musings on running, life, and everything in between

Breathing into the tight spots


It’s past midnight and I’m writing this. I just finished the first season of Sense8 on Netflix. I will have to say, AWESOME. It’s got something for everyone–I mean seriously diverse cast. It’s international, got feminism, GLBT stuff, inter-racial/cultural stuff, martial arts, science fiction-y stuff, love. It’s by the Wachowskis and so it highlights a good bit of Chicago as well. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

I am regretting (a little bit) this late-night venture, though, as I haven’t been sleeping well. For whatever reason, my high school reunion this upcoming Saturday has been factoring into a great number of my dreams. I’m not even going to the bar/evening thing (just the school tour and picnic), but I’ve dreamt multiple times about the event. And I can’t remember specifics, but I keep wake up feeling disturbed. The fact that one of the organizers has been soliciting pictures/remembrances of those classmates who’ve passed away since graduation hasn’t been helping with the weirdness. I just spent way too much time Googling those people, and it’s super-depressing. Please get help if you are struggling.


I love Wil Wheaton, and I follow him on social media. He’s funny and honest. He recently did a video about his struggles with mental illness.

Which makes a good segue maybe into today’s deep thought. BREATHE through it. I recently got a massage as my legs are super-tight and feeling like they’re not fully recovering in between runs. As I mentioned previously, I do feel like the massages make a huge difference in that whole prehab/rehab kind of way and are an important part of my training. Things get all wonky from all that mileage, and you tend to get imbalanced and compensate in odd ways (for example, my right quad and foot are super tight and weird, yet my left ankle is achy. Perhaps related is the fact I’ve noticed I tend to strike heavier on my left heel).

Anyhow, because my legs were so tight and the massage therapist knew his trigger points, there were some really uncomfortable moments where the massage was painful and I had to suppress my initial impulse to tense up and try to squirm or shift out of that spot. And to be honest, I yelped at one point. Most of the time, though, I really tried to focus on not tensing up, kicking him to stop, or yelling. I coached myself to breathe through it–something I hear often in yoga. When you’re holding a pose, particularly if it’s a difficult one, you should breathe through the discomfort of that pose. Breathe into that point of tension and release it. It helped.

And that’s such a good lesson for the rest of life. So often when things are weird or hard, we want to squirm away and shift to deflect or avoid that pressure. When Mr. UnRunner was asking about what was motivating me to run Ragnar Great Rivers (because the list of cons was longer than the pros), he was surprised when I said that I thought it would be fun to meet new people and try something different. I am not one to jump easily into situations where I don’t know alot of people, and getting into a van with strangers for 48+ hours is definitely a challenge. I felt like I was in a rut, though, and that this would be good for me. And that I would enjoy it! Definitely not my usual self here, people. And hopefully, it will be a glorious experience to reward me for taking such a daring, adventurous attitude. If not, I’ll never try anything new again. HA.

Seriously, though, if we all took tight situations in stride and breathed into them, we would emerge so much stronger and grow from those experiences. I have NOT read Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, but I imagine there are some elements of this idea in that book. If we are constantly working to get out of uncomfortable situations, we may be closing opportunities to be more. Obviously, there’s a balance in all of that! Feel free to comment if you’ve read the book and your own thoughts about the matter. I know it’s a bit of a controversial one.

Today’s run was a perfect example of breathing and working through a tough spot. Mr. UnRunner had a short business trip and left super-early in the morning, which meant I had to do my 12 mile run later in the morning when I had childcare. In the heat. I was spinning in circles trying to figure out what the most bearable route would be. It involved algorithms calculating difficulty of water vs no water, hills vs concrete, shade vs. exposure, and drive vs out-the-door. I woke up to a text message from my friend Anna asking if I’d run yet and would I like company if I hadn’t. Anna is younger and faster than me (she BQ’ed earlier this spring), so I hesitated. The thought of running 12 miles alone in the heat made me reconsider, though, and she promised we could run as slow as I wanted. We opted for the Prairie Path since it had some tiny hills, some shaded parts, crushed limestone, AND, most importantly, a. We actually did a great run for how awful it was–9:07 average pace.

The last two miles were slower, and I confess, we took a few water/walk breaks. I could not have done it without Anna encouraging me to keep moving. A couple of times she made me slow down because she could tell from my difficulty breathing and talking at the same time, that I was probably pushing too hard. Seriously, if you are running in the 80s/90s and high humidity like we were, you definitely want to make sure you have access to alot of water and at least shade for some parts of it. I still feel dehydrated!

It was definitely hot, and I further contributed to my ridiculous runner’s tan marks. Sigh. Maybe I should just start running in this get up to not deal with the tan lines. She is OBSESSED with that umbrella lately.

I took pictures of two random things on my walk today to share with you. This gorgeous flower. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a flower like it before. The stamen (?) pistils (?) were super tall and bunched together like a little crown.   And this old-school fire truck. I’m not sure where it was from or where it was going. I missed the front of it, which definitely looked different from today’s trucks. It was more rounded like a VW bus rather than the sharp corners of modern trucks. Still, it was fun to see. Sorry the picture doesn’t do it justice.
And since I started this post on such a heavy note, I feel like I need to end it with a silly one. I was perusing the random wares on Groupon (looking for headphones for the kids actually), when I came across this gem. Really? Someone needed to invent and make this? And 100+ people have bought it? It really is end times, isn’t it?

Anyhow, beautiful people. Have a glorious day! Feel free to chime in about any of the bricolage of things in this post 🙂

Author: runNerdier

Marathoner. Academic. Mom of 2 ankle-biters.

2 thoughts on “Breathing into the tight spots

  1. Jung, I know this is a running blog, but I have to tell you that this really helped me put some things in perspective about work, too. I’m struggling to figure out what exactly my school wants from me in terms of research productivity (because apparently three things accepted for the year wasn’t enough), and that brings its own tight spots. Since my inclination is to disengage or yell or walk away from what feels like unreasonable expectations, I needed someone to remind me to breathe. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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