How do you perceive stress? Is it a threat? Is it a challenge?
This weekend I had the opportunity to watch my niece run the 3200 meter race at State Track. After she crossed the finish line she had the dry heaves. Her dad was beaming while counting her heaves as her mom took pictures of her after race nausea. We quickly ran to greet her at the fence as she was not feeling the joy. We were all laughing, not at her of course, but proud she gave it her all. It made me wonder why we do it. Why do athletes sign up for such stress?
Upon investigation, I found out why stress is in fact good for you. Author, Kelly McGonigal says 'stress creates resilience and growth'. When something we care about is at stake, we experience stress. Obviously my niece cared about racing well. She was willing to stress all day mentally and stress physically during the race. There is no doubt athletes are tougher than most. Great athletes are willing to go to the dark place longer and stay longer in stress. Stress/pain is a warning light, but by no means do you have to perceive it as a threat.
I joined my CrossFit buddies for a 3 mile trail run this weekend. The stress of running trails forces awareness and discipline. As three of us raced ahead through the first mile, one runner fell, flying over a tree branch. "Leave no man behind" was my first thought, but the lead man raced ahead and I followed as we glanced back to check for movement, and she was back on her feet. We chose to wear a weighted vest to add stress. Our mindset? It was a challenge, not a threat. It was short term, and in turn we would grow mentally and physically.
Let me ask, how do you perceive stress? Is it a threat or a challenge? If you are stressed, do not be a victim. Believe you have the resources to handle stress. Use the energy of stress to perform at a higher level. Make stress a challenge and grow.
The month of May brings stress to many. Teachers are tired (including myself), students are testing and ready to be done, parents are busy with end of year projects. Challenge yourself and try to change your perception of stress. Stress is not your enemy! Your perception of stress is the enemy.
Stress is reality.. use this reality for challenge and growth. Stress shows you care and gives life meaning. Without stress, life has no meaning. So, if for some reason you were "stress free" before you read this, now you have something to stress(care) about.:)
"Feel the Rush"
The Lincoln Marathon came and went, testing the human limits of mind and body. I have been reading "Endure" by Alex Hutchinson. He breaks endurance into three parts, Mind and Muscle, Limits, and Limit Breakers. I focused on the "mind and muscle", as I only had a few days to put my new knowledge into action. I also had a plan to race "smart". Here is my personal unbiased rating of me!
#1 Eat- I ate healthy all week with lots of real food. Better yet I drank plenty of water leading up to the race. I ate a banana before the race and a yummy gel at the start line and a gel half way through. This was my first experience with braces and ripping gel packets open. Warning...
Do not try this at home. I give myself a solid 8 on nutrition.
#2 Obsess- Honestly I did not sleep well most of the week as I was trying not to think about the race. The more I tried, the harder it became. I finally decided to stay as busy as possible and that was helpful. I give myself a 5, plenty to improve on in the stress/obsess category.
#3 Plan- Boom, as I started running I felt like I was slowing myself with every step. People passed me the first few miles and I had to talk to myself "don't do it, take it easy", I decided to be in the moment and take it all in. People offered "margaritas" and "screw drivers" early in the race. I won't lie, it was tempting not to stop and partake! I enjoyed passing churches with musicians outside singing, and when I saw the nun clapping on the sidewalk I almost asked her to pray for me. On second thought, she probably has more important things to pray for than my race goal. A strong 9 on execution of my negative split!
#4 Pain- At mile nine as I was climbing the hill, as expected my good friend "Pain" joined me. Instead of ignoring him or complaining I said, "welcome, I have been waiting for you", We enjoyed the last three miles together. I give myself an 8. (Honestly, I could have been a little nicer to my friend)
#5 Fun -Giving high fives to kids on the race course always makes me smile. I tried to smile as I was running because supposedly you will run faster with a smile. Although I thinks it just makes one look like they need to find a bathroom and quick. Then I tried another piece of advice, running with a loose face so as not to add tension. But I was a little afraid of bugs flying in my mouth and I was hoping no one would take a picture with my mouth open, face jiggling and slobber on my face. Who writes this stuff anyway. Fun? I am a 10.
A final note about my 267 page book "Endure". I cheated and wanted to know the ending, Yes it is non-fiction, but I know all good authors save the best for last. On page 259 it states, despite all the previous information the best way to improve your marathon is................
"Run a lot of miles, some faster than your race pace, rest once in a while" Now you tell me!
"Enjoy the Rush"
Endurance, "the struggle to continue against the mounting desire to stop". A versatile definition from researcher, Samuele Marcora. The ability to ignore the natural instinct to give up, slow down or back off is crucial in running distances. It also requires effort.
Yes, it is that time of year again, the Lincoln Marathon is here. I am older and wiser now, I am only running the half marathon this Sunday, 13.1 miles of pure bliss. I decided to remind myself of all the things I "know", but do not "do". "Do as I say, not as I do", has always been my motto! This year "do as I say, do as I do", is my new mantra. Allow me to share my mistakes!
1.Eat, and eat some more. The week before the race you train less so as to allow your body to recover and be strong. It is difficult to eat like a king when you work out like a beach bum. Eat anyway.
2.Don't obsess. Yes research says to imagine yourself running the race and crossing the finish line. I don't think imagining it so often that your mind actually thinks you have already competed is a good thing. Stress is stress, real or perceived. Don't stress! Save the pre race image for...... well, "pre race".
3.Stick to the training plan. Yes, you have a pace and a race time you have been training for. Race day is not the day to decide you have just been granted super powers and found out you are Usain Bolt's long lost cousin!
4.Embrace "pain"! Love it, hug it, invite it and thank "pain" for the company. Don't act surprised when "pain" joins you in your race. "Pain" is your running buddy.
5.Have fun and "flow". Remember the reason you compete. Flow state is priceless. "An altered state of consciousness in which the mind functions at it's peak, time may seem distorted and happiness prevails. In such a state an individual feels truly alive and fully attentive to what is being done."
By the way, did you know Usain Bolt has endurance? Yes he slows down a little less than everyone else. (I wonder if I am related?)
"Feel the Rush"
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. What do you want your life to look like? The amazing thing is the choice is yours. I have spent many years of my life being passive, allowing things to happen to me. How many of us are spectators in our own lives? I know I was for years. I watched my energy decrease. I was tired, bloated, and had brain fog. Most days I woke up only to look forward to my next nap.Then I began an active quest for energy, peace and joy! I can honestly say it was a long journey, which I am still on. I am no longer looking for the magic pill! Magic hacks....yes! At 51 I feel more energetic than I have in years. If I were to give everyone the top 3 things to allow you to live your life with energy, peace and joy...