Finding Passion and Running with it: Part 2

Finding Passionand Running with it: Part 2

It's been a while since the last post. I was hoping that the next time I posted something, I would be ready to chronicle the ways that I re-discovered my passion for running and other things. Well, that is not what you'll find here. The big race I was training for has come and gone. I did come home with a nice finishers medal but no spectacular finishing time that I was hoping for. 

 

Quick race recap: I was standing at the start line for the Colorado marathon as the sun came up behind the pink clouds. I felt prepared and energized. Nervous, but I did not feel completely under trained. I had scaled back my training after the the infamous DNF in Salida. I actually ran a 5 minute PR at the Platte River Half Marathon which was a huge confidence booster. Anyway, the race started and I planned to start with the 3:15 pace group and hold on as long as I could. The first 3 miles were fairly successful. Then it all went south. I'll spare you the graphic details, but couldn't really keep anything down after that. Nothing like yakking up cold noun after every aide station. I lost all motivation after mile 3. 

 

The stomach issues have been a constant challenge in my running carreer especially in times of stress and serious pressure. I think it may be something that I mentally do to my body... not sure. Back to the race: this was the hardest race I've ever finished. All I wanted to do was drop out, to quit, and go home. There was no obvious place to drop and I was too embarrassed to ask if I could, so I pressed on at what felt like a snail's pace (I had no idea what pace I was running as I had stopped my watch at about 6 miles.) To pass the painful miles, I thought about the reason why I run, or rather finding a reason to keep running and to race competitively. Finding a reason to care. 

 

Before this year, running and racing has come very naturally to me. I just raced because I was good at it and my ego liked that. I never had to have a reason to race or to train... it's just how it was. During this race, I kept coming back to how much I would rather be doing something else. Something more productive (whatever that means). I kept thinking about how I could save money by not paying race entry fees, how terrible all the cups used in marathons are for the environment, and how all the race swag gets in the way of my minimalist and anti material goals. How can my passion be at such odds with my values? How can these coincide? Maybe my passion for running will be fulfilled by miles outside of the actual race scene. Can I run without constantly training for something? 

I don't think I did this I'm my last post but here is a small list of think I'm going to attempt to maybe help me re-ignite my passion for running... and everything else. I've found these things from various books I've been reading in the last few months. They are all listed with the author at the bottom of the post. 

 

1. Simplify everything: having less physical things and less extra things that take up my time will allow more focus on the stuff that actually brings joy and meaning. 

2. Make things meaningful: participate in activities, work included, with a mindful and meaningful attitude.

3. Develops creativity and spirituality: I think I am seriously lacking both in my life right now. 

4. Step back from the running that I don't want to do. Maybe just run fun runs and be less concerned about racing. 

5. Cultivate a better and more positive inner dialogue while running and while not running. I have a habit of talking myself down when things are not going well. 

 

Hopefully sharing my story will help others who may be struggling with the same thing. Making my story public has helped me cope and analyze the situation. More to come. 

 

Sources: 

"Tools of Titans" by Time Ferris

"Enough" by Patrick Rhone

"The Face: A Time Code" by Ruth Ozeki

 

Finding Passion and Running with it... Pun Intended

So this post has been a while in the making. Passion has been something I have been thinking about for a few weeks now and seemed to show it’s ugly face this weekend. The best way I can write about this is through two parts. Let’s begin with the passion I have been talking about in my yoga classes.

My theme for the last weeks has been passion, how to find yours and how to make more time for what you are passionate about. I start class by asking students to think about something in their life that fires them up. Something that makes them feel balanced. Something that satisfies them like nothing else. Later in class, I ask them to think about the last time that they felt fired up, balanced or satisfied. How did it feel? What were you doing? At the end of class, I asked them to imagine their life if they could feel that way more often. How can you bring that thing that you’re so passionate about into more aspects of your life? How would that feel? Where can you fit it in? I taught this in my Wednesday night Cycle/ yoga class last week and it was very well received. But, one of my regulars texted me the next day saying that she was really thinking a lot about what I had said. She also asked me what my passion was and how I find time to integrate it into my own life.

This is where I felt like a phony. I couldn’t actually answer her question.  I couldn’t even tell her what my passion actually was let alone how to find time to add it into my hectic schedule. I love my job and feel genuinely content pretty much all the time, but I don’t know when I last felt completely in the moment and totally fired up. I feel like I am just going through the motions to get things done and to be ready for the next task on my list. This was weighing a lot on my mind going into this weekend. So begins the second part of the story.

My boyfriend and I were headed up to Salida for the weekend to run the Run Through Time Half Marathon. It was meant to be good gage of my fitness as I am training for the Colorado Marathon in May. I was getting over a small cold and my training last week had been a bit short so I was feeling rather blah. Anyway, race morning snuck up and I went through my normal routine not thinking too much about anything (like I said, going through the motions). Got to the start line and took off. I didn’t much of a plan for the race. I hadn’t even looked at the course map so I just took off with the crowd. The course looped around behind this small hill on a dirt road. About ¾ of a mile in, I could tell my energy was already dwindling. “Great” I thought, “this is gonna be a long morning.” At 2 miles the course comes back by the startline near town and then continues up into the hills. We had just barely passed the start line and before I knew it I had stopped on the side of the road and looked up at the next hill. I subconsciously un-pinned my bib number and walked over the bridge into town. I don’t think I had realized what I was doing until I unlocked my car and turned into a puddle of tears and snot. I think I realized at that moment that I had lost the passion I used to have for racing and maybe running in general.

The more I thought about the race, as I was drinking Old Fashions at Woods distillery that evening, the more I decided that I had lost the passion I once had for a lot of things: art, running, nature, and even teaching my classes. My plate has gotten so full with everything, I no longer have the time or energy into enjoying these things.

I am basically writing this to call myself out, to myself and others. To admit to myself that I need to slow down, to take time for me. I need to simplify the things that I am putting effort into so that I have energy to find my passion and balance. I also wrote this to encourage you to think about your own life. What's your passion? Are you like me and lacking passion and fire? What can we do to remedy this?  Maybe this post has brought a little peace to your mind knowing that you’re not alone or that your life is actually full of passion. If it is, embrace it and don't let it go. Until next time…

Yoga and Mood

I love teaching yoga for many reasons. My favorite reason for teaching yoga is that I get to talk about things that happen off the mat. Yoga is not just sun salutations or handstands, yoga is a way of life in the studio and out on the street. I love teaching students about the historical and Spiritual aspects of yoga. I love learning and teaching about the science and healing powers of yoga. To show students that the practice of yoga happens in every decision we make throughout the day.

I am currently reading the book Science of Yoga by william Broad. He writes about the different myths or beliefs in yoga and finds scientific proof for and against the belief. The book is a little intense, but parts of it are so informational. I am on the chapter about mood right now. He is trying to find out whether or not yoga can affect a person’s overall mood.

He defines mood as a person’s core emotional outlook. “ Moods are the central meaning of life and thus, in the judgement of psychologists , more important than money, status, and even personal relationships because they affect the happiness quotient that we assign to life activities. As the saying goes, a rich man in a bad mood can feel destitute, and a poor man in a good mood rich beyond words. To a surprising degree, moods define our being.” he goes on to explain many reasons that yoga can better your mood.

The main physical reason is the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. There are two different nervous systems in your body the one that controls your muscle movements or the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system which controls your organs and the involuntary actions of your body. Within the autonomic nervous system, there are two branches as well. Your sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for your fight or flight mode. When your body is in this mode, blood is pulled away from your digestive organs and goes straight to your muscles to get you ready to run or stand your ground. This is the mode we are in most of the day. Always on the move and never giving our body a chance to feel safe. On the opposite end, the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for rest, digestion, and healing. When you take a yoga class, you relax your muscles and slow your breathing down. This taps into that parasympathetic nervous system and allows your body to start healing, to digest nutrients, and allows your mind space for more positive thoughts that are not driven by stress or fear.  Practicing yoga often can train your body and mind to drop into this relaxed state more quickly so that you can find a more positive mood and less combative reactions to things that happen in your everyday life.

I think there are many other reasons that yoga can improve mood that are not mentioned in the book and maybe cannot be explained by science. I find that going to a yoga class is something I look forward to all week. Something I work toward like a reward or a treat. Knowing that I can go to a class and just experience these feelings make everything else that I have to get done a little more bearable. I also love the community aspect of yoga. I get to break out of my routine to spend time with people who have similar interest to my own and have no intentions of harming or judging me. Other yoga teachers are huge role models for me and their positive mood is very contagious, so the more time I spend around people in classes and around other instructors, the better my mood becomes overall. Basically what I am saying is, try out a yoga class if you haven’t. If you have, maybe do it a little more often. And, just notice the smile it brings to your face and the peace it brings to your mind.

Recovery

     I have been researching a lot about recovery lately. I had a really hard time recovering from the last race a few months ago. I was constantly fatigued and unmotivated. I am realizing now that over the course of the summer I must have over-trained and over-raced. I think that this is something that plagues a lot of endurance athletes. We train super hard running/ riding miles and miles whether our body is ready for it or not. We get up super early to get the workout in then head to work for 8-10 hours, head home and maybe throw in another workout, cook and clean the head to bed possibly too late, and then do it all over again the next day.

    Training hard is all well and good if you are recovering properly. Here is some of the big things that I have found in my research. There are way more than this but here are three ways to start recovering after workouts and between your hard training days.

 

  1. Refuel: Let me start by saying that I am not a nutritionist by any means. Below are some really great sources for you to check out when it comes to specifics. All I can say is that you must eat something (preferably 4:1 parts carbs to protein) within 30 minutes of finishing your workout. It is critical to replace your calories right away so that your muscles can start healing as soon as possible. In the next hour to 3 hours after the workout, you need to eat a complete meal.  I love to eat homemade food rather than pre-packaged sports foods because I know what is in it and frankly, it tastes better. But, if you are looking for convenience or grabbing something on the run, Picky Bars and Larabars have very little ingredients and are pretty delicious. Don’t forget to hydrate!!!

  2. Stretch/ roll it out: There are many days when I finish my hard run and then just hop in the car and head home. I cool down is so important to let your muscles relax and start healing. I have started stretching lightly right after the run in the parking lot of whichever trail I’m on. I even keep a blanket in the back of the car to make it a little more pleasant.   I also attend 2-3 yoga classes every week. The slow breathing and stretching can realign joints, relax tense muscles and bring an awareness to your body. I am a yoga instructor so I obviously think that yoga is the answer to everything! But, there are a ton of little stretches that you can do at home in the evening. My favorite thing is my foam roller!! If you don’t have one, you need one. (You can also use a large Nalgene-like water bottle full of water.) There is a link below on how to use one and why they are so great.

  3. Take a mental break: Make sure that you are making time in your day for you! For things that are not related to work or training. I love to paint, knit, read… Allowing your brain and body a break reduces stress and helps your muscles relax and heal. Creating a balance in your daily life will make everything else you have to do seem more pleasant and fulfilling.  

These things are really easy things to add to your weekly plan and I can attest that they do really help my body recover from the day’s workout and get me ready for the next workout. You can do serious damage to your body and quickly get burnt out if you are not taking care of yourself. Below are some of my favorite sources.

 

Feed Zone Portables Cookbook by Allen Lim and Biju Thomas

Running Your First Ultra by Krissy Moehl

Yoga for Athletes by Sage Rountree

http://www.runnersworld.com/foam-roller/how-to-use-a-foam-roller

 

Manipura Chakra, Power and Individuality

I have been teaching my yoga classes about the different chakras. Chakras are the 7 key points of energy in your subtle body. They are aligned along your body’s median and are portals for the Prana (life force) to pass through. The portals (chakras) can get blocked and the energy can get stuck causing physical and emotional symptoms specific to each chakra. Through specific yoga poses and some life changes, you can unblock the prana to let it flow the way that it needs to.

This week we talked about the Manipura chakra located just below your navel. This chakra has always resonated with me. An unbalance in the Manipura chakra can cause a number of digestive issues. This can be anything from gurgles to severe ulcers to inability to digest nutrients. Emotionally, this imbalance can cause a feeling of powerlessness or loss of identity. As I was doing research for class, I realized that I was experiencing all of these symptoms. For weeks now, I have been having a plethora of stomach issues as well as feeling weak. I feel like I am wandering through my day without a direct purpose. I get all my work done, but I feel like I am lacking the drive that I had. I came into yoga class Monday feeling timid and a little scared to teach about a chakra that I was struggling with myself. Then I realized that maybe I am the perfect person to teach this on that day because I can be honest about how it feels. I also think that teaching about it and being honest with myself about feeling that way may help me to fix the problem.

As I brought up in class, I think that this could be a very popular issue in a lot of people in modern American society. I hear constantly that people have food sensitivities or stomach issues. This may be a legit food allergy or… maybe it’s from feeling a lack of individuality or feeling powerless in a relationship, a job, or in our society as a whole. I am not at all pretending that I know how to fix this unbalance in the Manipura chakra, as I am still trying to figure myself out. I am just trying to point people in a direction that might open more doors until they can find a personal cure for their symptoms and emotions. I always think people should find a relationship with their mind, their body, and their situation so that they can better care for themselves. Maybe do a little research into chakras ( I would recommend starting with this article and then maybe expand your search to a book or as you yoga instructor. http://www.yogajournal.com/article/chakras-yoga-for-beginners/beginners-guide-chakras/) and see if that might be something that resonates with you.

As always I will send you off with a challenge: 1. Be yourself, you know yourself better than anyone else. 2. Find your passion, your power and use it! 3. Don’t let anyone or anything drag you down… it’s not worth it.

 

Yoga and the Practice of Non-materialism

I love teaching and practicing yoga. It allows me to connect to others and to myself. The awareness of the body brings healing, stretching, and relaxing to my usually over worked body and mind. The yoga studio is a safe place to venture into the mind, to awaken memories and ideas, and to confront fears and personal limitations. But, the practice in the studio is not everything. My absolute favorite part of the practice of yoga is bringing mindfulness and non-materialism into a society based on money, technology, and "stuff" 

Studying yoga has taught me to slow down, to withdraw from the rapid pace of everything else, not just in the studio. The real practice of yoga happens outside of class in the rest of your life. Yoga is about bringing mindfulness into your everyday activities; slowing down, being present, creating quality connections with others, and more than anything truly believing that you are all that you need. You are enough! Everything else is just extra. You don't need that fancy new car or the pretty trophy wife or whatever it is you long for. Slow down and take stock of what you already have! I have really started to appreciate the friendships I make with my students, with people I meet in races, and even people I chat with in the grocery store. 

I have created a challenge for myself to spend a few minutes every night to reflect on my day. Just sitting quietly, eyes closed, mind open. I go through everything I did that day, remember every person I met. After that,  just sit silently focusing on that moment, sometimes 5 minutes sometimes more. My goal is to bring more mindfulness to my everyday actions. How will it affect others? The environment? Is that thing that I bought something I really needed or is it just me searching for fleeting instant gratification? How can I be more mindful tomorrow? How can I be of better service to others? To love people more? I challenge you to do the same. If you want to chat... let's chat. 

The Rut 50k: Race Review

Date/place: Sept 4th 2016 Big Sky Resort, Montana

Weather: Rain and Snow

Time: a shivery 7 hours and 23 minutes

The Rut 50k is 31 miles of downhill mountain bike trails, access roads, and the star of the show, Lone Peak! Unfortunately, this year the race directors were forced to cut out the peak due to snow and high winds. This took out quite a bit of elevation and took the distance down to 27 miles... which turned out to be more than enough for me! 

The first 22 miles flew by! I felt like a little fox bouncing through beautiful forests covered in bright green moss. Mountains and trees emerged as if from nowhere out of the rain and fog. As we ran up in elevation, the snow started and the views were stunning! I got to talk to really great people from all over the country who all shared my passion for running and exploring the outdoors. One man said (in a warm mid-western accent) "we may not be in the front of the pack, but we get to spend more time outside which is nothing to be sad about." I couldn't agree more... even as I was losing feeling in my fingers and toes. 

The last 5 miles were the longest of my life. My legs were exhausted and my back was cramping from the effort and the cold. Every step downhill made my whole body flinch. At points, I was in tears swearing that I would never run again. Mile 26 went on forever. Then, I could hear the announcer at the finish line and the cowbells. Magically all the pain vanished and I kicked it in!

It's incredible the range of emotions you encounter over just 7 hours. Anything from awe and elation to the lowest of lows. I think that its this range of emotions that we as runners crave. Maybe it's something we don't feel on an everyday basis that we are looking for. This high that only adrenaline, excruciating pain, and nature can bring is what we seek. Personally, it's the friendships I create during extreme suffering that keeps me coming back for more. Any bond you make or love you find during a race or a long run is a bond like nothing else. We all run for different reasons and no reason is better than another as long as there is a respect for the sport, for others, and for nature. Until next year, Big Sky!

Women's Bean Project

I first heard about the Women's Bean Project when I ran the Columbine Classic at Aurora Reservoir a few years ago. This is a local non-profit that helps struggling women get back on their feet. I checked into their website after the race and was so impressed by what they do and at all of the services that they offer to women of all backgrounds. 

Their mission "is to change women’s lives by providing stepping stones to self-sufficiency through social enterprise."

"Women’s Bean Project is a transitional job training program for chronically unemployed and impoverished women. We provide jobs in gourmet food and handmade jewelry manufacturing. At the same time, we augment the skills they develop on the job by offering special programming and classes in interpersonal and life skills needed to move into career entry-level employment.

By working in an active business, program participants learn the importance of reliability, accuracy, punctuality, attention to detail and attendance; while also addressing life skills – communication, budgeting, accountability, problem solving and goal setting.

Our graduates become empowered to lead successful, self-sufficient and fulfilling lives, creating a brighter future – for themselves, their families, our communities and our economy."    -womensbeanproject.com

 I can't imagine a better way to give back to our local community than to help women find a job to feed their family and better their own situation. They make incredible goodies which you can order from their website or you can donate directly. Check it out!! Or you can come to my yoga class at Runners Roost every third Thursday (details under events). 

Body Image

I recently listened to a pod cast on "Running on OM" about body image among runners in and out of college. Super great pod cast if you ever get a chance to listen. One point she made really stuck out to me. She said " How much mental space would be left free if we didn't judge our personal appearance and that of others... Could we use that extra space for compassion?"  I do think that in our society, in the fitness industry especially, we put too much emphasis on personal appearance. This could be what your body looks like, what clothes you wear, how your hair looks, the list goes on. We focus more on what's on the outside than what's on the inside... because it's easier. It's easy to judge a book by it's cover right? You don't have to spend the time picking it up and actually read it, not just a few pages, but the whole thing. Same with people, it's easier to judge what kind of person they are by what they are wearing or by their body shape than to get to know them and really see how cool they are. 

Working at a gym puts all of this front and center. I see all types everyday and have been so lucky to become friends with most of them. It's incredible to see people's physical transformations, but even better to see their personality transformations. Whether their body changes on the outside or not, they are healthier, they are more confident, they've made new friends and learned so much about how much they are capable of. 

So, to sum up, don't judge others by their appearance... actually, don't judge people at all. Everyone is hard enough on themselves as it is, we don't need others to do it for us. As you are staring at your flaws in the mirror in the morning, stop... tell yourself that you are enough, you're perfect just the way you are. If you want to make a change, then make it as long as it's what you want, not what others say you need. Love yourself and love everyone else.   

Working for Endorphin

Monday's are always a bit rough! Especially after a long weekend of trail running in the mountains with friends, live music, and brewery stops, but I am so lucky to make a living teaching people how to live more mindfully, to push people to their limits,  to meet amazing new teachers and students, and to work along side the best of the best! Come check us out! We have the most passionate instructors who create all of their own classes. We have the toughest and most rewarding classes in town, and we have the best deal!! 

I have been working here for about two years now, and couldn't be happier. I started as a trade cleaner wiping sweat off the stinky bikes, and the owner Chris Lindley offered me a job. He is one of the most inspiring and compassionate people I have ever met. He built this community from the ground up with the help of Endorphin's awesome staff and students. They inspired me to get certified to teach classes and to physically and emotionally push myself further than I ever have before. 

Basically what I am saying is, try it out... you won't be sorry! Who knows, we might change your life!