Wednesday Why: Legs Up the Wall

Why on earth would you do this?  And what the heck is it called?

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This lovely posture is called “Legs up the Wall”.  I discovered it in a restorative yoga class and after hearing the instructor praise it, decided to do some reading.  I learned, among other things, that not only was it CALMING, but it was one of the best things you could do for tired legs.

After adding it after EVERY RUN, I can now tell you – taking the time to do it is one of my keys to staying healthy.  Sometimes I do it and meditate.  Sometimes I post my runs.  And sometimes I chat with my kiddo about his day.  Combined with foam rolling, it has completely changed how I IRL (in real life) – even after a day at a client in heels!

The Why
– Reduces edema (stuck excess fluids) in your legs and feet
– Relieves tired muscles
– Reduces stress and calms the mind
– Boosts energy
– Alleviates headaches

The list continues when you visit Mr. Google, but you get the point!

The How
1. Find a good wall that abuts to a carpet or a rug.  OR bring over a mat.  You don’t want to be distracted by lying on a hard surface.
2. Scoot yourself so you are sitting next to the wall with one hip touching.
3. Swing your legs up against the wall and make sure your sits bones (aka your bottom) is flush against the wall.
4. Relax and take a deep breath

It’s that easy!!  I recommend at least 10 minutes, but if a couple is all you have – go for it!

I challenge you to try this pose today.  I’ve done it on conference calls from my home office, in my bedroom before bed and in the living room after dinner.

And – let me know how it goes!

Namaste, friends.

Monday Mantra: May 15, 2017

Back when I was regularly blogging, I used to post “Monday Mantras” here and on Instagram.  Now that I have committed to writing regularly again, I have decided to reinstitute the practice.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE mantras.  I find them very powerful tools for running, yoga and the stresses of every day life.  I like the explanation in this article (and the longer explanation in this one), but for me — the simplest way to describe the impact is to think about how much power we have over our minds.  In yoga, we regularly use OM to center us and connect to our inner selves.  As someone who needs more words, mine tend to be longer than one syllable.

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For this week, I want to think about kindness.  Kindness to ourselves, to others and to the path that we are on.  It is OK to have a hard day.  It is OK to spend the day in yoga pants and surround ourselves in comfy cotton.  It is OK to stop our day and restart.

And, when you are ready, it is OK to begin again.

We are our own harshest critics and wouldn’t it be nice if we were also loving and kind to ourselves?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we loved ourselves and therefore, were able to love others more fully?

Namaste, friends.

 

 

Advice from 23 Half Marathons

As of Sunday, I have officially completed 23 half marathons.  Since I am now done, for the season, I decided to take a look at progress, lessons and next steps as I dream about fall.

I have been tracking my running data since 2015 – first on excel and now on google drive.  When I started that process, I went back and look for the finish times of EVERY RACE I’VE EVER RUN… And found all but two of them on bibs or somewhere in cyberspace.

As runners, I think tracking helps us see patterns in our behavior and performance.  In my real life, I am something of an accidental data nerd and have to admit I enjoy seeing what emerges when I mix up the info in different ways.

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Half Marathon Performance: August 2004 to May 2017

My first half, a NY Road Runners fun run around Central Park, came after my first full and it didn’t even have a medal or a shirt!  Once I returned to running seriously at the end of 2013, I started to look out for such things and my collection of both has grown significantly.

My lessons from the trenches…

1: Not every race will be a PR!!!
This one is hard for me.  I am constantly looking to improve and get better, but when you run multiple races in a season, you have to give yourself the leeway to sometimes just have fun.  Or help a friend over the finish line or realize today is not the day for you.  That used to make me CRAZY, but now I can take it in stride and allow joy in the journey. As you can see from my chart, typically I have one “stellar” race a season and the rest tend to be a little slower.

2: Training plans matter. 
I love writing training plans and will often source a bunch of place before I figure out which one works for me.  For a long time, I ignored the advice of track work and hills, favoring just enough miles.  I have learned the hard way that not doing that work will BITE YOU on race day.  Varying pace and the type of pounding on my legs REALLY changed the experience for me.  The caveat, listen to your body!!!  If you need a rest day – take it.  If you are sick – don’t run!!  Remember – there is a difference between excuses and self care.

3: Study the course map.
I am very guilty, particularly when choosing quantity over quality, of not looking at the map or elevation of a race course at all.  For a long time it was because I didn’t know what on earth I was looking at when reviewing that info.  (I am supremely directionally challenged – I will get out of a store in the mall and not know which way I need to turn.)  But I slowed down and taught myself.  Now, particularly for a goal race, I will study the map for my training plan and race day plan.

4: Do NOT try anything new on race day.
Know your fuel plan.  Test EVERY PIECE OF CLOTHING. Eat properly the day before. Do not let the expo get you — this is not the time for a new tank, hat or gu.  This is tried and true advice and even the most seasoned runner can get sucked into an amazing new find or the taper crazies.  Do not let 13.1 miles turn into a stomach cramping, fuel belt chaffing, new hat flying off experience.  You have worked WAY TOO HARD for that.

5. Mentally train too!
I have not regularly done this either, but after trying and failing for SO LONG to get a under 2 hours, I decided it was worth a shot.  I worked on mental toughness this spring by reading books, listening to podcasts and generally embracing the suck.  For so long I thought it would just get easier to go faster.  And it has, but to really push myself – I had to change my thinking and visualize that finishing time.  Whatever floats your boat, really – is it a mantra, a saying on your hand, the music you listen to or don’t?

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And for goodness sakes  — have fun!  You are amazing for getting out there and doing what such a small percentage of the population can do.  It doesn’t matter what your times are compared to others.  It matters what your times are compared to your goals.  We are not going to the olympics, but typically back home to be the best person/mom/dad/wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend we can be.

The Perfect Jumpie

Getting the perfect jump shot on your phone after a run is a wonderful way to celebrate your miles.  It takes a lot of practice and a whole bunch of jumping around before you get it right.  We have dubbed this shot the “JUMPIE” for our self-taken jump shots.

Some tips from the jumping trenches:

  1. Angle Upward: It helps to make you look higher off the ground when you jump when you angle your camera UP.
  2. Practice: Is it on 3 or after 3?  We have ONE person count and usually go ON THREE.  And typically we do a practice shot first.  But NOT after a 20 miler.
  3. Bend and Snap: Well, really just bend.  If you bend your knees – to the side or behind, you are more likely to get a good picture. And you look like you’ve jumped higher!
  4. BURST: The burst feature/ timer is your friend.  If someone else is taking the photo, have them hold the camera button (angled up!) when you start counting.  If you are using the timer, watch for the numbers and begin your jump when you see “1”.
  5. Smile when you JUMP: And watch your head position so you don’t end up with what I affectionately call, “turtle head”. It takes practice, but keeping your head forward and your body upward looks the best.

And have fun!!  Happy jumping!

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There are no Shortcuts

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Training for a marathon, as anyone knows who has done it, is a life changing experience.  For some, it’s little things and for others, the big ones.

For me, because this is my blog so you get my perspective, the thing marathon training is doing this time around is stripping down some of my unhealthy adulthood habits.

My first marathon was in 2003 with Team in Training as a 27 year-old singleton living on the Hill in Washington, DC.  It has been 16 years since that experience and it changed so many areas of my life, I honestly do not recognize the person I was before I crossed that finish line.

When we started training for this marathon I assumed I’d already had my life changing marathon and this one would just be about celebrating the good, bad and ugly of balancing miles with working motherhood at 40.  I am honestly shocked to find the evolution I am in the midst of as I rack up the miles during this cycle.

Here is the thing I forgot from the other side of growth.

CHANGE IS HARD. AND UNCOMFORTABLE.

And once I remembered that was part of the deal, I knew I either accepted the discomfort or stopped growing.

I have chosen to take the long and winding road.

So that means, I have to go through the change and the suck and the humidity and the painful conversations to get to the other side.  I have to work on the things that bubble to the surface — the things that come from listening and talking and pushing ourselves… the moments that we share in the intimacy of long runs.

I know on this path, there are no short cuts…

to training

to life

to growth

to becoming the best versions of ourselves.

The struggle is no joke, but I KNOW when I cross that finish line in 2 months and 4 days, I will not be the same woman that started training 11 weeks ago.  And for that, I am so very grateful.