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Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

Really, I think the biggest challenge as an adult-onset athlete is having the self-discipline to NOT act on my natural enthusiasm (and end up pushing it too far).

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Making a commitment to exercise after months or years (in my case) of getting out of shape forced me to have a keen awareness of exactly how out of shape I actually was.  (And who wants to think about that?!)

And once I started in my exercise routine, I had to force myself to remember that I was in my 40’s, not in my 20’s.  I no longer could stay out late, eat and drink like a moron, (apologies to my friends in their early 20’s) and then just lace up my running shoes in the morning and expect my body to perform for me.

I was run down.  I had spent years getting to my general state of un-fit-ness.  Now that I had made the mental/emotional decision to do something about it, it was hard to remember that my body needed time to catch up with that decision.

I had to face that fact that even though I wanted to do something (run a half marathon) verrrry badly, my body simply was not capable of doing it in its present condition.  It would be capable, but I had to face reality:  the process was going to be much slower than I thought I’d be able to endure.

Even when I felt great out on a run, I had to have the self-control not to go harder, faster or longer than my training schedule called for.  I had to operate from the knowledge that the more mature my body is, the more rest it needs.  That even though I felt on-top-of-the-world during that endophin-laden long run, that my body wouldn’t feel that way tomorrow if I continued too far or too fast, taking an emotional approach to my running rather than a systematic approach.

[When I started out, my systematic and logical approach wasn’t something I just arbitrarily made up.  I got the advice of someone who absolutely knew what she was doing (Thank you, Shelly!  I still appreciate all you’ve done for me!).  I also got a copy of a great book for adult-onset newbies, Marathoning-for-Mortals-9781579547820

Marathoning for Mortals, by John Bingham.

I followed that advice and I didn’t deviate from it, regardless of how I felt. If you are new, get a mentor.  Whether it’s someone you talk to or someone you read, it will make all the difference in the world!]

I had to remember that feelings aren’t facts, even when the feelings are physical.  (“I’m tired, my legs hurt.  Waaaah!”  “I feel great; I could run another couple miles!”)  I had to discipline my body and my will to obey my mind and my training, and not the other way around.

I knew if I didn’t approach my running in this systematic, logical way, that I would get all emotionally spastic about my runs and end up either burning out or injuring myself due to making stupid decisions based on my early enthusiasm.  I also knew that the systematic, logical approach would serve me well on those mornings that I just didn’t want to get out of my warm bed and lace up my shoes and hit the road.

After more than 3 1/2 years of running, walking, resting, racing, being victorious, screwing it up, loving it, hating it, being enthusiastic, being bored, being cheered, being mocked, being crazy, and being happy, I’ve become a different person.

A stronger, better runner.  An athlete, even.  (Though it’s still hard to think of myself that way.)  But I’ve also grown mentally, emotionally and in the strength of my will.  Those are things I never anticipated when I laced up my shoes for that pathetic initial effort in May 2009.  And they made me a better daughter when my mother was dying.  They made me a better mother when I had to make the hard choices for my children.  They made me a better wife, friend, writer, speaker and business person.

While I love the physical benefits of running, it seems, looking back, that the hardest thing (the self-discipline to do what I need to do, even when I don’t feel like doing it) was the one that changed and benefited me the most.

Go figure.

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The past few days have been a real challenge to get my mile-a-day minimum run in.

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On Saturday, I took my turn as SuperMom and helped chaperone a bus full of middle school girls at a show choir competition.  For about 16 hours.  With freezing rain scheduled for the day.  I was faced with the devil-and-the-deep-blue-sea decision of whether I wanted to run at 4:00AM or whether to run outside in a strange community, during unpredictable weather, without fully knowing the schedule in advance.  Full disclosure:  I am NOT a morning person.  At all.

At 4:10AM, I was pounding out my mile on the treadmill dreadmill.  I was grateful for that decision by the end of the day, because we were later getting home than expected.  One of our students had won a solo competition and the team stayed later to support her performing.  (Did I mention that student was MY kiddo, Princess?!  Yay!  Shameless proud mama moment, pardon the digression!)

The next day was f-u-l-l of activity and recovery.  I got to drive four hours to pick up Ninja from her ice hockey weekend, where another family had taken her on the adventure two states away.  It was one of those torn motherhood weekends where both children have Big Deals happening and you can’t be both places at once.  In any case, Ninja had a stellar goaltending weekend (Her coach said it was the best 4 games he’s ever seen her play!  Oops, did it again.  More mama pride.  Sorry!)

The amount of windshield time spent with a daughter in travel hockey is great for one-on-one conversations with your teenager, even if it is hard on your running schedule and the size of your behind.  So of course, this chauffeuring caused a dilemma with my running schedule.  No problem, I thought.  I’ll just hit the dreadmill before midnight.

Please understand.  I despise the dreadmill.  I am an outdoor runner through-and-through.  But this night, when I got home at 10:45PM and it was 18 degrees and ice-covered outside, I was grateful for it.  I pulled on my running shorts and sped down to the dreadmill, only to discover–shock and horror–that the stupid thing had bitten the dust.

Flashing an error message and stubbornly refusing to be reset, the dreadmill had been turned overnight into the oversized clothes-hanger that is its sole remaining function.  Which meant, either I was going to break my resolution, my streak, my commitment to myself, OR I was going to go out into the icy, black, now 15 degree night and get that mile done.

Racing now, to beat the clock and make it out and back before midnight, I donned my eskimo-running gear, my reflective vest, and pulled out the leash for Hyper Puppy, who was thrilled by the chance to accompany me on my unfortunate run.

In the end, I managed to make it back without freezing or falling (no thanks to Hyper Puppy, who surely kept me from being mugged, but whose excruciating enthusiasm about knocked me over many times).  And I made it back on time.

I went to bed that night after the very long and un-restful weekend, with that highly satisfying feeling that comes from stretching out beyond what’s comfortable for me and doing what’s hard, just because I’d committed to it.

I know the earth would not have stopped spinning on its axis if I’d just blown off my mile.  I know that with all the Really Important things that are going on in the world right now, my little mile is very, VERY low on the list of importance.  But I also know that in spite of the fact that it was a Small Thing, it was a thing I’d promised myself I was going to do.  And as a mama, those promises-to-self have always been the easiest to break, especially when I was taking care of everybody else.

But this weekend, I managed to take care of everyone else AND I also kept my commitment to myself.  Which is a soul-strengthener every time.  And as I keep this up, day by day, 2013 looks like it might be a pretty darn good year.  Because this year, while doing everything that needs to be done, I’m  remembering that my things are part of that “everything.”  I’m remembering (at last), that I matter too.

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So when you saw the title of this post, did you really think I was going to post my “Before” photos here in all of my XL glory?  Seriously?  HA HA HA HA  No.

But here’s the idea: 

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Now please, before you go reading anything into this cartoon, please know I just snagged it from google images (credit given) because the lady still looked cute, even for a big girl.  Kinda like me.  So I appreciate her struggles, even though she is, well, a cartoon.

The thing is, I DID just take some super-duper-top-secret “BEFORE” photos.  I’m getting ready to start something new this Monday and I’m certain that the last quarter of 2010 is going to yield awesome results for me physically!  The Before Photos will be my evidence of how far I’ve come. 

But I am most certainly NOT going to be sharing those “Before” Pics here unless I’ve got some hottie “After” Pics of myself to post along side them.  This will take time, effort, and cooperation from my metabolism.

If you want to know why most people don’t embark on these weight-loss odysseys that require photographic evidence, I have a theory. 

I do NOT think the problem is not wanting to face one’s blubbery image on the screen.  I do NOT think the problem is embarrassment of the throngs of curiousity-seekers who might ogle at your photo like some sort of freak in a carnival tent. 

No, I’m pretty confident that the Real Issue is that Before Photos are NOT a one-person job.  There is another person clicking away at the camera to capture all that voluptuousness.  In theory, this photographer is an encourager, someone who you trust.  But the Before Photo is where theory meets reality. 

It’s ugly, people.  In so many ways.

I shall illustrate.

My photographic helpers were daughters Ninja (11 year-old tomboy) and Princess (10 year-old girlie girl). 

Princess:  Mom, you don’t look that fat.  You look cute.

Ninja:  You don’t look fat at all Mom.  (pause)  *giggle*

Me:  What?

Ninja:  (collecting herself)  No.  You look great Mom. 

Princess:  It’s just that we’re not used to seeing you with, you know, THAT (points to my XL belly sticking out between the bottom of my bright yellow running bra and the waist of my black compression shorts.)

Me:  Yes, I usually try to be more modest.  It’s not like I’m going to be wearing this get-up out at…

Princess:  (interrupting)  No, really Mom.  It’s not that you look like a hootchie or anything.  It’s just that I had no idea your belly was so…

Ninja:  (cutting her off)  Let’s take the pictures, now.  (clicks away at camera)  Okay, turn to the side now.

Me:  (turning) Like this?

Ninja:  Sure.  Yeah, Yes…Yes…  ACK!  WOW!  Oh Mom, I had no idea. 

(Princess flees from hallway photography studio, possibly in fear, possibly to avoid being caught laughing at mama.)

Me:  Nice.  Did you get the stinking picture?

Ninja:  Yeah, Mom.  Here’s your camera. 

Me:  (looking at the photos)  Ugh.  I have my work cut out for me.  Thanks for your help, girls.

Princess:  (peeking back around the corner)  You really do look cute, Mom.

Ninja:  In a silly kind of way.

Princess:  Yes, “silly.”  That’s it exactly.

Me:  (muttering to myself as I head away from the camera crew, who I imagine is now dissolving into a fit of giggles) I guess the whole experience could have been worse.

Helpful Husband:  (from the next room) What experience?

Exactly.

So this is exactly why most people do NOT put themselves through the ordeal of those Before Photos. 

Marathon training?  No problem. 

Intense cardio?  Awesome.

Strength training from hell?  Bring it. 

They are small potatoes compared to the ordeal of the Before Photos. 

But I figure if you can make it through the Before Photo ordeal, then everything else is downhill from there! 

Check back with me on December 31, and I’ll tell you whether it was worth it!  🙂

 [UPDATE:] 

Helpful Husband has now been exposed to this blog post.  After laughing hysterically–a little too loud and long, I might add–he asks, “When did this happen?  Was it here?  Was I here?  Really?” 

“A couple weeks ago.  Yes.  Yes.  And yes.”  Hard stare at HH.

Long pause while HH ponders whether he would have been in more trouble if he’d been involved during the infamous photo shoot than he is for being so very unaware. 

Again, I say, it could have been worse!

 

 

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So this is the shirt I SHOULDA bought during my last VA Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  And it’s also the shirt I SHOULDA worn at my race this last Sunday. 

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The company is One More Mile Running and I get absolutely NOTHING if you buy something from them.  (Come to think of it, I should talk to those guys about some kind of finders’ fee–but I digress.)

I love the hilarious shirts this company makes.  Going to an expo for me is like going to Vegas is for some people.  I give myself a certain (small) amount of money that I know I will throw away on super-fun running gear on the (likely) chance that I will have a great time while wearing said gear in the future.  Actually, in this light, the odds are far better than Vegas, but again…I digress.

So I did NOT buy the shirt but I did INDEED have the experience the shirt indicates at a race this past Sunday at one of my local running club’s signature events. 

Explanation:

Each year our awesome local running club, the Kennekuk Road and Trail Runners, hosts an event called the Wild Wild Wilderness Run.  Runners from all over the midwest descend upon our lovely little hamlet to challenge themselves on the Wilderness Trail. 

See, the thing is, the Wild Wild Wilderness Trail Run includes at least one portion of trail that is not really a trail for human beings.  True, some deer and squirrel may have ventured up the side of that beast, but humans…not so much.

And the OTHER thing is, THIS year I knew that beast was coming.  I ran the stinking trail last year.  And I heard from my friend–let’s just call her Ami (because that’s her name)–that the run was SO much easier when you knew what to expect.  Just so you know: she totally lied.  (A different experience, but NOT easier!  Still love you though, Ami.)

So now in the interest of Truth, Justice and the American Trail-Running Way,  if you’re EVER considering the Wild Wild Wilderness Trail Run, you should know THIS is TRULY what to expect: 

7.55 miles (or 7.45 miles, depending on the race year) of some of the most beautiful trail in the region.  Including: 

3.5 initial miles of relatively bumpy, grassy trail, in and out of the woods.  Wear your deet during tick season.  Basically an enjoyable but moderately challenging run.  Followed by…

4 miles of hell on earth.  A mountain fit for certain animals, but definitely not people.  Creeks to leap over.  A slippery bridge to run across.  Hills, hills and more hills.  A “stairway” built into the side of a nearly-vertical hillside just before mile seven–that conveniently had its STEPS removed this year–where you are basically sliding up a rooted-mud-hill.

Essential Aside Advice:  Try to strategically select the people who are running in front of you and behind you as you face these natural obstacles.  Sliding down a mud-hill onto the head of the helpful, but completely unsuspecting, gentleman behind beneath you as you lose your footing on one of these obstacles is not the most polite way to make new friends.  Even if he does promise that he won’t let you fall down the hill.  As you are practically sitting on his head.  *sigh*  Well, after hitting solid ground, at least there’s plenty of motivation to pick up the pace and get outta there as fast as you can after that little getting-to-know-you adventure. 

And back to the shirt.  See, while the front-half of the shirt would have been me on Sunday, the back-half of the shirt would be me TODAY.  After my rugged adventure.  While trying to walk or move quickly.  Thank goodness for my friend, Ibuprofen. 

And regarding the WWW Run.  Would I do it again next year, even after all of the muddy drama?  OF COURSE!  Maybe even several times next year.  Because, come to think of it, it wasn’t really that tough after all.  Yeah, in fact, it was more like awesome.  Kinda like childbirth is awesome the farther you get away from it. 

I’ll be there.  Probably with a cool new shirt.  And definitely with a strategy that calls for me making new friends in more lady-like ways than sitting on some poor stranger’s head.

 P.S.  As proof that I should have known better and for the entertainment of the historians among you:  Here’s the post about a couple of last year’s trail runs:  Trail Runs Before I Knew Better 

 

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I hate thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve sat down to write here.  Even now, I feel like I’m sitting down with a long, lost friend.  It’s great to be back.  Thanks for missing me.  I’ve missed you, too.

You know this.  Moms-Who-Run wear many hats.  You can wear lots of them at once.  But not all of them.  Still, it’s easy to forget that your head is only so big and only so many hats will fit up there.

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Then, when Life lifes you, as mine has this past year, you realize what’s most important.  And those are the hats you wear.  And those are the things you do. 

So it was that as a Mother-Runner-Daughter-Wife-Writer-Teacher-Reader-Student-Knitter-Saleswoman-Public Speaker-Trainer-Cheerleader-Chauffer-Cleaning Committee Member-Moving Crew Member-Chief Laundress-Referee-Wound Treater-Hug Giver-God Lover-and Glue that Holds It All Together for My Family, with the application of enough pressure, heartache and disaster, some of these hats had to be taken off and thrown onto the pile with the dirty laundry for awhile.   

If you asked my daughters, they’d tell you exactly what I need:  “You need to run.  And you need coffee.  After God and us, of course.  And your running is good for all of us, Mom.  Seriously.  Same with the coffee.”

So what does Mom-Who-Runs do?

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with financial disaster, she runs. 

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with heartbreak, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with the loss of a home, a friend, a dream, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs realizes she can no longer write, knit, dance, play, because there truly is no longer time for these luxuries, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with ending her kids’ homeschool experience and putting her kids back in traditional school in order to get a job and help her family survive, she runs. 

When Mom-Who-Runs has a husband in intensive care, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs hears her own mother and number one support system has been diagnosed with stage three cancer, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs switches roles and cares for the mother who’s sacrificed so much caring for her all these years, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs gets to pack and move an entire household with her own hands and the help of her two cherubs and a few very loving friends who come through when it counts, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs gets to choke back her own sorrow while she wipes the tears from her daughters’ eyes as they say goodbye to the only home they’ve ever known, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs turns into a puddle (finally breaking down under the pressure) just because someone has been nice to her, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs is surprised by her own medical diagnosis, shares it with her boss, and is fired coincidentally the next day, she runs. 

And she runs.  And she runs.  And she runs.

And she loves her children and her God with a love that is fierce.

And she runs.

And if she doesn’t run, then you know that something is wrong.  And if you love her, you move heaven and earth to get her back on the road or the trail or the treadmill again.

Because the running will bring her back.

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During the time I’ve been away, I’ve run a full marathon, two half-marathons, an ultra and several 5Ks and trail races.  I’ve logged hundreds of miles.  I really haven’t gotten any faster or skinnier. 

But thanks to the running and my kids and the prayers of my family and friends, I am BACK.  Along with my Writer Hat.  And I think we might just stay awhile. 

 

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Instead of writing an Official Blog Post on Sunday, another Rest Day [insert heavy SIGH], I did what every other warm-blooded American did tonight.  I watched the Survivor finale and reunion. 

Love it or hate it, this show is a microcosm of life.  It’s your life and mine, under pressure and under a microscope.  How many of us could survive 39 days with our every minute on camera?  (Give me a shot at a million dollars and I’d try it, mind you.)

Apply enough pressure and a microscope and a camera to any human being and it will get ugly.  This show is about the human condition.  And that fact is why I absolutely love watching it, week after week.

What does this have to do with running?  Or midlife?  Or any of the other stuff you’re accustomed to coming here and reading?  I’ll tell you.  This show is about strategy.  You may love or hate another person’s strategy.  The one thing that is certain is that no one is successful without a strategy. 

Priorities.  Values.  Morals.  Focus.  Passion.  All these go into making a person successful.  Or not successful.  These will determine our strategy.  And the biggest guarantee of failure is to avoid having a strategy. 

I’ve noticed that in races, my age group “Masters Female” (translate that: older broads in their 40’s) is usually larger than  the groups younger and older.  This surprised me at first.  Especially when I noticed that if I were two years older or three years younger, I’d have come away with an award, even with my Very Slow Pace.  What was going on here?!

Well, I think when you get to be about *ahem* 43(ISH), and you start to fight metabolism and hormones and failures and expectations, you start looking for something–no matter how emotionally or spiritually mature you are.   Many of us have buried a parent.  Some of us have buried friends and even children.  We view our lives WAY differently than we did when we were in our 20’s.

So a 40-ISH woman faces her world and thinks, “Sheesh, how did I get here, compared to where I figured I’d be (even if “here” is absolutely Wonderful!) and where on earth am I headed.”  And that 40-ish woman looks at her life and her wonderfully metabolism-challenged body and says, “Well, this is ONE area where I actually CAN make a difference, God willing.”  And then she begins to make some decisions. 

In short, she begins a Strategy for managing the Wake-Up Call that is Midlife.  For many, that involves taking up the sport of running.  And THAT, I believe, is why there are so many stinking competitors in the Old Lady Masters Female divisions of the races that I run. 

And Survivor?  What does this have to do with Survivor?  Especially because the cute little pixie who still has her metabolism intact won the big prize? 

It has everything to do with Survivor.  Because the game is about Strategy.  Strategy.  It’s about being On Purpose.  People with WAY different values and ethics and morals–VERY different strategies–have won this game in different seasons.  But nobody won on accident.  Everyone who won, won with a strategy.  Just. Like. Life.

If you want to “Outwit, Outlast, Outplay” whatever issue you’re facing in life, you’re going to need a strategy.   And everybody’s got some Issue that they’re facing.  Most people have lots of Issues working at the same time.

Your strategy won’t be the same as your neighbor’s.  And whether yours is noble and worthy and righteous is between you and God, quite frankly.  The thing I know for sure, is that without a strategy, you’re sure to drift into the stream of life, with no real purpose and leaving no real mark.  You’ll be voted off the island of your hopes and dreams.

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My strategy, when I looked into the mirror and barely recognized myself anymore, was multifaceted.  Part of that strategy involved a focus on my health.  Part of that focus involved exercise, specifically running.  Part of that involvement, included races and training.  And part of that training includes each and every run and rest day in my training schedule. 

I’ve picked a strategy for this part of this season of my life and I’m sticking with it.  Every stride and every mouthful is part of my strategy for navigating the “physical” part of this season of my life.  For me this involves Long Run Friday, trail runs, race numbers, and Body Glide.  It will probably be different for you.  But still I ask you and I challenge you: 

What’s your season?  Make a decision.  Make a plan.  Commit to a strategy.  If you’re a godly person, commit that strategy and plan to God and allow Him to change it if you discern your strategy is out-to-lunch.  And by all means, Get Busy. 

Plan.  Commit.  Act.  Learn.  Adjust.  Grow.  Encourage.  Enjoy Results.  Give Thanks.  (Repeat regularly as necessary, which will be often, and bathe each step in prayer if you’re so inclined). 

It won’t look the same for any two people.  It’s not a cookie-cutter approach to success.  Without it, the best of us are doomed to failure and with it, we each have a shot at our prize, whatever that means to us.

It’s the formula for effectiveness in running.  In business.  In raising a family.  In being a good friend.  In playing Survivor.  In life. 

Which is exactly why I Love The Game.

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Hurray! 

As of Monday, I’ve officially traversed over 500 miles while training for various races!  I’ve gone from being a complete couch-potato to a Mom-Who-Runs.  And I’m so grateful to the people who have encouraged, guided, coached, prodded, and tricked me into and along this journey! 

NEVER would I have imagined at the beginning of this year that I would have participated in a half marathon, an ultra, several 5Ks, and logged 500 miles while training for them all.  NEVER would I have imagined it on May 1st!  Indeed, I logged my first mile on May 19, 2009. 

I am amazed at how much this adventure has changed me.  I know beyond a doubt that I am one blessed lady and the first 500 have made me even more determined about the next 500! 

2010 has BIG things in store for me, running-wise, assuming all continues to go well.  Thanks for joining me on this adventure and helping me celebrate the 500 milestone!  If I can do it, anybody can do it.  Here’s to all of our success!

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