Everything is cancelled and while we understand why, we appreciate the gravity of the situation, we know the necessity of it; for some reason we think we shouldn’t feel sorrow over the loss. Maybe it’s just me, but I call BS on that. Not just for runners whose races have been cancelled, but anyone who has anything which is everything cancelled.
We are allowed to miss meeting friends for coffee.
We are allowed to miss meeting our Mom’s for lunch.
We are allowed to miss running with our friends.
We are allowed to miss all the things that are important to us.
If our child came to us and told us they were upset that their soccer season was cancelled (which it is), we would never tell them that their soccer wasn’t important and they were being selfish. At least most of us would not say that. We would tell them that their feelings are understandable. That it is ok to be disappointed. That we understand that their soccer (dance, play, graduation, prom or what not) is important to them and that we wish things could be different. That it sucks and we are sorry.
It is no different for us.
We are allowed to be disappointed that races we thought we would train and be ready for our cancelled. For the runners who were ready to rock a race and then week before the rug was pulled out from them. You are allowed to be upset. You are allowed to feel sadness. You are allowed to feel.
And just because you feel that way does not mean for one iota of a second that you don’t understand that there are people suffering, that people are loosing loved ones, that first responders are putting themselves in harms way for the good of the many. You can hold both feeling and truths in the same heart.
I was a solitary runner before it was cool to be a solitary runner. To me going for a run is the time to clear my head. To relieve stress. To think and process. Just to be. I had recently talked about planning to get back into running with friends, that is off the table for the foreseeable future. So I will remain a solitary runner. Luckily I like it. For now that is enough and I’m just thankful that I can get out the door and run.
We all have so many concerns right now. Some about family that we are not with. Some about family that we are with. Some about how we are going to provide the staples that we need to stay at home with our family. Everyone has something. Most have even more than one something. Maybe even a pile of somethings. Right now more than anything we need to find a positive way to let that stress out. For me now as in the past, it is running.
I half heartedly joke that when this is all over I am either going to be back in shape with the running, online videos, and stress or I’m going to be 100 pounds heavier. The only thing helping with me not turning into a stress baker (another thing I love) is that I’m worried that I might have hard time replacing the milk and eggs. Hopefully once the store panic buying settles down, I can get back to baking. Until then I will run.
I don’t run fast. I don’t really run far. Although I am training for my virtual half marathon, I will run. And since it will be a virtual “race,” my training doesn’t have to be perfect. I just need to get the distance (which I will). I will need to wait another day to worry about the distance and the time. See a positive.
Being someone who has been a solo runner for years now, the transition isn’t that hard when it comes to my running. Although like going on a diet where you immediately crave chocolate, I miss running with friends. As the saying goes, you don’t know what you have till it’s gone is so true. So many things pre Coronavirus we took for granted….. Meeting a friend for coffee, shopping in fully stocked shelves, the ability to go out to dinner, and all those other small things. It will be a bit before we get back to those days, but we will. We just have to be patient. It’s only been 5 minutes.
Being socially distant to me is not the correct phrase we should be using. Right now, we need to be physically distant but socially there are so many ways to connect. I’ve even facetimed my mother recently. There is texting. There is the old fashioned calling. There is messanger, Instagram, facebook, twitter, and some thing that I’m sure I don’t even know about since I’m “older.” So while we have to be physically distant lets not socially disconnect.
Some people sadly have taken social distancing to an art form. They feel that it is a way to protect themselves. It may do that. They may feel it necessary. They may feel they have no other choice. For them, maybe that is what they think they need to do, but all it really does is keep them from taking a chance on people and everyone at arms length. When you keep everyone at a distance soon enough that distance will be too far to cross and you are then left wondering why no one crossed it.
For my running friends, we have all kinds of apps we connect on and through. So while we can’t run with our friends, we can encourage them when they get out there. We can be their in all sorts of way. So connect, but just don’t do it in person:)
They say you either control your fear or it controls you. It’s not just an expression. There is so much truth to that. Fear can paralyze you. Fear can keep you from reaching your dreams. Fear can keep you from reaching your potential. On the other hand….. Fear can keep you safe. Fear can help you to make wise decisions. Fear can help you to live to see another day. Like everything in life, it is about balance.
Some people in order to control their fears ignore it. They pretend real dangers don’t exist. That somehow they are immune to the consequences. They pretend that if they don’t give into fear that somehow that makes them stronger than what they are afraid of. But pretending the dangers aren’t real, don’t make them any less real. It just makes you reckless and in some cases stupid. That someone they are immune when you are not.
Some people go to the opposite extreme and let their fear paralyze them. They refuse to try anything for fear of failure. They shut themselves off from people, relationships, challenges and just follow the path of no fear. They live a shell of their potential life and never each for the brass ring for fear of missing it.
A little fear is good . A little fear makes you think about consequences. Helps you make smart and safe choices. Not too much that keeps your from trying, but enough to keep you trying smartly. It won’t stop you from signing up for a marathon because you don’t know if you can do it, but will ensure that you plan to get to the finish line. It won’t stop you from life, but will make you think about your life choices.
We are all at a crossroads now. Everyone I know whose paying attention is thinking about what is going on in the world. How much social distancing is enough? Some wonder if they are even necessary. Are the places we think we need to go really places that we need to go? What are the consequences if we go. Then making sure we wash our hands when we get there and when we get home. If your lucky, you even have some hand sanitizer for the trip.
Then there are people right now thinking that they are stronger than this virus. That they will continue to gather, go to races/group runs, and somehow that makes them braver and stronger than the rest of us. It really doesn’t. It makes them more reckless.
One of the definitions of fear is to have concern or anxiety.
One definition of brave is to defy, challenge;dare
I don’t know about you, but I pretty much have anxiety and concern right now. I also don’t wish to challenge the coronavirus to enter my home. All you need to do is look to places like Italy to see that right now a little fear isn’t a bad thing.
The beauty of being a mostly solitary outdoor runner is that for now I can still be a solitary outdoor runner without actually being brave because my fear is making me smart. Today I went for a 6 mile run on the trails. I was not the only one on the trails, but I was by myself on them. Passing, being passed, and going the opposite direction. It was all good. The sun was out. The air was fresh. Most of all it let the anxiety fall away.
I’ve been reading a book recently about mindful meditation. It is about meditating where you are no matter what. Becoming in tune to your surrounding. So today while I was out, I put on no music and to be honest when your running the trails the sounds of them are music enough. But today, I ran. I noticed the swish, swish, swish sound that my jacket made as I ran. I noticed the sound of my feet hitting the dirt. I just took it all in and spent time in the moment.
We live in a faced paced world. We live in a world with calendars filled in not by the day, but by the hour. Color coded for family members and grids filled up. We schedule play dates for our kids. For many parents, their second job of being chauffer starts right when school gets out – practices, school events, music lessons, tutoring, etc, etc. We even schedule our exercise and running. Down to the last detail, our days are filled.
Filled with exactly what is the question? Filled with things that bring us joy? Filled with busy work? Filled with things to keep our kids busy and off screens? Filled…. Filled…. Filled.
What happens when those grids of activities, filled up calendars of events and appointment and expectations of places we “have to be at” come crashing down. What happens when it seems like the world literally and figuratively comes to a stop?
That is when we realize what is important? Will we be ok with the silence? Are we happy with the people that we are surrounded with? Can you take a moment to reflect if everything you think you should be doing are things that you actually need to do?
Every year since before I was married, I’ve taken a 2 to 3 week camping trip with my husband and his family. We go to a lake near Canada where we basically remove yourself from day to day drama. There is no cell reception at the lake and only wi-fi when you drive to town. I always come back from that vacation feeling rejuvenated and refressed.
We can use this time to do the same. Obviously this is very different circumstances. Obviously and with good reason people are worried not just for themselves but their loved ones as well. This is not a peaceful time in that sense because there is much to think about besides health. Some people need to worry about financial strains too. Some are just trying to find toilet paper. As I said before, it’s getting real now.
While like others, I am disappointed in races being cancelled; I understand the reasoning and justification. If there is one thing I am going to use this social distancing for is to get some reading in that I’ve been too “busy” to do. I’m also planning to find time to hit the trails since I will have the time. The trails are always a great place to run with others but also run alone. The weather is turning for the better and I can’t wait to lace up and get out on the trails this week. Now is a great time to reflect on what we should fill our calendars with when the world starts back up again which it will.
What are you doing with your “social isolation” time?
If getting off the couch was easy, everyone would do it. But sometimes, sometimes, sometimes it’s just so damn hard to get off the couch. The couch is comfy. The couch is safe. The couch doesn’t disappoint. Most of all the couch is what we know. The couch is easy, safe and comfy. Although that is a lie too. The couch isn’t easy, it’s just what we are used to..
Sometimes though it’s not just about physically getting off the couch, but getting mentally off the couch too. These things usually go hand in hand. Sometimes you can go through the motions, but your mind just isn’t with you. Motivation isn’t always there as much as you want it to be. As much as you will it to be. The lie your mind tells yourself that it just doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you go for a run. It doesn’t matter if you stay. Nothing matters. So why bother.
What we do in life matters.
How we show up in life matters.
I will say that for someone who has struggled in the past, I do know that how easy it is to listen to the voice that tells you it doesn’t matter. It comes to you as a friend. It comes to you as a reason for your struggles. It comes to you wrapped in lies, but sounding so truthful. That voice is a lie. That voice is wrong. That voice needs to be told to shut the (blank) up.
Easier said than done sometimes.
Taking that first step off the couch in life is hard, but the first of anything in hard. Once up, you can see the sun shining. You can feel the wind on your face. You can see the buds on the trees. You can see that all those things that told you to stay put, hide your head, and listen to the lies was just that…… lies.
I’m going to steal Einstein’s quote a little, because so often in running we compare ourselves. We look to see how our running measures up to those around us. We look to see how our running measures up to what we expect of ourselves. And you know you more than likely look to see what the person next to you is running on the treadmill. But what if…..
Everybody who runs is a runner. We have all heard it, but often we don’t believe it or feel we need to justify. “I’m not that fast.” “I don’t do any races.” “I’ve only run a 5K.” On and on we go as if what we are doing isn’t enough. As if our effort doesn’t measure up to what the golden standard is, but what if there is not golden standard. If you judge your pace/distance to that of another person, you might just think that you are not trying hard enough. You would be wrong.
Here’s the thing….. My mother is 72 and knocking on 73 (sorry Mom). My mom is a runner and power walker. She has never run a race. She only added the running the last few years (yeah in her 70’s). She goes to the gym and she gets on the treadmill. She is building up her miles and we are going to do a 5K together this year. She is and has always been a bit of a force of nature.
Here’s the thing. She’s been going to they gym and using the treadmill. She’s pushing herself. She’s getting her heartrate up. She’s moving. Yesterday she went to the gym and did her run. She was looking at the woman running next to her that was running at over 6. My spry mother (Hi) was running between 3 to 3.5. My mother was working hard. My mother was pushing it. My mother was getting out of breath. My mother was running and giving it her all..
Here’s the other thing and this is one I’m working on too which is why I’m calling out my mom……… If at face value you compared my mother running at 3.5 to the woman next to her running in the 6’s, some might discount what she is doing. You might tell her what she is doing is not enough. You might actually be an ass because anyone who says that would be wrong. Just like we are wrong when we compare ourselves to those running faster and further that seems out of reach for us.
Like I tell my children, it doesn’t matter what you are doing as long as you are giving it your all. My mother is giving her all and that’s all we can aks of ourselves. Some days we don’t even need to do that. But if you are showing up, if you are trying your best, if you are being true to yourself; what more can you ask of yourself? Nothing except to accept where you are and be proud
If you are on the treadmill and your all is 3…. Go you!
If you are on the treadmill and your all is 6+…. Go you!
If you are running a 5K, it’s not just a 5K!
If you never run a race, but lace up your shoes, you are a runner.
If you are running any distance, you are a runner.
It’s all a mind game. Knowing what to push. Knowing when to push. Knowing your limitations and pushing through them. Knowing when it’s time to take a step down and not push. Knowing that you are enough doing just what you are doing.
It’s hard sometimes knowing that what you are doing is enough. We live in a society that expects us to be bigger and better than before. But the truth is that just getting up every day putting in the time and energy to do what ever you can is enough. Sometimes just showing up is enough.
If your are an apple, don’t try to be an orange and know that apples come in all varieties and they are all good. If we were all the same, the world would be boring. So look ahead at what you are doing. Don’t look behind at what you’ve already done. Don’t look next to you to see what someone else is doing because you will miss the joy in doing just what you can do.
We all do it. Whether it be on Facebook, Instagram or real life, we look at other people’s lives. We look to see what they are up to, how they look living their lives, and then we compare. Some people let it bother them. Others have a live and let live attitude and don’t really think about it. When it comes to real life issues, I don’t really care who has the bigger house, takes fabulous vacations, or what not. I pretty much have live and let live attitude and am not a jealous person when it comes to these things. Besides no matter how fabulous someone’s life is, I don’t know what it took to get them there. I also don’t know what struggles they have that they are not posting all over social media. Everyone has a battle they are fighting and not everyone needs to share their battle with you.
In running though, many times a runner will do this too. We look at peoples posts of their training runs. We look at their finish times. We look and we look and we look. And I will say, in running it is harder not to let it get to you. Even none runners have asked me when I’ve done a marathon, “Did you run the whole time or did you walk?” So many runners, running magazines, blogs, posts are about getting faster, PR’ing, and running further. It can be very motivating…… Right up until it’s not.
What if you will never PR again?
What if your not sure the distance your body can push?
What if you just want to run to run….. Race to race?
What if it’s not all about running faster or further?
What if you just want to run to run?
Is there a place for someone who just likes to head out the door?
The problem is that for many it doesn’t feel like there is a place. Most online groups only the fastest and further gets the accolades. What if it’s hard to share your accomplishment because you feel like in comparison to others, it isn’t worth sharing? And believe me it is hard and it’s not because it wouldn’t be well received (because at least for the groups I’m in it would be). It’s hard because sometimes you feel like your accomplishement isn’t worth celebrating.
What if your wrong?
Keeping up with the Joneses is too hard not just physically but mentally too. One of the reasons that I stopped running with people besides knowing everyone has their own training plan is………….
Wait for it…….
What if I was embarrassed with where I was physically. Embarassed of the extra weight. Embarassed because I was out of breath. Embarassed because my pace was “slow” even if I felt like I was pushing it. Embarassed because I thought I should be more. So I pulled back even if I wasn’t sure why I was pulling back. I stopped running with people and while some of it is due to scheduling, I’ve scheduled runs before. It’s hard to admit that you are not where you want to be. It’s hard to realize that you might not ever get where you want to be. What is harder though is feeling like you are giving up something that you realize that you miss…..
Now don’t get me wrong, I do like to run alone. When I was doing specific training, I needed to run alone. Also my schedule is wonky and sometimes I run when I can on the fly. For me, it clears my head. I like to be a solo runner, but I also LOVE to run with friends. As I said recently, running alone clears the mind; but running with friends is good for the sole.
Yesterday, I went out for a run with a friend. We ran. We walked. We chatted. I was supposed to only run 2. I looked down and realized that I was almost at 3. Whoops. The power of running with friends.
So this year as I am finding the joy in just running again, I also plan to find the joy in running with friends again. If I breath hard, if I need to walk, if it’s harder than it should be; it will be that much easier when chatting the miles away. Besides if I’m running with a friend, they won’t mind:) I’ve got some really good friends that way.
We all know the expression, if you run you are a runner. I think somewhere along the way I forgot that.
We all have expectations in life. Great expectations. We all have a vision of how we want our life to be. Expectations are good, but what happens when life doesn’t live up the vision of what we think it should be? This leads to disappoint and sand ness.
All those years ago, actually only 7, when I started on my fitness journey there was no expectations. I didn’t know what my body could do. I didn’t know what a good time for an event was. Hell, I really didn’t know anything….. Except that I wanted to do something. Because I was starting from zero, I put no expectations on myself. I jokingly said that my only goal with my first ever race, Iron Girl Sprint Tri, was not to die. To me that was enough of a goal and anything after that was a win.
There was no… I should hit this many miles. I should hit this pace. I should do this or that for training. I knew nothing, so I expected nothing.
When I ran my first ever half which I signed up for because I was running just to run with my MRTT (Mom’s Run This Town) Mama’s. I was running 8 miles and more just to run them. Then on one run one of the Mama’s, Janna, said, ” You should sign up for the Superhero Half. Your ready for it.”
So I did. I had no expectations. I just showed up for the car ride to the event. While in the car, the seasoned runners spoke of pacing, race strategy, fueling and such. When they asked me mine, I had none. My goal was to finish.
Thanks to Janna who took me under her wing, I finished in 2:09. She knew about pacing and she also knew that I could finish in under 2:10 and she got me there. I just ran when she made me run and had a fun time doing it.I further admit that I didn’t even know that 2:09 would be a good time for a half. To me it was just about running to run and having a good time.
Then something happened, I started putting expectations on my running. I also became ” a serious” runner. I learned of pacing, training strategy, and proper fueling and for a while I even had a kick ass coach. And while I still enjoyed running, it lacked the simplicity of when I first started. I put expectations on myself and I was able to live up to my expectations right up until I couldn’t which was right after my thyroid surgery left me with Hypoparthyroidism. And even after I came to terms with that, I still put expectations on myself. Expectations that I could no longer meet.
You know what? I’m done with expecations! I want to find the joy that I had when I first started running. I want to stop overthinking, overanalyzing, and just find the joy in allowing my body to do what it can do. No matter the pace. No matter the distance.
The thing that screws us up so much in life is not accepting what we have and being upset it’s not what we think it should be. Sometimes getting out of our own way is the best thing that you can do. Sometimes you have to make a conscience decision to let things go, to reassese, and just allow what is to be enough.
With this thought process, I had picked the Hal Higdon Novice 1 training plan for the NJ Half at Rutgers. No, I admit, I am not a novice runner; but I want to be. I want to run with no expectations. I have been so focused on doing what I thought I should do that I was missing out on what I could do. I am going back to seeing what my body can do. To discovering where I am today. And while I may have had this thought in the last 3 years I really have not embraced it in my running. I am now.
You know what?….. I’ve been enjoying my 2 training runs so far. I have just been running to run. No expectations. No watching the pace. Just letting my body decide. It’s been good. The runs have felt good. I have felt good and the bonus is that both runs had negative splits which will not be the expectation nor will it be.
So I will be happy to run where I am today. Not where I was 3 years ago. Not where I think I should be. Not where other people are. Not about pace. Not about anything, but enjoying where I am at this point and that will be enough.
I hate the New Year New Me montra. This implies that there was something wrong with the “old” me and I don’t think that’s true. I personally like the New Year Better Me mantra. This is more an accure description of what I’m going for this year.
I’m going for heathier eating habits. I’m going for a weight that will not cause me foot issues when running. I’m going for balance. I thought that I would go for closing my apple watch rings every day, but then got sick and a new puppy which made me give that one up fairly quickly. Besides that was more pressure than I wanted.
In order to know if I’m achieving my goals on the last day of 2019 I did a weight and more importantly a measurement check. I care more about the inches around the belly than the number on the scale. Although I will say that in order for the inches to go down, so does the scale. I will also say that little by little I have allowed the number on the scale to get to a number that I once would have found unacceptable.
I will further say that I may have been a little shocked by the tape measurer. Unlike a scale, it is hard to say that the number is wrong because my hair is wet, my shirt weighs 10 pounds, it’s wrong time to get weighed and all the other little lies we tell ourselves.. I’m not going to get obsessive with these numbers either but use them as a way to check progress.
I also started the New Year off with a fun local 5K on the cold first day of the year. I went into it knowing that I have not run since completing the NYC Marathon. I further more have not done any type of real exercise since then either. So I was not expecting much. My goal was to just go have fun. Get some miles in and kick start the year reminding myself that I can do this.
I started in the back of the pack as I wanted to make sure that I didn’t do something stupid and try to run at a pace that I could not maintain and would have no business trying to do. As the race started, I ended up being next to a friend. We ran it together. We walked when need be. We chatted the few miles. We made sure to pass and finish in front of the lady who was rude to us near the finish line. Most importantly we had fun. We also finished in a very respectable time of 37 minutes.
One thing that jumped out at me front and center yesterday is how much I miss the running community. I have both intentionally and unintentionally backed away from it and kept to myself with my running. I don’t want to feel like I’m holding people back. Don’t want to slow anyone down. Don’t want to “embarrass myself” with how slow, out of shape, and just everything else. Then their is the logistical side where I am just so bad at planning and just kind of do what I can when I can.
It was good to be back. It was good to see so many smiling faces. Faces that I’ve missed. The only judgment their that day was my own self inflicted judgement on myself. It was just a good day. I need more days like that. I need more days where I get out of my own head. I need more days with people. I’ve always been a person to be on the outside looking in if I don’t force myself to be in the mix. There are many reasons for it that will have to wait for the non existent book to delve into. Anyway, I realize that my slow exile from my running community has also been a bit of slowly turning into myself leaving me alone. I need to be better.
So here is to starting January off right and seeing where it takes me. I’m doing some plotting. I’m doing some planning. Most of all I’m still trying.
Fear of failure is not an excuse to not try. If everyone waited until they were 100% certain they could reach their goal before attempting something, we would still be living in caves. We have the expression “If at first you don’t succeed; try, try and try again” for a reason. The reason being is you will probably fail more in life than you want to admit, but you will always fail if you don’t try.
If you fail to launch, you will never fly. You will never go anywhere and your feet will miss out on everything and anything.
In 4 weeks, I will be “running” NYC Marathon. This marathon is mine to either finish or to crash and burn. Yes, there are many things out of my control but there is much of it in my control too. Like everyone else, I do not know what is going to happen. I don’t know how things will play out. What I do know is that it is up to me how I face it and with what attitude.
It was already going to be hard. There is no such thing as an easy marathon. It’s going to be harder. No matter what it is already worth it.
So while everyone is planning strategies, putting together paces, and setting goals. I, realistacly, with where I am in my training and with my meds have one goal and that goal is to finish. Ok, I might have two goals….. I want to enjoy the experience. Too often we get bogged down in worry about completing our goal that we miss the whole experience. I’m setting some lofty goals……
1. Get to the finish Line
2. Keep calcium in check
3. Don’t be too hard on yourself
4. Don’t be too easy on yourself
5. Enjoy it
This year I will be one of approximately 50,000 people running the NYC Marathon each with their own reasons, expectations, and goals. In the US, even though runners think everyone runner has run at least one marathon, the truth is that only .5% of the US population has run one. I am about to embark on my 7th. It is because I’ve done this before that I am optimistically confident that I can finish this. My legs are strong. Mentally I know what to expect. I’ve run this course twice before and although every race day is different, it will be familiar. I also have the ace in my pocket in knowing that I am running not for me, but for Sandy Hook Promise. 26 miles for 26 angels. It’s not just a hashtage, but something I believe.
So as I continue to work on figuring out once again, calcium and calcitrol needs. I will finally go get those new shoes, so that I can break them in before the marathon. I will work out the logistics. I will continue to push doubts out and confidence in.
Tell yourself no matter what you are doing… Big or small…. tell yourself that you can do it. Then prepare yourself and do it.