Embrace focus

Hi friends! I’ve been a little bit distant from this ‘home’ lately but I promise it’s for good reason.

 I’ve been doing my best to embrace focus. 

Focus on the right things in my days, not the minor annoyances and things out of my control.

Focus on staying healthy and fit, even though we’re in the throes of the holiday season where temptation abounds.

Focus on the experience of the holiday season, celebrating with family and friends, loved ones that make my world go ’round.

Focus on the two things I love most fitness-wise: running and barre n9ne. Running because I want to run, not because I need to run. Simply. Teaching as often as I can, and taking a class if I can fit that in too. And watching as the two work effortlessly together to give me the strongest mind and body I’ve ever had.

Focus on gratitude, a regular theme on this blog lately and in my personal life.

Focus on intention — living with intention, always. Working out with intention, always. Showing love through my actions and words, with intention.

So where am I going with this? I’m focused right now. On the right things. And it’s making for a very happy, peaceful, mindful life that I’m growing to love more and more by the day. It’s a happy place to be.

I’m embracing focus. 

*****

Editor’s Note: And if you want to hear more from me on focus as it relates to focus at the barre? Mosey on over to the barre n9ne studio blog for a peek at the guest blog I wrote there on how to get the most out of your barre workouts — and even if you aren’t into barre workouts per se, the idea behind focusing while doing ANY kind of workout is an important one. A point sometimes lost in the grand scheme of things. I hope you enjoy the post!

No regrets

If there’s one thing in life that I try very hard to never take for granted — it’s the sheer ability to make choices.

Which is why I strive to live a life with no regrets. 

 

We have just one life to live, right?
…so why not make the most of it by taking advantage of the choices we have in our everyday lives?

To choose happiness first. 

To choose presence more often. 

To choose to shift your focus. 

To choose  (self)love over (self)hate. 

To choose simplicity over complexity. 

And yes, to choose to live a healthy, fit life

…even if that means going for that workout that you don’t *think* you want to do. 

Which is how this happened: 

It was quick. It was dirty. It was sweaty. (TWSS)
…and it was exactly what I needed. 

To get out of my head.
To shoo away the anxiety that was back and lurking.
To find clarity.
To chase and grab hold of presence…something I was struggling with on Sunday for whatever reason.

It didn’t matter how far we went or how fast or slow we went. We just ran. #simply.
…and I most certainly did not regret that choice. 

Never regret. Embrace choices. Live presently. <—my new mantra, likey? 

I run. #simply

Over the years on this blog, I’ve visited and re-visited the topic of why I run.
My drive as a runner has evolved over the years, naturally – but ultimately, I always go back to the #1 reason why I run: because I can. I’m able.

But today, and really ever since the marathon ‘thing’ happened on October 7, I’ve been thinking a lot about both why I run but also how I run. So in the spirit of looking back or revisiting certain topics this week, today I’m focusing on how I run.

How I run – and not the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other ‘how’ that comes with running — but my approach to it…which I’ve noticed a lot more lately is very different from most runners I am friends with, read about in bloggy land, etc.

I’d say I’m very much in the vast minority as a runner – for one big reason: I run. #simply

No music. Ever.

No garmin. Ever.

No ‘labels’ for my runs (i.e. tempo, shake-out, LSR, etc.).

No schedules (at least not in the traditional sense…training plans are different in my view)

It’s simple. And mine.

I’m focusing more and more on the whole concept of #simple – as you saw from my post the other day, it’s about ‘just being’ me. And that most certainly applies to running.

For example – I am pretty sure almost *all* of my running friends will gasp when I admit this: since the marathon, I have run a total of three miles. That’s one run. (I can almost hear the questions now: “what about a shake-out run??” or “aren’t you afraid you’re endurance will falter?” Or “One run???”)

But yup, just one run, three miles, that’s it. And sure, I miss running a bit but there’s been two main reasons for the lack of miles in my life the past week and a half. One – my right knee is a wee bit tender. I take no chances when it comes to injury. Call me uber-conservative if you like, but I’m protecting that IT band like a mama bear over here. No injuries please. And two – I’ve been teaching a lot at barre n9ne. And I am LOVING being back in full force at the studio now that I have more time on my hands, post-marathon. I’m teaching an average of 6-7 classes per week and am taking 1-2 a week if schedules allow (sometimes more, sometimes less, sometimes none ‘taken’ but all taught, depending). And it’s been awesome. Just perfect. I heart b9.

But back to my point – the running simply thing. I’m sensing that this is where my running is heading and I’m actually really excited to embrace that fact. Run far when I want. Run a few quick, fun miles if I want. Kill myself with puketastic intervals if I feel like it.

Just run. Because I love it. Because I can. Because I’m a joyful runner.

I run. #simply

Honor your body and #makeitcount

I had a moment this weekend where my constant urge to go, go, go, do, do, do was overwhelming me. I was having a hard time getting out of my head, out of ‘that’ zone. It wasn’t all that dramatic, truly, but it was a moment where, as I took a minute to think it through, that I remembered an important notion:

Our bodies are our temples — we need to honor them as such. 

Source: pinterest.com via Jess on Pinterest

It’s as simple as that. Honor that body. It’s the only one we’ll ever have.

So on Sunday when I started to get frustrated that I was about to decide to switch my rest day for the week to Sunday instead of next Saturday as originally planned, I had to shake myself out of that go, go, go zone. And remember two things: 1) it’s *really* silly to get all worked up about switching a rest day (I mean really) and 2) sometimes, it’s needed.

It all came down to one factor when I woke up on Sunday – 87% humidity. Combine that with a planned 9-miler and it wasn’t gonna be pretty. I started to review my  marathon training schedule for the week in my head (while mulling it over via text with my sis, the ‘angel’ to the devil on my shoulder…), and I realized that I could easily swap my rest day in favor of having an even better run next Saturday instead. It isn’t supposed to be nearly as humid then and that’s huge when it comes to longer and longer runs. At least for me. Especially during a training cycle where I need to make every single run, every single mile count. Every run has a purpose and a meaning.

So my new mantra heading into the latter half of my marathon training schedule? #makeitcount 

Every single run.

Every single mile. 

Every single barre n9ne workout. 

Every single rest day. 

#makeitcount

(and quit being silly about re-arranging rest days, yeah…that too)

And on that note, I’m feeling so very centered, so very ‘on, so very focused heading into a killer week of training, teaching and living. I have 16 miles (!) on tap for tomorrow, lots of barre n9ne classes to teach this week and some great running conditions (I hope) heading into the tail-end of the week.

It’s gonna be a goodie.
…and I’m ready to #makeitcount. Are you? 

On “body” memories

I thought about titling this post “muscle memory” but that would be misleading — so I’m calling this my thoughts on “body'”memories instead.

You see, something I’ve noticed a lot more lately, especially as I get more and more into the whole intuitive eating thing, that my body remembers a LOT of things.

…it remembers how good it feels when I fuel it with real, nourishing, whole, YUMMY foods.

…just as it remembers how not-great it feels when I cave to something far less nourishing (think: nachos).

…it remembers how much more energy it has when it’s fully hydrated. especially in the heat we’ve been experiencing up in my neck of the woods.

…it remembers how light and airy it feels when the body is rested, without too many two-a-days thrown into the mix.

…just as it remembers how badass (in a good way) it can feel after a particularly killer week of workouts, as the one I’m experiencing right now has been (more on this in a minute).

…and it remembers what it feels like to run, run hard, run far(ther) and recover. (much more on this in a few, too)

…the body just knows, responds, refines.

I’m consistently struck by this thing called ‘intention.’ That ‘thing’ I’ve been working on a lot this past year — living with intention, eating with intention, working out with intention, “being” with intention. A lot of that plays into what the body knows and how it responds to living intentionally.

And I am really digging that right now. I’m feeling very ‘at peace’ right now…with everything.
…and it makes me feel very blessed. Incredibly thankful. And very proud.

I’ll be thinking about this tomorrow while Scott and I tackle our long run of the week…week #3 of marathon training. We’re going for 10 miles, our first double-digit run since the half marathon in May.  And I’m feeling excited and energized about it. Not anxious like I mentioned in my post last week about that very mental 9-miler. And I like to think a lot of that has to do with this feeling of ‘peace’ I have going on right now. And the fact that my body remembers what it feels like to run in the double-digits and takes very little time at all to recover from it. I wind up feeling really GOOD after I stretch and re-fuel (ohhh oatmeal!) after a long run like that. I used to feel completely wiped, drained, OUT of it after a long run.

The body remembers. My body does. I dig it.

(and let’s hope it remembers how to run in the heat, even though we’re going out early morning, it’s VERY humid around here, not entirely adjusted to it yet. Body, please remember!!)

<< Oh – and another note: this killer workout week of mine. I’m calling it my last-chance workout week before the very EPIC return to wine country we have planned for next week. I am BURSTING with excitement about it. I seriously can’t sit still for the life of me. More on the trip in my post tomorrow…but for now, just know that I’ve been doing my best to kill every single workout this week while I can…especially at the barre, I’m going to miss barre n9ne in a big way next week. However, I do believe the ‘sacrifice’ is worth it. hehe. >>

Run-less, but not barre-less.

Run-less, but not barre-less.
…is how I’d describe the week, so far.

It’s totally been by design — I designated this week, post-half marathon, as a run-less week. I wanted to give myself a bit of a breather from running. Both because I knew I’d work it really hard at the race, but also because I know that after this month is over, running will be front and center once more (hello Chicago marathon training!). And the juggling act between running, teaching and taking barre n9ne classes would ensue all over again. <–I welcome it, believe it or not! I love the challenge…glutton for punishment, much?? 😉

A couple of things I’ve noticed this week while I’ve been in this focused mode.

 

My legs are recovering from the race a lot better than they ever have after previous half marathons. I chalk it up to a better level of fitness for sure, but also to really caring for my body leading into and post-race. Not running junk miles. Making sure to stretch often. Honoring the rest days. And yes, getting a workout in the very next day after the race <–this is a new one for me. Call me crazy but the barre class I took on Monday morning *did* help to stretch out my uber-tight quads and hammies. Did it sting? Sure did. Did it help? You betcha.

Having my sole workout or workouts *just* be of the barre variety has been really refreshing and fun. And focused. I’m an addict as it is, but to be able to focus even more on my form, on my endurance and on the mind/body connection during class has been awesome. While I’ve said a million times over that the running + barre combo is great, having the week to focus on my barre practice alone has been just what I’ve needed.

It’s been raining this week. Yet – by this weekend? Sunshine and 70s. Did a certain Someone know I was trying to avoid running this week and planned this forecast just for me? I do believe He may have. And I appreciate that. Means there has been absolutely *no* temptation go break my no-run rule this week whatsoever.

The bottom line for me? Focus is good. Really, really good. It always brings new clarity,  new thinking, new approaches to mind. Speaking of ‘new approaches,’ I have been thinking a LOT about how I plan to approach Chicago marathon training. I’m not ready to talk about it quite yet, but I’ll give you a hint — it’s going to involve lots of — wait for iiiiiit — FOCUS. 😉

A May(be) plan

Hi, my name is Jessica and I’m a spastic-OMG-must-write-everything-down-and-create-spreadsheets-for-everything planner.

Hilarious, right? But seriously — so, so, so true, at least for me. I think this is largely why I wind up with bouts of OATT regularly…I let the days jumble together to attack me versus taking each day as it’s own “thing.” Y’know, kinda like that “in” thing I mentioned yesterday.

So anyway, when I realized that May was upon us (um hi, yesterday was May 1st, how the hell did that happen?!) — the wheels starting churning. I mean, really – how could they not churn?

…the half marathon is almost behind me.
…the barre n9ne teacher training is long gone and I’m happily in my teaching groove.
…my not new but I keep calling it new job is five months deep.
…we’re nearly at the halfway point in the YEAR.
…my year of ‘no limits.’
Damn.

So yeah, it’s been a busy, jam-packed year so far. Which kinda makes my heart soar with glee, not gonna lie. It’s been a full and happy and passionate five months. Of reaching for dreams, capturing them and chasing the rest. I dig that. This full life that I lead.

But back to my point – the whole planning ‘thang. The OATT-er in me obviously wants to plan the next month down to a science, with every little detail in place (not gonna lie, there have been spreadsheets involved…). The wannabe anti-OATT-er in me wants to *try* to go with the flow more in May. I mean, once June hits — I’ll be in MARATHON training, OMG. The next four MONTHS will be filled with schedules. FILLED.

So this is my little reminder, I suppose, to call this month the month of May(be) Plans vs. all-out OATT-filled plans.

A May(be) plan, you say? Yup, I’m calling this month the one month out of the entire YEAR where I try to stick less to schedules a little bit more. May(be). I’ll be traveling for work this month — which throws me into un-routine. Something I clearly need as a way to un-train myself of these OATT-ing ways of mine. This month also includes the Memorial Day long weekend which always means a gigantic bash for Scott’s birthday each year — and this year being his 35th (!), I want to make it extra special. 🙂

The only thing I truly plan on doing this month, if I could quantify it in some way? I’d say it would be filled with lots of  “in” moments — of the barre variety for sure, perhaps of the running (without any rhyme, reason, distance or plans in mind) variety, and most definitely of the embracing each moment variety.

Hmmm…this May(be) plan is shaping up pretty nicely, if I do say so myself. Perhaps this recurring case of OATT Syndrome is on its last days afterall?

(one can only hope. and by “one” I mean my husband, who has the patience of a saint for putting up with my regular OATT-ing ways, heh)

In.

In.

…run the mile you’re in.

…run the run you’re in.

…love this life you’re in.

…embrace every opportunity you’re in.

…be in the moment. Every moment.

…Be In.

So you all know my favorite running mantra is “run the mile you’re in” right? Well, my blog bestie Heather so thoughtfully reminded me the other day to always remember to also run the run you’re in, not just the mile you’re in, but the run you’re in. Not the one coming up next weekend, next month, or this fall (ahem, Chicago…).

It was a reminder I needed leading into this weekend’s half marathon. It’s no secret that my mind has often skipped ahead to Chicago this fall everytime I’m in “long run” mode. I start to freak out about it, worried as hell that I will never make it all 26.2 miles. So the “run the mile you’re in” mantra comes in really handy for me during those times…but now this “run the run you’re in” concept is another goodie I plan to tuck into the back of my mind for the next training cycle. (thank you, Heather, what would I do without you? Seriously.)

But once I got to thinking about the whole concept of being “in” whatever it is you’re doing, running or otherwise, it all started to come together for me. Being “in” is something we could all use a really good dose of. I know I talk a lot about being present, and taking disconnected or unplugged weekends from time-to-time, but I honestly think we all need to do more in the way of being “in” this life we’ve been blessed with.

…it could mean being more “in” the moment during your next workout. Focusing on the mind/body connection. The way your body moves and changes and transforms with every step, every drop of sweat, every punch, kick, jab or plie.

…it could mean being more “in” it to win it — going for that dream that always seemed so out of reach. Saying “effit” and just going for it.

…and sure, it could also relate to running. But I think we already covered that one. 😉

Bottom line: “In” is a really great place to be.
(This post courtesy of the “Chronicles of things I’ve learned through Running.”)

 

Running on ‘happy’

Now that I’ve been blogging for awhile, one of the things I’ve been noticing more lately among *some* runners out there is that it seems as though there is no joy in running for them anymore. They’re so caught up in getting their miles in, sticking to their training plan, beating their pace time after time after time, and racking up as many race medals as possible. Which *may* be fun for some — please don’t get me wrong there, I’m not here to bash my fellow blog friends at ALL — but I sometimes wonder if, amidst all of that planning and scheduling if the joy in running gets lost in all that clutter, so to speak.

…at the end of the day, shouldn’t running make you feel joyful and happy and ‘high’ on life?

Or is that just me whose ultimate goal is to walk away from as many runs as I can feeling as though I ran happy and strong and proud (*most* of the time, anyway)?

I guess I should preface this all by saying that every runner is different, I totally get that. Every runner runs for different reasons. No two runners are alike. And really, who am I to say that “my” approach to running is any better or worse than the next runner’s approach. Right??

(Wow. This is a very, very long preamble to the entire point of my post today – sorry!!)

Anyway…

My point today? That it feels great to “run on happy.” Casting aside training plans, distance goals, pacing, etc. And just running, and running happy.

That’s exactly what Scott and I did on Sunday. We had no real plan in mind — just to run. Once we got out there we knew it would be on the shorter side because it was kind of gross out and well, to be honest — neither of us were in the mood to go all that far (we were still really feeling the 11 miles we ran two days prior).

So we set out to run…something. Maybe 3 or so miles. Who knows how far we actually went. All I do know is that it ended up involving lots of hills and speed. What started as a “few miles to shake the legs out” became a really, really fun hilly rundate on a dreary Sunday morning.

About halfway through, I found myself chugging up a hill and actually enjoying it. Like legit enjoying the hill work. Huffing and puffing alongside Scott and just letting my body work. No mind games. No worry over how I’d feel aftewards. No real thinking at all. Just working those hills.

And it was just the reminder that I needed — that not every run needs to be pre-planned, nor does every run need to be focused on distance and endurance. A switch in my running focus was exactly what I needed on Sunday. The past few weeks I’ve talked a lot about how my mind has been far too chatty when I run. And truly? It was causing me to miss out on the joy that running brings me. I wasn’t having fun out there anymore.

Now that I’ve realized that that was the reason my running was feeling fairly lackluster the past few weeks, my mind has calmed way down. I feel confident and strong and ready to run on May 6 (note that I didn’t say ‘race’).

I’m going into this half marathon with one goal in mind now — to Run (13.1) Happy.

That is all.

A very fine line.

<Editor’s Note: I have a feeling this post might spark a bit of healthy debate and I don’t mind if it does. I do hope that it doesn’t send the wrong impression about my approach to training, though. I promise you that I am still on the balance bandwagon all the way. This post was a way for me to get my head straight and ‘in the game’ so to speak as things heat up around here. Annnd end side note…>

It’s getting all kinds of crazy up in here. As you saw from my big, bad (super-pretty) half marathon training plan the other day, I’m working really hard to balance it all.
…taking barre n9ne classes – to continue to hone my own practice.
teaching barre n9ne classes – to become the best instructor I can be.
…and training for the half marathon – so I can run a race I’ll be damn proud of.

But after I wrote up my plan, I immediately started re-thinking things. Shuffling classes around. On-days for running and off-days for running. Making sure not to overdo it one day only to set myself up for disaster (and junk miles) on another. I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to TAKE as many classes as I’d like to take, while also managing things as an instructor and oh yeah, fitting in the miles, too.

<insert crazy jiggering and re-jiggering of my training/barre n9ne plan about a million times over the course of an hour>

An exercise that proved to be very sobering.

Tina actually touched on this in her post yesterday and it really got me thinking. How far is too far? And, how “easy does it” is too “easy does it” (if that makes sense)?

It’s a very fine line.



…between maintaining good balance vs. overtraining.

…between going ‘balls to the wall’ all week for every single workout, only to feel like you’re about to crumple to the floor the next week.

…between pushing yourself to new highs with your workouts vs. pushing yourself smack dab into the wall. And hitting it hard.

A very fine line, indeed.

So what have I decided? For one, I’m going to be assessing my schedule week-to-week. To ensure that I’m not overdoing it in any one area. Teaching vs. taking class. Running hard and fast versus recovery runs. And resting. Oh yes, there will be resting.

What I’ve also decided? I can’t really “choose my battles” in terms of focus quite as easily as I could before. I can’t say that barre n9ne takes priority over running; nor can I say that running takes priority over barre n9ne. Yet I know I can’t make *both* a priority and expect to maintain good balance.

So what’s a girl to do? Quite simply: The best that she can.
…to maintain a semblance of balance where possible.
…to *really* listen to my body and be ready and willing to nix a workout or a run if and where needed.
…to avoid trying to be everything to everyone.

…and above all else, to be willing to be flexible (not easy for this Type A-er!)

I know this probably sounds very excuse ridden wishy-washy right now but I promise you it’s not – it simply goes back to that very fine line I talked about above. I literally do need to take my training on a week-to-week basis, to make smart decisions based on how I’m feeling at that moment in time.

Like I’ve always said, any plan is meant to be a guide, a tool, but not gospel. So that’s what I’m focused on doing. Toeing that very fine line, working that “inner tightrope artist” in me to the best of my ability. Being the best that I can be, on any given day.