Training With Integrity

In my last job interview, like several before, I was asked to define integrity. To me, the definition is simple. Integrity is doing the right thing, all the time. It’s a commitment to good character and holding yourself to high standards. It’s about asking the best of yourself. Integrity is the pursuit of excellence.

This past summer, someone asked me a challenging question – “are you choosing ease or are you choosing excellence?” It resonated with me in a big way. Am I pursuing excellence or am I doing the bare minimum? Am I copping out? Am I expecting the best of myself? Am I holding myself to high standards? While not everything deserves my best effort, there are some things that certainly do deserve my best, all the time. Training is one of those things. Even if you are not competing or training for a specific goal, you reap the fitness that you sow.

What does training with integrity look like?

I distinctly remember struggling up a rope during a workout and I wanted to just call it good at the halfway mark. I knew I could make it to the top but it would take me a little bit of time and it was hard. I asked myself if I was pursuing excellence in that moment. And I finished that rope climb. It took me a a bit of time. I was the last one to finish. But I had committed myself to doing what I was capable of doing and not selling myself short because it was difficult and uncomfortable. And I was so proud of myself afterwards! Struggling through that and being successful was a great feeling, even if it was a very slow process.

Are you asking the best of yourself in training? Are you pursuing excellence? Are you throwing a weight around with terrible form and counting that as a rep? Are you selling yourself short or are you challenging yourself? Are you allowing yourself to struggle every now and then? In training, as in life, there is no growth in your comfort zone. Pursuing excellence demands that you get uncomfortable. This will look different for everyone, but it is a necessary part of the process.

The path to excellence goes through discomfort, embarrassment, and humbling experiences. It is a struggle. Success does not often come easily.

It means pushing yourself in the gym, leaving your ego at the door, asking for help, and putting your pride aside. Going light and perfecting technique. One of my favorite phrases in regards to lifting is “light and right is better than strong and wrong”. Don’t let what you think you should be able to do take precedence over what you can actually do safely and with proper form. On the flip side, if you can lift a heavier weight (safely, with good form) and you don’t simply because it is hard is also doing a disservice to your training.

Training with integrity means being consistently asking the best of yourself. Never getting complacent. Executing proper form with light weights and with heavy weights. Focusing on quality over quantity. I don’t care that you can do 100 reps of whatever weight with terrible form. You don’t look like a badass. And you won’t look like a badass in rehab either. Bad reps shouldn’t count, but  they do have the potential to damage your body. Training with integrity often involves no-repping yourself as part of a commitment to quality. Especially when no one else is watching.

One of the definitions of integrity is “the state of being whole and undivided”. And I think that is applicable to training. You have to pursue excellence in every area in order to be your best.

It means being as committed to your recovery as you are to your workouts. Getting enough sleep. Spending some time working on mobility. Having some quality foam roller time. Taking a day off. Taking two days off in a row. Not training through injuries. Giving yourself a mental break when you need it.

It means being as committed to your nutrition as you are to your workouts. You can’t out-train a bad diet, in terms of weight management, performance quality, or long-term health. If you just spent an hour working hard, why would you want to negate all the work you just did by putting crap in your system? It’s like spending a bunch of time cleaning the outside of your car and then filling the inside with junk.  If you fuel well, you will perform well. If you don’t, you are selling yourself short. If you are trying to improve your health, why stack the odds against you? Why not set yourself up for optimal success? Because it’s inconvenient? Because it takes time? Because it’s hard? The path to excellence goes right through hard things.

It means finding time to strengthen your weaknesses. Avoiding movements is not the way to improve at them. It may mean spending 10 minutes every day with an empty barbell practicing technique.  Everyone struggles with something and just because I am using an empty barbell for my overhead squats doesn’t mean that I am less of an athlete. It means I have things to work on, that’s all. Who doesn’t? You might outlift me in an overhead squat contest but I will kick your ass at running. Not that it has to be a competition – everyone needs to work at their own level, but the point is that everyone is strong in one area and weaker in the other. And there is no shame in having a weak area. Or two. Or twelve.

Training with integrity sets an example. It requires those around you to step their game up. If everyone around me is working with terrible form, it conveys the message that low-quality reps are okay. If those around me are prioritizing quality, I am much more likely to do the same.

Choosing excellence and training with integrity may mean sacrifice. Sacrificing a goal time in favor of quality, sacrificing your comfort, your ego, and your idea of where you think you should be. It means working on the parts to solidify the whole. But training with integrity means improvement. It will come. Dedication reaps rewards, even if they come slowly.

Training with integrity means consistently choosing excellence in all areas of your training. Are you choosing excellence?

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It’s Hatch season!! And Green Chile Chicken Pizza

It’s hatch chile season!!! I decided that this is the second best foodie season. Pumpkin season is the best. And that is just around the corner! I keep seeing pictures of people with Pumpkin Spice Lattes all over Facebook and I cannot wait until my house smells of roasted pumpkins. Right now it just smells like burnt peppers and my fingers are burning from peeling and seeding peppers. And then I made the terrible mistake of rubbing my eyes… Fail.

I picked up a bunch of these little gems from my local farmers market and my local Sprouts. And when I say “a bunch”, I mean 10 pounds. Because I want to have enough for the year. Because roasted hatch chiles are delicious. They go with everything. There is really no savory dish that they don’t work well with. If you can do cheese, the cheddar-green chile combo is killer. Please just eat good cheese, like the kind that comes from grass-fed cows and isn’t full of hormones and gross stuff.

My agenda for all my chiles:

Green chile bacon burgers

Make green chile sauce and freeze it

Chop peppers and store them in the freezer

Green chile and chicken enchiladas

Green chile guacamole

Green chile beef jerky – this was sooooo good!

Aaaaaaand this gem of a recipe:

Green Chile Chicken Pizza (gluten free, grain free option, dairy free option, vegan option)

Your favorite gluten and/or grain-free pizza crust (I’m using this one)

Hatch chiles, roasted (how to roast them at home)

Green Chile Sauce – I like 505 brand (it’s gluten free) or you can make it at home using this recipe. Just substitute rice flour/ arrowroot for the flour

Favorite pizza toppings – for this recipe, I’m using

  • shredded chicken breast
  • onions
  • bell pepper
  • vegan cream cheese (I use Daiya- it’s soy-free)
  • vegan cheddar cheese (Daiya)

Directions

1. Make your pizza crust

2. Make your green chile sauce. Or buy your green chile sauce – 505 brand is the only one I have found that is gluten free. I modified the recipe I linked to and made it spicy with roasted hatch chiles, serranos, jalapenos, Anaheim chiles, and a green bell pepper.

3. Mix the green chile sauce and softened cream cheese. I used about 1 cup of sauce to 4 oz of cheese, but you can play with the consistency.

4. Slather on your pizza

5. Throw all your toppings on and return to the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

6. Devour. Which is exactly what happened in this case… and that is why there is no picture to go along with this recipe yet!

Race Recap!

I made it!! I not only finished my marathon, but I finished with a huge 16-minute personal best!!

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I experimented with some high volume training for this race – 55+ miles per week along with Crossfit 2-3 times per week. Mondays were usually a rest day, but otherwise I was training at least once every day. It is the highest volume plan that I have ever tried to use. And I hurt. I was sore, tired, and completely burnt out. Six weeks before the race, I contemplated scrapping the whole thing. Not running at all. I was so mentally fried from training. My body hurt. I was exhausted on so many levels.

This is the first time that I’ve run a marathon on my own. I’ve always had someone training for the same race. We don’t necessarily run together, but we run the same race. So there was a bit of loneliness in my training. I felt like I was dreaming big all by myself. Dreaming big is inherently scary and to do it alone is terrifying. However, the more I started sharing my dream with people, the less alone I felt in my training. People were encouraging me, affirming me, and my support group started growing. Sometimes the best way to get something is to simply ask for it. Sometimes it really is that easy. After that, I felt more encouraged in my training and I pushed on.

Tapering felt like Christmas. That might be a little dramatic, but when I eased up on my mileage, I felt so much better physically and emotionally. Hard training definitely requires a good taper. In my previous marathon build-ups, I usually had heavy legs right up until a few days before the race, which was challenging mentally. That’s not something I noticed this time around, which was awesome! I think my body responded very well to the reduction in mileage. Race week, I scaled way back and by Friday, I was amped up and ready to go! I don’t remember feeling so ready to run before my other races. I was antsy and energized – I’m sure some of that was nerves but it was nice to feel so energetic right before a race. Saturday morning I ran a few easy shakeout miles and tried to relax as best I could until I headed to packet pickup. After that, it was up to Estes Park, where the race started. My mom and I hung out at the hotel until my sister came up to join us for dinner. We went to the Grubsteak (which is phenomenal and food-allergy-friendly!) and I ate a yak burger. Delicious. I think I might make yak burgers and sweet potatoes a new pre-race tradition.

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The race was scheduled to start at 6am, so on Sunday morning, I was up at 4am to eat and caffeinate. Same routine as before my other long runs. My mom and sister dropped me off at the start and I jogged around to warm up/ keep warm (it is chilly before sunrise!), talked with a few people and tried to calm my nerves. The start was delayed by about 15 minutes and there was no starting mat, but otherwise, it went off without a hitch! I forgot how much of an effect altitude can have, so my first mile was a bit slow – but that’s how it should be! The decline started early, the course was beautiful and I felt good.

I was on pace to break 3:35 by mile 6. The course was mostly downhill and fast, so I just tried to relax and ride the downhill while everything still felt easy. There weren’t many spectators, but my mom and sister would stop every few miles and cheer and wait for me to pass. It was so great to have that support!! I hit the half split right on pace and felt good. I tried to keep myself relaxed as best as possible and not kill myself by pushing too hard too soon. We drove the course and I knew I was in for some ugly hills at the end. The real work would come in the last 10k. And it did.

At mile 18, I was feeling relatively good, at mile 20 I didn’t feel as great but still relatively good, and by mile 22 I was definitely struggling. With 5K to go, I was real uncomfortable. When I hit mile 24, I decided that running a marathon was the dumbest idea I ever had. Mile 25 felt like hell and mile 26 was just me holding on for dear life. The last 385 yards was a “sprint” with the minimal energy I had left. There were some serious climbs in the last 10k, which certainly didn’t help. The mile 25 marker was on top of a hill. It was terrible. Mostly because you had to run 25 miles before that hill!

I crossed the finish line and couldn’t decide if I wanted to cramp, vomit, cry, dance, fall over, or all of the above. I’m not sure you can do that simultaneously, but I would have figured something out. My official time: 3:31:26. A 16-minute PR and fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon!! I’ll take it!

Most of the other runners had a positive split – the second half of the run was slower than the first. Mine was just about even – I negative split by 40 seconds. Which makes me wonder if I should have taken more advantage of the first part of the course. Would that have helped? Would I have broken 3:30? Or would I have absolutely died in the second half? Was it wise to spare some energy instead of pushing it on the downhill sections? Who knows?! Maybe I’ll run it next year and see how that strategy goes. There is a chance that I could have run it faster and there is a chance that pushing it early would have killed me later. That’s why marathon pacing can be tricky. A lot can happen in 26.2 miles. Regardless, I set a huge PR, I qualified for Boston, and at the end of the race, I felt like I left it all out there. I felt like I ran the best race that I had in me.

Overall, it was a pleasant race experience – a fast, beautiful course, no real issues to speak of other than fatigue, and I blew my “break-3:40” goal out of the water. I felt like I laid it all out on the line. I had this tiny hope that I would qualify but I knew it would take everything I had. It was a big dream and sometimes it’s scary to dream big. It comes at a cost – usually discomfort of one type or another. Maybe I could have shaved a minute or two off my time with a different pacing strategy, but when I crossed that finish line I felt like I earned it. Like I left it all out on the course. One of my mom’s running mantras is “find what is strong”. You pick a muscle group that still feels strong and you let that carry you. By the end, the only thing I had left was determination and heart. So I ran the last two miles with my heart. Fueled by hope and the dreams that I was brave enough to chase.

And now I get to take time off!! I have been looking forward to this since I started training for this marathon. I haven’t taken an off-season in several years. And I am so excited to finally have a real one. I have bounced from race to race to physical therapy to racing without giving myself much time in between. Physically, I am able to recover in that short time, but to be continually training hard and trying to PR every race gets exhausting. Training is very much a mental battle and an exercise in perseverance. It’s definitely a good thing and it helps you grow as an athlete, but being “on” all the time is exhausting. I don’t have to start training again until December and while I will probably pick up casually running again before that, it’s nice to know that I have up to 3 months off.

My plan for recovery this week: Normatec on Monday at my chiropractor’s office and a massage on Wednesday. I’m gonna try to do some easy walks and bike rides, but I don’t really have any plans to run. Maybe crossfit on Friday or Saturday if my legs are feeling up to it. I have friends who sell essential oils and they were kind enough to give me samples of muscle recovery blends, so maybe the combination of the Normatec, massage, and essential oils will bring my poor body back to a functioning state. My quads feel like they went through a food processor and my calves feel like they might actually explode. The joys of marathoning!

I submitted my application for the 2015 Boston Marathon on Monday – I’ll find out on Wednesday if I am officially in or not! Fingers crossed!

 

 

My 500 Mile Hustle

This summer, I made it a goal to run 500 miles. Oh, and run a marathon, but that’s whatever. After I finish tomorrow’s easy run, I will have racked up 560 training miles this summer. Marathon included total = 586. Not bad for starting in mid-June and taking 2 weeks off to travel! But I kind of wish that I would have squeezed an extra 14 miles in there to make it an even 600. Oh well. I burned through a pair of shoes pretty quickly, I actually got a tan, and I learned a lot about training and about life. The 500 mile goal was nice to have when my marathon training seemed to big to tackle. This is not the first time I have looked at a training plan and thought, “I am supposed to do what??” So it was nice to focus on a “different” goal, even though the workout was the same.

Some highlights:

10. The guy who gave me a high five running down Mason one Thursday morning. It was awesome!

9. The creepers who inspired a blog post about not being creepy. Seriously, don’t do it.

8. All the people on the trails with their cute puppies. Especially the Mini Australian Shepherds. I decided that I need one in my life ASAP.

7. The time I saw a guy ride over a snake with his bicycle. He was convinced it was a rattlesnake, but I’m pretty sure it was a bull snake. Then again, he got significantly closer to it than I did! I’m not sure how that turned out for the snake – it slithered away pretty quickly off into the weeds.

6. Running around the Kilkenny Castle. Even though there are some serious hills hiding in that castle yard! It was so beautiful! There is also a great little trail that runs just outside the castle along the river. Plus, how many chances in your life do you get to run around a castle??

5. The goodness of random gas station employees throughout the Fort Collins area. Especially the older lady who always let me fill up my water bottle. It’s a sad day when you are halfway through your run, out of water, and it’s hot outside.

4. My mom accompanying me for a 16 mile run on her bike. We used to do all our long runs together and catch up on life. We joked that it was our “girl time”. It was awesome to get to do that again.

3. That one time I ran 18 miles with one of my fellow GTAs. And he saved me from an angry turkey. You know you have good friends when they will a. agree to run with you for 3 hours early on a Sunday (having not run that far in who knows how long!) and b. scare off angry poultry. What a guy!

2. Winning my age group at a small 5k. My sister was the first overall female finisher and won a pair of running shoes, which she donated to me!! And since I just racked up 500 miles on mine, I was in need. She’s awesome! I think that technically makes her my shoe sponsor, which means I’m kind of a big deal now!

1. Running my marathon! Sunday is the big day! I have a rest day today and an easy short run tomorrow  to burn off the nervous energy mostly. I did not realize how nervous I was until yesterday. I’m way more nervous than I thought I would be. I’m hoping I can harness some of that for Sunday and not just drive myself nuts for the next 48 hours. Otherwise, I saw my chiro today to make sure my kneecap is back in place and do a quick session in the Normatec to try to get rid of any lingering inflammation. Tomorrow is my prep day and then off to Estes Park for packet pickup!

Fourteen weeks and 560 miles later, the big day is finally here…

“I dare you to train for a marathon and not have it change your life.” – Susan Sidoriak

Every time I commit to training for an event, I learn something new about myself. Often, I learn a lot of things. There is something so cathartic about pushing your limit. There is something amazing about going beyond yourself. Reaching what you think is your edge and discovering that you have more in you.

I also get totally warped and start putting “just” or “only” in front of my runs. “Oh, I only ran 13 miles today” like it’s not a big deal. Everyone goes out and runs a half marathon first thing on a Friday morning. No big deal.

When I trained for my half earlier this year, I learned a lot about getting rid of clutter in my life. Relationships that drained me, physical objects taking up space, events on my calendar that I dreaded. I got rid of things that didn’t fit my life anymore – and it changed my life for the better!

Training for this marathon has taught me about sharing my dreams with people. I didn’t talk much about it until the last few weeks and it has been amazing how supportive everyone has been. I didn’t think that anyone wouldn’t be supportive, but I didn’t expect people to be excited for me. And to ask how my training is going and how I’m feeling. That sometimes the best thing you can do is to lean into other people. Sometimes they really do care about your mile splits!

I have also learned about perseverance. I am using Pfitzinger’s 18/55 plan (a modified version) and it is the highest volume plan I’ve ever used (plus 2-3 hours of crossfit per week). My legs felt like concrete most of the time. The heat slowed me down. What was once an easy pace felt like it took a lot of effort to maintain, and that gets discouraging when you have a time goal. When it came to Crossfit, I learned a lot about doing what was right for my body that day – modifying exercises, doing lighter weights, and accepting the fact that I wasn’t going to make a lot of strength gains. I learned several things that you shouldn’t do. I learned how to listen to my body and accept where I was from a fatigue standpoint on a day to day basis.

I learned that chiropractic care is amazing! After a year of struggling with knee problems, I finally got my kneecap put back into place. It felt awful, but my knee pain has significantly decreased. I also learned about this little gem called the Normatec. It is amazing for recovery. Everyone should sit in one.

I learned that I missed seeing the sun rise. My former training partner and I used to run every morning at 6:30 and we saw many sunrises. I forget how beautiful it is. I forget how peaceful it makes me feel. As hard as it is to get out of bed that early sometimes, it is so worth it. I did a sunrise trail run this week and it was stunning.

I learned that every teeny tiny investment in your dream is worth it. Every baby step gets you closer to where you want to be. I gained something from every crappy run I had. Sometimes I learned how much nicer it is to leave the house before 9. Some days I gained mental strength from pushing through fatigue. Hard training days are taxing physically, but I think they are more challenging mentally. Especially when you do hard workouts on your own. There is no one to keep you accountable, no one knows if you quit early, no one will know if you skip a workout.

I learned (again) that good socks make a huge difference. Seriously, go buy some new socks. Your life will change for the better. I am loving Feetures Elite right now, recommended to me by the fine folks at my local running store. I learned that Body Glide is not optional during the summer if you value your epidermis. I learned that if you run in just a sports bra and shorts, you will get a sunburn on your back and no color on your stomach.

I learned how important it is to have a true off-season. I have been in perpetual training status (or physical therapy!) for the last 3 years…. Always pushing my running. And when you push like that, you lose the joy. I went out for a trail run this week and felt like a little kid again. It was work, but I can’t remember the last time running felt so joyous. That’s how it should be. Weekly recovery is essential to training gains, but big picture recovery is so important mentally (and physically). I haven’t given myself a true off-season yet and I am looking forward to it. I still plan to run and be active, but I don’t know that I’ll train for anything for awhile. Which is both scary and liberating all at the same time. I’m going to do yoga, lift heavy weights, snowboard, do some trail running, some social runs, and enjoy sleeping in past 5am. I love training, but too much of a great thing still can be too much. Exercise can be stressful on the body and I’m sure mine is ready for a break.

Sriracha Jerky, aka How I Became the Favorite Sister

I’m not going camping. I wish I was. The men in my family are headed up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and I will be running 26.2 miles down a canyon instead. It’s almost the same.

When they went last year, I convinced them that in exchange for a dehydrator, I would make them food to take. Part of that was just a ploy to get some financial contributions towards a dehydrator, but making your own dehydrated food is almost always more economical than buying packaged meals (check out the Backpacking Chef for a lot of great ideas and recipes!). Most of it was successful, some of it was not, but they ate most of it because they were hungry and in the woods with no other options. Just FYI, dehydrated chunks of chicken are not a pleasant texture. Taste is fine, texture is totally weird. There is a very good reason you don’t ever see chicken jerky.

I dehydrated everything I could get my hands on last summer. That thing ran almost around the clock. One day, there would be a nice pumpkin aroma wafting through the house and the next it was teriyaki and ginger. I have yet to effectively dehydrate blueberries and not have them turn into little crunchy blue pebbles. I also learned how valuable it is to have parchment paper or tray liners. And if you are going to spend the money on a dehydrator, invest in one with a timer. It is 100% worth it!

Anyway, one of my favorite things to make is jerky. And it’s super super easy. I like to play with different flavor combinations – ginger and garlic, teriyaki ginger, barbecue jerky, and the family favorite – Sriracha jerky. Seriously, sriracha is good on everything. Sriracha jerky, Sriracha eggs, hummus, salad dressing, barbecue sauce, rice, whatever. I continue to hear about how much they loved the Sriracha jerky – they even remembered where they were when they opened up that bag of spicy goodness (Knife Lake, in case you were curious).

 

Sriracha Jerky

I feel bad even calling this a recipe because it is ridiculously simple.

  + 

1 lb ground beef

1/4 – 1/2 cup Sriracha (depending on your heat preference)

salt, pepper, and other seasonings to taste (garlic, onion powder, cumin, paprika, etc.)

 

Mix your beef, sriracha, and spices together. Let marinate overnight for best results.

Place on your dehydrator sheets (I line mine with parchment paper) in strips. You can get fancy with a jerky gun or you can just shape them with your hands. Dehydrate at 155° for 6-8 hours.

Or use your oven. Just turn it to the lowest setting (typically 175°) and bake for 2-5 hours.

Feed to your brothers so they will love you forever.

Jerky is not very photogenic…

 

Other jerky variations the boys are getting for their trip:

Whiskey-ginger ale. Whiskey is good, jerky is good, the two of these together? Delicious! I used 1 lb beef, 1/4 cup whiskey, 3/4 cup ginger ale (or ginger beer), and juice from one lime. Marinate overnight and dehydrate.

Chipotle. 2 tbsp tomato paste, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp cumin, 4 dried chipotle chiles, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste.

Orange-Ginger. 3/4 cup gluten-free tamari, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, zest from 1 orange, juice from 1 orange, salt and pepper.

Salsa Verde. I made salsa verde using a combination of tomatillos, hatch chiles, onion, garlic, chicken stock, and spices.

 

I’ll report back with the favorite. My guess is that Sriracha will still reign supreme. Jerky is a great snack – lightweight, portable, tasty, and packed with protein. When I started making jerky, I went with lean cuts, but found that it is much more economical and just as tasty to make it with lean ground beef.

How to Suck at Crossfit

Not too long ago, I wrote about how to screw up pancakes. Here I am with another post telling you how to be bad at life.

I started Crossfit 6 months ago. We have a love-hate relationship. It’s been really good for my ego – I am humbled every time I walk in the door. I am both impressed and discouraged by the number of things that I am not good at. And I have yet to do one single unassisted pullup in my entire adult life. The list goes on…. It has been challenging physically and it has also been challenging mentally. To scale the workout to what is best for my body that day and not let my ego take the reins. To be patient with myself as I learn. Some days are harder than others.

As promised, here is a guaranteed way to suck at Crossfit:

1. Train for a marathon.

I am running my 3rd marathon in two short weeks (AHHHH!) and am using Crossfit as my cross-training 2-3 times per week. I haven’t made a whole lot of strength gains as you can probably imagine. Right now, Crossfit is a supplement to running. And since I barely get myself back into energy balance, there is not a lot of energy left to go into making gains. But that is fine with me, because my priority is my marathon.

Aerobic conditioning definitely has its place and is beneficial for Crossfit. I do well in longer workouts because my cardiovascular endurance is high. I do well in workouts that involve running…. because I run a lot. It is definitely beneficial, don’t get me wrong. But running 50+ miles per week is not going to help your strength gains, I promise.

Take home point: You will improve at what you prioritize.

2. Cherry-pick your workouts.

I would like to say that I am not guilty of this… but I think everyone is to some degree. Some things just seem terrible and hard and we want to avoid things that are uncomfortable. It is always nice to look at a workout and know that all of the movements are doable (always remember that you can scale!). I previously talked about how I am bad at rope climbs. They take me foreeeeeeever. When a workout involves ropes, I get that “ugh, I don’t want to go today” feeling and I can rationalize my way out of anything. But every time I show up and I struggle through a rope climb, I get better. Even if it is only a little tiny bit. You will never improve at the movements you struggle with if you don’t show up and try. Check your ego and go in with a good attitude. Stay hungry, stay humble.

Like I said, I have been guilty of this… and maybe more so recently, as much as I don’t want to admit it. I’d like to say that I have good reason…. there has been a lot of running in our programming lately. And as a runner, I usually do well in running workouts. But I am logging anywhere from 5-12 miles in the mornings and am trying to avoid any more mileage! Could I show up and bike or row? Definitely. Do I? Not usually. So I understand the struggle!

That being said…. there is only one way to get better at things. Show up.

3. Under-eat/ don’t fuel properly.

Carbohydrates have become the new saturated fat. That is how it appears to me, at least in the paleo world. Everyone has embraced fats now but we shun carbohydrates like having a sweet potato in our house will give us diabetes. I’m not telling you to go eat a dozen doughnuts, but your brain’s preferred fuel is glucose. Carbohydrates aren’t going to kill you or even make you fat (in appropriate amounts). They can be beneficial for recovery, for performance, and for overall mood, as low carb diets have been linked to depression. I upped my carbohydrate intake a bit and feel like I am performing and recovering way better than I was. Again, please figure out what is best for you. I’m not here to tell you to eat exactly 147.9857 grams of carbohydrates per day. Look at your activity level (more activity = greater carb intake), take into account how you feel (physically and mentally), and do a little experimentation. Diets low in carbohydrates can be extremely beneficial for some people, don’t get me wrong, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are one of those people. Especially if you consider yourself an athlete.

4. Don’t give yourself time to recover.

More is always better right? If 3 or 4 days per week is good, 7 days must be better, right? And then you run out of days, so you should probably start doing doubles. And maybe extra gym time on your lunch break. While that may be a bit dramatic, it’s not too far off for some people. And those people are professional athletes who get paid to workout all day. And then they recover like professional athletes. Ice baths, massage, foam rollers, rest days, and so on.

5. Take your lifts personally.

Get discouraged every time that you pick up a weight and it still feels heavy. Or you can’t lift as much as you did last week. I have just started to be content with my weights not going down. It is so easy to get discouraged by lack of progress or even what feels like a step backwards. And then I have to remind myself, “oh hey, you ran 18 miles two days ago and I’m pretty sure your legs are still shot” or “hey, you ran 11 miles today… you’re probably not going to be 100%”. Keeping that in perspective is key. I try to what feels best for that day and not get too hung up on specifics. I just accept where I’m at that day and work hard.

6. Compare yourself to everyone else.

As my race gets closer and my body hates me a little more every day, I’ve been sticking to light weights. I try to keep it challenging, but I have to keep my form/ technique in mind. I want to be safe and I am putting my body through a lot. It’s fatigued. I’m still learning. There are girls in the gym who I think I should be on par with. Never mind that they have been at this a lot longer than I have and their goals are probably more strength-based as opposed to wanting to run a marathon. We have unique strengths and weaknesses. Things I struggle with may come easily to some people; things that seem easy to me may be the bane of someone else’s existence. So I hang out with my light weights and do my scaled exercises and that is where I’m at. I’m doing what is hard for me, you’re doing what’s hard for you, and that’s the whole point, right? “Winning” every workout doesn’t make you a better person. Coming from a person who wants to win everything, all the time.