Thursday, July 31, 2014

When Running Seems Too Hard

Some days running just seems too hard. I've been running for 20 years. You'd think it would be like breathing for me at this point. And it is, to a point. 

Pretty much a day without running is like a day without brushing me teeth. Yuck. But somedays running just seems too hard. Then what do I do?

1. Crosstrain. I'll be honest with you. I'm not going to NOT exercise. Running is by far my fave workout, but on the days when my body says "nah,"  still going to move. Elliptical, cycle, spin, swim, kickbox--heck, pole dance if that's what gets you going. Just do something other than running.

2. Take it slow. That's right. Take it down a notch. Chances are if your body is telling you it doesn't really want to run you might just be hitting it too hard. If I'm not scheduled to do a speed workout or a particularly hard workout I pull back on my pace until I feel in control and comfortable.

3. Do intervals. This happened just today. Running felt awful but I was still 3 miles from home. I switched things up a bit by running hard for 1 minute then walking for 30 seconds. I finished my run and didn't barf. Hooray!

4. Rest. Evaluate your body and think about your training. Are you feeling achy, fatigued, depressed. Have you recently increased your mileage? Have you been stringing together several consecutive days, weeks, months of running? You might be overtrained. Stop. Rest.

5. Embrace the suck. You know what? Sometimes running just sucks. It's called homeostasis--the body resisting change. Running is work; it promotes change. And your body will fight to maintain homeostasis. Embrace the battle within. Push through those tough miles and reward yourself for a job well done. Sometimes it's all mind over matter.

Bottom line is this: at the end of any run you should be thankful for the opportunity to move, to breath hard, to run.
Take on the climb!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I didn't make my bed

I have made my bed every morning for the last 19 years. Why 19? Well, I've been married for 19 years. When I got married, suddenly making my bed seemed important. Now it is a habit. Something I do automatically. And if I don't, hubby does.

But I didn't make my bed Sunday morning. Instead, we slept in. We let the sunlight slowly fill the room, tickling our eyelids until we finally gave in to its call.

I didn't make my bed Sunday morning. Instead I talked and talked and talked to hubby while we brushed our teeth, tidied our hair and chose our clothes for the day. Then we went to wake up the kids.

I didn't make my bed Sunday morning. Instead I talked and giggled with my kids while we ate breakfast. Cereal, toast, eggs. A healthy dose of chocolate milk for me. We watched the birds outside the window. We laughed at the cats watching the birds outside the window.

I didn't make my bed Sunday morning. Instead I listened to a young man bear testimony of a faith he longs to share with the world. I watched a mother and father slump shoulders under the burden of rearing a family of faith in a time of cynicism all the while beaming with quiet pride at a job well done--so far so good.

I didn't make my bed Sunday morning. Instead I curled up on top of wrinkled sheets and drifted in and out of a beautiful rest while listening to my children playing happily together--a rare treat.

I didn't make my bed Sunday morning. Instead I sat out on the front porch and watched the sunset paint the sky in pink and orange.

I didn't make my bed Sunday morning. And at the end of that day I looked at the pile of pillows and blankets and smiled completely satisfied that for once my priorities were right.

Do you make your bed every morning?
What is your ideal Sunday?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Road trippin'

The view on my morning run looked something like this:

We are spending the week in Cache Valley. It's our little slice of heaven. Miles of rolling hills and farmland. It feeds my soul. 

Yesterday, on a whim, we decided to take a day trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We're missing out on Epic Cache-Teton Relay this year (so bummed) and just couldn't handle an entire summer without glimpsing the snake river.

We got a little friendly with these guys:

I was really tempted, I mean REALLY tempted to get out and hug one, but thought the better of it. A photo would just have to do.

Then I convinced my daughter to show off her skills in the town square.

We did the whole trip in one day--3 hours of driving each way. We did get a little hangy (you know, so hungry you're angry). It was a good thing I loaded up on healthy car snacks before we left.

These cookies were a lifesaver, let me tell you. We are a little sugar addicted in our house, but these cookies make it seem not so bad.

Our niece and her husband are guides on the Snake River. They spend their summer at a Boy Scout camp taking boats full of scouts and tourists down the river all day. Let me tell you they are living the dream. We stopped by to say hello to them before we headed home. 

Not even a half mile down the road we came across this accident in the Snake River canyon:

I know this is an aweful picture so let me tell you what we saw. This truck which had been towing a flatbed trailor crossed the center line, clipped a van, then went right into the guard rail, coming to a stop with the front wheel projecting over the edge. The truck was literally inches from going over the edge and plummeting into the river below. Scary.

It was a good reminder to buckle up and drive safe. 

We got home as the sun went down, exhausted but so happy we'd made the drive.

Where are you road tripping this summer? 
What are your must-have road trip foods?
Ever been to Jackson Hole?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Stop it!

After taking a couple of rest days, it sure felt good to get out and run this morning.
Last night's rain brought a beautiful sunrise. Seriously so gorgeous and just what I needed after a night of heavy thinking.

You see, I love Pinterest as much as the next girl. And last night I found myself sitting with my laptop, perusing the interwebs, pinning here and there. In general, Pinterest is an amazing tool. Want a great recipe for the 20 lb bag of frozen chicken thighs you bought at Costco? Go to Pinterest. Need ideas for a Sponge Bob-themed birthday party? Pinterest has you covered. I've used Pinterest for everything from ideas for church parties to treatments for dry, flaky scalp. And it's great; honestly, I don't know how I got along before Pinterest.

But there is one aspect of Pinterest that, well, I really don't like and it hit me hard last night: all the "fitness" motivation pins. 

Obviously I love "fitspiration." I've pinned my share of workout pins. I have boards dedicated to running, Pilates,yoga, and fitness in general. Truth be told, in the past year I've probably spent a combined total of days scouring Pinterest for workouts. And I've found myself getting frustrated, irritable, maybe a little obsessive. Dare I say angry?--at what? And why?

Last night it hit me: body hate. Many of the "fitness" pins don't inspire fitness at all. They inspire body hate.

Go ahead and see for yourself. Search fitness or workouts or health or whatever. You are going to find porn thinly veiled as motivation to get "healthy." I know you know what I'm talking about. Agree or disagree with me, it doesn't matter. Any time you pin a pin of an undressed woman, exposing her "womanly" body parts, promising that you too can have a higher, rounder tush and long, lean legs if you just do this series of exercises you are feeding in to a great big lie.

I don't mean you can't get the body you want from exercise. What kind of fitness instructor would I be if I believed that? What I mean is those pins aren't there on Pinterest for your benefit. They are there to drive traffic to a website. The people behind those seductive pins don't care how motivated you are to find optimal health. They only care how motivated you are to click on a link.

Don't believe me? Check them out for yourself. How does it make you feel when you see a picture of a Victoria's Secret model? If you're anything like me, then you feel envious. You'd love to look like that. And the people behind those images know that.

But do you feel empowered? Strong? Capable? Motivated to be your best you? I know I don't.
But that's how fitness is supposed to make you feel. Like your best you.
The truth is all bodies are different. And all bodies, though slightly predictable, respond to diet and exercise differently. It all depends on a crazy mash-up of genes, lifestyle, history, and accountability among other things. Our mothers have been telling us this since we became aware we needed training bras.

And yet we continue to embrace the half-naked, photoshopped version of the female body as "ideal."
Stop it! Stop the body hate!

I'm tired of hearing my strong, healthy friends say, "I hate my belly fat--I'm going vegan." Or, "maybe if I run this marathon I'll finally lose twenty pounds." Mostly I'm tired of feeling just awesome after an amazing run only to feel defeated moments later as I unpeel in front of the mirror and realize that despite all my hard work I will still never look like those women on Pinterest.
So I'm not doing it anymore. I'm not pinning those almost pornographic fitness pins ever again. I will not continue to feed a greedy industry that uses women as tools.

Will you join me?

The very next day after I published this post, Tosca Reno of the Huffpost Living posted this article on The Blog. Glad to see I am not alone in my feelings about this disturbing aspect of "fitness." Women, girls, please understand that you are more than just your parts. Fitness should empower you, not make you feel like less--or worse, like a piece of meat. Fit is a way to live, not a way to look.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Recovery? Who needs it?

Forty minutes into this workout (which I love, give it a try) I was hit right upside the head with migraine. It turns out that taking your kids to the zoo on the hottest day of the year and subsequently becoming dehydrated before trying to run is not a good idea.
Then, because I'm so brilliant, the next day I decided to do a long run. Three miles outside with my husband followed by another 9.5 on the treadmill.
How do I manage long runs on the treadmill?
The Hood to Coast movie on the iPad. Surprisingly, after about an hour of running, all evidence of my migraine was gone. Despite some tired legs, I felt great the rest of the day.
I really should have quit while I was ahead. Should have listened to my brain telling me to take a rest day, or perhaps crosstrain today. But, no. My heart felt like running. And because I'll be cutting my mileage next week while we take some family time away, I wanted to squeeze every possible mile out of this week. This morning I embarked on a run while it was still cool outside. My legs felt tired, heavy. I was definitely sluggish. And as a result, less than a half mile in, I tripped over a lip in the sidewalk. I went down hard and ripped a huge hole in my knee. I mean, I had to clean up chunks of skin. So gross so I will spare you a picture.
Guess what? It seems taking recovery days prevents injury in more ways than one.
This will be my view for the rest of the day while I take a forced recovery day. Unfortunately, my gnarly, bloody knees  will keep me out if the water for now.

Have you ever tripped and fallen while running? Ever fallen off the treadmill? (Yes--it hurts.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The importance of a mantra

A few years ago I found myself gazing at my reflection in a darkened mirror. It was about 0'dark thirty a.m. and my youngest daughter had been awake for half the night. As she had been the night before and the night before that....
I looked haggered, angry, tired. I didn't look like myself and I certainly didn't look the way I wanted to. Though I did feel tired and frustrated, I didn't want to project those feelings on those around me. Something had to change. Given that I couldn't change the situation with my daughter, (autism isn't curable--yet), I had to take control of what I could change. And that was my attitude. At that time I happened to be taking a class on family and behavioral therapies and was preparing a paper on the work of Victor Frankl. This quote changed my life:
"Everything can be taken from a man, but  one thing: the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude to any given set of circumstances, to choose one's way."
I could choose who I wanted to be even in the toughest of times. I chose a mantra: Be a blessing.
I had those words engraved on a bracelet. Whenever I glanced at the silver on my wrist, those words reminded me to put on a smile and serve someone else--to be a blessing.
Last January while teaching my kids a church lesson I came across this quote: "...peace may abide in our hearts and in our homes,...we may radiate sunshine and cheer wherever we may go...."
A new mantra was born.
A mantra as simple as this can help brighten your mood, keep you focused, energize your work, and pull you through tough times. And this mantra, like "be a blessing," sets an intention, an expectation for myself of who I want to be and I what I want to project to others. I remind myself to radiate--radiate warmth, joy, radiate sunshine.

Do you have a mantra? Feel free to share.

Monday, July 14, 2014

When watermelon meets mint

The view from my garden:
Mint has literally taken over. I can't show you a full view of the garden because then you'd see the dead tomato plants and the cucumber that stopped growing a month ago. So sad. My house is where plants come to die.
Except that mint. 
It seems to be thriving. 
And that's ok because I happen to love mint. I like to spike my drinks with it. It's great in lemonade and water. Just through in a couple of leaves and--Whabam!--you've got instant refreshment.
Last night our AC blew a fuse. It got hot really fast. Hot=no appetite. So hubby cracked open a watermelon for dinner. I couldn't resist playing with a smoothie recipe. What I came up with was pure genius, if I do say so myself. Can't say it's too original though as watermelon smoothies seem to be all the rage right now. Just for kicks, give this one a try.
1 1/2 C cubed seedless watermelon
1/4 C mixed frozen berries
1/4 C water (for blendability)
2 fresh mint leaves

Combine all in blender and blend well until smooth. Drop a straw in and enjoy happy, healthy, all-natural refreshment.

Do you garden?
Do you like mint?
What's your favorite summer drink?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

One for the books

Yesterday was one for the books.
It started with a 10k race with my husband. The town we live in has a celebration called Festival Days which includes pageants, booths, entertainment, a parade, and four races: a half marathon, 10k, 5k, and a 7.3 mile trail run. The races are well run for as small an event as Festival Days is. I was impressed. The half marathon course is notoriously hard though, no downhill, out-of-a-canyon race here. The 10k is lovely, but challenging (read: lots of uphill). That said, my husband rocked it! Let me remind you he only started running less than a year ago. And he only runs 3 miles a day. He kept his strong pace the entire 6.2 miles--hills and all--and brought home a solid second place finish in his division. Who does that?
To my end, I must say that I kept up with him, though it pushed my comfort zone. I too took second place in my division (age groupers over here!) and a fourth-place female overall. Not a bad way to start the day.
We returned home to this:
This lovely girl was aching to open her birthday presents. We wasted no time and tore into the wrapping paper.
Then on to the parade where some friendly lady jumped off a parade float and handed her the biggest heart-shaped balloon I've ever seen. Best. Birthday. Ever.

Fireworks followed after dark. Hubby and I sat out on the back porch and stared at the moon for a while just enjoying the warm summer night. It can't get much better than that.

What's your best birthday memory?
Do like downhill races?
What's your favorite thing about summer?

Friday, July 11, 2014

I have man hands!

Do you remember that episode of Seinfeld where he dates the lady with "man hands"?
That would be me today. 
I got stung by a wasp yesterday morning. Oh, sure it itched and burned and swelled up then. But at 3:30 this morning it jolted me out of bed. Swollen, itching, burning, throbbing. That venom is no joke!
Wasps--nasty little jerks!
I signed my husband and myself up for a 10k tomorrow morning. It will be my husband's first official 10k. He ran an accidental 10k in December when my sis-in-law and I ran the Baker's Dozen Half Marathon. Best. Race. Ever. You run a 3.25 mile loop. At the completion of every loop you eat a treat (cookies, donuts, that kind of stuff) and continue. They even hand out hot chocolate at the aid stations. (Which sounded gross to me, but my sis-in-law assured was awesome.) My husband ran the first loop to complete the 5k but felt so good he just kept going. We stopped him before he finished the half because until that day he'd never fun further than 3 miles.
That is me, my sis-in-law Janelle, and Buddy the Elf (a.k.a. race director Fast Cory).
Anyways. Since yesterday was a long run (long for me, anyway), and I was up all night with burning man hands, and I am running a 10k tomorrow, today must be a rest day, right? 
Rest day = yoga/Pilates day.  
Last week before our 15k my sister and I decided to display our most impressive yoga poses. It may have gotten a little competitive.
I may have been a little sore afterward. 
Because I am a Sport Yoga instructor, I get asked all the time if I can do "all those crazy poses." To which I respond, it's yoga not contortion--there is a difference. Translation: No, I cannot do "all those crazy poses" and I am not especially flexible. But I can lead you through some great strength-building, conditioning, injury-preventing asanas. Namaste. (That's a little joke I have with a friend of mine.)

What's your favorite yoga style?
Are you allergic to bees or wasps?
What race/s are you running this weekend?
Do you end your yoga practice with "namaste"?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

I really, really like cookies

My brain committed to 10 miles today before my body was on board. 
It was hot = I was slow. 
Sometimes the hope for a cold Diet Coke and a cookie are the only things that pull me through a long run--especially when all I really want to do is curl up on the couch and read.

I saw the trailer for Unbroken this morning and now I can't finish the book fast enough! Have you read it? Have you seen the trailer (hint: follow the link and watch the trailer)? So many inspiring quotes in this book/movie. Who isn't inspired by this? 
"If I can take it, I can make it."--Louie Zamperini
I did survive the 10 miles this morning. That makes me a survivor, right? That means I deserve a cookie. And a good book. On the couch.
Here's my favorite cookie recipe from my other blog:

1/2 C (one stick) light margarine
1/2 C unsweetened applesauce (or pureed white beans)
1/2 C white sugar
1 C brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C rolled oats
2 C whole wheat flour (white whole wheat flour works nice)
2 C semi sweet chocolate or 60% cacao chips
In a mixer combine margarine and applesauce and blend until smooth. Add brown and white sugar, salt, soda, vanilla, and oats. Add one cup of flour while mixing then add chocolate chips. Mix and slowly add in the last cup of flour. Be careful not to add too much flour; any extra flour will result in “fluffy” or cake-like cookies. Drop spoon-size cookies onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
These cookies are lower in fat and sugar than typical chocolate chip cookies but no one can tell! They taste delicious and pack a bit more nutrition than anything you can buy in the store. Also, they are egg and dairy free (except for the chips. Be sure to check the label on those).

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Heat is On

Friday I ran a 15k with my sister. We both had a great time and placed in our age groups. I was surprised with a second place female over-all finish.
I know I should be focused on recovery now, but can't seem to resist the call of the road. But on my Monday morning run I could definitely feel a shift in the weather. It. Was. Hot. So yesterday I hit the treadmill:
I'm lucky to be married to an emerging runner. Last August my husband started running at 6:00 every morning. Of course I tag along with him. We can pretty much count on it being nice and cool at that time (down-right frigid in the winter). Any running after that time will be done on the treadmill until cooler temperatures return.
This morning after 3 miles with my husband, I couldn't decide between Nutella and good old-fashioned butter: 
So why not both? 
Now off to do some Barre3 online, the to the DMV with my 15 year old. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Why I Run

(Originally posted on
As part of the publicity tour for my book Indigo I had the opportunity to write a post for the wonderful website DearTeenMe.comFirst of all, let me just say how much I love this website. Authors are invited to write a letter to their teen selves, sometimes funny, sometimes apologetic, always thoughtful. There is something cathartic in writing a letter to your former self. If you haven't, I suggest you do. I wrote three letters. Well, actually, I wrote one letter that went through several evolutions before settling into a fine little post about running. I won't post the entire letter here (to read the letter in its entirety follow the link to, but I do want to share this with you:
Dear Teen Me . . .
. . . You think running is hard now? Toughing out those painful steps while you are young will prepare you for some of your darkest days . . . Running through pain and fatigue gives you strength and endurance. And you need those things not just today, but also down the road. . . .
. . . In the long run, you will regret giving up. You will regret not pushing yourself a little harder, a little longer. . .  
. . . Invest in yourself! Life isn’t about winning; it’s about participating. Stop saying you can’t; don’t worry about failure. Security isn’t found in the eyes of a stranger or the arms of a boyfriend. You won’t find it in awards and medals, or the accolades of others. Stop chasing those things! Security is found in patience, faith, the right attitude, confidence and perseverance. Running will help cultivate these traits in you. Do it now, while your future is ahead of you. Find joy one step at a time. Choose happiness today. And never, ever give up!
Keep running; the finish line is closer than you think!
This is why I run! I meant every word of this letter to my teenage self. 
Let me back up a little.
I remember the sixth grade physical fitness testing all too well. In fact, it's kind of etched into my memory like a scar. The mile run just did me in. Four laps around the kick-ball field left me light-headed and hyperventilating. I panicked and passed out.  At 5'3" and 123 pounds, I wasn't the tallest girl in my class, but I was the shapeliest, the curviest--I was about the same size as the teacher. It was humiliating when, unable to recover, my dad, a paramedic, was called. Much to my and my parents' dismay, this little scenario was to be replayed every school year during the annual physical fitness test.
In high school, my sister and one of our closest friends joined the cross country team. Some of the girls on the team organized a few morning runs during summer break. Not wanting to be left out, I decided to join them on their inaugural summer run. Yeah, that lasted about two block. My lungs burned, my shins ached and I feared more than anything  collapsing on the side of the road and being left for dead. I turned around and walked home. And I never went back. Running simply wasn't for me.
After high school, My sister got married, my best friend moved to a college 400 miles away. I was slightly overweight, unfit, and indulging in some unhealthy habits. I found myself unable to make or reach goals. I was lost--at least I felt lost. Something had to change. One evening, frustrated and disappointed with myself, I put on an old pair of second-hand Reeboks and some slouchy boxer shorts and went out for a run. It was slow. It probably wasn't pretty. But it was a start. One block turned into six. One mile eventually turned into three or more. In time, my awkward stride found its rhythm and my sporadic runs evolved into a daily ritual. A runner was born.
I am not fast; I do not win. But that is not the point. Happiness is found in patience, faith, the right attitude, confidence and perseverance. Running will help cultivate these traits in you. Given time, you will find joy one step at a time.
So, what's your story? If you could, what would you tell your teenage self?

Monday, July 7, 2014


Welcome, welcome. Thanks for dropping by. I guess you could say that I am kinda a blog addict. I've moved through about five different blogs in that last five years, each with its own purpose and voice. It started in 2008 with For My Four which I used to vent about motherhood, my daughter's autism diagnosis, and to connect with other like-minded mothers. Next I started a series of literary blogs, each based on a novel I was working on. Then my sister and I dreamed up Fifi's Fat Farm where I attempted to provide fitness inspired content, healthy recipes, and maybe some workout tutorials. The outcome? Each blog felt lacking, fell somehow short of the desired goal. Why? I can only guess, but I think it had something to do with lack of balance. You see, I am nothing if not genuine. I must present a balance of my personality, not just one side of who I am. And so here we are with Read, Run, Radiate. I hope to share a blend of faith, family, fitness, and fiction. Truly.
Everything is better when you radiate sunshine.