Strength for Runners

 

 As many of you know, I am a post collegiate distance runner and personal trainer. Also, NO my clients do not do what I do or do Run training(unless requested) if that is their focus.

But- for the purpose of this post, I would like to direct my focus to my specialty, my passion, rightfully so..my fellow running pals/teammates/ run nerds, what have you.

Following the recent trend in fitness that claims “Strong Not Skinny” is the way to grow..;) (Fit Pun there);  I would like to agree with that statement and encourage anyone reading this, especially RUNNERS to implement some kind of strength training into your weekly schedule.

I know that “lifting weights” has formerly been thought of as insignificant to distance run training in the past and many younger/less experienced runners tend to shy away from adding this tool to their training. Most runners actually don’t even think about it at all because they simply don’t want to take the time to do anything but run or they just don’t know a solid routine or how to properly do strength training.

To begin let’s just touch on some of the benefits of strength training in general(to even be considered a healthy, functioning individual:

  • To be considered healthy, American Heart Association recommends 2-3 days a week of strength training
  • No brainer– helps you accomplish daily tasks: like getting up off the toilet with ease or out of your office chair at work without issue, being able to lift normal objects by yourself, being able to perform all daily tasks by yourself and not being weak or having muscular atrophy because you neglect your muscles!!
  • Increases BONE DENSITY- our bones weaken and brittle as we age. It’s SO important to control this bone loss process and be STRONG at every age
  • It helps support muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments/all connective tissues that work together to give you daily strength and hold you together when you are tired in a run or workout.
  • Helps maintain weight/ or control weight loss/gain- strength training can add muscle weight depending on your training and diet but if you strength train as you age- you’ll be increasing your fat-free mass instead of storing FAT.
  • INJURY PREVENTION- While increasing bone density which helps prevent stress fractures and other common running injuries; being on a solid strength plan with your run plan will make your body overall stronger and more able to meet the increasing mileage demands or explosive workouts. Strong muscles in tact support sore bodies and hold you up as you fatigue late in a race or long run. Your muscle recruitment will work much more efficiently the fitter and stronger you become.
  • Improves blood flow throughout the body to the large muscle groups..like your quads, hammies, glutes..basically everything you need when running..cough* cough*
  • Improves resting heart rate, metabolism, manages stress level, creates “curves” hypertrophy, nice looking shape to the body instead of looking like a potato..-..-

Let’s back up, what is strength training?

Strength training is a number of different exercises imposed on the body that includes resistance training and places contractions on the muscles to build strength and shape to the muscles.

SO, Runners- I recommend that if you are NEW to strength training..start small. Do 2 days a week of strength training WITH your run training..this may mean you have a 2-a day every now and then(the weights part) unless you add it to a run double day; which I like to do sometimes. In that case- you have a 3- a day!! WOOOH baby!!

Start SLOWW! Meaning- Tuesday/Thursday or Wednesday/Friday or any two day split a week you will do strength(45min to an hour I recommend). Sure you can get a 30 min full body workout in but I wouldn’t make it a habit if you want to improve..with water breaks, warm up, rest intervals it’s very hard and annoying to get a quality strength sesh in 30 minutes. Especially with all the distractions at the gym, unless you have your own set up at home, you can squeeze a quick HITT strength circuit in for sure!!

Newbies- Start with only a few exercises for the large muscle groups and keep it simple with something like- 3×10 of every exercise you do. Take only 45sec-1min rest between sets and try to be quick but efficient with the reps. Focus on form and ROM(range of motion), sloppy won’t help you and will result in injury or improper muscular development.

Once you are consistently implementing a good strength routine into your training, I would encourage you to do it 3 days a week- so M/W/F or T/TH/SAT or something. For runners- I would reccomend FULL BODY each day because we are not body builders building muscle shape or focusing on specific day splits for the body. Our strength training must compliment and assist our training that we do outside and ultimately make us stronger, faster, more efficient runners.

SO, every day you’re in the gym..make it count. Put in the work. Take the time, do the little things, do dynamic flex stretches BEFORE(refer to my previous blog about dynamic vs static stretching if you want to learn more about that), foam roll soreness, stretch after, and do injury prevention drills when needed.

What are some helpful strength training exercises for Runners?(Why I am glad you asked!! I happen to know a quite knowledgeable runner/personal trainer who is oozing with helpful hints! and let’s be real- the only reason you’ve opened this mini novel):

Drum Roll Please…

Legs/Glutes/Hamstrings/Quads/Calves/Hips:

  • Deadlifts w/ barbell,Dumbell,kettle bell, or body bar
  • Lunges w/ DB or bar
  • Good mornings
  • SQUATS/ Squat Jumps
  • Lateral Leg Lifts
  • Bridges
  • Donkey kicks, fire hydrants, Prone straight leg raises
  • Calf pumps/ machine or standing
  • leg press, hamstring curl
  • balanced hip drop(off steps)
  • TRX!!!(I’ll get into this more in a future post about TRX strength training since I am now teaching this class as well!)

Shoulders/Chest/Arms/Back:

  • Standing or seated shoulder press w/ medball/kettle bell/ barbell/body bar/machine
  • Inverted Push ups/push up on bench/ bosu ball push ups/ One leg-push up
  • bicep curl w/ elastic band/body bar/DB, weight plate, body bar, small child..ect.
  • Overhead triceps extention w/ cable, DB, or Kickbacks
  • Lateral raise to deltoid raise w/ machine or DB
  • Fly/Reverse Fly w/ machines or DB
  • DIPS
  • PULL UPS
  • High pulls/raises w/ kettle bell, DB, Bar
  • Front raise & hold w/ DB
  • TRX!!!!!

CORE/Hips

  • I hate basic crunches. There I said it. Be creative and also protect your spine..
  • stability ball roll outs/jacknifes-single/double leg
  • bridges/hip ups -single leg/double
  • side lying hip ups
  • clams
  • external oblique rotation w/ med ball or resistance band
  • med ball throws
  • russian twist
  • PLANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • TRX!!!!
  • Leg lifts to in & outs
  • Scissors/ flutter kicks
  • suspended abs/leg lifts/scrunches on machine

These are only a few of the countless number and combinations of strength exercises aimed to strengthen and support your run training. If you’re unsure of what to do first follow this format:

  1. cardio warm up 5-10 min (elliptical/arc/bike)
  2. Dynamic flexibility stretches and needed drills before strength routine
  3. Strength routine-45min-hour(30min if presses for time). Depending on week(mileage, race week? tired body?) listen to your BODY.
  4. break it up into 3×12 or 3×10 for beginners.  I typically do 4×12 of whatever I am doing that day an sometimes switch up my routine to a HIIT circuit with minutes and 2-3 times through a strength circuit of 8-12 different exercises
  5. Focus on doing only a few exercises from each main muscle group: chest, shoulders, back, arms, legs, glutes, core and you’ll be fine.
  6. COOL DOWN. at least 5 minutes and then STRETCH and foam roll. This prevents blood pooling and helps speed up recovery and ease sore muscles. DO IT.

You can certainly split your strength plan into different muscle groups each day and focus on different days, styles, routines for whatever you want. Everyone is different and it may take playing with this a bit to find what works best for you. Also, race weeks and tapering I only do 1-2 days of strength work to ensure I am ready to roll on race day!! I also do core at least 4 days a week now aside from strength at the gym. This is just a basic outline of what your strength work should look similar to and help guide you on what exercises to focus on to improve yourself as a strong runner!

I hope this post has helped a little and I know I didn’t cover absolutely EVERYTHING. But if you are looking for a more in depth look at a runner’s strength plan or want to talk about the way I write and carry out my plans, email me or message me!!! 🙂 I always love giving tips and helping anyone with fitness however I can.

The main takeaway today is- balance, consistency, and LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. And have FUNNNN<3

Riot

Ri•ot

ˈrīət/

noun

A riot is an unrestrained outbreak of passion for Jesus.

    
How many of us can truthfully say that our lives are completely and openly in riot for Jesus with what we do, where we go, how we approach people right now? What does that mean?
 I’m not saying you have to sell everything you own, go on a year long missions trip or only work in ministry. But maybe you do have to take some drastic measures if that’s what changes your heart to serve and pour life into others. 
I don’t. But it starts at your heart. Your purpose and the worlds for you will always be conflicting because you weren’t made to be of the world or to serve it. That void cannot be filled by people, things, money, success..ect. Believe me, it doesn’t. 
 You were uniquely made by God, for Him, to serve him, and to serve other people to bring them closer to Jesus; through your love, with your specific gifts and where you are at right now.
You don’t have to do anything “crazy” but most people won’t understand what you’re doing or why if they do not share the same heart filled with Christ that’s in RIOT for Him. 

For example- I got so internally salty and frustrated with a friend this week during a normal conversation because I felt like they really didn’t understand me or my heart.

 I’m a personal trainer at the YMCA. I chose that job now.

 No I don’t make all the money in the world and frankly most trainers don’t choose this profession for money. I genuinely feel like God equipped me with fitness as a spiritual gift to use for His kingdom. 

I’m using my athlete platform and fitness and communications and encouragement skills to do the best I can to lift up everyone there and to try and show them Jesus anyway I know how. 
That’s the raw, uncut truth from my heart and I take it seriously. I don’t say this for an “aww that’s so nice”, “what a sweet person”, that’s not my heart’s goal here.  

I get hurt when other people toss my purpose around as silly, insignificant or like it’s not enough. But to them it’s just what I “do”. I realized in my head during a convo with this friend that they honestly probably had no idea those thoughts were on my heart and over analyzing in my head. Most people WON’T and that is OK. Don’t get frustrated or hurt(internal monologue here).

Just keep being a light and a blessing and don’t get discouraged!! Live your purpose because that’s why you’re equipped with what you have where you’re at now! It took me a while to fully accept and embrace that thought too. That I needed to stop doing  things for other people’s approval or even my own because that’s not what this is about. It doesn’t matter but living for OTHERS does the most.

I remembered how many times Jesus felt let down by people in the bible and that he was often misunderstood on Earth. That made me feel better..whenever the world doesn’t approve..most of the time my Father in heaven is proud of me.
Ever since I ditched my glittery, promising broadcast career after college 2 years ago for “running” to focus on that for a few years and try to qualify for bigger races while being a personal trainer..something has always bothered me to the core. 

First of all, that answer I just said^^ that one’s for the world. 
That’s what I tell them to appease everyone and it’s socially acceptable but without a doubt- no matter what..it’s never enough. “Oh that’s a good gig for now”, “you’ll get back into a real career and climb up and make more money in a year or two right?”, “don’t you want to make more money doing this?” 
I am telling you again, no matter what you do it will Never be enough for them. No matter where you’re at now, what you do or say, you’ll never be fully content or at par with the speed or demands of the world because you are in Christ. It will Never be as “cool” either. But His plan for you is much different and much greater and it won’t let you down.

But lately I’ve felt convicted of that, like why should I have to..not necessarily “lie” to the world about why I do life the way I do, but I’m not letting them in on the whole truth. Why? Because I’m afraid they will reject me? Judge me? Disapprove? Jesus said that would happen and it’s okay!

“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. (‭Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭11-12‬ MSG)

I’m really glad I’ve made the transition I’m in currently. This isn’t bashing 9-5 jobs or saying that I have some Devine purpose to save the world, that would be a heart of pride. I know I’m far from perfect but I’m extremely happy and humbled to know that the Man who chose to die for me chose me for the job I’m at here in Jacksonville right now and that he has a bigger purpose than me, than my emotions, fears,Mistakes, or what others around me say or expect from me. 
I know my heart is focused on what’s really important and what all of our purpose is- to use whatever gift, place, people you’re given now and to be a light there, to really have a heart completely open and on fire for showing people Jesus and letting them see what He’s done for you.
Again, I know I’m not perfect but I am baffled and grateful Christ has planted an increasing longing to serve the community he’s placed me in now and not be so consumed by what I am not or don’t have. 

 I’ve gotten a bit frustrated the last week or so though if I’m being completely real with y’all- sometimes my competitive pride does rule my thoughts until my Holy Spirit speaks in me and reminds me who I am. 

I’ve stayed focused on what other people say or give their two cents on what I’m doing so much so that I’ve let it bother me when I should be focused on pressing forward what I’ve already began here in my new life in Jax. 
I’ve started attending celebration church here and go to the young adult group- Sub30 which is AMAZING by the way!!! We kick butt at beach volley ball too and worship is off the chain. 

This week has been “Riot Takeover Week”, which inspired this blog title. Seeing my generation and the ones to come with such authentic, raw worship and hunger for the Lord and his presence is awe inspiring to me..I love it and I want to be a part of this. I really see myself being planted here and leading the next generation in the future.
 Being in a Riot is the most amazing thing you can do with your life now. When you finally let go of the daily mask, whatever is holding you back from chasing Him with your whole heart, other issues seem so small and you gain clarity on what you should say, who you should pour into and you find strength because it’s not your own. You ALSO start to abandon things that used to occupy your attention and time. They aren’t the same focus as your purpose so they don’t matter. 

I seriously pray that it would be my mission for everyone I know or encounter to know the freedom in Jesus and feel his love and abandon whatever thing is in his place that’s not worthy and can’t fill what they’re chasing.

One LAST thing, basically summarizing this- all of our purpose is the same its just given to us differently, at different times, and we’re given different methods of accomplishing it but ALL equally important! This it here–

“Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭28‬:‭18-20‬ MSG)


That’s where I’m at now. I’m hungry and I’m ready, and I’m not stopping! I took some notes from yesterday’s service at Celebration Church-(that are relevant to this “Riot” topic and you might see some themes I touched on in my list above.)


God is on the move- generational (Riot takeover week)

-Genesis 5(God is a generational God)- every name has a meaning 
“You want to experience a move of God but we aren’t willing to move with God” 

God wants people that are True & move for his calling

-you just have to be willing(John 17:16), not have it all together 
Your faithfulness determines the next generation of fruitfulness
Values:

*We’re all about Jesus 

*We’re passionate(with a purpose)

(So many people have the form but not the function) filled W/ hot air not the Holy Spirit

-be genuinely filled with his spirit 

*we’re authentic(we offer real relationships) we will never out-fun the world but authentic love, fun won’t be there in the end/ when your lonely, going thru a storm 

* we’re relevant-whatever we need to do to reach people! We care!

*we are together because we will reach this generation together not alone. It’s so important to have people around you to speak into your life, and pouring into younger ones 
-Invest into generations!! Be a leader for them, commit to being a worker and serve them

-a movement requires work, prayer, faith and for you to move 

Encouraging Loneliness

  

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud“, a line from one of my favorite poems- Daffodils by William Wordsworth.. came to my mind instantly upon writing this topic.

The last few weeks have been nothing short of exciting, stressful(in a good way!), uncertain, scary and challenging. Along the way(moving to a new city only knowing a handful of friends here), I’ve had my own bouts with loneliness.

I’ve been on my own, single, adulting for about two years post collegiate now. I’ve learned a lot about myself in that time, grown, made mistakes, and picked myself up off the ground after failure and discouragement or feelings of “unworthiness” because of how I felt about what I wasn’t gaining or accomplishing; OR because of how someone treated me.

Life is not easy, no not at all. But..we weren’t ever promised it to be were we..?

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”-John 16:33

I think that sometimes it is extremely easy to accept the lies we internally feed ourselves about who we “feel” we are at a moment of loneliness or taking on an identity of untruth because of the way someone “makes us feel”.

I can relate to being lonely too and fully understand those unhealthy, inaccurate thought patterns that we fall so easily into at times..

I know that most of the time I am described as- bubbly, happy, kind, outgoing and cheerful. I am an encourager and I am certainly all of those things and actively try to be that for everyone in my life daily!

However, SPOLIER ALERT: I am also human and I have very real emotions that I own just as much as the positive ones. I’ve dealt with loneliness at times especially during the past year and a half. It sucks and it’s tough I know! BUT- there’s a way to escape that and It does not have to define you or consume you.

WHY/HOW Was I lonely?

A few reasons, I’m glad you asked.

I focused on work and my own training so much so that the last year and a half after graduating college, I found myself really isolated. I did some of that on purpose yes, choosing training over relationships or sleep over going out. But, that’s not all.

I decided that(subconsciously) maybe at times..it would be better for me to “ghost” people, or not let them in or get too close to me because I was so afraid that they would hurt me or fail me like I felt I had been before. A few relationships I’ve experienced in my young adult life have really wrecked me at times and I was so consumed by that fear of something like that hurting me that I didn’t let anyone get “too friendly” or too close to me, even normal friendships.Keeping people at arms length was best.

Another reason- I filled my free time, whatever little I did have..with shallow/ meaningless endeavors. Whether it was scrolling social medias, trivial conversations, or pursuing people that didn’t have the same purpose-driven spirit as me; I tried to fill that loneliness with people, “not relationships”, shallow things because deep down I knew that couldn’t possibly touch my heart and I could be safe “not having any feeling” attached. But ultimately the joke was on me, it did hurt because I do have a heart and a purpose and a God who knows that and knows ME.

All along, even when I couldn’t fully accept my worth, Jesus did. He does. He sees yours, and everyones even through whatever “thing” you’re trying to mask or fill your loneliness void with right now.

Isolation is the root of loneliness and it cannot protect you, it’s such a false covering.

So, to recap: The last year and a half, I focused on my own work, training and self instead of building relationships, fully nurturing the one’s in front of me, and being in community! Mistake.

The very things I was rejecting are actually just what you should seek if you feel lonely. We are called to be in community, we are not meant to be alone. I am so glad the Holy Spirit has my heart aligned with His now and here in Jacksonville now has filled me with purpose!! 🙂

One quick point I want to mention briefly before telling you all HOW to ENCOURAGE- Loneliness is this- AGE or circumstance does NOT determine loneliness or times of depression.

Everyone feels lonely at times in their life, you pass by people everyday that “fake it until you make it” face on and greet you with a smile. You don’t know what they’re dealing with internally. That’s why it’s so imperative that KINDNESS is key. If you’re given the spiritual gift of encouragement, let that SHINE. Blind people with it!! That’s what i’m really trying everyday now at least.

I am far from perfect and do not have my life “all together” or figured out, no one does..some people just have fun/fancy, shiny titles that portray that. BUT I know we ALL have the same purpose- to spread love and encourage one another and to honor and glorify Jesus who gave us all of these gifts to begin with. We are all just equipped with different tools, “jobs” if you will, to do that. You feel me? Ok, sorry off topic>>

HOW you ask..do I conquer my loneliness?

Well, I packed up and moved to a new city, started new work, plugged into a new running group, started attending a new church, met all new friends(mostly through Celebration Church!), found a new roomate, and started saying YES to Holy Spirit prompts to put myself out there and SERVE and be in Community and take time to ENCOURAGE and have real conversations with other humans!!

Alright, I know a little drastic…LOL

You don’t have to relocate, but maybe you might if you’re situation is super unhealthy and you can’t rid yourself from that environment any other way.

BUT here’s a checklist:

  • LET GO OF WHAT’S FILLING THE VOID-whether it’s people, drugs, drinking, unhealthy self talk, emotions, whatever, it isn’t God. It cannot fulfill you. TRUST me. break the cycle instead of playing the same song on repeat.
  • BE IN COMMUNITY- Join a small group, say YES to that buddy that wants to grab lunch, take a weekend trip, be around other like-minded friends and find an accountability partner or mentor you trust and TALK about what you’re feeling.
  • PRAY- Sometimes we neglect the fact that God wants and likes to hear from us. He’s not some distant judging diety. He loves us, HE adores you and He is in your corner. Trust His promise and His purpose for you, it’s greater than what you’de ever hope for. If you can’t trust that yet, try! What do you have to loose by going all in with Faith and putting your trust in Him when you’ve felt like you’ve failed or someone has failed you? He never will I promise.
  • KNOW YOUR WORTH!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot express this one enough, if you don’t get anything at all from this post, please meditate over this. I’ve interacted with several new friends and acquaintances this past week who I’ve felt a God prompt to let them know this and Pray this over them. It’s also been a huge affirmation for myself and reassurance of God’s love for my own heart and reminder that even at times when I look back and play in my head when I was seeking worth in others or things, that Jesus is where my worth comes from. Please relish in that! It is true and that is the biggest thing that will ultimately set you free from loneliness or any lie that you don’t matter. YOU DO.

Also pretty awesome that this was a topic at the ladies small group this week at Sub30 I attend now. (So I took notes and I’m gonna post a picture below for you guys to take!!) 🙂

   

   

I hope this post helps some of you all and know you’re NOT alone and you do not have to obsess over or be defined by false sense of worth. En-couragement (IN-COURAGE).

A New Place called home.

  
A recap of my first week living in Jax after moving from Birmingham, Alabama a week ago today. My thoughts, observations, emotions & explorations.

A week ago today I packed up my things and headed down with my twin brother and dad to move to Jacksonville, Florida. I had been living in Birmingham since 2013, attending college at UAB and stayed about two years post collegiate before making the leap to move away.

My goals in the move to Jax:

  • Fresh start
  • New job opportunities 
  • Personal growth out of my comfort zone 
  • Meet new people and make friends 
  • Running, better training, new trails & more training partners and community 
  • BEACH
  • Friends already here 
  • Tired of bham, love it but too small and I outgrew it
  • Most importantly, I’ve been praying for this city for about a year now and felt led to come here to use my gifts, communication skills and connections to be a light to serve the community here for Christ. However that may play out!

What I’ve accomplished so far in a week here:

  • Started training at the PGA TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra(my new job position I am STOKED for!!)
  • Met w/ my new fitness director and started the process of getting my personal trainer schedule at the YMCA Ponte Vedra branch set where I’ll be a part time trainer to the community here 
  • Found a church home at Celebration church and found a small group and many sweet, fun new friends, future serving opportunities and Sub30 worship night for young adults like me.
  • Reconnected with my friends who live here too including a high school cross country teammate and good friend!
  • Jumped in a 4th of July race and connected with the running community and plugged into a like-minded training group. We are coordinating runs and training and races in the future! 
  • Stayed on my training schedule despite the grueling temps!
  • Explored many niches like-avenues mall,town center, San Marco, Jax beach, Ponte Vedra, Neptune beach, Manderine(where I live!), julington area, baymeadows & many more to come.
  • Didn’t get lost, use my GPS for everything!!! 
  • Mapped out easiest routes for grocery, coffee, gas, work, beaches & running trails and track.

What I felt and learned:

At first, it was hard. After my dad and twin brother left me on Sunday afternoon I finished unpacking my boxes and met some of the neighbors who are very nice and watchful of each other. I live in a nice community and it seems very safe and quiet here. 

Even though I am 20-30 minutes from everything where ever I want to go, it’s not a bad deal. My Roomate though hasn’t been home since I moved in a week ago and the first few nights were lonely and I couldn’t fall asleep right away.

I have adjusted to the slow speed limit here(most roads are only 45mph) with highways being 65ish and there are cops everywhere!! Not like Atlanta where everyone goes 10-15 over and gets away with it. 

I’ve also learned to be patient in going places that it will take you 30-45min to get out to one side of town to the other. Traffic isn’t too terrible in the summer now but the roads are long and Jax is very spread out. You just have to plan out your day carefully and fill up on gas!!

Things are a little more expensive here like food and gas. There are many places to eat and a Publix or Starbucks on every other corner. 

Most people have been very friendly and helpful to me upon meeting them and welcoming. 

I’ve made so many new friends in just a week and had some interesting conversations and I’m excited to keep exploring every area and nurturing my new friendships while establishing more.

This week has been rewarding, uncertain, scary, fun, exciting, HOT and wonderous.

Speaking of HOT…no more candid middle of the afternoon easy runs…I learned my lesson the hard way this week by attempting to run in mid-afternoon because I wanted to sleep in. 

Trust me, here it’s worth it to suck it up and get the training done EARLY before you bake.

I definitely have my work cut out for me starting over in a new city with dreams, goals, tasks and a more open heart toward people and serving than I’ve ever had.

I’m hopeful and determined going into my second week living here in Jax. 

Now I start both my position at the PGA, starting a new client base for personal training from scratch, plugging in at new church groups, coordinating training with new running buddies, meeting my Roomate finally!!, and juggling adjusting to a new routine for the week and maintaining a balanced FUN social life!

My goals going foreward here are:

  • Stay in community- with my church, my friends, running community, friends 
  • Train smarter and believe in my goals & don’t make excuses and encourage  my group here 
  • Excel in my PGA position and as a trainer at the YMCA for my community and use my skills to help be a light in everything I can do here 
  • Make new friends and be open and not ghost people bc I’m afraid they will hurt me. Put myself out there and be a GREAT friend! And listener, be dependable for everyone
  • Explore new eats, craft brews, art, culture of Jax 
  • Be a beach bum and learn to surf!! 
  • Have fun being a 20’something!!

I know that’s a lot to digest, I’m still processing all of the sights, sounds, feelings and conversations and connections from this week. It will take a little while before Jax feels like home but my first week has been very successful, I’m happy and I know I’ve already crossed off a lot of immediate goals in my book. 

I’m beyond thankful and blessed and I can’t wait to see what the next weeks and months here hold!

Until my next post, comment anything you want to know about my move or Jax and I’ll do my best to answer! 


Goodbye Birmingham.

 

 I’ve been living in Birmingham, Alabama since January 2013. I transferred mid-year during my sophomore year of college from Kennesaw State in Georgia(where I am from) to UAB where I ran XC and Track. That was my life. My whole world was my team and school and running.

Then, I graduated in Spring 2015 and was released into the real world where I stayed in Birmingham and started working full time in production while trying to juggle training full time as well.

When I realized I wanted more than working 40 hours a week in a cold dark building, I left after seven months when I got sponsored by Skechers Performance for running(who I am no longer under contract with).

I knew I wanted to run and keep getting faster and devote more time to my training. I really looked at work as a way of survival so that I could run and compete. I know I’m not super-elite yet. More like a sub-elite pro runner. But I have big dreams and live my life the way I want for a purpose.

I started working part time and training “full time”. I continued with the thought that I would sacrifice my broadcast career and dreams for a few years for my running for now while I could.

I started working at a golf course- Robert Trent Jones at Oxmoor Valley; little did I know what a great impact that place and the people there would have on me. Then I got certified through AFAA in personal training in the fall of 2016. This was a great way for me to use my own fitness and over eight years of being a competitive athlete to share with other people.

Personal Training became a way for me to be used to bless other people, not just with showing them physical training but showing them love and kindness. I really feel like personal training is a way I can use my spiritual gifts in one place mixing my physical strength, encouragement, kindness and communication all in one to shower people who need it most.

Now, I’m about three weeks away from moving to Jacksonville, Florida. I’ve honestly been praying about this move for a little over a year shortly after my first “elite” race at Gate River(which I ran injured and didn’t shine as much as I had hoped..) I felt called to Jax, similar to the way I felt called to Birmingham upon transferring in college.

I’ve been in Birmingham about 2 years post collegiate now. I’m not married, no kids, no contracted full-time job. I have friends in Jax, a new and friendly running community with others to train with, blessed with hopeful and exciting new job opportunities already in place for me, and an amazing living situation God provided for me just when He knew I needed it.

I love Birmingham and I know I’m not the same Lauren I was when I came here from Georgia four years ago. I know I won’t be the same as I head to Jacksonville soon. I’ve been through so much in this city and met some of the most incredible people in my life here. Birmingham has so much I will miss and so much I’ll be leaving.

 

Things I’ll Miss about Birmingham-

  • All of my FRIENDS. Especially my running family here, collegiate and post collegiate. I honestly don’t talk to many of my teammates anymore from college. Regretfully, we’ve grown apart quickly and life happens so fast and everyone has their own little world to tend to..But I’ve developed several close knit friendships with many of the local running groups here in Bham that I will miss.

    I also have many great friends from college that I still hang out with and am still close with who I’ve known since I transplanted here. I have other friends and acquaintances I’ve met along the way through my journey here that have been constant in my life. (Y’all know who you are..Kyle, Derk, Sara, Lynne, Jordyn,Porter,Eli..just to name a few).

  • My RTJ FAMILY- Okay, so my golfers..my regulars. You guys literally made it possible for me to pay my rent, save up for this move and I’ve made some awesome connections and friends at the course. You all make me feel so pretty and loved and special, even just kindness and a smile on a rough day meant the world to me. My bosses and co-workers at RTJ, y’all showed me what hard work really is and how to adjust to circumstances that aren’t always in your favor. I respect you all so very much(in every area of work..cart boys, f&b, pro shop, cleaning,cooks). Working with all different personality types and backgrounds teaches you patience, humility, the importance of trust and kindness. And Erin, you’ve become like a sister to me; not just a superior. We are so similar yet different but I am so glad we’ve become good friends.<3
  • My YMCA Greystone Family- Andrea Pindroh has to be the most compassionate, patient, understanding fitness director and person on the planet. I am so incredibly grateful to have come under her watch and leadership during my 6 months now as a trainer at the Y. All of the trainers at my branch are amazing people with such diverse and rich attributes. Don and all of the front desk staff, Leonard the director, all of the members, and of course my CLIENTS!!! You have all impacted me more than you know and I have learned a lot from each one of you. I’m so blessed to have started as a new personal trainer at such a caring and rewarding place as the YMCA. It’s not just a gym, it’s truly a family and a culture filled with intent on making people better beyond a healthy and fit lifestyle.
  • My Starbucks– Greystone, no one will ever make an iced-white mocha with 6 scoops of matcha like you do for me on a rainy-busy Monday Morning in between clients or notice when I wear normal clothes. Y’all constantly save my life.
  • First Watch– Literally has become a brunch/post workout addiction and I am so happy Jax has one of these. But you’ll be my favorite always.
  • Avondale and SATURN– BY far, my favorite spot to hang out, be a hipster and sip local craft beer and make new friends.
  • Railroads– OK, so Jax definitely has it’s own railway system too…but something about driving past Sloss, sitting on top of Carrigan’s at night or driving to the golf course and hearing the CSX roar by..is just mesmerizing to me. I absolutely adore it.
  • All of my running trails- Oak mountain, Heardmont, Veterans Park, Jemison, Railroad and downtown by UAB. All of my memorized routes, I’ll have to make some new ones now.
  • The People and the City- Most people in Birmingham are very friendly and I’ll miss the familiarity of the people here. Also, it’s easy to navigate anywhere within 30-40 minutes. Homewood, Vestavia, Mountainbrook, Avondale, Greystone, Cahaba..ect. All the little niches are easy to travel to throughout the city and have their own charm.

Church of the Highlands- I started attending Church of the Highlands when I was at UAB and became a member and completed the growth track this past winter. I love Highlands and Pastor Chris Hodges is so down to Earth and is a great speaker. Highlands reminds me of my home Church where my family goes in GA-12Stone Church. I discovered my spiritual gifts and grew in my faith at Highlands. My only regret was not fully devoting my time and focus to serving while I was here, and not getting involved as much as I wanted because I was so “busy”..that’s something I’ll be talking about in my next post-“A Promise to Jacksonville”. One of my top priorities will be to get connected at Celebration Church and start intentionally planting seeds and impacting wherever I’m placed.

Being fearful to go all in or to not get too attached to people or put yourself out there because you’re too “busy” is a lie. I admit I did that a lot the past year and a half in Birmingham because I was afraid to get too close to people because I didn’t want them to hurt me like I had been hurt before or what if they let me down or didn’t like me?

I realize that’s hard for me to actually admit. It took some reflection and handing that fear over to God, because I know now that he can’t use me and work through my gifts to reach other people if I’m not willing to trust Him with that. That’s probably my biggest lesson going foreward with this move. Which brings me to the next topic!

What I’ve Learned from Birmingham-

  • Rely on yourself and God– Trust God and go where He leads you first. Trust me, just do it the first time and don’t look back. It will save you trouble, second-guessing and heart ache. Do things yourself and handle each day for what it is. Life can seem overwhelming if you look at the whole picture all at once. Take it hour by hour and conquer each day. Breathe.
  • Friends come and go– You can still love and care for people that come and then go out of your life but you don’t have to let it break you if they disappear on you. Everyone has a purpose in your life and some weren’t meant to be there the whole way. It’s okay, accept it for what it is and move on. The important people will stick around and be there in the end.
  • Be ambitious and don’t get wrapped up in what’s expected of you– If i’ve learned anything just from being a human for 25 years now it’s that EVERYONE has an opinion and will always have something to say about what you decide to do with your life. So..live in a way that pleases you and God. Anyone else’s opinion isn’t yours and it doesn’t matter what they think. I think that if you do something that goes against the norms or “cookie-cutter” societal preferences for today, that’s totally FINE. As long as your lifting others up and chasing your dreams and using your gifts, why does it matter how or what or when or where you do it?? Dream big and just DO IT already. It doesn’t matter what Bob on Facebook comments or what Linda gossips about. Don’t even be bothered as long as your focused and driven.
  • Don’t be afraid and don’t wait- I waited almost 2 years after graduating college to pack up and move to a different state because of new opportunities, prayer, a new adventure and because I was too comfortable and “afraid” of the unknown. Life is too short to wait for something you want. If you’re able, go for it. Tomorrow isn’t promised and good things don’t come to those who wait..you have to make moves and get after it if you want it, Now.
  • Don’t take people or anything for granted- Like I said, Life is a “mist”..don’t ghost your friends all the time(I know I’m horrible at returning a text). But seriously, you’ll miss your friends always bugging you to hang out or the casual acquaintances you make small talk with during the week or all of your normal people that are placed within your circles each week. They’re there for a reason, how are you leaving them..?

Things I’m Leaving in Birmingham-

  • Toxic Relationships- I’m not in any right now, thank the Lord. But I have been, and those scars I’ll have. The people, the hurt..those are in the past and I’m leaving that part of me here to stay.
  • My Friends and home- Well for my friends-Physically at least for now!! But my home will no longer be here, I’ll be making a new one. I am both nostalgic and frightened.
  • All the amazing food and local breweries!! Melt, Mugshots, Avondale, Urban Cookhouse, just a few of my fav cheat spots. 😦
  • Experiences- the good, the bad, the heartache, the scares, the victories, the defeats.

Overall, my four years in Birmingham, Alabama have been the most challenging, growing, and wonderful years of my life. I met some of my best friends here, had the most heart-ache, transitioned from a student to a full-blown struggling millenial “adult” here, fell in love with Running more here and became more independent and secure in my identity in Christ here, even alone at times.

Goodbye for now Birmingham.

 

 

 

Nutrition Update-My tips & nutrition norms

Many of my clients and friends lately, have been nudging me to post a new nutrition blog with some of my eating and healthy habits.

I know it’s been a minute from the last time I wrote to you all and I am sorry!! 😦

 Life has been a bit busy lately with work and my own training. I’m also about to make a huge life transition which I’ll be going public with very soon! All good things going on, I just haven’t had the time or energy to devote my thoughts to my writing.

That will change very soon as well. I feel better having an outlet to share my thoughts and tips here to help encourage anyone else who may benefit or feel uplifted.

SO-with all that said, I have a few nutrition and overall wellness tips that I do that I believe you can all benefit from if you try some.

Eating 

What I stay away from:

  • soda or carbonated drinksI don’t need to sit here and list all of the negative health benefits of drinking soda..including weight gain and not to mention it burns your throat!! I don’t consume this stuff.
  • sweet tea! I know this one is unheard of being from the south but it’s been months and months since I’ve had this in my diet. If you can’t cut it completely, plan it for your cheat day or work on subbing it with a healthy juice instead with natural sugars.
  • Fried foods– Okay, so I do love to indulge in some wings or fried chicken every now and then after a hard run or logging some long mileage at the end of a hard week. But this should definitely be a moderation food for SURE!!
  • Processed packaged/canned foods- Alright, do you actually think your body understands what your putting into it if you can’t even pronounce it..? I do not eat what I do not know. Meaning- if I can’t list the ingredients on my hands or read and understand what they are..I DON’T EAT IT. It’s not natural and not good for your body to try to break down all these foreign chemicals and harmful additives.
  • Adding salt/seasoning or excessive sauce/dressing to foods- I understand that seasoning meats and adding sauce to pasta and dressing to salad is normal ans tasty. However, again this needs to be done in MODERATION. What good is a salad if it’s covered in dressing and you can’t even see any green? When you go out to eat, many times the food is already over-seasoned and high in sodium. Don’t add more!
  • RED MEAT- This is one most people call me a weirdo for. I don’t eat beef or pork at all. I only eat-chicken,fish, and turkey. This is mainly a personal choice to opt for leaner meats and I also don’t like eating them at all. I think if you do eat red meat you need to really research the meat you are buying and know where it was raised and packaged ect. Know what is in the meat and eat it sparingly if you consume red meats.
  • SWEETSHaving dessert or treating yourself every now and then isn’t a sin but if you’re trying to trim down or work on your six-pack..ice cream and cookies every night won’t get you there. I’m just being real. I like to eat an oikos greek yogurt cup with a scoop of coconut peanut spread and my favorite fruits or granola whenever I get a craving. Find healthy alternatives and your body will adapt.

What I normally eat:

  • GREENS & Veggies– Try to eat something green with every meal, even if it’s blended into a smoothie so you can’t taste it. You should add a variety of mixed veggies into your diet each week too, don’t get bland and bored with your food. Mix it up.
  • FRUIT- NATURAL SWEETENER. I like buying fresh, organic fruits that are currently in season. Switch it up and try new fruits each week! These are perfect for snacking throughout the day and you should try to eat fruit with most meals.
  • Lean Meats/Protein– As stated, I only eat: chicken, fish(a lot of salmon), and turkey!! QUINOA is also a great protein/ plant based option for you vegans.
  • Almond milk- I drink this instead of dairy milk. I used to drink soy but always drink almond now. You can get it unsweetened or in different flavors.
  • Almond butter/nuts- I’m a big fan of the Justin’s Almond Butter. I normally buy the singles in Target to add to my 4-6 little meals/snack packs throughout the day. I also love Aldi for a canister of healthy mixed nuts.
  • Fruit pouches– There are many kinds out there. I only buy the organic ones with just fruit and natural additives, NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP!!! If you pick anything up in the store with this as an ingredient, put it down and run away.
  • Whole Grain bread/Whole Wheat bread- Typically these breads are higher in nutritional value. I stay away from exceptionally starchy or “white breads”.
  • COCONUT- Oil, Milk, Butter..basically everything coconut.
  • Matcha/Green Tea- Put it in smoothies, coffee(just ask the Greystone Starbucks about me!), Protein shakes, or just inhale it.
  • DRINKS- WATER, natural juices(OJ,Cherry,apple, cran..ect), Vitamin Water XXX Zero, Coconut water, smart water, non-dairy milk. OCCASIONAL- Craft beer, whisky(rarely), or weekly-biweekly(depending on training and race schedule) glass of RED WINE. anddd did I mention..WATER?! oh and COFFEEEEEEE.

My Vice:

I guess if I could name the one bad thing in my diet right now would be my venti iced white mocha addiction. I get it many days throughout the week and it gets me through work and peps me up after an early morning run. I often get the matcha powder in it, which is healthy..yes. BUT-all of the sugar from the syrup in the drink I’m sure I could do without.

All of these nutrition tips are what I normally live by and do. I’m not saying these are what everyone should do but this works for me and my training. I do drink a ton of water, don’t eat/drink those listed items and I am disciplined because I know I perform better that way.

Over time, it really has become normal and just is a part of my lifestyle. Any change you make in your diet takes time. Habits form after about a month of repetition and commitment.

Even if you read this and pick maybe one or two helpful tips, try them for a few weeks and see how you feel!

I’m not perfect and sometimes life gets busy and I’m stressed at times too and don’t eat enough for the amount of training I do, and I don’t drink enough water. But I can absolutely tell in my energy level and performance when I do the little things and stay committed.

Age or activity level isn’t an excuse, neither is cost. Fruits and vegetables are so cheap, cheaper than buying food out at fast food places throughout the week!! YOU are in charge of you and your health. Excuses shouldn’t stop you from transforming or maintaining your body in the way that you want it. Just because it doesn’t happen over night doesn’t mean you give up.

We are given just one body in this life and it is a precious gift. Treat your body as the temple it is and fuel it carefully with love and goodness.

Glorious Ruins

   
 A few of you know what this picture is.July 3rd, 2016 a day after I moved to my new apartment with my best friend. I set out for my long run on a new trail, I frequent it almost every week now. 

Before that day I was half broken like many of us,spiritually. (Half-way surrendering our hearts,minds & bodies to what God has called us to.)

For me, I masked the pain of broken relationships(the last year & a half) putting faith in others & myself, ending college torn between career paths & a desire to continue competitive running. 

I was pretty much living to please myself & mask my own hurts, uncertainties, not really overly concerned with serving or intentionally living to fully trust God w/ “my” plans. I’m not saying I was a bad person, I was & am a Christian. I didn’t have some sort of big “crisis” or unhealthy spiral but I guess I was having a severe spiritual battle for my heart. I lived with the lie that many people do in my generation,that it’s okay to give half of your self committed to following God & the other half making quick mental justifications for worldly actions. I feel like God had enough of that and wanted me to choose, he wanted my whole heart.

Sometimes we’re blind & don’t see a need for Christ until we are caught in a storm. 

When I was running that day alone, I fell & slipped between concrete slabs.

 I fell back,hit my back,head and neck & tailbone bruised. I blacked out. When I came to, I was in so much pain, bleeding, confused and had no idea where I was. I was scared and staggered up and just ran. I made it to my car and then the shock hit.

I still can’t remember much about that day because I blacked out & hit my head & got a concussion. I’m not sure how long I was unconscious but I somehow got back to my car bleeding & aching. 

I unlocked my car & the shock hit & I called Kyle, my Roomate because he happened to text me just then.

 The rescue team came to get me, took me to the hospital & I spent the day recovering w/ friends & loved ones watching me. I know it may not seem that bad to some of you but it really could have been much, much worse. 

I did lose my short term memory for a few days and kept repeating the same questions to my Roomate and his girlfriend on the way to the hospital. I still can’t remember every detail, but other than a little physical ruins that went away, my spirit was completely rebuilt.

My parents got the call in church that day & thought all the worst cases like most would.

Jesus is a similar rescue to us in distress and when we realize we need him. He meets us where we fall and he’s our rescue.

  Pastor Chris talked about resurrection tonight at the Good Friday Easter service. But he talked more about just the cross and how Jesus died for us. He talked about that power being able to resurrect us. Like Jesus, we can be resurrected from the death we live everyday. 

What does that mean? 

Well, I feel like when I had my fall and I woke up and recovered..I had my own resurrection. 

I could no longer go back across the bridge and live the same way I had before because I wasn’t the same. When you have a relationship with Jesus and fully trust him and go all in, everything is different in that your heart doesn’t need or desire the same things. In that way, you’re set free of any doubts, fears, insecurities, shame our guilt. You live knowing God loves you so much no matter where you’re at. You trust that he will take care of you and you don’t worry about things as you used to because you’re resurrected in Him, in his hope. And it is so much better. 

That day, I made an internal choice for eternity. I wouldn’t go back across that bridge again,(metaphorically) I couldn’t even look behind. It was sort of like my own hearts resurrection from that water there. 

That God was wiping clean the hurt & sins I had masked from him. Jesus, the ultimate rescuer for all of us-He picked me up from there & took me in his loving arms. beaten down, bruised, imperfect, knowing I wouldn’t be able to fully comprehend the weight of his sacrifice for me in this life. Jesus loves us and He’s always on our side, no matter what side of the bridge we find ourselves on today. He only asks that we follow Him with all of our hearts. 

God gave me a choice that day, like he gives all of us. Follow Him where you’re at now. Like PC said today, Jesus won’t leave you like he found you.

For me, I knew Jesus but I wasn’t following Him the way He calls us to, & it’s always better His way, trust me. I left it all there & I’m incredibly glad I had that fall because it woke me from the sleep i’de been living in my drifting faith. Jesus has never not been there & I feel blessed to know Him & know his love. I can’t imagine doing life without His rescue and I’ll never settle for anything less because there is nothing better.

I loved that tonight the highlands worship team absolutely CRUSHED “resurrecting” my favorite song by elevation worship! 🙂

PC’s How to’s from my notes(how to resurrect your glorious ruins)-

1.stop dying 

2.start rebuilding 

3.stop doubting(slowly workin on this one!)

4. Start living!! (Be fearless in your pursuit and faith, don’t give up)

Isaiah 61:1-4

Ephesians 1:20

Download this song:

Elevation worship-resurrecting