by Sophia Pollalis ATC, CSCS

This past week has been… one for the books. I have fully transitioned into the next season of sports, which apparently made my brain switch gears from being on top of everything and productive to “how do I do my job again?” The weather has fully changed so my normal running schedule is no longer 9am and 70°, it’s cold enough that I shorten my walk with my dogs and question if I really need to stay on my training schedule for that half marathon that is… let me check my schedule really quick… on Sunday. Where has my time gone? I swear this semester just started, my training schedule just started, the pandemic just started. And somehow, we’ve finished the first week of November. I am exhausted.

kids making noise and disturbing mom working at home
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I had started two articles prior to this one, well in advance of a previous due date. Which I still missed. They’re still in my drafts. I was rolling on them and the second I looked away, my momentum was completely lost. I’ve had one of them left open on my laptop for at least a week, adding maybe one new sentence or moving a few words around. Up until this morning, I was still determined to finish writing it for this deadline. But then, while in the shower listening to a Brené Brown podcast, I realized that nothing is more important than this exact moment. I have been procrastinating on not tasks, but processing. Processing information, processing emotions, processing my place in space at this time. I have said “I’ll deal with it tomorrow” too much. Tomorrow turns into next week, and next week turns into next season. So, let’s do some processing.

woman wearing face mask
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I am so incredibly grateful that my school made it through the fall season practically unscathed by the coronavirus. We did everything within our control that we could. We had all the practices and played all the games. Many schools in our area were not so lucky. I am also grateful for my close friends and family’s health. They have all been healthy and have continued limiting unnecessary contact and wearing masks. We have been lucky to have had this experience, because as Captain Picard states, “it is possible to make no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness, that is life.” For a new normal, life has been very good, yet still seemed well out of my control. When I reflect on the fall season, we did everything we could, and that’s all we could ask for.

Lesson: Control the things you can, let go of everything else.

exercise female fitness foot
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My race season was cancelled, so I stopped running. I kept telling myself, you can be even better next year if you keep running now, but that wasn’t enough to get me off the couch. I kept saying this over and over, becoming more disappointed in myself. I love running, even though I’m not fast, because it made me feel great and helped relax other aspects of my life. Here I was, not doing the one thing that I knew I needed to get over a hump. One of the local race organizers recognized the need in our community to replace the fall full- and half-marathon schedule and as soon as I saw it, I signed up. I signed up knowing that I wouldn’t be able to get a full training cycle in before the race. I signed up knowing I hadn’t moved my body consistently in almost three months. I signed up saying screw it, you’re getting a half marathon in this year and I don’t care if you walk it. I signed up. And that was it. I started running barely three miles three times a week. I pushed myself to the limits of what I felt I could handle instead of following a training plan. By the time I synced up with my normal training plan, I realized I had been pushing myself harder than I needed to on shorter runs but needed to keep stretching out my long runs. I felt more prepared going into the race. I didn’t complete all my training, I completely forgot about cross training or the extra stretching and yoga I had planned to make this season the best yet; I just ran. For the first time, I trained without headphones. I just ran to process, to be in the moment. And it has been my best season yet.

Lesson: Commit to a minimum percent, and it might carry you through to great success. If nothing else, you started and that matters.

skeleton full of candy
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By the time this is published, the election will be over. It came right after the half marathon I ran and just as I started my period, a perfect storm of binge eating. My brain said, “you have been working really hard,  you need to replenish those calories you burned” while simultaneously whispering “oh yea and this thing is happening and you find it very stressful and we just can’t deal with stress right now, eat that Halloween candy. All of it.” I’m sure you can picture the rest. I’m not here to debate candy corn, but I ate an entire bag over the course of 2 days. And pretzles. And cheese crackers. By the time I regained control, my mouth was sore from the amount of sugar I had consumed, I felt like garbage, and thought I looked like a garbage bag as well. Thank the Lord my therapist started taking in-person appointments again and ended our session asking about a few things, including binge eating. I was honest, I told her I just ran a half-marathon plus stress plus period, but it was enough of a wake-up call to recognize “hey, you are binge eating. And in case you were wondering, you’re covering this in class this week, so check out that slide!” With a popcorn kernel in my candy rotted teeth.

Lesson: Recognize where you’re having trouble, seek help, and rise up to meet a better path.

These last many months have been “unprecedented” as I keep hearing repeated over and over, weird, trying, wholesome, a gift, a sadness, a frustration; a multitude of things that can be hard to process. There is so much going on that it’s hard to keep track of anything, let alone yourself and your family. Seek serenity. Make changes in what you control and recognize what falls outside of that; let it go. Commit to start. The first step of running a race is putting on your shoes on day one of training. Set yourself up for success with the tiny steps that take you to your goals. And when you are unsure of how to get there, ask a friend, seek a professional, and explore the amazing variety of ways to get there. If you spend three hours exploring and planning ways to achieve your goals or even just WHAT your goals are you have started something in your control. Take that moment when you realize it and RUN.