May 24, 2011

This blog post has been running through my mind all day...

I realize that the only people who will be laughing at the title of this post are myself and the wonderful Sarah Beard, but I am totally okay with that!

I also realize I said I was going to write this post about 2 weeks ago, but it didn't happen... Oops! I checked my stats, so I know there are a good handful of you who are just chomping at the bit to absorb the wealth of knowledge I possess about running. (Ha!) But before I begin, I should remind everyone that I am merely a beginner who is willing to share what I've learned along the way. If you actually want to learn expert things about running you should ask Coach Tim Fritson. Off we go!

Before you begin running...

1. Accept the fact that you will most likely sweat, trip, get rained on, spit, fall, get chased by dogs, blow snot rockets into your shirt, swallow bugs, and be sore.
Once you've come to terms with all of those things, you'll be good to go!

2. Make sure you have comfortable running shoes.
I started out running in my 5-pound New Balance tennies circa 2005. Not only did people in the gym wonder who let the one-woman stampede hop on the treadmill, but it felt like I was wearing a pair of bricks. Lightweight shoes are best.

3. Set a reasonable, but challenging goal.
I have a really busy schedule, so I decided that running 3 times each week would require me to be intentional about managing my time, but give me enough flexibility to actually accomplish my goal. Once you have decided on a commitment, follow through! Don't make excuses or talk yourself out of it. It's going to be hard at first, and you will probably want to resign. But just decide from the get-go that you are not going to be a quitter, and then don't give up!

Once you've walked out the door, or arrived at the gym, or popped in your Skull Candy...

4. Start small.
My good friend Laurie encouraged me to download an app called "Couch to 5K" when she heard that I wanted to start running.

I loved it! It is a 9 week program that slowly builds you up from 90-second spurts of running, to a full 30 minutes.

It seemed silly at first to only run for a minute and a half at a time, but I think this was SUPER beneficial for me to not get discouraged. Because if you are like me, you would probably just hop out your front door one morning and totally expect to be able to run a quick 2-miler no sweat, then get really irritated when you find yourself gasping for air about 3 minutes later.

5. Base your workouts on minutes, not miles.
I didn't ask the expert about this one, so I could be totally off, but I think worrying about mileage should come secondary to practicing endurance. Once you are accustomed to running "x" amount of minutes each day, you can gradually increase your speed, and distance, as well as the amount of time you run.

6. Divide your workout into thirds.
This little tidbit did come directly from the expert, so you can feel safe about following along. Let's say you are going to run 15 minutes today. Your workout should go as follows:
1st 5 mins: a leisurely, feels-kind-of-slow pace
2nd 5 mins: a comfortable, yet picking-up-speed pace
3rd 5 mins: a challenging, go-hard-or-go-home pace
It sounds like it wouldn't really work, but I was surprised to find that I had way more energy at the end of my runs if I completed them in this fashion. The main thing you definitely do not want to do is start off with your fastest pace, then slowly wear yourself down to a crawl. Not good.

Well there you have it! Beginner advice from a beginner runner. And now, because I like to over-share and bore everyone with nitty-gritty details, here are a couple of my personal workout faves:

Favorite jog-inducing jam: Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People (Remix)
Favorite running tool:
Favorite post-run snack: frozen berries and yogurt
Favorite place to run: through whatever yard has their sprinklers on
Your favorite part of this blog post: The End


May 10, 2011

Do Hard Things

I've done something this year that I am really proud of.

I am not, by nature, what most people would call "highly motivated." I am not lazy. I like to do things well, I meet goals, and I know the importance of diligence. But given the opportunity to avoid doing something difficult, I will typically take it and run. That's not to say I never make responsible decisions, but for most of my life I've lived under this philosophy: If you don't enjoy something, don't do it! While this may not be all wrong, I have learned (maybe a little later than most other adults) that sometimes growing up means that you just have to do hard things.

I distinctly remember having a conversation with my husband Tim several years ago about working hard. He was describing how, during track practice in college, runners would often end up vomiting after a particularly hard workout. Immediately I thought to myself "If you are running so hard that you're blowing chunks, then you are definitely working too hard..." I realized some time later that I had never actually put that much effort into anything in my life. And I'm not talking about working for many hours on an English paper and getting an 'A'. I'm talking about a lifestyle of self-discipline. I didn't really know the reward that comes from a good old-fashioned blood-sweat-and-tears kind of pursuit. It was not because I wanted to be a slacker, or I was scared of a challenge, or I was too lazy to get involved. It was because I became comfortable reaching for whatever was somewhat enjoyable and no more than an arm's length away.

Now, hear me correctly: there is nothing wrong with finding yourself a place in life and being satisfied. But there is a big difference between being satisfied and being complacent. I have always been pretty satisfied with my life, but that's mostly because if something looked kind of difficult or had the possibility of getting in the way of something fun, I would usually steer clear.

So I decided a few months ago that it was time for a challenge. Now don't laugh at me when I explain this, because I realize that in the grand scheme of life, this is kind of minuscule. But at the beginning of this year I decided that I was going to run. Nothing groundbreaking, but it was a big deal to me because I knew it was not going to be fun. I knew it was going to require me to work hard. And it did. Don't ask Tim how many times I fussed about getting out of bed on a Saturday morning to drive to the gym, or how often I compiled a list of all the other more-fun things I could think of doing than going for a run. But I ran anyway. And this is the part that makes me want to fist pump like Tiger Woods: I am still running anyway! I'm not super fast, and I don't run crazy far, but I do find so much joy in the accomplishment. I am learning to make a habit of doing something that is hard for me. And this is a really big deal for Melody Fritson.

P.S Check back later this week for more running info and a few tips for beginner runners like me!

May 4, 2011


It's not really a coincidence that my name is Melody. For my whole life I have been in love with music. At a very young age, singing became a huge part of who I am. My dad's whole family is very musical- my grandfather spent his life building and tuning pianos, directing the church choir, and teaching all 6 of his kids how to carry a tune. It wasn't until much later in life that I realized not every one sings Happy Birthday in 4-part harmony. My dad wrote little songs for each of my siblings and me when we were born, and I distinctly remember climbing into bed as a little girl, begging my dad to sing us some hymns before we fell asleep.

I have always loved to sing, but for the most part I was too shy to ever let anyone know that I could. It's not that I am a shy person, because if you know me at all you are probably aware that I have few reservations when it comes to social situations. But there was something that totally scared me about letting someone hear me sing. I was terrified to let something so integral to my being out in the open- vulnerable to negativity, and sarcasm, and condescension. So what did I do? I wrapped it up, nice and tight, in the dark and quite fabric of fear and selfishness- protected from the elements and any opportunity for growth. I sang quietly.

I still enjoyed it though, for what it was worth. As I grew older into high school and college, my desire to know and be musical did anything but shrink. And then I met Tim Fritson. A musical guy himself, he started to carefully unwrap all of those nasty fabrics I had so intentionally covered over my voice. One of the first times we hung out happened to be at Grand River Chapel on a local college campus. He brought his guitar and we sang and played the piano for hours. I was still in my cautious stage, so occasionally he would give me one of those "you're seriously going to just squeak out a mouse-like version of that chorus?" looks. I started to realize that purposefully hiding something that I love this much is more embarrassing than the possibility of falling short in someone else's eyes.

So I guess you could say I've gone through a re-upholstering of sorts. I'm not afraid to sing. I don't selfishly lock away my songs from The Creator who deserves to hear them the most. And Tim's most recent description of my singing?

"Fortissimo" - [fȯr-ˈti-sə-ˌmō] adj. 1. very loud

And it's true! I belt it out. And it's something that I will never apologize for. I have a reason to sing. I turn the music up as far as it goes. (Ask Tim how much he loves to get into my car after I've been jamming and the volume is still maxed out...) Just this weekend I blew out the speakers on our computer! And the very next day, I was getting so into my piano playing that I stomped the damper pedal right onto the floor! But I've learned that when you are doing something that brings you joy and gives glory to God, you'll never regret it. So sing!

May 2, 2011


I have debated for along time whether or not this blogging business is for me. I’m not a comedian, or expert, or motivational speaker. I don’t own an expensive camera that will capture beautiful images of delicately iced cupcakes that I whipped up in my pristine granite kitchen. I’m not an organic gardener, or classically trained musician. I don’t excel at sports, or have oodles of inspirational messages to share. I’m not a professional at anything except maybe eating and laughing.

And that got me thinking; what am I then? I am confident that I am something. I don’t believe God just sits around like a sweet grandma, knitting people together in their mother’s wombs so they can flutter around like shy birds for their entire lives. And it’s not that I wonder why I am alive. I don’t. I am very aware of the overall purpose for my life on earth. (See Colossians 1:10-12) But my problem is this: I am, without a doubt, the least introspective person on the planet. Ask my husband. I guarantee he knows way more about me that I do.

When we first started dating, there was a long stretch of time where I was meeting new people often- family members of his, coworkers of his, friends from college, friends from high school. I love meeting new people, so it was totally great! Until they would ask simple questions like “What do you like to do?” I would get so uncomfortable, as if expressing pieces of my personality was a foreign language. It dawned on me that I had never really taken the time to cultivate little interests or aspects of myself into something I could confidently claim.

Since that time 3 years ago I have done a better job of getting acquainted with my own interests, and passions, and hobbies, but sometimes I am still lacking in the introspection department. I know what I like and dislike, what I enjoy doing, what is life-giving to me, and what keeps me awake at night. But this “clueless Melody” scenario has played itself out in my life so many times. I don’t learn things about myself because I don’t spend time thinking and reflecting about them. I don’t learn things about God, and life, and purpose because I don’t spend time wondering about them.

To be honest, this is probably the fourth draft of this blog post I have written. (I am a perfectionist.) And after reading the first draft, Tim joked with me about whether I was going to title my blog “Adventures in Self Exploration.” No, this isn’t going to be some weird finding-myself-journal for lost souls. I know who I am- I’m Melody Cynthia Fritson. I may not have a title like “comedian,” or “photographer,” or “teacher,” but I am “wife,” and “friend,” “funny,” “creative,” and “alive.” I will admit that sometimes I can feel a little awkward in my own skin- I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, or if I even want to grow up at all. (I am also an idealist.) But thankfully, there is beauty in the fact that I can be a great many things. And today I have become “writer.”