Weekly Fitness Recap

So this week was week 2 of my Chicago Marathon training plan. As I have blogged before I got into the marathon through charity so I skipped the lottery. However this week the lottery was officially announced so I was very happy to see so many people find out they will be running their first or next 26.2 miles this October!

Outside of my workouts from this week I also began tracking my nutrition. I am using the MyFitnessPal App to track everything I eat. I wrote this last week, but I would like to lose about 20-30 pounds before I run the marathon. I am confident I can run at my current weight, but I have always wanted to lose at least 15 pounds so I figured my first marathon was the best time to make this a reality.

That being said here was my week:

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Your Excuses Are Your Problem

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The 119th running of the Boston Marathon was this week. The great thing about this marathon is that it brings out a lot of positive and feel good stories. There are plenty to be found in this years running, but it’s probably the person who finished the race last that has the best story of all.

Maickel Melamed completed the 26.2-mile course in about 20 hours, crossing the finish line around 5 a.m. You probably have seen the story by now. What makes his story so amazing is that Melamed was born with muscular dystrophy yet still conquered every last of the 26.2 miles. I’m no doctor so I can’t sit here and tell you what it is like to live with this, but after watching the video I would be in awe if he finished a local 5K race let alone the Boston Marathon.

What makes his story so amazing is what it says to everyone else in the world. Not just in the running community, but in any area of life. Excuses on why something cannot be done are exactly that, excuses. Whether it’s finishing the Boston Marathon or getting yourself out of debt, Melamed’s story applies to any situation someone faces. If you have an obstacle in front of you there is no magic potion needed to get around it. You have to make a plan and attack it head on, regardless of difficulties.

Too many times people will be quick to tell you why something can’t be done. It’s pretty simple why they think this way, it’s a lot easier to say “no” or “can’t” than it is to actually get it done. Think about it, accomplishing a goal takes time and dedication. Whereas saying “well it just can’t be done” takes no effort at all. I ran my first 5K in June 2013 and will run my first Marathon in October 2015. It would have been easy at anytime during that journey to just give up. I mean who has 2 years to dedicate towards one single goal? But I haven’t given up because it’s important to me. My story in no way compares to what Melamed did, nor would I ever suggest it.

If you want something, whatever it may be, you have to make a plan and go after it. If you do not, you probably never really wanted it bad enough and need to accept that as the real reason, and not because “you just can’t”

“Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” ~Dale Carnegie

More details on Melamed’ story here.

Help Me Increase My Charity Lead!

Currently I am leading the Run For Autism Chicago Marathon fundraising efforts (as seen below) by over $500. The entrance for donations has just started so I do not expect this lead to stay around for much longer.

If you can, help me increase that lead by donating here. Of course by doing this you will be helping out the Organization for Autism Research as they continue their efforts in Scholarship Programs, Research Grants and so much more that they do for the Autism community.

Your donations are greatly appreciated.

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Running: Just as Much Mental as it is Physical

Today I was having a conversation with my girlfriend about her wanting to run. She has run many times before. As she puts it she likes to do 5K’s and that is all. It’s not a major part of her life like it is mine, but she does it. She was saying how she wants to run a 5K in April (about 2 months from now) so she should start running now.

The convo reminded me of when I was training for my first 5K. I remembered how nervous I was and how I was afraid of the distance. Fast forward a year and a half later and I laugh at that thought. I feel confident that if someone forced me to run a 5K after waking me up in the middle of the night I would have no problem with it.

What this convo made me feel the most was how much of your mental state plays a factor in running. Sure I have changed physically since I have first started running, but it hasn’t been a crazy transformation like the ones you see in one of those before and after photo’s. So for me I don’t think it is easier now to run a 5K because of my physical shape. I have never really been out of shape. Sure I could easily afford to lose weight, but at the same time for most my life I keep myself physically active. Whether it is backyard sports or casually going to the gym even when I first started running I could at least be considered “active” (whatever that may mean).

So if the physical part hasn’t been a major change, something must be causing that mindset. And it is clear it is the mental aspect. Like I said, when I first trained for a 5K I was nervous about it. Nervous I wouldn’t be able to finish or it would be too tough on me. Fast forward a year and a half and I have completed 3 Half Marathons, a triathlon, spartan race, duathlon, 15K, 10 mile runs, etc. etc. So by now a 5K just doesn’t present that big of a hurdle to me. I am not saying they are easy, but the way I look at it is different.

That would probably be my biggest advice to someone just starting out in running; don’t let the space between your ears stop you from achieving your goals. I recently wrote about how easy it would be for someone with no experience to train for a 10 mile run in 2 months. Someone wrote me backlash on how I was a fool for suggesting that and how difficult it would be. Sure it will be difficult, but that doesn’t mean impossible. I am living proof. I went from couch to Half Marathon in 2 months myself, and I never let my brain tell me I couldn’t. And in two months I completed my first Half Marathon. Because every day I went out there and just trained as hard as I could.

So for those of you thinking you need to be a specific body type to complete specific running goals, you are mistaken. Sure physicality has something to do with it. But just as important (if not more) you have to believe you can.

This Years Back To Back Training Plans

In 2014 I ran a few different race types that I had to have multiple training plans for. One for a triathlon, one for a half marathon and one for a Spartan Race. I don’t know if a doctor would support this but I essentially took 3 different training plans and Frankensteined them to make one plan. I essentially had one long training plan that lasted from February to October.

A little background on me, if I do not have a training plan I feel lost. If there isn’t something on my fridge telling me what today’s goal is I am like a lost child in a candy store. I am actually going through it currently. I don’t have a run to train for right now and I feel like I am a ship lost at sea just floating around aimlessly. I do have a 5 mile race next month so I am still in the gym and running, but it feels sporadic at best.

As I have blogged before 2015’s goal is a Full Marathon. I entered the NYC Marathon lottery so wont know for another month if I am in. But I do know whatever one I run it won’t be until late fall (Oct./Nov). And I picked out a 25 week training plan so training wouldn’t start until around May. So here I am a bag floating in the wind until May. I just don’t think I can do it. Am I becoming the type of person obsessed with running? I don’t think that is it. I think I am just afraid of getting out of my routine and not being ready to start the training plan. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it is how my mind works.

So that brings me to how I am once again Frankensteining a few training plans in 2015. In April of this year I am running the Hot Chocolate 15K and one month later will be running the Broad Street 10 Mile Run. I am confident I can keep this “bag in the wind” mentality without a plan and complete those races but I have decided not to do that.

So I have gone back to the well and dusted off my 8 Week Half Marathon training plan. Only this time I have expanded it to 13 weeks. I essentially took the last 5 weeks of the plan and tacked it on to expand it to 13 weeks. So here are my plans for 2015. Starting on February 2nd I will begin a plan that takes me to the 15K and 10 Mile runs in April and May. And after the 10 Mile Run I will begin my Full Marathon Training plan. So I am looking at being on a training plan from February 2nd to November 1st.

I need structure, what can I say?

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Training Plan #1. Starts Feb. 2nd

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Training Plan #2. Starts May 11th

2014: My First Full Running Year in Review

2014 was my first full calendar year as a runner. On November 23rd I participated in the Philadelphia Half Marathon which officially marks my last official run of the year. I have a scheduled 5K in December with the Philadelphia City Running Tour group, but as far as official races go, 2014 is in the books.

As the title states 2014 is my first full calendar year of running. Before I look back at the year, below are the races I ran:

  • Merrell Down & Dirty 5K Mud Run
  • US Road Running Virtual 5K
  • Hot Chocolate 15K
  • Philly 10K
  • Herb Kahl 5K
  • Spartan Race
  • Philly Rock N Roll 5K
  • Broad Street Run 10 Miler
  • Yuengling Oktoberfest 5K
  • Delaware Valley Duathlon
  • Run For Orphans 5K
  • Philly Rock Triathlon
  • St Rose 5K
  • Oddyssey Half Marathon
  • Autism Cares 10K
  • Philadelphia Half Marathon

So for those scoring at home, that would be .5 Miles of Swimming, 27.2 Miles of Biking and 93.1 Miles of Running throughout the year. Not taking into account all the training miles as well.

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A look at some of the major runs from the year

Outside of all those runs there were some other great highlights from the year as well:

Overall 2014 was an amazing year. I came into the year with a very rough blueprint of what I wanted to get accomplished. I knew I wanted to keep up my one official run per month, complete at least 2 more Half Marathon’s and the big goal for the year was a Triathlon. Outside of that I didn’t know what to expect. As the year went by I just started looking into races and throwing more on my schedule. I knew I wanted to prep myself for the tri so I found a Duathlon (5K Run, 12 Mile Bike, 5K Run). And I am so happy I did. That race was so much fun and really prepped me for how hard a Triathlon would be. I will never forget (in both the duathlon and triathlon) how impossible I thought it would be to run a 5K after having just done as much as I did. I also will never forget the feeling of joy when I crossed the finish line either.

Outside of the physical aspect of running, 2014 was also polar opposite for me as far as how running and my personal life were intertwined. I have discussed this before but in 2013 I was in a relationship with someone who made running more difficult than it had to be. For the majority of the time she was someone who would put me down for my running or tell me how I couldn’t accomplish my goals making it more difficult for me. I cannot completely be mad at her for it, because it built a fire in me to work harder just to prove her wrong. So I may not have worked as hard as I did when I first started out without that constant doubt she threw at me. In 2014 I started dating someone who couldn’t be more supportive if she tried. She is always encouraging me to work hard and do my best. She is constantly telling me how proud she is of all my accomplishments, even if I do not have the best race. And outside of her verbal encouragement she is showing up to these races with me no questions asked. It is one thing if I have to show up to a run at 5 am in the freezing cold. It is another for her to come with me and wait around for me. I don’t know what I can do to show her how thankful I am for having her in my life and being so selfless. In 2013 I was in a very dark place after being verbally (and unfortunately sometimes physically) beaten down by a woman I thought cared about me. I remember many times wondering if things would ever get better for me. In 2014 a greater power clearly understood my struggle and put someone in my life that has done nothing but make me feel like there is nothing I can’t accomplish. And I am very thankful for that.

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This woman has no clue how appreciative I am for her in my life. And how thankful I am for the sacrifices she makes for me.

2014 wasn’t just rainbows and smiles. There was that time I had to back out of a race as well. However this was not due to any physical limitations or injuries. So while I was upset about the first time backing out of a run, I also understood why and didn’t dwell on it so much. I pride myself on setting a goal and seeing it through to completion so it was a tough decision.

So there is my 2014 Running Year in Review. I took the next huge step in my running story by competing in a number of different style of races that tested me beyond my wildest dreams. This blog was started by someone who never ran in his life and decided to just pick it up at 28 years old. A year and a half later and here I am. No magic potion or formula. Just picking out a race, getting a training plan and making sure I complete a goal. When those start to add up you get someone who isn’t afraid of testing himself on what is to come.

And with that being said 2015 will be here shortly. My eyes are already set on 2015’s goal: a full marathon. This will not be taken lightly as I know there are extreme dangers that come with this goal. But it is something that I will set out to accomplish. As usual 2015 will be full of finding as many cool races as I think I can complete. But the majority of the year will be spent chasing those 26.2 miles. The goal will be for a race towards the end of the year, which specific race is yet to be determined. But I know by the end of next year this Average Joe will be a Full Marathon runner!

2014: The Year of the Bling!

2014: The Year of the Bling!

Half Marathon #3 Weekend Is Here!

In 2 days I will be completing my 3rd Half Marathon. The Philadelphia Half Marathon. And I could not be more excited. Being able to hang up my 3rd Half Marathon medal after only starting to run in July 2013 is an exciting thought.

However this will be my first winter half marathon. And what I learned is training for a half in the winter is hard. Not the running part. Luckily if it gets too cold both my work and my apartment complex have gyms on site so it isn’t difficult to get a run in. For me it’s hard to find the motivation to run. By the time I leave for work it’s bitter cold and pitch black out. To say seasonal depression has kicked in would be an understatement.

So training has dipped off a bit. I have really only run a handful of times in the past few weeks. And with any luck I will get a run in today to remind my body what running feels like. As a result doubt has crept into my mind. Will I be able to do as well as I know I can? Am I ready? Can I even do it?

Luckily I have faith in myself. By no means am I a half expert, but I have been to the dance before. I know what 13.1 miles feels like. I know that by mile 3 I will be doubting if I can even run any further. I know at mile 7 I will start to get so hungry I could eat a full Thanksgiving turkey. I know at mile 10 I will be convincing myself “only a 5K more!” And I know by mile 13 I will sprint my hardest .1 mile I know I can. So from that standpoint I have been through the motions before and know what I am capable of.

I also had a 10K run a few weekends ago and walked away from that experience feeling very positive. My time was good, I handled the cold weather well and the course was very hilly and I didn’t let that stop me.

So naturally I am just going through the nerves anyone experiences when they know they are on the doorsteps of something very important to them. And as long as I am confident in myself, don’t get too high, don’t get too low I know I will complete my goal.

#3 is on its way!

2105 Running Goals

As I have previously blogged about, ever since starting to run in 2013 I have aimed for specific goals. Outside of the races I run through the year, I like to aim for a large goal that will really test me out. In 2013 it was my first Half Marathon. In 2014 the goal was my first Triathlon and 2nd Half Marathon (snuck in #3 as well).

Now for 2015.

Immediately the plan for 2015 is to run a Full Marathon. I know this is a physically and mentally tough goal, but I also know I will have 10+ months to prepare. Along with this goal I have decided on a few more as well. Nothing crazy, but some things that I know will test me (as well as be fun). I don’t want to put too many official races on the list, because I would rather focus on training for one larger race rather than jumping around from different race types.

So that being said below are my Running Goals for 2015. I always figure, if you write them down, you are that much closer to sticking with them.

  1. Volunteer at a race: The ultimate goal here would be to begin a race or trail a race with my motorcycle. I always think that looks like so much fun, and I love being on my bike. But I would take handing out water after someone just ran 13.1 miles
  2. Run 100 Miles In a Month: I run using Nike+. I have run 50 miles and won the Gold Trophy. But recently I saw they have a platinum trophy for 100 miles in a month. I’m coming for you platinum!
  3. Run a Full Marathon: Ideally it will be New York or Chicago. If I am going to do this I want to make it exciting. Plus I don’t know how many more Marathon’s I will run after I complete the goal.

So there is my 2015. A lot of running, but just 3 simple goals. 2013 was eye opening and 2014 tested what my body was capable of, so I am excited to see what 2015 has in store for me!

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Marathon Training Plan Picked Out

I have posted previously that my goal for 2015 is to run a full marathon. And hopefully that will be the Chicago Bank of America Marathon.

As a result I have selected a 25 week (6.25 months) plan by the Salt Lake Running company. I researched a good amount and I wanted one that would spread out most the year since Chicago is October of next year.

It looks like a good plan for a beginner. A lot of the plans only went up to 20 miles and really only hit it once. From what I have learned in training for a triathlon and half marathons, you really only need to train to 75% of the total miles. The other 25% will work itself out on race day. So while I wasn’t concerned about just running up to 20 miles, I did want to hit that mark a few times. I wanted to make sure I would be comfortable getting to 20 multiple times before having to get to 26.2. Lets face it, if you can run 20 miles you can run 26.2.

So I like this plan because it gets to that 20-22 mile mark a couple of times and that will settle my nerves more than anything else. Running has always been a mental thing for me more than physical.

Now of course this is all contingent on getting into Chicago as it is lottery based. So fingers crossed. If not I will still plan for another one at that time. I have NY and Las Vegas as back up’s. Although I know NY is a long shot where as Las Vegas I can sign up for with no issue.

So here I am, on my way to a full marathon. Just your every day normal guy who chooses to put one foot in front of the other.

The Official Plan

I’m a Spartan!

Official photo from the Spartan Race. Also, a big shout out to the Spartan Race and the way they handle their photo’s. They don’t email you 45 times with your “last chance” to buy a photo for $30. They put them up on their site and you can look up multiple photo’s by your bib number.

Other races, take notes. (Looking at you Broad Street and Rock N Roll Half)

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