Passion For Running Part 1: Making Running Your Priority

A good friend of mine once asked me if it is possible to learn to like running.

My quick answer to her was yes; but I was neither emphatic nor bold about it because there are so many variables to liking something when that ‘something’ does not come naturally.th[2]

Her question, my quick response, and the possibilities of the problem led me to ponder it ad nauseum for quite some time. My innate propensity to overthink things did not make this process any quicker, or smoother. However, eventually I came up with quite a few ways in which one could attempt to acquire a passion for running.

The first way, the most critical, is one I have already touched upon. I prefer not to think of it as learning to ‘like’ it. ‘Like’ is such a diluted word. When I think of things I ‘like’, these things are things I can do without. For instance, “It would be nice if I could get that sweater in blue, because I ‘like’ blue, but I’ll get it in black instead,” or “I would ‘like’ to run through Starbucks today and get a latte because I ‘like’ lattes.” I can take it or leave it, depending on the circumstances.

Instead, I turn the ‘like’ into ‘passion’, thereby making it something transformative, something nurturing, something substantive. It might be something you cannot live without. Or, you might be able to live without it (because we CAN live without many things) but if you did you would be consumed by thinking about it or how to get it. An example from my world is my writing. I have a passion for writing. On those days when my schedule prohibits me from writing, I still think about it frequently throughout the day. Sometimes I feel an intense guilt, a pain, when I cannot write. When I am finally able to do it, either in the form of my blog post or working through a story, I feel fulfilled, complete, and successful.

In other words, the pursuit of ‘passions’ correlates directly to the growth of one’s intrinsic values and self-worth; the pursuit of ‘likes’ simply augments us on the outside but has little ability to penetrate to the core.

020-running[1]So, how does one develop a passion for running?

It is not easy.

The first and most important step is to make it a priority. In other words, make exercise ~ whether it is running or cycling or walking ~ a priority.

In the beginning, it is very important to establish a pattern that works well with your daily schedule. You do not have to run every day; but, it helps if you set aside time every day to be active.

This achieves three goals:

  • Time set aside just for you. No phone calls, no texting, no laundry, no computer, no kids, no dogs and/or cats, no spouse, no work. You can get out of the house and focus only on you. I bring my phone with me, but it is always on silent.
  • Time for training your body and your mind for what is to come. Challenges are forthcoming on this path. You will challenge yourself to push through walls, both physical and mental. Daily and gradual training is the first key to meeting and surpassing these challenges. I use it as quiet time: I talk to God, I work through problems, I talk to myself. Quite liberating, actually.
  • Time to form a habit. Without practice, you cannot succeed, much less excel, at acquiring a passion to run. Practice is achieved through habit and discipline. I plan my exercise schedule, including days off and what activity I will do on which day, on a weekly basis. Sounds rigid, but it keeps me focused.

These are methods that work for me. I use them because running did not start out as a passion for me. I had to learn to embrace it and that has taken time.

In fact, it started out with pain. I battled terrible shin splints when I ran in college. I later found out, about 15 years later, that the shin splints were caused by inproper footwear and inadequate stretching. Of course, now they tell me that you can’t run with court shoes. And stretching? Really? What did I know as a sophomore in college anyhow? Who stretched back then?

Running was something I took up as a result of social pressure. Not a bad thing in all cases, but for me it became something I did because I wanted to be liked by someone else…and running is something that other person did. She set the schedule, the course, the speed. I just followed along, whether I really wanted to or not. Today, I am a very different person. The person I am today would say to the friend of yesterday “No…my legs hurt like hell and there’s no way I’m running with you. Check back with me tomorrow. But, have a nice run!”

This made the perfect recipe for the exact opposite of passion: hatred. I hated to run. It brought back memories of pain and social confusion.

But out of that hatred has come a passion that keeps me focused every day. It is my priority every day. And, the bonus….running-cheaper-than-therapy-square[1]

© 2010-2013 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Night Running

Running at night has never been something I like to engage in, despite my love of running. In fact, I think I have only done it once, and that was only to participate in a new experience: a 5K race in Galveston called the Galveston Sand Crab Night Run. It was right along the beach; I couldn’t resist that one because I love the beach so much!

running-at-night[1]Other than that one exception, night running has always struck me as dangerous on a few levels. A lone female on a dark road or trail would seem tempting for a predator. My vision is getting worse during the day, imagine the consequences at night. The terrain is a little difficult to navigate.

Stuff like that.

I won’t say that I haven’t been tempted at times, particularly during the heat of the Texas summer…times when the temperatures between 7AM and 7PM are pushing 40 degrees over my optimal. But, in those times when I was tempted the most, I continued to choose to not run rather than risk the danger of attack or injury.

That all changed on Saturday night when, out of pure frustration with my lackluster progress on my resolution during the past month and an overflow of pent up anxiety and stress that not even food and wine could resolve, I ran in late dusk.DSCF1650

I was pleasantly surprised at how it affected me.

As the conversion into dusk reduced the contrast of the images around me, I felt a calm come over me. I think it had something to do with a natural reduction in stimuli, or at least the lessening intensity of the stimuli. Because the stimuli were being muted, my brain naturally slowed down, even turned inward of its own accord.

The effect was similar to the lapse of time at night, after I turn out the lights and get into bed. The time in between when my head finally rests on my pillow and when I fall asleep. The lessening of stimuli, both visual and auditory, the focus inward, the flow of thoughts, emotions, sometimes an interchange with God on a level that transcends praying and becomes a full conversation.

Running for me has always been a solitary venture, even when I run a half marathon amid a crowd of thousands. The act of endurance running transports me to a place within myself where I think and know I can carry on, I can surmount that barrier, I can make it to that next road mark. Basically, my “I CAN DO IT AND SURVIVE” place. I think running at night succeeded in delivering me to that place faster and without as much effort on my part.

Will I do it again? Maybe. But, I am fairly set in my ways at this point, so I won’t count on it being a frequent repeat event. But, after having experienced it, I can say that I won’t be quite as reluctant as I have in the past to do it if I feel a need to.

With that said, it’s off for my run. Got some demons been chasing me badly today, so it’s time to hit the road and leave them in my dust.

© 2010-2013 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Diary of New Year Resolution: Weeks 5-8

I can’t believe it’s been 4 weeks since I last posted about this. But, if I try hard enough, yes, I can believe….

I can see how my resolve weakened because my schedule was overwhelming. My work and my family life took the front seat and drove me directly into a wall.

  • Daily exercise was non-existent.
  • Healthy eating habits gave way to comfort food and binge eating.
  • Excuses ran rampant and progress was erratic.

There were 3 gym days, approximately one a week.

Each of those gym days also happened to coincide with a healthy eating day. Simpler that way.

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Chicken Caesar Salad

One day I had Chicken Caesar Salad for dinner.

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Teriyaki Ginger Seared Chicken with Sauteed Zucchini on Quinoa Wild Rice

The other day, I had Teriyaki Ginger Seared Chicken Breast with Sauteed Zucchini on Quinoa Wild Rice for dinner.

My daughter and I did a liquid diet for two days during this time. Nothing but protein drinks, Odwalla Original Superfood, and lots of water. This helped to give me the brief illusion that I was making progress in the trek back to my new year resolution.

I spent a week at a client site in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you have done business travel of  any kind, you understand how most of my time was spent while on site there. In addition to spending much of 2 days traveling to and from Austin, much of my time was spent in an office, eating too much food at every meal, and laying supine on the bed in the hotel room with the TV remote in my hand. This went on for 4 days.

During that week though, if you allow your imagination to stretch and meet mine, I did get some unique exercise. Follow along with me!

At the end of that week in Salt Lake City, I spent several hours touring Temple Square in downtown. Lots of walking. That’s exercise….

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Assembly Hall

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City Creek Mall

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The Temple

The following day, I spent most of the day skiing at Solitude Resort on the only pristine day I had experienced all week. That’s definitely exercise….

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Oh, and I did get a 3 mile run in last night…

In hindsight, maybe the last 4 weeks have not been a total loss, only a glitch in the pattern.

Going to see if I can improve on that pattern in the following weeks.

© 2010-2013 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

The Joy of A Wine Club

Last month, I became a member of the wine club at Woodrose Winery in Stonewall, Texas.DSCF1746

I joined for a few reasons:

  • I like the variety of wines they offer.
  • I can’t get their wines at the local Spec’s or HEB.
  • I get up to a 20% discount on wine and merchandise.
  • Membership is fee-free, except for the quarterly obligatory purchase of 3 bottles.

Those reasons are good on their own. But there was one other reason, one of the main reasons. I decided to join their wine club for their pickup parties, with wine and food pairings, and the other social events that they offer exclusively to members. I thought that it might be a unique way to meet new people.

All of this for the price of 12 bottles of wine per year. Not a bad deal, really.

Today was my first pickup party. Basically, the pickup party is the alternative to having the wine shipped directly to  me. But if I had the wine conveniently shipped to me I would have missed a few things that really made my day today:

  • The crystal clear Texas-spring day made the hour long drive enjoyable and relaxing, particularly because I was able to put the sunroof back.
  • The spot at the corner of the patio overlooking the vineyards and feeling the breeze, where I could watch the other members and wine tasters doing their thing.
  • The wine and food pairing that Mike, the proprietor, put together to showcase the taste of the wines that I was about to purchase.
  • The family-like atmosphere of down home Texas hospitality.

Can you see how my afternoon was practically perfect? The only way it could have been more perfect would be if I could have enjoyed the moments there with a friend or significant “other” instead of by myself.

Maybe next time I’ll bring my dog.

Below are two of the three wine and food pairings that Mike showcased. I am not a wine connoisseur by any means. But I do know what tastes good and what does not. Mike’s culinary skills allowed him to create dishes that truly brought out the best taste in the food AND the wine. Yum! Can’t wait until the next party!

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2010 Zen Noir paired with Pork Loin, Applesauce and Wild Rice

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2011 The Deuce paired with Pepper Crusted NY Strip and Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions

© 2010-2013 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag

When I was learning how to live in Europe a few years ago, one of the hurdles I had to overcome in bridging the culture gap was the food shopping experience. There were a few differences between the grocery experience in the U.S. and the grocery experience in Holland:

  • The size of the stores was about a quarter of the size of U.S. stores.
  • The variety of selection in Holland was limited not only in the types of food that were available for purchase, but also the brands that were offered.
  • There was no concept of baggers. You bagged your own groceries and weathered the brunt of the cashier’s disapproval if you didn’t keep up.

The other big difference was in the bags themselves. Not only were bags not free – you had to pay for them and of course re-use them each time – but they were much larger and more resilient. No more of those flimsy plastic bags that rip and tear. The bags were heavy-duty veneered plastic, with handles that were sown into the top of the bag.scandinavian_jugem_jp[1]

I loved those bags. When I re-patriated to the U.S., I brought all my bags with me and chuckled at the reactions of the teenage baggers at the local Randalls when they tried to bag the groceries in those huge bags. Their training could never cover all of the nuances of packing those things. The skills came down to the same skills one would use in playing Tetris.

Unfortunately, my Dutch shopping bags disappeared in the back of a rental car last year. Now I am relegated to using the flimsy plastic bags again or the cheap cloth bags that H.E.B. sells.

That is all about to change here in Austin as of March 1. The city of Austin is the first major Texas city, and among only 24 other U.S. cities, to place a ban on plastic bags. The difference for Austin is that the bags will be almost completely banned, in all stores.

Reusable bags only.

Not a big issue for me, really. I only have to get over the convenience factor that I have enjoyed over the last few years and revert back to the methods I had to use when I lived in Holland. However, sometime between now and then I have to accumulate a collection of resilient shopping bags that I can tote with me when I shop.

However, I couldn’t help but ponder the pros and cons of this change and how it will affect the overall shopping experience for everyone:

  • It will be beneficial for the environment – less plastic ending up in the trash and in landfills.
  • It will change the approach to lugging groceries up the stairs – there will be fewer bags but the bags will be heavier.
  • It will be an outlet for creativity and the expression of individuality in the form of the designs on the bags that I use – I could potentially have a bag for every mood, for every day.
  • It will require more forethought when committing random acts of shopping – I will have to have a bag handy to carry out any purchases in any store, regardless of the type of product being shopped for or purchased.
  • I will eventually run out of the freebie plastic bags, the same bags I used to line small wastebaskets and throw out the dirty kitty litter – I will eventually have to spend money to buy small trash bags to service this need.
  • It will shift the burden of the cost of supplying the plastic bags from the corporation to the consumer.
  • It will result in additional windfall for the corporation, as represented in the additional sales they will enjoy from consumers who habitually forget their reusable bags (that would be me!)

Changes are inevitably accompanied by advantages and disadvantages. But, I have found that with an open mind and a flexible spirit, any change can be managed, navigated, with positive results that may not have been foreseeable beforehand.

DSCF1904With that in mind, I intend to invest in reusable shopping bags between now and March 1. I will seek out as much variety as I can find and hope that I remember my bags when I enter the store; I certainly don’t want to be unnecessarily lining the pockets of the corporate executives. If I don’t remember to bring in my bags, we can add getting more exercise to the list of advantages, as I run out to my car to get the bags I forgot to bring in.

© 2010-2013 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Note to National Tire And Battery – Part 2

A few weeks ago, I verbally trashed National Tire and Battery (NTB) on this blog.

I did it respectfully (I hope) and included the facts, which spoke for themselves.

It would be fair then, that if National Tire and Battery were to make things right, that I should applaud them.

So here it goes…

To start with, I did not expect anything positive to result from the letter that I wrote to them. In fact, I didn’t expect any response at all because my attempts at this approach in the past have resulted in either no corporate response or unsatisfactory response.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t use this approach often. I only take the time and energy when the situation is egregiously wrong. And the minute I send it, I let the situation go; I wait to see what happens.

This time, something happened. On Tuesday, the Area Sales Manager for NTB-Southeast Houston contacted me.

Wow! I still don’t know what I was most impressed by:

  • Maybe it was that he even bothered to call.
  • Maybe it was that he was so transparent and apologetic, on both a personal level and a corporate level.
  • Maybe it was the fact that he listened to my concerns, my frustration, my stress, even though he had probably read about it in my letter and it was all a rehash for him.
  • Maybe it was because he showed empathy, not just understanding.
  • Maybe it was because he didn’t judge me for the things that I failed to do.
  • Maybe it was because he looked at the positive ramifications and truly wanted to make amends to all parties.

Whatever it was, the Area Sales Manager restored my faith in people, and, to a certain degree in corporate ethics. There are still good people and good companies that are not afraid to do the right thing by people and by their consumers.

As a result of this incident,  I will use NTB in the future for my tire needs. I won’t use them because they agreed to my requests for compensation (they gave me everything I asked for!)

I will use them because they did the right thing…and that is the most important element to me.

When people do the right thing, everyone wins.