Tag Archives: goals

Comrades Update: Phase II Planning

phaseIIplanning

Of all the differing opinions about how to best prepare for Comrades, there is one piece of advice that everyone seems to believe: Comrades training begins on January 1st.  Popular opinion also says that training should include at least 1000KMs (620 miles) between January and May.

Comrades offers a training plan written by their official coach Lindsey Parry.  There are options for every goal finish, as different medals are awarded for different finish times.  From what I deduce, this plan will get you to the start line without an overuse injury and will prepare you to finish.  It relies on the strategy of double-blocking long runs on the weekends pretty much every weekend January-May.  Nearly every run is to be done at a slow pace.

There is another popular free training plan written by Norrie Williamson and sponsored by Old Mutual.  This program has more speedwork included, both in the form of tempo runs, intervals, and hill work.  There is more variation in pace for different runs, although the majority of the training is not surprisingly long,
slow distance.

I was surprised that neither training plan takes runners past 50KM in the build up to Comrades.  In my mind, that seems not far enough, as it leaves (nearly) a full marathon between the longest long run and Comrades itself.  I think the logic is that it is better to be underprepared than overtrained (and injured).

Neither training program specifies strength training, although most coaches and Comrades runners profess that strength work is non-negotiable for the Down Run.

So with these two training plans and the seven decades of collective running experience– and a little bit of hubris– between us, my dad and I spent some time over his visit at Christmas to devise our game plan.  We looked at both the Old Mutual plan  and the “official” plan.  We looked at our calendars to determine what races we’d like to use as supported training runs.  We noted when we’d both be in the same city so that we could plan a long training run together.

We decided on three races to enter so we can practice our race day pacing and fueling: Waco Miracle Match Marathon 50K at the end of January, Ft. Worth’s Cowtown 50K at the end of Feburary, and the North Texas Trail Runners Grasslands 26.2 in mid-March.  We won’t be racing at any of these events; rather, they are long runs that will offer some of the excitement of race day and break up the monotony of solo long runs.

We will also be hosting a DIY 40-miler at the end of April.  Using a super hilly 4.5 mile loop that starts and finishes at my house, I’m planning on running 8 full laps plus a final 4-mile loop to knock out a 40 miler as my penultimate long run before Comrades.  I plan on enlisting the support of my running friends to join me for a loop (or more) as I get nine hours on my legs.  Stay tuned for more info about how you can come join me!

All in all, my training plan will bring me to about 880 miles if I run the four-days-a-week as planned. That gives me wiggle room to hit my 1000KM in case I get sick or injured or just need a mental break one week.

In addition to the running, I’ll ride my FitDesk bike one day a week.  I have one day of yoga-for-runners and two days of strength training built into my plan.  I have one day of full rest each week.  All in all, it seems like a lot of work but in a very manageable way.

I’m going to chew the elephant one bite at a time.

If you’re interested in seeing the excel spreadsheet that details my training plan, leave a note in the comments.  I’d be happy to email it to you.

 

 

 

 

Polar Bear Plunge 2016

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I am a water person.  I am a water person through and through.  I love teaching swim lessons.  I love teaching aqua yoga.  I love taking a break from the summer heat and running in the pool.  Water simply makes me happy.

That said, one of my mottos is: Life’s too short to swim in cold water.

I am a wimp.  I seriously dislike being cold.  And because I love water so much, being in cold water is especially unpleasant.  I just don’t do it.

Let me put it to you this way: I haven’t swum in the Austin landmark Barton Springs Pool in over ten years because the water is too cold for me.  It’s a cool 64 degrees year-round thanks to the natural spring that fills the pool.  Even when we have out-of-town guests who want to visit this Austin gem, I tell them I’m happy to take them, but there’s no way I’m getting in.

However, I am all about facing my fears.  I am all about teaching my kids that just because you’re a little bit scared of being uncomfortable, you shouldn’t let your limiting thoughts prevent you from having fun.  I’m all about identifying my goals and then going about and smashing them.

In the last days of December, I asked my family if they wanted to join me for the 2016 Polar Bear Plunge at Barton Springs Pool.  The community event supports the Save Our Springs Alliance, a non-profit which works to keep the local ecosystem in balance.  A good cause, right?!

My husband and oldest son had no interest in taking the plunge– “Are you nuts?” they asked.  But they wanted to go along, and they served as our Official Event Photographers.  (Hey, everyone has a role to play in this life.  Find one that makes you happy.)

My middle kid– aka The Monkey– was ALL IN.  This is exactly his kind of thing.

The Stowaway will do anything The Monkey wants to do.

So we packed up and headed to the pool on New Year’s morning.  It was a cool 47 degrees outside.  (That’s cold for us Texans.)  Bring it on!

Once we arrived and The Stowaway felt how cold it was outside, she started having doubts.  “I don’t want to jump in,” she said.

“Let’s just take a picture, and then we’ll see,” I told her.

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“I can do it!”

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We lined up, toes on the edge, and counted 1-2-3 JUMP!

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Wheeeeeeee!

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And we did it!

 

In the end, it was all smiles:

 

Here’s my advice for 2016:

When you’re a little scared, hold hands with someone you trust, take a deep breath, and then jump on in.  You’ll love it!

Good health and great happiness to you!

 

 

 

 

Five “Wins” from 2015

Goodbye, 2015!Thanks for the memories!

One of the best parts of blogging is that I have an easy way to review my year.  I can’t say that 2015 was my greatest year ever, but there are definitely things I’ve learned this year.

5. I earned my certification as a Third Age Woman educator.  As someone who is in the beginning of the peri-menopausal phase of life, this course was educational for both personal and professional reasons.  In addition to confidently helping perimenopausal women in person, I’m busy developing an online course to help other women develop strategies to balance fitness, hormones, and the priorities of life in their 40s and 50s.  Subscribe to my newsletter if you’d like to know when it launches!

4. I’ve undertaken the longest training cycle in my nearly 30 years as a runner.  In June 2015 I started prepping for a 5K on July 4th.  That was the beginning of a training cycle that will peak (hopefully!) on May 29, 2016 in Durban, South Africa at the finish line of Comrades Marathon.  I’ve had a busy fall of training and racing.  The end of 2015 marks the halfway point– stay tuned for what’s coming to get me ready to toe the line in Pietermaritzburg in just under five months.  (You can click on the Comrades tag on the right ————> to find all the blog posts about this adventure!)

3. I made my first attempt at blog post series this year.  The first series was about aqua yoga— I absolutely LOVE aqua yoga, but since I can’t be with all of you poolside, sharing the highlights of this practice was the next best thing.  I also ran a video blog series about How to Do A Pull Up. Looking for an achievable fitness milestone?  Follow the videos and feel the confidence that comes with the strength and coordination of doing a pull up.

2. Even as my business grew this year, reaching more personal training clients and swimmers than ever, I was able to balance work and family.  From the ways kids can help me see the world in different ways to how having older kids is really fun to the occasional night out as a family of five, I’ve enjoyed sharing the stories of my family with you.

1. I earned my certification as a Prenatal Kriya Yoga instructor.  This is a bit of an ironic highlight to my year, as I don’t really teach prenatal yoga very often. However, the certification process was a fantastic education in yoga, and the summation retreat in California was one of the best few days of my whole year.  It was a great reminder that when business growth and personal growth can happen simultaneously, I’m one lucky gal.

Hope your 2015 had some meaningful wins for you.

Here’s to good health and great happiness in 2016!

 

Congratulations to Robyn— she’s the winner of the Leonie Dawson 2016 Shining Life Workbook and wall calendar.  

You didn’t win?  BOO!!!

You can still order a Shining Life workbook or planner for yourself — order a .pdf version, and start filling it out right away!  Go make a great life!

The Power of Potential

powerofpotential

This is a post that’s been brewing for a while.   Last April, I went to California for a intensive weekend retreat to complete my Prenatal Kriya Yoga instructor certification.  The retreat was held at an absolutely stunning hacienda-style home in the hills of San Jose, where we were treated with the stunning spring display of rose bushes in bloom all around us.

While the full, weighty blossoms were undeniable in their almost in-your-face beauty, I was struck by the perfection in the rosebuds.  The colors were bold and striking.  The form was compact but impressive.  The petals perfectly cuddled each other as the sepals fell gracefully down and away.  The little rosebud was just as beautiful as her big-blossomed cousins.

Maybe it’s the same with us.  To be constantly thinking about (or, more accurately, worrying about) how we are going to look, feel, think, or act once we are in full bloom, we miss out on the peace of contentment in our current life.  If we can learn to rejoice in the way we are now, celebrate what we can do, and feel grateful for our current capabilities, we can best embrace the power of our potential.

True growth happens when we can take a thorough stock of our strengths as well as our failures.  By accounting for the positives we have right now, we can give ourselves an honest appraisal of what we need to do to reach our full potential.  If we acknowledge the beauty in our various parts right now, we can use them to push ourselves even further.  After all, if we believe that we are made of goodness, strength, beauty, and wisdom now, imagine how much more we have to offer as we continue to grow!

We have all of the potential within us to be the best, most impressive versions of ourselves.  By recognizing the value in our life day-by-day, we set ourselves up for the exciting unfolding of our potential.

Good health and great happiness to you!

GUEST POST: My Great Cycle Challenge

Today OnBalance readers have a real treat: my friend and fellow women’s wellness advocate Darline Turner has written a guest blog post.  Just read the story, and you’ll know why I asked her to share.  She’s a real go(al)-getter!

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So what would cause me, a nearly 50 year old woman and mom of two busy kids, to cycle 1000 miles in four months?

I got divorced on December 21, 2012, “The end of the world” according to the Mayan calendar, and I have been trying to figure out what to do with myself ever since.

I have a Master’s Degree in physician assistant studies, but I really had no desire to return to the clinic after 12 years. So I decided to grow the small business I had started, Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond.

Growing a business is about as easy as getting divorced! My focus is community outreach in Maternal and Infant health and I have spent the better part of the last three years getting entrenched in the Austin medical and public health communities. In April of this year, after a particularly frustrating day, I uttered this off-hand prayer:

“God, I feel like such a failure! I need a win!”

I felt like I could do nothing right, and every door I knocked upon remained unopened, or was quickly slammed shut after opening.

A few days to weeks later, I saw an ad for “The Great Cycle Challenge”. Cyclists were preparing to ride and raise money for children with cancer. I had just asked family and friends for money for other campaigns, so I didn’t want to ask for more cash. But I decided to do the ride anyway.

I had been out of the exercise loop and this was just the inspiration and accountability that I needed to get going. The challenge was for the month of June, and I set a goal to ride 150 miles in 30 days.

June 1st rolled around and I set out. I rode 8 miles that first day. Those first 8 miles were tough as it had already begun getting hot in Austin. But I got through the ride and lo and behold, felt great the next day! So I kept riding, gradually increasing my mileage every few days. Midway through the month, I was riding 15-20 miles at a shot and realized I was very close to my 150 mile goal.

So I increased my goal to 200 miles; my total mileage for June was 207 miles.

Funny thing about exercise: it’s kind of addicting! My body literally began craving my rides! I noticed that my mood improved, I lost weight and I was happier than I had been in a long time. So I decided to continue. In another very off-handed comment I told my Facebook friends, “I think I’ll see if I can ride 1000 miles by October 1st.” I have never ridden that much in such a short amount of time, and coupling that with the hottest days of summer in Texas was really going to be a challenge!

Like all good challenges, this one had its ups and downs. I got a flat tire one day while riding at the Veloway and had to walk home about four miles. I got a nasty cold/allergy attack and rode the last 6-8 weeks often congested. But by then I was committed and nothing was going to stop me!

On September 27 I completed 1013.9 miles with a 25.08 mile ride. On September 30th I rode 15 miles and completed the challenge with 1029.15 total miles cycled
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I learned so much about myself during this challenge.

  • I can set a goal and achieve it.
  • It is never too late to start an exercise program.
  • Exercise really is medicine. My cycling boosted my spirits and lifted me out of my depressed state. The added benefits of weight loss, muscle tone, improved sleep and lots of support and encouragement from my Facebook family and friends were icing on the cake!
  • Sometimes, you have to create your own “win”.
  • No matter what, I now know that I am “good enough”.

darlinepumped

This challenge was so much more than a bicycle ride. It was a HUGE self esteem boost, a huge physical health boost and a huge connector to my friends and family! I had been moaning and lamenting the fact that I am so far from friends and family (I a from New England) and yet, each day, with each ride, family and friends were right there to cheer me on! In today’s cyber world, we can remain connected.

I invite any of you who are feeling down, shy, unsure or even really great to challenge yourself to do something different, something “abnormal”, something totally out of your comfort zone! You will learn amazing insights about yourself and experience a tremendous boost of confidence as you attack and achieve your goal.

Whatever it is, I wish you good luck.

Feel inspired by Darline’s awesome example?  Her next challenge is raising $2500 to start a chapter of The Birthing Project in Austin. The Birthing Project is a non-profit organization that supports Black women through pregnancy and childbirth to have term pregnancies and healthy babies. Black women in Austin have 2-3 times the risk of delivering a premature, low birth weight infant and those infants have twice the risk of dying before their first birthdays. Please consider a donation towards this challenge and thanks so much for your support.

 

 

Comrades Update: I’m in!

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It’s official.  I’ve lost my mind.  I’ve registered for Comrades Marathon.

I’ve been talking about my idea to run Comrades with my dad and how I’m planning on training for the 90KM race through South Africa’s Valley of the Hills.  I spent the summer building my base of mileage, enjoying a few classic summer road races, and preparing for my triathlon this weekend.  Although Comrades has been on my mind regularly for the last few months, there was nothing I could do until September 1st.

Entries opened.

I entered.

I’m now committed.

I find myself an equal mix of thrilled and terrified.  I’ve read so many blogs and forums about Comrades and the powerful experience each person seems to have by participating in the event.  I’m impressed by the camaraderie of the participants, whose banter gives off a strong sense of comradeship despite the limits of online communication.  I’ve read about the tremendous crowd support, the airing of the race on national tv– all twelve hours of it, and the thrill of participating in the world’s largest and oldest ultramarathon.  I’m excited to be a part of the Comrades community.

But, hello….any race that has this as their motto:

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Well, either they need a new PR firm or they aren’t joking around.

I’ve read enough about Comrades to know that it’s the latter.

Let’s review the race profile for next year’s “Down Run” course:

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My quads hurt just thinking about it.

The good news is I still have more then eight months to prepare.  My training is coming along well for the Dallas Marathon in December.  I still plan to take a few weeks off at the end of the year, and then the first five months of 2016 will be All Comrades All The Time.

I’m pretty darn excited about it.  It’s a huge undertaking, but I’m ready.  I can’t wait to put in the hours of training, and I can’t wait to have it pay off.

I am certain, however, that at more than one point on the way from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, I’ll be spit-shouting “izokuthoba!”

And it will be worth it.

You say, “Back-to-School?” I say, “Self-Care!”

Back-to-School!

Self-Care!

As a parent of three kids (ages 4, 9, and 12), I love the opportunities of summer: hanging out, playing board games, exploring new places, and doing whatever the heck we want.  But I’ve got to be honest with you; it’s a fat ton of work.  When you add in the fact that summer is my busy work season thanks to teaching swimming lessons, and I relish the idea of back-to-school as a time to tune into some self-care outlets that have been pushed aside the last few months.

  1. Exercise as its own reward- I’ve been blogging a lot recently about my running goals over the next year.  While I’m focused on my path to achieve them, I also know that I exercise because it makes me feel good….NOW.  The New York Times recently published an article linking the way people viewed exercise with their compliance to sticking with an exercise program.  In short, the more people felt they HAD to exercise, the less they actually did.  The people most compliant with a long-term exercise program were those who were most focused on exercise as a strategy for feeling good in the short term.  So while it’s great to have a goal, I’m going to enjoy the journey.
  2. Eat lunch every day– I have a bad habit of forgetting to eat lunch.  Or I eat snacks here and there, but they don’t always add up to the most nutritious combination of foods.  For me, taking care of myself by eating a high-quality lunch every day– even if it’s a hodgepodge of foods– will help me  from getting “hangry” once kids are home from school.
  3. Fire up the sewing machine– It’s been a while since I’ve sewn on a daily basis.  I miss the creativity and satisfaction of productivity that I feel when I sew.  Taking the time to indulge my sewing interests works parts of my brain that don’t get worked in my family or business life.  More brain work = happier, healthier, more whole me.
  4. Connect to Build Community– I often spend part of the first day of school making a list of people I see regularly but don’t often get to talk to.  You know the type– the parent friends who I see every day at drop-off but we don’t do more than exchange pleasantries.  These are the people I want to approach and offer to go for a walk after drop-off or meet up with over coffee 30 minutes before pick up.  By nurturing these friendships, I can help build my sense of community.
  5. Say NO!– This school year, I am room parent for two of my three kids and soccer team manager for two of my three kids.  I also volunteer teach eight hours a week at the elementary school.  I enjoy each of these roles, but I recognize that I am fully doing my part to support my kids’ educations.  Any further requests for volunteering shall be met with a polite, “Not at this time; thanks for asking!”

How can you take care of yourself this school year?  I encourage you to make a list of your own self-care strategies.  Writing them down is useful not only because you are forced to really think about how these issues affect your life, but also as a record of accountability to yourself.  By intentionally bringing balance into your life, wellness will follow.

Wishing you and yours a creative, active, stimulating, and healthy new school year!