Monday, February 19, 2018

The sound of silence (sort of)

A lot of runners, particularly runners my age, can't imagine running without listening to something - music, a podcast, a book on tape.  Some actually prefer to only ever run without anything in their ears, using it as their opportunity to escape from the endless, endless input of information coming at us at all hours these days.

I fall somewhere in between.  If I'm not putting any particular thought into it, there's always a playlist I'd like to listen to (it helps me keep my pace up) or a podcast in my endless queue to be heard.  I have to remind myself that I actually not only like to run with nothing, but it's so unbelievably good for me and necessary for my brain. 

My word for 2018, Listen, is partly because in lieu of listening to my own brain (which is quite interesting all by itself), I feel constantly compelled to listen to something.  There is so much incredible material out there for consumption, and it's so easy to just let your headphones be glued to your ears for every single commute, every errand, every chore, every time you're not interacting with another human being (and even sometimes when you are).

As a result, I have a hard time remembering the simplest things, and when I suddenly stop all this input to do something like, say, meditate, my brain jumps at the chance to have a little free space, and that's when the planning and the processing of memories and the, "Remember we're out of apples!" all comes flying at me at once.

Running unplugged is unbelievably freeing.  Having the chance for my mind to wander - and yes, it spends a big chunk of the time planning and organizing and predicting - is so valuable to sanity.  I can keep my breath in a steady rhythm, pay deep attention to my form and to any little pains that might pop up, and it also gives my brain a chance to come up with brand new mantras for myself to push me through.  It may not have the relentlessly driving beat of Eminem, but it has something so much deeper.

If you aren't a runner, try an unplugged walk.  If you live in the city, you won't be treated to the sound of silence (unless you have fancy noise canceling headphones) but you'll be treated to the sound of something so much better - total, unfiltered you.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Beginning Again (and again and again and again)

For a yoga teacher, I'm sometimes a very inflexible person.  I can get extremely agitated, impatient, and ridiculously bent out of shape when faced with obstacles and detours in my path.  Injury, illness, obligations - these things have come and knocked my plans off the shelf many times. 

I always seem to have a sense that someday they won't - similar to the arrival fallacy in happiness research. (I'll be happy once I...fill in the blank).  It's that sense that someday I'll get to my starting line, and it'll be the last starting line I ever have because I'll go on a smooth, uninterrupted, lifelong streak of good health and complete control over my schedule.

I'm almost embarrassed to write that because it's so unbelievably laughable.

Life is interruption, chaos, disappointment, and adapting to what gets thrown at you.  It could be something profoundly huge and life altering like cancer, or something not so profound like a temporary injury or illness.  Pregnancy and new parenthood is a great way to introduce utter chaos and throw your expectations out the window.  Achieving your goal can be what sends you back to a place of beginning again - unless you're a professional athlete, you're probably not going to pop back up and run 18 miles the week after completing a marathon.  You back off, recover, and if it's still your passion - you begin again.

Even something like a work, family, or friend emergency that takes up time that you'd previously blocked up as yours will throw you off your best laid plans, your carefully drawn path, and in my case, your painstakingly OCD race training plan.  Time passes, fitness gets lost, and you're back to square one.

Is it the end of the world?  Of course not.  But for me at least, it is a lesson that needs to be learned over and over and over again, and a mental resilience and adjustment that constantly feels new.  I can get so rigid in my desires and expectations that I sometimes fall apart in the face of these adversities instead of sitting back and surrendering to circumstances out of my control - riding out the wave until I can grasp the reins again and take back over, at least for awhile.

I'm about to officially start training for what I hope to be a year of racing triumphs - the Brooklyn Half Marathon on May 19th, and my long awaited shot at the New York City Marathon on November 4th, both with my work wife and sole-sister Laura Frye by my side (check out her awesome YouTube channel to follow her running adventures!).  More than in any previous year, I'm building in injury prevention strategies to keep myself strong, mobile, and on top of any nagging issues before they become bigger issues.

This bout of the flu I recently recovered from pushed the start date two weeks, and it also (re)taught me the invaluable lesson that applies not just to fitness but pretty much everything - life requires the serenity prayer.  We need the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and most importantly, the wisdom to know the difference.  We need wisdom not to push ourselves when life is stepping in to tell us to take a different path, and we need wisdom to push ourselves when we're perfectly capable of hopping over an obstacle that shouldn't get in our way.

Life is a series of starting lines.  The closer I get to accepting that - with all due reverence to the holy Indigo Girls - the closer I am to fine.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Flu 2, Me 0

I was sooooo inspired and ready to go...

I've been knocked out of commission the last two weeks by a flu that just won't quit.  It wasn't the scary strain, I don't think - no hospital visits for me - but my last two weeks has basically been a cycle of sleep as much as possible, work, collapse on the couch with Breaking Bad, cough throughout, repeat.

Needless to say, it hasn't been a great breeding ground for blog inspiration - or inspiration of any kind, really, except for how freaking inspiring it is to watch the best show of all time again.

I'm still not 100%, but I made my first foray back into the land of the living today with a chill yoga class that was just my speed.

I'd really love to share the semi-restorative class which was the only thing I was able to bring my sick, exhausted body to practice the last couple of weeks - but first, get yourself a free trial of Yoga Glo - it's worth it!

This class, Get Grounded When Deeply Fatigued and Depletedis an absolute must for this flu season.  So sleep, hydrate, and wash your hands.  And if it attacks you - the only answer is to surrender to it.

Here's hoping I'll be back to my inspired and energized self soon!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Running Inspiration

This morning, I finally went out for a cold-weather run in the cold cold weather - wind chill of 8 degrees.  I think my mildly asthmatic lungs have finally adjusted to the absolute bitterness of the cold, and last week's brief holiday into the 50's finally swept away all the dangerous snow and ice.

Adding to that the burst of energy from being nearly halfway through Whole30 (and inspired by my husband's first time doing it) and the general optimism that flows through a New Year, and there was no way I wasn't dragging myself out of my warm bed for a run this morning.  It was freezing cold and the bottom part of my face felt numb by the end, but my God it also felt fantastic.


Aside from those things taking away any more excuses to get out there, I have been so deeply, deeply inspired recently by four great runners and people, all of whose praises I have sung on the blog before.  But it's my blog and I get to sing them again if I want to!

For starters on the running inspiration front, my beautiful friend Laura achieved her crazy goal of completing not only her very first marathon but the Goofy Challenge - aka a half marathon on a Saturday and a full marathon the very next day.  Check out her video recap (which I'm going to catch up on for myself tonight!) here, as well as a ton of other fun and inspiring videos about her running journey.

Then, my favorite podcast of all time, Two Gomers Run for Their Lives, came upon a momentous occasion yesterday!  One of the two Gomers finally achieved a goal they've had their eyes on for many years - to run a sub-5 hour marathon.  These guys have so deeply inspired and entertained me over the years, and their completely open and unselfish love and support of each other is a truly beautiful thing to behold.  They're also hilarious.  If you haven't already jumped on board the Gomer Nation, you absolutely have to listen to this podcast.  They're truly incredible people.

Finally, this weekend I saw my friend Lu give an absolutely thrilling performance that still gives me goosebumps when I think about.  She wrote and produced her own live Cabaret - The Big C Cabaret -  all about what she's gone through the last three and a half years from being ready to pursue her dream of acting in NYC, to being diagnosed with cancer, through treatment and side effects and obstacles I can't even begin to imagine overcoming - and overcoming them.  She has survived and is thriving.  She crushed the NYC Marathon this past November, as well as her fundraising goal for Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and on top of it all, her singing voice is out of this world.  She was luminous, and getting to experience her triumphant performance next to my wonderful husband and her wonderful husband, one of my oldest and most precious friends, just brings me to tears when I think about it.  Read Lu's beautifully written blog and follow her adventures here.


I think one of the most important lessons that I continually learn over and over about running and life is that you're usually just one inspiring story away from a better outlook, a better mood, and the ability to pick yourself up off the floor and move.  We have so much power over our own mood and health, even when we feel powerless with regards to other circumstances in our lives.  Sometimes we just need a little help from our friends.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Listen (2018)

The last three weeks feel like an eternity!  It's amazing how time never quite passes normally over December / early January for me.  The time in the city leading up to my visit down south seemed to fly at warp speed.  Being down with my sister and her kids was like heaven.  Exhausting, draining, heaven.  Each day is a billion years and two seconds long.

Coming back to the city, our first week was packed.  Work, in-laws visiting, New Year's celebrations, Whole30 prep, work, a snow-ish day, and finally - the absolute gift of a weekend.  A real, live weekend - two whole days just for me and for Marc, being productive on the stuff we needed to be productive on, and relaxing for a change.  (And also taking our very first boxing class, which was one of the most fun and brutal things ever)

So now we are back to reality, back to the blog, and having finally found time to catch my breath, get centered, and re-calibrate, I'm ready to tackle 2018.  We are on Day 7 of Whole30 - my fifth round, and Marc's very first.  He is rocking it so far, and already he's feeling and seeing changes in himself.  As anyone who's ever done Whole30 knows, it's a huge commitment and upheaval, and he's been 110% with it.  I'm really proud.

Although New Year's Day was just last Monday, it feels like it's been an eternity since then.  This morning, however, is flying by, so I will keep this New Year's inspired entry short and sweet.

For the past nine years, I've chosen one word or phrase as an intention for the year.  They've run the gamut, and had various degrees of success sticking in my consciousness throughout or having the sort of effect I hope.  I wasn't 100% confident in this word, until it was mentioned in my all-time favorite podcast, Two Gomers Run for Their Lives which you MUST check out now, in their New Year's episode when they shared their listener feedback for listener words of the year.  (They choose "one word"'s too) Hearing my podcast heroes affirm the value of my choice set it in stone.  Shallow and insecure?  Perhaps.  But whatever - I'll take it.

My word this year is Listen.  As I explained it in response to the Gomer survey:

I need to listen better to others rather than just waiting for my turn to talk. 

I need to listen to my body (hello injury prevention)

I need to listen to what I truly want and need instead of numbing with constant media consumption.


So there you go.  We'll see how I do, how it shapes little day and and day out actions and decisions, and what effect it may or may not have.  Anyone else do "one word" or "one phrase" intentions for the year?  I'm pretty sure I cribbed the idea from America's Queen, aka the one and only Oprah.

Happy 2018, everyone.  May it be better than the last!

Monday, December 18, 2017

A Parting (sort of) Gift - Meditation and More from Karma Kids Yoga!

Happy December!  We are officially more than halfway through the craziest and most joy-filled month of the year, and I am officially two days away from reuniting with my sister and her crazy and joy-filled family.

To share in the spirit of giving this holiday season, my last post of 2017 is a gift to you!  Karma Kids Yoga's YouTube channel is packed with such a wide variety of yoga goodness - it really has something for everyone.  Yoga love for shoulders & upper back, which every grown-up can use, a great arm workout, family yoga, a surprise visit from Frozen's own Anna and Elsa, and tons more!

Specifically, I want to share with you a meditation I contributed to KKY's page.  It's directed toward mama's to be, so please share with any you may know, but the basic principles of it can be relaxing, grounding, and useful for anyone who needs to just sit and get quiet during this busy time of year.

Subscribe to our channel, check out all the fun, and enjoy this meditation!  May 2018 be less crazy and more joyful than 2017.  See you then.

Monday, December 11, 2017

33

Wednesday I turn 33, and I started out the week with the most wonderful celebration with wonderful people, and 33 candles on a huge chocolate cake.

There's a lot wrong in the world, but that is not one of them.


The sound of silence (sort of)

A lot of runners, particularly runners my age, can't imagine running without listening to something  - music, a podcast, a book on tape....