Five Things Friday – Inspiration, Perspective, Screens and More!

Warm Run1

Happy Friday! I have to confess that Wednesday I woke up and while running I thought it it was Thursday … and had an ‘aw crap’ moment realizing it was just Wednesday! It has just been one of THOSE crazy kinds of weeks!

Well – I am glad it is Friday, not just for the weekend, but also because the weather is supposed to be awesome this weekend … before possibly dumping more snow on us next Tuesday! The image from the top is this morning – which is 30 degrees warmer than yesterday!

I wanted to do a Five Things list of stuff that has been on my mind this week, and hook up with Amanda at Running With Spoons for her ‘Thinking Out Loud’ series. Here we go!


Running (and Biking) for Dummies

Being a year-round outdoor runner, the month of April reminds me of the first snowfall – suddenly you have loads of drivers out who seem to need re-training on basic snow driving procedures every year, resulting in loads of accidents and dangerous situations!

And I have already seen it – bikers riding side-by-side along a road that is already narrow for two cars, runners with headphones running the wrong way down the street, not paying attention when crossing, not wearing bright and reflective gear in the early mornings and so on.

Every workplace talks a lot about safety – the mantra is that no one comes to work with the desire to get hurt … and the same is true for those heading out for a run! We go out for exercise, to clear our mind, or whatever … and should expect to come home in the same condition as we left – well, perhaps a little more sweaty and smelly!

So PLEASE be careful, and if you see someone being an idiot, don’t hesitate to tell them. And if you are driving, use extra caution to avoid hitting the people who might have forgotten that the road has different challenges than the treadmill!

Screens Before Bed are Ruining Your Sleep

One of my things for Lent was to limit pre-bed screen time. I have not been perfect, but my goal was to get back to reading more – and also to focus more on getting more and better quality sleep.

For a while now, research has shown that electronics before bed – video games, social media, whatever – tends to act as a stimulant and mess with your ability to get to sleep and have a restful night. There are a load of resources on this, so feel free to search it out if you have questions – or just ask in the comments and I can follow up.

Now we also know that the artificial lighting from LCD-type screens emits radiation that suppresses the production of melatonin and keeps us from getting restful nights of sleep! This BBC video talks about how our obsession with ‘one more check of Instagram’ can be ruining out sleep.

Back to my Lenten challenge … the problem? My Kindle died, and I have been using a Kindle Fire HDX – which is no better than using an iPad or laptop because of the screen technology. So while I have solved half the problem (by reading) the other half remains! Fortunately the people at Amazon are amazing, so between working with their service and using some credit I have built up … I will soon be reading on a Kindle Paperwhite. Yay!

Runners and Perspective

Are you a runner? Chances are you have uttered the phrase ‘easy’ or ‘quick’ related to one of your runs … and chances are that any non-runner around you rolled their eyes.

Last week I ran a ‘double’ – 8.5 miles in the morning and 9.5 in the evening, for an 18 mile day. On Instagram I used some of the typical runner words ‘quick’, ‘easy’, casual or whatever else. When Lisa got home she told me how annoying it was – that is the honesty that comes from 25 years together, and I appreciate it!

Early this week I was bringing my younger son to percussion ensemble rehearsal and they had to run the mile as part of their annual physical fitness assessment, and he was asking about how far I usually run in the morning, and I said ~7.5 miles or so on average. And he said ‘that’s insane, I just did ONE mile today and my lungs were screaming and my whole body still aches’!

He is young and active and not overweight … which puts into perspective exactly WHAT we are all doing … and highlights that we all tend to lack perspective! When I was running ~12-15 miles per week, the thought of running 7.5 miles was a big deal – this morning it was just a great relaxing run. Running a mile in less than 9 minutes? Not something I would have thought about even 2 years ago – now that is pretty much EVERY mile.

So when you talk about your ‘quick 10 miles’ or your easy 50 mile week or whatever … if there isn’t someone there to roll their eyes at you and call you annoying, remember that for most people, that falls somewhere between a landmark achievement and bragging.

I am wondering … WHY are you here

Have you ever looked at the little ‘about’ blurb on many blogs and seen something like “I’m __, a 20/30-something boy/girl from ___ who is trying to balance fitness, healthy living and a busy life, and sharing my journey”? Yeah, too many times to even count!

And that is fine – but what about when you look deeper? What is it that you REALLY hope to accomplish? That is what Harold asked this week in one of the most thought-provoking posts recently – about the larger sense of WHY he blogs.

When we are young, we all want to think that our voices will be heard by some grand audience who will appreciate the unique things we have to offer, to make some grand mark that will cause strangers to know about us in times to come. But the reality is that of the more than 7 billion people in the world, perhaps 0.001% will have a lasting document created for them.

The rest of us? We have friends, family, pictures, and other things. Here’s an example – I had a plaque at my undergrad alma mater with my name on it that a few years ago I found out had been stolen, and wasn’t replaced, but instead the area of the building was redone and new things are on the wall. Sure it had been 25 years, but it is a little disappointing to have your time gone by so quickly.

I don’t pretend that anyone outside of Lisa and my boys will really remember me more than a year after I’m gone … and I am OK with that. I would love to leave a bit more behind – create more music, maybe finish writing one of the books I’ve started for NaNoWriMo … but ultimately I am good focusing my energy on helping my boys realize their dreams and helping them build the lives they want.

It is something to think about – what sort of legacy are you trying to build, and how does blogging fit into that?

How Much Time Do You REALLY Have?

Going from morbid to MORE morbid, amongst the inspirations for my ‘Take Care Tuesday’ was a post by another of my absolute faves, Danielle at T-Rex Runner, called ‘Plenty of Time’. She talks about a friend of hers who died tragically at a horse show 11 years ago, and it is a reminder that none of us has a slip of paper telling us when we or our loved ones will die. The answer is simple – live every day like your last, and love those around you as if you will never get the chance to tell them you love them again.

This week has been filled with sadness in my extended family and friend group: an uncle of mine died, and my parents are down for the funeral. An aunt would have been there, but they discovered cancer in her mouth and she is dealing with that. Another aunt is in terrible health at a young age, and my parents are stopping to help her, but it is unclear if she will ever leave assisted living.

A friend from our infertility support group in the mid-90s (they ended up with twins) has cancer, and the treatment isn’t going as quickly, easily or successfully as initially thought … which is really hard for the family. And two Facebook friends I went to high school with lost parents this week … it is just that we’re getting to that age, but that doesn’t make it easier.

I remember being a little kid and having a girl named Kimberly who we played with all the time, but who had a bad heart condition. She had numerous surgeries and was proud of her scars. But one summer – we were all of 10 at the time – she never came home from the hospital. It was a very sad and confusing time for us, because pretty quickly the family moved away.

I have also talked about the difficulties when Christopher was born and how for a little bit I worried that I might be going home without a wife OR son!

We don’t know how much time we have, all we know is we have NOW. So take a second and look over at the ones you love, make a call, send a text or email, and let them know that they are important to you.

The Vocabulary of Runners

I love when sites put together lists with runner-specific terms and expressions and ‘translations’. This week, Competitor put out a ‘Runner’s Dictionary’, and Carina had a post about a ‘Google Translate for Runners’, from which this one made me laugh (because I know my family would laugh as well):

“Yeah, I enjoy running.”
Translation: “Let’s hope I never have to choose between running and my firstborn.”

But over at T-Rex again, Danielle talks about her dislike for the ‘running as therapy’ line. Her point is she has spent enough time in therapy – and running – to know the difference, but being sidelined with injuries and upcoming surgery, she appreciates the ability of a run to keep you from ‘going over the edge’.

That is something I definitely see as true for myself – running allows me to center myself, focus my thoughts, and distance myself from situations … my kids have asked me when I am ‘edgy’ whether I’ve gone for my run.

But I also agree with T-Rex’s sentiment – my issue is that I don’t like using serious conditions as casual joke-terms. Therapy is a helpful and important thing and is only more recently being viewed as a serious thing to do rather than something for crazy people or Woody Allen neurotic types. The same is true with terms like ‘obsession’ (which should be a negative term for over-the-top attention rather than something you think is cool), ‘OCD’ – again, a serious disorder, and my favorite for runners – eating issues. I will talk more about that in an upcoming post …

I AM Enough

I have said this before and will say it again, but this week on a blog I consistently love the message came up again and I needed to share. Kate Bortell’s ‘Serious Thoughts Taken Not Too Seriously’ has a Christian focus which would often be something to drive me away (even as a Catholic) – but she is smart, funny and sassy and always writes stuff that makes me think and laugh.

Her topic this week was ‘Yes, You ARE Good Enough’. Which is absolutely true … so go check out her post and remember that you ARE enough!

Well … that is about it for me! This weekend is supposed to be gorgeous – we’ll be getting the boys ready for their trip to Washington DC with the marching band, hopefully getting some yardwork and shopping done … oh, and of course some runs as well. But this won’t be quick, easy or casual – they will be hard, grueling and stupid-long! 🙂

So what are YOUR weekend plans?

15 thoughts on “Five Things Friday – Inspiration, Perspective, Screens and More!

  1. Firstly, I am terribly sorry for the loss of your uncle, you are all in my thoughts.
    After that I don’t even know where to begin so I am just going to say that I adore this post! And the bit about why we blog has definitely got me thinking… potential inspiration there…
    Tonight I am going to a rooftop asado (BBQ) and fiesta at a friend’s house and then tomorrow some friends and I are going out for a late lunch at a fancy hotel – it’s Food Week here in Buenos Aires so loads of places are doing special 3 course meals at a discounted rate – whoopeee!!
    Have a fabulous weekend 🙂

    • Thanks so much for all the thought! And I love the thought of ‘food week’ – we live in a small area, but they have a couple of times each year where they shut down the center of town to traffic and make it a street festival! That sort of thing is a blast!

  2. I get all sorts of paranoid when I’m driving around this time of the year because of all the cyclists and runners that start coming out of the woodworks. We have some really bad drivers in my city, and I’m personally too afraid to ride on the road, so I try to stick to bike paths and side streets. Annoying, but I’d rather not fall victim to someone not paying attention. and right now I’m at the point where the thought of running anymore more than 3 miles at a time sounds pretty crazy. I hope I’ll be able to look back on it one day and call it ‘easy’ too 🙂

    • Thanks Amanda, I have always run the roads, so that doesn’t trouble me – but I totally get what you are saying about keeping off the roads. That should be a basic thought – stay off the roads if possible, but if you need to run on roads, here are some tips.

      And the whole distance perspective thing is kind of crazy – between yesterday and today I ran just over 29 miles … which is a pretty large amount but not anything that is all that astounding to me at this point, because I still did everything I needed to get done and so on. Funny how that works …

  3. The other day a runner started to run across the street in front of where I was driving- we both sort of stopped, and I let him go, but he really wasn’t paying attention and I had a green light! It’s scary how oblivious runners can be at times.
    Ill be traveling to North Carolina for my marathon this weekend…and of course now the weather decides to warm up to 80 degrees! Not ideal for running but after complaining about the cold for 4 months I guess this is what I get:)

    • I was SO excited to see how you did today! You completely rocked your marathon!

      And clueless runners/bikers are scary – I am very aware of them when I am driving (naturally) so when I find someone annoying it has to be bad!

  4. Yuck, I hate those kinds of weeks! It’s kind of been one over here too, and I feel like I drowning in school and injury! You are so right about perspective though – I think I need a dose of that!

    • You’ve had a rough go since the ultra, and I think you deserve to let yourself feel the way you do … good or bad, sometimes we should just own our emotions!

  5. I’m so sorry to hear about your uncle and aunt. I’ll be thinking about you and your family.

    YES to the point on keeping what we do in perspective – I just posted on Facebook yesterday about how we as runners often caveat what we’re doing (as in “I’m *just* running the half marathon”).

    And on the ‘why are you here?’ … hmm … makes me think. I want to help people, inspire people, and show people that ‘healthy’ doesn’t have to mean ‘crazy’ or ‘restrictive’ … but I also get so much personal satisfaction out of blogging, and of course, I’m hoping to grow my business (although, even though they’re on the same website, I don’t actually think of them as 100% linked … I was blogging before my business and would continue to blog, I hope, even if my business wasn’t working out. I’ve been reading a lot recently about how you shouldn’t be giving away free advice if you’re hoping to make money, but I’m choosing to ignore that piece :)).

    • Thanks Megan – and so awesome how you crushed the races you ran and I really hope you had great success with your business as well!

      In terms of focus, I honestly think you do better than just about anyone – you have a singular voice, do very little on your blog that isn’t related to your passion and focus, and present a endearingly positive but informed viewpoint. I joke that you are too nice, and you call yourself naive … but the reality is it all comes together as part of what makes your blog one of my faves.

  6. The other morning I was running to work on a stretch with no sidewalks, and a runner w/ headphones was coming right at me, along with a car directly behind her. I decided to take the risk and let her stay closer to the curb since I could see the approaching vehicle. I wanted to point her to the correct side of the road, but was too worried she’d cross immediately, right in front of the car. So frustrating.

    I admit to thinking of running as therapy, but I’ve never been in real therapy. With my group of running buddies, we’ve gone through deaths of parents, one death of a child, divorces, infertility, job loss, a cancer diagnosis, all kinds of negative things. And talking and having a support system helps so much, if those things happen to occur with friends while you run, so be it. Of course we talk about all kinds of positive things, marriages, first dates, promotions, job changes, pregnancies. I feel like I get a huge benefit from discussing a problem or a sadness with my running friends, something like therapy. Hours and hours of talking with people ever week for years can make you very close.

    • That is scary with the other runner – I wrote something similar last fall … I hate scaring people coming up behind them, so was announcing myself as I approached to pass, and it was a narrow area with limited visibility so I wanted her to be aware and give some space, but too much music and too little awareness made for a tense passing!

      And I get what you are saying about running group as a support group – but it is true for any set of friends, and I think that the distinction is between the running as therapy compared to having a shared friend group as a support group. Know what I mean?

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