Tag: running

I’m a tortoise, not a hare.

Best training run ever!

Best training run ever!

I sped causally down the valley, warm wind in my face, David close behind me. It felt good to bike for once without my commuter saddle-bags weighing me down. It was Sunday and we were enjoying an easy 20-mile ride.

An easy 20-mile ride. I pondered the odd novelty of the phrase, the ease with which I now categorized such a workout. Easy.

Five years ago I wouldn’t go to the gym for more than twenty minutes. Four miles was my personal running limit. I was too terrified to ride a bike.

And yet, last month I ran my first marathon.What changed?

As I switched gears to pump up hill, the Tortoise and the Hare children’s story popped into my head.

It’s seems the classic “found my potential” story, but it’s not.

I didn’t run the marathon because I found my potential. I ran it because I stopped putting limits on my potential. I stopped thinking I had to be a hare, and started being a tortoise.

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austin, TX: the green city.

Zilker Park in Austin, TX.

Zilker Park in Austin, TX.

Finding a place to live is one of the main goals of this trip. Recognizing the importance of place to our personal well-being, David and I determined that we would actively seek out a location in which to live – possibly finding jobs afterward (though we’re still applying to jobs as we go, which ever comes first – job or place – will ultimately determine our landing site). As a result, we’ve spent many driving hours debating the kind of place we’re looking for. City vs. small town is a frequent topic. Many times city doesn’t make the cut because of pavement (bad for running), lack of access to nature, and too many people.

Yet, Austin, TX stole my heart.

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fear vs caution – in sumter national forest.

“Oh my god. What about snakes?” I blurted out, breaking the car’s silence.

“Um… what about them?”

“Does South Carolina have poisonous snakes?”

David kindly held back a laugh and said, eyebrows raised, “Most southern states do.”

I tried to pretend like I wasn’t panicking at the thought of slithering things that could kill me hanging out in my running path. I knew I was being ridiculous, but I’ve inherited some of my father’s paralyzing fear of serpents.

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6 reasons to exercise – that have nothing to do with weight loss.

The “Freshman 15” is a thing for a lot of people – I was not an exception. Before college I never reserved much love for exercise, I did track for a few seasons but outside of practice I very rarely got my heart rate up. I started exercising in college to combat the 15 measly pounds I gained; despite my efforts it was years before I lost it. During this time, however, I discovered a million and one reasons why I enjoyed getting my sweat on – and none of them had anything to do with losing weight.

It drives me crazy when people exercise solely for the purpose of losing weight. That’s the wrong way to go about it. Weight loss is an extremely complicated process that cannot be simplified to just burning calories. Heading to the gym to simply weigh yourself on the way out is not a sustainable weight-loss approach. Weight loss is a long-term return-on-investment; it’s so much harder to get yourself to the gym if you’re not focused on at least a few short term benefits. I’m not saying that exercising won’t lead to weight loss, it very well may and probably will; but weight loss can’t be maintained unless your workout routine becomes part of your lifestyle, and to do that you need more than a number on a scale to keep you going.

So here are my top 6 reasons why I exercise that have nothing to do with weight loss. Exercise can drastically change your life in so many other ways, even if you’re not losing weight the way you want to be. I don’t care if you’re walking, running, swimming, hiking, gardening, biking, doing yoga, or a workout tape. If you make the following benefits your purposes for exercising, rather than weight loss, you’ll get immediate payback. And you’ll get this payback no matter what: no matter how fast you are, how long you’re out there, or what you’re doing. Just getting moving.

1. Reduce stress and anxiety, relax.

This is a popular reason why people exercise. Often times people who hit the gym, road, trail, or pool do it because they feel calmer afterwards. Exercise is a huge stress reliever in many different ways. Did you know that it actually burns the stress hormone? I’ve always imagined my stress melting away when I’m running – but that’s literally what it’s doing, it’s burning off. Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise can reverse stress induced depression by enhancing the body’s ability to deal with stress. Exercise can be just as effective as antidepressants. Physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than sedentary people. One study suggests that more is not necessarily better; low-intensity, short exercise stints do just as much for your stress levels as high-intensity workouts, if not more. You don’t have to be a star athlete to benefit from this! In fact, no matter how hard you’re working you’re likely to experience equal stress relief. In fact, just taking a 20 minute walk can have the same effect as a mild tranquilizer.

“The real reason we feel so good when we get our blood pumping is that it makes the brain function at its best, and in my view, this benefit of physical activity is far more important – and fascinating – than what it does for the body.”

– Dr. John J. RateySpark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

2. Happiness!

Exercising not only reduces stress, it actually increases happiness. The brain releases endorphins during exercise that trigger the release of endorphins and chemicals like norepinephrine that actually make you feel happier. Within just five minutes of your workout you can already feel it! If you aren’t experiencing this boost of happy when you exercise it’s probably because you’re working out too hard. If you hit the ground running, literally, to the point where you can’t talk when you’re moving (because it’s hard to breathe) then you’re delaying your dose of happiness by at least 30 minutes. If you need a mood-boost look no further than the pavement outside your door – and take it easy.

3. Be more confident

This one is huge for me. Exercise made me more confident in my ability to do things. As a kid and preteen I often avoided hard labor with my father and brothers, and hikes and excursions with my friends, under the illusion that I didn’t enjoy it – in reality I was just scared, afraid that my body would make a fool of me. More recently, farming and running taught me that my body is a tool, a vessel for achieving milestones. The simple act of exercising, of using your body, can convince you that you look better – regardless of fitness. You’ll feel proud of your body and what it has achieved, giving you a different perception of yourself. If I haven’t succeeded in convincing you, let Kelsey Raymond try.

4. Get outside

We’ve known that nature deficit disorder is a thing for a long time. Humans are animals: we’re meant to be outside, in nature (however you choose to define that word). Contact with the natural world reduces depression and boosts energy levels. All it takes is – get ready for it – 20 minutes to see an improvement! Are you seeing a pattern? I’m a huge advocate for getting your exercise routine in outside. My choice is always trail running. But it can be walking, swimming, or biking. Getting your heart rate up for a short period of time, in the presence of natural surroundings will have great impact on your mental health.

5. Age better

Aging is scary. It’s unpredictable and unavoidable. But did you know that regular exercise throughout your life and into your later years can drastically reduce your risk of developing some diseases and disabilities that threaten the elderly? Exercise keeps your body healthy and functioning, and it also keeps your brain up and running. Studies show that memory functions of the brain may be maintained or enhanced in people with higher levels of fitness. Some people are afraid that excessive exercise in younger years will cause joint and muscle pain for later years. In contrast, more and more studies are finding that low-moderate exercise, even running!, can be extremely beneficial in the aging process.

6. Get smarter, more creative

By now you get the point that running does some cool stuff to the brain. It creates chemicals that make you happier, improve your memory, and improve your self-confidence. But just to give exercise one more brain-improvement award – it can actually make you smarter. Children who exercise regularly have shown higher levels of intelligence. Regular exercise improves our cognitive skills, giving us the ability to think better. And, not only does it make us smarter, but exercise has the ability to increase our creative potential. I now understand why all my good ideas come to me on my runs…

Conclusion:

There are so, so, so many reasons why we should exercise. These are just my favorite six – and the six that I think get over looked. But other reasons include lower risk of health problems like diabetes, strokes, and cardiovascular disease, the ability to fight addiction, and to improve social connections, to improve productivity, boost your immune system, increase your sex drive, keep you focused, fight back pain, etc., etc., etc.

All I ask is: the next time you hit the pavement, pool, gym, or trail give yourself two good reasons why you’re headed out there today – two good reasons that have nothing to do with your waistline. Exercise deserves to be valued and enjoyed, and I promise that these non-weight-focused reasons will help you achieve that. What you’ll get in return is guaranteed life improvement – can’t argue with that.

I’m back! 2015.

Heya! I’m back.

In January I did something I’ve never truly done – I set new year’s resolutions. I was inspired to do this by my favorite lady, Kelsey Raymond, on her spice & dice blog. Two years ago she decided to change her own life. So she did, surprising herself by accomplishing what she didn’t think she could. How did she do it? Simple. She set real goals. Achievable goals. Then she blew them out of the water. Pride and admiration sent me following in her footsteps (not a new thing). Then, two days later, she actually wrote a post about setting goals! My intuition beat her to the punch.

I know, it’s February. It’s been a whole month since New Year’s. It’s also been a whole month since I’ve been “in the real world.” After I graduated from Dickinson in May I spent six beautiful months on the Dickinson College Organic Farm as their livestock apprentice. Then I took a trip to Seattle to visit my aunt’s, Liz and Jessica, for three amazing weeks. Then it was Christmas. Then, BOOM. 2015. The first full year of my adult life.

I decided I need some direction.

Emily’s 2015 Goals

1. Restart this blog.

This blog got me through my time abroad, it helped me fully process and appreciate all that happened to me. When I stopped writing I found that I spent less time thinking, less energy processing my day to day experiences. As I enter this next stage of my life I want to reconnect with that way of living.

2. Pay off one of my loans. 

Loans, loans, loans. I hate talking about them, I hate thinking about them. But they’re there, and I’ll deal with them. But to kick start the process off right I’m going to pay one of them off in the first year! It’s the small one… but it all counts, right?

2. Run 26.2 miles. 

Gotta have a physical goal, right? Well, signing up for marathons hasn’t been working for me. Injuries, nerves, whatever it is. So I’m just going to run 26.2 miles, on my own. I can say I did, I don’t have to pay for it, and I can do it whenever I want – my kind of running.

3. Go on a road trip. 

David and I decided we’re making a change. So April 1st we’re headed out of central PA (on the first full day of my 23rd year). After visiting a bunch of family we’re going to explore the southwest and find a new place to live (ideally with employment). A big part of re-starting this blog is to document our experiences and update family/friends along the way.

Oh, and we bought a teardrop.

CHECK THIS THING OUT:

IMG_2509

2015 has a lot of potential. Financial realities were a huge shock to the system this month, but I’m determined to live my life fully and true to my values in community and sustainability. Right now I have the privilege to work with some amazing people in the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Harrisburg, PA, but past April my plans are very grey. How the year will pan out has yet to be seen, but stick along for the ride (literally) to find out!

best,e.

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