Day 365 of 365: Done!

This morning my husband joined me for my run. As I finished the run, I recognized that my running and general cardiovascular health is so much better. I ran with ease and comfort. A year ago, I huffed and puffed through an hour long 5KM walk. It was tough. I don’t know how far I ran this morning because I wanted it to just be a fun run. And it was and it lasted around thirty minutes.

My challenge is done. It’s truly been a challenge. If it was easy, then it wouldn’t have been the right thing I was looking for. Here are a few things I’ve taken away from this.

1. Even professional athletes have a day off. And I’m not a professional athlete. Wish I was. My take home would be much better and so would my benefits package.

Being active every day is harder than you think, especially doing it for this long. I’m tired and my body is regularly sore. Not in a bad way but it necessarily good either. It’s time for some rest.

2. This is a make or break challenge. Once you get through a certain portion of it (about five months for me), there was no giving up no matter what. Some days I had to get of a flight from Munich to Toronto and then run. Once that included a connection to Thunder Bay and having my dad drop me of a couple kilometres from home so I could get my run in at 11PM EST after getting up at 4AM CET.

3. Creativity is a must and so are mini goals along the way. Trying new activities and training for a half marathon allowed me to shift my focus from not only being active every day. If I didn’t do that, I probably wouldn’t have made it through.

4. Supportive family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers is a must. My husband and parents have been amazing. My friends have been keeping tabs. Acquaintances look at you like your crazy (which is a true sanity check) and strangers throw out random support and encouragement unlike anyone else you know.

Like I said before and will probably say for the next week, in so happy it’s over.

So what happens next?

I’ve decided that 2-3 rest days per week is important, especially right now. We’ll see how it goes and then decide if that should change.

I’ve signed up for a 10KM running clinic that starts January 8th. It focuses a lot on speed training. This will be followed up with a half marathon as I’m going to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon again in October.

I’d like to take some regular yoga classes this year. I’ve done that off and on for over ten years now. I’d like to get back to it again.

As far as blogging, I’m not sure if that will continue or how frequently I’ll blog. We’ll see.

On a special note, today is my farther’s and niece’s birthdays. That’s right, my Dad and his granddaughter share the same birthday if December 31st. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO BOTH OF YOU!

Thank you to everyone who has followed my Avenue of Sweat Equity journey and for reading my blog. Have safe New Years Eve night. Happy 2014!

Jen

Day 364 of 365: One…

A year ago tonight, I sat in a restaurant with my husband and shared with him my goals for 2013.

“2013 was the year I…”

  • Settled back in Canada
  • Challenged myself to be active for 365 days
  • Got in touch with my feelings and truly identified what I want in life.

A year ago, we were on a work assignment in Poznan, Poland.  This assignment had us spending the majority of our time there.  As much as our time in Poland was simply amazing (my views on life and culture have been greatly broadened), it was isolating too.  Not being able to fluently speak the language has major draw backs.  It’s limiting when attending parties or even considering joining a social group.  People were so kind and helpful but once the encounter of working through the language barrier was over, I both sides were happy to go along our merry ways.

Being isolated and feeling bored was no way to live.  And I was also feeling like I was on a treadmill, going nowhere.  I needed to get focused on something, anything (other than work) to help avoid wilting away.  The building our apartment was in had a good gym and pool.  We lived in a neighbourhood near three large parks.  Being active seemed like a great option.  I could challenge myself to try different activities and it gave me something to focus on each day.  At the same time, I also wanted to be back home.  We had not lived in Canada since 2005 and when we finished up in the USA, we went right to Poland.  An exciting adventure far away from where I wanted to be.  Exciting and boring all at the same time.  2013 had to be the year that I took my life back.

Setting these goals didn’t happen overnight.  In 2008, I came up with the idea of 365 days of straight activity while reading Julie & Julia.  The idea came and went because the timing wasn’t right mostly due to a lack of real motivation.  Getting settled back in Canada was something my husband and I had been focused on since 2010.  We knew our assignment in Poland would not last through 2013 so this was the time to seize the opportunity.  Personally, I’ve been struggling with being in touch with my feelings for some years now.  (Coming out of the other side of 2013, I believe this is natural for most humans.)  Overall, it took me about a month (December 2012) or so to get pen to paper and narrow in on three huge goals.

It paid off.

Getting settled back in Canada.  My husband and I finished up our overseas work assignment at the very end of August.  We were back in Canada for Labour Day weekend.  Part of settling back in Canada included stable employment, buying a home, reconnecting with friends, and getting engaged with the community.  Our employer was very happy with the work accomplished in Poland (and with the Dutch office) along with our dedication and flexibility in working in three major manufacturing facilities.  He has now assigned us to corporate global projects and allows us to be based in Toronto, Canada.  Prior to coming back to Canada, we were searching for a condo to buy.  In October, we made an offer and it was accepted.  We are almost homeowners being that we do not close until May 2014.  Until then, we live with my husband’s parents.  (It’s everything you could possibly imagine and more.)  We see our friends all of the time and we have begun to establish ourselves in our “temporary” community and in our “upcoming” community (which also happens to be the neighbourhood we lived in prior to moving to the USA in 2005).

Challenged myself to be active for 365 days.  If you are a follower, “THANK YOU!!!!”  There are 176 of you (and over 3800 hits!) and that is something I never expected.  Being active for 365 days was something else.  The first ten days were horrible.  Actually, one, two and three were not bad.  It was really four through ten but I’ll get more into that in tomorrow’s blog post.  Blogging as part of this challenge has been a great outlet.  Isolated in Poland, this blog allowed me to share with others in a free-flowing manner.  Daily blogging was also a chore.  I had two major times this year where 1) I had to take a break for a few days and 2) I just didn’t do it regularly.  I moved past both of those phases and I’m finishing the challenge strong.

Got in touch with my feelings and truly identified what I want in life.  As I mentioned above, I think most everyone goes through a phase when they feel like they are on an emotional treadmill.  Sometimes you need to be there to get through.  Treadmills are boring but if you use them correctly, you are a better, stronger person when you get off them.  This past year I’ve let go of some hurt and I realized what it is that I want and why I couldn’t see that I was actually moving in the right direction even when it felt like I was going nowhere.  Being on the back-end of this goal, I thought I would be in a different place right now but I’m not and I’m okay with that because where I thought I needed to go ended not being where I needed to be.  Emotions, feelings, desires…they are all tricky but as you peel away layers the fog slowly clears out and the view gets better and better.

With 2013 about to come to a close, I’m getting ready for a big 2014.  Most of my goals this year will be broken down into multiple projects, big and small.  In writing my goals and using the statement, “2013 was the year I…” I create a mini vision and/or feeling of what it’s like when the goal is achieve.  I start to create something to move towards.  Here’s what I’ve got for 2014.  Again, it’s all going to breakdown into a bunch of big and small projects this year.

“2014 was the year I…”

  • Became a homeowner in a neighbourhood and condo that I love.
  • Took control of my weight and moved my BMI to the lower quarter of overweight.
  • Helped my family move towards where they need to be. (Yep, this one has a ton of personal content.)
  • [I haven't filled in this blank just yet.]

Today I went to the gym in the morning and spent 45 minutes on the elliptical trainer.

Day 363 of 365: Two…

My dear friend Sherri completed her first marathon today. She ran the last five miles in a downpour but still managed a 4:35 finish.

Congrats Girl! You owned no matter how much Mother Nature tried to interfere!

After tonight, I only have two more blog entries for the 365 day challenge. Tomorrow’s blog will be about 2014 goals. Tuesday’s blog will be a reflection on this challenge. (Between you and me, I’m really happy that it’s almost done but have little to no energy to be excited.)

Tonight my husband and I went for a thirty minute walk after dinner and then I spent a bit of time stretching. We’ve both agreed to go to the gym together in the morning. I need a good sweat!

Day 362 of 365: Three…

With the new year just around the corner and this challenge coming to an end, the question of what to do next year lingers in my mind daily.

Today I signed up for a 10 KM running clinic that starts January 8th. Later on the year, I want to run the half-marathon again and I want to achieve a much better finishing time. To get to that goal, I want to start the year by improving my 10 KM time.

There are a few other actions I need to take to improve my 10 KM time. These need to be written down along with everything else I need to accomplish to be successful.

Tonight I did yoga for runners along with some additional stretching.

Day 361 of 365: Four…

Day 358 – 30 Minutes Elliptical
Day 359 – Runner’s Yoga & Stretching
Day 360 – Runner’s Yoga & Stretching
Day 361 – 46 Minutes Elliptical

You would think that after 350+ days of this challenge which includes blogging that I would rarely forget to blog. Well, I forgot to blog for two days in a row!

Christmas did get the better of me. I was so caught up in all things Christmassy that did two nights in a row I went to bed without blogging. Christmas Day was the worst though. As I got ready for bed, I realized I hadn’t done any activity for the day. Could you imagine coming this far and missing Day 360!?! You should have seen the looks in mine and my husband’s face.

Aside from the above, Christmas was great! Christmas Eve was also great! Boxing Day was not very good but got better at night.

Today I finished knitting a baby sweater for two of our closest friends. Baby boy James will be five months old on December 31st. As always, I like to knit the 6-12 month size. I think it optimizes the growth and wear time.

With only four days left, I’m not sure what my activity will be tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be beautiful. Maybe I’ll go for a run outside. Maybe not.

Day 357 of 365: A Dedication Run

When I woke up this morning, I headed straight to the gym. I ran exactly 2.62 miles (in about 30 minutes). I specifically ran this distance to dedicate this run to my best girlfriend who will be running her first marathon on Sunday, December 29th in Jacksonville, Florida.

When I saw her in November, everything she shared with me about her training sounded great and she looked really good. And as two runners, we went to a running store together and checked out all the socks.

This Sunday will be a great day for my dear friend Sherri. I wish her all the best for she will no longer be a runner. She’ll be a marathoner.

Day 356 of 356: A Quickie

Staying at home all day is one of my most dreaded activities.  With the ice storm that blew through Ontario last night, we were “trapped” until late in the afternoon.  Yes, we are lucky that we did not lose our power.  We are very lucky.  However cabin fever is no friend and by 3:30 PM, I was going out of my mind.  By 4:30 PM, I left the house.

As I did not venture over to the gym (stayed in the neighbourhood when I did leave the house), I worked on some yoga/stretching and my physiotherapy exercises.  I’m still having a hard time isolating the correct muscles to use but I think I’ve figured out how to get better.  I had my husband place his hand on the back muscles I’m supposed to be using and I put my hand on the ones I’m not supposed to be using.  This really helped me focus on the correct muscles.  And, now I have a new exercise partner.

Aside from going stir crazy and doing my physio exercises, I also worked on a knitting project.  I’m so close to being done and yet so far away.  My husband asked if I finished the second sleeve yet and I replied, “Almost!”  He said, “Good.”  What a guy…And I love him for it.