Yogging…

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I’d like to dedicate today’s entry to running – and by “running,” I mean short bursts of jogging (or yogging… It might be a soft “j”) followed by longer lulls of speed walking. I’m not trying to kid anyone. I am not a runner… but I want to be. That should count for something.

I love the idea of running – getting out in nature and away from the distractions of work, relationships, etc. Letting your legs create some distance between you and your stresses. However, what running is for people like me who aren’t born natural athletes, is something totally different. It’s exhausting. It hurts. It’s really not all that enjoyable of an experience.

One of my goals for 2013 was to run a 5K (again, using the term “running” loosely). I signed up for Color Me Rad months ago, and I have to admit, I’m terrified by it. Not because I can’t make it 3.11 miles, but because I don’t want to drag my team of thin, fit people down. The first step, to me, is training.

I started on Easter by running at Lake Hefner. When I hit the halfway point, I couldn’t believe how far I had come. The buildings where I left my car looked itty bitty… Then I realized that I had no choice to get all the way back over there. I was alone. No one was going to carry me or pick me up. It was just me and my legs.

af2ea5aa9a4411e2a8b922000a1f8ac2_7You know what? I made it. My legs and I were fine, albeit a little sore. I finished in 43:30. It’s not an impressive time, but I did it, which proved one thing to me – I could do it. The first run was a measuring stick… a place to start. And when it comes to exercise, the most important thing is usually the toughest – starting.

Since then, I’ve completed two more 5K trial runs (in the same week even! Whoa!) – Here are the pictures to prove it:
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For those of you paying attention, you’ll notice my last run was both my fastest and longest. Yeah, okay. It was my fastest by :32 seconds, but it was still faster and I earned those :32. Don’t rain on my parade, haters. I’ll eventually cut 13 minutes off and be running at a decent pace. Just you wait.

All that to say, for you wanna-be runners like me, here are a few tips I’ve found in my three test runs:

1. Location, location, location!
I have yet to run in the same place twice. Part of “the dream” of being a runner for me is seeing new things – that’s a little pointless if you’re running at the same location every time. I did a simple Google search and found several locations in my area that are prime running spots. Plus, each place offers different course lengths, elevations and overall experience.
One last bonus that no one considers, you don’t know your way around. So when you hit that point when you think “Screw this, I’m going back to my car,” you have no idea if turning around or going forward is the fastest way back. Chances are once you figure it out, you’re probably pretty close to achieving your goal anyway. (I’m not kidding. This definitely happened on my second run and, to a lesser degree, my third.)

2. Everything is better with a soundtrack.
I know I keep talking about nature and escaping things, but I cannot run without music. As nice as the sound of birds and such is, hearing my feet hit the pavement just reminds me of how much work I’m really doing. Just as running is a distraction from stress, music is a distraction from running.
Another valuable tip – switch up your music. I have a “Work It Out” playlist, but my first run was set to a random shuffle; the second was two songs on repeat; the third was Sufjan Stevens The Age of Adz album. Each offered me what I needed to push through.

3. Chew on that.
Have problems getting parched during a run, but you don’t want to lug around a water bottle? Chew some gum. It helps. Scouts honor.

4. Excuses, expluses. 
Life is busy. As a girl with 4 jobs, trust me, I get it. There are usually a million reasons why you can’t exercise… and sometimes they are actually legitimate. The key though is that if you look for it, there are a few days here and there that there is no good reason not to go for a run. Take advantage of those times! It’s spring – there is going to be some nice weather and a few evenings that you have no obligations for a few hours – at least long enough to run, then shower and get ready to go about your business. Do it then. You’ll feel better after you push past that initial urge to be lazy.

5. Never give up, never surrender!
I admit that 43 minutes to jog 3 miles isn’t good, but that’s not really the point for me. Yes, I want to get faster, but at the end of each run the thing I’ve been most proud of is that I did it. I made the choice to get out and be active instead of sitting on the couch. Even if it took me an hour and a half to get through it, I still would’ve made a choice to be healthier. In the long run (pun intended), that is the most important thing.

90 Day Challenge

Carey and I at Green & Grilled

If you’ve been following my Facebook account at all, you probably noticed a semi-cryptic message about changes happening in my life. Many have asked me what exactly that entails, so here’s the skinny (That’s a pun. You’ll get it… keep reading):

A few months ago I saw a post on Facebook from Carey Lea (a personal trainer that I had met a couple times, but with whom I share several mutual friends) saying that she was going to be giving away a 90 Day Fitness package. Entry was simple – send her a bit of information about yourself and tell her your story and why you feel you would be a good candidate for the program. I hesitated to participate being as I have already been fairly successful in losing weight and understand that there are plenty of people out there who “need” it more than me. But, with the encouragement of a friend, I decided to at least give it a shot. If I didn’t get it, no harm, no foul.

Much to my surprise, I received an email from Carey saying that I had been chosen as one of three finalist for the program. She asked me to come in for a follow-up interview so she could get a better feel for who I am and my history. I met with her and recounted my success to this point as well as my frustrations with being stuck where I am, even though I’m so close to my goal. We went through my family history, support system, eating habits… you know. That kind of thing. Her final question to me was simple, “Why do you think you should win this package?” The words fell out of my mouth without hesitation. “Because I want to change. No, I need to. I can’t keep living the way I am right now. It’s not an option. I won’t make it unless I change.” Hmm… I was caught off guard by my answer, but I can’t argue it’s validity. That is truth and it’s 100% of the reason winning was important to me.

As I waited for Carey to select her lucky winner, I prayed that if it was going to be something I would fail at, to please let someone else have it. But if it was what I needed to get from where I am to where I want to be as a person in both body and spirit, then select me and give me the strength to follow through.
That afternoon I got a call from Carey asking me if I wanted to accept her help. Full of excitement and fear, I agreed.

The package is pretty extensive – personal training sessions, nutrition and food prep lessons, supplements, counselling and medical care (if needed) and, as the reward for whipping this tired body into shape, a makeover and photo shoot at the end.

I am now 5 days in and still feel the same sense of excitement and fear as when I accepted. So far I have put in the work and completed each workout as scheduled. This means getting up early and driving to the other side of town before work each morning. If you’ve been around me at all, you know this is and will continue to be the most difficult thing for me. I really don’t understand you morning people. It’s terrible.
I have yet to start any real nutrition changes yet, although for my own sake, I’ve been avoiding greasy, delicious foods. Tomorrow night Carey and I will go shopping, so that will all be sorted out.

I’ve had a lot of people comment to me that they’re jealous… and they should be. I’ve been blessed with an amazing opportunity. This is nothing I could afford on my own and I never dreamed I would be able to work with a personal trainer. But wait until you see me limping around sore and tired. Wait until we’re at a restaurant and I’m eating a salad while you enjoy your tasty burger and Coke. This gift comes with a price. I’m under no illusion that this will be a cake walk. At some point, I’m going to want to quit. But, all I have to do is convince myself to do what I have to do. If that means taking an hour or two out of my day to put my body through hell, that’s what I have to do. It’s only an hour or two. If that means turning down something that will taste better compared to something that will still fill me up, that’s what I have to do. If that means setting 15 alarms to make sure I’m up at sunrise, that’s what I have to do. For now, the important thing is to focus on daily goals instead of the big picture. You reach a destination one step at a time.

Okay, I’ve talked your ear off (err.. typed your… eyes off. Is that a thing?), but I’ll leave you with this – I hope this will inspire some of you. That’s honestly a lot of my motivation in doing it. Yes, it’s an awesome opportunity, but it’s not like Carey is offering me liposuction, she’s offering me a chance to change my life through hard work and dedication. You may not get to have someone training you, but if you commit to work hard, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. As I learn more, I plan to share tips that have helped me with you and I plan on being pretty transparent through this whole journey. I hope that you’ll follow along.

For daily updates, you can follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
For more information about Carey, you can check out her Facebook, Twitter or website.

App Review: Zombies, Run!

I’m not one who stays up-to-date on app fads (or any fads for that matter). Eventually word about apps like Angry Birds and Words with Friends just happen to get around to me. I say all that to say, Zombies, Run! was the exception. I found out about this app about a week before it released after a friend posted a link to a news story about it on Facebook and I knew I had to have it. As a person who strives to enjoy running, I knew if the app was as cool as it was in my head, it could completely change the way I run.

Price: $7.99
Fitness level required: Beginner

Overview:
Zombies, Run! is a fitness and game app all in one. The story unfolds as you are dropped into a camp that is in need of help from “runners.” Runners collect supplies that you distribute to the survivors in your camp – Abel Township. You survive, they survive. There are currently 30 missions available, but developers will release more missions in the near future. Missions last between 25 – 30 minutes depending on your soundtrack.

Zombies, yay:
Personally, my main problem when running is that I think about what I’m doing too often. Me running without music? Forget about it. I wouldn’t make it down the block. I have to be distracted. Zombies, Run! is the perfect solution for me. By the time the first section of dialogue was over on my first mission, I had already knocked out 1/4 of my run without even realizing it.
One thing that works in my favor for this app is my active imagination. If you can’t play along, this app will be of no help to you. The people on the radio will say things like, “You should see the hospital in the distance on your left.” I can easily look up, decide what object “the hospital” is and push myself to get to that mark as quickly as possible.
If you have a problem pushing yourself, make sure you turn on the zombie chases feature. Nothing will motivate you to keep running than a horde of zombies ready to devour your brains. Don’t worry, the chases only last 1 minute max. You can handle it.
For those of you who have been long-time users of other running apps like Nike+, you can run both apps at the same time. However, I would suggest turning off the audio cues in the other app. It’s much more motivating for me to hear that the work I’m doing is going to save lives rather than hear some athlete I’ve never heard of patronize me anyway. (No offense, Nike+. I love you.)
Another thing to keep in mind, this app will work for any level runner. The mission isn’t based on any set speed. Whether you choose to run or walk the entire time, when a zombie attack occurs, all you have to do is speed up. You’re not required to pull a Usain Bolt or anything.

Zombies, boo:
I’ve discovered very few drawbacks to Zombies, Run!, and the flaws it has aren’t significant enough for me to not recommend it.
It would be nice if I could change my distance from kilometers to miles. I’m assuming this will be a fixed soon. (If it already is fixed and I’m a dummy, tell me how to change it in the settings, please.)
This is my own problem, but I hate iTunes. I lothe it, so I don’t use it. I choose to listen to my music through Spotify. It’s my understanding that Zombies, Run! is programmed to pause your iTunes playlist while the narrator is taking, but of course, this does not apply to an outside app like Spotify, Lastfm, Pandora, etc. Not only does it not pause the playlist, there’s no way to even control the volumes separately making it difficult to hear the mission at times. I’m not pinning this as something the developers missed and I don’t assume it will be fixed. It would be too difficult to work with so many outside companies. I’ll just have to bite the bullet, put my workout songs on my phone and pray syncing it doesn’t delete everything I have. (It wouldn’t be the first time.)

Conclusion:
Yes, $7.99 is a lot for an app, but in my opinion, Zombies, Run! is worth the cost. I find myself thinking, “Man, I really don’t want to run today, but I’m really curious about what happens next in my game.” The motivation to get off my butt and workout is definitely worth $8 to me.

Rating: A