Fueling Setbacks with Gratitude

NiteMovesJune2514It has been a SERIOUSLY fun year of running for me—pushing myself out my comfort zone, competing, playing, connecting with new people, doing new events.

Each week I’ve gotten stronger, faster and more confident as I’ve worked at getting back into shape.

By late August, I had logged well over a dozen races—many of which I’d run slightly faster than the one before. It was exhilarating.

But then I hit a speed bump.

Ventura Half Marathon MedalAfter running the Ventura Half Marathon in early September and then the She is Beautiful 5K a couple weeks later, with 18 and 20-mile runs in between, along with some tempo runs and track workouts, my body let me know that not only had I taken it too far, I had taken it for granted by ignoring its subtle, yet persistent warning signals.

Becky Aaronson 2014 She is BeautifulThe aches, “which every runner feels,” I told myself, were never “that bad.” But then those aches suddenly turned into ones that were that bad. With just six weeks to go until my target race—the Santa Barbara Veteran’s Day Marathon—I was forced to put on the brakes as I pushed my foot and back beyond their tipping points.

Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn.

Long story short (because I don’t want to bore you with a litany of injury details), the Santa Barbara Marathon did not happen for me. Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe my frustration.

YOU IDIOT! I scolded myself, YOU KNOW BETTER! WHEN WILL YOU EVER LEARN?

After beating myself up, then administering several generous doses of chocolate and wine, I finally pulled myself together. I was determined to salvage this marathon, no matter what.

Thus began my 6-week “mega taper,” which involved a whole lot of rest, pool running, cryotherapy and compression sessions, nothing but uber healthy food, extra cushy Hoka shoes, then slowly easing back into short, easy runs on grass with Coach Nash’s guidance.

Cryotherapy at The LabNormaTec Compression PantsRun Be Run Green Smoothie
Hoka Huaka shoes

I tried to convince myself that by not stressing about it and embracing this “mega taper,” I’d at least get myself to the starting line. Eventually though, it became painfully obvious that attempting a full marathon would be stupid in my marginally healed state, and my marginally maintained fitness level. I might have been able to do it (ever so slooowwwly), but I didn’t want to just run another marathon; I wanted to race it.

But here’s the good news (the cup is half full, right?): although I didn’t run the full marathon, I did manage to salvage race day by at least participating in the half marathon. It was not fast (about 8-10 minutes off my goal time) or pretty, but I did get through it, on a very hot day no less, and did cross the finish line with a smile on my face.

Becky Aaronson Santa Barbara Half MarathonBecky Aaronson 2014 SB Half Marathon

That was three weeks ago. I know Continue reading

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Running, Racing and Dream Chasing

HappyFeetWhen 2014 rolled around, I knew it was going to be a great year. I could feel it in my bones.

Something was starting to burn deep inside me again—the desire to compete and make fitness a priority. Let me rephrase that…the desire to make MY fitness a priority.

I’d spent so much time over the last year and a half organizing and coaching all my kids running teams (peek at my coaching page if you’re interested), on top of writing and juggling all the things moms juggle, few hours were left in the day for my own running.

Oh, I’d run here and there, start then sputter, get pulled away, then start again, repeating an endless frustrating cycle of mediocrity as I fought to maintain my baseline fitness. I even joined in races when I wrangled enough time and energy, but I was definitely not operating on all cylinders.

And the thing is, I know without a doubt that if I don’t make health and fitness a priority, I feel off kilter—like a wobbly top spinning full speed ahead, bumping from one thing to the next. I put everybody and everything ahead of myself. I say, “Yes” to too many things. I volunteer more than I should. I don’t get enough sleep and often make bad food choices.

I’m embarrassed to share with you how much chocolate I consumed…not to mention red wine…and coffee (lots of coffee)…all those treats, which temporarily make us feel giddy, decadent and “rewarded,” but also pack on an extra 5-10 pounds if we’re not careful.

When the ball dropped in 2014, I was more than ready to say, “Enough, girlfriend!” and take decisive steps to get back to center and reclaim my own personal fitness goals.

Screen shot 2014-04-05 at 3.22.24 PMThe first thing I did was join the Santa Barbara Athletic Association and entered their Grand Prix race series.

“What’s that?” you ask.

The SBAA is our fabulous local running association, which has created a fun way for its members to compete against each other in races all throughout the year. You simply sign up in your age group and gender and race in designated 5Ks, 10ks, and half marathons throughout the year. Points are awarded for whatever place you come in, and at the end of the year, whoever has the most points in each age group is crowned the winner.

It’s simple enough, but believe me folks, this took a major dollop of courage, considering I wasn’t feeling worthy of signing up for this group yet, let alone racing at my mediocre level of fitness—especially since some of the top female runners in all of Santa Barbara happen to be in my age group. We’re talking 5, 6 and 7-minute milers. Gulp.

But I took a deep breath, swallowed my pride and jumped into the mix.

And guess what? It’s the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long, long time.

It has been nothing but fun, and most of all it has given me some much-needed goals to help me stay focused on making my own workouts as much of a priority as those I create for my kiddos.

I don’t know about you, but without a race goal dangling in front of me I find it easy to bumble aimlessly through my workouts or opt for coffee and a good book instead of a track workout or a tempo run on mornings when I’m feeling less than motivated. Perhaps you can relate?

After joining the SBAA, I also joined the Santa Barbara Cruisers, a running group coached by Super Stud master’s runner, Nash Jimenez. We’re talking a 64-year old speed demon who still runs a 5 minute mile. Not only does he coach the Cruisers, but he also coaches many of the elite runners I previously mentioned.

Nash had generously offered to coach me from the first day I started working with him in 2012 (we coach the Kids Corner Coyotes running team together), but I never took him up on his offer. I was always way squeezed for time, and quite honestly never felt ready…that is until a few months ago.

That tiny step of joining the Cruisers added one more layer of commitment to my fitness goals and launched me even farther into this super supportive running community we have here in Santa Barbara. Not only that, it finally dragged my reluctant butt back to the track for some much-needed speedwork—not something I’ve ever enjoyed on my own.

So how has it gone so far?

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