How to say this..?

Lately, I’ve really been struggling with a topic that I wanted to write about.  This is probably the fifth time I’ve sat down and started banging out a piece.

How to talk about missed opportunities and taking chances?  Meeting people and climbing out of our shells to do something we have no business doing.  Thinking of all these angles to look at it – the marketing standpoint; that we’re all selling something and our reputation is our “brand” so we have to watch what we say and to whom and strike the right balance of knowing the situation we’re in and what’s appropriate to that given situation – at least, in the context of what it is we want to accomplish or whether we even care.   (“Not caring” is still a kind of advertising message).   For that matter, living ‘authentically’ and being ‘in the moment’ is, in a disgustingly cynical sense, still a chosen modus operendi.

Think about the serendipity of how a seemingly inauspacious encounter might turn someone’s life around in a good way, or completely destroy one’s future.

When driving around, it’s easy to miss all of these side streets and alley-ways.  We’re going at a good clip and they just slip by.  But these are all crossroads and choices that lead to places we haven’t been before, people we haven’t met before or taken the time to engage.  We’re so accustomed and focused on where we’re going, we just don’t consider the possibilities of where life might lead us next if we were to recognize the cascading effect of a timely turn of the wheel, an introduction and smile or word of encouragement to a complete stranger.

Sometimes those turns, insignificant as they seem at first, become major headings in our lives – we trace everything back to meeting a person, moving across town, quitting a job, trying out a new hobby, taking a trip, taking a class, saying “hello”, or any number of things, or people, or turns that we had not previously taken – and now look at where they have led.

And while it is habit that keeps us running along in our familiar routines, it is also the comfort that comes along with it and the fear of losing it if we do something we don’t know.  Fear of being new at it and looking like we’re new at it.   Fear that noone is going to like you or that you won’t belong.   So I avoid.   I buffer with delicious food, games and distractions, religious fervor, political rage – I fill my life with useless things that consume my time and displace that immortal asset with the empty promise of tomorrows, regretful todays, and wasted yesterdays.

It is escapism.  I escape.  Then I escape again from the shame of escapism.   The crossroads slip by and I am aware, but they are new and terrifying and my normalcy is killing me slowly and comfortably.

Sometimes, it’s that nagging “Who do you think you are!” voice inside of our heads that makes us shy away from the blaze of that campfire confession, that stage light, or the plain realization that you will either act in life at a given point and in a given situation – or you will not.

So, I turn and discover how wonderful it is to be alive and to know you all.  To be human with you all and being in this thing together.   To offer what help I can give and to meet those wonderful people who help me out with their hearts full of love.

For me, that little turn was downloading a fitness app.   Little did I know it would lead me here and lead me to you all – “And that has made all the difference”.

 

Not showing up!

By the way, this isn’t going to be a guilt-trip kind of blog.   If you’re braced for a verbal/written tongue-lashing, you might be disappointed.   It isn’t that we don’t need a kick in the pants sometimes, but that’s not my job here – that’s your job.   But you have another job too, and that’s what I want to talk about today.

We all have this script in our heads of ‘how things should be’.  In running races from 5k’s all the way up to ultras, we have this undefined image of how the race ‘should’ go.   Of course, things never quite turn out the way we plan though, do they?  We go out too fast, the weather is awful, our knee is bothering us on race day, we trip somewhere along the way or take a wrong turn, we can’t quite seem to dig ourselves out of a recursive negativity.   All these things and more can happen in races, they can happen to our plans, and they can happen in life.

Not only can they happen.. we all know, they will happen.

So something happens and our plans get wrecked.  We can’t make it to a meeting we wanted to go to, we can’t find the will to leave an aid station and continue on our journey or race, we can’t figure out how to write a proposal or create a strong elevator pitch for an idea that’s been knocking around forever.   But at that point, it stops being about that thing, whatever it is, and starts being about you.   Who you are.  How will you handle this setback, defeat or failure.  What will you DO, now?

And the funny thing is, it was ALWAYS about you, the whole time.

When those curveballs come, you need to find the original script – “So those plans got smashed.. what gives me the best chances of moving forward?”.   That’s how you show up, even when you couldn’t “show up”.   You brush yourself off, you take on this new challenge of forgiving yourself, accepting it for what it is and nothing more, and you let go of that self-abusive, useless and even damaging thought process.

Letting failure tear you down is the worst two-for-one deal you could ever take – but you don’t have to!

Guest blog: “I hate Running”

“The thing that I love the most”

Emily, aka “RobotLeggs”

I recently came across an article entitled, I Hate Running, which resonated with me on a level I didn’t expect it to. It inspired me to further examine what I also love and hate about the thing that I love the most: running.

It really is a relationship in and of itself. Running is a thing or a hobby or an obsession or whatever you want to call it, that millions of people have a relationship with. Like most relationships, it has its peaks, valleys, and all the stages in between. If you’re lucky, it gives back what you put in. Some days it’s easy, some days it’s damn hard. Some days, reality matches your hopes and expectations. Some days, you want to quit before you even start. Running, for me, encapsulates how I want to approach life – by really being alive and experiencing, accepting, and appreciating it for what it is each day, whether it presents itself through love or hate.

Sometimes, thoughts and feelings of love and hate flow through my body simultaneously, as if they’re in an epic battle to see whether the other will back down and give up. Those are the most defining moments, those moments when you’re right on the edge of your physical, emotional, and mental pain threshold… and you want to quit. But you know that this is where growth happens. This is when all your best – or your worst – qualities surface: either your perseverance, courage and grit; or your fear, lack of confidence, and self-deprecating monologues. As it is in running, it is in life.

Thank you, Emily for this great blog.  You really capture the way I feel about running and how, just as in life, it can be simultaneously challenging and totally rewarding. 

You’ve got this!

It’s so freaking easy to get discouraged.  Here we are in late January and, for many, that New Years gym membership is already getting dusty.  The new bike is hanging safely from the garage ceiling.   We’ve started eating sweets again, or whatever.  

For some, you’re on the she and getting closer to tipping over.  Not sure how much longer you can hang on.  

I have a message for both groups. “It’s not too late, you aren’t beaten, don’t give up!”

Maybe the change is being super stubborn.  Maybe you’ll have to tweak some things and try again. Maybe you’ll need to do something completely different.  But. Don’t.  Give. Up!

Your new attitude is “I’m going to have a healthy lifestyle even if I don’t see improvement!”  You won’t always have motivation or the will to follow through but giving up is just something you don’t do.  You get back up, you dust yourself off, you try again.  You will accept yourself where you are and keep doing the work to get you to where you want to be, he’ll or high-water. 

Trust me.  Relentless forward progress will yield results.  I promise. 

You’ve got this!

Something something time-management

It’s a subject that has bubbled to the surface for me lately, but I don’t want to think about it.  It’s like going on a diet, only, instead of being an authoritarian asshole with what you eat and how much you eat, you have to be an authoritarian asshole with what you do and how much time you spend doing it.  

Nobody likes that asshole. 

I want to just gloss over it and not really think about it; thus the title of this article.  It isn’t that I’m indifferent, it’s that I’m scared of what my life will look like when I stop escaping.  I’m scared of how it will feel when I don’t buffer anymore?

I’m thinking the long-term reward will outweigh the short-term relief. What do you think?  Do you buffer too, and in what ways? 

The Running Shop (Pt 2)

Running with MS

Francisco had ordered a pair of the New Balance Minimus trail shoes; the T10 v4.  We joked a little about how popular this release was because it finally went back to the original design everyone loved.  That shoe created quite a following.

 

Francisco has MS and he’s a runner.  Someday, that won’t be the case, but for now he can still find joy there and he does.  His gait is such, that his left foot swings through a little low and the tread beneath that toe wears out really fast – even with the Vibram outsole. He wondered if there was anything he could do about that and we kicked around some ideas.

After he left, I went to the running subreddit and asked the same question he had asked me, and I wanted to share some of the responses here;

“I like the trail shoe idea. My suggestion is if the shoes are not worn out find a product like Shoe-Goo to build up the tread so it takes longer to wear down. I used to build up my treads with this to get longer life from my shoes.” ~ /u/amh_library

That’s a really great suggestion that I’ll remember.

“This may sound like a stupid idea, but here goes. Occasionally companies will help out people with special needs, perhaps such as needing more left shoes. Maybe you could reach out to the suppliers, explain the situation and see if maybe they can either sell single left shoes for him or even provide them? It’s probably a stretch, but if it makes them look good then they might consider it.” ~ /u/CatLadyTheSecond

This will require some follow up but if the worse they can say is “No”, then it’s totally worth it.  I should have the contact information to actually get this request to the right person.

“Somewhat of a side note, you should look up Kayla Montgomery. MS pt with amazing running story, though I’m not sure about what shoes she used, might be worth looking into” ~ /u/YogiMooseTX

This one got me choked up a bit.  I’ve seen it before, but it really hits hard each time. I was pretty much blown away by Francisco and Kayla’s story broke my heart in a good way.  It’s the spirit that gets this huge setback and doesn’t quit.. that has a certain demise on the horizon, a degenerative disease like MS where people slowly lose functionality going from wheel-chairs, to beds, ventilators, feeding tubes and finally death… all of this staring a person in the face and still they run.  Right up to the edge, each time.

I really loved one phrase that I think sums up a lot of this tenacity;

“As time goes on, I get back up” ~ Kayla

No matter what, get back up and try again to push against the impossible.

The Running Shop

Part I: Mark

I want to tell you about two different customers.   They illustrate only one facet of why I love working at a specialty shoe store; the new- or non-runners that come in for shoes, and the stories they tell.

The first one is Mark.   He and his wife (it was actually his sister) came in not long after lunch. He was overweight and seemed  to be almost defensive being in a ‘running’ store.   He needed a wide shoe, a walking shoe, and a high-volume shoe.  Now, I like my customers. Almost as a rule, I really enjoy helping people.  My M.O. is that everyone has a story and when they step into the Running Shop, their story has somehow over-lapped with running/walking shoes; and with me.  I want to hear all about it.

As I talked to Mark, I found out that he was diabetic.  While his fore-foot needed lots of space for his toes and metatarcels to splay out naturally, he also wanted his heel to lock on and not slip.  Those were his criteria.   Of course, one could just be aggressive with a heel-lock to fasten the shoe to his heel, but if you went too tight, you could restrict already poor circulation in the foot.

As we tried on shoes, we got closer and closer to something that met his criteria and was also comfortable.  I learned from his feedback and was able to get a better idea of what  he was looking for in the categories that we were working in.  He tried on the last shoe I brought out and he did something with it that I hadn’t seen him do before.  He actually jogged across the floor.  All the rest of the shoes only got a walking treatment, but these? He actually moved forward in a jogging fashion – and it effected me profoundly.

Why it didn’t cross my mind that he might want to tackle his diabetes through dieting or losing weight, I have no idea, but it shames me to admit that he might actually be willing to exercise, grasping at something foreign and unfamiliar like purposeful exercise, to push back the clock a little bit.   For a brief moment, I weighed what it might mean to my group (“Destination YOU!” – facebook group) if he were to join.  Would there be anyone that he could run with?  Was week 3 too late for him? Would he even be interested?

Then,  I decided to ask him.

Mark is one of those people who have taken a principled stand against Facebook.  When I asked him if he had an account, he responded, “Facebook will steal your soul”.  While I wasn’t going to argue that point, it’s fair to say that my first attempt to bring him in to Destination YOU! was shot down and stomped on.

Still, I told him all about it and I swear he even seemed interested.

It occurs to me that running a 5k might be a suggestion for some that would otherwise NEVER cross their mind.  That was certainly the case with me – I remember being elated after running a solid mile for the first time since high-school.  Running a 5k, for some people, is literally the effort-equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest, breaking the world record for the mile, or swimming from the Florida Keys to Cuba.

This isn’t hyperbole.  For a brief moment, I think Mark was confronted with something completely outside of who he knows himself to be and, in the space between, he considered it for the first time in his life before the waves of doubt and habit drowned the light of opportunity and dreams in the usual, comfortable darkness.

Do not be so quick to dismiss the great thoughts that occur to you; life, the present and tomorrow are ripe and full of promise – but you have to think bigger.