Posts Tagged With: taekwondo

Weekly Workouts and 4th of July Racing!

Hi all! Sorry I was such a bad blogger last week, the days just sort of escaped me! But since we’re starting a new week (and a new month), I figure I’m due for a fresh start, anyway, right?

Photo credit: Christine "Hopper" Nelson

Photo credit: Christine “Hopper” Nelson

I already got a little bit of a head start on this week’s holiday celebrations; my hometown holds their fireworks the weekend prior to the 4th of July!

So, here’s what last week’s workouts looked like.

Monday (24th): Rest

Tuesday: 6 miles and Taekwondo class

Wednesday: 3 miles and Thai Kickboxing class

Thursday: 2 miles (this was supposed to be a rest day, but, I just got the urge!)

Friday: 8 miles and Taekwondo class

Saturday: Thai Kickboxing class

Sunday: Thai Kickboxing class

Total weekly mileage: 19 miles

I was excited to get in my longer run this week, and surprisingly, I felt better than I thought I would. I’m still not loving long runs in the summer, but since my strategy for the Dumbo Double Dare is purely to finish and, oh yeah, HAVE THE TIME OF MY LIFE, I’m taking them nice and easy. I think my body is finally adapting to the heat and humidity in general, because running didn’t feel quite as torturous this week, so that’s also a bit of good news!

Firecracker 4-miler, 2011

Firecracker 4-Miler, 2011

Since my piano teaching schedule lightens up A LOT in the summer, I’m able to get to my karate studio a bit more often for classes. So I’m finding myself sometimes working out twice a day…which I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing for now, but I know I’ll have to chill out a bit as Dumbo gets closer. Taekwondo is really an ideal cross-training activity for me because it forces me to stretch (good lord, how something can hurt SO bad and feel SO good at the same time, I’ll never know), but Thai can be really quite brutal on the body…and the last thing I need is an injury right now!

This week, I’m gearing up for the annual race hosted right in town where I live (and the park where I always run!): the Cranford Jaycees Firecracker 4-miler. This will be my third year running. The first year was my absolute first race ever (I skipped the 5K distance and went straight to 4 miles for some unknown reason), and the second year was my wake-up call.

4miler2012

Firecracker 4-Miler, 2012

I finished the race in almost the exact same time both years (and at over 40 minutes!), and last year, I had to ask myself whether or not I was going to commit to running and actually improving…otherwise, why waste the money on race fees? Just days later, I took a leap of faith and signed up for the Princess Half Marathon, and the rest is history!

So, needless to say, I’m hoping to crush my two previous times this year. I shaved 5 whole minutes off my time at the last 4-miler I participated in, but that race took place almost a year ago, so I’m anxious to see what I can do this July 4th! I know one thing for certain — I’ll definitely be more festively-dressed this year! (Hint: my race-day attire will definitely feature something sparkly…)!

I never, ever could have predicted that a holiday that used to be celebrated by stuffing my face with cheeseburgers and boozing in someone’s backyard would someday become all about waking up early to run a race! Who knew?!

Who else is racing this 4th of July? 🙂

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Weekly Workouts and My Gold Belt!

IMG_7827Hi all! How was everyone’s weekend? This Friday, I was FINALLY promoted to gold belt in Taekwondo — super exciting!

It typically takes me way longer to graduate to the next belt level than it should because my piano teaching schedule makes it hard for me to make more than one class per week. It can be a little bit frustrating to feel so behind…especially since all of the “grown-ups” I joined with are now at the green belt level, and I often have to take classes with kids!

However, I really do enjoy martial arts. Don’t get me wrong — it’s no running or anything! — but there’s something about the whole “mind-body connection” aspect of Taekwondo that really appeals to me, and the lessons in discipline really have trickled down into other areas of my life.

Meanwhile, Thai Kickboxing has helped me discover both my inner and outer strength, and taught me how to defend myself…which as a newly-single woman I think is always very important. Not that my recent dates have given me any reason to bust out my sick moves…yet!

There’s nothing that eliminates my stress like punching and kicking and elbowing and kneeing a wavemaster until there’s a puddle of sweat at my feet and my heart is pounding out of my chest, or working one-on-one with a partner to see how these techniques might just work in a real confrontation. I have to say, hearing classmates and instructors call me “the tough one” always makes me feel really good. I may have never been the “pretty” girl or the “popular” girl, but, today, I absolutely revel in being considered the “strong” girl.

IMG_7749Monday (17th): 6 milesIMG_7772

Tuesday: 3 miles

Wednesday: 4 miles

Thursday: Off

Friday: Taekwondo class and graduation

Saturday: 4 miles and Thai Kickboxing class

Sunday: 3 miles and Thai Kickboxing class

Total weekly mileage: 20 miles

I’m planning on getting in a long run today or tomorrow (most likely tomorrow, because I am SORE), since I once again missed out over the weekend! I figured I’d focus on ramping up my volume this week to compensate for being a little behind in my Dumbo training plan.

I’ve noticed that trying to juggle my addiction to both martial arts and running tends to pose a few issues when I need to be getting in those longer runs during half marathon training. I can only make Thai Kickboxing classes on the weekend, typically, which is when I really need to be focused on pounding the pavement.IMG_7829 And, let’s face it, neither activity is particularly gentle on the body, so when I don’t wake up feeling sore and stiff, I almost feel like I must be doing something wrong!

Trying to squeeze all of the martial arts classes I can into each week along with whatever runs are scheduled on my training plan really isn’t easy, but I’m trying to make it work!

Anyone else have a favorite fitness activity besides running? How do you juggle them both?

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Getting Back to Business

731267-1049-0041sFirst, I want to apologize for being MIA for the past few days, and thank you all for your kind words and support with regards to the news I shared in my previous post. I really do appreciate all of your well wishes and words of encouragement, and they really have helped me a great deal in making this transition. I’m so incredibly grateful to be part of this community. So, thank you!

IMG_6948

I’d be lying if I said that my running has been a bit off schedule, at best. After taking on the Superhero Half Marathon last month as my third half over the course of six weeks, I decided I deserved a bit of a break. I was EXHAUSTED, and each race seemed to become a whole lot harder than the last. I’ve been keeping up maintenance runs — 3 miles here, 4 miles there — but my training plan has sort of fallen by the wayside.

However, my crazy half marathon streak did earn me acceptance as a Half Marathon Fanatic! Meet Half Fanatic #4358!734267_3145089682661_410711098_n(1)

Now I’m getting back to business, and have jumped right back on the training bandwagon to get my butt in shape for Dumbo Double Dare! I’m pretty much going to follow the same beginner plan as I did for the Princess Half Marathon (since we all know I don’t participate in runDisney races to set PRs), but I’m incorporating some back-to-back longer runs on Fridays and/or weekends to help gear up for running the 10k followed by a half.

As for cross training, I’m continuing with martial arts (Thai Kickboxing and Taekwondo) and cycling. I’m supposed to test for my gold belt (FINALLY) in Taekwondo this month!

Meanwhile, the thought of my impulsive decision to sign up for the Dopey Challenge is still looming over me. As thrilled as I am by the prospect of taking on my first full marathon — and, let’s be honest, scooping up so much runDisney bling in one weekend! — as the weeks pass, the thought of ramping up my training FOR REAL becomes more and more terrifying.

Deep down, I know this is something I can do. I know this is something I WANT to do. All I can do now is make a plan, get psyched, and hope my body cooperates when I begin my official training!

I also have to admit that I’m definitely toying with the idea of registering for the new Glass Slipper Challenge. Held on Princess Half Marathon weekend, the new challenge means I’d get to run the new Disney Enchanted 10K and the Princess Half Marathon (i.e. same idea as Dumbo Double Dare) in the same weekend. And, since the Princess Half was my fiHalfFanaticrst half marathon ever, I thought it would be pretty cool to make my triumphant return one year later to celebrate an anniversary, of sorts. It’s especially significant to me seeing as how I was CONVINCED that I’d never be able to finish my first 13.1!

But, of course, I realize it’s slightly INSANE to head to Disney World for for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November, the Dopey Challenge in January, and the Glass Slipper Challenge in February. Or…is it? 😀

What’s everyone training for? For all of you Dumbo runners (that sounds rude, but, you know what I mean!), how are you training?

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Running Makes You Stronger. Period.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend! The weather kind of sucked here in NJ (except for Monday), but I did get to spend some time in Atlantic City and catch a Third Eye Blind concert…I’ve been obsessed with them since middle school, and pretty much stalk them every time they come around!

It probably sounds kind of strange, but despite the fact that I’m a blogger and basically broadcast my life all over the Internet on a weekly basis, in “real life,” I’m actually a pretty private person. I tend to keep to myself, and have a hard time sharing my feelings with others…and that includes my family and closest friends. But I am a writer…so stick me in front of a computer, and it all just comes pouring out.

Still, writing this particular post is going to be a little difficult for me, and yet, I feel as though I can’t continue posting with my own special brand of candor and honesty here without at least mentioning that I’m going through a really tough time right now.

I promise, this will not be a “woe is me” kind of post. Instead, it’s something I need to share because it’s a major life change…and my personal weight loss and running journey factor directly into how I’m dealing with it all.

2001

2001

My boyfriend and I have broken up. Out of respect for his privacy, I won’t go into all the sordid details, but suffice it to say that the outcome of our almost 12-year relationship (we were high school sweethearts) has been looking pretty grim for quite some time. We’ve been struggling with various issues for years, and this was honestly the only course of action that was left, unfortunately…I think ending things might even do us both a lot of good.

Since we lived together, it’s hard to say we’re “broken up” when I can sit in my apartment and still see a lot of his clothing and movies and books still lying around, or his posters hanging on the wall or countless framed photos capturing all of our happiest moments, from high school proms to college graduations to vacations and trips (including, of course, our various jaunts to Disney World).

2007

2007

It’s also hard for me because I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the loss of a person who has been in my life for over a decade. He has been there for me through it all…he was my shoulder to cry on when I lost my beloved grandparents, my support system when I began losing weight (for the final time) on Weight Watchers, my cheerleader when I saw my very first published byline in a magazine and crossed the finish line of my first race, the best friend I could always turn to for a laugh or to vent or to hang out and do absolutely nothing.

Needless to say, I am heartbroken. Anger, disappointment, shock, hurt, devastation, disbelief, sadness, rage…you name it, I feel it. I don’t want to be melodramatic, but obviously, this is the man I pictured myself marrying and building a home with and having kids with and growing old together. I desperately wanted all of those things…and I’d thought he was “the one” since I was 16 years old. But right now, let’s just say I have amassed ample evidence to suggest that he simply does not feel the same way about me. And maybe he never truly did. I don’t really know.

2013

2013

There’s nothing I can do about any of this except to learn how to cope. For the first time in my life, I have to learn how to be on my own. And I can’t help but think that there was a time in my life when all of this would have utterly crushed me. I used to hate the sight of my morbidly obese body, and had managed to convince myself that I was worthless. That I had nothing to offer the world. That I was destined to be miserable forever.

There was a time in my life when something would upset me — the bullies at school, a fight with a friend, a bad grade, you name it — and my first (and only) response would be to grab a handful of Oreos or dive headfirst into a bag of Doritos. Eating was how I coped with life’s disappointments, and it was the only thing that could soothe me.

Today, however, I know that no matter what happens — even something as devastating as the end of a relationship in which I’ve invested nearly half of my life —  I will survive. I know that I will be okay. And I’m convinced that running has a lot to do with that.

Losing 90 pounds (and, more importantly, keeping it off) has empowered me to believe that you can change your life, and that your health and happiness are worth fighting for.

My love of Thai Kickboxing and Taekwondo have taught me that, at heart, I amthaifront truly a fighter, and that I am disciplined and motivated enough to achieve anything I want in life.

But when it comes to running…that’s what forced me to realize that I am so much stronger than I ever thought possible.

Any runner knows that our sport can be just as much mental as it is physical, and training my body and my mind to endure 5Ks, then 10Ks, then half marathons — when I used to be someone who would avoid stairs at all costs, and found all of my personal pleasure from raiding the refrigerator — has proven in no uncertain terms that I am STRONG. I transformed myself from an overweight high schooler who physically couldn’t complete the mile in gym class to an adult who runs 13.1 miles like it’s no big thing. I slowly but surely changed absolutely everything about my life, and taught myself how to live as a healthy, active person.

And that’s how I know I can handle anything life throws my way. When life knocks me down, I know I have the courage and tenacity inside of me to get right back up again. I am not a quitter, and I don’t let anyone else dictate my sense of self-worth.

I do believe running has changed the person I am, both inside and out. After the years of torment I endured as an obese child and teenager to the countless failed dieting attempts to hitting rock bottom as a 265-pound 22-year-old, I feel as DSCF3043though running has given me and my entire journey a purpose.

I believe I was meant to discover running as my way of finally making peace with my body, and as a way to love and celebrate the person I am. I feel so incredibly grateful to have found something that fulfills me and gives me a sense of well-being — no matter what happens in my life, I know that I can always reach for my running shoes.

So, in conclusion…I’m going through a tough time right now. And it has hurt me. But I will not let this crush me.

After all…I’m in training. Three months until the Dumbo Double Dare!

Has running ever helped you through a tough time?

In what ways has it changed your life?

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Taking it Easy After an Injury

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter weekend, if you celebrate!DSCF3166

I spent the better part of my weekend in Atlantic City with my sister on an impromptu girls’ weekend, eating and drinking WAY too much…which I then continued when I made about six million not-so-healthy choices on Easter. Needless to say…I’m not exactly feeling like myself today.

However, that could have a lot to do with the fact that I have been battling my latest injury since the middle of last week. And I have to say…I’m getting a little frustrated. And nervous.

I have a ton of lofty goals lined up for the spring, including a few half marathons and some local 5ks and 10ks as I gear up for the Dumbo Double Dare this summer, and I don’t take too kindly to any hindrance in my training plan.

I had been noticing a little bit of discomfort in my foot during my Taekwondo class earlier last week, especially in my big toe joint, but I chose to ignore it. Then I hobbled home in mile 3 after a planned 6-miler on Thursday, tore off my sneaker, and discovered that IDSCF3198 couldn’t bend my big toe upward without pain.

Of course, I Googled this phenomenon — the worst thing you can do when faced with any sort of health dilemma, IMHO — and I scared myself shitless thinking that I’d need special orthotics and 4-6 weeks of rest at best, and surgery and no more running forever at worst.

I can’t even explain the kind of panic that ensues when you read on-line accounts of runners who started with just a dull ache in their knee or foot or shin and then it escalates into a serious injury that has them hanging up their running sneakers for good. I don’t think I have to even say that I would be utterly and completely devastated if I ever lost the ability to run…I can’t even think about it.

So, long story short…no more Googling for me.

Instead, I decided to fight the urge to “power through it,” which is pretty much my motto for every curveball life throws my way, and follow the advice I have heard time and time again when it comes to running-related aches and pains and injuries. I did NOT pack my running sneakers for my weekend down the shore, or head out for a MUCH NEEDED pre-dinner run on Easter. When I wasn’t hobbling around doing everything in my power not to bend my big toe for fear of straining the joint, or laying around icing it for hours on end, I’ve been obsessing over my compulsive need to GO FOR A RUN RIGHT NOW and scolding myself for being “lazy.”

Fortunately, it’s feeling a little bit better today, and I took that (of course) to mean that I should try running. But first, I decided to finally give in and try KT Tape, since I’ve read about it on a million different blogs and have sort of been wanting to test it out anyway (not that I would ever wish for an injury to use it on, but you know what I mean).

2013-04-01 13.59.07I taped up my foot (although I later realized I didn’t exactly use the tape optimally after checking out how-tos on their website) and went out for an easy 3-miler today, and can tell you that KT Tape truly is MAGIC tape…it stabilized the joint that has been bothering me, and I didn’t feel any discomfort in my big toe or foot at all for the entire run.

I know I’m going to have to take it easy for a bit longer — and I will absolutely see a doctor if my foot doesn’t feel completely back to normal in the next day or two — but it felt great to get out there and run today…especially since temperatures are near 60 today, and it feels like spring may finally be here!

Do you have a hard time forcing yourself to rest due to an injury?

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Small Successes = Big Results

First, I need to just announce that exactly one month from today, I will be arriving at the Walt Disney World resort for the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend [insert sheer panic here].

tkd

Finally an orange belt!

This weekend I completed what might be, to many people, pretty small successes. On Friday I finally graduated to orange belt in Taekwondo. Because I can’t attend as many classes as I would like each week due to my work schedule (I moonlight as a private piano teacher, so I’m usually tied up until 7pm or 8pm each night), it takes me a bit longer to earn the necessary stripes to be considered for my next belt level — and it seems like I’ve been at white forever!

Although it was slightly awkward that all of my “grown-up” friends who are enrolled in the program graduated ahead of me, and I therefore was the ONLY adult participating in Friday night’s ceremony, to me earning a new belt in either of my martial arts programs is still very much a symbol of setting a goal and following through — a concept that was completely foreign to me just a few years ago.

At the end of the day, it’s basically just a colorful cotton belt and a silly little graduation ceremony, but for me it’s a reminder of what can happen when you summon the courage to try something new. While Muay Thai is physically taxing — I pretty much always end up in a puddle of my own sweat — Taekwondo’s precise, rigid movements and complicated forms requires a mental focus and physical flexibility that I really didn’t think I was ever capable of achieving. It’s hard work, but I’m doing it!

Speaking of hard work, I also managed to complete my longest long run yet this weekend: 11 miles. It was my first time breaking 10 miles on a long run, and I have to say that I completely agree with whomever first said that running is more mental than physical.

When my legs are starting to feel like lead and I just want to be DONE ALREADY, I really have to dig deep to find the motivation to finish. My mind seems to just completely take over, and I then can somehow manage to ignore an achy knee, blistering toe, grumbling tummy, or, let’s be honest, just plain old boredom.

2013-01-18 15.05.13

11 miles down!

While heading out for a quick 3-, 4-, or even 5-mile run is starting to feel pretty routine to me, those runs that are over 6 miles long are still mentally and physically exhausting. I was thrilled when I ran my first double-digit run, but to be honest it has been at least 2 weeks since my last long run…first there was the holiday craziness (read: I was too busy buying out the malls during the post-Christmas sales) and then I was too focused on my Muay Thai kickboxing test to carve out two hours for a long run.

I decided that since I try to take kickboxing on both Saturday and Sunday mornings (it’s hard for me to make the weeknight classes), that I’d move my long runs to Friday afternoons. And, since my first half marathon is but four short weeks away (!), I decided it was time to attempt breaking 10 miles…even though most training plans go up to 10, I felt that finishing 11 miles would somehow put me in the “half marathon zone.” I really just want to prove to myself that I CAN do this.

Here’s how my long runs typically work:

Miles 1-2: Warming up, finding my pace (I try to slow down to a 10-11/minute mile)

Miles 3-4: Feeling good, pumped up for the run

Miles 5-6: Starting to get a little tired, looking forward to whatever treat I have stashed in my fuel belt (side note: I’m still experimenting with fuel options because gels seem to make me nauseated, so I’m very much looking for suggestions!)

Miles 7-8: Questioning my sanity, wondering why the hell I committed myself to this

Miles 9-10: Exhausted, doubting that I’ll ever be able to make it to 13.1

Miles 11+: Glad it’s over, so incredibly PROUD that I finished

As I’ve gotten more serious about martial arts and my half-marathon training, I’m seeing more and more just how important these “small successes” really are.

Now that I’m slowly (and I do mean slowly) starting to get over my reluctance to set goals — I was always afraid I would just end up a “failure” — even the tiniest accomplishments are enough to make me over-the-moon excited. And, surprisingly enough, I’m even starting to allow myself to feel proud of my efforts instead of constantly tearing myself down.

Memorizing Taekwondo forms can be hard, and increasing your mileage in preparation for a half-marathon can seem insane, but somehow something as small as breaking a wooden board or slipping a finisher’s medal around your neck makes it all worth it!

What are some of your long run tips?

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Pushing Your Limits…But Not Too Far

First, the good news: I ran another 10K last weekend at Giralda Farms in Madison, NJ, and while I didn’t technically beat my time from my first 10K in September, it was still 6.2 miles. And I ran it. All of it. Even the hills!

Now the bad news: my half-marathon training (running 4-5 times per week) combined with my twice-weekly Taekwondo class and the Muay Thai kickboxing classes that I take three times a week have finally caught up with me. I did something to my lower back, and it has now become excruciatingly painful to bend over or do any of those other basic movements that we all perform in a day and never think about — like grabbing the milk from the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, or, you know, sitting in a chair.

I’ve always prided myself on never doing anything halfway. My Type A personality combined with OCD tendencies have always compelled me to either let something completely consume my life until I achieve what I consider perfection, or I just don’t bother doing it at all.

And with running, there’s an added incentive for me to go overboard…I really, really want to cross the finish line of my first half marathon…the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I want it quite possibly more than I’ve ever wanted anything. For a formerly obese person like me, achieving a feat of physical fitness like running 13.1 miles is the epitome of doing the impossible…and I need to do this to prove to myself once and for all that the old me is gone forever.

The bottom line is that being active has become part of my identity. It’s who I am now. Just as I once defined myself as “the fat girl,” these days I am actually coming to to terms with the fact that I am a runner. I won’t be shattering world records any time soon, but nevertheless, I am a bonafide runner who looks forward to a Saturday morning 5K the way I once used to get all hot and bothered over a Friday night date with a bag of Doritos.

But the problem is that I love martial arts, too. Maybe a little too much. Next month, I test for a Bo Black belt in Muay Thai, and I just started my Taekwondo training — which has proven both physically and mentally challenging (who knew it would be so hard to balance on one foot or remember a form?) and has therefore once again awakened the perfectionist, competitive beast inside of me. I know I’ll never be the fastest runner, but I think that with the right training, I could quite possibly be an above-average martial artist.

And that’s why there are days I squeeze in a 3- or 4-mile run before a 45-minute Muay Thai workout that’s immediately followed by a one-hour Taekwondo class. I have been fortunate enough to find not one, but three fitness activities that I love and that have helped me to both maintain my weight loss and sculpt the fittest body I have ever had in my 27 years of existence. I got bored with my elliptical workouts and pretty much every other workout I’ve ever tried (Zumba, step aerobics, Spinning, yoga…you name it), and yet when I’m running a race or roundhouse kicking a Wavemaster or trying in vain to perfect the art of the chop block, I never, ever find myself watching the clock or battling the urge to quit due to boredom.

And my incessant need to keep pushing my limits to get better and better has clearly caused me an injury that, unlike my usual soreness or the occasional pulled muscle, doesn’t just disappear after 2-3 days. I’ve been ignoring my lower back pain for longer than I care to admit, hoping that it would just magically fix myself…but now that the pain is the worst it has ever been, even I have to admit that I may need to scale it back a bit. And, you know, actually see a doctor (I finally gave in and made an appointment with a chiropractor).

So as we head into a time of year that’s all about gratitude, I feel compelled to say that I am genuinely thankful for my body and my health and for everything that it has helped me accomplish in the last five years since I began my weight loss journey.

And while I will not stop training for my half marathon or squeezing in a martial arts class whenever I can, I will work on listening to my body and learning how to recognize when I’m pushing myself too hard. I will also do what I have to do to recover from whatever is going on with my back — even if it means, heaven forbid, taking an extra rest day or two!

Have you ever dealt with a sports-related injury?

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