Archive for the 'Read This' Category
How Do You Know When It Is Time to Make a Change?
“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” –Abraham Maslow
The weekend before last I participated in the Northwest Passage Ragnar Relay. This is a 192-mile relay run that snakes its way mostly on back roads from the Canadian border down to Whidbey Island, where teams are rewarded with pizza and beer for being crazy enough to stay awake and on the move for nearly two full days. I was runner number twelve on our team of twelve—the last runner, a position I’m used to and comfortable with.
On one of my legs (the second one of three), the one that started at 5:30 on Saturday morning, I ran for nine miles alone over rolling hills on streets surrounded by evergreen trees. I watched the morning gently emerge and appreciated the coolness in the air even as I was beginning to feel the heat the day promised to burn down on the runner who would take the baton from me.
Because I hadn’t slept for twenty-four hours and was addled with fatigue, my attention was hazy. There wasn’t much traffic, so I didn’t fear a run-in with a car, but I did worry about getting lost. Runners were spread out so far that there were several points on the course when I couldn’t see anyone in front of or behind me. I was grateful that Ragnar had placed signs at every turn. This meant I could do the work of running—placing one tired footfall after the next in a rhythm that echoed the beat of the music playing in my ear—without pulling up the map of the route on my phone. I could focus on the task at hand until a three-foot high blue sign with a red flashing light and an arrow appeared on a street corner.
I never lost my way.
Only later, after a couple nights of good sleep, when I was reflecting on the race during one of my morning meditations, did I realize that those big blue Ragnar signs were a terrific metaphor for something I’ve heard many of my clients talking about in therapy sessions lately. At least five different people have recently said something like this to me: “All of a sudden, when my child left for college (or when my spouse died/when I received this diagnosis/when I got divorced), I realized something had to change. I can’t keep on in this meaningless job (or this cement jungle/this lifeless relationship/this breakneck schedule).”
My clients are naming something really important: Life sends us signs when we need to make a change. Events, be they crises or normal life-cycle transitions, are very often signals meant to tell us that it is time to up-level our commitment to life, that it’s time to turn a corner and change directions. Our circumstances call us to re-evaluate our approach to our activities and to our relationships (with self, significant others, work, the body, etc.).
Though change can be anxiety provoking, it’s also an opportunity to upgrade your self-image and renew your vision for your future. It is a chance to catch a second wind for the miles ahead.
I’d love to share with you what my clients are discovering in our work together about how to follow the signs to change direction.
Join me for a FREE tele-conference called:
How to Catch Your Second Wind:
Transforming into the Next and Best Version of Yourself
I’ll be sharing with you what I’ve been guiding my clients through:
The three key tasks that you need to complete in order to catch a second wind.
The number one habit you need to incorporate in your life in order to upgrade your Self-confidence.
How to master jumping over the biggest hurdle that keeps people stuck when they hit a crisis or major life change.
When: Wednesday, August 12 at 5:30pm Pacific Time
Where: On the phone. In the comfort of your own home.
How to sign up: Send me an email (email@example.com) with “Second Wind Workshop” in the subject line. I’ll send you the conference number and a reminder email.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” –Mary Oliver
(Note: If you don’t want to be added to my emailing list when you sign up for the tele-workshop, let me know.)
As I may have mentioned, my husband Bill has recently retired from a thirty-year career—most of it as the director of an international exchange program at Western Washington University. This has meant he’s had a little time on his hands to catch up on reading through the stack of books that has been piling up on his nightstand for a long while. His retirement also means I can put him to good use guest blogging for me from time to time. So… allow me to introduce Bill with his first guest post/book review—hopefully the first of many more to come!
Not long ago, as I was sipping on an IPA in one of my favorite local Bellingham establishments (Elizabeth Station), someone whom I’d never met approached me pointing excitedly at the book I was about to open. “The guy who wrote that book is an amazing scientist… biologist, I think. He was also quite a runner in his day… I mean…a world-class ultramarathoner!” With this totally unexpected introduction to Why We Run: A Natural History by Bernd Heinrich, I couldn’t wait to jump in.
Apparently, Why We Run was previously published under the title of Racing the Antelope: What Animals Can Teach Us about Running and Life, and to be honest I prefer the original title simply because this is a book that reminds us that insights into our own ability and passion to run come only from observing other animals and learning from them. And this is exactly what Heinrich does in his book. Framed in the context of chasing after his “dream antelope” of breaking the American 100-kilometer record, Heinrich explores, as a biologist and zoologist, how to prepare to run that far.
In a nutshell, this book shows what’s involved in running an ultramarathon race while pulling together the race experience with insights from his studies of animals. What can we learn from insects about running? What can we learn from birds about endurance? What does the antelope have that we don’t…and how did it become such an amazing runner? What insights into endurance running can camels provide us that antelopes can’t? And what’s the lesson to be learned from frogs? Why We Run takes a close scientific look at these questions and many more.
I found the chapter on racing fuel to be fascinating, as Heinrich experiments in his own training for the 100-K with a range of scientific insights about carbohydrates, fats, and glycogen depletion.(At one point in this chapter, Heinrich even quotes one of our legendary local Bellingham ultrarunners, Jim Pearson!) Heinrich’s training process was based on a series of experiments, some quite entertaining. His third experiment went like this:
“My third experiment was with a combination of lots of carbohydrate and lots of water – beer. I had done my trial runs on a 20-mile course, making a beer cache 10 miles out under some bushes. I timed myself out to the beer, downed the twelve-ounce bottle, then ran on and timed myself with the stopwatch over the second part of the course. If I slowed down, I figured I’d better try something else. If I speeded up, I could be onto something. I had speeded up slightly. For a real test, I entered a long road race toting three six-packs. Presuming a fast racing pace, I planned on having one every 4 miles. We took off like a rhinoceros in rut, and I was soon in the lead, chugging one beer after the other and increasing my lead even further. While starting to congratulate myself on the great run, with just three beers left to go, I suddenly felt weak. With two left to go, I lost all my will and just dropped out. I felt sick. More fine-tuning would not have been a bad thing if I’d really planned on this as something serious. However, I did not repeat the beer experiments. Instead I tried Ocean spray cranberry juice…..”
The last few chapters of the book, in which Heinrich describes his final preparations for the 100-K and the race itself, are worth the price of the book. He sets the stage for the race this way:
“This experiment of one will be, in the parlance of science, an anecdote. Nevertheless, it is still an experiment, not just a random happening. It is an experiment because I have been guided by logic derived from a vast body of experimental work on animals, and backed up by my own experiences. I’ve tried to incorporate the empirical facts and experiments toward achieving a scientific outcome, and I have the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve done all I thought I could do.”
If you enjoyed Born to Run, you should definitely take a look at Why We Run. It’s a wonderful blend of world-class distance running with a firsthand account of the biology of running, by a leading authority on the subject.
Postscript: Two weeks ago while down in AZ to enjoy baseball’s Spring Training, I decided to register for a half-marathon which started and ended on a paved trail not far from the Mariners’ training complex. While I enjoyed the race, it was clear that I didn’t heed the insights into endurance running that camels (as experienced desert runners) could provide me with (see chapter 10!). Suffice it to say that camels are masters of heat management and water economy, while I did a lousy job of both on a warm Arizona day.
My thanks to my beloved for his review! I’ve yet to read the book, but it’s in MY pile now. It’s my goal here to post more running book reviews. Have you read Why We Run? What did you think? What other running books are you reading? And what are you learning from them?
As you know, I’m in the process of doing research for a new book on women runners who run covered (such as with clothing prescribed by their religion, or by secrecy because running is forbidden to them for some reason).
A few weeks ago, in the process of doing my first round of interviews, I had the pleasure of meeting (via phone) an extraordinary young woman. Sarah Attar is the first female runner to participate in the Olympic Games on behalf of Saudi Arabia. Sarah grew up here in the U.S. and runs for Pepperdine University in California. A mature young woman who understands her place in history, Sarah told me she dreams of a day when running for girls in Saudi Arabia is “no big deal,” but just something girls do. I share Sarah’s vision. Running makes a girl feel brave, proud, strong, and free. Girls who run come to know that they can think for themselves and stand on their own two feet–literally and metaphorically.
As a senior in college, Sarah is an art major. And at this time, she is working on a creative project for her senior project. I’d love it if you would consider helping her with it. Check out what she has to say:
“From my experience in the Olympics I have started exploring and researching the idea of participation in sport, and my art has been a great way to do that. With my senior thesis exhibition coming up, I am starting a global collaborative project to collect runs from people around the world. Powerful things happen when people come together, and I would like as many people to be involved with this as possible. This project will demonstrate how all of our runs, while individual and distinct, are all part of a larger community, that we are all connected through the simple and beautiful act of running.
“I would love your help with this. I think we can reach a wide range of people and through that create an even greater global community.” -Sarah Attar
To be a part of Sarah’s project send the following to firstname.lastname@example.org:
1. Your age.
2. Your gender.
3. An image of a running route you’ve enjoyed (this can be a screen shot or a link to your route online).
4. The country where your run took place.
5. Your story about running (optional).
To learn more about Sarah’s project, visit runningroutesproject.tumblr.com
Well, 2013 is officially behind us. One year ago, I set a handful of goals, just as I plan to do this year, and proceeded through the months toward success. But since life is unpredictable, and since we as people evolve and change, my goals morphed over the year. What I ended up accomplishing certainly resembles my vision of the year before I started out, but not perfectly.
At the end of each year/beginning of the next, I always write a few pages in my journal addressing the same evaluative questions. I thought this year I’d share my questions and answers here. I encourage you to take the questions and do some beginning-of-the-year writing for yourself. The questions are simple but probing. Take a look:
A. What goals did I set for myself in 2013?
1. Complete my novel draft (working title is “Nampula“) to the point that it would be ready to send off to my agent for shopping.
2. Revamp my running training so that I could get PRs in the 10K, half marathon, and marathon distances (and ultimately shave one hour off of my marathon average).
3. Publish and market the new book, Beyond Belief.
4. Support Bill as he reorganizes his life after retirement.
B. For each goal, evaluate whether or not it continued to feel relevant throughout the year. If so, why? If not, why not?
1. Nampula–I worked on revisions for the novel until the end of July. During that time, I found my interest in the main character waning. She didn’t feel vibrant to me and I couldn’t figure out why. I sent the book off to a good friend of mine whom I trust to give me a read through. Her feedback was that the main character and her husband were not showing up on the page as multidimensional characters. I was discouraged by this, but I knew she was right. What should I do? I re-read the novel (by now it was about 70,000 words) and realized that, as a reader, I didn’t like my main character at all! The only way to figure out what was missing was to set the book aside and let it simmer until something came to me. In October, I woke up one morning with the realization of what was wrong. The book was currently in first person–written in the voice of the main character, who starts out as a limited person who will grow throughout the book. The reader couldn’t see her potential because the character didn’t know her own potential. The book needed to be rewritten in third person so that the reader could be let in on things the character didn’t know yet.
Because this was a major revamping, I knew the goal of getting the book completed by the end of the year was unrealistic. Laura Kalpakian (my dear friend and a seasoned novelist) told me that some books need to mature as the author matures. Set it aside and come back to it when it calls to you, she advised. That’s what I’m doing.
2. Training--This year has been my most fun and interesting year of training. I’ve introduced speed work and pace work into my weekly routine and have stuck with the structure coach Carol Frazey set up for me all year. One day of speed, one day of pacing, one long run, and two other days of easy runs. The result has been that I’ve enjoyed my training this year more than ever. I had my PR in both the 10K AND the half marathon, though I still haven’t reached my goal of maintaining a 10 minute average in the half marathon distance.
The Austin Marathon is coming up next month. This is the race I’ve ultimately been training for. My goal there is to do a 4:30 race. Anything faster than 4:53 would be a PR. In the nearly ten years I’ve been running, I’ve only ever finished one marathon in under five hours (that’s the one I did in 4:53 in Tateyama, Japan in 2009).
I’ve had some setbacks in the training schedule this year. The first one was recovering from the 18-mile trail run Bill and I did in Arizona (you can read my report here). That race was tough and, in terms of my training, did more harm than good–although I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. The second setback was just last week when I came down with the flu and had to stay in bed when I should have been running 16 miles. But even with the setbacks, training has continued to feel relevant and effective. Stay tuned for marathon results.
3. Beyond Belief–All goals for this book were met and exceeded. With the help of my co-editor, Susan Tive, and the awesome support of our publisher, Seal Press, we have enjoyed marketing the book through public readings, a blog tour, and regular postings on our own site.
4. Bill’s retirement–Supporting someone you love in a major life transition is more of an ongoing journey than a goal that can be met. I’m truly grateful to see that Bill is enjoying letting go of the responsibilities he had at work for so many years and that he smiles more often and wants to hang out with me and do fun things on the spur of the moment. We’re adjusting to the fact that he’s around the house while I’m working (writing, seeing clients via Skype in my office) and learning to make plans that accommodate both of our different sets of needs. Smooth sailing so far.
C. What did I learn about myself in the pursuit of my goals in 2013?
In 2013 I learned two major lessons from the goals I set. The first is that a goal is sometimes a destination, but is always a journey. In the case of launching a book or running a race, the concrete completion of a goal feels good and success can be measured. In a case such as writing a novel, it is difficult to predict at the beginning of the project what the project itself will need. Some flexibility and humility has allowed me to see that the book I really want to write is a book I’m not ready to write. Fortunately, the characters will wait for me (on my hard drive) until my life has taught me what they need to know to finish their story.
About myself I’ve learned that I’ve matured a lot since my younger days. I don’t beat myself up anymore when I don’t get something done the way I intended. I give myself credit for the sincere, authentic effort I made, and I take what gifts I can find even in the “failure” to achieve what I set out to do. This attitude has relieved me from spending a great deal of time in self-hatred before moving on to the next adventure. In my twenties and thirties, I would have slumped into a long self-flagellation episode and required my friends to talk me out of it. Not so anymore. Yay.
D. What goals do I have for 2014?
1. Complete one revision of the young adult novel I started during NaNoWriMo 2013.
2. Run hard in the marathon in Austin and have fun.
3. Complete a book proposal for a new book: “Running Under Cover.” (More on this in the months to come.)
4. Continue training as directed by Carol and run marathons in at least 2 to 4 additional US States.
5. Build my writing coaching business and offer at least one successful online course for writers.
E. What are my specific strategies for reaching for these goals?
Note: Rather than go into these here, I’ll write about my strategies in the coming weeks. This is actually the most important question for me. Strategies always include 4 things: scheduling, creating accountability, evaluating/measuring progress, and overcoming roadblocks. My strategies for each of my goals wouldn’t be terribly interesting to you, but I wanted you to see the question in case you’re doing a 2013 review/2014 goal-setting session for yourself. And I plan to do a blog on each of the four aspects of planning to reach a goal.
What are your goals for the year?? And if you do some journalling using my questions, I’d love to hear about your insights.
Happy New Year!!!!!
Hi all. I’ve got a free offering I’m hoping you’ll let your friends know about. Between the dates of Saturday, February 16 and Sunday, February 17 (this weekend for 2 days!), my co-author (Carol Frazey) and I will be giving away free Kindle downloads of our encouraging and inspirational marathon training manual: 26.2 Life Lessons: Helping You Keep Pace with the Marathon of Life. Readers will be able to download the book for FREE for two (2) days!! And we’d love to get the word out. This helps us move up the ranks on Amazon.com AND gives readers a great tool for achieving success in their running lives. The book can be downloaded on either a Kindle device or on another device using a Kindle app. Just go look up the book in your Kindle store and tap the download button.
Below is a description of the book. If you’re comfortable doing so, would you be so kind as to post the link to our book during our FREE give-away period on your blog/facebook/twitter/pinterest? We would be so grateful.
Description of 26.2 Life Lessons
Are you looking for an easy-to-use step-by-step marathon training guide? Do you need inspiration and motivation to help you get your training done? 26.2 Life Lessons: Helping You Keep Pace with the Marathon of Life is the running partner you’re looking for. Cami Ostman, author of Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continents, provides inspirational writings and insight on the “marathon as metaphor” for life, while Carol Frazey, running coach and nutrition consultant, provides a full 26-week marathon training program. Whether you’re a beginning, intermediate, or experienced runner, this book will encourage you, push you, challenge you, and get you ready for a marathon in six months.
Structured into weekly sections which provide training advice and encouragement, 26.2 Life Lessons will take you from two miles to 26.2 in the space of 26 weeks.
Thank you friends!
P.S., We’ll be tweeting and posting on facebook ourselves throughout the weekend to remind people to get their FREE download. Forgive us in advance for pestering those of you who follow us on several networking sites.