Category: running

3 tips for sticking with exercise when you want to quit

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Bonus tip: Exercise is usually more fun with a buddy, even when it’s your much-faster husband! (Photo courtesy of Hatch and Maas)

This morning I ran before church. I used to run early every Sunday morning, but it’s been a while, and today I had to do some convincing. It was 37 degrees, and I was cold!

I’ve been running (consistently, more or less) for about 5 1/2 years, and I’ve come up with plenty of excuses not to lace up and JUST DO IT.

Here are three tips that will help you get your franny out the door and not stop until the job’s done, even when you really don’t want to. (I use running as an example, but you can substitute your chosen activity – and I’m not talking beer-drinking marathons or Oreo-eating contests.)

  1. Don’t accept excuses from yourself. Running is 10 percent effort and 90 percent self-talk. (OK, I made that up – running is hard, and probably more than 10 percent of the equation – but you know what I mean.) I am the queen of excuses. Today I didn’t let my excuses win. (Note to self: Don’t be five minutes late to church next time you’re slaying the excuses.)
  2. Find a mantra. I have all sorts of little phrases I use when I need to keep up the effort. Nowadays they call them hashtags 🙂 but the concept has been around for ages. Some of mine, when I need convincing:
  • #IAmTough and #MindOverMatter (these two truly help me keep going).
  • #RememberYourWhy.
  • #BestYearEver.
  • #HeartToRun (since my heart surgery).
  • #WRA2016 (Bruce and I help coach the annual Women Run Arkansas clinic).
  • #ThxCoachBruce (he’s helping me get faster for a goal race in June).
  1. Believe in yourself. This may be the most important of all. Each year, when we recruit participants for the 10-week WRA run/walk clinic, the leaders meet ladies who need convincing that they are worth the effort – that taking care of themselves by getting fit is just as important as taking care of their families. If we are out of shape, unhealthy and/or self-loathing, how can we take the best care of someone else? Believe me when I say: YOU ARE WORTH IT.

I’m in danger of getting on a soapbox here, so I’ll leave you with this extra tip, which I plan to write about in greater depth toward the end of clinic, when it will be easier to quit:

REMEMBER YOUR WHY.

Remembering your “why” makes all things easier. (And if you don’t know your why, it’s time to get busy figuring it out.)

What is your “why”? Leave a comment to share it with the rest of us.

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Get yourself – or a loved one – a Road ID

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You can put whatever info you need to on the band – up to 7 lines. I have my name, year of birth (so EMTs will know my approximate age), phone numbers of hubby, mom and brother, “No Known Allergies” at the bottom of one and “Mitral Valve Prolapse” on the older bands (before my surgery). Bruce has “Run for Fun” on the last line of his, and on my mom’s I put “Diabetic.”

In the years since I started wearing a Road ID, I’ve become somewhat of an evangelist for the ID bands.

When I received my first band, I wore it only when I ran outdoors – especially if I was running alone. I got Bruce one, too.

Then I got us each a second band. Gotta have a backup for when the original one is sweaty and in need of a wash, right? By then I was wearing a Road ID whenever I ran – and whenever we traveled – and I urged Bruce to do the same.

Then, in 2013, I had heart surgery. Took my Road ID with me to the hospital, and I kept it on at all times. (You never know when they might wheel the wrong unconscious patient down that long hallway to the OR – I didn’t want them to remove a kidney when they were supposed to be fixing my leaky valve.)

By that point, Road ID was a no-brainer. I now wear my bracelet any time I leave the house. Period.

A couple of years ago, when I was buying a dress for my cousin’s wedding, I decided it was time to order a “dressy Road ID” (something besides a fabric and Velcro version that I could wipe clean easily and wear to church and nicer events and not feel so … sporty). I ordered myself a white one and Bruce a black one – both silicone bands.

So, a few days ago, when I discovered that Road ID has an affiliate program (I’ll explain that in a minute), I leaped for joy!

I believe in Road ID.

I nag people to order their own Road IDs.

I bought my mom a Road ID. She’s diabetic, and I make her wear it during travel and hospital stays.

ROAD ID COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE.

I’m not going to nag you, but I want you to understand the importance of having identification and emergency contact info easily accessible in the event of an accident that incapacitates you. I’ll let the testimonials on the website speak for themselves.

So now I’m an “affiliate” of Road ID. This means that if you click the Road ID ad on my page (at this writing, I have it as a banner on top of the page, but I might move it to the right sidebar in the future), or this link, and you make a purchase, I’ll get a small commission.

I would never endorse – or become an affiliate for – any company or product that I didn’t believe in wholeheartedly.

Ask my friends how long I’ve been singing the praises of Road ID, and nagging them to get one (or two, or three – they’re not pricey).

A long time. And I only got approved as an affiliate yesterday.

So … click the link, pick out a custom band for yourself or a loved one, or buy a gift certificate and explain to the recipient the importance of this gift … and gain a little piece of mind.

You can buy a band for your wrist, your ankle, your shoe … there are lots of options, my friend. Lots of colors and designs, in case plain black or white bores you. There’s even an interactive version, in case you want to sign up for an annual membership and be able to update your info electronically any time it changes.

Ordering a Road ID is worth the small investment of your time and a few dollars, especially when you consider the pricelessness of a human life.

Just do it. You’ll be glad you did.

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Inspiring stories: Shawn Mastrantonio

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Go to RunnersWorld.com and vote for Shawn Mastrantonio to be on the cover. You can vote every day through July 22. The link is below. Now, go!

If you’ve known me for two minutes, you know I’m a sucker for a worthy cause.

A few weeks ago, on Self-Promotion Monday (a weekly feature on the certified RRCA coaches Facebook page), Shawn Mastrantonio posted a link to a photo of him that’s in contention to be a Runner’s World cover shot.

I pounced on it: I read a little about Shawn on his Facebook page L.U.N.A.R. (Lace Up Now And Run), Liked the page and headed straight to the Runner’s World site to vote. And, because I could vote daily through July 22, I set up a calendar pop-up to remind me to vote every day until then.

Last I knew, Shawn’s photo was third overall and No. 1 in the “inspiring” category (you have to click whether you think the subject is “passionate,” “athletic” or “inspiring”).

No, Shawn and I have never met. We first crossed paths on the coaches page.

But when I see a good cause and someone asks me to vote for it, I vote. (I also vote daily for my local humane society to win cash through Shelter Challenge contests.) I feel guilty if I don’t.

But this isn’t about me. It’s about Shawn.

Here’s why I want him to be on the cover of Runner’s World:

Shawn has a rare cancer syndrome called Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL). I had never heard of it, and to raise awareness for his cause (and his RW cover), I asked him to share his story here on To Well With You.

Through illness, surgery and everything else he’s had to contend with, Shawn also BQ’d (qualified for the Boston Marathon, which has strict requirements). That is no small feat!

But I’ll let Shawn tell you the rest of the story in his own words (edited a bit for length):

“I had brain surgery in 1993 to remove a brain tumor from my right cerebellum. In December 2009, I was told that I had a tumor recurrence and two new tumors. I started running as an escape and ran my first half-marathon in 2010. I continued my running journey until I had my second brain surgery to remove one of the tumors on Jan. 31, 2012. In October 2012, I ran the Wineglass Half Marathon in Corning, N.Y., in a PR (personal record) time of 1:30.41.

I have continued running because, to me, running is a metaphor for life. In running, as in life, you gain strength from the challenges you face. Running continues to help me both physically and mentally get through the challenges of living with VHL.”

“Within my own family, I come from a legacy of VHL WARRIORS, including my dad, uncle, cousin and most recently my brother, who have lost their lives to this disease. We believe that there are other family members [who had VHL], but too little was known about the disease when they passed away.

“My dad passed away when I was 10. He passed away on May 15, 1980, my mom’s 43rd birthday. I am the administrator of a Facebook page called L.U.N.A.R. (Lace Up Now And Run), and in some of my posts and T-shirts that I design I include “5/15” to signify the date and to honor both my mom and dad.

“My brother passed away in August 2013. During his battle with VHL, he endured over 30 brain surgeries. I never once heard him complain or ask, ‘Why me?’ My dad and brother are the sources of my strength, faith and inspiration.”

What is VHL?

In this 90-second video, actor Willem Dafoe explains what VHL is.

 

And back to Shawn’s story:

“Von Hippel-Lindau is a genetic condition involving the abnormal growth of blood vessels in some parts of the body that are particularly rich in blood vessels. It is caused by a flaw in the VHL gene, on the short arm of chromosome 3, which regulates cell growth. Having an alteration in the VHL gene is what is known as a predisposition factor to certain kinds of tumors, including some specific cancers.

“I continue to get monitored for the existing two brain tumors and any new ones along with screening for my kidneys and pancreas as I currently have tumors in them, as well.

“My running journey has been such an amazing experience. It truly has given me strength and often is therapy. I have had so many great people enter my life brought together by the gift of running. These new friendships are such a blessing. My rock is my wife, Kimberly; she has encouraged and supported, and her love is never-ending. She has been there through thick and thin. She has remained strong for me in the difficult times and never left my side.

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Shawn and Kimberly Mastrantonio after his first full marathon and her first half-marathon.

“2014 was a great year of running for me as I set a new PR in the half marathon of 1:28.56, a 10-mile PR of 1:06.12 and a 5k PR of 19:00.08. I ran my first full marathon in 3:09.48, qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

“2015 started out just as well. I set a PR in the 10k of 39:56 and was feeling strong as I headed into the Seneca7, a 77.7-mile, seven-person relay around Seneca Lake in Geneva, N.Y. After completing my second leg, I suffered a ‘moderate’ heart attack. I was rushed to the hospital, and a stent was put in. The heart attack was caused by a 100 percent blockage of the right coronary artery. The heart attack put an end to my 557-day running streak, but I hope to be able to start a new streak soon. In the meantime, I am concentrating on my health and looking forward to representing the VHL community in 2016 at the Boston Marathon.”

I don’t know about you, but in my book this man still has plenty of heart.

Now, don’t you want to go cast a ballot for Shawn Mastrantonio, and maybe make a donation to the VHL Alliance in honor of him and all the other folks affected by VHL?

Now, go vote!

If you Tweet about this, please use the hashtags #‎RWCoverSearch and #‎VHLWarrior.

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8 life lessons (for everyone) from yoga

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SageRountreeQuote060815The first time Sage Rountree tried yoga, she was underwhelmed.

Or maybe devastated and humbled would be a more apt description.

As a runner, Rountree – who has since become a respected yogi and a popular speaker, the author of six books on yoga, and an endurance-sports coach – assumed that the yoga class she’d observed through the gym door would be easy.

The first class she attended, though, was “devastatingly hard” and “so humbling,” she said on a recent Runner Academy podcast. After three classes, she gave up and didn’t try again for a few years. But that time, it clicked. Here’s one thing she learned:

“There is such a range of yoga practices available that I really want listeners to know that if they have a negative experience, as I did, in the first class or two, keep looking, because it’s just like running shoes – there’s so many different styles out there. … You have to keep trying until you find a teacher and a style that works for you.”

In other words: Keep an open mind, and don’t give up.

RGY_72dpi_400x500p_strokeThat is great advice for all areas of life, not just for finding the right yoga class. After all, Rountree is a published author, sells DVDs of her classes and gets invited to speak expertly about yoga on runner podcasts. Maybe she would have become a prominent and respected figure without yoga (after all, she has a PhD in English lit), but perseverance was, no doubt, a key ingredient in her success.

Many times I’ve looked back at situations where I’ve given up before seeing success, and I feel regret. This is especially true when the stakes are high – when success might have meant a change in my life for the better. Or maybe it simply would have been an opportunity to build confidence or endurance, or to set a positive example for someone else. Maybe it would have made the difference between kicking a bad habit or establishing a new one.

Interestingly, when Rountree tried yoga again a few years after the initial frustrating attempts, she encountered the same teacher she’d had when she called it quits. But this time she was in a different stage of life, and this was a different type of class. This time she was pregnant and tried a prenatal class, which she loved for its gentleness and camaraderie with the other moms-to-be. She persevered, and she discovered something wonderful.

As a fairly new practitioner, I’ve learned that key concepts in yoga are strength, balance and alignment. Many people associate yoga with flexibility, and that definitely is a component, but my local teacher gives the concept of strength a slight edge over flexibility. (In the podcast, Rountree addresses flexibility in relation to runners, specifically.)

Yoga can be a great complement to running and other endurance sports – not only physically but mentally – as well as living our best lives. Open-mindedness and perseverance are just a couple of the benefits we can gain from yoga. Here are six other ideas I took from the podcast:

It helps develop mental toughness (stepping outside our comfort zone).

Runner Academy’s host, Matt Johnson, asked Rountree how to help men get over the perception that yoga is for women.

As we know, men’s and women’s physiology is different, Rountree said.

“You just have to accept that your body is gonna work really differently … so male bodies are going to look pretty different going into the shapes [poses]. If you can accept that and be open, well, that’s one step toward good mental skill for your racing: accepting the things that you can’t change and instead coping with what’s happening right now in the moment.”

Real husbands try yoga. (Bruce tries some of the poses Marnie Davis showed us at a recent Roadrunners club meeting.)
Real husbands try yoga. (Bruce works on some of the poses Marnie Davis showed us at a recent White River Roadrunners club meeting.)

It underscores the importance of making changes when necessary.

In the interview, Rountree talks about incorporating yoga into a training routine with running. As a coach, she integrates different types of yoga with different stages of a running program, depending on the type of race and the length of the training cycle. (For instance, for a 16-week marathon-training program, the first few weeks might be fairly challenging, the middle moderately so, and the final two to four weeks will be gentle as the runner tapers in preparation for race day.)

In the 21st century, one thing that’s constant is change. Being able to adapt will serve us in many areas.

It reminds us to be gentle with ourselves when we need to.

The second time Rountree tried yoga (when it finally “clicked”) was when she was pregnant and took a prenatal class. It was a totally different experience (except for a part that had previously grossed her out: massaging one another’s feet – this time she loved it!), and the gentle class was what she needed at that time in her life.

We all go through phases, through cycles of life. We all have times when it’s OK (sometimes even necessary) to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and treat ourselves gently.

(And Rountree makes restorative yoga sound amazing and wonderful – “because it’s pretty much a guided nap!”)

It helps us embrace and appreciate our uniqueness.

Runners won’t necessarily need the same type of yoga poses (Rountree calls them shapes) that others do. Most runners will be less flexible on the mat, and that’s a good thing. We want our running muscles to power us through a race or a workout, not to become relaxed noodles. Too much flexibility can actually lead to injury.

Appreciate the ways God made you different. He did it for a reason!

It urges us not to neglect rest/sleep.

Rountree talked about these two ideas separately: rest as it relates to recovery from physical exercise, and sleep as the No. 1 ingredient in restoring all sorts of physical and mental functions.

Studies have been performed for years on the benefits of mental restoration and sleep. Do I really need to say more? 🙂

It encourages us to be mindful.

Mindfulness complements the idea of mental toughness.

Rountree offered “eight steps toward yoga, or union, or connection,” and I won’t list them all here. Listen to the podcast and appreciate the practical wisdom in them, whether you’re a runner or simply someone who’d like to develop a few mental and physical practices to make life better.

Namaste.

(Here’s the link to Runner Academy Episode 69, or you can listen to it in iTunes. It’s 53 minutes long and worth every minute.)

At the end of the podcast, Rountree mentions Yoga Vibes and provides a coupon code for a discount on her workouts there, and she refers to other resources that runners and others may be interested in. Give it a listen.

YOGA IN BATESVILLE

If you live in or near Batesville, Ark., I would love to introduce you to my yoga teacher, Marnie Davis. She’s awesome in so many ways, and you have no need to be embarrassed or intimidated in one of her classes. She welcomes men and women, young and old, of all shapes, sizes and ability levels. (Don’t worry; she will be gentle with you.)

This summer, Marnie is teaching a class at 6 p.m. on Mondays in the Pocket Park on Main Street (unless it rains). If you want more info from Marnie, leave a comment and I’ll put you in touch.

What are some of the benefits you see from yoga?

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