Why Races Aren’t About Being Competitive (and Why They Are)

Years ago when I got back into running, I signed up for a local 15k.  I “trained” for it and had an absolute blast on race day.  There was no pressure, because I had no idea what to expect.  I was just excited to be out on the course with other runners and to see what the experience would be like.  I got hooked.

I was dating my, now husband, at the time and suggested that we sign up to do a spring race together.  Having been a high school and collegiate athlete, he had no desire to go back to those competitive days.  He just wanted to enjoy his running.

I absolutely understood this sentiment, but tried to explain that races aren’t necessarily about the “racing.”  It took some convincing, but he signed up for his first two races, a 15k road race and a 10k mountain trail run.  Not the best choices to ease him into the sport, but after his first race, he told me to start finding more.

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Our first race together!

My First Race!

Why Racing Isn’t About Being Competitive

It wasn’t the “race” that hooked us.  It was the experience, the opportunity to find that inner athlete we had tucked away after our competitive days in sports.  Being among other runners, pushing ourselves to see what was our very best, and having strangers cheer for us on the side of the road, only made the experience better.

While I have had some varied success in my running, I’m almost always behind many runners who are far faster than me.  More often than not, I am not there trying to win the race, but instead to run for myself.

Part of what makes races exciting is the process.  From choosing which race and event you will be doing, to finding the right plan, it is the total package before the race even starts that makes it so fun.

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When I was competing in track and field, my dad was my coach.  One thing I will never forget was him telling me that I wouldn’t remember most of my races.  Instead, what I would remember most was the training.  He was 100% right and that still holds true today.

The process of preparing for your event, the excitement of the process, and the experience of the race itself is what makes “racing” fun.  People will be cheering you on, and they certainly don’t care what place you finish.  In fact, most people will be far more inspired by the person who finishes last than the speedster that came in first.

Why Running Is About Being Competitive

I’m not talking about coming in first.  The competition is rarely between you and the person who will win.  Instead, it is about setting goals and seeing what you can do.  Maybe you want to simply finish the 5k, or perhaps your goal is to finish without taking walking breaks.   You might have a time goal that you are working for.

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The great thing about races is that you can always set a goal, whether it is something really lofty or a smaller goal to get you through an event.  These goals can be for any distance.  The possibilities are endless, and this is what can help you to find a little competitiveness in your running at any level without taking the fun out of the sport.

Having an event or a goal to look forward to can be an extra motivation for your running.  It’s not always about getting faster.  It can simply be to make your experience better.

Why do you like to race?

Are you hesitant to try a race?  If so, I’d love to hear what holds you back.

I’m (Finally) Back!

Where do I begin?  Happy New Year?!  My apologies for the delayed return.  I had planned to get back to blogging earlier, but as usual there were some unexpected twists.

Our late fall/early winter in New York was absolutely wonderful.  The weather cooperated for the most part and our family had great adventures in the city; a big change from our very rural life in the off season.

Our 3 year old, Mary, figured out how to get up off of the ice on her own and that was a huge game changer.  While I taught lessons every day at the ice rink in Central Park, she was able to skate around and join classes with us.  She decided that she was going to be both a figure skater and a hockey player!

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Helping mom string a hockey net for class.

Lucy, our now 16 month old, even got in on the fun and tried marching around in skates that were much too big for her.  She only wants to do what big sister does and I can’t blame her.

Where Did I Disappear To?

I had big plans to get back to blogging and running adventures in the New Year, but I kept seeing information about a very intriguing certification course for running coaches.  I decided to skip the blogging (and basically anything else) for the next few weeks to pursue a new coaching certification.

Revo2lution Running is a 4 week training course that delves deeply into the science of running.  While I have my RRCA certification along with my ACE Health Coaching Certification, I am always looking to learn more about running and health and wellness.

What I loved about this course was that it combined these two areas of interest on a deeper level that I have been looking for.  Understanding more of the science behind running as well as the differences in training for men and women was exactly what I wanted.  By passing this test, I also received certification to teach treadmill classes in facilities.  I’m really looking forward to starting these classes up soon.

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As a coach, I am always interested in broadening my knowledge of running and coaching.  I enjoy listening to other coaches and experts and bringing these new tools to runners who choose to work with me.  I’m looking forward to sharing some of the information I have learned and posting more in the next few weeks.

What are you goals for 2019?

Craft Your Holiday Cards

This week I have a few easy craft projects to share with you.  Today I’m starting with a super simple way to reuse your holiday cards.

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Since we have moved to Michigan, we have been recycling more than ever.  When we lived in NYC it was mandatory that you place recycling outside of your building.  The Department of Sanitation would fine the building owner and this was incentive for all of us to separate our garbage.

However, when we moved to Chicago, they have a much more lax recycling program.  Unfortunately, this made recycling far less convenient for us and I am sorry to say that we got a bit out of the habit.

Interestingly enough, recycling isn’t mandatory up here in Michigan.  But our local recycling center makes it so incredibly easy, that we now recycle more than ever.  All you need to do is pull up to the building and bring everything in.  They have bins labeled to help you separate materials.  The employees will also come out to your car and help carry everything in and separate it for you.  We now have far less garbage to put out every week.

Now that we recycle more, I try to think of ways to reuse things we have around our house.  One fun thing we have discovered is making gift tags for next year out of the holiday cards we received from family and friends.  This is also a great project that you can involve your kids with on a cold winter day.

We have dozens of these cards each year.  I have a rack that we set out to display cards and this year Mary had a blast looking at the pictures and hanging the cards up.  However, once the holiday season is over, the cards often just get tossed into the garbage at some point.

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Most holiday cards are made of nice material and come in many fun colors and adornments.  Instead of tossing the cards out, try taking some of your favorites and cutting them into tags to use for next year’s gifts.  This creates less garbage and also saves you money when you purchase gift wrap next year.  You can even do this as a family and spend time looking at each card one more time.  Mary finds this to be a fun way to name each person she knows.

Take a look at your cards and find fun prints or pictures and then simply cut into shapes.  Mix up the sizes and styles of your cut.  You can even get creative and use different types of scissors with various borders.  Use a hole punch to make a space for string.  Or leave alone and tape onto packages next year!  Don’t forget to look on the back of the cards.   This is where you usually can find some really nice designs.

Do you day any family crafts when the weather gets really cold?

Year In Review

Happy New Year!  It’s been a bit over a week since I last posted.  I attribute that to a whole lot of fun activities going on over the holidays and to an early Christmas present from Mary in the form of the Norovirus.  The latter wiped me out for nearly a week.  What can I say?  We do encourage her to share as much as possible!

2017 was a really fun year for our family and also for my running.  It didn’t involve many races or racing goals, but there was plenty of mileage to be had anyway.  Here’s my quick recap and mileage.

January:  132 miles

I started this month out by jumping into training for the Boston Marathon.  We got hit almost daily with several inches of snow and I quickly realized that winter marathon training in Northern Michigan can be quite miserable.

February: 171 miles

I continued training for Boston, until we found out that we were expecting in October.  At this point, I decided that I would rather not train for a marathon while being pregnant and hope to qualify again another year.

March: 197 miles

Being pregnant certainly wasn’t going to stop me from running.  When we got to Florida, I spent 10 days running on the beach with Rock and enjoying some warm, snowless, weather.

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April: 159 miles

We headed out east to New York City for 2 months of work.  Mary got to skate at Wollman Rink in Central Park, where we used to work, and where Rock and I first met.  I got to enjoy running in the park, along the East River, and on Randall’s Island.  We also got some running together as a family up in Fishkill, NY.

May: 84 miles

May was a learning month for me.  When you are pregnant, your body requires far more electrolytes than it normally does.  I ran through what felt like a terrible calf cramp that ended up being a muscle tear.  This lead to some down time for healing.  When I finally got back out to run, I tripped over a brick and messed up my pelvis (thanks pregnancy hormones!).  It was June before I could even walk properly again.

June: 161 miles

This was a recovery month for me.  As I eased back in to running, I wasn’t certain if I would be able to do the only race I had planned for the year.  Fortunately, I played it smart and took my time.  Many days I broke my runs into two parts and this seemed to really help.

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July: 158 miles

I spent a week pushing Mary in the running stroller in Rhinelander, Wisconsin and the following week I was feeling well enough to do the Cherry Festival Half Marathon in Traverse City.  At 27 weeks pregnant, I was careful not to push myself too hard and was pleased by both the beautiful course, and my 1:53 finish.

August: 143 miles

I could tell my outdoor running was coming to an end as we enjoyed a week of family vacation up in Glen Arbor, MI.  However, as I took my runs inside and was feeling great, I was surprised when some early labor lead to modified bed rest.  Our fabulous doctors and nurses kept me and the baby healthy enough to just hang out at home.

September: 27 miles

Lucy Carroll Dudek arrived 4 1/2 weeks early and stole our hearts.  I was so scared about sharing my time between Mary and another sibling and couldn’t imagine how I would possibly love another child as much as my first.  The truth is though, that I love being a mom more than ever before.  These two girls bring so much love into our lives.

October: 160 miles

I took 18 days off after Lucy was born and then eased back in on the treadmill.  This was both easier on my body and also for a mom who now has a toddler and a newborn to take care of.

November: 192 miles

This month marked my first outdoor and double digit runs.  We tried the Winnetka Turkey Trot in Winnetka, IL and had a blast.  This was also Mary’s first time riding with me during a race and also her first kids race.  It was all a success!

December:  193 miles

Despite ending the year with a GI bug, the whole month marked some really great mileage and runs.  We had a fabulous Christmas and start to our New Year.  We are so blessed as a family and I thank you for following my adventures.

Total mileage: 1777 miles

What was a highlight of your running this year?

Holiday Gift Guide: Running Products For Stockings

Keeping with my trend of reviewing running sunglasses, I thought I would share some of my favorite running products to stuff stockings .  Pick up a few of these for yourself or your favorite runner.  I believe these won’t disappoint.

Simple Hydration Bottles: ($19.99)

It’s no secret that I am a fan of this water bottle.  It sits perfectly  in the back of your shorts or sports bra.  No need to wear a hydration belt. There’s no bouncing around or chafing.  The name of this product says it all, simple!  You don’t have to worry about carrying hydration around.  It holds just enough fluid to get through almost any run.  Now the lids also come in a variety of colors and an improved lid.

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Yurbuds: (Starting at $14.99 on Amazon)

I have weird ears, because earbuds don’t stay in for me.  It is so frustrating and up until a few years ago, I had to wear old school over the noggin headphones.  Yep, I was that dork on the run!  I was at a North Face race and saw a Yurbuds booth and their promise that these won’t fall out.  I didn’t try them, but eventually decided to spring for a pair.  Do yourself a favor and get these if you have the same problem as me.  The sound quality is fantastic.  The fit is great and they will replace them if there are issues within the first year.

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Flipbelt: (Starting at $28.99)

I used to use a different type of belt, and while I loved it, we had some major chafing issues and had to break up.  Unlike other belts, this one stays in place and doesn’t bounce around, eliminating any potential rubbing.  It also has multiple pockets so you can carry your phone, fuel, ID, cash, and anything else you might need.  Even when I was pregnant, this remained comfortable on the run thanks to a nice amount of stretch.

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Body Glide: ($7.99 in stores)

Speaking of comfort, chafing is a given in the sport of running.  It happens and it hurts.  Nobody likes to hit the showers after their thighs have rubbed together for several miles.  Ouch!  Lather this on problem areas before your long run and spare yourself that painful singe after a run.

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Nuun Tablets: ($5.99 in stores)

I tore my calf at 20 weeks during my pregnancy in May.  A lack of electrolytes can lead to severe cramping and even muscle tears.  These delicious tablets are a wonderful way to recover after your run.  Hydrating never tasted so delicious and your muscles will thank you later.  I love the variety of flavors that are offered, including energy options, because sometimes long runs start at early o’clock.

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What are your favorite products that you would like to see in your stocking or recommend for others to share the love?

 

Food Is Food, Sweat Is Sweat-Enough With The Guilt

I’ve noticed a lot of posts on social media lately encouraging people to work out so they don’t feel guilty about eating meals during the holidays.  I certainly admit that I ran a Turkey Trot last week, knowing that I was going to enjoy a big feast later in the day.  But I also told my husband that we don’t use exercise as a replacement for overeating.  The two shouldn’t be a means to balance each other out.  Sometimes it may seem that way, but it shouldn’t really be the case.

Of course, many of us exercise to stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight, or even to lose weight at times.  But exercise isn’t just a form of diet.  It is a healthy activity that also releases endorphins and makes us feel good about life and ourselves.
On Thanksgiving there were a lot of #burntheturkey #earntheturkey and it was driving me crazy.  You don’t have to earn your turkey.  Thanksgiving is a holiday meant to be spent with friends and family.  The same goes for Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years and other holidays.  Exercise isn’t the ticket that allows you to enjoy turkey or any other meal.  You don’t have to earn that food through exercise, at any time.
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When we say that we earned a meal, it makes it seem like under other circumstances, we shouldn’t eat or enjoy such foods.  That is totally unfair!  Food is not only an essential part of life, but also a very important part of socializing and our cultures.
We should of course aim for a balance in our lives and strive to eat healthy most of the time.  We should also have times where we enjoy a little indulgence.  Dessert is delicious and so are hamburgers, french fries, or whatever your pleasure might be.  When we don’t allow ourselves to eat these things, we deprive our wants, and often go overboard when we have the opportunity.
Exercise on the other hand, shouldn’t be a punishment.  Sweat is not your fat crying.  That statement drives me nuts.  Enough with the fat nonsense!  Exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle and sweat is the output from your effort.  Nothing is crying.  Your body, in fact, is likely rejoicing.
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Aim for balance this holiday season.  Eat mostly healthy.  Watch your portions.  And exercise when you can because it is good for you.  But please don’t punish yourself because you overdo it at a meal.  Go ahead and enjoy some holiday appetizers, desserts, or drinks.
Pick an exercise that you enjoy.  Carve out time most days to get a workout in and enjoy that sweat.  Then take a moment to look at yourself in the mirror and smile!

Gingerbread Granola

I’m not walking away from the holidays without a fight.  We finally took our tree and decorations down last weekend.  I always love decorating for the holidays but it flies by and then its a little disappointing once it is over.

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is gingerbread.  I love gingerbread cookies.  I love the spicy flavor.  It evokes all of the aromas of the season for me.

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I could seriously eat this guy up!

I also love granola, but if you have ever looked at a nutrition label for most granolas you will find that they are loaded with fat and sugar.  Don’t get me wrong, fat isn’t the culprit we once accused it of being.  However, I don’t like starting the morning off with a cereal that is full of unnecessary fat and calories.  I like to eat mindfully.

So I set about to make a granola that tastes like gingerbread but is also full of healthy fats and far less sugar.  This recipe is full of fiber and antioxidant rich dried fruits.

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Ingredients:

3 cups oatmeal

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup dried apricots (chopped)

1/2 cup dried cherries (chopped)

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon dark molasses

I tablespoon ginger

1 teaspoon clove

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250ºF.  Combine butter, syrup, and molasses in a small bowl.  Add oats to a large bowl and stir in the butter and syrup mixture.  Add in fruit and nuts.  Thoroughly stir in spices until well covered.

Place granola mix on a large baking sheet.  Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to dry for at least one hour.

What is your favorite holiday flavor?  Do you like granola?

Oh What A Year- 2016 By The Numbers

This year started out with lots of fun and visitors.  Between family time and work, I am just now getting a chance to sit down and do my mileage for the year.  2016 was an adventure filled and joyous one for our entire family.  It was my first full year as a mom spent learning to balance that with Sarah “The Runner.”  Talk about a great lesson in keeping everything going.    Here is a quick recap of my year.

January 198 miles:

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My year began with the honor of becoming a part of the Simple Hydration Run Team.  I have been using this bottle for a fear years now, thanks to founder Brian Hock.  I applied to join the team and am so happy that I was chosen.  I love this bottle and adore the group of runners within this team.  I have learned a lot from all of them this past year.

February 207 miles:

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My brother got married in Aruba and we enjoyed some time playing on the beach and splashing in the pool with our 6 month old.  Rock and I both started our marathon training for the Run For The Red Poconos Marathon.  I do remember a particularly difficult 16 miler that was finished entirely on grit.

March 235 miles:

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We were lucky enough to escape the cold yet again and join my parents for a week in Florida.  Our family has visited the same place for over 20 years and each year is just as fun as the last.  It is so fun to show our daughter the places I loved as a little girl.  Rock and I also got in a very hot 18 miler together along the beach.

April 247 miles:

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We packed up and headed to NYC for the spring for work.  It was a nice way to switch up the training.  Typically I would do my long runs weaving all over the city, but with a baby at home with a sitter, I ended up spending most of my runs doing loops of hilly Central Park.   This ended up being a very wise decision because the Poconos Marathon wasn’t the entirely downhill race that it is often touted to be.

May 155 miles:

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The Poconos Marathon was pretty epic for me.  Just about 9 months after Mary was born, I toed the line for my return to the marathon.  I trained both wisely and hard, and felt great.  Not only did I qualify for Boston but I also had over an 8 minute marathon PR!

June 157 miles:

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Grandma’s Marathon was meant to be my backup race to qualify for Boston.  Good thing I got that covered the month before, because the weather conditions and an overtrained body had me breaking down before I reached the halfway point.  It was a very humbling experience.

July 156 miles:

I love summer and we had a great one this year.  We traveled to Wisconsin for hockey camp and also ran the Cherry Festival 15k where I placed in my age group.  That was a big one for me as I have done pretty well in years past but never managed to get that age group finish.

August 146 miles:

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My mileage plummeted a bit this summer as I crammed before getting my ACE Health Coach Certification and then moved from Chicago to Michigan.  We spent a better part of that month making multiple trips to move furniture and then painting every room in the house.

September 174 miles:

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Back to the grindstone at just the perfect time as I received confirmation that I was going to be running the 2017 Boston Marathon!

October 163 miles:

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Fall running is the absolute best.  I managed to get in a few long runs during the week again.  I also started a new job as a Health Coach and Personal Trainer at the local YMCA!

November 176 miles:

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We had great weather this fall and it helped  create a pretty solid base for my running.  At our annual Turkey Trot I had a 10k PR and 3rd place age group finish.  Then I ate way too much food!

December 168 miles:

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I may not love winter running but I love everything about the holidays.  We had a wonderful month of family time and snuggles and I started my Boston Marathon training.

Total miles: 2182

It was a very blessed year.  Thank you for following along, commenting, and sharing your stories.  A very special thank you to Simple Hydration and Legend Compression for bringing me onto their teams!

What was your best memory of 2016?

 

Take the NEAT Challenge

I sometimes feel a little bummed when the holidays are over.  I love decorating the house, playing music, and finding gifts for family and friends.  I get into the baking and festivities.  Then it all comes to a screeching halt.

The holidays are over and with it comes the reality that we had a little too much fun over the past week.  The parties, the cocktails, the extra helpings at dinner, and don’t forget the treats.  It can be easy to get on the scale and feel overwhelmed, discouraged, and upset with ourselves.  While the culmination of the past few weeks can make us feel like we did some serious damage, there are some very simple ways to get back on track.

What we eat and how we choose to be active can have large impacts on our weight gain and loss.  Eating a healthy diet and getting in regular exercise are ways that you can control your health.

There is one other factor that we often forget about.  Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy you expend from everything that is not sleeping, eating, or exercise.  NEAT is all of the tiny little actions you do during the day that add up in caloric burn.

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As a health coach I often hear that people don’t have enough time to exercise.  It can be difficult to find the time to prepare healthy meals.  These are both understandable and they are great reasons to meet with a health coach to find solutions to help you carve out time for exercise  and meal planning.  Yet, if you are someone who is pressed for time, NEAT is where you can make giant leaps in your healthy living process.

Take the NEAT Challenge:  For the month of January, find extra little ways to burn small amounts of energy.  Instead of searching for a parking spot closest to the store, grab one a few aisles back.  You will save time by parking sooner, and you will get a few more steps in.

Stand up every time you talk on the phone.  Pace, walk around your house, and march in place.  We spend a lot of time at home and in the office on the phone.  Use this as an opportunity to get a little extra movement.

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Plan a family activity each evening.  Try a walk around the block after dinner.  Go for a quick bike ride.  Make a snowman and have a snowball fight.  Too cold to go out?  Build a fort in the basement.

Set an alarm on your phone and make sure you get up from the desk every house for a lap around the office and a refill of your water bottle.

The great thing about NEAT is that you don’t have to plan out the exercise.  It actually isn’t even exercise.  You just need to move.  Tap your feet at the desk.  Fiddle your fingers.  All of those little things add up.

What little ways could you add some extra movement into your day?

The Present Of Being In The Present

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone had a lovely weekend and enjoyed a Merry Christmas and beginning of Hanukkah.

Earlier last week I had a special moment with Mary.  We were playing in a new little tent that she was given and enjoying snacks in our “fort.”  She was giggling and just being so sweet.  It stopped me in my tracks.  I have had moments lately where I wish things were going a certain way or there were a few things I wish I had.  But being in the moment, right there with my daughter, made me realize that it is important to enjoy those times.  We need to spend less time wishing for what we don’t have and instead, spend some time thoroughly enjoying the blessings we already do have.  She is constantly growing and changing.  If I don’t take the time to enjoy each moment, it will pass before I have a chance to appreciate it.

I made a mental note to do this during our holiday weekend…..

On Thursday we headed down to Chicago.  I had a humorous moment when we stopped at a gas station an hour and a half south of where we live.  We always stop at a particular place to grab Jimmy John’s sandwiches and “car snacks.”  If you know anything about me, I eat a rather healthy diet.  But when we load up in the car, we let loose.  I couldn’t decide on what snacks to get so I grabbed four medium sized bags of chips and two diet sodas.  As I was waiting to check out, I ran into a guy I know from high school who also goes to the gym I work at.  He knows that I am a certified Health Coach.  Busted!  He smiled at me and said, “No worries.  You don’t need to justify.”

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I didn’t even take a picture.  I’m just reposting from my last “road trip.”

On Friday we met with the family to make gingerbread houses. This is an annual tradition spearheaded by my mother-in-law.  She goes to great lengths to make this an extra special event for all of her grandchildren, family, and friends.  Mary “helped” me make a house. Basically she tried her hand at M&M’s, licorice, Sno-Caps, and many other delicious treats.

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Later that evening our family rented a small ice rink for another annual tradition, a skating party!  I was sort of dreading this and almost didn’t bring my skates.  I figured that with a 16 month old, we would just be chasing her around the lobby the entire time and no one would get to enjoy skating.  However, when we arrived I decided to take a peek at the rental skates and noticed there were some nice, relatively tiny ones.

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Mary loves to try on people’s shoes and wear them around the house.  I honestly would never recommend taking a child under the age of two (and as a professional skating coach I would actually say wait until they are 3 or 4) but I figured it might be fun to see if Mary would even just let us put them on her.  When she didn’t protest, I took her out to do some spins with me.  However, we were shocked when after a few minutes of help, she was actually skating on her own!

And then a few minutes later…….

Christmas Eve and Christmas day were filled with lots of family, festivities, and a lot of food.  Mary got her own Christmas pajamas to wear to bed on Christmas Eve and was soaking everything in all day.  I feel like this was truly her first Christmas, because she could understand it a bit more this year.  I can’t even imagine how much fun it will be in the seasons to come.

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I was also fortunate to get outside for a warm-ish (30 degree) run.  It felt so nice to run on pavement again.  Yesterday marked the first day of my Boston Marathon training.  I have to say that it felt fantastic to take a break in the middle of the day to get a sweat in after plowing through a beautiful Christmas brunch.

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Crazy hair.  Great run!

I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of people out running all day on Christmas.  Way to go runners!

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday weekend.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays!

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How did you spend your holiday weekend?  What is your best recommendation for staying in the present when things get hectic?