The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Love the Oatmeal

It’s not just because of his amazing comic telling us all about the Mantis Shrimp. (for which I have the signed poster hanging up in my bedroom…)

It’s not just because of his amazing comic describing what every runner feels in a colorful, humor filled manner. (I have the Blerch 0.0 sticker on the back of my car….) (and I preordered the running book)

No, it’s not just because of those things, but those things are a major part of it. I just love reading his stuff, and usually I am blown away by how much I can relate to what he says in his comics.

In September there’s a race called “Beat the Blerch” in Washington. I don’t live there, I can’t make it there. I would totally run it if i did, though. I don’t like races… the idea of running with a bunch of people and expectations seems like it will take the fun out of running for me. I run for the quiet. I run for the sake of running, and my anxiety nearly kills me every time I’m expected to do something scheduled. Even in the Tough Mudder, I had side stitch within half a mile of beginning the course just due to stress alone.

I can’t run the Beat the Blerch race because it’s too far away and completely sold out… or can I? They’ve added a VIRTUAL OPTION. Meaning, I can do what I’ve always wanted to do: run a real race BY MYSELF. There won’t be anybody running around me making me feel bad about my slow pace, and there’s no pressure to even finish it. I can run 6 miles or 13. (nope, not ready for a full marathon yet) I can run it on the race day weekend, or even the weekend after. It’s okay… because The Blerch will always be there, ready to be beaten back time and time again.

And also, you get a Blerch stress ball in every race pack. That means every time I get pissed off, I can squeeze his little fat body to my heart’s content.

The Oatmeal is a genius. For his humor, for his insight… he’s a genius.

Blerch on.

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Don’t Forget the World Around You

Yes, I love to run. I love to run 2 miles, but I especially love it when I make it all the way to 13. (FTR, I’ve only done this once so far) One thing I got caught up in for a little while was the running hype. The training… the increasing speed times, the keeping a regular schedule and adjusting everything just so so that I’d go farther and faster. Recently, I threw all that out the window. Running for the sake of competition took all the fun out of running. I couldn’t stop and pick a pretty flower for my daughter because it would mess with my lap times. I couldn’t jog leisurely along, just enjoying a beautiful day because I had to go faster.

Seriously?

Fuck that.

I am running… for what? I am running for my mental health. I am running for my physical health. I am running for alone time and fresh air. Running an 11 minute mile feels just fine to me. Stopping to take pictures is just an added bonus.

Along my favorite running trail there’s one piece of graffiti that I particularly love. I don’t know what it’s supposed to be, and I don’t know if someone even put it there intentionally. I love looking at it, though. I think it’s beautiful. This is just one example of what I love about running.

grafittiangel

Do you see that? What does it look like to you?

I think it looks like a woman. A woman in a pretty flared dress, and huge wings coming out of her back. I guess you could say she looks like an angel…

What does it look like to you?

 

I Love To Run

When I run, I do many things. I think about issues that need resolving. I balance my hormones and gain strength and endurance. I dance, sing, and enjoy music that I’m not allowed to listen to while my kids are around. (They’ll never be old enough to listen to the Twurkulator with me) I breathe, I exist, I am alone. I watch for wildlife… so far I’ve seen 4 badgers, (a momma with her 3 babies) a ton of bunnies, crows, baby deer, grown up deer, snakes, ground hogs, herons, squirrels, cats, and pieces of people’s pasts.

I love to run. I don’t always love it while I’m doing it, but when I get home I always feel better about having done it. I am not running for races or events or to be skinny. I’m running to get sunlight on my skin and fresh air in my lungs. I run for the silence of being alone and the satisfaction of doing something physical. Running is my favorite physical activity, because I can finally be alone with my thoughts.

I don’t just run, though. There’s more to exercise than being alone. I like to do burpees and wall balls and push ups and crunches and all manner of things that make my muscles scream. It’s also a control thing. When I’m doing a burpee or running, I control how fast I go and how much I do. I’m in control of my that situation, and after having kids I’ve come to realize we’re not as in control as we think we are. That’s where my physical activities come in. I can control my body, and by working out not only do I get a nice endorphin kick, I am in total control of myself for that hour+.

My exercise is how I press my mental “reset” button. It’s how I detox my body, heart, and mind.

Some days I take my running more seriously than others. I try not to take it too seriously however, because that’s when it’ll stop becoming fun. I don’t stop on my runs… if I say I ran 6 miles that day, it means I ran 6 miles without stopping. However, in the spirit of not taking it too seriously, I will stop to take pictures of things that interest me every now and then. Mostly, it’s of animals.

Deer Bunny Groundhog Snake Fawns

I wish I had gotten a picture of the badgers as they went by, because it was the most adorable thing I’d ever seen on a run. Don’t worry, the snake is just a milk snake. Nothing to worry about. Also one of my favorite things to see on my trail runs are the remnants of past homes. There’s a set of concrete stairs leading up to nothing right next to a creek. I imagine they were once connected to a house… a house that had people living in it a long time ago. Maybe they had kids. Hearts were broken, beaten and fulfilled in the home that no longer exists but for the steps.

When they expanded my trail (it’s paved through a wooded area) they revealed more remnants of past landowners. There’s a fenced in basketball court that looks like a jungle grew up into it. before they cleaned up the construction debris, there was a tractor tire and a slide just standing there. A kid’s playground maybe? Someone’s back yard? It was rusted and busted and utterly fascinating. I bet some kid long, long ago was so excited to get that slide. Imagine the laughs and the scraped knees that happened once there long ago. Maybe a teenager leaned against that tire while she watched her little sister play on the slide, and thought about her first kiss. Who knows? There are so many things that are lost in this world. Seeing the ruins of the past always saddens me just a little. Then my head starts going through potential scenarios that may or may not have happened there. I wonder if there’s anybody alive who still remembers that slide when it was brand new?

IMG_20130802_133655_920

My favorite thing to do when running, however, has nothing to do with animals or junk or other people. My favorite thing to do while running is look for four leaf clovers. I know, I know. I told my husband about this once, and he insisted that I must not be running very fast at all. I agree, I’m not running at a stellar pace. Between 10 and 10:30 min/mi is my average. It’s not very fast, but I’m okay with that. I could run up to 13 miles at that pace on a good day. I’ve perfected my clover searching technique at this pace. As of today, I’ve logged in approximately 931 miles in 2 years on the two different apps I’ve run with, and I’ve found a grand total of 3 four leaf clovers. That’s not too bad, given I’m running at the time.

Here’s how I do it: When I pass a patch of clover, I focus on a single clover out of the entire patch. Just one. In the brief seconds I am looking at that single clover, I look at the shape of it. Recognizing a particular shape is faster than counting. If it’s shaped like a 3 leafed clover, I run on. Every once in a while I’m tricked by a rogue clover trying to weave it’s way onto another clover, so that it looks like there’s four leaves. Today, I found a rather large four leafed clover, and stuck it in the back of my phone case. (i use my phone for music, gps, and clover transportation) I know, it’s a little weird, but it’s my thing. Let me have it in peace.

Clover

That black cord in the picture is from my headphones. Maybe my next tattoo will have a four leafed clover in it?

 

Working Out in the Doldrums

UGH.

srsly.

ladies, you know what i mean. it’s the day you wake up to what you’ve been dreading all week. you feel it coming… slowing down your movements, tiring you out, retaining water and making you fat. yes, it’s that time of the month. why do i mention this on the internet? because it’s my blog, dammit, and if i want to talk about nasty stuff like that on here… then it’s my given right as an American. free speech, and all that.

actually, it’s foremost on my mind this morning not just because it’s here, but because it made me realize i’m going to have to re-evaluate my workout goals.

this whole week i’ve been feeling sluggish. i’m struggling to meet the max numbers i’d been meeting previously with no problem, and my brain feels like it’s full of fuzz. i couldn’t figure out why until this morning, when it all culminated into one long string of menstrual cramps.

guys, imagine this: you have diarrhea cramps for a minimum of 3 days straight. you feel dehydrated, your lower back aches, and because of all that you also feel weak, and possibly nauseas, depending on the severity of the cramping.

that’s what it’s like to be on your period. (minus the actual mess) you’re welcome for giving you a newfound appreciation for being a man.

back to my workout goals.

i recently set new goals for myself, but i’m going to have to up them. i realize that if i want to be able to do a certain amount of an exercise at any given time, i’m going to have to shoot for higher than my original goal. i don’t want to only be able to meet my goal 3 weeks out of every month. i want to meet my goal any time. therefore, i’m going to have to overshoot my goal so that on days like today, i can still hit my minimum.

for the ladies, here are my Tips For Exercising Even When You Feel Like You’ve Been Run Over by Aunt Flo’s Donut Delivery Truck:

Set Yourself on Autopilot. when i run, i usually just push the “play” button and go. this time, i found a song with a good cadence, and played it over and over and over. I put my feet on autopilot, slapping the pavement to the beat of the song and just moved forward until i knew i had reached my goal. by the time i got home, i actually thought i felt great until i stopped running.

Set a Time Goal. Set a minimum number of minimum minutes for exercising non-stop. when there’s an end in sight, it’s easier to push yourself towards it.

Set a Number Goal. set a minimum number of reps for each exercise. when i exercise at home, i have a routine… a set of 5-6 different exercises that i do in rotation, resting one muscle group while i’m working another one. once again using the theory that “when there’s an end in sight, it’s easier to push yourself towards it”, is key to getting through each exercise. i rotate between exercises until i’ve met my time goal.

Be Realistic. now isn’t the time to push yourself too far. you’re low on iron, energy, and in pain. focus on technique, rather than speed.

Rest, but Keep Moving. it’s okay to take a break from working out your muscles, but remember to keep moving. the second you stop moving, the second you’ll start feeling like crap again. throw in some katas (martial arts forms) or yoga asanas in between reps to keep your muscles limber and your head clear.

 

…and that’s all i can think of for now. yes, i know i’m not an expert. everything i say is more for my own benefit then the readers i don’t think i have. these are all methods i’ve used over the years that help me out. everybody is different, so what works for some, won’t work for others. if there’s anything you want to add in the comments section, feel free to! i could always use some advice myself, since i’m only halfway to reaching my own exercise goals.

Running Shoes [Review]

a good pair of running shoes is everything. well, not really. actually… humans run best without any shoes at all. that’s the way our bodies built our feet, and that’s the way it should be. centuries of uncomfortable shoe-wearing have weakened our soles to the point where “Podiatrist” is a lucrative career choice. in an attempt to keep my feet strong and healthy, i have taken to running with as little shoe as possible. i don’t run barefoot because i just don’t have the concentration levels needed to avoid shards of glass, stones, and other road debris.

Enter: Minimalist Shoes.

my entire feminine life has been filled with flat-soled girly shoes, so buying a pair of minimalist running shoes wasn’t that big of a deal for me. in fact, my first pair of “running” shoes were a pair of these:

Merrell Barefoot Life Wonder Glove

they may not look like traditional running shoes, but let me tell you- they performed the task flawlessly. Merrell makes extremely high quality shoes with a Vibram sole, so they’re practically indestructible. recognize the name “Vibram”? yes,they’re the original makers of those ugly-ass toe shoes. toe shoes are great barefoot shoes to run in, but unlike my husband, i just can’t bring myself to sacrifice fashion for practicality. after all, i AM still just a woman. i love my Barefoot Life Wonder Gloves. they’re comfortable, they’re cute, and they’re extremely functional. except… i didn’t want to run in my cute shoes every day, and wear them out sooner.

once i realized that running was something i wanted to do for a long, long time, i decided it was time to splurge on a quality barefoot running shoe. there are tons of brands to choose from. barefootrunningshoes.org is a great resource for seeing all of them lumped into one website. i didn’t do much shopping outside of the Merrell website, though. i trust the Vibram soles and the Merrell quality, and knew that i wanted to go with them.

one thing about barefoot shoes that you have to understand, is that they should literally fit like a glove. i didn’t want to buy a pair of shoes without trying them on first, so i waited. and waited. and waited. then finally, while i was on vacation i found a store with a large selection Barefoot shoes. i tried on 3 different sizes before i went for the 9’s. (i’m normally a 9-9.5 in regular shoes, depending on the brand. my Wonder Glove’s are a 8.5, but a little too snug)

meet my new running shoes:

Women's Barefoot Run Pace Glove

so far, i love them. they have a little more sole than i would like in a barefoot shoe, but they grip the pavement beautifully and make me feel like i can fly. they’re super light, and i love the colors. i have big, fat ankles and feet so they were a little tight across the top of my foot at first, but after a couple runs they’ve really broken in well, and i can slip them on and off with no problems. i didn’t realize it until looking at the Merrell website, but they also come in wide sizes, although not in this color, if you need it. they’re a little pricey ($100) but totally worth the cash. they’re put together well, and i expect them to last a long time.

Merrell Barefoot Run Pace Glove gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me… i only took the 1/2 a star away for the slight grip and arch support the shoes have. true barefoot shoes shouldn’t have any, imo. either way… i’d buy them again, and if they still make these in 10 years when mine fall apart from use, i’d buy them again.

Here We Go Again…

yesterday, i was so sore i could barely stand up straight.

today, i’m so sore i can barely sit on the toilet without cringing. actually, i can’t sit on the toilet without cringing.

finally FINALLY i’m doing something i should have done a long time ago. i’m getting my ass up, and doing something other than cooking and cleaning. i’m working out.

not just regular work out either… i’m actually following the guidelines of p90x. i’m doing the p90x lean workout. it’s scheduled. it’s pure torture, and i’m only 3 days into the exercise schedule. today i have an hour and twenty minutes of yoga x to do, and i’m beginning to wonder if today is the day i finally keel over dead on my yoga mat or am at least committed to a wheel chair.

ouch. 

but i have to keep doing it. i. have. to. 

i’ve never been this out of shape in my life. i’ve never had so much trouble getting through one workout.

in the ab ripper exercise sequence, my abs never get the chance to get sore because my legs are having such a hard time staying up. my hips and thighs are killing me.

this better be worth it. 

Vegan Protein Bar Recipe Link

i knew it would happen, and it finally did. i fell off the wagon. i did fairly well exercising every morning for about 2 weeks, then i couldn’t exercise one morning. (dr’s appointment) so i didn’t. then the next day i didn’t either. then i just kept forgetting… now it’s been about a week, and i’m a lazy bum.

this afternoon i decided to try and tickle my exercise motivation just a little by making some protein bars. i’ve never made protein bars before, so while it wasn’t a daunting task, i was a little nervous.

thankfully, they turned out great!

once again Angie at Oh She Glows busted out with some serious food awesomeness.

i made her Last Minute Protein Energy Bars, and after taste testing the first one… i want another. (oh noes!)

i tried to get pretty close to her recipe- for the protein powder, i used 1/2 a cup of the same stuff she did. i don’t know much of anything about protein powders (especially of the Vegan variety) so i figured i’d just stick with what she says is good… she hasn’t failed me yet. 😉

i used peanut butter and honey for the nut-butter and sweetener, and they taste really good together. i didn’t have any problems at all with there not being enough to hold the oats and rice cereal together. i also threw in a handful of raisins just for the heck of it.

the only thing i totally forgot to do was heat the pb and honey before stirring in the vanilla extract. i just whipped them all together with a fork until it was nice, smooth mixture, and dumped it into the oat mixture. they turned out fantabulous… and now i have a reason to get serious with some exercise! these bars won’t keep well… they are, after all, no-bake bars. hopefully the thought of wasting food is just what i need to get off my butt and exercise.

maybe.

hopefully.

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