Dare to Jump

“It is not failure itself that holds you back; it is the fear of failure that paralyzes you.” – Brian Tracy

Some days blog topics come easy, and some days I feel like I’m searching and searching for something to write about. Most of the time, the answer is right there in front of me based on an experience I am either going through or preparing for.

Later this week, I am going to attempt my first official speaking engagement, or rather share my story publicly which sounds way much less intimidating.

I absolutely DREAD standing in front of a crowd and speaking. The thought of doing this is probably just as bad as a fear of the dentist, or nails on a chalkboard.

Yes, that bad.

The thought of being in front of a gathering of people, all eyes on me, is paralyzing.

I worry about what I say, what people are thinking, wishing I was funnier, wishing I could crawl under a table and hide. Fear of judgement. Fear of failure. Fear of passing out.

I’m surprised I haven’t had the cliche dream about imagining I’m in front of an audience and I am only in my underwear….there’s still time.

Yes, I realize I teach group fitness classes and coach a kids running club, but that’s different. Once I’m moving, I get in the zone and my mind just flows better. Hmm, maybe I’ll do jumping jacks while I tell my story.

Back to this heart-pounding experience I am preparing myself for.

A wise man told me recently to be successful, I need to share myself with others. Go out and tell my story to anyone who would listen.

So, in a few days, I am going to put on my big girl panties and just do it. Tell a group about my weight loss and return to running journey. I don’t plan on writing out what I plan to say; just a basic outline. I want to speak from the heart and hopefully something I will say will inspire someone.

Do you share my fear of public speaking? Are you afraid of change? Do you fear being uncomfortable? Maybe you want to start working out but you fear stepping into the gym for the first time? Perhaps you have an idea for a business but you fear the jump.

I will tell you there is beauty in taking the road unknown. Every time we push ourselves into an area we fear, we have a great opportunity to learn about ourselves. Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable is important for personal development.

As I prepared for this post, I came across this article from Forbes: Why Feeling Uncomfortable Is The Key To Success.

An excerpt: “…when you go out of your way to experience new things, or when you let new things happen to you, your body creates brand new neural pathways that fuel your creative spark and enhance your memory”.

The article goes on to explain how we should embrace the uncomfortable. “Putting yourself in new and unfamiliar situations triggers a unique part of the brain that releases dopamine, nature’s make-you-happy chemical.” How about that!? Our fear may actually make us happy!

I challenge you to take a step outside your comfort zone into the fear zone with me. Make a plan and let’s dip our toes into the unknown ocean together.

Let’s give ourselves a chance to grow.

Remember, you are only confined by the walls you build yourself.

image
And no… I am not telling you when and where this will speaking engagement will be. Maybe after I get this first one in the bag, another “Story Time with Becky” will come to your town soon 😉

Book Review: How Bad Do You Want It?

“You can keep going and your legs might hurt for a week, or you can quit and your mind will hurt for a lifetime.” — Mark Allen

A few months ago, I discussed the mental battle many of us feel when running whether you are a beginner or an experienced runner. A friend read my post and mentioned I should read How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald. 9781937715410

So, during a cold winter weekend, I downloaded a copy and curled up on the couch to gather some knowledge about the mental game. I knew this book would speak to me, but I wasn’t prepared for the negative emotional effect.

I’ll admit the beginning of the book was tough for me to read. To be brutally honest, I was pissed off. Sometimes reading the truth and admitting previous self defeat really sucks.

In college, I felt like that athlete who “pulled up lame”. I was tired. I had lost interest. My passion for running was at a low. I’ll confess I claimed a fake injury once or twice during a race when I couldn’t hang. So many life changes had occurred when I was in college and some days I felt I was just a lost ship at sea. Or maybe I just stopped trying.

For years, my goal was to use my running talent to earn a college scholarship. Looking back, once I achieved this major feat, I don’t recall setting a new goal. No goal to win the 800m at ACCs or qualify for NCAAs. Did I stop dreaming? Was I just happy to settle and have college athletics be my final destination? Unsure.

I’ve strayed – back to the story.

This book is a collection of stories about athletes who share their experiences; their battles and the coping mechanisms they have used to conquer the beast within themselves. I especially enjoyed reading about a runner named Jenny and her disaster of a race at 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Later, you find out her married name – Jenny Simpson – who was just in the most recent Olympics.

Upon finishing this particular chapter, I thought, “thank goodness”. I am not the only one. This fierce battle between mind and matter even happens to the best of the best.
Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone into the area where running is HARD is difficult for everyone. During a typical 5K, you have at least 3,000 steps to conjure up many thoughts – good or bad. And the bad tends to scream much louder than the good.

Since finishing the book, I have utilized a couple key tips while racing.

Embrace the hurt. Accept the fact that some of your run/race may be tough.

One of our local 5ks ends with a windy, gradual uphill about a half mile long. During the race, I knew it would be in front of me soon. I told myself, accept the challenge; yes – it will hurt. But you WILL run the hill and you will be finished soon. Fitzgerald mentions bracing yourself for a tough race or workout can boost performance by 15% or more.

Preparing yourself for the inevitable helps.

Also, reading and being reminded your brain is going to try to quit before your body is ready to give up. Studies show although you mentally feel you cannot take another step, your muscles are not at maximum effort yet. Mind over matter or matter over mind??

I encourage you to read this book if you’ve ever engaged in this mental war while running. You can admit you do – it’s more common than you think.

Whether you are an elite runner or a recreational jogger, I’m sure your mind has tried to make you quit before your body was ready. Arm yourself with a few coping tools and next time, you’ll be prepared to power through!

Now years later, my passion has been reignited and I’m back to racing. I feel as though I’ve been given a second chance to give it my all.

From here on out, and especially when I toe the line chasing that BQ, I will I ask myself, “How bad do you want it?”.

The answer?

Bad…very, very bad.

Forged by Fire

One day I woke up and decided I didn’t want to feel like that anymore, or ever again. So I changed. Just like that.

Sounds easier said than done, right?

I was tired of feeling tired all of the time. Tired of saying, “I’d like to”s.

I’d like to run again.

I’d like to lose weight.

I’d like to look fit.

It only takes a spark to get a fire going.

My runaissance has not had any boundaries; no finish line. Surrounded by those who inspire me on a daily basis, my spark has turned back into a raging fire. For years, my drive to succeed and be healthy sometimes felt more like a pile of smoldering ashes.

I’m not getting any younger. The days of becoming an elite runner may be behind me. Will this stop me? Probably not.

Some ask why? Why are you so competitive? Why not just run?

I reply, why not?

Why not show my children it’s never too late to try?

Why not see how far I can go?

Why not give it one last hurrah?

Recently, I watched the video below (by the way, this YouTube channel is amazing; you may become addicted to their vids). Check this out:

Wow, mind blown.

As mentioned, this message reminded me I may not even have scratched the surface yet of what I CAN do. I am willing to put in the work, even if it means waking up at 4 a.m. and working long days.

I am willing to risk failure in hopes of succeeding. I am willing to throw out lofty (but attainable) goals.

From the beginning of my return to running, my focus has not been trying to beat others. You may have seen me say I am chasing the old me. She was pretty fast and this may seem unattainable, but you can bet I am trying my hardest to catch her. Most of the time when I finish a race, a voice whispers, “maybe you can go a little faster.”  Runner problems.

And I don’t feel this way just about running – this applies in my work life as well. Returning to the fitness industry has revitalized a passion for helping others. Sharing my story – the peaks and the valleys – has allowed me have the opportunity to encourage and guide others on their own journey. I love this. My mind is full of possibilities and dreams of where this can lead.

tumblr_o0k3h6anlo1umw665o1_1280

My soul is on fire.

Every morning when I wake up, I know there is someone else doing the same and possibly wanting the same success as I do; maybe even more. If I am not committed (some mistakenly call this obsessed) with getting better and doing more than everyone else, I may be left behind.

I hear footsteps every day.

Why someday? Why not today? I do not want to be left behind.

I feel forged by fire – stick around and see where my journey goes…

 

Benefits of HIIT For Runners

Stepping outside my comfort zone – chatting with you about what I feel are the benefits of HIIT for Runners!

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to speak at our local running store, Runner’s Retreat, about the benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for Runners. While I greatly enjoy instructing HIIT classes, generally speaking in front of a group of people just about scares me to death!

When I’m nervous, I tend to talk about as fast as I run, so I decided to record my presentation and share my feelings on how HIIT has helped me become a better runner. This way, if you were there and couldn’t figure out what in the world I was trying to say, or you weren’t able to attend – you can hear it all now.

Bear with me, stepping outside my comfort zone here!

In case you missed my key benefits, HIIT training can help:

  • Improve muscular strength in multiple planes
  • Increase performance potential and help prevent injuries.
  • Improve muscular stability to increase your ability to efficiently transfer energy.
  • Increase lactate threshold – work at a higher intensity longer before reaching fatigue.
  • Provide an awesome metabolic benefit – continue to burn calories and fat after your workout for an extended period of time.

And from the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal, here is an example workout for you to try!

Exercises are performed for 30 seconds, with 10 seconds of rest time between exercises. Total time for the entire workout is approximately 7 minutes.

The circuit can be repeated 2 to 3 times.

HIITWorkout

Let me know what you think, and if you have any questions!

Until next time,

Becky

Race Recap: Anthem Shamrock Half Marathon

“There is magic in misery. Just ask any runner.” – Dean Karnazes

17362845_10154374885947747_8929824493255344378_n

Several days leading up to the Anthem Shamrock Half Marathon, the weather forecast looked less than ideal. Temperatures would be around 40 with winds and a high chance of rain. As race day neared, the hope of better weather diminished and I just embraced the suck.

My husband and I arrived on Saturday (day before the race) and headed straight to the race expo to pick up our race packets. The expo was small, but all the usual vendor categories were featured. I was able to meet the authors of Run Fast. Eat Slow.: Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky. My senior year of college, I ran against Shalane in the ACC Cross Country Championships, so chatting with her while she signed my cookbook was definitely a highlight.

As I was leaving the expo, I also ran into someone from my high school unexpectedly. Very cool.

My shakeout run was a little creaky. After a near 4 hour car ride, my legs felt stiff and I didn’t feel loose until after a mile. I felt nervous and anxious after the short run, but mentally, was ready to go. After a quick shower and a little basketball watching, we headed down to dinner. Our hotel served a simple pasta buffet meal for any Shamrock runners, so I filled up on penne and continued to hydrate.

17453601_10154383654082747_1370655117_oRace morning, I awoke on my own at 4 a.m. As I pulled back the curtain to glance at the weather outside, I almost laughed out loud. Dark, steady rain, windy, cold. Somewhat fitting for March Madness weekend. I noshed on my pre-race breakfast (peanut butter toast, unsweetened applesauce and Nuun) and dressed in my Shamrock race kit. To stay somewhat warm and dry, I layered on some old clothes and a high-tech windbreaker: a hotel trash bag.

The awful weather quelled my nerves as I jogged up to the starting area. As I warmed up and dodged puddles, the situation made me smile. I joked with volunteers as I ran by – “it’ll be fun they said”. Near the start, I ran into my running partner/coach and another running friend from back home. We all stood around the starting line; trying to stay warm and prepare ourselves for 13.1 soggy and blustery miles.

About 5 minutes until gun time, we moved into our corral and begrudgingly took off our sopping wet outer layers. These last minutes honestly were the worst part of the entire race – standing in the cold, wet darkness as the breeze continued to pick up. Soon, the starters called us to the line. Coach Jeremy asked, “Are you ready?” Ready as I’ll ever be.

Approximately a week before the race, Jeremy and I discussed a race goal. Last year, I ran my first two half marathons and both were right around the low 1:50s. This time, my training base was much stronger and had also built speedwork into my regimen. We set a goal of 1:35 or faster and I set out to maintain a 7:15 pace.

Off the line, I could see the 1:35 pace group ahead of me and I increased my pace to bring up the rear of the group. Listening to our feet pound the wet pavement, we sounded like a pack of horses on a renegade mission. Our group moved as one tight pack through the first miles, knocking out a 7:05 pace. The winds blew, but I stayed tucked in behind the group and before I realized it, we were at mile 5.

At this point, the course started to turn back and the winds shifted direction. I was feeling pretty good and decided to pull away from the group. Mile after mile, I felt stronger and stronger. Glancing down, I could see I was dipping into the 6s, and truly was surprising myself.

Download (1)
Thumbs up!

Around mile 7, the wind was pretty wild. At one point, there was an opening between the dunes and sand was whipping through. Nothing like a little skin exfoliation while you are running. From this point on, I thought of my usual Tuesday/Thursday a.m. 6 mile runs – telling myself – “Alright, you got this – just on one of your usual morning runs to the park.” One foot in front of the other and the miles just kept flying by. I fell in step with another runner around mile 10 and we were stride from stride until we made the final turn which would take us to the boardwalk and ultimately, to the finish line. As I glanced ahead, I could see the clock was still in the 1:20s and I was full steam ahead. I crossed the finish line is 1:29:10; over 5 minutes faster than my goal and 20 minutes faster than my times from 2016.

 

Finish Line Fun – Coach Jeremy and I showing off our medals!

YuenglingHalf

The Anthem Shamrock Half has been my most insane, but most favorite race. Looking

Download
Husband’s 1st Half!

back at my stats and remembering what I powered through puts me back on my runner’s high. Sharing the experience with others was also amazing: my husband completed his first half marathon (HUGE!!), my coach/running partner shaved ~4 minutes off and set a new PR, and several other running friends conquered all Mother Nature threw at us. The memories will sure live on for quite awhile. And the icing on the cake – unexpectedly, it looks like I secured 1st place in my age group (as did Coach Jeremy) – awards will be mailed in a couple weeks.
There will always be conditions which are out of your control. I’ve learned to not stress about what I cannot change; but to accept and embrace the situation as is. Make the most out of what you are given. Just because the environment is less than perfect does not mean you cannot have the race of your life.

Before Shamrock, I had not run a long race since my 1st marathon in November and being able to maintain the pace I did has certainly boosted my confidence in achieving a BQ this year. Training is just around the corner and I continue to become more eager to start as the days near.

Big thanks to my husband who puts up with my running insanity, my coach who runs with me a few times a week at o’dark thirty through a myriad of crazy weather conditions and to all of my running partners. I continue to succeed due to all of you!

Next up, Cherry Blossom 10 Miler with most of my Team Running Dad!

Coached by:

rdlogo

Throwback Thursday: 1 Year Anniversary

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”

imageOne year ago today, I reached my original weight loss goal after 11 months of creating a lifestyle change.

Looking back, I wrote:

“338 days ago, the life I had been living for 15 years changed. For the better.

I can now be proud to tell you I was a competitive runner from 7th grade through college. I can tell you my career was in corporate fitness and I helped open the Valley Health Wellness & Fitness Center.

Before, I would definitely shy away from discussing my athletic accomplishments and educational background. Growing up in PA, friends in Winchester weren’t fully aware of my athletic background, and for that I was glad. I would be slightly embarrassed to tell them I once ran a 5:04 mile; that I still hold a couple district records and a state record. When the discussion would arise, I would say, “I know it’s hard to tell by the way I look now”. I was ashamed to tell people that I also had a degree in exercise science. I could just imagine them thinking, “she obviously doesn’t practice what she preaches”.

313414_2453886349546_272301881_n
Me, 2011

How did I go from a Division I athlete to a sedentary lifestyle? Life. A year after college graduation, I met my husband along with his two children (who lived with us) and soon after, we added a third child. My husband traveled a lot with work. My priorities shifted. I would say I didn’t have the time to exercise. With two active children and a toddler, we were always on the go and didn’t always eat the best food. The weight packed on.

During perhaps the busiest time of my life – being a wife, a mother, working full-time starting up a local business and running my own business – I am unsure of the catalyst – but I decided it was time to make a change.

I had started to eat healthier (or so I thought). I just happened to attend a business luncheon and saw Jacqueline Shoemaker, owner of Winchester Weight Loss. I shared with her that I was starting to eat healthier, but wasn’t really losing. She said three little words – drop. the. carbs. My exact words back to her were, “I can do anything but that! I love carbs!”. However, I decided I had nothing to lose (but pounds!) and I would at least try.

Concurrently, I attempted running again. It was painful and disappointing. I could barely make a half mile, let alone a mile. I would struggle, but kept putting one foot in front of another, alternating walking and running. Each day, I promised myself at least 30 minutes of time to exercise.

Here I am, nearly 1 year later. I am 60 lbs. lighter. I just finished my first half marathon. I am teaching fitness classes and leading a kids running club. I am not ashamed to talk about my past.

I tell you this not because I want to boast. I want you to hear about someone that may be just like you. I want you to know you can do this. Make yourself a priority. Invest in your health.

Know the journey may be frustrating. The numbers on the scale will go up and down; you may not be able to run a mile or finish an exercise class. Stick with it.

After the half marathon, I told my husband this race was most likely the one I was most proud of finishing. When I was young, it was easy to run; easy to find the time and I didn’t have “adult” stress. Sunday, I didn’t win the race or even my age group. BUT – this medal represented a year long journey of finding me again.”

11960002_10153502920527747_1180822685737739393_n
After my 1st Half Marathon – 4/2016

Over the last year, I have lost an additional 10 lbs and am hoping to maintain my current weight. Once again, I can say I am a competitive runner (and am LOVING it!). Training with friends, racing and setting new personal records has reignited my passion for running. Helping friends and family reach their goals has made my heart feel full. I am happy.

I feel like ME. 

17195363_10154333269182747_1796163100_o
Left: Before 2011/2012 Right: 2017

Every now and then, it’s nice to look back and see how far you’ve come.

If you haven’t read my journey, visit my earlier posts Runaissance, Making A Change, and Into a Holding Pattern to get more insight on how I made a lifestyle change.

Do you want to make a change? Have a question on how to get started? If so, always feel free to message me!

Until next time,

Becky

 

Race Recap: SVR Winter Series 2016-2017

Staying motivated to run in the winter can be challenging. During the warmer17125165_10212738307679542_592867006_n months, there is a plethora of races to train for, but once the frigid air descends, chances to race may be far and few between.

Luckily, Shenandoah Valley Runners offers an 8 race winter series from December to March to help runners stay on top of their game and also have fun. Each race, runners earn points relevant to their place. The two lowest scoring races are tossed and scores are added up. Awards are given at the end of the series instead of individual races.

17121469_10154327940482747_1692519459_o

 

Out of the eight races, all but one were 5Ks. Some races had themes – one was a 2-person team event, one was a poker run and in another runners were encouraged to support their favorite basketball team for March Madness. In addition to runners just racing, tangible and monetary donations were accepted each race for a variety of local non-profit groups. Love the giving back aspect.

 

17121974_10207966001177182_1279979068_o
Old shoes collected for donation

For being a winter event, we were lucky enough to have fair weather for most races and only one needed to be canceled due to ice. Otherwise, nearly 300 runners toed the line almost every 2 weeks to attempt to maintain or increase their running fitness.

I greatly enjoyed my first Winter Series – hit a few PRs, met new friends and loved the camaraderie between my fellow harriers. We united in laughter and in fatigue; supporting one another through each race.


svr

Overall Female: 2nd Place

Female 35-39: 1st Place

Best 5K: 19:11

Thank you to all of the organizers who worked hard to execute each race and to the volunteers and spectators who braved the elements to help us crazy runners.

Although I am thankful for spring to be upon us, I definitely have one reason to look forward to this December and the bleak winter months!

Until next time,

Becky