“Running is a thing worth doing not because of the future rewards it bestows, but because of how it feeds our bodies and minds and souls in the present.” – Kevin Nelson
After struggling mentally for some time now, I have guided myself back to the surface this week, full of enthusiasm and verve, with my love for running. I mentioned in my blog post last week that I had hit a brick wall with my healthy lifestyle campaign, that I was feeling apathetic and uninspired with myself so in a fit of desperation from the depths of my comfort zone I signed up with a running club. Keep reading to find out how I got on this week!
Monday, 11th January – I have a big grumpy head on me getting up this morning but am relieved to see that my CPAP machine breathing mask is still in place on my face, that I hadn’t pulled it off in my sleep. I have a potato waffle, grilled smoked bacon and an egg for breakfast at 07h30 with my boys and get them off to school. I realise that the roads are too dangerous with ice to make the 24 mile journey to Tinahely to Hannah’s studio for my Monday morning workout. I can decide to do the workout at home but lazily decide not to, excusing myself with “Sure aren’t I going running tonight, like!” I start drinking water as soon as I get up this morning as I know the earlier I start in the day, the higher the chances are that I can drink the required eight glasses a day in the actual day. By 10h30 I am ravenous so boldly grill 2 slices of smoked bacon and berate myself for not picking up some fruit, but still soldier on with the bacon. I step it up at lunch time and prepare some salmon in teriyaki marinade sauce with a huge tasty salad so feel virtuous, redeeming myself somewhat from the smoked bacon affair. For tea I prepare one of my boys’ favourites, pizza-topped chicken, with another huge salad so I am feeling determined to make the right decisions this week, that the positive changes I make and daily simple disciplines I stick to are sowing the seeds for incredible results over time.
Later that evening I sellotape my Garmin watch strap together. I then tape it to my arm, just in case, and motor off to my first track session with Adrenaline Running Club, full of healthy anxiety and excitement (and also lashings of Vaseline for a chaffing situation that I’ve been dealing with!) This is a massive step out of my comfort zone for me. On one hand I am anxious about joining a group of unfamiliar people so will have to put myself out there to mingle and interact, a normal healthy human endeavour but that I have over time stopped doing, veering instead towards the perceived relative safety of isolating myself from people and keeping to myself. On the other hand I acknowledge that my mental health has come on in leaps and bounds this past year as I am equally, if not more excited to be attempting something new for myself and to be finally leaving the cocoon of my house to be meeting new people. I affirm that I am on the brink of ending up back on my couch horsing back on the 4 stone I’ve lost and more if I don’t shake myself and my routine up. That realisation of a probable reality for me is terrifying, I don’t want to end up back there again so that reality check is the kick I need to walk in the gate to my first training run with the running club. The coach and fellow members are friendly and approachable and I am made to feel most welcome.
From the start I feel at ease and just go with the flow. Initially we warm up which includes my first introduction to resistance bands. Trying to step into two resistance bands is an ordeal in itself so figure I will claim low blood-sugar levels if I end up crashing to the ground. The running part of the evening is straightforward enough with a block of running, running a little harder, then walking and repeating this three times. I get confused with times and actually miss the first walking interval and run through it so am grateful for the second one when I reach it. My heart sinks a little to see I am at the back of the pack from early on, as I am accustomed to, and the gap just keeps getting bigger. Ah well, I refocus and concentrate on my own running , give it 100% and still continue to breathe. It is challenging now and I feel like I am slower than normal but I try to maintain some kind of pace with the group ahead. I welcome advice from our coach to make smaller steps as I am over-stretching on my stride, which I was unaware of, landing on my heel all the time so I need to focus landing on the middle of my foot instead which will help prevent injury. We finish up with more exercises, in blocks of 3 x 3 reps, including the dreaded Plank. I start whimpering to myself at the tangible reality of having to hold the Plank position for a minute or more and with an audience. I perceive my whimpering is becoming audible at this stage. We take up our positions, the Plank, for 30 seconds. By Jesus, I was staying up in position come hell or high water, drawing on my training in Hannah’s studio. The evening is great fun and while munching on an orange quarter provided while leaving the track, I feel a quiet exhilaration at having followed through on a very deliberate step outside my comfort zone.
Already my attitude and mindset have shifted from being miserable and spiritless earlier in the previous few weeks to now feeling way more enchanted and animated with myself and what I can do when I put my mind to it. I have finally come up for air. I have been told so many times that when you run with others that it improves your pace and speed over time. When I check my Garmin at home later I realise this to be true. I am stuck to the floor with shock to see my pace per mile had improved by over 1 minute. WOOOO HOOOO! I am mesmerised by this achievement and marvel at what I can do when I get out of my own way and allow myself to flourish.
Wednesday 13th January – I rise at 6h45 and while munching on a breakfast of potato waffle, beans and egg I know that I need to change my morning food but at the same time don’t want to because I’m enjoying it! I have an appointment this morning and that is my excuse for not exercising, never mind that I can go for a run or a walk afterwards. I can fit in to a jeans again that I haven’t worn in years so this puts a smile on my face. I am surprised to be feeling a little melancholy and reluctant today but choose all the same to give it my best, knowing the low humour will pass. I choose to be thankful that I can lift my mood by being kind to myself, by exercising my body and preparing tasty nutritious food instead of needing medication, which I have been prescribed in the past for anxiety.
I enjoy my second running session with Adrenaline Running Club tonight and delightfully maintain my pace improvement. The coach, Gary, is full of fun, enthusiasm and encouragement for everyone. No one is left behind and there is no shortage of warm-hearted cheers from members to each other as we run around the track. I find the genuine goodwill and friendliness uplifting. The session was fun and very relaxed. I ran a pace very near to a sub 13 minute mile (13:03/mile) which was surprising but gratifying seeing as up to last week my pace was on average 14:30/mile. This time last year my pace was 18:30/mile! I am well aware that I am far from being a speedy cheetah but progress is progress and this is MY progress. I am in competition with no one but myself. It feels good to own it and bank the accomplishment.
Thursday 14th January – I start off the day with a very tough resistance and cardio workout with Hannah in the studio. I cannot deny that I groaned my way through it with the odd nervous giggle and shriek with all the pulsing and just battering through it. We all felt suitably mangled at the end of it. In the evening I make my way to the running club venue for my first strength and conditioning class with them. It is easier walking through the door tonight than on Monday night although I am freaking out wondering what this class will entail and if I will have to try and do sit-ups which I know I haven’t a prayer of doing. The session is both challenging and lively with focus on resistance band work including eye-watering low squats and pulsing. Again I warned the girl beside me that if I crashed to the floor getting in or out of the resistance bands that she had full permission to declare I must have low blood-sugar levels and to demand a Lucozade for me! There are thankfully no sit-ups but a lot of floor work and at stages I fancy my hips are dislocating with the effort. Looking around me I could see everyone was giving it their all, men and women of all different shapes and sizes and the atmosphere was one of fun and craic.
Friday 15th January – I am wholesale dangerous today. I am meeting my friend Lizzy for breakfast after the school run but I forget this as I am chomping into my own breakfast at home with my boys at 07h30. When we do actually meet up I am hungry again so still order a grilled breakfast. I am meeting up with my friend Catherine later in her new house and have a slice of cake when it is lashed out on to the table. No, actually that is a God damn lie!! I am a goner as soon as I spot the cake on the top shelf of her fridge when she opens it and asks me would I like cake or a fig roll. I’m definitely having cake and feel like a saint for being able to stop at only the one slice. It isn’t even lunch time yet! And I’ve already had two breakfasts!!! Later on when I visit my Nanny Maura, I join in with the chocolate and sweet eating as we natter and giggle away as if I am eight stone and have reached my target weight already. I choose not to sleep over in my sister’s house tonight, staying up late and watching telly, as I know if I do that I may not get up in the morning to go on my first road run with the running club so I head for home and my own bed.
Saturday 16th January – I am well impressed with myself that I get up early, leap into my running gear and lace up my runners to head to the track for a 9h00 run. It is perishing cold with ice still on the ground. The more advanced runners head out on the roads for their run but anyone running 5km or less is advised to remain at the track to complete their run because of the danger of black ice on the paths. So I stay on the track, aiming to run 3km non-stop. I am given welcome advice on my cadence and footfall and chat freely with other runners on our way around the track. I am mad slow but elated all the same to run 5km non-stop in the end. Again the atmosphere is one of fun and not leaving anyone behind. The club physio, Maria, introduces herself and finishes my run with me. I’m feeling pure hardcore altogether leaving the track having completed a 5km run before 10h00 on such a frosty Winter’s morning.
For the rest of the weekend I have hankered after more cake and even lived dangerously on Sunday evening by swanning romantically down the cream cake aisle in the supermarket, checking out what loveliness they had in stock! The guilt I knew that would descend after a glorious in-the-moment indulgence was what stopped me, but only just. I bought a papaya instead and had that when I got home. It sounds saintly but I am far from it. My name is Mary Webb and I am a smoker. It has been 7 days since my last smoke. I’m back off the rollies again, have had a few wobbly moments this week but have persevered. I want to slash my risk of being diagnosed with a smoke-related illness and know that if I want to continue running that I have to quit. I’ve enjoyed this past week and am relieved to have my mojo back. Taking a massive step out of my comfort zone to join a running club is my gift to myself as I continue to unfurl and grow into the best version of myself I know I can be.
“If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.” – John Bingham
My Weight Loss Update
I’m down 2lbs this week which brings my total weight loss to 56lbs with 79lbs to go! I’m relieved to be back on track mentally this week and endeavor to have an even better week ahead. This week I aim to tick all the boxes every day so that means filling in my food diary honestly every day and staying within my calorie allowance, reaching my exercise quota daily, drinking enough water and just as important, having fun! Have a great week everyone!
Coriander Chicken Vegetable Soup with Ginger
I had a fierce grá on me to make my own chicken soup over the weekend and with great tips from my lovely Mammy Carmel this was the end result and thankfully was delicious and full of flavour. Now this is a very chunky soup, more like a dip really in the end so if you want to thin it out some more just add more chicken stock than what is stated in the recipe. Serves 6 at 135 calories per portion of soup. Serve with chunky bread. Enjoy!
- Olive Oil Spray
- 10g real butter
- 100g red onion, chopped
- 100g leek, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, squashed and chopped
- 20g fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped
- 5 Brussels sprouts, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 salad potatoes, washed, chopped leaving skin on
- 100g broccoli, chopped
- 100g cauliflower, chopped
- large handful of fresh spinach
- 2 chicken breast, about 300g, chopped
- 1 litre hot chicken stock
- large handful of fresh coriander leaves, including stalks
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Heat some olive oil spray and the butter in a large non-stick saucepan over a medium to high heat.
- Add the red onion, leek, garlic and ginger and cook until softened, stirring often, keeping an eye that the butter does not burn.
- Add the Brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower and stir, adding a couple more sprays of olive oil.
- After a couple of minutes add the spinach and stir, mixing well into the pot.
- Add the chicken stock and the chopped chicken and bring to the boil. Lower the heat a little and allow to cook for 20 minutes.
- Check the chicken is cooked through, that there are no signs of pinkness in the meat.
- Add the large bunch of coriander leaves plus their stalks and blitz up the soup using a hand blender or food processor. You may need to do this in batches.
- When the soup is returned to the pot season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Serve in warmed bowls with chunky bread.
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