21.1 Things I Learned While Training for my first Half Marathon

There are literally hundreds of these “Things I Learned” while training for a race posts floating around in the Blogisphere, but I was noticing a trend – most of them were a list of 13.1.  Well, since I am Canadian and I run in Kilometres, and I also simply couldn’t narrow my list down to 13 things (because I talk too much reasons), I have decided to put together a list of 21.1 Things I Learned While Training for my First Half Marathon.

21.1

1. Laundry becomes like a second sport.

Either you’re going to get comfortable with wearing your nasty, smelly running clothes more than once, or you’re going to be doing your laundry like it’s a part-time job.

 

2. Running is not as cheap as everybody says it is.

Maybe at first, but I have invested hundreds, even thousands maybe – on several pairs of good shoes, books, clothing, race registrations, sports massages, a GPS watch and more – during my first year as a serious runner.  You don’t necessarily have to, but if you’re anything like me (and all of my running friends) you’ll want to.

 

3. Cross-Training is Key.

Originally, I thought that running 5 days a week would be plenty of exercise, but it turns out that I was much more successful running 3-4 times per week and cross-training 2-3 times per week – typically by hiking, riding my bike, or working out at GoodLife Fitness.  Building strength in your core, glutes, hips and legs is essential to enjoying an injury-free running season.  If you’re stuck for ideas, check out this series on Strength Training for Runners from Kris at Canadian Girl Runs.

 

4. Runners want to talk about running – All. The. Time.

If I meet someone in passing who even seems remotely interested in running, I will talk their ear off for the next 3 hours about races, training, shoes, gear, gels, recovery – you name it.

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I’m grateful to have this group of RAD ladies to share my passion with

5. Race Day is just as much of a mental challenge as it is a physical one.

Especially when you’re a newbie, jitters, nerves, anxiety and a wide variety of other feelings (including crying just out of sheer overwhelming emotion) can sneak up on you at any time.  Embrace this part of the process, and find ways to cope with the nerves.  If you need a boost, check out my post on Training your Brain For Race Day.  That being said…

 

6. Sleeping well the night before a big race is probably overrated.

I know I am not alone in this, but I hardly sleep at all the night before a big race.  At first, I thought this would be disastrous, but I quickly learned the power that adrenaline has during that 4am wakeup call.  You will be fine, even if you don’t have a fantastic sleep.  Try not to stress about it, and you might end up sleeping even better than you would have!

 

7.  Hydrate.

Running in the summer heat (or any time, for that matter) when you’re not properly hydrated is a recipe for headaches, muscle cramps, fatigue and potential disaster.  Drink plenty of water and avoid too much alcohol the night before your long runs or a big race.  I like to squeeze fresh lemon in mine to make the experience a little less bland.

 

8.  Fuel your body well.

Whole, nutritious foods and plenty of fruits, vegetables, protein and healthy carbs are not only going to keep you energized and feeling your best during your runs, but they are also going to aid in the recovery process.  By all means, indulge in that pizza on a Sunday night after your long run, but don’t forget to give your body what it needs to repair from all of the ass-kicking it’s done.  My lovely friend Jen from Pretty Little Grub is a registered Dietician, and knows a lot more about this stuff than I do.  She wrote a fantastic series on Nutrient Requirements For Active People.

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Drink Your Greens!

 

9.  Rest Days are Important.

I underestimated their importance in the beginning, but now I savour every blissful moment of rest day.

 

10.  Stay Accountable.

Get a wicked training plan in place and stick to it.  I like to print mine off and hang it in my closet so I will look at it every single day.  Need help creating a training plan?  My friend Ange from Cowgirl Runs is now offering one on one coaching and fully customizable training plans!

 

11. Have more than one pair of Running Shoes.

This one actually surprised me, but it changed my life when I learned that running on the same pair of shoes back to back not only decreases the lifespan of the shoes themselves, but it also makes you more prone to injury (particularly shin splints or stress fractures) since most shoes need to “puff back up” after being used, especially after long runs.  Rotating shoes is the way to go.  Check out this study if you need more convincing.

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And these are only the shoes that I purchased in my first year of running…

 

12. Become BFFs with your Foam Roller.

Yes, it will hurt, but it’s worth it and it really does help with soreness and recovery!  This is the most helpful video I have found on foam rolling.

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13.  Every single long run will feel like a major accomplishment.

And they are!  When you’re training for your very first half, every long run leading up to the race will be your longest run yet, so be proud!  I was so proud about running 11k for the first time that I wrote an entire blog post about it!

 

14.  Discipline > Passion.

Being passionate about running is definitely crucial to your success, but there will be days when your passion fizzles out and Discipline needs to take the wheel.  It’s what’s going to get you out the door on the days when you really don’t wanna.

 

15. Find Your Tribe.

Finding a group of insanely supportive and like-minded humans will help you immensely during your training.  If you can’t find a real-life running buddy, join the conversation online through Instagram or Facebook running groups.  You won’t believe how kind and encouraging these strangers can be.

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My “Support Staff”

 

16. Never judge a run by the first mile.

This is something you’ll hear seasoned runners say over and over again, because it’s true.  I’ve had runs that have sucked all of the suck for the first mile or two, and near the end I am high on endorphins and praising the Gods of all that is Nike, Cardio, and Personal Bests.  Stick with it.

 

17. CHAFING IS REAL.

Potentially the worst part about being a runner is dealing with the nightmare of chafing.  Ladies – you’ll probably experience it around your sports bra and between your upper thighs if you like to run in shorts.  Guys – one word – bloody nipples.  I’ve seen it.  It’s not pretty.  Guys can chafe in all kinds of places too, of course.  Many runners swear by vaseline, but I prefer body glide, and – since I was not blessed with a natural thigh gap – not wearing shorts for anything longer than a 6k.

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Capris are my jam to avoid chafing.

 

18. There will be good days, there will be bad days.

Some days, you’re a graceful black stallion galloping through fields of dandelions, and other days you’re a ill-footed basset hound stumbling through mud.  My boyfriend always knows when I come home from a run if it was good or bad, because I’m either glowing, speaking in song and dreaming up all of the things I want for brunch – or I’m chucking my shoes across the entryway and swearing under my breath as I trudge to the shower.  You win some, you lose some.

 

19. Sacrifice is inevitable.

Your weekend calendar in the weeks leading up to race day will be dedicated to hydration, carb-loading and long runs.  You’ll become very familiar with the phrase, “I can’t, I have to run in the morning”.  You might even have to turn down social events or plans with friends due to your training schedule. Priorities will shift.  How badly do you want it?

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20. Learn to listen to your body.

There is a fine line between discomfort and pain, and my wish for all new runners is that they learn this the easy way rather than the hard way.  (The hard way is injury.)  While recovering from my shin injury, my physiotherapist taught me to “run through annoyance, but never through agony”.  It’s normal to be tired, sore, and to feel like your legs are made of lead at times.  Running is hard.  But if you’re in serious, jaw-clenching, teeth-grinding pain, back off.  It’s not worth pushing through complete and utter torture to the point of injury.  Your body is trying to tell you something, and if you want to have a long, happy and healthy season, you’d be smart to listen to it.

 

21. Be prepared to want more.

A client of mine, who is also an avid runner (so naturally, we gab about running for hours every time she comes to see me) warned me about PRD, or Post-Race Depression.  I’m not sure if that’s a real thing, but it absolutely should be.  You work so incredibly hard for so long towards this one massive goal, and then there’s this huge high when you finally achieve it…and then it’s over.  She advised me to have another race planned for after my first Half – and I’m so glad I did.  Not only did having another race on the calendar prevent me from slipping back into couch potato life, but it kept my love for running alive.

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21.1  You are going to be so F*CKING proud of yourself.

There is nothing on this planet that can compare to the feeling of crossing that first finish line – whether it’s your first 5k or your first Ultra Marathon (not that I’d know – yet!).  I had tears streaming down my face for the last four kilometres of my first Half Marathon.  Tears of joy, tears of pain, tears of pride, tears of gratitude.  It’s a feeling like no other, and the glory of that moment is something that nobody can ever take from you.  The final moments of that race will be etched into my memory forever.  As humans, we are taught at a young age not to be conceited, vain, or “too proud”, but let me be the first one to tell you that you deserve every ounce of gratification and confidence that you acquire when you cross that finish line – whether you sprint, walk, or crawl.  Be proud.  Be so ridiculously proud that your self-satisfaction leaks out of your ears.  You have earned it.

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*Disclaimer: This post was written in part for the GoodLife Fitness Ambassador Program.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.*

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What has been the most challenging part of becoming a new runner?  The most exciting part?

What are your pre-race day rituals?

What is your favourite food for fuelling before a long run?

Posted in Running Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

My Transition to a Plant-Based Diet

I’M WRITING THIS BLOG POST IN MY NEW HOUSE!  Um, I mean, Good Morning guys.  What’s new with you?   I MOVED INTO MY NEW HOUSE AND I AM SO EXCITED AND IT’S SO AWESOME AND I NEVER WANT TO GO OUTSIDE EVER AGAIN AND AND AND.

Sorry.  I had to get that out of my system.

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Before the madness on Moving Day

 

If you’ve been following along on my Instagram, you’ve probably seen all of my updates about our moving process.  It was an absolute dream – until it wasn’t.  We hadn’t even owned the house for 48 hours when I was quietly sitting in the kitchen enjoying my morning tea and I heard a dripping sound.  I walked around the corner to the main floor bathroom and, sure enough, the entire floor was soaked and the ceiling had started falling down.  Fabulous.

After a few very tense hours, we learned that there was a leak coming from our laundry room upstairs, and within 3 hours we had a new washing machine, the pipes repaired, and someone in to tear out the ceiling.  Our homebuilder has actually been amazing through all of it.  It’s been 3 days since, and it’ll still be a few more until things are 100% finished up.  It’s been less than ideal to say the least, but we are still loving our new home more than I ever could have imagined.  We’ve been running around like crazy for the past week getting settled, making umpteen trips to home depot, unpacking, hanging things on the walls and swearing at “some-assembly-required” furniture.  Slowly but surely, things are finally beginning to feel like home.

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Today, I want to address something that most of you who follow me on Social Media have probably been curious about (or maybe not, maybe you don’t care what other people eat and that’s also cool) – my transition to a Plant-Based Diet.  I want to share why I decided to do this, what the process looked like, what the lifestyle looks like now, and clear a few things up.

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I did not become 100% Plant-Based on purpose.  Back in November, before taking my Month-Long Social Media Break, I had mentioned that I was hoping to incorporate more Plant-Based foods into my diet.  However, as of November 10th, 2015, I completely stopped eating meat ‘cold-turkey’ (pardon the pun).  One night, we were having a roast for dinner, and I just had this extremely strange feeling come over me.  Why was I chewing on the muscle of a dead animal?  I wasn’t even enjoying it.  The next day when I woke up, I still couldn’t shake the feeling, so I avoided meat, dairy and eggs altogether for a few days, experimenting with tons of vegan recipes from Thug Kitchen, Oh She Glows, and Pinterest (follow my Plant-Powered board!).  I began reaching out to a few of my friends who are vegan, listening to several podcasts, and watching a few documentaries (101 Reasons To Go Vegan, Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives) and I really started thinking about what I wanted to put into my body.

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Fajitas using Portobello Mushrooms instead of Meat

Now, I’m going to stop myself right there and make this very, very clear – I DO NOT CARE IF YOU EAT MEAT, DAIRY, OR EGGS.  I do not get offended when people eat meat in front of me.  It doesn’t bother me to bake a chicken breast for my boyfriend to have at dinner if he wants one.  I am not here to tell you that you are wrong, and I am right.  I am not here to tell you that I am superior in health or morals because I eat mostly plants.  I am not here to rattle off facts about animal abuse and treatment or the benefits and risks of this or that.  If you want to know about that information, you can do your own research.  I am only here to share my experiences, my thoughts (this is my blog, after all) and hopefully offer some inspiration to a few curious people.  If you’re rolling your eyes by now, you’re welcome to close this tab!  I won’t stop you. :)  But I believe in the power of positivity and leading by example, just as much as I believe that everybody has the right to do whatever they want with their own bodies.

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My Homemade Hummus

I identify with being “Plant-Based” more than I identify with being “Vegan”, but even those labels kind of bother me.  I eat mostly plants.  Between 90-95% of my diet could be classified as “Vegan”, but I do not consider myself “A Vegan”…because, at this point in my life, my coat is filled with down, my boots are made of leather, and if I go to somebody’s house and they serve me something with eggs or cheese in it, I am still going to eat it.  Would I opt for synthetic, animal-free alternatives to my boots and my coat next time?  Absolutely, if it were available AND equally as functional.  But I’m not going to throw away my perfectly good, expensive gear just to prove a point.  Of course I love animals.  Don’t we all?  But I am also realistic.  We live in an extremely complicated world.  I truly admire those people who are so passionately dedicated to their Veganism (or any cause, for that matter) that they insist on cruelty-free, ethical, plant-based beauty products, clothing, cleaning supplies, vehicles, whatever.  It’s amazing.  But it’s just not for me, at least not right now.  And that’s okay.

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Vegan Pancakes with Chocolate Avocado Pudding and Bananas

My love for animals wasn’t what initially inspired me to adopt a new way of eating.  I was feeling sick, tired, low-energy, inflamed beyond belief, and always battling with digestive issues and an angry stomach.  I had experimented with eliminating dairy from my diet back in 2011 after battling with digestive inflammation so severe that I was tested for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, and it helped tremendously, but I was too weak and cheese was just too delicious.  I knew I’d feel better without dairy, so I finally decided to give it an honest try, and I really wasn’t a huge fan of meat anyway (aside from bacon, duh) so that part was pretty easy.  The most challenging part was actually eliminating eggs – my go-to breakfast of choice and a common ingredient in way more foods than I realized.  However, after receiving test results in November that showed ridiculously high cholesterol for a supposedly healthy 24-year-old, I knew it was time.

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Spinach & Mushroom Pasta with “Rose” sauce made from tomatoes and cashew cream cheese

What I didn’t expect, however, was to fall in love with my newfound Plant-Based lifestyle as much as I did.  After the first week of detoxing hell (at times it felt like I might be dying) I began to feel so phenomenal that I wondered how I’d gone through life feeling anything less than this amazing for so long.  My energy increased, my skin improved, my recovery time between running and workouts was cut in half.  I woke up craving giant green smoothies.  I began to love the taste of plain, raw vegetables.  Something in me had changed forever, and I knew that this wasn’t just a fad.

Over the years, I have been guilty of jumping on all kinds of diet-related bandwagons.  I have tried low carb.  I have tried high carb.  Low fat, high fat, high protein, paleo, clean eating, calorie counting, intermittent fasting – you name it.  The problem was that nothing ever stuck for more than a few weeks, and it always ended in me guiltily indulging in a midnight drive-through meal or sobbing into a pile of nutella.  This was the first time that something was not only easy to stick to, but inspiring – I was amazed at all of the delicious and creative ways I could use plants in the kitchen.  Cheese-y sauce made entirely from vegetables.  Chocolate pudding made of avocados.  Burgers made from beans and quinoa that were more delicious than beef could ever be.  I was amazed, and every day that I got to spend experimenting in the kitchen was an adventure.  It didn’t pain me to turn down a donut at a morning meeting, because I knew how satisfying a piece of salted dark chocolate would be.  I wasn’t sad to pass up poutine when I had a cashew cream cheese spread in my fridge.  I didn’t feel deprived at all.  In fact, I had never felt more liberated by what I could eat and NOT feel terrible, emotionally or physically.

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Fresh Corn & Scallion Cornbread with Vegetable Chili from Appetite For Reduction

So now here we are, nearly three months into my Plant-Based journey.  Has it been perfect?  No.  I remember feeling so terrible the first time I accidentally ate something at a chain restaurant that I later learned had egg in it.  But that experience taught me to loosen up.  I will never be the ‘hard-core Vegan’.  I will not inconvenience the people I love just to avoid eating something that has a tiny bit of egg or honey in it.  If I were doing this purely for ethical reasons (mad respect to those who do!) I might be more strict with my choices.  But for now, I’m doing the best I can, I’m living a life I never dreamed I would, I’m feeling better than I’ve ever felt, and I’m eating probably 80% more fruits and vegetables than I was 3 months ago.  When I cook, I cook 100% plant-based.  When I eat out, I do what I can to avoid animal products.  And when I am served something from family or friends, I avoid the meat and eat the rest.

This works for me.  Maybe it will also work for you.  Maybe something else will.  Maybe you think I’m bat-shit-crazy.  Fantastic, either way.

Oh – and yes, I get enough protein.

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Have you ever considered going plant-based?  Why or why not?

Have you also struggled with “diets” in the past?  Have you found something that works for you?

Posted in Lifestyle Posts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

You Asked: Packing Light Essentials for International Travel

*This post is a part of an ongoing column called “You Asked”, in which readers can have their questions related to Running, Hiking, Travel, or Lifestyle answered.  If you’ve got something to ask, send an email to admin (at) adventuretoanywhere (dot) com with the subject title “You Asked”.*

Traveling Light hasn’t always been my thing.  In fact, my first memory of international travel brings flashbacks of hauling four (yes, four) bags through the terminal on my way to Hawaii when I was 15.  I checked two massive suitcases, and carried on two small duffel bags, plus my purse.  It was out of control, and my parents laughed at me as I struggled with all of my baggage throughout the trip.  And guess how much of what I packed was actually necessary?  I swore to myself that I would never over-pack again.

Growing up, we traveled a lot.  My Dad was a hotel manager, and my mom works for an airline, so we had lots of opportunities to jet-set all over the place.  I eventually learned the art of traveling light, and I was liberated by the simplicity of it all.  When Sean and I spent 5 weeks in Asia, I only brought a 35L backpack.  It was fantastic.

I have compiled a list of my top 8 tips for simple packing – including some of my favourite double (or quadrouple) duty items.

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1. iPad with Bluetooth Keyboard Folio

The day I bought an iPad changed the game, but the day I bought a Bluetooth Keyboard Folio for it changed my life.  iPads are already genius creations – it’s a book, it’s a journal, it’s a TV / movie theatre, it’s a music library, and a camera.  But with the keyboard, it’s also a laptop, which allows me to blog on the go.  I picked up this Zagg Bluetooth Folio for around $80.  I love the freedom of only having to carry around one device.

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My Bluetooth iPad Folio

2. Black Leggings

I never, ever travel without black leggings.  My go-to pair are the Lululemon Wunder Under Crops.  I’ve owned many pairs in my life, and I love the quality, the fit, and the versatility.  The crops are long enough that they can be tucked into boots for a dressed-up look, casual enough to wear with sneakers, and athletic enough to wear during workouts or runs on the road.  Plus, they’re super comfy, and my favourite thing to wear during a long day of air travel.

Balboa Park - adventuretoanywhere.com

The Dressier Side of Lululemon Leggings in San Diego

3. Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap

This magical liquid was another game-changer for me.  I’ve only ever used it as body wash, face wash and laundry soap, but the company claims that it can also be used as toothpaste and as shampoo (although the Hairstylist in me would not recommend that!) ;)  It’s ultra-concentrated, so a tiny travel size easily lasted me 5 weeks on the road, and eliminated the need to carry around a bunch of extra bottles.  It comes in a variety of fragrances, but my personal favourite is Tea Tree because of the antibacterial properties.

4. Sarong or Pashmina

Sarongs are meant to be worn as skirts (dressed up or as beach cover-ups), but I quickly learned that they can also double as a blanket during a brutal layover in Bangkok, a curtain when the sun wakes up before you do in Costa Rica, a towel on the beaches of Koh Phi Phi, a bag to carry your groceries in Bali, and a scarf during a chilly evening in Japan.  Other possible uses: for privacy in a hostel bed, a shawl to cover up in modest temples, or – worst case scenario – as a sling or a bandage wrap if you get injured somewhere remote.

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The many adventures of the $3 Sarong I bought in Bali

5. Lots of Neutral Clothing

I’ve never been much for bright colours anyway, but especially when I travel, I mostly stick to neutral tones that pair well together.  This means more outfit combinations, more options, and less hassle trying to decide what to wear on the road.  My suitcase is typically an array of black, grey, navy and beige.

6. Double Duty Shoes

I try to limit myself to two pairs of shoes when traveling, but absolutely never more than three.  And to keep my suitcase even lighter, I always wear the bulkier ones on the plane.   Choose footwear with multiple uses, such as trail runners that are light enough for a workout or a walk around town but sturdy enough for a rugged hike, or sandals that are casual enough to wear to the beach but dressy enough to wear for a night out.  I did Asia and Costa Rica with only my Merrell Siren Sport trail shoes and a pair of Sanuk flip flops, and it was perfect.

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Rocking my trusty Merrell Trail Shoes before Ziplining in Costa Rica

7. Moisture-Wicking, Quick-Drying Clothing

While this may not seem like the sexiest choice for a trip where you want to dress up a lot, I cannot stress enough how beneficial it is to have technical fabrics in your suitcase. This way, you can pack less, wash on the go, hang to dry, and be wearing the same thing again in a few hours.  I wore the same 4 tops, 2 bottoms, and one dress on rotation in Asia for five entire weeks.  Did it get boring?  Maybe.  But you know what didn’t get boring?  Sailing past other travellers struggling with their massive suitcases with my tiny backpack on.  My go-to brands are Lululemon, Columbia, Prana and anything from MEC.

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I lived in my Columbia Convertible Pants and Lululemon Tank in Thailand

8. Sea to Summit Waterproof Compression Sacks

Can I use the words “Game” and “Changer” again without losing readers?  I was first introduced to these sacks while backcountry camping because of how tiny they could squish down a sleeping bag to be.  Later on, I realized that the same could be done for clothing.  An entire wardrobe for a month-long trip can be compressed down to be smaller than a soccer ball.  The waterproof feature is also ideal if your travels take you anywhere around water – such as island-hopping on a boat or on an overnight kayak trip.

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What are your packing light essentials?

What is your guilty pleasure that you cannot travel without, no matter how light you try to pack? 

Posted in Travel, Travel Tips, You Asked | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

5k Training Plan – For New Runners & Those Returning To Running

Hello, hello my lovely readers!  Welcome to 2016!!  I realize that by the time you will be reading this, we will be almost two weeks into the New Year already, but it’ll be my first post of the year, so just go with it, okay?

First off, I apologize for not writing a post last Tuesday.  Sean and I are in the midst of getting ready to move into our new house (8 more sleeps!) and we have been unbelievably busy with packing, meetings, preparation, and drive-by-creeping our house 182472 times a day.  It’s a very exciting time for us, but as you can imagine, it’s also pretty hectic.  Soon, I’ll have a dedicated office space in a fancy new house and significantly more time to dedicate to blogging.  I can hardly wait.

Instead of writing a post, I updated my About Page!  Have you seen it?  I think writing a solid About Page is one of the most challenging – and important – things about blogging.

Today, I wanted to share the 5k Training Plan that I have used twice now to return to running following an injury.  The first time was in March of 2015, when I started running again after 2 months off with a stress reaction in my shin, and the second time was about 3 weeks ago, following a major chiropractic adjustment of my twisted pelvis.  This plan could also apply to those who have taken a significant amount of time off from running, or people who have never run before in their life and want to give it a try.

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Of course, I am not a doctor, and my advice – or any advice found on a blog, for that matter – should NOT EVER take the place of proper medical advice from a doctor or physical therapist.  If you’ve been injured, ask your doctor if this plan is right for you, or ask them for one that will be.  If you’re coming back from a serious injury, close this window right now and book an appointment with a physical therapist before you even consider taking any plan into consideration.

I did not personally create this plan.  It was given to me by my physiotherapist, but the version he gave me was ugly, doctor-y and hard to understand, so I simply made it simpler, prettier and added the days of the week that I like to train on.  You can adjust it to your own schedule however you’d like.

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In order for this plan to be effective, it is recommended that;

-You run at least 4 times per week (this places enough stress on the muscles to train them and build them up for all of the bad-assery to come) but no more than 6 times per week.  Remember that your muscles and joints need time to rest and heal, especially if you’re a brand new runner!

-You begin each run with a brisk, 5-minute warm-up.  Typically, I do this just by walking at a good pace, but on really cold days, I like to warm up inside with some jumping jacks, or on the stationary bike if I’m at the gym.  Speaking of running in the cold, check out these tips on what to wear for winter running.

-If you are experiencing any pain more intense than regular muscle soreness, you might want to take a rest day and then repeat the same training day again the day after.  Don’t kill yourself.  It’s supposed to be fun and challenging, not excruciating.  If you experience any severe or worrisome pain, stop exercising immediately and seek medical attention, especially if you’re returning from injury.

-If you’re a seasoned runner and you are getting bored out of your mind with the 1 Minute Run, 1 Minute Walk stage (been there), you can skip ahead a day.  For example, the second time I was doing the program, I would do 1 Run / 1 Walk x3 one day, then 1 Run / 1 Walk x5 the following day, then x7, then x9, and so on.  Don’t push yourself too hard, but your body will tell you if it’s ready.

-You cross train at least once per week!  At this early stage, this can mean anything active that is not running.  My cross training days include anything from riding my bike, snowshoeing, yoga, hiking, swimming, and working out at GoodLife Fitness.  Try a number of different things and see what works best for you.

5k Running Plan. Bigger versions are available below.

5k Running Plan. Bigger versions are available below.

Things that will make this program much more enjoyable;

-Get a watch.  Any old watch or stopwatch will do as long as you can easily keep track of the time you have spent running & walking, but if you’re serious about running, or training for something, I would highly recommend getting a GPS Running Watch.  I just went with a basic Garmin Forerunner 15 (it cost about $130 CAD) and it has been one of my greatest running investments.  The point is…glancing at your wrist to keep track of the time while you’re running is a lot easier (and less hazardous) than trying to keep track of the time on your phone.

-GET GOOD SHOES.  I  REPEAT.  GET.  GOOD.  SHOES.  My go-to kicks (I currently own 4 pairs of Saucony Triumphs) cost me close to $200 a pair, and they are worth their weight in gold.  Do NOT begin your running journey in your dirty old gym shoes that you’ve had since high school.  You’ll end up dealing with all kinds of nasty, painful problems.  It is a common misconception that running is a “basically free” sport.  Like anything, it requires a significant amount of investment – and proper shoes should be the first thing on the list.  Check out Ange from Cowgirl Run ’s post on How To Buy Running Shoes.

-Make a kickass playlist.  Or, listen to the ones I’ve made for you!

-Sign up for a 5k race!  There’s nothing more motivating (or daunting, depending on how you look at it) than a day on the calendar advancing closer and closer.  If it’s your first race, pick something fun and non-intimidating such as a Color Run or a Themed Run.  Check out my 6 Tips For Staying Motivated to Run if you need more of a push.

-Stay Consistent.  Try not to take more than one rest day in a row, or you might lose your motivation.  Ask me how I know.  ;)

-If you’re returning from injury, check out this post from The Suzlyfe called How To Start Running After Injury.  Susie is an actual certified running coach, and she really knows her stuff.

Running in San Diego

Running in San Diego

Hopefully, this post proved to be valuable to some of you, whether you are returning to running, or starting up for the very first time.  I’ve done this dance a few times already, and while I’m still a fairly “new” runner myself, I have learned a lot over these past few years.  Good luck, and be sure to tag @adventuretoanywhere in your posts on Instagram if you’re using the program!  I’d love to follow along on your journey.  :)

Part One

Part One

Part Two

Part Two

*Disclaimer: This post was written in part for the GoodLife Fitness Ambassador Program.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.*

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Did you follow a specific plan when you first began running?

What’s the longest amount of time you’ve taken off from running?

How many pairs of your favourite shoes do you own?

Posted in Running Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Peaks & Valleys of 2015

I’ve known for many weeks now that I wanted to tackle a “2015 In Review” post, but I really wasn’t sure how exactly to go about it.  Here’s my dilemma; 2015 was potentially one of the best, and also the absolute WORST, year of my life so far.  At the age of only 24, I am convinced that there will be both better and worse years ahead, but I can say wholeheartedly that 2015 was the most significant, inspiring, heart-breaking rollercoaster ride I have ever experienced up to this point.

At my Dad’s funeral back in September, a dear friend of his pulled me aside to share his condolences and his memories of my father, as so many people did.  However, this particular individual mentioned the “Peaks and Valleys” of life, and he assured me that even though losing my dad had indeed been a very deep, dark valley, there will be great peaks ahead.  This really stuck with me.  Here are a few of the Peaks and Valleys I am reflecting on from the past year.

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1. Traveling Solo for the first time to Costa Rica

Way back in January, I took a very nerve-wracking journey all by myself to the pacific coast of Costa Rica, to attend a transformative and incredible 10 day Yoga Retreat at Peace Retreat in the tiny town of Playa Negra.  I arrived in Costa Rica a scared, anxious ball of stress and insecurity, and I left a much stronger, more confident, and lighter version of myself.  I also made some life-long friendships.  I will forever be grateful for my time spent there.  You can read more about my experience here.

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Playa Negra Sunsets


2. Being Promoted to Senior Stylist

In July, I received a promotion at work from Intermediate to Senior Stylist.  This is definitely not related to what I blog about in any way, but I feel that it was still worth mentioning, because I’m extremely proud of it.

 

3. Learning The Importance of Self-Care (The Hard Way)

2015 kicked off with a running injury in my left shin that had me sidelined from running for nearly 3 months, and then continued on with a wrist injury that kept me from work for over a week.  Later on, my doctor discovered that I had a heart murmur and an irregular heartbeat, along with high cholesterol – which lead to multiple scary tests on my heart.  From October until now, I have been dealing with debilitating lower back pain, which has once again kept me from running.  I have spent more time in Laser Therapy, Chiroproactor’s Offices, Physiotherapy, Shock Therapy, Doctor’s Offices, and Hospitals than I ever want to again.  But through all of this, I have learned the importance of taking care of yourself in every way.  Diet, exercise, strengthening, rehabilitation, adequate sleep and preventative maintenance have all become integral parts of my general wellness.  Unfortunately,  I had to learn this the hard way.

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4. Buying a House

Probably the most exciting part of 2015 was embarking on the next chapter of life with Sean and building our first home.  I expected it to be stressful, scary and ominous, but instead it has been smooth, exciting and fun.  We are set to move in on January 20th, and I’m not sure if I’ve ever been so excited for anything.

 

5. Making New Friends

I can not even count how many incredible connections I made in 2015.  Between meeting up with the amazing Alberta Blogger Community IRL and meeting countless wonderful people through travels and adventures, I am humbled by all of the love I am now surrounded with.  There is something so inspiring about connecting with like-minded people.  I love you all.

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Blogger Friends at Color Me Rad

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Jo, Brie, Kris and I at the Waterton Blogger Retreat

6. Running my First (and Second!) Half Marathon

The Lululemon SeaWheeze on August 15th was my first Half Marathon.  It will hold a special place in my heart forever, and although I plan to run many, many more Half Marathons, I’m not sure I’ll ever feel the things I did on that day.  (Read more about that here.)  And then, in October, despite having just lost my father and being significantly under-trained, I ran my second Half Marathon in Kelowna, BC.  (Recap here.)  Together, these two events reminded me of my strength, my resilience, and how much I still have to learn.  I will be forever grateful to running for teaching me all of these things.

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Taken Moments after crossing the Finish Line at SeaWheeze

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An Emotional Push to the Finish at the BMO Okanagan Half Marathon

7. Getting in the Best Shape of My Life

Those of you who know me in person and saw me at any point in 2015 might be confused by this one.  I don’t necessarily mean that I “looked” my best in 2015, because I absolutely did not.  I ate all of the things.  I binged on all of the Netflix.  My body’s appearance didn’t change too much, but I learned how to push my body to its absolute limits for the first time in my life.  Between training for two Half Marathons, keeping up with consistent cross-training at GoodLife Fitness, and indulging in several Rocky Mountain Hikes, I was the strongest, fastest, fittest me that I had ever been.  And that was an amazing feeling.

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Crushing Buller Pass, Kananaskis, AB

8. Losing my Dad

I don’t need to go into too much detail about the indescribable pain of losing my father to addiction (I already did that here), but this was absolutely the most significant thing that happened to me in 2015.  My life changed forever on September 14 when I got that phone call, and I know now that I will never be the same.  The pain of this loss will stay with me for the rest of my life, as will the beautiful lessons that losing him has taught me.  And I know that I will continue to learn and grow from the ashes of this experience in the years to come.

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Dad and I, Summer 2011

9. Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet

On November 10th, I made the overnight, cold-turkey (pardon the pun) transition to a Plant-Based, Vegan diet.  I saw radical changes in my body’s behaviour, and while I am still ironing out the “kinks” of this new lifestyle and what it will look like for me, I know that it has changed me forever.  This is something I will definitely be writing about and exploring further in the year ahead.

 

10. Learning to Love Myself

…and I’m still not there 100% yet.  Are any of us, really?  Many of my new friends and readers may not know this about me, but there was a time, not too long ago, when I was filled with so much sadness, anger, hatred, insecurity and self-loathing that I truly did not want to be in this world anymore.  I even tried to take myself out of it.  True self-love is a fickle thing, but as I think back to who I was even 365 days ago, I know one thing for sure – I love myself more now than I did then.  I make mistakes.  I have regrets.  I see plenty of things in myself that I’d like to change.  But at the end of the day, I am now able to sit with myself, wrap my arms around my body and feel truly ok with myself and worthy of this beautiful, blessed life that I am lucky enough to live.  And that is progress.  Progress that will only continue in the years to come.

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To all of you who have sent words of encouragement, support, sympathy, congratulations, love and friendship during this extremely emotional year – Thank You.  My heart could explode with gratitude for each and every one of you.  I can not wait to see what the year ahead holds for all of us.

With Love, Blessings and Wishes for Plenty of Adventures,

-Ashley xoxo

 

*Disclaimer: This post was written in part for the GoodLife Fitness Ambassador Program.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.*

Posted in Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Surviving The Holidays During Tough Times

Hey guys!  Happy Tuesday!

Well, the countdown is on.  With only 3 more sleeps until Christmas, I’m sure many of you are consumed by the craziness of the season – finishing up last minute shopping and wrapping, baking delicious holiday treats, and finalizing travel plans to be with family for the big day.  However, I’m sure that there are a few others out there like me – the struggling ones.  The ones who are dealing with some less-than-ideal circumstances around the holidays.  The ones who are coping with loss, change, and sorrow.  With all of this most-wonderful-time-of-the-year magic in the air, it can be really tough to get in the spirit when you’re just so damn sad.  I wish I could wrap my arms around each and every one of you that is hurting this time of year, but since that is virtually impossible, I have instead put together a short list of ideas that you can use to get through this challenging time of year.

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1. Spend time with positive people

Surrounding yourself with positive, loving and understanding people during the Holidays is half the battle.  It will only make you feel worse to be around negative people, or people who can’t understand – or at least sympathize – what you’re going through.  If you’re stuck spending the Holidays without your family or regular crew, then reach out!  I can’t imagine that anybody would want to know that somebody they care about is alone on Christmas.  Reach out to your friends and acquaintances if you’d rather not be alone, and I can almost guarantee they will take you in with open arms.

 

2. Create new Traditions

One of the most difficult parts of the Holidays is the painful feeling of missing old traditions.  Maybe you’ve lost a loved one, or are spending the holidays away from your family, and the tradition just wouldn’t be the same without them.  Or maybe you or your spouse has lost their job, or you’re just simply tight on cash, and certain traditions have become too expensive.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t create new ones!  Check out free or inexpensive holiday events, light displays and markets in your community.  Take a drive.  Go for a walk (or a snowshoe!).  Bake together.  Make a craft.  My personal favourite holiday tradition (it’s only in its third year, but I think it’s here to stay!) is the “Snowshoe Christmas” that Sean and I do with his dad.  We don’t see the point in exchanging gifts, so instead, we spend an entire day out in the mountains playing in the snow.  We make amazing memories that will stay with us much longer than any store bought gift would.

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Gord & I – Snowshoe Christmas 2015

3. Eat Well

As tempting as holiday treats can be, you will absolutely feel better if you resist the urge to over-indulge.  By all means, have a few of your favourites, but be sure to not let your health go completely down the drain at this hectic time of year.  Be sure to remember to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and don’t neglect your healthy habits!  With the added stress of the season, reduced sleep and extra calories from all of that rum and egg nog, you’ll need all the help you can get to stay healthy.

(Click Here for my absolute favourite plant-based recipe right now – Thai Cashew Coconut Rice with Ginger Peanut Sauce.  Add as many veggies as you can cram in there and enjoy!)

 

4. Get Moving

Just because it’s freezing outside (or maybe not, depending on where you’re reading from) doesn’t mean that you can’t stay active.  Walking, Running, Sledding, Yoga, The Gym, Skating, Building a Snowman, Swimming (indoors, obviously) and Snowshoeing are all fantastic ways to keep active during the holidays.  Involve your family and friends and plan a group skating date or a wintery walk in a local park.

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Johnston Canyon makes for an epic Winter Hike

 

5. Remember, It’s Just a Day

Christmas is a funny thing, because there is like a month of all this crazy buildup, then about 12 hours of chaotic frenzy and excitement on the actual day, and then it’s just over.  All of the decorations go back in a box, and life goes back to normal.  If you’re like me and are reeling from a major loss of a loved one, or going through a divorce, or dealing with a financial crisis, or whatever it may be – it might be hard to enjoy the holidays this year no matter what you do.  If that’s the case, remember – it’s just a day.  The reason it’s so blown out of proportion and made into such a massive deal is because of corporate greed, not because of the true meaning of Christmas – which is to celebrate the birth of Christ (if that’s your thing) and enjoy time with your loved ones.  If all else fails, let the day come and go like you would any other day.  If you’re really hurting this year, it might be wise to stay away from social media too, because seeing the falsified, edited versions of everybody’s “perfect” Christmas will only make your heart hurt more.  Care for yourself and remember that there will be happier holidays again in your future.

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Happier Christmases with my Dad

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Was there a Holiday Season that was hard for you?  What helped you to get through it?

What are some of your favourite Holiday Traditions?

Posted in Lifestyle Posts | 6 Comments

Spruce Meadows Dashing Through The Glow 5k Recap

Way back in the spring time, when I learned about a December 5k that weaves through the spectacular Christmas lights of Spruce Meadows, I absolutely knew that I had to participate.  So, last Friday, December 4th, we ran “Dashing Through The Glow”.

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Dashing Through The Glow was my second experience running in the Spruce Meadows Run Series. We were lucky to have an absolutely beautiful night for it – calm winds and one degree – unseasonably warm for December! My boyfriend Sean and I arrived at about 6:15pm. We already had our packages, which contained a t-shirt, a pair of gloves, a magazine, a bunch of glow sticks (!!!) and of course, a race bib with a voucher for food after the run. There was a 5k and a 2k option for this glowing, night-time run, which meant that the whole family could participate. There were tons of kids and strollers and it was great to see everybody participating!

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Sean & I Before the Run

After an energetic warmup, we took our places in the 5k start group at 7pm. I knew I’d be walking the majority of the course as I had just had a pretty major chiropractic adjustment and had been advised against running, so we started near the back of the pack and took our time, completing the course in a run-walk manor. This gave us plenty of time to chat, take pictures, and enjoy the absolutely stunning festive light display that Spruce Meadows puts on every Holiday Season.

At just shy of 52 minutes, this run will go down in history as the longest 5k of my life, but with lots to look at and perfect weather, we enjoyed every minute. Upon crossing the finish line, we were presented with a finisher’s medal and a complementary bottle of water before getting in line for the included post-run food. Both meat and vegetarian chilli and a bun, plus free samples of Big Rock Winter Ale, made for a hearty meal after a festive race. The entire vibe of the event was super relaxed, and it was nice to just sit and watch everyone chatting and enjoying some good food after the event.

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Meat & Veggie Chilli!

I wholeheartedly enjoyed both of the Spruce Meadows Run Series events that I was lucky enough to participate in this year, and I really hope that there are more to come in 2016! They are always well-put-together, family fun events.

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Bling Bliiinngggg

*This post originally appeared as a guest post on cowgirlruns.com*

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Do you have any winter races planned?

What kinds of Holiday Traditions do you have?

Posted in Race Recaps | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Updates from my Month-Long Social Media Vacation

Goooood Morning my beautiful readers, and Happy Thursday!  Honestly, this feels kind of weird, writing after a month-long social media “vacation”.  It feels like it was longer than a month, and in other ways, it feels like just yesterday that I deleted Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WordPress off of my devices.  If I’m being honest, for the first few days, I was like a drug addict in withdrawal.  I was constantly checking my phone, but had no notifications.  I would take photos of cool things, only to realize that I could not post them to Instagram.  I had this ridiculous fear that people were going to post horrible things on my accounts while I was away, and I wouldn’t be able to see them.  Silliness.  Pure silliness.

After a few days, however, I found that I was beginning to calm down and grow used to my media-free lifestyle.  While the last four weeks have been far from the blissful, perfect, carefree month I had pictured in my mind (more on that later) they have taught me a lot, and I am returning to the blog feeling re-energized and inspired.  Here are a few of the things that have been going on since I cut the cord on November 10th.

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1. I ended up in the Hospital from my first full-fledged Panic Attack.

This part kind of sucked.  As I have mentioned before, I have been battling with some pretty fierce anxiety lately, but nothing could prepare me for the full-on attack that sent me to the emergency room.  It happened at work, and at the time, I truly believed I was having a heart attack.  Eventually, my entire face and arms went numb, so at that point I thought maybe it was actually a stroke.  After four hours in emergency, the doctors determined that nothing was wrong with my heart, my brain, or my nervous system, and once I was reduced to a weeping puddle on that poor doctor’s assessment bed, it was apparent that the attack was simply a result of my overwhelming life events.  Talk about a wake up call.  Which brings me to my next point…

2. I’ve had plenty of time to spend taking care of my health.

I feel like I’ve done nothing but go to various appointments over this past month.  Between the testing to determine what’s wrong with my heart (still pending), some hypnotherapy sessions that are helping me handle my anxiety, counselling sessions to help me process my father’s devastating death, and chiropractic appointments to try and correct a pelvis that has apparently been out of alignment since my snowmobile crash (7 years ago!), I’ve had my hands – and my calendar – pretty full.  But it’s also been good.  As stressful and overwhelming as this can feel, I am grateful to have the time, the resources, and the support to take all of this on.  And even though it’s not the most enjoyable way to spend my days off, I know it’s an investment in a healthier, happier future, and I can absolutely get behind that.

3. I am proud to announce that I am now approximately 95% plant-based.

In my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to try to implement a majority plant-based (or vegan) diet, but I never expected to come as far as I have in just one month.  Since November 10th, I have not eaten any meat at all, but have had a few minor slip-ups with dairy and eggs (when I eat out).  I have tried probably close to 20 new plant-based recipes, and there hasn’t been a single thing that hasn’t been delicious.  My energy has improved drastically, I hardly have any digestive woes anymore, and I have never felt so damn good.  And to answer the most common questions – yes, I get enough protein from plants, and no, I haven’t lost a ton of weight.  Probably because I haven’t been running at all, but weight loss is not why I’m doing this.  As I progress, I am learning a lot about myself and about what Veganism / Plant-Based eating means to me.  I have never been able to “stick with” anything so wholly, and for so long.  I am extremely excited to see where this goes.

4. I have become addicted to Podcasts. 

I’m not sure why it took me until the year 2015 to discover how incredible podcasts are, but better late than never I suppose.  The first podcast I came across was Food For Thought with Colleen Patrick-Goudreau from Joyful Vegan, which I found through all of my research on Veganism.  Her podcast is an incredible, educational resource for compassionate Veganism in everyday life, general health, and wellness.  From there, I began exploring, and came across a few more gems.  One of my other favourites is Matt Frazier’s No Meat Athlete.  I had heard of the No Meat Athlete Blog, but I had no idea there was also a podcast.  Matt interviews lots of like-minded people, while also discussing his own views and tips for a successful plant-based running career.  The most wonderful thing about podcasts is that they are highly multi-task-able.  I listen to them while I’m driving, while I’m getting ready for work, while I’m cooking, or even when I’m out walking or running.  I am learning and becoming inspired during simple, everyday tasks that might otherwise seem mundane.

5. I spent my mornings doing things other than scrolling through social media.

For the first few days, it was so weird to wake up and spend my time doing actual morning things instead of catching up on my Facebook feed or scrolling through Instagram.  I made tea.  I read books.  I cuddled with my boyfriend.  I meditated.  What a phenomenon.  One I might like to continue.

6. We take possession of our new house in just over a month!

This little detail has been consuming my every thought, dream, action, conversation, and purchase lately.  The countdown is on, and Sean and I are moving into our brand new home on January 20th!  It’s stressful and daunting and much too adult for my liking, but it’s also extremely exciting, inspiring, and motivating.

7.  My Chiropractor has changed the way I know my body.

I have always been dead set against seeing a Chiropractor, mostly because I was misinformed, but also because I didn’t want to become one of those people who had to constantly keep going back again and again and again.  After my first appointment, my Chiropractor was able to determine that my left hip was completely out of alignment (which I already knew, but didn’t really understand the severity of) and had likely been that way since a snowmobile crash I was involved in back in February of 2009.  That is a long time to be in pain.  He could not believe that I had run two Half Marathons this year, and he bluntly told me that the only thing my body has had going for it is the fact that I’m only 24.  Throughout a series of treatments and adjustments, we have managed to put my hip back where it belongs, as well as work on some other major alignment issues throughout my body.  it’s been a painful, time-consuming and frustrating process, but I am beginning to see some seriously wonderful results, and, with any luck, I’ll be able to begin running again (from the very beginning, with a “learn to run” program to prevent injury) in a week or so.

8. I had a lot of time to think about the direction I want this blog to take.

As many of my long-time readers will remember, Adventure To Anywhere first started as a travel blog, and only a travel blog.  I began this blog by accident, when I was looking for a way to stay in touch with friends and family during a 5 week trip through Asia.  As fate would have it, the blog caught on, attracting all kinds of readers, and eventually evolved with me to incorporate things such as running, hiking, and lifestyle articles.  As I embark on the newest chapter of my life – ‘Broke New Homeowner’ life, that is – I am beginning to realize that travel, especially major travel, will have to be put on the back burner for the next few years.  So how much of this blog will remain aligned with the “Adventure” theme?  I’m not sure.  All I know is that I’d like to slowly begin to write about a more broad variety of topics, still including Travel, Hiking, Running and Lifestyle, but also venturing into the realms of Plant-Based Nutrition, General Wellness, Relationships, Overcoming Addiction and Codependency, and maybe even Spirituality.  Who knows.  The future is bright (and scattered) and I hope you’ll come along for the ride, regardless of where this crazy ship is headed.

9. I missed you guys.

It definitely made me feel a little bit sad and disconnected not knowing what was going on with all of my online friends.  Many of these online friends have turned into real-life friends, which I am grateful for, but since a lot of you live either on the other side of the world or even just a few provincial borders away, the connection was lost.  And I missed you all.  I missed being able to read your comments, see your updates, and like your photos.  This time away has made me realize just how valuable these connections truly are – in times of weakness, strength, motivation, inspiration, frustration, love and loss – it is amazing to have such a strong and like-minded community behind me.

 

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Have you ever taken a “break” from Social Media?

What are your thoughts on a plant-based diet?

Do you have any favourite podcasts?

Posted in My Adventures | 12 Comments

Why I Am Taking a Social Media Vacation

My dear friends,

Starting tonight, I am taking a month-long social media vacation. No Facebook. No Instagram. No Twitter. No Blogging.

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After my dad passed away in September, I have been much more of a wreck than anybody would be able to tell from the outside. For those of you who do not know, my father battled with alcoholism for over twenty years, and eventually it was that severe chronic alcoholism that took him from us at only 54 years old.


He was not the type of alcoholic you might picture when you close your eyes. He was not a stumbling drunk. He was not abusive. He was not a mean-spirited man. Instead, he was a singer, a cook, a businessman, and a loving father. He was my best friend, my biggest fan, and my strongest pillar of support. He hid his problem from everybody for more than twenty years, and he managed to keep it together pretty well on the outside. But eventually, that kind of substance abuse will catch up to you, and the body will begin to shut down if sobriety is not achieved.

Watching somebody suffer this way for so long is unlike anything I can even begin to describe. So I won’t try. But those of you who have tried to help an addict before can probably understand in some way what it’s like. For the past two years, I only saw my dad when he was either in hospital, or just coming out of a treatment centre and beginning to relapse. In order to protect myself, I set boundaries and told him that I would no longer visit him until he was sober. It was simply too painful to see him in that state. The last time I saw him in person was in February, when I said my goodbyes to him in his hospital bed, because I truly thought he was going to die right then. He didn’t. After that, we talked on the phone at least once a week.

Once he did pass away, on September 14th, I tried my best to hold my life together by its fraying threads. People needed me. I was told to stay strong. But eventually, the threads began to snap, and the fabric of my very existence began to unravel.

Between working full time (talking to people about it all day long as a hairstylist), training for and running my second half marathon, keeping up with my blogging and freelance work, blowing through my entire financial nest egg with funeral expenses and unpaid time off work, handling the stresses of building our first home, traveling for work, and managing all kinds of grown-up things that happen when your parent dies, I have been scraped raw. Some days, it feels like there is nothing left of me but tired bones and a heavy heart.

I have also been dealing with some fairly serious health issues. I have learned that I have a problem with my heart, and have been undergoing numerous tests to try and find out what’s wrong. I have been dealing with a chronic wrist injury that is pushing me towards a major shift in my career, which is devastating, uncertain and confusing. I have been battling the fiercest anxiety of my life, sometimes having multiple episodes of panic in a single day. I have also developed sciatica. It’s all just too much.

Now, at this point, I feel it is necessary to point out that the intention of sharing this information with you – my readers, friends and family – is not to earn your sympathy. I have had enough damn sympathy over these past few months. My intention is to break myself open and expose my deepest, darkest and most honest emotions, so that hopefully someone, somewhere will read this and understand that it is okay to take a step back sometimes.

“You Cannot Serve From An Empty Cup.”

Like the majority of people out there, my life’s work is to serve others. I live for it. At the salon, I work to make people look and feel beautiful, inside and outside, serving up to 8 clients in a single day. Through my blog and social media channels, I strive to inspire, offer support and advice, and make significant, lasting connections with like-minded individuals. And in my personal life, I try to be the best friend, girlfriend, sister, daughter, niece, granddaughter or cousin that I can be. But sometimes, somewhere in there, we lose ourselves. We become so caught up in caring for others that we completely disregard our own self care altogether.

I am not well. My body is tired. My soul is bruised. My heart is no longer ignited with that passion that it normally is set ablaze with – for anything. I am really struggling. My health has taken the back seat, and I don’t like the way that it’s making me feel.

Normally, I can turn to friends, family, and social media to inspire me and reignite my passionate heart when I begin to fade. But lately, when I scroll through posts on Instagram, I am met with a lot of ‘fluff’ and falseness. And I know that these perfect pictures of fabricated lifestyles are not authentic, yet I still allow them to hurt me. I become enraged when I see someone post about their ‘poor liver’ and joke about being an alcoholic after a night of partying. I become jealous when I see photos of people enjoying fun, sunset-lit adventures on a beach somewhere. I often cry in agony when I see a post about someone’s father. And I carry around this unshakable feeling that something is wrong with me and my messed-up life, which is awful, because I actually have a hell of a lot to be grateful for. My life is beautiful, and I am blessed. I just can’t see that right now because I am so deep in my ego, so deep in my grief.

And so, I am taking some time off. Away from my blog. Away from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Away from silly, mind-numbing distractions that permit me to avoid my emotional pain instead of feeling it. Instead, I hope to give myself the time and the space to read, write, run, love, and heal – not with the intention of posting about it on Instagram or writing about it on the blog – but just for me.

Some people self-medicate with drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping or gambling when they are grieving. I have realized that I’ve been doing the exact same thing – only with distractions. With social media. With stupid, mind-numbing games on my iPhone. With food. With anything I deem ‘not harmful’ as a way to keep my brain busy and feed little morsels of approval to my sad, starving ego. These are all one in the same, because they are all methods of short term relief that lead to deeper pain and emptiness in the long run.

I don’t think any of the above things are necessarily ‘bad’. Everything has a time and a place, in moderation. I am not saying that you’re a terrible person if you drink, smoke, enjoy sex or like to shop. I am simply recognizing that none of those things can heal deep emotional pain. Self work. Self care. Self love. That’s what can heal.

Put simply, you have to look within.

And that’s what I am taking some time off to do. At first I was worried about silly things like missing out or losing readers. But I quickly realized that those who want to keep in touch, can. Those who want to invite me to something, will. Those who truly care about me and Adventure To Anywhere won’t unsubscribe just because I need to take a month off to work on my mental health.

If you’ve come this far, thank you for caring enough to read this. If you’re also feeling burnt out, please remember that it’s okay to be selfish sometimes. And finally, if you’re struggling with addiction, please, PLEASE reach out for professional help. I am begging you.

With Love,
Ashley

Posted in Personal | 11 Comments

4 Reasons Why I’m Taking a Break from Running

I didn’t choose to take a break from running, a break from running chose me.

I will never regret running the Okanagan Half Marathon 3 weeks after my Dad died.  I honestly think that the (bare minimum) training, and the race itself, were therapeutic and healing in themselves.  I was so proud to cross that finish line and earn that medal.  But, I hurt myself in the process.

After the Okanagan Half Marathon

After the Okanagan Half Marathon

I was simply undertrained and overtired.  No matter how much active recovery I tried to do, how many rest days I took, or how much foam rolling I did..my body just would not bounce back.  I was in a lot of pain.  And then, this past week, I was away at a conference in Minnesota, and I pinched my sciatic nerve and have been dealing with intense lower back pain ever since.

Alright, world.  I hear you.  I surrender.  I’ll slow down.

For now.

RunningBreak

I’m not sure how long my break from running is going to be, but I know that it’s necessary.  I have been “running on empty” (pardon the pun) since September, and there is only so much of me left at the end of the day.  I have a few 5k fun runs planned for December, which I still plan to participate in, and the San Diego RnR Half in June – for which training will begin in March – so that gives me at least a few weeks to take it easy.

Here are a few things I’m looking forward to during this time.

1. Rest

This one seems obvious, but I am just so excited to rest my hardworking running muscles.  At first, I was afraid of “back-pedalling”, but I have developed a newfound compassion towards my shins, calves, hips and IT bands.  Rest, my dear, sweet, abused legs.  Rest.

2. Trying New Workouts

Especially while I was training for Seawheeze, I became extremely one-track-minded when it came to my workouts.  If I wasn’t running, I was wasting time and energy on something that wasn’t giving me what I wanted.  Now that I have time, I’m excited to try some new classes at GoodLife Fitness (my running friends are always RAVING about BodyPump!), spend more time at yoga, take up swimming, and enjoy long, gentle walks.

3. Revisit my Nutrition

I definitely fell victim to “eating like a runner” over the summer.  Basically, I would eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, with the exception of the day before a long run.  To be fair, I was a revved-up, hungry machine all. the. time. but what I found is that I continued to eat that way even when I wasn’t training heavily.  This led to guilt, weight gain, and other silly things such as poor sleep quality.  I’m looking forward to focusing more on what goes in to my body, instead of just “oh my God get me some pizza before I kick someone”.  I want to experiment more with a plant-based diet (no, I’m not becoming Vegan.  Me and Bacon are too tight.) and new recipes.  Food should be fuel, not a reward.  Well, most of the time anyway. ;)

image-08-11-15-07-41-2

SOML.

4. Reignite my Passion for Running

I was talking to another running friend a few days ago, and we both agreed that we are the kinds of people who lose steam and passion when we don’t have enough time between races.  She ran the Calgary Police Half in April, and then the Centaur Subaru Calgary Half in May, and found herself entirely devoid of passion and motivation afterwards.  I think I’m the same way.  Seawheeze and The Okanagan Half were almost two months apart, but I still feel like I didn’t have enough time between races to take some down time.  In all fairness, this could also because I was dealing with the death of my father in between, but I’m not sure.  Maybe I’m not a back-to-back race kind of girl.  All I know is that, lately, running has become a chore.  Sean has even commented on it, because usually I would wake up excited, motivated, and ready to run, but more recently it has been a serious struggle to lace up and get out the door.  I am hoping that, after a brief absence, my passion will return with a vengeance, as it usually does with most things.

Photo taken during my first run after my Dad died

Photo taken during my first run after my Dad died

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Have you ever taken a break from running?

How do you like to stay active in the winter months?

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*Disclaimer: This post was written in part for the GoodLife Fitness Ambassador Program.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.*

Posted in Running Tips | 9 Comments