Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I am a Runner

I am a runner.

There, I said it. I've been in denial for over a year. Every time I talk about it or post a photo of my running split times, I make sure to clarify that I'm NOT a runner: (#notarunner).

My favorite shirt for running
It's not because I'm ashamed or embarrassed about being a runner (although if you speak to some bodybuilders, they will tell you that being called a runner is an insult because the body shape is so vastly different than the bodybuilder's ideal). The opposite is true for me. I didn't call myself a runner because I don't want to insult those people who are actual runners. You know, those people who run distances that should only be covered in a vehicle, not on foot. And those people who get together to run in clumps on Saturday mornings. THOSE people are runners. I was not.

For me, running is like meditation. I run alone and listen to an audio book while I run. I rarely listen to music; it's not enough of a distraction and my mind gets caught up in desperate thoughts like: "OMG I can't feel my toe. Do I even have a toe? Why can't I feel it anymore? OMG my lungs are burning. I can't breathe. I can't breathe! I can't BREATHE! Hmm ... maybe if I slow down a bit. There, that's better. Wow, I totally thought I was gonna die and someone would have to use my RoadID to call my mom and then she'd freak out." Well, you get the picture. I'm a bookworm and love being read to, so the audio books serve a couple different purposes.

I don't like running with others. (That sounds funny: "does not play well with others.") I don't want to be pushed or feel like I have to keep up when my body physically can't. I know my body's capabilities and limitations, and I listen to it. On the days when I feel energized and my lungs are open, I run further and faster. On the days when my body is tired and I have difficulty breathing, I run a shorter distance at a slower pace. I don't put any pressure on myself for achieving a time or distance; I simply go with how I'm feeling that day. I do, however, keep track of total times, split time averages, and distances because it's fun to see progress over time.

My 2nd fastest time EVER for this distance!
Why, after nearly two years of running, am I finally conceding that I'm a runner? Because I realized something very important recently:

Running makes me happy.

Earlier last year when I was going through a difficult breakup, I found myself feeling random sudden urges to get outside and just run. I would look out my window at work and wish I could be outside pounding the pavement. I would race home after work so I could get outside sooner to run.

When I took some time to think about it, I realized it was my body's instinctual fight or flight response mechanism. And my body definitely wanted to take flight! All those miles I clocked during that time actually helped me manage my stress levels.

It was during this time when I trained for my first (and only thus far) 10K race. I had enjoyed running, but when I begain following a regimented training plan to train for the race, it took some of the pure joy out of it for me. I felt like I HAD to run, and that somehow made it feel less enjoyable. I clocked a great time (for me) at the race and then settled back into running whenever I felt like it for random distances and times, and the joy returned.

My brother flew out to DC to run the race with me! We had a ton of fun and we both ran PRs!
I run at least 4 days a week, usually outside. During the summer, I only run outside; I can't stand being cooped up inside on a dreadmill on a sunny day. During the winter, though, I've been running on the treadmill periodically because of time constraints (it takes me 20 min to get bundled up to run outside) and snow piles covering my typical running routes.

But what made me come to the realization that I'm a runner?

I began training for a bodybuilding show to be held at the end of April. I started dieting and outlined a training and cardio program to rebuild some of the muscle I've lost over the past year. I joined a new gym and began weight training again. I enjoyed it, as I usually do, but I didn't look forward to it. It was just something that I had to do. I didn't have a negative attitude; I just wasn't enthusiastic about it. I did what I needed to do and then went back home. Like a job.

After a week or two of prep, I went out running and felt AWFUL. I clocked a really slow time and felt utterly lethargic and drained. I was disappointed and unhappy with how my body felt. Running had become so important to me, and when I couldn't perform at my optimal ability, I was frustrated. I pushed through another week of prep and then decided that due to a number of factors, I needed to stop and decide what was most important to me.

I run outside as often as possible, even when it's freezing!
I realized that while I enjoy weight training, it's not necessarily something I look forward to. If I miss a day, I don't really care. If I miss a day of running, however, I really care. I don't feel stressed, like I HAVE to run. It's moreso that I simply enjoy it. I look forward to it and make it a priority during my day. And that, my friends, is when I realized ...

I am a runner!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

LIVE!

In my last post, I was debating about which word I was going to pick as my 2016 Word of the Year. I had narrowed the options down to 4 words:

  • Simplify
  • Organize
  • Live
  • Release
And the winner is ...

LIVE!

I gave it a lot of thought and actually used Christine Kane's Word of the Year Discovery Tool to help me decide (Check out the tool - it asks some great questions!). I wanted the word to be positive and forward-moving. I want to continue to move on with my life and to focus on my own physical and emotional health. The word "LIVE!" exonifies (side note: apparently the word "exonify" isn't actually a real word. But I've heard it before, and it seems to apply to how I want to use it here) those sentiments.


The word LIVE! will influence my actions, decisions, and emotions this year. I'm looking forward to continuing to LIVE my goals, my dreams, my LIFE in 2016!

Did you choose a Word of the Year? If so, which word did you chose and why?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2016: One Word

A couple weeks ago during my Toastmasters meeting, I was asked to speak for two minutes about my New Year's Resolution. I was stumped. For the past few years, instead of making resolutions, I've used a word to guide my decisions and actions. One year, the word was "uncomfortable," and it meant that I deliberately put myself in uncomfortable positions to encourage personal growth. I enjoyed the challenges it brought and feel like I really learned a lot!

I've been deliberating on which word I'm going to pick for 2016. I'm definitely not going with "uncomfortable" again, because 2015 had far too many uncomfortable moments. I'm ready for something different. I've come up with a few options.

Simplify

Earlier this year, I read the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It's a book that outlines a process for tidying, decluttering, and simplifying. It's based on the premise that all items we own should bring us joy. If they don't, we should get rid of them. I haven't applied her methods yet, but I have worked on paring down my belongings. It's liberating to declutter and simplify my surroundings. I'd like to continue working on this process in 2016, especially because I now live in a small apartment and have very little storage space.

This concept also applies to who I surround myself with. It can be difficult to separate from people we've known a long time but who are energy drains. I'm sure you know some of those people too - the ones who always seem to suck the joy and energy out of the conversation or room. By paring down who I surround myself with, I'll allow myself to more fully experience those who bring joy to my life.

Organize

This concept is similar to "simplify" in that it also pertains to tidying. But it would be more than that - I would apply it not only to my surroundings but also to other areas of my life, especially the financial aspect. Trying to keep up with a growing travel schedule the past few years had a negative impact on my finances and I'm trying to dig out from under the accumulated debt. Organizing my finances would help prepare me for my goal of a debt-free future.

Live

I already started to apply this word this year, when I took the year off from competing and really focused on doing the things that I wanted to do. I lived for ME and not for anyone else. It was a complete 180 degree change from what I had done for the past five years, when I found myself compromising or completely giving in to someone else's thoughts and plans. In 2015, I began to really LIVE. I want to continue with this empowering feeling in 2016 by continuing to explore and to create new adventures and memories.

To be clear, this doesn't mean putting my own needs first all the time, or not listening to anyone else's thoughts and plans. It just means that I will stand up for myself and for what I want. I will make myself be heard in a gentle and kind, yet assertive way.

Release

As I was reading Christine Kane's blog, one reader's comment struck me. Her word of the year was "release," and just reading the word struck a chord with me. For me, this word means releasing thoughts and feelings that harbor negativity in my life, and releasing feelings of resentment, guilt, shame, and blame. I'm picturing opening a door in my heart and letting all of the negativity out so there's more room for new and positive things. 

When you open up to a word that will truly guide you, you’re letting your soul show you the way to your own wild, open-hearted, custom-made path of happy.

I'm going to ponder these words, the concepts, and what they would mean for me. When I do decide which word will be my 2016 word, I may join the One Word 365 community. I love the idea of connecting with others around the globe who have chosen the same word as me.
One Word 365 is more than a new way to approach resolutions. It’s a global tribe committed to journeying together and living intentionally. You can connect with others who have chosen the same word or live in your area. Together, we can inspire and challenge each other to live purposefully all year long.
Do you have a New Year's Resolution or do you pick a word? What's your word and how do you plan to apply it all year long?