Success, with Style

Posts tagged “Running

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.

3 Lessons Reinforced by My Quick Trip to Los Angeles

Posted on May 20, 2014



Street in Mar Vista

I recently returned to Chicago from a trip to Los Angeles, a trek I make at least once per year.  Usually, I travel to L.A. for USC Homecoming, and my trip is usually full of fun and very little relaxation and reflection.  This trip, however, was different.  My purpose for traveling to L.A. was primarily for business purposes.  I also went to celebrate my 10 year anniversary as a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. with my line sisters (Delta Known As “Sands”).  As I reflect on my time leading up to this trip, my experience while there, and the follow-up resulting from the trip, I am left with three thoughts: (1) Luck is where preparation meets opportunity; (2) relaxation and rejuvenation are imperative for productivity and creativity; and (3) the more you do it, the easier it becomes.



1.  Luck is Where Preparation Meets Opportunity


It is rare that I feel lucky – aside from that occasional near death experience, and even then, I consider that a blessing and not luck.  Rather, my “luck” is the result of preparation, which allows me to take advantage of opportunities.  I am a planner, always have been, always will be.  Planning helps me feel secure on my journey.  It allows me to always know what I am working towards, and to be able to make informed decisions about the various opportunities that I am presented with and that I seek out.  My personal and professional strategic plan also allows me to see potential obstacles as opportunities. My Sands, whom I will call “Amazing Ace,” and I were talking about a possible opportunity and she expressed to me that she was genuinely impressed at the way that opportunities materialize for me, and how they all seem to fit within my bigger picture goals.  After a pause, I said that the way that opportunities fit into my bigger picture goals are largely deliberate. Although I cannot predict every single opportunity that comes my way, my planning and actions steps are strategic.  I have a written strategic plan that spans 7 years.  It includes big picture goals and action steps for accomplishing those goals. I encourage you to consider strategic planning for yourself, similar to the way in which businesses engage in strategic planning.     After all, you’re not a businessman, you’re a business, man.


2.  Relaxation and Rejuvenation are Imperative for Productivity and Creativity.  



I do my best work and have my best ideas while I am quiet and in a relaxed state.  While I am capable of, and often excel in, engaging in critical analysis while juggling many responsibilities, I have been deliberate in trying to condition my body and mind to do the hard work of serving the people and myself.  I have returned to running and have recently taken up meditation.  I am by no means where I want to be with either, and I find myself consciously working to keep my mind on the task at hand.  However, I am aware of my constant multitasking, analysis, and just plain old worrying.  Although I went to Los Angeles for business purposes, removing myself from my daily environment in Chicago forced me to take care of me.  I have always known that I often have some of my best ideas while traveling, and I always achieve an impressive level of focus when I am away from home.



At Malibu Wines

Therefore, periodically, I try to get away, even if my “get away” is a 3-hour drive to Indianapolis (I’ll be there in two weekends) or a 2-hour drive to Milwaukee.  Realizing that I cannot always get away, I will continue practicing meditation.


How do you relax and rejuvenate in order to replenish your creativity?



3.  The more you do it, the easier it becomes. 


You know what they say: Practice Makes Perfect.  It’s cheesy and quite clichéd, but very true.  You want to be a better writer, you must write (and read).  You want to get a certain score on your LSAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.?  You want to pass the Bar Exam? You better dedicate yourself to sitting down and focusing on studying for that exam, including doing practice questions and exams.



During my L.A. trip, I had my first professional photo shoot. I was a little awkward in the beginning.  Let me stop playing.  I was very awkward and unsure of myself when the shoot started.  I did not know how to move, where to place my hands, when to smile, when to “smize” (always), or how to make sure my shoulders were back and my midsection was sucked in to oblivion.  About halfway through the shoot, however, I became more comfortable.  Part of my rising comfort was that I changed out of my business suit and into casual clothes.  I also began to rely more on the photographer’s expertise and reminded myself that every photo does not have to be perfect.  I am a novice in this arena, and I am allowed to make mistakes.  More than anything, however, the longer I stood in front of the camera, the more comfortable I became in exposing myself, and the easier my smiles, smizes, and laughs came.


At the street market in the Los Angeles Garment District.

At the street market in the Los Angeles Garment District.

Practice, especially while on-the-job, makes perfect.


Now that I have done one photo shoot, I am eager to do more, and I look forward to sharing my photos.


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