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?

Anna Frost: roams the world running for the joy of it with the support of Salomon. You can read about her adventures on her blog, Frosty's Footsteps.

View Comments (77)

  • "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"

    I'm going to need a citation on that one.

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    • These bracelets are worthless, sorry, Anna! The rest sounds good though.

      Tim Minchin: "Do you know what they call "alternative medicine"

      That's been proved to work?

      Medicine."

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      • The "worth" or something is not always determined objectively. In fact, the value of many of the best things in life are completely subjective and unmeasurable, but that does not make them "worthless".

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        • @ J.xander: Sounds good if you are talking about a book or song. When it comes to medical treatments, I'll take objective over subjective any day. Unless you are making a case for the placebo effect, in which case I still disagree. :)

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  • Honestly, the bit about the bracelet sounds like nonsense. One because it just seems like a scam and secondly because the electrolytes we drink/eat are ionized in solution, so blaming ions for whatever ails you means you're probably better off not drinking Gatorade instead of wearing a bracelet??!

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  • What incredible navel gazing.

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    • Never heard of that expression before. Had to Google it.

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  • All ya have to do is be a good person, not the greatest runner on Earth. If you can do both, more power to ya. You'll be back, stronger than before. It's all part of the grand pageantry...

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  • I think you should become a mother... Amazing how motherhood can root you to Earth, Spirit and Soul... everything makes sense. Purpose :-)

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    • Sorry, but what silly advice. First, motherhood is not something that should be undertaken simply to make yourself feel better. Motherhood is hard work, even when it does ‘ground you’ – and it certainly doesn’t work that way for everyone.

      Anna – I wish you well. It’s incredibly important to have periods of introspection. Good luck!

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  • Bryon some editorial intervention is needed on the "negative ions" if you want to keep irunfar this side of science and reason. Really felt let down.

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    • Maurice, I'm not in the "ion camp," but in an article where a top runner is explaining the great multitude of methods she's applying in attempting to turn around her running, I'm going to let that runner list all of them without editorial intervention.

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      • While I agree with you in general - and this is, of course, your province - I respectfully think this specific instance stands out a bit, in a (no pun intended) negative fashion. The presentation is less "here is a thing I like" and more "here is an ad slogan stating provably false information, you should try it too". Since it, along with everything else, is a "tip", there is advocacy there - for a name brand item, no less. I think there is a way to talk about things that exist on the fringes of medical science (or just off the fringes), without igniting a negative response.

        I do think the negative responses to the negative responses are a bit overblown as well. The standard for articles here is high, as is the standard for rational, science-based discussion. You don't get critical comments like these without having set a high bar. Furthermore, I don't think anyone has been personally critical of Anna (who should be commended for opening up so bravely). Pointing out false information in this case is no different than in, say, a falsely listed race results. Again, high standards.

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        • Better example: If, in the next shoe review, the writer stated "X shoe has a 4mm heel to toe drop, because any delta greater than 6mm causes injury and reduces effeciency", there would be a justifiable frenzy in the comments. There is nothing wrong with presenting an opinion, so long as it's clearly acknowledged as such. Presenting it as fact, however, creates problems.

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  • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Anna. You just brought a (good) tear to my eye. Your wear your passion and your love for life on your sleeve. You choose to live your life in touch with your deep core (or trying to be in touch) versus detaching like the majority of the world. Its what is making your journey right now so bittersweet.

    But with the light comes the dark. Its part. You cannot have one without the other. I recommend the book of changes, I Ching. Its Taoism. Have you read it? It’s the balance we see in nature but struggle keep within ourselves. Best of luck, Anna. This life is only beginning for you… and there are no rights or wrongs. It's just decisions we make then assess if they make us happy or do not. If not, then make another choice to steer towards deeper fulfillment. Follow your heart and as you said to me once, do what you love and love what you do. If you love jewelry, running and being pain free then do that. Travel is speaking to you? Do that. Racing can come when racing can come. Let it happen...

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  • As regards too much light from computer screen - here is a little freeware program that gradually changes the colour scheme of your computer to adjust for less blue light in the evenings, the same way when sun is setting and the daylight is fading.

    Give it a try
    http://justgetflux.com/

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  • You lost me at the negative ion bracelets.

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  • Thanks Anna, your words are very helpful to me right now.

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  • Enjoy your rest and re-creation time, Anna! :^) On a similar but not identical front, one of the biggest blessings of my life was a period when I was between jobs; I was able to use that time to be with my family in a way I hadn't been in years. I wouldn't trade that time for anything! I hope your time away from running becomes a similar blessing.

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  • You can come home and play with Vic and I. We/I could do with some arse kicking at the moment :-)

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  • Great news about the bracelet. I'm interested in knowing the recommended daily exposure to each bracelet. As Im certain to weigh a good 30kg more than you Anna, how many bracelets should i be wearing? 3?. Also can I overdose on Civvio Negative Ions, thereby taking all my positivity? Maybe I have already, and thats whats causing this post?

    Although - I can see a whole new market for "Civvio Negative Ion Performance Shirts" and "Civvio Negative Ion Socks", Wow, I might even see if I can rock a "Civvio Negative Ion Sporting Onesie".

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  • I enjoyed the article and wish you well. However, I am sorry I read through the comments. I feel like the irunfar spirit has gotten hijacked by the letsrun mentality.... Sort of a bummer.

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    • Yeah, no kidding. What makes it seem worse is that here's a super nice person, who's been having a bit of a rough go lately, is making her way back to a better place, and is sharing that journey with us. And then she gets flak thrown at her. To all the folks bitching about ion bracelets - guess what folks, (a) they don't harm anything, so what's the big deal? And (b) no one's forcing you to wear them. Maybe you could consider being supportive rather than snide.

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      • Best comment here...if you want to act like immature meatheads head over to YouTube and comment away. My irunfar is for learning, sharing and encouraging each other.

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        • Looking at the glass half full, this could just mean that irunfar's popularity is spreading into mainstream!

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      • Agreed, Jenn. While I'd never use an ion bracelet, that doesn't mean that one can't be a part of Anna's healing process. I hope she and her great spirit continue to embrace the mountains and that she continues to share her journey with all of us. There's certainly plenty of great advice in this article. We're all adults who are capable of choosing the modalities with which we attempt to heal ourselves.

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        • It can be interesting to read on the positive effects of placebos, even when the patient knows it is a placebo. They won't cure cancer, but there are many areas where there is a documented effect (particularly it would seem with illness/pain related to stress). Two accessible articles from The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/12/12/111212fa_fact_specter) and Harvard Magazine (http://harvardmagazine.com/2013/01/the-placebo-phenomenon).

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          • I listened to a podcast where they talked about the power of the placebo and how crazy and powerful the mind is that it can truly effect you physically for the better. Very interesting stuff.

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    • Guy, I would hope that the community will work toward encouraging a positive atmosphere and useful discussions. You and others have the power to create good around you. Seriously.

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      • Well said in both comments Bryon. I also found it very sad to read some of the comments - I'm the same as you, I wouldn't wear a bracelet, but if Anna thinks it helps then the placebo effect alone is worth it!

        Sadly there appears to have been an influx of commentators recently who seem to see articles about emotions, passions, feelings to be pointless - as though FKTs and Race Reports are all that matters. As you (and many others on here) know, that's not all there is to running. I love to read Geoff's thoughts, Anna's thoughts, and others, whether they be positive or negative they are windows onto the soul of other people who share my love of the trails.

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    • Agreed, Anna is writing about her life. We should be encouraging her, not making fun of her. Comments like Glen's are not even a little bit funny and totally uncalled for.

      Thanks Anna for sharing your update. It's brave to take a step back and reevaluate, and even braver to put it all out there for the world to see!

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  • Good luck Anna. I believe in negative ions, I can feel them every time I go to the beach.

    Maybe you should consider that running isn't your passion. You have an amazing talent for running that many here would kill for, but don't let others push you into doing things you don't want to. It's your life after all.

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  • Keep searching and listening to your own body and your own heart! I went through a really long recovery from a torn ACL and Lateral Meniscus surgery and it really was a period of intense growth for me, in the long run. Even though I didn't like it at the time, I wouldn't change my experience. Stay strong and see the twists in the road as guidance for you!

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    • Courtney, I'm 12 weeks postop from ACL reconstruction and dying to get back on the trails! Shoot me a message, I'd love to hear about another's journey back to running!

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  • Be a good topic someday.Do we never call into question the writers of iRunFar,if so how much is acceptable.Is iRunFar even close to being like Letsrun,or will Bryon keep it from going that far(i believe so).So i don't believe in this negative ions thingy,but if Anna does,more power to her.And i think most people are supportive of Anna and others in this site that are going through life difficulties,but if you write about subjects that maybe are not mainsteam,might want to expect some differing comments on them.(But hopefully in a respectful manner.)

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    • Hear, hear, Randy. There's certainly room to discuss the substance of iRunFar's articles or points within articles when one disagrees, but there are ways to open constructive dialogues when one disagrees and there are ways when someone is simply being a troll, flamer, or worse. For the most part, iRunFar has a long history of the latter even on contentious issues. In fact, it's those civil, constructive discussions with very different and opposing viewpoints that have long been a highlight of iRunFar. May the community here continue to forge on in that manner and encourage those who do not act civilly and constructively to do so. There's a way to keep things positive even when one disagrees.

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  • Great courage baring your soul on such a public forum, and difficult but I think important questions that you are trying to answer. The question of "what really excites you" is one we should all be asking ourselves, in my opinion.

    I enjoyed reading the many different ways in which you are trying to answer these questions. If a negative ion bracelet helps you in that sense, then that's terrific. For those giving Anna a hard time about the bracelet, what is your opinion of the 20-30 other tips that she gives? I don't believe in these bracelets either, but I think Anna offers many other useful suggestions for practical little changes you can do to improve your lifestyle. Let's focus on those, and give Anna credit for daring to publish such a personal article.

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  • Just today I was wondering what Anna Frost was up to. So great timing. As for the comments, remember people - it is just a comment board... http://xkcd.com/386/

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  • I was going to send this to a friend who is struggling with an injury now...until I got to the "ion bracelet" part. The last thing a down and depressed person who is prepared to grab at anything to get back on track needs is ineffective nonsense that does nothing at all - and this applies to Anna too. Wreathing yourself in pseudo-medical bracelets is as far as you can get from reflecting on your own self and your own direction.

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