Listening to Your Body in Marathon Training

If my ACL reconstruction in 2013 taught me anything, it’s how to listen to my body. Since then, I’ve been lucky to remain relatively injury-free. Sure, I’ve had minor twinges here and there that have sidelined me for a few days, but knock on wood, I’ve managed to figure out a training plan that works for me and have grown consistently stronger with each training cycle.

But back in November/December, when I started to up my overall mileage in preparation for the Rebel Challenge in Disney in January, I noticed that the little twinge I would sometimes feel in my right hip and butt cheek had turned into a burning, achy mess. It would usually start when I increased my mileage and while it didn’t hurt too much during a run, it would make me wince when I simply tried to step up a curb after a run. It was not a good look. But I learned how to manage it, with rest and foam rolling and OH SO MUCH STRETCHING.

Throughout the past 8 months or so, the pain has flared up 4-5 times. And each time I’ve just taken a day or two extra rest, stretched it to oblivion, and have returned good as new on my next run. But it’s annoying! Cut to this past weekend when I took on 12 miles for my latest long run, and that pain returned at around mile 4 with a vengeance.

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But I stuck it out and finished strong, and stretched for almost an hour. It didn’t feel TOO bad after that, but when I woke up on Monday, it was bad. I knew I’d probably have to take another day off this week, and I was fed up. Finally, I caved and decided to see the chiropractor that my sis-in-law Mere has been recommending to me for months (sorry for not listening to you sooner, Mere!!).

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This guy is GOOD. He was a USA Olympic Team chiropractor in 2004 & 2006, and his specialty in Sports Medicine is exactly the kind of expertise I need. Some doctors will simply say “stop doing that thing” which we as runners know is impossible. But a doctor with a sports background will help fix the issue and work with you so that you can KEEP doing that thing, but in a pain-free, non-injuring way.

And at about 48 hours since my first appointment, I’m surprised at how good it’s feeling already! The official issues are my hip flexor and piriformis, and he’s already started working on squeezing and zapping them back into shape. I go back Friday (tomorrow) and while I’m a little bummed he told me not to run until then, I can understand his logic: this first time, because he’s beating me up on the table on top of me pounding it for 12+ miles, we need to let it heal as much as possible to start from square one again.

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Until then, it’s just me and my iced tea and vodka in a Jar Jar cup (or a “Sad-tini” as I’ve dubbed it).

The last time I was told not to run, I was bitter and angry and wanted to run ASAP. But this time, I’m taking a more zen approach to the whole thing: sure, 3-4 days off now sucks, but if it takes 3-4 days of no running to keep me running injury-free for another 4+ months – and it gets me across the finish line of the NYC Marathon?! – I’ll gladly sit here and take the rest.

I’m getting older, and I know my body won’t be able to do the things that I want it to do forever. So when something feels wrong or off, I listen to the signals and take care of the little issues before they become big ones. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I know it’ll be worth it in the long run.

How about you: Have you ever seen a chiropractor? What’s your body trying to tell you? Do you think I could market the Sad-tini to other non-running Star Wars fans?

 

Rest Day Round-Up: Star Wars Edition

I used to have a thing called Friday Favorites here on the blog, but it didn’t take off because I’m lazy and a spotty blogger at best. But I’m not ready to let it die!

Because we’re all much more than just runners. We’ve got full lives and other interests besides mile splits and training runs. And even the most seasoned runner knows that rest days are the most important part of training: a chance to hit our physical – and mental – reset buttons before diving back into the hard work. So, with that in mind, I bring you the Rest Day Round-Up!

In these posts, I take a break from talking about running to share what I’m digging in the non-running world. This week for the inaugural post, let’s take a look at all the things that tickle my intergalactic fancy with a special Star Wars Edition!

This action figure that I got from eBay for $7

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Sorry, Beyonce. You can take your floral arch and your beautiful little babies and your flowing veil and chill out in the Sea of Tranquility behind you. Pregnant Padme wielding a blaster is the Feminist Icon we need in 2017.

But seriously, when I first saw her, I thought she was a joke. But this is, in fact, a very real action figure they released when Revenge of the Sith came out in 2005. And she currently protects me (and Luke and Leia in her belly) from her perch on my desk. I don’t think I’ve ever loved an action figure more in my life.

My recent exchange with the official Star Wars Twitter account

It all started last week when I discovered the Star Wars app (yes, I’m a late adopter), which has an Augmented Reality feature that pops a character into your world when you scan certain photos. When I used it to play with K2-SO, I thought it might be fun to play with the folks in charge of the Star Wars Twitter feed. And it kind of blew up in an unexpected and awesome way:

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Yes, Star Wars replied to me in the sassiest, most adorable way. AND YES, that says 503 likes. FIVE HUNDRED AND THREE, YOU GUYS. Apparently, when Star Wars replies to you, it gets you some mild attention. I had a blast checking my notifications all day and still giggle at how something as simple as a tweet can connect us to brands and communities we love and create so much pure joy. Bless those folks.

The latest BTS Footage of The Last Jedi

Speaking of BLESSED, allow me a moment to be grateful for the gifts that were bestowed upon us on Saturday in the form of new behind the scenes footage and a series of incredible teaser posters unveiled at Disney D23.

Folks who aren’t in the fandom might not understand, but this footage is a seriously Big Deal. It raises so many questions! Why were there so many Kylo masks? Is Benicio del Toro a good guy or bad guy? And WHERE CAN I GET A PORG OF MY OWN??

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Fun fandom-centric, female-friendly gear

I’m very lucky that I get to work in an office that allows us to wear basically whatever we want within reason. This gives me the opportunity to wear SW gear basically every day if I wanted to. But I’m no one-trick pony, and have tons of regular clothes that deserve some play, too.

So while I’ve discovered that my new signature look is basically a bold lip and a SW shirt (see the floral stormtrooper and blue comic book shirts below), I also like to throw subtle nods to my fandom with gear I’ve picked up from Her Universe and Love & Madness:

While L&M recently stopped selling Star Wars gear on their site (boohoooo!!) I managed to clean house there and picked up pretty much one of everything they offered. And Her Universe is always offering fun new stuff, like the Rebellion Romper in the first pic up there. I rocked that for a 4th of July BBQ and got so many compliments – especially when people realized it had tiny little droids and X-wings hidden in the floral print!

That about wraps it up for the first installment of the Rest Day Round-Up, so tell me: what are YOU crushing on lately? A binge-worthy tv show? Fun new podcast or flea market find? Share the love in the comments!

I love you guys…

… but some of you found this blog using some WEIRD ASS SEARCH TERMS.

I was tipped off to this phenomenon a few years ago when I first entered the blogging world. Monica over at Run Eat Repeat made a habit of posting lists of all the random search terms that folks used to find her blog, and there were some head scratchers in there. Fast forward to when I finally had a blog of my own and I decided to see what search terms people were using to find MY little corner of the internet.

Guys, I was mortified.

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As it turns out, this search term weirdness is really a thing. And seeing all the terrible things people have typed into a search browser in order to click on a link from MY site is one of the most entertaining and terrifying parts of my blogging life. But I can’t keep it to myself.

Let’s take a look at 2016’s Top Ten Greatest Search Terms (with commentary):

10. sweaty after gym girl

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But also, accurate.

9. real mermaid found after hurricane ike

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I’m not saying there’s no public record of me BEFORE Hurricane Ike, but…

8. the heat was unbearable yesterday but we had fun in the park

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7. ur happy is everything to me

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Thank you, random kind person on the internet.

6. hand foot and mouth disease is hell

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IT REALLY IS.

5. far side old man weather

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Guys, I have NO idea why, but this post is hands down my most popular post of all time. Even 2+ years after posting, it STILL gets daily views, sometimes more than fresh posts I just published that day. I really wish I knew why, but for now it makes me laugh just knowing it’s out there, still getting eyeballs.

4. imma keep it real classy

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Of course that term would lead you here. Because I am 100% classy…

3. keeping it sassy

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… and 110% sassy.

2. celebrity mom gets head dunked under in pool

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Literally NONE of those words are used on my blog in succession. I award you no points. And may God have mercy on your soul.

1. swimcap gagged

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YOU GUYS, COME ON. KNOCK IT OFF. THAT’S DISGUSTING.

Friday Favorites: Too Much Coffee Edition

I know what you’re thinking: three posts in one week? Who is this chick and what did she do with the old, lazy blogger Jess? Well, let’s just say I’ve had too much coffee and not enough breakfast this morning, so my new-found abundance of energy means you get a bonus post this week. So because I haven’t done one in a while, let’s check out some Friday Favorites: Too Much Coffee Edition!

House of Cards

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Never before has a TV show (or movie, for that matter) made me DESPISE characters so much, yet compelled me to keep watching like House of Cards. There were even times after certain events involving Corey Stoll’s character and poor Rachel, where I had to take a break from watching for a few weeks because I was so gutted. I hated these people for what they did, and couldn’t imagine ever caring enough about them to watch the show again. Yet, like a moth to a flame I kept coming back. Hate watching? Maybe. All I know is that Season 4 is officially out as of this morning and I’m REALLY looking forward to binging as much as I can this weekend.

Star Wars on Blu Ray

Guys. You guys. Linda, honey, just listen. I know I’m a geek for loving on Star Wars, but I don’t CARE anymore. At first I tried to play it off: no, I’ve had this Death Star blueprint shirt for a while, just never wore it. Yeah, I figured I’d get a Kylo Ren blanket cause the cats really like that soft smushy material and it was on sale.

Rey practicing the snow fight? Adam Driver interviews? A BB-8 puppet in action?? KYLO REN ON THE FALCON, YOU GUYS?! I have no more chill.

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See what I did there?

I can no longer hide it. When they announced the home video release date of the Force Awakens yesterday along with the DVD trailer up there, all hope for a normal future was lost. I’ve officially blocked off my calendar from April 1-15 for an extended two-week geek out while I watch all the deleted scenes, making-of documentaries, and memorize every single scene. I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it. I’m about to binge-watch Star Wars til my eyes bleed and I think I like it.

Coloring

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They had me at “anti-stress”.

Back in college my parents would send me little care packages every few months. One time my mom decided to throw in a dollar store coloring book and a pack of crayons as a joke “for stress relief”. Well, I colored the HELL out of that thing. And I even mailed home a few pages for them to put on the fridge, because I evidently never emotionally matured past the age of 9.

I like to think that my mom was the firestarter of the adult coloring book trend (not to be confused with adult coloring books, ya perv). They’re billed as stress release, anti-tension, mind calming things, and I’m here to tell you: it’s true. All of it. (see what I did there again? GOD I’m on a roll!)

Every few nights I take out my pencils and one of my coloring books (yes I have 3), pick a page and get lost. Bonus: I’ve been trying to get better about how much time I spend on my phone in the evenings, and this is a major aid there. Plus my hands are too busy coloring to snack too! Extra bonus!

I’ll color you a page and post it here for you to hang on your fridge if you want. You know. For decoration.

That’s about it for my Friday Favorites – I’ve had a good 24 oz. of water while typing and the caffeine is starting to wear off. So now it’s your turn: Have you ever gotten emotionally involved with a TV show? What do you secretly geek out over (and if it’s Star Wars, can we be best friends)? Want to color with me?? Bring your own pencils and we’ve got a date.

Keep it Sassy, Keep it Classy, Keep it Real

When I started this blog, Imma be honest: I had NO idea what I was doing. All I wanted was to stop annoying the majority of my online friends who didn’t care about my running and fitness escapades, and a place to keep track of my training, vent my frustrations, and share more than just a few sentences in an Instagram photo caption.

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My friends’ faces after my 274th post about nailing a training run.

So I created the blog and created new Facebook and Twitter accounts to link to it, easy peasy. Seems like a win-win! But as time went on, I found that creating quality content for all these channels was hard, yo. By the time I get done with 9+ hours of writing and editing at my 9-5, the last thing I want to do is more writing. I’m tired. Hell, the last time I wasn’t tired was when Bush was in office. The FIRST Bush.

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Long story short, quality content is hard to create.

Fast forward to a month ago, when I attended a Content Marketing Class. In addition to some helpful tricks for my 9-5 gig (who paid to send me there!), I also picked up a few tips on shaping my social media strategy. If you’re blogging or tweeting or whatever solely for your own enjoyment, then by all means keep doing you. But if you’re interested in growing your own blog and social followings, these tips really struck me and I wanted to share them with you!

The first one? Keep it real. The most successful marketers (or bloggers, Instagrammers, etc) are genuine. They’ve found a unique way to tell their stories, whether it’s through humor or by being super smart or whatever. Think about it this way: when you’re looking for blogs to read (or people to follow on IG, Twitter, etc), what kind of stuff resonates with you most and makes you click the subscribe button? A quick re-telling of the same “Winter Running Motivation” article from Women’s Running Magazine that you’ve seen four other bloggers re-tell? Or an expletive-laced story about the time a runner got heckled by a passing motorist?

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with either of those posts – hell, I wrote both of them. I’ve learned it’s OK to publish content that will attract eyeballs simply because it’s a hot topic and people are searching for it. That’s organic traffic, and it’s a good thing. But to gain traction and connect with people, the key is to tell each story in a way that makes you stand out from the crowd.

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Go ahead, write one more blog post about the things that go through your head during a long run. But instead of using the same old “This is great/Is it over yet?” platitudes that the 12,539 articles about this topic use already, how about telling your story with GIFs?

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People will want to keep reading just to see how this GIF fits into a post about running 12 miles. I promise.

Similarly, this second tip is one that won’t fly with everyone, but I’ve found success on Instagram with it and think it’s worth mentioning: don’t be afraid to open up and switch things around a bit!  If you’re interested in growing a following, think about it in terms of making friends in real life: no one likes to hang out with the guy that ONLY talks about Star Trek 24/7 (no offense to you Trekkies, I’m part Trekkie myself). While people are coming to your blog or IG profile because you’re all about fitness or biking or running, it’s OK to open up a little and incorporate some other parts of your life into your content too. After all, it’s your feed.

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You DO have other things you enjoy besides lifting heavy things and putting them back down, yes? Well so do your readers! Show them you’re more than a one-trick pony. Post a pic of your dog. Blog about your latest vacation. Open up about those insecurities you have about your training. People appreciate that you have a life (just like them!) filled with kids and arguments and cupcakes and all that other stuff that can’t be measured with a scale or tracked with a Garmin.

I’m not saying turn your feed into the Dave-the-Doberman Show (no offense to Dave, he’s really a cute dog) – think 80% “brand” related content (running if you’re a runner, for example), and 20% cat pictures/artsy shots of your wine at happy hour/whatever else floats your boat. When you share more than your mile splits and WOD’s, I bet you’ll connect with more people than you think.

So how about it? Have you found any other tips that you’d like to share? Share in the comments!

Happy Friday!

Hey guys – Things have been relatively quiet the past few days (and will hopefully stay that way for the next few!) so here’s a quick little update.

My father is a Feature Writer for our local newspaper and from time to time he’ll have the opportunity to put snippets of his own good news in the paper (it’s a really local paper). So when he discovered my blog a while back and read up on my adventures, he encouraged me to submit a story to the paper in my own words. I thought it’d be a cute idea, but never really followed up on it, until one Saturday a few weeks ago when he called me and said “You’ve got a column in May’s paper, get the final story submitted by midnight tomorrow.” Talk about making me an offer I couldn’t refuse!

After bouncing some ideas around with him, he suggested I write up a story about the lead up to the NYC Half Marathon, specifically about the media coverage I got through working with the New York Road Runners. So I got to work at 9pm that Sunday (how last-minute can you get) and came up with a fun little recap – you can check it out via PDF here. It appears on Page 23, and continues on 25. I know this is stuff that you all have probably seen before on here, but I thought it was still kind of fun to see my picture in the paper and wanted to share it!

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On an unrelated note, I’m hitting the beach this weekend for a little girls-only time with my mom in Atlantic City, and let me just say: I. Cannot. Wait. It’s been a long winter, and the beach is calling my name! Of course I’ll pack my running shoes and my camera – maybe I’ll recreate the last picture I had taken when I last ran on the boardwalk 🙂

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That’s about it for me – how about you guys? What are your weekend plans? When was the last time you partied it up in AC? What are your favorite slot machines? Mine are the Goldfish penny slots 🙂 Have a great weekend!

Jess Runs Happy is now on Facebook!

Dust off those dancing shoes and put on your party pants: it’s time to celebrate!

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Why?

Because Jess Runs Happy is finally on Facebook!

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That’s right: to spare my non-running friends and family from my endless running posts, I bit the bullet and created a Facebook Page for the blog! It’ll be a fun place to connect with me as well – I’m working on making it an all-in-one resource for everything I’ve got going on as far as blog posts, IG posts, and Twitter are concerned.

So head on over and give it a Like if you’re so inclined – and spread the love, too! I can’t wait to see you there.

Friday Favorites: Spring Edition

It’s Friday, and I’ve got some new favorite things to gush about, so you know what that means: it’s time for some Friday Favorites! This week’s theme is all about the joys I’ve experienced so far this spring (all 7 days of it):

1. House of Cards

house-of-cardsOK people. I know I’ve talked about this show before, when I discovered it on a long treadmill run and got hooked from the first minute. But the initial love has turned into a full-blown obsession, and I find myself talking about these people to anyone who will listen. I’m trying our Zoe Barnes’ hairstyles. I’m approaching work annoyances with a “What Would Claire Do?” mentality. When Peter Russo’s watershed bill failed, I caught myself shaking my head in heartbreak for him THE DAY AFTER I WATCHED THE EPISODE. Guys. Help. Anyone else with me on the Underwood bandwagon?

2. The Starbucks Birthday Cake Frappuccino

11055928_658446210933827_620156968_nMy friend at work sent me a link via Skype yesterday, and all it said was “Soooo tomorrow?” Seeing as today is my 2 year anniversary at my job, I jumped at the opportunity to celebrate both Starbucks’ birthday and my work-a-versary with a Birthday Cake Frappuccino!

It’s evidently their vanilla and hazelnut flavors all swirled up, topped with raspberry-infused whipped cream, and damned if it doesn’t taste surprisingly cake-like! It was a little sweeter than I’m used to though (says the girl who can eat frosting right from the can), so I’m suffering a bit in the aftermath. I crashed pretty hard after I finished it and crave super healthy clean stuff now, like hardboiled eggs or edamame, but all in all I think it was worth it 😉

3. Today’s necklace:

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This is the Flamenco by Lia Sophia. A while ago I bought this pretty lady along with a handful of other baubles when I heard that Lia Sophia was going out of business. I’m a sucker for shiny things and had to have it, even if I wasn’t sure what to wear it with.

Fast forward to this week, when I made a promise to myself to try one new article of clothing or fashion accessory every day. Nude pointy-toed pumps, a scarf with pineapples printed on it, an old repurposed t-shirt.. things were going great! Then I spied a fancy necklace on a coworker yesterday, and inspiration struck. She had the right idea by pairing it with a simple slouchy tee – and that’s how Flamenco worked her way into my wardrobe!

How’s your Friday going? Do you want to share your own obsessions with me? Tell me – I’m always looking for new things to love on! Happy Friday, everyone!

Freaky Friday

OK, after reading their newest post, I’ve been inspired by my friends over at Scootadoot to share with you all of the things that are *not* running-related and rattling around inside this brain of mine.So here we go!

First, my car was hit by a police officer late Tuesday night, as the cop was chasing after some punks kid in front of our house. After being super accommodating on the scene (“No really, officer, it’s totally fine! You were just doing your job! Just tell me what to do and we’ll make it all better!”), I learned the next day from my insurance agent that the State of NJ gives government vehicles this thing called “immunity”. Long story short: either I find a friend who can fix it for cheap/free, or I go through my own insurance, pay $544 to cover the repairs myself, and my insurance rates will go up too, since they can’t file a claim against the police.

Had I known this while the officers were in my living room, I would have been a lot less accommodating.

On the plus side: it could have been a lot worse! The car is still driveable in the meantime! Me and my husband are fine! But all because some idiot kids decided to stir the pot with some cops in front of my parked car, I now have to spend hours of my life and my own money putting things back to normal. So I’ve left a few unreturned messages with the Sergeant, I’m drafting an email right now, and now I’ll have to take time out of my weekend to go to the station and sort things out. It will all be resolved in time, I’m sure. Soon it’ll be just a little blip on the radar of my life. But it’s an extremely frustrating process to have to go through!

OK, enough with the negativity. I didn’t mean to rain on your parade. There are plenty of great things about this moment we’re living right now! Let’s talk about those.

1. These shoes:

CaptureThese shoes, these shoes, MY GOD THESE SHOES.

PS I’m a size 39 if you want to buy these for me and make me feel better about my car situation.

In my headier, more carefree days (read: college), I used to be quite a shoe whore. The more expensive, ridiculous, spike-heeled, pointy-toed the better. I loved it! But once I really grasped the value of the dollar and started paying my own rent – and realized I was committing joint-i-cide by stiletto – my footwear choices were based solely on cost, practicality and comfort first, with style and outlandishness coming in a distant 4th and 5th.

And then I spotted these on Scootadoot’s post. Thanks a lot, guys. My shoe-lust is back in a BIG way, and I cannot stop drooling! JK thank you for turning me onto Mod Cloth, I’m officially obsessed and loving it 🙂

2. Speaking of obsessed:

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I give you: Fifth Avenue.

I’ve never been a huge fan of painting my nails: they chip pretty much the second I put the bottle away. But I spotted this color on the nails of a fellow passenger the last time I flew somewhere for work, and I vowed to have my nails look as chic and put-together as hers forever and ever amen.

Fast forward to a month ago when I finally bought the stuff, and I’m loving it. It’s the perfect classic pop of color, but just different enough from the standard red nail to catch the eye. You probably can’t see on the computer monitor, but it’s not just red, it’s got some orange to it, for a more poppy-like brightness that I just love.

2. Valentine’s Day is tomorrow!

giphyEveryone all together now: yaaaay!

AKA what I like to call “Treat Yoself Day”, I look forward to Valentine’s Day every year. Ever since I was little, my mom and dad and i would give each other little gifts and candy and extra hugs and wow do I realize how cheesy that sounds when I type it out. But either way, it’s true: v-day is awesome! Even if you’re not coupled up with someone at the moment, take tomorrow to really appreciate and celebrate yourself. Get a massage. Get a pedicure. Buy yourself a fancy-ass pastry from the bakery you always drool over when you pass by. Unapologetically watch that movie that gives you all the feels. Whatever you do, be sure to DO YOU and love every minute of it. You earned it!

3. It’s Friday.

Enough said.

And in running news, I’m really not looking forward to 9 miles on the treadmill tomorrow (or Sunday), but I have to do what I have to do so I’m playing some mind games already with myself: “You get to spend two hours in a climate controlled gym and watch any movie you want! With a bathroom right there, and no ice to slip on! YAY!”

Yeah, I’ll let you know how that goes.

And that’s about it for me! How about you? Are you happy it’s Friday? How do you feel about nail polish? And most importantly: how do you plan on treating yourself tomorrow? Tell me everything!