Success, with Style

Posts tagged “Exercise

Trying to be a runner again is not like “riding a bike”

Posted on October 22, 2015

I went running this morning and it was brutal.

I set a modest goal: run from my home to the park 6 blocks north, run intervals around the track twice, and then run back home.

One and a half block into my run, I felt bones and muscles in my bodies that I should not feel. Like, the bones in the bottom of my left foot and my ankles. I like my life better when I know that I have functioning limbs and muscles, but without knowing they are there, doing their job.

I ran the Chicago Half Marathon three years ago and started training for the Bank of America marathon the following year. Six miles into my ten mile run, my left knee tapped me on my shoulder and yelled, “BITCH, YOU GUESSED IT!”

(If you don’t know where that gem comes from, check out Kid Fury and Crissle of The Read podcast.)

I hobbled, tried to run slowly, tried stretching, limped, prayed, tried to run again. Finally, I had to accept my reality: I was badly injured in a way that I had never felt before. I limped the four miles back home, cried a little, and tried to figure out what to do next.

After a trip to my doctor, who sent me to a podiatrist, who sent me to a physical therapist, a diagnosis of illiotibial band (IT band) syndrome, and months of not being able to run more than 20 minutes on the treadmill without feeling pain, I was finally able to run outside again, but only for 30 minutes.

I realized after experiencing that injury that not only did it halt my training, but it also debilitated my confidence. Running five miles used to be nothing for me, but during that injury, it hurt to walk up and down stairs.

I gained weight and insecurity. Running was one of the best things to happen to me. It was meditative. I realized about two years ago that instead of being meditative, running became a source of anxiety. I was literally afraid to run. Not because I thought I would be injured again, but because I was afraid of failing. I was afraid that I would set a running goal and I would not meet it. I’ve intermittently met that fear head on for the last two years, and not always successfully.

So when I left my home this time with my modest running goal, it was not only a decision to get in some much needed cardio, to release some stress, and to find my love of running again, but it was also a decision to confront a fear of failure.

I made it to the park and hit the track. My intent was to sprint the straight and jog the curve two times.

My ankles and left foot showed up that morning like,”Oh, hey, girl. Just stopping by to make your run is a living hell.”

I sprinted the straight the first time and heard myself wheezing. The wheezing was a mixture of unattractive mouth-breathing and a little bit of asthma.

I got my breathing under control and jogged the curved. Then I mentally prepared to sprint the curve again, and hit my sprint. I was much slower than I used to be. I jogged the curve. Barely breathing, I remembered how I first started running four years ago on the treadmill at the gym. When I enrolled at the gym, the trainer explained to me that the best way to increase my endurance was interval training. He told me to jog for 2 minutes and run for 1 minute and to repeat this process 10 times. Running intervals that first time was hard as hell but within a year, I ran a half marathon and was having a pretty good time doing it.

Running was hard when I first started. I kept at it, struggled, learned, and improved.

I’ll have to do the same thing this time around.

Redefining Success

Posted on January 4, 2015

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.”  ― Alice Walker, The Color Purple

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”
― Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Lately, I’ve had to have conversations with friends explaining where I’ve “been” and why I’ve been “absent.” I’ll offer that explanation here too.

First, I love blogging. The creative outlet of freely expressing my thoughts on subject matter that appeals to me, and that I believe will impact others, is a process and product like no other. Every time I publish a post, I have produced a work-product. I have an end result that I can look at to gauge my level of activity and my progress. Publishing a blog post is akin to the feeling I get whenever I go to the gym: a feeling of success. It’s a wonderful experience to feel accomplished every time I do small things like go to the gym for 30 to 45 minutes, or publish a single blog post. Now would be the time that I say that I have not been working out as regularly as I would like, nor have I published to the blog regularly, or, at all in the past 6 or 8 weeks.

Yet, I still feel successful.

Over the past three months, I have accomplished goals and lived experiences that produced feelings of happiness and sadness, peace and conflict, fear and insecurity but also boldness and confidence, and love and severe dislike. I have lived.

I just completed the third month of my dream job. I have worked harder and learned more in the last three months than in the last three years, and I am so thankful for the experience.

Fulfilling a goal that I’ve carried with me for the past three years or so, I also submitted seven applications to Ph.D programs in Sociology. I feel good about my applications, but I also realize that there is nothing more I can do about whether I am accepted. I pray on the outcome, plan for the event of rejection, and remind myself to live in the moment – and, in this moment, my applications are submitted and my focus is on my job and my personal relationships.

Another reason why my focus has not been on publishing to The TJ Way is because I have been nurturing a new relationship. This is completely new to me, and I have been overcoming a learning curve. But, it’s been the best learning curve I have ever experienced and I’m looking forward to every new experience that my relationship brings.

Even though I have not gone to the gym consistently over the last 3 months or so (…or more like the last 9 months), I hired a personal trainer in mid-September to help me get back to the physical condition and endurance level that I once had. Due to my schedule, I have struggled to make it to the gym 3-5 times per week, as I would like. But when I do go, I maximize my time with my personal trainer.

I also completed two photo shoots and am eagerly planning the publication of those photos.

I have been writing. A LOT. I just haven’t published here. Also, I’ve been talking about writing. Recently, I served as a panelist for the Young Lawyers Committee of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago to discuss how to use writing to market and brand yourself within your profession.

In sum, I have been responding to life’s opportunities and manufacturing my expanded definition of success, for this moment in my life. Rather than continuously degrade myself for not publishing to The TJ Way, I decided to intentionally consider the other things that I have accomplished, the experiences that have not resulted in readily available and tangible results, but instead represent the planting of seeds for future success. And when I engage in that process, of expanding my definition of success and reflecting upon the experiences that have been successful, I can say without a doubt, that I have been AMAZING.

I encourage you to reconsider your definition of success and to applaud yourself for the things you do – big, medium, and small. Leave a comment letting me know what you’ve accomplished lately.


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