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Restoration

Today marks the beginning of my Thanksgiving break. I have no work or school for over a week, and I don’t have any major projects for work or school that I need to work on either, so I’m totally free.

I wanted to spend this time intentionally. I know how easy it would be for me to look back at the end of the break and realize I had done nothing besides nap, go on social media, and watch YouTube videos. I don’t want that.

This got me thinking about rest and vacation. There are some things in my life which are fake rest (not to be confused with fake news). These are the things that trick me into thinking I’m “taking a break” but aren’t restorative at all. These are things like scrolling mindlessly through Facebook, eating junk food, or staying up late. In the moment, I think that I’m taking a break or resting, or whatever. But I don’t feel any better afterwards. Usually, I feel worse.

These things aren’t always bad, it’s just that, if I’m seeking to feel restored or rested, these things aren’t going to do it for me.

For this long break, I am planning to do some non-rest things, like tackle some deep cleaning and organizing projects, make freezer meals, and begin Christmas shopping. But I also am trying to make a conscious effort to plan some restorative things. Real rest, not fake rest.

To start, I made a list of the things I wanted to get done. I then thought about some things that give me real rest, and added those to my to-do list as well. Here are some “real rest” ideas that I love:

  • Read a book (fiction, nonfiction, whatever)
  • Practice piano or guitar
  • Do hand lettering
  • Take a bubble bath, do a face mask, etc.
  • Talk to/ spend time with people I love
  • Cook a new recipe
  • Write, Journal, or Blog
  • Listen to music or podcasts

Of course, everyone is going to have different things that are real rest. I didn’t include my devotional, eating well, or working out in this list, but these are all things that I aim to do this week also. I just kind of consider them my baseline of things I need to do to feel my best.

Hopefully, with these things on my to-do list along with my projects and things, I can come out of this break feeling productive, restored, and ready to get back to work and school.

What things are real rest for you?

 

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My Running Essentials

In my post about running my first half marathon, I got a request to share about my running essentials.

The truth is nothing was absolutely essential. I say this to make a point. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need this or that to get started with some new hobby or exercise. I may think I need a certain pair of shoes or to find the perfect gym or to have the perfect musical instrument before I can actually get to work on whatever it is. I find that this isn’t true. The only essential for running is to get started, and that tends to be true for most things I try.

I just wanted that disclaimer, because I truthfully don’t think you need anything to get started. Just put one foot in front of the other. That being said, if you’ve gotten started and are wondering what I personally preferred, here were some of my favorites things:

Training Program

I originally set out to run a 9-mile run. At the time I started, I wasn’t even ready for the first week of the 10 mile training plan, so I started with a 5k training plan. Once I was able to, I progressed to the 10 mile training plan. After my 9-mile run, I decided to go for the half marathon, and I progressed to the half-marathon training plan. They were all from HalHigdon.com and I loved that they included variety. If I could recommend one thing to someone interested in training for their first race, it would be to find a training plan and stick with it. I did not deviate from this plan and it served me well.

Gear

My shoes were Nike Free Runs. They’re lightweight and did the job. I’m not sure if my shoes were to blame, but I wound up with some nasty blisters on the inside of my foot. Moleskin completely fixed this problem, so it’s definitely an essential as well!

Once you completely quit caring what you look like, a running belt is a nice thing to have. I found an awesome one from Camelbak that had a pocket on one side and a spot for a soft water bottle on the other. It was far from stylish but got the job done.

I never got any Bluetooth ear buds, but that would have been really nice! The wired ones worked just fine for me though, and I really liked that mine had the rubbery part that wraps around my ear to keep them in place.

I also used a foam roller after every run. I’m not certain of the brand, but any foam roller will do. It made a huge difference in how my legs felt the next day!

Epsom salt baths are also very nice.

Food

I learned from a traumatic experience that for me personally, caffeine is not a great pre-workout. I also learned that eating nothing is not a great pre-workout. I settled on a granola bar or my homemade energy balls and would usually eat this about 10 minutes before my run. During the run, I would eat an energy chew at about mile 4 and then a few more throughout the run, about every half hour. I also tried to drink plenty of water. After the run, I would eat something that had both carbs and protein and again drink plenty of water. I also found that what I ate the evening before a long run made a difference. This may have all been in my head, but when I ate an unprocessed, wholesome dinner, I seemed to feel better the next day during the run.

Podcasts

I know lots of people like music for running. That probably would have helped me run faster, but running fast wasn’t my goal. Instead, I listened to podcasts during my run. It kept my mind engaged and helped motivate me on days when it was hard to take the first step out the door. I may do a future post about podcasts- let me know if you’re interested in something like that!

Physical Therapy Exercises

I wound up with a nasty case of hip bursitis (I’m self-diagnosing here, but the symptoms fit). The pain was bad enough at one point that I could hardly walk. With the help of this YouTube video (and some ibuprofen), I began doing these exercises multiple times a day, and the pain cleared up. Even after I was pain-free, I continued doing these exercises a few times a week and ran the 13.1 without any pain!

Mindset

This sounds cliche, but my biggest running essential was being in the right mindset. I’m thankful that I challenged myself to run this race, not only for the physical hurdles, but for the mental ones as well. There were lots of days I woke up and didn’t feel like doing an early morning run, but I did it anyway. I don’t think it was some sort of willpower magic. I just did a few things.

The first is that (with very few exceptions) I never decided whether I was running or not. It was in my schedule, it was on my training plan, so it happened. If it rained, I ran on a treadmill at the gym. If I had stayed up late the night before, I would choose to run in the evening instead of the morning. On weeks when I knew I’d be busy during my run days, I’d adjust my training plan so I wouldn’t be scheduled to run on those days. I had to set myself up for success, because it’s really easy for me to decide not to run at the very first hint that the conditions may not be ideal. The key (for me at least) is consistency.

The second mindset thing for me was my message to myself. It was, “Keep going. Don’t stop.” That may seem simple, but it was really helpful in the midst of tough runs. My goal was not to break a world record for speed, but my goal was to not walk. So that’s what I did. I kept going and didn’t stop, no matter how slow I went.

 

Again, I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to run this race. I had so much fun!

So I Did Some Running

I ran a half marathon.

I never thought I’d say those words, but here we are. I’ve been asked many times, “Why?” or “What made you want to do that?” or “What motivated you?” I wish I had some sort of noble answer, but I really don’t know. I think it was mostly to see if I could do it or to be able to say I did. It started when I trained for and ran a 9-mile run. When I finished it, I realized that a half marathon is just another 4 miles, so I might as well do it while I was already training.

I think running is kind of like coffee. You don’t like it when you start, but you know that there’s got to be a reason everybody’s so crazy about it, and eventually, you get to a point that you actually start to like it a lot. At least, that’s how it worked for me.

I’m not a good runner, by any means, but I just had the mentality of “keep going, don’t stop.” It’s like the old saying that “slow and steady wins the race,” except for I didn’t win the race. I didn’t even come close. The guy who won beat me by a whole hour. I guess fast and steady actually wins the race!

Still, the whole experience was a blast. There’s something so thrilling about setting a ridiculous goal, working consistently toward it (even when you don’t see progress) and eventually reaching that goal. I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to do it!

 

 

Progress is Slow

This photo is of me, sweating profusely after finishing 9 miles of running in my local “9 Mile Gut Check.” If you would have told me a year ago that I would run 9 miles straight and even kind of enjoy it, I would have thought you had the wrong girl.

I have found that this seems to be the way most big goals work. If you’re doing something challenging, it was probably way outside of anything you thought was possible at one point.

When I started training for the 9 mile race on May 29, I could barely run a mile. I wondered who I was kidding, thinking I could run 9 miles. I kept training.

As the training intensified and I began running 3 miles or so, I again wondered who I was kidding. I had run a few 5k races, but that was the farthest I had run in my adult life. After finishing a 5k, it felt like there was no way I could possibly run any further. I kept training.

Then I hit the 5 mile mark. This was probably the longest run I had ever done in my life. By the time I was in the 5-6 mile range, I began to realize something kind of magical. I decided it might be possible. I might actually be able to run 9 miles. I began feeling (strangely) kind of good during my runs. I dare say I even enjoyed it a little.

The miles kept creeping up. The weekend I did an 8 mile run, I felt phenomenal. My time was great, I felt good, and I knew I could conquer the 9 mile run.

Then I ran 9 miles the week before the race and tragedy struck. My right hip began hurting at about mile 5. It was a dull pain, so I didn’t think anything had popped or was broken, but it got slightly worse as I got up to mile 9. I finished the 9 miles, but once I quit running I could hardly stand up. I wasn’t sure I could walk the few blocks back to my house. I hobbled home, soaked in an epsom salt bath, and fearfully googled my symptoms.

Hip bursitis.

What I was reading gave mixed messages. My biggest concern was if I’d be able to run the 9 miles again the next Saturday at the race. With the pain I was feeling, it didn’t seem possible.

Thankfully internet information saved me. I took ibuprofen daily, did a rehabilitation stretching and exercise program three times a day (this one), and went easy on my runs during that week, even walking the short distance on Tuesday instead of running.

Race day came and I ran the entire race with little to no pain. I finished 13th and beat my desired time by a long shot.

Now I’m training for a half marathon. I never thought I’d type those words but I’m so excited about it.

The point of all of this is this:

As you work toward a goal, you get better, and it becomes less impossible.

We often see people at the completion of their goal. We see professional athletes hitting home runs, public speakers giving amazing presentations, researchers presenting on their new theories, and artists producing unbelievable masterpieces. What we don’t often realize is that these people were beginners at some point. Without all the practice and slow progress that got them to where they are, they wouldn’t be able to do the things they do.

Each week of running was simply building upon the training I had done the week before. There is no magical formula besides consistency.

I think I learned a lot more from all this running than just about how to run (let’s be honest, I’m still not a very good runner!). Mainly, I learned that with enough perseverance, you can go pretty far. 

 

 

What is a big goal you’ve achieved? Did you have to make slow progress toward it?

Also, would you like to see more about my training? It’s been a big part of my life these last few months, so I’d be happy to share what gear I use, what training plan I followed, or whatever else you’d like to know! Let me know if you have any questions about it!

Identity = Habits

Have you ever encountered a habit that you’d like to make (or break) that seems to go against your nature? Maybe that means waking up early when you consider yourself a night owl or sticking to a budget when you consider yourself spontaneous.

For me, as long as I continue believing that I am not the type of person who does this or that, I won’t. Gretchen Rubin put this idea into words in her book Better than Before when she talked about the “Strategy of Identity” for behavior change.

Basically, one way to change a habit is to re-imagine yourself as the type of person who does that habit.

I used to run, but would proudly say “I hate running” when anyone asked. After signing up for and training for my 9 mile run (it’s two weeks away!), I have begun to see things differently. It’s not just running that I view differently, it is how I view myself. I find me referring to myself as a runner. I began to actually think of myself as a person who runs. This is helpful in getting out of bed and logging those long miles on Saturdays. It’s no longer a question of whether or not I can muster the willpower to put one foot in front of the other. I am a runner, and runners run.

I’ve been trying to use this approach to punctuality, and it seems to be working. I consider myself a fairly responsible grownup (most days) but have always had a problem being on time. I’ve started telling myself that responsible people arrive early to things, and since I am a responsible person (or so I tell myself), I must arrive early.

The use of this strategy seems limitless, as you can shift your identity focus for anything. I’m a big believer in the idea that changing your thoughts can change your world. For me, using this to my advantage means thinking about my identity and how it relates to what I do each day.

It also begs the question, “Who do I want to be?” Reminding myself of this question can really influence my thoughts. I want to be patient and kind and hardworking and growth-oriented. To start thinking of myself as striving for certain qualities leads me to naturally improve my habits.

What habit could improve in your life if you changed the way you viewed yourself?