perseverance

Being and Doing

 

As I lace up my running shoes, I let out a long, drawn out yawn. I feel tired from the previous week of training. I am about to meet up with my training partner, Anne Shadle. I am secretly hoping she’ll agree to running slow today.

 

I tell Anne my plan to run slow. In her I-can’t-take-you-anywhere-outfit, she says, “let’s start out slow and see how it goes.” Somehow we both know that this means we are running fast, today. Our first mile was 7:10 and before long we were clicking off 6:30 miles.

 

I started babbling about how I am enjoying this uncomfortable pace because sometimes we need to feel uncomfortable, first, in order to feel comfortable, later. Anne nods in agreement (well sort of). After a few minutes she tells me to listen to the sound of my shoes as they land on the dirt path and to feel the cool air as it washes against my face.

I’m about to say, “Anne, why are you blowing smoke up my…” when I’m immediately distracted by flow. Flow is the merging of action (doing) and awareness (being). Flow happens when there is a perfect balance between a challenging, yet attainable, task. It’s the ultimate mind and body relationship (Hummm… Anne has a really good point).

 

Athletes love to do

 

The doing is action-oriented and future-focused. When you have a problem, what do you do? You solve it. About 2 miles into my run my body was screaming at me I’M TIRED! My instinct was to solve what my body was telling me (the doing). I relaxed my arms, and then my face (action-oriented). I thought about the relief that I’d feel when I was done (future-focused). But just as Anne had pointed out, earlier, I wasn’t listening to what underlies the process (the being).

 

Athletes need to be

 

Learning to be engaged in the present moment is a behavior that can be taught. The being means letting go of the past and future and focusing on the now. I started my run focused on wanting to go slow and wanting to feel comfortable, but as the run progressed, Anne challenged me to connect with the present moment. It worked. I felt an immediate sense of joy and relief.

 

How to mesh what we love with what we need

 

Flow is merging the doing with the being. After the run, Anne and I reflected on how it went (What? We’re researchers. Sometimes we can’t help ourselves). Anne tells me that uncomfortableness needs to become our routine — something that we come to expect and embrace each day. Once you start to feel comfortable with uncomfortableness, then you can establish a new level of uncomfortableness. It’s within these new levels that success happens.

 

Imagine layers upon layers. There layers are your goals. The higher the goal the greater the discomfort (y-axis). Also, the time in which a goal is accomplished is unknown (x-axis). The only thing that is know is what each layer is made up of — the building blocks that get you from one layer to the next.



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Now, imagine each level is packed with little blue and red blocks that fit together like a puzzle. They are not stacked on top of each other, nor are they sitting side by side each other. Rather they work together in a system, each drawing upon the other for energy. The blue blocks are the doing where thoughts, actions and feelings take place. And the red blocks are the being where your mindfulness, presence, and consciousness hang out.

 

If you’re like me, then you probably have more than one goal going at a time. The path to accomplishing these goals takes time, patience, perseverance, trust, but most importantly, it takes being and doing. I’ll end with this…

 

“The best way to be is to do” – Lao Tzu, Ancient Chinese philosopher.

 

Thanks for reading

The Bad: There Is Always a Right Time

 

All athletes experiences “the bad” at some point in their career, and “the bad” always seems to sneak up on you, coming at the wrong time.  In fact, I just experienced “the bad” last week.

The Sunday going into the Husky Classic I had my most intense workout of the season (running my last 300 in 40 seconds). Two days later I started to get a sore throat. NOOOOO! Not before a big competition!  Is there ever a right time for “the bad”?

fortune

The Sochi Winter Olympics has shared many stories about the “the bad.” One of my favorite stories is about Olympic alpine skier, Dominique Gisin. At the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Gisin fell during the competition suffering from a concussion.  Over the course of her career she endured 9 knee surgeries!  At the 2014 Olympics in Sochi the Swiss Olympian skied her way to a gold medal with Tina Maze from Slovenia. Gisin’s road to gold was anything but smooth.  But it was Gisin’s bumpy road that made her destination that much sweeter. After the competition she was quoted, “I am overwhelmed with emotions. I am so happy – What a day.”

Every person has a different “bad”

For this blog, I could write about my 8 stress fractures or how I got sick 7 times in one year (the inspiration behind AmPurity). But I think I’ll tell a different story.  A story that no one has heard except for a few close people.  I hope my story illustrates that maybe there is a right time for “the bad.”

In 2007 I went through a 3-month phase. A phase where I would eat soft foods (ice cream, rice crispy treats) so that when I threw them up later it wouldn’t hurt.  How does a phase like this start?

That year I moved out of the dorms and into off-campus housing. My roommate at the time was suffering from a severe eating disorder. One of my best friends was also suffering from a severe eating disorder. In fact about 10 girls on my college team were suffering from some form of disordered eating. This behavior became the norm. It became contagious.

It was not until I started getting cuts on my fingers that I realized my occasional binge and purge was turning into an everyday occurrence.  At that moment I knew I needed help. I went to a psychologist who specialized in eating disorders. She told me to write down my feelings before, after, and while I was eating.  Soon my every thought became consumed with food. What to eat. What not to eat.  This experience only made “the bad” worse.

Mid-semester I decided to move out and try a new environment.  My new roommates were not on my college team. Instead, they were bright students that hadn’t played a sport since high school.  I also hung out with a close friend who ate when and what he wanted.  I surrounded myself with people whose thoughts were not consumed by food. Within 3 months I was able to re-learn how to eat healthy, which is why I call it a 3-month phase.  I am not suggesting that you have to hit rock bottom to feel happy or experience an eating disorder in order to learn how to eat healthy, again.  For me, this “bad” was a natural part of my journey. I am suggesting that every person has a different “bad” and that that is okay.

The right time for “the bad”

The feeling of joy that fills your body when you get a job promotion or straight A’s on your report card is defined by that feeling you had when you lost a job or failed a test.  The up is only put into perspective by the down. The bigger the struggle the more fulfilling the celebration.  For example, if a runner didn’t need to train everyday to get into shape, then it would be hard for him or her to assign value to winning a race.

Our purpose is not to avoid obstacles or setbacks that keep us from accomplishing our dreams; but instead, our purpose is to rise up to the challenge, be resilient, and enjoy the ride which in turn makes accomplishing the dream that much more rewarding.  There is always a right time for “the bad.” If that time is right now then that is okay because “the bad” is merely a part of the journey.

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” – Confucius

Thank you for reading