Tag Archives: running

A Personal Message To You From Fear

For most of my life, and certainly my entire adult life, I’ve been an avid athlete. I’ve run three half-marathons, run my share of relays, done Bikram yoga (Slip a disc you say? Why yes, yes I did.), walked, swam, done aerobics and spinning, p90x and a host of other things I don’t care to remember just now.

I don’t care to list them just now probably because I am doing something I’ve never done before.

My workout includes… nothing.

The beginning of the “end” if you will, began after my last half marathon, the Hippie Chick. They have cool swag.

I was worn out from training and I began an unorthodox workout that involved heavy breathing mostly. No, not that kind of heavy breathing. After several months of it and not feeling like I was going anywhere, I stopped.

Since that time last May I’ve done things from time to time; a few treadmill jaunts, a run here and there and a handful of “7 Minute Workouts”, but not the 5 or 6 day a week workout I’m accustomed to.

There’s no real way to put my finger on how exactly I feel about this. I’ve worked out regularly for so many years that at the very least it feels odd. It’s not guilt I feel. It’s not anxiety and it’s not even a longing for the workout.

At this point I will admit that not working out is currently a conscious decision.

For most of the last 28 years my workouts have had one underlying theme: Fear. I worked out because I was afraid I’d be fat. I worked out because I was afraid I was lazy. I didn’t want to be lazy. I didn’t want to be fat. I worked out because I feared I would be in some situation where I didn’t have the physical fitness required.

You know, like a zombie apocalypse. What’s the first rule of Zombieland? Cardio.

What I am doing now, well, what I am not doing now is a conscious decision to listen to my body. This is perhaps the most challenging workout I’ve ever practiced.

On one particular day, maybe ten years ago, when I was working with a personal trainer, I ran five miles, did 90 minutes of hot yoga and I gave blood. While that particular day was never, ever again repeated, the underlying theme of it has been with me throughout my exercise career.

“It’s never enough. You’re never enough. Run faster, jump higher and maybe someday your body will look like the cover of a magazine. And you will be worthy.

Love, Not Your Friend,

Fear”

I suspect my current non-workout workout will not continue much longer. What I am doing is listening to my body. For the first time, perhaps in my whole life, I didn’t eat pie on Thanksgiving because it didn’t sound good. That saved me more calories than a 4 mile walk.

When I meditate in the morning, I scan my body and I feel how that feels. It’s like yoga for my mind and it’s not as easy as you’d think. As soon as I feel like I have a good handle on this, I think I’ll add in something more than the occasional yoga pose or 7 minute workout.

What I won’t do, hopefully ever again, is work out in fear and loathing. At the end of the day it’s our intentions that make or break us and fear was never and will never be the power that gets us where we want to go.

Like, share, comment, tweet and intend to be your most beautiful self in all the very best ways.

Be careful in your self-care.
Be careful in your self-care.

This Advice Will Make You Crazy

The other day I chose not to read an article informing the world that it isn’t good for you to floss your teeth. And I had to think to myself, “Are you kidding me? Seriously?”

This type of information does nothing more than make me tired. So very tired.

I suppose the fact that I have spent much of my life in pursuit of a healthy body, I’ve come to understand that sometimes enough information is enough information and so I eschewed this “new” information and each night I floss my teeth. I’m going to let those chips fall where they may.

Staying somewhat abreast of the latest science and studies is great. You do that. But at some point enough is enough and too much, well that’s just crazy-making.

I’ve read the a ton of parenting books, I’ve read studies about diets and wellness and at one point or another I’ve paralyzed myself emotionally and physically.

Running is good for you. It is bad for you.

Carbs are good for you. They are bad for you.

Eat mostly protein. Too much protein is bad for you.

Let kids raise themselves. Be a Tiger Mom.

Kids need a ton of structure. Let them roam free.

For all the things I’ve read, I am clear that Coke Zero and Chick-O-Sticks have never, nor will they ever be, considered health foods. Mores the pity.

And so it goes and so it will always be. There will be helpful information out there and there will be information that contradicts it. As human beings trying to live the best lives possible we can sometimes gorge on information and well-intended advice. At some point we’re going to have to give in to the best advice of all: Use your brain. Moderation in all things. You do you.

I through that last one in just because I like it so much.

Like I said, I’m going to floss my teeth. Every night. It makes me feel good and you know how I feel about dental care. I’m going to parent the best I can and have faith that life will treat my progeny those things I’ve neglected.

Perhaps it’s best to maybe take a break from the advice columns for a while. There’s too much out there that makes me crazy.

Like, share, comment, tweet and stop reading so much. Use your brain, woman! Use your brain.

The Philosopher’s Half Marathon ~ A Running Narrative

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Um… I didn’t notice I have crazy eyes in this picture…

On Saturday morning, after arriving home from a business trip the night before, Mr Dreamboat and I loaded up the car and headed off to Hillsboro for the Hippie Chick Half Marathon. Well, there was also a 10k as well as a Quarter Marathon. But I was all in for the half with a smattering of mediocre training in my pocket and a super optimistic attitude. Boom! That happened.

The morning was overcast and cool, a runner’s dream and I, along with about a gazillion other lady runners laced our shoes and headed off into the crisp, sweet morning. Perhaps it is anxiety that makes me wax philosophical when I run an event, but I cannot help but make many analogies and life observations.

It was in the first few miles that I felt swept away in the throng. It felt good. It felt like I was part of something. I liked it. And then I didn’t. I didn’t like passing people and I most certainly didn’t like being passed.

About the time I stopped liking the thronging togetherness that makes up a large running event, the group split. Quarter runners to the right, Half-ers to the left. And that’s where it got interesting for me.

I saw it like this; We’re all running along the streets of life. Some of us are powered up and destined to run ahead of others. There are those of us who will finish early and there are people who will split off, taking a different route altogether. There are times we want to yell at them, enlighten them to the way we think they should run, but the truth is that not everyone chooses the same race.

The point of joining a running event is to do something bigger and more challenging than we originally thought we could. It’s to see different things and feel different feelings.

Whatever the route we decide to take, no matter the distance and especially regardless of the time, we all end up at the finish line, don’t we?

There are many reasons I choose to run. I run to feel the blood pumping through my mortal limbs. I run because I like the people I meet along the way. I like the scenery, the nagging anxiety that I am being challenged, and yes, I like the medal they hand me when I cross the finish line.

Perhaps the part I like best is the realization that it doesn’t really matter how fast we’re going, or the distance for which we signed up. It only matters that we’re in the race. It only matters that we pay attention as we go along and learn as much as we can from it.

To Hell With Winning ~ Compete Anyway

This morning I will be participating in my third half marathon. I am certain I will not be at the head of the pack, though I will likely not be the last one in.

Historically I have been the girl who didn’t feel qualified simply because I was not in the lead, not a contender for any of the three top positions.

To hell with that.

This morning I will participate in The Hippie Chick Half Marathon. Because I am a runner. No apologies.

I am also a writer. I am an artist. I am a businesswoman, a coach, a creative and whatever the hell else I choose to be.

While I am certain I am not at the head of the pack in any of those arenas, I am likely not in the back either. I am qualified to be whatever I choose to be… well, you probably don’t want me performing brain surgery on you… yet.

Perhaps you are reading this even as I am running the beautiful paths laid out before me in the lush, green Oregon landscape. I am listening to an inspiring playlist, I am a runner. I am winning.

Whatever it is you want to be, I’m giving you permission to be it. No apologies. See you at the finish line.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

This morning my goal was to run 7 miles. I’m going to be perfectly honest and tell you I did it perfectly slowly. But at the end of the day, I ran 7 miles, instead of write a blog post.

This morning I am embracing Good Enough. It is my mantra. It is my gift to you. Good enough is where I want to live. There’s plenty of room in the neighborhood. You should move in too.

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I’m ready for my close up, Mr DeMille.

Stop Running Away

This morning was the first run of Spring for me. There wasn’t even a question in my mind about going. There usually is. I suppose it’s really no different than anyone else. My excuses are simply that the roads are very steep with no real shoulder to run on. That and the weather here is often quite dismally wet.

But this morning there was sun to spare and I hit the wild outdoors without a question. It was a dazzlingly brilliant day and I was richly rewarded for not holding back. I often think of running as fast moving meditation. Running outside takes you away from all specific actions that can and should be taken in your life and leaves you with a fast moving brain and a body to match.

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I call this one, “Cow On A Run”. You’re welcome.

This morning as the sun was shining on my face and I blissfuly squinted my eyes in greeting, I realized the futility in running. Well, more specifically, I realized that running away from things we don’t want is like living a nightmare. The faster we run away, the faster we’ll run into that which we fear. We cannot focus on our fears without bringing them more fully to fruition.

But running is good. Running is wise. Running, if it’s your gig, is a therapy, a way to health and well being. Especially when you’re running toward what you want.

Fears and doubts fall away, and the things that loom and grow before us are the desires of our hearts, when we set a goal, we have a destination and we let fear lie by the side of the road and pass it by on our way to success.

This morning as I ran the bucolic roads of Amboy, Washington, for just a while I was running for the fear of not being ready for my next running event. And that’s when this whole thought process began. I was running not because I loved the sun on my face of the feel of the pavement under foot.

I realized what I was doing was fruitless. I slowed down. I took a deep breath of the sweet morning air and I began anew. I don’t have to run the half marathon in June. I choose to. And if I am not ready for it, then I can choose not to.

I’m tired of being afraid. I want to run fully in the light of a morning sun. And I choose that.

Not A Fitness God, But A Foot Soldier

This morning I did my ninth workout in a three month challenge to which I’ve committed. One of the problems with working off videos, is the perfect bodies, form and massive amount of reps these gods and goddesses of fitness are capable.

They are beautiful, truly. Their abs are ripped and usually they hover in the low teens in body fat percentage. I’m overcome.

For me? I’m not sure they make calipers in my size. Also, I’m not willing to ask if they do. When I was in

That's me on the right.

college, and much thinner than I am today, in a swim class, we did a fat test. Simply by exhailing completely and making one’s body straight up and down, you could get an idea of your body fat by how much you might float like a buoy or sink like a stone in the pool. The other students could actually climb on top and use me as a raft. I practically shot up in the air like a submerged beach ball. Don’t visualize.

As we’ve established, I have body issues. But here’s the thing:

We desire to look like the Workout Gods. We wish to sink to the bottom of the pool, if only for a moment. We want the bill of goods we’ve been sold. And we want it now, dammit.

Hey! We have the same workout clothes.

That said, I’ve come to terms with the fact that my fate is not that of a Workout Goddess. I’ve embraced the truth that I am what I am and not only is that “good enough”, it is stellar, it is spectacular, I am brilliant. Right now. Just as I am.

Further, the baby steps that I make, even the smallest of efforts, they make a difference. And while my form isn’t perfect, and, well, I’m on my knees doing them, this morning, in all my Perfect Michelle Glory, I did clap pushups. Yeah, I’m that badass.

Now you!

I may not do it beautifully, but I do it.

The Path To Body Acceptance ~ It’s Gonna Be A Long Walk

This photo, as well as others, by Howard Schatz has been all over the internet lately.

athletes
Photo Credit: Howard Schatz Huffingtonpost.com

I am in love with it. I am transfixed to the beauty of the individual athlete. I am mesmerized by the shapes and sizes of each woman. Each of them, short, tall, thin, fat, apples and pears and pixie sticks of women and they are all so different. And they are all so beautiful.

Truly mesmerized by these images, I continue down my path to body acceptance. As I look at them it becomes obvious that each athlete was born with inherent attributes making her naturally gifted in one area or another. She has simply capitalized on her strengths.

How unfortunate it would be if the pixie-like girl on the uneven bars sat at home heartbroken that she didn’t have the height to play basketball. How tragic to think the solidly built shot putter would live with self-loathing because she wasn’t born with the same body as the long distance runner.

But really, I am feeling empathy for these imagined women, and how many times have I lived out the tragedy in my own life? Always dreaming I should look like, well, for some reason I think I should have the shape of the gymnast. Yeah. That’s just sad.

So I’m practicing, because I think it will take hours and hours of practice, I am practicing appreciating what my body was made to do. I am practicing appreciation for my strengths and the inherent beauty I have as opposed to those attributes I mourn not owning.

I understand these are remedial tasks I’ve taken on. I realize it has taken too much energy and too much thought over the years. But I keep thinking about the women my daughter, who works at an upscale women’s clothing store, tells about. They come in, and they are beautiful and normal and real, and they try on clothes and they beg their husbands to give them some reason to believe they are beautiful and they cry, they cry! in the dressing rooms.

I don’t want to be those women. And I know in my heart, though I keep my emotions closer to the vest, that I AM those women. Or at least I have been in the past. And it’s time to accept that I’m not the gymnast. It’s time to accept that I have my strengths and I have my beauties.

And I have this blog to tell you that I hope today you love yourself. I hope you look in the mirror and you see something precious and beautiful. And I pray you treat yourself like an athlete.

No more crying in the dressing rooms, teammates. No more crying in the dressing rooms.

 

We’re Not Gods, But We Do What We Can

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It kinda looks like this a lot.

This Monday morning dawns cold and grey and wet in the Pacific Northwest. It’s sort of how things roll here. I wish my moods weren’t quite so affected by the weather, but they are. This is not to say I will be subserviant to the gloomy weather, virtually November through March, it simply means I have to make a conscious decision to choose my mood rather than have it dictated to me by the precipitation.

The fact is, the weather is the least of my influencers. I, and my moods, are affected by the most ridiculous of whims. And really, it’s true for all of us. We are all connected. We are all influenced by one another. And… the weather, the news, the stock market, the boss, gas prices, our children, other people’s children, the holidays and the availability of Diet Coke.

ImageOh! And Facebook posts! We’re affected by Facebook and it’s unique ability to paint everyone’s life like a year-round, inexhaustibly, bragging Christmas card from the perfect family you love to hate. 

It’s nothing to be ashamed of really. As a matter of fact it just makes us all so charmingly human. We were created to be social. We were made to feel things and interpret the world and feel the influence of others in our lives. It’s true and we were born to be just that way. But that’s not the magical part.

The magical part is where we get to choose. We get to choose our moods. We get to choose what media we take in, who to hide on our FB news feed, and whether or not to make a fire in the fireplace to shake off the dull chill of a late autumn drizzle.

We are human and fallible and susceptible to the whims of life and nature. But we are human! We have the ability to think and reason and change our stars. And even more easily, to change our moods.

I’m headed off to the shower after my run this morning (also an excellent way to chase off the mood demons), I’ll turn on my “happy lamp” with it’s mood-lifting lights and I will paint and think thoughts of gratitude and abundance.

We’re not gods, but we do what we can.

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Why No One Sends Me Flowers When I Sit On The Couch

Every time I go back to yoga from an extended absence, there’s this realization of how much I love it and how much I’ve missed out on. I’m sure that’s how I’ll feel when I go back… soon. Today I’m going running as I’ve been absent from exercise land in general. It makes me feel anxious when I don’t work out. Every person I see exercising makes me feel this weird sort of homesickness I can’t describe. It’s not very pleasant so it’s just better to get back to the work of being well than try and deal with this freak emotion.

Of all the different workouts I enjoy, it’s the yoga I think of the most often when I’m away… and running. But there’s something so holistic about yoga that makes me think of it on a daily basis. It’s so thoughtful, it’s taxing and it makes me stretch not only literally, but emotionally too.

At the end of each practice there’s a pose called shavasana or corpse pose. This is the one we all look forward to. It’s the poseImage you try not to eagerly anticipate as you’re bent like a pretzel in some unknowable, and for me undoable position. Shavasana is considered the most difficult of poses as it requires nothing of you physically, except total release and relaxation,  and requires that mentally you let everything go.

Most of the time I’m just so glad to be in corpse pose after a challenging practice that I don’t really worry if I’m doing it right. And the part of shavasana that is most meaningful to me is that it’s the piece of the practice that allows you to absorb everything you’ve just done. It’s not so much about reflection as it is a time to let everything you’ve done to your body to sink in and become a part of you.

And this is why I love yoga. It seems this idea is something I’ve needed my whole life. I get so invested in what I’m doing in my life, I get so excited and I give what I’m doing my all. And upon completion of whatever it is that’s taken my time and energy I physically crash. My crashes used to be much more dramatic and I’d have a 3 or 4 day hospital visit. When my naturopath asked me “What are you getting from this?”, I was offended and then I was curious.

What was I getting from the hospital visit? I was getting shavasana time. I needed time to process everything. I needed a place to rest and let all the big emotions I had settle down and be absorbed.

ImageI haven’t had a stay in the hospital since that realization. I still get obnoxious flu-like symptoms and become painfully unproductive. I used to push through them and I’d end up in the hospital with some sort of lung ailment and a large bill. Now I sit on the couch and I’m kind of cranky that I’m sitting on the couch. It costs less even if nobody sends flowers. The couch just isn’t as sexy as the hospital I guess.

Of course I’m writing this post for myself. Every time my body demands one of the shavasanic time outs I get a little frustrated. I’m writing this post to give myself permission to take all the time I need to absorb the past few weeks of grief and travel and life changes. But I could do that while re-watching the first two seasons of New Girl on Netflix. The real reason I’m writing this post is to give YOU permission to take the time you need.

Our culture is such that thought, reflection and meditation aren’t really valued. We go to dinner parties and brag about how busy we are. We compare overburdened schedules with other soccer moms and we boast about how little sleep we get. As obnoxiously psychosomatic as my illnesses tend to be, everyone is going to end up in the hospital or even the morgue with that kind of attitude.

Take the time you need to rest. Take all the time you need to absorb the intricacies of your life. Listen to your body and at the next dinner party you attend, brag about how much sleep you get. Let’s start a movement where corpse pose is a choice, not a premature destination.