The beauty of examining the ugly

I was mortified.

Snap from my running form reel

Snap from my running form reel

Earlier this month, I had the awesome privilege of enjoying a 5-day running camp with ZAP Endurance in the beautiful mountains of Blowing Rock, NC. One morning, after a fun speed workout in a humid, misty park, coaches captured short videos of us running to review later and assess our running form in action.

I had assumed we would review those clips with the coaches one on one.

I assumed wrong.

We would be looking at those clips as a group. I had a minor internal panic as I realized all my weaknesses would be pointed out in a public setting.

My stomach tightened as we sat down in the lounge to watch the videos on the big screen. I felt myself trying to melt into the couch cushions. I imagined Coach Pete and Matt shaking their heads as my clip appeared on the screen and saying something like, wow, this woman is a hopelessly terrible runner, or suggesting perhaps I should dump this running thing and take up knitting.

I had all these feelings despite all my accomplishments as a runner, including achieving progressively faster marathon times year after year, qualifying for the Boston Marathon at my last marathon, and zillions of hours of rehab/prehab in the gym, barre studio and pool to build myself into a stronger runner.

When my clip came up, I felt my face get hot. Then the coaches asked really insightful questions, a few light jokes were made (apparently I’m a gifted performer of the Marathon Shuffle!), and areas that need work were pointed out, along with specific exercises I can do to work on my weak medial glutes (damn glutes!). It was extraordinarily helpful.

This session also reminded me is how unbelievably brave my clients are.

Every time I meet with a client, I ask them to lay out all their dirty laundry for us to pore over. There is such tremendous courage shown and benefit gained in laying it all out there, looking at facts without emotion, and learning where we can improve.

Check out all the cool goings-on at ZAP here, and please be in touch if you have questions about this experience, or working with me to build healthful lifestyle and diet habits that stick!

Takeaways for this injured runner at running camp

Back in the spring, I excitedly signed up for a summer running camp for grown-ass women. During the course of marathon training this summer, I developed a femoral stress fracture, and when I emailed the organizers to request a refund, I got a hard NOPE. What should have been an empowering weekend for strong women to come together over running...actually was.

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Are our genes our fate?

My grandmother Shappy partying hard on her 99th birthday, July 2017

My grandmother Shappy partying hard on her 99th birthday, July 2017

This is a strange time of year for me: Over a span of less than three weeks, I celebrated my maternal grandmother's 99th birthday, observed the 14th anniversary of my dad's death, and I'll soon celebrate (celebrate?!) my 40th birthday. 

At this time of year, I can't help but think about that age old question: Are my genes my destiny?

My maternal grandmother was sharp as a tack right up until she was about 97, when she had her driver's license revoked, began losing her memory and started showing signs of dementia. She was always tiny and slim, and looked fantastic dressed up for her 99th birthday dinner. My father, on the other hand, was a giant man, literally and figuratively, who was obese for most of his life, yo-yo dieted for decades, developed type 2 diabetes, and died very suddenly at 57 (which was all at the same time a huge shock and yet wholly predictable).  

Surely genetics play a role in the health and lives of my dad and my grandmother. My grandmother smoked for decades before quitting sometime ago after a health scare. But she also has habits that support her longevity: She's always eaten like a bird. No meal is complete without a pile of tomatoes on her plate. Up until she was no longer able, she was mobile, loved to travel. And she kicks the butt of any fool willing to play her at Scrabble. 

My dad was a Division One football player in his youth but was completely sedentary in adulthood. His diet was lousy despite my mom's attempts to serve the family "green stuff." The cause of his obesity was no mystery, though the reasons he leaned so hard on food are sadly complex. 

I may have genes from my dad's side that make me X% more likely to become obese or to develop type 2 diabetes. I may also have genes on my maternal side that protect me somewhat from the damage of long-term smoking or otherwise promote longevity (alas, I can confirm I did not get the Scrabble gene). 

That said, there are habits I can practice today to support my long-term health: I can move my body regularly. I can fill my diet with nutritious whole foods: Vegetables, fruit, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds. I can make sure I get enough sleep (still not as consistent as I could be here--work in progress!). I can limit risk factors like consumption of red meat, processed meat, added sugars and refined carbs, and I can avoid serious risk factors like smoking.

My genetics are my floor and my ceiling, but I have the power to determine how high off the floor I can rise. I have no plans to hang out on the floor.