Reigniting the Fire

Okay, so I was happy to finish Ice Trail Tarentaise in fourth place and pain free. It was a stunning course and great event, but my fire was not burning and it is time to relight it.

I have decided to cancel my race plan. To not race until I am ready and in great form. I want to feel like I can bound up the hills, where I am in control of the level I work at for the entire race, where I can mentally push that little bit harder and further through any barrier.

As I drove to a spa retreat in the Swiss Alps to take some mental time out and to focus on my body’s recovery, I was reminded of how much I love mountain running and how much I have missed the freedom of being in the mountains without pain and some form of stress on my mind.

I had mentally acknowledged it, but had denied it. So when my body decided for me that I needed to stop, I panicked. I didn’t know what to do. I cried and lost all direction (and then felt bad for being so upset about nothing really in the larger scheme of life). I had never put my body and spirit in this position and it was scary for me. Learning to take this time out has been hard, and I have no where near mastered it.

First, I had to accept that I had lost control and then reframe that emotion and feel the freedom and openness of letting go.

Second, I had to trust in the larger scheme of life. It will always direct us, but we have to be free and open to see and take the great doors of opportunity.

Back to basics is going to be the way I step forward. Running… no. Breathing, stretching, yoga, swimming… yes. Race plans… no. Time and space to think about my direction, my dreams, my passion and how I can share that… yes. To find some kind of balance amongst our busy lifestyles is difficult, but also basic if we let it be.

This interesting website – Mind Tools – helped me to actually see my balance… or should I say lack of. Give it a go, what are you missing out on?

And to help with this balancing act I have found some great tips for better sleep, work, exercise and nutrition.

Better Sleep
I have always been terrible at sleeping, so I am really trying to keep a sleep schedule.

  • Try not to drink coffee after 11 a.m. to allow your adrenaline levels to come back to normal.
  • Lavender oil drops on your pillow helps you to relax.
  • Drink camomile tea one hour before bed.
  • Try not to eat or exercise two hours before you go to bed; however, relaxing and yoga/stretching can help you to relax.
  • Breathe deeply.
  • Turn your phone/computer/bright light off one hour before bed so that your melatonin levels can spike and, therefore, allow natural sleep patterns to occur.
  • If you wake up during the night feeling anxious or have a brainstorm, write it down in a notebook and think about it the next day when you are fresh and much more productive and creative.

Better Work
Starting work on my online jewellery shop – opening soon – has been really rewarding, but I have really needed to follow some of these tips to be more efficient.

  • Prioritize what is most important to get done first.
  • Set deadlines.
  • Organize your workspace.
  • Upgrade your technology.
  • Ask for help.
  • Try simply standing for two-thirds of your work time, or going for short walking bursts into the fresh air throughout the whole day.
  • Sitting on a physio ball corrects your posture and strengthens your core.
  • Civvio Negative Ion bracelets help neutralize free radicals, revitalize cell metabolism and enhance immune function. They purify the blood and balance the autonomic nervous system, promoting deep sleep and healthy digestion. Negative ions also protect the body and mind from the harmful effects of environmental stressors such offices full of computers.
Where Negative Ions Positive Ions
Offices 70 1400
Forests 2500 800

Better Eating

  • Water – I sometimes get to the evening and realise I haven’t had an actual drink of water! Too many of us are living in dehydration. Water flushes our systems of waste products and toxins which cause tiredness, low energy, and headaches.
  • Routine – With travel, different seasons, races, recovery and training I am often out of routine with my diet. However, I think it is important to try to at least stick to similar times of the day for eating breakfast, lunch, dinner and fruit snacks.
  • Eat with a purpose.
    • Be mindful of your food. Turn off the TV, put away the books and enjoy your food.
    • Take time to chew your food. Actually tasting the flavours and feeling the textures of our food is much more satisfying.
    • Listen to your body, are you really hungry? Or are you thirsty? Try not to drink during your meal as this dilutes the digestive acids in your stomach.
    • Eating breakfast jump starts your metabolism.
  • Choose whole foods like beans, fruits, and vegetables for long-lasting energy rather than white flour, refined sugar, and white rice that have been stripped of their nutrients.
  • Healthy fats (i.e., fatty fish, canola oil, peanut oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds) nourish our brain, heart, and cells, as well as our hair, skin, and nails.
  • Have a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables for all your vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, calcium.
  • Variations of proteins (i.e., beans, nuts, meats, eggs) are important for growth and energy, and essential for maintaining cells, tissues, and organs.

Better Exercise
All should be the basics of a good training programme/schedule. Check, or get a coach/mentor/friend/manager to look over your plan to make sure that you are on the right track. Some of us need a little push. Some of us need our reins held tight.

  • Consistency and maintenance
  • Patience
  • Goals/dreams, “you miss 100% of the shots you never take”
  • Variety: cross training, speed, fartlek, endurance
  • Strength and conditioning that is specific to your sport
  • Progression
  • Recovery
  • BE PASSIONATE and HAVE FUN

Conclusion
This has not been easy. It has not been the year of racing and training and discovery I wanted. But it has been discovery. I am exploring my mind and my future doors. What is it I really want to achieve? What direction will I go? What really excites me? What would I fight for? These are questions that I have asked and thought over and over again. It takes time to find the way. But that is all part of the adventure.

Does this sound a bit like you? Maybe you should take a walk, bike, weekend to a spa, stop, relax and ask yourself these questions, too. Imagine all the things we could do to help ourselves if we just gave ourselves a little bit of time.

We have to make the change we want; no one else can do it for us. Seek out new perspectives, smile and enjoy the feeling of freedom amongst the change.

Good luck on your journey.

Call for Comments (from Bryon)
How would you answer the questions Anna poses to herself?

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There are 78 comments

  1. @ACarollo1

    Why does anyone care to negatively comment on her thoughts? If you agree, cool, if you don't agree, cool, but this site is about learning, building up running and helping fellow runners; creating a positive community. People's opinons are what they are, respect them accordingly, so they can respect yours. If you wrote one negative comment attacking Anna, ask yourself, "what void am I trying to fill, that I felt a need to comment and be a negative source for Anna and this website?"

    All the Best!

    Adam

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