Tag Archives: mental health

Monday Meditation: Running with Gratitude

8 Apr

Often, we talk about the stress relieving benefits of running. A long run or an intense workout can be just what we need to work through frustration, anxiety, or grief. It’s true that running is a (cheaper) form of therapy, but it’s not all about the endorphins or distraction. Sometimes that therapy comes in the powerful form of positive affirmation that the act of running can magnify. Acknowledgement of life’s simple pleasures and abundant gifts can lift the spirits and make our hearts (and legs) feel lighter.

Without question, running has helped me release many burdens. Even more so, it has encouraged me to count my blessings, appreciate my body, and lift my spirit. When I run with a grateful heart, my whole experience changes. On days where blessings seems to multiply, I hold my head up higher, feel lighter on my feet, and seem to move through the miles with greater ease.

There doesn’t need to be a major celebration or event to be able to acknowledge the things we are thankful for. If I asked you to list 3 things you are grateful for in this moment, what would you say? Go ahead, do it. I’ll wait.

It can come in the form of a sunny day, a snuggle from a pet, hitting all of the green lights on the way to work, a kind gesture, coming home to your family, being in good health. It could even be a smile from another runner on the road, tip you learned from a pro athlete, a new personal record, a congratulatory handshake from a competitor at the finish line. Or maybe it’s the first run back from an injury, your feet tapping beneath you, your legs carrying you forward, the gift of mobility.

Gratitude can transform the way we run, much in the same way that it transforms our lives. When we run with gratitude, there is no such thing as a bad run. We are no longer held back by negativity or weighed down with burdens. We are light, fast, free. We become one with the road or trail, our footsteps drumming a steady beat as the miles fall away. Run with a heart of gratitude and you’ll travel further than you ever thought you could.



Monday Meditation: Beyond the Comfort Zone

4 Feb

I thought this quote was a great way to end a long Monday:

“Most people never get there. They’re afraid or unwilling to demand enough of themselves and take the easy road, the path of least resistance. But struggling and suffering, as I now saw it, were the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not constantly demanding more from yourself—expanding and learning as you go—you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.”

-Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

This quote intrigued me because it is so applicable to life in general, whether you’re a runner or not. Going beyond the comfort zone is a concept I discuss with my clients who struggle with depression or anxiety. When you aren’t feeling well or when your runs become rote, it can be easy to go along with the status quo and avoid new challenges. It is when we expose ourselves to a little bit of anxiety that we are truly able to see what we are capable of. For someone dealing with mental health issues, that could mean something as simple as leaving the house or walking around the block. For a runner, that could mean working toward a new race distance, going for a PR, trying a new HIIT workout, signing up for an obstacle course or triathlon…and so on, and so on. During the final miles of my first half marathon, I had several moments where I just wanted to slow down or stop. But I didn’t, and I crossed that finish line proudly.

The possibilities are seemingly endless when you move your mind and body forward. Beyond the comfort zone is where the magic happens.

comfort zonevia

Why I Love Winter Running

3 Jan

I hate being cold, but I love running outside in the winter. Weird, right?

*Jan 19 - 00:05*Source

I discovered this love last year. I’m really not a fan of the dreadmill treadmill (boring!) so I did everything possible to avoid having to run inside last winter. Unless it was cold enough for my eyeballs and snot to freeze, I was wrapped up in layers and hitting the pavement. I certainly didn’t put in as many miles as the warmer seasons, but I found that I preferred the cold much more than even the coolest  morning or evening summer runs. Right about now you might be asking why on earth would I want to run in the freezing cold. Well, I’ll tell you!

I can breathe much easier. Humidity and  my lungs don’t get along too well and the cold, dry air seems to be more forgiving. Unless, of course, it is cold enough for my nostrils to freeze shut.

I find the freezing cold invigorating and motivating. This applies only to when I’m actually running. The cold is a shock and I know if I slow down or stop it’ll start to suck really fast. Otherwise, it  leads to bundling up and staying inside with hot cocoa and doing whatever I can to avoid being out in the cold for any length of time.

It’s very quiet and peaceful. If you haven’t noticed, there aren’t as many people hanging out outside once it gets below 45 degrees F (or about 7 C for those on the metric system). The streets are quiet and the serenity promotes a more mindful run.

I get to use fun cold weather gear. Winter running gear is pretty cool, especially the stuff that’s specifically designed to keep you warm and dry and well-seen. (Bright thermal and moisture wicking hats, gloves, scarves, jackets, tights, socks, etc etc). And I don’t leave the house without my Knuckle Lights!

It staves off mid-winter blues and boredom. Lack of sunlight and extended time indoors (among other things) are contributing factors to seasonal depression and cabin fever. Maintaining a regular exercise routine, whether it’s at the gym or on the road, is an effective mood stabilizer and boredom-buster.

It helps keep the weight off from all the comfort food and cookies. Creamy soups, holiday cookies, stuffing and potatoes, hot cocoa, non-holiday cookies, pie…. If you are running enough, you can enjoy these without feeling so guilty or turning into a blob. Did I mention cookies?

I enjoy other people’s reactions to my so-called insanity for doing so. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t enjoy being called “hardcore”?

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to winter running. The important thing is that no matter if you do it on an indoor track, treadmill, trail, road, or in circles around your living room, the point is to keep moving. Don’t let cold weather put you into a running hibernation!