60 days ago, I wanted to shake up my relationship with running, which had fallen into a bit of a rut.
I used to run a great deal, but after my second ultramarathon (which took place in May 2018), I struggled with setting new goals. This was problematic, because I’m highly goal motivated. I didn’t feel I could make improvements on my pace, and wasn’t ready or willing to commit to running distances longer than 50 km. Over the past couple of years, my running went from consistent training for some race or another to doing a lacklustre 5 km a week or so.
To change things up, I decided on something very simple: a run streak of at least one mile (1.6 kilometres) per day for at least 30 days.
I put the idea to some friends, several of whom joined in, either to do the minimum mile or mixing in other sports with the goal of consistent daily commitment and progress. After the first 30 days, I felt like I was getting a lot out of the process, so I decided to continue.
Streaking took a lot of thinking out of the equation for me. I always knew that I would run; the only questions I had to answer were when and how far. A mile does not seem like much on any given day – it’s roughly 10 minutes of activity, which always made that goal feel achievable.
This was particularly important on days when I otherwise would not have run at all due to other life circumstances, and when I found myself in some physically challenging situations. For example, I had a tooth extracted during the 60 day streak. I made sure to run before the extraction, and was pleased to find out I could handle a mile the day after it as well.
I also injured my back over the course of the 60 day streak while doing another activity that I enjoy a great deal: weight lifting. I pulled something while trying to improve my barbell squat, and had a brief worry that my streaking would be cut short as a result. But because I had set a goal, I figured I owed it to myself to try to achieve it. I made sure to slow things right now, and even while injured I managed to get in my mile per day.
Because a mile does not seem like very far, it also would not ever have really felt worth doing on its own on any given day, without the mental commitment. Why bother heading out the door for such a short distance? But getting out the door is exactly what I needed to do on many days. On many occasions, my mile morphed into two, three, or more.
Overall, I would call the experiment a resounding success. I rediscovered the joy I used to feel in running, the catharsis, and the physical benefits. And I got to share the joy in watching my friends meet — and in many cases exceed! — their goals as well.
January 1 was day 60. I did 10 km, which is the farthest I’ve gone in one run throughout the streaking process. Across all 60 days, I covered a total of 179 km, which works out to 3 km a day. And now I feel ready to do more again.
As I figure out what my next goals are, I think I will continue the streak. Depending on what I decide to do next, it may make sense to commit to including full rest days into the mix. But for now, I’ll continue to enjoy the benefits of consistent, incremental progress.
Bio: Stephanie Keating is a science writer at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. She lives in Kitchener, Ontario, with her partner, Kevin, and their two cats. She has dabbled in many athletic pursuits, but her favourites remain running, weight lifting, hiking, and cycling.
I hope today finds you with the space you need to take good care of yourself.
And I hope that you can recognize your own efforts to make that space, even if you didn’t always succeed.
You matter, your needs matter and your efforts matter.
And here’s a gold star for those efforts:
Now, onto our movement and meditation for making space. (As always, feel free to do these or to do your own thing.)
One of my favourite ways to get moving is to join my friend Elaine Dunphy in either an ageless grace or a Nia dance class. Since I can’t bring all of you to one of her classes (what with Covid restrictions and the laws of physics and all), I asked her to create a short video for today’s post.
Here’s Elaine, in full positivity and joy, with a New Year’s Eve message and a short and fun movement practice for you to try as you create a little space for yourself today.
And as for a meditation, I am offering two today.
The first one is for people with a lot of space in their day, the second is for people with just a sliver of time for themselves.
And if you just have a minute, here’s a meditation for you.
I hope that these posts have helped you find space for yourself during the month of December when time seems to telescope, dragging on or collapsing without any relationship to the clock or to the calendar.
As we move into 2022, may you have the space you need in your mind, in your heart, in your days, in your schedules, and in the places where you spend your time.
This is our second last day of Making Space before I switch over into Go Team posts but, just so you know, the encouragement level will stay the same. 💚
I hope that you can find space and ease today and that you have some peace in your heart and mind.
We don’t have to earn our rest.
We don’t have to finish everything first.
Rest is part of our daily cycle, no matter what the ‘push through it’ advocates would have you believe.
Sure, there are occasional times when pushing through is the answer but those times are the exception, not the rule.
It’s ok, in fact, it is advisable, to listen to the signals from your body and mind and take a break as soon as you can.
Maybe your current obligations mean that you can’t take a long break but even a few moments here and there will help.
Please don’t think that I am pressuring you to put more things on your to do list, that is definitely not my goal here. Ideally, we’ll learn to build breaks into all of our projects rather than making them a project in themselves.
And I am definitely not telling you that this is easy or that you *should* already be doing this. Our lives are full and we are often under a lot of pressure to be everything to everyone.
My hope with these posts was that they could help you recognize that your breathing room matters, that making space for yourself is valid, that small breaks are good for you, too.
It was never about chastising you (or me) for the challenges involved.
So, once again, I celebrate your efforts to make space for yourself in your life, even if dropping your shoulders away from your ears for a moment is all the extra space you can make today.
⭐️ <- for your efforts to make space today
And now, on to the totally optional videos:
Today’s movement video was really energizing and completely warmed me up on this chilly morning. There are some jumping movements in this one but you can easily modify them as needed (I did!)
I first clicked this meditation because I liked the title , then I noticed that it was from Calgary Public Library (yay for libraries!) which was a bonus, but the icing on the cake was when the meditation leader introduce themselves as Christine. A video from a library that recommends a pause and a speaker that shares my name? I am in!
Part 1: Have you read Diane’s post from earlier today? I love how she has found her own way of making space for herself right now and her plans for making space for herself in the new year.
Diane is sharing a great example of how soemone can create space for themselves on their own terms. She assessed what she needed and what she had available and she found a way to match the two.
Making doesn’t have to be about doing videos or measuring up to anyone else’s standards, it’s about making room in your own life to do the things that soothe you, that fuel your energy, or that give you peace of mind. Diane is doing what she can, with the resources she has, to make the space that she needs in her life.
Go Diane! ⭐️
Part 2: I have been light-heartedly chatting about making space for 27 days now, I know that while making space for myself is a matter of conscious choice/breaking a mental habit for me, that is not the case for everyone.
I recognize that we all have varying capacities/privileges that would allow us to choose how we can make space for ourselves. Perhaps you can’t just decide to do a video or soak in the tub or go outside for a while, but I hope that these posts can help you seek a little breathing room.
Even if the only ‘space’ you have is while you are waiting at the bus stop or in line at the store, I hope you can take a few breaths and allow yourself to pause your planning brain.
I wish I had the power to stop time so you could have the space to find ease. I wish I could wave a wand and make everything less worrying for you.
But since I am sadly lacking in magic powers, all I can offer is the reminder that your needs are valid. The desire for a break, for breathing room, for a little space for yourself is not selfish. It is not something you have to earn by wearing yourself out first.
Offering suggestions for videos seems kind of trite after acknowledging that not everyone has the capacity or privilege to do them but these posts were never about the videos themselves, really.
The videos are there to provide easy access to two kinds of space-making but these posts are truly here to remind you that your needs matter – even when you aren’t always getting those needs met.
If you can’t make space right now, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t trying hard enough. It probably means that there are too many competing priorities in your life and you have to put yourself and your needs last. I don’t mean for these posts to add to your to do list or to your stress.
I hope that you will have the capacity/ability/privilege to shift things and give yourself space but if you can’t right now, I hope that changes soon. I hope that your few deep breaths here and there can sustain you until you can have the space you need.
And here are some gold stars for your efforts to make space, your efforts to keep going, and your efforts to keep the rest of your life on the rails.
Here are our videos for today, a cardio warm-up (I especially liked the ones where you reached back overhead) and an anxiety-reducing breathing exercise that has a fun visual. The breathing exercise video has an explanation at the beginning so if you want to jump right to the practice, fast forward to about 2 minutes in.
I wish you ease and rest today, even if you have to find it a few seconds at a time for right now.
We’re officially into that weird point of December where no one seems sure what day it is or what’s open or what they are supposed to be doing. And the range of Covid restrictions in various places is amplifying the confusion this year.
All of that adds up to even more reason to try and make some space for yourself – in whichever way works best for you today.
(That’s often the tricky part of making space for ourselves, I find. It’s hard to know what we are going to need from day to day and how much space we’ll require to give ourselves what we need.)
So, I’m just going to remind you that making space for yourself is a valid and important thing to do. You deserve gentle care. You deserve to have room in your own life. You deserve to feel good.
And if feeling good is out of reach right now, then I hope you can find a way to feel as good as possible in your current situation, even if the only space you can create is 10 extra seconds in the bathroom to squeeze your shoulders up by your ears and then let them slowly sink downward again.
Since we are in the in-between and everyone may need different things, I’ve picked out two choices for each video. Relaxing yoga/energizing cardio and meditation for hope/meditation for energy.
I hope you can find what you need today, in these videos or elsewhere.
I wish you ease.
Here’s your star for your efforts. ⭐️
Your hard work counts.
If you need to relax today, this yoga stretch video could be a good place to start.
If relaxing stretches aren’t your thing today, this fun dance video might be just the movement you need to create some space for yourself.
If you are feeling a bit overdone emotionally today, this guided meditation could help you untie some mental knots.
If you are feeling a bit blah and need some mental energy, this next meditation might be the answer.
I was slightly reluctant to post this (quite lovely) meditation because it is labelled for ‘productivity’ and I hate that word. Not everything has to be ‘productive’ and our cultural push for ‘productivity’ is one big reason we need to consciously make space for ourselves instead of being able to let it happen more organically.
However, that being said, it is an enjoyable meditation and is NOT pushing productivity. I feel like that word is in the title to help the video be picked up in searches rather than being part of the channel’s philosophy per se.
So, to be clear, I am definitely not criticizing the channel for putting the word productivity in the title and I am not suggesting that YOU need to be productive. I found this meditation energizing and I hope you do, too.
I hope you find space today, with these videos or in your own way.
Remember: No one else gets to decide what space you need or how you make that space. 💚 you are the boss of you. 😉
Every Christmas Eve, I am thankful for the space that The Wiggles created for me with their ‘Rockin’ Santa’ DVD.
The year my youngest son was born, my oldest was 3. Both of them were premies, and the baby had arrived 5 weeks earlier than expected so Christmas Eve found me with a 5 week old baby and a 3 year old and the kind of volume of tasks that only someone with a fluctuating concept of time would have thought they could accomplish in a single day.
I was trying to be a good Mom to both kids and to do at least some of the Christmas prep before my husband got home at 2pm so we could work together.
To say I was overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt.
After a couple of hours of trying to entertain my big kid while I took care of the baby, I was getting increasingly frazzled and was feeling far more cranky than merry.
Then I suddenly remembered that I had bought a copy of the Wiggles ‘Santa’s Rockin’ and tucked it away for Christmas. By some miracle, I was able to find it even though I had put it ‘somewhere safe.’
I hyped it up to my oldest, popped it in the machine, and crossed my fingers.
HE LOVED IT.
He watched it over and over, dancing, singing and laughing the whole time, every time.
I wore the baby in sling and did a bunch of Christmas preparations and stopped to dance with my big kid every few songs.
Instead of my day being hectic and stressful, it was wonderful and fun.
In fact, if you like corny jokes (and I do!) you could say that on one specific Christmas, they gave me enough Wiggle-room to enjoy the last part of my preparations, stress-free.
So, given that it is Christmas Eve, I’m inviting you to make some space for yourself by dancing along with this song from The Wiggles.
I know that you may not celebrate Christmas but perhaps as you celebrate Friday, you could also celebrate that day years ago when this Mom put aside any idea of too-much-tv-guilt and made space for herself and her family to have a more relaxed day by letting her son (and herself) dance to The Wiggles over and over.
If dancing isn’t on your menu today, perhaps this meditation will help you find space instead.
Whether you dance, meditate, or just sit with a cup of tea. I wish you peace, ease, and SPACE today and always.
And here’s a star for your efforts to find all of those things: ⭐️
On Monday afternoon, I was thinking about doing some yoga and I remembered a online program I did about 10 years ago ( maybe more.)
In that program, you didn’t just commit to doing yoga every day for a set period of time, you committed to doing a specific practice every day for that time.
The theory was that repetition would give you room to explore and deepen your practice. There would be safety, familiarity, and challenge in moving through the poses each day.
I really enjoyed it. I liked knowing what was coming and how long it would take, and I remember how good it felt to sink into that practice time after time.
Yet, I never did it again because…well… brains are weird in general and mine is especially weird about consistency.
Anyway, I decided that I am going to give repetition another whirl for the rest of this year.
There are 12 days left, including Monday as Day 1.
See, I told you it was a coincidence!
I’ve been posting every day in December with short videos to help us make space for ourselves in our days. This yoga practice is how I am making a little extra space for myself as we close out the year.
I chose this Yoga To Feel Your Best video from Yoga with Adriene because feeling my best seems like a pretty good thing to aim for over the next 12 days.
I’ll check in with you about it a couple of times between now and the 31st.
Earlier, I thought I was feeling fairly relaxed. My day isn’t particularly busy and my writing is going well. I have been able to set my own schedule and things are good overall.
I went to YouTube found the meditation video for this post and pressed play.
As I breathed through it (this one has a visual to breathe with, I love that!) I found myself anxiously looking at the time bar at the bottom wondering why it was taking so long to do a 5-minute practice. I realized that my mind was hopping over to my writing. And I found that my shoulders were braced like I had to ‘push through’ the practice.
Hmmmm, interesting, hey?
I wasn’t hard on myself about it. I tried to just notice and keep coming back to my breath – I did ok with that.
I kept breathing. Time kept crawling.
And then I started to feel my shoulders and neck relax. I hadn’t even noticed that my neck was tight until it released.
And my breathing got even slower and I started to feel even more calm.
So, I guess I especially needed this video today.
If you are in this metaphorical boat with me, I hope the video helps you, too.
Breathing is a fundamental way to make space for ourselves, especially in our own brains, but it is not the only way.
A little movement helps, too, and this ‘office break’ video was exactly what I needed today. I particularly liked the shoulder move where you are reaching forward and then pressing back.
If you aren’t feeling up to doing this whole video, you could try watching it until you see a movement that feels doable and just do that one. Consider the video a menu instead of a to-do list.
I hope you find whatever space you can in your day today, whether it is through these videos or by pushing the clean laundry aside on the couch so you have room to sit with a crossword puzzle and some tea.
Here’s your star for your efforts: ⭐️
And if you have been reading these posts and thinking ‘That star isn’t for me, I haven’t done anything at all!’ Here’s an extra one for you: ⭐️ Our lives are complex and parts of them are really hard, let’s be kind to ourselves and accept those gold stars. Your efforts matter.
Even if the results are not what you hoped, your hard work counts.