Lessons from Training for My First Half Marathon (So Far)

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My first half marathon is scheduled for October 18th and I couldn’t be more excited.

I also couldn’t be more filled with fear and panic!

I first started running sometime in 2009 while I was still living at my mom’s after just moving to Hawaii. I couldn’t make it down the .75mi stretch of road without feeling like death… and that probably took me about 12 minutes. My goal was always to run a half marathon, but I never trained consistently enough. Nor did I commit myself to it enough to change my lifestyle and diet.

Several years later I would cross the finish line of the Great Aloha, an 8.1mi run in Hawaii, with my mom and her co-worker. We probably ran 7ish of the total distance, but took lots of walk breaks. Before that, the most I ran without stopping was just under 3mi (during training, I had also run most of the Color Run 5K, but not all of it).

After moving back to CO, I decided to try again, “for real this time.” I had to stop due to being burned out in general with exercise and life and took a long time away from working out in general. Then, this past spring, I decided it was time.

I started at week 0 of 24 in this program.

Week 0 was literally just walking… and so I walked. Then, I moved into interval training and slowly but surely worked my way up to 5mi just a handful of weeks ago in Portland, OR. My legs carried me five long miles. FIVE. Without walking or stopping. In between that I had a lot of bad runs, some awesome runs, a 5K that I completed faster than my (totally arbitrary) goal of 35min, and a lot of foam rolling, Thai massages, lessons learned, and frustration.

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Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Hydration, diet, and rest are everything. You can’t just go out and start running all the time, and you certainly can’t do any distance running without paying attention to your diet and hydration. At first I was okay without a lot of focus on diet and hydration, but I was also doing intervals for less than a mile. Now that I regularly run 3+ miles on a training day, my body says OH HELL NO when there’s not enough water in more, or if I’ve eaten like garbage. Also, resting is so essential to getting stronger and running further. So essential.
  • You will have a lot of bad runs. It’s funny… I knew this going into it but I constantly had to remind myself that this is a journey. Just because I have a week of awesome runs, doesn’t mean the following weeks will be awesome. It just means that I’ve crossed over one hurdle in my training and am moving into a whole new level. As soon as the mileage picks up, I’m more than likely to start having hard, bad runs again. I’ve had a whole bunch of bad runs lately and it’s like I forgot that at one point I couldn’t even go a whole mile. This is a journey, this is a journey, this is a journey.
  • You will get sick or hurt, plan accordingly. I have done both so far. First I got sick and had to take a week off early on, then had to repeat a week to get back into the groove. Then I hurt my back moving and had to take a week off, after already having a bad “off” week, and had to ease back into training. I’m so glad I accidentally had almost two months worth of extra weeks built into my time between starting and my scheduled half.
  • You need support and guidance. I couldn’t have done what I’ve done so far without my running group and coaches. I signed up for this program and it’s worth every penny. I post in the group for accountability and when I need a kick in the butt or support. I also post if I have a question about something that’s coming up while I run. While lots of people just go out and train for half and full marathons, you’ll have a better chance of making it through without injury if you have a great coach and support.
  • You have to know when to push and when to take a break. I learned that this last week. I had one day where I needed to push through, and I did. I was able to run further than I thought and my legs are stronger because of it. Then I had a day where I needed to stop and take a break. Like several days away from running altogether. Fatigue and burnout is real, and it’s important to know the difference between when to push and when to stop. I stopped… got a Thai massage, did yoga, rode my bike, rested, and relaxed. It’s so important to honor your body.
  • You can go farther than you ever thought possible. I ran FIVE MILES without stopping… and soon I will run six and seven and all the way up to 13.1. I almost skipped my five miler in Portland because I had a lot of great excuses. But really, I was just scared. I’d been having bad runs and had never run five miles before (forgetting, obviously, that I had never run four miles either before I just one day ran it). I pushed my excuses aside and headed out on the road and I RAN FIVE MILES. I will be equally as impressed and terrified when it comes to six miles, which is soon. As my coach says, trust in your training. You can do it!!

I didn’t like running when I started, but I felt called to it. It’s taken several years for me to find myself as a runner, but I’m so glad I stuck to it all this time. Running is amazing. The “runner’s high” is worth the hard runs, it’s helped me push through some mental barriers I’ve had for a long time, allowed me to see what I’m physically capable of, and has become a true passion.

As much as it frustrates me at times, I absolutely love my training. My goal is to finish my first half marathon without walking… even if I move so slowly at times I may as well be walking. I want to run the entire thing. From there, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll push for a personal best, maybe I’ll train for a full. For now, I’ll keep working towards my first 13.1 with joy and massive frustration. :)

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What I Learned from Being Three Months Behind on ALL My Bills

Recently I was challenged by a commenter to share a story on my “happy blog” of a time when I was so behind on things for several months and didn’t know what I was going to do. This person was in a very negative space and assumed I wouldn’t have a story like this since I’m so happy all the time. Usually I don’t engage in those comments, but this time I felt compelled to do exactly that… because this is a part of my journey and has absolutely shaped who I am today.

One summer while living in Hawaii, I found myself three months behind on every major bill. Student loans, mortgage for my house (which I was renting at the time), car payment, credit cards, home owners association, and electric. I was also a month or two behind on my phone and internet. The only thing I wasn’t behind on was my rent, because I figured it made more sense to ensure I didn’t get evicted. And in case you’re wondering, three months is when Hawaiian Electric will shut off your power after no payments. Yeah.

This was one of the most stressful times in my life.

Living in one of the most expensive places, trying to build a business with my ex-boyfriend (who also had to pay bills from our shared revenue), having clients pay late or not at all, no regular influx of new work, and still completely lost in my quarter-life crisis.

Getting through each month had been a juggling act for some time, but eventually, I just fell behind and couldn’t catch up. There were times in those three months where I literally had to choose between gas or groceries, usually choosing a little of both… but making sure to get groceries first since the hold placed by gas stations could overdraw me on it’s own.

There were also points where I was so broke I actually owed the bank nearly $1,000 in overdrawn funds.

I remember conversations with my friends at the time when they wanted to go out for dinner or other fun activities. “I can’t, I’m broke,” I would say. “Haha, me too! Let’s go to the movies…” was always their reply, not understanding I was actually without money in that moment.

Many, many tears were shed during those three months, and honestly, in the months before and following. It was with some help from my mom, an influx of new work and past due payments, and a lot of hustle that allowed me to pull through that time. I paid my student loans and car payment late for an entire year following those three months because I could never quite get back ahead.

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Here’s what I learned from this time:

1) It’s really not the end of the world.

I remember the very first time I overdrew my bank account when I was in college by $20. I was so upset and nervous, feeling like my whole world was crashing in. I also felt the same way the first time I made a late credit card payment. I probably spent thousands of dollars on overdraft fees in the year in question. Thousands. While my credit dipped, it wasn’t the end of the world and I actually learned it’s better to overdraw your bank account than to pay a credit card late. I basically learned to be strategically broke!

Here’s the truth: I could very well have lost my house and my car, but I didn’t. Even if I had, it really wouldn’t have been the end of the world. My credit would have sucked, for awhile. I would have felt pretty crappy, for awhile. I probably would have had to move back into my parent’s house, for awhile. But then life would have gone on and I absolutely would have picked up the pieces. I’m not saying stop paying your bills because it’s no big deal, just relieve the pressure a bit by knowing it’s not the end of the world. Stuff can be replaced, credit can be rebuilt, and we’re wired for survival.

2) It’s possible to feel abundant when you have nothing.

One of my friends and coaches had given me an exercise to try around abundance several months before I fell behind, which I refer to as the “$100 bill practice”. Simply put, you keep a $100 bill in your wallet at all times and mentally spend it. Any time you’re out and about, you think to yourself, “I could buy that! I could sign up for that program! I could see that movie AND get a bucket of popcorn!” It trains you to approach life from a place of abundance and not scarcity. While going through this tumultuous time, I stuck with the practice, always thinking, if it comes down to it, I can pay something with this $100. Should I have paid something with it, probably… but maintaining the practice helped me stay in a place of possibility. I could get through this.

Since this hard time, I’ve had months that have been overwhelmingly challenging financially, one of which was actually last fall, and I’ll share more about that experience soon. Despite not having enough money at times, I always feel abundant and I credit it entirely to this practice.

3) This type of experience can change you for the good.

So long as you release the bad limiting beliefs and fears you pick up as well. I’ve worked hard to remove a lot of money blocks and limiting beliefs from those times. I’ve worked hard to restore the belief that I can generate as much money as I need and desire. But the habits I picked up weren’t all bad… for one, I’m much more conscious about when and how I invest my money. I work hard to live within my means, am aggressively tackling my debt, and learned to be a super saver shopper. I also fell in love with thrifting. For awhile, all I could do was buy second hand, but now it’s something I do for fun in addition to treating myself to new items. I’m not as wasteful as I was before, I appreciate the money I do have, even when it’s not a lot, and I have this unwavering sense of faith and trust. Trust that even if things do get that bad again, I’m capable of getting myself through it, because it’s not the end of the world and I’ve done it before.

4) There’s nothing more powerful than positive thinking.

When I replied to the commenter that inspired this post, I mentioned that I’d be happy to share my story, but they probably weren’t going to like it because it came down to mindset for me. While I got stressed and cried and felt utterly exhausted, I always stayed positive. I would break down, take a deep breath, focus on the fact that I hadn’t lost anything yet, and worked to trust that everything would work out. I truly believe that if I hadn’t had this practice in place, I wouldn’t have made it through. Things would have gotten worse, I would’ve lost my car or my house, and I would be scarred for life from this season.

5) We all have different tolerance levels for risk.

And debt. Mine is higher than most, yet if I could do it over again, I would have kept my bridge job for far longer than I did. I made it happen and I made it work, but it didn’t have to be as hard as I chose to make it. You have to be honest about your level of tolerance for risk and debt and act accordingly. There’s no right answer. I’m comfortable with debt because I’ve always known being broke and not making enough money to pay it off was never going to be my life long mode. Back to the last point, I’ve always believed in my ability to be successful and make things happen, and that’s carried me through and beyond this rough patch.

So tell me…

What have you learned, or what are you learning, from the most difficult experience of your life? What are the lessons and the gifts? How can you find the positive and use this experience to change you for the better?

PS – My life changing, signature program Foundations for Unshakable Joy™ starts on Monday, August 11th! This transformational program is the EXACT foundational process that took me from a stressed and depressed mess, to happy, fulfilled and living a life built around my passions and purpose. It has everything you need, and I’ll be there every step of the way guiding you, supporting you, coaching you and holding your hand as you step into your truth, uncover your passions, and begin to create alignment in your life and career. My promise to you: You’ll experience more joy, passion, zest for life and clarity than you’ve ever experienced before, in just 8 weeks. Click here to learn more.

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An entertaining look at how I got started coaching… it’s pretty great.

Have you ever wondered how I got started coaching, or maybe what it would have been like to work with me when I first began? Whether or not you have, I think you’ll find today’s story entertaining and insightful. :)

When I first began coaching, I was still doing a lot of my own personal development work, but there was one thing I hadn’t yet mastered: getting out of my head and into the present moment. So when I had a coaching consultation or call, I would spend at least an hour preparing for that call. No joke.

I would start to get really nervous, write out and practice my sales pitch, obsess over all the possible things I might be asked, and consider how exactly I would respond to those questions or inquiries. It was exhausting to say the least. When the calls finally rolled around, I would have to do a pretty crazy little dance-jig to try and work out all the nervous energy I was stuffing down, make weird song like noises to open up my tightly closed vocal chords, and quickly glance back over all my prep notes.

Then, I’d hop on the phone only to find I still barely had a voice (there was a LOT of throat clearing), forgot everything I wanted to say, and would fumble through the calls. I’ll admit these weren’t my finest days as a coach. Did I provide value to my clients? Absolutely, I have no doubts about that… but I could have been far more impactful if I hadn’t been so deep in my head and obsessed with everything that could possibly be said or asked.

Outside of coaching, I spent a lot of time in tense anticipation of any kind of interaction or situation, because I was always thinking about what was going to happen, how I would be perceived, what I would say, etc. One time I even sat down after a quick introduction at a networking event wondering if I had even said my name right! I’m still not sure on that one…

These days, it’s a totally different story.

You’ll never catch me preparing for a coaching call unless there’s something I need to read or review from a client. Outside of setting up my lighting and closing my office door, you’ll also never catch me preparing for a video interview, even for big platforms like en*theos Academy (okay, maybe I touch up my hair and makeup). I’m calm, totally present, focused, and completely in my genius zone at all times. More importantly, I serve my clients from a much deeper and more powerful space than ever before.

When I started coaching, I tried everything I could think of to get to this kind of space, but that was the problem. I was thinking way too much. It wasn’t until I learned an incredibly essential and simple shift that I was able to access this cool, collected, focused, and genius side of myself. It took a lot of practice, I won’t lie… but this tool has 100% transformed my life.

Not just with my work and clients, but in my relationships and daily life. I’m happier, more at peace, totally tuned into my intuition at all times, and rarely ever stressed out anymore. Powerful, powerful stuff and I’m so excited to share this final tool with you today. :)

Ready to create some massive shifts?!

Learn the Most Essential Shift for Eliminating Stress and Negativity

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After you watch the video, leave a comment let me know your thoughts, what came up for you, and how you’ll begin utilizing this powerful shift in your life!

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Colorado Bucket List: Dinosaur Ridge and Triceratops Trail

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On a whim last Saturday afternoon, I decided to choose an item off my Colorado Bucket List.

After realizing many things were either not free (just spent a lot of money in Portland and feeling the frugal!), going to be crazy busy because of the weekend, or more than 3 hours away, I settled on Dinosaur Ridge!

My guy and I headed on down to just south of Golden and paid our $2 admission to a teeny tiny exhibit hall. It had a pretty awesome Triceratops skull, but was otherwise dated and lacking things to look at. But, it was only $2 and the admissions man was super sweet.

We then headed up the road and did the little 3mi out and back walk where we saw dinosaur footprints and bones in the sides of the mountain. Pretty cool and fascinating to see… we also had a good view of Bandimere Speedway and watched some cars duel it out on the track.

After the down and back walk, we drive to Golden to do another short 3mi down and back walk on Triceratops Trail! It was mostly indented dino tracks and butted right up to a golf course, but it was still a fun little jaunt.

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I was broke, overweight, depressed, and… filled with joy.

Today I want to tell you another story…

A couple years after throwing everything into a tailspin while trying to “change my life” many years ago, I found myself having just moved to Hawaii with my then boyfriend and living at my parent’s house. I was working full time doing customer service and data entry (I don’t think I have to say that I didn’t enjoy this AT ALL, but just in case…I most certainly didn’t enjoy this at all!), trying to start a design business, completely broke, unhappy in my relationship, still overweight, still totally lost as to who I was or what I wanted, and still very depressed.

It wasn’t a fun time.

I was working at a job crammed into the home office of my boss. She had this impressive book collection on the shelves next to her that we were allowed to borrow at any time. One day when I was in the office alone and bored out of my mind, I started perusing the bookshelf. I’d never really read any self help or personal development books, but I was immediately drawn to Jack Canfield’s book Success Principles… it practically leapt off the shelf at me! I took it home and began reading immediately.

From there, I started listening to recorded trainings by Jack and other mentors, read more and more personal development books, and started reading blogs and articles with the same focus. This self help stuff was pretty awesome and I was hooked.

More importantly? I had begun putting a handful of the principles I was learning into practice, but I wasn’t really sure if anything was working because my life didn’t seem to be changing like I’d been hoping it would for the last two (very long) years.

Then one evening, after a long day at work, I came home to work on some design projects for my growing business, only to find that my computer was completely dead. My computer, with all my files, client projects, and personal photos and artwork, wasn’t starting up and was leaking some kind of important looking fluid.

Now, after a couple years of life being incredibly exhausting, tear inducing, stressful, chaotic, depressing, and completely out of balance, one would expect me to have a total meltdown. I even expected me to have a total meltdown. After all, that was my default when even the smallest thing went wrong those days.

Instead, I smiled and shrugged it off as just a little bump in the road.

I managed to not only make the situation work until I could scrounge up enough money for a new (very used) computer, but I did it peacefully and joyfully. Were there moments that were stressful? Absolutely, but I hadn’t handled a single thing with this much grace and joy in a long time, if ever.

While I was reading a lot of books and learning a lot of new tools and tricks, there was one simple mindset shift that allowed me to not only handle that situation like I did, but allowed me to shift into the joyful, positive, and totally in love with life person I am today.

Let me be clear, I’m not without problems! Things go wrong in my life just as often as anyone else’s. I’m hit with unexpected expenses, slow months in business, unhappy moments in relationships, and challenges left and right. In fact, last fall was one of the most stressful times of my life! But no matter what, I always come from a place of joy and peace. I’m always happy and grateful for every single moment and experience in my life, even the sucky ones.

I’m not special, and I certainly didn’t start off at an “easy” or “happy” place giving me a leg up on these kinds of experiences. I started from a place of confusion, depression, stress, and chaos, and yet…here I am today a happy and joyful person. Like I said in Monday’s email, it’s because I did the work. Really, truly did the work, and I continue to do it every single day.

Today I want to share that simple mindset shift with you so you can do the same in your life, regardless of what’s going on. This exercise is short and powerful, and can be applied to ANY area of your life where you’re feeling dissatisfied and will instantly raise your vibrational level so you can start attracting all of the amazing things you deeply desire.

Let’s dive in!

The Simple Mindset Tool That Will Instantly Bring More JOY Into Your Life

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After you watch the video, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts, what came up for you, and how you’ll begin utilizing this powerful tool in your life!

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If you asked me two months ago what topic I wanted to base my business on, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. With her guidance and support, my business is up and running and I have created my Individual Coaching Package and two Transformational Quick-Guides. I’m currently coaching my own clients and there are several other products and packages in the making. The best part is that, by working with Stephenie, I have been able to overcome my own mental blocks so that I now feel so much more in-tune with my own creative flow. — Jennifer Twardowski