When Life Knocks You Down, How Do You Get Back Up?

It seems like this “sick season” really hit me hard.  After going through the flu in September, an unending cold throughout October, and then three weeks battling strep throat and an ear infection, I was able to acquire food poisoning last night.  This was my first time with food poisoning and if you’ve never had it before, count your blessings! It was the grossest night of my life that caused me to get 0 sleep and sprint to the bathroom not once, twice, but thirteen times in less than 10 hours.  I’ll stop there with the details but it has left me pretty weak and depleted.

I have been pondering why I have taken such a hit in the sickness department this year.  Normally I am able to resist the inevitable cough/cold/flu that everyone seems to get in the fall.  Many people have offered their advice: It’s because you eat meat again so you should go back to being vegetarian; it’s because you’re running too much so maybe you really should cut back the mileage; you go to a gym and those places are crawling in germs; you’re more susceptible to illness when you’re stressed so you need to relax.

While some of those ideas may be somewhat fallacious, they’ve made me think.  I am busy training for my marathon coming this January and have been diligently following my long runs every weekend, going the 20, 25, and 30km distances I’m called to do.  But, have the long runs been depleting my energy stores and inhibiting my body from fully recovering from my illnesses?  It’s a good theory and one my mum is currently standing behind.  She’s suggested that this weekend instead of running the 25 km I am scheduled to do on Saturday, to split it up over the weekend into a 10km and 15km run.  I’ve never changed my long runs up like this and it almost feels like I’ll be cheating a little bit, but would this be the smartest move for me in the current situation?

To be honest, I’m really not sure.  What do y’all think?   

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Have You Lost Your Freedom?

In the past couple weeks my running has taken an interesting turn.  After the close of my running series (that I ended up winning my category in and coming 8th female overall!) and my emotional upheaval last month, my running has been less about intensity and more about the experience.  I’ve allowed myself to let loose, forget about time and the stress that comes with meeting a certain pace, and allow myself to just focus on the miles.  I switched from a set, regimented playlist with planned tempos to playing my iPod on shuffle and taking the songs as they come.  I’ve worried less about finishing in under a certain time and booked off entire mornings to complete my long run with Starbucks pitstops halfway through.  

I know that by seeing my runs these past couple weeks as a success simply because I was able to get out the door and log the miles gave me the freedom to make it to the end of the kilometres.  Yesterday my training plan had a big, fat 25km marked in the calendar.  I know that in the situation I’m in of being still in the works of getting back on my feet and finding my inner strength, that if I placed a time goal on the run, I would have given up halfway.  Instead, I gave myself the freedom to have a sense of play in my run.  I was able to make it to that 25km mark (with a time on par with my other long runs) but without the stress of making pace.  It was amazing to see how accustomed my body was to continue the training it has been through and to see what it could do without my mind holding me back. 

I’m not sure where you are at in your fitness intensity.  Whether you have set goals you strive towards, milestones you want to hit before a certain date, or just take it day by day.  But, I do want to encourage you to allow yourself the ability to let some of the stress go.  Our lives are filled with planning, schedules, and time restraints.  We live in an incredibly fast world that sees success and quickness as synonyms.  So who is forcing us to treat out fitness the same way? Why can’t we measure fitness success by the way we feel instead of by the time our Garmin says?

Namaste

Sunday night I decided that I was not going to let myself wallow around my house. I remembered back to last winter when I had a hot yoga membership and the Karma class came to mind – a $5 one hour class every Sunday. I made the choice to attend this week’s karma class.

The local yoga studio that I attended last winter is a remarkable place. I was introduced in August of 2012 and began attending full-time in November when the stress of term papers and exams was getting the best of me. I continued until April of this year, when unfortunately the membership price rose and it no longer was feasible with my student budget. The time I spent on my mat in the studio’s 100 degree room was truly a time of personal growth. It enabled me to push past some of the boundaries I had earlier placed on myself while at the same time allowed me to relax and accept myself for who I was. I knew this Sunday that being back on my mat was an activity that would allow me to spend a healthy hour out of the house around other people and help me relax. What I didn’t realize was that it would completely invade my healing process and bring out the raw emotions I was harbouring inside.

That hour was one of the most intense hours I’ve emotionally experienced. As the sweat began to pour from my face, so did the tears. Throughout the entire class, a constant flow of tears leaked from the corner of my eyes. As the teacher constantly reminded the class to focus on our ujjayi breath instead of our thoughts, I slowly began to focus on the practice. Even though the hurt in my heart still remained, for that hour I was able to do something productive for myself. With every move that I was able to bend a little deeper in or hold for an extra breath, a sense of empowerment came. Somewhere between the time I got on my mat to the time I was changing out of my sweat soaked clothes, I realized that my life was in my hands and my hands alone. I was granted the opportunity in my life to take control. Was I going to let it slip or could I rise to the challenge?

When leaving the yoga studio, emotions were pouring out of me. As I climbed back into my vehicle, sobs choked in my throat. And then, just as quickly as it overcame me, it ended.

I was my own person. I chose my own desires. I had the ability to control my life. And I started to believe this.

I am so thankful for the yoga studio that welcomed me back to their class with warming smiles. That looked past my tear-stained face and accepted me. That allowed me the opportunity to grow. This past weekend has been unfathomably tough but I’m starting to realize the potential it has for personal growth. Participating in various forms of physical activity, both running and yoga, has helped me realize the strength I have within. I has allowed me to expel the damaging energy I’ve been carrying around inside my heart and filled the vacant spaces with breaths of fresh air. It’s an unbelievable opportunity that we all posses; do you take advantage?

Running Has My Back

Life is not always rainbows and butterflies. The truth of the matter is that sometimes it can throw you into some pretty gut-wrentching situations. Last night I went toppling in, unexpectedly, into one of the most emotionally heartbreaking nights of my life. I cried, I sobbed, I wept. But the thing about life is that it keeps charging forward. Life and everything within it, will move forward whether you are onboard or not.

This morning I woke up with the realization that a new day was starting. I had a choice: I could stay in bed for the duration of the morning and much of the afternoon, in the state of emotional numbness that I woke up in, even though I was not in the least bit tired or I could get up, get a coffee, and start my day. I found the hardest choice was the choice to leave my warm bed that was acting a shelter around me.

As I meandered my way downstairs, grabbed my cup of coffee, and sat down, I didn’t know what to do; my plan had only taken me this far. I thought now what? What will make me happy or at least escape the pain I was feeling?

And then I was off. My Garmin on, my fuel belt stocked, and my running shoes tied tight. I left a note on the counter to let my family know why I wasn’t in the house so early in the morning simply putting: Gone for a run. Might be 5k or 30k. I don’t know.
And that was the honest truth. I was prepared for it all but I was going to let my body dictate.

I started off slow trying to get lost in my music. I purposely took a busy city route to keep my mind occupied. But by kilometre 5 my eyes were fighting back tears. By kilometre 10, I thought it best to start making my way back. At kilometre 12, I stopped to take a fuel break and I broke down. I sat on a park bench, overlooking the lake, paused my Garmin, and let myself completely surrender to the feelings I was desperately trying to fight back.

I don’t know how long I sat there for crying into the wind that was nipping at my sweat soaked clothes. When I felt my eyes could cry no more I got back on my feet. I restarted my Garmin and took off – and this time I literally mean took off. I was flying. All the emotional build-up that I was desperately trying to get rid of came charging out of me through my feet. I saw the average pace drop on my Garmin as I made my way back home. It was only 3 more kilometres taking the most direct route home but in that distance my average time dropped by over 20 seconds. Everything I was holding back was given on that last run home.

I ended up running 15 km today and they were a journey. They helped me get going, they let me let go, and they got me to push on. I don’t wish tough times on anyone, but if you have tough times, I wish you running. I hope you can find the freedom I find through running and I hope it can help you heal.

As for now, I’m going to try to run on with my life.

Back to the Blog

Well, I have been thinking a lot about this blog lately and after some deliberation I have come to the conclusion that I want to start posting regularly again.  I’m not making this choice on a whim that will dissolve in the coming weeks but truly have thought about it and want to commit to it.  

I find myself in a great position to start blogging again as I’m just coming back from an injury and have goals that I’m setting for myself. It would be wonderful to be able to blog about my goals’ progress as I get myself back into a fit-minded lifestyle and back into the best shape of my life again.  I have a marathon coming up that I will be running with Team in Training this January and feel that throughout my journey I will have stories to share and progress to talk about.

As well, I know that when I blog about my journey, I am able to appreciate it more and stay consistent.  Even if no one ends up reading my posts, at least I’ll know that I was able to do something for myself and take time out of my day to help myself reach my goals.