One of my daily meditations this week said to "honor the needs of your body." That small phrase totally sums up the approach that I took with my workouts this week. When we are working hard and moving at what seems like lightning speed sometimes it is hard to stop long enough to take notice of the work we've been putting in and how its affecting us from a physical and emotional standpoint. Those pauses are key however to understand what our bodies need and desire from us. Can push more forward a little more? Is it time to take a day of rest or maybe just a nap? Should we up our water intake? Add a little more greens to our diet? Go to bed early? By tuning in and listening to our bodies, we are able to respond in the best way our body needs. Honor your body, provide and care for it, give it what it needs so when it is time to press on and tackle the next big thing, you are more apt, capable and ready to handle it.

Without even knowing that I was going to come across that meditation this week, it is exactly what I have done the last few days. It's amazing how often these daily meditations are spot on with what's happening in my life. All that said, it has been a little more quiet of a week workouts wise as my training runs have tapered off leading up to Sunday's 13.1. I also knew that my body was going to need to wind down a bit from the typical workout week intensity in order to go into race well rested without additional muscle fatigue and soreness. Rather than my usual heavier strength training routine, I dialed it back and focused more on yoga and other functional areas of fitness including balance, core and flexibility training. I still went to the gym every day this week as I knew my body had the desire and need to move, but I adjusted as necessary switching up my training and intensity as to not burn myself out before the half.

Speaking of those 13.1, it's honestly hard to believe that my race is this Sunday. At times the last tweleve weeks of training felt like they were going to go on forever and that race day would never come. I think part of that comes with training in the middle of winter in Central Illinois. Other times the weeks flew by and, like now, I can't believe all my training runs are behind me and I'm just waiting for the final show. I'd be lying if I didn't feel the pre-race jitters starting to creep in but it has been four years since I ran a half, the last one also being in Florida in the pouring rain (not a sprinkle, but more like a downpour). I'm definitely ready, the eleven miler last week has proven that to me, but settling in to run 13.1 in an unfamiliar place can be intimidating to even the most veteran of runners. I am excited though for this mini-trip away. One of the draws of running this half was the idea of getting out of wintery Illinois and heading down to warmer Florida for a few days and I'm looking forward to just that. Not to mention I get to run the race and spend the weekend with one of my longtime friends!

Let's talk a little more about this week as it has been a nice change of pace and makes me take note of how important all areas of fitness and training are. If I were to pat myself on the back, I have to say that I am pretty good at making sure I get in my stretching, flexibility, balance and core training through yoga and group fitness classes but it's always an area of improvement just as in any part of a complete exercise routine. That being said, since I took out my typical MWF strength training sessions, I used that time I would normally spend lifting to focus more on those other functional areas of my overall fitness. As you read on, I'll include what I did from a core, balance and flexibility standpoint just as I usually share my strength training exercises. I also ramped up my yoga for the week to give me a little extra stretching time. I have to say, it was pretty darn nice to only have a 4miler and 2miler for training runs this week in preparation for Sunday. Having just a couple of lighter runs is a welcome treat from all the miles put in over the last twelve weeks.

Core/Balance Training Monday
Cable Rope Pull for Abs, 3 sets of 15, 40lbs
Good Mornings, 3 sets of 10, 5lbs
Single Leg Squat Touchdown, 3 sets of 10
Single Leg Bosu Balance, 20 seconds each leg, 3x
Captains Chair, 3 sets of 10
Bosu Crunches, 3 sets of 10
Single Leg Downward Dog into Dolphin, 3x

Core/Balance Training Wednesday
Medicine Ball Woodchop, 3 sets of 10, 2kg ball
Exercise Band Woodchop, 3 sets of 10, green band
Medicine Ball Oblique Throws, 3 sets of 10, 2kg ball
Medicine Ball Wall Balls increasing Height, 4 sets of 10, 2kg ball
Single Leg Deadlift, 3 sets of 10
Tree Pose, 30 seconds, 3x

The next time I check in back here I will have my fifth half marathon under my belt. If you have never run a half, but it is something you've considered, I definitely encourage you to sign up for one! Several years ago, before I signed up for my first half ever, I was really hesitant whether I could do it or not. My friends were signing up and I was interested but nervous and intimidated at the thought of running 13 miles. A coworker and friend asked if I could do three miles to which I answered yes. His response, "If you can do three, you can do thirteen." The rest, as they say, is history. I signed up for that first race, joined my friends and successfully completed my first half. Now, nine years later, I am on my way to completing my fifth.  All it takes is the right friend, time and situation (Floriday in January, yes please!!) and you might find yourself just as I did and enjoying mostly* every moment!

*Mostly being those couple of bitter cold runs through snow while dodging patches of ice coupled with a few challenging indoor track/treadmill runs. All in all, I truly have enjoyed these last twelve weeks of training. Running is a great stress reliever and spending time on the pavement getting fresh air at the same time catching up on all my favorite podcasts has been really fun. I'm excited to get back into group fitness cardio after this race but I do think I will be keeping running in the mix just not as much or as long of distance. Who knows, maybe then it won't be another four years before I do my next half!