Running, fitness and health overall is not just exercise to me, it’s not just about challenging myself physically, achievement and racing. It’s a daily ritual that fills me with energy and the optimism to tackle each and every day. Health and happiness is a process, indeed a way of life, and requires commitment from you and you alone. You decide when you wake up in the morning if you are going to be positive and optimistic or whether you are going to let life get you down and dwell on the negatives.
How we spend our time matters a lot, especially how we spend our free time and with the world in an all encompassing pandemic I, like everyone else, have had a lot of free time and I’ve learned the value of daily habits and rituals. I’d like to believe I’m a free spirit and looking at my life with my ever-changing location and world around me you would think that I don’t like or even need routine but this time in lockdown has certainly proved how much I value being able to exercise and being able to go out with other people on runs, share experiences and enjoy adventures with like minded folk.
When the pandemic struck, we just happened to be in Chattanooga in Tennessee. If you’ve never heard of this place it’s because it’s the best kept secret in the south, it’s won Outside Online’s Best Town contest twice now. That’s no surprise with great trails for trail running, MTB, hiking and horse riding; rivers and waterways for kayaking, paddle boarding and white water rafting; cliffs for climbing and paragliding, waterfalls, wildlife in abundance and a vibrant city with an ever expanding lively and soulful foodie, art and music scene.
Initially the shock of the entire situation hit hard; loss of income, isolated away from friends & family not just by a lockdown but by thousands of miles of distance, no government support as we are foreigners in a new country, and the uncertainty of what was to come weighed heavily on my mind. I quickly turned my thoughts around as I’ve always believed you shouldn’t worry about things out of your control.
“Worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s joy.”
Then the races started to cancel/postpone and whilst I didn’t have a huge calendar of races lined up for once, Dion’s races were cancelling too and motivation took a dive. If I’m not training for a race, why am I training?
I fired up! How else to better use my time to explore the great outdoors on my doorstep and motivate and inspire others around me. I embarked on delivering Instagram live workouts and worked with my coaching clients to find more ways to keep them motivated and excited to train. I even ran a few virtual races; alongside not only my clients, but all of you, and was motivated in turn by their dedication to training and the results of their hard work coming through.
The one key thing that I did was give myself permission to ‘just be’. To me that meant letting go of my ‘doing’ mentality; doing, achieving, doing more, keeping active, keeping busy and just allowing life and my emotions to come in and saying ‘to hell with it’ and skipping that task or that training session to indulge in some donuts or pizza and beer or whatever takes my fancy. It’s important to be able to indulge now and again as part of a healthy lifestyle, but it’s about making sure the balance is right.
Energy creates energy! Being fit & active helps with the other facets of my life, it leaves me feeling relaxed and emotionally balanced, whilst energising me through a sense of achievement and generally just feeling happier.
“If you start exercising, your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF has a protective and also reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and things are clear after exercising and eventually happy.” https://www.fastcompany.com/3025957/what-happens-to-our-brains-when-we-exercise-and-how-it-makes-us-happier
My motivation ebbs and flows as the days roll into one big Groundhog Day, but I’m taking that in my stride as there are some small green shoots appearing of life returning to some normality and I hope to be working again come September. Until then I’m changing things up again to help keep me motivated by trying some new experiences in the next few weeks such as SUP, kayaking & swimming, I’ve swapped some of my longer runs to do scenic hike/runs with Dion, to explore more of this beautiful area which has already meant we saw our first black bear in the wild! If that doesn’t change things up I don’t know what will! And I’m changing my training for the next 2 months to be more about HIIT sessions and alternative cross training experiences to keep me fresh and learning.
As a qualified personal trainer and online coach I love keeping my clients enthusiastic through changing up their training to also keep them fresh and on their toes. I’ve also embarked upon on studying to become a qualified health & wellness coach to enhance my knowledge, which I feel is perfectly aligned with my lifestyle of health & fitness and wanting to share this with others. I continue to share my journey with others and hope that it helps someone in some small way. How can I help you? Get in touch if you’d like to discuss coaching options whether your just looking to get started on your health & fitness journey, whether you’re wanting to step things up for a new challenge or if you just need some fresh ideas I can help you.
2 thoughts on “Fresh is Best”
Hi Lucja, great piece, good to see you keeping well and enjoying life in the US. I’m furloughed until the end of June and then out of work so looking forward to more running time up the hills! By the way I purchased a full set of elastic resistance bands after seeing your piece on Facebook, nice one, keep going!
Thanks Rob, Sorry to hear you will be out of work, hopefully you can pick something up again soon, until then the hills are calling your name! Enjoy the workouts.