On Loss: Thinking Out Loud

Bear with me today if you will. I’m still struggling with dealing with the death of my friend and colleague a few days ago. And since Thursday’s are for Thinking Out Loud, today seemed a good time to get some of my conflicting feelings out. So, if reading about death and loss isn’t what you’re looking for in blog reading today, please feel free to move on. I completely understand.

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I feel a little guilty making a big deal of MY feelings. After all, my friend’s husband and family are going through hell right now. What right do I have to make this about me? Well, I’m not, really, I’m just sad and grieving, and Becky’s death just hit close to home. An active and fit, 60 year old cross country coach. Sound familiar? Alive one day, then suddenly gone.

Becky QuoteI posted this quote the other day, and Coco replied on Twitter that she disagreed, that the world was brighter because of that light. That’s quite true. Some people bring so much to this world that they do light it up, and of course that light remains after they gone. In Becky’s case, that light is the children whose lives she influenced. But I still think that the world seems darker when the special people leave us.

Grief is somewhat selfish. The process includes anger, feeling of betrayal, loss, guilt, and so many other emotions that seem to make it all about the person grieving. “You left ME!!!” It is about the people left behind, of course, and all of those feelings are normal, necessary steps in coming to terms with the death of someone close.

I have lost too many people way too early. My father, my mother, and perhaps hardest of all because she was so young, my little sister. There is no rhyme or reason to it.

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The age 60 scares the hell out of me. That was Becky’s age. That was my dad’s age when he died too. My mom made it to 65, but still. I have three years until I hit the big 6-0. I’m not in a hurry.

Susan 007

My sister Sue was only 43 when she died from cancer. Forty-fucking-three. I still think about her every day and I have tears in my eyes as I write this, even though it was almost 12 years ago. Does the pain ever go away, or does the edge just get smoothed a bit so the loss is not quite overwhelming anymore?

One of the points in writing this, besides allowing me to wallow in self pity work through my emotions, is to remind you (and myself), to take advantage of every moment that you have. Live fully, love deeply, laugh out loud, dance like no one is watching. Experience all that you can. And be sure to let your loved ones know how much you love them. Because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

love deeply

I linking up with Amanda today for Thinking Out Loud.

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Running Wednesday: My Favorite Tempo Workout

A couple weeks ago I shared my favorite pure speed workout. Intervals are great for increasing VO2 Max, improving form, and working on specific speed related issues, like your finishing kick and leg turnover. Today, we’re talking about lactate threshold runs. They are also called tempo runs.

Tempo Workout

Your lactate threshold is the point at which your body cannot keep up with processing the lactic acid it produces during hard exercise and responds by needing to slow down. This type of workout usually involves slightly longer intervals than the VO2 Max workouts, run at a slightly slower pace, your lactate threshold pace. This is a little slower than your 10k pace, or about 85-90% of your effort level. You’ll find a more detailed description in this post.

Steady Pace Tempo Workout

My favorite workout of this type is a Steady Pace Tempo run. After warming up by running moderately for about a mile, pick it up to your Lactate Threshold pace. Sustain it for two-six miles. Finish with a moderate to slow mile.

Tempo Workout 2

Why I love it: I sounds kind of boring, doesn’t it? No fancy pick ups, run this at one pace that at another. Which is exactly why this is my favorite tempo run. To me it simulates race conditions. You don’t stop (hopefully) in a race, you try to keep a fairly steady pace throughout the distance of the run.

Tempo Run Variations

Depending on the distance for which you are training, you may want to change up the tempo run a little bit. For example, if you are training for a marathon, complete this workout at about your half marathon pace and effort, and sustain it for five to eight miles. Likewise, if you’re training for a half marathon, run at your 15k pace, for three to six miles.

Another variation for marathon or half marathon training is a race pace run. In this type of run, you will run the middle portion of a longer run at your goal race pace. For a marathon, this could be the middle 12-15 miles of a 20 miler. For the half, run six to eight miles at race pace in your 10-12 mile run. This will really help with pacing during your race.

Tempo runs can help you run faster, and help you sustain that speed for a longer period of time. Which is what we want when we’re racing, right?

I’m linking up with Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday!

Wild Workout Wednesday

Disclaimer: Although I am a certified Coach and Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Coach or Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

Do you do tempo runs? Do you have a favorite workout?

A Plant Based Memorial Day and Remembering a Friend

I’m afraid I don’t have a new recipe to share today, but check below for a few links to last minute grill-worthy dishes. Sadly I was sidetracked by the death of a friend and co-worker that has shocked and saddened me. It seems appropriate on this Memorial Day, dedicated to remembrance of those lost in the service of our country, to take a few moments to remember a woman who was dedicated to teaching and coaching the youth of our country. Convoluted sentence, but that’s pretty much how my brain is working today.

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I first heard the news about Becky Baker, the cross country and track and field coach at Indio High School for 23 years, early last week. Technically she was our competition, but that never mattered to Becky. What was important to her was the kids. All of them, her team, our team, her non-running students. I was told that she’d had a stroke last Saturday (later determined to be a brain aneurysm). I was shocked. Becky was close to my age, fit, active, and always full of energy! I could hardly believe it.

She ran a Facebook page for the high school cross country and track team, so I headed over there to see what was happening. Sure enough, the page was filled with her current and former athletes and students sending their prayers and wishes for a quick recovery. Sadly, they weren’t enough. She passed away early Saturday morning.

Becky

After Alan told me, I headed back to Facebook. It was almost overwhelmingly sad and touching to see the comments. Hundred of students, not just posting a quick note, but eloquently describing the difference that Coach Baker had made in their lives. Many past students stated that they would never have graduated without her help. Many of her team said that they considered themselves runners because of her dedication and belief in them. So many pictures and memories that brought me to tears because of their heartfelt sincerity.

Becky Quote

I will always remember Becky, in red, white, and blue, the school colors, running around the cross country course, always with a camera in hand, coaching her girls, taking pictures, and cheering on all of the runners. She was the one who kept our league organized, kept up with rule changes, and got the coaches together each year so that we could be on the same page with our league business. She was the one I’d call if I had a question about anything related to cross country.

They are holding a Celebration of Life at the high school gym next week. I have a feeling it will be standing room only. Becky was only 60 years old. She will be missed.

Memorial Day

If you’re planning a barbecue or picnic for the holiday, here are a few last minute ideas.

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Tempeh Burgers

BBQ Kidney Bean and Quinoa Burgers

Southwest Salad with Black Beans, Avocado, and Quinoa

Potato Salad

I’m linking up with Tina and Deborah for Meatless Monday. Let’s make it a plant based and cruelty free Memorial Day! Stop by and check out their posts!

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Have a wonderful Memorial Day. Comments are closed today. Get out and enjoy the holiday.

10 Benefits of Fascial Stretch Therapy

Stretching has become a much debated topic in recent times. For years it was touted as the key to restoring flexibility, improving athletic performance, and reducing injuries. Then stretching, particularly passive stretching, fell out of popularity in favor of more dynamic moves that were designed to prepare the body for sport. Passive stretching is reserved for after the workout, and even then its value is controversial.

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What is Fascial Stretch Therapy?

Enter Fascial Stretch Therapy (or FST), a type of stretching that targets not only the muscles, but the fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds muscles, bones, and joints. FST also targets the entire joint and joint capsule, using traction to remove restrictions from movement and to stimulate lubrication. A therapist will gently pull and move the arms, legs, spine, and neck in a smooth motion through varying planes of movement. There is no pain, not even discomfort. Instead, the gentle movement is stimulating and relaxing at the same time.

The problem with many standard stretching programs is, well, they are standard. An athlete will finish her workout, run through her “usual” stretches, maybe paying extra attention to tight hips, sometimes pushing through some pain to get that final stretch. Sadly, this type of stretching is not effective and may even be causing more tightness and inflexibility. When you cause pain with stretching, your muscles respond to protect themselves, tightening up in a rebound type effect.

By contrast, a Fascial Stretch Therapist will evaluate their client, looking for imbalances, as well as the source of those imbalances. Then using breath to help with movement, the therapist will first warm up the joints and muscles with undulating stretching to maximize blood flow. Then using techniques of slow undulating movement, as well as traction (gently pulling to create space in the joint) and modified PNF ( proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation), synchronized with the breath, the therapist will stretch the entire body, following a logical anatomical order, to lengthen muscle, increase range of motion, and improve flexibility.

10 Benefits of Fascial Stretch Therapy

  1. Increase Range of Motion
  2. Muscular Balance and Symmetry
  3. Improved Performance
  4. Reduced Pain
  5. Reduced Risk of Injury
  6. Improved Posture
  7. Improved Muscle Function
  8. Improved Circulation
  9. Decrease Compression and Impingement in the Joints.
  10. Improved Energy

The effects are cumulative. It took a while to develop the imbalances and stiffness in your body. It will take a while to reap the benefits of FST. But, that being said, you can feel immediate benefits, even after your first session.

Remember, I am not (yet) a certified Fascial Stretch Therapist. I will be studying and preparing for the class that I’m taking in August. My information comes from my experience as a client, as well as from the Stretch to Win website, and the book, Stretch to Win, which is written by Ann Frederick and Christopher Frederick, the developers of Fascial Stretch Therapy.

The above, by the way, is an affiliate link. I will make a few cents if you purchase that book through Amazon. Other than that I have received no compensation for this post. I have experienced FST first hand and I’m a believer in the benefits.

Linking up with Jill for Fitness Friday!

  
Have you heard of fascial stretch therapy? Have I piqued your interest? You can find a list of certified FST therapists on the website.

What’s Next? Running, Career, Personal Plans

As we approach summer my time opens up a lot. Our busy season will soon be over giving me a lot of time to plan, train, and generally think about what’s next in my life. And because it’s Thursday, I’m joining Amanda and thinking out loud about my plans for my running, career, and personal life.

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What’s Next: Running

It’s been three weeks since the marathon I did not run, so I think it’s time to give some thought to what event I’d like to do next.

At this point the only race I have on my schedule is the Honolulu Marathon in December. I’m really excited about going back to Hawaii for the first time in over 12 years. Honolulu was my very first marathon, and now, 19 years later, it will be my 37th.

Gump

December is a long way away (though I’m sure it will be here before I know it because time flies), so I want to do at least a few other races in the next six months. I know that having a plan and a goal will help inspire me to get out there and train. Here are a few thoughts about what’s next on my racing agenda.

America’s Finest City Half Marathon– August 16. The AFC Half was one of my first half marathons and I’ve probably done it seven or eight times. It’s been a while though, so it would be fun to go back. It’s a beautiful point to point course that’s mostly downhill. That is, until you get to downtown San Diego and mile 12 is a long uphill stretch to the finish.

Ragnar Trail Vail Lake – October 2-3. Several of my friends did this event last year and had a great time. I loved my Ragnar road relay and the trail version sounds pretty fun.

Malibu Half Marathon – November 15. Alan announces this race every year but I’ve never run it. They recently changed the course to an out and back, which will make it logistically easier. I used to have to try to hurry and pass the runners in the car to get Alan to the finish line ahead of them. Sounds easy until you realize that the race was held on the two lane Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, known for its beauty and its traffic (and lack of detours).

I haven’t signed up for any of these races yet, but they are definitely on my radar. I have hesitated to pull the trigger because lately I have had commitment issues with racing. From the SLO Marathon, to the Palm Springs Half Marathon, and even the Women Running Wild 5k, I’ve had excuses reasons not to run.

Excuses

 What’s Next: Career

I consider personal training and coaching to be my “real” career. It’s my first love and I intend to keep on helping people get healthier as long as I can. Even my second career, my blog and my writing, is based on my love of health and fitness. I have a few career expanding things planned over the next few months. The summer is our slow time here in the desert, so I’m going to use the time to earn some CEUs, get some motivation, and add a couple new tools to my toolbox.

Money

Bloggy Boot Camp – This is put on by the SITS Girls and I was happy when they announced it would be in Temecula on May 30, just about an hour and a half from home. It’s a one day event and will be covering a multitude of bloggy topics including:

  • Building your Audience by Finding Your Voice
  • Work/Life “Balance”- Working Smarter, Not Harder
  • SEO {AKA: How to Make Google Love You.}
  • Working with Brands, Sponsored Opportunities and the Business of Blogging
  • Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Facebok
  • And More…

So you can see while they call it “boot camp!” I’ll be carpooling with a few local bloggers, which will be fun, plus I’ll get to see Melissa again and FINALLY meet Lisa! Anybody else going?

20140814 IDEA AnaheimCopyright 2014 Len  Spoden Photography.

Blogfest – This will be my second Blogfest and I can’t wait! Check here for the details but I’m mostly excited about meeting so many of the bloggers that I read everyday. Not only that but my registration includes the last two days of…

IDEA World – It’s like my fitness world and my blogging world colliding! Two days of the best blogging information followed by two days at the mother of all fitness conventions.

 

Exercise

Zumba! – Also included in my Blogfest registration is a Zumba instructor’s course. I’m taking it because I want to have the knowledge and experience, but I kind of doubt I’ll ever teach it. My hips just don’t move the way they’re supposed to.

Zumba

Fascial Stretch Therapy Certification – Of all my summer planned learning activities, this may be the one I’m most excited about because I know that FST is something that will change my fitness career for the better. Fascial Stretch Therapy is a different kind of assisted stretching that goes way beyond just stretching muscles. Stay tuned for more about the benefits in Friday’s post but in a nutshell, FST uses breath, multiple planes of motion, and traction to stretch the fascia as well as the muscle. It targets the entire joint and facilitates the body’s reflexes for optimal results. As a consequence it actually enhances performance, improves recovery, and reduces the risk of injury.

The FST course is a week-long hand-on course in Tempe, AZ at the end of August. I’m already starting to study, and one of the best things is that my boss, who is level three certified is “helping” me study by stretching me, talking me through it and explaining things as she goes. So, in addition to learning a new skill, my body, especially my back, is already feeling so much better. Actually, excited is an understatement.

Excited

Real Estate License – You may remember last year that Alan and I planned to get our real estate licenses, mostly as kind of a back up plan. That kind of got put aside but now we’ve decided to go for it again. I don’t foresee it becoming a full-time job. I love fitness too much, and now that I’m adding the FST I’ll be pretty busy with all of that. But, we have a friend who’s a broker, so we’d have the opportunity to work a little part time. It’s all good.

What’s Next: Personal

The number one excitement in my personal life right now is my new granddaughter due in early September. We love boys, don’t get me wrong, but after two sons, two stepsons, three grandsons, we’re ready for a little pink in the family. Emma Marie, due September 1.

We’re also planning some fixups around the house. New flooring, a little paint, some general repairs that need to be done. We’ve avoided making changes in the carpet for a while, knowing that as long as we have dogs we’ll have doggie messes. But, the time has come. We’re planning on wood or laminate floors in the front, office, and hall, plus new carpet in the bedrooms.

So, that’s a little bit (well, about 1,200 words worth!) of what’s going on in my life. What’s going on in yours? And do you know the pros/cons of laminate vs. wood floors? Have you ever heard of FST? Come to California after September 4 (FST graduation day) and I’ll be happy to practice on you! And who will I see at Blogfest or Bloggy Boot Camp?

Are You Confident Enough to #GoCommando?

 

GoCommando 5

Quick confession: I’ve been going commando for running, fitness, and yoga for years. And, since I work as a personal trainer, and wear spandex daily, I #GoCommando in my work clothes too. So there. Of course, I’m a longtime Cottonelle fan, so I’ve had clean confidence for a while.

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Of course, Cottonelle is not the only thing that gives me confidence. I work really hard to stay fit and strong. I start most days with a run, sometimes long, sometimes short, occasionally fast(ish), frequently slow. I work my muscles with some type of strength workout several days a week. Some days it’s yoga, others it Pilates. I also love weights, using the TRX, and once in a while an outdoor, body weight only workout.

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