12 Things That Keep This Runner Happy and Sane

I’m sorry my blog has been silent for so long. I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been off on some far-flung adventure, but the truth is I’ve been in a funk. I don’t want to get political, but the madness that has enveloped our country has left me frustrated beyond belief and struggling to weave together sentences I’ve felt worthy of sharing, knowing what readers want most is to be inspired.

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While my head and heart still continue to wrestle with a tangle of emotions, the one thing that consistently unravels all the BS and brings me back to my usual happy center is my fitness.

I’m sure you know what I mean when I say pure joy washes over me in the simple act of moving my body, breathing hard and sweating it out. It’s the perfect reminder that no matter what’s going on in the world, there will always be remarkable moments of aaaaaaaah that fill me with gratitude and remind me that life is freaking great.

Here’s what else is keeping me happy and sane….

1) Breathing in crisp, fresh air and reveling in the beauty around me, and exhaling all traces of the day’s latest toxic news. Being a speck in the universe always has a way of keeping things in perspective.

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2) Setting goals–especially ones that make me stretch beyond my perceived boundaries. One in particular has me fired up right now–trying to qualify for Boston, and I’m happy to report I’ve got Matthew Tague in my corner again coaching me for a late spring marathon. My gut tells me this is the year to finally make this Boston thing happen, and I’m happily working my butt off to get my feet moving faster again after a year of Ironman endurance training. I think I can. I think I can. Bring. It. On.

3) Celebrating tiny victories like choosing a healthy kale, raspberry smoothie with protein over a vanilla latte, or a platter full of veggies during the Super Bowl instead of a pizza; or dumping Facebook off my phone to distance yourself from the craziness; or getting in bed early to immerse myself in a phenomenal book instead of watching mind-numbing television, knowing I’ll be far more inspired and also sleep better.

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4) Coaching young runners and being surrounded by unrelenting joy and pint-size goodness. Kids always have a way of showing you how to be in the moment and enjoy what you’re doing while you’re doing it. There’s no overthink anything. There’s just unbridled energy and enthusiasm as they take on new challenges, and a huge sense of accomplishment afterward when they realize they can do hard things.

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5) Acting like my shoe size, having a blast running in the pouring rain and reconnecting with my Oregon roots.

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My poor dog wasn’t born with webbed feet like me, so although he’s a good sport, he still usually gives me “the look” on days like this.

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6) Racing! While I always know it’s going to be a sufferfest, racing gives me a chance to push it hard, see where I’m at with my fitness and also celebrate our running community. There’s no happier place to be than the end of a race when everyone is flooded with endorphins and reveling in camaraderie while celebrating a sense of accomplishment, knowing they’ve started the day off in all the best ways.

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7) Surrounding myself with a multitude of badass athletes in our local running community and being inspired by their energy and unstoppable attitudes. There’s no better way to keep you focused on being the best version of yourself than Continue reading

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The Magic Ingredient for a Happy Long Run

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Today was one of those “magic” long run training days–when the weather, pace, scenery and effort all swirled together to make it seem like the day was meant just for me.

Lord knows I’ve had my share of challenging long runs just like everybody else, when every step feels like a struggle, so when days like this come along, I have to take a few extra minutes to breathe deeply and appreciate it. Aaaah…perfection.

Music pushed my pace this morning, making 12 miles zoom by in the blink of an eye. Hills along the way didn’t even faze me–for the first time in long time. As I glided along a mix of grass, dirt, and pavement, I watched a slew of happy surfers riding huge waves, saw dolphins playing, and butterflies flitting from flowers bursting with color. It was the quintessential Santa Barbara run (sorry all you East Coast friends–don’t hate me).

After my run, I kept wondering, What made this run feel so right? The overriding word that popped into my head was “flexibility.”

Before I’d started, I’d made a preplanned route, then promptly veered from it, not only altering my course slightly, but the distance. Simply turning left instead of right added a whole new jolt of inspiration, and prompted me to add an extra mile because I was having so much fun.

Flexibility has never been my strong suit as a runner, and it has often gotten me into trouble with injuries. I’m always one to stick to the plan instead of listening to my body, even if that plan is pure nonsense for where my body is at on that particular day. I’m working on shaking things up a little with my training and trying to roll with things during my workouts, especially in the midst of life’s messy schedule.

Today’s run was the perfect reward for flexibility last weekend. My family and I had driven to Palm Springs for a few days to visit my in-laws. Thirteen miles was slated on my marathon training schedule, and lo and behold, there happened to be a half marathon taking place while we were there. Perfect, I thought, even though I knew my body wasn’t ready to “race” that distance. My Type A runner’s mentality pressed hard against my reason, but thankfully, I came to my senses at the last minute and opted for the 5K.

Not only did I thoroughly enjoy the race, but I won my age group, and more importantly, I didn’t suffer from having to sit in the car for 3 1/2 hours right after the race as we headed back home.

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Spending time with my family and traveling also threw in a couple forced rest days, which usually make me nuts. Knowing that certain miles are being neglected leaves me fretting about getting “sooooo behind on my training.” This time I was too busy enjoying myself and being in the moment to think twice about it. It was what it was. Period.

Not only am I trying to work on my mental flexibility, but my physical flexibility, which has been rapidly declining in the last couple years. My hammies are perpetually tight, as are my calves and rigid feet. Don’t even get me started about my back, which is stiffer than a 90-year old’s. It’s pathetic, BUT not impossible to remedy.

gumby_twistedYep, this creaky chiquita is finally starting to drag herself to yoga-pilates every Monday. And she’s loving it. The best part is that today’s run showed me that it’s starting to help. Small steps. Who knows, maybe now I’ll be inspired to add a Wednesday yoga class to see if that helps even more. My hope is that by adding a little “Gumby-ness” to my life, every run will feel like today’s.

Here’s to staying flexible and keeping it happy!

xo