Tag Archives: exercise

The Lazy Perfectionist

I think an acupuncturist described me as such when I was in college after telling her about myself. I don’t know if I’d call myself a lazy perfectionist anymore. I think perhaps I’m lazy (can you relate?) but have developed habits that urgently push me out of bed in the morning and have learned set goals that keep me on track. And the simpler and shorter my goals and “to-do” list is the better…

Back in March some of you may know I signed up for a half-ironman.Seemed so exciting at the time…and doable!  It’s next Saturday. The training has not been as consistent or as hard-core as I would’ve liked, and I have also had some great moments.

For any of you other Lazy Perfectionists or  Type-A-Wanna Be-Neurotics you might be able to relate. Perhaps you you  don’t always wake up saying,”YESSSSS!!!!!TODAY I’M GOING TOTRAIN!  YESSSS!!!! or even, “TODAY I MUST TRAIN, AND I WON’T COMMIT TO ANYTHING LESS..” By the way, you can substitute work or any other goal (it doesn’t have to be training) and this entry still applies.

This mind of mine gets really excited about doing a large volume of training or a really fast pace.. But then And it gets really upset when I don’t complete that large volume or that really fast pace.

So lately I’ve started training my mind in a different way…instead of telling myself that we are going to train hard (anyone else have multiple personalities, ha!) I tell myself that we are going to train focused.

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Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis

I know that sounds strange. One of the delights of longer trainings is letting the thoughts drift. Getting lost! Exploring! And it is! But that’s not necessarily what I need for my day at that time.  And f I let my thoughts drift too much without feeling my body and my brain rooted in the training then I stop…and drift some more…

…..and knowing that sustained focus is something that I consistently  need to practice, why not do it during a time in which a repetitive movement is already built in to my week.

 

 

 

 

Getting Started

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On Biking

The  red-faced, wind-kissed cheeks and the smell of fresh air on your skin ,and knowing that you just came in from a slightly windy morning riding at the beach never really does get old. San Francisco has changed. For sure. But the morning fog still rolls, and and the crazy waves still crash on the shore of Ocean Beach. Still not up to “training pace” but getting out again on Sunday put me back into that infinity circle again of “what have I been missing!”

On Running

Crissy Fields is another one of those magical places. I ride my bike down Market, up Polk Street all the way up to the Marina; gives a real feel of how the city changes from one area to the other (from rags to riches…and all the colors in between). My heart becomes lighter as I climb up that last hill and the ocean comes into view.

20160522_092624Getting started, like with anything, always feels like a big push. And last Monday I drudged myself along for the first mile or so, convinced to keep going only by the ocean breeze and the sway of the grass. By mile 4 I was in a groove when I heard quick-footsteps behind me and then beside me. Realizing that we were basically the same pace, the other set of foot-steps and mine matched each other–first her running slightly faster with me a little behind and then vice-versa (the pains and gains of training with another). Half-way through, I gasped between breaths, “What’s…your…name…” and aside from that the only sounds we exchanged was the  rhythm of our feet and the quick breaths as we continued down the path.

On Swimming

Yesterday, I tried to run on the treadmill. Bad. Idea. Too tired. Too light-headed. Too stifling. Not happening. Didn’t even want to get into the pool after that. But it’s a rooftop outdoor pool. And it was, again, that perfect mix of fog and rain.”One lap,” I whispered to myself, shivering on the side of the pool. I dipped one foot in the water which sent my face into a scrunch.  I felt the whine coming low and fast and before it sent my legs running down into the locker room where a sauna awaited, I dove in, the  water making me forget whatever doubts I had about being here in the first place.

Sprints were on my agenda. Just one length of the pool at a time with a 20 second rest…how to get my time down to just 20 seconds? I put my attention on the pull part of the stroke; where the elbow is bent and the forearm pushes against the water. Could I push any harder? Recover any faster? Focusing on the push and recovery on the seventh of twelve lengths, I glanced up at the clock as my fingertips touched the wall. The clock read 20 seconds…all because of a bit of awareness and effort at one aspect of my stroke.

 

 

 

 

 

The Dark Side…

Many emotions last week as I embarked on training week #2. Old patterns of thinking kept coming up-the pushing, the needing, and feeling like, “I can’t.” I  am also having some pain in my left foot that I want to be mindful of. I’m not going to push through and hurt myself and yet at the same time there’s a need to have a little bit of fire under my butt to keep going. So while I am committed to training in-so-far as it feels like I am taking care of myself I’ll do it. If September comes and I don’t feel ready then I’ll let it go.

Lately, a sickening feeling of rage and frustration around how lost I’ve gotten, after a year of quiet, into the world of consumption have come up for me. And it feels that, a practice that I so carefully cultivated around just being, is dissipating.

The addiction of indulgence has once again returned. It’s obviously natural to want and it’s a beautiful practice to give oneself a treat every once in awhile. But that treat (for me)  turns so easily into a desperate need to have that thing, to complete that goal, to get everything finished….

…I used to feel very much that if I didn’t keep pushing I would lose something vital to who I was. But now I see it as an ingrained habit and the patterns of thinking that say, “See! I told you you weren’t good enough! You just need to keep at it (at what?) and then you will have what you need to be happy.” And as if that thought pattern wasn’t enough of a blow there’s a whole story and judgment that goes along with that too.

I’m angry this morning at another careless act of leaving bike shoes outside my house that are no longer there. It’s not the money. It’s the judgment around, now, making another purchase around my carelessness.

I teach and preach  forgiveness, patience, and self-compassion; fundamental to the “undoing” of ourselves.  I am grateful to have developed and be supported   in a practice of such mindfulness; it reminds me in all these times of feelings, whether frustration or elation, and the judgement and stories that go with them, to just be still with them and if I’m so lucky, to return to a state of just being.

 

 

 

 

 

Three Easy Bits

1487869_579275772167212_307070608_oExhaustion has consumed me this week. Maybe after a week of insomnia I am now swinging the other way.

…I fell asleep before 9pm last night. Maybe it was the kava that did it…yes, kava..a south-pacific drink that tastes like dirt (“an acquired taste…” “people don’t drink it for the taste”) giving the body a high while still being cognitive.  It’s supposed to be a relaxant…I think it worked.

At 6am I woke up with that slow very tired brain mush and pushed myself out of bed contemplating the closest place to get coffee that was open… a cafe that didn’t require a hill. “Mmm…bike ride?” Really? First, coffee. Always first. Coffee.

An hour or so later, reluctantly climbed on the bike and sailed down hill towards the park.This morning was another  moderate ride of 20 miles. The fresh air felt good on the waking up from mush head and I played with the push and pull of my shoes on the pedals.

Discovery #1: My Feet!

While doing a balancing pose in a yoga class recently, a teacher suggested that we focus on the instep of the foot. I noticed immediately my tendency to shift towards the outer parts of my feet (towards the pinky toe) and how much concentration it took to press down with the entire foot.

I noticed the same on my ride this morning. In order to go faster I use the outer edges of my feet; so I practiced pressing down with the whole foot, which although, uncomfortable at first and had me slowing down was neat to realize the difference in the muscle usage and ultimately made for a more comfortable ride.

Discovery #2 Clip-ins!

At stoplights I always clip out with both feet which is incredibly ineffective. It’s pure fear. And so again today I played with clipping in and out and discovered that I could do it with relative ease (and fear).

Discovery #3-No hands!

Not yet….but for sure so much more comfortable in the dug-outs and also finally able to comfortably take my right hand off the bar and take a sip of water.

These are small easy bits that perhaps I should’ve mastered years ago when first starting out. But I didn’t; and it’s fun, now, to these abilities emerge while enjoying the ride.

 

 

 

April Adrenaline brings May…

Mix  adrenaline with  a half a cup of insomnia, and powder on top with a pinch (or two or three) of anxiety for a recipe of signing up for a half-ironman. I mean, also it was a long time coming…

It started with a bike ride in late February. A bike ride on the most perfect late February day. I was just supposed to go to the park and practice but I felt so good that I flew across the Golden Gate Bridge, met a friend and her daughter for lunch and then on the way back, four blocks from my house a flat tire landed me in a bike shop…which then turned into a serendipitous meeting of a man with whom I had practically  a long-term relationship (all of one month!)-that ended when the fairy dust  settled and we realized that we were both human after all.

A year-long business coaching program seemed to also cross my path where my pen gave the signature along with the digits of my credit card number, and I finally re-entered the world of solo performance which was (as I told myself) the reason I returned to San Francisco in the first place.

My Cannondale road bike was stolen (and no it wasn’t as safe as it should’ve been. I’ve done all the grieving, kicking and beating up to myself necessary)….

and I also moved!…well, rooms. And even though the process of moving inside the same house is radically different, it still comes with a rush of excitement and the challenges of well…moving!

So in the midst of all this  last Wednesday while sitting in a café on Valencia my keyboard took me over to the Santa Cruz 70.3 and entered, once again my name and credit card number.

So here we are, first week in May, half ironman training week one, Day #3.So far, so fun! Two moderate bike rides with a very sweet Specialized (emphasis on moderate) and one moderate run (with a stop at 0.42 mile for coffee. See what I mean by moderate?). The soundtrack for this one is just beginning to build, so be sure to get your pick in…

Performance dates for Solo Performance (if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area) will either be June 17th or 19th at Stage Werx on Valencia. Save the dates for some good storytelling…

Surrender

Sometimes I wonder if my posts are heading more towards, what my aunt would say the “woo woo” side of things. Well if they are, so-be-it! Worrying about the “woo-woo” has prevented me from writing this post for too long. So take a deep breath and bring on your woo-woo!

I’ve been exploring this idea of surrender this year. If you don’t mind, praying for it, actually. And I’ve been playing with the line between “doing” and “waiting.’ I’ve spent times, dwelling at coffee shops (if you’ve been following my blog you know) and taking time to smell the flowers. I’ve also had super busy weeks filled with activity that leave me exhausted at the end of the day. Both ends of the spectrum  have given me great pleasure and stress depending on the moment.

So, this past week there were two instances that rang true for me about what surrender MIGHT mean. The first was during a morning meditation. After our silence, a cassette tape  (remember those?) of questions and answers with Satchidananda was played (the guru that founded Integral Yoga). The question from a man in the audience was, “I suffer from acute panic attacks. What can I do?”

Full disclosure, I usually tune out during the tape playing part of the meditation. However, having suffered from incredible anxiety myself and having been exposed recently to two close young adult friends of mine who were also experiencing anxiety attacks I listened in.

“Anxiety comes from expectations,” he said. “So ask yourself what am I anxious about? What am I expecting?” For many of us this is feels like way too a simplistic solution. But when I think about that myself I reflect on what my own anxiety has been around. So much of of it has been about fear of not being able to….or What if I lose….or simply, What if I am not enough..

he goes on to say, “So stop expecting things. Stop having desires.” And then he laughs knowingly. “Or keep desiring and keep wishing. But know if you don’t get what you are expecting or if what you want it’s because God didn’t want you to have it. Blame God for not getting your wants.”

The word God makes many people shudder. Perhaps another way to think about this  is that it’s just not meant to be.

It’s only woo woo if you take it as making the choice to stop moving towards your goal. Right now my own life has many different moving pieces that are filled with uncertainty. They often offer glimmers of opportunity that are just barely out of reach. Sometimes they grab hold and take off and sometimes they don’t. The other day, I told a friend, “My schedule this week changed in the span of five minutes.” She commented, “your whole life right now is like dating!” We both laughed.

And yet, as I commented to a housemate, “I’m hopeful and I’m wanting these opportunities to happen. But I’m not going to be miserable if they don’t.” And she said softly, “Surrendering.”

Ahhh. To my desiring, striving, ambitious, and often lazy self-that was a definition of surrendering that I could get my head around: keep on keepin on no matter the outcome. But don’t stop moving forward (even if it feels like there’s a standstill or moving backwards).

The Embarrassing Truth

If you’ve checked my facebook page recently you may have read that once upon a time in my life I auditioned for clown school.Sarah It’s true. And the real punchline is, I didn’t get in! In the larger context, this information was shared because of a weekend conference that I will attend in September (and no, it’s not a clown conference).

The embarrassing truth came out because as I was filling out the application, it asked for a quirky/fun fact about myself. So racking my brain, I asked a friend of mine to share hers. She mentioned “clowns” and, of course, having somehow forgotten about clown school, it suddenly came back! And so I rushed to put it on the form…maybe I should’ve asked first how the information was going to be used. :).

I have noticed that there are certain imperatives that I must have as I traverse the rolling seas, run up hills, and bike into the sunset. Please forgive the teenage drama, another embarrassing truth (I guess this is just the truth telling entry) is that I have gotten hooked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s out. I feel better now. But now it’s gonna get worse because I’m going to compare this 90’s drama about vampires to real life.If you’re unfamiliar with the show here is a three sentence synopsis: Buffy’s “calling” is to be a vampire slayer. She complains and whines about how she cannot just be a normal 16 year old girl and is stuck with this duty forever. She meets another slayer[highly unprecedented according to Buffy’s watcher Giles] who tells Buffy as she’s leaving, “It’s weird that you treat this as a job. It is who you are.”

In yoga this duty or calling would be named dharma. We were born into this world for a purpose..  This calling is usually something that comes naturally to us, a love for something so strong, that if not fulfilled we may turn into ashes with the sunlight (vampire reference, sorry). So, the imperatives: movement and creativity.

I have been blessed with circumstances that have allowed me to explore these areas in anyway I wish. A body that (besides sometimes being stiff) has carried me across finish lines, a mind that although sometimes is off killing monsters or feeding unicorns somewhere, is also compulsive  in that if these imperatives are not met within a reasonable time will scream out and not rest until they are complete.  I have a rich community of family, friends, and teachers who encourage, embrace, and sometimes kick me back onto the path of what’s important to me when I start making excuses. I have it easy compared to many.

Many friends of mine  have overcome severe illness with the help of a healthy lifestyle that includes movement and creativity: I was moved to tears at the starting line of an endurance event in Tahoe at the sight of veterans pulling their friends along in wheelchairs through a ten mile rough mountainous path. A dear friend, determined to not let diabetes get the best of her, started with a 5k race and completed her first triathlon in her mid-fifties. With the help of a healthy diet and lifestyle she got herself off of the medication. Yoga has practically cured two dear friends diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, who both chose the “easy” arduous path of diligently caring for their bodies and their minds through yoga instead of life full of daily injections.

The conference  in September that I referred to at the beginning is called the Adaptable Yoga Conference.Indeed a gathering of clowns; a group of yogis with differently abled bodies coming together to learn about how to bring yoga to each other.  I am only able to attend because of a generous scholarship that was granted to me. The requirement: “tell us a quirky/fun fact about yourself.”

Yoga Hippie Clown Pants

So that  other yoga practitioners with limited financial resources may attend the conference, please consider making a donation. Click on this link to read more about the conference and contribute.

I promise you won’t have to reveal any embarrassing truths…although If you would like to, you can do so in the comments below. 🙂