Running for a Purpose

I have never been a competitive runner. Until now, I ran for therapeutic, social and general fitness purposes. But, for the most part, I thought running was kind of boring. To me, it paled in comparison to the adrenaline rush gained while roller blading, scenic cycle rides, or to great friendships forged on the tennis court.

This winter, something snapped in my head while running on my elliptical. I became obsessed with completing five miles in 30 minutes. Once I reached this goal, the competitive runner in my soul became unleashed.

So, now what? My new fitness challenge is to run – and win – a few 5K races. Not only am I enthused about establishing this healthy living goal, I am motivated to stay the course on this mission because so many races help others. It’s multi-tasking at its finest.

Inspiration for my new mission comes from my cousin Joe, who runs half and full marathons to raise money for the American Heart Association and two girlfriends who share the same first name. My two Lisas are long-time friends who are both committed fitness advocates. One is a friend from college who has medaled in a number of local, state and national races. The second is my closest friend. She finally sold me on registering and training for my first 5K — Back to the Beach. It takes place this Sunday at Stoney Creek Metro Park and was organized to support the Detroit chapter of Medals 4 Mettle.

To encourage me in my pursuit of victory, my husband bought me a pedometer for Mother’s Day. He’s so practical. But, I love this. When we were dating, he was about to dial the florist, but then hung up and went to the nearest sporting good store . There, he purchased new bearings for my roller blades, which had been dogging me for weeks. It’s all good. Flowers look and live better in a garden; and too much chocolate makes running shorts look indecent.

Do Shopping Marathons Qualify as Exercise?

Do shopping marathons qualify as exercise? I think so. Just like 5k training, they require planning, goals, motivation, comfortable shoes, strategy, selectivity, focus, competition, stamina, strength, resilience, aggression, and great eye candy.

Great steals — Ann Arbor

Planning makes it easier to focus and get down to business. Without a workout plan, I spend way too much time deciding which exercises to do. The same is true with shopping marathons. Planning where I’m shopping and what I’m shopping for saves me. Important note: plan flexibility is required for deviation, detours, and impulsive behavior — for 5k training sessions and shopping marathons —  especially when one lives north of the “D”.

Motivation is a direct link to making work outs and shopping marathons successful. Something clicks in my head. It pushes me to kick-ass on the elliptical or 5k course. When I have my shopping groove on, I wake up feeling a rush of adrenaline in my veins. I know achievement is at hand.

Sparkly resale find — New Hope, Penn.

Comfortable shoes are critical for sprinting and getting to all the must-have deals before my competition does. Shopping marathons are not for the weak and feeble. Proper foot attire is necessary for speed walking, standing for long hours, kicking competitive shoppers in the shins — just kidding — and avoiding fashion faux pas.

Strategy is different from a plan. I define strategy as a methodology for ensuring plan success. When I play tennis, it involves opponent assessment, shot placement, and skill inventory. Shopping marathons require store layout assessment, merchandise knowledge, wish list prioritization, time management, competitive shopper analysis, personal shopper recruitment, checkout line comparison, and exit preparation.

Selectivity or prioritization enables me to complete timely workouts and saves me from overworking muscle groups. This ideology saves time and money during shopping marathons.

Butterfly bling — Dragonfly Boutique — Rochester, Mich.

Focus means unwavering drive to achieve or acquire. Having met my winter goal of running five miles in 30 minutes on my elliptical, I am now on task to win some 5ks. All of my work outs are centered around achieving this goal. During a shopping marathon, I am focused on acquiring items from my ever-changing wishlist. I do my best not to exit the store until my list is maxed out. But, my children often cause my memory to fail. This means I forget stuff and repeat visits to fave stores are necessary.

Competition is a healthy part of any fitness regimen or shopping marathon. It is expected. A competitive exercise program makes fitness fun. Hesitation to grab one-of-a-kind treasures is sure to kill a shopping marathon before it even gets started.

Ooh la la la — Dragonfly Boutique — Rochester, Mich.

Stamina builds over time. For example, I was huffing and puffing after five minutes on my elliptical 10 years ago. On Monday, I ran a practice 5k in 30 minutes. At Parisian’s Mother’s Day sale, I entered the store at 10 am and exited at 3:30 pm. I could have lasted another five hours.

Strength also gains when exercise is consistent, practiced and frequent. Shopping marathons are labor intensive and may require heavy lifting.

Resilience is especially important during Zumba classes. For a visual think Elaine from Seinfeld. Shopping marathons — especially ones involving bathing suits — require a tough, resilient attitude. I keep looking and trying stuff on. In the end, I usually find something dazzling. If not, I try again on a different day or after a few spicy rum lemonades.

Aggression fuels my workouts. I translate daily stress into lengthy walks around my neighborhood, positive interval training, and tough-as-nails cardio-kickboxing sessions. Stress and aggression need healthy outlets. Blocking competitive shoppers, keeping a place in the checkout line, and asking for store assistance all take some finesse. 

A must-have — Plain 'n' Fancy — Rochester, Mich.

Great eye candy makes any workout better. I burn hundreds of extra calories on the elliptical while watching movies starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Johnny Depp or Leonardo DiCaprio. Whatever works, right? Shopping marathons are all about great eye candy. The more the merrier. After taking a few moments to take in all the must-have goodies, my mind clears and I am on-task to accomplish my mission.

Wednesday Zumba Mornings

After I put my son on the school bus, I head to Graceful Moves in Shelby Township, Mich. for a one-hour Zumba class. I am a newbie to this Latin-dance, aerobic-exercise craze. But, I can already see and feel why it’s a hit.

The instructor, Sheryl, is amazing to watch and follow. Most of the ladies in my class have been taking Zumba from her for two years. That says a lot about their commitment to staying fit and to having a blast at 9:00 am each Wednesday.

One of the components I love most about this class is the mix of music we dance to. There is truly a beat for just about any person who loves to dance. We mixed it up mostly to Latin music. But, we also pretend to be Jennifer Beals from Flashdance, Lady Gaga and Fergie from Black-Eyed Peas for a few numbers.

A long-time friend for high school inspired me to try Zumba; and I am so glad she did. You should check out her Zumba posts at her blog, Tickling My Fancy. My Wednesday mornings are now something I look forward to and I am having a blast. Here’s to Zumba addiction.

Seven, Silent Monsters

I have seven, silent, but ever-present monsters prowling around in my head. Winter blahs, cabin fever, parental stresses, unrealistic expectations, inner negative talk, ever-growing to-do list, and time thief, are “The Seven”. For a lack of a better term for these negatives, I call them monsters. They remain silent because until now, I have not given any outward indication to their existence.

“The Seven”, however, have drawn swords, and are challenging me to a fierce battle this winter. I am motivated to fight and banish these silent monsters. Ignoring them is not my style. Giving into their negative energy is not an option. I refuse to encourage them toward a more public presence.

By nature, I am an optimistic, extrovert, who enjoys social occasions and people. It is foreign to identify a struggle with “The Seven.” Acknowledgement — I believe — is the first step to winning these solitary, inter-connected wars. Next, is to fight.

Upper cut to the winter blahs. No more thumbing a nose at snow, arctic cold, and limited daylight. I will take Zumba classes, ice skate, and run indoors until frogs croak Spring’s arrival.

Box it out to cool cabin fever. Stirring a little crazy is just what I need to break out for good times with family and friends. Ann Arbor is on my list for the next two weekends.

Front kick parental stresses. My faith prevails. I am ready for whatever is on deck. My ability to love, nurture, teach, inspire, learn and discipline strengthens every day.

Knock out unrealistic expectations. Spotless and always-organized are not realistic daily goals for my house, which is home to four active people and a lovable, playful dog. There will be days — in the near and distant future — when performance please me, but not you. So be it.

Round kick inner negative talk. Body types, genetics and past experiences brought on by school mishaps, social challenges and stupid choices cannot be undone. I learn valuable lessons from living life and from others. I will cheer loudly for positive thoughts.

This fight is nearly won. I am sweating. Are you? I saved the most notorious confrontations for last. One is with ever-growing to-do list and the last is with time thief.

Swipe a blade to that ever-growing to-do list. My concentration is on action items already occupying PDA space. Child care, academic success, professional development, volunteerism, household chores, pet care, family relations, friendship development, social calendar, marital bliss and new acquaintances are just a cliff-note version of what my responsibilities include. When does it stop? Does it ever?

Fast feet catch time thief. Set the clock for me. I am taking time to read books, spend time with family and friends, volunteer, strengthen spirituality, pursue hobbies, develop professional ambitions, pamper my body, watch quality entertainment, and listen to good music.

What a match-up. The adrenaline is pumping through my veins. I feel better already. Do you see any monsters? I don’t right now. But, seeing some green along with a dose of Spring-like temps wouldn’t hurt, either.

5 in 30

My goal is to make five miles in 30 minutes on the elliptical. Tonight, I clocked 4.90 miles. Missing with such a small margin infuriates me to no end. I even fueled up with two cups of coffee before stepping on.

March 7, 9:30 pm – I attempted this again and missed by the same puny margin. This time I am pointing an angry bird at a new show I love watching while running my elliptical. I tuned into to catch the last few minutes of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations on the Travel Channel. He was in Cambodia tasting some happy pizza. I was laughing so hard, the focus on my goal wavered. This also made me think of some happy chocolate truffles I tried at a party once.

March 14, 10:00 pm – Did it! I made my goal with seconds to spare! No extra caffeine necessary. Now, I need another goal. I ran while watching One Fine Day starring George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer. Remember that one? It’s an oldie. I had been dating my husband for a few months; and we smuggled a six-pack into the premiere at that Ann Arbor Showcase.