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 😦

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.

You’re the Best

First off: I didn’t realize that yesterday’s post would start a chain reaction of warm wishes and personal story sharing that totally turned my day – hell, my MONTH – around.

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Thank you all so much for your comments, emails, texts, Facebook posts, etc – each new note brought a smile to my face (and yeah, some tears too, because I’m still a little weepy). You guys are really the best out there. The fitness community is so much like a family, and it’s so comforting to know that when things get dark, just throwing a tiny lifeline of a blog post out there into the ether will sound the alarm and bring me a world of sunshine.

To answer your next question: I AM feeling a bit better, every hour and every day. Thank you! The old saying to “fake it till you make it” is my unofficial mantra these days, and it’s working. It’s good being back at work where my brain is busy and doesn’t have time to focus on negative thoughts. I’m trying not to numb myself in front of the TV and pushing myself to do little tasks like clean out my home office and reorganize photos. I went swimming and did yoga last night to keep my  body moving, and it felt GREAT.

But when I tried to run again yesterday, it was extremely slow going – while I felt like I was pushing at full intensity, I was only going about 13:00/mile, which was soul-crushing to see. So I’m instead focusing on getting my blood pumping in other ways, any way I can manage. What this will do to my performance in this weekend’s race, I’m not sure. I’ll try to run today and tomorrow, even a mile. But come Saturday morning, I aim simply to finish. Those Central Park hills are unforgiving, and everything is an effort when I feel like this. I set some big goals when I signed up for this race a few months ago, but when life gets in the way and puts a roadblock there, you’ve got to adapt and overcome any way you can!

So thank you all once again for your kind words, for sharing your stories, and your heartwarming support. It really means the world to me to have you with me on this crazy ride!

Insta-Thanks!

I say it a lot, but I can’t stress it enough: Instagram is where I first found my home in the fitness community, and it’s by far where I spend the most of my social media time.

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As of now, I’m currently about 60 followers away from 10K (HOLY COW) and while I don’t know when I’ll  hit that amazing, eye-popping milestone, I want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to each and every one of you.

But I’m going to wear clothes. Especially on the bus. Because, ew.

You guys are truly the best. I read and smile at Every. Single. Comment. And while I try and sometimes fail to reply to every one, I try as hard as I can because I want you to know just how much I appreciate you taking time out of your day to talk to me.

When I look back at the past two years to when I started this whole Jess Runs Happy thing, I see a huge spike in my overall happiness. You folks have inspired me to push myself and do things I never would have dreamed of: swimming, run-streaking, relay races – even going out for a run when I really didn’t feel like it. Hell, I’ve lost count of how many runs I’ve gone on just to have something to post about on social media that day. Some might think that’s vain or silly, but I say it got my ass off the couch and onto the pavement for miles I never would have run otherwise. What’s so bad about that? Nothing.

So thank you. Thank you for looking at the silly pictures I post. For reading the words I string together in a hopefully entertaining way on a semi-regular basis. For not getting tired of all the various ways I capture images of my big dumb face and/or my sneakers. For encouraging me to train harder, smarter, and faster. For giving me a reason to keep doing the things that I sometimes struggle with: running, smiling, being.

For all that and more, THANK YOU!

Real Women Move: Spread the Love!

Happy May everyone! Or since it’s already 5/4, I should say: May the 4th Be With You! 🙂

This month, Skirt Sports is rolling out a new campaign that falls neatly in line with their already-awesome theme of empowering women to achieve their fitness goals, whatever they may be. It’s called Real Women Move, and I’m super stoked to be a part of it. They’re giving back to the fitness community in 2 ways: by creating and using the hashtag #RealWomenMove, they’re spreading the message that you can overcome whatever obstacles that get thrown in your path and make fitness a priority. Check it out on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook too! CaptureThe second part of this initiative focuses on physically making a difference in the lives of fitness-focused ladies. For every 5,000 hashtags, Skirt Sports will donate a Get Started Scholarship to a woman who is actively working to break her own barriers in running and fitness, which includes a free Skirt Sports top, bra, bottom, hat, socks, and a free entry to your first 5K! It’s an awesome program – and one that made me wish it was around when I first started running, too!

You see, back in 2004 as I was just embarking on my own fitness journey, I saw runners as the pinnacle of fitness. I was never good at running, even in school when we’d have to run the mile! If I put as much effort into running the damn mile as I did figuring out excuses to not run the mile, I swear I would have been a world-class sprinter by age 15.

I’d shlump into my gym in my baggy workout gear and take shelter near the elliptical machines and bikes, or scoot into the group fitness room for dance classes, kickboxing, weight lifting – basically I’d do everything but run. I was intimidated and easily defeated. Every time I tried to run, I would tire after only a minute or two and get increasingly frustrated.

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Fast-forward to around 2006 when I started making friends with the group fitness instructors at my gym. Some of them were the intimidating, buff-and-blustery types, sure. But many of these chicas were just normal people ranging in age from their 20’s to their 50’s, with real bodies… and real athletic abilities! It was then that I started to realize: I don’t have to be super-chiseled to do the things that I want to do! These ladies were confident, encouraging, and most of all: inspiring. And while I envied the physical bodies of those super-fit folks, I gravitated more towards the positivity that those “Real Women” were spreading! That made a huge difference in the way I viewed fitness, and ultimately helped me adopt a more healthy lifestyle. Once I realized it wasn’t about how I looked or what I couldn’t do, I took up running and realized it was all about what I could do. And the rest is history!

Now, to help motivate and inspire others to focus on their own fitness journey, I invite you to take part in this campaign in two ways:

  1. Snap a pic of yourself breaking down walls and keeping the focus on fitness, and tag it with #RealWomenMove – let’s spread that positivity!
  2. If you or someone you know deserves to win a Get Started Scholarship, share your story or nominate a friend here!

If you’re ever in need of a pick me up or a motivation boost, I’m telling you – lace up your sneakers and search for the “RealWomenMove” hashtag, because there are some seriously inspirational people out there, you just need to know where to find them. And SkirtSports has brought them all together!

I Don’t Wanna and You Can’t Make Me (AKA The Tantrum Workout)

It is a cold, miserable, rainy Monday here in NJ, and I’m running on about 5 hours of sleep and a lot of emotions. Last night the hubs and I saw Interstellar and well, they may as well have just named it Sob Uncontrollably Along With Matthew McConaughey for Three Straight Hours, because holy wow. Without spoiling it, I’ll just say that relativity is a heartless BITCH. I’m so drained from going on that emotional roller coaster ride (even though it was *just* a movie, I still get into those things!), crying, and lack of sleep that I’m having a hard time working up the Ooof to work out. And frankly, I’m about to throw a tantrum.

anigif_enhanced-9815-1411488245-3Am I the only one who has to suppress the urge to throw a full-on, punch-the-ground, wailing fit in moments like these? Seriously. I just want to lay down on the ground and kick because I have no desire to get up out of this desk chair, strip out of my comfy clothes and put on cold workout gear, go out into the rain, drive an hour to get to the gym, and then move my body for another hour, only to go home and have to change out of those clothes, shower off, make dinner, finish some laundry, and do it all over again tomorrow.

When I think too much about the monotony of it all, I get kind of existential. Every day is exactly the same.

Or is it?

Maybe I’ll try something different today. I’m going to go get changed, and I’m going to the office gym instead, which is just one flight of stairs below me. It’ll probably be empty, which means that I can do whatever I want. And since what I want to do is lay down and punch the floor, maybe that’s what I’m gonna do.

You heard me right: I’m gonna make the Tantrum a new workout craze.

I mean, look at little mama up there! She’s working it. Every part of her body is in motion there. Legs and arms outstretched and flailing – done for about 10-15 minutes straight, I can see that taking some serious core strength. Add some wailing and you’re getting a cardiovascular workout from the deep breaths you need to take – bada bing, bada boom: you’ve got yourself a full-body workout in 15 minutes!

What say you? Should I copyright The Tantrum (c)? Or like lil  mama up there, do you think I really just need a nap? 😉

Extra, Extra! I’m RunInspired’s New Homepage Feature Story!

Just a quick update today – and a warm welcome to anyone who has stumbled upon JessRunsHappy thanks to my exciting feature at RunInspired! I was honored when they asked me to share my weight loss and running story, and couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. And it’s an even bigger honor to be their new homepage feature story!

Go check it out and let me know what you think. 🙂

You can also follow RUNspiration on Facebook for other features and daily motivation – check them out and happy running!