13.1

On Sunday, August 25th, I completed my first ever half marathon. An entire 13.1 miles. I’m still trying to grasp the concept of running 13.1 miles without stopping after a life of high intensity, explosive sports. 

For all the exercise nerds out there, my muscle fibers are super dense, fast twitch. I was a thrower for 5 years in college – I lifted heavy stuff and put heavy stuff back down. Not a whole lot of slow twitch going on over here. But I wanted to run a half marathon, dang it. So I trained. 

I began training for this 17 weeks in advance, on April 29th. My big brother, experienced half marathoner, sent me a 14 week training program that I tweaked a little to get me 17 weeks (I was too eager to start training and hadn’t even picked a half marathon to run in yet). I wrote my own 4 day weights program to compliment the running, changing up cycles every 4 weeks. I did in-home yoga (and sometimes at-work yoga) fairly consistently, and every day for the last 30 days. I had every intention of completing a Whole30 for the final 30 days before the race (more on that later). I was set. 

When I first started training, I was having so much fun. I was learning so much new information about running and getting to try workouts at varying paces, which I have NEVER done before. I’ve always just trained for FAST. I’ve been running my whole life for sport, but it’s not the same as getting out to the track with a workout and a pace chart – plotting out your times before you even get to the track. 

Weeks go by and I’m getting stronger, faster, leaner. Losing weight as a function of training rather than an intentional effort – what a great feeling. Then the 30 day timeline begins, Whole30 here we go.

Except… not quite. I made it 18 days before realizing that something was off. Now, I’ve completed a Whole30 before. But not while distance running. I went for my longest training run of 11 miles during my peak training week, just before the taper began. It was miserable, to say the least. I struggled, but I expected to struggle. I swallowed that and told myself I was supposed to be tired, this was the toughest week. Come Monday, about 3 weeks before race day, the taper began. My endurance run that week was 8 miles. I thought “I’m gonna crush this. 8 miles after 11 miles last week? Easy.” Right?

…Wrong. It felt like I had no gas in the tank, looking at my splits and seeing how slow I became after mile 4 was a huge red flag for me. I’m asking myself how this could be happening. “I’ve done all the training. What am I doing wrong?” 

Phone a friend (or a brother). “Yeah you need hella carbs now… Peak running performance comes from glucose in your blood.” 

Here is where I face palm. Duh. I knew that. If I was taking care of myself like I would talk care of a friend training for a half, I never would suggest anything low-carb. I simply could not eat enough potatoes on Whole30 to get the carbs I needed to train this hard. I stepped on the scale and realized I had lost 12 lbs just in the last two weeks. Losing weight is cool but not as cool as actually finishing your race. It was a fight against myself, but I took a good hard look at my goals and stopped my Whole30 early. 

In those last couple of weeks before the race, I tried to make up for what I had lost. But I was worried. What if I don’t get this energy back? What if I’m this tired and gassed on race day and I can’t finish? 

Night before the race – I’m nervous. Everything is ready. But I cannot sleep. 4:30am alarm. Hit snooze. 4:45am alarm, okay time to get up. As I’m getting ready in my normal morning routine, I remind myself that I never slept before track meets. This is normal. I remember that I have the power to choose my thoughts. So on that day I chose to trust my training. 

I arrived to the start/ finish line in Westport of Kansas City 30 minutes before start time. I nervously waited for the bathroom with everyone else and managed to get to the start line about 60 seconds before the race began. I barely connected the GPS from my phone to my watch in time to start. (Super good timing, Nicole!) I could have freaked out, or I could just start running. So, I chose the latter.

I broke the race up in my head into 3 parts. The first 5 miles, the second 5 miles, and the final 3 (plus one block). My goals were to finish the race, without stopping, somewhere between 2:10 and 2:30. The first 5 miles, full of hills and nerves, went by quick. By mile 8, I was feeling good. I couldn’t believe how fast my pace was, I didn’t know if it would last so I rode it out. Mile 9, it’s drizzling. Mile 10, it’s absolutely pouring. I held my arms out for a moment and I laughed. I remembered a 10 mile training run I had in the rain and didn’t think twice about it. 

I hit mile 11 and I smiled, remembering how much 11 miles hurt before and how good I felt in that moment. Without even realizing, I had said a phrase to myself that I used to say during volleyball two a days in high school amidst our dreadful 1 mile (laughing) run at the end of our morning workout. “The fast you run, the faster you get done.” 

The last half mile was uphill and I was pushing, ready to finish. I’m telling you, when I turned the corner to finish that last .1, all I could do was smile. My body was finished but I crossed that line still running and holding my own self up. I walked straight to my friends and family and may or may not have lost some more water with happy tears. 

2:13:14. Two hours, thirteen minutes, and fourteen seconds. No stops. Goal accomplished. 

It feels good to take a big step outside of my comfort zone and do something different. I’ve been trying to navigate my retirement from sport for the last two years and training for this half marathon was a quiet reminder that I can still find ways to push and challenge myself outside of sport. What to do next? I’m not quite sure yet. But you all will be the first to know! 

Ready to take a leap outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself to be better? Schedule a free mini session with me and let’s do this together. 

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Yogi’s Choice

yogi's choice

30 days until race day. Well, 26 now. But I thought about writing this blog on the 30 day mark so we will still call it 30 days.

I’m back on another Whole 30 grind, and another 30 straight days of yoga – I would like to feel as fresh and nourished as possible, void of all toxins before running all 13 of those miles. It’s honestly a little wild to think about. And I’m wondering what I’m going to feel like that morning. Will I be able to sleep the night before? Will I be chock full of adrenaline or will I be lethargic and tired because I am notorious for wearing myself out both with training and anxiety?

Yogi’s choice.

What does that mean?

In yoga, it means you get to choose your footing, or where you place your hands on your half-way lift, or if you want your knee to rest on the ground in your lunge, or if you’d rather sit on your heels in stead of in a cross-legged seat.

In this case, it means I am empowering myself to choose how I feel on race day.

Yogi’s choice.

I DECIDE.

How often do we wake up and ask ourselves how we are feeling? Void of any active decision but just accepting how we are feeling as concrete? 

*Turns over to side table, presses snooze*

“Hell no.”

“I’m not ready for the day yet.”

“My feet hurt from last night’s run, need more sleep.”

Okay, so it’s great to check in with your body and mind, to observe and take stock. But understand that we can choose to take a deep breath in, and let it all go with our exhale. We can choose to hang on to a more positive or even neutral feeling. We can choose to have a better day. 

Yogi’s choice. 

I feel like we often forget about the power of choice. We sometimes feel so “stuck in our ways” that we don’t know how, or we forget how, to choose to change. I see it all the time. I have seen it in myself and I see it in some individuals very close to me. We get comfortable, we get complacent. 

Fear not, you can train your brain to do the opposite. Sounds a little cliché, I know. But seriously. We can rewire our brains to develop better pathways for healthier habits, and make it even EASIER to make better choices and think more positive thoughts. All of that is in our control.

Aside from working with athletes in Sport Psychology, I also work as a Recreation Therapist serving children with mental health needs and pretty severe histories of trauma. Day in and day out we are working to rewire those brains and develop healthier pathways for our kiddos. It’s awesome to see how this stuff can cross over from my personal experience, to my friends and family, to my athletes, and to my rec therapy clients. 

How is that possible, might you ask?

WE ALL HAVE BRAINS. We ALL have the power of choice. So choose to be better.

Schedule a mini-session with me. Let me empower you to find your own power of choice. Let’s rewire together. 

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365 Days of Meditation

Heck yeah! Goal achieved. That’s right. 365 consecutive days of meditation practice.

Are you supposed to celebrate meditation? Or am I supposed to be chill about it? This woman is going to celebrate. Although I would say I am considerably more chill now too.

A whole year! Every d*mn day. Meditations ranged from 3 minutes (some days are hard) to 2 hours. I know!

Some days I felt these big epiphanies. Aha moments. Game changer enlightenment.

Some days I just watched my to-do list roll by over and over. Trying to just observe and not add to it.

Some days I tried to solve life’s biggest mysteries. Getting frustrated the answers didn’t appear.

Some days I felt super anxious. Tightness in my chest. A little panic even.

Some days I felt tears rolling down my face. Like I was letting go of something I had carried for a while.

Some days I just needed a break and a minute (or 3) to regain some peace after a frustrating situation.

Some days I needed to “just calm down.” For the record, I am the only one who can say that to me. 🙂

Some days (many days really) I got up early, sat on the meditation couch with my dogs, and it was the best part of my day. They seriously love meditation time.

Some days I did not want to meditate. At all.

Sometimes it was because I was in a really good place and didn’t want to take time away to “just sit.”

Sometimes it was because I was not in a good place and kind of wanted to stay upset about it.

Some days I forgot until the very last minute and almost accidentally ended my streak. I was probably unreasonably attached to the goal and the little reward you get on the Headspace app, but hey, I’m achievement oriented!

Why is this so important? What changed? Why am I on day 375 (even when there are no more app awards)?

I feel like I have an underlying peace that I didn’t have before. I don’t get quite as swept up in my thoughts or situations. I notice my thoughts more. I can act from a more reflective place (not that I always do, I’m human).

I know that I’m more than my thoughts. I can identify when I’m having irrational thoughts. I know that I choose the thoughts to believe and that I create results in life through the thoughts I choose. I know that others are experiencing the same thing.

I have a clarity that I didn’t have before. I can sit with feelings and really feel them instead of trying to dismiss them or move past them. Which is good, because that never turns out well.

And I can help clients do the same.

Meditation is sometimes resisted by clients. I get it. Athletes are often doers. Meditation doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything. But developing a meditation practice is some of the best mental work you can do.

When clients have a mindfulness practice, they’re able to more easily identify thoughts and make changes. It always comes down to the thoughts. They’re able to relax faster…which I know sounds like an oxymoron, but it can be a game changer.

Meditation paired with some breathing work and you’re in a good place when it comes to managing your intensity and being composed in an intense situation.

Two outs, down a run, with a 3 & 2 count in the bottom of the 9th? Stepping up to the free throw line and needing to sink two shots? Taking a breath before serving match point? Meditation helps in all of those situations.

My mental game is better with meditation and yours will be too. Here’s to another year!

Ready to get started? Happy to share my thoughts and tips. Send me a message or schedule a free mini session!

Progress is not Linear

Progress is not Linear

I hit a yoga pose this afternoon that I’ve been working on for months. Once I was finally in it, it seemed so simple. So effortless. And it felt good. 

My body has felt very broken since retiring from track and field. I’ve been so up and down – losing weight, gaining weight, running too much, not running enough, lifting too much, lifting too little, consistent yoga, inconsistent yoga, double knee pain, hip pain, wrist, elbow, and shoulder pain, disappointment in body image and disappointment in being disappointed in my body image. 

I started a Whole30 on February 18th and finished successfully on March 19th. That was huge for me, I was proud. I also did 30 days of yoga with that Whole30 (shout out Yoga with Adrianne on YouTube, she is amazing). I fought off sugar cravings and learned to hang out with my friends without drinking – but it was challenging. I definitely learned that the external support isn’t always there. The people who you surround yourself with every day don’t always have your back when it comes to making positive life changes. Honestly seems wild when I say that out loud (or as I write that in this blog, rather).

As March turned into April, April into May, and May into June, I am now 7 weeks into a half marathon training program, on track to run at Go Girl Run KC on August 25th. COULD NOT BE MORE STOKED. Okay sorry for the all caps but seriously, training for this run has been an amazing experience for me. I’ve been looking for new avenues to push my body and grow since leaving the college track and field scene – I just never thought I would find it in marathon training. I had a 10 mile run last Sunday for the first time in my life and ran the entire thing at a solid pace without stopping and am still looking back on that day with a smile on my face.

With warmer months unfolding, I have been so much more open to positive change. Body and mind – I feel better. Getting into that yoga pose this afternoon with ease, post 8 mile run, was just the icing on the cake. 

I was chatting with my older brother earlier this last week about my training for this half marathon. More specifically, I ran a terrible 8 mile endurance run two weeks ago followed by a killer 10 mile with beautiful pace control only one week later. I was confused. He told me, “Progress is not linear.” And that really stuck with me. Not just in running or in yoga or in the weight room but in life. Sometimes progress is taking a few steps back or sideways, or finding an entirely new path and adjusting our plans, even when it’s hard to accept. And that’s exactly where I am at right now. 

Schedule a free mini session with me and we can make progress together. 

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Summer Mindset Work

Hey there! We’re back from our blog break! We’ve been working on a few new projects. Exciting announcements coming soon.

Right now we’re pumped about the increase in athletes doing summer mindset work.

Summer is such a great time to focus on developing your complete mental game. You may still be competing and of course training—but you’ve probably got a little more free time with school out for the summer.

Speaking of complete mental game, if you haven’t seen a sample of our Playbook (which you get as part of the program when you sign up), be sure to read about it on our website. It covers everything from goal setting, to confidence, to intensity, to relationships, to life beyond sport.

We’re loving the use of this guide in and out of sessions. We know that sport happens outside of a session and the Playbook (plus our out-of-session support) will help keep your head in the game between appointments.

Our signature Mindset Membership program with our collaborative mental game plan developmental process is creating great results for our clients—in sport & life!

We’re so inspired by our clients, I’ve even decided to get back in the game.

Training for an August 5K! Yep I said it. Day 3 in the books, a Spotify playlist created, and a mention in this blog—you know it’s happening now.

My hubby and I are XC parents and we need to train for the fall season! If you don’t have a plan and a quick pace, you’re only gonna catch a few seconds of a 3 mile race.

If you’ve been to a XC meet, you know some of the parents can really move! This year I intend to be one of them.

Well… I probably won’t be a super XC parent, because my high school runner is for sure not on board with that. 🙂 But with training I could be if I wanted to. And that’s what counts.

Fall sport in your future? Will this be the season you are unstoppable? Put in the summer mindset work! Let’s chat in a free mini session!