Category Archives: Yoga

Warning: Sparkly Excitement Ahead

You know how you secretly hate those people who are all “Happy Monday!” “Welcome to the week!” “I love life!”? Seriously, pretty much everyone is merely trying to get through this first day of the week, why do you need to shove it in our faces that you are hyped on Prozac and caffeine and unicorns all the time?

Yea, well…today, I am one of those people. So, if you aren’t feeling exclamation points and glass-over-flowing-with-excitement optimism this afternoon, go ahead and quietly scroll your arrow to the little “x” box at the top right corner of your screen and pretend like you were never here. No hard feelings.

Still with me? Sweet! Now let’s make some sweet sweet rainbows and sunshine together.

On Friday, I posted a bit about my hopefulness and hesitation for the fate of my spring marathon aspirations. Due to my knee being a huge a-hole and my training getting thwarted for two weeks, I was coming to terms with the fact that things may not pan out as I’d hoped.

And I was okay with it…I really was.

Then came yesterday’s run. Oh dear, sweet yesterday’s run.

After very grudgingly getting out of bed for an attempted “long run,” I decided that I would be shooting for 16 miles. That was the ideal, and if I had to cut it short, I would accept it. Because that’s the Smart Runner Bird I’m trying to be, remember?

So then, I started to run. And I felt fantastic. And I kept running…and I still felt fantastic.

Call it cortisone, call it rest, call it luck, call it the Aleve I took literally 3 minutes before walking out the door, but no matter what it was…it worked. I kept running, waiting for my bursa sack to inflame and immobilize the rest of my leg the way it had been for the past two weeks.

NADA. NOTHING.

I stopped halfway through to stretch a bit, and while my knee tingled a bit, there was no indication that running was irritating or bothering it in any way. As I started off on the last half, you could not get the smile off my face. It was ridiculous and reminiscent of an elementary school “You Can Do It!” motivational poster…but I just couldn’t help it. The thought, “I’m back!” kept reverberating in my brain, and I relished every moment. It also didn’t hurt that despite a forecast of rain and wind, there was sunshine and {some} wind instead.

So proud of you Seattle, so proud of you knee.

I even threw in a mile long hill at the end of it all with a 300 ft. elevation gain for some added grunt, and the knee seemed to take it all in stride. I felt as if my knee was like, “Okay Robyn, since you actually did the right thing and laid off me I’ll suck it up and get better. You win.”

Total mileage? 17.22

SO PSYCHED. This was super encouraging, as I’ll {hopefully} still be able to get in two, 20+ milers before taper.

Please excuse my overly enthusiastic Tweet yesterday in which I had miscalculated my mileage before mapping it.

awkward.

No problem. 18 would have been great, but 17 is great too.

Side note: I have this weird thing about running distances that are odd numbers. As in, I am really uncomfortable with it, and I almost always try and run even numbers of miles. Half Marathons are great, but 13.1 is scary numerically to me. Fun Fact Monday. Well, maybe not fun, but maybe it helps make you feel more normal?

I even foam rolled afterwards and stretched! Improvements!

I would like to say this face was exaggerated, but that would be a lie. Self portrait attempts + quad mutilation via hunk of foam + face caked in salt= the essence of beauty.

And if I hadn’t already basked in pain-free running glory enough, I decided to do the wise injury-prevention thing and go to yoga yesterday afternoon. It was definitely not my best performance, and I stuck to all the easier versions of the poses, but my calves and hammies were very happy with all the stretchy attention the got. I think I fell asleep for a minute in savasana also, but that must mean I was really meditative and Zen. Right? Good.

And speaking of meditative and happiness and birdies, this was also a necessary end to the day:

Oh buttery, sugar-coated, pink, bird sugar cookie, I love you.

I am feeling wonderfully sore and sleepy today. After not doing a long run for a few weeks, those miles definitely wiped me out in the best possible way. I’m still on the watch for lingering injury pain, but yesterday was definitely a fat ole’ confidence boost kick-in-the-butt. {I also don’t think you can get more adjectives/descriptive nouns in one sentence. Way to go English major, way to utilize your inability to tone down your detailing.}

Nothing like a little patience to really make a run feel like solid gold.

Shake out run today, and presuming things keep going well, I’m looking forward to continuing on in this [final!] month of marathon training.

____

Now… please let me hear your lovely voices! Did you race this weekend? Long run? How’d it go? Are you as sad as I am that Alec Baldwin is engaged?

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An {Exercise} Affair to Remember

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope you have spent the day doting on a loved one, or simply doting on yourself. I personally see nothing wrong with showering yourself with love on Valentine’s Day, because—after all—shouldn’t we show ourselves the same kind of affection we show others? I think so.

If you’ve read this blog for more than 9 seconds, you know that I have a mild obsession for activities that make me sweat. Running is my numero uno {Read: The title of this blog.}, but as you know there are other physical activities that get me all giddy inside as well.

That being said, I’m realizing that my feelings for each of these activities is very parallel to stereotypical romantic relationships. Say what? you ask. Well, allow me to explain it to you in my Valentine’s Day Tribute to the Three Lovers in my exercise life.

SPINNING

Oh spinning, you dirty little Casanova.

Spinning is the essence of a steamy, infatuous, lustful relationship. You all know the kind. It’s gets you all hot and bothered (yes, literally) and you find yourself somewhat addicted after just a few meetings.

Just think of the kind of music that plays in spin. Fast, upbeat, invigorating, Britney…you get the point. It’s not true-love-let’s-have-babies music, it’s “You’re hot and I’m interested for tonight” music.

And the sweat. Oh, the sweat. Spinning can get your pores going more than any other cardio workout there is. I can run for 18 miles and never sweat the way spinning for an hour does. It’s not that running doesn’t know what it’s doing, and in fact—I do sweat a lot—but there’s really nothing quite like a good drenching from a spin class.

{Sex joke inserted here}

In the end, it’s not going to work out. The gym isn’t always open, classes and instructors come and go, but you never forget the jolt you get from spending an hour atop that bike.

I realize I’m walking right into these, but I’m not sorry?

 

YOGA

You know that best guy{or girl} friend you had all through those rubbish relationships? (Yep, Adele reference right there). The friend that had your back no matter what, and even if you didn’t talk for a few weeks, they were right there to pick you up.

That’s yoga.

Reliable, dependable, and ready to pick up your pieces when I’ve been spit out by my other lovers.

You see the other lovers, despite being debonaire and flirtatious, have a way of breaking me down. That’s the problem with intensely deep relationships—they can hurt just as easily as they can make me feel invincible. Luckily, yoga is there—ready to swoop in and cradle me in its loving, non-judgmental arms.

Yoga brings me back to life when things get rough, and many would argue that it should be yoga that I end up with when all is said and done. The problem is, though, there isn’t any passion with yoga. Sure, it brightens my spirits and is fun to hang out with, however it doesn’t quite have the ability to get me going the same way my other lovers can.

Think Johnny and Marissa from the OC, Gustav the farm boy from Ever After, or Dan Humprey in this season of Gossip Girl.

All of them are {this} close to nabbing the leading lady, but at the end of the day, they are cast into the “we’ll always be friends” role.

By the way, if you didn’t understand any of those references, I’m slightly judging you.

Kidding, but for real you should watch Ever After. Or, hit up Netflix and let Gossip Girl ruin take over your “I’m way too old to watch this show but I can’t stop” adult life.

Running

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the leading man in the production of my Exercise Love Life.

Running is the sappy love songs you pretend to hate in public but secretly belt in your car.

It’s the yin to my yang, the Noah to my Allie, the Mickey to my Minnie.

Okay, maybe that didn’t totally translate, but you get the point: Running is the love of my life, and no matter who else tickles my fancy, there will never be anything quite like running.

Running does all the things that a perfect mate should: It knows when I need it most, it challenges me to do my best, it helps make my days better no matter what, and—most of all—it’s unconditional. Running will always be there to rejuvenate my love for life and for myself. Sure, it can be tough on me, and sometimes I may even think I’ll give up on it. But even if my back is turned, running is still right there, ready to guide me when I need a hand to hold.

Being a runner is one of the titles I pride myself most on, not because I think it’s impressive or somehow gives me leverage, but I love the feeling of encompassing myself with an activity that is so simply happy.

Because in the end, all we want from our relationships is to make us happy. And although spinning and yoga can liven my mood, there is nothing quite like the overwhelming joy of a good run.

 

So there you have it. I’ve learned a lot from each of these relationships, just as we learn a lot from our relationships in our real lives. Certainly, the complexities of romance are far less simplistic than “How do I want to work out today?,” and I know it’s a lot harder to typecast actual people quite so stereotypically. However, when we strip relationships in our lives to their bare bones, both with people and the things we partake in, we can see the ways in which they build us up, knock us down, and how they have shaped our experiences.

And to those of you who know my history a bit, I must add this side note: BF might have held the best friend role in high school, but he has also been all three of these aforementioned relationships at one point or another, which together has given us a wonderfully dynamic, passionate, and all-around wonderful romance that I’m so grateful for everyday.

Hey, it’s V-Day. I had to give at least one sappy shout out.

 

Now, go eat your weight in truffles, and know that no matter who you may or may not be celebrating with, the most important kind of love is the kind you have for yourself. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned over my 23 years, it’s that the ability to make ourselves happy is the most valuable Hallmark card of them all.

 

And yes, I do still watch Gossip Girl and have no intention of stopping.

 

NOW YOU! Tell me some of the loves in your life! Running, Ryan Gosling, Chipotle burritos, Harry Potter, anything!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice

{So, this post was supposed to go up yesterday, but thanks to a stellar power play by Google Chrome and WordPress, an hour’s worth of writing disappeared for no good reason. It was neat and I used many bad words.}

Earlier this week during yoga, our instructor stressed the importance of practice, both in reference to  yoga itself and life in general. Throughout the class, she repeated the notion that we are continually in a mode of practice, refining and establishing our skills so that we may be prepared for everything that comes our way. In a literal sense, we practice yoga so that we may develop our flexibility, our strength, and our presence in the activity itself. On a higher level, the movements and the poses we practice in yoga are meant to strengthen us for our lives outside of the studio.

This is my favorite part about yoga (besides spending 5 straight minutes in pigeon pose, perhaps). Going through the motions of practicing poses that might be difficult or awkward forces us to concentrate on the task at hand. It forces us to remove our attention from the past and the future into the present moment, and to me this is the most valuable part of the practice.

Certainly the strength and stretching achieved in yoga are a great benefit, but I believe the true practice, the kind that we can really bring into our day-to-day lives, is this simplified mindset of being present. The advantages to this kind of thinking are huge and can have a positive effect on our stress levels, sense of gratitude, and overall happiness.

I began thinking about how this notion of practice can be carried into my everyday life, namely—running. When training for a race, we are quite literally practicing; building our speed and endurance so that on race day we can, ideally, perform our absolute best. In a less literal sense, running—similar to yoga—teaches us lessons that we can apply outside of the sport. Running up hills is an incredible metaphor for overcoming obstacles in our everyday lives. A bad run teaches us that sometimes we need to be humble in the face of overwhelming circumstances. I could really go on and on, and although maybe it’s far fetched, I am willing to bet that most runners learn their most valuable lessons while on the road.

I really like to think of runs as practice, for both races and for life. When running is given the guise as a practice, suddenly it becomes something to take advantage of—and not something to get over with. There are times on runs when I really just want to be done, but I’m realizing more and more that although my optimism and grit may not be at their peak all the time, we need to go through the practice of defeat in order to get stronger. A run might be effortless or excruciating, but either way it’s a chance to practice willpower and self-reflection.

I think the ability to see your actions in day-to-day life as practice is very progressive. Sure, it’s really super difficult, and I can guarantee there’s close to no one out there that can define their intentions, strengths, and weaknesses on a moment-to-moment basis. What does that even mean, right?

The point is, our world does not exactly cater to living in the present, and we cannot expect our minds to remain unstitched and calm all the time. We can, however, try looking a little closer at the things we do and ask ourselves…why? When we take a close look at the habits, good and bad, that carry us through our regular routines, we allow ourselves a greater understanding of that which lifts us up and holds us back.

Because I have delved deep into the psyche of my yoga-doing and running self, I have recognized the benefits of these practices, and therefore I know how important they are to my happiness. There are also things I know I do which I (very conscientiously) try and avoid examining, because I know I’ll recognize how misplaced and unnecessary they are. I.E. Why do I spend all day on my computer, regularly checking Twitter and Facebook, only to close my computer and immediately turn to my phone to check them in App form for the rest of the night? Well, first of all, because I’m a 21st century 20-something female. But I do it for the same reason we all do it—because it’s mindless entertainment that gives us a distraction from the task of —Gasp!— entertaining ourselves.

But I can still practice being unplugged. When I go to the gym or for a run, I rarely bring my cell phone because I enjoy having the time (however short it may be), to focus on one task in front of me.

And this is the beautiful thing about practice—it is a designated time for opportunity. Opportunity for us to concentrate on simply inhaling and exhaling while holding Eagle Pose. Opportunity for us to run as slowly as possible for one mile and then as fast as we can the next mile. These things teach us, they shape us, and when we start to regard our actions as practices, we can view our lives as works in progress with plenty of room for growth and potential.

Question: What do you want to practice more of?