No time to run?

Stop those excuses and make 30-minutes yours

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I don’t have a lot of free time. I’m a mother of two very busy boys, working on my own business, and without the privilege of family neither on my side nor on my husband’s side living remotely close to help a hand. I’m not complaining or looking for sympathy but meerly pointing out that this is a reality for many people. This post is especially for those who can identify with this reality: over-worked people, single-mums or dads, parents who don’t have family close at hand…

It’s easy to fall in the trap of not having enough hours in the day to take care of our own personal wellbeing but we owe it to ourselves to allow some “me” time to unwind and to get some exercise.

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Me with my two very busy boys. They keep me on my feet!

The 30-minute challenge

Even with my schedule I have no excuse to say that I can’t give myself a 30-minute slot to enjoy a run three or four times a week. If you are in a situation where time is limited, could you not find a 30-minute slot to get out of the house and get some fresh air, whether it is a walk, cycle, run or swim? Your body and mind will feel a lot better for it.

I know how precious this time is to me and so I use it to set myself a simple and realistic goal. In my case to keep myself motivated I challenge myself to improve on my running distance in 30-minutes. The progress might seem small day-by-day. Today’s run was only 2-seconds better than Saturday’s run. It doesn’t sound like a great deal but when you consistently keep up your practice, after a month the difference could be sigmificant. The body needs consistent training for around 60 days for something to convert into a well-established habit. Imagine after 2 months of exercising 30-minutes, a few times a week? There’s got to be lots of benefits and improvements to your practice.

So for you busy people out there with not enough time to look after your wellbeing could you set yourself your own motivating 30-minute challenge?

Here’s some ideas that you can do as 30-minute challenges. They are easier to monitor if you have the same start and finish points:

  • Walk for 15 minutes then return. After the third time walking try and walk briskly a little further in 15 minutes and back. Extend the distance little by little.
  • The same idea goes for running. Recall what distances you can do 15 minutes one way and 15 minutes back using a sportswatch or by marking the spot you arrived at the turnaround. Try and extend that distance with a slight up on your pace.
  • Swim for 15 minutes. Note a landmark and return. Try and reach further than that landmark at 15 minutes every third times you get out for your swim.
  • If you have children, try and motivate them to participate in a 30-minute challenge with you, especially if you are starting-off new.
  • Get up earlier and get in a 30-minutes exercise early in the day!

The key to keep up motivation is to set yourself a simple and realistic challenge so that you can see that you are making improvements and not just going on autopilot. Go on, get out there, breathe the air and give your body, mind and soul some “me” time. Facing and meeting challenges are great for your self-esteem, confidence, satisfaction, and prepares you better for facing life’s own challenges.

 

Exercise your Brain

morning routine for peak brain performance

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I only want to post if I have anything remarkable to share and beneficial. So here goes today’s post. Stick with it. It’s a really valuable one.

Create good habits and stick to them

Do you have those mornings when you get up and feel foggy, sluggish, as if you’ve had a large beer without actually having that large beer?

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You find it hard to kick-start the day? There’s something you needed to remember and you can’t quite get it? You have an important speech to make and you want to impress? You have an exam and want to get all those facts right?

Exercising the brain is just as important as the physical exercise we need to keep everything working well. Our ability to learn is not fixed to intelligence or our potential, it’s about expanding our ability to learn. So here I am going to share some great morning routines to get that brain working at its peak performance. Keep that mobile phone at bay for the first hour!

  1. First thing when you wake up is to remember your dreams and jot them down.    This is when your
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    I got it! 

    brain has been actively creative and figuring out stuff. It could be that eureka moment! Before going to bed consciously tell yourself I want to remember my dreams.

    2. Secondly, make your bed! Start the day as you mean to go on. It gives you a sense of wellbeing and success. At the end of the day you return full circle to a ready made bed.

    3. Third, do some brain gym. Try brushing your teeth with your opposite hand! The same goes for eating with the opposite hand! This really fires up the neurol networks in your brain.

     4. It is really important to keep your brain hydrated. Drinking a glass of water helps clear a foggy brain. We use up a lot of water in our body while we sleep.

      5. This one is not going to be everyone’s favourite but having a cold shower really helps relax the brain, reduces inflammation (think why we put ice packs on knee injuries) and gets the brain into the theta state which is optimal for programming and creativity! It’s got to be worth it!

      6. Drink a brain G-tea which contains ginko, ginger or green tea. Remember the 3 Gs!

      7. Whilst enjoying your tea this could be the optimum moment to write in a journal. Many successful athletes and business people keep a journal. Apart from jotting down what you remember from your dreams, focus on writing for example 3 things to accomplish today.

     8. Drinking a brain-power smoothie. Great brain foods are avocado, blueberries, broccoli, tumeric, walnuts (nature is telling us something with this brain-shaped food), green leafy veggies. Apart from the smoothies, good alimentation is clearly important so including salmon and eggs in the diet is a great brain booster, (but not so nice in smoothies)! 😉

    9. Got many books on the shelf that still haven’t been read? Set aside time to read every week. Reading keeps a well-trained muscle.

    10. Morning time is a great time to dedicate to various exercise practices. A 5-minute exercise which involves movement, e.g. yoga and raising the heart rate will set you up for the day, including meditation practice (in the form of breathing or visualisations) for as little as 20 minutes daily will make a big difference to processing thoughts.

As I mentioned earlier, consistency is key to all of this and finding your motivation for why you would want to optimise your brain state.  Your motivation reasons may be for:

  • better focus
  • more confidence
  • more proficiency and success at work
  • recalling data better
  • remembering things more easily such as people’s names
  • looking after your mental health

Happy remembering!

Comfort Zone Crisis?

And 8 tips to overcome feeling uncomfortable

What crisis? I’m feeling very nice and comfortable, thank you. Everything is safe, under control and familiar. (Sounds like denial and rejection to me).

But in an increasingly rapidly changing world how does one cope with unfamiliar situations and changes? Higher competition, more demands, keeping up with technology, etc. etc.

Staying safe can lead to stagnation, boredom and inflexibility. One stops seizing opportunities for growth to avoid being in unfamiliar territory.

Exploring unfamiliarity could be:

·Starting a new project that’s been put off (me).

·Reaching out to new professional contacts (that’s me too).

·Taking a small risk that could push you towards your goals (again, that’s me).

Since giving up a career that I’ve been familiar with for over 20 years one of the toughest challenges I’ve had to face is stepping into the world of uncertainty, changes and moving on. Just the feeling of being in an uncomfortable situation makes my stomach churn and my head dizzy. I can feel it right now just writing about it!

What can I do to mentally step out of my comfort zone?

1. Visualise over and over again successfully doing or achieving what you fear. It helps reprogramme your thought habits.

2. When you are faced with criticism don’t feel rejected, defensive or in denial. Instead think of it as a gift to reach your true potential.

3. Remind yourself of your greatest accomplishments. They are often marks of your courage and it is a reminder of what we need to get us there.

4. A strong Wonder Woman / Superman body pose helps increase your sense of power and confidence. The more you do these poses the more you will be able to step out of your comfort zone!

5. One of my favourites is: make it a habit to try something new. Go easy at first and start small (don’t expect to be able to run a half marathon after taking up running for a month!). Trying new things will make you get bolder and will make change seem less intimidating.

6. FEAR. When you are in an uncomfortable situation ask yourself if your fear is factual and perhaps it is better not to proceed. However, if your fear is purely emotional, perhaps you need to proceed and push through any discomfort.

7. Take a goal and break it down into small steps. Focus on one step at a time. This will boost confidence, give a positive outcome and motivation to stick with pursuing it.

8. A great one to help in the fearful moment is: ask yourself, ”What’s the worst that could happen?”  Then follow this up with ”What’s the best case scenario of what could happen?” Both help address fear or discomfort and then give renewed energy towards the success of trying or exploring something new.

Do you have any more tips for changing the mindset from comfort for personal growth?  Please share!

Carpe Díem

 

 

 

Mindful Post-Race Plan

Regardless of a great finish or a burnout in a race it’s important to continue working mindfully towards the process of achieving your main personal goal. Rather than being obsesssed about results-orientated goals, a focus on the process of logging mindful kilometres is more meaningful than pace or distance clocked-up.

EXAMPLES OF MINDFUL GOALS

1. Learn to find more joy in running and everyday life.

2. Work on greater emotional balance.

3. Find focus and calm.

4. Learn to listen to my body and take better care of it.

5. Gain a better understanding of my thoughts and emotions.

PRACTICE GRATITUDE AFTER AN EVENT

After a race reflect on results, ACCEPT things as they are, and shift gears. Express gratitude for the fact you are able to run in the first place. See running as an opportunity you are given to do.

Keeping a gratitude journal helps boost your immune system, reduce aches and pains, lower blood pressure and enhance sleep. Practicing gratitude really influences your recovery, helping us heal both mentally and physically.

Writing down 3-5 things you are grateful for in this moment, whether it is to do with running, family, friends, work or your post-race plan will help embrace the feeling of well-being and happiness and make you MORE RESILIENT in the face of adversity.

 

Mindful Running – is it THE bible for runners?

a review of Mackenzie L. Havey’s book

This week I finished reading the book. Check out the video below for my review on it.

It’s not THE mindful running bible for me. I found I lost interest at points as the anecdotes were very similar and then there were some exercises and tips that I naturally incorporate in my runs anyway. However I did take away a few ideas from the book and it opened up my awareness to some factors.

In my video I talk about meditation. It is of extreme benefit to anyone to train the mind to stop clinging on to sensations, thoughts or habits, whether pleasurable or painful. Have a go at the 5-minute meditation if you have never done so. I’d love to know if you were able to keep your mind focused on your breathing.

If your mind does wander (which is its tendency) bring your attention straight back to the breathing with a few stronger breaths then back to normal natural breathing. Keep repeating this everytime you realise your mind has wandered off.

Vlog 2: Be a …

radio, a fine-tuned one

Second video in my series of ‘Be a …’.

My video thoughts usually arise from when I allow curious ideas come into my head while I’m running and some self-awareness.

The analogy of the radio is a curious one. I am currently connected to presenting on a local radio station and I realised how our thought processes could be like someone tweaking through different radio stations, catching snippets of this and that with no sense of sequence or order. Or how we listen to the radio to tune out from reality without tuning in to what sensations are occuring in the body as a result of our thought process.

Tackling stress in challenging situations

such as in running races

” I feel overwhelmed”. I remember myself saying that and thinking it on a number of occasions. Knock-on effects include anxiety, increased heart rate, lack of focus, decreased immunity, and poor sleep. Emotions are in a constant state of tension and guardedness. Muscles stiffen up, more energy is expended and motor patterns change. Not good at all.

If you’re not being mindful there’s a good chance you’re carrying more stress and tension than you realise which physiologically is going to prevent you from maximising your potential.

Mindfulness teaches you to pay attention as to whether your shoulders, facial muscles, and neck are relaxed and whether your posture is nice and tall. This is great for running better because your muscles work better when they are not carrying tension. This helps keep injuries at bay as well.

I studied The Alexander Technique which helps bring more awareness to your body and posture and help remove tensions from your body. I highly recommend it for athletes, people who spend a lot of time in front of a computer or anyone who suffers from backache. More information here:

https://alexandertechnique.com/

Tips for dealing with stress

The first step is recognising stress and this is where mindfulness training comes in.

  1. First you must be aware of the mental dialogue in your head. Notice specific thoughts that are going through your mind.
  2. Accept the thoughts and the situation in that moment. Don’t battle against it.
  3. Understand the emotions that are connected to the thoughts. An example: You’re at the starting line of a race and you’re suffering from stomach-churning pre-race nerves. Your body is tense and there’s a sense of doom. You observe the emotions and feelings in the body and understand that this is the natural buzz associated with tackling a new challenge.
  4. You decide if this line of thinking is productive to you or not. You say to your mind “Thank you for sharing“. You make the choice that these emotions (as in the example above) are productive to your performance and re-label them as “excitement” rather than “doom”. This helps control your breathing, bring awareness to relaxing the muscles in your body and bring yourself back to a state of calm.
  5. Complete your action plan with calmness instead of distress.

Basically you are training to put some distance between the feelings and the thoughts and noticing how your body responds. It is worth remembering that some level of stress is normal in training and it does serve an important purpose. Convert your nerves into excitement to fuel the competitive fire in a race.

The above message is not just for runners but can be applied to all aspects in life as we all tend to live stressful situations. The key is to be aware.