Breaking habits; Making gains.


The last two marathons I’ve run, I’ve kept both the same good and the same horrible habits. With my first couple of weeks of training under my belt, I’m determined to make my third and fourth marathons, both of which I’ll be running in 2018, my most successful yet. And just how do I plan to do that?

1. Put less bad and more good into my body. My first marathon in 2016, I was in a long term relationship with someone who smoked two packs a day and got every meal from a fast food chain. And while I wasn’t always eating the same things and I never smoked, I did often eat unhealthy meals and was around second hand smoke all the time. In 2017, I had ended that four-year-long relationship, was dealing with some medical and personal issues and was, frankly, a complete mess. So in 2017, drinking and stress were the problem. It doesn't matter how many miles you run or how much strength training you do if you are filling your body with bad things to fuel it. This year, I plan to eat better, including more protein packed and whole, unprocessed foods and I plan on limiting my drinking immensely. Can I get a “Cheers to that”?


2. Make training fun. Whether it’s running with my deaf, slightly crazy, and beautiful pup, Lace or finding a new and fun way to crosstrain or even taking some of my run workouts to the track (which I hate to admit, I never do) or at least somewhere new, I’m determined to never let my training get monotonous this year. I recently went to Play CLE for some crosstraining and it was an absolute blast. Seriously, if you haven’t been there yet, you need to! They have multiple rock climbing walls (including bouldering walls), a ropes course that definitely tested my fear of heights, and even American Ninja Warrior obstacles! I had so much fun and definitely got a good workout in. I was super sore the next day and am definitely planning on going back.

3. Treat myself. I’m typically pretty frugal when it comes to my run gear. I wear my shoes until my toes are busting through, get most of my leggings when they’re 75% off at Old Navy or TJ Maxx, and have had the same 5 sports bras for years. This year, I’m investing in some new gear. I recently purchased the Garmin Fenix 5S Watch which was very pricey but SO. WORTH. IT. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s so much more accurate than all the other watches I’ve had and has so many features that were clearly designed for runners. I also just bought a new pair of Nike running shoes before it was even time to retire the old ones, which I don’t think I’ve ever done. And I’d like to invest in some other quality run gear that will actually last me. 


4. Try new things. Two new things I've tried recently that I am now OBSESSED with: Lil’ Buff Cakes and Nutrakey which are my new protein sources of choice. I’m sure I’ll go into details in a product review post eventually but here’s the need to knows: Lil’ Buff Cakes are essentially cakes made from protein powder, flax seed, and coconut powder and they are BOMB. I don’t know if I’ll ever eat real cake again. They totally cure my cravings (which are often pretty brutal). And how else can you have cake for dinner and not feel guilty about it? To make it, you just add some egg whites, almond milk, and unsweetened apple sauce and top with whatever healthy frosting you want (I usually do greek yogurt or sugar free, fat free pudding). SO GOOD. I also switched my protein powder recently to Nutrakey. Also a good life decision. It’s lower in carbohydrates than a lot of proteins I’ve had, is cheaper than Shakeology, which I was on before (and loved but it’s like $100 a bag) and tastes AH-MA-ZING. So far I’ve tried the Ice Cream Cookie and the Cookies and Cream flavors and they were both pretty drool worthy. I’m sure I’ll be buying some other new products soon and I will definitely do full reviews of these in the coming weeks.

5. Breathe when things go wrong. I’m the kind of person who mentally self combusts when things start going wrong. Last year was pretty much one downward spiral after another and I took it extremely hard. This week, a lot went wrong and I had that fear that I’d get completely off track and start spiraling downward again like last year. My anxiety was through the roof, I worked 60+ hours, skipped two runs, ate unhealthy, and didn’t get enough sleep. But when the end of the week came, I did something I never do when things like this happen: I took a deep breath and I told myself that everything was going to be okay. I set my intention for the next day, and I moved on. I conquered a 13 mile run on the treadmill (which sucked) and prepared myself to tackle the next week of training. No more dwelling on things that go wrong. I realized that it’s okay to skip a workout when you’re body or mental state can’t handle it. It’s okay to eat a cookie. And it’s okay to fall down... it’s just a matter of getting back up as soon as possible and letting that bad day, or week, or hell even that bad year go.


6. Stretch. I’m making it my goal this year to spend at least five minutes before and after every run stretching. I also want to stretch more on my rest days. It’s one of those things I know I’m supposed to do but I neverrrrr do. So this year, I’ll spend time stretching my body and recovering from my workouts properly.

7. Strength Train. Again, one of those things I know I'm supposed to do but always falls off my priority list. Not this year. I'm hoping to get at least two days of strength training in a week, and ideally one day will be arms and abs the other will be legs and abs. I'm still playing with my routine so if anyone has good strength workouts, you know where to find me!

8. Take more #RunPics. I recently got a GoPro and have been playing around with documenting my runs better. I'll be posing the good ones on my Instagram.  I'm still learning but I'm hoping to document my marathon training this time around much better.


9.  Write, Draw and in general, just do more for Miles for Mom. I learned last year that when things get crazy, I struggle to do all of the things I want to do. The things I thoroughly enjoy just start falling off of my priority list. Writing, drawing, and fundraising are just as important to me, if not more so, as running is. I'm really determined to not let them fall behind this year - to truly try and work at improving these acts and to work at them consistently. So you guys can look forward to more blogs, more lettered inspirational quotes and doodles, and more innovative ways of fundraising for the cause I am so passionate about. I won't let all of the things that are so important to me fall off my priority list this time around. So it's back to at least bi-weekly blogs, weekly lettering / drawing, an email every Sunday, and 4x a week social media. Be sure to follow along! :)

10. Be okay with who I am. I'm not a fast runner. I'm not the skinniest or the strongest. I don't eat the healthiest all the time. I get stressed out and distracted and have a lot of mental and physical issues. But I'm starting to realize that that's okay. And being okay with who I am, accepting it and learning how to manage it, is only going to make me a stronger human and a better runner. I'm not the best person out there, but I know that I am a good human and I'm really starting to be okay with all of my flaws. 

So that's how I'll be better at fundraising, at marathon training, and at being myself this year. How will you? 




Leah Backo