Running & Maintaining My Sanity

Every week a new article about how exercise and the outdoors help us feel happier. We retweet the articles, share them on our Facebook pages, and think to ourselves “I didn’t really need a study to tell me that.”

But the minute life gets busy, exercise and adventures are the first thing to get set aside. When there are deadlines looming and to-do lists a mile long “I’ll do it later” turns into “I’m too tired, maybe there will be time tomorrow” and then tomorrow fills up and before you know it, weeks have gone by.

In the midst of my blitz to the end of my teaching program and the end of the school year I’ve let my fitness regimen lag a little bit but I haven’t let things go entirely—and the fact is that I can’t. I feel a little bit strange about this (re)realization. It’s nothing new to me that my mood is immensely better, that I’m more efficient at home and at work and just  a generally happier person to be around when I take the time to workout but I haven’t quite made peace with that yet.

I require exercise to be a functional adult.

Sitting at my desk last week towards the end of the day, I could feel this unspecified dread bubbling up within me. I was caught up on my teaching program requirements, only a normal amount behind on my grading, and my belongings were well on their way to being packed and moved to Ridgway. And yet: this weird, depressed, anxious, sad sort of feeling permeated around me and I didn’t want to teach or accomplish anything. I debated whether I could just spend the evening in bed cuddling with Sprocket.

At home, knowing the answer to “Can I really just be lazy tonight?” was a resounding NO, I changed into my running clothes. “Just do two miles,” I told myself. “You’ll feel better.” Just shy of two miles in the damp spring air, it all clicked and I changed my route to add another three. My mental clarity returned and the run felt good.

I have accepted rationally that I need the run, the yoga, the strength and core work. I need it to be the happy friend, teacher, daughter, co-worker, granddaughter, sister, aunt, and stranger that I want to be. Can I function without exercise? Sure, but not at the level I want to. Mentally, I feel almost defeated by this realization. Knowing is power, yes, but I’m not sure that I feel okay knowing that my grasp on happiness is as tenuous as that.

“At least it’s not drugs!” I think. I ponder the intersection of endorphins and the self-confidence that has grown in my body’s abilities (and, if I’m being honest, at least a little in its appearance). There is no sweeping epiphany though, no “This is how you live your best life.” Instead, there is a quiet knowing that I need that time for myself to be me and a searching for acceptance of that fact.

Warrior Dash

A few weeks ago I ran the Warrior Dash in North Bend, Washington with JJ and his friend Alisha (JJ’s girlfriend Meghan and his friend Tyler joined us to take pictures and hang out). In case you haven’t heard about Warrior Dash (or it’s counterpart Tough Mudder which is longer and looks considerably tougher and thus cooler) it’s a run combined with obstacles.

Nice and clean before the race

We arrived in plenty of time to check in to the race and watch the first finishers come across the line. When it was finally our turn to run, we got into the race chute with a couple hundred of our fellow “warriors.” The Dash has start times staggered every half hour with up to 300 participants per wave. Once the race started and we were off and running it quickly became apparent to me that 150 runners every 15 minutes would probably be a lot nicer. For a run that advertises mud, there seemed to be a lot of reticence to run through the mud rather than waiting to run around it.

Running towards the final obstacle–the mud pit

At about a mile, JJ slowed down some and I headed off with my goal to not let anyone beat me through an obstacle, one at which I mostly succeeded. I averaged 10:54 min/miles which considering how slow we all started the race and the giant mud pit thing at the end, I suppose it wasn’t that bad. I felt slow even though in the 20-29 women’s bracket I finished 56/970 participants.

Very muddy after picture.

After I emerged from the mud hole obstacle at the end of the race, I really wanted my turkey leg and promised beer. We got hosed off the best we could and headed to the food area.

That turkey leg and tallboy were completely necessary. As was wearing the hat.

It was a fun race but not near as much fun as I was expecting. I would hope for more obstacles per mile and for fewer people per wave. It did remind me that running in races is quite a lot of fun though!

June and July Fitness

I posted awhile ago about how I intended to get back on the fitness wagon after EMT class ended and was only sort of successful—a few bike rides, a few hikes, and some spotty runs but I didn’t get in much of a groove.

In early June, I decided I’d spent the money to buy P90X back in January and it was time to give it a shot since nothing else was getting me moving like I wanted to. So far it’s been going really well! I’ve only completely missed one workout—I’ve had to shift a couple to my “rest” day but since I’d accidentally rested another day and am feeling pretty good I haven’t worried about it.

In addition to P90X, I’m doing the “Nosy Bitches 100 Miles in 100 Days” Challenge. The challenge is to move yourself at least a mile every day via running, walking, or hiking (anything on foot really, my bike doesn’t count). There’s one point available each day forcing you to get out and do something everyday. We all anted up some cash so someone (or a few someones) are going to get a gift certificate to their favorite athletic apparel store. So far, I haven’t missed a day but there’s still a couple others who haven’t either so It. Is. On.

August goal: To get more hiking in. I like that stuff. 🙂

*The number of workouts is a little misleading because a lot of the P90X days have a resistance training component and an abs component. MapMyRun lets me enter the actual routine I did so they get entered as separate workouts. Two “program” workouts in a single day are actually one workout.


May Fitness

I said that when EMT class was over I’d get back on the fitness wagon. I did do much better than I had during the rest of 2012. I didn’t do anything too intense or too much but I did ride my bike to work a few times; went running a few times including a race; and got out in the woods with Forrest, Sprocket, and friends.

Can you tell class ended on May 11?

I can, and certainly hope, to do better but it sure beats an empty workout calendar! I already started June off well with the Rainier To Ruston relay…post on that coming soon!

Forcing yourself to work out when you’re busy…

When I was a little kid, I associated yoga with yogurt. Possibly with Yogi the Bear.

In junior high a friend and I worked along to one of her mother’s yoga videos. It must have been yoga for beginners or relaxation or something like that because all I remember is a lot of Child’s Pose.

Yesterday, I attempted the P90X yoga video. It was pleasantly challenging (I didn’t throw in the pushups he suggested) if a little long (I skipped a few sections, shortening it to an hour for my first time). I worked hard but wasn’t really sure how much I got out of it.

These days that’s tough. We’re back and forth to Post Falls for EMT class when completely eats up my post work hours on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday I just want to sit and not do anything. And unfortunately, that’s been the case on the weekends too.

I feel so much better when I work out. I woke up this morning to pleasantly sore abs and shoulders. I actually like working out. It was a Monday morning and I was tired and groggy but able to pry myself from bed. I totally wish I could say that I’d get up at five to work out MWF but realistically, that’s not going to happen so instead, I’ll commit myself to actually doing something on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday even if it’s as small as going for a walk (although, those endorphins from working hard are what I’m really after).

Sound good? Okay.

Besides, I get to run this sweet race again in June!:

Rainier to Ruston

P.S. Sprocket is really helpful on the whole yoga thing. Face is often near the ground or legs are in perfect walk through position.