My Personal Development Project

On this page, I will post weekly/bi-weekly reflections on a Personal Development Project. This project is aimed at allowing me to explore an area of interest that contributes to my well-being. The topic I have chosen to explore is developing the strength, stamina, and endurance to turn my 5 kilometre runs into 15 kilometres. This strand of blog posts will consist of informal reflections/rants/stories on how I felt during a particular day while running, how I was challenged throughout this project, and how I overcame these challenges, progressions, and motivations.

Note: First week’s reflections start from the bottom of the page.

Enjoy!

Duration: October 3 – November 23 2016

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Week 6/7

STATS:

Distance: 10 kilometers

Time: ~1hr. and 15 min.

Reflection

I am getting a lot of positive feedback and encouragement from my friends, family and peers about my personal development project. Whenever I tell someone what I am doing, they say things like, “wow, that’s awesome,” or “good for you!” or “you’ll be doing a half marathon in no time.” Like I stated in my contract, this type of encouragement is one thing that is going to keep me on track, and it has. Usually, when I am done a run, I will snapchat ( which is an application on my smart phone that sends temporary pictures to my friends) announcing my accomplished distance. I like displaying my accomplishments because it not only allows me to me feel good about myself, but I feel like it serves as motivation to those around me. I know many of my close friends and family are involved in a fairly active lifestyle, so seeing and hearing me talk about my own active lifestyle choices makes from very insightful and engaging  conversation.

I have come a long way from 5 km. I remembering telling my friend about a year ago that my goal was to just be able to run for 45 minutes. I didn’t care what distance I would make or my pace, I just wanted to gain the endurance to be able to not stop for 45 minutes. I never did reach that goal until I started this personal development project two months ago. Being able to run (or jog or whatever) for over 60 minutes is not uncommon, and I assume that anyone who is getting daily exercise and training their heart is easily able to do that. However, the sense of joy that this seemingly small goal has brought to me has taught me something very significant about physical activity. It’s not about comparing your abilities to others, its about setting goals for yourself, challenging yourself, and then accomplishing something you worked for. The satisfaction that goes along with that process cannot be taught, it needs to be experienced.

My end goal is 15km, and I am not stopping based on the due date of this assignment. Next stop, 11 km!

Week 5

STATS

Distance: 9.12 kilometers

Time: 61 min

Reflection

I actually did not plan this… I was going to do a 20ish minutes run today and do my long distance one tomorrow. However, the beautiful evening and ease of my pace told me to keep going. I planned to just go with my body on this one. I did not tell myself I was going to do run the full 9k, but I allowed myself the option incase I felt the ease I did last week. Running is turning into something more than physical exercise now. I breathe in the fresh air (and the cooking supper from all the houses I pass because I did this at 5PM), and I feel happy. Genuinely happy. I like the fact that I have built up the endurance to think of things other than the finish line and I reflect on my day and mental state. I did not have the best day today, and I was able to reflect on the day in a way that did not make me anxious, but calm. All this was going through my mind as I was able to actually THINK without THINKING about cramps in my stomach or any other tiredness in my body. That is where I want to be when going for a run – in a state of mind that allows me to escape from my day and just relax. Thinking about my to do list and other stuff does not seem like relaxing, but while I am jogging, thinking about these things keeps me occupied, and it makes life seem better (okay, maybe thats the “high”I was talking about earlier). However, it was not without some effort to reach 9km, and I know that I will need to have the same open minded mindset next week to carry on. I question that as I progress, that this “ease” I speak of will subside and turn into pushing myself really hard in order to reach 15km. We will just have to see………

 

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Week 4

STATS

Distance: 8.12 kilometers

Time: 54 min.

Reflection

Why did I stop spending time outside? I could justify this by saying I am “busy” – I have places to go, homework to accomplish, relaxing to do after a busy day, and so on. But those are terrible excuses and ones I will not make in order to avoid the fact that spending time outside is therapeutic. Healing. Refreshing. What does this have to do with my run? You can probably guess it, I did my 8K outside today after my pre-internship day in the classroom. I had a snack right when I got home, did some things around my house, then just did it. I did not stop for 54 minutes, and I honestly could not believe how easy it was! I thought about my day, my life, my route, nothing at all, how I physically felt, and really, it was way nicer to look at the sunset then watch what Donal Trump tweeted that day (CBC news)! I think that the water and food I ate and drank throughout the day contributed to the ease of this run, and I plan to adapt this strategy in the future. Let’s just hope it doesn’t snow too much in the next couple weeks – and if it does.. I guess I’ll be wearing layers and looking for some winter safe running shoes!

P.s. I should note that I am using the app, “Map My Run” to track my distance and time.. see picture below:

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Week 3

STATS

Distance: 7km

Time: 48 min

Reflection

I did this run on the treadmill at the U of R fitness centre in the morning before my 8:30 class. It had some bumpy points, but in the end, I did finished the 7 km. I wanted to focus on the mental element of physical activity during this period, and I found it interesting how I was almost having a conversation with myself pre, during, and post run. I told myself things like, “Amy, you will do 7km today” and, “keep going you’re almost there.” Although these subtle motivational self speeches geared me in the right direction, I now feel that the mental aspect comes from the physical feeling of the body. I was able to accomplish the full run, however, through watching the time on the treadmill go down, the food network, CBC news, and house renovations, I did not feel that endorphin “high” that I know exists from physical activity. Perhaps I was caught up in my day or life, or the fact that I told myself I had to do this leaving my mind unopened to the fact that maybe, just maybe, my body did not want to do this today. Never the less, I have come to the conclusion that mentally, I can tell myself to do something, and I’ll do it, but that does not necessarily mean I am contributing to “healthy” mental health. Nevertheless, I am happy I accomplished another kilometre, and I am looking forward to see how next week feels.

Week 2

STATS:

Distance: 6 kilometres

Time: 42 min (3 min. warm up walk at 3.5mph included at beginning)

Reflection:

The run after Thanksgiving… I believe I accumulated enough carbs over the weekend to run for miles! Actually, no.. this was a challenge and, honestly, the only time of the week I went to the gym. But I did it! I am quite proud of myself – this is the longest distance I have ever ran. There were about two 3 minute walks around the 20 minute and 30 minute mark, but nonetheless, I did not stop until I hit 6km. Hopefully 7km goes smoothly, and I will remember to bring a snack for my post run so I don’t fade away. Also, I realized that the treadmill at the U of R fitness centre only allows for 40 minute time slots. So I need to address this hiccup and possibly run around the track (no TV?!) or go to a different gym. Maybe I can run around the track for 15 minutes then switch to the treadmill. Anyways, I plan talk more about the mental element of this project next reflection.

Week 1

STATS:

Distance: 5.4 kilometres

Time: 35 min. (3 minute warm up walk at 3.5mph included in that)

Reflection:

Crushed this casual 5k at 7AM on Thursday, Oct. 7 at the U of R fitness centre on treadmill no. 10. I had gone for a jog both Tuesday and Wednesday, and for some reason, I was just not feeling it. I only ran about 4k and was pretty tired post run. However, on this Thursday morning, I was totally physical and mentally prepared. The night before, I ate a carb filled supper (quinoa casserole with some quinoa cookies for dessert – oops?), and in the morning I had some cocoa coconut Qi’a cereal with almond milk. I ate my breakfast about 45 minutes before my run which I think really contributed to my energy level. Something I can see myself struggling with as I progress to longer distances is my boredom. Running for 35 minutes on a treadmill, for me, can get kind of boring leading me to concentrate on how I feel physically instead of mentally. I begin to think I am getting tired when in fact, I think I am just bored. A solution I found with this challenge is watching the TV on the front of the treadmill. Now, I have mixed feelings about this because it totally takes away from the mental aspect of the challenge. However, if I am trying to focus on distance, and it means watching couples search for houses/having “dinner wars”/current events on the news to gain stamina – so be it! Something I found useful in terms of watching TV while running was changing the channel every 10 minutes. I did a 5 minute stretch post run and was feeling pretty good, but then I should have eaten something (like an apple or protein bar) before my 8:30 class because my energy level was dropping significantly at around 9AM.

Next stop, 6k!