Saturday, July 9, 2016

I'm Running. I'm a Runner. I Run.

I have never been a runner or particularly athletic for that matter. I played a little basketball and volleyball in junior high but was never very good or dedicated to it. Growing up as the tall girl with siblings who were much more athletic and dedicated than I was, people always assumed that I "must play basketball" or that I was "more athletically inclined" than I was. As an adult I have exercised with variable levels of dedication over the years. I like to tell people that I have been a "Couch to 5K drop out" multiple times. I have been known to say that "I only run if being chased or in imminent danger." I can no longer say that.

Last year I found a way into the running world and I think it may have finally stuck. I started working out with the Playmaker's Women's Couch to 5K Training Group. This is a walking and running team targeted specifically toward women. We train two times per week on Wednesdays at 6:00 pm and on Saturdays at 8:00 am year round. Yes, in Michigan that means that you run in the heat and humidity of August and the frigid temperatures of January. The group is broken up into four groups with at least two coaches training with each group.

  1. Walkers: You never say you are "only a walker" with this group. There are women in this group who lap the runners.
  2. Walk to Run 1: This group begins training with an interval of 15 seconds running and 4 minutes, 45 seconds walking. Each week, the running time increases by 15 seconds and the walking time decreases by 15 seconds. The goal is that at the end of the session, the participants can run/walk a 5K at 2:30/2:30 intervals.
  3. Walk to Run 2: This group begins training where the W2R1 group left off. You start with a 2:30/2:30 interval walk/run and adjust time by 15 seconds each week until you are running for 5 minutes straight (and then for 3 miles straight) at the end of the session.
  4. Runners: This group runs. The trainings are set up for approximately 3 mile runs, but there are always people to pair up with for longer distances.
I am an unlikely runner. I have given the Couch to 5K app several half-assed tries, but I have never stuck with it. This is the first time that I was able to stick with it and finish a 5K without walking. Through it I have learned many things about exercise, about running in particular and about myself. Some of them include:
  • You need to have a training plan. Some people can do it on their own with an app on their phone and a playlist in their ear. That didn't work for me. The coaches set up a realistic training plan and after you are consistent for a few weeks let you know that it is "time to add in another training" per week and gently encourage you to do that on your own.
  • You need to have small goals. Anyone can run for 15 seconds. The small incremental increases during W2R1 and W2R2 are perfect mini goals.
  • Do not EVER compare yourself to others. Everyone has their own challenges, their own goals and their own baby steps to take. 
  • Make your training a part of your routine and schedule around it. I have my Wednesday night and Saturday morning training dates in my outlook calendar and schedule around them.
  • Make friends! It is often difficult as an adult to make new friends. In college, it was easy. Meeting people now is different. I have made several wonderful friends through this group and they are keepers. Additionally, it is a lot easier to turn off the alarm and sleep through an early Saturday training if you don't have friends depending on you to be there.
  • Realize that you are going to have good times and bad times. I had a lot of things going on in my personal life this winter and early spring. It had an adverse effect on my training schedule. It was a little discouraging to see that my regular training partners were leaving me in their dust. The great part of this group is that there is always someone who is a good partner for you, you just have to ask or have a coach recommend a group or person to you.
  • Just because you can run the entire 3.1 miles, doesn't mean you have to. I actually get better times with a 2:00/1:00 run/walk interval. My pace for a complete run slows me down considerably. 
One of my funniest recent memories was on an informal training at Lake Lansing. We were at the end of W2R1 and doing 2:30/2:30 intervals for a 4 mile course around the lake. The 5 or 6 of us walked by a homeowner who commented that the "walkers were out" on this beautiful night. As we passed, my friend, Rachelle and I looked at each other with an incredulous look and both said under our breath in unison "WE are runners." Then the ding of the interval timer went off and we started running again. 

I often think of quotes from Bob Wiley in one of my favorite movies "What About Bob?" when I talk about my experiences becoming and "unlikely" or "accidental" runner. "Baby Steps" is the first one. The other one is the title of this blog post. Bob says "I'm Sailing. I'm a Sailor. I Sail." as he sails by, strapped to the boat with his life jacket.

Here is a picture of me with three of my favorite women. Three friends I have made through Team Playmakers.

5 meals perfect for cooking for one, two or suitable for leftovers!

Growing up in a large family, I always thought that every recipe for potato salad started with at least a five pound bag of potatoes! I remember the first time I made potato salad when I was in college. My roommates and I ate it for a week. I am a big fan of repurposing leftovers for breakfast (top it with a fried egg!) or lunch (leftover grilled protein on a salad is a favorite.) You may not be. Here is a list of five quick and easy meals perfect for one (with leftovers) or two. They are all meals I have made in the last month.

  • I clean a pound of shrimp and freeze it in serving sized bags. They thaw quickly under cold running water and are easily thrown on the grill for making a single serving of shrimp fajitas. Grill up some peppers and onions and warm up a tortilla or two and you are in business.

  •  This recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Nom Nom Paleo is delicious and the leftovers freeze easily and make a great breakfast crisped up in the frying pan and topped with an egg! 

  •  Another favorite recipe from Nom Nom paleo is perfect for leftovers.

  • One package of chicken breasts, butterflied and grilled with your favorite barbeque sauce and one vidalia onion, sliced into thick slices and brushed with olive oil and salt and pepper make a great meal with more leftovers for topping tomorrow's salad!

  • This is actually a meal for three but two hungry people could eat it! I made three burgers out of a pound of ground beef and grilled skewers of shrimp I had in the freezer. I usually eat my burgers bun-less and it was great topped with my homemade guacamole (subject for a future post) and the grilled shrimp.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Telling My Story

Welcome to my new creative outlet. I hope you find something interesting, come back often and share by commenting frequently. I plan to create a community where we can share experiences and ideas for living well and thriving.

A little about me:  Life has really thrown me some curve balls lately. You know those stress surveys? I don't want to take one because I know it wouldn't be pretty. I have gone back to school. I have recently ended an 11+ year relationship. I have moved out on my own (quickly and with the help of others). My siblings and I are making difficult decisions about an aging parent. I am working on prioritizing self care, reconnecting with family and friends and living well. I could not have made it through these life changing events without the love and support of my family and friends. They banded together to form #teamamy and thanks to them, I am living, thriving, moving forward and as I say, Amy 2.0 is ready to take on the world.

This quote from Anne Lamott has spoken to me in the last few months. I have been reluctant to take ownership of many of the things that have happened in my life. I have been more than reluctant to talk about it or write about it. That is not the case any more. I own everything. This is not a place for me to bitch and passive-aggressively out anyone's transgressions. I will be working on moving forward and living well.