Sunday, February 21, 2016

Running lessons: Know your limits

A view of George's Island
The plan this weekend was to head to the country as usual Friday night but, after a hectic week at work and home, I felt an overwhelming need to stay in the city and get myself organized. Husband - bless him - was happy to go along so we settled into a weekend of tackling paperwork, enjoying city activities (like going to the market, visiting two local galleries and checking out the new creperie in our neighbourhood), visiting friends and, of course running. It felt good to catch up a bit. 

It's interesting how difficult it can be to recognize our limits sometimes. Too often, we push ourselves to meet expectations - our own and others - until we're forced by illness or exhaustion to rest, by which point the damage we've done to ourselves can take a long time to heal. 

One of the things running has taught me is that it's good to know and respect your limits - to slow down or stop before you're forced to. That's not easy to do when you have a goal in sight but ignoring your actual capacities can lead to disaster.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Valentine's Day Weekend - reading, running, eating, painting…repeat

What a good long weekend it was. I spent most of it doing just exactly as I liked - reading, running, eating, painting, and hanging out with Husband. The only thing that wasn't perfect was the weather. Saturday was okay but both Sunday and Monday were bitterly cold and windy. I'd have preferred to stay bundled up inside for the duration but that wasn't an option since I plan to run a marathon in a few months.

Sunday's run was an 8k with husband. Bless him for running with me. It was damned cold - about -20C with the windchill - so I'm sure I would have given up and headed home after 2k if he hadn't been with me. The footing was tricky with several inches of fresh snow, and the frigid north wind blowing straight at us for the first 4k made our cheeks sting and our fingers ache. I thought it would be better when we turned around but the wind quickly froze our butts and hamstrings so the return journey felt almost as tough.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Farewell to Facebook (for February anyway)

I’ve been so busy lately, I haven’t had time to write a post about my word for 2016, which I finally decided a few weeks ago would be “farewell”.

Farewell as in "so long" to the things, activities and relationships that no longer serve a positive purpose in my life. And farewell as in “good wishes on the journey” to the people I expect to see less often, and to myself as I put my 2016 intentions into action.

Reviewing my priorities for 2015, I was happy to realize I'd made good progress in respect to many of them. I didn’t read a book a week but finished 27 in all – which was a big improvement over the previous year. I also dealt with a fair bit of clutter – though the job’s a long way from done. I wasn’t able to "run more" due to injury and illness but certainly "trained smarter", which included taking time off to recover when I needed to.

I made the most progress in respect to diet, thanks largely to Husband who did a wonderful job of ensuring we ate more fruits and veggies and reduced grains, cheese and sugars. I also made good progress on putting “first things first” – prioritizing the things that really matter to me over the things others think should matter.

My intentions for 2016 aren't very different from those I set for 2015.

READ EVEN MORE! – I’ve loved reading more and have especially enjoyed books suggested by Husband. Our tastes are somewhat different but that just means I'm challenged to read stuff I wouldn’t otherwise and I've liked the books he recommended more than I expected.

EAT EVEN BETTER – We’ve made good progress increasing our intake of fruit, veggies and nuts and reducing the grains, legumes, cheeses and sugars in our diet but we’re keen to do more. The older we get, the more important it is to fuel our bodies well. We’re also experimenting with intermittent fasting to enhance brain health. More on that when we have a better sense of whether or not it’s working.

RUN MORE – My training plans for 2015 were frustrated by nagging hip flexor issues. Now that those are resolved, I hope to return to training in earnest for another marathon. I’m off to a somewhat slow start but there's still time to prepare for at least one 42.2k this year. My first choice is the Calgary Marathon since it would be a good excuse to visit family and friends who live there but that might change if the winter turns nasty. I won't attempt a spring marathon unless I'm sure I'm ready for it. (Fortunately, this weekend was terrific for running so I did an 8k with Husband on Saturday and a 14k run with my buddy David at Second Peninsula today. As you can probably tell from the photo at the top of the post and this one, the scenery was awful and we had a terrible time. ;-) )

CROSS-TRAIN MORE – This is really about training smarter. Since New Year’s, I’ve been doing more stretching and yoga to increase flexibility and core strength but I know I'd benefit from other activities like swimming, snowshoeing and weight training too. 

MINIMIZE MY STUFF – I made great progress banishing the clutter at home and at the office 2015 but I'll need cull even more stuff when and if the country house sells. In preparation, I plan to continue disposing of possessions and – just as importantly – accumulate as little new stuff as possible. One day, I'd like to get the point where we could live comfortably in a tiny, environmentally sustainable house.

FIRST THINGS FIRST – Once again, this is my most important intention. I still spend far too much time on things that, in the big picture, don’t matter very much, and Facebook tops the list. Given that, I'm taking a Facebook vacation for the month of February and plan to minimize the time I spend on it for the rest of 2016. Though I confess I'm experiencing some withdrawal, I'm not missing it as much as I thought I would - in part because family and friends already spend less time on Facebook than they used to. 

"First things first" applies to more than just Facebook. One of the things I've struggled with in recent months is finding the time and energy to maintain all our social connections. On the one hand, I'm grateful for our large extended families and the many friends Husband and I have made over the years. On the other, it's difficult and tiring to nurture so many relationships. Like it or not, we need to make tough choices and say a quiet "fare thee well" to some of them. Hopefully, we can manage it without hurt feelings.

So what about you? What are your intentions for 2016? How are you doing so far? Are you training for anything special? What are you running plans for 2016?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Once upon a winter weekend

Last  weekend was a busy one. We hosted our wonderful neighbours for a mid-winter night's supper on Friday night. The weather was perfect, with snow softly falling throughout the evening.  Husband outdid himself, cooking up a wonderful feast, and the company couldn't have been better. We enjoyed it thoroughly. 

The views as we headed for the country for a visit with my parents and aunt on Saturday were spectacular. En route to my parents' place, we popped up the hill to deliver leftover brownies to my sister and her family. The scenery near their house was so lovely I asked husband to stop a couple of times so I could take pictures. (The colours in the photo above are different because I took it through the car windshield.)

To our delight, we managed to see our beautiful nieces in passing! Though fighting colds, they were outside enjoying the day and waited patiently while I snapped a few pics. What can I say? Taking photos of these two faces never gets old.

Dinner with my parents and my aunt was terrific too. My parents are generous hosts and, at 90 years old, Aunt Marg is sharp as a tac and full of fun so we thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Even with all the visiting, I managed a 13km run on Sunday. It wasn't pretty after being sick with flu for a couple of weeks but at least I got 'er done. And running amidst such beauty, warmed by happy memories of time with family and friends, I had nothing much to complain about.

Happy running and writing, friends!