Keep Calm and Carry On: DON’T PANIC

When I started this whole blogging thing, I had a few goals in mind. #1. To share my knowledge about running, exercise in general and the human body with others #2. To be the change I want to see in the (IBD) world #3. To inspire people to be healthy.

I didn’t want my blog to be all about me and my own fitness journey and my IBD. Rather, I wanted it to be a place where I use my experiences to paint a broader picture about how to be the best runner/athlete you can be. I am totally on that journey and I hope that you are, too. I guess I don’t do too bad a job at that since one reader commented on a post where I mentioned my Ulcerative Colitis, “I didn’t know you have UC!”

But today I can’t think about anything else but Philly. So, today is all about me Being the Change I Want To See In the World and being open about my struggles with Ulcerative Colitis. If it’s not your thing, sorry for the detour in the blog. I’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow!

Between the added stresses that life seems to be constantly throwing my way (and everyone else’s, I’m sure) and my continued flare-up, I’m totally panicking about Philly. I just want to run. I want to be able to show up to the corrals and to have my pace be the only thing I’m worried about, not how many POJs are out there on the course. I want to worry about my clothes and my hair and how I will look in my pictures (don’t lie, you worry about this, too), not how I can communicate with my husband if I’m in trouble out there on the course like I was in Jersey.

So, today I am doing my best to Keep Calm and Carry On.

Image courtesy of Amazon.com

Did you know that phrase has its origins in WWII Britain? Yeah, that certainly makes me pause when I start to panic. What’s a little bathroom trouble when you’re comparing it to being bombed by Nazis? Eeek.

There are lots of places I am looking to for perspective because, in the long run if things get really bad, I will just do the half. I mean, I’m not obsessed with times and places and I certainly don’t beat myself up if I have to drop down to shorter distance because of my chronic medical condition. It’s not like I’m quitting. I know I will finish and that’s really the most important thing to me.

I mean, in the end, finishing is all that really matters. Ask Maickel.

But I DO wish I could race it without a care in the world.

Dr. Boz and I have a Plan. Not that I want to have to use The Plan. It involves a not-so-pleasant day of not-so-pleasant things, although the result will be that I can run virtually worry-free where the POJs are concerned. But, still, I don’t want to have to use The Plan.

I guess I wish I wasn’t sick. Isn’t that what it comes down to? I wish I didn’t have to deal with all this crap (Ha! That never gets old). I’m not one to panic about working out. In fact, it’s usually the one place where I feel most at peace and relaxed but it’s now something I get anxiety about, especially if it’s in a group setting. Or a new place. Or not near a bathroom. Or something I have to do for work where people are counting on me/paying for my time. So frustrating.

Ugh. So, I’m Keeping Calm and Carrying On and reminding myself of Maickel’s courageous finish and others who are “running” other “marathons”, experiencing things much, much worse than anything I’ve gone through. Perspective.

I will cross the finish line no matter how long it takes me or how many miles I decide to cover, given how I’m feeling that day. I will have a picture like these to show you in a little over a week:

 

Keep Calm and Carry On, everybody.

Now go out and run!

Getting Motivated And Staying Motivated

For most of us, exercising is a way to stay in shape. Vanity, pride and fear keep us going to the gym, hitting the road and trying that new workout that promises to burn 800 calories an hour (really?). I would argue that mere physical condition isn’t enough to keep runners going. In fact, if getting “in shape” is the reason people start running, it is almost never the reason that they keep running.

We runners are a different breed. Whether you are a 5K runner, a marathoner or an ultra-marathoner, you are a runner and you are different. We do grueling workouts under extreme weather conditions. We build our days, our diets and our social lives around our runs. We travel the world to race the same distance over and over again. We wake up early to pound the pavement or the treadmill.

Our sport is your sport’s punishment.

And we do it willingly.

And happily.

And we’ll do it again tomorrow.

But why do we run? Like I said, the first answer out of most people is “to stay in shape.” I get that. Me, too. But when we dig deeper, it is something else, isn’t it?

For me, it’s a challenge to do something I’ve done for 21 years and see if I can do it better and better every day. I run to prove to myself I can get faster, go farther if I dedicate myself to it. I run against only one person: me.

This is not unusual for most runners. The pros try to beat one another, sure, but we amateurs are out there running against only one person: ourselves. We are our own motivation to keep going day after day.

So how do you stay motivated when the only competition you have is the person in the mirror every morning?

#1. Run with people who are faster than you. I remember the exact moment when I was 14 and I passed the #3 girl on our varsity cross-country team. I had worked hard all season to get into shape and was always 6th or 7th (read: last on our team) but in this race and the ones after it, I was 4th and 3rd. I will never forget how those 6 women pushed me in our workouts to work hard and never give up.

#2. Find a race. Your marathon might be over, but that doesn’t mean your racing season has to be! You’re in probably the best shape of your life when you toe the line at a race you’ve trained 4-6 months to run, why leave it at the finish line? Find a 5k or a 10k to really race in a month or so and start tailoring your workouts to a shorter distance. It will allow you to recover from your long training runs, but keep you from diving headfirst into a training slump.

#3. Run for a charity. I’ve said it over and over again: running for someone or something else is far more fulfilling than just running for yourself. Believe me on this one and go out for a charity you hold near and dear to your heart.

#4. Set goals. I want to run a 7-minute mile. I want to run a sub-4 hour marathon. I want to beat my best 5k time. I want to run a mile without stopping.Β Set your goal. Map out a plan. Take the first steps out the door. Do it.

You can do anything you want to, you just have to be brave enough to TRY.

Motivation is not always an easy thing to find and it’s even harder to maintain. But if you are proactive about it, you can keep your motivation levels high throughout your training season and have some fun while you’re at it. Besides, if it isn’t fun anymore, why the hell would you still be doing it?

Now go out and run!

Whether you’re a runner or an athlete of a different kind, what keeps you going??

Dirt In The Skirt

I had the most amazing time at my photo shoot for my lululemon Athletica Ambassador poster yesterday in Central Park. Bow Bridge and The Resevoir are two of my favorite places in the park and they looked truly beautiful in the photos I was able to glimpse between shots. IΒ β™₯ NY.

What I am still learning to “β™₯” are the running skirts. Yes, I wore two different tops for my shoot, but only one bottom: a skirt. Me. I’m sure you’ve seen versions of them on the ladies in your running community and every company is taking advantage of this trend, my dear lululemon in the fashion lead. It’s harder for me, though, to just throw on a skirt and go for a run without second-guessing my choice.

First of all, I have no objection to anyone else wearing them. That’s not what this is about. You like ‘em? Wear ‘em! Rock it out. But for me, it’s more than just a cute new addition to my gear or a fun new look to sport at a special race. Because they are totally cute! And most are a very decent length, longer than some of the booty shorts I’ve seen on people who clearly have no friends because no one told them those shorts are just WAY. TOO. SHORT. It’s not any of that.

You see, when I was five and wanted to play baseball, there wasn’t a team for girls in our town. I don’t know if the Obi-wans had to do much negotiation, but they somehow got me on a team of all boys. For two years, I “played ball like a girl” with the boys and learned the finer points of the infield fly rule and other baseball conundrums. I learned very young that “there’s no crying in baseball.” And there wasn’t (until I took a line drive to my gut).

I was switched to the girls softball league as soon as I was old enough. Not because of the line drive. I still got plenty of those to various body parts and one foul tip to a mouth full of braces. I don’t remember feeling too bad about the move, but I also don’t think they would’ve let me continue in the boys baseball league with my being age-eligible for the girls softball league.

I always wanted to play with the boys. Most of the girls I knew didn’t do many sports aside from swimming or volleyball, both of which I liked to do but never did competitively. On the junior high cross-country team, I was the number 1 female runner. This meant that my training partners were the boys who were faster than me, not the girls. Our races started 2 minutes after the boy’s race and I always managed to catch the back of the pack of the boy’s race as I motored toward the finish.

I spent a lot of my youth wanting to be treated like any other member of the team. To be challenged to my limits, too. To have coach believe in me, too. To be recognized for my accomplishments as an athlete, not as a girl. And I wasn’t even a stellar athlete, just a girl who wanted to play ball and run and also be a cheerleader. So what?

So, now I’m living my dream in NYC, working towards my PhD in physical therapy and being honored by my favorite company as one of their elite Ambassadors and I’m taking my official photo in a running skirt. A skirt that immediately identifies me as a girl first and an athlete second. (If you’re mad at me, keep reading. It’s not the end…calm down) I always wanted to be an athlete. Period. Not “good for a GIRL”. Good. Period.

I run like a girl. Try to keep up.

You know what? I don’t really give a crap. I am an athlete because I say so. AND I’m a girl. A woman. A daughter. A wife. A niece. A granddaughter. So what? I believe that being all of what I am makes me a better athlete, a better person. And if I am who I am, doing what I do, doing it in a skirt doesn’t make me any less than all of that in a pair of shorts. I will wear a skirt if it suits my fancy.

So there.

And for someone who “plays ball like a girl” and “runs like a girl”, I place pretty damn well in my age group against the boys, too. 24th in my age group at the Battle of Brooklyn 10 miler. Maybe one day I’ll even do it in a skirt. I’m feeling pretty empowered by my photo shoot experience. Look out world!

What are your thoughts on the running skirts? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Like looking at ‘em? Tell me all about it!

Then go out and run!!!

Running Is Cheaper Than Therapy

There’s a magnet on our refrigerator that says this. Of course, it’s sentiment is meant to make you giggle, nod your head and say, “that’s true” with a smile. To me, and so many others, it means more.

Running is a way to work out my frustration without unleashing on anyone. Running is a private place for me to think about my life. I can daydream when I run. I can cry when I run. When I’m running, my anger melts away. I feel stronger after the hardest, longest of my runs. On just about every run, I realize something new about myself, my life. Running is my therapy.

The world is an unfair place. The things about life that bother me are that which is entirely out of my control. I cannot control who gets sick, who lives or dies. I cannot save the world or someone from their own demise. I cannot change the past nor can I predict the future. I cannot change what has already been.

Running is something I can do. I can release the frustration and the feeling of helplessness on a run instead of on the people in my world. I can run to remember. I run to forget. I run to fight the odds, to beat the odds. I can run to give myself the best chance at the best life possible. I can run to remind myself of that which is most and important and beautiful in this life. I can run to stave off Mother Nature and Father Time. The cruelty of life does not exist when I’m running because I’m running. I run because I can.

So, when people chuckle to themselves in disbelief when I tell them I run marathons and tell me that they “could never do that,” I just smile back and think, ” I have to do it.

Now go out and run. Run to remember. Run to forget. Run to create and dream. Run strong, friends. Run because you can.

Be The Change: Workout Buddies

When I was 10 years old and about to start 5th grade, I was all about the sports (not much has changed since then…) and at my school, everyone who was anyone played on the A Team for volleyball in the Fall. Our school was very sports-centric and doing well in sports pretty much guaranteed you’d be well-liked among your peers. It was the night before volleyball tryouts and I received a phone call from one of my girlfriends. She wanted to know if I’d be interested in going out for the cross-country team instead (everyone was automatically on the team, no cuts) instead of volleyball. I didn’t realize that as I sat in our kitchen while Mrs. Obi-wan was cooking dinner that I’d be making a decision that would forever change and shape my life. “Sure,” I said. And I did.

I ran competitively for the next 8 years both in junior high and high school. I was good, but not great, and kept up with running as I went off to college. Running stayed with me when I moved to New York City and became my “thing” as I started my personal training career in Brooklyn. Who knew? I once asked Obi-wan if I trained for a marathon if he’d pay for my entrance fee (they were expensive to this college student!). He said yes and that he’d be there to watch me run it. Several years later, he and Mrs. Obi-wan, along with my older sister and longtime friend watched me run my first ING NYC Marathon. Fast forward 8 years and as many marathons and here I am.

All this happened because of an invitation to run from a friend.

When was the last time you invited a non-runner/yogi/gym friend to join you for a workout? Having grown up working out with Obi-wan and going to the gym with him, I never found myself uncomfortable walking into the vast open spaces littered with tortuous-looking machines and (almost exclusively) older men. But, I know that the most intimidating part of getting started with a workout routine is in fact walking into the gym. Unsure of where to go, what to do and what not to do, people marry themselves to a treadmill or an elliptical and never experience all of what a gym has to offer.

You could be a mentor to someone else. Sure, it’s great to hit the pavement with someone who is a seasoned athlete who can offer you a harder workout at a faster pace, but you could also be that someone for a friend or family member. Sometimes all people need to get started is an invitation and a buddy. That’s all I needed and look where I am now. Not everyone is a joiner, but most people want to start working out, they just don’t know how to do it. You could show them. You could be that mentor. You could be that change in their life.

So, invite a friend to workout with you. You might be surprised by their willingness to join you in a good sweat, especially if there’s a promise of brunch afterwards ;) What are you waiting for? Be the change you want to see in the world!

Now go out and run!

How did you get started working out? Was it via an invitation from someone else or were you the brave soul who hit the workouts solo and just rocked it? Tell me all about it!