Tag Archives: Running

June Offerings

I’m gearing up and getting excited about two new offerings coming up this June:

  • Meditation & Running (or walking!)
  • Bowspring Semi-Private Classes

AND these classes will be at my new location in Norwalk, right of exit 16 on I-95. Check ’em out!

JUNE Offerings

Meditate & Run (or walk!)
4-week series starts June 1st

“Sweat cleanses from the inside. It comes from places a shower will never reach.”  
– Dr. George Sheehan, the Philosopher of Running

What if when we exercise, we could experience it as a soul enriching activity instead of an obligation or a chore we “should” do?

As a runner I have drawn many correlations between running and meditation. Often taking to the long runs because of their tendency to put me in a trance-like state of intense concentration and pointed focus. Both practices require patience, consistency, and patience.

Explore the relationship and effects meditation has on moving mindfully. You can run or walk. The first 30 minutes of class will be dedicated to breathing and meditation and the remaining time will be spent in movement that elevates the heart rate. (If it’s a rainy day we will still get outside so come prepared!) You will be guided to focus on a specific theme each week pertaining to deepening the mindbody connection through meditation and movement.

Wednesdays June 1, 8, 15, 22 at 8:15-9:15AM
Thursdays June 2, 9, 16, 23 at 5:15-6:15PM
$175 for 1 class series or $300 for both
Location: Total Life Care Center, 152 East Ave, Norwalk
Email maggie@maggieconverse.com to register.


“What I am vs. What I should be”
Semi-Private Bowspring Classes 
4-week series starts June 6

Disassociation: the disconnection or separation of something from something else or the state of being disconnected.

When I read the definition of disassociation I understand this to be an opposite of yoga. It sheds light on how yoga helped me heal from an eating disorder and how it helps me cope with the pain and discomfort of migraines. When we are in pain (emotional or physical) as humans we tend to react by disassociating. We distract ourselves with alcohol, tv, drugs, sex, gossip, food, self-loathing, quickly fixing what we think is broken, and so forth. A true yoga practice asks that we connect and ASSOCIATE with our bodies and our beings. It creates space for us to let go of “what I should be” and instead recognize “what I am.”

This is a unique yoga experience that I have developed where we will deeply explore physical movement and engage in conversation. What you are feeling, both physically and emotionally, is the focus of the work we will do together in these intimate groups. Through movement and the understanding that comes from asking questions and dialogue, you will be guided to make the shift from “what I should be” to “what I am.” It is a long journey that is a lifelong practice that will allow you to awaken to your truth and break the habits of disassociating from our bodies and our beings.

Mondays starting June 6 (last class June 27)
Intro / Beginner at 8-9:15AM
Intermediate / Advanced at 9:30-10:45AM
Cost: $250 for the series
Location: Total Life Care Center, 152 East Ave, Norwalk
Email maggie@maggieconverse.com to register.

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Why I’m Not Doing Any Big Races in 2016

 

runningmeditation

I made a routine visit to my chiropractor last August, who also happened to be my running coach for Chicago Marathon. We started the visit with the usual: checking out my posture, alignment, palpating my upper hips, shoulders, and ribcage.

My face went flush when he remarked I lost weight as most marathon runners do. Over the previous weeks I noticed my clothes fitting differently but it wasn’t until it was confirmed that I had lost weight that I allowed myself to believe it.

Strangely, what was intended as an innocent observation by my coach became my obsession. I was on such a high from my coach’s innocent observation and inspected subtle changes in my body as mileage piled on each week… 6 miles on Tuesday,  8 miles on Friday, and 18 miles on Sunday. Every mile was like money in the bank: An investment to maintain thin.

With every additional mile it was like money in the bank that I would maintain the weight loss. An investment to maintain thin.

Meanwhile, in the height of summer I was experiencing flu-like symptoms, taking naps daily as my body often crashed half-way through the day. I pushed myself through nearly all my runs to maintain my training schedule and, as much as I hate to admit this, I liked this new thinner version of myself! I was keeping the weight off by running like a maniac.

Bloodwork showed my iron levels were extremely low, and my doctor cautioned me not to proceed with the marathon training as it could jeopardize my health by pushing myself too hard.

My solution was to take supplements and adjust my diet so that I got enough nutrients. Not once did I deprive myself of food while training. I ate, and still can eat, like a horse. But in the back of my mind I knew this “diet” was also beneficial for weight-loss so, in making this diet change I was in a win-win situation: increase my energy / iron AND keep the marathon weight off or, even better, on a steady decline.

I finished Chicago Marathon and had the time of my life. Thanks to the training program specifically designed for me by my coach I felt strong and capable. In the days preceding the race I got the post-race blues and scrambled for “what am I gonna do next?!”

I love the thrill and challenge of a race and I love running. The training is tough but strengthens me in so many ways beyond physical and there is an exhilaration around race day like none other. My foray into endurance sports has not been entirely a means to a weight-loss, body fat deprivation end.

But as I got off my high Chicago Marathon horse I started noticing something: I was terrified of when the weight would come back on. (I know – the amount of weight is negligible and something few people would notice.) Once my body recovered I started running again and tracked how many days per week I was active and constantly questioned myself, “was it enough?”

About one month out from the race, my jeans tightened around my waistline. I stared at myself in the mirror and said FUCK. It was too late. While I was busy getting my social life back in order, those pounds piled right back on and I said hello to a familiar friend: the bulge around my belly and my expanding, softening love-handles.

I turned to more yoga classes, meditation, and in the hopes that I would find salvation and solution to my “problem” I pinpointed my next race: a  half-marathon trail race in mid-Spring.

Meditation took up more of the time that I once filled with running and with the help of that practice I realized how obsessive I became about my body’s softer, post-marathon shape. A trail race is something I have wanted to do for a long time but now I found myself posing the question: is this the healthiest thing for me to do? Is this really the answer?

Once you have an eating disorder you are never wholly “cured” from it. Yoga healed me and pulled me out of a deep, dark hole but I always knew I was never immune to bulimia residue surfacing as I got older and here I saw I was absolutely right. Running and a packed training schedule took the role of purging.

So as I enter into 2016 and consider my “race calendar,” I proceed with caution and curiosity.

Call it a resolution, an intention, or a goal – this year I will mindfully approach the endurance athlete within me. As I visit a race page I will pause and ask myself what are the motivating factors compelling me to click “Register” and hand over the following 4 months of my free time to training.

My body has settled into what feels like my normal shape and size (but then again, what is normal?) and I have voluntarily taken an indefinite break from running and excessive exercise. I’m listening to my triggers and when my boyfriend tells me he likes the softness of my love-handles I do my best to believe him and see my body from a much kinder place.

For any endurance athlete out there, I am not writing this to discount or discourage your sport. I am merely noticing my own experience and how my love of running combined with a “never give up” attitude took me far beyond my limits and into dangerous territory that was no longer serving me. It’s time I take a few steps back and recalibrate in the hopes that I can revisit my running shoes while maintaining a deep love and respect for the shape of my body.

All in due time.

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My first shirtless race

Dozens of questions coursed through my mind at mile 6.7 of America’s Finest City Half Marathon. Did I need to take my next GU? How was my knee going to hold up? Was it time to take my shirt off? And that’s when my race got interesting. That’s when it became my first race with no shirt on.runningshirtless

It wasn’t something planned or premeditated. In fact I based my decision primarily on comfort more than anything else. Drenched in my own sweat, my race singlet became sticky and heavy. Like wearing leather pants on a piping hot day. Sweat happens when you’re running in 90% humidity and temps well over 80 degrees.

It was one of those “fuck it” moments after running 6.7 miles completely exposed to the sun. The AFC Half does not afford many opportunities for shade. As I peeled off my leathery shirt it was like a thousand angels sang from above and my skin breathed a deep sigh of relief. This changed the tone of my race from heat and humidity suppression to light and fancy free running through the streets of downtown San Diego … shirtless!

This was not an act to draw attention. This was, as I mentioned before, largely for comfort. And then it turned into so much more. For the rest of my race, the remaining 6.4 miles, I thought about how over my endurance career of nearly 6 years I had not completed a single race shirtless. It’s not that I always wore a more breathable shirt. No, I can recall many a time I wished I could take strip down to just my sports bra and shorts.

The reason I never dared to bare was because I felt so ashamed of my body. Completely and utterly ashamed of my imperfect, puffy belly and the way the bulge gathered right above the waistband of my shorts. Not to mention the armpit bulge. I know – I probably sound like a total asshole to some of you, feeling shameful about my body. But listen – this is something we are conditioned to feel regardless of what we may look like to others. And for me, I simply couldn’t stand the thought of what my race pictures might turn out to look like or what onlookers might think as they saw me jiggling by. (And who says “jiggling” is a bad thing, anyway?)

This year for the first time ever I trained several times with just my sports bra and shorts and while it took a great deal of self-talk to get the point of ditching my shirt, it was the most liberating feeling of all time. I not only trained for the mileage but also the courage to bare my body in a way that was meaningful and powerful to me.

It’s important to me that I walk the talk, put my money where my mouth is, and so forth with everything I am trying to encourage others to do. Loving, even simply accepting our bodies as they are is really challenging work. And there are so many layers that we have each developed over time based on experiences and teachings that we are conditioned to believe without ever questioning – what’s wrong with cellulite anyway? Who made up that rule?? Because, can somebody PLEASE tell me who made up the rule that cellulite is the devil?

I am inspired when people are unapologetically themselves. And maybe that’s why this particular experience was so empowering. Running without a shirt on comes with practical purposes like staying cool but it’s something I have only dreamed of doing. In previous years I would stop myself because I wouldn’t want anyone to be offended by my body. It feels like stepping even more into who I am – and it’s a part of myself that I am still starting to uncover. And it’s insanely cool to continue getting to know this unashamedly bold and brave part of myself that I always knew was somewhere down there in the adorable cushions of my belly.IMG_3697

Still I cringe sometimes when I see the race photos from AFC Half Marathon. But I remind myself that part of the work is going through this process with the ability to start to change perspective. So I then go back to the photos and look at them instead with approval rather than criticism. It doesn’t have to be exuberant love, Just looking at ourselves with acceptance.

If running without a shirt helps me unveil the boldest parts of myself and learn to love my body, then by god I’m sticking with it. (The same holds true for yoga without a shirt on!)

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3 Reasons Endurance Athletes Benefit from Health Coaching

Why Do Endurance Athletes Need Health Coaching?

Ironman Lake Placid 2012 – just before the finish!

I have been fortunate to coach some pretty incredible endurance athletes over the last few years. And we aren’t talking professional endurance athletes: we are talking the athlete who has a family, a career, hobbies, and somehow manages to integrate a training schedule with enough hours to constitute a part-time job.

I love working with these people because of their intense drive and motivation – and also because I speak their language. I understand feeling like the “crazy” one who leaves a dinner party at 8:30PM because you have a 5AM training session.

So I was thinking about this – why DO endurance athletes need coaching? There are a myriad of reasons so I’ll start with three that really stick out in my mind:

Don’t ignore the basics: food and hydration.

Are you feeling drowsy every afternoon because of that 5AM brick workout, or because you are low on your water intake? Or could it be that skipping lunch because you are “too busy with work” is finally starting to catch up on your energy level during evening hill repeats? Proper hydration and nutrition seem simple enough but when we are juggling training for an endurance event PLUS everything life throws our way, we need to make sure we don’t ignore the basics.

It’s training for your mind and soul.

We spend so many hours every week fine tuning our body in preparation for race day. But what about preparing your mind? In coaching we confront all of the fears … the “what if’s?” of race day. One of my biggest fears around Ironman Lake Placid (and this is probably a popular one for many of you) was “What if I don’t finish?” I worked with MY coach and confronted this fear and came up with a mental game plan for how I might feel or react if I didn’t finish. And when I explored the what if’s instead of ignoring them, it felt like I got all my worrying out of the way. Like I had just “cleansed” myself of worries and had an (almost) worry-free race day!

It makes race day that much more meaningful.

One big reason I love coaching endurance athletes is that these folks have giant hearts and they aren’t afraid to dream big. They have an internal drive that pushes the envelope and is constantly curious what the human spirit is capable of. When you find tune your intention and reason for racing it’s like giving yourself an unlimited stash of mental GU gel. It’s a natural burst of energy that keeps you going through challenging training days and culminates in that final push on race day. Every race, every year, the reasons may change – they shift because we go through different obstacles in our lives. But when we cross the finish line, it’s so much more than just a PR or just a race – it’s a celebration. And that race can become one of the greatest learning experiences you’ll endure.

 

If you are interested in health coaching in preparation for an endurance event, or have any questions about what coaching might be like for you, please don’t hesitate to email me at maggie@maggieconverse.com. Your first 30-minute session is on me!

 

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A Feeling of Everything-is-alright-ness & Philadelphia Half Marathon

I think I love doing these races so much simply because they make me feel more alive. Just getting to the starting line last Sunday for the Philadelphia Half Marathon was a total well of emotions. And when I crossed the finish line … well you will just have to read on to find out what happens.

This year has been a big old wake-up call for me, most especially pertaining to my health.

I have been practicing yoga for nearly 15 years, teaching yoga for 8 years, and health coaching for 3 years. I am also a perfectionist. Or at the very least have some major perfectionist tendencies. This perfectionism has kept me from coming clean, or being totally honest not only with myself but with every person in my life – from those who I see on a daily basis to those who sometimes peek at my social media presence.

My migraines took a turn for the worse around Christmas last year. They became more frequent, longer in duration, and the symptoms were more severe than I had ever experienced. I was getting a migraine every 7-10 days lasting 2-3 days and, without fail, I could not hold anything down; vomiting regularly and spending at least a day recuperating and rehydrating. I am still dealing with these severe migraines but I have taken several steps to make taking care of them a top priority.

I didn’t want to tell anyone what was really going on except for a select few because I thought admitting that I was having a challenging time meant I was a failure – in so many ways – including a failure as a yoga teacher and health coach. It hadn’t dawned on me that being truthful with myself and giving my health the attention it needed was a huge part of being the best teacher/coach I possibly could.

Since December 2013 I had to say no to so many people and events: from endurance events to weddings to teaching … it started to become so very apparent that my health was not in a good state. Not only that but I was not giving my health the attention it deserved.

I would be struck with a migraine and on top of the physical pain and discomfort I would sink into a state of depression. I am now learning to transition into migraine-mode with more forgiveness and compassion for myself. It’s is tough work, but I am learning to let go and let the migraine just take me into the migraine-state for however long it needs to process through my body.

So what on earth does this have to do with a half marathon? Well, I was hesitant to even sign up for the Philadelphia Half Marathon. What if I got a migraine on race day? It was something I thought of every time I laced up my sneakers and went for a run. The list of what if’s ran through my mind endlessly. I finally came to peace with the fact that a migraine might happen on race day, but I also accepted the exciting possibility that it might not.

The very last run I went on before we left for Philadelphia, I said to myself “I’m going to run this thing” – that became my mantra and I visualized approaching the starting line with my friends and imagined what it would feel like to get back into doing this thing that makes my heart sing.

And guess what? I ran that thing! I got to run the Philadelphia Half Marathon and even set a personal best at 1:57:43. This was the first race for me in about a year which, if you know my history with triathlon and running, is a pretty big deal as I have spent the past 4-5 years filling my calendar with races.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 3.54.42 PMSo what happened when I crossed the finish line?  My eyes filled with little tears, I got that knot in my throat, and my heart swelled up. (I think I’m officially a “Finish Line Cryer.” Is that a thing?)

The days that I have spent on my couch in more pain and discomfort than I can come close to describing … those days have given me a greater appreciation for the days without a migraine. Where I am grateful just to toe the line at a race and be amongst the running community. Where I am grateful to share race stories with my friends, our teeth chattering as we make our way back to our hotel. Where I am grateful for that hot shower after a race, the water washing away the sweat and soothing my aching muscles.

It’s a feeling of lightness, of “everything-is-alright-ness” … and maybe migraines have given me more awareness of its existence.

PhilaHalfI am grateful for my experience with migraine. Migraine has given me a deeper understanding of debilitating pain and discomfort; it has given me greater appreciation for the days WITHOUT migraine – what a sweet blessing those days are; migraine has taught me to accept the help and support from loved ones when it is offered, and to ask when it is needed; and migraine got me to get my butt in gear this year to make my health a priority. We should never be so busy that we cannot take care of ourselves.

 

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So THIS is why I needed to do the Quassy Half!

I went into my Quassy Half race weekend after an outpouring of donations. Oh boy did I ever need (and appreciate!!) all that love and uplifting for quite the challenging course. And this is why I needed to finish the Rev3 Quassy Half…

You'd never know it, but I'm actually terrified.

You’d never know it, but I’m actually terrified.

Ever since I registered for Ironman Lake Placid back in October, anyone who has ever done Ironman strongly advised that I first complete the Rev3 Quassy Half triathlon. Why? Well everybody claimed the course, while half the distance of a full Ironman, was technically harder than IMLP with hills, hills, and MORE HILLS. Admittedly I thought at first that this was just a way to throw down a humble brag. But as race day for the Quassy Half drew closer, I started to wonder: what if everyone is right? 

To make a long story short: everyone was right. To give you an idea just how right everyone was:

The Swim – 1.2 Miles

The swim was all downhill. Get it??!! Triathlete joke, sorry, had to slip it in. But really, for the first time in Maggie’s Triathlon History I LOVED THE SWIM! I came out with a big smile on my face, saw Brett waiting for me when he shouted “Almost less than 40 minutes! Great job Maggie!” Little did he know I would return to that positive encouragement throughout my day when the hills got HARD…

The Bike – 56 Miles

As I made my way out of transition and onto the bike course feeling pretty good about myself. And then it went like this: climbclimbclimbclimbclimb … DESCEND! YAY! RECOVER! Immediately proceeded by climbclimbclimbclimbclimb … DESCEND! YAY! RECOVER! Yeah, it was a lot of that. At mile 50 the amazing Brett found me (he was on his bike) and secretly coached me through the final miles. I kept telling him the bike course was hilarious, that they kept putting in all these long hills!

The Run – 13.1 Miles

Brett said that I looked peppy when I transitioned from the bike to the run. Why is that? Because it meant I had NO MORE HILLS TO CLIMB. Or so I thought … the first few miles of the run were hot and in direct sun but pretty flat, if anything downhill. And then the hills, ohhhhh the hills. They came back AGAIN. This time with a vengeance because I had to run up them and as I approached each hill I saw groups of people just walking. If you’ve ever done a running race or triathlon you know that this does NOT help morale and only makes you think “they are walking, it’s ok for me to walk too!” I really had to fight this (I ended up walking up 1 hill for 1 minute) – and I started singing little mantras to myself like “I love hills! I love hills!” The last 5 miles were a gift, mostly flat and downhill. I passed Coach Bob around mile 9 and he asked how I was feeling, I smiled and yelled “Better now!”

The Finish 

Me and my bling

Me and my bling

What’s to say? It’s always an amazing feeling to see the finish shoot and cross the finish line. Immediately after finishing, I had a few moments alone where I put my head in my hands and had a moment of happy tears and laughter. I was SO damn happy to be done and knew I was that much closer to Ironman Lake Placid on July 28.The race was humbling to say the least. But I had an amazing support crew there. Brett gave up his entire day to drive me up and cheer me on at every single spectator spot. My Mom and Dad made it just in time to see me finish – my Dad’s second time to see my do a 70.3 race and my Mom’s first. And then Coach Bob called me the day before as a surprise that he too would be there! I even met my first official Twitter friend – miss Kara – who is also doing Ironman for the first time this year in Lake Placid. I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude that I had these people there as well as other members of my new triathlon family. Not only that but throughout the whole race I knew everyone had my back. Every friend or family member that I’ve talked to about this, every blast from the past who has surfaced and made a donation on my fundraising page, and even every spectator or volunteer out on the course. I couldn’t have felt more support and it makes me even more excited to see what Ironman Lake Placid holds.

I am currently $810 away from reaching my fundraising goal of $5,000. I am constantly moved by the support everyone has shown not only for me but for Children’s Tumor Foundation. These kids and their families are beyond appreciative of the help you can provide and every dollar counts. Really it does. I work there. I would know.🙂 I’ve got about 40 days to reach my goal and of course I’d love to get beyond! To make a donation you can simply click here. There is no amount too large or too small!  Thank you guys for your continuing kindness and especially your patience when I insist on talking about how my training is going.

THANKS COACH!

Thanks Coach!

Brett's colorful outfit kept me going through the day.

Brett’s colorful outfit kept me going through the day.

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8:18, croissants, 90 miles, and 2 months

Or what I learned from my weekend of training:

  • Maintaining an average pace of 8:18 for 3.1 miles of running is possible!
  • 50 miles into a ride, coffee and a chocolate croissant is heaven and will render me speechless
  • I have decided that I would really like to have croissants in my special needs bag for Ironman Lake Placid
  • I am quite chipper after 90 miles on the bike and once I reach 90 miles, I might shed a tear of joy/disbelief/shock and awe
  • Quassy Rev3 70.3 is in 5 days and Ironman Lake Placid is 2 months away and it’s starting to feel real. This weekend’s long ride got me really really excited for the first time — and I couldn’t have done it without everyone’s donations and support! You can support my fundraising campaign for CTF by clicking here.

 

Coffee. Croissant. Can't talk.

Coffee. Croissant. Can’t talk.

Weston Memorial Day 5K - running in the rain!

Weston Memorial Day 5K – running in the rain!

90 MILES!

90 MILES!

 

 

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New favorite post-long run yoga pose…

Pincha mayurasana. Also known as, forearm stand or forearm balance.

Pincha Mayurasana

Demoing pincha mayurasana after a long run with running coach, Milly, at Sherpa in CT.

Ever since I started doing triathlons in 2010, I’ve been fairly consistent in following my long runs (and rides) with a short 10-20 minute yoga practice. These practices typically involve basic poses that get into the psoas, hamstrings, quads, hips, IT band … the usual.

It wasn’t until I was with the Sherpa group out in CT this weekend when I was inspired by the contagious energy of one of the Sherpa run coaches, Milly, to demo and teach forearm stand (she wanted an inversion, but one that did not put pressure on the top of her head like in headstand.)

We first tried L-pose (handstand modification) and then, pincha mayurasana. Milly is a rock star runner and a wonderful yogini because she was willing to jump right in and try the pose. AND, with attention to her form and a little assistance on my part, she got right into it. I wish I could remember exactly what Milly said once she got up, but I can assure you that a) it made me laugh out loud and b) it was a major “Ah-ha” moment.

So, time willing, I will start doing some post-long run pincha – with Milly’s fearlessness in mind!

Why pincha mayurasana?

It’s fun! There is something to be said about a pose that makes you feel like a kid again. Pincha definitely forces me to focus but it also makes me smile, laugh, and feel powerful. Not only do your legs get a break, but you reverse the flow of blood so the heart gets a “rest.”

Click here to read more about pincha (including modifications and prep steps.)

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