May 25, 2015

Fitness: My Running Story and Exercise Regimen

running bibs
Scheduled on 5/22/15

Since I'm always writing about marathon training, it may come as a surprise that I actually used to hate running.

Six years ago, I was pretty unathletic: I staggered in almost last during the middle school mile run gym test, I couldn't lift the standard bench press bar, and I somehow managed to get myself out during a round of summer kickball. 

I began running on a whim: the tipping point was a fundraiser 5k (3.1 mi) for a friend's mother with ovarian cancer. I ran to support her family, ignorant that this one act of sympathy would change my own life. The race took me over 50 minutes. Even though my time was far from competitive, even though I was sore and disgustingly sweaty, I was jubilant. It was the hardest I had pushed my body in a long time. Maybe ever, at that point. 

I was so ecstatic that I proudly sported my race bib on my back for the rest of the day, refusing to change my shirt even for orchestra rehearsal (I cringe as I type). Then, for some reason, I began to run a mile every day before school. I had no other races to train for, and joining the cross country team hadn't yet crossed my mind. I ran because I felt like it. I liked the feeling of accomplishment, I liked challenging myself to walk less and less each time.

A few months later, I joined the team. Within a season, I was running varsity cross country--and continued to do so throughout high school. I kept building and pushing. Now, I've competed in distance races up to half-marathon length, with my longest training run just breaking the twenties. 

While the marathon has eluded me due to overuse injuries, I know I'm not done. If anything, running has showed me that I can reach once-unimaginable heights. That I can conquer the most intimidating of tasks. That I am capable.

People often ask me why I run, or question how I can enjoy it despite all the pain. For a while, I was unable to give a definitive answer. It's one of those things you have to do to know, I said. I still believe that only running will result in true understanding, but I can confidently say this:

I run because it's empowering. 


Before I left school, the doctor I'd been seeing for my stress reaction dropped the verdict: no running for at least 2 months. Given that running is such an integral part of my identity, this was really rough. 

So if you're also facing any sort of fitness challenge, let's do this together. I'm now forced to tackle some new disciplines more seriously while my foot rests--swimming and biking.

Pre-injury, this is what my workout schedule looked like.

Typical week of marathon training:

Monday: 30 min bike + 7 minute abs
Tuesday: 45 min run (steady state)
Wednesday: 30 min bike + 7 minute abs
Thursday: speed day (tempo miles, intervals, or fartlek)
Friday: 30 min bike + ab ripper x
Saturday: long run
Sunday: rest

Now, the runs are replaced with swims and longer outdoor rides substituted for indoor cycling. And when the equipment's available, I arm bike and lift. 

I encourage you to find some way to move your body that empowers you too. I know we're all crazy busy, but I promise that  putting your health first is hugely beneficial. Working out after classes helped clear my mind and made me more energetic. When I take my longer breaks from working out, I always feel sluggish, lose my appetite, have trouble sleeping, and develop back pain. 

Furthermore, exercising allows me to feel confident about my body, despite not fitting the modern ideal of skinny. I have few body image issues because I feel healthy and know I'm doing all I can to be healthy. 

The takeaway? I want to emphasize that sweat and determination go a long way. That cumulative baby steps become giant leaps. That all of this is so worth it. 

If you're interested in some of the workout videos I follow, I've listed these resources below, along with some of my recent running posts.

Ab workouts:
5 minutes (our 7 minute workouts involve this and a 2 minute front plank)
Ab Ripper X from P90X

Indoor cardio:

Recent running posts:

If all goes well, I should be on an international trip for the next three weeks--I've prepared 2 more posts scheduled to go live in my absence on the next two Mondays at 8 am. I may not have access to internet, so I'll catch up with you all when I return!

Please feel free to leave any personal running/workout stories in the comments--I'd love to read them. Until next time!

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Join the conversation!

  1. Wow! You are seriously one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. See, I hated running back in the day and I am still not a huge fan lol! Good for you that you found a passion and you strived to do what you did! That is seriously amazing! I need some serious motivation to get my butt to workout this summer... please any suggestions? :) Hope your injury is getting better! Also, have so much fun in your travels! Can't wait to hear about it when you get back!

  2. Yup, totally using the links you shared - thanks!

    I love your healthy viewpoint on body image and strive to make it clear that's exactly where I'm coming from too! It doesn't matter if my body doesn't match what society says is beautiful - I know what it's capable of and because of that, I think it's stunning. I want to do even more with it though, and that's why I push myself to work out and reach new goals. It's not to get flat abs (even if that'd be nice), but to fully realize the potential of the body we're living in. Your body is a temple after all! ;)

    Have fun on your trip, and we'll catch up when you're back! :)

    The Dragonfruit Diaries

  3. You are a strong and determined champion, and this blog post confirms and proves that point. I admire your determination as well as your unique regimen to stay strong. Great stuff here, Lily! Wonderful post.

  4. Aww, so good to hear from you Olivia! Thank you for your kind words and wishes. As for workout motivation, I think a buddy helps a lot--that way you can push each other on the days you don't feel like doing anything. I have really fond memories of training with teammates during high school cross country--we got tired at different times, so we'd encourage each other along, and we had really good conversations. It also makes working out a dual responsibility--if you don't go, then maybe your buddy won't either. In situations like this, I feel even more motivated to go and work a sweat so I don't ruin someone else's plans!

    Can't wait to drop a note--I caught up on my blog reading today and you're looking as fab as ever!

  5. I heartily agree, Linda. How well we take care of and use our bodies is so much more important than how they stand in society's opinions. You said it well :)

    Just caught up on my blog reading, and I can't wait to drop a note. You've had some awesome adventures and looks!


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