Eyes on the Prize

If we’re being honest, we can all scroll back on this blog and on my Instagram page and see that after the 2017 NYC Marathon, things took a turn for me, and running took a backseat. Depression, being laid off, injury after injury – hell, I even tried telling myself that I don’t even like running anyway. But thanks to the pandemic (stay with me), I started working on my mental health and built a stable foundation that I now find myself ready to build upon even further…

… by setting a GOAL.

I’ve gotten back into running on and off over the last few years, but each time, that *something extra* was missing to keep me on track. I’d stick to a routine for a few weeks at a time; to look slightly better for an event, or to get my form back in order for a shorter race. But I never clicked back into the long-term “I am a runner”, feel-weird-if-I-don’t-workout mode that I lived through for basically all of 2009-2017.

Part of me thinks it’s because my goals weren’t big enough – I could brush off really getting into training for a 5K because those are still relatively easy for me, and I even bowed out of a half marathon at one point because I didn’t have the strength training base to build my mileage quick enough post-injury. But what it really comes down to is the fact that I didn’t set any goals because I was doing all of that work with a layer of anxiety on top of it all. Which is kind of miserable.

To be fair, I was miserable for a lot of other reasons, not the working out almost every day.

But recently, I jumped at the opportunity to do something I’ve been contemplating since 2018 or 2019, and I find myself in an interesting position of actually having that motivation to work towards a goal…

Every. Single. Day.

I can’t share what it is just yet – that’ll happen June 1st – but I promise that you won’t miss it because it’s all I’m going to be able to talk about for a good long time.

What I can say is that it has filled me with a motivation that I didn’t know I had. To never waste an opportunity to move my body. To make the healthy choice. To get it right. To be stronger every day, in every way. I haven’t felt a focus like this since I don’t know when. And I love it.

I’m so excited that I’m surprised you can’t hear me vibrating from here – but once you know why, I think you’ll be vibrating with me. So just hang in there, and tell me in the comments: have you ever had motivation smack you in the face like I have? How did you feel about it? Let me know!

Change What You Can, Manage What You Can’t

If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you most likely know that I am a big proponent of mental health awareness. Having struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life, I’ve tried a lot of different treatments, including cognitive behavioral therapy and medication. Thankfully, despite a few wobbles of ~6 months here and there, my mental health has remained relatively stable since the early 2000’s when my anxiety manifested as severe OCD that left me holed up in my college dorm room for days at a time, bleeding from hands that I washed close to 100 times a day. Back then, Zoloft paired with a good therapist helped get me back on track, and I remained relatively stable until… a few months into 2020.

I don’t need to go into detail about that dumpster fire here; I have already recapped my struggle during the early stages of the pandemic and had nothing but good things to say about Effexor when I finally started it in April of 2021. And now that almost a year has passed, life on medication has just continues to get better, even if I don’t post about it here on the blog or on social media often.

The combination of Effexor and therapy finally allowed me the mental space to begin the monumental amount of work it would take to become the best version of myself.

In short, I was able to organize my thoughts in a clear and concise way that made me a better wife, friend, daughter, coworker, and advocate for myself. Our marriage improved. We celebrated 10 years married in August 2021!

I found and started a better job (all remote, better pay, and SUCH a better culture). I spent 3 months on paperwork and phone calls to roll over all 5 of my various retirement funds into one account. I started using a budgeting app to get our finances in order and paid off 90% of our credit card debt by September. And finally, most importantly, in October we were able to make an offer on our very own house – which we closed on December 1!

But while I was busy doing all this WORK, running and working out fell off my plate. I know that some people run or workout through their challenges, but I’m not them. After working 8-9 hours a day, I needed all of the energy I could spare to work on myself. And I never realized how many of my own needs I’d ignored until I finally had the mental space to explore them. I’d lived with anxiety and depression for so long that I didn’t realize what healthy felt like until I got there. I explicitly remember asking my doctor, “THIS is what you all feel like ALL THE TIME? Why did no one TELL me??”

There’s no end to the work I’m doing on my inner self, but as I find more of a balance, I’ve started working out and running again. The runs are short, the workouts hurt, but they’re happening and consistency is the name of the game now. I’m trying to move once a day in some way, even if that’s a 15 minute walk on the treadmill.

I signed up for a few races in the spring – and I even threw my name into the NYC Marathon Lottery! I find out if I get in on March 30th, and I still don’t know if I want to see that charge on my bank account or if I’ll be relieved when I don’t see it.

All that’s to say – tentatively – that I’m back! I’m ready to share myself with you all again, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride as I see where it takes me. Either way, thank you for sticking around this long (can you believe I’ve been running this blog for EIGHT YEARS?) and cheers to many more happy miles!

How NOT to Train for a Half Marathon

When we last hung out, I mentioned getting ready to buckle down for the NJ Half Marathon in April. At the time, I was a little concerned because life took a hard left and I went right to compensate, and training ended up going out the window. But I had high hopes.

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*how I pictured myself come race day with all the training I was going to do in the coming weeks*

Well, that didn’t happen. Things haven’t gotten much better in terms of fitting my training in, but now it’s for a super great reason: I started a new full time gig last week and am *loving it* in big capital, bold, italic letters.

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that’s my happy dance, in case you didn’t know

But all the learning and growing I’ve been doing from 9-5 has left me with just enough energy (mental AND physical) at the end of the day to crawl into pajamas, help cook and clean the kitchen up, pack my lunch for the next day and repeat the process.

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I don’t even have time for guac or rose ūüė¶

Not to mention we got hit with yet ANOTHER snow storm last week that incapacitated the area for a few days.

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god do I miss summer.

While being burnt out from a rewarding new job that I love is an awesome problem to have, it still has me slightly fearful of what April 29th will bring.

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at the very least, I’m confident that the race course won’t be on FIRE. but I may be carrying pizzas all 13.1 miles.

Once my chances for a fully fleshed out 10-week training program went out the window, my interim plan was simple: run 3x a week M-F then run long on Sunday. But in the last 2 weeks or so, that hasn’t happened either. I didn’t hit my long run goals last weekend, which means that this weekend won’t happen either, and so on and so forth.

So we improvise. Basically, my newest plan is to just wing it, within reason. The last time I ran for about an hour I managed to get 5 miles in and felt like I could have kept going by starting super slow and working my way up, so negative splitting is the plan. This weekend I’m aiming for 6-7 miles (or 90 minutes, whatever comes first), walking as much as I need to get to the time goal. And I’ll continue to do a few additional miles/15-minute increments every weekend until race day.

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crawling, if necessary.

Beyond that? We’ll see what happens. I already know that race day is not going to be about speed or time. Those 13.1 miles will be the final exam after weeks of lessons in how¬†not to train for a half marathon. But sometimes, life takes a turn and you’ve got to roll with it.¬†And while things are 110% on the upswing for me at the moment, 13.1 miles is a tall order in the next 4 weeks. But I DO know I can finish, and that’s all I want to do.

Listen: you know the drill here. I run, I’m [mostly] happy, and I keep it real. Just like I did with my first marathon fail or my struggles with depression and anxiety, I’m not going to ignore or lie about these experiences I’m going through. I think it’s important that someone who may be struggling in a similar way sees that they’re not alone. If you’re in a running slump, remember – it’s not a competition. Running will be there when you’re ready to run again. I’m not worried about running again – things are balancing out more and more every day, and I find myself looking forward to my runs, which is better than nothing.

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Beyond April 29th, I’m looking forward to other races at less taxing distances where I can work my way back into fighting shape and enter the second half of 2018 stronger than I was when I started it. Because the best thing about going back to zero? When you start again, you’ve got nowhere to go but up.

Things I Wish I Knew About Running (Before I Started)

It still amazes me that after almost 6 years of running, I’m still learning new things about this sport every day. Some of these things I wish someone had told me about before I started running. Not to deter me, but to¬†warn¬†me, in the gentlest way possible that…

You’re going to want talk about it. A LOT.

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You’re going to find yourself really excited about something running related: new sneakers, conquering a new distance, registration opening up for a race you’ve been dying to go to… BUT. Try to refrain from going on and on about it (much like I do here on this blog!). I’ve learned the hard way from some friends that talking about nothing but running all the time can be exhausting for those around you. I’ve actively tried to get better at this in the past year, but I’m still a major PITA with it. Just this morning I got all worked up over being assigned my Rock n Roll Brooklyn bib number and corral assignment…. and had to refrain from shouting it from the rooftops. I’m SUPER excited to take on this race. But my coworkers? Are not.

You’re going to chafe. A LOT.

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Do you see that girl up there? Do you know how CHAFED she is in that moment? I used to think I had the chafing game figured out: just keep the skin covered, go for longer length shorts in warm weather, use some chafe guard products when needed, boom. Problem solved. Then I ran an 11K race in a total monsoon¬†and discovered that there are OH SO MANY MORE SPOTS to chafe in when it’s raining or you’re wet all over. Like your butt. And your lady parts. And… you get the gist. Let’s just say I screamed so loudly when the water hit my newly chafed spots during my post-race shower that housekeeping knocked on the hotel room door to make sure I was OK. I found myself at a corner bodega later that day desperately searching for diaper rash cream to smother¬†basically my entire bathing suit area and allow me to walk without looking like I rode a horse across country. Something similar happened during the NYC Triathlon when I was running under firehoses and dumping cups and cups of water over my head to completely soak myself and stay cool on the run course. Lesson learned: water (in any form) + running =¬†chafing.

It makes you hungry – but don’t use it as an excuse to eat!

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You’ve no doubt seen the articles out there about “runger” and how you’re going to want to #eatallthethings while you’re logging lots of miles. Being firmly in the “I LOVE FOOD” camp, this is one of the major reasons running first appealed to me: if I’m running all the miles, I get to eat all the food, right? WRONG. For a while I was all “I get an extra glass of wine at dinner and maybe dessert. Then I do it again Monday on a rest day, you know, for refueling purposes. And Tuesday I get dessert because I ran again!”And so on and so forth. Then I wondered why I couldn’t lose weight! Thanks to MyFitnessPal, I learned that all those extra calories weren’t necessarily being burned off, especially during rest days. Now I stay conscious of what I’m eating, what I’m burning, and pay closer attention to how certain foods affect my body and my performance. It’s trippy, but a good mix of veggies and fruits throughout the week really DO fuel you better than McDonald’s and Burger King all week. Go figure.

Cut your toenails.

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Before I ran, I was big into pedicures at the spa: sanding down my feet to baby softness and sculpting each toenail to beautiful perfection then walking away with a beautiful French pedicure? Ahh…¬†Now? I’ve got to hack away at my feet in the privacy of my own home or else I pay the price. On the rare occasion I get a real pedicure, I have to tell the nail tech to put the sanding stick down – trim my nails next to nothing and leave the callouses please, I’ll end up with blisters if you sand them off. And don’t judge me for a third black toenail in 3 months. I picked a darker polish on purpose, just paint it. Oh and that pinkie toe where the nail fell off? Just paint the skin and give me the illusion¬†of a toenail please. Don’t look at me like that, just paint it! Or if you don’t want to, paint 9 and give me a 10% discount for using less polish.

How about you – is there anything you’ve learned about running that you wish you’d known before?¬†

My New Celebrity Fitspiration

So, I’m a big Star Wars fan now. I’m guessing you knew that already though.

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While I love the whole fictional universe, I also dig the new stars in the franchise. They’re a talented, eclectic bunch of people with different personalities and styles, and I’m loving all of them. Especially Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey.

I liked her in the movie, but¬†when I discovered her Instagram a few weeks after seeing the movie back in January, I was instantly hooked. She’s adorable, ¬†you guys.

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Also, with posts like this, let’s face it: she’s kind of my spirit animal.¬†

In a sea of vapid, cookie cutter “celebrities”, her feed¬†stands out. You can really get a sense of her voice and what she’s passionate about – she’s not afraid to speak up and be goofy – AND she loves posting videos of her insane Star Wars workouts.¬†These aren’t little “yay for bicep curls!” videos though. This chick is putting in some serious¬†WORK. So what did I do? Take notes on her workouts and adapted them for myself, of course!

What does the Daisy Workout consist of? Here’s a sampling from a few of her recent videos (note: technical terms are NOT my strong suit. I just call them as I see them):

  • Walking lunges with overhead weight
  • High Knee jumps
  • Pull ups with elevated legs
  • Kneeling bicep band pulldowns
  • Pilates 100‚Äôs
  • Jump Squats
  • Jump squats with overhead bar & press
  • Lateral Jumps
  • Lunges with band twist
  • Suspension cable pull ups
  • Kneeling jumps
  • Medicine ball tosses
  • Kettle bell squat lifts (5x arm)
  • One legged box jump
  • Squat jumps with bar
  • Straight overhead Leg lifts
  • Straight leg situps

Now, this is by no means meant to be an official workout, please don’t try all of these and sue for damages when you can’t lift your head off the pillow the next day. I am NOT a professional – I was just looking for a good strength training workout and these moves clearly helped our girl Daisy so why can’t I give them a shot?

Word of warning: after doing¬†half¬†of those exercises up there for a full 40 minutes Tuesday, I’m STILL sore 48 hours later. So please, workout at your own risk.

But while these moves are HARD and have me grunting and swearing and unable to get into my car without screaming the next day, I do know this: I feel pretty badass when I’m done!

How about you: Who’s your current celebrity fitspiration? Have any famous-people workouts to share? Gimme gimme!

 

Best. Weekend. EVER.

After a solid week of training last week, I took my rest day Friday pretty seriously:

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And drank WAY too much Merlot with some of my favorite ladies in the world. I regret NOTHING.

Once I washed the chlorine out of my hair on Saturday, I aimed for “active recovery” which meant movement but nothing too strenuous: perfect for a day wandering around NYC with hubby!

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This was a selfishly-planned trip on my part: we went in to see the Star Wars and the Power of Costume exhibit in Times Square, which I’d been silently fangirling over it since I clicked “Buy Tickets” earlier in the week.

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Me, since last Monday.

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If I was this excited over cardboard, you did NOT want to see me when I rounded a corner and came face to face with the real Chewy.

And BOY was I not disappointed:

GUYS I MET YODA. THE REAL YODA.

Okay. I’m better.

NO WAIT I’M NOT, I ALSO SELFIED WITH BB8:

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I may also be crying just a little bit in this picture.

Alright, I’m all good now.

After a few hours wandering around and snapping pictures, I had my fill of riding the emotional rollercoaster of seeing Carbonite Han, Amidala’s crazy get ups, Rey’s scavenger gear, and all the rest of it. To ease back into reality, we went for a nice early dinner at a British pub, complete with a Shirley Temple because I’m a big girl and I can order my own big girl drinks.

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Once we finished dinner we did a little shopping (and I may or may not have dragged Mike into the Disney store where I purchased Star Wars gear, #sorrynotsorry) and we made it back to Penn Station just in time for the 6PM train.¬†I was a little worried that I’d burnt out my legs before the 9 miles I had scheduled for Sunday, but evidently those worries were all for nothing.

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Spoiler Alert: I nailed my best 10 mile run EVER.

I set out down in Asbury and ran right into Jenny who was just about to finish her 8 miles (what up, girl!!). I struggled through the first mile because I had overdressed:¬†I had to peel off my extra¬†arm warmers after half a mile and ran them back to my car so I didn’t have to hold them for 2 hours. It was kind of a mess.

But even with the stutter start I kept an eye on my pace and managed to stay under 12:00/mile the whole first half. I told myself I’d spin around at mile 5, around Spring Lake. It was nice to charge down the boards at a decent pace like that, and once I fell into a rhythm by mile 3 I felt pretty unstoppable. The St. Patty’s Day parade was happening in Belmar so it was fun seeing all the folks (and pups!) in their green gear – I even spied a few bagpipers!

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And the seashell mantras are back again too, hooray! Love spotting these random beauties along the route.

I was particularly impressed with my consistent pacing: between 11:20-11:55 basically the whole time! My only stop was at Mile 5 when I took my gel and finished the last of my water. I paused my watch and gave myself one full minute to stretch, but when I started up again I was hit directly in the face with a wall of freezing wind. GREAT, I thought, there goes my pace!

My too-warm (now super sweaty) shirt was COLD. For a half mile or so I thought I might be ruined, but after glancing at my pace and seeing a pretty effortless 11:55, I changed my mind. By Mile 6 I had warmed back up, the wind calmed, and my pace was still around 11:45. At¬†Mile 7 I took inventory: everything felt surprisingly great, despite having run 7 miles at one of my best paces yet! Suddenly I thought: wouldn’t it be great to do 10 miles? I know the schedule says 9, but imagine the ego boost you’d get nailing a double digit run so early in your training! Let’s see how we feel at mile 8.

Well, as you can see by the Garmin shot up there¬†I stuck it out for 10, and ended up NAILING my first double digit training run since October. My legs were ready to call it quits at around Mile 9, but I wasn’t experiencing the real pain and tightness in my hips, knees, and calves that I’d felt in previous training runs. So I pushed through that final mile on pure adrenaline really, and celebrated with some “boardwalk running” pics.

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It was so great – I stretched a little on the boardwalk and practically floated back to the car (well, hobbled, but you get the idea), then headed home for a quick lunch before heading over to a friend’s to meet her new baby and spend some quality time with her family.

By the time I got home at 7pm, I was ready for BED in a big way. This was one of my busiest but most fulfilling weekends yet, but I loved every second of it. How about you – how did your weekend go? Tell me all about it!

Half Marathon Training Week 2 (& Giveaway Winner!)

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone out there in the blog-iverse! I hope you spent some time today treating yourself however you like best, whether with chocolate or a run or vegging on the couch or wine (or all 4). Hubby and I celebrated in a low-key way, which is how I like it: with a box of Star Wars chocolates, some nice cards, a delicious seafood dinner at a Portuguese restaurant around the corner, and a nap. ‚̧

Half marathon training is in full swing over here. I’m still more than 2 months from race day but feeling super confident thanks to all these longer races I’ve been doing in the “off” season. My weekly long runs have stayed around 5-6 miles for a while, and my 2 training runs during the week are at a solid 4 miles apiece (when they used to be 2.5-3ish). This training cycle is all about that base [mileage], and I’m happy to log more miles consistently, because it means big improvements in my speed! Case in point: this week’s runs:

I logged 14 miles this week, all under 12:00/mile. This was especially exciting during my long run on Saturday, when I managed to nail 6 full miles at that amazing pace. I can’t remember the last time I did that! Usually once I go over 5 miles I slow down considerably, but this is promising.

The difference this time around? I know I may sound like a broken record, but the acupuncture has really been a game changer. Thanks to the appetite management treatments, I’m still not overeating or snacking like I used to. This has led to a pretty noticeable weight loss: depending on the day it’s between¬†12-15 lbs! I’m so glad I’m not lugging that extra weight around with me on the pavement! I go for treatment #4 this Wednesday and can’t wait to give him the good news ūüôā

Along with the ¬†weight loss, the acupuncture has also increased my energy levels in a big way. I wake up before my alarm, feeling refreshed and ready to go almost every day, regardless of when I get to bed the night before. And even though I recently took on an extra role at work on top of my existing responsibilities (meaning 2x the pressure, focus, and mental energy needed each day), I’ve still managed to nail my workouts even after a full day of work for the past 2 weeks.

On top of the running I’ve been doing to kick off this training cycle, I’m focusing on making those cross training and strength training days count, with full hours dedicated to arms or legs, with core work to cap off every session. I’m finally noticing little changes in my body and will keep it up to see where I can go from here.

And when I take a rest day, I really TAKE that rest day. Like this past Friday, when I went to see Star Wars for the [I don’t want to admit how many]th time and got up close and personal with Mr. Kylo Ren here:

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That’s about it for training this past week! I do want to close out this update with a fun announcement: our Love to Run Giveaway winner! Drumroll please…. Congratulations Miss Meridith Daniel! I clicked “random winner” and you were our lucky lady!! Check your inbox for instructions on how to claim your prize pack ūüôā

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Mere and I¬†had a fantastic response to this giveaway¬†with almost 450 entries, and we thank each and every one of you for participating! It’s such an honor to work with companies like Greecie Girl and Cocogo to bring you guys these contests, and I can’t wait to bring you even more opportunities to win fun stuff in the future!

So now that we’re starting a new week, tell me: how is your training going? Did you do anything fun for Valentine’s Day?¬†

Climbing Out of a Black Hole

I try to keep things 100% real here, but it’s hard when things get tough. I mean, the title of my blog has “happy” in it. If I’m not happy, what am I? But this is my blog after all, so here goes:

When I started this fitness journey back in 2004, I was more than 100 lbs heavier & suffered from crippling anxiety, OCD, and depression. My hands would crack and bleed from over-washing and some days I couldn’t even leave my dorm. With 5 years of exercise, therapy, medication, and a healthier diet, I managed to find my way out of that hole. And even though I managed to wean off the OCD medicine (and haven’t had an episode in years), I will occasionally fall back into that hole.

Which is where I’m at right now.

For the past three weeks or so, I’ve been in an emotionally bad place. The best way I can describe it is like I’ve been watching a movie of my life. Some days it takes a huge effort just to get out of bed. A few days, I slept 18+ hours and have had no motivation to do anything. One day my husband had to physically pull me out of the car to take a walk at the park, and all I wanted to do was cry the whole two miles. At holiday gatherings I found myself fighting back tears while watching everyone else laugh. I’d put on a happy face to go for a run or to a movie, and then fall right back into staring at the TV or a blank wall, trying not to cry.

Some more well-adjusted folks might read that and think “What a head case!” Hell, I even think that sometimes – I’ve had a perfectly happy holiday season, I have family and friends that love me, a great job, a roof over my head… what the hell could I possibly be so depressed about? And when I think that, I get even more upset, and it spirals from there. Those of you who’ve experienced depression or anxiety know what I’m talking about, and it sucks.

What brought it on? Is it just the Holiday Blues? The lack of structure being off from work for so long? The unhealthy food and abundance of wine? All three? Who knows. And it’s hard to even put into words exactly what goes through my head when I’m in the middle of it. But I’m lucky: my friends and family have all been nothing but supportive. And to be honest, today is one of my first good days. Coming back to work, monitoring my diet, and forcing myself to be physically active are all helping, but it takes time. I’m pretty sure I’m bouncing back slowly, but there’s always a fear that it’ll creep back up and paralyze me again.

I don’t have a specific purpose for writing this post, to be honest. Part of me needed to write it to clear my head, but it’s also for anyone who has gone through – or is going through – something similar. If you’re in the middle of it, know you’re not alone, no matter how lonely you might feel. The sun will come out. It always does. And don’t be ashamed to talk about it or seek help. Negative thoughts spread like wildfire and sometimes all you need to do to break the cycle is talk to someone else, even if it hurts.

I also hope that anyone lucky enough to have never experienced depression or anxiety realizes it’s not trivial. With physical illness, you experience symptoms that others can see; runny nose, broken bones. But with mental illness, the symptoms are hidden. So be kind to others. Even if they’re smiling and seem happy on the outside, you never know what kind of battle they’re fighting on the inside.

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!

Ode to the Fitness Buddy

I don’t know about you, but with no major races on the horizon until at least March, I’m feeling kind of lost when it comes to my running. Without a big goal race to aim for or a plan to follow, I kind of turn into a sassy cranky pants just looking for some kind of structure to my life that’ll help me avoid gaining weight through the holidays and keep me sane when the Christmas madness takes hold.

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Exhibit A: my life.

Luckily, I’ve managed to set a pattern of sorts now thanks to my fitness friend, Kevin. Kevin has been my friend and frequent running buddy for a while now, but recently he’s joined my gym and kicked me into gear in a big way without even realizing it.

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Hooray for structure!

Kevin is usually the one to text me at 9PM on a Friday with “Are you running tomorrow?” What he doesn’t realize is that I’m usually eyeballs-deep in a glass of red wine and when I see his texts I usually say, out loud, to no one, “Well, I wasn’t planning on running in 12 hours but I guess I am now.” And then I finish the glass and put the cake down because no one wants to see me sweating red velvet and Robert Mondavi.

Now that he’s also a member of the same gym, he’s taken to texting me with random thoughts such as “Just throwing it out there. In addition to running. I want to work on abs, arms, and legs. Abs every day.”

And just like that, I’ve got a strength training schedule in my life!

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Exhibit B: this past Saturday’s workout

When I’m in the throes of training, I sometimes lose sight of how fun it is to workout with someone else, so I’m grateful for his reminders.

How about you: do you have a fitness pal to keep you motivated? How has sweating with someone else helped you on your journey?