My Morning Routine

Smile in the mirror. Do that every morning and you’ll start to see a big difference in your life.

Yoko Ono.

My relationship with routine has been, paradoxically, unpredictable.

i-can-relate-totally-me.jpg

But the older I get the more I crave the nourishment that comes along with having a reliable beginning and ending to each day. A good morning routine helps me deal with the stress, depression, moodiness, or boredom that may arise at home, on my commute, or at work.

With inspiration from blogs, articles, and my own intuition, here are the things that I’m trying in order to create a happy, positive morning!

+ 6:30-7:00: Wake up!

Step one: get out of bed, turn on the electric kettle, and head to the bathroom. I get back into bed for some extra cozy time while I wait for my water to boil, drink a glass of water and take a probiotic. I’ve recently committed to writing in my new Five Minute Journal before doing anything too complicated.

+ 7:30: Seated meditation

I make my coffee (lately that is Philz Philharmonic blend w/ Califia toasted coconut almondmilk) and head to the living room for morning meditation. I’ve begun incorporating Metta (also called Lovingkindness) in the final minutes of my usual 20-30 minute concentration practice, which is supposed to cultivate increased empathy and patience but for the moment hasn’t gone past the stage of just feeling a little goofy.

FullSizeRender-1.jpg

+ 8:00: Exercise

This summer I’ve consciously been less regimented about my workouts. Anything from a good old fashioned 6 mile run to a half hour of intuitive, DIY living room yoga works. If I’m feeling especially low-energy or uninspired I might just do 15 minutes of simple, light stretching. I’m working on listening to what my body wants here! Sometimes it’s something more intense, and other times it’s enough to just get the blood moving a bit.

+ 8:45: Shower and breakfast

Almost nothing beats a post-run hot shower (in my opinion it’s like half of the reason to even do a morning run in the first place). To up the self-care ante I’ve been using a few drops of eucalyptus oil and a fun natural scrub (right now I’m using the delicious Fresh Cocoa Body Exfoliant) to give my morning shower a spa-like quality.

For breakfast at home I usually like to make toasted Ezekiel bread with avocado and a fried egg, or some similar version of this. But I have to admit that lately I’ve been grabbing a green juice or smoothie on my way to work (my current fave is a spirulina-spinach thing from Native Juice here in San Francisco) and sipping at my desk throughout the morning.

That’s it! These few small things are actually likely to put me in a better mood, if only temporarily. 🙂 There is so much advice out there on creating a “perfect” morning routine, and while a lot of these tips are helpful and inspiring, there is no one-size-fits-all. The best version of your morning is of course that one that allows you to feel strong and ready to go after the day. And for me, I feel more grounded when I start my day with some meditation, movement, a steamy shower and a little food! I’ve especially learned I need some extra chill time because I get really stressed and out of whack if I leap out of bed and start rushing around. However, I have a good friend who is completely the opposite. His body and brain just doesn’t work right before 10am and he needs way more stimulation to get going. So my morning routine would be totally counterproductive and leave him feeling sluggish for hours!

I’m interested to hear about your own morning routine. What things do you like to do to begin your day? And what about the self-described “non-morning” folks?

 

Is Running a Kind of Meditation? (Part I)

“I’m a lover of reality. When I argue with What Is, I lose, but only 100% of the time.”

Byron Katie.

A good portion of my previous post dealt with my current relationship with running. Although I’m devoting less of my time to this particular hobby lately, I don’t see it as taking a back seat or being put on hold. Rather, running is converging into a bigger picture of health and balance that is more in-the-moment but maybe also more sustainable. This picture has been heavily anchored by mindfulness practices, which are beginning to permeate many areas of my life including running.

Both running and mindfulness meditation could be described as repetitive in nature, solitary in practice, and often challenging to perform and maintain. Running Meditators (and Meditating Runners) acknowledge the overlapping qualities of these activities to amplify the benefits inherent in both. It’s also possible (but not always the case, as you’ll read below) to meditate on the run.

Long_Jump

“While there’s much to gain from performing the physical activity, there’s a lot we’re missing out on when we slip into a semi-conscious state when doing the exercise. It’s pretty normal for the mind to wander when you’re running, regardless of whether the thoughts are related to the running itself, or something quite separate. But the only way to ensure that you’re performing to the very best of your ability, is to leave the thinking behind and allow the body and mind to work together with a combined physical and mental focus.”

Via The Huffington Post / Headspace App

Greyhound_Gallop

“Meditating before running could change the brain in ways that are more beneficial for mental health than practicing either of those activities alone…”

A study published in April 2016 found that depressed subjects who practiced meditation followed by a 30 minute run, showed a significant change in brain activity and a 40 percent reduction in symptoms after just 8 weeks.

Via The New York Times

Leapfrog_Man

“Running and meditation are very personal activities. Therefore they are lonely. This loneliness is one of their best qualities because it strengthens our incentive to motivate ourselves.”

“If we do not push ourselves enough, we do not grow, but if we push ourselves too much, we regress. What is enough will change, depending on where we are and what we are doing. In that sense, the present moment is always some kind of beginning.”

From Running with the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham

So we notice that running and meditation have lots of similarities and further, a symbiotic relationship. Meditation can help a runner’s performance, and physical activity can also have substantial benefit for a meditator. BUT – Is running meditation?

On a recent episode of the wonderful podcast “10% Happier with Dan Harris,” Dan and ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll discuss the difference between seated meditation and sports or other recreation:

Rich: “For many years as an ultra endurance athlete, like, I spent a lot of time in solitude training … and there’s certainly an active meditation component to that … and for many years I sort of said, well, that’s my meditation… but…

‘…There is something to a structured, formalized meditation practice that is qualitatively different from what you’re experiencing when you’re training.”

Dan: “One [of the reasons people give for not meditating] is: “‘Blank‘ is my meditation…. Running is my meditation. Gardening is my meditation. Petting my dog is my meditation.’ .. And my answer to that is: maybe. Depends on how you’re doing it. Like, if you run the way I run, which is that you’re rehearsing all the stuff you’re going to stay to your boss, or you’re listening to a podcast or listening to music, that is not meditation. If you are running and your headphones are out and you’re feeling your footfalls, you’re feeling the wind on your face, you’re feeling the motion of your body, and then every time you get distracted you start again – well then you’re meditating.”

How and why should we meditate while running? In part Part II of this post we’ll explore running meditation in practice and also look at the question “Should I meditate while running?”

 

 

 

“Perhaps the earth can teach us, as when everything seems dead in winter and later proves to be alive.”

Pablo Neruda.

What’s going on? Not much blogging, it seems. So, if you will, bear with me for a post about the blog.

Although the name and “About” section of the WAWT blog suggests a more wide-ranging exploration of wellness in general, it’s obvious that the main focus up to now has been running. When my interest in the sport led me to races and wanting to discover more sophisticated training methods, run-centric blogs fulfilled a desire to learn and engage with athletes of all levels. And reading these blogs inspired me to share my own experience and insights not least because, as I’m sure many of you have learned, while family and friends are generally supportive, not everyone wants to hear the daily details of your marathon nutrition plan or splits from your morning tempo run. 🙂 In addition to serving as an outlet for my health pursuits, this blog began as a way for me reconnect with the joy of writing, which has always been a passion.

I began 2017 excited about some longer-term, lofty-but-probably-doable goals. But throughout the year, these ambitions have naturally fallen by the wayside and I haven’t forced myself back on the track because, honestly, they just feel too narrow. Running seems to be settling into my life in a way that is more integrated, balanced, and deeper. I’m less focused on quantitative goals, like running a particular race or making sure I get in a certain amount of miles so that I don’t “lose fitness.” Less concerned about what I “should” do and less fearful of what will “happen” if I don’t. Now, running is just THERE. I just trust it so much more… so generous and available whenever I need it!

So how am I filling all of this spare time now that I’m not eating, sleeping and exercising like a marathoner? Well, lots of yoga, vipassana meditation, reading, moisturizing my dry hands, discovering podcasts, cooking vegetables, finishing rounds of golf with IPAs, buying jigsaw puzzles, listening to music and I mean like REALLY trying to LISTEN. I’ve also gone on some beautiful, soul-nourishing runs. Basically, I am trying to, as much as I can, live with some fucking ease here, guys.

summer_collage.jpg

So all of this preamble just to lock in an intention to use this platform to share, expand, and deepen my passion for physical and mental wellness, using this term as broadly as possible.

Finally, as you might know, “Well and Warm Together” is a line pulled from one of my favorite books, A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway:

“We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.” 

I chose to name the blog after this quote because it reminds me about the small things that make living life more bearable, sometimes even exquisite and joyful. This is sort of the thesis of what I want this blog to be about, so I hope that some of you will continue to join me in this conversation!

Ok. That’s it. Oh jeez – I really didn’t mean to make this sound like some kind of eulogy for my running career… it’s not! ANYWAY I hope you’ll forgive some of the earnestness in this post too. I promise to try to infuse my natural proclivity for dry wit and sarcasm in to my future blog posts as I’ve attempted in the past. But goddamn all of this oneness with the universe is making me soft! 😛 Ok I’m really going to stop writing now.

xo

 

 

“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.”

Mahatma Gandhi.

Well here is the post in which I introduce my prospective strategy for training for the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers International Half Marathon in 5 stinkin’ weeks!

Between determining details of the mileage and rest and cross training in the weeks ahead, through my research I’ve come across some global notes which may prove to be just as important for making it to and through the BIG DAY:

**Let go of expectations**

At least with respect to time. 2015 was supposed to be the year of the big PRs — but this ship has long since sailed. No matter. New goals include:

In Training

  • barring injury or illness, complete the planned training runs (i mean for god’s sake it’s just 5 weeks…).
  • that said, don’t take things so seriously.
  • that also said, every run has a purpose.

During the Race

  • enjoy the tour of the city and crossing the Canadian border.
  • overall: just have fun.

After the Race

  • after the race: eat pizza and beer (preferably a local one)
  • be grateful to spend time with my mom and dad, brother and sister-in-law, and others.

**Long runs are the foundation**

A repeated mantra in many half-marathon and marathon plans regardless of the length: laser focus on diligently hammering out that Saturday LSD. Of course, every run should mean something, but they’re the gravy.

**Practice finishing EVERY SINGLE RUN strong**

Failure to do this was, in my assessment, the single biggest contributor to my mini-meltdown at the San Francisco half marathon in July. It’s not that a positive mental attitude would have led to a better performance necessarily, but perhaps the last 3 miles would have been less grueling and mentally exhausting. Too often I allowed myself to wallow in tiredness and waning enthusiasm — during workouts but especially in last miles. But — I thought, at least I’m completing the prescribed mileage. At least I’m getting it DONE. It’s no mystery why on race day my brain just hit a moment where it was like — STOP. NOW. The ensuing internal bargaining and self-pity made the experience mildly excruciating and I am not interested in a repeat. Which brings me to…

**Stay positive — or at least, recognize negative patterns in thinking**

One thing that they stress in mindfulness meditation is that when thoughts arise, to make a soft mental note like: thinking. Or even more specific like: judging. These labels are simply a recognition of the occurrence, without trying to change or analyze anything. I think that my recent indifference to running and training has centered on, quite simply, a negative attitude towards it. Trying to think positive thoughts is one way to do this, but in other ways trying to force it can almost feed the negativity in a perverse way.  So if I can’t be positive, I can at least recognize negative thinking, laziness, excuses… without judging them … and then go out and complete the exercise anyway.

Onto the goods, now. Completed on scratch paper in highlighter and ballpoint pen over lunch at the office — here is my custom, handy-dandy, 5-weeks-out, shit-kickin’ half marathon training plan:

5 week half marathon training planWell for now that’s the best I got. Let’s just hope it doesn’t rain. Or snow. Or Tornado.
Question time! Have you ever run a race with minimal preparation? What was your experience? Any advice?

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.

Albert Camus.

Big News! Summer is not yet over! Yet alas it’s true that time has passed and I’ve not been so interested in shouting from the blogtops since Spring. But besides that there is a sliver of August left for camping and running and drinking in the outside evening light.

So. The world relentlessly turns and we move forward, never backwards! In spite of it, allow me to reflect on the previous six months:

Running

Not ideal training, but at least relatively consistent. After setting my half PR at ORF In March, my plan was to shoot for a quick-turnaround near-or-sub 1:50 half followed by a strong fall marathon.

Golden Gate Bridge Warming Hut

if only every run could end with sandwiches at the warming hut.

I won’t bore anybody (most importantly myself) by droning over all the details, but suffice it to say that the execution of this plan has been a whirlwind of lottery denials and waning motivation and false starts. And the humidity, my god the humidity.

But more than that, I’m learning a tough yet valuable lesson about the role of stress in one’s personal life and how this can, actually, have a markedly negative impact on performance. I guess this seems pretty obvious, but I feel like we often look to running as our “therapy” – a deep tissue massage for the psyche to use as directed for problem solving, de-compression, and otherwise general monkey mind relief. In the past few months it’s proved frustratingly opposite for me, culminating in a not quite disastrous but certainly very unpleasant experience at the San Francisco Marathon 2nd half.

It wasn't all bad, thought. Any day that ends with Dungeness Crab is a worthy 24 hours.

It wasn’t all bad, tho. Any day that includes Dungeness Crab is a worthy 24 hours.

As such, I’ve downgraded from an October full to an October half, and steady but not wanting eyes towards CIM in December. Either way, I’m letting go of my previously tight grip on a 2015 marathon finish.

In addition to the half in SF I did Bay to Breakers, a Brazen 10k in Point Pinole, and a 4th of July 5k in Concord. Between now and Detroit (October 18) I may try to fit in a 10k. Maybe DSE Oyster Point, where I ran a surprisingly good time last September at what is still my only 10k road race.

Reading

My biggest success of the year has been reading more. Between kindle, paper, and audible, 2015 has been my most prolific stretch probably since high school. I initially wondered how I’d fit in the time to complete just 1 book a month, but I’ve been able to finish 18 and counting since March. And as such I’m smarter, richer, and more beautiful. The rumors are true, folks. Reading is sexy. And of course I’m tracking it all with a super sophisticated spreadsheet modeled closely after this one from Amanda Nelson at Book Riot. (Don’t ask me about goodreads. I don’t like it. I don’t know why…)

Meditating

After a million years of telling myself to do this, I have finally made major headway towards developing a consistent mindfulness meditation practice. Thanks to Andy Puddicombe and Headspace.

This light, friendly approach alleviates some of my previous anxiety and intimidation around seated meditation. And the structure of the “Foundation” series really makes sense to me and helps reinforce the daily habit.

Anyway, speaking of consistency, we shall see if training recaps resume on this here blog. The fantasy is to really do them in hopes of sparking some next-level shit in the Fall. But priority #1 is to keep it light, and this means refraining from putting undue pressure on myself. Because shit does indeed go down… why pile on more of the weight?

Namaste, bitches!

“Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.”

Thich Nhat Hanh.

After several weeks of mostly consistent running, I’m looking forward to my first big race of the year — the half distance at Sunday’s Oakland Running Festival. As usual, it’s 6 days out and I’m trying to determine the line between stupid and lazy. How to keep one’s head on straight while making space for potential magic? Some days I imagine PR-smashing victories while other times a heaving 2 hour finish sounds massively lucky. Just your ordinary pre-race psycho-jitterbugging.

In the meantime I play and work, I read and eat. With regards to the last two, I’m taking inspiration from Thich Nhat Hanh’s “How to Eat,” purchased from Pilgrim’s Way Book Shop in lovely Carmel-by-the-Sea this weekend.

how_to_eat_by_thich_nhat_hanh___jason_deantonis-tsf7noiguu_1n

— Do you delight in meditations on a string bean?

— Believe a cup of tea contains the universe?

— Invite space for mindfulness when table setting and/or dishwashing?

Well then this one’s for us, ladies and gents.

In fact Sunday loops around Lake Merced followed by a nap and house cleaning listening to audiobooks and preparing a butterflied trout with a roasted crispy-skinned sweet potato and pot de creme for dessert might be just everything…

5643284_orig

Petit Pot made in Oakland, found at Potrero Whole Foods, and consumed by me in my apartment. How adorable and delicious is this packaging?

…Not to mention that one-night-only Carmel vacationette, perfect and sweet as a little jar of chocolate.

Heartbreakingly gorgeous 4 miles this morning! #seenonmyrun

A post shared by Kathryn Bodle (@nochickens) on

Well, I guess it was a good weekend!

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Despite a dull lingering hum from the hammond organ and salty dogs at the Royal Cuckoo, last Saturday morning I emerged from my front door at a quarter-to-eight to take a very dirty dog for a very necessary haircut. A strawberry smoothie, a stroll around Precita Park, a trek up and down the hill to the Noe Valley farmer’s market (bounty: kale, parsley, summer squash, rapini, lavender, sunflowers), and a very strong cup of Philz later (Greater Alarm blend) — I felt it. Summer. Arrived.

polaroids-44,medium_large.crop

Here are a few to-dos for my summer vacation (note: summer is always a vacation, even if we’re still nine-to-fiving):

Finish FIVE Books Since purchasing an iPad, reading has become a rare event. When I do select from the bookshelf or Kindle, it’s usually nutrition, running, or cooking-related, so I’m focusing on fiction. Novels and short stories kind of exercise the brain creatively in a way that nonfiction doesn’t, as corroborated by this article from the Boston Globe:

“The emerging science of story suggests that fiction is good for more than kicks. By enhancing empathy, fiction reduces social friction. At the same time, story exerts a kind of magnetic force, drawing us together around common values. In other words, most fiction, even the trashy stuff, appears to be in the public interest after all.”

Hoping the “magnetic forces” not only feed my soul but also improve my sleep (by doing away with the evil blue light of the device screen). I’m only almost finished with book #1 (The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham), so I need to get cracking. What can I say? I was derailed by OITNB.

tumblr_myvyve1dfs1toh0n6o1_500

Write 3x/week “Writing” is a common excerpt from my Gratitude Journal. I’m attempting two blog posts and one free-writing or exercise. Maybe a few creative nonfiction prompts from Poets and Writers?

One getaway / month (June-August) With Tahoe in June, and a planned vacation mid-August, that leaves a July excursion. I’m itching for a campout, but if it must be an overnight at a B&B in Marin, well then, I guess that’s life. 😉

Foam roll & Yoga Forming healthy habits for increased speed sessions and mileage building later this summer/fall by developing a short home yoga practice (once/week in addition to my twice weekly classes), using my “Stick” after every run, and epsom salt bath and foam rolling sessions on Monday nights.

Meditation Just 15 minutes several times a week. Psychology Today discourages meditation before bedtime, which would actually be my preferred window. But after work or running sound nice too. This goal also involves exploring various mindfulness and meditation apps.

Practice happiness Continue writing in my gratitude journal. Take deep breaths. Smile. Don’t hold onto things too tightly. Take myself less seriously. Wake up early and enjoy the quiet times.

Happy Summer 2014!

(Photo by Max Wanger)

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.”

Allen Ginsberg.

Image

Negative thoughts approach carefully, though the impact sudden. They descend like a cavernous and starless sky. Behind you, a lovely late afternoon creeps towards a warm early-evening glow, sinking into a luminous and melancholy indigo that fades so, so gently. Once you realize it’s come, you’re not sure how long you’ve been there. Encased in a void. Air escaping from the room. You search even to see your own hands in the dark.

How could you stop the sun from falling? No one can defeat darkness. These nights are inevitable and the chatter is forever. But suffering we know’s a choice. The voices needn’t carry.

I have lately put almost all my energy and attention into physical pursuits, naively expecting these efforts to naturally build a strong mind. Now it’s shocking to discover, possibly, my emotions more fragile than ever. Of course we can achieve some kind of clarity by challenging our bodies, and these things can be applied inward. But just like meditating won’t create muscle, running or lifting or an expertly-executed chaturanga won’t make a peaceful and sturdy mind.

Today I began with gratitude. Focusing on what’s good, each today. Now it’s Wednesday. I ran and walked. I made breakfast. There was no shouting. I made a long to-do list that is much shorter now.

Madness persists. Patience takes practice. Work must be done to understand these fears, not just flailing in the dark to fruitlessly chase them away. The moon is always above us, even if we can’t see it. The light is coming.

“Eat healthily, sleep well, breathe deeply, move harmoniously.”

Jean-Pierre Barral.

This quote was tweeted earlier today by Danielle Omar.

Image

the problem with inversions.

Speaking of deep breathing and harmonious movement, last weekend I participated in a “detox yoga workshop” with Kimberly Hu at Yoga Mayu in the Mission. We began with breathing exercises, moved into flow sequences and standing postures, and finished with about 45 minutes of restorative work.  

It really was a lovely way to spend a few hours doing something just for me. But it confirmed a suspicion that I’ve had for a while: that I think I might be terrified of inversions. I was unsuccessful and both attempting a headstand from a wide-legged position and once again couldn’t manage to kick up into a handstand against the wall.

We’re instructed to remain gentle and patient with our yogic abilities and efforts and allow the poses come naturally. I believe that this is a crucial part of the practice. But how to balance determination with self-kindness? How to mindfully assess the root of our stumbling blocks while resisting the impulse to become too competitive or scold yourself or misinterpret a journey as a series failures?

What is it about going upside down that has me incapacitated?

I’ve selected a few classes on yogaglo.com that I’m hoping will help me move forward.  First, I’m concentrating on understanding the physical components of inversions, focusing on strength and good alignment.

Getting into Handstand with Stephanie Snyder

“The main obstacles to lifting and balancing in this pose are tight hamstrings and a loosy goosy core. …we will open the hamstrings and charge the core up while investigating the energetic alignment of the core architecture to give us the best chance of lifting up and balancing in this pose. Good luck and re-visit this practice over and over – eventually the pose will come through!”

Find your Inner Strength with Noah Mazé

“Accessing Inner Strength: What habits and patterns govern your practice and your life, and how do you find the strength to work beyond them? Through challenging arm balances and inversions, this class invites you to explore your reactions on the mat so you can take skillful action off the mat and into the world.”

Of no lesser importance, of course, is the mind.

Pranayama and Seated Meditation with Jason Crandell

“This practice will invoke deep relaxation and ground your nerves.”

Explore and Release Fear to Find your Greatness with Tiffany Cruikshank 

“Most of us don’t realize how much of an impact fear has on our daily lives, the power it has to limit us and our capacity for greatness…”

Like other breakthroughs in yoga (I’ve had a few…), sometimes they arrive as lightbulb moments that completely change your perspective and open up a new world.  Other things do just take time. Either way, sooner or later I’ll be standing on my hands.

Tonight, I’ll go with a brief and mellow flow to loosen up and calm some nerves, as  tomorrow I’ll be running my first 5k since July.  It’s also my first race since Portland!

Have a happy and healthy Friday!