fitness · Martha's Musings · planning · swimming · training · weight loss · yoga

Strategic planning for the fit feminist

By MarthaFitat55

I work as a strategic planner as well as a communications strategist and trainer/facilitator. In the last few years, I have jotted down a series of goals as an informal strategic plan for myself. This year I decided to take a couple of days to be more structured about how I plan as I want to achieve some specific things by 2020. (As a side note, there isn’t anything really special about that date for me lifewise, but I like round numbers and that one appeals to me.)

I have five categories in my plan: work, home, family, relationships, and fitness. This isn’t a priority listing. My plan is a series of circles, and these overlap and separate over time.

When I first began working on fitness as a goal to get me to 55, it was pretty simple: I wanted to show up. Five years later, I still show up, but I have refined my approach somewhat. In past years, I have added learning how to do pull ups, how to get up from and get down to the floor, and increasing the weight on the bar for deadlifts, squats and bench. I also wanted to mix things up so I added swimming and yoga to the mix. The past six months have been busier than I expected with work and family commitments, and more times than I liked, fitness fell by the wayside.

Thus the need for a more focused approach, because I know when my life gets busy, the time I set for fitness can get chewed up by other Imporant Things.

I decided to apply the questions I use when I help organizations develop their own strategic plans. I ask three questions to get started: why do you want to do this? what will you achieve? and how will you make it happen? I then ask two supplementary questions: when will this happen and where?

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Image shows a spiral-bound, lined notebook with a fountain pen resting on a blank page. Photo credit: Aaron Burden, Unsplash

My why is pretty clear: I want to be healthy and active for a long time. My what is also pretty straightforward: I want to be fit and active. The how is also known: I like weightlifting, I enjoy the flexibility of yoga, and swimming gives me a way to connect with my body differently than the weights or mat can offer. I’ll be identifying some key benchmarks in these objectives, because measurement is a way to keep me focused and accountable.

My biggest challenge is the “when” as there are many demands on my time. The drafting of a strategic life planning document gives me the opportunity to make certain promises to myself and those promises are getting plugged into my calendar so I have away to be accountable.

Over the coming months I’m going to track how my plan is working. What are you thinking about doing in 2019 to keep you on track with your fitness goals?

charity · cycling · holiday fitness · holidays · motivation · training

Big Hills and Big Cities: Sam’s Summer Cycling Plans

In my no excuses winter cycling plan I talked about making big summer cycling commitments as one of the ways I motivate myself to train for cycling through the cold snowy months of winter.

I thought I’d share those summer commitments with you. Now I’m doubly committed. I planned to do the thing and I told you about it.

In May Sarah, Jeff, and I kick things off with the Five Boros Bike Tour.

“The Five Boro Bike Tour is an annual recreational cycling event in New York City. It is produced by Bike New York. Conducted on the first Sunday of May, the 40-mile ride includes over 30,000 riders. The route takes riders through all five of New York’s boroughs and across five major bridges.”

Sarah and I did it in 2017. See our blog post 5 boros, 32,000 riders, 40 miles, 0 cars, and 1 great day, #tdfbbt.

The other Sarah who blogs here occasionally did it in 2015 and again in years after. Her post is called NYC 5 Boroughs Bike Tour (Guest Post)

It’s a great ride. Come join us!

Here’s Kim and Sarah R and me and Sarah lining up at the start.


June is our biggest thing. We’re doing a ten day bike tour of the northwest coast of Newfoundland. It’s a lot of riding, a lot of hills, and also likely some rain. It’s June 29-July 8. So far it’s Sarah, Cate, David and me. But if you’re interested, sign up!

On August 11 we’re doing the One Day Friends for Life Bike Rally. Sponsor me here.

And then on August 16-18, 2019 Sarah and I are Trying the tri-adventure in its last. year… Join us!!!

Sponsor us here.

fitness · motivation · running · training

Running with headphones, or not

Image description: drawing of a line of musical score with a trebal clef and notes, with the lines diverging apart, curling off in a different directions at the right end.
Image description: drawing of a line of musical score with a trebal clef and notes, with the lines diverging apart, curling off in a different directions at the right end.

When Sam posted a link to Peter Sagal’s article, “The case against running with headphones” I was ready to object. But I kind of liked what he had to say (which I’ll get to in a minute). Personally, I like running with headphones sometimes and other times I don’t.  In the morning, it helps me get going when I’m feeling sluggish. But I occasionally reach a point, especially on a long run, where I just want to take in the silence, be alone with my thoughts, focus on my body and my form, on my immediate surroundings, and listen to my breathing.

I have friends who feel differently, who specifically listen to music when they run so that they don’t need to hear their breathing. But I find the sound of breathing, even the exerted breathing of a run, to be meditative.

Peter Sagal started his journey to music-free running by wanting to present for big events:

It occurred to me that if I was going to train and practice and focus on achieving something, when the time came to actually do it I could at the very least pay attention. A race, most especially and counterintuitively a marathon, requires more focus on the moment than someone who’s never done it might imagine. We scan our bodies for discomfort, we check our pace, we count the miles and measure our remaining strength against the remaining distance.

On race day, I go both ways. When I got my personal best on the 10K in September, I ran to a playlist for much of the time. But when the last couple of K came, I turned off the music and did exactly as Sagal described. I didn’t want to zone out to the music, I wanted to be mindful and present to what was happening. My thoughts also narrowed to exactly what was going on and positive affirmations and reminders from my training.

I did the same for the recent half marathon. For more than half, I ran without music because I was with Anita. But at a certain point, we agreed to do our own thing and we both put in our earbuds. I enjoyed my new playlist, but as is my habit, I don’t play the music all the time. Periodically, I hit pause and focus on the people around me, the sound of my feet on the pavement, my stride, my breathing, the next sign post, the feeling of the wind on my face, my body position and whether I’m relaxed or tight. Music tends to distract me from that sort of thing. Sagal agrees.

If I don’t leave my headphones behind when I run, I wouldn’t spend a single minute of my waking life free from input.

In other words, in a day there are few opportunities to unplug. Running can be one of them. And in place of the noise from a device, running let’s you work through thoughts — conversations you wish you could have, perhaps some venting, all the build-up. I also experience some creative bursts when I’m running. Or insights about areas of my life where I’ve felt stuck and then, on a run, especially a long run alone, I can sense a shift. These are all the more likely if I’m not listening to music.

The upshot of Sagal’s article is that the only way to run mindfully is to run without music as a distraction. Of course, not everyone wants to run mindfully. Or perhaps not all the time. When I run with people, for example, it’s even more likely that the social aspect will overshadow the running itself. We run, but we use each other as a distraction. Anita and I comment all the time about how quickly the time passed on a given run when we were together, chatting. True, we check in once in awhile with “how are you feeling?” and true, we are “unplugged.” But if Sagal is making a case for more of an inward and mindful approach to running, then that would require going solo too.

My formula is to mix it up. I include a combination of group runs, solo runs, runs that include music, runs that don’t, and runs that have a bit of both. There are times I want to be mindful, times I want to be distracted. It sometimes depends on the type of run. I am less likely to want music during fast intervals because I need to be very focused on what I’m doing to maintain my speed during the intervals. So I’m far from all-or-nothing when it comes to headphones. In fact, making and running with a fresh playlist is one of life’s little pleasures for me.

Where do you stand on running with headphones?

 

hiking · menopause · running · training

Now That Getting Stoned Is A Legal Training Option

Before I dive into this post, I want to put a caution up front. This represents my personal views. I’m coming from a cannabis-positive direction and will not look at the risks and downsides. Others will represent that perspective, to be sure!

Yesterday the recreational use of cannabis became legal in Canada. As if I needed another reason to miss my homeland! By way of celebration, I considered getting stoned this morning before my run, but I’m only a baby stoner and consuming cannabis straight out of bed (and by myself, since my partner is away) felt more than a wee bit outside my comfort zone.

photo-1498671546682-94a232c26d17
lush green cannabis plant

This article in Canadian Running about the potential benefits of cannabis on training might change my mind about running stoned.

By way of background, I consumed virtually no pot until I was into my thirties. Then a few years ago I became intolerant of alcohol, likely related to the onset of menopause. I was never a big drinker, but I enjoyed the social aspect. I miss the festive feel of a cocktail or the last glass of wine around a dinner table littered with the debris of a long meal. I’m glad that I have access to edibles (products like candies or brownies containing cannabis) and enjoy them as an alternative that never gives me a hangover.

Cannabis products didn’t really figure in my athletic life. Sure, there was the marathon I finished where a friend with a joint was at the finish line, touting the anti-inflammatory benefits. I can’t remember if I recovered more quickly from that marathon. Until recently, I had not used cannabis specifically as a recovery tool. Yes, I am likely to consume in the evening after a long effort, but that’s a reward, a celebration. The pain relief is a bonus and I haven’t tracked the efficacy.

Then, about a year ago, I had a period where my hip flexor started bothering me out of the blue. Putting on a pair of pants was uncomfortable. Running got hard and slow, because lifting my leg invoked the pain. My partner counseled me to use the CBD oil he’d bought a while back. I was skeptical. Then I was a grateful convert. Since then we’ve bought a couple of other CBD products for muscle pain, and my acupuncturist uses it. Wow. Nothing topical has worked so well for me. This summer when I was training for a 30k mountain run, I would mix CBD cream with foot salve, to my feet’s delight. I used it on my sketchy hamstring and my cranky shoulder blade muscle. All were happy.

IMG_2122
White plastic bottle labeled Muscle Melt Active Cannabis Heating Rub, beloved by Mina’s muscles

While training for that long run, I did a couple of runs with some younger folk. They were mountain goats with incredible endurance, agility, quite a bit of speed and a lot of good cheer. I also realized that two of the three of them were stoned. That gave me pause. I had never thought about the potential training benefits of cannabis. If anything, I assumed that being stoned would diminish my ability to work out.

The day after one of our four-hour training runs, my partner and I decided to do a 10-mile, steep hike, as a way of being on our feet, without using the exact same muscles. I suggested we follow our mountain-goat friends’ example. We had a cannabis candy as we started up the trail.

I was curious to see how it would feel. Would we be slower? Would we lose the thread of the hike? Would we just sit down and admire the forest? Nope. We charged up the mountain and got to the top as fast, if not faster, than we usually do. We were so jazzed by our ascent that we run-hiked back down. We were so focused on whether we were having a “better” time on our hike, that we didn’t even notice our performance. We concluded that the forest had seemed just as spectacular as always, the view from the peak as breathtaking, and the high meadows of wildflowers as eye popping. With or without cannabis enhancement, we got the same joy out of the experience. It was only afterward that the performance side sank in. Hiking stoned was hiking strong.

That one anecdotal event was not enough to change my training habits. I didn’t overcome years of a strict church and state separation of the workout part of my day and the relaxation part; that prude in me who clucks her tongue at having too much fun when I should be working. I thought of that hike as a one-off. But when I add in the new information from the Canadian Running article about the potential benefits of cannabis during training runs, well, I can feel my no-no stance crumbling.

I’m always curious about new training modes, so why not running stoned? Have you tried it? What are your experiences with cannabis and training?

athletes · training

Trying the tri-adventure in its last year… Join us!!!

This year for the first, and last, time I’m joining this blog’s Cate Creede in the tri-adventure. You can read about Cate’s connection to the event here.

I’ll have more to say later about my specific plans and my training and also about fundraising. I’m not asking for money just yet but I am asking you to join in.

What kind of event is the tri-adventure? “The TriAdventure is not a typical triathlon. Our activities are not timed, and there are no prizes for finishing first. Our participants challenge themselves with the physical activities involved in the event, but are also challenged to raise over $1,200 for 51 vulnerable children in Kasese, Uganda who have been left without family support through poverty, HIV/AIDS or violence. The reward is knowing that your effort helps fund a program that begins with food, shelter and education and aims to help these children become self-sustaining citizens who contribute to a vibrant, diverse global community.”

When is the Tri-adventure? It’s August 16-18, 2019.

Where is it? Camp Wahanowin. That’s on the north side of Lake Simcoe, about 2 and 1/2 hours drive from Toronto.

Can you tell me more about it?

From the website: “Join an amazing community of people for ONE LAST TriAdventure weekend where we will acknowledge, as a community, the incredible work we’ve done together over the past 15 years to create, sustain and bring a dream to life. This will be our final massive fundraising push that will take the whole project to the finish line over the next 5 years.

Whether you were engaged in a whole series of Triadventures or have only been part of one, we would love you to be part of this amazing final event with all the familiar elements you know and love and a few special additions.such as the two recent Nikibasika graduates who will be joining us!

In this final year, we are thrilled to announce that two of our recent graduates Phionnah and Smith are coming to Canada to bring first-hand thanks and messages from the 52 young adults of Nikibasika community. They will be with us throughout the weekend sharing their stories and meeting the community of supporters who have taken a stand to support them. They will also be participating in internship programs while here. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to celebrate together.

Also, each and every person who signs up for the Triadventure Finale will get a commemorative cycling jersey or hoodie to mark this great moment.”

You can read more about it here, https://www.facebook.com/TriAdventurePage/

http://www.triforafrica.org/

And you can register here, https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/triadventure-2019-the-finale-tickets-37787495416

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I’m hoping we can gather a whole crew of fit feminists to mark the occasion of the last tri-adventure. Join me! Join Cate! Join Sarah! Join us! It’ll be fun. It’ll be rewarding. I promise.

fit at mid-life · fitness · food · health · nutrition · training

Visit Tracy at the NJ VegFest 2018 this weekend

Image description: Poster with SATURDAY 10/6 at the top, the heading "Speakers" on the left, with photos of Dr. Joel Kahn and Tracy Isaacs underneath, and "Chef Demos" on the right, with photos of Gianna Ciaramello, Mini Dhingra, and Alyssa Miller underneath.
Image description: Poster with SATURDAY 10/6 at the top, the heading “Speakers” on the left, with photos of Dr. Joel Kahn and Tracy Isaacs underneath, and “Chef Demos” on the right, with photos of Gianna Ciaramello, Mini Dhingra, and Alyssa Miller underneath.

Hey everyone! Exciting times. I’m going to be one of the speakers at the New Jersey VegFest at Meadowlands Expo Centre this weekend. My talk, “Feminist Fitness Is for Everyone, including Vegans,” is at 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 6th. I’ll talk about what feminist fitness is, how Sam and I took that approach for our Fittest by 50 Challenge, the blog, the book, and being a vegan athlete at mid-life.  They’ll be selling copies of Fit at Mid-Life: A Feminist Fitness Journey (Greystone Books, 2018) and I’ll be sticking around after my talk to chat, sign books (whether you buy it there or bring it with you), and of course eat!  [I might also talk a little bit about my next book project, which is about ethical veganism and the expectation of moral perfection that vegans and non-vegans alike seem to adopt]

Marisa Sweeney and Kendra Arnold are the two main organizers and ever since they asked me to do this I’ve been following the NJ VegFest scene with envy. It’s not limited to this event — there was an Atlantic City VegFest in the summer (with a 10K run) where Scott Jurek spoke. Marisa and Kendra do an outstanding job and I can’t wait to experience one of their events first hand and to meet them.

It looks as if it’s going to be an amazing time, quite apart from my talk. There are going to be chef demos, other speakers, and loads of vendors serving up delicious vegan food. If you want to get a preview, I suggest following @njvegfest on Instagram.

One of the things Sam and I love most about the blog is the community that has sprung up around us. If you do decide to come, please please please say “hi.” I would love that.

I also have a favour to ask of people who live in the Manhattan area. Anita and I will be looking for a good running route on Sunday morning to do about 15K. If you have any recommendations for where we might do that distance without encountering too many traffic lights we’d love to hear from you.

Here’s the Sunday line-up for the VegFest:

Image description: Poster with SUNDAY 10/7 at the top. Under that three columns. "Food Justice Panel," with photos of Vincent DePaul and Michelle Carrera; "Supporting Vegan Kids and Caregivers Panel," with photos of Beth Cruz, Melody Lin, Michelle Carrera; "Chef Demos" with photos of Tere Fox, Amanda Borges, and Chef Rootsie.
Image description: Poster with SUNDAY 10/7 at the top. Under that three columns. “Food Justice Panel,” with photos of Vincent DePaul and Michelle Carrera; “Supporting Vegan Kids and Caregivers Panel,” with photos of Beth Cruz, Melody Lin, Michelle Carrera; “Chef Demos” with photos of Tere Fox, Amanda Borges, and Chef Rootsie.

 

fitness · running · training

Have you ever regretted having done a workout?

Image description: Anita and Tracy selfie, Anita on left, short dark hair, smiling, Tracy on right, short blond hair, smiling, garden in the background.
Image description: Anita and Tracy selfie, Anita on left, short dark hair, smiling, Tracy on right, short blond hair, smiling, garden in the background.

Yesterday was Monday. Usually a rest day for me. But since I was working a fairly tough gig in Toronto all weekend and my legs and feet were just so tired, I had to pass up my usual Sunday long run. Instead Anita and I made an unusual plan, and that was to run for two hours on Monday after work.

After work arrived (well, we kicked off a bit early to get the run in) and it was raining. And cold. And the wind started to pick up. These conditions could sometimes mess with me and make me start rationalizing my way to skipping the workout.

But having made a plan (one of my best winning strategies is to make a plan with someone to meet for a workout) and also wanting to catch up (Anita was out of town for awhile and we hadn’t really chatted in over a week) secured my commitment. Deciding in advance that we would run at an easy, chatty pace made the two hour commitment more approachable.

We decided on our route and off we went. Anita said at the beginning that the time would fly. And it actually did. And so did we. Both of us ran strong and felt amazing. We have been agonizing a bit over our upcoming half marathon. We’ve been training differently and have slightly different goals (Anita wants to do 10-1 intervals and I want to try running continuous but we both would like to cross the finish line at 2:25.

But today we both had an amazing run, despite the cold and the wet and the wind. In some ways, it was just perfect running weather. The rain stopped by the time we had changed into our gear, and it never resumed. The wind was cold, but not so terrible that we wished for more clothing than we’d chosen (capris and long sleeved t-shirts).

We ended up out for 2 hours and 11 minutes and we came in the last stretch at a tempo pace (the whole run was not at a tempo pace, but it feels good to lay it out at the end). We checked in with each other regularly about how we felt and we both kept remarking, almost not quite believing, just how fabulous the run felt.

The only tough part came right near the end. There is a gradual yet brutal hill out of the park heading back to Anita’s place. It looks almost like nothing. But it goes on FOREVER. Since we were already over our two hours, we agreed we would run to the end of that tough bit and then take a short walk break, then run the rest of the way home.

I’ve entitled this post “have you ever regretted having done a workout?” I like this question because my answer to it is an unequivocal, “no I have not.” And sometimes this one certainty is enough to get me doing a workout that I don’t want to do. The other morning I was messaging Cate and Christine about wanting to stay in bed. We are all quite supportive of whatever decisions each of us makes, recognizing too that rest is an essential part of a balanced workout strategy and not something we’re great at. But then when I said maybe I’ll go for a short one, Cate reminded me quite rightly that I would feel better.

Out the door I went. I was in Toronto and it’s especially refreshing to go running somewhere that’s not my usual turf. And guess what, within minutes of feeling the pavement under my feet, I did feel better. And by the time I got back to my hotel room, I felt positively amazing. I mean, the run was energizing for sure. So I felt literally better. But like I said, I never regret having completed a workout. I’m always happier for it.

Under the usual conditions (that is, assuming I don’t get injured because of the workout), there is no downside to getting that workout done. And often, it’s not just about having done it. As today’s run with Anita attests, there are those times when its awesomeness presents itself while it’s happening. The end isn’t always the best part of it!

Have you ever regretted having done a workout?