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The Secret Life

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With my piping hot coffee in hand and my leather booties click-clacking their way along the pavement I power walk my way from the gym to my office. Just an hour earlier I was focused and running hard run along the cool, still waters of Wollaston beach with Boston’s skyline peaking out in the distance. And now? Clickity-clack I go in my red blouse, navy blue slacks and my fancy shoes into the parallel universe known as my day job.  Careful to not spill coffee all over myself in true Kass fashion I hold my arm uncomfortably erect in hand and far from my body. I will not drip coffee on this blouse. I repeat- I will NOT drip coffee on my new blouse. I vow to avoid doing dry cleaning for as long as humanly possible because #1 that shit’s expensive and #2 last time I did dry cleaning I left it there for over a month. 

 

I arrive at the counseling center a mere 3 minutes before my 10 am client arrives. Typical. I maximized my Lilly time, my run time and my shower time to minimize my time at work. Don’t get me wrong I like work, actually I love it, but I love my daughter, the rush of the road and a relaxing hot shower just a wee bit more. Is that weird?

 

My days are spent in back-to-back therapy sessions from 10 until 5:30 pm. What do I really do during this time? I listen with my heart open to those around me.  An emotionally charged position and yet incredibly fulfilling career in so many ways this is what I  have been searching for for so many years. I listen, validate, advise, reflect and reframe the thoughts and feelings of my clients. I hope that my presence helps take some of their pain away, much in the same way that running takes mine away. Funny how they only see my therapist side: a true facet of my being and yet only a small sliver of my persona.

 

Running often feels like my secret life; it’s a window into a world where life feels manageable, peaceful and balanced. Running is the deep breath in my busy day.

 

My clients don’t know that I ran 9 miles this morning HARD. I nailed a 2 by 2 mile tempo at a 7:10 minute/mile pace across all four miles. YESSSS!

They don’t know that I woke up at 5:30 am to finish off my athlete training plans before I went for my morning run.

They didn’t see me with my hair tied back in a high pony, my face flushed bright red or the sweat dripping down my forearms and off of my elbows.

They didn’t see my focused fury on the road.

They didn’t see me fighting for every second.

They couldn’t hear me reminding myself that YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE!! 

They don’t know that I always find my way to the coast to run by the water. The backdrop of the rising sun over the boats in the still water relaxes me.

They don’t know what it is like to watch the sun rise from the road and to feel the crisp morning air fill your lungs.

They don’t know that running is when I feel at peace. Running is when I feel alive. Running is when I feel strong.

They don’t know that running reminds me that everything will be okay.

They don’t know what running changes me, inside and out.

They don’t know that running is my therapy.

 

In so many ways my clients and colleagues don’t know the real me.

I suppose they don’t really have to know. They don’t have to get it.

I run for me.

 

…random thoughts by yours truly.

 

Never stop running,

The Lone Runner

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What is it about Winter?

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If I wrote this post on Saturday I would have been on cloud 9, top of the world happy and feeling damn good about training. I had completed a 7 mile easy run followed by a bootcamp so nasty that it leaves you curled up in the fetal position begging for mercy and yet somehow simultaneously smiling. How is this possible? I have not a clue.  Naturally, I bought a 10 pack to the class.

Unfortunately it’s not Saturday. I’m not visiting my boyfriend in Connecticut. And I’m not recovering from an awesome two hour workout. In reality it’s 8 pm on Wednesday night and I’m sitting at home alone (kiddo in bed) while begrudgingly petting the needy cat that I desperately love and I had one of the cruddiest runs that I can remember this morning.

Right now- in this moment I’m feeling off. I’m feeling not myself. I’m down about my running and my pace. My conversational paced runs have been hovering around an 8:30 pace (a far cry from my 7:50-8 pace of yesteryear). I’m doubting my ability to throw down in a race. I’m frustrated with my weight and my body- which really means I am mad about what I am actively choosing to feed myself each and every day, shame on me. I have no idea how the next 5 months of training are going to go. Right now the notion of training through the bitter cold day after day just plain scares me.

On Monday I actually felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I looked at myself in the mirror and recalled the immensely toned body that attacked New York and Chicago Marathons just a few years ago.  Where did that woman go? Did I like her? She was physically strong, but was she healthy? I have no idea anymore. In the face of a failing marriage she escaped to the streets and the gym. Her body was well put together while her heart was slowly breaking. And now? My heart feels full of all the warm and fuzzies in this new relationship while my running focus is moderate at best. And my nutrition focus? Good grief, we won’t even go there.

What is wrong with me?? These are not the words of a passionate, motivated, strong woman. This is not me. Guys, I think I’m in bit of a slump when it comes to my training. And the first step of un-slumping myself has to be simply admitting my slump-like tendencies.

 

And when you’re in a Slump,

You’re not in for much fun,

Un-slumping yourself

is not easily done.

 

I’m well-aware that my plate is full. I just started a new, full time job as a therapist…. and I’m coaching 16 one-on-one athletes… and I’m a recently divorced single mama… and I’m in a long-distance relationship (hehe yay)… and now I’m training for the Boston Marathon. On a day to day basis my plate feels VERY full. But honestly I’m not sure it’s my full plate that is causing the slump because EVERYONE has a full plate. Every single reader out has a to-do list miles long. So what is it? Honestly, I’m not sure but I’m blaming it on WINTER. Yea, you heard me right :) .

Winter. This Godforsaken time of year when the days are shorter, the wind whips off the water and the streets can be slipperier than expected. How the hell did I do this last year? And the year before? How did I train though winter??? And why am I so slow right now?? Enter slumpy-slumperson.

Well that mentality stops RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW. I am writing this post to hold myself accountable because here is what I know:

 

1. Consistency is key. Progress is made through small, daily successes. Focus on making the right decisions in the moment and the small success will add up to a healthier lifestyle.

2. Focus on eating well and executing the daily workout as best as possible and THAT will lead to successful training. Don’t worry about tomorrow’s workout, or this weekend’s long run – just focus on what I need to do TODAY!

3. STOP EATING TREATS SO OFTEN. Treats will be saved for long-run days. Boom. Done.

4. I will never, ever stop running. Giving up is not an option. Never was, never will be.

 

Every marathon training cycle represents a chapter in the book of my life. This chapter represents my return to officially training while juggling many, many responsibilities. If I have learned anything from the work I do it is this: many people live life one day at a time. Honestly, I know that it’s pretty damn normal to feel overwhelmed. I know that it’s normal in winter to prefer to stay in the warmth of my home over the cold of the streets. But I also know how running makes me feel inside and out- strong, accomplished and capable of more. As much as I want to sleep in most mornings or watch late night tv with a bowl of bon-bons the end results of those decisions isn’t a happy me.

I am stronger than I think I am. I am strong. I had to write that again to just remind myself of that fact that I throw to the curb so easily in times of stress. I can be a full-time working single mom who marathons. YES I CAN. I WILL. I AM. I’m here and I’m committed to giving this training everything I’ve got. It’s going to be hard, but then again- everything worth doing is hard. Holy shit- I’m pumped!!!!! It’s time to get ready to Boston!! And away we go!

 

** Base building**

I have spent the past month of November focusing on building back a base mileage of about 35 miles/week to kick off my official Boston training this past Monday December 5th. This past month my runs have been very straight forward- zone 1/conversationally paced runs 4x a week with 2 days of strength. The idea behind base building is that I can run 35 miles a week very comfortably so now I will incorporate intensity (speed) without taxing my body too much. In theory this means I should be able to go harder!! Tomorrow I start back up with more challenging runs- I have my first structured tempo run since last April!! Whoa!! It’s been a while since I’ve really truly trained for a race. It’s time to refocus, recommit and get ready to BOSTON.

 

xoxo

Never stop running,

The Lone Runner

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Why is training for a marathon so life changing? I can answer that in 1 word: TRUST.

                                                   

(My posts are often inspired by the people I meet during my day job. For three long years I worked as an employee in a local running store and was inspired by many of the athletes, companies and products I encountered there. However, recently I returned to my original pre-baby career as a mental health therapist. This post is a result of the client-therapist interactions I encountered this week.)

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At 10 am I listened to a young woman in her 20’s speak of jealousy in her now tumultuous relationship with her boyfriend. Flicking her hand in the air to signal the simple nature of her statement she asked, “Why can’t he just trust me?”

At 1:15 pm I bore witness to a grown woman enter the dark recesses of her mind as she attempted to describe her father’s physically abusive nature. The screaming. The crying. The welt marks that appeared later that day. The emotional scars that are still burned deep into her psyche of self-worth.

Lastly, at 4:25 pm I carefully observed a recovering heroin addict in her early 30’s visibly shaking as she recalled memories of being repeatedly raped when she was not even 10 years old.

This is how I spent my Thursday.

I sat in each session with my notepad in hand listening to each story with my eyes, ears and soul wide open. Throughout the session I scribbled down notes- dates, ages, names, powerful quotes from the client and relevant themes that revealed itself throughout each session. By 5 pm I was alone in my office and took a moment to reflect on the day. I flipped back through my notes only to see the word TRUST written, bolded and boxed out on each of these client pages. Hmmm. Trust. So easy a concept, yet so difficult to execute.

 

Trust.

 

Trust represents a relationship between two people, one in which you put your feelings, hopes, goals and dreams in the hands of another person. At that moment my mind flickered to two or so years ago when my new coach Beth and I were lovingly bickering with each other. “Kass. It’s simple, I promise. I make the plan. You follow it. You succeed. TRUST ME and stop thinking so hard. TRUST ME AND JUST RUN.” The memory elicited a puff of laughter from my lips. “It’s just that simple,” Beth so calmly assured me. But is it? I don’t think so.

Trusting another human being with your hopes and desires, to love and feel loved for who you are, and to truly feel seen and heard- yes these themes are at the core of what makes us human. Then again, to err is human.

So I ask you what happens when our trust is broken? How do we repair? Can we repair? Can we trust again?

What if trust is not only represents the relationship between two people but also the relationship you have with yourself?

Marathon training has the power to change you, move you forward and evolve into a mentally, emotionally and physically stronger person. How this change actually occurs is what is at the heart of the matter.  It’s the 85 degree summer runs where you chafe so badly that for a moment not showering seems like the smartest post-run option. It’s the 10 degree (with a wind chill in the negatives) winter runs that have you screaming F-bombs so loud that you’re actually laughing while saying, “NEVER AGAIN.” It’s the burn in your lungs while pushing MAX FORCE around the track during a solo workout. It’s covering 20 miles on a Sunday morning long run and knowing that you will still have 6+ more miles to run on game day. It’s taking one more step than you have ever taken in your life and slowly but surely realizing exactly how resilient and powerful this piece of machinery called your body truly is. Marathon training forces us to face the demons within, find our strength and learn how to trust ourselves. Marathon training teaches the walking wounded how to trust again.

We have learned to choose running as a way to feel good. We run to overcome. We run to face our fears. We run to become better, faster and stronger. We run to heal.

We run so when we do fall and life kicks us in the teeth again- and it will- we will know that we can take it. We run so that we will never underestimate our own strength again.

We marathon as a testament to our ability to have faith and trust our abilities.

And THIS is why marathon training has the power to change you, inside and out.

 

Right now I need to run myself a marathon.

I need to have something to pull me out of bed in the morning and something that will make me so tired that it will quiet my busy mind at night. I need something to be proud of. I need to challenge myself again. I need to look my fears in the face. I need to come back from a long run so cold that I never want to leave the shower.

I need to remind myself that I CAN run 26.2 miles. Because if I can run 26.2 miles then I can do anything. Get through a divorce. Single mom like no other. Fall down again and again and GET BACK UP.

I hate the fact that I decided to train through yet another winter. I love the fact that I will feel 10,000x stronger as I training through another winter freezing my ass off while I run around Quincy.

Do you know what this means?

#1 IT’S FRIDAY

#2 Let the BOSTON MARATHON 2017 training begin!!!

 

 

Never Stop Running,

Kass