The Perks of Taking Running Less Seriously

Although I’m not a particularly fast runner, I’ve always prided myself on being able to follow a training schedule and knockout a variety of workouts while training for a race. When not training for a race, I can be a sporadic runner, but usually with something on the calendar, I’m focused and dedicated.

But I’ve been struggling lately with my running mojo, and even having a race on the calendar in April isn’t really kicking me into gear. It’s really getting out the door that’s the tough part; once I’m running, I usually enjoy it just fine. But it’s been taking a lot of mental energy to get my shoes on lately, and I just didn’t have it in me this weekend. So instead of beating myself up about what it meant to be a real runner, we got on our bikes and rode to Sausalito.

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Now, my biking experience is pretty limited.  I bike at Burning Man, generally either in the blazing sun or white out dust storms. And I’ve gone on two epically long mountain bike rides with Alex’s Austrian family, neither of which I was prepared for – have you ever ridden fifty miles on a borrowed bike without bike shorts? I don’t recommend it, even if the view is beautiful. In the city, I biked two miles to the train station every day to commute to work for a year and a half, but that had been my only city biking experience.

While biking trails and biking in the desert have their own challenges, I decided this weekend that biking in San Francisco is a special kind of mindfulness meditation. Nowhere more so than on the Golden Gate Bridge, where you have a mix of tourists on rented bikes going slow and stopping to check out the view, and serious cyclists trying to speed by as fast as they can. It was slightly terrifying, but now I can say I’ve run, driven and biked the bridge!

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We got to Sausalito and the weather was beautiful and we got burgers and sweet potato fries and admired the homes on the waterfront and watched a dog play in the water. Eventually, we took the ferry back and got to watch Sausalito fade and enter the bustle of San Francisco once again.

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It was nice to take a break from my current mental gymnastics around running and move my body in a new and really fun way. I know a lot of people that run more than I do – I really can’t do more than three times a week – so it’s easy to get into the comparison game and feeling like my training isn’t good enough. And maybe it isn’t if I wanted to be super fast or do an ultramarathon or run something that’s crazy hilly. But today when I hopped on the treadmill, I felt strong and happy to be there, so I’m really happy I chose to take a break.

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On our bike ride over to Sausalito, we stopped at our favorite running store so I could pick up new kicks, which may be a motivating factor to hit the pavement more. Alex, awesome guy that he is, carried the shoes in the backpack for the rest of the ride! Here he is, lookin’ a little boxy: 

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I’ve been getting tons of blisters lately (I’ll spare you the photos), so I really wanted a wider shoe that would hopefully take care of the problem. Although I’ve gone to the same store for the last three years for running shoes, the sales guy sized me at a full size higher than my last pair, in wide width. I went from a 9.5 standard to a 10.5 wide, and when I ran today, it felt so much better! The only thing is, they’re REALLY pink…I like pink, but they’re just so….bright.

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I feel the same way about them as I feel about bright yellow running shirts which I’ve gotten at two races – why? Are they cheaper? That must be it. Anyway, I’m going to rock them because they are so comfortable that I didn’t want to wait and order another size! I ran in them today and loved them, so maybe I’ll post more thoughts in a few weeks when I’ve had time to break them in a bit. 

Have you ever blown off a long run for an adventure? What’s your favorite running shoe? 

On Donuts and Direwolves

I had this really amazing yoga practice on Saturday. It wasn’t that I mastered a new pose or even did every single vinyasa and felt super strong. Instead, I was just really in it. My movements were in sync with my breaths, my body moved easily, and I felt a lot of things during the class.

Part of the reason I had such a good practice, I think, was because I didn’t go to the farmers’ market in the morning. Let me explain. During the week, I get up pretty regularly between 5:00 and 5:15 am. On Saturdays, I’m usually up by 6:00 am, and out the door to the farmers’ market by 7:15. I’m a die hard. I admit to being stressed when I can’t go – I feel like I’ll miss out on ALL THE SEASONAL PRODUCE.

Saturday morning I was up even a bit earlier than normal, around 5 am, after going to bed early the night before. I did some reading for my physiology class, ate some breakfast, snuggled with Hippo, and debated getting up to gather all my bags and such for the market.

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Instead, I went upstairs, climbed back in bed, and dozed for an hour. Alex and I woke up a bit later, got some coffee and he walked with me to the grocery store. We were a little early, so we stood on the corner and watched a flock of pigeons fly in circles, land, fly in circles, land, making hilarious commentary to each other the whole time. We spent the rest of the day running errands, enjoying the day, and spent the night bowling with good friends in Game of Thrones costumes (I’m Ghost, Jon Snow’s direwolf.)

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I’m detailing this seemingly normal day because it felt ridiculously good to not rush out the door, fight for a parking spot, and navigate the crowds of people at my favorite farmers’ market.  I probably ended up paying a bit more for my produce than I normally do, but it was worth it.

Normally, the market is very energizing and fun for me, but on Saturday, I just wasn’t feeling it. Instead of trying to force myself to go and stick to a routine like I normally might, I honored what my body and mind were telling me. And I felt the positive results of that decision for the rest of the day.

Lately, I’ve been getting the message to slow down, as I’ve written about here. So often, I’ve gotten that message and I’ve straight ignored it, or even pushed harder. I’ll admit that sometimes it works. But often it doesn’t, and I’m left more tired and stressed than before.

The last week or two, I’ve been trying something different. I stayed in more, did more child’s pose during yoga practice, asked for more help, and took more deep breaths. I didn’t think as much about my nutrient intake, and instead thought about making warm, tasty food that would feel comforting. I let go of the need to run, and instead embraced burpees and the rowing machine. I ate an extra piece of chocolate.

All of that culminated into Saturday where I felt so joyous and light I felt like I was dancing down the street. I felt freer, less self-conscious, and less anxious.

Now, in order to avoid the whole, “people only presenting their best selves on social media” issue, let me tell you this feeling lasted until Sunday morning. I woke up later than planned, didn’t get workout in, I realized I forgot some things I needed at the store to make donuts from Ashley’s new book, Baked Donuts for Everyone. Finally got to the store and home, and proceeded to spend so long making donuts that we ended up eating them at noon for lunch. So, of course I ate four and then had a sugar stomachache. We then went on a wonderful walk to enjoy the day. I made it to the end, but then ended up essentially doubled over at the bus stop with menstrual cramps from hell. Once home, I sobbed through the Cory Monteith tribute of Glee and then took a nap. The rest of the night was kind of a wash, although I made a reasonably delicious and healthy dinner (followed by another donut).

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This morning has been somewhere between joyously productive and “I just want to sit on the couch and stare into space.” And so it goes. Now my job today is to listen to my mind and body telling me what they need to feel energized for the week and do those things.  And I’ll do it all again tomorrow.