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Running, Surprising People, and Surprising Yourself

Running, Surprising People, and Surprising Yourself

immerse yourself in the art of surprising People.

I came across this quote a few months ago, and it really stuck with me. At first, I read it literally as “Make sure others can’t guess what you’re next move is.” But then it hit me – I’m one of those “people” the quote refers to, which means I should be surprising myself.

So I started thinking. Do I surprise myself? What IS the fun in completing a task you know you can do?

For me, the most fun adventures are the ones I never thought I’d have. The risks I never thought I’d take. The gambles I never thought would pay off. The physical feats I never thought I’d overcome.

So I started on a mental list of things I never in a million years thought I’d do but did: ROTC and law school at the same time, living and interning in Washington, D.C., having my own business/blog (!!!!).

So what had I written off as impossible and not yet faced? Number one on that list . . .

Running.

 

Why had I given up on it? For one, I always told myself and others that I “just wasn’t a runner.” As a kid, it was because I lacked any type of athletic ability to run. When I reached ROTC in August 2014, it was because I was obsessed with training purely for strength and not endurance. Cardio was a no-go.

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Photo by Brianna Kolota

So when another cadet in ROTC asked if I wanted to run the Army Ten-Miler Race in Washington, D.C. in October 2015, I was hesitant. I thought, “There’s no way I could run 10 miles straight. That’s too far. I feel like I’m going to die on the APFT’s 2-mile run.”

But I stopped myself. Sure, running 10 miles is a challenge, but I like challenges. And I knew I could find a “beginner’s” running plan that worked me up to 10 miles while avoiding injuries and over training.

So I said yes to the race. I was a little overwhelmed, but I was in.

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In the 6-7 weeks prior to the race, I miraculously fit three runs in per week (one speed, one tempo, one long) despite my insane schedule. I ate well. I slept as much as I could while still fulfilling my responsibilities. I sacrificed some “down” time along the way, but it paid off.

The Army Ten-Miler Race pace below was my 2-mile pace a year prior to the race. It was a complete surprise to myself and at least two other cadets who ran that race. They knew I did NOT consider myself a runner.

2015-10-12 20.09.37

But now, I do call myself a runner.

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I’m a runner not because I run every day (because I don’t).

I’m a runner not because I have two long-distance races under my belt as of February (Army Ten-Miler Race and a half marathon).

And I’m definitely a runner not because I love running (because some days I loathe it).

I’m a runner because I surprised a lot of people by running the Army Ten-Miler Race and running it well. But more importantly, I surprised myself.

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So whether you consider yourself a runner or not, ask these questions: “Am I immersed in the art of surprising others? Am I surprising myself?”

If the answer is no, find a challenge, big or small, and commit.

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With work, take on a project that you’ve been hesitant to dive into for fear of failing or doing a “bad” job.

With food, meal prep on Sundays so you can finally stop making excuses for eating takeout every day.

And if you’re willing to tackle running like I did, set a goal.

As a newbie, run once per week. If you’ve only run for fun in the past, train for a fast 5k. Or if you’re finally ready to tackle a long-distance race, stay tuned for my next few posts.

In the coming weeks, I’ll post a program for a speedy 10-mile race and a program for your first half marathon. Expect workouts, sample meals, and rest day activities/mobility work.

I’m excited to share what I’ve learned, and I hope you stick around for it. 🙂

Questions:

  1. How do you surprise yourself?
  2. What’s a recent race/fitness goal you accomplished that you never believed you’d be able to do?
Fast-Paced Fall with SOS Rehydrate

Fast-Paced Fall with SOS Rehydrate

Steve-Prefontaine-Cross-Country-Running-Poster

Fall 2015 was a combination of being exhilarated, terrified, happy, and overwhelmed . . . and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

Despite the suicidal pace of my life at times, I realized this fall that if you’re afraid of how fast you’re going, you know the journey is a good one.

With that said, I can’t thank my friends, family, teachers, and classmates enough for being a part of this insane journey that is law school, ROTC and my personal life. And on the fitness front, I have SOS Rehydrate to thank for keeping me and my teammates hydrated while training for and competing in two fun, challenging events: the Army Ten-Miler race and my second Army ROTC Ranger Challenge competition.

So here’s a recap of my fast-paced fall. More to come in 2016 about journeys in running, racing, competing, fueling and life as a officer candidate and law student. 🙂

August

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My 2-mile time in August was 15:50. After a season of training and racing, my time is currently around 14:30, give or take a few seconds based on the day. Stay tuned for more on the simple program I used to shave those 80 or so seconds off my time.

September

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If I remember correctly, it was about 90 degrees with what felt like 100% humidity when I took this photo, hahaha. Long training runs in Florida heat and humidity are awesomely awful. Give me my IV drip of electrolytes stat.

October

2015-10-11 13.12.35
The Army Ten-Miler Race – SO MUCH FUN!!! The energy of the thousands of runners during the race was insane. Racing through our nation’s capital was one of the best moments of my life . . . and I came in 7.5 minutes under my projected finishing time! Here are my stats (out of about 30,000 runners):

2015-10-12 20.09.37

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2015-10-10 14.07.34
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This photo was taken somewhere in of the middle of the 10-mile ruck, which was the final event at the Ranger Challenge competition. Other events for the competition (which started at 3am!!!) included 1,000 ruck lifts & 1,000 sit-ups (total for the team of 9), a triage lane, a rope bridge lane, a shuttle run and a 5-mile relay run. Needless to say, we were TOAST by the end.

November 

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Army-Navy ROTC annual football game! I have no idea why my tongue is out. Maybe I was focusing? I’ve been told I do this when studying intensly. . .

December

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Here’s to 2016 and all of the hope, excitement, challenges and fun it will bring. I wish you and your family the best in the new year! 🙂

Note: SOS Rehydrate provided me  with electrolyte packets in return for me writing this post, promoting their products and wearing their gear. However, all opinions are my own. The US Army is not supported by nor does it endorse SOS Rehydrate.

Don’t Give Up on Your Fitness Goals + Funny Workout Tank

Don’t Give Up on Your Fitness Goals + Funny Workout Tank

I shared a story about how far I’ve come in terms of fitness via my personal Facebook account Thursday. The post generated SO much positive feedback that I knew I had to share it with my HGG readers as fitness motivation for 2015.

In the past 18 months, I’ve learned self-motivation is the key to sticking with a fitness goal. Find whatever motivates YOU to keep going when the going gets tough. And remember, things that motivate someone else might not work for you.

I create new playlists, work out with friends and change up my routine with different classes, equipment and tempos to keep things fresh. Having the chance to wear funny workout clothes is always a plus too . . . 

"Ruck Funning" Workout Tank from Constantly Varied Gear on Hungry Gator Gal

Photo by Brianna Kolota

I took this photo early in the morning after drinking waaaaaayyy too much coffee in one sitting. Hence the serial killer face.

I was also excited it was a lifting day and not a running day. I really don’t like running, unless it’s with friends or sprinting in the heat of a sport or a competition. Naturally, I picked the tank above when Constantly Varied Gear asked me if I’d like one in exchange for writing about its products.

Constantly Varied Gear Funny Tank Top on Hungry Gator Gal

Photo by Brianna Kolota

The company sells A TON of funny shirts and tanks in a variety of colors for men and women. I spent an hour trying to choose a tank before deciding on the “Ruck Funning” one. It’s soft and thin, which is perfect for when Florida decides winter doesn’t exist.

The tank is so comfortable that I now have my eyes on this yoga tank, this coffee tank and this tank about punching people. Because, you know, you can never have too many workout tanks or leggings for that matter. Who needs to wear real shirts and pants when workout clothes are so comfy?!?

Order your own hilarious gear here. 🙂 

Note: Constantly Varied Gear or any other company did not compensate me for this post. The company simply sent a tank top to me without charge in exchange for writing this post. As always, all thoughts, opinions and reviews are my own.

Questions:

  1. Who or what motivates you to exercise?
  2. Do you have a 2015 fitness resolution? What is it?
  3. Do you own any funny workout clothes? What do they say?

  

Related HGG Posts:

10 Goals to Improve Overall Fitness in 2015

 

Hungry Gator Gal’s Top 10 Posts of 2014

10 Things I’ve Learned as a New Runner

10 Things I've Learned as a New Runner from Hungry Gator Gal 

10 Goals to Improve Overall Fitness in 2015

10 Goals to Improve Overall Fitness in 2015

What’s one way to ensure you achieve fitness goals? Share them with thousands of people . . .

Below you’ll find 10 goals I’m pursuing to improve my overall fitness in 2015, in no particular order of importance. Some goals are easy “check-off-the-list” things or habits I plan to change. Other goals are HARD and are going to take serious commitment.

These goals are personalized to my life, but please tweak them to fit YOUR life, whether you’re a seasoned fitness fanatic or an exercise newbie. No two persons are at the same fitness level, and you should be realistic when setting goals.

I’ve explained why I’m pursuing the goals below. If you’re an athlete, training for a specific event or just a fitness geek, I HIGHLY suggest reading the reasons why I’m pursuing the goals because they’re probably applicable to your life too.

Click on the links within this post to learn more information, such as where body composition assessments are offered near you.

You now have permission to call me out if you see me slacking! Feel free to let me know what your 2015 fitness goals are in the comments section. 🙂

 

Goal #1: Complete a functional movement screen (FMS)/mobility assessment.

Why:

  1. Identify and assess muscular imbalances.
  2. Correct my form.
  3. Prevent injuries.

Yes, I am damn proud of my ability to squat four or five rounds of 10 reps at nearly 200 pounds. Yes, I can do 60+ perfect-form push-ups in 2 minutes. However, if I’m doing these moves incorrectly, I’m putting myself at risk for an injury that I literally cannot afford. If I can’t perform physically as well as mentally in the next 2.5 years of law school, I put myself at risk for losing my scholarship.

I think anyone, whether you’re a seasoned lifter or just learning how to strength train, can benefit from a mobility assessment. Identifying and correcting muscular imbalances allows you to strengthen weak muscles and prevent injuries from happening. You can visit the FMS website to find a professional near you who gives the assessment.

 

Goal #2: Complete two body composition assessments (one in the January/February, one in August/September).

Why:

  1. Determine my body fat percentage.
  2. Assess how my nutrition and exercise habits are impacting my athletic performance.
  3. Improve my athletic performance.

I’ve suspected for a year or so that my body fat percentage is in the female athlete range, and I want to confirm or deny this suspicion. Depending upon the number, I may or may not pursue, in a healthy way, a goal of dropping a few percentage points to improve my speed and endurance.

UF offers a BodPod test, one of the most accurate body fat assessment tools, for $50, and the follow-up test months later costs $35. Click here to see where the BodPod test is offered near you. I’ll be sure to write about the experience when I do it.

 

Goal #3: Complete a running assessment and possibly a few coaching lessons, depending upon the cost.

Why: Analyze and work on correcting my running form.

I’ve been dealing with shin splints on and off since August, which I’m attributing the fact that I literally never ran before joining the Army ROTC program.

It was probably too much running too fast and not with proper form. I’ve recognized and corrected some of my own problems, like my tendency to heel strike, which has allowed me to increase my speed and endurance. However, I know I may have a muscular imbalance that’s contributing to my shin pain.

If you’re a running coach or know of a good, reasonably priced running coach in the Gainesville, Florida area, email me at bkkolota@gmail.com!

 

Goal #4: Complete at least one 4- to 6-mile run per week.

Why:

  1. Increase endurance.
  2. Mental relaxation.

Endurance is NOT my strong point. I LOVE sprints, HIIT and basically any short, intense workout. However, I’ve recognized that completing even one moderate distance run per week at a moderate pace makes the short intense workouts easier and totally relaxes me.

In other words, I think I’m actually enjoying running now?!?

 

Goal #5: Complete a sprint workout at least once per week.

Why:

  1. ABS baby!
  2. Increase speed.

Read this article about the benefits of sprinting and you’ll be on your way to the track . . . like now.

 

Goal #6: Commit to writing down the weights used during strength workouts.

Why: Track my strength increases.

I write down workouts in terms of what I did and how many reps, but I’ve never tracked how much weight I’m using to see if my strength has increased.

I know I’m stronger than a year ago, but I want to be able to look back at 2015 to see exactly how much my strength has increased. I’ll start putting the weight amounts on my workout log.

 

Goal #7: Compete in at least one obstacle course/tactical race.

Why:

  1. To have FUN with friends.
  2. To say I did it!

Do I really need an explanation for wanting to complete a Spartan Race Super and/or a Tough Mudder?

 

Goal #8: Foam roll for at least 10 minutes every day.

Why: Benefits of foam rolling. 

P.S. I own a ProSource Ultra Deluxe Revolutionary Sports Medicine Roller.

 

Goal #9: Go to two yoga classes per week.

Why:

  1. Prevent injuries.
  2. Improve flexibility and balance.
  3. Maintain my sanity.

P.S. Read Pro Athletes Turn to Yoga.

 

Goal #10: Earn a 300 on the APFT.

Why:

  1. To earn the badge!
  2. To say I did it!

I’m SO close to maxing the test. <— I earned a 292 out of 300 on November’s test.

If I follow through on all of the aforementioned goals, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to earn a 300 by August.

P.S. You can train for the test, even if you’re not in the military, to assess and track your fitness progress.

 

Question:

  1. What are your 2015 fitness goals and why are you pursuing them?

 

Related HGG Posts:

Tips for Setting Realistic Fitness Goals in 2014

 

150-Rep Lower Body Challenge

150-Rep Lower Body Challenge

This lower body endurance workout + a 6.6-mile run afterward = sore quads and hip flexors for days.

But really. I was sore to the touch for a SOLID 48 hours. I really have no idea what I was thinking. All I know is that I hobbled around the mall and Target the next day in pain. I looked like a baby giraffe learning how to walk. But it was amazing.

So if you love self-imposed pain, check out this workout. Feel free to tell me how awful and awesome it makes you feel afterward. 🙂

150-Rep Lower Body Challenge from Hungry Gator Gal

Exercise videos:

P.S. This is an awesome at-home or holiday workout that requires minimal or NO equipment. No gym = no excuse. I usually complete 50 reps of one exercise and then 50 reps of the next exercise, etc. Feel free to split up the 150 reps however you choose.

Questions:

  1. Do you ever complete lower body workouts and longer runs on the same day?
  2. What’s the hardest workout you’ve ever completed?

 

Related HGG Posts:

10 Things I’ve Learned as a New Runner

10 Things I've Learned as a New Runner from Hungry Gator Gal 

26-Minute Boredom-Busting Treadmill Workout 

26-Minute Boredom-Busting Treadmill Workout from Hungry Gator Gal 

5-4-3-2-1 Lower Body Blast


5-4-3-2-1 Lower Body Blast Workout from hungrygatorgal.com