After Two Nods and a Thumbs Up

I'm sitting here sipping on an almond milk, spinach, and banana celebration protein shake. I set a small running goal today and though I wanted to give up a few times, I reached my goal! I'm still coming down off of my running high as I write this.

Daily exercise is the prescription for what I'm calling a Winter Break Reset. After a challenging semester back to school, I need lots of self-care to refuel and prepare to complete the spring semester. While my Winter Break Reset is fun, it is also challenging because I don't feel like getting up off of my butt. To fulfill my prescription all I have to do is, exercise for 30 minutes and reach 10,000 steps daily.  It sounds simple, right? But to reach 10, 000 steps I have had to dance, run, and walk and sometimes that's all in one day! I have started trying out a few yoga instructors as well. Last semester I got stiff from so much sitting. I want to find a few good videos to follow during the year. Today I tried Millionaire Hoy's "15 Min Quick & Easy Full Body Deep Stretch Yoga Workout for Beginners // Daily Morning" and by the end of the session, I felt at peace and more flexible. I will be trying some of his longer yoga videos as well. In the past, I have thought of yoga as a bonus to my fitness practice. But, when I am honest with myself yoga can't just be something I do sometimes. I am turning 40 in a few days. My body is changing, so yoga is now actually a must.

After my 15 minutes of yoga session this morning, today's goal was to jog the entire mile to my neighborhood post office, purchase some stamps, and then jog the entire way back. Usually, my runs are a combination of walking, jogging and running, but my focus today was endurance not speed. I set my playlist, walked a little up the street to get used to the weather, started my Fitbit, and took off.

This hill doesn't look so bad now...

This hill doesn't look so bad now...

During today's jog, I focused on how my body felt to gauge my speed. My playlist helped me to keep an even pace. Beats, lyrics, and the energy from the music I listen to during runs always motivate me to forge ahead. My hands were the first part of my body to get uncomfortable, so I took my gloves off. When I ran on Monday it was 17 degrees. This afternoon it was 44 degrees. I was a bit overdressed, but I figured that just meant I would sweat more. When I hit a hill, I dug into my heels, slowed my pace, and focused on my breath until I reached the peak. Despite the yoga I did this morning, my legs felt heavy and stiff as I climbed the hill.

I was so proud of myself when I reached the top of the first hill so I started to run faster down the other side. That was a bad move. It felt good to pick up speed, but I lost my breath and wasn't quite prepared to go up the next hill. Determined, I kept moving, tucked my chin in, and coasted up the next hill. On my way up I reminded myself that my goal was to jog the entire way. Slow and steady would have to do. After a few more hills, and at exactly one mile, I was tired and ready to walk a bit. One block away from the post office, there was no sidewalk on the side of the street I was running on,  so I had to run on grass that was covered with brown slippery leaves. Worried about falling and busting my butt, helped me continue to jog slowly because my right hip still hurts from all of the dancing I did last night.  

I was so happy to see the post office and for a moment I almost forgot that I had to jog back home. I must admit I took advantage of my break and walked slowly into the post office. I thought about taking a different route back home. The final stretch to the post office was all downhill so I knew that even if I took a different route, there was no avoiding the uphill battle back home.  

Headed home preparing to go up a hill

Headed home preparing to go up a hill

After some thought, I decided to take the exact route home. My heavy breathing, moaning and groaning startled a few people I passed on my way, but I was determined not to stop jogging. Tears have come to my eyes during every difficult workout during my Winter Break Reset sessions. Today was no different. I always choose to stay present, keep pushing myself, and focus on the moment. I know that I will have to continue to reach deep to reach my fitness goals. I enjoy concentrating on how my body reacts to the different activities I am engaging in. For instance, last night while I was dancing I did N.E.R.D's Lemon tutorial. (This video contains cursing) During some of the dance movements, when I had to bend and twist my torso, I realized I hadn't moved my body like that in some time, and I felt a release in my spine. I'm used to the feeling of endorphins releasing during or after I run or lift weights, but not while dancing. I am hoping that if I continue to push my body through physically challenging workouts, I will be better prepared to endure life's unknown challenges. 

Toward the end of my journey, though I could almost see the finish line, I contemplated walking. While I climbed one of the last hills, a driver gave me a thumbs up. That was unexpected motivation and it caused me straighten up my back. I wanted to look good and in control while running. A few more feet up the road, two other drivers gave me a nod. Those two nods were the fuel I needed to make it to the finish line. My chest went out, head went up and I pushed on through.   

Once I got home I checked my stats. My pace and time were longer than usual and I'm okay with my results. Two nods and one thumbs up later, I reached a goal I set for myself. I stayed focused and jogged up and down hills the entire way.  No walking. Just jogging. For this I am grateful.

To the post office (after a brief start)

To the post office (after a brief start)

From the post office

From the post office

Full Circle

Now, I've come full circle and I am first and foremost ready to fulfill my contract as a McNair scholar.  Most importantly though, I am ready to conquer some of my biggest dreams, and set the bar high for my own children and other black boys and girls that will have to do as I did and rise like a phoenix from the ashes! Carpe Diem!

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