The aftermath of achieving a goal

Back in January I decided that I needed to set myself some goals because I strongly believe that if you don’t have a goal then you aren’t going anywhere. I never want to be complacent in life. Happy with the now, for sure! But settling for the same routine day in and day out just doesn’t work for me.

Recently I achieved my fitness goal of running a 5k race. It was an incredibly exciting experience and I am still so proud of myself for all the hard work I put in. I was concerned that after I was successful I would become lazy so I preemptively signed up for another 5k in early June. Smart thinking, Alex!

Except for lazy Alex has way more influence than smart thinker Alex. Even though I know I’ve got this other race coming up I haven’t been working out nearly as much as I was before the first 5k. Why? Why have I become a lazy butt?

I have a theory. 

I have become lazy, despite my upcoming race, because I’ve already done it once. It is no longer an impossible thing that I must overcome. It is now something that I’ve done so it should be no problem to do it again. Right? WRONG. I know this. I am aware that being in shape is something you must continue to work at. There is no stopping once you achieve your goal weight because as soon as you stop your goal weight slips away from you again. Constant vigilance! I think that’s why people struggle with exercise and fitness. It is a never ending activity.

So I am taking this moment to set a new fitness goal. Hopefully by writing it down for all of the internet to see I will be able to get my butt back in gear. I ran my first 5k in 33 minutes. So my goal for the next 5k is to run it in 30 minutes!

As they say, time is money!

http://fuelrunning.com/running/motivational-running-quotes-to-help-you-push-through
http://fuelrunning.com/running/motivational-running-quotes-to-help-you-push-through
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Thoughts I had while running my first ever 5k

“Wow, there are a lot of people here…”

“Holy shit I was not expecting this many people!”

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“Is that a 10 year old? Wait, Is that a 5 year old? Why are there so many children here?”

“Go? Oh go! Alright! Lets do this!

“…I guess when there are this many people all packed together it’s slow at the start”

“Oh look, there’s Lucas! Should I wave? Smile? Wink? Alight awkward nervous smile it is.”

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“Man I am so lucky, he is the best! It is 8 am and he is here cheering me on. I love Lucas. I should remember to tell him that later.”

“alright, now we are moving! Focus Alex! Lets start with a light jog. Start steady, finish strong.”

“Did another child just ran past me? Why are these children so fit?” Am I going to be beaten by a 10 year old? Probably. Gawd that’s pathetic.”

“Shut up, brain! The kids don’t matter. This is about you. Focus. Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. One. Two. One. Two.”

“Hey look! 2k down! Only 3 to go! Easy peasy!

“Me and this girl in white have been beside each other for a while now. She has a good pace. I’m gonna stick with her. She doesn’t know it but she is my running buddy.”

“3k and girl in white is picking up the pace. You are right running buddy, we can totally push ourselves a little harder now.”

“Do I see water in the distance?! Omgsh I do! An excuse to slow down, thank goodness!”

“ew. This is Gatorade.”

“Oh no! The girl in white is way ahead now! I guess taking a moment to walk now would be okay. So long girl in white…”

“Actually, NO! I am fine! My breathing is okay. My muscles are okay. But I’m fine! In fact I am great! There is only 1k left! I’m coming for ya girl in white!”

“Sup girl”

“omg! I can see the finish line! Omg omg omg! I am so close! I ran the whole time! and now I am almost at the finish! This is amazing!”

“20 steps and I am over the finish line! Finish strong Alex! You can do this!”

IMG_6388“Oh my goodness! I really did it! I just ran 5k!”

“Hi Lucas! Oh my gosh he is so adorable! Look at me, I did it!”

“Oh there is the girl in white! I must thank her for motivating me to keep running the whole time!”

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“So nice to meet you, Shilpa! It’s your first run too?! Well you were amazing! Wait, I motivated you?! You motivated me! Let’s take a picture!”

“Free bananas? Why yes, I would love a banana!”

“Ahhhhh! I am so proud of myself!”

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“33 minutes?! My time was only 33 minutes! That is so much better than I had expected!

“A medal?! I get a medal?! I’ve never had a medal before! Check me out!”

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“That was awesome! I can’t wait for the next one! Go me!”

Stories About Exercise; A Life Update

Last week I accompanied my mum to my first ever Zumba class. I’m sure most of you have heard of Zumba. Essentially, it is a Latin dance inspired workout. It is primarily a cardio workout but less intense than say running.

Recently my mum has decided that she wants to incorporate more fitness into her life. When she first started going to the gym she only went to Body Pump classes (weight lifting repetitions with low weight). While these classes made her muscles shake see didn’t see much improvement in her overall body shape. I told her that she needs to mix it up and add some cardio to her routine. I strongly believe that the only way to workout is to do a little bit of everything. So now she is making an effort to go to all sorts of different classes.

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She invited me to Zumba for a unique mother/daughter bonding experience. It was fun! The whole class had a carefree, energetic atmosphere. I especially loved the Latin music. However, I found myself getting frustrated with myself when I couldn’t pick up the combinations fast enough. It has been a number of years since I’ve danced but I still expect myself to be able to pick up choreography quickly.  Sadly, that isn’t necessarily the case. But all in all I enjoyed spending time getting fit with my mama.

I don't have a photo of us from Zumba but here is a picture of us from August 2010.
I don’t have a photo of us from Zumba but here is a picture of us from August 2010.

In addition to Zumba I have been focused on my outdoor running. On Sunday afternoon and on Monday night my friend Mel and I ran 3.5km outside together. I am really happy with the pace that we moved at. I had to slow down a few times but on average I think we kept a pretty constant speed. I didn’t measure this though so I really cannot be sure…

Either way I am loving the feeling of the sun on my face and the wind in my hair while I run. I should get an app to track my speed and distance but at the moment I am just focused on being comfortable outside as a runner. Having a running buddy has helped immensely! Mel is a better runner than I am so she can basically chat to me about things while we run and when we slow our pace I can answer back. This keeps me distracted when I start to feel tired. I also hate to feel like I’m taking away from her workout by going slow so I push myself harder so that she can get the most of the workout too.

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We both have super busy schedules but hopefully we can find the time to continue running together often. Even though I haven’t even done my first 5k race (its on Sunday, only 5 more sleeps!) I have already signed up for a second 5k race that is taking place in June! Obviously I’ve got some confidence in myself. My plan for the second one is to beat my time of the first one (which is yet to be determined).

Wish me luck!

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

I have seriously been neglecting the blog recently. Life has been exceptionally hectic over the past two weeks. I have had virtually no free time and in the free time I have had I’ve been watching The Mindy Project. Following the antics of Mindy’s made for tv life has become a full fledged obsession. mindyIn addition to binge watching the most hilarious woman on netflix, I have been running. A lot. In preparation for my race which is in 13 days! I have been working, a lot. We are launching into our spring run of shows here at the Opera. So the amount of parties and events that are happening is overwhelming. I have been reading, a lot. At this pace I’ll be finished my 50 book goal in no time! And lastly, I have been cooking! Not a lot, but more than normal!

So many excuses, so little time. Lets break it down for a moment.

Running

giphyThis weekend I ran outside for the first time since I started training for my 5k. I was incredibly nervous. When using a treadmill I think it can be hard to tell if you have made progress or not. I knew I had improved but as the running intervals got longer I found it more and more challenging to keep going. I figured that I had reached my limit. WRONG. I had reached my indoor limit. My outdoor limit is a whole other thing!

So on Saturday I grabbed my friend Melanie and we hit the pavement. Having Mel there really helped because she motivated me to keep going. Yesterday, I ran outside again, on my own this time. I ran a short route that I used to do last summer. Back then I was out of shape and untrained. I couldn’t run the whole thing without stopping to catch my breath at least once. Yesterday I did the whole thing without stopping and at a decently quick pace! Thee cheers for progress!

Work

Very briefly, my job in lamest terms is fundraising. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that a huge part of fundraising is donor appreciation. Here at the opera we appreciate our donors with exclusive events. Behind-the-scenes type stuff. I actually really enjoy working these events because it gives me the chance to get to know our donors and learn more about the works we are presenting on the stage. In addition to working all the swanky parties I also work some of the shows at the welcome desk. Basically I’m just there to trouble shoot questions and engage with the donors. Between the parties and the shows I’ve had a lot of late nights. But I don’t mind too much because I really like this aspect of my job and it’s only for a short period of time.

Reading

One of my many goals for 2015 was to read 50 books this year. It is nearing the end of downloadApril and I just finished book number 11! I am thrilled with my progress and I have really enjoyed expanding my literary horizons. In addition to reading 50 books I have been making an effort to pick books that are outside of my comfort zone. The book I read most recently was a memoir by a Canadian woman named Amanda Lindhout, the book was called A House in the Sky. True story, while working as a freelance journalist in Somalia Amanda and her partner were kidnapped and held for ransom for over a year. Her experience was a traumatic nightmare but *spoiler alert* she lived to tell the tale. This book was truly amazing. Terrifying and inspirational all at the same time. I encourage everyone to read this fantastic book.

If anyone has a good book recommendation I would greatly appreciate it! Share in the comments!

Cooking

Lucas’s mum just celebrated her birthday and I needed a way to say both happy birthday and thank you for accepting me into your family. But what do you buy for someone who has everything already (especially if your on a budget). Answer: you don’t. Instead you make dinner. So I made a pretty decent vegetarian meal featuring sweet potato, carrots, green beans, rice, soy beans and chic peas. I’ll be posting the recipes next week so stay tuned.

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And this week it is just me and Lucas so I made dinner last night. I forgot to take pictures but I made tomato stuffed chicken breast, sweet potato mash and an arugula salad. This meal also turned out to be pretty darn delicious! It feels good to receive praise for my cooking since I’m really not confident in that department. I’ve also made a few batches of cookie recently. mmmm cookies.


So there you have it! That is why I have been neglecting my internet wonder. But I will do my very best not to be so distant in the future.

What activities have been occupying your time recently? Share in the comments!

Running Update: It’s all in your head

The last two weeks have been… not great. To be honest. I could give you a long list of reasons excuses but in reality I’ve just been to lazy to put in the extra time and effort. Yes, my schedule is busy but 30 minutes is only 2% of my day and everyone has enough time for that.

Some of my excuses are more legit than others. I mean, it was my birthday and I deserved giphy (1)a day off but the 6 days prior that I also took off… wellllll like as I said, lazy! Yesterday I forced myself to get up and be active. I’ve only got 3 weeks until my 5k run and I want to be prepared!

I was really nervous when I got to the gym yesterday. I was worried that my “time off” would have knocked back my progress. I thought about doing a couch-to-5k workout that I had already completed to ease myself back into it. But then I thought, no. Just do it. Move to the next level and if you fail, you fail.

The structure was 5 minute warm up walk, 8 minute run, 5 minute brisk walk, 8 minute run, cool down.

The first 8 minute run was way WAY easier than I expected! Remember, due to Canada still being damn freezing I am running inside on a treadmill. Because I was worried about the longer interval times I decided to run at a slower pace. Usually I run at 6.6 or 6.7 but yesterday I ran at 6.4 and I think this made a big difference.

The second 8 minute run was obviously more challenging. I still did better than I had anticipated though. But at the 3 minutes remaining mark I suddenly felt like quitting. Out of nowhere my leg muscles tensed up and my breathing became ragged. I seriously considered slowing to a walk and then I said to myself “no! What the hell are you doing? Thinking about giving up? Not a chance. You can do this!” I actually said you can do this out loud.

And guess what… I did it.

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Of course my body was tired but I am a strong able bodied person, the difference between success and failure had nothing to do with my strength, it was all about my determination. It was all in my head. As soon as my brain decided that I was tired it was almost impossible to keep going. But as soon as I changed my thoughts I had more than enough energy to keep going.

Knowing this and practicing this will make a huge difference on run day. Now I just need to practice my happy thoughts. It’s like Peter Pan says, think happy thoughts and you will fly!

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Run Boy Run

Those of you who keep up with my little blog probably know that I am gearing up to run my very first 5k at the beginning of May. This is a very big deal for me because running (or any type of athleticism for that matter) is not something I am “good” at. One of my new years resolutions was to change that by challenging myself, so I signed up for a 5k. Since late January, (when I signed up) I have been making an effort to train. People who run on the regular might think it sounds silly to need to train for a small 5k, but I am the definition of a beginner and train, I must. Also I want to make sure that I can enjoy my race experience and not feel like death by the end.

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Getting Sweaty on the Treadmill

So I’ve been training with an iPhone app called Couch to 5k. It is exactly like it sounds it, going from nothing to something. The format is this: 3 runs a week for 10 weeks. For the most part the runs are timed intervals, alternating between running and walking. Each week the running time gets longer and the walking time gets shorter.

I am so pleased to share that so far my training is going super well. Obviously some days are better than others but I am managing to increase my speed and distance while following the timed intervals as indicated.

As someone who suffers from asthma, keeping control of my breathing is one of the most challenging parts of running for me. I must constantly focus on in through the nose and out through the mouth if I want to be able to keep going. I have found that music with a heavy beat helps me stay focused on a regular breathing pattern.

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This week the first run looked like this [5 min warm up walk, 5 min run/jog, 3 min walk, 5 min run/jog, 3 min walk, 5 min run/jog, cool down]. The first two runs/jogs went well but the last 5 minutes was exceptionally difficult. Surprisingly the difficulty was in my leg muscles. I think I have finally reached a place in my training where I have figured out how to breathe and manage my asthma (which has been my biggest problem in the past) and so my leg muscles are finally being pushed and challenged for the first time. I am thrilled that my body is finally starting to benefit from the training! Usually my lungs quit long before my legs feel remotely fatigued, so reaching this point is a huge accomplishment! Way to go lungs!

That being said, I still have a long way to go. Due to Canada’s never-ending winter, it is too cold for my asthmatic lungs to do vigorous breathing outside. Therefore I am stuck inside on the treadmill. Obviously the treadmill training is working/helping/making a difference but it isn’t comparable to running on pavement. Treadmill running has forced momentum. By this I mean that whether you like it or not that track is going to spin and you just need to keep up. Whereas outside the momentum is all you. I expect that when I start running outside my muscles will become fatigued faster and that I will run at a slower pace on average. That is okay with me, the main goal is just to finish the race, but I if I can do a decent job at the same time that would be nice. I am hoping that spring will spring into Toronto soon. I’d like to get at least two weeks of outdoor running under my belt before the race day.

Anyway, that is my progress update. Check back in a few weeks to see my progress & to see the result of the 5k event! Maybe I’ll get one of those cool running action shots!

Have you ever run a 5k? Got any good advice about training for a run? Share in the comments!

PS. The title of this post was inspired by this great song of the same title by Woodkid. The video is rather dark but it has a great beat. Check it out!

You Can’t Stop the Beats

A few weeks ago I was in a health rut. In addition to actually being sick, I had no desire to work out or to eat well. That caught up with me faster than I imagined and I was not feeling so hot. So I chucked the junk, put my running shoes on and started fresh. I’ve come to realize that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to health and fitness. More often than not I talk myself out of the last mile or the last set. “I’ve come this far… and that’s good enough” is what I tell myself. Therefore I’ve never reached my true potential, I’ve never pushed myself to my limit and I’ve never seen real results. That is about to change.

So, how do I plan on making this change?

Step one is simply acknowledging that my will power is lacking and now that I am conscious of that fact I will fight back when the voice inside my head says “that’s good enough”.

Step two is guidance. If I could afford a personal trainer I would get one but I don’t have that kind of dough. So I downloaded an app called Couch to 5k. Seeing as I am running a 5k in the spring I figured it would be a good idea if I got myself a virtual training program to help me reach my goal.  The program is designed for beginner runners, like myself. Using walk/jog intervals it gets you in shape to run a 5k over the course of 10 weeks. I’m on week 2 and so far so good!

Step three is music! My iPod is bursting with chill, indie folk music and easy going pop. It’s fun, it’s carefree, it’s beautiful, it’s relaxing. It’s so not good for working out. At other time of the day you wouldn’t catch me listening to electronic dance music but I’m pretty sure those top forty remixes were made for runners. They keep a constant beat, they are fast and they are usually pretty long. Essentially, they are the perfect accompaniment to the sound of my feet hitting the belt of the treadmill.

So I’m in the process of creating the ultimate 5k playlist. Starting with Zedd’s latest single I Want You To Know which features Selena Gomez. Confession time: I love Selena Gomez. I thought she was the coolest when she was playing Alex on Wizards of Waverly Place and my opinion of her hasn’t changed since. The song which was released on Monday February 23rd is the perfect candidate for my running playlist. The lyrics are fun and the beats are fast. This song is going to keep me going kilometer after kilometer. Take a listen!

What song is on our running playlist? Share in the comments!

Exciting Announcement!

I am so thrilled to share some super exciting news! Today, I signed up to run in my first ever 5K race! This is big news because I’ve never done anything like this before and also because it is one of my new years resolutions. run2Now that I have put down some money and registered, I know that I will be more motivated to train. I am not the type of person who does things half-assed. If I am going to put my time, money and energy into anything, I am going to do it right! I’m not saying I’ll be the fastest or the best but I am going to set some personal goals and I am determined to meet them.

The race I am participating in is the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon – 5run4K Run. This is a massive event which will take place on Sunday, May 3rd, 2015. There is a marathon, a half-marathon, a 5K run and a 5K walk. I think it will be quite nice. Early May means it wont be too hot and the route is right along the Toronto waterfront.

I think my biggest challenge will be moving from indoor running to outdoor running. Usually when I run (which is less often than I’d like to admit) I run inside on a treadmill at the gym. Can you blame me? Canadian winters are quite brutal. No joke, its negative 17 with the windchill right now. Also, I have mild asthma so heavy breathing in extreme temperatures is not doctor recommended. So generally I stay indoors. The challenge is that running on a treadmill and running on pavement is very different because the treadmill helps to propel your weight forward, whereas your all on your own in outdoor running. My plan is to do lots of interval and long distance training on the treadmill and when the temperatures improve in the early spring I’ll hit the great outdoors.

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Some of my friends may join me and participate in the race as well and Lucas has promised to come cheer me on. I am so excited for this upcoming journey! Stay tuned for updates on my training!

Have you ever participated in a 5K? What did your training program look like?