Morning Ramble on Multi-Tasking

30 08 2011

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On my way to campus after emails with Twin about events around the Virginia Beach Rock & Roll 1/2 marathon. This is usually my hardest event of the year because of the humidity in Virginia Beach. The last couple of years it has been made worse for me personally because of health complications.

The VBRNR was the first time I was literally carried across the finish line. In a very real sense, it was this race that my body was finally screaming at me to deal with injuries and prolonged stress issues. Last year, I was dealing with medication and unclear medical diagnoses and the injuries of the past. This year, I am off meds, healing from injuries, and completely starting at ground zero again figuring out what my muscles are doing.

I will, however, have fun because I have given myself a few things to work on through the 3 hours on course. Other than my feet, the biggest thing is focus – which is an adventure in itself when surrounded by tons of runners, music, and distractions.

Yesterday, I was riding the train home with Turtle-Kidlet (haven’t decided on her nickname). We were talking about how people her age (21) were always blamed for texting while driving accidents. Personally, I think they learned to multi-task by the adults around them.

I have been trying to simplify my life.  I have noticed that I will allow all the little things I need to do get in the way of good training sessions and races. I get irritated at my slow progress – which is how it is supposed to be – and think about what I could be using the time for.

WAIT! I LIKE TRAINING!!!

So, I have actively been progressing on observing what I can do, packing days lighter so that unexpected things can happen including finishing more on my to-do list or a surprise lecture from an out of the country teacher, and taking the pressure off of myself when I am on the track.

I am taking a Hatha Yoga class on Monday nights. We had a great deal of reading to do, but the class was on being aware of what I am doing in the moment. When doing a yoga practice and thoughts from my to-do list etc float in, I am being taught not to get frustrated at the interruption, but to acknowledge it and get back to the task at hand.

I think of it this way – I count out my repeats, pay attention to the flow and when something interrupts like a loud child demanding attention,  I turn it into a piece of paper and place it on a mental table so I can get back to the task at hand. It worked last night, so I am going to try it in Virginia Beach.

Driving home, I thought about how exercising has truly become disrespected as people multi-task. I saw a woman running by a local park. She was pushing a stroller and dragging a dog. I pulled over to watch as she became frustrated as the dog stopped to sniff & pee, then the child tried to get out of the stroller. Mom pulled the dog (who barked) and yalped at the kid to get back in the stroller (who cried) telling him that “You are ruining Mommy’s run!” Great – we have enough problems getting kids to want to exercise without adding guilt!

No, lady, you are not only disrespecting the nature of your dog & kid, but of your workout too. Yeah, I am not a parent, so what do I know? I know a lot about the rammifications of shoving too much in and sacrificing real benefits for the ability to say I “accomplished” more in one day than others. There are no Accomplishment Olympics. There is no record taker keeping tally. The only “medals” for this come in little orange perscription bottles.

Really pathetic when people measure success by the meds they are on!

I use an I-pod when using the elliptical-runner, or other cardio machines mainly to focus (I am not a soap opera watcher and most gyms have those on).  I tried to use one in running races last year to try and focus on something other than self generated irritation. I found that I was more nervous and walked slower with worse form!  I am trying to find folks to practice with – gym and training – but I am very careful because I am not interested in workout time becoming a drama filled coffee klatch.

Sounds cruel? Nah. I am getting back to my exercising is something I get to do vs something I have to do. Just because I am studying to be a personal trainer doesn’t mean I have unlimited motivation. I live in the real world and empathetic.

I have to spend the next few days getting my levels straight and looking forward to hanging with one of my best buds.

Think about how many things you do at once and how many you are really able to do well. It surprised me!





Laying Out the Lil’ Racer ….

26 06 2011

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I know I keep nattering allong about Spring Semester’s stress management class, but I learned a lot and it is hard to chisel things into my brain.

The question was opened to the room: “What stresses you out on a daily basis?” One gal nervously giggled in the back saying that she was stressed out about what to wear. Instead of saying her issue was silly or low on the stress priority scale, Coach Tetro seized the moment and, in his animated way, explained the concept of laying out his “Little Man” the night before to relieve the stress of what to wear in the morning. Through the semester, he checked in with the girl in the back and it worked.

When I first started racing, I was pretty anal retentive about laying out, for lack of a better term,  my “Lil’ Racer.”  When I went out of town, I would lay out my race clothes on my carry-on backpack and extra things on my luggage. For local races, I would lay things out on my dining room table (a good thing about living alone). I would get to my race and clumsily warm up.

After a while, however, I stopped laying out my Lil’ Racer. For local races, I would have my number on the counter, and just take the whole thing for granted. I can do a 5K distance. No reason to take it seriously. Not a terrific attitude.

Laziness spreads. As I was dealing with injuries, I was disenchanted with everything. I can do the distance, and training was hurting. Also, as other stressors in my life started to infringe on my training time, I stopped respecting the fact that every race I do (from 10k to 50k – I want to try one of these), is built on the back of the 5K.

To be honest, 5K’s and I have had a love/hate relationship. I just take forever to warm up, but like respecting the fact that one can drown in only a few inches of water, I have to respect the 5K distance.

Last night, I picked a friend up at the airport and popped him off at his house. I didn’t get home until around 11:20 PM. I took the dog out and laid out my Lil’ Racer.

I didn’t do it completely, but I did get the necessary stuff ready: bib number, compression shorts, socks & shoes. Since I wear toe socks, I laughed when I laid out two left socks.

Interestingly, I easily fell asleep in the Denver heat and then woke up easily. When Miss Bailey Boo followed me into the kitchen, she looked up at me as if to say “Ok Padawan, you have to resepct each race and enjoy them for what they are! Now eat your oatmeal & coffee!”

So, as I sit here choking down watered down Powerade, I think that by respecting each race, I might start to get that race high again. Sure, there are medical reasons that make it a little harder to get the pre-race jitters that get me ready to go, but respecting every distance as a stepping stone toward racing faster at my longer distances will go a long way.

In training of my favorite ice skating events, Mr. Gene Turner had me learn the little steps that lead to the footwork that I mated to the music. Even when I felt lost in a routine, I could make up time with footwork.

So – it is time to eat, get into my Lil’ Racer and get going.





“Sometimes You’ve Just Got To Let Go Of The Rope.”

4 06 2011

Ok – so I know this is a Christian Rock song, and my spiritual beliefs are my own, but I really liked the words, so be it!

I finally completed a full semester in my new major of Human Performance Sport – Adult Fitness & Exercise Science at Metropolitan State College of Denver. My first full semester was marred by my dealing with a lot of medical issues many of which were exacerbated by stress, my being stuck in a holding pattern, lifelong stress, unresolved crapola, and, did I mention, lifelong unresolved stress?

When I was looking at my required courses, I noticed that I had the opportunity to take a stress management class. Since I had already decided that a lot of my issues were made worse by my not being able to handle my life, I signed up for an on-line version of the stress management course for Summer 2010.  I was already taking an introduction to nutrition class on-line and thought it would be a great way to whack out two classes while trying to sort out the mounting health issues.

Before the semester began, I got a gut feeling that I wasn’t going to be able to handle more than one on-line class because I was spending more and more time finding the various Kaiser Medical Offices around Denver and surrounding counties. I dropped it, but I still had the documentation. It was kind of light and I wondered how much help it would be.

The Fall Semester was, shall we way, a bit of a cluster! It was more than a disaster in a lot of ways, so when I started my Spring Semester, I knew I was behind the proverbial 8-Ball.  Taking a Stress Management course, by many, is considered a massively soft option. I wasn’t sure, but I had a full load. Soft option or not, I could only hope that it wouldn’t stress me out more because I was dealing with the after effects of the previous months. The very least I could hope for was that it wasn’t going to be some irritating, sit in a semi-circle and bitch and moan about our lives sort of class taught by some mamby-pamby whiny person who had no sense of humor. In other words, be a complete waste of time and tuition.

I had to rush from one side of the campus to the campus to the other to make a class that I wasn’t sure about.  At least I would get a little sprint in twice a week.  I noticed there were several folks who were in my other classes and we were in a regular classroom. I had looked at the textbook while I was stuck in the airport coming back from South Carolina.  It was interesting, but whatever. A class like this depends on the professor and class.  Who is this “Tetro?” No clue. I’m new to the program.

Focus hasn’t always been a strong suit for me, unless I am truly engaged, but some professors have gotten me to really use my brain cells. In my first Communications Studies course at Santa Rosa Junior College, my professor stated that you got out of the class what you put in to it.  My first mentor there, Mr. Ed LaFrance, continued the theme. Economics professor Mr. Ron Schulke really got me to enjoy economics to the point where I was initially an Econ major! Sadly, after I left SRJC, I got distracted. I wondered if “Tetro” was going to bring me back, or that this course was going to be a waste of my time.

As we were talking with one another, in walked, as it is put in my favorite book The Phantom Tollbooth “the Tallest Short Man In The World” clad in Adidas. I could tell he took a lot of students by surprise.  After the first 20 minutes, I couldn’t put my finger on this quick talking guy who was easy to smile and had a quick “East Coast” (read: Smart) sense of humor.  He had the same vibe as professors I had in the past who have influenced me.  I also know, with a Mom who is 5’7″ who refers to herself as “Tiny But Mighty,” never judge anything by size and build – even with a professor who looks like he could be blown over by a Colorado wind! Just – don’t – go – there! 

Who is Coach Chris Tetro? Does it matter? He wants to be referred to as Coach. Ok – to me, that term is earned. Sorry. Just how I am. The word connotes actually giving a crap about the people they’re working with, not seeing them as a paycheck. I can go on and on about this, but maybe for another blog entry.

Now, before you get the impression that Coach Tetro was some doughy Italian guy who is well past his prime and still thinks he knows everything or is someone who believes he has  all the answers and teaching a “soft option” course is beneath him. You’d definitely have the wrong guy. He is the owner of Tetro Performance (www.tetroperformance.com) where the tag line is: Be Defined By Your Effort. What kind of effort am I going to be able to put in to what is supposed to be my frill class? I don’t know, but I do know that my life literally depends on it — or at least the quality of my life does.

Right off the bat, Coach Tetro said that this was an academic class and that he would be exposing us many different tools, but not everything would work for everyone equally. He also didn’t want to stress us out with boatloads of homework. As he said this, I took a gander around the class. Kids were looking at one another thinking this class was going to be a fluffy cake-walk. Um – I don’t think so. What was implied was that the work was going to be done internally and although tests are important, application was moreso. Most of the room wasn’t going to take advantage of the opportunity to explore themselves in a really safe environment. Well, their loss! They can do whatever bare minimum and get whatever grade.  I have dealt with many of the effects of stress and I was going to sap this man of every ounce of knowledge.

You know, I have to say that the course that changed my life, attitude, and gave me the opening to walk away from things I can’t change. The book was OK, but Coach created a thing called The Chair of Truth where he and a handful of us opened up sharing stressful recent situations and how we handled them. It wasn’t some God-Awful touchy-feely-sit-in-a-circle-and-create-a-pity-pot situation.  I think his head would explode if that was what he was supposed to teach. Not his style. He is a work-in-progress. He is discovering about himself, learning from mistakes, and, most importantly, talking-his-talk and walking-his-walk in the real world not in some esoteric way. His enthusiasm was infectious to those of us who actually mined the class for everything we could get.

People are catalysts for what we need to learn. I have a belief that when interacting with each other, people who are truly on a growth path don’t try to control one another by blindly following the advice of others so when it doesn’t operate perfectly, they have someone else to blame. I believe that people share tools with one another and it is up to the person trying out the tool to take responsibility for the good and the bad.

I learned from my classmates. I learned from my instructor. Most of all, I learned from myself. The textbook had self-evaluative quizzes at the end of every chapter. Like any course, you get out of it what you put in to it, so I made it a point to use the exercises for what they are intended: Self-Awareness and Growth.

This stress management class opened the eyes of a handful of us. I think how it happened was more the professor over the material. Sure, he was using a textbook as a guide, but he took what could be dry concepts that younger people didn’t truly have the life experience to grasp and brought them to life. I had my beliefs supported and, more importantly, felt the fog lift in so many areas of my life.  I found myself a little jealous of the kids in the class who were getting at least parts of “it” because they would be armed better at a younger age.

Color me shocked that Stress Management became my favorite class. My brain operated in five different directions every time I was in there. One day, I realized that I was comfortable to actually create a t-shirt for the Abused Woman’s Awareness Month – the Clothesline Project. The first person I told was Coach Tetro, who noticed I was really focused on something I was drawing. What was even sweeter, was when they put the shirts up in the Tivoli Student Union, my classmate Ashley went searching for my shirt – I had it sent to California to be put up there. Next year, I’ll have make one for here and Ash and crew will be right there with me.

One of the concepts that started to turn me around was when Coach said “sometimes you’ve got to just let go of the rope.” I’d handled some sticky problems to this point, but I can spot a fellow fighter when I see one. Coach is a fighter, but his point is well taken. Sometimes you’ve just got to stop pulling/fighting and just walk away. It’s not worth the stress and you can’t change anyone’s mind but your own.

When I had a relapse of illness, I was upset that I was missing classes. I was afraid it was going to turn into a repeat of Fall. Coach has his rules about missed classes, but he knows I’m participating when I’m there. What shocked me was when Miguel, Ash, and others saw me on campus and said “Lizzy – Are you ok?” and meant it! I was hoping I wasn’t an irritant in the class because I realized that half the time I tried to say anything my brain was at least a paragraph ahead of my mouth because so many things were clearing up. My eyes were being pealed open and I was able to dump piles of mis-matched pieces of emotional luggage. “Nah – your stories get us to think because you’re older than us, but have the same thing going on.”

The final project for Stress Management really kicked my head open. The pages were on Death and things. What 10 things would I will to people? Could I give them these things before I die so they can enjoy them? I was finishing up all my other projects and this stopped me dead in my tracks. I looked around at the piles in the house, and I knew the minute I got back from California (where I would be practising other stress management techniques), I would probably clean. What I didn’t realize was that the techniques learned, and space given by this class allowed me to forgive so many things within myself.  When I got back, I was confused and all it took was another catalyst to take me to task to get the ball rolling.

I’ve always had it within me to do everything I need to. I just had to focus. Sometimes it takes people you can trust to help focus you, but you have to be the one to actually do the hard work, because, honestly, they have their own focusing to do. 

For as long as I can, I will take activity courses from Coach Tetro. I know this man incorporates everything that I have respect for and I hope he will be willing to mentor me as I embark on my personal training career.

So, I know I speak for a lot of us when I say Thanks Coach Tetro.