Dear 26: I Promise to Stop Breaking Promises

 

I thought making a list of 26 things I want to accomplish this year would be a great way to celebrate my birthday. And then I realized, wow that’s going to be a really long blog post. No one is going to read that. Well, except maybe my dad.

And if you are reading this… hi, dad.

I still have a list of 26 things I want to achieve before I turn 27, but it’s at the very end of this post. You know, in case you’re not interested in lists that long.

For now, I’ve been asking myself what’s the most important thing I want to change that I’ve done a bad job at last year. And that requires taking a hard look at the past year.

So Long 25, I’m Not Sad to See You Go

I spent most of this past year just straight up uncomfortable, overwhelmed and uncertain of myself and what I should be doing.

In fact, I woke up on the morning of my 25th birthday to finding an empty parking spot where I parked my car the night before and paying a towing company almost $200 to get back something that I already owned.

So, should I have been surprised that this last year was…weird? Lonely? Awkward? I guess with how I spent that morning, no. But I was because it wasn’t exactly how I pictured my first year out of college.

I got my first job in marketing as a junior copywriter (a total accident I’m still on the fence about), moved into my first apartment by myself and adopted my first dog. Love you, Bart.

All those things look and sound really great on paper.

But as I’ve been transitioning from college to this new world I’m in, sacrificing a run here and there is a really bad habit when I’m tired or things are hectic at work because spoiler alert: I’m always tired and things only get more hectic at work every day.

Instead of lacing my shoes up when I get home from work and just getting it over with, I tell myself I deserve a break from working so hard and proceed to do…nothing. For months.

While rewatching Michael Scott call Dwight an ignorant slut from the roof of Dunder Mifflin on The Office for the seventh time feels pretty nice after a long day, it’s not giving me anything good to feel about in the long run. And that’s how I found myself running a half marathon last April that I didn’t really train for.

And when I said “didn’t really train for” I mean “my longest training run was 7 miles.”

Dear 26: I Promise to Stop Breaking Promises

So, when I think about the one thing I want to work on this year, it’s simple. Stop breaking promises I make to myself. Even when things are out of control, I’m tired and my best friend’s Netflix account is calling my name.

I started running five years ago after I’d never done anything resembling exercise in my life. It was hard and painful, which was expected. What I didn’t expect was for it to bring out the best in me. For the first time, I was proving to myself that I could do difficult things. Things I thought I wouldn’t ever be capable of in my life.

And since that very first awkward and painful run five years ago, I’ve run seven half marathons, and I’m registered for my eighth in February.

While I’m still in that transitional season of my life, it’s more important than ever that I stop breaking my promise to myself. I need to run consistently enough to benefit from that powerful confidence and emotional strength running gives me.

So, this year I’m putting my focus and energy back into running with the goal of running two half marathons, two 5ks for time and one 10k for time. And this time I’m not being lenient with myself. I’m holding myself accountable by running four times a week minimum until my training plan for the Disney Princess Half Marathon starts in December and has me running five times a week for 16 weeks.

I’ve been sticking to this for over a month and a half now and so far, I haven’t broken my promise and it feels great. I feel like I can count on myself again and this missing side of myself has finally decided to make her long-awaited appearance.

That being said, there’s going to be plenty of future posts about building my base back up again, how training for a half marathon is magical and terrible at the same time and what pair of running shoes I end up buying for training after I’ve worn the same pair for two and a half years.

In the meantime, here’s my list of things I want to accomplish during my 26th year!

26 for 26

  1. Run a 5k race in 26 minutes
  2. Run a 10k in 58 minutes
  3. Break 2:15 at the Disney Princess Half Marathon
  4. Break up with Coca Cola
  5. Drink two bottles of kombucha a week
  6. Add more plant-based foods to my diet
  7. Read two books a month
  8. Only miss church if I’m out of town
  9. Write one blog post a month
  10. Donate to more charities that are important to me
  11. Spend one hour a week with the Bible
  12. Get out on more walks with Bart
  13. Start investing
  14. Keep working out four times a week
  15. Lift weights twice a week
  16. Take more online courses in copywriting and social media
  17. Put on the damn sunscreen
  18. Explore more of Florida outside of the Tampa Bay area and Orlando
  19. Make a big step towards the kind of career I want to have
  20. Pay off my credit cards
  21. Buy a medal rack for my racing medals
  22. Expand my cooking skills every so slightly
  23. Go to yoga once a month
  24. Buy a keyboard and start learning how to play
  25. Spend some quality time with my foam roller
  26. Spend my 27th birthday with my best friends from back home
New Years Resolution

7 Steps to Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution and Crushing Your Goals

 

My New Year’s resolution is to create more content and have a consistent running schedule. But I’m not good at resolutions. Making them, planning for them, keeping them – nothing ever gives. I always fall off the wagon and settle back into old routines and habits after a few weeks.

In fact, 80 percent of people fail to keep their resolution by February. While I’m relieved I’m in great company, I know that if we can understand why we’re failing to keep them it’s possible to create a plan that works for each of us.

While spending time thinking of the areas in my life I’d like to improve upon in the new year, I set out on a search to discover the best ways to go about making a New Year’s resolution so my chances of keeping it were higher than they had been in past years.

During that time I spent researching, I compiled a list of seven crucial steps we need to take in order to increase our chances of keeping our New Year’s resolutions:

1. Be Realistic

Whatever your resolution may be, it’s most important that it be realistic. Deciding to finally get in shape, cutting out bad foods from your diet completely or diving headfirst into learning a new skill can set you up for failure if you’re not the type of person that can reach a goal just by deciding that you want to.

If you decide this is the year you’ll finally prioritize getting in shape, be specific and decided what that looks like to you. Do you want to lose 30 pounds or do you want to go to the gym five days a week?

Then break it into a series of mini goals like:

Begin the new year by going to the gym twice a week for the entire month of January
Make it to the gym three times a week for the entire month of February
Go to the gym four times a week for the entire month of March
Finally, in April bump gym visits up to five times a week

Don’t fall victim to a huge goal by trying to tackle it right from the jump. Small steps lead to big changes. Patience and consistency pay off.

2. Pick a One-Word Theme

This step comes from a special holiday hack episode of the podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin. The idea of having a one-word theme is to choose a word or short phrase that sums up what you want to focus on in the new year, so you have an extra layer of protection that will make sure you stay on track to keeping your resolution.

This is by far my favorite step. Maybe because it’s the easiest and where we can get creative.

My one-word theme for 2018 is create. For me, 2018 will be focused on creating content for The Running Writer along with creating a new running routine that works with my new schedule. To hold myself accountable, I’ll be writing the word create on post-it notes that will find homes on my laptop, my desk at work, my car and even a mirror or two in my apartment.

3. Find a Source of Accountability

Accountability is an old and true trick to getting stuff done, and a step that is the deciding factor to whether I succeed or fail at meeting expectations.

There are a lot of different routes you can take to find the source of accountability that works for you. For example, you can tell a loved one about your New Year’s resolution and ask them to check in on you so you’ll continue to move in the right direction, or you can find a friend that has the same or a similar resolution and create a plan to accomplish your goals together.

Life has taught us all that it’s much harder to throw in the towel when someone is counting on us.

4. Make and Track Your Plan

Another important step to increasing your chances of keeping a New Year’s resolution is to think ahead and create a plan that you can start on January 1 that requires little to no thought.

If your goal is to eat healthier you can plan what you’ll eat for each meal of the day by meal prepping or writing down each meal on a calendar at the beginning of each week. This will ensure you avoid straying off track and eating something you want to cut out of your diet.

Having a plan eliminates the decision-making process from your daily checklist, which means you’ll do what you need to without taking up any extra energy, or facing the “should I or shouldn’t I” debate.

When you spend enough time sticking to your plan, it becomes a brainless habit.

5. Visualize the End Result

It sounds silly, but visualization is powerful.

The first week or month of keeping a resolution is easy because it feels exciting and motivation is fresh. But, once the excitement wears off and you lose motivation ( you will lose it, sorry), staying on track seems impossible.

During challenging times, picture the end result. What will your life look like? How will you feel telling your friends and family that you’ve accomplished your big goal? What doors will open when you meet your resolution?

Imagining the end result helps you to continue moving forward when you’re running on fumes and thinking of calling it quits.

6. Get Comfortable Feeling Uncomfortable

When I’m uncomfortable I have trouble following through, and I’m willing to bet this is where most people start to fall off the wagon. But for better or worse, being uncomfortable is where growth happens.

We make resolutions because there are areas in our lives that need improvement. It’s probably safe to say we need to make progress in these areas because we’re too comfortable making the easier choice. The truth is, the easy choice usually isn’t the best choice and usually turns into a trap for bad habits.

Lean into that uncomfortable feeling that makes you wonder why you thought you could tackle this “impossible goal.” This is where you’ll start to flourish, and waiting on the other side is the boatload of success we both know you’re capable of.

The more you lean in, the more comfortable you’ll eventually begin to feel. Just imagine what else you can accomplish with that kind of confidence!

7. Keep Trying

I’m going to take a wild guess and say you’re reading this blog post because your track record of meeting New Year’s resolution is similar to mine – a little (or very) spotty.

But despite past failures, you’re still willing to give it another try this year. That’s the same attitude you need when you slip up on your goal for the first time in January, or the second time in February and even the hundredth time in October.

Slip-ups are a non-negotiable part of the process but don’t confuse them as excuses to try again next year. Your results depend entirely on how you respond to setbacks. Deciding not to get back up after falling off track hasn’t cut it in the past, and it certainly won’t cut it this year.

Final Thoughts:

I know it’s going to be hard, and you’re going to feel out of your element trying to build your new habit when the fun wears off. But nothing worth having ever comes easy.

Whether you’re frantically trying to make a New Year’s resolution seconds before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, trying to maintain your goal in February, or feel like your efforts have completely derailed on January 2, use these seven steps as a guide to ensure you’re setting the right goal and remind yourself of how capable you are.

If your New Year’s resolution is to run more, or just be more active in general, join my mailing list and you’ll get a free PDF of my three best tips to turn running into a habit straight to your inbox!

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Let’s hold each other accountable to reach our goals by talking about our resolutions in the comments below!

Until next time,

5 Reasons Why Runners Forget Their Sunscreen

Your water bottle is filled to the brim with ice cold water.

Running shoes are laced up and ready to go.

The playlist that always pushes you through that last mile is updated and waiting to be played

Your watch is charged and strapped onto your wrist, ready to track the run you’re about to embark on.

Stepping outside you put one foot in front of the other, and completely crush your run.

Except you don’t because you’re forgetting something.

Let’s rewind and find the missing piece of this equation.

SUNSCREEN!!!

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The “you” in this scenario is 100% me. I decided to write this post because I typically fall short when it comes to protecting my skin during my runs. Now that I’ve moved back to Florida I really need to be more diligent about this, and I know I’m not the only one!

Jeez, even typing that makes me cringe a little!

Since it’s officially summer and more runners will be hopping off the treadmill to enjoy the warm weather, I thought there was no better opportunity than right now to start this conversation!

Skin cancer prevention is incredibly important and maybe just like me, you have to be more conscious about it as well. The Skin Cancer Foundation has a ton of crazy stats that will make you want to take action. The one stating that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer over their lifetime is what startled me into realizing that I need to take every precaution to protect my skin while I’m out on my runs.

If you’re anything like me, you probably have a few excuses up your sleeves to avoid putting sunscreen on before a run. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), I’m here to call your (and my own) bluff!

  1. “I’m only outside running for half an hour, that’s not long enough to need sunscreen”

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Sorry friend but just like me, you’re wrong. Three half hour runs a week add up! That’s an hour and a half in the sun, not including any other time you spend outdoors throughout the week. And if you run more than three times a week like me, you’re adding up even more time spent in the sun. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and if all it takes to lower our chances of getting it is consistently putting a layer or two of sunscreen on before running out the door what excuse do we really have?

2. “I don’t burn easily, or at all, so I don’t need to worry”

Survey says…you’re still wrong! Even if you don’t burn, your skin still gets damaged by the sun’s UV rays. You won’t see the damage immediately, but who wants their skin to age prematurely and look like an old leathery couch in 10 years?  The temporary sun-kissed glow isn’t worth it!

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3. “Putting sunscreen on before a run makes the run even hotter and I sweat even more”

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Same. But I’ve figured out through experience that if that’s what’s happening, you’re probably doing something wrong. You can’t just slap some sunscreen on yourself and start running. You should put it on 30 minutes before your run so your skin has time to absorb it and the sunscreen has time to activate. Doing this will protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays from the second you step outside. I’ve also discovered choosing a sports sunscreen that sprays on will eliminate that thick and sticky sunscreen/sweat mixture. Problem solved!

4. “I want to protect my skin more but I always forget to put sunscreen on before my run”

This one in particular is my weakness. I often get ready and start running without even using my brain. To combat forgetting my sunscreen I leave it somewhere I know I’ll see it. Leaving it next to my toothbrush or next to my watch usually does the trick. Leave it in your purse, in front of the door or even in one of your running shoes! Get creative and do whatever it takes to be sure you’re protecting your skin.

5. “Wearing sunscreen makes my skin breakout”

This is my favorite excuse that I’ve been using since the beginning of time. I would avoid putting sunscreen on my face when possible because my skin would break out. But the truth is that there are too many sunscreens out there now made specifically for acne-prone skin for this excuse to hold truth anymore.

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So… now that I’ve debunked all of the reasons why you and I have been passing on the sunscreen, will you join me in being more diligent about protecting our skin on our runs?

See you on Twitter and Instagram!

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Why My 6th Half Marathon Was the Best and Worst Run of My Life

Alright.

It’s been two weeks, I think it’s time to talk about it.

Back in April I wrote a blog post telling you guys I was training for my sixth half marathon and that Caitlyn (my running buddy) and I set our first time goal. Our fastest time for finishing a half marathon was two hours and 20 minutes, and this time around we wanted to finish in two hours and 15 minutes.

May 21st rolled around and we found ourselves at the starting line and eventually crossing the finish line BUT…it was the worst run I’ve ever been on, but the lesson I learned from it is why it was also the best race of my life.

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Here’s a rare photo of me smiling out on the course, clearly it was before I thought I was going to die.

We didn’t finish in two hours and 15 minutes, but we did finish in two hours and 18 minutes which means we still broke a personal record, just not the one that we wanted. On the bright side, our splits were pretty impressive compared to our other races. Our first two miles were under 10 minutes and for the rest of the race we remained pretty consistent, staying between 10:06 and 10:30. So that’s not exactly why it was a flop. 

Let me start off by saying, I didn’t train properly for this race and man my body was not very forgiving out there on the course! I’m typically really strict with myself when it comes to a training schedule but this time around I had more on my plate than I could balance. Between my wisdom teeth removal, finishing the last month of my college career, graduation and the attention required for car shopping and moving to another state…well let’s just say my runs were very far apart and not very long at all. In fact, the farthest I ran in my training was 7 miles, which isn’t very close to running 13.1 miles.

During the first two miles, all I could think about was how long this race was going to be. I knew I would finish, but I also knew I wasn’t going to finish feeling strong. I ended up being right, but that mindset didn’t provide any kind of help for me.

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By mile five my ankles and feet were starting to hurt, which for me is a really bad sign considering that pain doesn’t kick in until usually mile 10. As soon as I noticed the pain I thought “Well aren’t we in quite the pickle?” And I’m allergic to pickles, so it didn’t end well.

Nonetheless I kept running as fast as my body would let me and while it was tough, I didn’t get a taste of just how impossible finishing seemed until mile 10.

It was a downhill slope and I crashed to the bottom.

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I think Caitlyn was happy enough for the both of us when I started crashing!

Usually Caitlyn hits a wall at mile 10 and I cheer her on for the remaining 3.1 miles to the finish line, but the roles reversed this time. She had the big smile on her face and I had the scowl.

My entire body hurt and with every step I took I felt the urge to vomit growing stronger. I was angry and incredibly disappointed with myself for not following through with my training plan. For the last three miles I was telling myself I could do this on one step, and that I couldn’t with the next.

I’d like to say crossing the finish line put a smile on my face, but it didn’t. It only made me more annoyed because I realized I didn’t break the PR I wanted and I knew it was my own fault.

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Can you tell I was dying and Caitlyn was fine?

What made this even more difficult to swallow was everyone waiting for us at the finish line. Usually the only person waiting for me is my dad, but, two of my friends and my boyfriend were there this time as well.

There’s something more unsettling about failing in front of other people as opposed to failing when no one’s watching. I’m embarrassed to say it, but this gave me even more of an attitude and made me feel annoyed that they were there.

I just want to make this point so we all understand how unreasonable I was being. These are people that have never made me feel that I needed to impress them. They have always accepted me at exactly where I was. Did any of them care that we finished in 2 hours and 18 minutes? Obviously not. They were just excited to be there supporting us and thought we were total badasses.

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Look at my friends not caring that I didn’t run as fast as I said I was going to!running a half marathon, never-mind six of them!

I was a little snippy with everyone for a while. This is awful, but I didn’t even thank them for coming until 20 minutes after crossing the finish line. After we ate I perked up the tiniest bit and was tolerable to be around again.

Sorry for being a jerk, friends. I love you for showing up on race day and every other day.

I’m still so embarrassed about my time that I’ve put off writing this. But I learned a huge lesson from this last race.

Not every run is going to be a success. They won’t all leave me feeling new again and ready to take on the world. Expecting every run to be better than the last is just setting myself up for failure at some point. Instead, you should expect to always show up and work your absolute hardest and give it your all. Life happens and it can get in the way of training.

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Check out that sweet medal!

Running is hard sometimes, and so is life. What I experienced during this race was incredibly human. I did the best I could at that point and I still finished with a PR.

It’s necessary to be disappointed in ourselves sometimes. You learn an incredibly important lesson from it and it’ll make you work even harder the next time around. So don’t be afraid to fail, okay?

Get out there and give it your all. No matter if you fail or succeed, you’ll grow either way. That’s what life’s about. Don’t forget that.

Well that’s all I’ve got for you today! Stay connected with me on Twitter and Instagram so you can watch me win and fail, sometimes with grace and sometimes without it.

Talk to you guys soon!

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