balance

My Control Panel

In a challenge right now with a fitness group, we were tasked with thinking daily about what in our lives we can and cannot control. We had to write it down and repeat it to ourselves each day several times. To some this might seem silly, but especially in this time of flux and frustration, I found it useful. Here are some of the things I wrote down this week.

What I cannot control:

-My other family members’ schedules

-Other people’s priorities

-How other people interpret and respond to my choices

-How other people see me

-Many details about my work day – where I work, how I allocate my time, how many meetings I have to attend

-Traffic

-How fast the postal service delivers packages

-The coronavirus pandemic – its length, severity, and impact on people I care about and the world at large

-How others respond to the pandemic…their movements, opinions, responses, precautions (or lack of)

-Whether or not my daughter will have a lacrosse season

-The weather

-Other people’s level of stress and its’ impact on their actions, attitudes, etc.

The list goes on…and I realize I spend a LOT of time spinning my mental and spiritual wheels on the list above. NOTHING I CAN DO ANYTHING ABOUT. AT. ALL.

Here’s what I can control.

-My actions

-My choices

-Where I put my energy – writing, reading, recreation, learning, exercise, rest

-Where I direct my attention

-My movement

-What I consume – food, media, etc.

-My hydration

-My attitude toward challenges

Really, it’s a small list, but it’s what I need to focus on. You notice that most of what I can’t control involves other people and most of what I can involves me. When I find myself fretting about the world and all its ups and downs, I remember what I can control and then try to DO something related to these lists.

It seems like a goofy task to say these things several times a day, but I learned that my anxiousness lessens when I consciously remind myself what I can do something about. And then DO one of those things. What’s on your lists? Give it a try and see how you fare.

challenges, fitness and nutrition

Duathlon DIY-Style, and 2021’s OLW

One of my goals last year was to challenge myself to a duathlon. I ended up registering for a summer triathlon which was pushed back until next year.

I had all but given up on this goal at the end of the summer. After the race was postponed, I lost my excitement and drive to train and learn for the event. It wasn’t until a friend rallied a group of gym women around an engine building cardio challenge that I found the will to run and bike again with any kind of regularity.

I knew I wouldn’t tri this year, but a duathlon wasn’t out of the question. I decided not to register for an official race at year end. But I wanted to at least complete a “ceremonial” sprint duathlon to have a benchmark and a check mark. So I went for it one frigid December morning just after sunrise. Just me, my playlist, my essentials and my mileage counters. On my mark, get set, go.

3.1 mile run. The mist was rising off the lake. Bridges were still slippery from the chill and the dew. Three loops, making my way along. Not too fast, but not too bad

Transition to the bike. Fleece hat off, helmet on. Legs adjusting to the pedals. Skittering along. Ups, downs, loops. The sting of the cold on my face. Losing feeling in my hands as I watch the miles tick, tick, tick away. Singing along while avoiding potholes and traffic. I finally found a quarter mile loop for a soccer field off the beaten path. Rode it again and again and again for about 8 miles. Only a quick stop for a carb boost in the middle. Then back to dancing on the pedals. Saddle soreness set in at mile 8. Toe cramps began at 10. I held on to finish the 12.4 mile stretch. Ended this leg averaging 10.9 mph which is actually a decent pace. If I had been on flats the whole time it would have been quicker. Lifting and loading my bike with frozen hands was a challenge all its own.

Then the final crunch. The one you train for. The one that hurts. Off the bike and into the last run. When I trained for the tri early this year, I read about this transition and how brutal it is. The quick pace of the bike makes that last mile grueling at best. I started pretty well then it quickly deteriorated. As the mile wore on, I just willed myself forward. I passed a committee of vultures. Keep singing. Dodged piles of goose poop on the path. Keep moving. Step after step. One at a time. No stopping. Knees hurting. No breaks. Just all ahead as much as I can.

I finished. No crowds no medals no beers or cokes. No parades or high fives. No banana no T-shirt. But I checked it off. I don’t need festivities to know what I have done. Didn’t quite make it under my two hour goal, but sometimes completion is the victory in that moment. I will get that goal next time. I’ll take my imaginary participation ribbon thankyouverymuch.

A DIY-duathlon gives you a lot of time to think. My mind couldn’t help but wander as I looped around and around. As much discomfort as I felt, I thanked my body for carrying me through those 17-plus miles. My mental and physical stamina made it a successful effort. A year like this one makes me realize all the more how much these different types of health are worth.

I’ve shared many times how much I love words and wordplay here on the blog. In those bike miles, I found my mind playing with the word duathlon. I bet many people didn’t even know that was a word. Then I broke it into do-athlon. Which led to a good long think about the word “DO.” I am such a thinker, often an overthinker, and not always such a do-er. I decided in those miles that my word of 2021 will be DO. It will be my year to jump in and get things done. I’m still settling into this word and what it will mean for me. I hope you’ll read along wherever the path leads.

dare to be different, mental health

The Distant Shore

IMG_1656

A gorge in the Middle of Nowhere, Tennessee.  Calm, dark water with a hint of murkiness.

The rest of my group took off, swimming for the other bank of trees and sheer rock.

“Come on!” they called.  “Do it!”

I shook my head no as they doggie paddled, freestyled, and floated their way across the channel.

They called me and gestured a couple of more times, then they gave up when I continued to stand firm, head shaking. Nope, nope, nope. Not doing it. No sirree. Not this girl.

Then I asked myself, standing alone on the shore, why not?

Sure, I’m only a few years past being petrified to swim in any kind of water where I can’t see the bottom.  Sure, I don’t have a life jacket or any flotation device.  Sure, I have no idea how deep this is, or how far across it is (although I can see the other side).  Sure, I don’t really know how to swim in any kind of recognizable stroke or otherwise efficient way. (Which should have changed, given my story of near drowning, but it hasn’t.)

And after I told myself all that “why I can’t” stuff, I asked myself again, why not?

Then I started psyching myself up.

I can do this. I am training for a triathlon. Yes, it has been put off a year but I still need to get going. It’s not that big of a deal. I can do this. It’s not that far. Just start. Just go.

So I just walked out from the dirt “beach” and started to make my way across in some kind of swim-like movement.  Sorta freestyle-doggie-paddle, breaking into a vaguely-resembling-breast stroke at times, but never putting my head under water.  Eyes fixed resolutely on the other shore.

Yes, the fear set in about halfway across, everyone else in my group just chatting and laughing on the rocks.  I knew if I didn’t keep going I was probably in trouble, so I kept paddling along.

Eventually, the shore got closer.  My group noticed I was nearly there.  And I finally, eventually made it.  Seven straight minutes of swimming without touching bottom or using a life jacket.

Cut to the chase / return…I shaved a minute off my time and made it back in 6.  100 yards each way.

Still not real fast or real organized in the swim lane, but a small victory in calling myself on my own “nope, nope, nope” and raising it with a “why not?”

And yes, it was worth it.

What have you dared to do lately?

 

 

 

 

perspective

Max Mentality

 

I was looking for benchmarks and it seemed a simple enough test.

Do the maximum reps of pullups (or scale) that you can.

Then,

do the maximum reps of pushups (or scale) that you can.

Rest 2 minutes.  Repeat 3 additional times.

I read tips.  How to scale so you get a decent benchmark (choose a scale that lets you get at least 15 reps fresh, etc.)  So set up and pressed start.

It didn’t take long for me to stop. Yeah, I can’t do a ton of these exercises. But what I noticed is that I stopped before I was really “maxed out.”  I could have done one more, maybe two, even three, who knows?

And I didn’t just stop early the first time. I did it every. single. time. Left some in the tank, so to speak.

Why?  I thought to myself. Why stop short? Why not push to failure, really find where my max is? What do I fear?

When I thought about it, I realized that I take this approach all the time in fitness. I tend to run along at 70-80% when I should be maxing out.  In a workout with 5 rounds it is not unusual for me to have my last round be my best round. I don’t usually have the fall-on-the-floor-exhausted at the end, either. That’s fine sometimes. But I can’t kick it into high gear when that is necessary. My legs don’t have sprint in them.  Or, rather, I never test them to see if they do.

I believe I do this in most areas of life where I put forth effort. I’m always hesitant to really see how far I can go.  To see where my abilities can take me, and, maybe more importantly, where they can’t.  What is it about pushing myself to my limit that is something I struggle with?  What do I fear about learning where my edge is, and reaching for it?  Knowing where that is helps me make progress.  Helps move the carrot or the needle or the yardstick.

I even do this with my heart and my enthusiasm.  Even if I am crazy excited about something, if I am asked how excited about it I am, I’ll usually say an 7 or 8 out of 10.  What am I holding back for?

Something to think about as the summer begins and priorities shift.  What does it mean to max out as a writer?  A friend?  A parent?  How often am I cruising with that less-than-best-effort when I should be doing more, crushing it?

How about you? What’s your challenge for giving max effort in life, or maybe what’s your secret?

 

 

 

fitness and nutrition, friendship

Mileage Madness

Just updating the world on my 2020 mileage challenge. So far, so good.

At the end of 2 full weeks I logged 147 miles or 8% of the 2,020 miles. Doesn’t seem like much but it is all extra work. The miles are in addition to my normal daily training. I fit them in where I can.

I arrive early some days for a couple of miles. I stay late when I can for a few more. I add some longer stretches at home when my schedule allows. I’m getting it done and so are my friends.

I have 3 races booked so far for 2020. A 15k in February, a 10k in May and a mud run in October. Just a fun way to get some miles away from the ordinary training locations.

Variety definitely helps keep the task at hand easier. One friend is splitting up her miles by category. 10% by rower, 10% run, 10% ski erg and so on. Why? For one, it’s harder. A mile on the rower or the ski erg take longer. Each may even seem more taxing than bike, but in small doses it’s not too bad.

Enter a group text message early Saturday morning with a 7-mile variety workout of sorts for a group challenge. It looked challenging yet I wanted to put in 11 miles that day so I adjusted the numbers to get me to 11 miles collectively. I said it’s not much more time. Hmmmm…

The above workout was now a reality. It took a while. Over an hour but it was manageable and I wasn’t exhausted after. Maybe my extra miles are helping me build endurance. I had a friend doing the work with me which always help to keep one moving.

I shared my update with the 2020 group and *boom* some brilliant member suggests we do it AGAIN tomorrow. Sunday. 5am. Who in their right mind wants to do that on a Sunday? The one day I can actually sleep in. WHAT? Have you lost your ever loving mind?

And people say I’m the head of the Bad Idea Club! Well, in this instance I said “wait, I’ll be there.” Why? Because I’m just as crazy as the others on the group chain.

It’s 4:30 am. It’s cold. I’m still tired. It’s laundry day so my favorite gym clothes are dirty. Do I even want to do this? I check to make sure my pals are up and moving because it would be a sick joke to wake me up this early for nothing. And I’m secretly hoping nobody replies! I sigh as two chirps got my phone.

It’s Kim and Mindy who are clearly up and ready to go go go. Guess I got to get going too. Off we go again to rack up another 11 miles, or 11 miles, 60 pushups and 90 sit-ups to be exact. Will I have a better finish time? I doubt it. It’s at 5am and I will barely be awake. Now I have to figure out who I can get to drag themselves out of bed so we can be miserable together. Picture proof below.

6 souls rose in the 4 am hour to meet at the gym for a 5 am start. Over an hour of hard work. Running in the dark and cold. Cheering each other on. We even had a cheerleader there snapping pictures.

Bike, ski, row, run, push up then sit up over and over again. We did it!

Off to work the nurse goes. Off to the grocery store three others go as it’s meal prep day. One rushes out before the hubs wakes up and one just vanishes into the darkness.

Another day. Another 11 miles. A little closer to the end goal. A whole lot of fitness. A great time with wonderful women I call friends. Fitness can actually be fun if you make it fun with friends.