Tag Archives: focus

I vow to shift my focus.

Sometimes, shifting my focus is harder than others. But as I have gotten the hang of it as I have needed to shift my focus and perspective at times, I am at a point where I want to make it a vow…to always shift my focus. Because when you do, it does wonders for the soul.

For example…

Instead of dreading my Sunday morning flight to the annual sales kick off for my company in Southern California, complaining that I *only* have one weekend day and will be sad to leave M….

I will shift my focus and embrace every minute of my abbreviated weekend, I will plan ahead, I will pack early, I will get settled so I can thoroughly enjoy what I do have. Teaching at barre n9ne (yay), seeing a few open houses (double yay!) and then a leisurely date night in dinner (triple yay – recreating the first meal M ever made for me!).

Instead of stressing over un-routine while away Sunday – Wednesday…

I will shift my focus and embrace it, plain and simple. There is nothing I can do to change it, so I will adjust, I will plan ahead, I will be normal, and I will go with the flow (something incredibly difficult for me but I am learning!!). I will also enjoy the 60 degree temperate jump (from the 1 degree it was here yesterday…) even though it will rain almost the whole time (shifting, shifting…)

Instead of complaining about having to travel for work…

I will shift my focus and give myself a huge dose of reality: this is my last work trip alone for the foreseeable future (M will be with me on my trip in April, yay!) and let’s be honest: I work from home. I have flexibility with my job (and it is a job I love!), and when I do travel, it’s to sunny, warm Orange County. Seriously right now?! Self: stop being lame.

Instead of wishing and wanting to run longer, farther, better…

I will shift my focus and realize that my IT band is getting stronger, and I got to run TWICE this week with ZERO pain (yay!) and I am able-bodied to do so many other things – spin, walk, barre…this is just a blip in the radar, and far bigger issues in this world than the inability to run for a month or two.

~~

Writing out my thoughts sometimes helps me process them, of course, but also see how strong the mind really is. If you let it go haywire, you will lose perspective, harness a skewed reality, and focus on the wrong things…and be negative.

If you shift your focus and really see the bottom line on the things that nag at you? You will harness them into a better, happier, more positive reality – the REAL reality of life…that in the grand scheme of it, these ‘things’ or frustrations are just that – things. In the grand scheme of it, life is amazing, and every obstacle, frustration or challenge is an opportunity to flourish and prove to yourself what you are capable of, in mind, body and soul.

I vow…to shift my focus. Always.

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“Shift your focus”

Shift your focus.

Sage words from my friend Steph as I was sharing with her and my sis my thoughts on this very blog post, as I start to slide into a bit of ‘dread mode’ heading into traveling (again) next week to California. As I’ve said many times before, these trips always take a lot out of me, from the cross-country travel, to the adjustment (or lack thereof!) to the 3-hour time difference, which not only messes with my sleep pattern but most importantly (lol) my eating patterns (since I feel hungry allthedamntime, hungry when I wake up, hungry when I get to work, hungry all afternoon, given my meals are at such different times there vs. here. The time difference just sucks, plain and simple, for eating!). And don’t even get me started on how much it messes with my beloved routine. ;-)

But I am going to try something new this time. I am going to shift my focus. Focus on where I am, not where I am not.

Rather than look at the 7-day forecast (which we all know will change, anyway!) and seeing 82 degrees on the day I fly out and already wishing I wasn’t going to miss such beautiful weather, I’ll look at the 7-day forecast for Costa Mesa and realize that hey, it’s warm there *too*. Score.

Rather than be missing the rundates and the barre dates and the barre n9ne classes I won’t be teaching (or taking), I’ll focus on the classes I am taking in California, adjusting to the style of classes I may take, and experimenting with my very first outdoor run near my hotel (it’s always been uber dark in the morning when I’ve traveled there the last handful of times, but no more!), and a long-awaited dinner date with this awesome chick.

Rather than stressing about each and every meal and disliking that I am eating out more than I’d like, I’ll embrace the new places I plan to try, and request a mini-fridge in my hotel room and stock up on a few things at Trader Joe’s. And I’ll make every effort to make the best damn mock oatmeal bowl of goodness that I possibly can. Perhaps the best ‘mock’ bowl ever (next to homemade!).  Shifting my focus on adjusting to my environment, rather than wishing I was elsewhere.

Rather than missing M like whoa…well, I guess this one just won’t change, because let’s face it, I know I will miss him like whoa, but the goodbyes are the worst part and the welcome back hug and kiss are by far the best part, right up there with getting into bed, snuggling close, placing my face into the crook of his neck, where it fits just ever so perfectly, and falling to sleep smiling, happy to be home, but also happy to have focused on the here and now, not the there and future. 

 

On running strengths and weaknesses.

I’m just gonna go out and say it.

Running is frustrating the hell out of me lately. 

And feeling like a frustrated runner makes me even *more* frustrated. 

Because I am capable. Because I am lucky to be able *to* run. Because I know that ultimately my frustrations are mostly of the headcase variety.

So rather than wax poetic about the last couple weeks of my run challenge or whine about my running frustrations, I thought I’d use this post more effectively and productively by exploring my running strengths and weaknesses (a la Amanda at MilesGoneBy and my sis, too!) and maybe I’ll come up with some better rationale on my ‘meh’ running experiences of late.

(are ya still with me after that massive preamble?!)

I’m going to mix these up into weaknesses-turned-strengths, because honestly, I think half of my weaknesses have a strength to them, if that makes sense. Sort of like when you are interviewing for a job, and they ask you what your weaknesses are? And they are sort of strengths masked as weaknesses? Am I making any sense right now? Show of hands? Head nods? moving on…

Weakness:

  • I am a headcase, by nature. And this certainly affects my runs from time to time (okay, a lot, lately, anyway).  If my breathing is off, if I feel the twinge of a cramp or I have any sort of calf pain, that is all.i.focus.on. And it can ruin a run for me.

BUT

  • While I may be a headcase, I have vastly improved this weakness and therefore, feel it is a strength, or at least an improvement. I am so much better at powering through a run, at booting my overthinking out of my brain and ‘just’ running as much as possible, to actually enjoying running. Comparing myself now, as a runner, to who I was at the beginning of this run challenge, even, and I’ve definitely shifted this away from automatic headcase at the outset, to more of a rarity. (but it still rears its ugly head, like the last few weeks!)

Strength:

  • I am determined, like whoa, to stay consistent, improve my pace and focus on even breathing. This run challenge has, by far, kept me running four days a week for almost the entire winter, something I had never previously been able to do, because the dreadmill has always been my nemesis. But in embracing it, I embraced intervals (hello pace increases!) and it massively helped my breathing. Given it is easier to breathe on a treadmill without a lot of incline or natural road shifts as with the outdoors, it was much easier to keep my breathing in check, and in turn, take my mind off my breathing and onto the run itself. HUGE shift for me. HUGE.

BUT

  •  I am stubborn as hell when it comes to my running schedule and mileage. I have been, in recent weeks, so focused on fitting in all of my runs (amid a building schedule for teaching at barre n9ne etc) and trying to extend my distance (amid some less than pleasant weather making it much less motivating to run long INDOORS) that it just bound me up. I ran stressed. I overthought all of my runs and what to fit in where and how to get my longer run done solo (when I know I am not the best runner by myself). I declared being at peace with mileage  yet I still struggle with that. I wonder if I am better with a goal than goal-less runs. It’s huge food for thought for me right now. (thoughts welcome)

Weakness:

  • I’m still (relatively) slow. Not that speed is my ultimate goal, because let’s face it, I will never be an 8mm runner. If I had to hazard a guess (since I don’t run with a Garmin or anything), I’m probably somewhere between 9:30-10mm but closer to 9:30mm…and I’m actually proud of that. Weakness is probably the wrong term here. And calling myself slow is probably the wrong way to put it too…I guess what I mean by this is, I don’t know how to run fast outside. It’s easier to do that on a treadmill because you have something helping speed you up. Outside? It’s all you. I so easily slide into my comfortable pace than trying to pick it up a little. This is why I am a ‘bad’ solo runner as well.

BUT

  • I am a fast(er) runner than I was six months ago. And a better one, at that. My running is stronger, faster, more capable (thank you barre n9ne for stamina, like whoa!). So no matter if I consider myself ‘slow’, I am still faster than anyone on the couch and I am still faster than the runner I was six months ago.

Strength:

  • I’ve learned to embrace hills, speed work and getting into the uncomfortable zone. I always steered clear of hills and speedwork because I would get out of breath in a flash, and then aforementioned in-my-head-ness would occur and all bets were off for the rest of that run. It was terrible. But now? I rock the intervals at the gym (today was a particularly strong one as I pushed myself to go 30 seconds faster for each interval, which for me, is big progress, as I’ve been scared to do that for well, several months, admittedly).  As for hills? While I still WANT to shy away from them, when I face them, I slow down, and I take it slow and steady (thanks sis, you always push me through these when we run together!).

BUT

  • I’m a bad solo runner. I still have a lot of work to do here. And I think this is the root of my ‘meh’ runs of late. The most ‘meh’ runs I have had in the last 3-4 weeks have been those that I have attempted to do solo. When I start to struggle with my breathing, or get a leg pain or any other phantom pain or fear, my first instinct is to stop. I regress back to the ‘old’ runner that I was rather than draw upon my newfound running confidence. And it is so friggin frustrating. I WANT to be able to run outside by myself and enjoy it. I know I am capable of that. But herein lies the problem. I’ve gotten so headcase about it that I just plain don’t like it. And I honestly DO prefer to run with others (which is also an ironic shift since I NEVER ran with others a couple of years ago!), because it’s motivating, it’s fun, it keeps my mind on the conversation, not into OATT.

So, there you have it. My interplay of strengths and weaknesses of running. As I am into weeks 20 and 21 of my run challenge, I am hoping this little writing prompt helps get me back into the game, back into the fun running can and should be (thanks again, sis, for capturing it perfectly!).

Has this ever happened to anyone else? Struggling to run solo outside? Letting the headcase ruin the run? Etc?

I know it’s relatively common. I know it happens. I guess I am just frustrated that it keeps happening to me, despite all of the improvements I’ve made and the progress, too.

But, at the end of the day, I know I am capable and that will give me the confidence to keep trying, to keep pushing through whatever wall this is. Because I am a runner, and I love to run. (I swear!).

My 6-month run challenge (week 19): being at peace with mileage

For my 6-month run challenge update for week 19, I want to talk about mileage. Because, speaking of epiphanies yesterday, I had a running epiphany on Friday as I ran the lake with my friend Steph, that has been in the back of my mind, but finally came out as we were chatting.

I’ve been struggling with keeping up with my 7 mile ‘longer’ base run the last several weeks as I transition more to outdoor running. And I think I know why (in part) I am struggling.

Because I’ve been focusing so much on the mileage and keeping it up and getting that longer run in (along with my barre n9ne classes, taken and soon-to-be-teaching regularly, 3 other runs, 1 spin and 1 yoga workout each week!) that it’s stressing me out. And more than that, I keep questioning why I am bothering with it EACH and every week if that’s the case. Why force it? Why do it ‘just’ to do it (even though I always make sure to plan that run on fresh or semi-fresh legs and not pair it with another workout, barre n9ne, for example) so I don’t risk ‘junk miles.’ And even, why do it ‘just’ because I am doing this run challenge and chronicling it all here?

What is my motivation?

My motivation, from the get-go from this challenge to myself, has been to keep up with consistent runs throughout the winter months (4/week) and sustain some distance on the dreadmill in said winter months. My secondary goal has been to work on some speed and my breathing. I’ve done each of these things. I’m still working on them, I’m still a work-in-progress, but dude, I’ve made it through almost five months of this challenge and have made it to the warmer months.

And suddenly?

Longer mileage doesn’t matter as much to me as I thought it did when I declared this challenge (in some ways, to perhaps inch towards running another half marathon) in the first place. In part because I don’t think a race is even in the cards for me. Because I just don’t ‘need’ it to prove to myself that I am a runner, that I am an athlete, or that I can do it. I honestly know that I can, if I really wanted to. My body remembers. It knows how to work. And as I write this declaration of sorts, I re-read it and see it as proof that I don’t need a race to keep running. I don’t need to hit a certain number in my runs each day or week to know I am accomplishing something. And I don’t even read this as an excuse as I may have a few months ago.

Because I am at peace…with mileage.

And whatever that mileage is each day or week, I am satisfied with it. Because I know my body worked hard. Because even if it’s a ‘meh‘ run or a fantastic run, it’s getting out there and continuing to do what I said I would do. Run to run. Run for me. Not for miles. 

For as much as I’ve waxed poetic about ‘never say never’ when it comes to races and half marathons and such…it just doesn’t interest me anymore. It isn’t a motivator. It isn’t something I feel like I am missing out on anymore. What motivates me is simply running to run. Sweating. The ‘hurts so good’ feeling after I’m done. And that huge bowl of oatmeal waiting for me aftewards.

I’m sure this post is all over the place in parts. But I feel strongly about this. Very much so. I finally feel at peace with running ‘my style’ and nobody else’s. I finally feel as though I am not comparing myself to other runners, to others’ pace or distance or whatever. I only see my road ahead. My plans for the week. Nothing else.

I’m at peace with mileage. And with running. 

This doesn’t mean I am ending my run challenge. It doesn’t even mean that I won’t increase my distance. I just don’t plan to pressure myself to fit in a longer run if it doesn’t make sense in a given day or week. I’ll run what my body wants. And be absolutely thrilled with it. Each and every time.

**I write this in part because…life is so busy. I am juggling a lot of priorities right now, and I need to stop the juggling. Focus on what matters most, not doing things ‘just because.’ This gives me the balance I always strive for, mentally, and physically, with everything else whirling around. More on that in a later post…**

My 6-month run challenge (weeks 17 and 18): the mental (run) game

Running is such a mental game for me. 

And I know to some extent, running is a mental game just by nature of the beast. It just is.

Sometimes I just feel like it’s more of a mental game for me than it should be and something I should have kicked to the curb in the 18 weeks of this run-challenge of mine.

But then I realize that even the most seasoned runner still has days where the mind doesn’t quit and in enters the mental game. 

And I realize that even if I might have a more mentally challenging run than I’d like, it’s usually 1 out of every 5-6 runs and not every single one. For example, my run with my sister a couple of Fridays ago? The complete opposite of mental. It was utter perfection.  But at the other end of the spectrum? Enter today’s run.

Today’s run defined mental game. I was initially planning a rundate with my sister this afternoon but she’s trying to fight the ‘notsick’ vibes and opted not to run (good girl!!) and just come over for dinner (on tap, btw? THIS lentil recipe. Another lentil kick!!). In came the self-doubt. Running alone. Something I’ve lately had limited success with. I probably shot myself in the foot by even allowing myself to let that self-doubt creep in. The fear of not running well alone, since the last few times I’ve done solo runs outside have been meh. And just like a self-fulfilling prophecy, it was a meh run.

Started out great. Warmer than I thought (definitely wore a too-thick shirt!). Less windy than I thought (I have developed a fear of running in the wind of late, wtf is up with that?). Speedier than I thought. And then about a mile in, I stopped to take off aforementioned too-thick shirt and my calf started to bother me. And that pain never ceased. And my breathing was up and down, more labored than I thought. And then I had to stop again to stretch my stupid calf. And the run just felt like it went to hell in a handbasket (another wtf – why am I using that phrase lately?!) from there (yet the last mile or so I finally felt like I hit my stride).

So, yeah, I did it. I ran outside by myself. I forced myself onward. But I fought the mental game the entire time. I worried that if I am having a bad run now by myself outside, how am I going to do more of these? And is it because I am alone or because I am going through another streak of ‘meh’ runs? Or am I just jumping to conclusions? OR is it my new sneakers? (still debating that one. I got fitted for these and they feel great, yet, when I run in them, the soles of my feet start to hurt after awhile. Not normal? Must try running with my old pair and see if it still happens…).

Does this happen to anyone else or am I in the minority? I just get so frustrated when I have one of these runs because I want to progress and grow and continue to gain strength and speed and…confidence. I’m hoping it’s just one of those days. And I ran. And that’s all that matters. I can run. And I did.

Right?