running

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.



photo

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

Making Moves

 

It is Monday afternoon, a workday. The weekend is over. I am sitting in a coffee shop. The chatter of people around me is soothing. Put me in a library and I am distracted by the eerie quite, but put me in a coffee shop and the background noise allows me to focus. I can get lost in my work. A coffee shop is where I wrote my 350-page dissertation. I would arrive around 7:30 in the morning and stay until lunchtime when I would go for a run. Then I would come back around 2:00 in the afternoon and stay just past dinnertime.

In all the moments that I found myself in a coffee shop, writing, I only became distracted once, and that was to watch the Boston marathon. Immediately following the finish I was inspired, no propelled, to go for a run. Needless to say, I didn’t get much done that day.

Here I am again, in a coffee shop, where I do my best thinking and writing. I am writing to you about what’s next for me. My last blog outlined my experience as a free agent. Although I am mostly optimistic and excited about what’s ahead, I am also nervous with anticipation. All this anxiety makes me ask irrational questions that I don’t know the answers to like “What does my future hold?” and “What place is the best place?”

I have known about my situation for about 3 months, which left me actively searching for a new coach for about 2 months. I called everyone I knew for advice that I wasn’t going to follow. “What would you do if you were me?” I would plead. I learned that people have strong opinions. Even though I knew I wasn’t going to follow any one person’s advice, I wanted to know their ideas, thoughts, and opportunities. I wanted to know the criteria they would use to make a decision. Talking to people is the best way I solve problems. So I talked.

Word got out that I was searching for a new place to train. I was blessed with some amazing opportunities. I found myself in the best scenario possible. Every team, coach, and track was a good option. But this also made the decision one of the more challenging decisions I have ever had to make. Fortunately, I was not alone in the decision process. Every thought about what I was going to do next year was filtered through Daniel. Although I didn’t think it was possible, I fell in love with Daniel even more throughout the process.

I’m moving to California. No, I am moving to Texas. No, I am staying in Eugene. I tried to imagine myself in each place. I listened to my feelings. I created a 15-column spread sheet. Then I distracted myself. I jumped off cliffs. I swam in lakes. I went on epic road trips. Ultimately, I told myself that sometimes you just have to take risks and figure it out on the way down.

photo

So here it is, my risk. I am moving from one OTC to another. I will be training in Chula Vista with Joaquim Cruz and his team at the Olympic Training Center. Eugene will always have a piece of my heart, which makes the move even harder. I am thankful for the support and hospitality of the Eugene community, and can’t wait to be back competing at Hayward Field. I do not know what the future holds but I am looking forward to finding my stride in San Diego.

Thanks for reading!

The Tao of the 800m

There’s an old Taoist story about Confucius, a Chinese philosopher and teacher, who witnessed an old man slip and fall into river rapids that led to a dangerous waterfall.  Confucius and his followers rushed downstream to save the old man, despite the likelihood of his survival. To their surprise, they found the old man unharmed, walking along a path, and singing to himself.  Confucius approached the old man and demanded to know his secret, “how does one survive such a fall?” The old man replied, “I go down with the water and come up with the water. I follow it and forget myself. I survive because I don’t struggle against the water.”

The old man learned about the balance of nature in his youth, and he has been practicing it ever since. My blog “finding your stride” is about my journey to find equilibrium.  We can’t expect running to go smoothly all the time and the same things goes for life.  Breaking barriers can’t be forced, instead we have to practice flowing with the river rapids. Here is my take on the Tao of the 800m.

What is the 2-minute barrier?

For a female one of the biggest barriers in the 800m is the 2-minute mark. For a runner to accomplish the 2-minute barrier she’ll need to average just under 60 seconds per lap. Now, let’s put this feat into perspective. Last year, 5 American women ran faster than 2 minutes, and 9 American women clocked in right at the 2-minute mark.

Chasing the 2-minute barrier reminds me of the old man is the story. You go up with the water (good races) and you go down with the water (not-so-good races).

About a month ago I had a not-so-good race (2:07 at the Oregon Relays). Naturally, everyone was asking me what happened. I was even asking myself the same question. I spent the next few hours trying to figure out what went wrong before realizing I was wasting energy.

Two weeks later I raced at the Payton Jordan Invite and ran a season best (2:02).  Good and not-so-good races are a part of chasing the 2-minute barrier. Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing because when you do nothing, and just flow with the river rapids, things always seem to get done.

I am racing at the Oxy High Performance meet in at Occidental college in Los Angeles, tomorrow, May 15th. Please visit the official website for entries, results and live streaming: http://oxyhp.runnerspace.com/

My race strategy this Thursday is to do nothing.

Thank you for reading! I hope this story adds value to your journey of “finding your stride!”

Frequently Asked Questions

Last week I was inspired to write a FAQ page when I attended a local high school track meet.

IMG_2560

I’m in the middle holding the starting gun. My photographer wasn’t allowed to get any closer.

My FAQ page is unique because these questions came straight from the high school athletes, themselves.  Their questions were funny, serious, and best of all, authentic.

 

It had been nearly 6 years since I attended a high school track meet.  Maybe I forgot about the do-it-for-fun attitude or maybe these kids are one-of-a-kind, but what I do know is HOLY COW! These kids were impressive.

 

I have never seen so many competitors give high fives, hugs, congratulatory messages, and smiles at a single track meet.  In the boys 3k there were two runners neck and neck the entire race.  When they crossed the finish line they gave each other the biggest hug that lasted so long, it got a little awkward. In the girls 800 the winner waited nearly a minute until every runner was done.  Then she proceeded to give each one a high five. I can’t make this kind of comradery up.  It was awesome!

 

After the track meet, I spoke to nearly 200 high school athletes.  They had by far the most thoughtful, yet, challenging questions I have ever heard.  I was genuinely surprised. Their enthusiasm and creativity was every speakers’ dream!

 

What is your favorite non-running event?

This is a no-brainer, the heptathlon.  It was my calling until I didn’t develop muscles for the shot put. I love the speed and power these athletes have to bring to every event.

shot put

This is a picture of me throwing the shop put in the heptathlon at the USATF championships. I was in 8th grade and weighed about 90lbs / 41kg.

What drives you?

This question is a hard not only because it’s ever-changing but also because it seems to get more and more prominent with age.  I have been asked this question at least 4 times in the last month! I am starting to wander if it’s because I’m 26 approaching 29 by the time the 2016 Olympics come around.  The biggest thing that drives me is emotion!  I love the feeling after a hard workout. I love the feeling of giving a race everything you have… win or lose.  But most of all I am in love with learning and this journey teaches me something new every day like how far I can push my body until it breaks and how many hardships my mind can endure. What can I say? I’m an emotional runner.

 

How do you stay focused in a race and not get distracted by all the noise around you?

This one’s easy, I focus on the girl’s “butt” in front of me.  If it’s a big butt then I think, “you better not let this big butt beat you.” Every runner is different. Every race is different. And depending on the runner and the race it’s important to find something that works for you.  Sometimes I break the race into parts and focus on one part at a time.  In the 800 I break the race into 2 parts. Then I assign each part a different strategy – pace one / race one.

 

Have you ever been scared of losing your sponsorship after a bad race? And how do you deal with that pressure?

I’m the type of person who worries about this sort of thing a lot.  Fortunately, this neurotic-type behavior has forced me to learn a few strategies along the way.  First, I acknowledge that worries are a natural part of “finding your stride”.  Second, I work hard to push them out of my mind because there is no room for worry and doubt.  This is something I am constantly working on to get better.

 

Have you ever finished a race and thought, “that was a waste of my time”?

Just last month I had this feeling. I went into the biggest race of the year, the USATF indoor championships, undefeated, but when the gun went off I finished in last place.  Despite this disappointing performance, I walked off that track that afternoon with more grit and determination towards the future.  I knew in my heart that my passion is track and field, and that I have a lot more in me.  Lucky for me the odds are in my favor. Every athlete experiences what I like to call the 1/3 rule. This means 1/3 of your races will be awesome. 1/3 of your races will be okay. And 1/3 of your races will SUCK!  That was one of my SUCKS and next time I will race either out-of-my-mind or just okay.

 EVERY ATHLETE EXPERIENCES WHAT I LIKE TO CALL THE 1/3 RULE

What’s your favorite meal before a race?

5 hours before a race I enjoy a toasted bagel with PB and honey, yogurt, fruit, and tea. Then about 2 hours before the race I fuel up with a Powerbar® and a big glass of water because they’re easy on my stomach.

 

 

Have you ever hit a wall during a race? And if so, how do you push through to the finish line?

This is why practice is so important.  When I’m about to hit a wall in a race I focus on running on “hot coals.” In practice we do agility drills on “hot coals,” so that way in a race our mind automatically pictures “hot coals” and our body automatically reverts to agility drills.  If I find myself struggling in a longer race then I focus on a point about 2 feet in front of me.  I say over and over “I can make it to that spot.”

Quick disclaimer: The OTC elite does not run on “hot coals.”  Instead, this is one of our visualization techniques. 

 

Thank you for reading! Happy “Finding Your Stride”

The Good: 3 Things I Learned While Training On My Own

 

This 3-part blog series is happily titled: The Good… The Bad… and The Ugly… of Running

 

Part 1: The Good of Running shares 3 things I learned while training on my own.

 

In 2010 I finished my college eligibility and was left wondering (like the other 3% of athletes who turn pro Source: Business Insider) Do I want to keep training? If so, where will I train? Who will I train with? And will I have a coach?

 

If you are reading this blog then you already know that answer to the first question was YES!  The next series of questions were a bit more challenging to answer.

 

The first year as a pro was rough.  My college coach gave me a few workouts, but for the most part, I was making things up on the fly.  I was running but not hard. I was eating but not well. I was sleeping but not enough.  I ran 2 races — 2:12 and 2:20 something for 800m.  I’ll let you in on a little secret: if I ever run over 2:20 I NEVER look up the results, so I always run 2:20 something.

 

After a disappointing first year out of college, I knew I needed to change my approach to training, especially if I wanted to call myself a professional runner and not a recreational runner.  So I found a coach, Ben Rosario.  Although he lived in a different state he told me exactly what to run everyday, and he held me accountable.  I found a training partner.   Although he only trained with me for 3 months it was the best three months of my life.  But he left me to get his master’s in mechanical engineering at Stanford.  WHAT THE HECK?  I guess I can’t blame him for moving on.  That left me training on my own.

 

Here are the top 3 things I learned while training on my own.

 

1. Run one day at a time

I went into professional running with one goal in mind – to be the best runner in the world – but I failed to focus on the steps that get you there.  Like any other day I arrived at the track to do a workout. But on this particular morning when I got there I started crying.  I waited 30 minutes to calm myself down, but when I went to warm up I started crying again.  The other thing on my mind was school and trying to be the best student in the world.  I thought there was no way I could do both at a high level. I thought I had to quit one, so I could focus on the other.

These “best in the world” goals had to change and inevitably evolved into – be the best runner and student I can be, today.  My new live-in-the-moment mindset served as my framework for setting intermediate goals.  When I arrived at the track I would close the door to the classroom; and vice versa, when I arrived at school I would close the gate to the track.  I focused on one task at a time… eat a good breakfast, read a journal article, or go for a run.  This allowed me to maximize my happiness and enjoy the journey.

 

2. Say “I think I can” when running up a hill

I think it is safe to say that most athletes are competitive people by nature. I am no exception.  There is always someone who will run faster than you and there is always someone who will run slower than you.  Comparing yourself to others can lead to negative self-talk, bitterness, and can be detrimental to your self-esteem.  Running on my own helped me learn the importance of strengthening my mind and “filling my basket” with self-confidence and self-efficacy.  It gave me the opportunity to practice positive self-talk during a hard workout or running up a hill.  Just like the Little Engine That Could who said ““I think I can” when he was traveling across treacherous mountains to his destination.

 

3. Run through the finish line

Courage is hard to find and everyone is searching for it.  I have yet to meet a person who does not want the quality of bravery.  I would argue that courage is the most in-demand quality a person can have.  I committed to running professionally right after college when the decision was easy, there were no hardships, and everything was looking up.  Over the next year running on my own became increasingly hard.  I often thought about giving up.

 

Then I looked up the definition of courage

 

cour·age

noun \ˈkər-ij, ˈkə-rij\

the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous

 

And the definition of commitment

 

com·mit·ment

noun \kə-ˈmit-mənt\

a promise to do or give something

a promise to be loyal to someone or something

the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something

 

Commitment IS NOT the act of making a decision when the decision is easy. It is the courage to make a decision when the decision is tough.  I became inspired by these definitions and courageously committed to professional running.

 

Thank you for reading!

 

Running and Running a Company

 

The story starts…

3 years ago, I called my mom with, yet, another fever.  At the time I was living in Columbia, Missouri working on my PhD in special education and training for the Olympic trials.  The next day I was driving to St. Louis for an appointment to see one of my mom’s doctors.  The verdict!  My white blood cell count was below the normal level.  It seems my lifestyle as a professional runner and student was compromising my immune system.  But how could this be? I was eating healthy, sleeping plenty, and taking my vitamins!

This compelled my mom and I to search for a supplement that could boost my immune system.  We found one with a little of that and one with a little of this, but we couldn’t find one with a little of everything.  We decided to ask my dad.  Fortunately, my dad has over 30 years of experience as a research biologist and is the founder of a successful biotechnologies and life science company.

We spent the next year researching and developing a formula based on clinically studied ingredients at clinically studied doses.  We knew we could deliver the first comprehensive immune support supplement to the public.  The products on the market just weren’t as effective as our formulation.  We also knew our product was unique enough to stand out above the noise with a specific message, we wanted to make sure we were giving everyone’s body a fighting chance!

Then in 2012 I co-founded AmPurity Nutraceuticals with my family and a team of very talented researchers and medical doctors. In 2013 we released our first brand, ZAMboost, the immune support supplement behind it all. So what’s it like running and running a company? It’s above and beyond my wildest dreams and expectations!

AmPurity was born because of my passion to live an active, healthy, and well-balanced lifestyle.  If you would have told me three years ago when I was in my car headed towards St. Louis that I would be the president of a nutraceutical company I would have thought you were crazy.  Running has always been a part of my dream but running a company was not a part of that plan.  

Now, I spend every day learning how to connect with the public. I meet super smart doctors and health professionals. I bring samples of ZAMboost and our other science-based products to grocery, pharmacy, and supplement specialty stores. I call store managers, attended health and fitness expos, and the best part, I meet people like you interested in taking steps to improve your health! Meeting you is when I realized I had a real company. 

Then for a few hours a day I forget I have a company, and I focus on my second life as a professional runner with aspirations of making the 2016 Olympic team.  I moved to Eugene 6 months ago to run for the Oregon Track Club elite.

I am having a blast challenging myself, learning, and growing alongside AmPurity and the OTC elite! None of which is possible without the support of my friends, family, coaches, and super fans, like you!  

Thank you for reading!

3 Tips to Solving Problems (From a Runner)

My blog is about how running promotes personal growth in an array of different areas.  Last month I invested in a life coach (I like to refer to him as my business mentor).  He suggested blogging about how to solve a problem.

I like to start every day with a little make-up because my motto is: “if I fail at something, today, then at least I look good, today.”  So I painted my face and went searching for problems.

At approximately 11am I found my first problem: running for sustained periods of time.

 

PROBLEM: How To Run for Sustained Periods of Time (from an 800 meter runner’s perspective):

Sponsored by OTCE and BSSC, I was given an amazing opportunity — testing my VO2 max.  For anyone who does not know what this looks like, I have provided a picture.

20131203_113545_3

In scientific terms VO2 max involves exhausting your aerobic energy system while measuring the maximum amount of oxygen utilized during exercise.  But I like to describe VO2 max as running in place until you cannot run anymore while wiping drool off your snorkel-like mouthpiece.

Surprisingly, this test allowed me a lot of time to practice solving the problem — how to run for sustained periods of time. Please keep in mind the following describes my every action and thought throughout the 2-part test.

 

Part 1:

The pace started at 8:30 min/mile pace and every 4 minutes the pace increased until the treadmill propelled me to 5:30 min/mile pace.

The scientist: “I am going to start the treadmill. Jump on when you are ready.”

Me: Wow, this treadmill is moving awfully fast. This has to be faster than 8:30 min/mile pace. [jump on] WOW! that was deceiving. This is definitely 8:30 min/mile pace.

The scientist: “3 minutes remaining”

Me: WHAT? I have only been running for 1 minute. This is going to be a long test.  To help this go by faster I need to start implementing some strategies. Strategy 1… counting. 1, 2, breath in, 1, 2, breath out, 1, 2, breath in, 1, 2, breath out. YES! This strategy is definitely slowing down my heart rate. 

The scientist: “I am going to speed up the pace”

Me: Need a new strategy.  Strategy 2… think positive thoughts. Shannon, great job swinging your arms. Not working. I need another positive thought. I know! Pretend you are on a trail… in a park… Pre’s trail… no… MKT trail.  Look at the pretty trees passing by. Oh! look at that runner with her dog. This soft ground is so nice. Much better.

The scientist: “I am going to speed up the pace”

Me: This trail thing is not working anymore. I am going to need to pull out all the tricks. [look around] I see a line. Shannon, focus on this line. Pretend you are running a fast workout along the inside lane of a track. [look around] NO! Shannon, re-focus on this line. Rememeber, you are running a fast workout around the track.

 

Part 2:

Although the pace was set at a steady 6:25 min/mile pace, the gradient increased by 1% every 1 min. Objective: stay on the treadmill for as long as you can.

The scientist: “You’re doing great, Shannon. Ready to begin part 2?”

Me: I wonder if the scientist is required to say I am doing a great or if he really thinks I am doing great? I think I will go with the latter. [give the scientist a thumbs up]

The scientist: “I am going to start the treadmill. Jump on when you are ready..”

Me: Maybe I won’t jump on. [jump on] Don’t fall… pump your arms… don’t fall… pump your arms…”

 

TIPS On How to Run for Sustained Periods of Time (from an 800 meter runner’s perspective):

Tip 1:

Breathing is not only vital for your existence, but it also helps you sustain an uncomfortable pace for a long period of time. I used a 2-count, but use a method that works for you. Breathing can often help you avoid hyperventilating, and calm down your emotions and thoughts so that you can solve any problem.

Tip 2:

Visualization is an important technique that many athletes use to improve their performance.  I use various visualization techniques to teach myself mindfulness, how to be present in the moment as well as how to increase my confidence during a workout or race.  Try it!  Set a goal and then create a mental image of you achieving that goal. This way when you are working towards that goal you know what it feels like to succeed.

Tip 3:

Sometime not thinking at all is a helpful strategy.  The second part of the test lasted a total of 9 minutes; however, time seemed to disappear.  I credit this phenomenon to that fact that I forgot to think.  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined this experience as “flow”.  Flow occurs when you are completely absorbed in an activity that you momentarily forget about everything except that activity.  You can achieve flow by choosing a task that is challenging, yet, realistic.

 

Testing my VO2 max allowed me to practice all three tips. Following the test I felt a sense of exhilaration and enjoyment from the act of stretching my mind and body to their limits.  These strategies – breath, visualize, and flow – are key to sustaining not only a run but solving any challenge at hand.  I challenge you to practice these strategies during your next easy run, routine business meeting, or easy activity, so that way when a true problem is present you are well prepared. Practice makes perfect!

Remember, you do not need to have your VO2 max tested to practice.  Please reply with your experiences.

Thanks for Reading

 

Cite: Flow: Csikszentmihalyi, Harper, & Row (1990). The psychology of optimal experience. Global Learning Communities.

 

 

Training update: Growing at your own pace

 

Week one… just trying to keep up. Week 2… just trying to keep up. Fast forward to week 8… still just trying to keep up.

 

I am in the middle of my eighth week of training with the OTCE.  Pinch me because I am still in shock that I am training with the OTCE. I feel blessed to be a part of the fastest, most driven, and hard working group of women I have EVER met.  My teammates include Olympians, US Olympic trails qualifiers, and NCAA champions.

 

In college I ran about 30 miles per week.  Last year I bumped that up to 40 miles a week and was introduced to tempo running.  To long distance runners tempo running is when you zone out at a fast pace and finish at an even faster pace.  To everyone else (including 800m runners) tempo running is not a part of our vocabulary and zoning out is unheralded.  So every time I attempt to run this foreign pace it looks something like this:

 

Going out way too fast (what? I felt good).  Reaching half way and taking a harmless 30-second break to catch my breath because I went out too fast  (side note: my coach usually did not know about these breaks… so let’s try to keep that secret between you and me).  Attempting to “zone out at a fast pace” which is obviously not working, so finally, finishing at a slower pace than I started.

 

I think it is safe to say I have a tiny aversion to tempo runs. Do other runners have similar problems with tempos? When I describe my problem to my long distance teammates they promise me that it will get better. SO YOU ARE TELLING ME THERE IS A CHANCE

 

Currently, I am starting my second year of tempo running. However, this time when I start to hyperventilate I remember to count to two when I breathe in and again when I breathe out.  PROGRESS! Despite my incremental growth in tempo running, I have been introduced to a new training outside of my repertoire… repeats that are longer than 800m.

 

One of the benefits to training on your own is the opportunity to learn how to grow both mentally and physically at your own pace.  However, when I was thrown into the mix, with a group of women who were much stronger than me, I was a little discouraged.  My grow at your own pace mindset became scrambled.  Fortunately, I have trained on my own, I have won a few races, and now, I know how to pace myself.  My new challenge isn’t repeats longer than 800m, tempo running, or even, trying to keep up. Instead, my new challenge is utilizing my previously acquired skills and focusing on growing at my own pace.

Thanks for Reading

 

How to Maximize your Love for Learning

 

I am getting ready to open the outdoor season this weekend at the Missouri Relays. I am racing the 1500/800 double. The 1500 is definitely a distance that is out of my comfort zone. It requires great concentration. On my training run, today, I calculated every possible split to accomplish a personal best (under 4:27).  I am anticipating this opportunity to practice and develop my concentration skills but to fully prepare I need to make sure I maximize my growth mindset.

A growth mindset is the belief that practice, determination, and hard work can improve skills. Choosing to have a growth mindset rather than a static mindset can help you create a love for learning and maximize your creativity and productivity.

Q: What tools can I incorporate to have a growth mindset?

A: Schedule mental breaks throughout your day.

This past week my goal has been to get into a routine. When I listening to my mind and body, I know it is telling me that I am out of sync.  Every workout has become a “blue-collar day.” As I check off my workout from today’s list, I go to the next thing on the list… writing my dissertation.  Every individual has to learn how to balance his or her passions with other passions. To do this I schedule mental breaks.

Training is more that merely running. It includes running, recovering, nutrition, and MENTAL REST.  Metal rest is necessary for maximizing learning, creativity, and productivity.  A part of getting back into a routine means I need to build mental rest into my training.  Here is my typical schedule:

–       Morning run

–       Savor breakfast and make it a time for mental rest

–       Go to work at a coffee shop and when I start to feel my creativity and productivity diminish, go to a different place to work

–       Go to work at my office

–       Take 30 minutes to an hour to eat lunch with a friend and talk about everything and anything not related to work and training

–       Afternoon run

–       Read a book that is not Once a Runner by John Parker or Learning Theories by Dale Schuck. Leave the running books for before a big race and the textbooks for work.

Now, it is your turn to foster your passion for learning and to maximize your creativity and productivity. Remember a crucial part of this process is to schedule in mental rest. Please reply with ways you take a mental break.

Thanks for reading, Shannon

 

A wise woman recognizes when her life is out of balance and summons the courage to act to correct it, she knows the meaning of true generosity, happiness is the reward for a life lived in harmony, with a courage and grace. – Suze Orman