Archive for the ‘Wild’ Category

Day 23 – What I Eat

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The start of a beautiful friendship

This weekend, it was soup weather in Denton. During cooler (or even just less hot) months, I make at least one soup a week. It’s one of my favorite meals. It’s inexpensive, satisfying, comforting, and delicious.

It’s also a great way to pack in nutrients when I am training. My tendency to run more often when it’s cool outside isn’t just about the weather. It also has a lot to do with my seasonal food choices that give me more energy. Lack of energy will zap my motivation faster than anything. I have been told time and time again, “Just get yourself started – the energy will come with more exercise.” But for me, getting started requires it. The energy has to come first.

For this, I turn to food. I increase my consumption of fruits and vegetables, and I limit things like sugar, which gives me a false high that I know will soon send me crashing. I also tend to be a little anemic sometimes, so I focus more on leafy greens and peas, sneak raisins and dried apricots into everything (caponata with apricots – do it!), and revel in increasing my cheeseburger intake (without the side of onion rings and Dr. Pepper that often accompany it, of course).

Making healthy food choices begins with assessing what you need. I need more energy than usual to even want to run, so I eat things that I know will boost my energy level overall. If you are regularly running longer distances, you might want to consider carbo-loading (which is as glorious as it sounds) to maintain energy during your long runs. If you are prone to muscle cramps, you might want to think about foods that put more more potassium, calcium, or sodium in your diet, or maybe drink more water. Figuring out what you need is the key to making better choices that fuel you well.


I’m spending 31 days running wild.


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Benefits of these snacks: 1) Loads of energy. 2) If you don’t keep these ingredients as part of your staples, this bags costs about what it would cost you to buy all the ingredients, which is handy if you’re not sure if you’ll like them. Drawback: It’s hard to stop at one serving. Definitely for disciplined snackers.

This is probably going to be my favorite week. You know I love talking about food.

This week is not about learning a new diet or the newest trends that various medical researchers have discovered will save your life. The main reason for this is that there’s not one diet that works the best for everyone. No matter how fervently a group of experts proclaim the wonders of one way of eating, there are often an equal number of experts who are just as qualified who say something different – sometimes, the exact opposite.

Does this mean that we should ignore our doctors and all other experts and just do what we want? Of course not. That’s ridiculous. Don’t ignore your doctor. You could die.

This variance in results does, however, lead me to the conclusion that, while the human body may generally function in a particular way, it is indeed a marvel. And marvels are complicated and unique.

What works best varies from runner to runner. Some runners find that they perform better on a vegan diet. Some runners feel perpetually exhausted if they aren’t eating meat. Cheese (in moderation) is a great source of calcium and protein, but not if the runner is severely lactose intolerant, because one can’t absorb nutrients from foods that one’s body can’t digest.

So while I will be talking this week about what I eat and what I don’t eat when I’m training, I will also be talking about the process of finding what fits in those categories for you. We’ll talk about decadence and moderation, because both have a place here. And Friday is devoted to those of us who are snackers (disciplined or otherwise).


I’m spending 31 days running wild.

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Tiny bubbles

Week 3 Progress:

Miles completed this week: 4.75
Total miles completed: 12.94 (more than 15 behind schedule)
Days of proper hydration: 2/7
Days of good food choices: 4/7

These figures surprise me, actually. I feel like I’ve had an active, productive week. Perhaps in focusing so much on rest, I rested too much? Yeah, if that’s it, I can’t really bring myself to feel bad about it.

One thing I learned – or rather, was reminded of – this week is how much better I feel when I get the rest I need. Whether I’m training for a race or just trying to make healthier choices overall, rest is an integral part of that process.

Next week, hopefully our office can get back on track with our walking breaks throughout the day (if the weather participates), and my book club is starting to walk together next week as well. I have a week and a half to really up my mileage. Wish me luck!


I’m spending 31 days running wild.

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31 Days - Friday Five

In trying to compile a list of five things that could be helpful for rest and relaxation, I found myself with a lot of choices to narrow down. Because really – there are so many ways to rest, and they each work better for some people than others. So instead, I bring you five lists of things people do to relax. If you are drawing a blank, hopefully there’s something here that can spark your interest.

  1. I enjoy how this list includes making a to-do list as a way to relax. That’s so true for me – making a simple plan for when rest time is over helps me let it go until it’s the to-do list’s turn. I feel like the author of this piece understands me.
  2. If you are stuck in a rut, there is probably something on this list that you haven’t done (or at least, haven’t done in a while). It reads like a reminder of how to have fun.
  3. I like how sensory this list is. Focusing on sensory experiences is one of the primary ways I relax.
  4. Here are some ways to de-stress at work. While I’m not sure how relaxing it would be for my coworkers if I were to scream in the office, I’m sure there would be some cathartic effect for me. Hey guys – Forbes said. *snickers*
  5. And finally, here is my favorite list. These are ways people relax around the work. I personally can attest that smashing plates against walls relieve tension. It also lets your neighbors know what you’re capable of, if that’s of interest to you.

Hope you have enjoyed this week – the recap is coming up!


I am spending 31 days running wild.

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Day 19 – Sabbath

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Days when both locks stay locked are the best days.

Yesterday, I posted about small things every day you can do to incorporate some balance into your day; today we are going to go back to full days of rest. Earlier this week, I talked about whole rest days, but I focused on physical rest. I believe that psychological and spiritual rest are equally important.

Enter Sabbath.

The idea of Sabbath rest springs from the creation story where God took the proverbial six days to create the earth and all its critters and then took a day off. But Suzanne, you might be saying. I don’t really look to the Bible as an authority. Fair enough. That’s your choice to make. But there are a lot of texts I don’t consider authoritative from which I can still learn something that is practical and helpful to me, and I propose that this might be one of those situations for you, so hear me out.

I like how the story doesn’t say exactly what God did on the day of rest. Just…God rested. Certainly, it includes resting from work. I’d like to think there was an element of enjoyment as well. After all, boredom is not what comes to mind when I think “restful.” In reading around about this concept before writing this post, I discovered people certainly have detailed opinions on what it means to keep the Sabbath.

I tend to fall in the dissatisfying, vague camp of “whatever God (etc.) tells you it means.” That Sabbath would be different for different people makes sense to me. For example, as a pretty intense introvert, rest happens best when I don’t even walk out my door to get the mail. For an extrovert, however, this could be exhausting and hellish. I try to put aside 16-18 hours a week where I can be at home, taking a break from working and striving and checking things off my beloved to-do list and worrying that they aren’t getting checked off fast enough. There’s no set schedule or demands on any time or attention. I am free to do (or not do) anything that makes me happy.

That might sound like a large amount of time, but really, it’s just the waking hours of one day. If I don’t have a whole Saturday to myself, I find myself looking for hours to steal during weeknights. I definitely notice a difference when I don’t find the time. I become more irritable, less productive, and more stressed out. Not only am I more likely to miss meeting goals, I am more likely to not even try to meet them.

I take a Sabbath because I want to live, and getting stuck in survival mode isn’t living.

How do you recharge?


I’m spending 31 days running wild.

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There are few sounds that soothe me more than the sound of a record playing.

The perfect relaxing evening for me is the calm trifecta – records playing with a good book and soothing beverage in hand. I love evenings like this. I don’t get them every day, though, so do I just accept that I’m going to be stressed out until I can get to my next relaxing evening? Oh, no. That would be madness.

Rest is more than sleeping and taking time off. It doesn’t have to take large chunks of time that you have set aside. There are ways to incorporate a state of restfulness into your day, and they don’t have to be complicated. Doing so helps you maintain some of the balance and bypass some of the (*W#&(*#(@)Q! I don’t know about you, but I could do with a little less punctuational angst.

Mostly, restfulness hinges on something simple like remembering to take breaks. In said break, you can stretch, clear your head, breathe, or do any number of things that calm you down. Sometimes, you can do them right at your desk.

Part of the reason I am listing something that I do to rest everyday is to remind myself to take breaks. Most of the things I mention are longer activities, but I don’t want to discount the small things, because they add up.

So today, my restful act is remembering to take a few 5-minute breaks during the workday. So far, I’ve taken two, and it’s amazing how much more relaxed I feel than usual. Sounds like something I may want to consider making a part of every day.


I’m spending 31 days running wild. 


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Day 17 – Sleep

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Cozy bed, I miss you. I’ll see you again tonight.

It’s funny for me to be writing this post on a day when I overslept. I did not practice good sleep habits last evening. I had both coffee and gobs of sugar in the form of cookies (shortbread, which is easily one of my top three favorite cookies, and those grocery store bakery cookies that are like crack) at book club. It’s challenging for me to turn down either one on their own, but with their powers combined…well, I’m not even sorry. It was delicious, and I enjoyed it.

It made getting to sleep before 3:00 a.m. downright impossible, though.

Good sleep is necessary for everyone, but it is especially important if you are making extra demands on your body (like a regular running practice). You simply cannot run at your full potential if you are not practicing good sleep hygiene. I first heard the term “sleep hygiene” when I started working the night shift at a residence hall, which was also the last time I ran with any regularity. Having never been a great sleeper and then adding to the mix that I was sleeping against the natural clock (i.e., when it was light outside instead of dark), I was desperate to find a way to get some rest so that I didn’t go through my night shift like a zombie. Good sleep hygiene involves doing things that help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer (at least long enough to get through a few good REM cycles).

Sleep experts (real experts, not the mattress company, although they know what’s up, too) tend to agree on five things you need to do to practice good sleep hygiene. The list below is compiled from information gleaned from the American Sleep Association, the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and the National Sleep Foundation.

  1. Create an atmosphere that’s actually conducive to getting good sleep. The bedroom is not Grand Central Station. Most experts agree that, in order to get good sleep, the bedroom should be a sanctuary reserved for only bedroom activities (i.e., sleep and sex). Our bodies tend to rest better at lower temperatures, so maybe turn the thermostat down a few degrees when it’s time to go to bed. Having a comfortable mattress not only helps you fall asleep faster, it also helps to prevent the musculoskeletal issues caused by sleeping wonky. Because noise is a factor that both keeps me awake and wakes me up easily, I have a white noise machine that masks the intermittent jarring of things that go bump in the night. And finally, avoid using your phone in bed. Not only does the glaring light from the screen confuse the brain that thought it was sleepytime, it also pisses off your retinas, at least temporarily.
  2. Use light to your advantage. The first thing I did when I started working night desk is invest in blackout curtains. They block a significant amount of light from entering the room. I still use them, because there is a security light outside my window. When you are ready to wake up, however, light is your friend. The body naturally wants to wake up when the sun hits your face. Turning lights on or throwing open the curtains (if you have a job that means you get to wake up after the sun…also tell me what you do, because I feel that I would enjoy that) can help set your natural sleep schedule. Which brings me to…
  3. Have a routine sleep schedule. For most people, this involves limiting naps during the day, because your body only needs a certain amount of sleep, and getting more during the day can make it harder to fall asleep at night. It’s also important to establish a bedtime routine. The bedtime routine that works for me (when I use it, that is) means
    – No social media after 9:00.
    – A cup of herbal tea or half a glass of wine as I read for 30 minutes to an hour.
    – Warm shower or at least soaking my feet.
    A few yoga stretches to work out the day’s kinks.
  4. Take care of yourself overall. A body that is getting good nutrition and exercise tends to function better in other ways, including sleep. It’s also important to pay attention to the time of day you are eating and exercising. Limiting caffeine intake (I know – limits are the worst – but I begrudgingly admit that coffee after 5:00 p.m. makes me want to stay awake forever) and not eating heavy foods or engaging in strenuous workouts right before bed are all part of good sleep hygiene.
  5. Don’t fight with sleep. If you lie awake in bed for more than 20 minutes (some people say 5, but some people have ridiculous expectations about how easy it is to fall asleep), don’t get mad – get up. Repeat one of your relaxing practices from your nightly sleep regimen until you feel sleepy, and then give it another try. The chemicals produced by your frustration with the inability to fall asleep just add to that inability.

Despite my terrible (and by terrible, I do mean delicious and awesome) food choices last night, I did practice rest by taking the afternoon off to go to the salon. How did you practice rest yesterday?


I’m spending 31 days running wild.

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Day 16 – Rest Days

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Rested feet are less swollen feet. Also, I have a lot of pictures like this. I could make a weird lounging foot collage.

Let’s just go ahead and admit it – running is hard on the body. Yes, it’s a weight-bearing exercise that builds bone density, but it is jarring. You are literally pounding parts of your body into a hard surface, and the whole body feels the impact. Rest and recovery days, therefore, are vital to maintaining a healthy running practice and avoiding injury.

At least every other day that you run needs to be a recovery day [aside – read that article. It’s pretty entertaining. I am a fan of any writer who can work in the phrase “vegetate like an eggplant.”]. That means you are running at a marathon-ish (i.e., slow and steady) pace. Recovery days are great, because they still give you aerobic benefit, which can actually speed up recovery more than total rest does.

But some days need to be full-on rest days.

A rest day is not sitting on the couch all day, doing as little as possible. It’s still good to incorporate some kind of exercise that’s easier on the joints, like swimming or some of the safety moves we talked about a few days ago. Rest days mean you are avoiding the moves that jolt your body so that it can recover. An experienced runner needs a rest day at least once every week and a half, while a novice probably could use two in that time frame.

How do you know you’re not getting enough rest days? Simply put, you will feel like crap. Pushing yourself too hard as a runner almost feels like you’re coming down with the flu. If you feel bad, do what your body says it needs. Rest.

On Monday, I practiced daily rest by turning off all media a few hours before bed and reading with a cup of tea. How are you practicing daily rest?

I’m spending 31 days running wild.

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Our daily mosey back to the office after lunch
(Photo courtesy of my coworker Debra)

When you work – no matter what kind of work it is – you need to rest. Sometimes, I am very good at resting. For example, last Friday and Saturday, I did not leave my house at all. Not even to get the mail. I still stretched and yoga-ed and did a few things around the house at a leisurely pace. I relaxed well, and it was restorative.

At other times, though, I am not so great at resting.

Goal-tracking is both my saving grace and my downfall. It absolutely helps me achieve goals. As I am super task-oriented, it is gratifying to count the number of check marks I’m able to make at the end of each day. When it comes to rest, however, sometimes my glee in achieving overshadows the minor detail that I’m exhausted.

This week, we are going to look at rest as part of the goal of running wild. Just like eating well helps you run better, so does resting well. Each day, I will be talking about what I did that day to take a break, because good rest is a daily necessity. Each day, I will also be talking about a different aspect of rest, because rest is also something we can all learn to do better.

The first day will be about enriching your walking/running practice by incorporating days when you don’t run. The second day, we will discuss the importance of getting good sleep (spoiler alert – I am so bad at this. We’ll bring in the experts.). The third day, we will talk about things that calm us down and help us cultivate a practice of rest even as we are going through our day. The fourth day we will explore cautionary tales about the importance of taking it easy after an injury. And on Friday, we will list five small things you can do to incorporate rest into your life.

Sunday (when this overview was originally scheduled to post), was not a restful day overall. I had church and meetings and nine SEO articles to finish. I knew, however, that if I did not take a couple of breaks, I would burn out long before all my tasks were complete. When I ate lunch, I sat down at the table and ate slowly, savoring each bite (this is just a good idea in general – more on this next week), without any distractions like television or checking email. Between each article, I took five minutes to stretch and breathe deeply. This not only saved me from the ache that comes from sitting too long but also gave my mind a few minutes to clear. Resting made the busy day doable.


I’m spending 31 days running wild.

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UNT’s running track at the rec center – sometimes brave is sweating in front of people 20 years your junior.
(photo courtesy of my coworker Debra)

Week 2 Progress:

Miles completed this week: 2.14 (out of 10 that I planned)
Total miles completed: 8.19 (6.81 behind schedule)
Days of proper hydration: 3/7
Days of good food choices: 4/7


I did not have a productive week as far as my mileage goal is concerned. I’m not sure why, but I have a few guesses.

It could be that I was on vacation, so my schedule was off-kilter (6/10 probability – this was the biggest difference between last week and this week).

It could be that I was writing about safety and, conversely, all the ways that running can put me in a not-safe situation, and that was enough to push what little desire I generally have to exercise off the ledge (3/10 probability – no remarkable spike in anxiety levels, which I would expect to accompany this reason).

It could be that I didn’t have time (1/10 – lol no – I stayed busy, but I had plenty of time to get 10 miles in if I’d made the effort).

The good news is that my water intake and healthy (and also delicious) food choices improved. I cooked more than usual, so eating well was easy.

Every time I take a holiday from work, I am more convinced that I will be excellent at being retired. I eat better, I rest better – I do everything better. I actually have time to take care of my life.

What I learned, therefore, from this week off is that I might need to reexamine my priorities and drop some things that keep me from doing better at the basic things that sustain my health (and thus life). I haven’t gone much farther in the thought process than just musing, “Hey, maybe I’m too busy,” but I guess that’s a start.


I’m spending 31 days running wild.


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