Friday, November 30, 2012

A Different Kind of Race

Ever since I started running in 2006, I ran every single race with the clear and singular purpose of improving upon my times. I was always (literally) chasing a goal that I had set for myself.
Nate and me after last year's Gobble Wobble
Until Thanksgiving last Thursday.

I'd been signed up for the Southborough Gobble Wobble for well over a month, but hadn't done a single ounce of training for it. Since, you know, I haven't really been running much at all. Compound that with the fact that the night before the race I managed a measly three hours of sleep and that's a situation that normally would set my teeth on edge with sheer nervous energy.
But two weeks before the race, I had made a pact with my little brother: we would run the race together. This was a first for us, since as stated above, I was always chasing my time goals. This simple change altered my entire outlook on the race. I wasn't the least bit nervous at the start line (a first for me!), or worried that I wasn't going to be able to finish. I was just focused on getting us both through the race. We set a comfortable pace and chatted along the course. I didn't even wear my Garmin.

As Nate and I neared the finish, he told me of his intent to sprint from the 3 mile mark to the end. Since he sprints far faster than I do, I let him go on ahead.  The competitive part of me chafed the teeniest bit at that but soon let it go. It wasn't worth letting that part of me taint my accomplishment of running a race wherein I wasn't nervous or worried.

The race that morning was exactly what I have been needing.  It was a reminder of why I enjoy running and how it helps me off the road. It reminded me to be thankful that I could run and that I don't need to compete every time I lace up my running shoes.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thoughts From A Newbie Zumba Instructor

When Tina convinced me to take my first Zumba class in August of 2011, I had no idea what to expect. I went to class feeling nervous and awkward. I made it through the first class despite having two left feet and being completely incapable of understanding the single-single-double moves. My then shortcomings didn't stop me though; I'd had so much fun in spite of them, that I knew I would go back.

About a year later, I had become so enamored of Zumba and inspired by my instructor, Elena, that I decided I wanted to teach Zumba too. It was relatively easy to become an instructor; You simply take the Zumba Basic 1 class and receive your certification.

Starting your own class and teaching it? That's the hard part. It requires dedication, practice and an ability to critically analyze what's working and what isn't. It requires you to learn the most natural way for you to cue the dances to your students. I've certainly gained a different perspective over the last couple of months and have even more respect for Elena. She works hard to teach four classes a week and still keep it fun, fresh and easy to follow!

I've only been teaching a small class of three for a couple of months now, but I'd like to share a few of my observations. I think they'll help anyone who wants to teach Zumba or maybe even just take a class.

If you are nervous about messing up, you're going to mess up.
It's funny to me because this statement can be applied to so many other aspects of my life. My first couple classes, I worked myself into such a nervous wreck that I messed up a song that I've known how to do for well over a year and could hardly cue at all. I've learned that I just have to let go (a little!) from my perfectionist qualities and relax. I teach a far better class that way. Plus, I have more fun teaching that way and that's really why I wanted to teach Zumba in the first place.

Cuing is different for everyone.
Trying to find what feels most comfortable to me and makes the most sense to my students for cues has been interesting. It's definitely a work in progress right now. I've been trying on other instructors' cue styles and sometimes it fits, e.g. leg slaps to signal which leg to use for the move. Sometimes it doesn't though, such as tapping yourself on the head to signal from the top generally results in me hitting myself a little too hard. On top of that, I still haven't found the best way to signal transitions to new movements but each class I teach, the closer I feel to finding my style.

Dressing the part can help.
I used to be a part of the former Toastmaster's club at my workplace. On the days when I gave speeches, I made sure that I dressed up and looked professional. For me, dressing the part of what you're intending to do has always helped boost my confidence just a little bit. It only seemed natural for me to obtain a piece of Zumbawear that said instructor on it.

Have you tried Zumba? Did you find it intimidating or did you love it?

Monday, November 12, 2012


Hi blog.

I’ve been avoiding you. I'm even going to be cliche about it; it’s not you, it’s me.

Here’s the thing: I’m boring. I do roughly the same things every day with very little variety.

I get up, I eat breakfast, I go to work, I go to the gym and I come home. Rinse, repeat. It leaves me with precious little to write about my daily life. I certainly wouldn’t discuss my career here, short of saying that it often causes me to become extremely busy. Anything beyond that is, in my opinion, unprofessional.

I dislike writing too much about my personal life with my friends and family here because it’s, you know, personal. It’s just too hard find that fine line between what should be shared and what shouldn’t sometimes. I also find that in doing that, it's hard to be authentic. I don't want to come off like my life is all puppies and rainbows. It's certainly not, but sometimes I feel like giving credence to the negative aspects of things gives them more power over me than they should.

So, really then, what’s the point of having a blog?

For me, it’s an outlet for my hobbies, a place to share the things that I love to talk about and would happily drive the people I love insane doing exactly that. That said, my hobbies tend to have a fluid nature to them. I start things, get what I want out of them, give up and move on. I occasionally return to them (e.g. knitting) but sometimes they end up shelved away in a closet. Or I move on to a different hobby that I enjoy more, which brings us to the reason that I’ve been avoiding the blog.

I have mostly given up running in favor of lifting (heavy) and Zumba. When I got injured earlier this year and had to adapt to find new things that I could do that didn’t exacerbate my problem. After I finished physical therapy, I just couldn’t seem to make the time to fit runs into my exercise schedule. I’m no longer interested in running long distances or running much at all. I’ll occasionally go for a short 2-3 mile run once a week but the passion just isn’t there anymore.

I think you could understand why someone who doesn’t really want to run that much anymore might not want to post on her blog entitled “Run Sqrl, Run!” I certainly don’t want to change the name because I still enjoy running just to run every so often and running got me through some tough times in the past. Running just won’t be my main focus for fitness anymore, but that doesn’t mean I can’t share my new loves.