Finding Fitness – How to find an exercise routine that’s right for you.

More than running – An ode to Jillian Michaels and strength training.

Review of Jillian Michaels Body Revolution

Race recaps:

San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon

San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon

Queens, NY Half Marathon

Central Park Half Marathon

Central Park 10K (7th place finish)

Central Park 10K (with Kyle)

My first triathlon

How did you get so good at running?  Have you always been a runner?  What motivates you?  Have you ever done any other sports?

Awww…whoever asked that first question thanks for the compliment.  I’ll just chalk it up to good (read: athletic) genes and skip ahead to the real parts parts I can answer.

I guess I’ve been running as long as I can recall.  I did just about every sport imaginable as a kid (soccer, volleyball, track & field, softball, swim team, etc.) – and being generally athletic – running just came with the territory.  However, it was never my primary focus.

Soccer was my life.  I started playing on a competitive level at 8 years old (on the Under-10 team thanks to my weird birthday) and continued throughout my adolescence playing for multiple teams at once, including the Olympic Development Program.  I had hours and hours of practices daily (hours away from where I lived, too) as well as tournaments nearly every weekend (I’ve been to every square inch of CA…including some of the most remote cow towns that I swear aren’t even on maps).  Because of this time commitment, almost everything other sport was secondary (and a distant secondary at that).  So as you can see, running was always a part of my life, but never anything I put much energy into, because ALL my energy was invested in soccer.

When junior/senior year of high school came around I was faced with a pretty tough decision…to pursue soccer or academics (not that you can’t do both, but different schools were offering me different opportunities).  As hard as it was for me to hang up my cleats, I knew that in terms of lifetime goals the best career move would be to attend UCLA and focus on my studies.  It was probably one of the most difficult choices I’ve ever had to make.  I often think back on how different my life would be had I chosen the other path.  So strange how life happens.  Anyways.  Without soccer in my life, I had so much more time to spare.  Coupled with the start of college, I discovered a whole bunch of other activities (boys).  Kidding. The newfound freedom was fun at first, but I found myself a bit antsy.  Not only did I miss the team camaraderie and fun that goes along with team sports, but I missed exercise.

It wasn’t too long before I joined an intramural soccer team and was shocked at how out of shape I had gotten in just a few months.  How embarrassing!  I used to be such a stud on the turf and suddenly I was huffing and puffing after a few sprints.  Not cool.  To combat this, I started to run around campus (with the So Cal weather, you don’t need to belong to a gym) and improved my stamina greatly.

My moderate approach to running (as a hobby, nothing more) continued throughout my undergrad, but after graduation I had even more time to devote to it.  I slowly increased my mileage over days, months, and years, and haven’t stopped running since!  Now it’s been nearly a decade and I average 20-30 miles a week.

I love it.  I think what motivates me is the energy I feel after I work up a good sweat.  It puts a bounce in my step and a smile on my face.  You know that rumored “high” people get from endorphins?  Yeah, I’m addicted!  Sure, I miss soccer, but running is something you don’t need 10 other people to do.  Nor do you need fancy equipment, or machines, or a certain court/field/setting.  All you need is shoes.  That’s it.  Plus, you can go as fast or as slow as you want, or as near or as far as you want.  There are no requirements for your ability.  Anyone can do it.  After a crappy day, there’s really nothing that can restore my mood better than a good run.  And even on days that I’m feeling off, all I need is a good playlist and my sneakers, and I’ll be set – for miles and miles in my own little world.

Currently, I live in a city that gets frigid in the winter months, so I am forced to rely on my gym membership (and the treadmill) far more than I’d like to.  So although running outside is my preference, it’s kinda out of the question once the temp drops below freezing.  Also, with my 12 hour shifts at work, there is no way I can run on days I work.  It’s just not possible (believe me I tried – and the first few months of work were miserable because of it).  Now I’ve found a more balanced (read: less sleep deprived) way to juggle my nursing career with my running career.  I will only run on days I have off of work, and I get the best mileage out of those days as possible.  It seems to be working for me, and I’m having a blast entering races for fun every once in a while, so there you have it!



Comments (13)

  1. Chels R.

    I agree…love a good runner’s high! Endorphins are great! And addictive.

  2. Pingback: A winner and some extra stuff

  3. K

    Careful of your knees. My dad, a physical therapist, says running on sand/soft ground or even better brisk walking is the best. Putting constant stress on the knees that comes from them having to absorb the shock from hard surfaces such as tarmac or traditional treadmills leads to a lot of people having to get knee surgery

  4. Maria

    I would like to hear more about your fitness. I just tried my first mini tri with Team Luna. The more I work out the more I eat. Trying to find a good balance to combine with a diabetic husband that is looking to go back to our vegetarian ways.

  5. Elise (Post author)

    congrats on the mini tri maria!! ill try and post more frequently on my fitness plans 🙂

  6. Amber

    I am also now a runner. As of January of this year, I had NEVER run a full mile in my life! (I’m 28). Always been athletic and played sports and worked out (mostly Jillian Michaels DVDs) but never run. I just got an itch to be a runner, so I started slowly. Worked up to 6 miles in August (before then I wasn’t trying to run long distance…just doing it for cardio and losing weight) I decided I wanted to run a Half Marathon so I incresed by a mile a week with my best friend and we ran together on October 6th! Absolutely LOVED it!!!! I usually get in about 30 miles a week and definitely get the runners “high”.

    Having 3 kids ages 5 and under, being a wife, running my own business, teaching piano, and ministry at my church, I need something that keeps me energized and stress free! Running does it!

  7. Lindsay

    Hi Elise!
    Love your blog! Just curious how you eat and recover while you’re training. I’m getting ready to run my fourth half, however this is the first one I’ll be training for as a vegetarian (still eat fish (very occasionally) and cheese.

  8. Elise (Post author)

    hi lindsey!

    in terms of kcals, i basically just eat more. i never considered “training” a time to differ my dietary habits. as long as you make sure youre getting enough kcals to replenish what you burned, youre fine.

    in terms of macronutrient ratios, i kept the same balance. i have a mostly carb based diet. it works for me. i cant run without complex carbs and whole grains. i never altered the carb/protein/fat ratio during training or race periods.

    in terms of eating times, im probably not the norm for this so im not sure you want to follow my lead. thanks to my GI issues, i relaly have to listen to my body. im not a big fan of pre-fueling for races because it makes my stomach upset. similar for post work out re-fueling. i know there are a million drinks and bars and such devoted to this exact audience, but i dont buy into it. your body will tell you when its hungry (or like mine…when it isnt). some days when im training im absolutely ravenous. its weird, but i just go with it. its often the day after huge workouts. i figure its a sign im really pushing myself, so i just try to really hone in on what it is i need.

    oh and drink a ton of water. a ton.

    i seriously avoid all the fancy stuff aimed for runners (whoever decided chocolate milk is the perfect post-workout drink is seriously deluded…you dont need that crap!). all you need is a proper amount of food (plant based is fine) and water. dont get hung up on being without meat. its truly no different. if youre really concerned about protein with the amount of exercise youre doing, add extra hemp, beans, nuts, and seeds into your diet. and if you want extra iron, try blackstrap molasses, raisins, and pumpkin seeds. but i promise, as long as youre eating a balanced diet with healthy whole foods (greens, grains, beans, and the likes) youre getting enough to thrive in your next race.

    good luck!!

  9. Lindsay

    thank you!!

  10. Jody

    What was your fitness routine being pregnant? Did you still run and do the same things you were doing pre pregnancy?

  11. Elise (Post author)

    hey jody – the FAQ tab has a pregnancy category with all my answers to those questions 🙂

  12. sue regenold

    Elise..Found your site today for the recipe for oat meal 🙂 You inspire me, I have always been like yourself athletic by nature. Ran, swam, volleyball all through high school. Iam 52 years old now. I was dignosed 3 years ago with RA and Fybro. You inspire me to push forward today. Thank you so much.

  13. Amado

    I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *