Wom[e]n Crush Wednesday

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the Oiselle Flagship Store for a night of food, fun, and shopping. Sally Bergesen, the founder, CEO, and designer of their beloved Roga shorts (if you haven’t tried them you are missing out) gave a brief presentation on her personal story and how the company began, Flywheel made an appearance to talk about their company and their fun spinning and barre classes with super cool technology–they track your progress on your account online, how awesome is that?!–and then we #flystyle lovers got to shop, bond, and come face-to-face with the company and its apparel.

Oiselle is a #girlboss company; they not only make innovative clothing that is both functional and fashionable, but they also design clothing for all body types and shapes, and for the new runners, all the way to the pros. But the thing that I love more than their clothes (and it’s hard to beat those) is the women both involved in and obsessed with the company. Last night, I met some fun, empowering, inspiring people who are passionate about running and Oiselle (and also Seattle). They welcomed me in with open arms into their community of Birds–and even invited me on group runs with them, which I’ll definitely have to do! I am blown away by the welcoming nature of this crew, and can’t wait to do more with them!

And so, Oiselle Birds of Seattle, this Woman Crush Wednesday goes out to you. Thanks for the inspiration and laughs last night!

x. M

Exploring the City: Yoga to the People

If you’ve been reading this for a while, or if you follow me on Twitter or in real life, you know that I’ve been pretty passionate about yoga lately. Certainly, I’ve been periodically practicing for the past few years, finding a few studios here and there that I’ve really loved (Shoutout to Replenish in Columbus and YogaRoots in Cleveland), but only recently did I begin practicing on a more regular basis. Yoga really stepped into my life at a moment where I really needed it; having been diagnosed with a low lumbar stress fracture and essentially being unable to finish the final season of my one of my true passions, hurdling, I was left feeling down on myself and my physical condition. My physical therapist put me on a no-run plan for an indefinite number of weeks, which devastated me. I needed something, anything, which would make me feel strong and capable the way running, and, specifically, hurdling, had.

Enter yoga. I was told I had a weak back, extremely-tight hamstrings, and the combo of the two would mean a series of back injuries for the rest of my life if I did not change my tune, so I decided to give yoga a more serious try. I bought a month’s package at Studio Oxygen in my hometown and padded in to my first class amid all of the Fit Soccer Moms of Canfield (they should really have a reality TV show about these women). I was hooked–by the end of the summer, I really felt more flexible–I could put my full palm on the ground in standing forward fold!–and stronger than ever, which allowed me to begin running again (I raced a 2 mile at the very end of August and actually hit a PR, which was huge for me–I hadn’t been able to hit a PR in anything running related in over a year, which was extremely frustrating and exhausting–but that’s another story for another time). Seeing the good it has done in me for such a short period of time, I knew at this point that yoga must become a regular part of my life–but how?

The other day, I was walking back from my local Trader Joe’s (or Heaven, as some people know it), having picked up some organic and natural products for a low price, when I stumbled upon a sign that read “Yoga to the People.” Puzzled, I did a quick Google search, which informed me that this was a yoga studio that offered donation-based Vinyasa and hot yoga Bikram-style classes. Donation based essentially means you give what you can, with a suggested donation of $10 per class. Now, $10 per class was pretty much cheaper than any yoga studio I had ever seen, save for the free classes with Amy back in the John Carroll University Rec Center, so I was sold. The next day, I pulled my hair into a top knot, packed my mat and a water bottle, and walked to the studio for a donation-based 60 minute Vinyasa class(it’s less than a mile from my apartment!). Upon walking in, I was greeted by the desk worker, who took my donation and directed me toward the women’s locker room, where I could lock up my stuff and get prepared for class.

This was truly the most intrinsically yoga experience I’ve had to date. People of all walks of life (and in various states of dress) entered the room and joined together in the same practice of yoga. Man and woman, old and young, each paying what they could, doing yoga as it was intended to be practiced. It was truly a poetic experience. I will certainly be back!

Want to see for yourself? Here is their Mantra, taken from their website:

YTTPMantra

Yoga for everyone–isn’t what it is all about? Namaste.

x. M

The Courage to Begin Again

My return to running has, more or less, sucked.

I mean, really sucked.

I started running again upon the suggestion by my physical therapist that it would not hurt to give it a go again. So, I went to the YMCA for my usual injured biking and light weightlifting workout, and somehow decided to end the day with a mile. A slow, painful mile. It felt wonderful to run again (and even more wonderful to be pain free) but I knew the road back to fitness was going to be long, hard, and, frankly, exhausting. I drove home, stumbled in the door, and headed straight to my bed for a nap.

The next time I decided to run, I wanted to add more minutes (and mileage) but did not want to overdo it. So, I put myself on somewhat of a “Couch-To-5k” Plan like those you’d find on Pinterest. I begrudgingly decided to run for a few minutes, walk for a minute or so, and repeat, for about 20-25 minutes (an arbitrary time I set for myself to keep from overdoing it). I was extremely frustrated with how out of breath I felt after only a few short, slow minutes of running. I wanted to get better, but the first steps to getting there seemed to be so much.

After another week of the same sort of thing, I did not seem to have much better results (at least not emotionally). Physically, I may have been improving a little, but emotionally I was simply not feeling like myself. I felt defeated, knocked down by a small lumbar stress fracture, sciatic nerve pain, and 5-6 weeks of absolutely no running. I was not sure how to proceed–nothing seemed to be working (not to mention, my pain had decreased significantly but my recovery was beginning to plateau at around Level 2-3 pain (on a scale of 1-10). I grew tired, frustrated, and even a little angry. I hated every minute of those first two weeks. Sure, I was grateful to be running again, but I did not care for running when it felt like that.

But then, I took to the trails. I decided to run at whatever pace felt good, with my iPod shuffle to accompany. I settled on “Lover of the Light” by Mumford and Sons as my first song–if you were unaware, Mumford makes for the perfect trail running music–and started off at an easy pace. Partway through the run, I was surprised at how good I felt. I felt as though I was capable, strong, and able to finish the run. This strength carried me through to the end. This run served as a turning point for me. Suddenly, all the work I had been putting in for the past few weeks had meaning; it was all worth it after all. My mood was lifted, my attitude toward running was much more positive. I knew, once again, what I had forgotten for so long: I could do this.

Today, I set out again for another run, beginning my fourth week back to running. Sure, my pace is nowhere near where it normally is, and is even further from where I’d like it to be, but I’m keeping it realistic for now. I’m going to continue to push myself within the limits of my recovery in order to improve and get better with time. I’m going to be tough. I’m going to be strong. I’m going to do this. Running (currently) sucks, but not running sucked worse.

Like with anything, running again after a long break is not easy. It is challenging. It is trying. It is difficult. It is worth every frustration, setback, and struggle. Greatness after a struggle comes down to one thing: the courage to begin again.

Run Free

Yesterday, I read an article a former teammate shared on Facebook that begged the question, “Is it OK to Run in a Sports Bra?” The article centered around the conclusion that any reason women shouldn’t run in just a sports bra and shorts is utter garbage. While I completely agree with the premise of this article, I still found myself uneasy by its existence. I’ll admit it: I’m a sports bra runner myself. But even I have moments where I feel judged by the t-shirt-and-capris runner that I pass on the bike path near my house. However, this should not be. Why, in the name of Shalane Flanagan, are we worried about what people wear while running, let alone what we wear while logging some miles? 

Running, like other forms of exercise, is a somewhat uncomfortable activity. Runners push themselves on each trail, track, and road they encounter, moving out of their comfort zone to find their own personal strength. Running is an uncomfortable journey, despite how much we love it. Amid this lack of comfort, why would anyone want anything that would add even a hint of added discomfort? I run in a sports bra because it is comfortable for me. Sometimes the weather in Ohio is so humid and meltingly hot that running in as minimal clothing as possible is. However each person has a different level of comfort. The woman I pass in a t-shirt and capris is equally as comfortable in her own. We should not question each other, but instead allow the other to run free of discomfort or judgement.  It should not even be a question whether or not it is OK. It should just be. 

A Yogi’s Reflection

Ok, so I’m not the perfect yogi. Having been a sprinter for years, I’m explosive. Despite my dance training, my balance isn’t always up to par. And my flexibility–yikes! On a good day, I can barely touch my toes. I’m also admittedly competitive. And when I’m not up to par, I get disappointed in myself. As is human nature, I have the tendency to bring these things to the mat. I stumble. I attempt crow pose and fall–every time. My heels will likely never touch the ground in downward facing dog. I glance in the mirror during a warrior pose and wonder why my pose does not match my fellow yogis. I struggle with breathing. My legs and arms shake during planks. My hair falls out of the braid I spent precious minutes before class weaving. I (only occasionally–I swear!) arrive late and have to rush into my practice to catch up with the flow of the class. My yoga practice looks far from a Lululemon ad.

However, does that make me less of a yogi? Isn’t the point of yoga to come as you are, and do the best you can on the mat? Yoga isn’t about picture-perfect poses, though they are nice to look at (I’m looking at you, kinoyoga and beachyogagirl on Instagram). Yoga is about the journey, about improving yourself, about the feeling you get when you enter and exit each pose. Yoga is personal. It’s about finding yourself through a series of physical poses. It does not matter whether your pose equals another; your practice is entirely your own. Yoga does not demand perfection. It only requires dedication and practice. It’s important to remain mindful of that.

I’m a yogi. I’m human. I’m doing the best I can.

x. M