Thursday, February 28, 2013

F&FiF: The End is Nigh ... Sort Of

The shortest month of the year is over, and can I just say? Thank. Heavens. One of the reasons I started this project in February, other than the fact that we were all probably slipping on our NY resolutions, is that I freakin' hate this month. It's cold. It's dark. And other than the post-Valentine's candy sales, there isn't a ton to look forward to. It's the perfect month to get your stuff together, if you can manage to shed your fleece cocoon to do so (I won't lie, I had trouble kicking off the PJ pants and getting active). So, here we are, 28 days later. Thanks for hanging out with me.

I won't lie. I struggled a lot this month, and even though I set realistic goals - life happened. It always does. But I logged more gym time in the past four weeks than in the last year, maybe two. I learned more about what I need to be successful, and what I want to accomplish. And because I was so proud of myself, I treated myself to a new 'do (with a bold new color - I'm pretty good at the "fab" part of the deal).

But just because February is over, we don't have to give up on being fit and fab. In fact, this month only served as a reminder that we are ALL worth the time it takes to feel amazing. Whether that means hitting the treadmill, rejuvenating with yoga, or glamming up with a fancy hairdo.

I would like to thank J and Erika for their help this month, and a special thanks to my friend Kelly, who has been a real-life inspiration as long as I've known her. In fact, she's so special, I'm closing out Fit & Fab in February with some words of advice from her about preparing for your first 5K, which is what I'm in the process of doing.

Chances are, you have at least one annoying friend who loves to run and posts about it all over Facebook. Luckily, Alissa has put up with this behavior from me for long enough that I think I’ve even tempted her to join me on the dark side. When I first started getting healthy, running any distance sounded ludicrous. Why would I want to run when I could drive anywhere I needed to go?

I signed up for a 5K on a whim. I was following an online weight loss plan and I noticed other people were signing up for the race. It seemed like a smart thing to do at the time.  Since I toed the line that day nearly two years ago, I’ve learned a lot about running. I’ve gone on to complete two marathons and a host of other distances, and now I know that my first race could have been a lot more enjoyable had I done some research and prep work. Here are my top-five tips for preparing for your first 5K.

1. Give yourself a few weeks to train. If you don’t run, don’t sign up for a race next weekend. There are 5K races everywhere every weekend. Pick one that is at least six weeks away. Avoid the races that describe themselves as “challenging,” “hilly” or “scenic.”
2. Focus on distance before speed. On race day, you will see people walk the whole thing. Some people might have their pets with them. They might be pushing wheelchairs or strollers. And everyone eventually finishes. You want to train to cover the distance so you can be comfortable on race day and actually enjoy it. There will be time later to improve your speed.
3. Focus on the experience. This should be fun. Again, don’t worry about your finish time. Just think about finishing.
4. Listen to your body. Running can be uncomfortable; it shouldn’t be painful. You shouldn’t feel any shooting, sharp or stabbing pains.
5. Don’t wear the race shirt on race day. Runners are a superstitious bunch. We don’t wear the shirts until after the race is in the book. Plus, you want to wear tried-and-true clothes on race day. Wear the sports bra, shoes, socks and shirt that you’ve worn while training to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Likewise, keep your diet the same leading up to the event. While there will be port-o-potties at the start and finish, now’s not the time to try a new Indian food buffet.

Kelly has been blogging at Kelly the Culinarian for a few years now. She chronicles new healthy bites, decadent desserts and the pursuit of the perfect race. She’ll be chasing her first Ironman 70.3 triathlon finish this summer while following Weight Watchers to avoid the unpleasant increase she experienced after her first marathon.

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