An open letter to rest days

Dear Rest Days,

It’s me again. I know, I know – we often meet up at the most inopportune times. I’m usually cranky and not in the mood to see you.

I feel that I need to explain my actions, though. I usually dislike seeing you for one reason: I love to work. I love to sweat. I love to *not* rest.

I know that might sound a little bit harsh, but I promise, I mean no harm. In fact, I’m coming to you today with a refreshed perspective.

I’ve actually been looking forward to seeing you today.

It’s been a long week:
6 hours worth of barre n9ne classes
17 miles (and 11 more to come tomorrow) spent running
– No less than 9 hours spent commuting
= aching, sore, worked (but somehow still happy) muscles.

I know it’s time for a rest day meet-up and today’s the day. I’m embracing you!

And here’s why:
– There is no room for ‘junk miles’ with just about three weeks until race day
– After all that I learned in the intensive on Sunday, I don’t ever want my form to suffer due to a serious lack of rest days
– My body will never recover from all the work I throw at it if I never rest.
– I do not want to face an injury again. Ever (if I can help it).
– Rest days can be fun.

Yes, FUN, and here’s how:  
– I have time to clean the house. From top to bottom. It’ll be shiny, sparkly and clean-smelling (my favorite scent), in no time. Yes, I heart sweat. But I also heart cleaning. Fact.
– I am working from home which means peace, quiet, and lots of progress made on the good ‘ol to-do list.
– I can plan a carb-y fun dinner for two for tonight in preparation for tomorrow’s planned 11 miles <—any ideas on this one, I could use some! 
– I can daydream about how good all 11 miles will feel because my legs will be happy and rested. Oh yes they will.

So yes, I usually face you with annoyance. I don’t always love seeing your face. But today is not that day.

Today, rest day: I embrace you. 


Is it ‘hard’ or is it ‘challenging’?

The other day I was talking to my sister about her recently-returned running struggles, trying to coach her through how she’s been feeling lately about running.

And I asked her to clarify something for me:

When you have a “bad” run, is it because it’s hard or is it because the run challenged you? 

I think that’s a very important distinction when it comes to running, a conclusion I only recently came to myself. (as for my sis, she’s struggling with something that this girl overcame last year and I *know* my sister can overcome it too…so c’mon, give her your vote of confidence today, mmk?)

I used to always categorize a run as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on how ‘easy’ or ‘hard’ the run felt. But it wasn’t until recently, when I find myself hitting my running stride, that I’ve been categorizing the majority of my runs as ‘good’ – but not because they are easy (they are never easy), but because each run is a challenge. Sure, there are moments where I feel like my legs are humming right along without *as* much effort as normal, but 9 times out of 10, I’m pushing it, struggling and slogging through those miles.

But it’s at the end, when I’m huffing and puffing and catching my breath, that I look back at each mile I ran and I’m happy. It was a good run. Because it was a challenging run.

I’ll let you in on a little secret:  Running is not easy for me. Not at all. Every day, every run, tests me physically and mentally. It’s draining. But it’s worth it. This is why I run. Not to achieve as many ‘easy’ runs as I can, but to achieve as many good, challenging runs as I can.

Because really, isn’t that why so many of us have a love/”hate” affair with running? Because it’s challenging. It’s work. It’s an experience I’m endlessly grateful I get to have, especially when I know that others either aren’t able to run at all, or are sidelined with injuries right now.

So next time you lace up and hit the road? Try not to categorize your run as ‘hard’ and instead approach every run as a challenge, a good challenge you’ll happily take on any day of the week. Because you (and I) can.

(editor’s note – for those of you that do not run for whatever reason, this mindset totally applies to any workout that challenges you, not just running. Just thought I’d call that out. :)) 

Seeking motivation mojo?

Last night, I was trying to amp myself up for a run with my husband. By now, you all know how much I love our rundates…I just tend to love them MORE when they happen in the morning before excuses have a chance to settle in.

So what did I do?

I turned to twitter for a little motivation mojo

Jess Sutera
JessFit654 Jess Sutera
T-minus 30 minutes until my run. Must. Wake. Up. Someone tell me to run like the wind tonight! I need to get excited about this! #runchat
And you, my friends, responded with just the right words, as usual!  
Melissa Burton
@JessFit654 Run like the wind! Run for me (since I can’t right now)
Roz Griffiths
@JessFit654 Run like the wind! Run like you stole it! Run for the hills! Run!! 🙂
Jessica Bold
@JessFit654: run like the wind! You’ll wake up once you get out there. 🙂
Stephanie Greenough
@JessFit654 Take that light, fit little body of yours and have a successful fun run before dinner with Scott!!

Now really – how could I *not* be amped up to get my run on after such motivating tweets??

And amped up is exactly how I’d describe our run last night. Holy speedy legs! Even my husband – who is most definitely a fast runner (but runs my pace so we can run together, what a guy…) – proclaimed our run was a fast one last night.

I was feeling particular good – perhaps because I was taking those fancy schmancy new sneakers of mine to the road vs. the ‘mill for the first time. Or perhaps because the weather was awesome for a rundate last night – a little warmer than usual, a slight breeze, a bit of sunshine left at the tail end of the day. We ran a good pace, caught up on our day and were feeling really good. Especially towards the end of our run, when we saw Scott’s best friend Justin drive by us. In true Justin form, he yelled out the window “RUN!!!” So I used that as my cue to run extra hard that final half mile. Which resulted in a nice sweaty runner’s glow…as you can see here:

(my husband doubles as my personal photographer…he indulges me, we’ll say that, haha) 

So, the moral of this story? In similar fashion to twitter accountability for early morning workout motivation, twitter for motivation mojo works wonders, as exhibited by last night’s fabulously sweaty 6.5 miler.

Give it a try sometime – twitter for accountability, or for motivation mojo – I promise it’ll never let you down. 🙂

Snippets of “haven”

So, most people have just one thing they’d consider to be their “haven.” The place they go to feel safe, happy, content – all is right in the world in that little haven of theirs.

For me? I prefer snippets of “haven” depending on my mood. Yesterday? There wasn’t just one thing that became my “haven” — there were snippets of “haven” throughout the day that seemed to catch me at just the right moment:

Got up to face down the ‘mill yesterday morning and the second the alarm went off, I groaned. Not in the mooood. Yet, I’d tweeted out my intentions the night prior (hellllooooo twitter accountability!!) and I knew a good sweat would get me ready to face Monday. And then it hit me – I have new SNEAKERS to take for a spin! Immediately – I was over-eager to hit that treadmill. And hit it I did – a good sweaty 5-miler in my new sneaks (Brooks Ghost 2 – my first pair of Brooks…I do believe I’m in love!). 

Look at these bad boys – hot, right?? <—“hot” in a nerdy runner sorta way…

new sneakers = snippets of “haven”

After work, scrambled to get to barre n9ne for one of my favorite classes of the week – barre n9ne method. Lots of barre work in this class, which I LOVE as we all know! And last night? I was super-psyched to test out all that I’d learned on Sunday. I focused my ass off during class last night, oh yes, I did. I was a sweaty mess by the end, but had the hardest time wiping the big geeky grin off my face knowing that I left it all on the barre (TWSS??), worked as hard as I could and I’m pretty sure my form was kind of awesome.

barre n9ne method after a long-ass Monday = little snippet of “haven” 

After class, I was all set to pick up some sushi on the way home for dinner. Was thinking about it all. day. long. Call up my favorite sushi place near my house. Guess what? They’re closed on Mondays. Fail, fail, FAIL!! After whining to myself (and to my sis via text), I went home and whipped up a rather tasty breakfast for dinner. Scrambled eggs with tomatoes, basil and goat cheese (swoon!), a cinnamon raisin bagel thin with peanut butter and jelly and sliced strawberries on the side. It wasn’t sushi, no. But it *was* damn* tasty. (I would have left ya’ll with a picture of dinner but there was no time, stomach was talking up a storm by 8:30 last night!). 

Dinner fail becomes dinner success? = a final little snippet of “haven” on a Monday night. 

That and a giant hug from this guy when he got home from bowling. Just what I needed – his arms are the best haven of all. 😉

(from his first day of teaching a couple of weeks ago, huge-ass grin on his face. LOVE! <3) 


It’s all connected

Remember that song from childhood that talked about the “ankle bone’s connected to the shin bone, the shin bone’s connected to the leg bone…”? 

Well for the few of you who know what I’m talking about here, that’s the song that came to mind during the barre n9ne intensive I took on Sunday morning.

It’s all connected.

That’s what I walked away from the intensive thinking about. That and very sore abs, glutes, shoulders…well, everything. Hurts so good. 😉

Julianna used the intensive yesterday to show us exactly how to perfect our form (or come as close to perfect as anyone really can), and not just physically perfecting our form, but mentally perfecting it too.

Because, it’s all connected. 

Your mind. Your body. Your glutes. Your legs. Your shins. Your abs…well, you get the picture.

It’s all connected. 

Just one tiny move or shift in body weight, can change the impact of a glute raise from just going through the motions of that glute raise to totally intensifying that move so that all of the effort is placed on the muscle you’re working.

…just one tiny move.
…a whole lotta breathing.
…total focus.

It’s all connected. 

And that, my friends, reminds me of the beauty of barre n9ne…
…because you’re constantly learning.
…constantly challenging yourself.
…constantly progressing.
…constantly enacting change. 

And because it’s all of that “stuff” combined that I’ve not only used to my advantage during the countless barre n9ne classes I’m bound to take each week, but it’s something I’ve applied to my running and it’s definitely changed my running form and ability in endless ways.

…The focus I’ve harnessed in barre n9ne is the same focus I use during that last half mile, when I’m staying “there.” 

…The endurance and strength I’ve used to stay in a pose, no matter how much I want to give in to the burn, I’ve applied to the longer runs leading into the final weeks of half marathon training.

…The importance on breathing, and breathing through each move versus holding my breath, but also on breathing hard but strongly when I run.

It’s all connected. 

And it’s kind of very cool to me to think about the other connections that exist in life.  And how I can apply those connections – whatever shape those connections take – to other facets of life. Kinda makes you go “hmm” doesn’t it?

In one month, 13.1 (again)

In one month from today, I’ll be meeting up with my dear friend 13.1 once again, and I’m really hoping that I’m smiling as big as I was after yesterday’s sweatastic 5-ish mile #rundate with Steph:

(Melissa – ask and ye shall receive! Me in all my sweaty “I heart Sweat” glory, Ali – I’d like to put in a request for one of these in every color you have. They are amazing!!)

Honestly? It’s crazy how good and strong I’m feeling right now.  If it’s possible, I feel even stronger and more confident with one month to go before the Green Strides half marathon than I did just before the YuKanRun half marathon.

I’ve approached this “training cycle” (if you can even call it one) so differently. Mostly because I was already conditioned for higher mileage having just come off the half in August that really, the past month or so has been about sustaining the momentum more than anything. And this training cycle is also different because, well, all training cycles are different, right? And in my case, I “train” by my own rules, by a loose training schedule – four runs per week, averaging between 5-7 miles to upwards of 10 or 11 miles, with intervals mixed in for speed.

And I honestly think these two things combined are what have given me such a happy, confident outlook on running lately.

And a main reason why I’m all about finding a marathon to own in 2012…
…because I’m happy and confident.
…because I’m learning to “just run.”
…and I’m finding such joy in that. 

I even noticed more strength and endurance during last night’s series of barre n9ne workouts – particularly during the first class,  long & lean legs. A class that kills me everytime but that I love dearly because it *does* kick my ass everytime. I was able to go deeper in the moves (TWSS moment??), hold each poses longer and more effectively, allow the shake to happen.

It felt a bit like a turning point. I felt – and feel – like an athlete. A phrase I’ve always admired – in others – those that I’d define as “athletes.” But me? An athlete? I never thought of myself that way. Until now.

It’s all of these things combined – the confidence, the happy (and strong)  runner in me – that’s making me really excited for this 13.1

I’m not nervous.
I’m not anxious.
I’m looking forward to October 23.

The day I meet my 13.1 (again). 

Can I get a do-over please?

Yesterday, in a word ?
(ok, maybe two) 

GIANT. Fail.

Let’s rewind, shall we?

…woke up to this realization: I should be on a flight to wine country. But I’m not. <sigh> Ok, I can handle this.

…moving along. Put on my newest pair of jeans (size smaller!), cute top, animal print heels. Ok, I feel good. Off we go…10 mins ahead of schedule. This is a good thing.

…until I roll into dead-stopped traffic. In the same exact spot that I’ve hit the dead-stop for the past three days…no wait, the past two weeks of commuting to work. Welp, two hour AM commute, here I come. <sigh>

…finally roll into work around 9:30 (so late for me), ready to DEVOUR my oatmeal, PB and banana combo. Only to spill half of it on my desk. Awesome.

…spend the day getting sh*t done at work all with the goal of getting out a little early to meet my friend Michele for a barre class at the studio she just started going to in Boston (The Bar Method). <—can we tell where this story is heading yet?

…roll into traffic. Again. Red Sox are playing in the city tonight. Awesome. Make it into the city with about ten minutes to find a garage (or street parking, bwahaha, as IF). Circle the studio for 20 mins before finally calling time of death. Texted my poor friend Michele and I rolled on home.

…tears in my eyes, I spent the whole ride in silence. Adding up all of the misfires and fails from today, feeling total pity for myself. Going home. No workout whatsoever today. No husband waiting for me at home (he had class). No wine country shenanigans to be partaking in. Just me and my still-clean workout gear in my gym bag. Cue pity party for one. 

…and then I came home. Made myself a quick dinner and sat down to do what I do best…I blogged it out. And reviewing the day once more as I typed up this post, I realized something. I am so ridiculous. There is no room for pity parties in the Sutera household, and certainly no room for them at EatDrinkBreatheSweat.

…and then I looked over at a package I hadn’t noticed before that my husband must have brought in from the mail. Lo and behold – this was all it took to put a smile on my face:

Annnnnnd I’m back! Sweaty fun workouts will be had today. This shirt will be worn in all of its glory. And it will be a wonderful day.

As for yesterday? I have a simple request: Can I get a do-over please?



So. 26.2 is *still* very much on the brain. We haven’t chosen our marathon <yet> but we’re in discussions, Scott and I, yes we are. 😉

While mulling something as monumental as a full marathon over, I got to thinking about the “why” behind my desire to face down 26.2 very long miles.

And honestly? It’s pretty simple:

I want to do something that the vast majority of the universe will never, ever accomplish. I want to say yes, I *did* just run 26.2 miles and yes, I *know* how rare that is and yes, I realize how lucky I am to be *able* to push my body that far.

The second reason? I’ve been completely blown away by the incredible drive, motivation and ambition of so many of my fellow blog friends and runners alike. And there are a few in particular that have been my total runspiration of late.

**Now, let me preface this by saying that I almost didn’t even write this post for fear that I might hurt someone’s feelings by not listing them as one of my runspirations. Honestly? There are SO SO SO many of you out there that inspire me, not just as a runner, but just as little ‘ol me. I am constantly impressed and inspired by each one of you and really? Maybe I ought to celebrate you all a little more often on this blog than I have up until this point. Hmm, this could become a regular feature ‘o mine…brain is churning over here. 😉 **

Again, I digress! Back to the task at hand – runspirations.

Ali @ Ali on the Run – She’s facing down her first-ever full marathon this weekend and is running it for a very special cause, one that also happens to be near and dear to my heart as well (one of my best friends faced colitis as well so I know just how difficult it can be to manage the disease day in and day out). She’s running it for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation because it’s a disease she battles every single day and a disease she has told straight out: “you will not beat me.” Even after her doctor told her to stop running and to get the idea of a marathon out of her head, she didn’t listen. Instead, she’s been bound and determined to prove him wrong. And guess what? She’s done an amazing job and WILL cross that finish line with a smile on her face, and maybe wearing her “I heart sweat” t-shirt that I personally cannot wait to wear (been checking the mailbox like a crazy person!!).

Angela @MyPinkyToes Another first-time marathoner, but this girl has already rocked all 26.2 miles and has done so for an equally good cause: Girls on the Run, an organization dedicated to health and wellness education for young women (3rd through 8th grade girls). Angela is a “Sole Mate” which meant that all proceeds from her fundraising efforts went directly back to Girls on the Run – whose mission is awesome if you ask me. There are so many health issues associated with unhealthy eating habits and lack of fitness or wellness activities in our lives as Americans that to see an organization like Girls on the Run tackle the issue is awesome. But back to Angela…she raced with SUCH heart, and trained with even more heart. Every time I read one of her posts as she faced down longer and longer training runs, my heart soared for her. And, it was after reading her marathon recap, with tears in my eyes, that I knew I needed to experience 26.2.

Samantha @Because I Can – This girl? What can I say? She is the one that *really* got me thinking about a full marathon after I “met” her recently on twitter and in bloggy land. I’m amazed we hadn’t “met” sooner because her background, particularly her running background, is pretty similar to mine. Neither of us are self-proclaimed “natural” runners but we’ve both worked hard to chase after that ever-elusive runner’s high and well? She just raced her second marathon and I’ve just been struck by her approach and style to running from the start. Especially her mantra that she does all of this today simply because she can. She is able to. And she does not take that for granted. Neither do I. Not for a second.

So  yeah, totally runspired today by these ladies, but also by all of you. For your dedication, commitment, joy and zest for life that I have the privilege of reading about everyday on your blogs. Yes I heart blogging, and bloggers, yes I do!!

And 26.2? Still scares the sh*t out of me, but intrigues me so much so that I’m ready to do something that scares me – every single day of the sixteen weeks it’ll take to train myself into 26.2 miles.


A workout-y week

***First things first – THANK you for such awesome words of encouragement and excitement at the prospect of me committing to 26.2!! I was totally bowled away by all of your comments on yesterday’s post. I heart you all and PROMISE you’ll be the first to know when I sign up for my first marathon. <—notice I said “when” not “if”??***

Yes friends, “workout-y” is a word in my dictionary. Right there next to puke-worthy and sweatastic. 

But yes, I am deeming this week a “workout-y week” in EatDrinkBreatheSweat land. I mean, it usually is a pretty workout-y (let’s see how many times I can use this word in one post!) week up in here, but this week I’m focusing on it a little more than usual. For a few reasons.

Mainly to keep myself motivated while my sister is off gallivanting among the vines, on the epic wine country three-peat that I’m missing out on this week (sad face). But also to keep myself from getting blue, particularly early on in the week when I start to want to roll into “can’t wait for the weekend” mode.

Working out, sweatfests – they keep my mood up, my spirits high, the smile on my face. Last night’s barre n9ne method class was exactly what I needed after a rather “meh” Monday (complete with 3 hours spent in the car…I swear it’s a form of torture in most countries). 

And after reading Lindsay’s post on her “mon” day – I totally took what she said to heart. About taking back your (mon)days, making them “mine” again, and finding joy in them, even on a “meh” day like yesterday. 

So I’m focusing on what makes me happy this week – workouts, workouts with friends, a long run with Scott on Saturday, and hopefully a little epic-ness of a weekend in the Sutera household despite missing out on wine country. We haven’t quite figured out what we’ll do to make this weekend *almost* as fun as if we were in wine country, but you better believe I’ll be back to report on our shenanigans afterwards. 😉

But I digress – you wanted to hear about my workout-y week, didn’t you? (well, even if you didn’t, I’m sharing it anyway, because that’s how I roll if you hadn’t noticed by now!): 

Sunday – fabulous rest day spent celebrating my niece’s first birthday. Here’s a picture of her cuteness – check out those cheeks:

Monday – a fantastic 5 miler on the DREADMILL no less; barre n9ne method (legs were shaking, loved it!)

Tuesday (today!) – 6 miles on the dreadmill (yeah baby!); barre n9ne lean & tone

Wednesday – a ‘date” at the barre with my friend Michele, testing out her barre studio in the city, I’ll report back dutifully, of course. There *may* be sushi involved afterwards (yum).

Thursday – rundate with Steph (finally!); barre n9ne legs and barre n9ne fusion

Friday – rest!

Saturday – 11 epic miles followed by lots of epic-ness with Scott (epic-ness TBD at this moment in time…how many more times can I say “epic”??)

Sunday – barre n9ne INTENSIVE (not even sure what this will entail other than 90 minutes of barre work with a huge focus on form, but I can hardly wait for that shake!!); football Sunday with this girl, a bestie for sure.

See? Just writing this all out totally lifts my mood right up there. Lots of sweatastic workouts, lots of fun “dates” and a peek into the weekend tells me that this week ought to be a good one.

Just gotta make sure I keep focused on the “mon…” (thanks Linds, what would I do without you??) 

The double digits

I don’t know what it is about hitting the double digits while training for my next half marathon but it totally inspires confidence in me.

Probably because 10 miles is *only* a 5k away from 13.1? 

Or maybe hitting the double digits on Saturday’s run had nothing at all to do with the double digits and everything to do with how I felt on Saturday:

…like my legs had a mind of their own. There were quite a few times where I looked down to make sure my legs were still underneath me. They felt so speedy!

…like I’m feeling SO ready for another 13.1 in just five weeks. Signing up for another half marathon so close to the last one feels like the best decision ever. This training “cycle” feels much less like training and way more like running…just running. And I dig it. 

…like if I can feel *this* good running in the double digits, I wonder what it would feel like to run 15, 18, 20 miles. Or even 26.2. Hmm. 

Clearly that number is on my mind and I’m not sure why.

Am I really ready to tackle something that so few in this world will ever experience in this lifetime? (I kinda like the sounds of that…).

Is 2012 the year I’ll conquer 26.2? Am I thinking this way because my birthday is coming up and one year older (the big 3-2, oy) makes me want to prove that I still got it?

Or is it because I can?

I’m not sure. But 26.2 – you’re on the brain.

I have lots more to say on this topic over at my latest runspiration’s blog – “Because I Can” (how aptly named!). Samantha ran her second marathon this weekend and has been such an inspiration to me of late – so go check out my quasi-continuation of this post over at her blog.

She’s thinking she can talk me into all 26.2…what do you think?