Friday, June 27, 2014

Restoring Balance: Lessons Learned From Yoga

It's been a busy at times chaotic start to 2014. In January, we visited Haiti and shortly afterward, I jumped right into training for the Shamrock Marathon in March. April-May brought changes in management at work and longer hours and higher stress. Throw in triathlon training, adjusting to and managing a new home and keeping up with friends... it can all get very overwhelming!

Balance is very delicate, especially for us endurance athletes who have a way of pushing limits! I know I've posted on this subject before here and here. One thing I've learned, it takes a conscious effort to maintain: one must know when to push, when to step back, often reflect on what's working and what's not and make educated decisions in moving forward. Right now? Definitely a good time for me to scale life back a bit :)

Yesterday, while on an overnight work trip in PA, I had the rare opportunity of a (much) later start to my day and nothing on the agenda. I opted to do a few strength exercises then quickly kicked myself out of that stuffy hole of a hotel gym (it was tiny!), took my coffee and towel outside decided to SLOW DOWN, RELAX and BREATHE in the fresh air. Breathing is good you know!

It was a conscious decision to 'let go.' I turned on my yoga Pandora station and soaked in the beautiful scenery. I enjoyed a spontaneous mini personal yoga session overlooking farm fields, bare feet in the grass with a cool breeze blowing and wondered "why don't I do this more often?" Really, who wouldn't want to start their morning like that?

A picture perfect backdrop for some morning stretching and yoga.
This tree offered it's canopy for some shade.

Those who have partaken in yoga know that the balance exercises especially require focus and a SOLID foundation on which to stand. While I am not a regular yoga attendee, I've done it enough times in the past to fully understand its many benefits. It's empowering, relaxing, often cultivates inward reflection and brings your to focus to the present moment. Yesterday, my mini session had me reflecting on the need to consciously cultivate a solid foundation upon which to build upon for the remainder of my season. We endurance athletes tend to focus on things like working hard, being dedicated to our workouts and mental toughness in enduring tough training sessions, but what about the supportive factors that allow us to be successful in the pursuit of our goals? Family and social support. Wisdom. Positivity. Mental Toughness. Patience. Flexibility. Perspective. Vision. Priorities. Faith. Did I mention the importance of REST and Nutrition? What am I missing?


My favorite yoga position, dancing warrior! [Image Source]

Getting sick was a bit of a wake-up call for me. I had been dragging for a while beforehand and while many other factors likely contributed, I'd be blind to not acknowledge the role of stress, an impaired immune system and just generally being off-balance. Lucky for me, I had a quick turn-around, but really, let's not go there again please? 

It feels wonderful to "feel wonderful" again for the first time in many weeks. My workouts have gone well over the past few days and I am my normal HAPPY self again. My load at work is leveling out and I'm feeling more supported in that arena. All good things... and I want it to last. How? I am consciously scaling back a bit in areas that I can, reminding myself to slow down at NOT constantly run at full speed and working to build upon the strong foundation I will need to rely on over the next several months. I have a long road of hard work ahead in prep for ironman. Right now? I am focusing on the here and now and enjoying each moment.

Happy Friday! Hope you enjoy a relaxing weekend!

1 comment:

  1. You really need balance and support going into a heavy build phase for ironman training. it gets intense quickly! Good luck, I just finished the first week of my build. insanity.

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