Tales of a Chubby Runner II: Post-26.2 Blues


Have you ever had a week where legitimately everything (and then some) went wrong? Well this, my friends, is that week. 

Let’s backtrack to April 30, marathon day. It was rainy, cold, and I ran the absolute worst race of my life. 4:46:30. I could go on and on about a pot hole and tweaking my knee (no, really I can) but what it all comes down to is training and stress.

I have put my body through the ringer this past year. Weight gain, poor energy, and low drive all contribute to poor training, which was my own mistake. Accountability goes a long way, and it’s one of my weaknesses- believe me, I’ve got a few of those. I’ve been told that I always had an answer for everything, but it’s because I’m always thinking (SEE, answer). Anxiety does this thing where you run through scenario after scenario, trying to figure all of the outcomes. 

If it’s a stressor, I’ve overthought about it. It’s part of the reason I run without music, actually. Running allows me to think, to physically allot time to everything stressing me out. With the post-marathon body/hobble, as well as this knee injury, AND job hunting, I am struggling to keep myself happy and healthy, which means I have to find a new healthy and efficient way to cope. 
Many people view healthy as what you eat or how many times you work out, when it truly encompasses so much more. Allotting body time for activities when working a night job, understanding physical limitations a few times a year due to an illness that’s never going away, trying to long-run, plan and organize having a tiny social life all fall in the realm of healthy (for myself, I’m sure we can all lost out our positives and stressors). The way you share yourself throughout life is what embodies health. Sleeping, monitoring food intake, putting in the time to work out, growing your faith, doing something fun, budgeting financially all leads to a healthy fluid life, and I think that’s what I am missing.

I graduate in 9 days. I have finals and projects on top of pain, stress, and managing a job. Right now, my plate is full but I know bombarding myself with life is necessary to move forward. My marathon was AWFUL, it’s 4 days later and I am still crying. Yeah, I’m scary overwhelmed. But the truth is, this too shall pass. My frustration and anxiety have been spilling over to people I care about, and that totally defeats what I am working towards. I’ve had so much life happen within the last year I sometimes forget not everyone is out to get me. 

Where I am in life, right at this moment, heavily relates to how I ran my marathon. “No walking.” I pushed, despite the pain and swelling. I had to alter my gait, throw off the trash bag I was running in, and just move forward even though conditions were less than ideal. It was awful, but I’ll never forget the Illinois Marathon. 

Cheers to a new chapter. 

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Running With Yourself

I love to run. I love the feeling of fatigue, struggling between the realm of comfort and pushing myself, listening to the rustling of leaves, the chirping of the birds, even the short conversations of cyclists passing by. The steps I take become rhythmic while I slowly breathe in and out, my thoughts wandering throughout the present. My body is synced to my every motion as I look forward. When I run, I am one with my mind, my body, and my surroundings. Despite the motion and utilization of energy consistently occurring, this is one of the only times in my life where I feel the most centered. I am a mindful runner. Running is a meditative act for me and many others, and I believe it is a simple transformation many other runners can take on.

We all have routines, things we think and do everyday. Some of our routines serve us well, and some don’t. Something that’s become a big part of my daily routine – one of the...:

What is meditating?

So does meditating mean you need incense, rocks, beads, saying “Ommmm” for minutes at a time? Well, maybe. Traditional meditation can happen in a variety of ways. You can go to a class, utilize youtube videos, or even focus on yourself and just take time to be present for a few breaths, minutes, or hours. Meditation is what you make it, as are the benefits.

Benefits of Meditation

Just Breathe-Ancient Practice of Pranayama can help you detoxify, shed excess weight, and boost overall vitality.:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers the levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety attacks
  • Decreases any tension-related pain, such as tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems
  • Increases serotonin production, which improves mood and behavior
  • Improves the immune system
  • Increases the energy level as you gain an inner source of energy
The one type of meditation that I choose to utilize is mindfulness meditation. This meditation allows you to focus on the now, release any feeling of tension or worry, and truly focus on grounding yourself. Almost as if you find your center.

How is this useful to running?

Your runs are what you make them. Even the most intense track workouts can allow for a moment of clarity. Writer Amy Marxkors wrote about a story she made up about a long stretch of farmland on one of her long runs, and it wasn’t until I found myself making up a story about squirrels on an 8 mile trail run where I realized that she was unintentionally practicing a moment of mindfulness. She was not letting the fatigue hinder her thoughts. There was no complaining about being out on a run. We are in motion when we run, as is the world and by utilizing our very senses and connecting with the moment we are in, we are well on our way to a moving meditation as we run with ourselves.

Benefits of Mindfulness (Meditation) | Lynn Hasselberger for Elephant Journal | #infographic #meditation #mindfulness:
As runners, we utilize music, strobe lights, groups, and fight a never-ending battle between cars and cyclists. It is easy to allow our mind to be cluttered with stress and unhelpful thoughts as we put our foot one in front of the other. A good way to start practicing mindful meditation is to eliminate distractions. Maybe start by ditching the music and playing a senses game. One run you focus on all you hear, and, maybe on a later run, you try and point out all of the changing colors on the tree- just being mindful of not cluttering your mind with homework, work stress, and other thoughts that only bring negative emotions.
On a recent trail run, I was overwhelmed to the point of tears. Two miles in, I stopped on the side of a cliff because I was too jumbled to continue. My legs felt like bricks and I was worried about work, relationships, finances, you name it. As I stood on the cliff, I paused. I listened to the boaters fishing speaking to one another. There voices echoed between the leaves and it felt as though they were only a few feet away. I saw a hawk circling around some trees, and as the boat took off I watched the waves ripple. I felt like I was slowly coming back into my body, and as I breathed, I closed my eyes and rooted myself in the ground. I felt like me again, and in those few moments my run was altered. I ended my 8 mile run on a strong note.
How to be happy now. Things you can do to be happier, thanks to science and the power of positive psychology.:
It is amazing how a few moments can change the outcome of a stressful day. I know this is something that works for me, however, I think every person- runner or non-runner- can benefit from meditating daily. Take time to focus solely on yourself and live for the now. It’s not something that’s only spiritual, but it truly allows you to be able to appreciate the little, and big things in life.
Go The Distance 69:

 

Do I Dare Disturb the Universe: Buddha and the Runner

  
Before I was pregnant, sick, and left alone to deal with the collapsed sense of self, I utilized mindfulness and yoga in my everyday life in addition to running. I felt a calm that I never experienced before I went into the hospital in February. I figured how to be one with myself, with the moment- with the universe. I gave myself the best tool kit to keep myself mentally and physically sound, but once things went south, I gave it up.

It’s funny how I always say people can “make time” when they claim that they are too busy to run. Yoga and meditation are two of the most calming and self centering exercises an individual can heal themselves with, but I felt that I was too broken. I can honestly say that God never got me through my awful time, but rather another higher power that help light a fire inside of me. I don’t know who or what was there for me, however, I knew it was something. When I was laying in bed crying, replaying the moment I found out I was pregnant through the minutes before I fell asleep I had surgery and wishing something would come and take me out of this world, I had a small realization. 

When I was 19, and trying to get over a rough patch I had a Buddhist Proverb tattooed on my foot. It said “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” I got the quote because I was going through a rough patch, having no idea the future would play out as it did. While laying in bed, I decided to research what this meant and discovered a whole new philosophy. This very philosophy has been something I’ve been transitioning to for a few weeks, and so far it’s changed my life and goals for the woman I aim to be spiritually, as an athlete, a daughter, friend, and young adult. 

 So this guy, Buddha, had this idea that true inner peace is possible, and that finding peace and happiness within ourselves will then project to others, and eventually the universe. The idea seems laughable, but so does the idea of a single God to others. It wasn’t until I started to meditate again that I began to feel whole again.

They say that meditation creates a gap between stimuli (thoughts) and response. In the gap you have a choice. In the gap there is immense potential rather than habitual reaction. I know I have let my words and immediate reactions to intense emotion dictate my reactions. I can’t help but think about how different my life would be if I wasn’t such an intense person when it comes to emotions and reactions, but meditation helps me eliminate the “what-ifs” and the negative thoughts because they do not aid me in the now. 

I credit mindfulness for the strength I found in endurance running. It is not an easy task running 20+ miles without music. It was my goal to find meaning in meditation and mindfulness through running. Suddenly my focus shifted from switching music and pausing to text to zoning in on my breath, cadence, and, most importantly, my surroundings.   The trails, clifsides, uneven surfaces, and twisted roots were no longer intimidating, but rather more welcoming than the cluttered roads, filled with people passing by totally unaware of the sonder around them. I find peace in the physical challenge of my activity of choice, but the joy of seeing, smelling- feeling the world in a whole new light. The thoughts and emotions that would come in waves in the months prior to me starting to run again soon vanished, the person who broke me down the most is hardly a memory, the pain I experienced of losing my child, and trying to pick up the pieces suddenly seemed easier- all thanks to focusing on myself in the moment.

My body and my mind are better Athan ever before, and I wish it was easier for others to find this exciting way of combining to vastly different activities into one. Buddhism is not a goofy “religion” but rather a philosophy that doesn’t require a temple, but rather the willingness to be present in the moment. Losing track of ourselves- our individuality and mental health is easy in our seemingly nonstop world. Making time for ourselves- to be one with the moment and our body and soul can do more good for a person than any distance or time spent in a gym. 

We don’t have to overwhelm our minds and body with clutter, anxiety, stress, and all of the other emotions and feelings that come from our everyday interactions from work, school, training and so on. We can pause for ourselves, even in moments when most people feel overwhelmed, like in a stressful situation at work or school… Or even focusing on the world around you when your hamstring starts screaming on a long run…

The Dalai Lama said that we should not use Buddhism to become Buddhist but rather use it to become better in our lives at whatever else we are doing. Meditation and focusing on the moment is not something for yoga or an expensive class. It can be established and built on in our daily lives, and ultimately better connect is to our universe as we work on our practice. Knowing I have an effective way to manage my anxiety, stress, sadness, anger, and strengthen my connection to the land and trees I grow close to every run I feel so empowered and excited to see what the future holds.  Ultimately, I want to be the best version of myself. I think this is the right direction for the place I am at in life. Buddha said “Just as a snake sheds his skin, we must shed our past over and over again.” No longer am I a victim. I’m a survivor and I will keep pushing forward, training for my marathon and ultra marathon, and hoping that one day I will be able to become a wonderful mother, partner, and reliable friend to others.  

Pace and Mind

I’ve kind of been a Debbie Downer lately. So, if you haven’t read, I have been having a lot of issues with depression and anxiety. Sometimes, life gets a little too real. I am ready to move forward- to focus on my marathon, working, and getting my head straight. 

   
    

What do those instapics mean??

You guys, I AM RUNNING AGAIN! I am slower than a turtle, but with each run, I feel stronger. It’s a feeling that I have not felt in a long time- months even. The fuel that I’ve slowly begin to feel over the past 4 days has helped me feel like I’m doing SOMETHING and that something makes me want to LIVE. Crazy, right? (That’s a joke, because clearly I’m a little wacko when I’m low)
In addition to the wonderful world of running, I am also taking on a 30 day challenge (see picture) 

  Looks pretty fun, right??
So, the cool thing about this is that I think I like working out. Running is mental. Lately, I’ve been envisioning myself running races (which is NOT a Sam thing because I hate paying to run) and finishing strong, like I did in the few I’ve ran.  It sounds dumb, but I’ve also been thinking about my training as week. Anything to take my mind out of the dark place, to be blunt. When I workout, it’s a whole different world. I could close my eyes and not worry about a pot hole or getting smashed into by a vehicle (that doesn’t know pedestrians have the right away). I count, there’s repetitions, there’s a number, a timer, different motions I have to make sure I’m doing correctly. I AM NOT IN MY HEAD AT ALL- and it feels SO liberating. 
I haven’t felt that sense of calm- like nothing can go wrong- in a long time, maybe even years. Working out gives me a security I’m not used to, and when I begin to see results, I know I’ll love it more. 
I’m starting off slow, running in the mornings and doing the challenge and potentially a class at night (when I’m not doubling up at my jobs). I am also cutting all fried food (besides tortilla chips cuz duh) out of my diet. I’ve been sticking to my 2000 calories a day, with fried food but I think having a cleaner diet will also help. 

I know this all sounds simple, but I was in such a dark place… I can’t wait to see where this will take me physically and maybe mentally. 

So you all know- I’m okay-ish, which is better than where I was. I’m getting through this a day at a time.