Runner’s World Review – New Year New You

I’m an avid Runner’s World reader and have been for many years. Each month I will pick one article from the magazine (suggestions welcome!) to discuss and we can kick around thoughts, opinions and reflections. We’ll stay one issue behind the most current so that non-subscriber’s can read along on the RW website. It’ll be like a book club, except less Jane Austen and more sweat. So grab a cup of Joe or tea (see, it is just like a book club!) and jump into the fray!

rw jan 2013

January 2013- New Year New You

I know by the end of January most people have had it up to here with year lists, resolutions and proclamations of all kinds, so fear not, that is not actually the point if this post. Although it is a nice ‘lil article detailing specific things that you can do over the course if the year to improve your running and I do recommend it.

What this article sparked in me were thoughts about change- what precipitates it, how capable of it we are and how likely it is that we will.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tended to think that people just are who they are and that instead of trying to change someone, you should just accept them. It’s far easier to just let people fly their freak flags than try to convince them that they should swap it out for a  sensible decorative flag,  perhaps something with autumn leaves on it.

But the flip side of me thinks that no one should settle for an unsatisfying status quo, especially when there are so many resources at all of our fingertips to make those good changes- everything from therapists that can get you back on course to finding a support system that encourages positive changes to tiny things like having the luxury to go for a walk to calm your spirit.

The situation is made murkier by looking at my own life, where some things have remained the same and some have wildly fluctuated. Let me take you on a Kashi Tour of the last 20 years:

Age 15 – I am cheerful the vast majority of the time,  a runner who hates racing, someone who eats a  Honey Bun (or more often nothing) for breakfast,  with a messy bedroom and a pretty flexible attitude. I dream of a life outside of Elmer where I’ll be a businesswoman living in the city and  married by my late 20s to a man equally successful. No kids, thanks.

Age 25 – I am cheerful the vast majority of the time,  a runner who rarely races, someone who eats a honey granola or French toast bagel for breakfast,  who dreams of a full-time job as a biologist and can’t imagine living in a city.  No marriage or kids, thanks, career is where it is at!

Age 35 – I am cheerful the vast majority of the time,  a runner who now loves racing, someone who eats oatmeal for breakfast,  who is grateful for the life I have and dream of a day where GD and I live long and happy lives as snowbirds (I seriously cannot handle the cold anymore!) . No kids, thanks. I thrive on routine and get discombobulated when things go off kilter.  I prefer things neat as a pin, but there are exceptions in places like my office and my car’s trunk.  My marriage is the most important thing in my life.

My life is filled with different “me’s” peeking out at each corner.  You can always count on me to be enthusiastic and supportive, which has never changed, but I have gotten more rigid as the years have passed (perhaps that is why I have remained so cheerful – the rigid side of me respects and maintains the consistency, lol). I feel that I have to constantly work on that side of myself so I don’t go full-on robot. It’s as if over time, my personality traits (for better or worse) just get more entrenched and harder to change.

Which is why I am always so taken with stories of people who break their mental bonds and come out on the other side more closely resembling the person they want to be. People change careers, lose weight, start running, stop smoking, beat depression and anxiety every day. But what makes the day they decide to do it become the day they do do it?

I really don’t know and your thoughts on this are what I am interested in hearing. I have gone through different changes in my life, but they generally happened organically, over time. There are not too many instances where I can point to and say “that was the moment and here is why”. The ones I can identify are often on the heels of feeling like “enough is enough, time for a change!”

So tell me, have you undergone major changes? Know people that have? What gets them cranking? Is it a something small like a RW article or a big epiphany?


Filed under Runner's World Reviews

12 responses to “Runner’s World Review – New Year New You

  1. Sean said that his change is systematic. He made the decision to quit smoking and then had to change a million little things that surrounded that like not going to the same deli, staying out of 7-11, shopping in different stores, choosing different food for lunch, always having mints or gum. He said the had to change things systematically until they became automatic. He said it was pretty much the same with running, knew he had to run in the mornings so changed a bunch of little things that he does to make it work.

    He hadn’t smoked in over six years, no longer drinks Coke regularly and has been running consistently for three months, Clearly there is something to his method.

    I am someone who has epiphanies regularly, but epiphanies alone are not enough. If they were I would be trim, fit and my weight obsession would be more like a health awareness. When it comes to food I am having a very difficult time making a change.

    • sean’s changes seriously floor me. some of the things he has changed are among the hardest to do! please give him another hug and high five for me. i totally agree with his method, i am also a “from the ground up” kind of change person. but can you ask him – what was it that finally pushed him towards action after thinking about it for awhile?
      as for you, i really do think you are on the right path, you just have not stumbled upon your perfect methodology yet. IT WILL HAPPEN!! love you honey!

      • Well, I may have told him that I wound’t marry him unless he quit smoking. Granted that was a year before the wedding and I am not entirely sure what I would have done if he hadn’t quit but it was a motivating factor.

        As for running, a big piece was the Blade Runner. Sean was sort of in love with this guy who was running in the Olympics and had no legs. NO LEGS! Every once in a while he would just turn to me and say “He has no legs! What made him think he could run?! NO LEGS!” It hit Sean that he probably couldn’t run around the block with his two good legs and that was all on him.

        But the big reason, the root of the his change was (and I quote) “Childish, arrogant spite” He hated that he couldn’t run, that there were so many reasons he ‘couldn’t’, so he went and did it. He said there was a voice in he had that hated when he said “well, I have to shop here because I can buy cigarettes here” or “I hope I drive the truck that I can smoke in” He hated having this little thing in his pocket that dictated so much of his day.

        Thank you, I hope that I am. I am particularly discouraged about my progress today. Feeling a lot like it will never happen.

      • man, sean’s brain should be donated to science! very cool. as for you, it’s ok to be discouraged today, but just pick up the pieces for tomorrow. i was doing some high-brow reading in people magazine and it was an issue where it’s “holy shit, these people lost a fuck ton of weight and here’s how!”. one of the things that came up over and over was the realization that 1. this was going to be massively hard and 2. if they had a bad day or tough moment, it was ok. they could just start again at the next meal or the next day. hang in there sweetie, it will work! i will call you later 🙂

  2. Scott Whittle

    I find that going for a big benefit in change is really motivating – when I found myself ballooning up to my highest weight ever (about 35lbs more than I weigh now) two winters ago, rather than deciding to just lose it and get back to normal, I took up triathlons… I think it’s akin to the boxing advice of not punching the target, but punching through the target. By giving myself a high and what seemed like very difficult goal, I not only lost the weight, but also came into what is probably the best shape of my life…in other words, I didn’t go for the basically no-reward goal of getting to a normal weight, but instead went for a way to improve my fitness to a level that seemed nearly impossible at the time – a big effort for a big reward! Change is always a big effort, so why not go for the maximum payoff?

    • i think there is def something to the reward aspect of change. we know our brains operate almost exclusively on a rewards system of chemical reactions, so it makes sense to extrapolate that out to the realities of our day to day lives. that sensation of accomplishing something you thought was impossible (or nearly so) is so thrilling! i wonder what it is about some people that don’t mind challenging themselves (even if they might fail) and others who prefer not to try bc they either don’t believe in themselves or are afraid of failure? i gotta believe it has something to do with brain chemistry mixed up with who you are by genetics. i think the most interesting thing is when people figure out how they work and then manipulate situations so that their brain will perform the way they want. very cool!

  3. Bel

    I’ve done a few “major” changes and its been over the course of years. I have found that all it really takes is one change and it sparks a bunch of little changes.

    For me, I knew for a long time that I wanted kids. I knew that in order to do that I had to quit smoking. I knew it would be hard – I had tried about a million times before and tried just about everything there is to quit but was never successful. I also knew I wasn’t having a baby immediately so there was time to make it happen. The DESIRE was always there to quit but the NEED wasn’t. And that’s the kicker. We all WANT to do these things but its not until you have that NEED to do it that it will happen. My NEED to do it came when my friends mother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. She wasn’t just my friends mother, she was someone we grew up with, someone who was a constant part of our lives. I will never forget the day that I got that phone call. I sat on the couch, looked at Laura, and said, “This is it. We are quitting, I don’t care what it takes”. I had been smoking for 13 years, half of my life at the time. Too long. That diagnosis gave way to my NEED to quit smoking. I will be smoke free for 7 years in May.

    When it came to running, at first it was just something to do. A goal to achieve because I hadn’t done something for myself in a while. Then I had a few people laugh at me and say things like, “OK, let’s see how long this will last” or “Why would you do that” or the best one, “That’s a really bad idea, there’s no way you can do it with your lungs”. Challenge accepted. The best motivator for me is to tell me I can’t do something. Then I just have to prove you wrong and my NEED is born. As of late, I have been struggling with motivation to run (and illness) so it’s not entirely a full change yet. I completed my initial goal and there is nothing pressing me immediately besides my growing waist line. But I know once a race draws near, my NEED will be back.

    • i think the idea of need makes a really good point. this is on a larger scale, but it is the reason i don’t think people have taken climate change very seriously – there simply is not a NEED yet. nothing drastic has happened to make people think they have to change and until that happens, many people just won’t. and don’t fret not running right now, it is really a horrid time of year to get motivated! between the cold and the dark, it can be very unappealing. it’s one of the reasons i am in such awe of sean right now!! hang in there, your mojo will be be back! best thing is not to force it, wait until you are rearing to go so it does not feel like a chore!!

      • Bel, I am amazed at all the negative things people say to you. I give you a lot of credit for staying so positive a midst all of that. I agree with Kashi, your kick ass motivation will come. And almost no one but the thick headed Irishman could be motivated in this weather so don’t be so hard on yourself. Our Color Run will come soon enough.

        Kashi, definitely agree on the climate change issue as well. Because people can’t draw a direct and childishly simple line between our actions and climate change they don’t think our actions have any impact at all. I just finished a unit on energy resources in the hopes the my students will retain some of it and become informed members of society. (a girl can dream. I am pretty discouraged in this area too. Wow, I am a downer…)

      • well, i will join your downer party (oh, except to say YAY BEL! that is awesome, agree with LM that it is so hard to stay up with others wanting to take you down) – i just feel really negative about climate change. hurricane sandy was a disaster in many ways, and one (to me) is that no one is seeing the writing on the wall. it’s time to start thinking really seriously about the changes that are going to have to be made in the light of rising seas and cooler temps but no one wants to talk about that – it’s more about being pissed that they can’t rebuild exactly the same as they did, or this crazy notion of “resilience” and “we will overcome and rebuild” against mother nature. news flash, guys, we will never win this battle! so downer city over here too, but good on you for at least trying with your kids!!

  4. Linda Kisiel

    Great courageous replies. I’m mulling mine over. I have changed in so many ways, but am still the same as well. I was told when I was little that I was always the strong one. I am, but i do lean on my family for strength. The life changer for me was running. I am addicted in a good way. I did quit smoking as well, 41 years ago. Frank said we’re not getting married until we quit. I had a hard time, but I’m so glad I did it. I’ll comment again on this topic.

    • that brings up a good point – how much of who we are is because of what we are told by others when we are young? were you innately the strong one? or did you become the strong one because of those comments and then when in situations where you had to lead or follow looked towards the way others defined you to help you navigate the situation? i agree, you are def a strong one – but why?

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