Wednesday, September 1, 2021

 

RECHARGE

It is hard for me to admit sometimes when I need a break.

I would prefer to be invincible.  I would prefer to not disrupt the stability of a weekly schedule that I know people count on.  Plus, I don’t like to appear or for my words to be taken as if I don’t enjoy what I do, day in and day out, for a job.  It isn’t quite a job to me, it is an honor to be able to work with so many people on their health, fitness, and helping people THRIVE and FEEL GOOD.

But, it is hard for me to admit that while I fully LOVE spreading this passion for fitness, it isn’t without energy.  It isn’t without A LOT of energy.  And, I realize, this energy needed is often amplified when it is from someone like me, who FEELS FEELS FEELS and WANTS WANTS WANTS.   I don’t like to do things halfhearted.  I don’t want to just give someone a good workout, or a good class, or a good training plan.  I want it to be at the level that it leads people to AMAZE themselves.

Well, I burnt up a good amount of that energy from January to August of this year, and felt myself totally fizzling through August.  My energy for my appointments/classes was feeling sometimes FORCED, and my energy for even my own hobbies and interests felt nonexistent.  I have a list, an actual written list of things that make me happy, help to bring me out of a bit of depression… because I know myself, and I Know I need this list.  I got to the point where I just sat there, not even interested in my list.  I didn’t even want to go in my garden.  I had nothing left to even give to the things that usually fuel me on a personal level, so I Knew I had to take some time for recharging, even at the risk of disappointing some people with my schedule.  I knew that in the long run it would make me better able to continue giving.

I took 5 days off of working- no training sessions or classes at least (I did do some business/computer work).  During this time, I did take some time to ask myself honestly, “was there something I was doing that maybe wasn’t energy efficient for me, that was pulling too much out of me, something I needed to back off of or add more of.” And reflecting on my schedule, reminded me of the big picture.

****BIG PICTURE:  On a weekly basis I work with maybe 70 -80 people total in various forms of classes, one on one, partner, coaching situation.  And, I aim to honestly give 100% of myself in each situation because I believe in every single person that I work with, and also that is what I expect of myself as a coach/trainer. 

Sometimes that means pushing someone past their limit on intervals- past what they think they can do, past what they sometimes WANT to do…  

Sometimes that means I Have a class where one person comes in and has just found out their best friend’s daughter has cancer, someone else just got into the New York City marathon lottery, someone else barely showed up for class because they just feel so spread thin, and another person just ready to work hard.  I try to beneath the surface, know all of these things, and adapt and adjust seamlessly so we can somehow collectively still be in the same “place” even coming from very different places.

Sometimes, even if fitness and this one session is maybe priority #1 in my mind for someone, it isn’t really priority #1 for THEM!!!  I realize that at the beginning of the day, in the middle of the day, at the END of a day… there has been LIFE HAPPENING. Kids in different places, leaving another task unfinished, being overdone with an exhausting work schedule and looming meetings.

And ALL THE TIME…. Here is the BIG ONE.  ALL THE TIME.. EVERY DAY… I KNOW so fully and deeply how valuable it is to move your body- for your physical health, mental health, for your sense of ALIVE-NESS!

When I plan a workout, I try to plan it to start kind of seamlessly…. And smoothly, a little bit “kindly”.

But then, of course, time is limited.  I try to sneak a way to get RIGHT IN to training ASAP.

There is always a goal.  I always have focus areas and intentions for each session.

I make sure to add directional movement, rotation, twisting- somewhere near the beginning to warm the spine in all directions of mobility.

I make sure we have a chance to stand on one leg- to work balance, standing on one leg activates core, works pelvic floor.. enough said.

I make sure we don’t just do the easy front of the body muscles that everyone more WANTS to work.

I make sure we “catch” ourself with our feet in some agility patterns.  I make sure every workout is different.

I am constantly talking about BREATHING and EXHALING.  In strength- the power of connecting the exhale to the work, in yoga, the POWER of just sitting with, hearing, being the exhale.

I make sure there are intervals to get metabolism spiked appropriately to make CHANGES.  I make sure we run on tired legs, other times we run on fresher legs, we do things we haven’t done before so that we are making CHANGES in our capabilities!  I make sure we JUMP!  Everyone needs to JUMP to stimulate BONE TURNOVER (among other things).

All this to say… my mind sometimes spins with ideas, energy, and passion.  Because I KNOW how important it is, I see the changes in how people MOVE, which is nothing short of amazing that we really do as humans have the capability to be where we want to be in terms of fitness.  And, the energy and passion that I love to share, got drained.  I don’t know why I was surprised- maybe because it was summer and I think the sunshine can fuel anything in me! 

 

I recently saw a quote from Lauren Fleshman, professional runner and coach: “You can’t excel at the pointy end of any profession without passion and enthusiasm, and burnout threatens to scorch both.”  This rings true to me, and I feel lucky that I gave myself a week to look inside, to be okay with saying, I need some time.  I needed that week to first of all, not hear my voice all day long.  I sometimes finish the day so fatigued of hearing my own voice.  But I needed the recharge, to refire myself up and to be ready to light the path to another season of fitness😊

Hope to see you all this fall!

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

LURAY 2021

 

LURAY 2021- first tri POST (or in) PANDEMIC

 I was so excited to have Luray Olympic Distance Tri on my schedule for this year- it is my favorite race and I’ve been doing it for years.  Last year, it was of course cancelled along with everything, and I went out and did the bike/run on my own just because I love the course and it feels like it is a standard thing to do end of August.

This year, I will admit, I was NERVOUS going into the race.  I didn’t train this year as I would typically- among still being mindful/semi-nursing my hamstring and hip injury, I felt like I wasn’t 100% sure the race WOULD happen, and….. maybe I’m just older and a bit more mellow?!  I trained, but not my 100% committed and focused Sharon-level training!

I hadn’t swam over the summer, so I Really just got back into the pool in June.  I swam 2x/week as a goal, and those were both 1500.  I never went over that distance which also had me worried since I normally do more volume, PLUS more actual workouts- intervals and hard work in the pool.  This summer, I really j ust swam, enjoyed, did a little pushing here and there, but… mostly… honestly… tried to get a tan!

I biked 2x/week as well.  I tried to build up to doing one longer distance of 30-35 and one was shorter and more interval based- honestly even 12-15 miles sometimes, so not much bike training compared to what I typically would do.  (one of these bike workouts was always a brick, if not both).  (*For comparison, I used to try to bike 4-5x/week and I would definitely have a long of 50-60 miles/week).

My run was my current standard of 35 miles/week. 

The week of the race made me even more nervous. I was OFF.  Mentally and physically.  I even looked weird, my eyes swollen/puffy, my attitude just frustrated and irritable and TIRED.  TIRED TIRED TIRED.

I honestly hadn’t had a break over the summer and really needed one.  Needed to not be talking so much, expending energy.  I needed to somehow refill myself.  The things that normally fill me weren’t even doing it- I wasn’t even going out to garden because I was in a low place. Ugh.  The week of the race, I didn’t even do my taper plan because I was tired, irritated, and I wasn’t eating my normally healthy food.

I of course tried to mentally get myself into a good place and be excited for the race. I know I love going there and being in the mountains and I was hoping for the race to be a good solid day.  I just didn’t want to be disappointed and feel terrible.

Race morning- we got there of course early, long dark drive.  Saw a black bear ambling in the street in front of us when we were 2 miles from the park!  I felt okay that morning physically and was very nervous as people were lining up for the swim.  It has been so long since I”ve been in an open water swim, plus environment with others swimming so close to me.  The swim began, I did start relatively at the front, even though I’m not a strong swimmer.  I was wave #5 so I knew there were people to follow and I love this lake to swim in.  The swim was changed from previous years to 2x the sprint distance loop instead of the typical longer loop.  The first 3-4 minutes, something that has happened to me before happened again and I had to work through it:  my legs felt tired.  My legs are barely kicking in a triathlon, they shouldn’t feel tired- I wasn’t even going that fast or hard.  So, when my legs get this weird feeling, I mentally get nervous/ think is something wrong with my body and am I going to drown.  I got myself into a good self- talk saying slow down maybe just a bit, don’t let the weird leg feeling dictate anything, etc.  And, when I let my breathing stay easy and relaxed, my leg feeling seemed to get better.  The first buoy AS USUAL at luray- you turn the corner and BANG.  You are blinded.  Every year.  The sun is apparently RIGHT THERE and when I say blinded, I mean literally there is nothing to see.  It is as if you are IN the sun.  It is very strange. There is nothing to even see.  So, then you literally feel like you are swimming blind.  I kind of glanced right and saw there was a line in the lake- like a rope line and was lucky to angle myself to that and that ended up bringing me in line with the buoys to follow and so this worked out PERFECTLY!  The triangular course took us back almost to the beach and then we began again.  I wasn’t sure how I was doing among others, but I knew I was swimming well enough for me, staying steady and strong, breathing easy, staying relaxed, and that was my whole goal.  On the 2nd loop, it did have some snags with slower people that I had to go by basically pushing down on my body as I was going by, and getting pushed around a little. I had to do some kicking back, which I don’t like to do, but after being repetitively smooshed under the water by large men, I was like STOP DOING THAT. Ugh.



Happy to get to the BEACH and ON LAND!!!!

BIKE: This is never an easy course, particularly if you don’t train enough on the bike.  I definitely felt my lack of bike strength.  Within the first 5 miles, I was worried.  My left quad/glute/low back was having an issue.  It was oddly tightening up and fatiguing SO much more than my right side.  I didn’t know why, and I didn’t know what it would lead to- particularly with my back and being able to stand up after the bike.  I would say about halfway through, it seemed to normalize and just both sides/ full body felt sluggish and not like I was really “BIKING”…. I was just kind of trying to push pedals and survive and keep going.  However, I was doing a good job mentally.  I was aware that I could have been beating myself up a bit for not having done more, for how different this felt than previous times on the course, but I was doing good telling myself to stick within my means on this day and keep plugging away.  That became kind of my motto.  Plug away.  I made sure to eat a bite of bonk breaker at mile 10-12 and then I had a block at mile 18.  Water throughout.  The views, as always were GLORIOUS. Glorious. The roads were narrow and always a bit scary with cars coming the other way. But the views- GLORIOUS.

The hill at the end… again… laughable.  You turn the corner and it NO JOKE looks like a WALL.  But… it was doable!  I was trying to maintain a pace that was not going to put me over the edge for the run.

T2- was able to stand up straight right off the bike, so that was good news (stretched a few stretches in last 2 miles of bike to get my back mobile again after being hunched so much).

RUN:  now here comes the gritty part.  6.2 miles, 4 segments in my head, out #1, back #1, out #2, back #2.  I love breaking it up that way.  First segment out, just tried to start smart.  My mile time surprisingly was like 7:45ish (it also has a downhill), but I was sure happy with that, and reminded myself based on this time to not give up ever.  Mile 2 included the first gravel uphill and downhill that is just so stinking hard, did it and flew by a guy on the way down the hill and that downhill gave me momentum to the turn around.  On the way back, I hit mile 2 still with a real good split.  This section of going BACK to the start is the most challenging.  A section is really hot in the sun/ no shade cover and HILLY… I created a rule for myself that the entire way back, there would be no negative self talk or commenting- everything had to be positive.  So, I was reminding myself in the heat that I was getting a tan at least.  When in the shade, I was noticing how much of a difference that made.  I was being thankful that my calves were doing okay and not exploding, being thankful that my GI system was not making me stop to go to the bathroom.  It was all good, I was honestly so thankful to be out there with a positive attitude and not giving up.

My way out #2 I was just telling myself- you can start to push a bit more, but mostly stay steady and smooth and smart.  Be aware where you are on the road/ ride the lines well.  I would see some people walking and think, nope, that is not an invitation for MYSELF to follow suit.  I was taking cold water at some of the stations, heed at the mile 2.5 and mile 5 stop.  Also pouring cold water over my head.  I had a honey stinger block at mile 2, mile 3.5 and mile 5.

The 2nd time up the gravel uphill didn’t actually seem as bad as the first, and I tried to mimic the strong downhill I had the first time.  Hard to get to the turn around, but when I did, I was on my LAST SEGMENT.  Even knowing this, it was hard, again- here I am on the hardest segment, body at it’s max.  But I stayed strong mentally.  When going through the hard heat and hill the final time, I did a funny thing that I am still laughing about, but which WAS so POWERFUL FOR ME.  *who watched the women’s marathon in the Olympics with Kara Goucher commentating when Molly Siedel got gold? Kara Goucher was the most POWERFUL commentator I have ever heard and IJ loved her so much.. SO…. In my mind during this hard part of the race, I put Kara Goucher in my mind commentating on me!  I said the same things she said for the Olympic marathon:  “She is running focused and brave. She is trusting her training and BELIEVING IN HERSELF.  She needs to stay patient. “  and I kept repeating this, and I could hear Kara Goucher and I used this to help me be brave and patient and believe in myself😊  It was honestly FUN!



Last ½ mile I was just pushing what I had, and then I got to near the finish chute and there was this SUPER TALL girl we had seen before that we were oogling over how long her legs are, Phoebe and I wondering if she may be a volleyball player.  Well, I saw her in front of me and had a burst of energy to hammer it home and pass her.  I wanted to make sure I made a point to phoebe that “height isn’t everything”…. (although I Know… different sport)…. But.. she did enjoy my huge effort that she saw at the end!

I finished HAPPY.  I knew I did ALL that I could.  I knew I had just made myself more fit by (quasi) training for the race, but also in DOING IT.  I knew I made myself mentally stronger by being in the arena, showing up, being scared and doing the hard thing anyway.  I am always motivated by races.  It feels good to ask big things of myself, work daily, and see where it brings me.  I am grateful to have had another chance to be out there in this gorgeous lake, on the beautiful country roads, and under the hot and blue beautiful sky😊





Monday, May 31, 2021

Return to Racing...

 

RETURN TO RACING!

*note: this was written BEFORE… the downpour of the weekend…. Read to find out how the “race” panned out.

I have my first half marathon post pandemic tomorrow morning.

I’m both excited and apprehensive.  I’ve done run races since 1994, and triathlons since 1998, and they have provided me with such a huge heartful of memories, stories, experiences, locations.  They are some of my happiest and most fun days.  I often say that the training is the real work and race day is like a party on the roads… NOT that it isn’t work and hard and focus.  BUT… it is where everything “plays out” and that is really just such a fun and interesting few hours. So, I am excited.

I’m also apprehensive because I know how much I learned and fine tuned my way of racing over those years.  Not only do you train in your training, but your races serve themselves as training for future races.  You do stuff that doesn’t work well, and you learn.  You think a certain way, reframe a certain way of thinking and you find that gets you through, and you use it in the future. You learn to subtly adjust breathing and some muscles to get the most out of your body, and you know that feeling of being on the fine line where you can kind of hover there and make it through to the end…. And, so I’m apprehensive.  I haven’t done this in about a year and a half.  And even then, I was injured with my hip, so things were already different, and my races were more about participation and being out there and not getting further pain in the joint.  I’m apprehensive about all the LITTLE things… that become amplified to quite big things along the way in a race!  I’m apprehensive about

*how do I even warm up for this race?  DO I even warm up, haha?  It is a half marathon, I’m not at all trained to be at my “best” half marathon or even near there, so maybe I should just warm up “within the race”!!!??! 

*how to pace myself—without having race situations, it is really hard to know what your body is really capable of maintaining effortwise!  Of course I’ve trained and done a few 13 milers, with intervals within even…. But races are different.  They play with your physiology, your GI system, your nerves, your mind.

*how to approach the race mentally!  I used to say, I’m not going to race unless I am RACING!  Right?  I mean, I can go out and do 13 miles on my own, I don’t need a race to cover the distance.  So, I use races to TEST.  For this experience tomorrow, I need to remind myself of that same thing—it isn’t going to be my BEST, but it is going to be a “test” of where I am NOW.  So, I don’t want to overpush to try to get where I used to be… but I also don’t really want to go out and lolly-gag it.  That isn’t my intent for the race, my intent is to race where I am.  I need to keep that focus, not feel less confident because I am slower and not used to racing, but confident that I am where I am, and am perfectly in the place of “relearning” the race skillset!

Already this week, I’ve been reminding myself of what it is like to be in a race.  I adjusted my eating a few days ago.  No more beans, no more salads, and overall less fiber.  I did a little taper week of training (although got a bit more sore from some classes than I intended!), have done some extra rolling.  And, I’ve started a little bit of some mental work, visualization, prepping for the logistics of 13 miles and my race plan.

Even packing is different—I used to be so ready to race I could take a quick 3 minutes through and get everything in a bag ready to go:  race belt, hydration flasks, safety pins, energy blocks, post race clothes, sunglasses, etc.  This time it is different, I have to remind myself I am not going on a vacation!  I am questioning even how to wear my hair to keep it from moving, reminding myself to recharge my garmin, needing those little reminders that I have to have a fresh banana ready for the morning, ripe, but not too ripe.  Also, I need to have a mask on up until the gun goes off, I have a Ziploc ready to put it in during race, so it won’t be grose and full of sweat at the end of the race.

And even this, is all part of the learning process, the relearning.  Someday, this exact week and the race tomorrow will be part of what makes me a better racer maybe next year, or maybe in 4 more years.  Being excited yet apprehensive will be what teaches me what works or doesn’t work tomorrow, and how to modify that in the future. 

Ahem…… 3 days later.

We called a no go.

Pouring rain, 40 degrees.   Did not sound like a fun, positive experience, and my friend Nancy, who I also coach, decided we did not want this experience.  I personally was worried about: first freezing being soaked beforehand/ waiting for the beginning, shoes soaked, but then also muddy since the race wasn’t on paved roads.  I actually do not feel even an ounce bad about calling that a no go race.

ESPECIALLY because…. We met up this morning, planned how she would get a 10K, I would get 13 miles in and MADE. IT. HAPPEN.

Even though there weren’t people around me at the start line, anyone on my tail, anyone in front to visualize catching, I PUSHED.  I executed my miles as I intended.  I did a 5 min warm up and got my joints warm and ready to react well, and then started first mile strong, but not feeling bad at all.  I finished in 1:43:39, which was under my goal of 1:45.  (however, I did take a stop in the port o pot and I did have the luxury since it wasn’t a “real race” of stopping my stop watch.  I am fairly certain that I was not in there longer than 60 seconds.  That was at the 7 ¼ mile mark. 

My intent had been to do 3.5 miles out from start as a “check in”- not a warm up, but a good effort without it being too much, and see how my body was feeling.  On the way back from this to get me to 7 miles, I was going to work a bit harder, mentally this was about a 7.5/10 effort.  I then did a 3 mile loop from mile 7-10 and my intent was to start to pick up effort to 8/10 and this happened naturally because of time but also because my (specifically right) calf was really talking to me.  It’s been tight and really was feeling it during these miles.  Then I had 3 miles left- a 1.5 mile out to maybe see / cross paths with Nancy and then back.  My intent was to keep pushing the way out, maybe 8-8.25 or 8.5/10 and then final 1.5 miles up to 9/10, finish strong.  When I came back and crossed paths with Nancy, she was working SOO SO SO SO SO SO awesomely strong, I could hear her breathing and working so strong, I thought, don’t you DARE Sharon let up.  You are out here for a purpose and YOU KEEP DIGGING just as she is. Seeing her/ hearing her effort reminded me that I was in this with her, we do not back down.. It really felt like the energy from a “race”, from being near others in their pain cave, was fueling me down the path to the finish.  My calf was really the hardest thing from the run, and I went to the pool this afternoon and “iced it” in the freezing cold pool.  It is honestly SO much better tonight and I SWEAR by what I did in pool.  I did 2 rounds of soaking it, and the final time I was doing constant ankle circles, flexing the ankle, all softs of movement in the water.  I am so thankful I did that because I feel like it is going to be fine tomorrow, however, I will listen to my body that there is a message being sent by my calves😊

We finished with “black cherry juice rose mimosa’s”….. black cherry juice for recovery, right?  So it made me feel like I was definitely at least doing something right for recovery?!! Thank goodness for the sun finally coming back out today.

I was sad to not do the race experience, but I honestly feel that I got it in today.

I may actually be even MORE sad that we missed the wine festival afterwards😊

*for my own reference basically, my splits were: 

8:16, 7:49, 7:44, 7:54, 8:16, 7:59, 7:58, 7:44, 7:43, 7:59, 8:00, 8:16, 7:53 (thx to Nancy for that final mile!)

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Let's MOVE MORE!

 

Since I began Rising Sun Fitness, I have signed my newsletters with 3 important words, “Let’s Move More.” 

Nearly 2 decades later, I feel even more strongly about that sentiment. 

I have seen it over and over again, and it is such a simple and obvious statement that it seems almost silly to be making a big deal about it.  But here it is: 

The MORE YOU MOVE:

*the healthier you are

*the more resilient you are to injury, illness

*as you age, you are available to be more active with grandkids, activities that you want to do

*this in turn creates a cycle of MORE MOVING, healthier, more resiliency, etc.

It is frankly amazing to me.

Let me begin with an example.  A woman years ago was doing my bootcamp twice a week.  She was maybe approximately 60 years old at that time and had been a runner.  Ahhhh, yes…. It was Mary.  Famous to Rising Sun Fitness Mary.   (Mary has given me permission to write about her awesomeness and she has nicknamed herself the “oldest living bootcamper”).  Mary began with me and kept asking for alternatives to the exercises I was giving.  While I do give alternatives to exercises for injury, etc…. I declined(!) to give Mary alternatives, because I knew she had the potential to move in the way that she wasn’t able to when she began.  After some time, she began doing 2 foot jumps up onto the curb!  She began doing pushups on the stability ball.  She DID. IT. ALL.  I smiled a lot at this.  She grumbled a lot.  But I didn’t care, I was so happy to see how resilient her body was getting.  Due to job changes, seasons/ not wanting to get up early, she switched to once a week bootcamp.  She stopped running in the cold, but supplemented it with elliptical.  She was still coming to class once a week, but the change in her movements WAS CLEAR.  She came back to two times a week and she bounced back to her old movement!  It actually amazed me to be able to see such a tangible change, and then a rebound back.  That is the only “catch” about fitness- you lose it if you don’t keep it up! 

Now here is the HIGHLIGHT:  This is what really prompted me to want to write this post.  I have a group of women who approached me a few years ago wanting a class that was “for their age group.”  They are 60-75.  (I also asked their permission to write about them).  Their group is called “PRIME MOVEMENT” as I thought that was relevant as being in the PRIME TIME in life, right??!  So anyway, we began simply, as I assessed where they were starting from and we did good basic, full functional fitness all in a 40 minute class.  And, of course… then I began…. As I always do… “sneaking” things in!  They have progressed to AMAAAAZING workouts that blow my mind sometimes!  This group of women (before Coronavirus when they were in my house) were doing pullups on the TRX, BOSU ball balancing on one leg, wall squats single leg, squats over the step, dips with feet up on the stability ball.  It blows my mind sometimes- they do it all—we warm up shoulders, hips, knees, quads, we move front to back, side to side, balanced, began introducing full body pushups, began doing them on the stability ball, began doing them during coronavirus with feet UP on a CHAIR!  WHO DOES THIS??!!  FIT PEOPLE!  We move diagonally (which I sneak in and haven’t told them that this is also good for brain wave activity!), we touch the floor in lunges WITH WEIGHTS  (so do you see that getting up from the floor is a breeze once you are used to bending down to the floor and getting up WITH WEIGHTS!), we do side plans, jackknives on the stability ball, planks on the stability ball, single leg sit downs.  We move our feet quickly, in different directions because AGILITY is NOT JUST FOR ATHLETES!  Agility allows you to react quickly to a mis-step, to catch yourself before falling, to be RESILIENT!  Twice a week, they move in all ways, and my heart melts with happiness that they are taking amazing care of themselves. This is the epitome of MOVING MORE, and it matters SO MUCH!

OK, so WHY DOES THIS MATTER? 

It matters because:

*when you unexpectedly trip, or lose balance, or fall- a fall is a side lunge or a front lunge- do you have the agility to move your feet fast enough to catch you?  If you get your foot there, do you have the strength in your legs and hips and back to support you and bring you back to a standing position?

*If you haven’t circled your shoulders and opened up all angles of your shoulders, twisted, it doesn’t feel very good to twist and turn around while reversing out of a parking lot space, does it?!

*when you need to use the bathroom in a less than ideal situation, can you hold a wall squat for a minute?

*Do you have the balance, body awareness and core strength to lift a box onto a shelf that you need to slide it onto?

*Do you have the confidence of working out regularly in your ability to move in various ways, to take a big step up, to step OVER something… maybe while carrying something.  This is ALL in our daily lives.

*Do you take the time to FULLY BREATHE- to allow the full expansion of your breath?  The movement of the diaphragm fully connecting with all of the muscles through the belly, chest, upper back, intercostals that allow you to BREATHE!  Do you know if you don’t practice breathing well, you won’t be doing it?!  It seems so simple, but until you have gone within, silenced your schedule, and watched how your body is breathing, you may be missing on this huge health advantage of calming the nervous system, signaling to your body that you don’t need stress hormones running rampant through your bloodstream!

So, I write this because fitness, living well, feeling good is my passion.

I write this because it is easy to discredit the benefit that can come from a daily walk, from moving in various directions.  It is easy to think that maybe you are not really where you “want to be” for fitness, so maybe you should give up.  It is easy to think that since you aren’t in a fit place right now, that it is too hard or scary to begin.

But, I promise you, fitness is for everyone.  In every place, in every day.  And the benefits are tangible, real, and spread to all aspects of your life. 

You don’t need to train for a triathlon (but you could!)  But, we can ALL MOVE MORE, move differently, be open to challenges which will AMAZE you… (or at least me!)

For those doing the distance challenge:  I am so inspired by your willingness to get out there every day, or nearly every day. I’m honored that you were open to picking a goal and then committing to it!  I’m humbled to be part of your fitness journey😊

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Beginning to run....


Beginning Running…



I was there once, a beginning runner.  So, I know.  Beginning to run is the hardest thing. Getting to the point to run 30-35 minutes without stopping is the hardest part of running.  EVER.  It is so hard.

That is the time you see others running and it looks so beautiful and effortless and inspiring.  Key is to know that the person you see looking this way doesn’t necessarily FEEL THIS WAY AT ALL!!!

I’ve now been running for 25 years.  When I began, it was the hardest thing.  I tried to do it in the dark because it was so embarrassing to me to be looking this way on public roads, like I was near death, needing an ambulance.  The funny thing is, 25 years later, I have numerous runs where I feel the same way, where I feel like I must be dragging cement blocks behind me.  I’ve run marathons and raced well, but I still sometimes go out and feel like literally…. I don’t even know if what I’m doing is considered “running”!!  It is barely faster than a walker!  It really doesn’t even feel good some days, and I have learned to just carry on, step by step.  That in the end, every step DOES MATTER! And you can ALWAYS DO THE NEXT STEP!  It doesn’t need to LOOK GOOD.  And it shouldn’t always FEEL GOOD.  Sometimes it will, and those are the days that sustain you through some of the other drudgery workouts.  It is so easy to judge ourselves and others- to judge that others are somehow just better at running, that they are feeling a sense of ease on their runs, so “what is wrong with me” that I want to stop, that I struggle to keep going.  There is nothing wrong, it is not an easy thing physically to run, and the mental challenge to will yourself to continue is what makes the difference.

So……what does that mean?

It means day by day.  Go out.  Get it DONE. 

It means if your goal is 10 minutes, do 10 minutes.  Not 1 minute less.  Mentally, don’t let yourself physically stop.

It means if you have built up and you are doing 30 minutes and your next week goal is 34 minutes.  Plan for it, prepare, mentally and physically, and be relentless…..  get it done.  Do NOT CONSIDER stopping early.

It means the long runs/ builds are maybe the most important run of the week, however…. All the supporting runs are what allows the other to happen. That is the funny thing—each run you do is what allows the others to be successful.  Even the days that you just run for 10 minutes.  Even the training runs that feel terrible make you better, sometimes those are the most important ones.   The days that require you to be your grittiest, fiercest self to will yourself those extra 3 minutes are the reason why you will finish your goal race.  Don’t doubt that every single step you take makes a difference. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Maintaining Motivation through Corona-times


MOTIVATION IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS



1. Step aside, surrender control - allow change. Feel frustration, let yourself have time to feel the loss of your original plan.  And then be willing to move along.  If we get stuck in the wallowing, it just drags on. Allow yourself to be flexible with races that may or may not happen, and think further.  Be aware that this is an opportunity to practice following the flow of life.

2. Alter your timeline of goals, giving you a BONUS!  You just bought yourself some time!  You can still have the big goal that you had, but it is now moved back (make sure to schedule another goal for late summer or fall?)  Sooo… that means--- what are the things you had in the back of your mind that you KNEW you were not doing FULLY?  Were you not rolling?  WRITE IT DOWN.  Rolling is your new DAILY THING that you WILL make a habit this month.  Was your nutrition off and you know you need to buckle down.  Make it happen.  If it truly is a goal, you will do it.  TAKE CONTROL of the things that you CAN control!!  YOU can control if you get in DAILY ABS.  You CAN CONTROL your daily nutrition (if you make the choice that it is important enough to you). Change 180 degrees from what you WERE doing.  Maybe change course/go backwards/ add additional base training if that is needed and a change for you.  OR if you were building up, take a few weeks of short and fun, speed training, working different energy systems.  Since you are looking at a timeline pushed way back- why not also come up with a rough 5 year plan for yourself!  Any big goals out there?  5 year race goals?  Bucket list races?  How can this current year actually help you get there?

3.  CONTINUE TO LOG/ KEEP TRACK of what you are doing!  (and send results/your log to your coach!!)  Just because your stage in training has changed, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter what you are doing.  The amount you are doing matters (not just for the now, but for the big picture- future plan, etc). 

4. What to do with any extra time you may have!  Ahhhhhh- WOW:  here is a list!

*research future possible races that you may like to do!

*listen to podcasts on fitness, motivation, nutrition, other interests while you are working from home, when appropriate of course!

*take an online zoom strength class (WITH ME!!)  or yoga!  Or take an online zoom class from somewhere that you cannot usually get to (long distance, etc!!!)

*find new routes that are socially distant!

*read books that motivate you:   *”Lure of Long Distances” was a really good read and left me craving epic runs and the personal transformation that comes with change.  “Practicing the Power of Now” is a simplified book of the full Power of Now book and has take home messages that are understandable to remind us of the importance of being present in our lives (very timely).

5.  STRENGTH:  you can literally do some strength every day, in various forms (yoga included).  I can guarantee you 10000% results will transfer if you keep yourself doing focused strength workouts.  It does not take long.  HUGE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK.  I could go on and on here.  Or if you are already really cranking along with your strength workouts- what is the SMALL OVERLOOKED stuff.  There are always things that we just simply don’t have time for.  Are your shoulders tight? Leaving you to not get a good full extension in the pool, but you typically just can’t fit in a 10 min shoulder/lat/chest stretch series?  Do it now.

6.  Do NEW!  Do things you would never usually consider.  Do a “virtual race.”  Find out about strava even if you are not interested in the least in comparing/competing virtually with others!  Research a ride you have never done, a century, a trail.   If you are not on social media, maybe get an Instagram account and search some races, be inspired by some awesome training scenery, etc.

7.  REST.   This is a definite chance to look critically at what our bodies need, and most of us do need some REPAIRING!  Normalize our nervous system with some low impact hikes, yin yoga classes to restore ourselves before diving back in to our revised goals!  Allow this PAUSE.

8.  Take care of EQUIPMENT.  This includes researching options so when your bike shoes need replacing, you have some ideas.  Clean your bike well!  Check out the tires.  Look at your run shoes, research if you need to make a change, make sure you have fast laces for races this summer; make sure you have a fuel belt that you really love.  If not, research it.  Are you using your Garmin or sports watch/GPS and all of it’s features?  If not, learn something new today! 

9.  Do your workouts for the INTRINSIC VALUE of what the workout gives to you- the internal value of checking off a day’s goal, hitting a 2 mile run time trial on the treadmill that you have been aiming for, challenging yourself to do the new thing, the home workout that you had NO IDEA would kick your butt!  Enjoy the scenery on your runs, walks, bike rides, etc.  Enjoy the FEELING of being strong, working core, doing new things.  Every workout should be full of JOY and appreciation!

10. Keep a routine, despite chaos.  If you like to take a day off of exercise every week, continue to do that.  Even if your days look completely different, keep a commitment to daily exercise.  If you used to have to get up at 4:30AM to get your workout in and now you don’t need to, make sure that you don’t end up skipping it altogether.  Sometimes it ends up being harder to commit to your workout when you have more flexibility!  Keep a routine, even if the workouts themselves are different than what they used to look like!  If you were using weekends to get some long workouts in, maybe change your routine so that you can now enjoy a weekend day off, but make it an intentional knowing change, a routine to count on, not just a missed workout!

BE CORONA-FIT!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Our collective PAUSE.....


LEARNING TO PAUSE.

Coronavirus 2020.

It’s been obviously out of this world.

I hate part of it.  But I also love part of it and am so thankful.

I am embarrassed that I sometimes think God sent it to us not to harm our health, but to get us to pause.  I am trying to pause.  I am pausing.

Pausing freaks the SHIT out of me, but I’m actually doing it.

Growing up….

*I don’t know what was wrong with me.  I was born this way.  I only knew hard work.  I don’t know what circulated in my blood differently, but I was different and I knew it.  I didn’t want other things.  I wanted work.  Even when I was young, I was focused on waking up early and getting a “head start.”

*The only thing that ever mattered to me from age 6-16 was gymnastics.  I probably had an inkling I would be limited in my success, but with this, I had an inner vow to myself.  I would never waste a day. I would frankly never waste an hour.  It was great.  It was also disastrous and just fed the monster.  My monster was perfection, obsession and self-criticism.  It was unending.  It was also exhilarating. I was so addicted to it, and it fed my heart and soul.  I had some success, but I also created my own success channels by imprinting on my heart that I would always be the hardest worker.  I may never get to the Olympics, but there would be no one that could work harder.  There would be no one who could accept more intensity, who would be willing to be so laser focused. 

In college, particularly because I had to transfer to the school I wanted to go to, UVA, I was terrified that I didn’t belong and again, hyper vigilant on my work.  I don’t mean I studied hard.  I mean, it was really compulsive and obsessive.  There was always more for me to do, I would switch from subject to subject, underlining, memorizing.  My internal motto was that I would learn it well enough to be able to “teach it.”  I would know it like the back of my hand.  It was awesome.  Awesomely dangerous and bad.  I didn’t know how to stop.  My life was a whirling cycle of reaching further…  And I LOVED IT.  I was exhilarated by it, I loved learning everything so fully and it fueled my hard work.  Halfway through undergrad, I got my first A- and cried myself silly.  I had ruined my perfect A college streak.  So I worked harder so it would never happen again.

I could go on and on, to grad school, beginning my full time career, starting my own business, and then the final whirling of our families adoption journey, that maybe was the epitome of my lifetime of work.  I worked and worked and could never really stop.  Until everything came crashing and our adoption ended, and I worried so intensely that my kids would never heal.  I didn’t know if I would either.  I remember taking breaths and wondering if somehow that would be my last one.  It sounds obviously strange, but I didn’t know if my devastation and fear would physically allow me to take the next breath. 

This was my first pause.  It has been 5 years.  I committed then to slowing down.  And I did.  I sat on my porch.  I sat in my house and just let myself feel SAFE.  And breathed.  I found dead silence in my house and I Honestly just listened to it, aware of how odd I was to be literally listening to my house silent and my body breathing.  And I literally listened to my breath and reminded myself that I didn’t have to doubt that the next one would come.  I sat on the porch again.  I let myself sit at the swimming pool.  I let myself say no to work.  I let myself stop obsessing over being the one who never stopped working.  I let myself read books.  Actual books with stories (not just how to parent better, training studies, anatomy and yoga books, but actual fiction stories!).  I let myself struggle with the guilt of being still, and tried to work through that guilt. 

I’m renewing that pause now. But now, I’m focusing on the pause and stillness WITHOUT GUILT.  I am not feeling bad about just “being” because there are others out there now also that are “just being.”  It is easier to feel less guilt, that I’m not getting behind, since this is affecting us all.  I am focusing on the silver lining of being able to sleep in a few days now each week.  My body was so over fatigued, I knew I was so far down in a sleep hole, but there wasn’t any way to get out of it, basically except this “opportunity” of having my life upended, and here it is.  Of course, none of this is good for anyone’s financial “fitness”, but at this point, I am choosing to see the opportunities that are arising from the situation.  Letting my health be taken care of and getting more sleep has been a huge blessing.

I am always keeping aligned with my goals and what makes me feel good.  Fitness makes me feel happy, and with this coronavirus shutdown, I do truly believe that anyone out there that has a goal of fitness has literally no excuse to not make that happen.  Easy for me to say though, because I enjoy fitness.  So I also have told myself that if I want to do things that aren’t as easy for me, now is the time to open myself up to those priorities.  Keeping my house clean is not super high on my list, but now is a time that I am actually committing to daily doing “family 15” where we all contribute 15 minutes, and maybe little by little, we will notice a difference.

There are silver linings everywhere.  What are yours?