Category Archives: motivation

Becoming a Warrior {A Giveaway}

I had seen the Endorphin Warrior bracelets around online for a while. I loved the simple motivational words that they allow you to easily wear on your arm for that extra boost and reminder of why we train hard and push ourselves physically and mentally.

Needless to say, I was pretty excited that Endorphin Warrior generously offered to provide each of us with a bracelet of our choice when running Hood to Coast! I chose the word STRENGTH to remind me that I am strong and powerful, and nothing can hold me back.

Since receiving my bracelet, I have worn it not only during workouts to help encourage me to keep fighting as they get difficult, but also to remember my strength on hard days at work. These powerful words are all daily reminders to stay strong-minded and focused, and to overcome your challenges.

Some of the other words that I really love are:


Endorphin Warrior also offered to give a bracelet to one of my readers! They come in both black and brown bands for a little extra customization. Enter below for your chance to win!

Which motivational word would you want to choose on your bracelet if you won?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s the Sweet Life

Today is my and Ryan’s 4th wedding anniversary! 

{photo credits:}

We celebrated last night by cooking a tasty dinner together (Chicken with lemon & rosemary, and polenta — recipes from Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking), followed by cannoli’s, some sparkling wine, and watching a video our parents made for us before the wedding. It was lovely.


We were also looking through some photo albums from over the last couple years, and it was so much fun to see how much we have changed and grown even over just a few years. If you had told me 4 years ago that I was going to be training for my second marathon right now, I don’t think I would have believed it. At that time I didn’t really even think I could (or would want to) run more than 4 miles.

Both Ryan and I have become much more confident in our physical abilities through running, triathlon, and weightlifting (p90x!). We have also learned so much at our jobs and about each other. I am so grateful to have his support, but also to have him there to challenge me to push my boundaries and do whatever I really want to do. I really loved looking back and thinking about all these changes.

This weekend we will be going to Santa Rosa for a day trip as a little extra celebration. No major plans on what we are going to do there besides visit Russian River Brewing. Anyone have any suggestions?

How have you changed in the past few years?

The Science of Positive Thinking

I think I usually have a pretty positive attitude toward life, including how I view the world, my body, my work, and my running. But we have all had those days filled with negative thoughts, and know how one negative thought seems to lead to another in a huge downward spiral.

Recently, I read this article about the science behind positive thinking.

Negative emotions narrow your mind and prevent you from seeing the other options around you. For example, if you feel bad about not exercising or not eating healthy, all you think about is how little willpower you have, how you’re lazy, and how you don’t have any motivation

Positive emotions (joy, contentment, love, happiness) allow you to see more possibilities in your life and open up your mind. In turn, these posibilities allow you to build useful skills and enhance your life.

The article goes on to say that it is important to find things that you enjoy doing and spark these positive emotions. But also to be careful not to put off happiness until you have reached some arbitrary goal. Happiness should be the precursor to success (building your skills), but is also often the result of it.

So, what makes you feel positive? Is it running or other exercise? Reading your favorite book? Talking to your best friend? Mediating? Cooking a delicious meal? Whatever it is… make time for it!

{from — another fav way to feel positive}

I think this is a good reminder that we need to schedule time and energy toward happiness.

For me, exercise is a key to feeling good every day. I feel stronger, it helps me work toward my goals, and eventually see results.

Ryan and I also really enjoy scheduling activities on the weekend, whether it is trying stand up paddle boarding, going wine tasting, or exploring a new place (going camping or hiking). Enjoying the outdoors and being active are things that make us happy.

So tell me, what makes you feel joy, contentment and love?
Let’s focus on those positives.

Running Happy

I know races and training have been going well for me lately, and no one is exempt from having a bad training run or a race. In fact, on of my worst runs ever was the Davis Moo-nlight half marathon last July, just a few months before I started blogging. That race was ROUGH — it was hot, the race was in the evening (I wasn’t used to doing long runs at 7pm), and I experienced the worst chafing of my life by mile 8 — yep, a recipe for disaster. That race, was hard for me to enjoy.

In general though, I would say I am a very happy runner (ok, I’m pretty happy most of the time — not just while running). I love getting out and pounding the pavement even when I know it is going to be a hard run. I always look forward to the feeling afterward. One thing that I think makes this easier / better is a positive attitude.

In the most recent Runner’s World magazine issue, there was a short article called Find Zen Through Running. This article really spoke to me because this is exactly how I feel about my running mental attitude and frame of mind. It mentions four points to keep your thoughts calm, which can in turn improve your running.

1) Tune In: Be aware of your body and how you are doing today. Notice how you feel, whether it is good or bad. Maybe your hamstrings or IT Band are tight from yesterday’s run or strength session, or maybe you feel great and relaxed today. While you are running think about staying relaxed — shoulders and hands should not be tense. This is also something I try to think about while cycling. If your body and mind are relaxed, running will be easier. You can also try focusing on your breath — now many steps each inhale and exhale takes — or the movement of your chest and abdomen as you breathe.

2) Think Happy: An optimistic outlook has been linked to increased athletic performance. We all know that the time spent out on the road for a long run can take the mind to a lot of different places. If negative self talk comes, try to just see the thoughts come and go rather than dwelling on them. When a run starts to get tough, I often tell myself that I look beautiful or I’m doing great rather than thinking about how hard it feels or about my muscles burning. As mentioned in the article “I can see the thoughts coming up while I run—I want to stop right now; I wish this was over—and I see them for what they are,” Davis says. “They are just thoughts; they don’t have to be my reality.”

3) Accept the Challenge: I think runners love a challenge. We enjoy pushing ourselves to new limits. When things don’t go as planned (like my hot weather, chafe inducing race last July) rather than spend our energy fretting about what it is going to be like, use a calm and positive mental state to relax and be in the moment. This saves energy to put into racing instead of fidgeting or tiring the mind. Focus on your breath and what is happening at this very moment — not what is happening 5 minutes from now, or what happened 5 minutes ago.

4) Love the Run: Value the runner you are today. Try not to be dissatisfied with your ability — maybe you think you should be able to run faster or farther or longer. But no matter where you want to be, this is where you are now.

I have learned a lot about this kind of meditative thought process through yoga. Practicing this method of focusing in yoga has also improved how I think during running or other workouts. Sometimes it takes me a mile or two at the beginning of my run to quiet my mind and feel more in the zone. Usually I don’t actually think about meditation, but more about relaxing, focusing, and being aware of my body. I truly believe we can go further and be so much stronger with a positive mindset.

Sure, bad and upsetting things happen, and its okay (actually good!) to talk about them. I’m sure I will tell you all about it when my next terrible race or run comes up. But right now I’m focusing on keeping my mind zen, and I think it is bringing my running to the next level.

So today, don’t be afraid to be proud of yourself for what you have accomplished. Try not to dwell on the days that don’t work out as you planned whether on a run or in life.

Be present. Breathe. Enjoy the run.

Strengthening and Stretching

Although I truly enjoy running, and other endurance type athletic activities, I think it is critical to maintain a strength program to keep my muscles from always doing one activity.

Unlike many runners, I actually ENJOY going to the gym and strength training. Many people say they find working out at the gym boring… but I think that if you are prepared with at least an area of the body you want to focus on, or a list of exercise options, you can make it interesting and fun!

Here are some ways to mix it up:

1) Focus on a different part of the body each day you go. While this may not be ideal if you are only making it to the gym one day per week,

2) Try doing some super sets. Instead of just sitting around and waiting for a while between sets of exercises, do two or three exercises in a row. It will help you keep your heart rate up and keep you moving. Your super sets can be focused on one muscle group to make it extra tough, or do a few muscle groups (like, quads then hamstrings) to rest one group before coming back to it.

3) Work out with friends! Just like running, having a workout buddy can make the gym a lot more fun since you will have someone to talk to. Plus, I’ve found the time it takes your friend to do a set is often the perfect amount of rest.

4) Do a workout video. I don’t mean an aerobics video, I mean a strength training one. A few popular options right now are Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred, or the P90x program.

5) Do a workout from a weightlifting book or magazine.  A few magazines have great workouts in them like Oxygen or Women’s Health. I also have a few Women’s fitness books that I really enjoy, which you can see more about below.

Fitness or weightlifting books can help you learn more about building a routine, learn how to do the moves appropriately, or see which exercises target which muscles. One of my favorites is The New Rules of Lifting for Women. This book gives a basic program to follow with two different total body workouts. It describes why women should not be afraid of using weights to have a strong and healthy body.

A second great one is the Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises. It not only describes exercises for each body area (chest, back, arms, glutes, quads, hamstrings, core), but also explains why weightlifting is important as well as nutrition and some goal-specific workouts depending on your goals.

If you are interested in understanding more about the muscles used for different exercises and the anatomy behind them, you should also check out Strength Training Anatomy.

Another idea would be to get a weightlifting routine set up for you by a trainer at the gym if you can. These trainers can customize a workout for you, and make sure you are performing each exercise the right way to not get hurt. If you haven’t done many weight exercises, they can also help you get a feel for what weight to use.

Can’t make it to the gym? There are so many body weight exercises that you can do at home with no to minimal equipment like pushups, pullups, squats and lunges. The Women’s Health book I mentioned also describes a ton of exercises you can do without any weights.

Do you have any favorite gym workouts to share?

Night Running

Now that we have changed back the clocks and it is getting dark so much earlier, I have been starting to see my motivation slipping. Even getting home at 5:15 pm leaves me running in the dark. Yesterday I seriously struggled with getting out the door. When I finished the short jaunt of 3.5 easy miles at 5:45pm it was practically pitch black out already!

So, maybe it is time to start getting up early for morning runs while there are a few weeks of morning sun. At least the sun should help get me going a little. Sunny mornings always make me smile.

Sidenote: I have had a little head cold this week, which has also not helped my motivation. I’d much rather take a nap. Since I have a race this weekend, I’m going to keep my workouts pretty light and focus on getting to bed early. I’m already feeling much much better than I did over the weekend, so improving daily.

Today at my house it was nice and sunny! Some winter mornings in Northern California though are super foggy. 

Example: this was the ride in to work this morning:

It usually looks like this:

I guess winter really is coming. At least the cooler temperatures are so much better for running than the heat of the summer!

PS. There is less than one month until the Rock & Roll Las Vegas marathon!!  I am seriously getting excited! (can you tell?!?)

Do you run in the dark? How do you make sure you are easily seen by drivers and don’t trip on the sidewalk? My neighborhood has some street lights but not on every block and sometimes they are far apart. I could wear a headlamp. Does the light bounce all over when you run with a headlamp? Any night running tips you can share?

A Little Motivation

I need a little motivation boost today to get in a run. I don’t have time to get out until I get home from work, but hopefully seeing some of these pictures will kick my butt out the door.

Hope you enjoy in case you need a little extra motivation today too!