New Year Goals – How you doing?

Well, we’re one month into 2017 and I’m wondering how your goals/resolutions/intentions are coming along?

If you’ve popped by this blog recently, you probably noticed that I only set some intentions for the year last week. I’m still working on my race schedule, but so far I’m just trying my best to keep it together for the first month of 2017.

Often it seems like this is a tough time of year for some people. Winter blues are kicking in, maybe some goals haven’t been started, or we could be putting too much pressure on ourselves so this is causing stress or anxiety. Trust me, I’ve been feeling this a little bit myself lately. I know it’s not easy, but maybe this is a good time to re-visit the goals we set to see if they can be adjusted to suit our needs and wants more. Maybe they need to be a little more realistic, or broken down into more manageable pieces. Whatever it takes, I’d say now is a good time to start this process.

The important part here is that you don’t give up on those goals! Keep moving forward.

If you’re reading this and thinking “Crystal, you’re crazy, why are you checkin’ in on me?“, that’s ok. 😉 There’s totally another reason why I’m harassing you about your goals/intentions/resolutions: I’m offering a fun little giveaway over on Instagram!!

Momentum Jewelry 2017

Head on over to my Instagram to enter!

If you’re finding yourself in need of a little motivation and inspiration, then my Momentum Jewelry giveaway is for you! Head on over to my Instagram for all the details and how to enter! 🙂

Are you sticking to your goals so far? Are there any you can adjust so that they are more attainable?

Where My Goals At?

How bad is it that I don’t have any goals set in stone for 2017 yet?

I don’t make resolutions, but I do like to set some intentions and general guidelines for myself in regards to what I would like to accomplish or stay focused on throughout the year.

So, for some reason, I’m a little behind and trying not to worry too much about it… yet.

This new year actually started off with some less-than-awesome news, but I’m really hoping that the “when a door closes, another door opens” quote will come into play here. So, now that the dust has settled a little, it’s time to start thinking about some goals/intentions that I’d like to keep in mind for 2017.

YogiCrystal Running 2017

Goals, Intentions, Dreams for 2017

~ Get a race schedule figured out. Starting to panic a little here. I have only scheduled in the SeaWheeze Half Marathon (YAY!!!) for August, but as someone who has a long term BQ goal, I obviously need some plans & structure for my race schedule.

~ Continue to do well in school. Stay focused, take it all in, learn lots, build skills, and work on that networking thing. (Introvert alert here!)

~ Have more compassion for myself. I feel like I write this one down every year. Always a work in progress, but I need to have more compassion for myself when times get tough.

~ Work with a great team of likeminded individuals.

~ Cross train more. Yoga. Meditation. Cycling. Ideally I can get a coach at some point to help me with this… not easy on a grad student’s budget! Keep in mind that I need to train smarter. Aim to get faster. PB. 🙂

~ Travel. Find ways to travel for races, but on a good budget. Most likely staying local & in Canada this year. The U.S. dollar hurts. Also, visit family and friends.

~ Read more. This one is hard to do as a grad student because I feel like I should always be reading textbooks and journal articles, but I love novels and need more casual/fun reading in my life. Trying to make more time for this. Same goes for writing, need to get on this blog more! (Side note: this involves actually starting my re-brand… scary stuff.)

~ Run with people more. Tough to find a run crew around work schedules that involve evenings, but I’m going to keep an eye out. This could help with my introvertness and to keep running fun & interesting. Be part of an awesome community offline & on –> Which includes recently being chosen and a Nuun Ambassador! If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you can probably tell that I love Nuun, so this was certainly fun news to receive this month!

~ Breathe. Focus on positivity more. Smile. Have gratitude, write it down.

~ Health. Keep focused on healthy lifestyle. Try to reduce stress. Eat at home more. Cook, try new recipes. Share. Find a mentor. See joy in the experience. Appreciate the little things.

That’s a good start for the year, right?

I’m sure I may add to this as time goes on, but this is what I am starting with. Nothing here really involves tons of pressure and that’s how I operate best. I don’t set resolutions, because if I “fail” I will feel awful. Trying to avoid feeling awful, but I also know I actually need to set some running goals. I have that BQ by 40 dream & I need focus and strength to get there.

Picking myself up from the start of this year and ready to charge on!

Did you set any intentions for 2017? Please share one that stands out for you as really important! 

Or, are you like me and haven’t set any goals in stone yet? 

Summer of less run, more bike

Woah, it’s been awhile since my last post.

To be honest, I can’t believe how fast time flies. {Who doesn’t say this?!} Seems like it wasn’t that long ago when I was training for my first full marathon and going through all the emotions involved. All that worry and anxiety is now over and I’m now starting to plan for my second marathon training… Which reminds me, I still need to do a race recap about my first marathon! I haven’t done this yet because for some reason it seems difficult for me to sit down and articulate all of the emotions and memories involved in that race. Part of me can’t even believe it’s finished. Like, did I seriously run that far? Crazy! I wonder if anyone else can relate…

Since the marathon I’ve been on a bit of a break, running less and trying to enjoy other activities. I’ve mostly added cycling into my weekly routine, which has been a fun change. Cycling is a nice challenge, while also being a little easier on my body. I’ve been bike commuting to work more and last Sunday I did a 52 KM ride with the bf all around Calgary. It was tough, but also so much fun! He’s trying to encourage me to ride 100KM… we’ll have to see how that goes!

Post 52K cycling smile!

Post 52K cycling smile!

In all honesty, I’ve been struggling to find my motivation this summer. I’ve been finding it difficult to get up in the morning (even when it’s sunny) and occasionally struggling throughout the day. Usually, the summer months are prime for me to get up early either to workout/run or to just relax with a cup of coffee & a book on the balcony. But, not this year and I’m not sure why. Granted it’s been a very tough past 7+ months for me as I’ve battled with some tough situations and also grief, so I am guessing that some of that comes into play. I’d certainly like to turn this around soon because September is about to get very busy & I’m going to need all the motivation I can get!

Anyone else feeling a summer slump? How do you stay motivated? Got any fall goals? (Eek, I don’t even like writing out the word “fall”… hahaha no rush!)

Looking forward to the road ahead!

Looking forward to the road ahead!

My First Marathon Training Update #2

Marathon training is starting to get serious, so I know you’ve been wondering how it’s going. My last update shared some of my ups & downs and I can say that these past few weeks haven’t been much easier.

I’ll just say it here now… Marathon training is hard. Mentally, physically, and spiritually. Training for 42.2K has tested my resolve and my physical capabilities every damn week. I can’t say that any run has been easy the past few weeks. I have questioned my goal many times over and over, but I have also felt strong and rewarded. What a roller coaster!

Riley Park 2016

Week 7

45 min run ~ 7.3KM
Yoga
7.78KM run
7.4KM run {10 min easy, 4 x (5 min tempo, 2 min walk), 10 mins easy = 46mins}
96 mins run ~ 14.52KM

Week 8

50 mins run ~ 7.7KM
25 mins run ~ 4KM (was supposed to be 50 mins of speed work)
42 mins run – 7.15KM {10 mins easy, 10 x (1 min fast, 1 min jog), 12 mins easy}
20 KM run ~ 2 hours, 14 mins — breakdown around 16K, cried on a park bench, almost quit running (was supposed to be 22KM)

Week 9

50 mins run ~ 8.66KM
Bike – 31 mins (1st outdoor bike ride of the season!)
45 mins run ~ 7.8KM tempo run {10 mins easy, 5 x (3 mins tempo, 2 mins jog), 10 mins easy}
Bike – approx 60 mins
24 KM run ~ 2 hours, 43 mins (no breakdown around 16K – woohoo! Pace a little slower than I would have liked, but still nice to finish this run!)

Calgary Bike 2016

1st Ride of the season!

Week 10

Bike – approx 60 mins
50 mins run ~ 7.87KM (treadmill)
Bike – approx 60 mins
30 mins run ~ 5.2KM {10 mins easy, 5 x 224m speed bursts, jog recovery, 10 mins easy} (indoor track) (was supposed to be a 56 min tempo run but I had limited time this day due to schedule changes, so I improvised)
30 mins run – 5KM easy
25.30 KM run + 1.70 KM walk (27KM) ~ 3 hours, 1 min (minor breakdown at 19.5K, hot, dehydrated, and left foot/ankle hurt so I tapped out at 25.3 K and walked the remaining 1.7 K to reach 27K. Considered quitting running & wasn’t impressed with myself. Definitely a tough run.)

There you have it, the last few weeks of my training. As you can see, it hasn’t been easy. Not that I thought marathon training would be easy, but I thought that I might be stronger than this. I had more confidence in myself and my abilities, but I feel like I am falling short. Learning lots about myself this training cycle, that is for sure. I definitely need more strength training after this and possibly more time spent meditating to boost my mental game.

In spite of everything, at least I can say that I am doing my best.

I’m 6 weeks out and I am doing my best.

I’m not telling you this to bring the mood down or to be negative… I’m telling you this because I’m real to a fault. This is my honest marathon journey. As you can see, I need some moral support. So, if you’re offering… 😉

Anyway, it’s crunch time… I’ve got this!

How do you find motivation when training gets tough? 

Thinking Out Loud #3

Feels like a good time to think out loud (ramble) this week on the blog… So, here it goes!

  • Have you ever seen a runner have a breakdown on a park bench? Well, now some of the nice folks of Calgary have witnessed such a fine moment. Yep, I had a little breakdown around 16K during my long run on Sunday and I just couldn’t hold it in. I seem to have a mental block (or a wall) around 16K and I’m not sure why. I’m going to try a different strategy pre long run this weekend to see if it makes a difference because this needs to change if I’m going to get my distance running done. I had 22K on the schedule, but managed “only” 20K because my form started to suffer and I didn’t want to aggravate my old left foot injury. Hoping this weekend’s long run will be better!

Post run contemplation

  • On a more positive note, I’m happy to announce that I’ve been chosen as a Momentum Jewelry Champion level ambassador! Super excited to collaborate with this awesome company and other inspiring ambassadors this spring/summer. 🙂
  • On the hydration side, I’m looking for your tips on the best sugar free hydration tabs/powder/etc. These things tend to aggravate my stomach big time, so I’m worried about trying them but also think I need to add some extra electrolyte love to my body.
Momentum Ambassador

Yay Momentum Ambassador!

  • Went for my first bike ride of the season yesterday and I loved it! I seriously have so much fun cycling, I’m like a kid when out riding. I hope to start thinking about training for a duathlon someday, but of course the marathon training is first!
  • I haven’t made any huge announcements in regards to this point on social media, but I wanted to put it out there now. There are 2 charities that I’m unofficially training/running my marathon for. I know I should make this more official, but I’ve had so much going on in my life that my mind and focus has been taken away from these things that I deeply care about. I know these are tough times, but if you can spare some funds please consider donating to the Diabetes Association in memory of my grandfather who recently passed. Or, I’ve also teamed up with JP’s Team to help spread the word and raise awareness for this great charity – Little Warriors. You can make a donation by going to this page here. (Keep an eye out here or on Twitter/Instagram for more details on this in the future 🙂 )

So, that’s my past week… just a few ups & downs!

Feel like sharing? Let me know what you’re training for and if you’ve encountered any “walls”. How do you get over the humps?

Getting Lost in More Ways than One

Did you know that every time I try a new path while running, I get lost?

I often run the same paths/trails over and over again because they’re comfortable – or guaranteed to be clear – and that gets a little boring. So, occasionally I’ll decide to go a different direction to try a new path and to take in new scenery. And then I get lost. It’s actually quite funny. This happened to me a number of times in Toronto and now here in Calgary.

On the weekend I went for my long run in the morning in an attempt to beat the rain coming in the forecast. I took one of my usual paths but then decided I would run on the opposite side of the river for a change. Well, that path turned out to be still quite icy and slushy and it’s actually changed since the floods ripped through the city in 2013. I forgot about this. I forgot how this might change the path from when I last ran/rode my bike on it in 2012. Silly me. I went far enough on the path until I realized I would get very lost or I would end up in too much ice/snow and possibly hurt myself.

Run Calgary

There was a point that I stopped and cursed myself. I was upset for getting lost AGAIN. Was this a stupid move for me? Was this a sign that I shouldn’t try new things – in running and in life? Yeah, I went there for a moment. I was approximately 11KM into my run and I was feeling a little tired after negotiating icy paths for about 3K, so my mind went a little crazy for a few minutes. I also managed to somehow mess up my watch and lost my distance, so that frustrated me too.

But then I had to tell my brain to f*ck off. Seriously, there was no need to go into the dark thoughts. It was a nice day out… the dark clouds were coming and I wasn’t dressed for rain, but it wasn’t too cold out. I just had to shake it off and go back the way I came to get back to a familiar area. No big deal. So, I took 3 deep, long breaths and started my watch again and took off back the other way. I negotiated all that damn ice again and got back to a familiar spot on the trail so that I was able to navigate myself back home. I beat the rain just in time and only ended up going .66KM over my planned distance for the day (10 mins over my goal time though).

Once I just let it go, it ended up being a nice run and a bit of an adventure. But, isn’t that how life goes sometimes? Occasionally we can take surprise turns, get frustrated, but then end up back on a path in the right direction. Sometimes it may be the wrong direction, but that’s the journey, right?

Yoga March 2016 YYC

Got to hide those runner feet lol

Funny enough, this run almost parallels where my life is right now. Running in all directions, getting lost, getting frustrated, and having to tell my mind to be quiet. Thank goodness I went to a wonderful 2 hour yoga class hosted by Kim McNeil Yoga so that I could take my mind off things and be around supportive and wonderful people. I realize I need more of this in my life right now. I probably shouldn’t get lost too many times during my runs, but being “lost” in an amazing yoga class can be relaxing and freeing. And seriously, this is what I need right now.

How do you deal with getting lost (life or when outdoors)?

Thinking Out Loud #2

Oh hey look, I’m Thinking Out Loud on a Thursday… Now I’m doing it right! 😉

(ps. If you’re sitting there wondering what I am talking about, check out Running With Spoons to find out more about this great blogging opportunity excuse to ramble on about a few key topics in your week.)

I’ll just get to it then…

– I am exhausted. Yes, I know we all are really, but I haven’t slept very much over the past 4 – 5 days and it’s starting to get to me. I can’t seem to sleep through the night, I toss & turn, and wake up A LOT. Not really sure what’s going on, but I need to figure it out fast. If you’re wondering, yes I do drink caffeine. I have one cup of coffee in the morning and then one decaf coffee later in the morning/early afternoon, so I don’t think I’m consuming that much. I might have to switch out the caffeinated coffee to test it… but, I’m going to wait a few more days to see what happens. It’s puzzling to me because I’m running & working out more as my marathon training has ramped up + I have magnesium before I go to bed. I guess I will have to see if this is just a minor thing or if it lasts longer. Either way, I’m sleepy!

Running Calgary

– Somewhat related… maybe I need to look at my nutrition and make some adjustments. My weekly mileage isn’t extremely high yet, but I have amped up the runs and workouts and it may be time to add in more foods to keep my energy up. I generally eat quite healthy with a few small treats here and there (wings & nachos, hello!), but I may start to need more protein and possibly some supplements as training goes on.

– Back in 2013 I wrote this post and submitted it to the Elephant Journal. It was a goal of mine & it actually came through and now here I am 3 years later finding myself in the same situation that the post refers to. At the time I was working with an amazing cause called Power of Movement and I was surrounded by yoga and great teachers pretty much every day. I had completed my yoga teacher training in 2009 and sort of got away from teaching as I moved to Calgary to Toronto and back and lost my way a little bit. After this article, I did not go back to teaching. I got sucked up into my admin job world and didn’t pursue additional steps to get back into teaching. Why? Well, because I actually have a huge fear of speaking in front of groups of people. I want to teach yoga/fitness and this is my major fear. Crazy, right? I think so. It’s kind of ironic that I’m back in this place that’s mentioned in the post, thinking again about how I want to get out there and teach classes, have fun, and inspire people… but I’m afraid. There’s something to admit, eh? The next step is to really consider what I should do to move beyond this fear. To put myself out there. To go after what I want.

Home Yoga

GoPro + Yoga + Coffee = 🙂

– Can I just say that I’ve been enjoying this mild Calgary winter so far? It’s helped my running by allowing me to get outdoors to train more & I think it’s also kept some of my seasonal affective disorder at bay. I’ve been through a lot over the past 2 months, so I’m glad that the winter blues haven’t really been thrown into the mix. This city is going through some tough times as well (economy down, job loss, etc.), so it’s nice to have the mild weather allowing people to be outdoors and staying active during this downturn.

– Anyone else scoping out spring running gear yet? Mild or tough winter, I think it’s fun to check out the new colours and patterns coming out for the spring. Now, to just keep my wallet in my purse and to only purchase what I need. (New Saucony Guides are in my future because I need them for training 😉 )

What’s got you thinking out loud on this fine Thursday? 

Crisis of Runner’s Faith

Is it lack of motivation?

Is it fear?

Or, is it just time to take a break?

For the past week or so, I’ve been experiencing what I’ll call a Crisis of Runner’s Faith. I finished Star Wars Half and the next day I started to wonder why I am doing this. Why have I been putting my body (and mind) through this? What am I trying to accomplish?

I Love Running

Source: Unknown (downloaded image awhile ago)

The only race I have planned as of right now is my first marathon on May 29. That’s about 4 months from now and it seems both so close and so far away at the same time. I’ve been trying to think about the reasons for taking on my first marathon. And of course, while I am thinking about it the fears come up and my crazy mind takes over.

Can I do it? Can I handle the training? Will I ever qualify for Boston?

Seriously, my mind has been running rampant.

Of course, I have a lot of other things going on in my personal life. I’ve been hit by a bit of a rough patch, and I’m just trying to keep in mind that this may be affecting my runner’s faith. Plus, returning to winter running after a nice break in California certainly has had an effect on my seasonal affective disorder. At this time I need to remind myself that other things are going on and that running is actually good for me. Running keeps me sane. Running helps with my anxiety. These kinds of benefits are important to my life. So, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to quit.

No, I know I don’t want to quit.

runners crisis

But even though I know I don’t want to quit, I still need to find ways to remind myself of why I am doing this running thing. I need to remember how it helps with my depression and anxiety. I need to read and see inspiring stories. I need to know that I can overcome these obstacles both in running and in life. Sure, I need to live in the here and now, but I also need to look ahead and realize that this current rough patch isn’t forever. I need to remember that I can get through this.

Side note: Having awesome support all around me helps a lot, that’s for sure! Plus, watching inspirational Ironman videos like this one and this one. Or, this Xterra Championship video here. Plus many many more if you go down the YouTube rabbit hole. 🙂

Have you ever experienced a crisis of runner’s / triathlete’s / swimmer’s / fitness faith? How did you bounce back?

My Word for 2016

Over the past week I have been inspired by fellow bloggers and Instagrammers who have posted about their word for the year. Since I don’t really do resolutions, I thought that considering a word – or short mantra if you will – would be more productive and meaningful for me.

I thought it over for a few days, but really I already had the word in mind. In my last post I mentioned that instead of a resolution I was just going to try to be more gentle on myself. To tone down the self-criticism and negative talk. So, as a result, my word for 2016 will be… Compassion.

Compassion.

For myself and others.

compassion Jan2016

Unfortunately, during tough times I can become quite negative. Trust me, I’ve been trying to work on this over the years because it isn’t productive and it just drains energy. Life can be very difficult at times (hello end of 2015), but being negative does not make things better. Beating myself up and blaming myself, definitely doesn’t help either. So, I need to be more compassionate towards myself. I need to go a little easier on me when life’s shitty moments happen. I’m not to blame for everything, so I need to cut that out.

I need to be compassionate and caring about the state that I am in (especially when others aren’t). Some people don’t understand depression and anxiety, and that’s fine, but when someone says to me “omg just get over it” I need to let that go and be caring toward myself instead. I also can’t spend energy taking on everyone else’s shit when I got enough of my own. But, compassion towards others who need it most is important too. Seriously, in this day and age we need to take care of each other more. Times are tough for a lot of us, let’s have more compassion for others and help when we can.

Truth be told, I’ll probably have to revisit this post many times throughout the year. I’ll need to remind myself of this promise, so I’ll write it in my journal and repeat it as a mantra when needed. This word for 2016 is very important to me and I need to do my best.. I owe it to my self, soul, and heart. ❤

2015 – The Positive Side of a Challenging Year

Wow, this year really flew by! Seems like it wasn’t that long ago when I was looking back on 2014 and reviewing successes and perceived failures, and here we are again.

To be very honest, I don’t really like New Year’s. I feel like there is so much pressure on thinking about how to make the next year better that it causes me anxiety. Especially after having a tough year. 2015 really had its up and downs, and unfortunately there were definitely more downs. There were more challenges than I would have liked to face. I know this is how life goes, but I honestly now feel more pressure to make 2016 better because of how 2015 went… and this is distressing. Yes, this should be a happier time of year, but I can’t be the only one ruminating on the past year during this holiday season.

Playing with my GoPro in the snow!

Playing with my GoPro in the snow!

Because of all this, I know I have to focus on positive events that happened in 2015, so I started compiling a list in my journal that I also wanted to share here. It’s a good reminder to consider the happy events that occurred, no matter how big or small. I personally need to feel a sense of accomplishment from other events because career and life were a bit challenged this year. So, here’s a list of some of my better moments of 2015

– Started the year off going to California for the first time in my life to run the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland

– Visited family in Halifax, Nova Scotia & ran a 10K race while I was there

– Put my feet in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans in the same year!

– Moved across the country to Calgary again without too much stress 😉

– Ran 4 half marathons – Star Wars (California), GoodLife (Toronto), Stampede Road Race (Calgary), and Harvest Half Marathon (Calgary)

– Ran a couple 5 & 10Ks in Toronto, Halifax, and Calgary

– Ran my longest distance – 30K – at Around the Bay in March and kicked butt!

– Met awesome running friends in Toronto after finally putting myself out there (and I miss them very much!)

– Ran my first whole winter outdoors in Toronto. This took perseverance!

– Went to some pretty fun country music concerts – Eric Church – Dierks Bently, Randy Houser, Tim Hicks – Miranda Lambert

– Had tons of fun at this year’s Calgary Stampede with awesome people & got to be a junk food judge for a day! (I was soooo full!)

– Saw California in the summer time (and didn’t want to leave)

– Had box seats to a Blue Jays game with my best friend (her first game live!)

– Got good grades in a course I’m taking so far

– Took lots of fun pics with my GoPro (looking forward to getting better at this!)

– Started running with the local Mec running group and met some cool people

– Ran over 1000KMs for the first time in my life!

I’m sure I could list more, but this post has to end at some point. The whole idea is that it’s good to have a look over the awesome things that happened during the year when you feel like it wasn’t that great. Trying not to ruminate too much on the bad and keeping in mind all the good. I also have to thank everyone involved in these awesome moments, I am forever grateful to have you all in my life.

I heart Venice Beach

I heart Venice Beach

As a closing, I’ll let you know that I don’t really do resolutions. In general I strive to do my best and be a good person, so I think that’s what matters. One thing I will do though is set the intention to be easier on myself in 2016. I’m going to try very hard at this because I am certainly my own worst critic. I need to be more proud of what I’ve done and focus more on how to stay positive during tough times. This will take work, but it’s something I know I need to do for myself.

I hope everyone has a lovely New Year’s and I wish you all the best for 2016! ❤

Do you set resolutions or intentions? Why or why not?