Smiles All Around and Running Lately….

July 4, 2018. I didn’t feel fast, after mile four I actually felt like throwing in the towel. My breathing shallowed, my quads were on fire, and the finish felt so far away. Never imagining what lie on the other side of that finish line. A top 30 finish in the largest 10K in the country, less than one minute away from being considered “elite”, and the impending weight of massive expectation.

July 14, 2018. A last minute 5K in support of an incredible organization: Back on My Feet. At 2.8 Kada collapsed on the ground, unable to move her legs, the pleading of help in her brown eyes. The fear sinking deep to the pit of my stomach that I might lose my pup (I didn’t).

Recovery.

Not a word that is unfamiliar, but one that has been largely tied to the physical aspects of running, but in this past season there was a different type of recovery that had to be done. Mental. The Peachtree Road Race left me numb and unmotivated because the pressure that I allowed to mount was unbearable for someone who was still on the tail end of the greatest mental, physical, and emotional battle of my life to date.

So the races stopped, the high mileage felt far too daunting, and it scared me to feel stuck  in the unknown. There were a few races that I was able to help pace and push-assist and support over this season, but I was never myself, and the community helped keep me going in whatever form that took. My friends and training buddies were with me in whatever way they needed to be and it really was key in keeping me in the game. So I looked at 2019 with open eyes, not really knowing where I was headed, but knowing that I still loved this sport I had found a home and community in.

Now in the remaining few days of January, new wind has blown in my sails, and that smile has crept back onto my face. During December I had to learn to let myself back off without guilt, something I resisted for the first 5 months of this journey. Guilt of letting people down, and even more pressing, letting myself down and not stewarding the gift I had been given had begun to become a banner, and it just couldn’t. So I picked up more cross and weight training and stuck to under 5 miles not sure if that would actually help where I was other than maintaining a base layer of fitness, but I finally learned to be okay with sitting there for whatever amount of time it took. I also found that my people cheered me on regardless. AND THEN in the past two weeks that spark has started to reignite, the excitement for runs has increased, the training runs with my people no matter the weather seem more enjoyable than feeling like a job. However, it’s listening taking the time to listen to where I am mentally and physically every single day that sets the tone.

So, now as I get excited for what’s in store here is a little bit of my training schedule and where I am headed the first part of this year with a smile on my face:

Mon – Cross-training/3 mile shakeout

Tues – 10K: 10 minute warm up, 5 minute progression, 30 minute intervals

Wed – Mobility and Yoga

Thurs – 5-7 mile tempo run

Fri – Mobility, light body-weight circuit, shake out (sometimes just an easy run, sometime striders).

Sat – 10-14 miles steady pace.

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And this week we get the bonus of having back to back 5Ks in the mix! Feel free to hop in!

Fri – Super Bowl VII 5K – medium-quick tempo

Sat – Hearts & Soles 5K – quick-sprint tempo

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On The Horizon:

Well besides the two aforementioned 5Ks to work on speed, here are a few things that are slated for 2019:

  • Road to Gold Test Event (March) – 8.2 miles on the Olympic Marathon Trial Qualifying course
  • Publix Half Marathon (March) – Pacing with my girl A @ 1:45
  • Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon (April) – This will be my first trained for half in over a year!
  • Peachtree Road Race (July) – The 50th anniversary and excited to see what I can do this year, without feeling the weight of expectation

More TBD!

If you have any questions, or want some race or training recommendations please let me know at jordan@fuelingherforward.com ! I would also love to put my nutrition certification to work so please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Thanks for reading friends,

Jordan

 

On Getting a Nutrition Certification

Several years ago an ember had sparked in my mind and heart with this idea of nutrition and keeping your body healthy in order to have the most impact that God has specifically given YOU. Over the next couple years, and through my own highs and lows I debated on going back to school to get a nutrition degree in order to be able to practice in a medical setting, or if I just wanted the ability to pair my love of fitness with a knowledge of nutrition for a coaching type of launchpad. After praying and researching for who knows how long, one of my friends introduced me to a certification without a degree that was reputable. It would allow me to coach with the science, anatomy and physiology behind nutrition and how it relates to athletes, without the medical side being drawn in (I do however plan to build a network so that if you have specific medical diagnoses you would have a few names to connect with).

Two months later I pulled the trigger on getting the certification. While the first month was slow getting started and getting into a school mindset again was not easy, I can confidently say that this season of diving into the study of food and your body and how it so intricately works together is eye-opening to say the least. And whether you are a competitive athlete, working mom, or fill in the blank here we can all benefit by having a few new tools in our belt when it comes to taking care of ourselves.

The debates around different “diets” and trends in the health world have fascinated me over the years. As someone who found stomach solutions with gluten-free living (years before it was the thing to do), I love the ideas around Keto, Whole 30, and learning how different people can have impact and reach goals through these. While there are trends that I do not necessarily agree with, this process of learning and diving into nutrition as a whole has allowed me insight and ideas towards any of them that you have found to work for you.

However, the definition of “works” is something to be taken seriously. Works means healthy; it doesn’t mean yo-yo dieting, it doesn’t mean starvation to lose weight, it doesn’t mean being so rigid that food becomes an anxious and stressful part of your day even though you are staying “thin”. No, if something works for you it enhances your ability to move, it energizes you, it allows you to take on adventures or endeavors in ways you never could before, and that is what excites me about this new journey, and what I want others to be able to step into as well!

So in 2019 there will be a new addition to my title and hopefully the ability to serve the women and fitness community around me with a new and healthier view on nutrition and wellness. Besides that, I’m so grateful to be allowed to step inside this, also to note: I would love to go ahead and start with a few trial clients! If you are interested in learning a little bit more email me at jordan@fuelingherforward.com and we can go from there.

Happy Weekend!

Jordan

 

 

Hello Holidays, Hello Physical & Mental Health

Hello Monday!

We had a great weekend with the Grinch remake on Friday night (we would recommend), the Atlantic Station Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Saturday, and the live recording of the Passion 2019 album Sunday, but now Thanksgiving week is here and it’s going to be good. This blog post has things from workouts to best mental health practices through the week.

As I’ve mentioned before Dave and Rachel Hollis do a #last90days challenge and even though pushing the restart button is the norm it’s great to have some clear goals to end the year with, and this week is easy to get lax on those. One of those goals is working out 30 minutes every day, which heading into Thanksgiving & Black Friday shopping can sound overwhelming, but you find time for what’s important for you. Maybe you are responsible for the Turkey so you can’t hit the gym, so here are a few at home 20-30 minute options that will get you moving.

  1. The Peanut Butter Runner – I found her through a box subscription a couple years ago and have loved keeping up with her workouts + recipes. This link takes you to her workout page where you literally kind find ANYTHING.
  2. Nike+ Training App –  When the sky is just too dark to hit the pavement before work I can click on a 15-30 minute workout via the app to get moving for the day! They have fun celebratory workouts to mix it up, yoga routines, and HIIT workouts. Just download it, you won’t be sorry.
  3. And you won’t ever be sorry to grab a friend or family member for a walk around the block or neighborhood.

Speaking of workouts, Thursday will be my 20TH Half Marathon. In 2013, with an 18 degree windchill, no thank you, I crossed the finish line of the Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon with a time of 2:06. My ultra competitive and slightly impatient self would have loved to break two hours for my first half, however, that would come a year and a half later. Now exactly five years later and I’m still nervous to run a distance I’ve done more times than I can possibly count if you include training runs and full marathons, and I kind of love that about it!

When you run, the first mile is ALWAYS hard. Yes always, no matter how long you’ve been doing this, but there is also ALWAYS something new to experience, something to see, something to gain – courage, strength, relationships – and it makes it ALL worth it.

Now for the harder part. This week is meant to be full of joy, but sometimes this week feels the exact opposite. There are several friends that are struggling in this season with broken families, or losing a loved one, but there are also circumstances like mine where eat til you drop is a cause of major anxiety. So here are a few ways to keep the spirit of gratitude and enjoy the moments we’ve been given even when it can be hard.

  1. Allow yourself to have space to feel. Maybe it’s your first holiday without your mom or dad and the idea might be to stay busy and distracted, but it’s okay to feel. It’s part of the process of grieving and healing. For a situation like mine (and probably so many others) its the space to walk out for a moment if I get too overwhelmed by any given situation.

 

Experienced But Not Easy – Cochran Mill Half Marathon

This weekend made 19 half marathons, 3 full marathons, a handful of 10 milers and 15Ks, 9 10Ks, and more 5Ks than I can count, and as much “experience” as I’ve had running, Saturday was the hardest day of competition that I can remember.

Every half marathon is memorable for one reason or the other. In 2014 I got to toe the line in front of our nations capital building watching the sunrise, in 2016 my first taste of runDisney magic at the Princess Half Marathon, in 2017 Rock N Roll Nashville supposedly my fourth full marathon became somewhere in the line of my half marathons because of the severe heat, and just this past May the torrential downpour unlike any other that swept across the coast of the Carolinas made for a sopping girl for all 13.1. They all have stories, but when it comes to strength and fatigue I think of the physical highs and lows. Saturday was different, Saturday was mental.

Trail running is something I regularly enjoy, maybe because the opportunity doesn’t present itself enough for me to get tired of it, but 5-6 miles has always been my max. Dirty Spokes is a GREAT trail race series around North Georgia and most of my trail experience is thanks to them. Of course, I thought with the trail experience I had coupled with my half marathon experience a trail half marathon would just make sense. I was wrong.

Let me preface this all by saying this was 100% worth it. Tony and Lisa at Peak Racing have been friends of mine for several years now and I love getting to support their races, they do a terrific job. But Saturday was hard, it was mentally grueling in every way.

The start was cold – like mid 30s cold – something we aren’t quite used to here in the south. My sweet husband was there at the start so I could throw off my layers at the last minute before we took off, and then it started. Taking off with the group towards the tree line was the easy part, and then leaves and trees everywhere you looked. The sun peaking in through the canopy as we winded through the woods, over hills, and through creeks (literally through them, adds about 10 lbs in weight with wet shoes), no mile markers, very few people: just you and the trail ahead.

When I say I roller-coastered through every emotion I am not joking in the slightest bit. The first mile or two were tough, but nothing I wasn’t used to. As I got into my stride and thinned out from the racers around me, the regular uncomfortable stretching happened, but then I found my legs and the pleasure of being out in the woods with very little distraction took hold and the smile danced on my face.  After 45 minutes I was mostly alone, scanning the vast opening in front of me to try to keep the trail in check with the two guys that were just a bit ahead, bad idea. Fall #1 happened somewhere around mile 6-7; at this point I was already feeling slightly drained. I was frustrated to say the least, no I was angry – I could tell my body was starting to fade, but my will power to keep at my current pace over took. Trip, slip, tumble, lose the trail: my pattern for the next 30-45 minutes and I was over it.

As much as I’ve raced and as tired as I’ve gotten, quitting has never been in my vocabulary. This was the first time I wanted to raise the flag in surrender and be rescued by helicopter and taken to the snacks at the end. Then I realized that I wasn’t getting out of this and it was a chance to challenge and strengthen myself mentally in a brand new way. So after taking a breath and a moment to refocus, I found my rhythm again and found the joy in the sport I’m so fond of. For the next 40 minutes I focused on my own steps, not those of the people ahead of me or behind me, but those right where I was. Taking steps slower if I needed to and allowing myself the freedom to push just as long as I could be safe and stay upright, and then I used the space to think of EVERYTHING I had to be thankful for. It made all the difference.

After 2 hours I was exhausted physically and mentally but I could hear the finish in the distance as people were cheering and music was blaring. I was “home free”, and at the end after hugging my friends and husbands necks – gratitude.

A few things I learned over those few hours:

  1. You have to stop focusing on where other people are, or you might face plant in the place you are.
  2. Just because you’ve done training in one way, doesn’t mean you can easily adapt to any circumstance. You have to train your mind, body, and soul in whatever goals you hope to achieve.
  3. I should run trails more often and always carry a handheld water bottle!

Thank you to Peak Racing Events (Tony & Lisa), Big Peach Running Co, Pure Kneads (can I get a whoop, whoop for gluten free peanut butter sandwiches at the end), Quest Nutrition, Nuun Hydration, Allison Lerer, Wade Coleman, Chris Dillon, and Jennifer Butz for everything you brought to the table as sponsors, hosts, and teammates!

And to my #1, my crew chief, and partner thanks for helping me through the highs and lows and letting our dogs have some fun in the process!

Trails taught me a lot, and I will be back!

Be thankful today friends.

Jordan

 

 

 

The Art of Recovery

*trigger warning*

Yesterday was not one of my finer days, it was actually incredibly messy, but it taught me in so many ways. On typical Sundays Jon plays at least during our morning gatherings at church so the importance of riding to church together means getting up several hours before the sun and making our way down to 515 Garson Drive to sound check. On these days I stash my laptop in my backpack to knock out some work during the two hours before breakfast. Sundays are my recovery days, very rarely (with the exceptions of races that fall on Sundays) do you catch me pounding the pavement, however my days are still relatively active. Yesterday was no different and the morning started out as such.

Let me preface this play by play by saying I’ve been on medicine recently that has made me feel out of sorts in every single way so that was just an added bonus.

Sunday. We rolled up around 615am and per usual I headed toward the kitchen to grab my coffee in one hand and water bottle in the other. Except I got stopped up, because normally you groggily open the door that early in the morning to white counter-tops at the bar and only the Keurigs awake and ready to greet you, but today was different. The brilliant white had massive glass jars on them and the contents of these jars had one of my biggest food loves on this planet: caramel popcorn. So while I try to not eat before our breakfast together on Sundays, I used the scoop to indulge my palate with a few pieces of this sugary popped goodness. It’s recovery day, so why not, and when 830am rolled around I headed towards the Green Room to meet up with Jon before he hit the stage for the day.

The breakfast spread stays relatively routine in this space on Sundays, so I grab my bowl and my packet of Cinnamon Spice Oatmeal, add water, pop it in the microwave then grab my boiled egg and apple. Simple breakfast that satisfies many of the food groups and gives me fuel for the morning. After the first gathering ends, you can find me serving alongside our women’s ministry team sorting donated clothes that we turnaround for a ladies event at the beginning of the year. The band starts playing for gathering number two and I hit the kitchen for lunch. I grab a turkey and veggie half sub (that I turned into a salad) with fruit and some of that popcorn that was still standing stout and chatted with one of my friends while we ate. Things are smooth sailings it seems. However, this is when the rails start to come off and the spiral branches around for the first time. I got caught in a conversation with one of my friends and started popping the chips on the counter left and right. SALT. I headed back for another round of popcorn, two and a half more rounds to be exact. SALT & SUGAR. The cookies looked good so I had one of those also. My mind starts spinning in ugly ways.

As the gathering started to wrap up I slipped back into the green room to wait for Jon so we could head home to let the dogs out before having to be back to play for the 5pm gathering. The mini brownies looked enticing so I had a few. I wasn’t hungry, my body was telling me to hold off, but I wasn’t listening. The combination of my craving of sugar and salt with the anxiety that was starting to grip my mind was a huge gust of resistance.

After the trip home to let the dogs out, give them a bath, and clean their towels (we have an extra dog with us right now – so three dogs grows dirt at an infinite rate so you find time where you can) we headed back to the church, I had started to beat myself up while knowing it wasn’t the end of the world. The anxiety was just too high so I sat down with one of my friends to grab the quinoa salad, pita with tzatiki, and a chicken skewer with roasted veggies. And to that you might say “but that’s healthy”. Correct. The two jumbo cookies that happened after that – not so much. At this point I’m getting jittery and my body is screaming at me, my mind is a jumbled mess and I’m downing water like I just ran a full marathon to try to hush the pandemic that is happening inside my body.

Cue the after party. I thought we could escape it, I really did. Our church is so wonderful to do seasonal after party’s after our last gathering on Sundays so this one was themed fall which in turn required every pumpkin spice pastry to be present. I thought I was strong enough, but I had been fighting this war inside my mind and body all day ALONE, when I should have realized it was just TOO much. So more caramel popcorn, pumpkin spice coated pretzels, and two Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

The spiral was and is devastating even as I sit here typing the next day, water bottle in hand to flush the toxins out, because the progress is a beautiful story. I am in a healthy weight range, and even with this medicine causing some side effects there had been balance. Crushed, Disappointed. Isolated. So then God and I usually have some form of communication at this point – and this time it was that of defeat and the question of why?

So what’s the point of writing all of this out? Because through the mental anguish, being sick to my stomach for the past 12 hours, and the feeling of absolute failure I’m learning so much. He’s faithful to do it, always faithful. My excessively independent personality still needs help, and I have to be reminded that I have to ask for that help BEFORE I crash. I’m learning that recovery is not a poof moment. I thought when I got to my goal weight that things would just magically even out and we would move on, that hasn’t been the case and I’m thankful for those that are consistently moving through the steps whether backwards, forwards or twirling around. I’m also always reminded that my body doesn’t do well with gluten, that ones for free ya’ll.

Most importantly though, through the last 24-36 hours I’m learning that brokenness and struggles aren’t the enemy, it’s giving into the lies of handling them in an unhealthy state that is. The enemy wants to isolate, scheme, and do anything he can to derail you. So while he was able to gain a small victory over my mind yesterday (and admitting that is scary and hard), the confidence that he absolutely WILL NOT win the war is just that much stronger.

Let a hard day be fuel in your fire to move towards better, towards healthy, towards Jesus.

Always here to talk!

Jordan

 

Fall Trail Running and Why It’s Breathtaking in More Than One Way

Half a mile down the paved trail the split comes and the dirt path displays on the right; the sun pierces through the holes in the canopy above, creating shadows of beauty in every direction. Crunch, crunch as my shoes stride deeper into the Chattahoochee National Forest. To my right is the faint sound of the river a hundred yards away, and all around is the whispering of the leaves talking to each other and the squirrels scurrying to bury their nuts as the cold weather will eventually encompass the beauty that surrounds you with each step.

It is so poetic, but it is also hard. The ground is uneven and hills will eventually meet you, spiders make their homes across the path as they’ve swung their webs from branch to branch. The colder and darker it gets, the harder it is to push go, and the miles you stretch are as much mental as they are physical, but the end is incredible. The moments of taking in Creation around you, of pushing yourself to new heights and depths, of gaining fresh perspective and a new sense of wonder.

The end is worth it.

However, you have to prepare, so here are a few tips of getting ready for trail running this fall:

  1. Map it out! Know where you are going and study the route – one of the last trail runs I was on the planned 5 miles suddenly became 9 miles because of getting lost in an attempt to just figure it out as we went.
    • Need a place to start – check out All Trails (web and app) for a great list of trails both near and far, hard and easy.
  2. Find your tribe. Safety, safety, safety. It’s best to find some people to hit the trails with you, however if you do decide to take it solo make sure to let at least 2 people know where you are going, how long you expect to be gone for, and always go to a populated area during
  3. Pack appropriately. Other than layering appropriately as it gets cooler – depending on where you go, trails can take a good bit longer and be a good bit harder than just hitting road miles, so your best bet is to buy a small pack that can house hydration, fuel, and a few essentials like band-aids, alcohol wipes, and pepper spray.
    • Nathan has some great options for belts and hydration vests.
  4. Don’t forget about footwear. While you might not want to spend a huge chunk on trail specific shoes, you do want shoes that will support you enough that when a root or rock tries to interfere you won’t go down. Go to a local running or outdoor store like Big Peach Running Co and talk to someone about the best options for you!
  5. Take time to stop and enjoy! As someone who just likes to go, trails bring out a different side of me, they slow me down and help me focus on the incredible details of creation around me. Snapping a few keepsake shots is one of favorite things to keep remembering my why!

Of course if you are competitive like me you might also want have a goal if you really desire to get better at trail running. If it suites your fancy check out Dirty Spokes and XTERRA trail series along with my friends at Peak Racing for races of every distance.

Overall just enjoy it, enjoy the leaves as they change color and slowly float to the ground, enjoy the crisp air as you breath with each glide across the ground, and snap some shots of your favorite moments and places.

Happy Fall Ya’ll!

Jordan