Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday Love and a (non)Running Update

I'm going to get some haters for what I'm about to say, but I don't care.  I'm going to do it anyway.

I LOVE TUESDAYS.  And here's why:

On Tuesdays, I have no class and no work.  That's right.  You heard me.  I get to stay home - in my pajamas - all day.  I get to savor my coffee and I always, always have oatmeal for breakfast.  I get to clean up my kitchen after I make breakfast, and I get to cuddle with the kitty.  Now, before you go getting all "Graduate students' lives are SOOOO EASY!" on me, I should mention that I actually do work on Tuesdays.  I just don't have to shower or change out of my sweatpants to do it.  On Tuesdays, I typically have approximately 38 hours of reading for class to fit into 12 hours of awake time.  I also have papers to work on, a dissertation proposal to write (after I figure out what I'll actually be writing about, anyway), and grants to apply for.  But, the glory of Tuesdays is that I can do these things on my couch, in my bed, at my desk, or sprawled out across my living room floor.  I also have the flexibility to write a blog post at, say, 10 a.m. if I so choose.  So, yes.  I love Tuesdays.

Usually, on Tuesdays, I also run 4 miles and do some hill repeats.  Cause, yeah, I'm training for that half marathon thing.  Aside from that week of waning motivation, training had been going spectacularly.  I was running faster than I expected and feeling pretty darn good about it.  In fact, I had a whole "Yoga breaks me down, but running builds me up" post in mind because of how in love with running I've been lately.  Unfortunately, after a lovely 8 mile run a couple of weekends ago, I woke up the following day unable to walk without a fair amount of pain.  Every time I bent my left leg, I felt like someone was cracking me across the kneecap with a baseball bat.  Bummer.  So, instead of going to the gym and lifting, I took a rest day.  The next day, I was feeling a bit better, so I headed to the gym, jumped (not really - more like stepped) on the treadmill, ran approximately 4 steps and then got right back off.  Ouch.  I stationary-biked it and lifted some weights instead.

That was last Monday.  Tuesday and Wednesday were total rest days.  Thursday, I was pain free!  So, (smartly) I went for a glorious 5 mile run with a good friend in Lincoln.  The weather was nice, my legs felt springy, my feet felt light, and I felt so darn good!  Until I stopped running...  Damn it.  Friday back to painful walking.  Saturday in the pool and even swimming hurt!  Sunday rest.  Monday, stationary bike and weights.  Today, I STILL have pain.  So, I am declaring today and maybe tomorrow total rest days.  Then, we'll see how the good old knee is feeling.  Maybe Thursday will be a yoga day.  Maybe Saturday, if I've been pain free for at least two days, I'll try a (very, very short) run.  Anyway, keep your fingers crossed for me.  I'd really like to get back to that whole "Running is wonderful, I'm on top of the world" feeling.  Thanks.

Until then, a lot of this will be happening:

(Those are ice packs on my knees, if you were wondering.)
At least I have something pretty and uplifting to look at while I ice:

How are your Tuesdays going, friends?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Finding Motivation

This last week, I have been severely lacking in motivation.  I have not been motivated to do A.NY.THING.  Well, except lay in bed and watch re-runs of Modern Family on Hulu...  As of Saturday morning, I had officially half-assed my homework for the week and had only run once (!!!).  Instead, I had gone out with people from school and/or had dinner with friends 5 out of 5 nights between Monday and Friday.  So, Saturday morning (the morning of my scheduled long run), as I sat in front of my computer, drinking my coffee, eating a leisurely bowl of oatmeal, I realized that I was starting to talk myself into putting off my run until Sunday.  It went a little something like this:  I'm kind of tired today.  If I get a good night's sleep tonight, I will feel more like running tomorrow.  Plus, it's already so late in the morning and I feel guilty about not running earlier.  If I just push my run back to tomorrow, I can get up and do it first thing.  And so on...

And then...  I said NO!

Sometimes, I think, lack of motivation comes from being tired and not taking good care of yourself (i.e. not getting enough sleep, eating out too much, etc.).  Sometimes, it comes from feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where or how to start (at least it does for me, anyway).  Sometimes it comes from fear or sadness or sometimes from an interest in something new and exciting.  In any case, I've been there and done that before.  And I know that the one, surefire way for me to get over the hump and get going is to remind myself of my goals.

So, yesterday, as I drank some water and waited for my breakfast to digest, I got busy.  I printed out my half marathon training plan, wrote my goal time on it, and hung it in my office near my desk.  I had been feeling pretty guilty (good, old fashioned Catholic guilt, no doubt...) about the fact that I'd only run once during the week.  But, when I looked at my schedule, I realized that there was something I could do about that.  I could run today (well, yesterday, but you get the picture).  Next, I printed out one of the journal articles that has recently inspired a couple of new ideas for my dissertation project.  Then, I made a to do list for the upcoming week.

Then...  I ran.

And I was really happy that I did.  As soon as I got home, I checked "Run 8 miles" off of my to do list.

This week, I am determined to get back on track with school work and with running.  Because I am committed to graduate school and I am committed to running the Lincoln Half Marathon on May 6th in less than 2 hours and 10 minutes.  And the more I remind myself of those goals and commitments, the more I keep them in front of my face, the more motivated I will be to do the things necessary to achieve them.

That's the plan, anyway.

What do you do when you've lost motivation?  Do you have any tricks or strategies for getting yourself back on track?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lessons in Yoga: Lessons in Life

One thing I absolutely love about yoga is its ability to take the things (you know, the little issues, the little problems) that are hiding just under the surface, blow them up to gargantuan portions, and smack you across the face.  This is especially true in a particularly long or particularly hard class, like the one I was in tonight.  There are days when I walk into class thinking, "Gee.  Things are going pretty great - I don't know what I want to focus on!"  Some days I have something on my mind - an issue that I really want to work through during class (i.e. stress, an argument, etc.).  Other days, I go in with a bit of trepidation, thinking, "I'm not feeling up for this..."  Those are the days you know you're in for it.  You just know something is hiding in your subconscious, making you feel ... off, but you can't quite put your finger on it.  Then, in the middle of a sweaty, shaky pose, while the woman next to you is pulling it off without so much as a glisten on her forehead, it hits you like a ton of bricks.

I'll be frank with you...  This happened to me tonight.  And, luckily, the lesson I was smacked with in yoga class was also an important life lesson and, not surprisingly, one that I struggle with pretty often.

Here it is:  Don't compare yourself to others.  You are exactly where you need to be right now.

In yoga, everyone is at different levels and has different talents.  I, for example, love, love, LOVE pigeon pose and triangle, but I have always struggled with inversions.  Some people are more naturally flexible than others.  Some people have flexible shoulders and tight hips, or vice versa.

In life, it's no different.  Some people my age are married, some are single, and some used to be married, but aren't anymore.  Some people have 5 kids, some people aren't "there" yet, some don't want any kids, while others are struggling to get pregnant.  Some people have settled into less-than-fulfilling careers, some are fulfilled and successful, some are still searching.

And the lesson that I need to learn is that, in yoga class, I need to look straight ahead, to focus on myself, to pay attention to how I feel, to send myself little positive messages every now and then, to breathe, and to be happy with exactly where I am and what my body can do, no matter what anyone else can do.

In life, I need to do the same.  I need to remember that I am exactly where I need to be right now...