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Archive for May, 2012

You know how sometimes you just want to go for a run to get away from everything? Why is it that this is the time we tend to fill our minds with a thousand different thoughts, conversations we’ve had, problems we try to work through, ideas we want to explore, and a general realm of mindless things? I might be the only one on the road at 4AM in my little town, but sometimes I find there’s a whole population running through my head.

Part of me thinks I tend to do this because it’s dark and I’ve created my own coping mechanism with running alone in the dark, but most of me knows it’s because I’m a woman, and quite simply this is what we do. I find I get a lot accomplished with my thoughts during this time, but in retrospect I have lost the ability to simply get…well, lost.

I’m the worst when it comes to multi-tasking; not because I can’t, but because I’ve become so good at it that I have an extremely difficult time slowing down. There will continue to be times when my head is an overpopulated place, but I’m working on making a few runs with a population of one.

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I never thought I’d say I actually enjoy time off from running, but I did appreciate sleeping in a bit and having extra time in my mornings this week. I’ve forgotten what life is like when I’m not getting up two hours before everyone else just to get some quiet time and a good run in. I explored other things in hopes of being able to shut off the world around me, even if only for a few minutes. I took solace in the hours I lay awake at night, did a little yoga, and even some meditation. I thought about everything but running.

Running had become a struggle and a challenge. I’ve enjoyed it, no loved it, for as long as I can remember, and for the first time in my life I experienced never wanting to lace up my shoes again. I felt beat down. Conquered. I’ve never put so much effort into something only to get worse. It was hard for me to admit defeat, but I couldn’t push myself any further. I came to a point where I figured rest couldn’t be nearly as bad as what I was going through mentally and physically. So, I rested. It reminds me of a song we used to sing at my grandparents house on Friday nights when we visited; “Day is dying in the west. Heaven is touching earth with rest.” This chic needed rest and it felt like it took heaven coming down to make me admit my humanity.

I ran for the first time this week – an easy four. I enjoyed it for the first time in months. I left technology behind. No need to know my time. It was back to simply me and the road. It felt good. I’m ready now. Break’s over. Heaven made me rest, and even gave me a shooting star this morning to wish upon. Enjoy your rest, because tomorrow we run.

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We work hard. We train hard. We put everything we have into focusing on the next race, event, or goal. Sometimes, we get sidelined. An injury…a sickness…life. It’s easy to focus on the big things like weekly mileage and structured training plans, but I’m learning there are times when I need to focus on the little things as well. It’s the little things that we try to ignore and “train over” that can end up derailing us.

I’m the worst when it comes to recognizing the small problems that can lead to the big, unavoidable, mountainous messes. I never want to feel ill-prepared for a race, and as runners we are all too familiar with the mental aspect of running – especially distance running. I’ve learned a lot the hard way and over the years have been determined that my mind will not be the reason I am not successful in a race. My body is another story.

I have lived by the philosophy of “What doesn’t kill me, will make me stronger”. Hard work never hurt anybody, right? Possibly. But as athletes we can’t ignore the little things that are flashing symbols of potentially bigger problems that need our attention. Yes, resting is harder than it looks for some of us. A week off in the grand scheme of things is not an eternity (though it may feel like it). That lingering fear of resting and not finding the motivation to get up and run starts creeping in. What if I enjoy my time off too much? What if my legs feel like jello when I start back up again? What if I feel worse because I was “lazy”? Flip side: What if my legs finally feel rested? What if my body and mind have time to reboot? What if I become a more solid runner?

I’m working on taking it one day at a time and not ignoring the little things, because believe it or not they really do exist.

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Reflection

Ever take time to reflect? Unfortunately, this is becoming a lost art. We are so busy wrapped up in our to-do lists, kids, work, and lives that we often don’t take time to reflect on the past days, weeks, or months. Reflecting allows us to revisit memories and think about what we’ve found important enough to remember.

Reflecting requires us to quiet the noise and focus on one specific thought or memory. It gives us the opportunity to remember the things we should be thankful for, the things we need to work on, and our priorities. What would we do if we didn’t have anything to reflect on? Think about it; what if you looked into the mirror and nothing was there? We’re given this strange opportunity to look back in time…to relive moments of fun, excitement, anger, sadness – and given the chance to ask “What if?”.

Running is the time I usually have to reflect. It’s a time of peace, quiet, and a stillness of early morning calm. Typically it’s just me and the sounds of my own footsteps. It’s a rhythm of stillness; if there is such a thing.

Your reflection is the truth and bare foundation of who you are. You can’t make up history, but you can create the future. What do you see?

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We have enough challenges to overcome every day, but more times than not our biggest challenge is ourself. Why bother throwing in extra obstacles like finding time to fit in a run or taking the time to sit down and eat a healthy meal? Why not? There will never be enough hours in the day, and there will always be sleepless nights that rob you of energy (and sometimes sanity). Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, or maybe I know I am capable of so much more, or (even more likely) I’m just a nut. Maybe it’s the thought of what I’d miss out on if I didn’t keep going…

Yes. Even the baby got to climb the mountain.

A few weeks ago we hiked along Bear Lake Trail in the Colorado Rockies. The trail was still snow packed and most hikers didn’t venture past the first lake. We took it slowly, watched our steps, and forged on. We were not disappointed by our efforts and were greeted with incredible snow-capped mountain views and crystal lakes. Best of all, we were able to share this with our three boys. One group of hikers we came across commented at how lucky our kids were. I hadn’t thought of it like that. For the most part they enjoy hiking just as much as my husband and I do, but after a few miles the questions start in and the inquiries begin as to how much further, etc., engaging more conversation time than talks about the views and wildlife.
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It’s not always easy to find time to do anything outside of what we need to accomplish every day. Maybe it’s time we shifted our priorities and re-defined what we consider necessary. Not only is it important for our personal health to exercise and eat well, but many of us have kids that (believe it or not) look up to us and see us working out, or hear us coming in the front door from a run, and see that we think enough of ourselves to want to take care of ourselves.
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Find a mountain and learn how to climb it. Better yet, learn how to climb it and teach someone else.

Instilling confidence.

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Running 2.0

Many of you read my blogs in hopes of finding the motivation to lace up and head out the door, but today it’s more than that. Skimming through Facebook, I am amazed at how many people are setting themselves aside and focusing on others. One great example is my friend Alex, who has committed his entire running plan in preparedness for the Leadville 100 and raising money for the American Cancer Society http://thoughtsontherun.com/wordpress/charity-running/ . If you think it’s been an easy road, I’d suggest you follow his blog and see the heart and soul he’s put into his efforts to raise $10,000 for this charity. Many are involved in the 25 days campaign http://25inchange.org/ in which they commit to raising awareness of world hunger and obesity.

Running doesn’t have to be just about running. Make it about something else – something more than yourself. My last blog talked about the Seattle Animal Shelter and the “Fit for Fido” group that works with homeless animals. If you can’t find anything that suits your interests, start something on your own! This afternoon I get the pleasure of sitting in one of the first meetings for “Healthy Initiatives in the Workplace”, which was derived by yours truly in an effort to promote health and wellness in the workplace. So many were interested that it is taking flight and will include areas from healthy recipes, to exercise plans, accountability programs, and utilizing Colorado Farmer’s Markets and local growers. Some people need motivation, and some just need education.

Want a little motivation? Lace up your shoes, find a quiet path, and think about what you have to give to someone else. I bet it’s more than nothing.

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Fit for Fido

For the first time in months I looked forward to my long run this morning with little to zero motivation to lace up and hit the road. How is it that one day leads to venturing through a new city and exploring new paths, enjoying sea level, and reaping the benefits of mild weather and good training, and the next to wanting to do nothing but lay in bed in my jammies? It was a head game from the moment I woke up and continued all the way through mile 12.

I focused on getting out the door and trying not to find every excuse to turn around and head back to the hotel room. My head hurt. My stomach hurt. My legs hurt and were tired, and one step outside greeted me with a bitter wind that I simply wasn’t prepared for. I turned around and headed back up to the 16th floor and back to my room. The whole way I kept thinking I would just shut it down. I had 10 miles on tap for the day and didn’t want to run a single one of them. I grabbed my jacket, zipped up, shuttered “Brrr, I hate Seattle” and headed back out once again. I got out of the hotel doors and started running. If I can just get warmed up I’ll be okay, I kept telling myself. Mile 1 down and my legs just didn’t want to move. My toes and hands were numb and ached and my pace was slipping beyond more than my comfort zone. Just get to mile 2 and see how you feel, I tried convincing myself. I have noticed there are those runs where it takes more along the lines of 4-5 miles to warm up instead of a normal 1-2. Mile by mile I gave myself kudos and told myself to suck it up. Just get through 10…just get through 10.

There were no shortage of runners to motivate me along my way. First, a group of guys thought they could show a piddly little girl how fast they could run. The competitive side of me kicked in and before I knew it I was going a little faster than I really should have been going. I slowed it back down and told myself, “This run’s for me, not them.” By mile 9 I was getting pretty zapped, but came across a group of runners with an Adopt-A-Dog foundation that displayed bright yellow vests  that read “Fit with Fido”. After a brief encounter, I learned that these amazing people work as volunteers at the Seattle Animal Shelter and take these homeless pups out for runs in hopes of finding them new families to join. (I swore we wouldnt’ get any more dogs, but…). These dogs were so excited to be outside and have people running and playing with them. I found a new pep to my step as I dodged in and out of several of them playing and shared in a little mini road race, and I think I was grinning as much as the dogs were. I snapped out of my funk and thought about what dedication these people had to give of themselves and do more than what was expected of them. This concept quickly transcended to those around them, including me, and I thought about how I need to expect more from myself. Don’t be fooled – I’m not talking just about running. I wrapped up my run and logged an extra 2 miles just to prove to myself I could do it.

Back in the hotel room and after a nice warm shower, I pulled out a new shirt I picked up from the Nashville 1/2 last weekend. I consider it my newest lucky shirt (if you knew the events that transcended to its ending up with me you’d consider it the same). However, as I sit here reflecting on the run that almost didn’t happen, I’m reminded how truly lucky I am and that what I expect of myself I should in turn give to others.

If you don’t have a lucky shirt, that’s okay. Mine is more a reminder of what I’m capable of and in turn, what I should expect of myself to give to those around me. Find a greater expectation of yourself and share something with someone else today. Don’t be stingy. You’ve been given it for a reason, now use it for its intended purpose.

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