a friend of mine (who happens to be the founder of LiveLong Nutrition) suggested I start drinking my greens. At first I was a little skeptical, but I knew I needed the balance. I ordered some and I have now grown to love drinking my greens! I am not going to lie, it takes some getting used to. When I first tried them, I had mix them with blueberry juice and water (the blueberry juice was strong enough to “hide” the taste of the greens), but now I just mix them with water, shake, drink, and go on down the road! You get used to the taste, I promise. I find that when I drink them I have more energy and increased mental clarity. I also feel like they keep my system flushed of junky stuff.

2-PART CLEANSE AND FLUSH
Body cleanses are not for the faint of heart. Different diet cleanses effect your body in different ways and you have stomach that churns easily, you will need to choose wisely. There are all kinds of cleanses ranging from 7 days to 2 months. I have tried many of them and I have finally found one that works great for me. I absolutely LOVE the 2-Part Cleanse and Flush Detoxify and Eliminate from Smoothie King. It is a 21-day cleanse and I can absolutely notice a difference in my body when I start this program…even within the first couple of days. In fact, when I quit breastfeeding, I could not wait to get out and pick up this cleanse to help flush my system. I have tried the cleanses that are in the 7-14 day range and they are just too harsh for me. I would go into more detail here, but suffice it to say, they are ROUGH on the system. I find that this cleanse, in particular, is effective and mild on my stomach. I have done it at least a handful of times now and I am currently on it now. I highly recommend it and for less than $25, it might be worth trying.

MIX UP THE CARDIO
So, obviously I like to run, right? But did you know that I also love cycling, rock climbing, hiking, and Zumba? I did not know how much I would love these things until I forced myself to try them. In fact, after switching out one run per week with a workout on the bike, I have never trimmed inches and gotten faster with my running so quickly. Plus, the added advantage was that I was training myself for a duathlon without even realizing it! If you are in a running rut, consider adding a new type of cardio that challenges your body in a new way. Here are some things you might like:
• Cycling I swear it will help your speed!
• Zumba So long, muffin top!
• SUP (stand-up paddling) or YOLO boards This can be so relaxing and works out the core and shoulders big time!
• Boxing If you are leery, lots of boxing gyms offer at least one free class so you can try it out!
• Hiking Check out www.trails.com to find a place near you!

Looks fun, right?


GET A LITTLE INSPIRATION
If seeing the scale stuck on a number is getting you down…find something or someone that inspires you. There are stories all over the internet of people who have worked hard and lost 10, 20, 100, or even 200 pounds! Want to complain that you are too tired to push it in your work out today? Read a story about Serena Burla, a runner who defeated cancer and went on to the Olympic trials earlier this month. Or just check out the millions of YouTube clips of people competing in marathons and Ironman competitons with prosthetics. If they can overcome, so can YOU!

DRINK MORE WATER
Okay, okay, so this one is obvious. You think you are already drinking enough? Drink a little more. I cannot reiterate this enough. Water helps replenish all those fluids you lose during exercise and helps you keep your energy up. And if you do decide to do a diet cleanse, drinking water will help you see even better results. I promise.

SEE A COUNSELOR
When all else fails, seek professional help. If you really have tried everything under the sun and you feel that absolutely nothing is helping, there might be some underlying issue that needs to be addressed. A registered dietician or other healthcare professional might be able to see something that you are not and might be able to get you over the hump and moving on to a fitter YOU!

As they say on Celebrity Fit Club, the scale doesn’t lie. Calories in have to be less than calories out. That is just the way it is. However, keep in mind that the scale is not everything. In the past, I have been 140 pounds and wearing size 8 jeans and I have been 140 pounds wearing size 4 jeans. Yes, muscle is denser than fat and therefore weighs more but do not use that as an excuse. Be conscious of the scale and be conscious of how you feel.

When you feel “stuck” or that you can’t push through, how do you get over the hump? What advice would you give to someone who feels stuck? What tips, products, or techniques work for you?

Wednesday Motivation

19 Oct

It is MOVING DAY!! Woot! We got most of the soft stuff moved yesterday, but the big stuff and larger furniture pieces will be moved today.

Since I am about to get going on packing our cars up, I wanted to leave you will a little motivation on this Wednesday. Sometimes it is hard to get going on Hump Day and when I feel like I need a kick in the pants, these are some of my favorite reminders. I hope you enjoy them!





And an ad I like…just for funsies…

How are YOU staying motivated today?

Running/Fitness Twitter Chats – Join The Conversation!

25 Sep

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!  Last week, Bart Yasso announced that he would be hosting another #BartChat on Twitter this week!  Woot!  Even more exciting is that he has asked me to help moderate!  Excited? You bet I am!  If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know how much I love running/fitness chats.  Since I am unable to spend hours and hours running like I used to (at least for the next few weeks!), I enjoy spending the extra time I do have connecting with runners online, trading stories, sharing experiences, and participating in Twitter chats.  People who are new to Twitter or even still learning about it often ask me about these chats, so here is the run-down (no pun intended!).

“What IS a chat?”
“So, how does it work?”
“How do I know what to say?”

What is a Twitter chat?
One of my favorite things about Twitter is the immediate interaction you get with people as passionate about your hobby/lifestyle as you are.  A Twitter chat is like one big instantaneous group text where participants can share ideas and opinions, back and forth, in real-time…all in 140 characters or less.  Twitter chats are most often hosted on a particular day and at a particular time each week, and the chat moderators/hosts are generally responsible for determining the chat topic and/or preparing questions for the participants to answer.  Once the chat gets started, participants are encouraged to interact not only with the moderator/host, but also with the other participants, offering valuable information and contributing to the topic.  The benefit of a Twitter chat is that it allows all users from all over the world to interact instantaneously, as opposed to the delayed response from other sites (like facebook status updates or forum posts).  Twitter chats help you expand your social network and help you find other people interested in the same things that you are!  As you can imagine, my favorite Twitter chats to participate in are those that revolve around running, triathlons, and general fitness.

How do I follow a Twitter chat?
In order to follow a Twitter chat, you will need to know the hashtag.  I will explain each one a bit more specifically below, but the hashtags for chats I follow are #runchat, #BartChat,#trichat, #fitblog, and #fitstudio.  There are a few different ways to follow a Twitter chat.

Personally, I use two windows logged into my account.  On my first (left) window, I have my account on the @Mentions page.  On my second (right) window, I have my Search page with the hashtag actively searching.  I do this so that if someone specifically directs a comment towards me, it will show up on the first window (where I can respond from there), while I can keep the hashtag feed rolling along in the second (right) window.  Smaller chats may not require as much back-and-forth action, but larger chats, like #runchat and #BartChat, often involve a large number of participants and move relatively quickly.

Some people find my system cumbersome, and I realize that it is not for everyone.  If this seems to be too much for you, you can use a Twitter chat platform like TweetChat, TweetGrid, HootSuite or TweetDeck to help you manage the conversation.  TweetChat is probably the simplest of the three and would be the one I would recommend the most.  It is very straight forward and is not confusing at all.

As a courtesy to my followers, I will often make a quick announcement (Tweet) that I am about to join in on a chat.  My purpose for this is two-fold.  On one hand it gives me that chance to apologize in advance if my rapid-fire tweets (conversation) junk up their timelines.  On the other hand, it also gives me the chance to encourage those who follow me to join me if they are curious about the chat or what we are talking about!  As with most things, the more the merrier and I love it when new people join in on chats!  If you are concerned that you will be Tweeting too much, your followers are always welcome to use a site like Muuter where they can literally put you and your Tweets on “mute” for a particular amount of time.  Feel free to send out a Tweet suggesting this if you feel it necessary.

Now you are ready to get chatting, right?  RIGHT!  Here are a few chats you might be interested in…

#runchat (Running)
#runchat happens on the second and fourth Sundays of every month at 8:00PM EST.  It is hosted by @RunningBecause (David) and @iRunnerBlog (Scott).  The topics encompass all things running and David and Scott encourage runners of all levels to join in the conversation!  This is a chat for runners, by runners.  These chats are often sponsored by gear companies who will offer a great prize to a random participant. FUN!  One time I won a sampler pack of GU Energy gels!  For more information about it, be sure and check out their website and facebook page!

#BartChat (Running)
#BartChat is hosted by Bart Yasso (@BartYasso), the CRO of Runner’s World. While this chat does not have a regular day/time, it is always announced well ahead of time (and often retweeted by other runners) so it is not likely you would miss it.  But just to be sure, go ahead and follow @BartYasso so you make sure you are always in the know!  Bart’s topics run the gamut but are often focused on distance race training.  Dubbed the “Mayor of Running,” Bart has run in more than 1,000 competitive races during his nearly 30 years with Runner’s World magazine.  His years of running and experience truly offer a wealth of information and many runners find his tips on training and his chats extremely helpful!

**The next #BartChat is Tuesday, September 27 at 12:00PM EST and I will be helping moderate.  So excited about this!  Be sure and join us!**

#trichat (Triathlon)
#trichat happens on alternating Sundays from #runchat, being held on the first and third Sundays of the month.  It is hosted by myself and @JoeVukson.  #trichat is geared to wannabe triathletes, newbies, and seasoned Ironman competitors alike.  Topics range from training to gear to transition tips and beyond.  This is a new chat, having only been held a few times, but the number of participants is definitely growing!  If you are a triathlete or if you are just interested in the sport of triathlon, I encourage you to come by and chat with us!  Oh, and we are also on facebook, so drop by and show some love!

#fitblog (Fitness)
#fitblog chat is held every Tuesday night at 9:00PM EST.  It was created and originally moderated by @katywidrick, but now has a different moderator/host each week.  #fitblog chat is focused on fitness and health but also sometimes covers ways to increase readership to your fitness blog or how to monetize it.  This chat begins by having each participant introduce himself/herself and list the name of his/her blog.  Having a blog is certainly not a requirement, so please do not let it deter you from joining in!  The easiest way to join this chat is to go to their official website!

#fitstudio (Fitness)
#fitstudio chat goes down on Wednesday nights at 8:30PM EST.  #fitstudio chat is brought to you by Sears @fitstudio but has different moderators/hosts each week.  These chats focus on sharing ways to stay motivating, maintain overall fitness goals, and maintain proper nutrition while on a training plan.  This is a great chat if you are having trouble staying motivated and need some encouragement to keep pursuing your fitness goals.

If you are not a Twitter chatter, I highly encourage you to give it a try.  If you are nervous or a little shy, at least check out the hashtags and see what people are talking about.  If it looks interesting to you, try lurking for a chat or two just to get comfortable.  Lots of people do that to “get their feet wet” and get the hang of how chats work.  When you are ready, hop in and start chatting!

Do you participate in Twitter chats?  Why or why not?  Do you follow any running/fitness hashtags on Twitter? 

Metal for My Medals: Accomplishments on Parade!

15 Sep

For the approximately next 8 weeks, while I am on this forced hiatus from any form of serious run training, I am doing all I can to keep myself motivated for my triumphant return. I really should not say “forced” as its not like anyone is holding a gun to my head, it is just that my head wants to run and my body…well, it just CAN’T right now. Soon enough though!

I deliberately use the word triumphant because I totally picture my first race post-baby being something like right out of a Rocky movie. You know, there will be weeks where I am secretly busting my butt putting in miles around my neighborhood, late nights of walking lunges down the sidewalk, so many rounds of plyometrics that I think my legs might pop right off my body…and then…at that first post-baby race…I will run hard and fast and impress all my friends and family. They will be left standing there, slack-jawed and amazed, saying, “How ever does she do it all?” Yep, that’s my plan. (Stay tuned to see how THAT pans out.) :)

Wait, where was I going with all of this… Ah, yes!

I have decided that as part of Operation: Awesome Mom Runs Hard, I need to keep myself as motivated as humanly possible. So far, I have done well with surrounding myself (both in the real world and online) with positive, encouraging running friends. I consider them to be the running versions of crack dealers…and I mean that in the nicest way possible. I need pushers!

The next step of the plan was to find cross-training alternatives as running became more difficult as the weeks went on. I ventured into a triathlon, yoga, and even an anti-gravity treadmill! Woot!

Next up? Take my race medals out of hiding, dust them off, and proudly display them. I need to SEE my accomplishments. I need to visualize myself as “the runner” everyday. I need to remember what toned legs and a strong core felt like. I need to imagine myself running hard with great form. I want to have that itch for it every time I see my medals hanging there.

Up to this point, all of my race medals have just been hanging on a coat hanger in the closet and it is time for a change! I have needed an excuse to break down and get a proper race medal display, so now is the time. Besides, I know I will be racking up more race bling as the years go on, so I might as well invest now.

I have been on the hunt for several months and seen a few different options, but I think I have found an option that I really like…

My favorite thing about Allied Medal Displays is that you can get one totally custom! I really, really, REALLY want one that says “katieRUNSthis”…how perfect would that be? I have to admit, right now it might look kind of sparse since I only have about 8 or so medals to put on it, but that would just motivate me to get out there and get racing again!

I had always thought I would want a post-style display, but the slide-on displays seem to be more and more common. And the more I think about it, the more it seems to make sense. I would not want the fabric or ribbons to get all rumpled up on a post or hook. (Yes, I do care about these things.) :)

The only catch is the investment. I know $60 does not “sound” like a huge deal to most people, but with a baby on the way, $60 is…60 WHOLE DOLLARS. Hmmm…maybe I can convince Santa to come early this year…*coughlistenuphusbandcough*

How do YOU display your race medals? Do you like looking at them and do you look at them often? Do they help motivate you?

Running Through Negative Self-Talk

9 Sep

Here is the truth: I am not as confident as I seem sometimes.

I try hard to be though, because I LOVE being strong and happy and I LOVE doing my best to lift others up. But every now and then, self doubt creeps in…especially with my running. While I love running, I would certainly not be described as a “natural runner”. Running is something I really have to work at and even my “best” is still considered “slow” to some. It never bothered me though because I always knew I was giving my best.

Lately though, with all the walking I have had to do, I have had negative thoughts try to creep into my head. When I look in the mirror at my body I think…

Good grief, there is no way my body will look the same ever again.
It cannot be possible that I will ever race with good times again.
If I can do it, will it take me a million years to get there?
There is no way these legs will EVER look as strong and as toned as they used to.
Can I even do this anymore? Should I even try?

And my favorite…
If all I’m doing these days is walking, can I still legitimately call myself a “runner”? AM I A FRAUD!?

It’s that last one that really gets to me. Am I…a…WALKER!? EGAD!

But you know what, I am determined to not let this temporary situation keep me from thinking I am any less of a runner. There are runners who have to sit on the sidelines all the time for days, weeks, even months at a time. They are still runners, and so am I.

A while back I got my husband a business book and it had a section about negative self-talk. While it was not specifically aimed at runners, it had a basic lesson that I think is totally applicable. It makes the analogy that letting negative, unconfident thoughts enter your brain is like allowing it to tune to a USUCK Radio station. What we need to do is the opposite. Tune into UROCK Radio and get grooving!

Finding your mental toughness and your UROCK Radio is hard. For some people, especially those just starting their running journeys or returning from a sabbatical, this may very well be a daily task. I have heralded the benefits of group/social running before as a way to find support, but you cannot rely on them 100% to keep you going.

There will be times when it is just you…staring down at your running shoes…needing a push…needing some motivation…and no one will be there. No one will be there to hold your hand. No one will be there to give you a pat on the back and say, “You can do it!” No one will be there at the end of the run to congratulate you. There will be no sweaty hugs or cheerleaders. Even worse, there may even be people telling you it is okay to quit…that it is okay to not try so hard…that it is no big deal to let yourself down and not reach your goals.

You will have to get out there and get the job done because YOU want it and YOU know you can do it. YOU have to have the gumption to reach over and turn off the USUCK Radio.

I've posted this before but it is fitting today...

So how do you do that? How do you find your UROCK Radio?

Quit with all the self-limiting statements and questions. (I’m talking to myself here, too!) Stop adding question marks to the ends of your statements. Instead of thinking, “Can I do this?”…think, “I CAN DO THIS!”

Use less-harsh wording. For example, if you have a run that wasn’t your best, don’t get pissy and say, “That run sucked.” (I am so bad about saying that.) Instead, go with “Well, that obviously wasn’t my best. What can I do differently to give it my best next time?”

Write on your mirror. I am a dry-erase marker wielding monster. I leave notes all over my bathroom and dresser mirrors. I may or may not have drawn a little box on the mirror where my face goes with the phrase, “This is what a runner looks like.” over it.

Remind yourself what makes YOU feel good about running. If you are motivated by nice gear, pick up a new running singlet. If rockin’ tunes get you going, update your playlist. If weight loss or keeping weight off is your goal, put photos or your former self everywhere to keep you going. If you have a competitive spirit, find a race online you have never done before and sign up for it. Keep the routine fresh! Letting things go stale will only get you down.

Whatever you do, don’t think it is just you. Running is a relationship. Every runner (and walker) goes through peaks and valleys and we all struggle with negative self-talk sometimes. You just have to work through it.

What are YOU dealing with in your mental running game? Are you at a peak or at a valley? What do YOU do to push down the negative thoughts and bring up the positive ones?

Learning to Bond with The Treadmill:  Benefits of Treadmill Running

7 Sep

The TREADMILL.  Just mentioning the dreaded treadmill makes most runners cringe, groan, and roll their eyes.  (The TREADMILL!? Anything but the treadmill!  Nooooooo!)  There is a reason we refer to it as the DREADMILL.  That black rotating belt makes us feel like a hamster that is stuck on a never ending wheel…going, going, going…nowhere.

When I am on a treadmill, I feel like I miss so much.  I miss the wind in my face and seeing people walking their dogs or pushing their babies in strollers.  I miss waving at my neighbors or feeling the breeze coming off the LSU lakes.  Depending on the weather, I miss the warmth of the sun on my skin or the light sting of rain drops (which we get a lot of here inSouth Louisiana).  Outdoor runs also mean I can go run with my friends, something I feel like I need so much lately.

However, I think my days of outdoor runs are over until after Baby Key arrives.  I have tried hard, but at almost 32 weeks, I feel like my outdoor running days are over.  The pressure from the baby belly is just too hard on my body (even with the help of compression shorts and the FITsplint) and on my last couple of runs, things started to hurt.  All along, I have promised my husband that when things started to hurt, I would stop.  The pounding of my feet on the pavement is just too much for me.

So, I’m…embracing the treadmillMark it down!  I said it!  Whether I am running/jogging at 0% incline or walking at a steep incline percentage, at least I will still be moving.  At the end of the day, that’s the point…keep me and Baby Key moving as long as possible.

Since I am trying to change my perspective and attitude toward the dreadmill treadmill, I thought it might be more motivating if I knew some specific ways that the treadmill can be beneficial.  That way, every time I go to step up on it, I can think of one of these reasons and (hopefully!) have a better good attitude about my daily cardio.

ADVANTAGES/BENEFITS TO USING A TREADMILL
Easy to use.
Most treadmills are pretty self-explanatory with directions popping right up on the screen.

Predictable surface provides reassurance for those with balance issues or leg injuries.
On a treadmill, you will not have to worry about running from stray dogs, tripping over cracks in the road, or stepping up onto or down from sidewalks.

All aspects of the workout (speed/pace, incline, etc.) can be controlled; Precise and highly controlled speed work and interval training; Consistent pacing.
YOU are the one who controls the workout. You can make the workout as easy/hard as you want to.

Temperature controlled exercise.
I almost hate to bring this one up since we are currently having near PERFECT running weather here in Louisiana this week, but the treadmill does offer some reprieve when we are experiencing those days with temperatures in the 100′s.

No excuses about not exercising in bad weather.
Even a fair weather runner can get his sweat on with a treadmill.

Treadmill belts offer better shock absorption.
For those with chronic knee problems or weight issues, the softer surface of the treadmill offers more shock absorption than the asphalt on the road. This will result in less injuries in the long run.

Some treadmills can be programmed to simulate famous race courses. (Pretty neat!)

Convenient.

Always a bathroom close by for…ahem, stomach issues.
All I have to say is “runners trots.” I am lucky enough to never have been faced with this issue, but I hear it affects a lot of runners. We’ll just leave it at that.

Builds mental toughness.
This one may be the biggest benefit of all. Getting on the treadmill will require me to be more self-disciplined, committed, and motivated to get through my workouts. I know that using the treadmill routinely will be difficult for me and it will take a great amount of mental toughness to muscle through these exercises. If I can master the treadmill for a few weeks, I will be more than ready to return to being a dedicated road warrior post-baby.

How do YOU feel about the treadmill? Have you ever been in a situation where you were forced to use it even though you did not want to?

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