Hello, happy October!! Can you believe it? Does it feel like October to you yet? I still keep thinking it’s June, you guys. Our gradual shift in weather is beginning to convince me, though, and I am actually happy about that. I am on board with the ever-so-slightly cooler temps, the terribly slow-changing leaves, and a few pumpkin recipes. I feel grateful for how gently this new season has arrived.
I’m checking in to review fitness goals, etc.
September was a strong running month for me. I feel great overall. And along the way, a few good lessons were reinforced to me that you might find useful, too.
001 Those Little Extras are Actually Big Essentials
I am fully convinced that the following rituals and healthy habits have not only kept me injury free since springtime but have also enhanced my general sense of well being:
- dynamic warm-ups before each run (just 5-7 minutes)
- deep, slow stretching after each run (breathe light into your muscles, haha!)
- lifting weights 2-3 times per week (at MOST, and I am talking BABY weights, for maybe 20-30 minutes per session)
- doing focused core strengthening and one-leg balancing moves when the mood strikes (your core includes a lot more than those flat upper abs, haha! Get strong in your lower belly, hips, & glutes to see a major improvement to running power as well as foot health.)
- running in a fasted state more often but replenishing with a lot of nutrition pretty soon after a workout
- spreading protein more evenly throughout the day
- foam rolling my legs and massaging my feet while watching tv at night
- YOGA (although I only did it a few times this past month, every time I did yoga it felt luscious and I was reminded to do it more often)
002 Adaptation is a Slow, Beautiful Process
What fun that some things that used to be difficult for me, now feel way easier. I am in love with that rush of energy from sprinting an 800m repeat until I can barely feel my feet, or of completing a solid tempo run with energy to spare. Chipping away at a mileage goal is great, but feeling the actual differences in my body is the big thrill. Not too long ago I was scared of certain SOS workouts that I now get excited about. And this will sound ridiculous, but the stronger I get, the higher up to my hip bone I can feel those long leg muscles. That’s crazy. Ha.
003 Quality of Thought is Just as Important as a Healthy Diet
I cannot tell you how many times last month I was having a pretty great run and nonchalantly allowed my thoughts to slip into a sad memory or a frustrating life problem or melodrama, and my body nearly shut down. My legs suddenly felt heavy, my heart rate spiked, and I became hyperfocused on my Garmin, which (naturally) was giving me lots of negative feedback, and it all would make me crazy for a few minutes.
The funny thing to me is that, sure, running is not always about performance. Often we get out there just to feel better emotionally. And on those, days, I might let my heart and mind wander a bit more and indulge in some crying while sweating. But even then I do try to reign it into a prayerful conversation with God, rather than just have a pity party. And on those days I make sure to set the intention of “slow and easy, mellow effort, low heart rate, focus on relaxing.” It helps.
On the days I need fast intervals or just want to feel strong and capable, I focus and keep my brain in a very happy lane. I keep the reigns pretty tight on my imagination and also select music and podcasts carefully to avoid a surprise bummer.
004 Inspiration Beats Intimidation
My friend Robin gently reminded me of this a few weeks ago. I have a good, natural tendency to cheer other people on with their goals. It feels great to me and also helps me stay connected to loved ones, like my little brother who recently crushed his half marathon in DC!! And I just love learning from other people’s journeys.
But since I am not personally racing any time soon, and also I am not the caliber of runner most of my friends are, I will sometimes get that dreaded “FOMO” and start thinking loser thoughts about myself. Robin helped me restore my positive attitude. She gave me the vocabulary to draw inspiration from others, rather than allow myself to feel intimidated but their accomplishments.
I love that. And I love Robin.
005 Small Efforts Add Up
This past month I ran a total of 205 miles, but never more than 13 in one day, and I stayed plenty busy the rest of my life too, while not running, ha! The month felt really easy. I think it’s noteworthy and exciting that we can gently increase our running volume each week (each day) while staying active, productive, healthy and happy in the rest of our beautiful lives. For all of September, I never once felt so drained that I could not do my housework, farm stuff, gardening, or hanging out with loved ones. I’m thankful for that. Just a good reminder that a little extra each day, especially at an easy pace, adds up.
006 Gratitude Always
Every single run, even the ones when I tripped and bloodied my knees and elbows, ended with giving lots of thanks. And I think it matters.
Thanks for every single mile, for the health and strength to do it, for the freedom and safety, for the financial means to buy good shoes and have a car that drives me where I want to run, for the abundance of time to do something I love that greatly enhances my health, for the emotional release of it all, the mental sharpness and alone-time therapy running provides, the weather and scenery, just everything.
Sometimes after a run, I would thank God for answering my worries about a family member or for urging me to do something that day which maybe had not been on my radar yet. He talks to me, and I feel connected in these solitary hours. I am super duper, very extremely thankful.
What do you think of these lessons? Do they ring true for your running or for some other part of your healthy life?
October has already started strong for me, with a 10-mile easy run yesterday and 8 miles with my friend Sheila today, which included a really fun fartlek workout and breakfast together afterward. I am excited to chase a few goals leading up to Halloween, and the “run the year” finale is well within reach.
I have no idea about races any time soon, but whatever life brings I’ll hold these seven lessons close along the way.
Happy Running! Happy Everything!