Temporary Lulls Are Just That…Temporary

This post sings a bit of a different tune. It’s more about the lulls in energy or drive that hit me in my daily life, be it work related, training related, or personally related.

It seems more so than ever I am aware that my life really is a series of unbalanced scales. I have a finite amount of hours and energy each day I bring to a project, to school, or to a training session. Sometimes when things in my life don’t seem to be in balance, it throws off the entire equation and I just shut down for awhile. Sometimes that while can last a few hours to a few weeks. And, every so often, I try to take a step back and really examine what I’m doing. Since I don’t work a 9-to-5 job, my projects last anywhere from a few hours to a few months. It’s nice and refreshing to be able to reframe my viewpoint so regularly. In fact, it is a luxury that I quite dearly missed in the spurts I committed to working full-time the few times in my adult life.

Lately I’ve been juggling more design work than school work. Just a few months ago, I was immersed full time in school work. What happened? Did I get bored or am I just coming up against a temporary lull? As you may already know, my interests oscillate between tech/design and health/fitness. One started off as a hobby and became a career, and sometimes it seems like I’m trying to redo that entire cycle over again in a completely different field.

I like to think of these temporary lulls as good practice for the Ironman. 17 hours is a long time to slug away at something. There will be some times when I don’t feel like swimming another yard, biking another mile, or running another step. It is in these temporary lulls that build character and grit. It is in trying times that you learn that the best things in life are the things you earn — education, leadership, strength. The things in life that are worth having are worth working for. Some have to work tirelessly before they see the fruits of their labor. Some people will never reach their end goals, but the journey is so consuming and well worth the investment that it is, in of itself, the reward.

It is in these quiet times I spend alone that I learn the most about myself and the people around me. A little bit of quiet observation unfolds a great deal of analysis of my past and present. I can’t predict the future but I can stack the odds. I can make plans for the future without sacrificing my appreciation of the present. I can honor the past by living fully in the present. I can (try to) learn to let go of the people and events in the past that burns inside of me.

I think the one thing I’ve learned the most in my adult life is how little I actually know. It’s kind of scary. I don’t have enough time on this earth for all of the books I want to read, the languages I want to learn, the places I want to visit, the startups I want to work with, the people I want to meet, the races I want to run. A lot of people at my age (and younger) feel invincible and on top of the world. I feel the exact opposite. I have so much to learn and so little time to execute it in. And, even though one of my goals is to complete an Ironman triathlon, I know that I have a lot of training ahead and a lot of life lessons to learn along the way.

I guess one place where I can start is…how the heck do I work all of the gears on my bike? That’s a pretty actionable first step, right?

Marathon Countdown: 15 Days, 60-hour Workweeks

Woah, where did February go?!

There’s only 15 more days until the LA Marathon. Good news is that I wrapped up my fundraising. I can’t believe that I was able to reach the $1,000 fundraising requirement. Honestly, that seemed more out of reach than the actual 26.2 miles! Special thanks to the landslide of friends who helped me reach that goal. It means a lot to me to think that you believe in my abilities enough to sink some cash to help out disadvantaged women in Los Angeles reach their career goals.

Speaking of career goals and running and the like…I’ve only logged, like, a handful of runs from January until now. I think it’s a single digit number. That can spell trouble BUT I’m confident that I’ll still be able to finish within the 8-hour time limit. Lately I’ve been telling myself that running marathons is more of a mental feat than it is a physical one. After all, my last marathon was more brains than brawn. I mean, even when the hallucinations started settling in I kept pushing, not because my muscles could but because I told my brain to keep on going.

My days have been insanely long. When you work for yourself, you work an insane amount of hours. Combine that with working for tech startups (more than one) at one time, under different length contracts, and don’t be surprised if your calendar explodes before your very eyes. I can barely remember the month of February and it’s already gone. Insane! On some days I was clocking 20 hours a day of straight UX/design work. On other days I was pulling 12 hour days at school. On others I was working 7-8 hours at my clinical internship. I barely had time to sleep but thankfully I was so stressed out and so pumped with adrenaline and cortisone (yay stress hormones!) that I could barely stay asleep anyways. My dreams were a cross of anatomy review and design iterations. Seems a bit nutty to combine the two.

Despite the two divergent paths I’m finding a lot of harmony between the two fields. A lot of my design feels a bit more inspired now that I’m returning to my healing roots. It seems like an unlikely combination — sort of like chicken and waffles — but they go surprisingly well together. Nature has always inspired my work, in such a way that a weekend camping trip to the great outdoors can renew my perspective just as much as a two-hour tough-as-nails deep tissue massage does. It’s fascinating that the human body has been built with the capacity to self heal, and that all of the answers are right in front of us…it is a matter of re-presenting the problem to the body so that nature can present the solution. Something that I learned this week that was absolutely fascinating was that during cramping, short effleurage from tendons to the muscle belly helps reset the proprioceptors and relieve cramping. So instead of gripping, digging, ignoring, etc., something as simple as light massage can make it go away.

Something that has also came to me while drilling through a few 20-hour workdays this week…if I can’t take a 20 hour day, 15 hour day, 12 hour day, 8 hour marathon…then I won’t be able to take on the Ironman! So I better get used to these long days, because 140.6 miles is a long way to go while complaining. The mental exercise is exhausting. UX design isn’t easy and requires a lot of mental energy, but it’s worth it, much in the same way that running 26.2 or racing triathlons is tough on the body. The journey is worth it!

Anyways, with 4 days left until the big 2-8…I’d have to say that I definitely squeezed the life out of 27. Started running, resolved to take a vacation, flew to Europe for the ultimate running vacation, switching careers — it’s all a day in the life, right? Sometimes when you’re down in the trenches, it’s miserable and awful and all you feel like doing is complaining and crying. I’ve had so much emotional support this last month from my boyfriend, BFFs, running buddies, and more that it’s hard to put into words. I’m looking forward to what my next year has to bring. Definitely less races but they’ll definitely be more meaningful. Still incredibly antsy about the 70.3 but I think that after the LA Marathon I will be able to re-shift my focus back on some more balanced training. I just need to get better at balancing my energy, not my time…because clearly, I’m a time-management master!

Happy Runniversary to Me!

It’s my runniversary, y’all! I think it was last February 2nd or 3rd that I made the decision to begin running and I haven’t looked back since.

Based on the cobwebs in my RunKeeper profile and blog, you might’ve thought that I’ve fallen off the face of the Earth. To the theories or speculation of my disappearance, I can confirm that it’s partially true.

I’ve been immersing myself in a certified massage therapy program here in Los Angeles. It’s been a pretty good program — I get around 15 hours of anatomy, pathology, and ethics lectures a week, which is coupled with about 20 or so hours of instructional massage therapy classes. The first day of class I got a wonderful massage during class! I’ve been trying to stay on the other side of the sheets for the most part, but when I notice myself feeling a bit run down I swap with my classmates and get an awesome trade massage.

I’ve really enjoyed the program so far. There is a 500-hour requirement for certification from the national certification board, meaning that I need to finish this program (166 hours of anatomy, 168 hours of massage, 166 hours of internship) in order to sit for the exam. Once I pass the exam, I will be certified to practice anywhere in the United States. It’ll be a nice gateway into my next academic step since I’ve been researching MAOM/DC programs here in LA. (MAOM = Masters of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, DC = Doctor of Chiropractic) I haven’t quite settled in on any specific schools yet but I have a few open houses I’m attending these next few months, so we’ll see.

As for training…yeah, I really need to get back into it. I’ve been booking design projects, jugging the massage internship, and going to school about 40 hours a week. There literally is no time for training. I wonder if this is what people mean when they say they have no time to work out — when they are committed to something that physically and mentally takes their time for 80 hours a week.

For now, I want to execute a manageable plan to run 3 times a week, using Kara Goucher’s rule of thumb: 1 easy run, 1 hard run, 1 long run. I think that I get bogged down by the fact that I can’t meet my mileage now that I don’t have enough time, but I really should just focus myself on getting out the door. I have my long runs scheduled on Saturdays with the charity team, so no big deal there. The problem is getting out the door for the other two runs during the week…and fundraising. (I still have about $550 to go!)

Stress galore, but it’s all worth it! (I think.) In the ¬†meantime, I submitted a small blurb to Nike Running and here’s what they sent back. Enjoy!

The 23.5 Hour Challenge

I came across this awesome video my friend posted on Facebook called 23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

If you have eight minutes to spare, it might be the best thing you could ever watch for your health. It’s something that seems pretty obvious, but coming from a doctor who 1) didn’t have to give you this information and 2) presenting it to you with factual numbers it’s difficult to argue against the benefits of even moderate exercise.

I personally hate it when my friends and family tell me that they’re too busy to make time for themselves. It’s exercise. It’s not a chore. It’s something your body was built to do. By fighting nature you’re just creating an uphill battle for yourselves. You spend eight or so hours a day sleeping, and most of the time, you’re really just sitting and spinning your wheels anyways. Would thirty minutes a day really make or break your career or your family time? I would argue that it would probably increase the quality of time spent at work or with your family. I mean, if you can’t spare half an hour for yourself, what you’re really telling me is that you can’t take the basic steps to take care of your own personal business…which then leads me to believe that you can’t really take care of anyone else’s business — work or personal — since you are clearly unable to manage your time. (Harsh, but true.)

Is half an hour still too difficult for you? What’d you think of the video?

Tis The Season For Personal Pivots

Every once in awhile I find myself back at where I started…albeit I’m usually in a better position, but still, nonetheless, back at where I started.

As some of you may know, when I began my running back in February, I was running my own design and marketing business. Since then I’ve had a few clients and took on a full-time job and thus giving up grad school and my businesses. Unfortunately with startup life comes a lot of risk-taking, and I had confidence that things would work out. Unfortunately they aren’t and now I find myself a teensy bit more vulnerable than I’d like. This has resulted in a few choice words and snide remarks at people who are trying to help — here’s looking at you, Shant — but also just generally being a bit more humble and conservative than usual.

Every so often we get on our high horse — whether it’s in our heads or publicly — but it’s important to know that what goes up must come down. While I have a pretty clear definitive plan on my next steps, they are still scary nonetheless.

My plans include:

  1. Wrapping up my graduate degree at Golden Gate University. I have about a year left of full-time study before getting my masters.
  2. Taking my ACE Fitness studying more seriously. If health and wellness is something I am serious about switching into, I really need to know the material and get my act together.
  3. Hunting down part-time/contractor opportunities. I want to be as focused as possible on studying so that when it comes time to flip the switch again — go from student to worker — I can do so with a clear mind and a sharpened toolset.
  4. Looking at new places to live. I really love my little apartment and neighborhood but I wonder if there isn’t a better spot that’s better suited for me. There are a few places close by that are cheaper but larger, but I’ll have to do a cost/benefit analysis to figure out if it’s worth considering.
  5. Get my money ducks in line. A little easier said than done since I hate thinking about money but apparently it’s a necessary evil at this stage in my life.
  6. Seriously train for my 70.3. I’m going to put together a training calendar, based on the aggregate of what’s available online, and use my personal training studying to my advantage. If I begin this month that’ll give me 11 months — nearly 40+ weeks — to get half-Ironman ready.
  7. Continue fundraising for Dress for Success. I’ve let that go to the wayside a bit since I’ve been busy with the full-time job but now’s a great time to pick that pack up!
  8. Build great content for my ‘Ironwoman in Training’ blog. I’d love to continue writing posts, but I’d like to invite guest bloggers, host live video chats, and just get more involved in the running community online.
I’m trying not to get too down on myself. These last few months I’ve certainly learned a lot about time management and have taken great leaps and strides in my professional career. I’m sure some of you are also underemployed/unemployed/funemployed. How are you all holding up? Have you been able to make more time for fitness and exercise? How does unemployment effect your health and wellness?
I suppose if you’re still happy employed, you should consider donating a little something to my Dress for Success LA Marathon fundraiser!

Don't Have Time? Make It.

Time is surreal. It’s a manmade concoction with which we rule our lives. Some people say time is money, time is life, life is money. Some people never have enough time to finish a project, pursue their dreams, or spend with their loved ones. I say that if you don’t have enough time in your life, it’s your duty to make it.

Time is Surreal

Making time is probably easier said than done. (Remember, this is coming from someone with infinite lists of timelines and to-dos, so I completely sympathize.) Although you can’t physically make “more life,” “more daylight hours” or “additional hours of the day” what you can do is budget the time you’ve been given and manage that to achieve your goals. (Remember, time is relative and only holds as much clout as you give it.)

For instance, I could probably stand to budget 2 hours every Sunday to go to the Buddhist meditation center. I haven’t done that lately — for almost two months! — but I know that those are the best spent 2 hours of every week I could spend. I know that if I make the time to spend 2 hours meditating at the center, instead of doing whatever it is I do on my Sunday afternoons, the rest of my week will fly by smoothly. If I give myself those 2 hours, for the rest of the week I become hyperaware of problems before they surface. My productivity shoots through the roof. I sleep better, I eat better, I exercise, and I become a happier and more peaceful person overall. I solve problems quickly and efficiently. So what’s gotten in the way of me making the time to go? Unfortunately there is no one else to blame but myself.

In Ivanka Trump’s book, The Trump Card, she said it best — When you don’t have the time to do something, that is when you need to do it most. You’re completely stressed out at work and it’s driving you up a wall. You need a break from it all but you can’t afford the time. That is the time when you should make the time for yourself. Simply put, the time that you should exert the most effort is when you can afford it least. That is how you truly achieve excellence.

When you put your foot down and discipline yourself to make the time to take a break or to pursue your goals, you will immediately feel empowered and in charge of your life. Fed up with your current job? Send out some resumes. Having a fat day? Go for a run. Feeling under the weather? Take the day off of work. Have the courage to stick up for the person who needs it most — you!

Due Diligence and Making an Action Plan

So, we’ve covered 1)¬†how to set goals, and 2) how to make goals achievable. We’ve also talked a little bit about being consistent. But, what good is all of that if you haven’t done your homework? Due diligence is crucial!

Setting Goals

Careful planning is required for every action plan. Having a wishful to-do list does you no good in the long run if you don’t know where to start. You have resources all around you…you just need to know where to look.

Here are some of questions you need to ask yourself:

  1. When can I devote time to myself?
    Set a reasonable schedule, pace yourself, and stay committed. Use a calendar program to send you reminders via text message and email if necessary.
  2. Who can help me achieve this goal?
    Always look to the people around you FIRST. Even if they can’t necessarily help you get started, they might know someone who can.
  3. What online resources are available to me?
    Check Google groups, LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, Twitter #hashtag chats, Twitter lists, blog communities, Meetup groups, VOKLE, Quora, etc.
  4. Where can I turn to for support?
    Check with your city center, church/temple, community college, local university, and other community hubs.
  5. Is there a community available?
    Achieving goals is easier when done with a group. Usually a hybrid of efforts between online and in-person research will yield communities with which you can engage. Try to attend some events that attract like minds. Whether you work with an in-real-life community or a virtual one, staying accountable to others will help you achieve your goals faster.
  6. Does this require money? Can I get help?
    It doesn’t have to cost a ton of money. There is a dirth of information available for free via blogs, audiobooks, websites, community sites, YouTube, Vimeo, etc. You can also check out the local public library for books, CDs, DVDs, and workshops.

  7. What do others suggest?
    Every goal requires different resources. Put out some feelers via Facebook or Twitter and see what others come up with! Better yet, try to connect with a pro and see what they suggest.

  8. Where can I start?
    Even if you don’t know where to begin, just START. Someone else’s roadmap may not necessarily fit your style. There’s nothing wrong with learning through trial and error. You are the master of your own destiny.

Do you have any other suggestions? Where do you turn to for help on projects and goals?