5 Things to Keep Doing During Coronavirus Pandemic

Now more than ever, the routines we have in place are essential for getting through this time of pandemic. Our calendars have emptied and we are uncertain what the next few weeks will truly look like.  We each are affected by the outbreak of COVID-19 in different ways. I can only speak from my own experience. Since we do not yet have school-aged kids and I stay-at-home with our toddler, our routine does not feel drastically different. 

With that said, last week I internally struggled not having our usual routine filled with toddler class, park playdates, and library outings. I was left wondering: how should I spend this extra time?  Should I just sleep in? Should I just watch all the movies during H’s nap time?  Should I just stop training since the marathon is postponed?  Should I just mindlessly consume social media and let everyone’s thoughts and opinions and anxiety seep into my own heart? These personal questions plus more have been bouncing in my head the past two weeks.

And the answer? Keep on keeping on.  Keep doing the same rhythms I do on a daily basis, minus of course the things I can’t do.  If you are feeling stuck, in a rut, and confused about how your days should look in this new normal, here are a few things I am continuing to do during the coronavirus pandemic, we are currently living through.

1. Keep Waking Up At the Same Time 

After everything was postponed and cancelled, my first thought when my 5:30 alarm went off was sleep in.  I have a feeling that more people probably are sleeping in.  It makes sense. There is less of a need to urgently get out of the door.  I get the temptation and the reality of sleeping later, but for me personally, that small choice can really mess up the rest of the day and my own attitude.  Keeping up with this rhythm of still rising early has been an important piece of keeping me grounded. Now more than ever, I need this quiet time to process with God, to read His Word, and journal out what is in my heart.  

2. Keep Moving (Running is always a good option).

In the midst of all the hard news and fear surrounding us, I have been deeply encouraged to see SO many people using this time to get moving outdoors.  The New York Times in an article last week, even called it “a back-to-basics exercise boom.”  As I am typing this, running, walking, and biking outdoors is still within CDC guidelines. And for that, I am really thankful. 

If it comes to the point, that we can’t run outdoors, I am not exactly sure what I will do, but for now, I am deeply appreciative of my hour runs outside. It feels like freedom, it feels accessible, and it feels essential.  We need movement. Whether that is doing those push-up challenges cropping up all over social media or walking the dog around the block or lacing up those running shoes that have been gathering dust. This is the time to make movement a daily rhythm of yours.  It is essential.  

3. Keep Setting Goals 

With the cancellation or postponement of so many events, races, conferences, and gatherings, it is easy to just scratch all the goals you made at the beginning of 2020.  Along with being routine-oriented, I am very much goal-oriented. I need a clear goal to keep me focused and working hard. With the Boston Marathon’s postponement, I decided I desperately still needed a goal to look forward to and motivate me to continue to get out the door. 

As I wrote about last week, my new goal is to run a sub-1:20 half-marathon in a virtual race.  Obviously, not quite as thrilling as hitting the streets of Boston, but this goal is still keeping me engaged and excited to get the miles in.  This is what it looks like personally for me, but I think it is possible for us all to re-write and adapt our original goals.  This is no time to throw out goals altogether, instead, let’s pivot and adjust. 

4. Keep Connecting 

God made humans to be in community.  We are literally wired for connection and community.  This is one of the MANY reasons, this new time is so challenging.  As much as my own introverted self is perfectly okay spending most of my time with family, this time has reminded me the great value and importance in connecting with others.  It has been encouraging to see so many having virtual meet-ups with friends and Face Times that go beyond the casual “hi” and extend to really hanging out and enjoying time together.  Keep doing this. Keep scheduling time to see your people virtually! Hudson is not quite at the age where I think a virtual playdate would work, but if you have older kids, I found this creative list of virtual playdate ideas.  

5. Keep Praying

Well, of course.  But in full transparency, I know when I begin to get fearful, anxious, and out of my normal routine, sometimes the first thing to go is my daily conversations with the Lord.  Please don’t let this one go. God is listening. He is not surprised with any of this, and I truly believe he desires to teach each one of us something essential during this time of staying at home. 

Are you listening? Are you willing to hear what he has to say? Are you telling him your own concerns, worries, and fears? Please keep praying. Pray for all the medical professionals working tirelessly.  Pray for the elderly that may be especially fearful right now. Pray for those with compromised immune systems. Pray for those personally affected by COVID-19. Pray for those losing jobs. Pray for our grocery stores and the lovely people working in them.  Pray for the students that deeply depend on the structure that school life brings to their days. Pray for the teachers. Pray for the parents. Pray for those that live alone and depend on social gatherings. Pray for our world and for deep healing on a physical and spiritual sense. Christianity Today, put together 20 prayers that can help lead you to pray during this time.

In all the uncertainty and change, let’s work together to keep some things the same. Keep rising, keep moving, keep looking forward, keep connecting, and most importantly, keep praying. 

Also, keep attending church (virtually).

Keep reading books.

Keep having family movie nights.

Keep chasing trash trucks on Mondays.

Keep fort-building.

Keep washing your hands.

Keep taking your vitamins.

Keep sending birthday cards.

Keep the sabbath.

Keep creating.

Keep drinking coffee.

Keep walking the dog.

Keep grocery shopping.

Keep cooking and baking and ordering take-out.

Keep online shopping.

Keep reaching out to your mama.

Keep taking baths.

Keep watering the plants.

These little, unchanging things are becoming more beautiful to me with each passing day.

What are the things you are keeping in your life right now in the midst of pandemic?

Marathon Monday: The Miles to Boston Pt. 6

7 Mondays Until Boston! 

Another week of training in the books.  This week did not feel particularly good, but I hit most weekly mileage for this training block, made it into 2 strength classes with Petra, and had a solid 20-miler.  So while things did not feel great (low energy, throbbing legs, tender toenails), hard things still got done. This past week felt like an important week of pushing through and getting some solid work in.  I know there are really only a few solid more weeks left of really hard training before the taper will begin. I want to take full advantage of this time to push myself and run hard and long.  

Even as I type up this recap, I can tell my enthusiasm and motivation to do so is a bit lower than it was last week.  Last week, I just wrapped up a great week of training where I felt amazing. This week is a different story. My toenails feel like they are going to fall off.  My head feels foggy and tired. The fatigue is really beginning to set in. With that said, I am going to keep this short and sweet so I can maybe lay down for a few minutes before Hudson wakes up!

These easy sunrise runs are some of my favorite miles of the week.

The Miles

  • 8 miles on the strand with jogger
  • 7 solo park loop miles
  • 10 miles with a workout (3 miles of slightly faster than goal race pace, 6:15ish + 4 x 1 K, these were supposed to be 5:40ish pace, but I was dying and did not hit pace) 
  • 8 miles on the strand with jogger
  • 6 solo park loop miles 
  • 20 miles! Solo.  Headphones made it a bit less lonely. This one hurt, but after the fact, I was pleased when I saw overall stats for the run.  More on this at the end!

The only part I want to expand on is that Wednesday workout.  I am the type of person that hates changing a workout. I am pretty determined to hit all my splits and finish a workout in its entirety.  This was not the case for that Wednesday. It was supposed to be 5 Ks, but I texted Lance after 3 and asked him what I should do since I was dying.  I was already way off pace and felt empty.  I ended up doing one more and calling it a day after 4.  This is so not me to cut it short, but I also know my body really well and on that day, my body was done.  There was nothing left. After recovering for a couple miles on the way home, I tried doing some pick-up 100 meters to make for the shortened workout, but even that felt hard.  

Besides the fact that my body is still adjusting to more mileage, it was also super hot out (hello, February in Southern California) and I am not very good at changing pace.  The 3 mile tempo part felt totally fine. It was right when I started the thousands that my legs felt like bricks. I need to work on getting better at changing gears.

What I am Listening To 

I listened to a lot of different interviews this past week.  There were a lot of solo miles with headphones. Of everything I listened to there was only one episode that really stuck with me and inspired me.  It was an interview with Veronica Jackson and Alex Bernardi on the Ali on the Run Show.  They both ran at the trials! They are two friends that pushed each other to believe in this shared goal of qualifying amidst full-time jobs and families.  I love their story. I love their dedication to dream big together. This episode was a treat to listen to and it made me really want to find a group like the women that run at 5:45 in Central Park.  Maybe, we just need to move to New York.  

How I am Fueling

Really it is all the same.  The only thing I need to add is Trader Joe’s cold brew latte dessert bars made the perfect mid-afternoon pick me up as my energy was really dragging in this hot week of training. 

Also, salt sticks, which I mentioned last week, has been a real game changer for me on my long runs.

Bowling with family really was the perfect way to spend our 20 miler.

Recovery

  • Sunday Nap 
  • Stretching at parks, while Hudson plays
  • Bowling? After our 20 miler, we bowled with Grandma Jo! It was a good reminder why I run and I don’t bowl.
  • Clearly, not a whole lot of recovery being done.  I really need to commit to rolling before bed. 

Cross-Training

  • 2 strength classes with Petra.  This will probably be my last week of these classes, since my membership just ended. I am likely not going to renew it.  I am going to have to figure out a way to supplement these classes in the weeks of training ahead.  This will probably involve some creativity and planks in our living room.

What I Keep Telling Myself 

You will eventually feel good.

This was not my week.  Things are hurting. The workout nearly killed me.  However, I still have confidence that fitness will come together in the remaining weeks and I will eventually wake up actually feeling good!  The time will come.  

Also, telling myself that the whole Boston experience is going to be so much fun.  It is beginning to feel closer and both Lance and I are getting more excited. We both will have family coming to watch, which is super special and just last week, we all got tickets to a Red Sox game.  Maybe not the best pre-race activity for a pro, but hey, that is not us, so anything goes, really.  

High + Low

HIGH

  • Hudson has finally gotten used to being back in the jogger and he has been an angel on our 8 milers.  My pace has been real SLOW on these jogger runs, so he has been extra patient to hang out in jogger for a bit over an hour.  
  • 20 miles! It did not feel perfect, but 20 miles is 20 miles.  It always feels like an accomplishment to get these 20 miler training runs in.  

Low

  • So tired!
  • The workout 

The Long Run

Thankful to have a community of loving family and friends that help out with Hudson so we can get our long runs in! Also, Hudson learned to say “Google.”

This long run was a bit different from the typical one.  Since family friends were watching Hudson, we decided to save a bit of time and run from their place in Hermosa Beach and just go out 10 miles and back 10 miles.  From Hermosa, we both made it pretty far into Palos Verdes.  

The run itself was a good mixture of flat, road surfaces and hilly trails.  It was a bit lonely, since we both did the run solo, but I think it built some good mental toughness.  

The last few miles were definitely a bit painful.  My hips felt like they were on fire. I pushed through and even got some faster mile splits in as I was on a flat surface.  While, I chose to not do an intentional workout, I did focus on staying as controlled as possible and getting faster in the last half.  

Here are the stats: 

  • 2 hours 31 minutes
  • 20 miles
  • 7:34 minutes/mile average.  
  • Fastest mile was the 19th mile at 6:36.  

Okay, I am exhausted.  This is all I got for this week.  Hopefully next week I can report with a bit more energy and enthusiasm!

6 Steps to Make Exercise a Routine for the Busy Mom

Routines make the things happen that you don’t always feel like doing.  For me, a huge one is exercise. Running comes pretty naturally to me and something I have been doing for over ten years; however, the reality of being a busy mom, often is still a huge barrier for me.  While I definitely do not always feel like it, I still manage to exercise 6 days a week. This simply would not happen if I did not have a consistent routine. The miles and burpees are literally scheduled into my week. That might sound excessive, but here’s the truth: if I don’t pencil in my workouts like they are important work meetings, they simply WILL NOT HAPPEN!  Same with you?

I am coming from the perspective of someone who loves to run and loves staying active and healthy, so I can only imagine the real obstacle to actually get out there and workout when it might not come as naturally to you. This is just more of a reason that you need to make exercise into a weekly routine! 

Routines Make It Happen!

 As I have said a ton on here before, routines help us actually do the things that are good for us even when we do not FEEL LIKE IT. If I am being honest, there are very few days where I truly feel like pushing myself and running a hard workout. Even when the feeling or desire is not there, I still get it done because I know that I run hard every Wednesday morning. It is just what I do.

I have a LOT of thoughts when it comes to exercise routines for the busy mom.  Before I even really get started, I want to clearly acknowledge that I absolutely understand that some mamas have greater barriers to fitting in workouts based on either being a single mama, having no family nearby, dealing with a tight budget, and/or having multiple little ones still at home to care for.  With that said, I still firmly believe that 6 days of movement, even for the busy mom with limited help and resources, is not only possible, but absolutely necessary.  

Before you start listing out the excuses about why there is no possible way you can exercise 6 days a week.  I want you to stop. The excuses are likely valid, but if you truly are priortizing your health, you can and will make time for scheduling working out as a daily routine.  

6 Steps to Creating Your Own Exercise Routine

Below are some step-by-step suggestions to help you get on the track of incorporating movement into your daily routine.  Notice how I am saying MOVEMENT. We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves with that word “exercise” or “workout.” There is this underlying pressure that if we do not have a solid hour to workout, then forget it.  This way of thinking needs to stop. You have 10 minutes in your day. I don’t care how busy your days are. There are 10 minutes you can spare for intentional movement.  

I will send you this 4-paged printable that I created that will help you target the times in your schedule that are open + guide you as you set goals and actually schedule the exercise into your week. I have made this PDF editable so if you choose to keep it on your computer, you can easily edit the boxes! To get this sent straight to your inbox, just enter you email below. If you are already a subscriber, you will getting this lovely PDF in my Tuesday newsletter.

 



 

 

1. Examine Your Weeks + Identify Open Windows

Take the time to list out all your time obligations and responsibilities during the week.  Write it out as a schedule with time blocks. Once you have everything written out, identify the windows that are open.  It might be very small windows, but even if it is 10-minute windows, highlight these.

2. Set Clear Weekly Goals 

Be VERY specific.  Set the number of times you plan to do cardio (run, spin class, bike ride, swim, treadmill, HIIT training).  Set the number of times you plan to do strength training (core, weights, yoga, barre). For example, my typical weekly goals when I am not in full-on training mode is 4 runs per week + 2 classes (focused on legs, arms, and core).  

3. Schedule It

Now that you have your goals, schedule the exact time + type of movement you will be doing on each day.  Similar to my meal planning tips, I suggest that you do similar types of movement on each day of the week.  For example, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays could be days you run. Tuesdays and Thursdays could be days focused on core strength. Saturdays could be either long run days (if you’re into that type of thing) or a morning class you attend to kick off the weekend on the right note.  When scheduling, try to frontload your week. Schedule the hard things early on in the week when you are more motivated. For example, Monday-Wedneday I have most of my mileage scheduled in + a run workout. Put the hard things first! 

4. Plan Ahead 

Once your weekly schedule is set, next you need to plan out the logistics.  As a busy mama, it is no longer as simple as just leaving the house for a run or the gym.  You need to figure out who is watching your kiddos. Plan ahead and ask if you can have help in the hour you plan on getting out to exercise.  If you don’t have help available to you, try to plan out with your spouse a time when they will be home. For us, this usually means waking up very early or using the evening time. 

If limited help is a major barrier, try to plan most of your daily movement time when the kids are either in school, still asleep, napping, or my personal fav (can join you).  The baby jogger is a great way to incorporate your little ones, while you get out the door and prioritize your own health. I wrote a whole post dedicated to tips on running with the jogger, which you can read here.  There are also gyms that offer childcare, so this is another great option if you can swing a gym membership!

5. Actually Do It 

This can sometimes be the hardest step.  Once you have done the extra work of planning ahead and creating plans, you must actually commit to it.  At first it might feel hard, especially if your only window of free time is in the evening, but once you make it a consistent routine, it will become easier and easier.  Tuesday and Thursday evenings are the nights I go to a core class at my local Yogaworks. It used to be hard to find motivation to drive to these classes at 6 pm after a long day chasing Hudson, but now that it is a routine, it is something I look forward to and expect.  

6. Be Flexible

Even with the routine set and things planned out, the reality is that certain days will simply not allow for your typical exercise routine to happen.  There will be days where finding an hour window will feel nearly impossible and that is okay. I am learning that on these types of days, I can still incorporate 10-minutes of intentional movement into my day and this will help me to not feel guilty for skipping out and will also boost mood and productivity. 

We often operate in this all or nothing mindset. We think if we don’t have a solid hour of time available, then we should just skip it. Not true! 10-minutes will always be better than none. Be willing to adjust and stay committed to the movement even if it will look slightly different than planned. Just getting out the door to run a couple miles and play at the park with your little one will always be a win over just choosing to skip it. 

The tabata method is another great way to get in a solid workout in a short amount of time. It is similar to HIIT training in the sense that it focuses on doing certain exercises at a high-intensity level for 20 seconds and then resting for 10 seconds. I really believe we can all do something really hard for 20 seconds. You repeat this cycle 8 times. This is just 4 minutes of work, but it will push you in ways that going out for a casual 2 mile jog will not. I really believe this type of training is key for us busy mamas. It gives a high-quality workout in a short amount of time, and if done consistently can have huge aerobic and anaerobic results!

You’ve Got This

Wherever you are, whether that be training for a marathon or just trying to walk around the block daily, remember that you’ve got this and that prioritizing intentional movement daily is an essential part of your routine.  If you do not have a consistent movement routine, I really hope this encourages you to do so.

Remember, it will likely not happen if you do not have a routine dedicated to staying active! You can always give up 10-minutes to move! Those intentional minutes put towards your health will ultimately make you a better human, mama, wife, and friend.  I know that I am a wayyy nicer human, a more loving wife, and a much more patient mother when I get out there and make my running and fitness routine a priority.

Let me know how you squeeze in working out! I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!

The Art of Running with a Baby Jogger

There have been a few memories in Hudson’s first month of life that seem to be engraved in my mind. One of them is our first major outing a week after he was born. We went on a walk in Manhattan Beach. I remember it all so clearly. I remember how uncomfortable and insecure I felt when I saw my reflection in the store window. I had milk stains on my shirt, my belly still looked very pregnant, and my eyes drooped with exhaustion. That was just the physical parts I saw in the window. I also deeply remember how I felt on that walk. I was gripped by anxiety. I felt completely overwhelmed. We were literally just going on a walk. Something Lance and I would do all the time, but now everything was entirely different. I was paranoid and panicky. I had this new baby and this new stroller and this new body. All of it was foreign to me. The thing I remember most is the way I felt pushing the stroller down the hill to get to the strand. My heart was racing. My palms have never gripped something so tightly. All I could think about was my fear of losing grip of the stroller. I felt so awkward and incredibly unsure.

The reason I tell this story is to show change and progress and illustrate how quickly transformation can happen. Fast-forward 11 months, and I run with the jogger one-handed with a casualness and confidence that June 15th Kelli would not have believed she was capable of. My relationship with the stroller is very telling of my progress as a parent. The stroller used to be a place of fear and sweaty, anxious palms. Now, it is a place of freedom and confidence.

Our faded orange, BOB stroller we bought on Facebook Marketplace was one of the best, low-cost investments we made in baby products. While the first month I barely touched it because I was nervous about using it, I slowly adjusted and figured out the art of running with baby in a jogging stroller.

Like most things, it takes a little time to figure out your stride. It took some trial and error. There were runs where Hudson screamed the entire run. There were runs I had to just stop because I was so exhausted from the extra work of pushing it. There have definitely been runs and moments where I felt held back by the stroller and even annoyed by it, but as a whole our 2008 BOB has a special place in my heart. It has taught me something. It has shown me a strength and confidence that I had forgotten I possessed. It has pushed me to get out of comfort zones and it has revealed how much harder hills can become.

It ultimately has shown me that I can do the same things I loved pre-baby, it just takes a different form. My pace is absolutely slower. The routes are slightly different; more pavement, less dirt. However, the jogger doesn’t hold me back too much. I’m still able to throw in some surges and can still pass some guys along the way. And let me tell you, that feels pretty good. So, yes the baby jogging stroller changes things, but I am convinced it doesn’t need to change too much. If you are struggling with running with the baby jogging stroller or want to and are unsure about where to begin, here are 5 tips to help you master the art of the baby jogger.

1. Wait

There are different numbers people throw out as when the appropriate age is for baby to be in jogger. I have heard as young as 4-months and as conservative as 8-months. Definitely consult your pediatrician, but we began running with Hudson around the 5-month mark. And to be honest, I don’t think he was quite ready for it. Physically, it was totally fine, as he had very strong neck control, but I don’t think he was quite mature enough to be able to sit in jogger for an extended amount of time without getting fussy. Both Lance and I experienced a lot of crying in these early runs. I would wait to run with baby until he or she is clearly as at an age where they can occupy themselves. It really hasn’t been until recently, around 9-10 months, that Hudson has been a champ in the jogger. We are at the point that I can run 60-70 minutes without him fussing once. So if you can, wait a bit to start consistently running with baby. They will make it pretty clear when they are ready for it.

2. Start Slow

Physically pushing a jogger is demanding. Especially if you are getting back into shape, it is going to feel pretty hard to push jogger and run at a decent pace. I would not even look at your pace for the first couple runs with baby. Start by just going off of effort. I run at least 30-seconds slower with the jogger. Allow yourself some grace in terms of pace. You are out pushing a jogger, no need to break records. I also would recommend starting your runs more conservatively. You can always end your run faster, but it is especially important to ease into pace with jogger and not go out too hard.

3. Run During Nap Time

This is a tip I have recently figured out. I used to run with him right after he woke up from naps. From my experience this is not the best option. He had lots of energy and did not want to be strapped in. While I am all about being home for naps so I can get things done, I have learned to sacrifice this nap time in order to have a nice, quiet, cry-free run. I think it’s worth the nap sacrifice. I now always run during his first morning nap around 9 am. He sleeps for most of my run. It is also nice to get the run done early. Once we get home, he is happy and rested, and we have the rest of the day to do something fun.

4. Be Consistent

Like with most things in life, the more consistent you are, the easier it will become. I do not do every run with him, but I run at least 2-3 times per week with him in the jogger. This consistent pattern has allowed for both of us to get used to the jogger. Running with the jogger has not only trained and strengthened me, it also has trained him to be patient and capable of handling sitting for an hour. It is building within us both a strength and independence, and for that I’m thankful. Be as consistent with the jogger as you can. The more you do it, the more second nature it will feel for you and the more used to it baby will become. Since we go on runs on a consistent basis, Hudson has not only become accustomed to our running routine, he has come to enjoy our rides. It is deeply relaxing to him. He loves taking in the wind and the new environment he sees from the comfort of the stroller. The jogger itself also seems to ride smoother and smoother the more I have used it. Consistency really is key when it comes to running with baby. If you only use it every once and a while, it is likely it won’t feel as good for both you and baby.

5. Increasingly Build

This might sound obvious, but you don’t want to start your first run with baby on a super long and hilly run. Increasingly build. Start small and build from there. Start by just going out for a run around the block and see how it goes. Then next run, go a little further, and so on. Also, I would recommend starting in places that you are familiar and comfortable with. Find a route that suites the stroller and that you know well. Once baby has proven to handle jogger well, then you can venture out to trying longer runs and different terrain. Take it one day at a time. No need to prove anything.

While the jogger used to be a burden to me, I am learning to run with it with a sense of gratitude and grace. I am thankful. I am thankful for our BOB jogger. I am thankful for a healthy body. I am thankful for a child that I get to push up steep hills. While I used to awkwardly run with the jogger in hand, I am learning to run with greater ease and confidence. The stroller no longer feels as heavy. The stroller has taken on a lightness that I didn’t think was possible. The stroller is a great source of pride for me. I am proud to run with my jogger. It is like an orange badge of motherhood. Now, when I am out running solo, I feel naked. I feel like I’m missing something. And I am. My baby and my BOB.

Hope these few key points are both helpful and motivating. You don’t need to be extra strong or fast to push a jogger. Just a consistent, determination to do it, even amidst the extra crying and weight.

5 Choices to Help Get Out of that Slump

At the start of the New Year I felt a sense of motivation and determination that I have not felt in a while.  I was getting up early every morning.  I was writing every day.  I was having consistent, quiet prayer time before Hudson woke up.  I was not touching social media and was reading voraciously.  I was scrapbooking a ton.  I was running with joy.  I was going to baby story time, baby yoga, baby play dates.  I am not exactly sure what happened but somewhere in the course of the past couple weeks I have fallen into a major slump.  I have turned off my weekly alarm clock that was set to 6 am.  I have chosen to scroll through Facebook, instead of read and have been on the same chapter of Searching For Sunday for weeks now.  I am dreading my runs and workouts.  I am doing them, but that sense of performance and pressure and pain from college running is slowly beginning to seep back into my running soles.  I have writer’s block and I seem to constantly be hitting the delete tab.  The words are just not coming out the way I intend for them to.  I have not been to baby story time in weeks.  I keep finding really good excuses as to why we can’t go out.  I have not touched my scrapbooking table.  Pictures have been messily scattered all over the coffee table untouched for many days.  I just can’t seem to muster up the creative energy to continue it.

I am so tired.  My once abundant milk supply has also hit a major slump and I literally feel like I am running dry.  I keep training like I am in college, but the reality is I am not.  I go to the track and run basically the same workouts I used to but instead of going to the training room to have an ice bath and go home to just relax and revel in the fact that I have no responsibilities, I go home to immediately needing to nurse Hudson.  My body is rebelling.  I can’t do it all.  I am running myself to the ground and I am just now feeling it.

All of this to say, I am in a slump.  I know I will get out soon, but like Dr. Seuss said, “Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”  It is true.  It is easy to sit and wallow in the slump. It is easy to read the post on how to un-slump, but a different story to actually get out of it.  And the thing is, I think a lot of us know what we should do, but it sure can be hard to push yourself to do what you know long-term will be good for you.  There are a few things that usually help ease me out of a slump.  The key word is ease.  It does not happen all at once, but typically if I can consistently make a few small, but important choices throughout my day, I will slowly and surely find myself on the other side.  When it comes to the difficult task of un-slumping yourself, here are 5 small choices to help in the process:

  1. Wake Up Early

This one is tough because when I am in this low place, I really have a hard time getting out of bed period, but especially getting out of bed before 7 am.  The problem here is by hitting snooze and choosing to sleep longer, I am actually making my day start off on a bad note and this just further perpetuates the slump.  So, as much as I really, really want to ignore the alarm and snooze, it is so important that I make that first choice of stepping out of my bed.  It is hard.  But it matters.  Last night, I intentionally chose to set my alarm for 5:10 am and get up when Lance does.  This small choice is already making a big difference in my day.

2. Listen to Life-Giving Words

For me, that is a sermon or a podcast.  Yesterday, I listened to a sermon by Tim Chaddick and it changed my outlook, my day, and my heart.  Never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to give you exactly what you need to hear.  The sermon was on ambition and work that is pleasing to God.  It was so powerful.  I am linking to it here. Part of the reason I have been in this particular place is because I feel like I am lacking purpose.  I feel like I try so hard, but then it does not matter.  I try so hard to make organic, homemade food for Hudson, and then he hates it and tosses it to Nala.  I try so hard to keep the house in order, but then the next hour, I see dirt and Nala’s hair all over the floors again.  I try so hard to be a good runner again, but my body is just not the same as college.  I try so hard to be a good writer, but no one reads this except my husband and mom (or so it feels). These are all the emotions running through my heart and mind and then I choose to play this sermon as I am doing dishes.  And I hear the words of Paul:

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody”  1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

And my whole body sighed relief.  This is enough.  What I am doing is enough.  I might not be in a fancy office or have the influence I used to when I was in the classroom, but I am doing important work and God delights in this.  This is all to explain the power and importance in allowing others to speak into your days to help point you back to the cross and to the love of God.  It is so easy to forget.  If I could I would listen to sermons on repeat in my head because that is how much I need daily and momentary reminders.  So, listen and consume content that is life-giving.  Allow the Holy Spirit to run through you and change your heart.  It will happen if you let it.

3. Exercise 

This one is kind of like getting up early.  I am the least motivated to workout when I am in this rut, but usually the best fix is to get out and run or make it into a yoga class.  Yesterday I literally went from bawling on the couch to running a 4-mile tempo on the strand.  And let me tell you, every fiber of my body wanted to just stay put on the couch, but I went and I am glad I did.  It allowed me to breathe and focus on something other than how I was feeling.  It gave me space to have rhythm.  It gave me the time to pray.  This might not be the thing for everyone, but getting outside and breathing air can be so helpful.

4. Connect with People

We are built for connection.  In my slumps, it is really easy to cancel plans and stay home.  And sometimes I do this.  But, as much as I can, I need to keep plans and connect with friends and family.  I need this.  Hudson needs this.  And maybe it is not going out, but it is having people come to you.  Invite people over.  Make play dates.  Put events on the calendar and commit to them.  Trust me, this can be the hardest one for me, but this connection is so important.  I almost always walk away from time with others feeling happier and rejuvenated.  Also, it is so important to have a few people in your life that you can talk about being not okay.  Just yesterday, both my husband and my mom prayed over me as I bursted into tears to both of them explaining how I felt.  What a blessing to have people in my life that will not only listen and love me, but will bring my pain to the Lord.  How thankful I am for that!

5. Pray!

This leads me to the fifth and most important choice.  Choose to pray.  When I am on fire in my faith, I tend to pray aloud in the mornings.  The words flow easily and I have a great enthusiasm to speak out my prayers.  When I hit these types of slumps in both my life and my faith, I tend to not even be motivated to voice out my prayers.  Some mornings I feel so tired and unmotivated, it feels hard to even voice prayers.  Thankfully God even hears my sad little whimpers that are left unspoken.  Earlier this week, my heart was given so much relief when I read the words in Matthew 6:

“When you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words.  Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask him”  Matthew 6:7-8

Even on those mornings where it is hard to muster out the words, the Lord knows what I need.  He knows my heart.  When I pray I am not going to some distant god, I am speaking to my Father who deeply loves and cares for my well-being.  Therefore, I don’t need to worry about phrasing things in the most eloquent way or even saying them aloud.  He knows what I need.  He knows how I am feeling.  There is just so much relief in this. So when I pray in these slumps, even if my prayers are fragmented or if it is difficult for me to find the right words, I can know that the Lord will meet me where I am and offer me an abundance of peace and grace.

Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.  And it is not as simple as checking off a few things on a list.  However, I am learning that by focusing less on the slump and more on daily and intentionally choosing these five things: wake up early, listen to life-giving words, exercise, connect with people, and pray; I am able to more easily transition out of the slump and onto flat ground where I can go back to running with joy.

 

Starting Slow, Finishing Strong

This mama needs to start slow.  In college, I used to be able to roll out of bed, slide on my shoes, and hit the pavement at a 6-something-minute pace.  Emphasis here on used to.  The funny thing is that college for me was not even that long ago, I am just three years out, but my sense of pace has already greatly shifted, both in a literal and figurative sense.  My pace in terms of running has definitely changed.  My current pace now is what I used to think of as a slow, shakeout run.  But it is not just running, it is an overall life pace that I can feel is shifting as I type this.  In college, it was about going.  It was about jumping into cold pools before the sun rose.  It was about midnights in libraries and drinking coffee at 1am.  It was about miles and miles; pages on pages; words upon words.  It was all about speed and getting things done.  Trust me, I am still all about getting things done and accomplished, but my pace is entirely different.  I need to start slow.  I need to warm-up.  I need to lie in bed just a few extra minutes and wake up as I read just a couple pages.  I need to sit and sip in silence.  I need to stay in pajamas just a bit longer.  I need to hold my baby and not worry about my to-do list for just a few moments longer.  I need to take it slow.

I am all about the slower starts, the lazy mornings, the clear schedules.  My whole essence thirsts for the slower pace.  This easing into things is becoming essential to me.  It is essential for how I run and also how I live.  The danger in this, however, is when we stay in the slow and never learn to shift gears into the uncomfortable.  I start slow, but I never finish there.  While starting slow is key to me, shifting gears into uncomfortable speeds is also required.  I was reminded of this inherit need for speed (ignore the cliche rhyme) last week when I returned to the track.  My feet literally have not touched a track in just about 3 years.  Last time I was on a track was June 2016 in Kansas for my last collegiate 5k.  So, it has been some time.  And I could feel this separation.  I was doing a 10 by 400 meter workout with my dad so kindly agreeing to take my splits.  The first one felt raw and scary and too fast.  The second, third and fourth felt like I had made a mistake in choosing to workout at the track.  The fifth and sixth one felt completely numb, yet still painful.  But it was the seventh one that made sense.  It was in that seventh 400 meters that I hit my stride.  I felt back at home.  I remembered the turns and the straight aways and where to settle and where to push.  Don’t get me wrong.  The 7th-10th 400 were still painful and uncomfortable, but by number 7 I knew I would finish.  I knew I would not slow down.  Is this not life? It is hard, hard, hard, and then you hit a point of endurance.  It does not necessarily get easy, but it becomes endurable.  You become stronger, more confident, and more fierce, that by number 7 you know you are not stopping.

It is a great balancing act to create a life that holds both the slow and the burning speed.  It takes trial and error.  There are days that will feel too slow and days that have way too much intensity.  So you adjust.  You learn.  You create good patterns and break the ones that always put you into ruts.  I am learning that timing and structure are key elements in helping me balance the slow with the quick.  Here are 5 things that help me achieve this balance:

  1. Start Day Slow

I need to start my days at a very slow pace.  If I know I have a commitment or somewhere to be early, I get up even earlier to allow for the space to wake up.  I no longer can just roll out of bed.  I need time.  I need coffee.  I need scripture.  I think a huge part of being able to work hard throughout the day is allowing the start of the day to be slow and gentle, not rushed and frantic.

2. List and Schedule 

I am a list-oriented person.  I really struggle when I do not have lists to guide me.  I am always at the grocery store or Target, with a list in hand.  Even if it is the smallest errand, if I don’t write down: puffs, detergent, tea, and salad, I will become distracted or waste time.  Lists keep me focused.  I need them.  The same is true with my days.  As a teacher, I was my most productive self because I have the schedule of bells ringing throughout the day that kept me extremely structured.  As a stay-at-home mom, I must create these bells on my own.  For those mamas that work in the home, it can be so easy to waste our days.  It is essential to list out the “work” that must be done.  Not only list out what needs to happen in that day, but schedule it in so you know exactly when it will happen.  This helps keep me focused, so when I am doing the work elements, I am not thinking about yoga class and when I am in yoga, I am not thinking about laundry or dishes.  This is the ideal mindset and I don’t always succeed, but this is the goal.  List and schedule, so the lines of work and rest don’t run and bleed into each other.

3. Commit and Don’t Back Down

For me, one of the most important practices when balancing working hard and resting well is making sure I stay committed. It is so easy to back down and choose the easy route. It is so much easier to not do the hard work. It is also very easy to skip your time of rest and choose to do “the more important” things. Achieving balance happens best when we keep our commitments. Once I start backing out of commitments, I easily begin to fall into ruts. Even on the crazy, full days, if I have a workout scheduled, I need to follow through. It is that simple.

4. Schedule Rest 

This is one I am trying to currently figure out. Rest does not come naturally to me. I am learning that if I don’t schedule it, just like I would something important, like a meeting or a workout, it won’t happen. Some days I follow through and take this time of rest seriously, while others I ignore it and prioritize other things. Part of starting slow, and finishing strong, means that there also must be a middle time of slow and quiet and calm. For me, this does not usually mean taking a nap at 1pm. It looks more like grabbing a book and getting off my feet for 15 minutes. It looks like stopping. It looks like sitting. It looks like espresso in my favorite mug right after Hudson falls asleep for his final nap. It ultimately looks like surrendering to the Lord and relying on His strength, not my own work and capabilities and production.

5. Finish Strong

In a race, the goal is always to finish strong. No matter how fast you started or even if you lost a shoe in the first 100 meters, finishing strong is what matters. Just like certain runs, I end my days on burn out. I collapse. I stop. I trudge my feet. This is not what I want for my life. I want to end each day stronger than when I woke up. And sometimes I fail. I hit a wall and waste hours watching the Bachelor. I hate how I do this, but it is the truth. I don’t always finish my days strong. I sometimes, oftentimes, crawl into bed, emptied and exhausted and fixed to a screen. The best ways for me to avoid this place is to set limits on work and screens, so by 8 or 9 pm, I can fill up, spend time with Lance, and rest in knowing that enough has been done. If I don’t have clear time limits, I can quickly crumble into a place of weakness and mindlessness.

There is a time for the slow and a time for the head down, grinding, uncomfortable pace too. I have strong tendencies to live in the extremes. I have days where I stay in pajamas too long. I have days where I am-consumed with work and cleaning. Some days I get it terribly wrong, today might be one of those, but my prayer for today is that I can continue to strive at living a more balanced pace, so I can ultimately be more in-tune to the Lord’s will for my life.

 

 

To Run in the Rain

This mama needs to run in the rain.  

As I learn more about myself, I am realizing I am much introverted than I previously thought.  I like the idea of being around people, but I really thrive off of having time alone in quiet.  This is one of the many reasons why running is so good for me. It gives me the space to be in a quiet rhythm.  It allows me to think, pray, and breathe.  Don’t get me wrong, I love running with others as well and connecting in this way, but every once in a while a solo run does my soul a lot of good.

The rain just kept coming this week.  It rained and rained.  Every time I looked out the window my initial thought was to skip the run.  Stay inside my mind whispered. Even though I have been a runner for over a decade, basically every time I go out for a run, I am again dealing with the internal battle of just staying inside.  I know some people eagerly lace up their shoes and prance out the door to run, but this is just not how I operate.  It would probably fool you when I am actually out running with a smile, but that initial push out the door is so hard for me.  It is especially hard now when I don’t have a coach telling me what to do or a team depending on me to be in shape.  Now, I am the coach.  I am the whole team.  With anything, when it is just you, performing and producing your best becomes even less motivating.

Despite this desire to stay inside, I managed to get out the door twice to run.  And it was two of the best choices I made all week.  Both times felt magical.  The best part of running in the rain is that not a lot of people do it.  The park was empty.  The strand was deserted. All I could hear was the rain rhythmically hitting my visor.  All I could see was waves crashing.  All I could feel was peace.  I was not thinking about other people.  I was not trying to pass the person 100 meters ahead of me.  I was not trying to impress by running as fast as I could.  I was not worried about pace or performance.  I was simply just running in the rain.  Alone.

When all the exterior elements of running are stripped down and you are left with just the raw aspects of movement, breath, and cadence; you can really find the joy in running.  You can find it in its purest form.  I think over the past few years, I got lost in the races, the time trials, the competition.  I think I forgot what it feels like to just run because you can, not because you have to.  When it comes down to it, I really love to run.  I actually have always loved it, but I think somewhere along the way running became something else.  It became pressurized and demanding.  It became solely about performance and pleasing coaches.  The rawness of running: breath, movement, cadence; became lost.

It took having a baby to get me to return to running and fall back in love with the sport.  Once Hudson was born, all expectations of who I was as a runner seemed to dissipate.  It did not matter if I ran for just 20 minutes.  It did not matter if I ran 10 minute pace.  These are things that I would of laughed at a few years ago, but now it was all about getting out the door.  It no longer was about the pace or the mileage.  It was solely about running to clear my head, running to get off the baby weight, running to take a break, running to pray for patience.  It was all about the movement.  I was running because I had a deep down need to move and it turns out running is the best way I know how to do that. I finally was in a place where I could run without the pressure, anxiety, and fear that seemed to plague most of my college running career.  I could run and walk.  I could stop when I felt tired. I could just run a loop around the block and return home.  I finally am learning to run with grace.  And this is making all the difference in my love for running.

Running in the rain last week reminded me why I run.  It reminded me how running is supposed to feel in its purest form.  It reminded me the importance of not waiting until conditions or life is perfect.  If we run like this or if we live like this, we never will run much or really do anything at all.  Sometimes it will rain all week. Sometimes you will have bad days, weeks, months, years.  And sometimes you just have to face it.  You have to tie up those shoes.  Put on your hat.  And start that watch.  And just like running in the rain, through movement and action, you can eventually be reminded of why you do what you do and be at peace with whatever life gives you.