Finding Your Motivation And Fighting The Motivation Monster

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Let’s talk about motivation.  Motivation is a powerful thing, but being motivated can only get you so far.
Over the past year I’ve spoken with many people who struggle with the motivation monster.  The monster that eats up every ounce of motivation you had when you decided to start your journey.  The monster that creeps in when results and progress slow down.  The monster that sometimes holds you back from starting at all.

Do you know what I am talking about?  It might be an all too familiar scenario for you.  I know it was for me.  In the past year I’ve definitely faced my monster multiple times, but the one thing that really kept me going was my determination to stay motivated.

I know it sounds crazy and you might say, well isn’t and shouldn’t motivation be enough?  It would be great if that were the case, wouldn’t it?!  Let’s break it down into terms and compare a few.

The dictionary defines motivation as:

motivation- n
1. the act or an instance of motivating
2. desire to do; interest or drive
3. incentive or inducement

We can all come up with a reason of why we want to get fit and be healthy.  The why is all too easy.  I wanted this life for me because I wanted to be the healthiest and happiest person I could be for my family.  I didn’t want to feel trapped and hidden in a body I didn’t recognize.

But what happens when your “why” changes?  What happens when your motivation isn’t clear anymore?

That’s when determination comes into play.

The dictionary defines determination as:

determination-n

1. the act or and instance of making a decision

2. condition of being determined; resoluteness

Being determined is what will ultimately keep you going.  Everyone can have the motivation to want to do something, but having the determination to stick it through when times get rough is the hard part.

For me my motivating factors are constantly changing.  At first it was training for the marathon.  I was motivated by the goal in sight, but there were days where I began to question my motives.  Why was I doing this?  Well, because I had made the decision to dedicate the time and energy and to complete the task at hand.  This is why I am a firm believer in setting goals.

A goal can provide motivation and the act of commitment will provide the will and determination to keep that motivation alive.  Does that make sense?  They go hand in hand and together create an unstoppable momentum that will keep you going.  Much like a rolling stone won’t gather moss, a person who is striving for new goals will be less likely to lose their motivation.

For me, starting new beachbody programs is what helps me keep my motivation alive.  I am setting mini-goals through the course of each program.  The end goal is always to follow the program and complete it.  Earning my free shirt and sharing my results at the end are things that help push me forward.  Much like collecting race bibs, completing these programs and earning my shirts are my badges of honor.  They show that I stuck it through and met my goal.

What keeps your motivation alive?  What goals are you setting for yourself?

 

Race Recap: 5K Foam Fest-Batavia, NY 6/7/14

**NOTE:  As of July 17th, 2014 5KFoamFest has declared bankruptcy and is no longer offering races.  

This past weekend,  I ran my first 5KFoamFest Obstacle Race.  Overall, the experience was fun and entertaining, but I wouldn’t consider this to be one of the more challenging obstacle races out there. It’s definitely a great beginner course (unless you are deftly afraid of heights) and provides just enough of challenge for new runners to get a thrill of accomplishment.

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Let me preface by saying that I’ve only completed one other obstacle 5K, the Tough Turtle, a locally funded course.  So, my experience in the realm of obstacle races is fairly limited.  Another factor to consider in our experience is that we opted for a late heat at 1pm.  This meant the course was likely less congested than it could have been earlier in the day.

I think it worked to our advantage though because it meant less of a wait at certain points.  We did have to stop and wait a couple of times during the course, the few that I can remember were for the Aqua Lily Pads, The Cargo Climb, The Death Drop, and Monkey Business.

It’s a little bit of a blur now, but I think our first obstacle was the Aqua Lily Pads.  I actually really enjoyed this one and I was so proud of myself when I almost made it to the end without falling.  It was comical to watch those ahead of us attempt to work their way across.  There weren’t many that fared well (myself included).

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The Chamber of Foam was the next messy obstacle ahead.  I fully embraced it and went face first into the foam filled bouncy house.

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We then jogged/walked onto the next few obstacles which included a crawl through the mud and climbing over a wall.  This was followed by the biggest slip and slide ever!  It wasn’t as slippery as I would have expected though and it was a little more belly flop and stop than slip and slide, but we made due and ran the rest of it.

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The slip and slide was followed by the Trip Wire (no photos) and Mike’s Hard Lemonator (pictured below).

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We also had a few other obstacles that escape my mind.  Like I said, it all blurred together by the end.  All in all we had fun and I would definitely recommend this race if you are looking for a non-serious, fun 5k.  I’m a bit nit picky when it comes to races so I decided to make a list of my pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Great beginner obstacle race.
  • You get a lot of swag!  (race medal, t-shirt, race photos, mike’s hard lemonade, sticker)
  • FUN!  This race is a fun race and you don’t need to feel out-of-place or like you are in an environment with overly competitive people.
  • They provided a bag check.
  • Obstacles are spaced out enough to allow for recovery (great for new runners) and to avoid congestion.
  • Great wash station at the end of the race, the water wasn’t freezing!
  • Changing tents
  • Porta potties
  • Convenient parking.

Cons:

  • They ran out of t-shirt sizes by the time we were ready to pick them up, wish we could have picked them up before the race.
  • The course wasn’t very challenging (if you are looking for a challenge)
  • No finishing photo or finish announcement

If you want to get wet, foamy, and muddy all in one day be sure to hop on over to http://5kfoamfest.com/ and use CODE:FF3412 to save $5 on your registration.

 

 

Building Speed and Happy Belated National Running Day!

Ever since I completed my first full marathon back in January I’ve been struggling with building my speed.  As of late, it seemed that no matter how hard I tried I could barely break an 11:00 minute pace for my 5K distances.  If I could get sub 11 minutes for my 3-4 mile runs, it was a good day.

I’m not a fast runner (hello, I’m a Slow Mo Mother Runner!), but back in November before my mileage was crazy high, I ran my best 5k at a 10:10 pace.  I also ran a 10k with a sub 11:00 pace.  Both of these have been tough paces to obtain again.  That was until this past weekend!  I finally hit a 10:10 pace again!

10346366_721909884527565_5399344539351721673_nI was thrilled with my run!  I wasn’t expecting much when I stepped out the door that morning.  In fact, my run started off crappy because Pandora wasn’t working and I ended up running without any music.  I was worried that it might slow me down, but there was something nice about a trail run without the distraction of rhythmic beats in my ears.

I listened to my breathing, watched my HR, and went with the flow.  Mile 2 was a bit trying, but once I turned around at 1.7 miles I knew I was over halfway finished and I knew I had room to push myself because I was nowhere near my max HR.  So I kept an eye on my Polar FT40 and told myself I would build my HR at 1/4 mile increments.  It worked!  I build my speed back up and finished off strong.  It was a pretty awesome feeling to hit that mark again.

For the month of May, post relay race, I had been working on building my speed.  I incorporated hills, fartleks, and built my mileage for a couple of runs.  I’ve also listened to my HR and have been working on what points during a run to really push myself.  Ideally, I’ve found that staying at 160 for the first half of my run and then building things up and pushing hard towards the latter half works best.  I do max out around 185-190 and can’t really push myself for too long at that HR, but I find it’s my sprint rate and it works for that last short final push.

I even went out yesterday on National Running Day and put in a decent 5K with a 10:37 split.  I’m still trying to master the negative split because mine still look like uneven pyramids. I am getting stronger and can feel myself getting faster.

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These next couple of months I am reading up and playing around with a few things to see where it takes me.  One other thing that I have been trying to master is my stride.  I’m so used to a heavy legged short stride and would really love to get away from that for my shorter runs.  Based on my current research it seems that a lot of small changes can mean a world of difference with pace. My goal before the end of the summer is to get  sub 10:00 min pace for a 5K distance.  I would love to see a 9:00 too!

What are your pace goals?  What are you doing to get faster?  How are you building your speed?

Race Recap: Seneca7-77.7 Mile Relay Race 4/27/14

We did it!  Our team finished off a long day of racing without dying.  This was my first long distance relay race and I’m happy to say that it went over pretty well.

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The days leading up to the race I was getting a bit nervous.  My run times were slacking due to my missed week and bronchitis recovery and I was seriously worried that I would not make it through at least one of my runs (after all, I had committed to this race while still hacking up a lung).

Post-marathon (in January), I haven’t booked nearly as many miles.  This came in part due to the craptastic weather combined with back to back sicknesses that took  me out of commission for weeks at a time.  In the 3 months post-marathon, I missed a cumulative of 3 weeks of running and hadn’t put in a run over 4.5 miles since.

This race was my get back to it race.  With 3 legs featuring steady and rolling hills I was ready for a wake up call.

My First leg wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected and the flat portions of the run provided me enough recovery to climb the slight hills.  The nice drop off at the end also allowed for a strong finish and left me feeling determined for my next legs.

Leg#5:  3.88 miles,  42:47, 11:01 pace (was actually 10:55-10:57, but didn’t stop my clock on time)

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My next leg wasn’t as thrilling.  The thought of rolling hills seemed fairly appealing, but the climbs were back in my face just as quickly as my drops and my HR never dropped below 176 bpm.  For me that is way higher than I am comfortable holding for long distances.  I usually prefer to stay in the 165 bpm range to avoid burnout.  Despite my struggle, I was able to end strong with relief that my longest run was over with.

Leg#12: 5.19 miles, 58:55, 11:21 pace

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 Then came my last leg.  The leg that I thought would be my little slice of heaven….yeah, it wasn’t.  This piece was by far the hardest.  I was already starting to feel tight from my prior runs and being crammed in a car all day and a steady climb was the last thing I wanted to see.

This leg actually didn’t bother me in the first mile.  Mile one was flat and easy.  It wasn’t until mile two that my legs started burning.  I kept seeing the peak of a hill and figured it would level out or go downhill.  I was wrong.  It just kept climbing and the last half mile was by far the worst!  I so badly contemplated stopping and walking.

Leg #19: 2.61 miles, 30:00, 11:29 pace

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My legs hurt, my heart rate was through the roof and it felt like every stride was propelling me nowhere.  People kept passing me with their words of encouragement and all I wanted to say was “fuck you” (yeah, I’m that kind of runner who gets pissed by the sympathetic compliments).  I can’t help it, I get in the zone and don’t necessarily want that pat on the back.  For me when I’m already struggling it can feel like a condescending slap in the face.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but it does make me feel like an asshole.

Despite my irate attitude, I finished off as strong as I could and ended my final leg with heart pounding satisfaction.

Our last two runners ran their final legs and our team ended up finishing at 7:42pm, which put us at a 9:47 pace for the day.  We crossed the finish together and received our corresponding finishers medals along with a hot bowl of chili and cornbread.

I really enjoyed this adventure and would love to be part of a race like this again.  It was definitely a new experience and it taught me that training on hills needs to happen more often.  I can see how it will work to my benefit even though I despise them.

Have you ever competed in a long distance relay?  What races are you training for?

 

Race Recap: Tough Turtle 5K Obstacle Race 4/19/14

Pre-race, I made sure to doll myself up because I have this problem with race photos.

I seriously almost always look like I am taking a crap or pushing out a giant baby elephant.

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Pre-race selfies

It’s not a joke, I am dead serious! You don’t believe me? Of all the race photos to be found, this by far must be the worse, but it’s also fairly representative of what I look like when I race.

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Courtesy of the Ithaca Journal

My horrible grimace is the least of the most appalling things in this photo. It’s overly unflattering and I’m okay with that.  You should try looking glamorous and svelte while sliding down a steep hill coated with animal lube (YUP….ANIMAL LUBE).

Anyhow, enough about photos, the race was a blast!  It was my first obstacle race and despite my still recovering from the week-long bout of whatever the hell I was fighting, it went pretty well. Mary and I ended up pairing off within the first 20 seconds of the start.  Someone didn’t quite get the meaning of “team run”, so I sprinted ahead to catch up with her so she wouldn’t have to brave it alone.  I may or may not have held her back some, but she was kind enough to slow her pace to do it together.

We blasted through the first bunch of obstacles until we hit the tractor tire flip.  That thing was freaking heavy!  At this point we were both happy to have the support of a team member.  It really took a lot more out of us than expected.

The rest of the course proved to be a little easier, but a surprising struggle was the progressive balance beams.  Trying to walk on narrow balance beams while getting hosed with water was not an easy task!

Up next we climbed the hill to the slip and slide of doom (I think it was called the Compost Cascade).  This is where I got pretty banged up and mud in places I may never be able to get to.  At this point my cold was starting to get to me a bit, but I kept on pushing.  We finished off the race with just a few more obstacles including carrying a log, dodging zombies,  climbing a net wall, climbing a hay bale, and lastly throwing a tire onto a pole.

We finished in style, mud on our face and in a reasonable time of 38:30.

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We then waited for Craig and Dani to catch up to us (they weren’t too far behind us).   We watched them finish their last obstacles and then joined them to run the last stretch so we could at the least finish together as a team.1492223_854738451206202_481913266110309039_o(1)It was such a fun experience and I’m eager to do it again!  I have a voucher for a Spartan race so that will probably be my next challenge.

10246783_10100462165927709_5018156578620390483_n    The race was fairly easy, the tough part was getting our mud soaked clothes cleaned.  It seriously took me 3 tub rinses to get the majority of the mud and compost out.

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All in all, I’d do it again!  I def enjoy these races and my only worry would be getting injured, but if you’re smart and not too competitive it’s not too bad.

A Fit Family = A Happy Family

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It might sound cheesy and cliché, but for us it’s the truth.  When I was out of shape and severely over weight, I was not happy. I was a miserable mess of a person and it spilled out into our family life.  Looking back I see that I judged more, I snapped more, and I was flat-out negative about everything.

I picked apart people’s weaknesses because I didn’t want to face my own and it wasn’t healthy.  Nothing in my life was healthy at that point.  Nothing in our family life was healthy either (aside from our beautiful healthy and happy son).  Both of us would come home and melt into the couch with our bags of take out (or fast food) and sink into a Netflix coma.  We didn’t connect with one another very much, we cohabited just fine and loved each other, but we were like two passing ships fighting our own battles.  We’d drown our boredom by stuffing our faces and watching our shows until it was time for bed.

Intimacy took it’s hit too, neither of us were particularly fond of our new bodies.  I had trouble accepting my post-baby body and any loving compliment doled out by my husband was easily brushed off.  How on earth could this man think I’m beautiful when I look and feel the way I do?  My insecurities got the best of me and I could not fathom that he was being honest.  In short, there were a few months where things were rough.  I’m not one for hiding the truth and in all honesty I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a healthy relationship that didn’t face trying times.

For us, this period of being unhealthy left us both with a lot of self-reflecting.  It turns out a lot of our unhappiness was because we weren’t taking care of ourselves.  Like many new parents, we put our son’s needs ahead of our own and our focus was constantly on him.  We lost sight of ourselves and each other and it became apparent that the major problem in the equation was our inability to tend to our own needs.

Outwardly, these problems weren’t obvious and I didn’t even awaken to the problem until my husband expressed his concern about the life we were leading.  He could feel the lifestyle of laziness taking hold and didn’t like where it was going.  I was still in denial and didn’t want to accept the fact that I had lost touch with a healthy way of life.  After all, I was only exhausted all of the time because I was busy caring for our baby into the wee hours.  It clearly had nothing to do with my poor diet choices and lack of physical activity.

Fast forward to today, I’m feeling so much more confident and I can now better accept a compliment.  My husband and I do our best to make time each day to focus on ourselves and each other.  We have gym dates where we push each other to be better and work harder.  We get out more as a family and do our best to be active together by hiking, jogging, or running around the playground with our son.  Our overall moods are better, we have more energy and we’ve found a common ground once again.  We share in each others’ successes and support each others’ goals.  Hell, I even convinced my husband to buy running shoes and compete in our first race together!  Now, that’s a big deal!

Running With Your Heart

Let me tell you a little (well not so little) secret about how I pace myself during my longer runs.

I listen to my heart.

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Marathon training taught me a valuable lesson on how listening to your body plays an important role on your overall health and performance.

As a competitive athlete, I was always trained to go at a “balls to the walls”, all out, heart pounding intensity.  For me this doesn’t mesh well with long distance running.  I learned this on my first 15 mile run.

I was running much slower than my normal pace due to the crazy October heat (yeah it was 86 and humid in October last fall) and still felt like I was dying.  For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what was going on.  That wasn’t until I looked down at my HR monitor and it read 195!  I was at my max HR and moving so slow (15 min mile + slow), it didn’t make sense.  I was only 6 miles in and I was ready to cry out of frustration.  I ended up switching to run/walk intervals for the remainder of the run.  I wasn’t happy about it, but I wanted and needed to get my HR back down under 170 BPM to save myself from overheating. 
It was the first time that I really listened to my heart and learned the importance of doing so.  Had I kept pushing myself to reach a certain pace, I could have found myself collapsing due to heat stroke.  I know HR training isn’t for everyone, but for me it really does help. It tells me when I need to slow down (something that can be a struggle for me) and lets me know when I have more energy to speed up.

I know, it’s not a perfect science.  Our bodies can act differently under varied circumstances and small things (lack of sleep, caffeine, weather) can account for an increased HR during training.  Regardless, for me I feel like it’s a useful tool and I think I will work on putting more focus into it over the next couple of months.

I found this useful chart (based on my Max HR and resting HR) and do find that it correlates  with how I perform on my longer runs.  If you’re interested in learning what ranges work for you hop on over to Running For Fitness to create your own guide.

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I’m really excited to see how my running will change once I reincorporate HR training into my routine.  I am eager to see what my sprints look like and look forward to reaching new running goals as the weather warms up.

How do you train?  Do you listen to your body (or heart) and let it guide you?  Do you push yourself to meet a certain pace?  Do you shoot for distance or time?

Interested in learning more about heart rate training?  Visit Competitor for, “Running 101:  Training With A Heart Rate Monitor”, or “Get In The Zone: The Pros Of Heart-Rate Training For Runners”

Get In The Zone: The Pros Of Heart-Rate Training For Runners
Read more at http://running.competitor.com/2014/02/training/get-in-the-zone_66832#P5xFMLz0pCOcGrZf.9
Get In The Zone: The Pros Of Heart-Rate Training For Runners
Read more at http://running.competitor.com/2014/02/training/get-in-the-zone_66832#P5xFMLz0pCOcGrZf.99