The Little Things in Life

Thinking-Out-Loud2

This week has been full of reminders that sometimes, it’s best to take a step back and take stock of your life, and find joy in the little things. It’s so easy to fall into a pattern where everything seems mundane. Instead of doing that, I’m thinking out loud about a few of the moments I’ve recently had that brightened up my day and made me feel like everything’s going to work out in the end!

Sunrise over the East River

Sunrise over the East River

 

Yesterday, watching the last moments of the sunrise over the East River as I jogged up to meet everyone at November Project, I was reminded again how shockingly beautiful nature is. Unadorned and unaltered by mankind, it’s bigger and brighter than all of us (and we should work hard to keep it that way!)

 

 

 

Puppies preening

Puppies preening

 

Later in the morning, I saw a group of the cutest puppies on my way out the door. If you can believe it, dog-walkers in New York handle twice as many pups as this at one time – this was the group for the left-hand leash! It’s so nice for the dogs that the weather is better, they can run and play in the park to their heart’s content without worrying about salt in their paws.

 

 

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Five Things I’m Loving This Friday

Today I woke up feeling a little jumbled. It’s Friday and I have no class to attend or internship hours to fulfill, but I do have a national ethics exam for law students to take tomorrow morning at 8am! It’s sort of strange feeling like I have a jump-start to the weekend when I have to take a test on Saturday, but I decided to follow my usual rules for the day before a big test, which means taking it easy and not thinking about it too much. At this point, there’s not much I can do – if I don’t know something already, I’m not going to learn it by tomorrow, so it’s best to relax and refocus. To take my mind off of it, I decided to share a few things I’m loving this week with all of you, and think about them instead!

 

Cloudsurfers

Cloudsurfers

 

1. My Cloudsurfer sneakers. I’ve been wearing these since August now, and they’re better than any running shoe I’ve tried before. I’ve worn them on my weekly long runs and to race the Walt Disney World Half Marathon and NYC Half Marathon. I think I’ve logged 400 miles on my first pair, and 100 miles on the second pair (which I bought at the Expo in Disney, and broke in after that weekend). So far, they’ve held up very well, and with my tendency to aggravate old knee and hip injuries, they offer a nice flexible cushion without being too clunky.

 

 

 

 

A delicious base for a brunch dish

A delicious base for a brunch dish

 

2. Garden Lites Spinach Souffle. I’ve been a fan of these gluten-free, nut-free veggie souffles for awhile now. They’re a little expensive for the size of the dish (most are 7-8 ounces and they retail for $3.79-$4.79 in the grocery stores closest to me) so I can’t eat them too often, but I love trying out new ways to use them in meals.

 

 

 

Brunch bowl with a spinach souffle base

Brunch bowl with a spinach souffle base

 

 

I just made myself a hearty brunch bowl with a spinach souffle, two scrambled eggs, frozen veggies, Al Fresco spinach and garlic chicken sausage, and goat cheese. Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

Happy to behold this beauty

Happy to behold this beauty

 

3. The return of one of my favorite paintings, The Lighthouse at Two Lights, to the walls of the Modern wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Edward Hopper is one of my favorite artists, and of all his works the studies he did of the New England coast capture my mind and heart the most. This painting was in storage for awhile (I wandered into the Met the birthday before my last one to catch a glimpse and it was no longer there, which took a lot of birthday ice cream to make up for!) but it’s being displayed once again, at least until the Met moves the modern art to its new home in the old Whitney building. I dropped by this week after school!

 

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On Being Weatherproof

As a ballet dancer, my movement was not confined by the weather unless there was so much snow I couldn’t be driven to class or rehearsal. When I started coxing for my college boat club, I had my first brush with what Weather can do to a workout. Yes, Weather. Not just rain – sleet, snow, or ice. Often in Oxford it would somehow manage to be a combination of all four within a 4-hour period. In my first year of coxing, I suffered through multiple outings huddled in five layers of fleece topped with a rain jacket, gritting my teeth as precipitation pelted me and freezing as I sat still. Even the rowers had it better – at least they were moving. After that, I moved up to assigning the coxswains, and campaigned to schedule each week based solely on the expected conditions. I wasn’t one to dance in the rain, so why should I sit in it?

When I first started running, in the spring of 2013, it had been a long and dreary winter (I had no idea that a polar vortex was coming for us the following winter!) and being outside was one of the biggest perks. I honestly think I was able to get into running so quickly because I was tired of being cooped up indoors and just wanted to be out in the fresh air for longer and longer stretches of time. Even then, though, I skipped runs if it was raining. I still got out there 4 or 5 days every week. That continued for the initial months, until summer came. If I thought winter was cold, summer was HOT. That whole global warming thing is no joke, and it jolted me into rising early, just like I had during my coxing days, to beat the heat by running before I went to my summer internship.

 

Clouds and rain outdoors > in a gym on the dreadmill

Clouds and rain outdoors > in a gym on the dreadmill

One morning it was drizzling, and I decided to get outside anyway. I wouldn’t be wearing heavy clothes that got even heavier when soaked. Worth a shot. So I laced up and headed out. I realized it wasn’t so bad. And when the drizzle stopped and the clouds cleared, I was treated to a lovely rainbow ringing over the sun before I went back inside to shower and start my day. A switch had flipped. I didn’t really ease into running in Weather. When autumn arrived, I just kept wearing the baseball cap I’d worn in summer to keep the sun out – it keeps the rain off equally well. I ran right through my first real rainstorm in September getting ready for my first race.

 

 

If the park is like this in early March, the only option is to ignore the weather

If the park is like this in early March, the only option is to ignore the weather

When winter came? I just kept at it. I’ve always loved  the way snow turns our world into a winter wonderland – and running through it was better than rain! Ice held me up for a run or two until I figured out my tricks of the trade, and went dashing along happily through the frost. This past winter, I’ve only been kept inside once because of Weather (last year was about a week because of that pesky polar vortex!) Now, along the way, I’ve struggled to explain just why it’s worth it to me to get outside and on the run when it’s admittedly pretty awful out and most people would stay in on the couch with Netflix and cocoa. While my best friends are lovingly tolerant of my running-in-Weather habit, they don’t understand it. And casual acquaintances feel free to tell me I’m insane. I usually laugh it off, because the truth is, I get that it’s a little out of the ordinary. But to me, it isn’t crazy, because being outdoors and on the move is what makes me happiest. I’ve never regretted a single run, no matter how tricky or slippery it was.

 

But what was I supposed to call myself, if not a ‘crazy’ runner? I had no idea, until I found November Project. A group of people who get outside and wake up the sun with a workout no matter the weather. And I was finally able to describe myself – as #weatherproof. (NP loves hashtags, which I am still getting used to, because I am a Luddite.) The first morning I showed up was the first Wednesday of February and it was about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and there were easily 30+ people there ready to go. Last Wednesday was the first month-iversary of my coming to the workouts, and it also happened to be the 1st birthday of the New York City NP “Tribe” – so despite the snow and rain combining to create some sort of slush soup, 40 people came out to work out and celebrate. By running in circles around Carl Schurz Park through ankle-deep puddles of the slush soup.

It isn’t crazy, after all. It’s just being #weatherproof. (Please note that most of these people are way more badass than I am. I show up once a week or so, loving my slow solo runs on the other days. I’m an amateur athlete compared to most of NP!)

 

What do you think? Do you workout even in wild Weather?

 

Happy Birthday to NP NY!

Happy Birthday to NP NY!

 

 

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

Waking Up for a Winter Workout

Although many people start off January with resolutions to exercise more and focus on healthy habits in the new year, winter doldrums can get in the way. When it’s cold and snowy (or sleeting, or icy, or just plain gray and gloomy) it can be tough to find the motivation to get up and moving.

Pretty but chilly!

Pretty but chilly!

 

I am one of those crazy runners who gets outdoors no matter the weather. Rain or shine, I can be found in the park or on the trail. I think there were 3 days in all of last winter when I went to the gym for a workout – and I still got in 4-5 runs every week! So far this winter, I’ve been able to keep it up, and haven’t been forced onto the dreadmill yet. But it took awhile for me to get into the habit, and even more time to enjoy the time I spend running outside in all kinds of conditions. So I thought I’d share a few tips to jump-start winter workouts!

 

...ready to hit the snowy streets!

…ready to hit the snowy streets!

 

First, make a habit of getting outdoors unless conditions are truly unsafe. Make a promise to yourself to get outside and have all the proper gear for winter weather set and ready to go in the morning. That way, when the alarm clock goes off, you’ll be more likely to get up and at ’em – after all, you’ve already prepared and won’t want to waste the effort!

 

 

 

Second, ensure you have enough time to get in a workout before your day begins, and treat the time you have as, well, a treat! I think of my run as something I ‘get’ to do before doing all the things for school and my internship (and eventually my job) that I ‘have’ to do. It’s a little thing, but the way you perceive it can make all the difference.

 

Breakfast at the ready

Breakfast at the ready

 

Third, have everything ready to go at your house or apartment for when you return – clothes for the day laid out, breakfast supplies ready and easy to assemble, and your bag packed so you can get back out the door quickly. This morning, my run was pretty chilly, but knowing I had a couple of Pumpkin Puffins and a mug of dark and sweet blueberry coffee at home kept me going!

 

 

 

 

Taking trail conditions in stride

Taking trail conditions in stride

Having a few friends to run with is another great option – I try to do my long runs when training for a race with a friend or two, and workout buddies can definitely keep you accountable. Personally, my motivation for running (like my motivation for most other things in life) tends to come from within. I’m not the type of person who likes to follow a set training plan to the letter (probably because I’m not really big on following directions…as evidenced by some of my cooking experiments!) But if you do better when you have a schedule to stick to, by all means use one. And even if you tend to march to your own beat like me, having just one workout every week with others to mix it up and keep you honest can be just what you need to shake out of the winter blues (I’m happy that a friend led me to the November Project for this reason!)

 

 

Last but not least, if you’re goal-oriented, signing up for a race every so often if you’re a runner, or setting specific bars for yourself to reach with other workouts, can be the perfect thing to spur you on. Just as I’m wound down from the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, it’s time to start getting in gear for my second New York City Half Marathon in March (also the second anniversary of my ‘real’ running!) After that, I’ll take a break from racing as law school ends and the bar exam approaches…but yesterday, I signed up to complete my Coast to Coast Challenge with a friend from school at Disneyland in September with the Dumbo Double Dare. It’s a perfect post-bar-exam celebration and dreaming of that magical run in the sun is sure to keep us both going during the shortest and coldest month of the year. So figure out what works for you, and get ready to wake up to a winter workout in wonderland!

 

 

Watching the sun rise over the East River is a lovely perk of a winter's morning workout!

Watching the sun rise over the East River is a lovely perk of a winter’s morning workout!

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.