Goldilocks’s Running Shoes

Remember Goldilocks? She broke into the Bear Family’s house, ate their breakfasts, sat in their chairs and then tried out their beds. The first bed was too hard, the second bed was too soft, and the third bed was….well…you know…

How are your shoes? Are they just right, or not really? Too hard? Too soft? Too small? Our feet change over time and the style of shoes you have been wearing for years may not feel as comfortable as they used to feel. Not all running shoes are the same, which is a great thing because, neither are we.

Two different trends in running (and walking) shoes are maximal and minimal shoe styles.

Maximal Running Shoes

Two longtime mountain runners from Salomon footwear, started HOKA One One in 2010 based on what they’d found spending time in the mountains –full suspension mountain bikes, oversized tennis rackets and oversized skis provide a better opportunity to find the “sweet spot” that would maximize performance through stability and comfort.

HOKA shoes have more than twice the amount of cushioning compared to a standard shoe, which is designed to provide a broader base of support for shock absorption. The foot can sink a bit into the shoe rather than just sitting on top of it; and the shoes are also designed with a bit of a curve, called the metarocker, to assist with proper foot landing and improve performance.

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Minimal Running Shoes

After the release of the book Born to Run, many runners became interested in barefoot running, which was suggested as a way to make our feet stronger and therefore, make runners less prone to injury. However, since most of us live the 21st Century-City-Life where broken glass and other dangerous obstacles are things we encounter regularly, minimalist shoes with a very thin, flat, foot-shaped sole offer a more practical take on barefoot running.

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Neither maximal nor minimal shoes have true long-term studies to back any claims they actually prevent injury. Nevertheless, both styles have tons of convinced and converted followers. Personally, I’m in Camp Minimalist. I love how they give me immediate feedback on the effectiveness of my gait, which allows me to improve my form regularly. That is my personal preference but, as with any trend, you need to figure out what works best for you.

When Should You Try a New Shoe Model?

According to Amanda Brooks, running coach and owner of Run to The Finish, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you suffering from repeat injuries that physical therapy isn’t resolving? It may be time to try a new shoe.
  • Have you been wearing the same model for years and years? Bodies change, be open to trying something new.
  • Are you running personal bests injury-free? Don’t change.
  • Have you lost weight? Gained weight? Changed your other workouts? Anything that might have caused a shift in your body could change your running gait and thus your trusty old shoe might not be your best choice now.

At the end of the day, no shoe alone (no matter how technologically advanced) is going to make you injury-free. To reduce your risk of injury, you should have a program that involves a well-developed, smart training plan, cross training, and strength training to keep you running and walking strong. But finding the right shoe that helps you feel good when you walk and run is definitely a step in the right direction!

How to Prevent Shin Splints

Do your shins throb and ache after your daily run, walk or hike?  

If you have shin splints (technically called medial tibial stress syndrome), you might notice tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner side of your shinbone and mild swelling in your lower leg. At first, the pain might stop when you stop exercising. Eventually, however, the pain can be continuous and might progress to a stress reaction or stress fracture. This a result of stress on your shinbone and the connective tissues that attach muscles to your bones that causes them to get inflamed and painful.

Shin splints are often the result of

  • Overpronation — when the impact of a step makes your foot’s arch collapse
  • Shoes that don’t fit well or provide good support
  • Skipping the dynamic warmup exercise or cooldown stretches
  • Weak ankles, hips, or core muscles

These are all common problems and, fortunately, they are easily solvable.

However, the most common cause on shin splints is an abrupt change in intensity or sudden increase in the distance of a workout schedule. Muscles are forced to work harder, which can lead to inflammation of the lower leg muscles and even those that are used in lifting the foot. A change in terrain or surface can also influence whether or not you experience shin splints. Soft terrain such as dirt trails is always the easiest on shin splints while hard concrete is undeniably the worst. If you do plan to run or walk on concrete, make sure to adjust the distance and frequency of your runs and walks to ensure you are not over-doing it.  If you can choose a different terrain, even better!

The best remedy for shin splints is rest. While you are healing, feel free to take up a no-impact activity that won’t aggravate your shin splints while they heal, for example swimming or cycling.  However, if your shin splints don’t get better, or if they come back, your doctor may suggest you see a physical therapist. They can treat issues in your legs or the way you move that could be the cause of the problem. A therapist can also help ease the pain and guide your return to more activity. Your doctor can also check to make sure you don’t have tiny cracks in your tibia, commonly called a stress fracture.

But of course, the very best solution to shin splints is prevention!

Stretching and practicing correct biomechanics are two of the most basic ways to prevent the development of shin splints. Calf strengthening and calf stretches are especially important. Tight calves pull on the tibia, which then causes pain in the shin. Remember, if you want to prevent having tight calves – you need to stretch, stretch, stretch!

And don’t forget about your shoes! It’s a great idea to have several pairs of good athletic shoes, and regularly rotate the pair you use. Having at least two pairs of shoes “in rotation” and any given time help you avoid stress on your shins and joints. Remember that running and walking shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles. And the harder the surfaces you run and walk on (i.e. concrete) the more likely you will need new shoes at 300 miles versus 500.  

5 Lessons to Learn from Fitness Failure

Fitness journeys are almost never linear.  Ups and downs in a fitness journey are as predictable as ups and downs in life. Instead of thinking of fitness backslides as failures, consider them building blocks for the healthy habits that will help you be even more successful in your lifelong fitness journey. Below are five lessons you can learn from making exercise a habit.

Learn to Embrace Failure (and Even Strive for It)

If you never fail, how will you know what your current limits are? And how will you know when you eventually break through them? So many of us (myself definitely included!) sandbag ourselves by not wanting to see how far we can actually go by reaching to the point of failure. Maybe it is because we were taught when we were young that failure was “bad” and something to be avoided. But that is not true. Failure just means that you tried as hard as you could and went as far as you could go FOR NOW. Setting goals and developing a plan to reach them is a way a to learn to eventually break through that failure in the future. Albert Einstein is quoted as having said “if you have never failed, you have never tried anything new”.

Learn to Adapt

Not all plans work. Just because you set a goal and have a plan, does not mean you will succeed. In her book, A Woman Makes a Plan, 71 year-old supermodel Maye Musk (mother of entrepreneur Elon and two other children) gives the following advice: “If your plan isn’t working, make a new plan”.  Learning to adapt is important not only in fitness, but in life. Learning to adapt makes us stronger and more successful individuals. If what you are currently doing is not working for you (in fitness or otherwise), it may be time to try something new.

Learn to Prioritize

Instead of getting overwhelmed, learn how to work on one thing at a time. There are so many things to learn when trying to acquire a new habits and skills. Take one step at the time. Have you ever tried to get to from the bottom to the top of a flight of stairs in one step? We all know it does not work that way. You have to step on each individual step to get to the top of the staircase. Trying to skip steps (both literally and figuratively) will dramatically increase your chances of injury.

Learn to Listen to Your Body

Our bodies talk to us all the time. Often, we interpret what they say as “I can’t do this” or “I’m too old” or “I’m too out of shape”. But what if our interpretation is wrong? What if what they really are saying is in fact tips to help us do better, feel younger, and get into better shape? Your body know what it needs. Maybe when it talks to you it is trying to communicate what it needs.  

My cat Jake has a habit of nipping at my calf when he wants something. It is a super annoying (and sometimes painful) habit, I hate it, and I am doing everything I can to teach him to abandon the habit. However, I must admit, that after he nips at me (and he only ever does it once at the time), I start paying more attention to him and trying to figure out what he needs. While getting nipped may be very unpleasant for me, it is very effective for him. He eventually gets what he wants!

So maybe that back pain you have been experiencing is your body’s way of telling you that you need to strengthen your core muscles. Maybe that pain in the bottom of your foot is your body’s way of encouraging you to stretch your calves more often. And maybe that tightness in your jaw is your body telling you to focus more on self-care.

Learn How to Be (and Stay) Consistent

There is a saying in the fitness world: the only bad workout is the one you did not do. Not every workout can be great, but every workout teaches you something and benefits you in some way. Even bad days have their place in life. Learn to see the good in everything you do (even if it feels like a failure) because staying consistent will eventually help you reach your goals. Quitting never does.

5 Tips for Better Sleep Quality

How have you been sleeping lately?

I have been feeling more tired than usual lately. So, I have been thinking a lot about how to get not only more hours of sleep, but how to get more quality sleep. My trusty Garmin watch not only tracks my workouts, it also tracks my sleep patterns. But what does it all mean?

Here’s what the typical sleep cycle looks like:

  • Light sleep (non-REM): During this phase, you fall asleep, but you can more easily wake up.
  • Deep sleep (non-REM): This is the type of sleep your body needs to feel rested in the morning. If you wake up during deep sleep, you are likely to feel groggy at first.
  • REM sleep: After deep sleep, rapid eye movement sleep begins, which is characterized by your eyes moving behind your eyelids. This is when you dream and, if you wake up during this cycle, you may remember your dream. This stage should occupy 20-25% of your total sleep time.

Studies conducted with healthy adults have shown that better sleep is associated with a multitude of improved cognitive functions, including better learning and memory. Although the exact mechanisms behind the relationship between sleep and memory are still unknown, the general understanding is that specific connections in your brain that were active during awake-periods are strengthened during sleep, allowing for the consolidation of memory.

Poor sleep has been shown to lead to a decline in cognitive functions. Interestingly, research has shown that the cognitive performance of a person who has been awake for 17 hours is equivalent to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05%. In other words, your ability to think clearly has been proven to be actually impaired when you are sleep-deprived.

We all have felt the negative effects of sleep deprivation, but getting good quality sleep is not as simple as just staying in bed longer. Here are 5 tips to actually help you improve your sleep quality:


According to Max Kerr, DDS, a dental sleep expert at, engaging in purposeful movement throughout the day is one of the best ways to ensure you sleep well at night.


An hour before bedtime, develop a calming routine that you can look forward to throughout the day. Things like reading (something non-work related, of course!), meditating or simply writing down some things you are grateful for are all good options.

On the flip side, this is not a good time to check your social media or work on clearing out your email inbox as these can potentially increase stress, worry or strong emotions. “When we use social media or check the news, we don’t know what we will be exposed to and which emotions it will give rise to, and it’s easy to get stuck for too long,” says sleep expert Frida Rångtell, PhD.

Also, eating or drinking too close to bedtime causes our body to focus on digestion when it really should be shifting into a state of relaxation. This is especially true when it comes to alcohol or a nightly glass of wine, which may help you get to bed but disrupts your REM cycle, which will reduce your sleep quality. The more time between consuming alcohol and your bedtime, the better.

Take time before getting into bed to allow your body to get into a state of relaxation so that you can fall asleep and stay asleep easier.


About an hour before bed is a great time to wash away the stress of the day, according to one research analysis published in Sleep Medicine ReviewsExperts found either a warm bath or shower pre-sleep can improve your sleep quality and help you fall asleep. Just make sure that your body temperature has time to return to normal before your head hits the pillow.


Make sure your bed is used only for sleep, and that it is ready for you when you decide to get into it. That may involve taking off a few pillows or swapping out a blanket that will make you most comfortable for the day’s temperature inside your home, depending on the season. “When you create a conditioned response that the bed is only used for sleep, it allows your brain to create an association between bed and sleep,” says Annie Miller, LCSW. “So, avoid reading in bed, watching TV in bed, and even snoozing your alarm in bed for too long in the morning.”


Be patient with yourself & give yourself grace. Instead of focusing on how little sleep you may get and worrying about the situation, think positive thoughts. “Soothe negative thoughts about sleep by understanding that you will be OK if you don’t sleep well that night,” says Miller. “Before bedtime, try to redirect your mind to other, more positive things.”

Relaxation does not always come automatically. Give yourself time to learn how to relax the mind and handle your emotions. “For instance, using mindfulness relaxation techniques and scheduling time for reflection can all be great,” says Rångtell. “Be gentle with your bedtime buffer zone, and allow yourself some time to get used to your new routine.”

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has sprung! The weather is getting warmer…and you know what that means! Summer is just around the corner. Really. It is! It’s coming!  And that means it is time to start thinking about carrying a water bottle when you go out for even a short walk or run. But how much should you drink? In other words, how much hydration do you need?

You may have heard of the 8 x 8 rule: everyone should drink eight 8 oz glasses of water a day. It turns out that while that may be easy to remember, it is an over generalization. This guidance was developed with the intent of being easy to remember and being suitable for people of “average height and weight”. But, of course, “average” is not an absolute.

According the Mayo Clinic, the following factors influence the amount of hydration your body needs:

  • Exercise

If you do any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to cover the fluid loss. It’s important to drink water before, during and after a workout.

  • Environment

Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional fluid intake. Dehydration also can occur at high altitudes.

  • Overall health

Your body loses fluids when you have a fever, vomiting or diarrhea. Bladder infections and urinary tract infections may also require you to increase hydration.

  • Pregnancy or breast-feeding 

Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated.

In short, all of thing being equal, exercising in a hot or humid environment will increase your hydration needs.

Hydration, however, does not only refer to what you drink. Many foods also provide hydration. For example, fruits and vegetables such as watermelon and spinach, are almost 100 percent water by weight. In addition, beverages such as milk, juice and herbal teas are composed mostly of water.

Should I be drinking sports drinks instead of water while exercising?

Another common rule you may be familiar with is that sports drinks should be used when you’re exercising intensely for more than an hour. These drinks help replace electrolytes lost through perspiration and sugar needed for energy during longer workouts. However, if you want to avoid processed sugar, you can replenish electrolytes with other products, such as Nuun.  Nuun is one of many brands of electrolyte replacement tablets. I have not noticed significant differences among the different brands based on my personal experience. I tend to choose based on the flavors each brand has available. Each quickly dissolvable tablet can be added to a 16oz bottle of water and provides a flavored, sometimes fizzy taste. For those of you who do not like drinking plain water because of the way it tastes, flavored electrolyte replacement tablets like Nuun can make the water taste more interesting, which will help you to hydrate more than you would otherwise.

Each Nuun tablet contains the following active ingredients:

  • Sodium (carbonates): 360.0 milligrams.
  • Potassium (bicarbonate): 100.0 milligrams.
  • Calcium (carbonate): 12.5 milligrams.
  • Magnesium (sulfate): 25.0 milligrams.
  • Vitamin C: 37.5 milligrams.
  • Vitamin B2: 500 micrograms.
  • Calories: 10.
  • Sugar: 1 gram.

While the popular sports drink Gatorade does not provide the same level of detail on its label, compare the 10 calories and 1 gram of sugar per 16 oz serving of Nuun to 16 oz of Gatorade, which has 100 calories and 24 grams of sugar.

What about energy drinks such as Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar?

Energy drinks are different from sports drinks. Energy drinks generally are not formulated to replace electrolytes. Energy drinks usually contain large amounts of caffeine or other stimulants, sugar, and other additives. Whether or not you choose to drink energy drinks in your daily life, they are not recommended for use during athletic activities including walking and running.

Is more of a good thing always a good thing, or can you drink too much water?

It is possible to drink too much water. While this is usually uncommon, it is more common in athletes (and yes, you are an athlete!) than in the general population since athletes are very concerned with replacing the fluids lost during exercise, especially in hot and humid environments. When your kidneys can’t excrete the excess water, the sodium content of your blood becomes diluted leading to a condition called hyponatremia, which can be life-threatening.

How do you know if you a hydrated, dehydrated (not enough fluids) or overhydrated (too much fluid)?

Your urine should be a pale, yellow color. Dark urine (like the color of apple juice) indicates that you may be dehydrated and should hydrate more. On the flip side, completely clear urine does not necessarily indicate they you have overhydrated.  However, a good way to avoid hyponatremia is to make sure you are consuming sodium in addition to water when exercising, rather than just water alone. By including some sodium, you can ensure the sodium content of your blood does not get diluted to the point of hyponatremia. You can accomplish this by including oranges or watermelon slices in your hydration plan, if possible. Or you can carry salty snacks such as nuts, pretzels, and potato chips to consume with water while you exercise. While these are all awesome options for hiking, you may find it difficult to carry them on your long runs.  The portability of sport drinks and electrolyte replacement tablets make them ideal for scenarios when you are not carrying a cooler or backpack.

The Surprising Appeal of Endurance Sports

I recently read an article by Brad Stulberg, author of the column Science of Performance in Outside Magazine and of the book Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success in which he discusses the popularity of endurance sports among knowledge workers. Running USA surveys conducted in 2015 and 2017 found that about 85 percent of runners work in white-collar, service, or educational settings. What is it about running and other endurance sports that attracts them?

Endurance sports are those activity that require you to keep physically moving over a relatively long period of time. Classic examples include running, swimming and cycling among summer sports, and cross-country skiing or speed skating among winter sports.  Knowledge workers, on the other hand, are those who (simply put) think for a living. Examples include programmers, physicians, pharmacists, architects, engineers, scientists, design thinkers, public accountants, lawyers, and business owners. It seems somewhat counter-intuitive that the very people who are so attracted to endurance sports are the same people who regularly use their minds more than their bodies.  But, is it really counter-intuitive?

The hypothesis is that endurance sports offer something that most modern-day knowledge economy professions do not: the chance to pursue a clear and measurable goal with a direct line back to the work people have put in. In his book Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work, philosopher Matthew Crawford writes that “despite the proliferation of contrived metrics,” most knowledge economy jobs suffer from “a lack of objective standards.” What does it mean to succeed in the knowledge economy?

If you are a business owner, for example, how do you measure your success?  Is success measured by how much money you make, how many people you serve, how happy your clients are, how happy you are, something else, a combination of things?   The answer, of course, is…it depends.  And even if you do know the answer to that question, it is still difficult to measure and is very subjective. Endurance sports, on the other hand, are quite straight forward. If you set out to walk one mile, you know at the end if you succeeded or not. If you set out to climb a hill or a mountain, you know whether or not you got to the top. And for people who deal with ambiguity day in and day out, that can be very satisfying.

If you follow me on social media, you know I am currently participating in the virtual Get to Sesame Street Challenge. The goal is to walk/run/hike/cycle/rollerblade/skip/any-other-similar-activity-you-enjoy for 500 miles. Each 50-100 miles, you reach a new milestone and earn a new pin depicting a different Sesame Street character. Objectively, this sounds pretty pointless for us grown-ups, and tracking the miles could be considered a pain in the … well, you know. Before the COVID-19 lockdown, I never would have considered participating in this type of event. However, after more than a year of not being able to participate in an in-person race, I reconsidered. In a world where everything is unpredictable, it can be really soothing to get out and walk and know that I have a goal to work towards. I can completely control whether or not I reach that goal. And I can measure my objective progress each and every day. The fact that having a goal like this encourages me to walk rather than drive to places like the supermarket is pretty good for my health and wellness too, which is icing on the cake.  As of today, I only have 24.5 miles left until I get to Grover, the 500-mile mark. And I’m really excited about it! What objective goal did you set for yourself (and achieve!) today?

Reaching Goals & Having Fun

On February 28th, the Finding Joy in Motion celebrated another graduation! Nine ladies finished the program and five of them were able to come to Healdsburg to celebrate. While public, in-person racing still has not returned to California, we were able to do our own, socially distanced walk through the vineyards of the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County. There is a reason that this program is called Finding Joy in Motion. The ladies all looked so happy and joyful at the start, the finish and (from the pictures they shared) during the walk as well. This is NOT the “no-pain-no-gain” program. As you probably know from my emails and posts, I am NOT into suffering while I run and walk. I am all about having FUN! And that is what this program is about too. It is about starting where you are and making progress from there. It is about helping you get to where you want to be.  It is about learning to listen to you body and understanding what it is telling you. It is about learning to trust that your body is capable of taking you where you want to go. It is about developing a partnership with your body so that you can live the life of your dreams. Whatever you dream of doing, you are going to need a strong body in order to do it.

You may have heard my personal story: I am the kid who failed gym class. I come from a family with absolutely no athletic “talent”. But you know what? You do not need “talent” to go out and have fun. Anyone can do it, and it is never too late to start! That is one of the reasons I originally chose walking as my sport of choice. We all know how to do it. And we can all learn to do it more efficiently, with more ease and with less potential pain or injury.  Running, hiking, and walking are all the same sport at different speeds on different terrain. If you can walk, you can choose to hike or run. Or you can choose not to. It’s all good and it’s all up to you! The important thing is that you keep moving. A body in motion stays in motion and gets to fill its bucket list. A body at rest stays at rest and eventually atrophies. Getting older does not have to mean getting frailer. My metabolic indicators are better today, at the age of 54, then they were when I was 34. Age is just a number. What matters is how you FEEL and what that enables you to do.

The Finding Joy in Motion program is about being part of a supportive, engaging, and motivating community that will help you reach your goals. It is about learning HOW to reach your goals. I have been studying the latest in training methodology, sports research, and sports psychology for the past 15 years. And it is about learning how to STICK with your goals, just like these ladies did. You can see some of their photos here.

The next session of Finding Joy in Motion starts next Tuesday, March 16 at 5:30pm Pacific/8:30pm Eastern. If you think this is something you may be interested in, I would love to chat with you one on one about YOUR personal goals.

Join Me!

I’m excited to be part of the  3rd Annual Legendary Women of Influence Virtual Event.
I attended this event last year and LOVED IT! I am super excited to have been invited to be part of it this year. I will be leading a session on movement that will help you make adjustments to your body mechanics that will help you walk, sit, and stand more comfortably. Perfect to help you build endurance for all those zoom calls!

Are you ready for some new motivation and exciting conversation? Are you craving some nurturing and uplifting Me Time with women business owners?

Come experience this awesome event with us on Saturday, March 20th from 10:00 – 4:00, doors open at 9:30 am PST. Music, Networking and FUN with the best female speakers in their industries.

Some of the things that we’ll talk about: 

  • Where do I start in taking my personal development to the next level?
  • How do I take my business to the next level?
  • What technology do I need to know?
  • What community or connections do I need to make?
  • How do I take my hobby or creative idea and turn it into a second revenue stream?
  • Is this truly realistic and possible for me?

This is the Legendary Women of Influence Forum!

At this forum, our entrepreneurial expert speakers will share life-changing tips and motivation for women seeking to start their own entrepreneurial journey or who want to embrace their soul mission by serving others.

Even if you don’t have experience or you’re not tech-savvy, this forum will allow you to overcome your obstacles and give you an expeditious roadmap to success. These experts have assisted over 25K women to start their own thriving businesses!

By attending this forum you will learn:

  • How to host your own “Live Virtual Events”
  • How to “Speak with Influence”
  • How to Power-up Your Publicity in 2021
  • Even how to Shine Your Light!! Learn to Be Comfortable and Confident STANDING OUT!!!
  • And SO much more!!!


I have a limited number of discount tickets for those who register before March 14th.

Here is how to register:

1. Click this link to register:

2. Click on tickets.

3. Enter the discount code right at the top of that page where it says “Enter Promo Code” (very tiny Blue print!!)

4. Use the code: Carla20 to get a $20 Discount. This sale ends Midnight March 14th. 

I hope to see you there! 

What would YOU attempt if you knew you could not fail?

I’m the kid who failed gym class. It’s not easy to fail gym class, because basically all you have to do to pass is show up and participate. I failed because I never showed up and never tried. You may be thinking that I never showed up because I did not enjoy it, or I did not want to get all hot and sweaty. But frankly, I never knew whether I would enjoy it or not. I never showed up and did not try because I was afraid to try. I was afraid of looking foolish. I was afraid of what the other kids would think. I was afraid people would make fun of me. In short, I was afraid of failure. So, I never even tried. As I got older, however, I realized that it is through trial and error that we learn. And through trial, error and learning is how we eventually succeed. Failure happens when we stop trying, not when we start.

That is one of the motivations that inspired me to train to walk my first marathon nearly 15 years ago. I had always enjoyed walking, so I decided to keep walking for 26.2, flat miles. Kind of like Forrest Gump, I started walking and just kept going. I had such a good time training and then completing that first marathon, that I kept going. I signed up for more marathons. As my fitness improved, I eventually started running and hiking hilly terrain. I discovered that I loved hiking! I had never experienced rugged nature before because I was always afraid—afraid I would get lost; afraid I would get hurt; afraid I would not have the stamina to finish. What I learned over that time was that these are skills that can be learned. I could learn how to navigate difficult terrain. I could learn how to prevent injury.  I could learn to improve my stamina and endurance. And as I started learning and becoming more confident in myself, I starting experiencing amazing things that I never would have ever dreamed of when I was the kid who failed gym class.

Shortly before my 52nd birthday, I decided to hike Half Dome, an 8,800 ft monolith in Yosemite National Park. The hike was gorgeous and I was enjoying every minute of it, until I got to the bottom of the famous cables. The last 400 feet of the hike to the top are so steep that the National Park Service has installed cables to help people up and keep them from falling off the side of the mountain. I knew this when I signed up for the hike and I was prepared. I had trained for the terrain. I had brought gloves to help me navigate the cables. I had mentally prepared. Or so I thought. When I stood at the bottom of the cables, looking straight up, I lost my nerve. I lost all my self-confidence. It felt as if my heart had stopped beating. Of course, my heart did not really stop beating, because I was still standing there, looking straight up, terrified. I thought about quitting. I thought about turning around, hiking the almost 14 miles back down to the parking lot, and going home.

And then I thought about all the people who knew I was going to Half Dome that weekend. I thought about the people who had seen me training with a 40 lb backpack for months before the trip. I thought about what I was going to say when they asked me how it went. I could have told them that it was an epic hike and that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I could leave out the part about how I turned around at the bottom of the cables. After all, who would know? It was only 400 ft. What did the last 400 ft matter? The same fear I had as a kid—the fear of looking foolish, the fear of people judging me, the fear of being laughed at—all kicked in again. Now, in reality, none of these people would actually do that. They were my friends and they would all be supportive of me no matter what I chose to do. But my brain was not working and I was not thinking clearly. So, I took a deep breath, grabbed the cables, and started climbing.

I took one step. And then another. And by the time I took the third step, my brain let go of its panic and started working again. That is when I realized that…this was…easy! I had trained for this and my body was completely prepared. Physically, it was not even the slightest bit challenging.  To think, just a few minutes earlier, I was ready to completely give up and go home. Life is like that too. Have you ever had that feeling that paralyzed you from starting something new, but once you got going, it was not that bad at all?

Four hundred feet later, I made it to the top, just in time to watch an amazing sunset from the top of Half Dome, 8,800 ft above the valley floor. It was one of the most epic experiences of my life. Actually, I should say it was one of the most epic experiences of my life so far, because who knows what will happen next? We can only fail when stop trying. Everything else along the way is a learning experience.

The View from the Top

Progress isn’t Linear

A fitness routine, just like life itself, is a process. There are good days, bad days, and everything in between. It is not a linear progression. Oh, how I wish life would get a little bit better every day, day after day. But life doesn’t work like that and neither does a fitness routine.

A friend of mine told me she had a really great run last week. She ran her fastest pace ever. Then what did she do the next? She ran the same route again hoping for an even faster time the next day.  She wasn’t faster and she was disappointed. “I guess it was just a fluke,” she said.

Wait… What??? It wasn’t a fluke! It was a great day! Why would you call it a “fluke”?

When you have a great day in life, do you expect every subsequent day to be better than the last?  And if it isn’t, do you just discount the good day you did have as a fluke? Of course not!

Progress in a fitness routine is not linear. A very accomplished runner I follow on Instagram recently posted that it took her three years to shave 13 seconds off her (already fast) pace. Only one year later, she managed to shave a whopping 45 seconds off her pace. Since I’m a recovering accountant, let me break down the math for you: that is more than three times as fast in only one third the time. What she did not post, however, is whether every run after that was at the same faster pace. I am more than willing to bet that it was not. Runners often refer to their PR (personal record) or PB (personal best) time for a certain race distance. Achieving a PR is an awesome feeling. However, once you achieve a PR, it does not necessarily follow that you can always maintain that pace in each subsequent run. That is why it is called a personal record.

Many things can affect your workouts. Just a few include the weather, what you ate the night before, what you ate in the morning, how hydrated you are, how well-rested you are, and even your mood. Each workout is its own unique experience just like each day in your life.  One of my favorite running quotes is

Good runs give you happiness

Bad runs give you experience

Worst runs give you lessons

Best runs give you memories

I have seen this quote many times in many different places yet it is never attributed to an author. This is probably because it sums up every runner’s experience and no one knows who said it first. And if you yourself are not a runner, try substituting the word “workout” or the word “day” for “run”. I bet it still holds true.