Happier

Things that make me happy?  Hiking, dog smiles, and dog hugs!

Things that make me happy? Hiking, dog smiles, and dog hugs!

Have you heard about Happier?  It’s a social media website that focuses on positivity – not a bunch of ads, political rants, or inflammatory comments.  Like any other social media site, you can create a profile, and then post about moments that make you happy.  You can also read happy moments shared by other users and “smile” at them (as opposed to Facebook “likes”).

I joined a few months ago, and I love it.  I definitely don’t use it as often as I would like, but I’m trying to change that.  When I’m stressed, a dose of positivity from other people can really help.  Plus, research has shown that focusing on small happy moments instead of chasing after an ideal of happiness can actually improve overall mood and life satisfaction.

I’m not affiliated with the site at all – I just love the idea of focusing on positive thoughts.  One of my favorite features of the site (and the iPhone app) is that it reminds me to be grateful for the little things.  Since I’m feeling so busy/overwhelmed right now, taking a few minutes each day to use the app gives me just the pick-me-up that I need!  Check it out!

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Prioritizing

She keeps an eye on me!

She keeps an eye on me!

Continuing on my thoughts about having realistic expectations for myself…

I’ve realized that I can’t do it all (at least not within the confines of my current commitments)!  I suppose we all come to this realization at some point, but I’ve spent a lot of time working on work-life balance over the past few years, so I’m a bit frustrated that things have gotten SO unbalanced again.  This frustration is not conducive to productivity – if anything, it leads to more stress and I find myself in that vicious spiral where I can’t seem to get anything done.

So, instead of stressing about this, I need to break things down and figure out the best way to maximize my time.  School and work are obviously top priorities, so those commitments have to pretty much stay as they are.  I also need to keep sleep and exercise as a priority.  However, instead of trying to drastically improve strength or speed, I think I should focus instead on maintaining my strength and building my running endurance.

Of equal importance (though certainly less tangible) is my family time, both with Jeb and with my parents/sisters/niece.  The time passes so quickly and I sometimes forget (during my marathon homework sessions) how much time has passed since I spent time with my family.  I’m much better about this with Jeb than anyone else, but that might be largely because he lives with me! 🙂

Then, I have to allow some time to enjoy life and recharge my brain.  As hard as it is to find the time, I’ve learned that I actually am more productive if I’ve set aside time to take a complete break.  This downtime includes time with my dogs (which has the added benefit of being motivating on its own – I feel a responsibility to make them happy and, in doing so, I get a little recharge).

So, in general, my priorities are school/work, family, sleep, REALISTIC workouts, and downtime (with dogs).  Now, I just have to figure out how to fit all of that into a 24-hour day!

On being realistic…

Yes, I know it's winter right now, but this shot reminds me of a fun and relaxing day before my life got nutty!

Yes, I know it’s winter right now, but this shot reminds me of a fun and relaxing day before my life got nutty!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a WEE bit busy (read: overwhelmed) right now.  As much as I’ve tried juggling everything, I think it is time to reassess and re-prioritize before I return to school.  In an ideal world, I would like to continue to do well in school and at work, lift 3x a week, run 3x a week, sleep 7-8 hours/night, and still have time for photography and cooking/finding new recipes.  Clearly, this is unrealistic.  

Obviously, I will continue to do well at school and work – these are non-negotiable, and will set me up for future happiness.  Lifting and running should be happening – for both my mental and physical health, though maybe the intense programs that I’ve been trying to follow are a bit much right now.  My schedule makes it tough to get out for a run, especially since I’m not home during daylight hours.  Plus, I need some downtime to give my brain a rest!  Normally, running or lifting can help with this, but it’s not cutting the mustard right now… 🙂

So, what to do?  It’s hard to not feel frustrated and ineffectual when I can’t seem to fit everything into my schedule.  I worry that I’m sabotaging something, and don’t want to look back on this time of my life and feel like I’ve wasted opportunities.

Being realistic about my time and capabilities is really hard.  But, so is overcommitting and feeling completely overwhelmed.  I’m on break this week, and plan to use this time as an opportunity to start to figure this out… (and to recharge!)

Stay tuned…

Do I need a goal race?

Since I started running regularly, I’ve always had a goal race – something to focus my training and keep me motivated when life got busy, the weather got crappy, or I just started feeling a little burnout.  For lifting, I can keep on track if I choose strength goals or simply latch onto a progressive program.  Right now, though, I’m wondering if I need more – at least for running.

And, don’t get my wrong – my workouts are going well.  I’m stronger than ever (including before my injury) and enjoying my runs.  But, I’m getting an itch.  I feel like I need a running program.  It keeps things fresh, and helps me push myself.  Without a program, I usually run 2-3 miles on specific routes in my neighborhood.  WITH a program, I am forced to progress (and also to find new and interesting places to run!).

But then the questions start – should I sign up for a race?  If so, what?  I would love to run the Nike Half in October, but I’m not sure if finances will allow for travel to San Francisco.  I could also run the Rock and Roll half in Providence with my sister.  Or, I could try a 5k or 10k – there are appealing options (read: fun) for each distance on October 4.  So, what to do?

This is something I will be turning around in my head for the next few weeks.  On one hand, I love having a race to keep me honest.  On the other, it is nice to not be stressing about a race!  In the meantime, I’ll keep training.

Oh, and good news – Jeb has decided to start running.  We run together, which is great for me.  Even though my endurance is much better than his, he is naturally faster than me so my runs with him end up being great workouts (almost like a speed session)!

 

So, what do you think?  Race, or no race?

I missed National Running Day! (and other random thoughts)

What kind of running blogger misses National Running Day?  Whoops!  When I planned my workout schedule for the week, I had a full rest day scheduled for yesterday, which means NO running.  I did go for a walk and did some stretching, so that counts, right?

I’ve been really enjoying my cross-training lately.  I’m following the program in “Strong Curves” by Bret Contreras and Kellie Hart Davis.  The program itself is great.  It focuses on glutes/hamstrings, and is challenging and fun.  Plus, it includes a lot of the work I have to do to keep my piriformis healthy (i.e. avoid injury).  To be honest, the book itself is just ok – the research is good, and it does give a basic overview of muscle development, etc.  I found the tone of the writing to be a bit off-putting (chauvinistic, maybe? – definitely generalizing what he thinks women want).  However, the book is worth picking up simply for the program and the exercise descriptions/photos.

I’ve been dragging a bit lately.  Lots on my mind (that I can’t write about here).  Suffice to say that I am working through it, and choosing self-care (like insane baking and tough workouts) to pull myself back up.

We made grilled pizza the other day.  It was amazing.  Yes, I know that “amazing” seems to be the most overused word lately, but I feel like the pizza we made was what Bertucci’s hopes to be.  I’ll post some pics later this week.

 

 

Keeping it Simple

I’m keeping it simple.  After following a pretty strict training plan for the last 6+ months, I needed a break.  The structured training was great for recovery from my injury, and gave me great confidence with my running progress.  However, since I don’t have any races scheduled, I’m taking it easy.

I’m lifting pretty hard, so I’m taking it easy on the roads.  Over the years I’ve learned that I have to listen to my body – the times when I haven’t is when I’ve gotten injured.  Wendy and I are enjoying our runs, and they are restorative and fun.  It’s nice to not stress about times or distance.

But, my little sister is running the Rock and Roll Half in Providence in September… and I’m starting to get the itch…  we will see what happens…

Still Alive

I can’t believe it has been almost 3 weeks since my last post!  Life has been crazy lately.  Between all our homework for our kitchen remodel, my sister’s bridal shower, and an obscene amount of homework, I just haven’t had time to get on here.  So, some updates:

  • I (finally) found out that I was accepted into my top choice for graduate school!!  I have spent the last academic year completing prerequisites, and I will start my new program in the fall.  I’m excited, and a little nervous.  It will be hectic, but SO worth it when I’m done.
  • My running has been going fairly well.  My speed is improving a little bit.  I’m still not as quick as I would like (need) to be for my goal race in a month (!), but I’m getting there.  I have to keep reminding myself that it is ok to have slow progress – I’m not even fully recovered from my injury yet, and it would be dumb to push too hard and set myself back.
  • My sister’s shower was beautiful.  We had a good turnout, and, although life got pretty crazy during the last couple weeks leading up to it (as is usually the case with these things), it was perfect.  My sister is one of those people with a positively effervescent personality, and it is so nice to watch her have fun.
  • The kitchen project is coming along.  We are still getting quotes and trying to figure out the best way to maximize our budget (any tips are welcome!).  Unfortunately, our kitchen is small, and we’ve found that some vendors tend to take us less seriously once they realize that we won’t have to spend $40k on cabinets.  Progress is slow, but it is moving in the right direction.

Moving forward, I hope to post more consistently, though there still might be sporadic periods over the next 6 weeks or so.  I hope everyone’s training is going well!