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Exercise Journals Can Provided Motivation and Inspiration

SLide_25I keep an exercise journal, especially when I am training for a new adventure. Eleven weeks ago, just after my thirty-ninth birthday I jumped back into a vigorous training schedule for one of the biggest physical challenges I have taken on.

On August 30th after a summer hiatus to allow my knee some time to heal I reentered the training program that Olympic runner Jeff Galloway designed for folks talking on the runDisney Dopey Challenge. The Dopey Challenge is a four-day running event that takes place at Walt Disney World where you run a 5k (3.1 Miles) on Thursday, a 10k (6.2 Miles) o Friday, a half marathon (13.1 Miles) on Saturday and a full marathon (26.2 Miles) on Sunday for a grand total of 48.6 Miles over the four-day event.

Some people would say that you had to be Dopey to take on a challenge like this. I’ll reserve my opinion on that for the blog I write after I complete it and let you know what I think then.

Since I’d kept my cardio endurance levels up through the summer by spending time on an elliptical and riding a bike jumping back into that training program on at the end of August with a 9 Mile run was surprisingly easy for me. I made a few rookie running mistakes, like forgetting sunblock and not eating before I left. Silly things that an experienced runner and fitness instructor like myself should know better than to do. But when you get out of practice and out of your routine it’s easy to forget some of the little things.

Back to the point…my exercise journal from that first day

“9 Miles, 15k, First long run of the season. Knee OK. Lots of newbie mistakes though!”

My mileage has just kept going up from there. There have been a few entries where you could tell that I was struggling.

“Having a hard time not doing cardio on OFF days but sticking to the plan. Glad I have my classes to keep me distracted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays that I’m not doing runs.” 9/02

“Took the day of since my heels are still so hurting so bad. Figure today’s 45 min run isn’t worth jeopardizing this weekends 15 Mile run with soreness or additional blisters. Hopefully a good choice.” 10/01

“The stress of trying to figure out what I am going to do about the Dopey Challenge is really starting to get to me. I’m not sure that A) I can even afford to go to Disney World for as long as I need to do this event or B) That my body can handle it.” 10/05

About this time I saw a Podiatrist and started a routine that would help alleviate the pain I was experiencing in my ankles. I made the decision to stop trying to do all the exercises with my classes while training for this very challenging event. I decided that instead of trying to do everything and feeling like I wasn’t doing anything well, I’d start focusing on just trying to make sure that my training schedule became the most important part of my fitness routine.

JPBullCityI started making sure I designed classes for my students that didn’t require me to do all the exercises with them while still making sure that they got a challenging enough workout.

I also start taking my interval times down as my mileage started going up. I was so sore and had such a hard time recovering from the 9 Minutes / 1 Minutes that I started going back down to my old fall back of 4 Minutes / 1 Minute — then I started playing with 3 Minutes / 1 Minutes and finally 2 Minutes / 1 Minute.

I ran my 17 Mile run in Raleigh, NC at the Bull City Race Fest putting in 4 Miles before the start, running 3 Miles with my one of my best friends, Jeff Newell from Defying Obesity running 2 Minutes and walking 1 Minute and was amazed when I got to the finish line and didn’t feel like I was going to pass out! I even came home with some steam left in me!

I love being able to go back and look at my journal entries and see how much the changes affected by performance and my state of mind.

“My 45 minute runs on Tuesday and Thursday seem to be getting easier! Maybe because I’m not killing myself everyday and giving my body more time to rest and recover than I was.” 10/26

“Ran 10 Miles with Ronda instead of my 6 today. Happy Halloween to me! We were fast! Finished just before dark.” 10/31

Just a couple of weeks ago I completed my longest run to date of 20 Miles. My friend Ronda ran the first 13.1 Miles with me and once again I surprised myself. When I had finished the 20 Miles I found myself thinking “I could run another 6.2 Miles and do a Marathon, if there was a medal waiting for me.” Once again, I didn’t feel like I was going to die or that I had pushed my body farther than it could go.

Keeping an exercise journal helps me feel accomplished. It helps me stay on track, helps me keep up with my training schedule and helps me hold myself accountable for the training that I need to do in order to make sure that my body is capable of the task that I am challenging it to do.

But it also helps me look back and see what I am doing right and how the changes I make either positively or negatively impact my training.

My blog has worked the same way. There are a lot of days when I go back and read a blog post about what I was doing in the gym way back when and it makes me smile and feel so accomplished when I compare it to what I can do now.

No matter where you are in your weight loss journey I recommend keeping an exercise journal. Jot down what you’re doing and how it is making you feel and hold on to it. Sometimes just going back and reviewing it can help provide the incentive and motivation you need to get back on track or get that workout that you’re debating in for the day. DSSPostSig

 Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

Miles To Go – A Running Conundrum

I’ve been struggling with a big decision lately.

Six months ago I signed up for one of the biggest running challenges of my life. I decided to take on a running event that has me scheduled to run 49 miles over a four-day period.

It sounded amazing when I signed up for it. I was drawn to all the bling that I’d get for doing it. Six new medals to add to my wall for the accomplishment of running a 5k, a 10k, a Half Marathon and a Full Marathon four days back to back.

I’ve ran enough Half Marathons that they don’t scare me anymore. 

I’m pretty confident in my ability to complete them. So I set a running goal of running a Full Marathon in 2016. 2016 is a special year to me.

It’s the year that my Father would have turned 90-years-old, it’s the year that I will turn 40-years-old. My Dad was born in 1926 and I lost 260 lb. I wanted, no I still want, to run a mile for every 10 lb. that I lost.

I’m a numbers gal. The numbers all worked and made 2016 THE YEAR that I decided I wanted to run my first and only Full Marathon.

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I decided to not just take on the challenge of running a Full Marathon but decided to put three days of running in front of it and beat my body up a bit before the true big day came.

But here I am in the beginning of October, in the middle of the training program that will get me there and…

I am struggling.

My body is starting to tell me that I am overdoing it. I’ve completed 13 half marathons now. 14 if I count the first one where I walked the entire thing. Now, three years later I’m dealing with injuries that though they aren’t really caused by the running itself, are amplified by it.

I’ve got degenerative arthritis in my knees. I’m currently struggling with achilles tendonitis in my ankles.

I am seeing doctors and spending nearly 2 hours a day doing everything they tell me to so I can maintain and treat those issues so that hopefully I can push my body do what I want it to do.

Running is my therapy.

Nobody has told me not to run. Some doctors have told me to run less often and that is something that I am more than willing to do. Just as soon as I accomplish this goal of running a full marathon.

So what is the decision that I am struggling with? Because obviously I’ve already got my mind set on completing my first and only full marathon in 2016.

Here’s the thing. I have a really hard time letting go of a goal that I set for myself. Even if that goal is above and beyond what I really wanted to do in the first place.

You see, I could make this all much easier on my body. I could use the option that RunDisney has to defer my registration for the 5k, 10k, and Half Marathon portion of this event and go back to my original goal of running my first Full Marathon and not have it stacked behind three days of progressively running longer and longer distances right before I attempt to do it.

Why is that decision so hard for me to make? Truthfully, it’s hard for me because in the back of my mind there is this little voice that feels like somehow if I change my plan and alter my course and decide not to do this challenge that I signed up for I have somehow failed at achieving a goal that I set for myself.

You don’t have to tell me how wrong that little voice is.

I’m a coach, I know quite well how wrong that voice is. But that doesn’t change that it exists and that it sits there in the back of my mind taunting me and nagging me.

I’ve got that proverbial devil and angel on my shoulder right now…

The devil says…

“Hey you set this big goal and you can probably do it if you really push yourself, and just think of how great that accomplishment will feel when you are done and you managed to do something that you’re scared of right now.”

The angel says…

“Why not just stick to your original goal? Why go all bat shit crazy and make reaching that goal so much harder for yourself by making it more challenging than it needs to be?”

There is a part of me that wonders…  If I do defer the first three days of this running event and just run that original Full Marathon that I intended too, will I regret the fact that I didn’t attempt to complete the entire challenge once I cross the finish line?

I’ve never fallen short of a running goal that I have set for myself. I have never had the experience of not actually being able to complete a distance I set out to run.

Truthfully at this point I am not sure which is better for my emotional state of mind. Deciding right now to rein myself in and alter my goal to one that I know is more realistic, or to attempt to do what I set out to do and know that for the first time in my weight loss journey and running career I just might not be able to finish what I started.

This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.

Never let anyone tell you that once you lose your weight everything is magically fixed. The weight loss is just the beginning of your journey. There are lots of emotional and physical challenges that come up as you walk the path of weight maintenance and start to live life after weight loss. True story.


 Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.
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Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

Jaime "Pandora" Williams

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