Some Reflections (literally)

Today I want to take a minute to reflect on my morning runs.

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Upon reflection I really think I am starting to enjoy them.

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Get it? I crack myself up! : )

But really, this whole getting up for an early morning run thing seems to be happening more lately! I really enjoy the extra energy running before work gives me. 

I used to think I needed coffee to wake up, but I’ve been hitting the pavement without any coffee because running is all I need in this world!

Okay, that’s not really true … I most definitely come home and have an iced coffee!

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The only problem with early morning running is that I can’t quite get myself up early enough to eat breakfast, digest and then go running so I do these runs on an empty stomach. I can’t say for sure if this is the reason why, but I tend to run a good 20-30 seconds per mile slower in the morning with what feels like a normal effort.

Oh well, I’m only doing easy runs in the a.m. at this point so it’s not such a big deal. Maybe with time I’ll start being able to stomach a snack early enough to eat before I head out the door.

I have noticed that people tend to be less friendly in the morning, or perhaps they’re just more introspective… thinking about what’s to come in the day. When I run in the evenings I feel like everyone smiles and waves, in the morning a head bob is about as good as it gets.

Well, as most of you know Adam and I are off to Paris and London TODAY! The cat sitter came yesterday and Cecil will be well taken care of although I will miss him lots!

I will definitely be getting in some early morning runs this week as I explore these two exciting cities. I’ll be blogging as I can and Instagramming a bunch! Next time I talk to you it will be from Paris!

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I hope my one semester of French in college serves me well…

Are you fluent in multiple languages? If so, teach me a quick phrase : ) 

Did you study a second language in high school or college? 

First 5K of the Season is in the Books – I PR’d!

Running 20-miles last weekend had me feeling confident about my mental game. This weekend at the Optime 5K I scored myself a small PR of about 15 seconds (yay) but realized when it comes to running fast I am completely mentally weak.

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It seems to me that the mental fortitude necessary to pull off a long run at an easy pace vs. a short run at a fast pace is really different. At mile 16 when my legs are getting tired and sore I just tell myself to keep moving, that soreness is no big deal and that works.

At mile 2 of a 5K when my face feels like it’s two inches from the sun and my breathing feels really rapid… well that’s just totally different. I guess that’s why I’m not a big fan of speedwork days, but I need to start putting more effort into them.

I ran 12 miles on Saturday so my legs were a little bit tired, but after a small warmup mile (at 13:21 pace) around my neighborhood they were feeling fine. 

(Sidenote: Don’t ask me why I did my warmup mile at 5:30am, a full two hours+ before the race. My brain doesn’t function at full capacity before 10am!)

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The 5K started (15 minutes late) when the sun was fully up, and I decided my goal for the day would be to get as close to 36 minutes as possible.

I hit the first mile marker at 12:05 and then continued to positive split the rest of the 5K (12:05, 12:33, 12:58). I really need to work on my race day mental game!

If you want to listen to me make an excuse it would be that I was dealing with 100% humidity which is never fun.

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I feel like if the weather had been nicer I would have been able to breathe easier. The humidity on top of allergies that have been out of control this past week had my gasping for breath.

Excuses are annoying though, so instead I will just say I am hoping for better conditions this fall/winter because I would really like to run sub-36 … even if it’s 35:59. Coach Lauren says I can make it happen no problem and so far trusting her has worked out really well for me!

The kind of really cool thing about this 5K is that I run/walked a different 5K on this same course about two years ago and it took me OVER 46 minutes on that day! That means I shaved about 8 minutes off my previous course time which feels like some kind of small victory.

The big victory looming ever closer is Portland! I am now less than two weeks away from my first marathon! Adam and I will be heading to Paris and London TOMORROW and then jetting over to the Pacific Northwest for the race. 

The next couple of weeks are going to be crazy!

The cat sitter arrives tonight which means this whole whirlwind trip that I’ve been planning for a YEAR is about to get started! 

Any recommendations for places we should eat in Paris / London? 

What is your favorite “I-refuse-to-slow-down” mantra for race day? 

8 Things I am Fearful Of

Happy Friday! As part of the 10 Day Challenge I shared my nine loves last week, and today I am sharing my eight fears.

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Thank you to Kristin @ Sweat Courage for starting this challenge!

My Eight Fears:

1. Not having enough money to retire. I am terrified of never being able to retire, which is kind of funny since I enjoy and thrive in my work environment. If I had to do my job every day for the rest of my life it really wouldn’t be so bad. However, I don’t really WANT that to happen!

I contribute to my 401K, I have a financial advisor, I have a savings account, but I am still worried that it’s not going to be enough! I mean, how do you know what is enough? What if I turn 92 years old and I suddenly need to get a JOB after having been retired for 30 years?! Would I become homeless at 92?! That’s so scary!

2. Woofy crumbling away. Woofy is my stuffed dog that I’ve had since I was 2 years old. He is well loved and well worn… and I’m afraid one day he’s just going to turn into a pile of dust which would make me incredibly sad. I love that dog!

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3. Getting shot or stabbed. For as long as I can remember I have had an irrational fear of being shot while walking down a hallway and being stabbed in my back while I sleep. I’ve always lived in a “good” neighborhood, I’ve never known anyone who was shot or stabbed, and yet I have these fears!

As a kid I would sometimes think about these scenarios in bed at night and I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I would just lay awake all night until the “safe” time of around 5am and then I’d get a couple hours of sleep before school. As an adult I am less scared of these scenarios … except for when Adam has to go on work trips. When I’m in the condo all alone at night those fears come creeping back into my mind. Ugh!

4. Rollercoasters and other scary rides. As I very young child I hated rollercoasters. As a teenager I loved them (or at least I tricked myself into thinking I loved them to seem cool). Now, as an adult, I am back to being scared of them!

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The last rollercoaster I was on was The Hulk at Islands of Adventure about five years ago. It actually wasn’t that bad … but I don’t plan on riding another rollercoaster again … ever.

5. Getting blood drawn. Does this even need an explanation? It’s awful!!!!

6. War. Bombs. This is another one of those irrational fears from childhood that have stayed with me. As a kid I would always have this recurring dream that I was sitting at lunch with my friends and I look up and see a line of bombs flying through the air towards us. When 9/11 happened I didn’t sleep for days. I was 15 years old at the time and I literally just stayed up watching CNN all night long.

7. Vampire in the closet. Well, I guess I have a lot of irrational fears that started during childhood because I have always been afraid that there is a blood sucking vampire hiding in my closet just waiting for me to fall asleep. My dad probably should not have let me watch scary movies at a really young age.

As an adult I’m much less scared of this. Especially if it’s Vampire Eric in there. Just sayin!

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8. Getting pregnant. Having kids is just not on the to-do list for Adam and I.

I admire my mom and all the awesome moms out there, but it’s not a job I feel comfortable applying for. Being a cat mom is more my style! : ).

Do you have any weird / irrational fears? Tell me I’m not alone! : ) 

My First 5K of the Season is Almost Here!

It happened again… I got up for an early morning run! I think I’m actually starting to like it! Not enough for it to become a 6-day a week thing, but maybe a twice a week thing!

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I know I’ll be up bright and early again on Sunday because I signed up to run a 5K! For any local readers, it’s the Optime 5K at Markham Park and it’s only $25 if you register before the event.

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I have a 12-miler to do on Saturday that includes a 3-mile fast finish so I’m definitely not looking to PR or anything crazy on Sunday. I’ll just be running by feel … but also making sure I’m in the top 500 finishers so I get one of the pretty medals!

Of course I’ll be wearing my Garmin … and my newest gadget, a heart rate monitor!

The team at NuMetrex sent over an adidas Heart Rate Monitor that you can pop inside of your adidas miCoach sports bra so you don’t have to wear an annoying heart rate strap!

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The heart rate monitor snaps into the sports bra and then pairs with the adidas miCoach app on your phone to give you heart rate stats and real-time coaching advice based on your settings.

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I tried it out on my run on Tuesday night but I want to use it a couple more times before I give you the full scoop — so far I think it’s super cool! Cecil approves, too : )

But enough about that for now, what I really want to tell you is that I found this list of the 38 best restaurants in Portland! After I run the marathon I will choose one item off the menu from each restaurant until my runger is satisfied!

What’s your favorite thing to eat after a really long run? 

- I love an iced cold fruit smoothie!

*NuMetrex sent me the adidas miCoach sports bra and heart rate monitor. I am not receiving any compensation for my blog post(s) nor was I given any specific information that I needed to include. All opinions and experiences are my own.

Running Confession: I Was Over-Stretching

You know you’re running in South Florida when your elevation chart looks like this:

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I think that little blip at the beginning might be my Garmin actually registering a speed bump!! Hah!

(Just FYI I ran more than 2.5 miles last night but my Garmin decided not to connect to the satellites for the first part of my run! So annoying!)

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I just recently discovered a new super flat route and I love it, although it’s not exactly that much flatter than my normal route. Everything is pretty pancake like in these parts. Actually, a pancake with blueberries is probably more hilly than my normal running routes.

Oh man, my legs are gonna have a good time with the couple of “gentle” hills in Portland.

… I have no idea what a “gentle” hill even is…

When I Google image searched it the results varied widely (and scared me):

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I hope my daily run up over the bridge (obviously not reflected in the elevation chart above) helps!

One thing that has definitely been helping me lately is a DECREASE in stretching. 

About a week ago I watched THIS VIDEO by elite ultrarunner Sage Canaday (also the youngest to ever qualify for the Olympics in the marathon). In the video Sage talks about his post-run recovery routine, which includes about five minutes of light stretching.  

As I was scrolling through the comments I saw this:

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That comment really caught my eye because for a few weeks my right hip and calves were really tight. I have always had a post-run stretching routine that focuses on the hip-flexors and calves. As the two areas started feeling tighter I started holding the stretches longer. Despite the longer stretches my calves in particular never felt any looser.

For a while I would have to stop about a 1/2 mile into every run to stretch because my calves felt so tight I thought the skin would literally just rip in half and all of the muscles and tendons would pop out onto the ground next to me!

After seeing Sage’s comment and doing some research on over-stretching I realized I was probably causing extra problems by stretching more and holding the stretches longer.

Research out of MIT says that when you stretch you should feel some discomfort but not a burning sensation.

Well, when I was stretching my calves I felt burning, but I thought it was just because they were so tight. I thought I needed to stretch them more to get rid of the burning. I’m obviously not a doctor or a personal trainer or a running coach, but I’m pretty sure I was wrong.

I likely should have asked my coach about it to begin with, but you know I always think I know everything! : )

Anyway, for about a week now I’ve gone back to only holding the stretches for about 30 seconds each instead of ~2 minutes and my hips and calves feel great! I think the muscles have finally recovered from all the little extra micro-tears I subjected them to!

While I was doing my research on over-stretching I definitely found differing opinions. I’d love to hear what has worked best for you.

Do you stretch after every run? Or just a couple times per week? 

Do you do dynamic stretches before you run or just static stretches after? 

How long do you hold your stretches for? 

I Spy With My Little Eye…

Yesterday was a non-running day for me. After my big run on Saturday my coach gave me two recovery days in a row which was kind of nice : )

I was planning to hit the gym for a strength training session after work, but instead Adam asked if I wanted to go for a walk! It was an offer I couldn’t refuse on a really nice night.

I recently (as in yesterday morning) decided that I need to make better use of my DSLR camera and going for a walk gave me a chance to take some pictures around our neighborhood.

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For the past couple of months my camera’s just been sitting around collecting dust, so my new goal is to take at least five pictures with it per day. 

Just like with running, the only way to get better at using the camera is to actually do it!

Prior to our little walk I took a picture during my lunch break at work:

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And, of course I took a picture of this guy in the morning:

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Those were my five pictures for the day yesterday!

Don’t worry, I won’t be sharing my amateur photos here on the blog everyday. Okay, well I might share photos of Cecil everyday. He is so photogenic and a total HAM for the camera! : )

Do you like to go for walks or do they feel boring compared to running?

- I don’t like to go for walks alone, but I like walking if I have good company!

I RAN 20 MILES!!!!!!

On Saturday I ran my last BIG run before the Portland Marathon.

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Twenty miles. Thirty-two kilometers.

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That’s three miles longer than any of my previous long runs, and while I was sore for a few hours afterwards, I gotta say it was a pretty great experience.

I mentally broke the run down into chunks of “just five miles, four times” and I think that really helped. Also, around mile 17 that runner’s high hit and man was I feeling good! That was unexpected and I can only pray that something like that happens in Portland!

I didn’t listen to music for the first half of the run, but around mile 13 I turned it on and that gave me a nice boost.

There are certain songs I know I can turn to when I absolutely need motivation. When I was training for my first half marathon “Lose Yourself” by Eminem was my theme song.

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go

You only get one chance, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo!

Feet fail me not, this may be the only opportunity that I got! 

The theme song for my marathon training cycle has been “Run This Town” by Jay-Z. Sometimes I just listen to the intro over and over because it reminds me of crossing the starting line at a race so much.

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I mean, doesn’t that say it all?

-You feel the excitement building as you’re waiting in your corral
- The crowd starts cheering as the gun goes off
- The THRILL of crossing the starting line is pretty amazing right?!
- Plus, you can’t be scared after the race starts, you have to just trust your training and believe you’re going to reach your goal.

This song is everything.

Oh yeah, and then there’s the chorus….

Life’s a game but it’s not fair
I break the rules so I don’t care
I keep doing’t my own thing
Walking tall against the rain
VICTORY’S WITHIN THE MILE
ALMOST THERE DON’T GIVE UP NOW
Only thing that’s on my mind
Is who’s gonna run this town tonight

C’mon, this song was made to be listened to while running!! Just typing these lyrics has me pumped up for my next run!!!!!

Speaking of running, I can’t believe I’m entering the taper. This training cycle has FLOWN by! I literally feel like just yesterday I was blogging about my first 14-miler! This coming Saturday I have a 12-miler and then I’ll do an 8-miler the weekend before Portland.

When I started training in July, 12 miles was my long run. Now I’m like, “oh 12 miles, is that it?” That amuses me!!!! And makes me really happy! :D :D :D :D

You guys…. I RAN 20 MILES!

That’s gonna make me happy all week long!

How did your weekend run go? Football? (I don’t want to talk about that)

10 Day Challenge: My 9 Loves

Happy Friday! Today I have decided to start taking on the 10 Day Challenge. However, I am skipping the 10 secrets because if I told them to you they wouldn’t be secrets! Instead I’ll jump right into the nine loves…

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Thank you to Kristin @ Sweat Courage for starting this challenge!

My Nine Loves:

I’m going to start off with the obvious ones: the cat, the man, and the thing I blog about.

1. Adam - I met this guy almost 10 years ago at a Halloween party. He walked right by me towards the door and I impulsively reached out and grabbed his arm. As someone who is pretty shy around new people this was such an INSANE thing for me to do (admittedly, it was partially fueled by alcohol).

I don’t really believe in love at first sight; I think true love is something that takes time to grow, BUT something compelled me to reach out to a stranger and stop him from walking on by. Maybe it was love at first sight!

2. Cecil - After my beloved first cat, Leo passed away on August 14, 2007 I honestly didn’t think I would ever have another cat. I was so totally devastated. Leo was my first real pet and losing him was heartbreaking. I cried in the shower for weeks.

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Little did I know that 13 days later on August 27, 2007 a little kitten was born that would eventually wiggle his way into my heart.

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I adopted Cecil on November 3, 2007 when someone in my mom’s neighborhood told me he had a kitten he needed to get rid of. Now that was love at first sight!

3. Running – Obvious. See blog as reference. : )

4. Traveling – Nothing makes me smile quite like turning on the away message for my work email! You know the one, I’m currently out of the office and won’t be returning until hell freezes over, I run out of money next Monday.”

I’m ready for October:

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5. Going Out to Eat - This one probably seems odd as a “love” but I do love going out to eat. As a kid my family ate out quite a lot so I have many fond memories from eating at restaurants. Much to Adam’s dismay I really like chain restaurants. Take me to TGIFridays and I’m just as happy as when we treat ourselves to a five star restaurant.

6. Sports - As you know, I’m crazy for professional football and basketball. As a south Floridian you can find me cheering my head off for the Dolphins and Heat!

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I used to think both sports were really boring, but once I learned the rules of the game and started to understand game strategy I fell in love. There’s nothing like quickly mapping out 3 different ways you’d like to see a 2-minute drill play out at the end of an exciting football game! PHINS UP!

7. My Bed - I don’t know about you, but I LOVE that first moment after slipping into bed. I love stretching out my legs and feeling the coolness of the sheets. I always read in bed for 30 minutes before I go to sleep, and I love that part of my nightly ritual. The bed is a good place to be after a productive day!

8. The Beach - There’s a reason that I normally run down to the beach five days a week. Sure, it’s my most convenient running route, but I also find it to be the most calming place in the world. I love watching and listening to the crashing waves. I love seeing the sunrise or set over the water. The beach is most definitely my happy place.

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9. Blogging! – I suppose this is another obvious one like running, but I really like blogging and commenting on other people’s blogs. It might be weird but I really do feel like so many of you are my friends. Sometimes I’ll be out and about and see something that reminds me of one of you and I’ll want to text you about it … but then I remember we’re not friends like that! haha

Where is YOUR favorite place in the whole world? 

How did you meet your significant other?? 

Personal Lessons I’ve Learned from Running

Just another gorgeous night in my little corner of the world. unnamed (26) It was drizzly all afternoon which brought out a big rainbow that lit the water up with a pretty pink hue. Last night was the first time I have run down to the beach in maybe a week and a half and it felt really good to be back at my happy place. unnamed (27) So, yesterday I was reading Kristen’s post on How Triathlon Has Changed Her Life. If you have not read it yet, I highly recommend that you do. It’s a post that inspired a lot of self-reflection in me and I think it will do the same for you.

Like Kristen, I have always been a perfectionist.  I went to grad school for a lot of reasons, one of them being I couldn’t settle for just an undergraduate degree because “everyone” gets those.

At academic conferences I couldn’t present just one paper, I had to present two because “everyone” else was presenting one.

I obsessed over my career and had to make more money and have a better job than my peers. And when it wasn’t good enough to have a great job I decided I had to quit that job and support myself by running my own business. I became the proud owner of a marketing consultancy at the age of 24. I did that for about two years until the owner of the agency I’m at now recruited me with a really good offer.

And that’s not even touching my deeper eating disorder issues that I’ve talked about a little bit here and here. Those issues have a lot to do with seeking perfection and control, too.

Up until I was 26 or so I chased this distorted NEED to “rise above” in all areas of my life. Running was extremely humbling for me. When I started, like most new runners, I was really bad at it. I think part of the reason why I didn’t quit running is because I thought I could find a way to perfect it too.

Then somewhere along the way running taught me a lesson – it taught me that life is a journey worth experiencing. I don’t know if I was just tired and at a point in my life where I NEEDED something (anything) to help me slow down and running just happened to fill that role, or if running can really teach us these big life lessons, but it did for me. It was something I couldn’t perfect quickly. I couldn’t realistically say “I am going to run a 1:45 half marathon in 3 months” and make it happen. My body couldn’t have done it. Not after the way I had treated it for years with lack of sleep and the many other awful things I put it through with my eating disorder.

For the first time in a long time I had to settle in for the long haul, and I found a new me there. One who, for the first time, started feeling happy with her life. I found the part of me that could look at what I had accomplished and think, “wow, cool” instead of “that’s not nearly good enough.”

Running means so much to me because it snapped me out of the awful uphill battle I was fighting and showed me that there are so many things worth experiencing RIGHT NOW. It taught me that the joy is in the journey. Being focused on an end goal is fine, but enjoying the experience along the way is important too.

Sometimes when I think about my running goals I wonder if that’s part of the old me peeking through. I ask myself, WHY do I want to run an ultra? Is it because “everyone” runs marathons and I have to go above and beyond that to prove some point to myself? It’s possible, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think I just really like running.

I want to get faster because I think it will make me a more complete runner, but mostly I just want to run. Running has changed my life for the better, and the only way I can repay running for what it’s done for me is to keep on keeping on!

A Little Ramble

The other day Cheryl commented that marathon training is so mental. Now that’s the TRUTH. As much as I love running there are some days where the thousands of other things I am responsible for get in the way of my ideal run.

Let’s look at yesterday as an example. I had a to be up and out of the house early for a client meeting. I tried to take a selfie with Cecil before I left, but he didn’t want to look at the camera.

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I don’t always take selfies with Cecil, but this particular time it really amused me. You see, the client I met with is in the Pet Retail industry and the presentation I gave was (partially) on marketing to narcissistic pet parents who are part of the millennial generation. You might say I know a thing or two about that demographic : )

Afterwards my boss and I hit up our HQ for a minute before heading out to a lunch meeting.

Nothing like walking to lunch under the baking hot sun. As a runner I’m obviously not afraid of a little sweat, but I HATE sweating in my work clothes.

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It’s all good though, the lunch meeting was interesting and I think I’m going to have some rather exciting career news to share soon. But I’m under NDA now so I won’t say any more just yet!

Around 3pm back to the office I went to catch up on the day’s work…since I was out of the office for a good portion of the day I didn’t get home until LATE.

I immediately grabbed half a bagel, threw on my running clothes and flew out the door. I hit mile one hard (it was speedwork night) but after that the full weight of the day seemed to come down on my shoulders and I fizzled out.

Isn’t it funny how one day a faster pace can feel easy and the next day that same pace is a struggle?

I really think whenever this happens it’s a good example of how all the things outside of running impact our training.

I was tired because I had to get up a couple hours earlier than I normally do. My daily routine was disrupted by the two meetings that had me out of the office a good portion of the day. I had to run later than I like.

All of these little things add up and mentally fatigue me as a runner. They bond together to form the little devil on my shoulder that says, “you don’t need to run faster, just slow down, it’s okay. Who care’s if it’s speedwork night? You’re not an elite runner, just go at a comfortable pace.”

I really need to learn to block that little voice out, it’ll make life so much easier! ; )

Sorry that I rambled a bit today and probably gave you TMI about my day outside of running. I guess I just needed to get all of that out on ‘paper.’

How do you silence the little voice that says “let’s just take it easy today”? 

Want to brag about anything? I’m in the mood to hear some positive stuff!