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Posts tagged ‘wellness’

Lesson #3 – The Power of The Mind

The third most important thing I’ve come to learn over this past year is the importance of the mind. We spend so much time training our bodies, that we often neglect perhaps our most important muscle… the mind. Just as we must be physically fit, we must also be mentally fit.

While reading Chrissie Wellington’s book, I remember a chapter where she wrote that a lot of her training took place on the couch. Sitting, Thinking. Visualizing. Mentally preparing. She actually devotes quite a few pages to expressing the importance of the athlete’s mental techniques. It matters when you’re asking so much of your body.

As my training was derailed in September and October for my race in November, I took those words of wisdom and diligently applied them to my training. If I couldn’t do the miles, at least I could mental training. I spent hours coming up with a bank of positive images, mottos, and distraction techniques to get me through the City of Oaks Marathon. Those 26.2 miles were probably the most difficult I have ever run, physically. But mentally, those miles were the easiest. My mind was in the right place and my mind carried me to a time much faster than what I had planned. It was when I crossed the finish line that I truly understood that mental training is just as important, if not more important, than physical training. The mind can truly do amazing things.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: Today was suppose to be an easy run. I went out to the greenway again and my calves said they were tired of the hills. They hurt! Almost 5 miles and then 2 miles with run club (but I went with the walkers). I was so hungry when I got finished. I am really look forward to my rest day tomorrow. Stats are here.

The Necessary Steps

Currently I’m on vacation with Mario in Oregon Wine Country. Therefore, my last few posts were written pre-awesome trip. I haven’t had a chance to write about how my running world has been going since we left way too early Friday morning.

Yesterday I finished Chrissie Wellington’s book, A Life Without Limits. Chrissie has been an inspiration to me for probably about 5 years. Partially because of her amazing Ironman record and partially because of her very contagious smile. She is truly inspirational. There were many notes and bookmarks I made while reading her book and many lessons I took away. As my running is starting to progress in the right direction, this one lesson in particular stands out to me: We have our goals but we have to take the necessary steps in order to reach our goals.

Last week I started running again. It has been a very exciting and happy time for me. I knew I wouldn’t overdo it because we were going on vacation and I wouldn’t have the chance. (Oh but I can always find a way.) Saturday morning Mario and I went out for a 5 mile run. I had already done a 3 and 4 miler so 5 easy miles along the beautiful Oregon countryside seemed very doable. We ended up getting lost and did a little over 6. No biggie. Hip felt fine, weather was beautiful, and there were llamas, deer, horses, and cows for scenery. No complaints.

Lot of happy cows in Oregon

Lot of happy cows in Oregon

 

After a cross training day yesterday, another run today seemed completely reasonable. Maybe I shouldn’t have set out along the same 6 mile route but I did. As I found myself checking my Garmin, I had to make myself reign it in. Several things went through my mind: take the necessary steps, build that massive aerobic base (thanks Predawn Runner), enjoy the scenery, and Chicago is over 6 months away! Chillax! I can’t go from nearly 6 weeks off to dishing out 7:30 miles. I have to take the necessary steps. I need my base building. Once I was able to wrap my head around this, I slowed down and really enjoyed my run. I have nothing to prove right now. I only need to find consistency with my running. It’s actually a very nice change of pace.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Here are some pics from our trip so far… I’ve eaten way too much food!!

Dinner at Jory in Oregon

Dinner at Jory in Oregon

 

Oregon, Day 1 of our Trip (AMAZING weather!!)

Oregon, Day 1 of our Trip (AMAZING weather!!)

 

Day 3 in Oregon

Day 3 in Oregon

 

 

Fitness Devices

I have to admit it, I’m a gadget person when it comes to running. Since I started this training cycle and all of my runs but one have been outside, I’m always analyzing my Garmin stats. Seeing my progress, weekly mileage, and speed is always more motivation to keep going.

Tech Crunch recently published an article about the best health and fitness apps for the new year. There was a lot of information, but the part I found to be most interesting was about the fitness devices. Up until recently, I really haven’t paid that much attention to fitness devices. Yes, we have a FitBit scale but I try to stay away from that thing as much as possible. (I use to be obsessed with the numbers on the scale so I think it’s healthier for me to stay away.) However, there is an entirely new world of fitness devices that track practically everything about your body. Your resting heart rate, your exercise intensity, your sleep patterns, calories burned each day (although the accuracy of that is always debatable), steps taken, etc. Then all of the data is uploaded to the website and you can get this in depth view of what exactly your body is doing during the day. I find this to incredibly interesting. How cool would it be to understand what your body is doing while you sleep or to see how and when your body changes? Read more

Stoicism and Running

This past week, my Google+ hangout group decided to post our weekly goals and if we ever felt like we were headed off track, we could seek out support from each other.  My two goals were eat only three sweets and have only two glasses of wine throughout the week. Now to some people that might sound like a pretty easy task, but for me, it is quite the opposite. Choosing to put myself through this incredibly uncomfortable (and I’m not exaggerating) state of denial, is my way of learning that voluntary discomfort makes me a stronger person.  Or in other words, living a life of stoicism plus hormetism will help me to become my best self.

I never was much for philosophy.  To me, it seemed impractical to argue about the what ifs and the abstracts of life.  However, during a road trip over Christmas, I came across a great blog, GettingStronger.org, and it has shown me that some philosophies are not only practical, but they can also make us stronger, both physically and mentally in the process. GettingStronger is a health and fitness blog about “the philosophy of Hormetism, based on the application of progressive, intermittent stress to overcome challenges and grow stronger physically, mentally and emotionally”.

Allow me to attempt to briefly explain the philosophies of stoicism and hormetism in a Tracie Rodriguez simplified kind of way:

Stoicism: a life of tranquility that is free from negative emotions (grief, anger, etc.), independent of cravings, and that is prepared for the worst of circumstances by having practiced and imagined them throughout the course of life. A life that embraces voluntary discomfort in order to be prepared for the day it actually arrives (as in the day chocolate stops being produced and all of the grape vines burn to the ground).

Hormetism:  Exposing your body to low doses of bad things in order to build strength and resilience

I strongly believe that in the world we live today, discomfort is not something we are too familiar with. I have a hot shower in the morning, coffee, food, the news at my fingertips, my Garmin, my iPod, my cold weather running gear, etc. I seek out things to make my life more pleasant, and often times I succeed.  Of course, there are other circumstances that make life a little uncomfortable, like talkative students, but overall, I’d say I have it pretty good. Thirty degrees and raining, no problem. I’ll just hit the treadmill.  Sleepy and groggy? Got it covered. Starbucks is two blocks from my house. But in taking the stoic approach to life, I think it’s time I started to deal with the rainy weather and learn I can live just fine without caffeine.

In striving to be a stronger and better runner, I have come to terms with the fact that I will have to expose myself to some discomfort. I don’t know too many people who think hill repeats, running in 90 degree weather, or tempo runs are as relaxing as a nice bubble bath, but we all do it for the same reason – to truly discover what we are capable of. A few weeks ago, I asked my super fast cousin (3:04 marathoner), how do you deal with the pain that comes with doing speedwork?  Hill repeats make me want to hurl and I always question why am I doing them in the first place.  A nice flat road which be much easier. My cousin answered my question with quite the stoic response – you just embrace the pain.

Yes, embrace the pain.

So in the spirit of pain embracing, I have been thinking more and more about how I can incorporate this philosophy into my everyday life, along with my running life.  I have learned to take cold showers, go a day without coffee, sleep a little less than desired, and make running in the rain the same as running in the sunshine. Of course these are not things I do everyday, but I do them once a week or so in order to teach my body and my mind that I can do it and I will survive.  Just a few weeks ago, I thought the wind was going to blow me off the road but I continued to tell myself, it might be windy in Boston so just deal with it. Voluntary discomfort.

In going back to my goals from last week, I’d say I did okay.  The sweets I could manage but there were so many get togethers and outings we attended, that I failed on my two glasses of vino.  However, I took my speed workouts outdoors in the 80 degree weather along the hilliest course I could find in hopes that it would better prepare me for whatever may come April 16th.  Tomorrow I’ll go sans coffee and Wednesday I’ll go for the cold shower.  It’s crazy, I know but I do feel this stoic approach to life is helping to make me a stronger person, both mentally and physically.

Here’s to an awesome week!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie