Admittedly, I haven’t trained for a full marathon yet. I’ve trained for (and run) several halfs, though, and read a lot about going the full 26.2. And I have been working on paying down my student loans (thankfully the only debt I have) for longer than I care to think about. The two processes feel very similar. Here are a few examples of how.
Training – to run nearly 27 miles, you have to put in the work. Not only does your body need to build endurance and muscle to run for that long, your brain needs to learn how to push through barriers and shut down the part of you that says “I can’t.” Paying down debt is the same way – no matter how much or how little, there’s always a part in your head full of doubt. Retraining your mind to think you can conquer your big goals – student loan payoff, running a marathon, or anything else that seems insurmountable can be accomplished if you get your mind right.
It sucks – I can’t think of any runner who hasn’t thought this at least once. On a less than stellar run, during speed work or hill repeats, or even during Couch to 5k, we’ve all been there. Throwing money at debt also sucks – you have to make sacrifices and skip out on things you might want right now, and there’s nothing fun about that.
It’s expensive – I’ve covered the costs associated with running before, and that barely begins to cover marathon entry fees for some of the bigger races. (Go on, Google it – I’ll wait while you pick your jaw up off the ground.) There are costs associated with paying off loans, too – interest rates and late fees can increase already high monthly payments.
Research – everyone’s an expert on the internet, but for running and finance, this can be a good thing. Not every method works for every person, but if you read enough blogs and magazines, you’re sure to find a running method and payoff strategy that suits your style. And while sometimes it’s daunting to look at payoff success stories and feel like you’ll never be able to match their success, it’s also empowering to see that it is possible.
What big goals have you accomplished? Do you think paying off debt and running a marathon are comparable?
When I started running a year and a half ago, I was still under a cloud of illusion that I could simply start running to clear my head. It seemed cheap, self-explanatory, and was something I could do in solitude. I’ve learned a whole lot in those 18 months, so here are just a few things that no one told me about running when I first started:
It is expensive! From entry fees (if you are running for bling and beer, like me) to gear, I have easily spent $1,000 on running since I started in October 2012. Shoes need replacing every few hundred miles, and there’s nothing worse than having to hold up your pants while you run (which happened to me in my first 5k!)
You can gain weight: especially if you’re a distance runner. The more I found myself running (miles or times per week, it didn’t matter), the more calories I was downing (and the more runger I was combatting.) I have found a happy medium now between running, eating, and cross-training to continue losing weight, but I never expected to gain weight while doing such high-intensity cardio.
You will NOT look cute: see above collage for proof of this! I never had any illusions that I looked like Pamela Anderson on the beach as I huffed and puffed away on the treadmill, but I didn’t think I looked like a shapeless blob shuffling along race courses (until I saw the pictures from Rock ‘n Roll.)
It’s addictive: the runner’s high is not a myth, people. Craig Finn, frontman of my favorite band, wrote a song on the newest record about it, and in an interview said “I’ve found a runner’s high to be one of the safest, cheapest, and most durable highs.” Coming from a band who built their persona around being a druggy bar band, I think that says something.
It’s really hard not to become “that person” on Facebook. You know the ones – always talking about their long runs and posting intimidating “motivational” pictures every morning. I’m not really a braggy person (believe it or not) and that type of post doesn’t sit well with me. Most of my friends don’t care if I ran six miles before I came to work, so I save it for the blogs.
You need to learn a new vocabulary. Yasso 800s, BQ, brick… these are things that pop up in every training program and on nearly every running blog. In October 2012, I couldn’t have told you what any of them meant (and I’m still not really sure what a fartlek is.)
There’s a whole community of people who want to help you, teach you, and befriend you. As independent as running is, I never expected to find great friends like I have found. Anytime I have a question about running (or fitness in general,) I can hit up any number of Facebook groups, drop by #runchat, or tweet a general question for an instant reply. The support is incredible and there’s a whole host of resources literally at your fingertips.
When I first started running, I was really overwhelmed by.. well, almost everything. Running itself is very intuitive – obviously, you just put on some clothes and go outside and put one foot in front of the other. That part was easy for me. What complicated it was when I started to read about it – what is NUUN? Do I need to spend $60 on a sports bra? Do I need to spend $150 on SHOES?! I’ve had to kind of laugh over the last few months as my friends have started to ask me how I got into running, what my advice is, things like that. When did I turn into someone who knows about running? While I’m certainly no expert, I have picked up some tips and tricks over the last year.
Shoes: Go to a specialty store to get fitted for running shoes, and be ready to pay over $100. It will be worth it! They’ll watch you walk and run around the store doing a gait analysis to figure out what type of runner you are (overpronator, underpronator, or neutral.) I definitely suggest a small local shop if there’s one in an hour drive of you – definitely steer clear of places like Dick’s or Foot Locker. If the shoe the staff originally suggests doesn’t feel right, tell them, and be specific on where it feels wrong. Be ready to have your heart broken when they say the design you are in love with is bad for your feet, or that the shoe they suggest doesn’t come in pink. (Me.)
Distance: I started on the elliptical, and by the time I was consistently logging 3 miles and feeling good, I moved over to the treadmill. I had been pretty sedentary for years before I finally decided to get off my duff, and if that’s true for you, please don’t lace up your shoes and try to go for a 3-mile sprint without any breaks or rests! I’ve directed many of my new-runner friends to apps with the Couch to 5k program, and I’m a big fan of Jeff Galloway (and now use his run-walk-run method myself.) Just listen to your body and if it hurts, especially when you’re starting, stop or slow down. It’s not worth getting hurt.
Clothing: If you take only two things away from this blog post, let them be these: a) GET FITTED FOR RUNNING SHOES! (yes, it really is that important.) and b) no, you do not need to pay $60 for a sports bra. I’ve tried expensive gear and more affordable stuff and I don’t see any difference really. You don’t even need to be spendy to get cute gear! I’ve gotten some of my favorite pieces from the bargain rack at Marshall’s, Target, and Old Navy. Be ready and willing to experiment – the brand that works for your favorite blogger might not be so good for you. I would say that if you’re running longer than about 5 miles, compression socks are a great second investment.
Accessories: The only real accessories I’d recommend for brand new runners would be headphones and maybe a good tracking app on your phone (Couch to 5k, Nike+, Map My Run, etc.) The more you get into it, you’ll figure out what you do or don’t need, so don’t go out and spend $50 on a Camelbak or a water belt – chances are you might not ever use one.
Nutrition: Nuun is an electrolyte replacement (like Gatorade, but with a lot less sugar) and it’s my friend after super sweaty gym sessions, and sweet potatoes energize me like nothing else. I would definitely recommend chocolate milk post-run: it’s great to replace much of what is lost through sweat and keep you from crashing and feeling crappy. If you’re just starting out or never plan to run anything longer than a 5 or 10k, you probably don’t need to worry too much about Sport Beans or GU. By the time you get to that point, you’ll have done so much reading that you’ll know when and how to refuel!
Motivation: This is going to be different for everyone, but I discovered pretty quickly that I am motivated by one thing: fear. Whether it’s fear that I’m going to be last in a race or that I’m going to lose out on $70 entry fees, I feel like fear is one of the chief motivators for me! I’m also motivated by cute new race outfits, bling, and being better than the people who made fun of me in high school. How many of them are running half marathons? (The answer is two.)
Of course these are just a few suggestions and ideas to get you out the door and on the road to feeling like a runner! Are you a new or seasoned runner? What advice do you have for those who are just starting their journey?
Surprise – I’m getting married! I’ve been (sort of?) quietly dating my partner for two years, and over the summer, we got engaged. The wedding industry is toxic and wild – but that’s probably a rant for a different day. Rather than authoring another thinkpiece about it, I wanted to compile some posts I wish I’d been able to find as I started planning this out. It’s hard to find affordable dresses, plus size dresses that aren’t just cupcake-y and chiffon, and very much advice or ideas on how to plan a non-traditional wedding.
Of course David’s Bridal is always a good source of dresses for plus and straight sizes, but I found a lot of them to be pricier than I anticipated they’d be. As I continue to research and plan my wedding, I keep stumbling upon disparate lists of great plus size bridal gown choices, so I thought I’d organize some together and share them here today!
Florave is an online startup that thinks carefully about their designs and details, and finds inspiration in fashionable celebrities. Their full-price dresses tend to be between $1500 and $3000, but there are some in a more budget-friendly range, like the K. Switzer. If you like a more classic silhouette, check them out for some affordable plus size wedding dress options!
Before I started wedding dress shopping, I imagined BHLDN to be wildly overpriced, like their sister store, Anthropologie. A few months into shopping and I now know they’re actually some of the more affordable options out there! In addition to their affordability, they’re also pretty size-inclusive, which also shocked me. They have gorgeous options, a range of designers, and sizes from 00 to 30. I did two store visits (with wildly different experiences each time,) but they’re definitely worth a look – right now, their sale section has pages of gorgeous options for under $500!
I wish I had done more research on Amazon before buying my dress – I love it, but there are so many gorgeous options on Amazon for crazy, inexpensive prices. Many gowns are made up to size 26W and almost all sellers I’ve seen also offer custom size options. Purchasing a gown on Amazon and then getting any necessary alterations is almost certainly more inexpensive than many of the more popular plus size wedding dress lines!
Show Me Your Mumu is one of my favorite stores, and their wedding lines are just as boho, California-casual as the rest of their line. With options for brides, maids, and guests up to size 3X, even their most expensive gown is under $400.
Nordstrom does have a dedicated wedding dress shop, but with some creativity, you can also find some “regular” dresses that fit the bill. Setting the filters to “white” or “ivory” in a dress search opens up lots of options in both straight and plus sizes – and since they aren’t classified as “wedding” dresses, you’ll automatically see some lower prices.
With sizes up to 5X, Unique Vintage was my biggest regret as far as not finding them in advance of buying my dress. Their styles range from Hepburn-inspired, ’20’s flappers, and 50’s rockabilly, to brides wanting more modern lace and fitted mermaid gown looks. Their sale section has many dresses under $100, and they often team up with other brands like Barbie for even more unique styles!
Torrid only recently started breaking into “special occasion” dresses for plus size women, growing their already stellar lineup of clothes. With price points below $200 and frequent discount codes, they’re a must-look for plus brides in search of a more casual wedding dress.
I recently got a treadmill desk! For about a year I’d been heavily considering it, trying to determine which model would be the best option, deciding if such a major purchase was even feasible (I do move around a lot, after all.) The Nordictrac Treadmill Desk was my pick, for reasons including reputation and speed (it goes to 6mph, meaning I can use it for running as well as work,) but there are plenty of other more portable and space-saving options out there. When I moved to Chicago, my workout gear took a severe hit – since I wasn’t running much in Nashville, I had gotten rid of a lot of my gear. An in-home treadmill begs for a wardrobe of sweat-wicking saviors, though, so I did a stockpile splurge to re-up. Here are some of my new faves and what I love so much about them!
icyZone Racerback Workout Tanks: I have a long torso, so it’s often hard for me to find shirts that are long enough to be comfortable – let alone workout tops that are comfortable. When these came up on an Amazon search, I liked the colors a lot, so I nabbed them. They’re the perfect length and look really great. After years of wearing lululemon, I can also attest that the quality of these rival many of my Swiftlys.
EMY Strappy Sports Bras: A lot of my shirts have open backs, catering to bras with cute back styles. They’re expensive, though, so these are another thing I’ve let my drawer skimp on. This pack of five for $30 is not only comfortable and true-to-size, but the removable padding also helps my poor undersized girls feel a little more confident. (Okay, so maybe it’s me that they help. Either way.)
Saucony Sport Socks: Along with my long torso and undersized breasts, I have gigantic Dutch feet. It can often be hard to find affordable socks that fit my size 12’s – most women’s athletic socks are only sized to 10, so they come up only midway on my heels. These are thick and comfy, and almost oversized – I’m sure they’d be great for people with normal sized feet, but if you feel like yours are bigger than average, these are the socks for you.
c9 High Waisted Capri Leggings: All high-waisted everything, all c9 everything. My daily pants for the last three years or so have been c9’s high-waist full-length leggings, but since I prefer to work out in capris, I have quite a few of the junior versions in my drawer as well. The high waist is comfortable and makes me feel a little skinny, and c9 always has stylish options for their gear, like the lattice details on this pair.
Contigo Autoseal Water Bottle: My ADIDAS water bottle is finally starting to give up the ghost, but it’s fine, because bf got me the best and fanciest replacement a few months ago. This water bottle is insulated so it keeps things super cold for a long time – even overnight – and it doesn’t leak at all. The handle is really handy too, so when I’m carrying my mobile office (you know, my computer, charger, phone, Kindle, bullet journal, etc. etc.) from the treadmill to the outdoor office, it’s easy to hook it onto my pinky and tote it around.