Category Archives: thinking

Life by the feels

I have read a whole lot on running how you feel, about ditching the heart rate monitors* and watches and relying instead on the stories our body has to tell. I have become a proponent of getting rid of the watch for the same reasons we should never own a scale. What we see on that watch face does not tell us how our body felt while completing the workout. And in many ways it holds us back. How many times do you check your watch while on a training run? How about when running a race?

My first marathon was on the Creeper Trail in Abingdon. It was a rails to trails and yet I remember studying my watch for the first 13 or so miles, finally giving in to the pace my body wanted to go and turning my watch upside down around mile 15. I was getting on my own nerves. Nevermind I hadn’t trained for any particular finish time, focusing only on getting in the miles so I could finish strong. That day taught me so much about trail running before I knew of such a thing, my friend K teaching me as I lamented my splits on Facebook that the trail controls us, we do not control the trail. In other words, shut up and listen with inside eyes. I like to think of it as Mother Nature giving me an attitude awakening.

The further I delve into training by feel, a larger question looms: How come we don’t do more life things that make us feel good, happy even? How come we are often the cause of our own unhappiness? How come we don’t make life choices based on how we feel?

Sure there are work obligations and the times we support the hobbies of our significant others and attending parent teacher conferences, the stuff we have to do because we’re adults, etc.

But I’m talking about those moments when we say ‘yes’ when everything inside of us is screaming ‘no’. If that sandwich makes us feel disgusting after we eat it, why eat it again and again? If someone is causing us more hurt than happiness, why are they still close enough to continue that practice? How come we often utter the words ‘some day…’ instead of making plans to live out our dreams? How come we do not trust ourselves to know what it is we know to be right and true?

trust-yourself 2

When running, we check-in with our bodies at regular intervals, kind of like a mental body scan. This tells us far more than any gadget we attach to our wrists or strap onto our chests. We don’t need a heart rate monitor to tell us the thumping in our ears means we need to slow down a little just as we don’t need anyone else to tell us those gut feelings we ignore are trying to lead us to our proper path. We complete tempos, fartleks, steady state runs to push us beyond our comfort zone, to help us get stronger and faster. Those feelings in our gut is our intuition trying to get us to move in the direction of our true desires, to help us make our mind stronger. They are guiding us to the realization that to trust ourselves is never a mistake. We are capable of knowing our Selves and making the best decision at any given moment.


Trust yourself.

It’s not all that different than the phrases we runners tell one another before each race: ‘Trust your training!’, ‘Believe in the process!’, ‘Your body knows what it needs to do!’,

Sometimes we have to do hard things. Running fast will hurt. Running long will hurt. And yet each time you push against your own boundary just a little bit more, growth happens. It only hurts the first time. Your body gets stronger and faster and bolder and best of all, that confidence transcends to mindfulness. Allow the beast in your body to also live inside your head. Fire the Negative Committee who is trying to take up residence there.

So yeah, you already know what to do my lovelies. Have the courage to break your own heart.

Then watch yourself soar.

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*Full disclosure: I’ve never worn a heart rate monitor nor had any desire. I also don’t know how to work the fancy functions on my watch, which is currently only being worn on B2B long run days. That too is about to stop.

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Posted by on June 21, 2016 in meditation, thinking


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It Was Me

Lately I’ve been spending some time contemplating the phrase “holding me back”. We’ve all used it at one time or another to describe the actions of another person or situation that wasn’t ideal, maybe even constrictive. When we should be looking at our own actions and/or choices, we’re instead using perhaps faulty coping skills as we place blame on what is the exterior. The question we should be asking ourselves as we stand in front of the mirror isn’t a diatribe on all the ways the person or situation wronged us, it’s whether or not we let ‘it’ stop us from doing whatever it is we want to do or whomever it is we want to be.

(This is not to include the abusive relationships where one partner controls and manipulates the other with various forms of threats and emotional punishment. That topic is for another day.)

I’m talking about the times we’ve (been) broken up with someone and said, “They were keeping me from being the person I should be.” Or used your family as a means to avoid signing up for that first 10k, or half marathon, or full marathon, or ultra. Or the reason you decided not to go back to school being the lack of support you think you’ll have. But no, that was us. Every time. We allowed that to be the excuse, the easy way out, instead of facing the admission they weren’t the right individual who should share our lives or we were afraid of what could happen on the other side of that decision (e.g. the possibility of losing him/her if we move to another nearby city). But the only way through is forward, right?

We get to choose to work it out or walk away. It really is that simple.

There are moments I’ve said my relationships haven’t worked out because they were holding me back from being who I  am. Except when I think about it, they didn’t. I did. I held myself back. Everyday I made the choice to either be me or be the person I thought they wanted me to be. Everyday I decided whether or not my goals and dreams were important enough to pursue either inside or outside the partnership. I put myself second so of course that person did, too. I distinctly remember feeling stuck in place with a man who I’ll call B, and yet I made the very conscious decision to allow it to continue. I decided he was a pile of rocks tied to my feet and even said that to his face. Except he didn’t tie those rocks to my ankles, I did.

I stopped myself from hanging out with my friends. I stopped myself from applying for that job. I stopped myself from going to concerts. I stopped myself from reading books. I stopped myself from going on trips.

I stop myself from living the life I want to live.

The point is, these are excuses we give to those faces in the mirror for why we haven’t reached what we consider to be our full potential or where we had hoped to be in our life. It’s much easier to blame someone else than to admit to ourselves we allowed the rocks to be an option in the first place. Maybe we let them stop us because we were afraid of the success that might follow. Maybe we were afraid our important people wouldn’t love us anymore if we took our most desired path. We are humans who crave personal intimacy whether it be via friendships or romantic entanglements. We want people to like us; sometimes we allow their opinions and judgments too much authority over our decisions.

We are our own worst critic. We are who berate our mindful self worse than anyone else.

So next time we have the feeling someone or something is “holding us back”,


Take a moment to consider that maybe it is because of our personal fear, our baggage, not whatever/whomever is standing in front of us.

Move the curtain aside.

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Posted by on May 14, 2016 in meditation, thinking


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lame game

lately i have been mulling over some hard and interesting truths. on most of my runs – especially the long-er runs – i feel strength and confidence as a presence in my body. it courses through each muscle as i check in to make sure of its functioning. (we will not speak of my left leg.) i feel stable. and yet why does that not as easily transfer to my mind?

“Transcendence is more about the personal act of not engaging the enemy, finding a way out of the cage that is being designed for you at a particular moment by others, circumstance, or your own bad habits and ignorance.” ― Darrell Calkins,

many of my past relationships with people have been decided by the Other. maybe i have done the breaking up, but i have been wondering why they got to set the rules, decide our future, what we do each day, how we tackle relationship issues, etc. what decides which direction to choose? i have been contemplating the cyclical nature of my affectations.

the answer i keep coming back to is that i keep letting them.

just as i keep letting myself shy away from embracing the strength and confidence i know i am.

but that’s not all. how can i expect someone else to make me a priority, to consider me significant, worth their time, if i don’t first think that of myself?

it’s a difficult line to tread: how much of it is compromise? how much of it is becoming a doormat? when is it considered selfish? and self-centered? how much is survival and how much of it is ego? i have a very difficult time saying to another person “you must do it my way or else” and therein might lie the problem. maybe if i approach it from a different angle, not an all or nothing as my personality tends to suggest.

waiting. i realize i have spent a lot of time in my past relationships, life in general actually, waiting. waiting for what? i honestly don’t have an answer.

to be noticed? for them to see the hurt their words and/or actions have caused? for them to note what makes me happy and then doing it because they want to, not because they are asked? for them to speak my love language? for opportunities to fall in my lap? for that yarn store to open itself?

i have begun reminding myself almost daily that most of us are not ‘lucky’. we have not been handed our jobs or experiences or Life based on anything more than hard work and creating those moments for ourselves.


every day i wear buddha to assist in reminding me, “no one saves us but ourselves. no one can and no one may. we ourselves must walk the path.” if i want to feel significant to someone else, i must first be significant to myself. if i want friends, i must first be a friend with myself. if i want someone to love me without rules and hug me through the bad days, i must first practice self love and compassion with myself. i have to put out into the world the energy i seek from others. if i am not getting what i need in the idea of balance, then the strength to walk away i shall have. there is no more waiting, only doing.

Do or do not, there is no try. – Yoda

consider how this applies to the dirtbag life. running goals. i have watched many elite trail runners (via YouTube) on their journey to the finish line of their 5o milers or 1oo milers. they pick a crew who is going to lift them up in confidence. they purposely surround themselves with individuals who believe in them without condition on and off the field when they are unable to believe in themselves. they need a team to lift them to success and in order for that to happen, the runner needs to expect of their team what they also expect of themselves*.

my first 5om was a lark, a challenge to see if i could do it. and now i know i can. so it is time to make myself do them better. training harder. lifting for trail runners.** hill repeats on the trails. fartleks. clutch runs. and i am gonna pick a crew who will help me get there.

i really need to stop getting in my own way.

i will not accept mediocrity.



*vanessa runs speaks to this extensively in both her books the summit seeker and daughters of distance.

**shout out to @colesquaredlife for being willing to take on this challenge!





Posted by on December 11, 2015 in meditation, thinking


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