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I am in search of new motivation.  Three years ago, I lost about 40 pounds.  This was a great accomplishment, and I have managed to keep it off since then, but I have been stuck on a plateau for a long time.  I’ve been taking two steps forward, two steps back over and over again and I need to break out of my old, tired habits and do something good for myself.

I turned 29 in July and I have just started to realize that this means that I will someday soon be turning 30.  I am setting a goal for myself to lose 30 pounds by the time I turn 30.  Hopefully I can get out of my own way enough to do this.  I have the skills and the knowledge, and now I need the motivation to get going and to keep myself going – not to get bored after a month and lose sight of my purpose.

I am no stranger to working out and working hard.  I take Spinning classes and I love Body Pump; I trained for and ran my first half marathon in June.  I also enjoy a lot of healthy foods and have incorporated clean eating into my life.  But, I have trouble getting both my workouts and my good eating habits to happen at the same time.  And if I have learned anything about losing weight and feeling good, it’s that these things need to coincide.

I hope that you enjoy reading my blog posts as I try to kick my own butt back into action and become the balanced, energized, happy 30 year old I know I can be.

-Johanna

With my race just around the corner, I have to start thinking about tapering. Tapering is when just before a big race or event, an athlete pulls back in training in order to start conserving energy. Some people get nervous about the idea of tapering because they’re afraid that they’ll lose all the fitness they worked so hard to achieve. But according to runnersworld.com, tapering before a race is really important because “levels of muscle glycogen, enzymes, antioxidants, and hormones–all depleted by high mileage–return to optimal ranges during a taper.” You do a lot of damage to your muscles during this kind of marathon and half marathon training, and resting helps your body repair itself. Plus, tapering makes a runner less likely to catch a cold or get injured.

Sounds pretty good to me – all definite reasons to take seriously. For my last half marathon, the team tapered for a week, and then took a week off. I’m not sure what I should do this time. I think that I will probably keep working out this week (I get sad and stressed when I don’t!). I also think that my training run this weekend will be a good opportunity to really prove to myself that I’m ready. And then I’ll taper for the week before the race. I’m not going to stay off my feet completely, but will probably just enjoy walking my dog and other light activities.

What do you think? Do any of you taper or rest before a big race? Should I taper more?

- Hannah

One of my serious obstacles during my last half marathon in September was that even though I trained a lot, I never really knew exactly how far I was running. When race day finally came, I was actually more unprepared than I had thought I would be. Two weeks before the race, I ran what I thought was 12 miles (according to a website I use to map all my distances), so running 13.1 should have been a breeze. But it wasn’t! In fact, the race was brutally painful. I came to the conclusion that I never really knew how far I was going.

I have some pretty cool running gear. I recently succumbed to peer pressure and bought a Nike+ SportBand; so many of my friends have them, and it seemed like a really useful tool to have. Basically, the SportBand is a fancy pedometer – but it’s so much more! With the SportBand, I’ve been able to calculate my distances better. It also tells me my pace, which is crucial information.

This past weekend, I really pushed myself. After all, race day is in T-13 days (yikes!) and I really want to feel good about this race. I was visiting a friend in Toronto, and didn’t know the area very well, so I just started running and kept on going. It’s interesting to look at the Nike+ data after a run.

A snapshot of my results

From the website, I can see that I started out pretty strong, but slowed way down once I hit some hills, and really slowed down by the end of the run. In fact, I slowed so much that my overall pace was dragged down. From this, I’m getting that I need to be more consistent in my run. Instead of starting too fast, I need to be a little more even in my pacing, so that I can prevent myself from hitting that dreaded wall (and I definitely hit it last week. It’s terrible, my muscles freeze up and my legs feel like 100 tons of bricks).

- Hannah

I’ve been very excited about training for the Disney Princess Half Marathon. My team and I finally started this season’s training! On Sunday, I joined my team for a 40 minute run (I actually ended up going for 44 minutes) at our old training ground in Watertown.

I’ve never really run in the cold before. When I first started to learn how to run last February, doing the Couch to 5k podcast, I ran outside. It was chilly then, but I never ran outside when there was snow on the ground. I also only ran for very short distances. There’s a lot to think about in choosing the right winter gear: leggings, warm socks, wick-away layer, warmth layer, windbreaker, hat, gloves. I don’t actually have a windbreaker, so I wore a sweatshirt over a long sleeved shirt, and by the end of the run I was so hot. I had to take my hat and gloves off long before the end. I’m in the market for a new windbreaker – maybe I’ll wait until things go on sale! Running is a pretty expensive habit… Read the rest of this entry »

I still haven’t been able to get rid of this cough – and I still haven’t made it to the gym. Enough is enough, I say! Tomorrow is the big day. I don’t care if I cough all over the place; I’m not contagious anymore, and I’m going to the gym! I’ve really missed smartbells and spinning, and with finals period upon me I think working out will be a great stress reliever.

In other news, I have officially decided on which race I want to run. Drumroll please: Read the rest of this entry »

It has taken me a long while to reach this point, but I’m finally here – and I have an announcement to make.

I have decided to train for another race.

After September’s half marathon, I felt pretty terrible for a few days. I was sore beyond belief, and even walking hurt. The race itself was harder than I had anticipated, probably because it was so hot, and the last few miles seemed like they would never end. Right after the race, my teammate S. asked, “what next?” I really thought she was crazy, and at that moment absolutely nothing would have convinced me to sign up for another race. Even a few weeks ago, I hesitated when a friend asked me if I would ever run another half marathon. The whole thing seemed so painfully difficult; it was something to be proud of (and believe me, I am proud), but I felt that it would probably just be one of those things that I did once and could say I did it.

I’ve been realizing lately, especially as I’ve been struggling with my goals and feeling sick, that I loved the process of training. I really loved having long Sunday runs, and the anticipation was so exciting. I was really scared at first, as my coach would probably tell anybody (and I had a lot of freak outs). As the summer wore on, though, and I hit the 2 hour mark, my fear turned into a sense of mission, and I knew that I would cross the finish line. I had no doubts that I would do it. The process of training was a big push; I ran regularly, and kept up a lot of cross training because I knew I had to; if I didn’t complete the training goals, I would have had a harder time getting across the finish line. I loved the feeling of being really committed, and to thinking almost single-mindedly about my goal for weeks on end. I loved the intensity of it.

I really miss it.

At the end of S.’s wedding reception on Sunday evening, I went to say goodbye. She said that she would have more time to hang out now that all the wedding planning was finally over – and I told her that I wanted to train for another race. I could tell from her high-five that she was really excited. I bet Coach J. would be in, too (she’s a running addict, she can’t help it). Now we just have to decide what race to run

-Hannah

Should I run another half? Or maybe look for a 20k? Or a series of smaller races?

 

This week, I spent a lot of time trying to recover. I watched hours and hours (and hours) of Big Love on TV, ate many popsicles, and pretty much drank an entire bottle of NyQuil. I felt so much better! And then I had a crazy whirlwind day of travel and excitement, as I attended my dear friend S.’s wedding. And now I don’t feel so great again.

S. is a friend from graduate school, and she was one of my running teammates this summer. We trained for many long and hard hours together. At the half-marathon in September, we held hands as we crossed the starting line. I was so happy to be able to go to her wedding in Baltimore yesterday – she looked like she walked right out of a bridal magazine!

I had a really fun moment getting ready for the wedding; I tried on all the dresses in my closet – including my high school prom dress – and nothing fit me! I didn’t think far enough ahead to have anything tailored, so I had to go shopping for a new dress; literally, everything I owned was falling off my body, and would have needed to be taken in by a few inches. I went shopping with my friend, and former coach J., and had quite a thrill. I bought a dress – size 14! This is a big moment for me, dear readers. Not too long ago, and I will admit this in a public forum, I was a size 22. I’m not at my goal weight yet, but I can’t even begin to describe what a different experience shopping is now. I used to only be able to buy clothes at certain stores that catered to plus sized shoppers. And now I find myself being able to shop in more and more stores for more and more kinds of clothes. A whole new world of fashion is opening up for me, and I love the way I look!

It’s an amazing thing to feel healthier, to love my body, and to be able to see and notice real differences as I work so hard to achieve goals. I’ve tried to do this for many years, and I’m finally following through and making real commitments. I’m really doing this!

-Hannah

On Sunday I ran the Superhero 5k in Cambridge with my friend, J., who also ran in the half marathon with me. I didn’t plan my costume well enough; I woke up, grabbed a sharpie and a white tee shirt, and started drawing. J. went dressed in burnt orange as Texas Man. Some of the costumes were pretty amazing. I saw a lot of Supermen and superhero5kwomen, a complete set of all 4 Ninja Turtles, a Super Hero (it was a sandwich kind of hero, very punny), and all sorts of underwear-outside-the-pants outfits. I have to say, these past two weekends are the first races for which I have ever run in any sort of costume – and it is SO fun. At the Boston Marathon I saw a lot of people running in costumes and crazy outfits, including a banana and a hamburger, and I really didn’t get it. A marathon seemed so serious and at first I thought the costumes were a little out of place. But now I get it! Running is about exercise and pushing yourself, for sure, but these races can also just be about having a good time. Hey, if a banana suit makes you happy, then you should absolutely go for it. Read the rest of this entry »

hannah_white_blog1picFor most of my life, I would not have considered myself an active person. I’ve struggled with fitness for a long time, and I usually think of myself in terms of my intellect and artistic ability– I was always the kid with the paintbrush, not the basketball — and I really never thought of myself as an actual body. I did participate in a variety of activities when I was younger (activities that I ended up quitting: horseback riding, fencing, rowing, ballet, swimming, soccer), but I never stuck with any regular exercise. The result was a terribly out of shape and overweight adult, somebody continually struggling.

This year, I decided to change all of that, and to let go of my baggage. Most of this started for me in January of last year, when I decided to start running. I downloaded the Couch to 5k podcast and began my training – and I did it! I completed the 9 week training schedule, and on April 20th I ran for a few miles at the end of the Boston Marathon to support a close friend. Later in the year, I found Healthworks (through Groupon – it was a great deal!), and took up spinning classes. The really crazy part was when I decided to run a half marathon, which I finished over Labor Day weekend.

When I first began my fitness overhaul, I was scared out of my mind. I had never done anything like this before, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it — or that I would give this up, like everything else. My marathon coach gave me some great advice, and told me to bite off goals in manageable chunks in order to avoid feeling overwhelmed. “Just take one step at a time,” she said. And she’s right! Her advice made me think of Lao Tzu’s very famous and very over-quoted encouragement: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

At this point, I have taken a lot of steps to change my life. One step was starting to run, another step was joining Healthworks, joining an intramural soccer team, running my half marathon. In this process, I’ve already lost 50 pounds, and I know that I’m on my journey to a healthier, stronger, more confident me. I also know that I have more work to do, and that my journey isn’t nearly completed. Part of my journey involves thinking about workouts, meals, inspirations, frustrations, and goals. I just have to put one foot in front of the other and keep running on my journey.

-Hannah

Learn more about Hannah and her goals by following the “Meet the Bloggers” link at the top of this page!

LiveWellWomen is checking back in with Hannah of  “a journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step.” We have been following her 1/2 Marathon training progress over the last couple months. The race has come and gone, and Hannah did great! Read below to find out more about her great achievement!

It’s taken me some time to be able to process the fact that the race has come and gone. In fact, it happened over 2 weeks ago!

The Heroes

Virginia Beach was really hot; almost everything about the place was different than the conditions in the Boston area. I didn’t quite realize how different everything would be, and how those little differences make for an unpredictable experience. On race day, we woke up at 4 am in order to get to the starting line on time, and to be able to have a chance to eat and use the bathrooms before 20,000 other people started forming lines. We saw the sunrise, and I drew on my arms with a sharpie so that everybody on the sidelines would know my name. My starting point was corral 22, which meant that I didn’t actually start running for almost 40 minutes after the official clock time. By the time I did start running, the elite athletes were already at mile 11. My teammate S. ended up at the same starting place as me; we were both so incredibly excited that we could hardly talk. We were literally in the midst of thousands of other runners, and it felt so overwhelming. This was it, the moment I had spent months preparing for, and I was in shock. S. and I held hands as we ran through the gate.

After about a mile or so, S. and I parted ways– she’s a faster runner than I am, and I didn’t want to overdo it too early in the game. It was difficult to navigate the course at first– there were so many people running all around me, and I found that I had to weave my way in and out so that I could maintain the pace I wanted to. At first my excitement pushed me to run very fast, but I soon realized looking at my watch that my first mile was far beyond my normal rate. As I continued running, I passed so many different kinds of people; in fact, I followed one woman for about 10 miles. The back of her shirt read: 2005, Double Lung Transplant Survivor. I didn’t speak to her at all, but was amazed at her endurance and speed, and decided to chase after her. Also motivating was the fact that bands lined the course of the Rock N Roll Half Marathon, so I sort of just ran from concert to concert.

I was very careful to drink enough water and to take in some sugar; still, though, the heat and the hardness of the pavement really started to get to me. Mile 12 was probably the longest mile of my entire life. At that point, I started talking to myself out loud, “Hannah! You are awesome! You can do this! 1 mile to go, 1 mile to go” Thankfully, Coach J. looped around after she finished and helped me get to the finish. She was amazing, and kept telling strangers to cheer for me. We crossed the finish line together, and I managed to keep my emotions in check until I was positive I had passed the cameras.

And then I sobbed.

I hurt everywhere, from my toes and feet, up my legs, into my core and arms. I felt so emotional at the fact that I had actually managed to accomplish this feat. I, who had never run a single mile in her life up until February, trained all summer long and actually finished a half marathon. I still can’t believe it. I set out to run this race because, cheesily enough, I wanted to change my life. I wanted to change the way I thought about exercise and my body, and I wanted to really do something to prove that I could. Maybe my training won’t be as intense as it was during the summer, but I think it’s safe to say that my habits and expectations really have changed. I should take the time to thank everybody who helped me; I never would have done this without Coach J. or my time at the gym. Really, though, I want to thank myself. I want to thank myself for making a huge change, for sticking to the plan (for once) and seeing it through, for taking a risk, for being committed to really make it happen.

So, self, thank you.

What are you training for? Leave your comments!

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