Where did time go??!

How did I come to the 21st of Jan?? Wow, this year has been going by really fast. Ok, let’s recap a little. Last week was a painful one for me and I mean this literally. So on Monday (I think), I decided to go running in the morning but I didn’t really think about the time and ended up taking a route near the local highschool right before first bell. Needless to say, the traffic was absolutely nuts and while I tried to avoid being hit by cars, I didn’t look at where I was going and tripped very badly on the uneven pavement. It wasn’t pretty since I managed to take the skin off my left knee and allowed my phone to break my fall (ugh). And then I went home for the weekend…suffered from a bad bout of Ethiopian food, dehydration while I was on the Incline (see this explanation), and banged up my OTHER knee (no skin lost though) in the process. So, that definitely wasn’t the best week for me. But here’s what I learned from it:

1. Running without music can also be kind of nice. Since I had smashed my phone, I thought it would be a good idea to go without it for a short while. At one point last week, I took the usual ocean-side trail but sans headphones. I never knew how many sounds of nature I could enjoy! It was amazing to hear the ocean crashing, the call of seagulls, and the rustle of little creatures scurrying through the low vegetation on the bluffs. I might try to run without my phone more often when I’m on this trail. It was actually very relaxing.

2. When you fall, you get up and keep going. Believe it or not, I’ve never fallen while running before. I think the initial shock (and embarrassment) was more acute than the pain on my knee and other parts of me. I can still see the bruise, even a week later, but the swelling has gone down. It was very uncomfortable wearing pants last week though. But despite it all, I realized that I didn’t want to stop running…in fact, it made me want to run more; it made me want to go on my favorite trail and smell the salty sea air.

In other news, I signed up for a half that’s happening in three weeks!! Yeeep!! A friend and I have been talking about running together and we finally made plans! I know it’s kind of crazy and little unexpected (so once again, I’ll most likely be undertrained) but I’ve been working out pretty regularly again since mid-December so I think I could become prepared by the time the race rolls around. We shall see though. I care more about the journey anyways 🙂

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Cultivating a habit…

How long does it take to form a habit? Some say as little has 21 days…but recently I read this article from the health behavior research center from UCL that said 66 days as a minimum. Isn’t that small wonder that the fire of our well-intentioned “New Year Resolution” usually burn very brightly in the month of January and are reduced to mere embers by the time Valentines Day rolls around? Knowing that, I also realized that what I’m trying to do with my work and my fitness is also cultivating a habit. And the key is to sitck to it for long enough. But the question is how? Here are the things I’m trying to do according to this (other) article:

1. Keep my goals small. I need to train for a marathon and want to get back into a regular habit of running but sometimes (as well all know), life can get in the way. If I can start small – with a goal of 2-3 miles for a couple times a week, the task wouldn’t be too hard and it will give me the time to push through the uncomfortable aspects of the sport if you haven’t been doing it for a while.

2. Find my anchor. I’ve done enough running to know that I HATE doing it in the morning (unless it’s a race) and get the most enjoyment out of my runs in the late afternoons. It is relaxing to me to spend a little time just exercising at the end of a long day. Plus, I hate being cold. In the early morning hours, I prefer yoga. I love it at that time because it wakes me up and give me a sense of space, purpose, and resolve to accomplish everything I need for that day. But in order to do yoga in the morning and run in the afternoon (at work), I need to remember to pack my gym bag. So finding an anchor is looking for a precise action that will trigger my “packing/prepping” a gym bag (which will set myself up for success the next day). So my achor is “brushing my teeth” – after I brush my teeth, I will pack my gym bag (or check on it). Having this anchor will ensure that I am ready for my fitness goals the next day.

3. Force myself to celebrate. I don’t know about you but I’m one of those people who are extra critical on myself. People have always told me your worst enemy is yourself…and I believed it so much that I often can only see what I didn’t do, what I didn’t do well, what I had failed to do, etc. I know that sounds exhausting and it is somewhat difficult being me. So I’m forcing myself to celebrate me. Not in a big way, of course. But when I head out for a short run (even if I had planne do a longer run), I will say to myself, hey good job, you got out! One step closer to being able to run that marathon. I will not say (instead), oh you suck, you only ran 2 miles when you had planned for 5!! You’re falling short of your goal!!

4. Accept failures (and don’t magnify them). For some people more than others, failure (or falling-short) is a tough pilll to swallow. We all react differently from it, too. I’ve never felt confident about my school stuff – all those years of being criticised about my writing is not good enough, I’m not doing enough work (I’m a PhD Candidate in xxx by the way) has seriously gotten to me really bad in the past 2 years. But very recently, while talking to a new friend about my journey through the academic world (since I was in college – where I went and what I studies) she said “oh wow, you’ve been sailing smoothly all your life through school.” Really?! I spent the last two years of my life thinking I’m not good enough and allowed such dark thoughts eat away my confidence at accomplishing my final goal. But in the eyes of another, I’ve not done so bad. Of course, perspective is contextual so who knows why my new friend percieves my journey thus far as “smooth sailing” even though I feel like I’m always hanging in anticipation of the next storm while dipping my oars in choppy water…but the point is this: there will be failures in life but see what went wrong and keep going. Get stronger, get better, find new tools – don’t dwell on it. One small setback is not synonymous to a lifetime of failures. In the grand scheme of things, those are the nuggets that make us better and stronger. So yeah, the road to forming good work and fitness habits won’t be smooth sailing but keep at it and someday I might get there.

We’re only 2 days away from a brand new year. We can also use this time of reflection to center our goals and get to it. There are only a few times when we feel that we can start with a (semi)clean slate – so let’s make the best of this beautiful mentality!

GOG 10 Miler Week 7 Update

Oh my gosh, I’m late…on this blog post and life in general (haha). Let me quickly send out this update before I have to run off to the gym and officially start my day. So remember the soreness I had to endure at the end of week 6 due to overexerting myself during the “fun” and “pretend” PT test? Well, that baby lasted the whole damn week! I can’t say that my lower abs have returned to normal because I do feel some strain during the “upward dog” in yoga. Anyhow, this last week really wasn’t my best effort in training and fitness. First, the soreness (and SUNBURN) made it just absolutely bleh to do any kind of work out for a couple of days (although I did take some walks, tried to stretch…etc). Second, it was a whirlwind kind of week, both physically and emotionally (let me elaborate about that in a later post).

Despite the break from yoga and not doing as much running as I should, I did manage to squeeze in some speed work. I had mentioned that I’ve been trying to crank up my speed at the end part of my runs…and so far I’ve really enjoyed doing that. I was only able to run twice last week but both I felt were solid training sessions. And the rest of the time, I was just trying to recover physically with light cardio and some stretching.

Honestly, I’m not too happy about how I did last week but I really have to accept that it is what it is. Sometimes I wish I was one of those people who can run 4-5 miles everyday and keep up with it for weeks and months on that same regimented schedule. Ugh. A friend once told me that sometimes, we just can’t allow life to get in the way of training…but I really also believe that for an amateur like myself, it is all about balance. I run because I want to be healthy. I also enjoy running very much so it’s my hobby. In a strange way, because it’s so enjoyable for me, I don’t want to feel trapped by all the constraints that could come along with training for races – I just want to do what I feel! I want every moment that I’m either out on a trail or  pounding the treadmill to be times that I enjoy in its totality. There are enough guilt and shame in our lives associate with being in a relationship (whether you’re a husband, wife, parent, girlfriend…etc) or in our jobs…I really don’t need my hobby to turn into something of a chore. As you can see, I am still trying to find that balance between how much do I make time for running and when do I just have to prioritize life and work. I may have to struggle with this one for a long while…but much like running, as long as you keep moving, you are getting somewhere.

Alrighty, more posts later this week about how life/work took over my last week but also some gorgeous photos from my short visit to the Rocky Mountains National Park!