Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

Catching up on race posts, grief, loss, and continuing the journey

I have been neglecting my race posts and need to catch up.

Missoula, MT Half Marathon (July 13, 2014) Time: 2:14:01

Oklahoma City, OK Half Marathon (October 11, 2014) Time: 2:31:08

Savannah, GA Rock and Roll Half Marathon (November 8, 2014) Time: 2:25:04

Run SLC Race Series (5K on February 7, 2015; 10K on March 7, 2015; 15K on April 4, 2015) 

Eisenhower Half Marathon in Abilene, KS (April 11, 2015) Time: 2:23:43


Life certainly got in the way as I faced two especially tragic events over the past few months–the tragic suicide of a current student, and the cancer-caused death of a former student. As you can imagine, my world abruptly changed and priorities certainly shifted.

I can’t even begin to process the suicide death. The loss of someone so talented and with so much promise is incomprehensible. That loss happened in November and was sudden and shocking. I must leave it at that. I will never understand that one.

The other loss unfolded over the course of months–allowing me to be a bit more emotionally prepared, but that loss was closer to home. TJ was a former student of mine who asked me to help him through his cancer journey late last summer and through the fall. At the time, his relationship with his parents was virtually non-existent and he needed support. I was honored that he asked me, but that journey was particularly difficult as I had to watch cancer steal his life away despite his most valiant efforts, through the summer and fall, ending in December. With each daily hospital visit, I watched as my dear friend TJ’s life slipped away and he died on December 5th at the young age of 24. I am grateful that, over the course of his illness, he used that time to reconnect with his family members, which was a blessing to all involved. We are all, however, still reeling from the unfairness of it all.

During the emotional turmoil I was experiencing, I was grateful for the well-being of my own husband and children and tried my best to carve out time for occasional runs and yoga classes. As a way to process stress and have some semblance of control in my life, I decided to use the month of December to complete a 30-day yoga challenge. I wrote about that in this blog, and that experience probably helped me a lot as I was processing a great deal of pain. My running, however, became an afterthought and during the first few months of the year, I barely ran at all.

I have now recommitted, and know how important my running and yoga classes are to my own emotional and physical well-being. I didn’t take time to post pithy, cheery details of my races, however, because I just wasn’t in that place. Not sure I am still.

I do, however, look forward to my continued race journey and this half marathon 50-states goal. As of today, 32 are in the books and by the end of this week, I will report having finished numbers 33, 34, 35, and 36.


Stick it out

Date: June 22, 2014

Distance: 10 miles

Time: 1:52:51

Yesterday, I completed a ten-mile training run and thought a lot about the importance of sticking it out. (Forgive the capital “R”. Not my creation. Like the sentiment, however.

This thought–about the need to be persistent during a particular workout–was most likely brought on by the fact that I chose to run five miles uphill before I turned around and rewarded myself with the much-easier five miles down. I hate hills. They really suck. But, I must admit–sometimes the first couple of miles of any run feels challenging, no matter the terrain or elevation. To get through those first tough miles, I repeated, “stick it out, stick it out, stick it out” dozens of times in order to keep myself focused.

Even after eight years of running, I still have days when I start out and nothing is coming together–I hurt, my muscles feel tight, I can’t get my breathing under control, and–in short–it’s not fun at all.

Thankfully, because I’ve been running for awhile, I know that this feeling is most likely temporary. I just need to stick it out until my muscles loosen, my breath falls into a calm, steady rhythm, and my mind opens up because I forget that I’m running. I just need to stick it out.

For me, things generally come together about 1.5 or 2 miles in. This common physiological reality is probably why people who say they hate to run honestly hate to run. They most likely haven’t ever gotten past those initial couple of miles and experienced “the good part.” After all, why would anyone run if it always hurt and was a struggle? It takes awhile, though, to work up to one or two miles when running and many people simply don’t have the patience or the will to stick it out.

Before I started running regularly, I remember how awful some of my first attempts felt. I used to be in awe of runners who ran “for fun” and genuinely seemed to enjoy running. Blech. I hated it and could never understand how they got to that point. I remember thinking that some people are just built for running and I’m not.

In reality, I just had never given myself a fair chance to build up to the point where I could start to enjoy running–where I could experience the benefits of running. That took me years. I wished I would have stuck it out back then, but I didn’t have the patience.

The idea of sticking it out not only applies to singular workouts–it also applies to an entire training plan or one’s general approach to healthier living and long-term goals. This weekend, I was provided with a reminder.

Being Reminded About the Need to Stick it Out

I’ve often written about my affinity for Bikram yoga. When I practice yoga, I am stronger, I have more clarity, I experience increased flexibility, I have improved balance, I sleep better, and I’m an all-around nicer person. So, why oh why did I quit going to classes about a month ago when I know how beneficial a regular practice is?

As sometimes happens, life got in the way. I had a particularly busy schedule last month and started cutting back on yoga classes–telling myself I didn’t have time. Thankfully, I (mostly) still kept up my running schedule.

After realizing that I had let an entire month slip by without attending a yoga class, I dragged myself to class on Saturday. And, what did I notice? I didn’t feel as strong. I was distracted. I had almost no flexibility. And the next morning? I was SORE!

Rather than beat myself up about my lack of discipline, though, I’ve used this experience as motivation to re-commit to a regular practice.  I’ve got to get back to my twice-a-week yoga routine.

It’s depressing, but it’s reality. It doesn’t take long to lose fitness levels when workouts stop. It’s much better to maintain those levels with a regular workout routine so the many benefits of regular exercise continue.

When life starts to get in the way, or when that training run starts out in agony, I just need to remind myself to stick it out. It’s worth it.




Staying motivated–why should you work out?

Date: December 8, 2013

I ran into a friend yesterday whom I hadn’t seen in several months. When I asked him how things were going he said, “Fine, but I really need to start working out again. I’ve been busy and I’ve lost my motivation.” I think those words get spoken a lot–especially at this time of year when the holidays are upon us, our routines get thrown for a loop, and–let’s face it–it’s damn cold outside and it’s hard to get excited about an outdoor workout. We know we should exercise, but it’s not always easy.Make time

Right now, I am looking outside my window at about six inches of freshly fallen snow and watching the thermometer creep up from 8 to 16-degrees. While drinking coffee and wasting time on the computer, I’m having an internal conversation with myself after seeing all the snow-filled sidewalks and streets in my neighborhood.

“I could go to the gym and run indoors.” “Yeah, but first you need to shovel the driveway.”  

“I could go to yoga class instead, and try to get a run in tomorrow.” “Yeah, but first you need to shovel the driveway.”

Then, I usually have this type of conversation with myself, “I have so many papers to grade, I really should work on those first. Or, I should get the grocery shopping done. It’s been awhile since I cooked a really good sit-down meal for my family, I should do that today. Oh, and this is such good baking weather; I should try that new cookie recipe I saw. I need to do laundry. I need to pay bills. I need to sort through those Christmas boxes and put up decorations. I really need to do some Christmas shopping. I should write a Christmas letter this year. I should…”

I think you get the point. When I allow myself to THINK about my planned workout, I often try to talk myself out of it–and sometimes I succeed. On occasion, I think that’s okay. Things do come up and should take priority–but not on a regular basis.

If other things start to have more prominence on your “to do” list than your workouts, that’s when you are putting other things above your own health. And what’s more important than your health? We often don’t realize how important our health is until poor health begins to affect other areas of our life–when we become too tired, too sore, or too sick to do the things in life that give us joy.

When my inner demons start to talk me out of my planned workout, I need to remind myself WHY I’m even doing this in the first place.

1. Stress release and depression avoidance. I’m a happier person and nicer to my family when I work out on a regular basis. I also notice how “down” I can feel when I go several days without exercise. It’s true. From personal experience, I’m certain that those studies showing how exercise prevents depression are true. Sixty minutes of exercise three days a week or thirty-five minutes five days a week is  just as effective as being on anti-depressant medication.

2. Health. I have a family history of all types of ailments that are prevented or lessened by exercise–heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and cancers. A list of seven health benefits of regular exercise is found at this Mayo Clinic website. Reviewing a list like this from time-to-time is sometimes helpful in reminding yourself why exercise is important.

Some recent studies have shown that regular exercise might also prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.  That, alone, should be reason to get out there and move.

3. Self Discipline & Confidence. I have self-diagnosed myself as having ADD. I’ve got all the classic symptoms–I start projects I don’t finish, I interrupt people while they are speaking, I change topics of conversations mid-sentence, I have a hard time sitting for any length of time, and I’m always multi-tasking to the point of feeling like I’m living in utter chaos most of my day. In short, I’m  creative, ambitious, and a great problem-solver, but I have a hard time focusing on only one thing at a time.

Running and yoga have shown me that I can follow through on something. I can hold myself accountable to see something through to the end, and–most importantly–my brain is at peace when I work out. When running or in the heat of a Bikram yoga class, I can’t multi-task. For the thirty minutes or two hours of my workout, I am focused on only one thing–putting one foot in front of the other, in the case of running, or holding a pose, in the case of yoga.

During my workouts I feel in control and focused. My brain is turned off and I am at peace. And, that “quiet brain feeling” often stays with me as the rest of my day unfolds. I also feel accomplished. If I’ve completed my planned workout for the day, there’s a small feeling of pride that I also carry with me. In short–I physically feel good, and I mentally feel good because I did what I said I would do. I am accountable to myself and I follow through on my promises to myself. For me, that’s huge.

Now, excuse me as I go shovel that driveway. I’ll remind myself that it’s for my health and I’ll try to convince my family members of the health benefits they should be enjoying as the rest of the snow falls and it will the their turn to shovel.