If my life was the series “Friends” and each chapter in my life was an episode, I’d title this summer “The One with All the Running.” Some of you may know that Andy (Mr. Eden, if you will) is a runner-make that a super-human, “I’m just gonna go for a quick 6 miler,” kind of a runner. Since meeting him, I started running a little bit-he’ll basically speed walk very graciously next to me as I trot along, asking him “is it time for ice cream yet?”
As time went on, I started to enjoy and even seek out our runs together. My sister started running, and the three of us ran a 10k in Disney this past winter. This spring, I was reading an article in Runners World magazine about their summer run streak and as someone who likes a challenge, I was intrigued. The idea is simple-you run at least a mile every day from Memorial Day through the 4th of July (it’s 39 days). I thought, “hey, I think I could do that!” and to my surprise-I did! I thought I’d share with you some of the things I’ve learned over the last 50 days (that’s how long my streak is as of today!), since I think a lot of them apply to dance (and life!).
Your Mind Gives Up Before Your Body Does
I really already knew this one from tough dance days, but it’s especially true when running, and it’s a valuable lesson. If you let your brain keep saying “you can’t do this, you need to stop, it’s too hard, you can’t keep going” eventually your body is going to decide your brain is right. I’ve learned to remind myself to listen to my body, not my brain. Sometimes, your body might tell you to back off or stop, and then you need to listen to it. But if your body is going strong and your brain is saying “nooooo, must have ice cream,” it’s time to change the subject. Listening to music or podcasts has really helped me change my focus when my brain wants to quit.
PRs are Measured in Inches, Not Miles
I am very patient with a studio of baby ballerinas. I am not very patient with myself. Here’s what I thought my training plan would look like:
Day 1: Run 1 mile in 15 minutes. Afterwards feel like fainting and collapsing and be generally immobile for the rest of the day.
Day 2: Run 10 miles in 30 minutes. Feel great afterwards, eat kale, and lift weights for an hour.
Did it turn out that way? Absolutely not. Some days I run 5 miles and I feel pretty good. Some days I run 1 mile and feel like my legs are made of lead. And that can be really discouraging, but I’ve learned to celebrate the small wins. Over the past 50 days of running every day, I’ve definitely gotten faster (although I definitely have slow days). Just today Andy and I ran a 5 mile loop that we’ve run a few times together, and I was still able to keep a conversation going at the end of the run. That might not seem very exciting, but previously when we’ve done it I’ve been gasping for breath so to be able to talk at the end is a big win! I’ve learned not to compare my progress to anyone else’s and to get excited about the small improvements that I’ve made-and this is a really important for us as dancers to learn too! It’s super hard not to look in the mirror and think that maybe your battement isn’t as high as the person next to you. But that doesn’t matter! What matters is that it’s a little higher than it was last month, or maybe it just felt a little better! Tune out what everyone else is doing, and measure your progress in inches, not miles.
One Foot in Front of the Other
Again, this isn’t a lesson just to be learned from running, but it’s still important. With anywhere you want to go, the only way to get there is by putting one foot in front of the other and doing the work! And I now truly believe that it takes 30 days to create a habit. Now I wake up and think “when am I going to go for a run today?” instead of “ehhh, maybe I’ll go for a run later, but maybe not.” And the only reason why I got to this point was just by doing it. Every. Single. Day. So whatever you’re working on, whether it’s becoming more flexible, or getting stronger, or improving your turns, the only way to achieve it is by showing up every day and working on it. No ifs ands or buts about it.
What are you up to this summer? I’d love to hear about it!