Highlights, Lowlights & Insights from my Month-Long Fitness Challenge
Photo by shaire productions - Creative Commons Attribution License https://www.flickr.com/photos/9822107@N08 Created with Haiku Deck
The idea to commit to 30 runs in 30 days in October was hatched, improbably, over giant steins of IPA at a neighborhood Oktoberfest party.
To be clear, this is not a hugely impressive fitness feat. (I'm married to a guy who does Ironmans, after all). But for a busy working mom with two premier soccer-playing kids, in a particularly hectic month, it was challenge enough. I'd been trying to run regularly, but running is often the first thing to fall off the plate when things get too full.
Our friend Eric was also looking to jump-start his fitness, and my husband Scot was the instigator, so we all clinked mugs to seal the deal. I was in.
Our semi-official rule was that you had to commit one 30-minute run a day. If you missed a day, you could do a double to make it up.
I'm not a particularly fast runner, so generally I was shooting for a little over 3 miles a day, but I adjusted my pace to how I was feeling each day.
The no headphones is my personal rule -- I've been experimenting with that after a couple of nasty falls this summer, and I've enjoyed reducing the overall noise and letting my thoughts float freely.
Though I'm lucky to live in a beautiful, running-friendly neighborhood (Seward Park), I also had a goal of trying to run in some new places, too.
I've been running in my Brooks PureFlows for a while and loving them. With the transitional weather, my Brooks running capris and my SmartWool tank were versatile, go-to items.
I started using EveryMove a couple months ago, and I had found logging a "super active" day every day to be surprisingly satisfying and motivating. My other "carrot" was to snap a photo of a beautiful scene or moment from each run.
(Full disclosure: Both Brooks and EveryMove are current clients, but both make great products that I’d use even if they weren’t!)
But by far the most important thing was the new mindset -- there's a subtle but powerful shift when you start thinking not about if you'll be able to squeeze a run in, but when and where.
Brooks PureFlow: http://bit.ly/brookspureflow3
The first run was a beauty -- late afternoon on my go-to loop around Seward Park, with glorious golden afternoon sun.
A good friend playing with his dog
Since I run around Seward Park frequently, I love observing the changing colors and conditions. On day 2, the water was amazingly still and clear.
Kids on training wheels
On Day 3 I drove my daughter to her soccer game near Delridge and headed toward the Alki Trail. I ran a little further than I intended because I just had to get a glimpse of the skyline, and I ended up missing part of the game. Luckily I got back in time to see her team seal the win!
Rusty industrial stuff
Magenta ivy covering a wall
Day 4 was another soccer run (a frequent theme for me). The 45-minute pre-game warmup is the perfect amount of time to squeeze in a run. I'd never run in this neighborhood before. The architecture and the views were breathtaking. The hills were...buttkicking.
Brother teaching little sister how to ride a motorscooter (no helmets)
Rad mid-century modern architecture
Another spectacular October day, with crisp greens and blues that reminded me of a Seurat painting.
Pastel blues and greens
Ultimate frisbee players
squeezed in a loop around my old Capitol Hill neighborhood right right before school pickup. Taking a cue from my soccer-playing kids, I got pretty good at changing discreetly in the car.
This run had a bumpy finish -- as I neared the school, I started getting pinged with texts from my daughter asking if she could go home with a friend. But was worth it to revisit Volunteer Park on such a spectacular day.
Deco facade of Seattle Asian Art Museum building
Space Needle, in the distance
A track run during soccer practice up at Ingraham. Watching the football players practice took me right back to my own high school days, which just don't seem as long as ago as they are.
Coach getting team fired up
Girlfriends waiting around for practice to end
Soccer mom friends doing walking laps
I had to fly to Califiornia to present at a conference, and discovered this absolutely breathtaking place to run. I ran along the beach and up through the cliffs -- spectacular and invigorating. The smell of jasmine and the taste of salt air made this one really memorable.
Kids and dogs playing in tidepools
Incredible, decrepit modern boxes overlooking the ocean for sale
After my talk I bolted back to the beach, to this intriguingly named spot that had captured my fancy on the map. I thought working some steps into the program would mix things up. It was spectacular -- but there definitely weren't 1,000 steps, and the beach itself was pretty short. I ran up and down the beach and the steps a few times to get my 30 minutes in.
Crazy cantilevered houses
Dramatically striated rocks
Back home, I did my usual Seward Park loop (at night this time), trying to appreciate the beautiful golden leaves after two days in the deliciously warm California sunshine.
Cool modern house I hadn't noticed before lit up
Golden leaves practically glowing in the dark
This part of Seward Park gets pretty packed with swimmers and motorboats in the summer, and there's something really beautiful about its stillness in the off months.
Abandoned lifeguard perches
I drove my son out to the Kitsap Peninsula for a weekend of soccer scrimmages. In the morning I checked out the Clear Creek Trail hugging the water right by the hotel.
Elderly couple out for a walk, holding hands
Hulking, rusted industrial machinery
Clam shells dropped by seagulls, crunching underfoot
Another soccer practice run, this time near Twin Ponds in Shoreline. There aren't many places to run up there without running into the highway or getting tangled in uninspiring cul-de-sacs, so I headed down to the Lakeside track. I could have used headphones for this one, but I kept myself focused by running a lap in each lane, then switching lanes, alternating faster and slower.
Campus that looks like an east coast university
Volleyball team returning from a meet
My son goes to school on Mercer Island, so sometimes I sneak in a run between work and picking him up. Luther Burbank Park is small but spectacular, with lots of gorgeous lake views. I just wind through the park a few times, but I always make sure to run out on these concrete docks that are entirely surrounded by water.
I had a humorously close call this time -- I was holding my car key in my hand for some reason, and I dropped it on the concrete. It skidded right to the edge and miraculously didn't drop....
Cool mounded-earth sculptures
Winding walking paths
Blue, blue water everywhere
These beautiful stone lanterns are a favorite spot on my "go-to" Seward Park lake edge run. I love the changing colors of the lake and sky.
Decorative stone lanterns
Trees beginning to lose their leaves
The light on this run while my son practiced at Magnuson was absolutely magical -- just golden and glowing.
This was also the day that I started feeling a little tightness in my hip, so I had to stop to stretch a few times.
When my kids are home alone I don't like to go too far, so I confine myself to running up and down my street. This little lane I hadn't noticed before reminded me of a small town in Italy.
Modern house renovation coming along nicely
Mail carrier making the rounds
Another pre-soccer game run, up on Beacon Hill. The views of downtown are spectacular, and it was cool to see how much the playgrounds and trails and public art have been built out since the last time I'd been up there.
Japanese rock cairns
I had to pick my son up from a friend's house in Bellevue, so I worked in a run on the east side for variety. Meydenbauer Beach Park was beautiful but tiny, so I wound over to the downtown park. The scene reminded me of a European promenade, with everyone out walking and socializing. The nice, soft surface was a treat, too.
Sailboats on Lake Washington
Expensive baby strollers and purses
This was probably my favorite new discovery of the month -- I've lived in Seattle for years, but had never explored this particular area of Queen Anne. I wound up and down cobblestone streets and hidden staircases in the blue twilight, and there were so many breathtaking views of the Sound, the ferries, and the sunset. Then I changed back into my work clothes (yes, in the car) and went to chat and drink wine with friends at my monthly moms group meeting.
Old-school streetlights, each with its own numbered placard
Fluffy golden moss
I had to savor that feeling of discovery for a few days, because I found myself confined to the block for various reasons. My son and I took the train to Portland for a couple of days, and the only time I could run was on the block with my headlamp, before the kids woke up. Not particularly inspiring or scenic, but it got the job done.
I tried to talk my 9-year-old son into either going running with me or letting me go out for a short run in Portland, but he just wasn't up for it. I briefly contemplated running in place while we watched TV. But in the end I just counted some of the extra mileage I'd accrued and took this day off -- and my legs and hip were happy for a little break.
Rad dictionary wallpaper
Impossibly cool Wexley execs drinking Stumptown and prepping their pitches in the lobby
My sleeping son, adorably crashed out by 9:00
On this night I was crunched for time, and I was trying to cook dinner and get my run in, at the same time. I had to brown a pork loin for 10 minutes, so I set the timer and ran up and down our stairs and around the basement ping-pong table, stopping to turn it over every few minutes.
Next the pork went into the oven for 10 minutes, so I ran up and down the street until it was time to take it out.
Then the meat had to rest for 10 minutes, so I did more laps up and down the street. You could call this resourceful or ridiculous. Probably both.
A rogue vine growing through a tiny crack in the window, into the basement
That sweater I'd been looking for (must have taken it off during a heated game of ping pong)
One perfectly cooked pork tenderloin
Recipe for tender pork tenderloin:
My son gets anxious about staying home alone, but it was truly the only option on this day. We agreed that I would only run on our immediate block (which fortunately includes a pretty good hill), and that I would stop in every 10 minutes to check on him. Not the most exciting run, but we got through it, and I could keep an eye on our house the whole time.
Japanese maple needs some pruning
Driveway light bulbs need replacing
Next-door neighbor also heading out on a run
After that string of relatively uninspiring days, I was excited to break free from the block, even on the first truly rainy day of the month.
Decorative cabbages (I'm not usually a fan, but they look great here)
Japanese maples in a rainbow of colors
Families trudging back to the car in their Halloween costumes, soaked to the bone after a rainy 5K fun run
I'd been watching this tree transform all month -- it looked particularly amazing on this day.
Incredible fall colors
Finally, I was able to break free not just from the block but the neighborhood, and mix it up a little. I had a beautiful run up Lake Park Drive toward Mt. Baker, up around the neighborhood and down through Colman Park. The sunshine at the end of the tunnel seemed particularly symbolic.
Massive moss-covered trees
Impressive pea-patch crops of winter kale
Golden leaves in the sunshine
This is one of my favorite little secret views in Seward Park. If you go all the way to the end of Willow Street, you can catch a glimpse of this rad boathouse that looks like something out of a James Bond movie. It happens to belong to some friends, and our kids have both jumped off the boathouse into the lake.
Hidden (deserted) kids' playground
Waves lapping at the shore
Another soccer-practice run, this time around Green Lake. The clear blue sky and lake were a perfect backdrop for brainstorming.
"Free Spanish lessons" guy actually giving a lesson
Water like glass
I had to dig deep to finish out the month in the pouring rain -- truly, an outright downpour. Running in the rain is never as bad as it seems once you get out there....really......
Giant raindrops on the lake
A couple other brave souls out for a run
I did slightly under half my October runs in my neighborhood, and 9 in places I'd never run before.
I would definitely make a special trip to run at Corona del Mar again!
By the end of the month, my shoes were pretty much shot and my hip definitely needed a few days of rest.
But I definitely felt inspired to keep running! The revelation for me was that although I sometimes feel like I can't afford the time to run, in truth I can't afford not to run.
I get so many moments of clarity that fuel my creativity and my work when I'm running, and I have more patience and energy overall. So although I don't need to run every single day, I do want to keep running at least a few times a week.
If you're interested in giving #30runs30days a try, I'd suggest having a quiver of shoes to mix things up a bit. I just added a new pair of Brooks Glycerins to my lineup, and I'm enjoying a little more cushioning.
I also find that I need to keep yoga in my mix -- it has definitely helped my hip now that I've been adding the Bikram series back a couple times a week.
But really, it's the mindset that makes the difference. For me, it was not worrying too much about my times, and that subtle shift to planning when I'd work each day's run in, vs. thinking maybe I'd get to it later.
Bikram Yoga Seattle:
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