HARDER, FASTER, STRONGER
I know by now I probably sound like a broken record, but, today was another day filled with great running and more PRs. It's crazy that just (and I know, I know losing x amount of pounds since the start of the semester is like a big deal) being 15 or so pounds lighter can have that big of an impact on how fast you can run or how much weight you can lift. Or, how big of an impact not being in 1,000 calorie plus deficit can have on the quality of your workouts. Since coming home for break, I have made a conscious effort to try and be in no more than a 500 calorie deficit. This has made my workouts so much better and I have way more energy when lifting as well. I have also been trying to get at least 120 grams of protein in a day...because I am that crazy person who is convinced that they can defy physiology/biology and lose weight/put on muscle at the same time...And so far it's working.
I've probably lost around 5 or so pounds since Thanksgiving break and my running times have all gone way down and my lifts have gone up. For the first time in my life, I'm at a place where the number on the scale doesn't define who I am or how I see myself. I can tell that my clothes are fitting loser and I can see my arms/entire upper body getting more defined. I am no where near my lowest weight, yet here I am the strongest and fastest I have ever been. And, more importantly, I have a better relationship with both food and working out. I do an insane amount of cardio (running+incline walking) not because I want to "get skinny" or "be in a bigger caloric deficit"; I do it because I love it and the way it makes me feel. Obviously, I still have days where I struggle with body image issues and seeing/being proud of the progress I have made. But, at the end of the day, the numbers don't lie.
Speaking of numbers...guess who ran 8 miles at 9:25 pace today?! I was like what the @%#* when I saw my pace at the end. My last mile was a freaking 9:30...how crazy is that?? It wasn't that long ago that every single long run of mine ended with the last couple of miles being 10+ minute miles. And now, here we are, running 8 miles in an hour and 15 minutes. The best part is, this pace doesn't even feel hard or like I'm going to puke every few blocks either. Yeah, the hills still suck some mornings, but damn I really feel like I am actually excelling at this running thing for once. So far, we are up to 21.5 miles for the week. I know, I know, I said I was going to take things easy this go around and not have another Thanksgiving week fiasco. But, my legs are really loving going long and fast...so who am I to slow them down?!?
Part of me just wants to say screw it and run 9 miles tomorrow. The other part knows that is a crazy idea...especially considering I back+front squatted today for the first time in years. My legs feel fine now, but who's to say they won't feel like jello tomorrow. Still, I feel like 9 miles at some point this week needs to happen. I want it. Bad. Like as bad as I wanted to push myself during that first 7 mile run way back in September when I thought I was going to die before I reached the finish line. Now look at me, 7 miles is an easy run...as long as I've got my T-Swift music to jam out to. I am for sure that between her songs and the fact that I my mom drove down main street today waving like crazy around mile 4, are the only things that kept me trucking through those last 4 miles.
It's always right around the same point in my run where I feel like just going 6.5 is a much more reasonable/sane idea. It's at around mile 5 or so when I'm making my second trip back up main street and really struggling form wise and motivation wise. I'll come up with every excuse in the book for why I just can't push myself to go extra long today. I say that this body part or that body part or my whole freaking body hurts too much to run x distance. Then, before I know it, I'm yelling at myself about regrets and being the strong bad ass runner that everyone (including me) knows that I am. I remind myself of just how much I wanted to run x distance at the beginning and how it's too late to back out now. And the closer I get to home, the more I realize that I can and will push myself to go the distance...no matter how much it hurts.
Strong. Everyone has there own definition of what strength is and what it looks like. Some might envision someone with a set of six pack abs who is 10% body fat or less and can lift a shit ton of weight. Other see someone like Vin Diesel or The Rock and think to themselves, "Now, THAT is what strength looks like." The one thing I've learned on this fitness journey of mine that will stay with me forever is this, "Strength doesn't look a certain way...it FEELS a certain way." (I give Kelly Roberts all the credit for this mind blowing concept) Strength is relative. No one, and I mean no one, can tell you that you're not strong/strong enough/or as strong as person x. If you feel strong, you are. That's it.
When I first started weight lifting way back during my sophomore year of high school I always thought that once I could lift/squat/bench a certain amount of weight I'd feel strong. If I could just do a chin up or pull up unassisted I would be strong. If I looked like some random fitness model on Instagram...people would consider my strong. Looking back now, I realize all of that is bullshit. The fact that I was there giving my 100% every M/W/F and progressively increasing the weights I was lifting equaled a Strong(er) Caitlyn. It didn't matter that I wasn't "jacked" or couldn't lift as much as some of the other girls or guys there. I was strong and I had a whole hell of a lot of strength...I just couldn't see it or feel it.
Flash forward to now, and I know just how strong I am physically/mentally/emotionally. I mean, I was able to leg press 250 lbs. today! More than the numbers aspect, I felt strong enough to finally come back to back squatting...which was literally my favorite exercise to do in the high school weight room. It was the movement I was physically strongest in and felt strongest in as well. Back in those days, my max was somewhere around 160-170 lbs. It felt a little discouraging today to max out at 115 lbs. for 2 reps. However, I reminded myself that taking 3 or so year off from doing a movement is going to lead to some strength loss. Plus, I maxed out after running 8 miles and after maxing out on leg press. So, given that my leg weren't super fresh and I didn't have anyone to spot me...I'm pleased with my new max. The feeling I felt when I was able to do that weight for those reps really is indescribable. It felt like I was back in the high school weight room with Chantel or Rachel or Lane spotting me again. It was the best feeling in the world, even if I didn't have any one to cheer me on or push me to load 5-10 pound more onto the bar.
Deciding to go from lifting 3 days a week to 6 days is the best decision I have made in what feels like an eternity. Yes, in the beginning, I was terrified of getting too sore or getting injured or of getting burnt out/bored with lifting in general. I am happy to say, the exact opposite has happened. I love it now and am just as addicted to progressively getting stronger as I was when I first started back in high school. I go into the gym with the sole purpose of getting stronger and working harder than I did the day before. I get just as excited about lifting as I do running...which is something that hasn't happened in a long time.