Monthly Archives: April 2012

Women: A Check on Self-Image

When first starting this post, I wasn’t sure which blog to post it in.  One of my blogs usually is pretty spiritually focused and the other is focused on physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices.  This entry could apply to either one… but since our faith, walk with God, convictions, etc. should be integrated through every single area and crevice of our lives…. I’m going to post it in the latter.

As the cold weather is on its way out and the temperatures are rising… what are women doing?  Looking at that bikini or summer clothing, wondering how they are going to get “there” from where they are now?  We all know that in America, women are pushed to reach an unrealistic standard- one that most of the women in the pictures who seem to have reached that standard, have had photo edits and touch-ups to make them look how we see them (Imagine how  that is going to help a person’s self-image issues).  As Christians, we know that what we look like is not what makes us who we are.  We “know” that people are beautiful not because they are a size 2 or because they look like someone in a magazine… and yet how many of us allow unhealthy and unbiblical thoughts to enter into our minds about our bodies, our identities, etc.

It’s my guess that most of us as Christian women could probably all give similar speeches about living healthy and taking care of ourselves (instead of either being lazy and not doing anything to take care of ourselves or being obsessive and taking up unhealthy attitudes, or ways of looking how we want to look).  The sad thing is that we maybe could give these speeches and we “know” these things… and yet so often we haven’t really surrendered that false and worldly view.  So many are still holding tight to this message, so tight that it may seem that it is just a part of who we are or our personalities or priorities- instead of a dark and clever control in our lives.

I’m really proud to say that I know several women who strive to live healthy lives.  Everyone has things about themselves that they wish they could change- if we could photo-shop the way we look every day, I’m sure we would all change something.  But I’m fortunate to know many women who don’t allow these thoughts to get out of hand and they truly do take them captive; “…we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5b).  I’m also really glad to see more and more people teaching healthy lifestyles, both in the Christian world and secular.  It’s great to see educational programs teaching kids at an early age to eat healthy and be active and to see parenting classes focused in that direction.

The other messages are still being communicated though, as strong as ever.  What makes me really sad is that I look around me and I see so many women who are so affected by the messages that are put out by the world.  Again, being healthy should be a priority, so don’t take this the wrong way.  I’m not saying to keep sitting on the couch every day, remaining stagnant and eating that bag of potato chips.  What I am saying is that it’s all about a balance.  How in the world can you live your life when you are so focused on what you look like?  How in the world can you claim your identity in Christ, if you cannot get past the identity you have given yourself based on what you look like and every single physical “flaw” you find?  What sort of example do you think you are being to a younger generation of girls who are struggling more than ever before with self-image and identity issues?  People are watching you.

It’s just such a vicious cycle.  We can’t help others until we help ourselves.  We can’t expect to be able to continue living with all the weeds in our lives that are choking us and still proclaim a good message and represent something holy and pure.

“… do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?  Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4b)

We are all going to have struggles and it’s likely that if you are a woman, you will always have some sort of struggle in this area.  If not, consider yourself lucky.  Thankfully, it’s not our struggles or lack of struggles that separate us from the world, but what we do with those struggles.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:2

This post isn’t to make you feel bad about thoughts that you feel are out of your control… but to challenge you to consider whether they are thoughts you should allow to take up space in your life?  And maybe it has always and will always be a struggle in your life… maybe that is one of your thorns in life.  That isn’t a reason to let it control any piece of you.  You are created by the only and most high God; you are made pure and holy through Him.  If it’s a problem that’s bigger than you can handle on your own, include some other Christ following women in your struggle with you.  Get some accountability.  If it’s creating self-loathing or other deeply rooted or destructive feelings in you, maybe you should consider talking to a counselor about it.  It’s not weak to deal with your issues, it’s weaker to not deal with them.  We are in this process of sanctification throughout our entire lives while in this world… we need one another in that process too.  Don’t remain stagnant or accept something in your heart, mind or life that isn’t of God.

Quote

“It’s easier to stay in shape than it is to get back into shape, so I try and keep everything on an even keel.”

I read this on a blog I just started reading today and thought it was just great.  I don’t know who said it originally, but here is the link to the blogger:

http://skinnyrunner.com/

Bad Runs and Race Curiosity

After deciding to switch to the 5K instead of the half a few days ago, I had a lot of relief and renewed energy and want to run in the mean time.  Last night we did just a few miles (3.5) and it was nice knowing that the pressure to increase mileage is less urgent for the time being.  Yes, I still plan on increasing, but gradually.  It’s not that I can’t add the miles now- but a matter of doing it in a smart way.  Last night’s run was a little rough for me, considering how short it was and how relieved I was.  I wasn’t sure why, except realized later what I imagine the culprits were.

For years now I have suspected I had asthma, not bad enough that I ever turn blue or have to rush to the ER, but to a point of discomfort nonetheless.  Breathing is always the most difficult thing on my runs, and though it gets better the more miles I add-on and the more I use my lungs, it’s still an annoying hindrance.  If you have ever had an injury that stopped you from running when all of your other muscles and your mind just wanted you to GO, you will know the feeling of having one part of your body not coöperate with the rest.  So, since I recently got good health insurance I decided to go get my long-time suspicion checked out.  The Dr. did think it sounded like asthma and gave me an inhaler to use for a month, to see when I would need it and what the best treatment would be.  Like I said, it isn’t life threatening or anything like that and I don’t think there’s a need for any daily medicine, but I have been instructed to take the inhaler 20 minutes before any work out and see how it affects me.  I have done that, and the results have been great.  Yesterday I took it about an hour and twenty minutes before the run, planning to run earlier than I did.  Then, I just am not used to taking it so I didn’t think about it having any sort of effect on the run.  In combination with that, it is spring and my allergies are fully activated this time of the year! On a positive note on the inhaler, it seems that since taking it before my runs I have been able to breathe better not only while running but in other parts of my day.  Anyway, the run wasn’t the worst ever.  And if you’ve run for any amount of time, even just one time, you surely know that sometimes you just have a bad run.  No matter how many miles you can run or how fast you can go, there are going to be times you go out when your muscles will hurt more than normal, when your breathing is more shallow than normal, and when you just feel bad.  That’s okay, because there are always the wonderful runs too… and if you haven’t gotten to one of these yet, keep at it- you’ll get there.

Tonight after work I won’t be running, but instead will be either going to the driving range or attempting to hit a tennis ball.  Ha.  I used to play tennis often with my dad in the spring-fall seasons.  During the school year, he would come pick us up at my mom’s house and often we would go play tennis- or he would try to teach us how to play tennis.  I wanted to join the tennis team in high school but was shy and passed the chance my freshman year.  My sophomore year rolled around and that time I passed because I didn’t want to be the “only new one on the team”, i.e. lacking in confidence.  Boo. Either way, I have always loved tennis and I love that my dad taught me early on in life as it’s been something I’ve carried with me and played with a variety of people and times in life.  I did not play tennis at all last year though, so am way out of practice.  It will be good to get at it again.  Golf however, is a sport I am completely new at.  I have always wanted to learn and have never found someone who would teach me, but lucky me, Dustin loves playing.  I now have my own set of clubs, shoes and a glove and I feel like a pro… until I start swinging ;).  He’s teaching me technique, which let me tell you, is much more difficult than it looks.  When people say golf is one of the harder sports out there, they are right.  I haven’t even gotten on the green yet.  I am focusing on making contact and hitting the ball while sticking to at least decent form.  I’m glad I have a patient teacher.

I decided to start looking at some races I may want to consider for the rest of the year.  I’m not signing up for any after the Color Run at this point- but I will be within the next few months adding more to my schedule.  Most of these I’m looking at are shorter distances, which is nice because they will keep me motivated but not stressed.  And maybe once I’m done with school and in my internship, I won’t be so overwhelmed with the idea of training for something longer, but I want to wait until I know before I start making any promises… or writing any checks…

Have any of you ran any sort of mud run or obstacle course?  I am considering this one:

http://www.rebelrace.com/

I am also interested in doing runs where the money that I am paying will go to an important and needed cause so am looking at a few difference cancer research runs.

I’m looking at a Christmas run called the Jingle Bell run- the proceeds go to the Arthritis Foundation:
http://www.indyjinglebellrun.com/

And another I’m interested in doing… a run through a winery with a commemorative wine glass for finishing the course and wine tasting after (I like wine, of course after hyrdating with much water… it’s a 5K/5 Mile… so I don’t think it would be a safety issue.  I always think it’s crazy when people do those beer runs- half and full marathons- why not just skimp on water for three days in the desert?) Also, this one goes to a good cause:

http://www.mallowrun.com/run.shtml

Are any of you planning to do any races?  I know some of you have mentioned signing up.  What types and distances are you looking at?

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Shoes I’m Considering….

 These are similar to the shoes I run in now except they have a lower heel to toe. http://www.shopnewbalance.com/men/shoes/running/trail-running/MT00CO

 http://www.asics.co.uk/running/products/gel-noosa-tri-men/

http://www.altrazerodrop.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_-1_15151_18952_69005_177103

  http://www.merrell.com/US/en-US/Product.mvc.aspx/22877W/0/Womens/Barefoot-Run-Pace-Glove?dimensions=0

 Last… but definitely not least, this is the same style of shoe I run in now.  http://www.shopnewbalance.com/women/shoes/outdoor/trail-running/WT10CGhttp://

I’m leaning towards either of the NB… because I know those shoes and I know I like them.  But I am open to exploring other minimalist shoes as well!

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Change in the Plan

Well, I possibly shouldn’t have written yesterday’s post until today.  Last night Dustin and I ran as planned and in training for the half coming up (2 weeks) and both came to terms with how unready we were.  Yes, we could do it and finish, definitely.  But we started talking about the possibility of stepping back to the 5K if possible.  I wasn’t sure if we’d be allowed to anyway, and so we decided that if we could we would, but if not we were both sticking it out for the half.  Know that we COULD finish the half, but that we would feel better about doing the 5K and would probably be able to continue building after the race that way.  To be honest, I was afraid that we would finish the half and we would be so sore from not being ready, that we wouldn’t run for the next month and then set ourselves back further.  OR worse, one or both of us would end up getting injured in upping our mileage so quick.  So when I checked and found out that we could indeed do the 5K with no major changes, but just by showing up at the 5K starting line… the decision was made.

So back to when I said originally about knowing yourself, and being okay with starting where you need to start… this is a perfect example.  I don’t have to feel guilty about switching the distance; there’s no shame in choosing what’s best for your life and body at the time (as long as it still involves remaining active!).  So it is official.  To be honest, I felt a little shameful admitting it to other people, but that is my issue- and so I am telling myself the same thing I am telling anyone who is reading this part of the entry!

I have 3.5 weeks until I am done with all my class work for my Masters degree and can take the summer off before starting my internship hours… and I have 2.5 weeks until the race.  I have 4.5 weeks until I am in a friend’s wedding in Chicago… where I will be giving a toast at a fancy wedding- which I’m excited about, but am completely unprepared for the toast at this point.  I also have two long research papers and one final to finish, among many other smaller assignments in my last 3.5 weeks of school.  I have stressed since January, about all of this… fitting it all in and feeling good about it.  And to piggy back off of my entry on my other blog (http://ajh922.wordpress.com/) I wrote yesterday, sometimes we have to make decisions that are healthy for us… even if they aren’t what we wish we could do.  Of course we wish we could do it all, perfectly.  But who am I kidding?  We don’t expect it from one another, why would we expect that from ourselves?  It’s just silly, and sets us up for disappointment and the failure that we may run from or fear so much.

Having said that, don’t misunderstand me.  I am not saying we should not challenge ourselves to a higher standard or goals… we most definitely should.  And we should expect to reach them… but we also should know when we are being rational and when we are not. 🙂

On to another note…

It is just about time for me to buy a new pair of running shoes.  I’m deciding now whether to get the same pair I have now, which I love more than I have EVER loved any running shoes, or to try out a new pair.  I have the New Balance Minimus with Vibram soles.  They are so light and fit my foot so well.  I love how they sound when I hit the ground.  They feel like I’m running barefoot, except with nothing stabbing the bottom of my foot. 🙂 For shoes that are so thin, they have had a long life and are just now to the point where they are worn out (I bought them in August).

So a part of me thinks why go on and try a different pair if I love these so much?? I still need to do some more research on runnersworld.com to see what reviewers are saying, etc.  Anyway… just what is in my mind in the shoe department at this point.

Edit: I just realized New Balance now has three levels of Minimus shoes… I have to check them out!  Interested in seeing them?

http://www.newbalance.com/nb-minimus/

Until tomorrow,

Run strong!

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Where I’ve Been

I thought I would share a little about how and when I started running, so as to catch you up to where I am today.

I first started running in 6th grade with the encouragement of my Norm, my step-dad, who was and still is a long distance runner. I joined track and would run in the evenings afterwards with Norm. I quit track sometime in junior high and though I wanted to call myself a runner after that… I really didn’t do a lot running for the next few years through high school. If I remember correctly, I went through a few running spurts, where I would start running for a couple weeks and would then dwindle out (I think keeping up with my social life must have been more important to me back then than was staying in shape or running).

After high school, I started running a little more regularly again and ran a few 5k’s. I wasn’t running enough to commit to any run that was longer than that because there were times that I would go weeks (and months) without running.

It was during the fall of 2006 when I began gradually increasing and becoming more consistent in my running. I had a friend who I convinced to start running with me. She had never been a runner before, so I took on the role of a peer coach. Though I was doing it for her, it did a lot for me too. It kept me accountable and disciplined in my own running, knowing that I was supposed to be helping someone else’s running and healthy lifestyle improve. Our running together didn’t last longer than that first semester, but nonetheless it started me back into the sport.

For the next two years, I still had windows of time that I wouldn’t run… but I never quit altogether.

During the summer and fall of 2008, I had made some changes in my life and decided I wanted to be even more regular and consistent in my running. So I gradually increased and by the summer of 2009 I had committed to running my first half marathon that following May 2010 at the Indianapolis 500 Indy Mini. Norm was running the race and my sister too. Norm has years of experience when it comes to running, so it was a great help and encouragement to be able to get feedback and answers on things along the way. I had a close friend who had just started running a few months before, who also decided to run the race with us. She and I both lived in Missouri at the time, and though we talked often of running together, we rarely did. She ran in the mornings and I ran in the evenings; I was on campus and she was off; she was married and I was single. Our lives and days just looked different- so we trained together through support and encouragement, instead of actually doing our runs together. She was the first friend I had bonded with over running. We were already close friends and had been since we met, but I think this brought us closer and bonded us in more ways than one would expect from running.

May 2010 rolled around and my friend and I drove to Indianapolis the night before the race. We had both had our last classes the week before and the week following had finals starting Monday morning. Needless to say, it was a lot to jam in. We all enjoyed the runner’s expo the night before the mini – we were like little kids in a candy store. We ran our race the following day, all ending at different times, but all ending proudly.

I had been told that once I ran my first half I would be hooked on running long distances and races and would want to do more. Well, that person was right. I still haven’t done as many races as I would have liked, but considering my crazy schedule the last two years, I think I’ve done okay.

After the race and graduation, I moved to Phoenix and while living there I worked at a group home of girls who are in state’s custody. I got several of the girls running a few times a week and one of them completed a 5k with me early fall 2011. I ran the Indy Mini Marathon again during the spring of 2011 and am now preparing to run it again in two and a half weeks.

I’m not near as ready as I’d like to be; my time will definitely be worse than last years, but my goal this year is just to run the distance. I am working full time, a full time grad student and this past fall I moved to Indiana and have been settling into my new life ever since. As I was told recently by Dustin (the person I’m seeing… boyfriend… manfriend… significant other… call it what you will), running is a lifelong sport. And so though I tend to set high standards in times which make them impossible… I am learning to let go a little in this area. My goal of this year’s Indy Mini is to have fun and finish. Also, Dustin is running the race with me this year. This will be the first time I have ran this long of a distance alongside another person… it’s been a great experience thus far.

I just signed up for the Indianapolis color run (5k) which is happening in July. Here is the link if you want to check it out- they have them all over the country. It looks like a lot of fun.

http://thecolorrun.com/

For this run there is a group of us who are planning on running it… and one of my nieces has agreed to do it and another is considering it. I’m thrilled to have one of or both of them to join me in the run, and in the sport of running.

Running brings so much to life. If you know me at all and have ever talked to me about the possibility of running, you know that I am thrilled when I hear someone talk about starting to run. People think they can’t do it because they never have, or they don’t have the build, or they can’t go fast, or they have asthma, the list goes on and on. But for the most part, anyone can do it. Start slow. Run and walk. You aren’t racing for the Olympic gold medal. Do what works for you. Build endurance and strength and in time you’ll see that you can do more than you ever expected.

Introduction and Explanation

A little about me and the title of this blog:

It seems that people always wonder when they can start calling themselves a runner.  I had a hard time knowing whether I was far enough in my running that I could write a blog about it (crazy, maybe).  Having realized that there is not a line that makes me “far enough” needed and being encouraged by others who have a desire to run, I decided to start writing about running in my life.  I don’t claim to know all or call myself an expert… but running is a big part of my life and has been for several years now.  Running has been so much more to me than a way to stay in shape, as it connects with so many other areas of life.  I welcome any thoughts or advice that any readers want to reply with.  As I was told recently, running is a lifelong sport.  We move with it, we grow with it.  Often times, our running style and interests change and work around our life as we move forward.

Running is freeing in a lot of ways.  Though running can be a team sport, it can be and is usually an individual sport.  There are really no “rules” when it comes to running unless you make them for yourself.  There are no boundaries; if you like being inside, you can run at an indoor track or on a treadmill.  If you like running outside in town, you can run down the sidewalk or street.  If you like nature, you can take up trail running.  If you prefer the beach, you can run on the beach.  If you like all of the above… you can do all of them.  Some people like to sprint and others like long-distances.  Some like to do races and others prefer to keep it casual.  No lines.  Nothing holding you back.  The only thing which really holds us back as runners is ourselves- apathy, fatigue, low self-esteem, poor time management, laziness, irrational thinking, etc.- so my hope is that in sharing my running journey, positives and negatives, you can be encouraged in your own.

In my next post, I will share about how I began running and the time in between then and now.  Throughout this process and blog, I plan to go through many areas of running and life and their connectedness, if you will stay with me.

Right now I want to share some reasons I love running:

1.  I always feel better after running, in all ways:

Physically- I feel better about myself. I breathe better. I feel healthier.  I sleep better.

Mentally- I think more clearly.  My thoughts make more sense.

Emotionally- Along with thinking more clearly, my emotions are more regulated.  When something is going on in my life that is emotionally stirring or upsetting, I find that I deal with these things so much better when I’m regularly running.  On a side note- did you know that running actually fights and decreases depression?

Spiritually- I pray on my runs a lot.  Sometimes it’s intentional, and sometime’s it’s just natural.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that all of my runs are spiritual charge up centers… but some of them are! 🙂  Not only this, but feeling better physically, mentally and emotionally all play into the bigger picture and my spiritual health grows alongside it since I’m motivated and thinking more clearly.

2.  I bond with people through running.  I began running with the encouragement of my step-dad who still runs and I ran my first half marathon with him, my sister and a close friend who got serious about running soon after I did.  I spent so long talking about how I did not want to run with other people, but recently started running with someone and am loving every bit of it.  I think It is a different type of bonding than anything else, at least for me.  For me running is a personal thing… and so sharing that can become a deep bonding experience.   Even if you don’t enjoy running with people, running is a great way to bond with other runners.  People love to talk about what they do, what they love, what they’re growing in, etc.  There are running clubs that people of all ages and stages join for encouragement and to build connections.  I’ve never done that, but I have grown in relationships with people who I probably wouldn’t have had it not been for the common denominator of running.

3.  Running is so simple.  I love simplicity.  My life seems hectic and overwhelming a lot of the time… and so engaging in activities that are more simple, is relaxing.  No matter the time of our lives, whether we’re in school, single, married, with children, working, or any combination of the above… it’s nice to find things that we can easily put into our lives.  Things that don’t involve a lot and that we can make happen, ourselves.

4.  Running is an excuse for alone time.  Yes, I am newly loving and enjoying running with people, but we can enjoy both sides!  If you constantly have people around, i.e. children, spouse, friends, family, etc, it may at times be difficult to get that time to yourself.  But when you say you are going for a run, unless they are runners too… no one wants to come with you.  I love being around people; I crave being around people…. people I know and people I don’t know… but everyone needs alone time.  It’s healthy.  And if you think you don’t, you are deceiving yourself.

5.  Running is addicting.  Finishing a race is addicting.  Nothing else feels the same (Probably a combination of finishing something you’ve been working towards and the endorphins being released).

6.  When I run, I am more likely to eat healthier.  Knowing that I ran yesterday and am running again tomorrow, will play into my decision of what I’m eating for dinner.  Eating healthy is important to be, being healthy is important to me… so the fact that the one encourages the other, works out perfect.

7.  Running has motivated me to take other steps in life that in the past I wouldn’t have thought I could do.  Being healthy builds confidence.  Being strong builds confidence.  Running can change how you perceive your life and your abilities.

What are some reasons you like to run?  If you aren’t loving running, but are doing it anyway, what are some reasons you continue?  What are some reasons you want to start running?  Conversation and comments are encouraged!

Thanks for walking with me through this part of my journey and allowing me to be a piece of yours.

Until tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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