The Perfect Storm

 

According to Wikipedia, doesn’t every great blogger refer to Wikipedia when they need information, a perfect storm is “a confluence of events that drastically aggravates a situation.”  Or as a person who was raised in Oklahoma and have been around when the weathermen begin to go crazy weeks before storms come into the state, I begin to think of those moments when all the right things are happening to create a big weather event a perfect storm.

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Looking good for 44!  Happy Birthday to me!

Now I am not saying that this week was a “perfect storm” in the form of a weather event but more of a “perfect storm” for many moments of melt down in my life.  Okay maybe that is a little much but it was a tough week and this was the only way I could think of it.  (If you can’t handle any whining now might be the time to step away and come back tomorrow for motivational Monday! 😉  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

As many of you know I am training for my 6th marathon and have tried a new training plan.  This one had me doing up to 70 miles in one week.  I have worked harder than ever before to get better at this crazy marathon thing.  I have felt pretty good the whole time and have completed more miles in a short amount of time than ever before.  For the month of April alone I ran 286.17 miles.  That is more miles than I even drive in a month.

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My 16 mile bike ride from this week.

Anyway, things have been going well and I have felt very confident that this was going to be my best marathon ever!  Then on Monday morning of this week (the day after my last 20 miler) I woke up with so much calf pain in my left leg, I struggled to walk and my mind took over.  I started to doubt I could complete my marathon in 3 short weeks, I started to count my dreams out of ever getting a Boston Qualifying time.  (Can you say, Drama queen much, I know!)

This was one ingredient to my “perfect storm”.  In fact here are all the “confluence of events” that made this week my perfect storm.  One: calf pain, Two: taper time – basically time to reduce the amount of running to prepare for my marathon.  During this time I am usually very anxious because I start to visual the race and how I am going to handle it all and my expectations begin to really come into play.  Third: hormones!  For those that don’t have it, that time of the month is no cakewalk and for me I tend to be even more emotional during it.  Four: added work stressors, really no need to explain that one, we all have them.  Five: Turning a year older.  Not really that stressful but I thought I would throw it in because it was an added event that happened this week.  All the ingredients were present for the “perfect storm” in my mind this week.

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14 miles almost all pain free!

I am happy to report that I survived it!  I didn’t get the t-shirt but I made it through.  Thank goodness I work really hard to stay motivated and in the present moment. Here are some tips for how I survived:

  1. Slowed things down and tried even harder to stay in the present moment. Taking a deep breath when I felt overwhelmed with not only the pain but moments at work when I thought I couldn’t handle anything else.
  2. Went for a massage! I highly recommend them.  I go at least once a month so my therapist knows me pretty well and she was able to really work my legs and hips so I felt so much better.
  3. Spent time doing other things with my family. You know those people you don’t see when you are running 70 miles a week and working a full time job.  I find it is so much better to stay busy than sitting around feeling bad for myself.
  4. Slowly easing back into running and riding my bike more. Even though the plan called for a certain amount of runs and mileage, I was able to not run as much and realize that all my training will not go away if I take some time off or take things a little slower.  In fact, I might even feel better and more prepared for the race.  Plus I was able to take my bike out and go for a nice relaxing 16 mile bike ride, which I have not done in forever!
  5. Finally, looking at my last plans and results. I know this sounds weird but for me I was able to look through my running journal and my tracking miles and realize that I am farther along than I have ever been before and I am prepared (well as long as I don’t just sit on my butt for the next 2 weeks).  It was a great boost of confidence.
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Stretching and rolling while being protected from the winds and cold and happy that “I got this!” feeling is back!

So I guess what I am saying is that when faced with the perfect storm, if you are prepared you can make it through.  Your family me get tired of you for the week because there might be some whining, but if take a breath, take control of your mind, you can make it through.

Anyone else ever struggle with this?  How did you make it through your taper time?

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Slowing down and being resistant

resistanceI don’t know about you but slowing down is a struggle for me.  In everyday life, with everyday situations I work my hardest to get the outcome I want and know if I slow down I may not get it.  I work hard and want to reap the rewards.  But sometimes it takes slowing down to reap the rewards.

I know, I know, that does not make sense.  Here is my take on it.  We need to slow down to enjoy the journey.  We need to slow down and look around and appreciate what is there.  Appreciate what we are doing, the process.  Life is more about the journey than the end product.  And best of all I think the end product will be better because we have taken the time to enjoy the ride (Oh and life is a ride!).

Right now at our house there is a LOT of things up in the air.  One example is my house itself.  We are in the middle or mid beginning of remodeling.  Not quite sure how to describe it other than we have our living room floor in but plywood in the kitchen and bathroom, a toilet on our back porch and half my kitchen in my living room (which does make it easy to get a drink since the fridge is only 10 feet away from the couch!).   I want to speed this process up because it sucks to come home to chaos at the end of the day.  Also we have some transitions in jobs that are happening and that is a stressor I would much rather skip thank you very much!

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My local rail trail. What a beautiful place to run.

So how do I handle these things and not be so resistant to change, enjoy the change and the adventure.  Well for me, I try something new with running.  Why not?  It’s my stress reliever!  Today I began working on slowing down my running.  I know it sounds weird that I would try to slow down when most of the time we are all trying to speed up but I’ve been trying to figure out how to go father and keep a stronger pace.  All the stuff I have been reading has been talking about slowing down to be able to run further and actually in the end go faster.  I don’t know about you but I struggle to slow down and then by the end of my runs I am pushing myself to the extreme and then I am faster but at the expense of the rest of my body.  I’m exhausted, my old, tired body becomes more sore and struggles in the repair stage/rest stage.

Today I worked on trying to stay in a low intensity state of mind and time by running at what I thought was a low intensity.  You are supposed to do this with a heart rate monitor but I forgot mine so I went by feel.  I figured that if I went at least a minute slower than what I thought, I would be about 80% of my effort and hopefully in the low intensity area.  Not sure where I got a minute from but when I read about elite athletes they mentioned running some runs 2 mins slower than their actual race pace.  Since I am a weekend warrior, I figured one minute would be good.  The whole philosophy is to run most of your training runs at low intensity effort and the other 20% at high or moderate intensity.  Here is a link for a better description from Running Times.

I’m hoping it works.  Today it felt pretty good.

That brings me back to slowing down…

IMG_1475At first it was hard.  It was hard to wrap my head around being outside doing the 10 mile distance and it taking longer than usual.  It was hard to keep a slower pace.  It was hard to hold back.  But I started to get out of my head, look around a little more, just enjoy the fact I was doing something I really enjoy and feel each step.  It began to get easier, I started saying “Hi” to everyone on the trail, smiled a little more, and enjoyed the breeze at my back (then hitting me in the face on the return).  The benefit was that I enjoyed the journey.  When I got done, I was ready to be done, but I wasn’t hurting from pushing too hard, I wasn’t upset that it was in the 80’s and I should have gone out earlier, I was relaxed.  I felt like I listened to my body and my head was in a better place.  Overall I would say it was a success and I am looking forward to training for my next marathon this way and hoping that it will work.  And as far as slowing down and enjoying my everyday life journey, that still needs work but I think I learned some things to help:

1) Quit being resistant!

2) Change is okay and necessary.

3) I need to smile more and enjoy the journey.

4) Stay in the present moment embrace what is going on maybe even finding solace in the chaos.

5) The change will make you better and stronger!

It’s amazing what a good long run will do for your brain!  🙂  Happy Running!

 Anyone ever tried this plan?  Did it work for you?  How about slowing down in general, do you struggle with this as much as I do?

Quick snack after the run.  Cold pizza and a protein drink.  Probably should work on my diet next!  :-)

Quick snack after the run. Cold pizza and a protein drink. Probably should work on my diet next! 🙂

 

Life’s ups and downs

I seem to disappear a lot from the blog world… sorry.   I try to come here and write inspirational stuff or stuff that I think people would like to read, which in reality is completely different than why I started this blog.  So I was thinking just writing would be good for me, so here I am.

My life is having some recent ups and downs… after the marathon I was down, then I got into the Chicago Marathon and found myself up.  Yeah for a new goal to drive you to keep going.  I also had a great run in a last minute half marathon I signed up for.  It was on my birthday and was really fitting that I was turning 43 and had the number 430 as well as the race being on the 9th of May and it was my 9th half marathon.  I would say the stars all aligned.

I now find myself a little down once again.  I think this is because my training has no goal at this point.  It’s not time to start the training for the marathon but who wants to lose all that fitness from my last full marathon.  So I try to run at least 3 times a week and figure I should just stay in my old training plan adding the bike in and core work.  But still I struggle with a funk.  I understand the post marathon blues but I’m hoping this is still not it.  As a therapist I would tell myself to try to stay out of my head and do things I love.  Here is the problem… I am doing the things I love and they cause me to be in my head.

At home we have some job changes happening and I am finding that I am not good with change.  Okay there I said it.  I like normalcy, I like a plan, I CRAVE structure.  You throw in uncertainty and change and I seem to lose my mind.  We are also remodeling and living at home while doing it.  We have a good contractor but one who seems to have us wedged in to time that he has available.  So that means one room gets done and then we wait for a week or two for the next room to get done.   Now you have a runner without a plan, having a house remodeled inside, and job changes and you have a crazy woman with no focus who can’t get away from the craziness who by the end of the week wants to run away.  Don’t worry, if I run away I will always return because this orderly person likes to shower and likes her bed! 🙂

There it is the craziness of some of the ups and downs going on in my life.  I want to sit back and enjoy them and find that having one or two at a time is okay but all at the same time is overwhelming.  So now you know… a therapist is a normal person (oh wait, not sure I ever mentioned that before).  :-0  We struggle too and sometimes the reason we do therapy is because it is therapy for us too.

PS – I will be going for some long runs this weekend and trying to keep my mind in the moment and enjoy the day, at least these are the coping skills I’m going to put to work and hopefully they will work.  🙂

 

 

Self-Care

selfcare3What do you think about when I say self-care?  To me, self-care is doing something selfish to nurture yourself so you are more able to deal with the stressors of life/people in a healthy way.  And guess what?  I fully believe that we all need to be selfish.  We really need to spend time taking care of ourselves even when we feel like we shouldn’t.

What ways do you take care of yourself?  I have found this differs for many people but in the end it comes down to what makes us feel good which could be getting a haircut, spending time shopping, taking a long bath or even just reading a book.  I was told today by a fellow clinician that I have the best self-care they have ever seen, I found it very interesting and it made me think. KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Why is mine any different than others and really what is it?  So I started thinking about my day.  Starting with my work because in my field it is very easy to forget about yourself and work very long hours because the need is so great.  I have learned that I am not a good clinician if I work to many hours in a week.  I find that I don’t think as clear and I am not present for my clients.  So I limit the amount of hours I work (usually around 37-40) and I only have one long day during the week as well as being done working with clients by 1pm on Friday’s (I kind of feel sorry for my last client on Friday because sometimes I’m so tired by that point that I feel like they don’t get all my attention.)   I structure my day with the same routine during the week which is breakfast, devotional and daily gratitude list making me list at least 3 things I’m grateful for each day without repeating anything during the week (give it a try because it really makes you look at all the small things and be grateful).  Even when I’m not training for a marathon, I try to spend at least 5-6 days at the gym or doing some type of physical exercise a week because I really am a better person to be around if I’m doing this.  I have learned to take the positive approach to things even when the most negative things happen.  (This may not seem like self-care but if a negative thought is taking over your mind than you tend to stress and beat yourself up about things that are out of your control)  And finally I have found that adding a massage to my life once a month not only helps the stress release but the sore muscles from all that running and cross training.

Now that I spell it all out, I do have pretty good self-care.  Also, I’m pretty selfish.  But you know what, I don’t hear any complaints from my family, friends and coworkers/clients.  I really believe being selfish is a good thing.  Are you selfish?  Why not?  I will allow you to label it “Self-Care”!  🙂

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Overwhelmed…

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My fortune at my work Christmas party. I thought it was great and fitting!

I don’t know about you but this time of the year I find myself beyond overwhelmed.  It is really all I can do to finish work, fix dinner for the fam, and get some rest to start it all over the next day.  I get so excited when it is the weekend but before I know it, BAM, it’s time to start it all over again.  Today I was so happy that I got out of work at 12pm.  I was able to come home and fix myself a hot lunch, which is unusual because I usually eat a sandwich real quick between clients.  I find that this doesn’t help the overwhelmed feeling.

Today, I was able to put a word to what I was feeling.  I thought it was stress but really I didn’t have a lot to be stressed about because Dave was doing most of the Christmas shopping and thanks to the internet I have been able to do a little in the evening.  But today I just decided it was the emotions that happen this time of year when you don’t live close to your family, you want to do so many things, and you want to keep your level of work performance really high especially when your clients are really struggling.  So instead of stressed out, I call it being overwhelmed.  I find that my overwhelmed person tends to pull back from all social media, spends alone time on the verge of tears (yes, even a therapist has emotional times), and just not exercising like I should (which probably would help the verge of tears self!).

So now that I realize it and the Christmas season is just at its most stressful/overwhelming period I have to make a plan.  Dave mentioned to me that I haven’t been blogging very much so maybe I should use my blog for what I intended (a place to talk) and focus back on what is important.  If I don’t get that perfect gift for someone, it’s not going to be a big deal.  If I go for that long run and miss an event it is not going to be that big of a deal, because I do better when I allow myself some time to meditate while I run.  I need to take the pressure off myself.  Time to get back to some basics.

Me and Judy before the Jingle Bell 5K - My fun little Ms. Claus outfit.

Me and Judy before the Jingle Bell 5K – My fun little Ms. Claus outfit.

I did find myself more relaxed last Sunday after the Jingle Bell 5K with my marathon friend.  It was great to run with a friend and 5500 of my closest running friends.  I felt sheer joy to be doing something I love.

Are you feeling like me?  Maybe it is time for you to take a break too.  What is your plan?