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My Brain Is The Problem
Remember when I ran the Las Vegas Half Marathon — and, uh, a handful of other races that didn’t go as planned this year — and I talked about how I had a really hard time during those last, oh, nine miles?
Last night I had a revelation: My brain is the problem.
My legs are fine. They’re pretty strong. Kinda cool.
The problem, my friends, is that my brain sucks.
Oh, this isn’t breaking news, you say? I know. We’ve discussed this before. “You get in your head too much, Ali,” they all say.
I’ve realized for a little while now that my brain gets in the way when I’m trying to reach my full potential. It’s a constant struggle for me to push those deafening, discouraging thoughts aside when I’m racing.
Last night I took a Hot Power Yoga class at the always lovely Pure Yoga. Every time I go there I feel fancy and unworthy. It smells good and everything is clean. I love it there. Who would like to buy me a membership? Thank you in advance.
OK so I took this class, alongside Hot Mom Gia, and I wasn’t too scared. I’ve taken hot yoga before and I love it. I had never taken a class with this particular instructor (I didn’t catch her name, but she does have a very visible six-pack, and I took clear note of that) so I was looking forward to the hour-long challenge.
And what a challenge it was.
Apparently I’ve been chaturanga-ing incorrectly for the past year. You’re supposed to hover above the ground, not just drop to the floor like a dying fish. That’s good to know. The teacher had us doing some crazy arm things and I was shaking, but I also got into a battle midway through class with the ol’ brain again.
I was wearing short shorts (obviously) and a tank top, and I didn’t have one of those fancy little yoga towels to put over the yoga mat. So once I started dripping sweat out of every possible pore (sexy, as always), my mat got really slippery, and I started to hold back.
When everyone else did those little handstand hops, I just sort of…stood there? And looked around. And kept sweating. I didn’t even try the hops. I was scared of slipping and falling and breaking my neck and dying. How will I ever run a sub-4:00 marathon if I’m dead? I won’t. So no handstand crap for me. No thank you.
But on a more serious note: There were a bunch of times during the class when I knew I should have been chilled out, but my brain was on overdrive. I couldn’t zone out and tune into the class. I just kept thinking about all the stuff I had to do when I got home. And then, during certain moves — like this one where we were in plank position and then kicked one leg across/underneath our bodies and onto the other side and then did push-ups — I found myself taking it a bit easy.
I think I probably could have done most of the moves and poses if I had given them my very best effort. Yeah some of the stuff was challenging (sad left split, you will never happen for me), and most of the stuff I went for, but I would see certain things, and I would see everyone around me easing into everything so effortlessly, and I didn’t understand why their feet weren’t making squeaky fart noises on the mat like mine. They were all pros. I was oh so amateur.
And then there was Gia, on the mat next door, busting out splits and smiling like it was no big deal.
Evil, gorgeous bitch.
So yes, my brain holds me back.
The class was great, it really was, and I’m so glad I went. I love hot yoga. It’s so cleansing, and even if you’re terrible at it you’re still guaranteed to sweat. I appreciate that.
During my walk home, which was lovely, I thought to myself, “Hey, Ali, maybe the problem you’re facing is that you’re so afraid to fail that sometimes you don’t even want to try. You’ve never been much of a risk-taker. You’re a play-safer. Why?”
And then, instead of pondering that question and exploring my deep thoughts, I caught up on emails and ordered sushi.
Perhaps in 2012, one of my goals will be to push it…hard. Push the speedwork when I’m running. See how fast I can really go. Push myself to try new things, like a headstand. I think I can do more. I just need to not be scared of failing. Apparently you can learn from failure and mistakes and stuff and get stronger from them. Who knew?
In other news, this morning I woke up ready to go to the gym for a spinning class, but then I saw that it was 54 degrees outside so I mentally apologized to spinning and ditched it for a run in Central Park instead.
It was ridiculously windy, but running in shorts in mid-December and being totally comfortable was wonderful. I ran five very slow, very dark solo miles, listened to chilled out music (yeah, I do think the “Hannah Montana Remix” classifies as chill, so thank you for asking) and arrived back home feeling way more relaxed than I was last night.
Thank you, running, for making me feel so good sometimes.
Tomorrow I’m running the Ted Corbitt 15K. I have a goal in mind and it’s completely un-time-related. I’ll keep it to myself for now. Secrets, secrets, are so fun.
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!