Give Yourself A Piece Of Peace

Give Yourself A Piece Of Peace

College creates chaos and doesn't allow much time for students to have a focused moment on themselves.

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For college students, I believe a lot of what we choose to do is based on what we believe is expected by us from our loved ones, our friends, our teachers, and from society as a whole.

When was the last time you choose to do something solely because you wanted to do it?

Or even when was the last time you decided to do something on your own?

Or when was the last time you did something that was going to benefit only you?

It may sound cheesy sure, but when was the last time you felt you had a certain level of peace with yourself and in your life?

This semester I am doing service learning with an organization, Little Friends for Peace (LFFP) which does peace education with various groups including school-aged children, incarcerated men and women, and people experiencing homelessness. All with the perspective of non-violent and peaceful solutions can be found for our society's problems.

At the core of LFFP's curriculum is the wellness wheel which is built up by six elements: Feelings, Mind, People, Work, Body and Spirit. These six things have other smaller pieces that fall beneath them that serve as pieces of our own wellness wheels.

In the training I have gone to with LFFP this is a visual way for me to think of how all of these six elements can feed my peace and everyday wellness. I also think that these six things are elements many college students can relate to and are in play in our everyday lives.

When we got into small groups we took a moment to share what the strongest points of our wellness wheels were at the moment and what the weakest points were.

For me, my strong point was people because I feel like the people I have currently in my life feed into the wellness of the other five elements. The people I have in my life make me feel loved and appreciated, there are those people who help me grow spiritually, the people I work with are amazing and are becoming friends, I have friends who motivate me to work out or eat well to take care of my body.

The weak point for me was my body. At the time of the training I was in the midst of the classic beginning of school cold, and over the past week, my schedule had been such that it gave me limited time to cook for myself which is something I love to take time to do.

College can feel like a swarm of chaos where nothing is constant or feeling permanent for very long. Our friendships can ebb and flow and vanish, our work can drive us insane sometimes, immune systems are weakened by living in a dorm with hundreds of other kids, our feelings can become overwhelmed and our mind is a constant, running to-do list that doesn't seem to end.

But if we take time to think about it for long enough to concentrate on just ourselves instead of everyone around us, we can find pockets of peace. Things can come into balance for us and give us some firm footing beneath our feet. We just do not take enough time to think about this and find what is giving us joy.

Our society is one that has a tendency to focus on the negative and what's wrong, only leaving small slivers of time to celebrate the good. That outbalance of bad over good is negative and not good for anyone's mental sanity.

But we should challenge this societal standard of obsessing over the bad to look for what is giving us peace, or what may contain moments of peace if we give those opportunities a chance.

So I challenge you to think about your wellness wheel. Either think out or write down what each of those six elements contains for you individually and where the strong point is and what is a bit weaker. Finding a moment to be completely by yourself in college is hard but it is a worthwhile challenge that can help you center yourself amidst the chaos.

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13.1 Vital Tips To Complete A Half-Marathon Without Training (And Without Dying)

I spent a lot of time Googling, 'How Not To Kill Yourself Running A Half-Marathon You Didn't Train For'.
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Last weekend I completed a Half-Marathon that I didn’t train for at all. On top of that, I hadn’t run in about a year and have never completed a distance over 8 miles

That sounds insane, right?

Well, yes and no.

A few weeks before the race, I spent a good chunk of time in and out of the emergency room— mostly due to a complication from a spinal tap. During that time, my couch had become my best friend.

As someone who is fairly active and social: I hated every minute of it.

I was so sick that I couldn’t think. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t do anything other than lay on the couch and watch Netflix.

When I was finally well enough to start walking around again— I started thinking about my life and my bucket list:

So much of life is taken for granted. It’s been a life goal of mine for the longest time to complete a half-marathon, and I’ve always assumed that I would be able to train for it when I finally graduate. When I have more time— I'd do it then.

But that's not an assumption anyone should make. Tomorrow isn't promised. Your health isn't promised.

Right now, I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m young, and I know how to listen to my body. I’ve run for a few years in the past, and I have pretty good technique. So, what’s stopping me? Why not do it now?

I realized that the only real obstacle in my way was myself and my excuses.

So, I hopped online and registered for the Brewer’s Mini Marathon— a process that was both filled with excitement for the feat to come, and apprehension over whether or not this decision was going to retroactively kill me.

To ease that newfound anxiety, a lot of my free-time was spent researching how not to kill yourself while running a Half-Marathon you didn’t train for— which gave me a ton of knowledge to draw from when race day came. Knowledge was the only weapon to help me through.

If you’re thinking about following my lead, I’ve shared some tips to help you along:

1. If You Aren’t Young, Or In Great Shape— Don’t Follow My Example.

If you have any existing issues with your knees, lungs, or heart: Do NOT do what I did.

Not training can lead to serious injuries, all of which are not remotely worth the risk. If you’re adamant to do it: Focus on walking it. It sounds unimpressive— but walking this race is actually pretty difficult. Not everyone is able to complete it.

However, if you are in the best shape of your life and have a history of running (or some other vigorous, aerobic activity): Go for it— but be cautious.

2. Don’t Set A Time Goal

Unless you've trained, you have no reason to have a time goal. Your only goal is finishing the course. That's it.

3. Pace Yourself

My first 3 miles were easy-peasy. So easy, in fact, that I beat my PR for the last 5K I ran— and I wasn’t even trying.

When I hit mile 5, I was still going pretty strong. However, I think if I had walked more, in the beginning, I wouldn’t have crashed so hard at mile 10. Take it from me: Don’t run until you feel like stopping.

Set intervals, and take it easy.

4. Don’t Forget Your Music

This tip is pretty much up to your own discretion. The first half of my race was incredible without music— but when I started crashing near the end, a power anthem would have helped so much. Make sure you have that with you.

5. Eat Intelligently The Week Before (And Day Of)

Make sure you’re getting a lot of your calories from complex carbs, and that you’re drinking about 2-3L of water per day in the week leading up to it. Basically, this will make sure that your body runs as efficiently as possible during the race— especially since it will likely take you well over 2 hours to finish.

On top of that: Eat a large breakfast or lunch the day before, and make sure that your dinner is light (if it’s a morning race). The morning of, be smart about what you eat. This guide was incredibly helpful for me.

6. Bring nutrition with you!

I didn’t consume mine at the recommended intervals, which is likely a big part of why I crashed at the last leg as hard as I did.

Look at nutrition like chews and gels. They’ll replenish your electrolytes and give your body the carbs it needs to keep rockin’ on. Read the directions, and follow them to a T. Also, ask whoever is helping you for advice on each product— they’re more than happy to help.

As a side note: If you haven’t used chews or gels in the past, I was advised that you should stick with chews. Also, do not mix it with Gatorade. Stick with water. The last thing you want is to spend the last half of the race in a port-a-potty.

You’re already going to be in a ton of pain— that just adds insult to injury.

7. Have Realistic Expectations

This goes hand-in-hand with setting realistic goals (i.e.: Your only goal should be to finish). Realize and come to terms with the fact that you are going to HURT. Maybe not during the race— but you will hurt afterward for a few days. Do not plan to run this if you have anything important to do later that day.

On top of that, if you don’t want to hurt afterward— make sure that you know how to take care of yourself post-race.

8. Wear The Proper Gear

I’m not typically an advocate for buying clothes for specific races or events— but if you don’t have the appropriate gear, your experience is going to be awful.

Invest in a well-fitting tech-shirt that is the appropriate weight for the weather. Do not wear cotton. Yeah, that band tee of yours is pretty sweet, and I know you want to show it off— but do not wear it. You’re going to sweat a lot, and that shirt is going to stay wet— which can be dangerous in colder weather, and even more dangerous when you consider the fact that you haven’t trained properly. More likely than not: your body hasn’t quite learned how to regulate your temperature efficiently while running, so it's important that you wear something that will help wick away sweat.

Rule of thumb: Dress for 20 degrees warmer than it is. If it’s 50 degrees outside, dress for 70. If you feel warm at the starting line— you’re going to be boiling by mile 5.

Guys: put band-aids over your nipples, unless you’re highly masochistic and enjoy the idea of your chest bleeding at mile 8.

Women: Wear running tights/capris that are well-fitted and comfortable. The reasoning for this is two-fold— You don’t have to worry about adjusting them since they tend to stay put. Secondly, you don’t have to worry about the torture that is chafing. Also, make sure that you’re wearing a high-impact Sports Bra that is well-fitting and comfortable. (I got a really nice one at Nordstrom’s Rack for around $12).

Running Shoes: if you don’t own a pair of running shoes— ones that have been properly fitted for you— invest in a pair. This is probably the most important thing for you to have. If you are wearing ill-fitting running shoes, you’ll most likely have a lot of issues near the end of your race. If you don’t want foot pain, really bad knee pain (or worse)— get a good pair of running shoes. If the shoes they fit you in are a bit too pricey, it’s always worth looking online for the previous model. That alone can knock a shoe’s price from $130 to $70.

Overall: Be smart about your gear, and know that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get quality stuff.

9. Talk To People

Before the race and during— runners are typically pretty friendly people, and I promise you’ll find someone who’s just as nervous as you. If you’re keeping pace with someone, and they seem open— feel free to talk to them. A Half-Marathon is not an easy feat, and it really helps to know you’re in it with other people.

10. For you— this is not a competition

The first few miles were such an incredible experience. I made the mistake of deciding that my goal was to finish before the person who was keeping pace with me. Even if we both fell behind on time— as long as I finished before her, I would be alright with my results.

Nope. Big fat double-nope. Don't do that.

Around mile 10, that goal flew out the window. She was well ahead of me, and I realized my mistake: This was not a competition. I didn’t train, so I have no right to treat it like an actual race. For myself, and anyone else who hadn’t trained: This was a war— both mentally and physically— and we’re in it together. So, while you’re racing: be kind, and help motivate others to finish. It’ll help you just as much as it’ll help them.

11. Listen to your body

This is NOT the time to push yourself. The distance itself is pushing you enough. If you get a side-stitch or get sharp pains anywhere: Take a second to recover.

Do not push through that pain.

However, it is important to know what pain is normal— and what pain is not. Your knees are probably going to hurt around mile 10 or so, and your muscles are definitely going to be sore. That’s totally normal and usually okay to push through. But that’s about it.

If you feel nauseated, lightheaded, dizzy, or have any sharp and abnormal pains: Stop and recover. Learn the signs of dehydration, and make sure that you’re getting a swig of water at each station to prevent it.

12. Walk up hills

No exceptions. Walk up hills. Even in the beginning. I thought it’d be fine to run them in the beginning, but even if they’re easy: They add up.

And the sum of those hills is you crashing out with 3 miles to go.

Walk the hills. Again: Remember, you didn’t train. You have nothing to prove, other than that you can finish the race before the course gets swept.

13. Don’t Stop After The Finish Line (And Eat SLOWLY)

A banana has never looked so good. And oh! Look! Free juice! Pretzels! Yogurt! GIVE ME EVERYTHING. Smother me in it. I have never considered swimming in Gatorade before that moment, but at the finish line: That sounded like a dream.

Take all the food, but eat slowly. Drink water, and SLOWLY. If you eat too quickly, and too much, you’re going to feel nauseated and hurt even more than you do already (at the very least).

Also, as much as you might want to sit down: Don’t do it. Keep walking around for about 10-15 minutes at a relaxed pace. Here are some more tips on how to recover after your Half Marathon. I did nearly everything you’re NOT supposed to do afterward, and boy was I feeling it.

Learn from my mistakes.

13.1. Be Proud Of Your Accomplishment.

Even if you walked most of it: BE PROUD. Even just walking this is ridiculously hard on your body and your psyche. You’ve earned some bragging rights. Don’t undercut your accomplishments. This is an incredible feat, and you did it.

And now that you know you can finish it, train for your next one.

Cover Image Credit: Dave Meier

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To The Burnt-Out College Student, Keep Going

When you're struggling to keep afloat, keep going.

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College is super hard. Between working, studying, and having a social life, it feels like a struggle to just keep afloat.

I understand. When you feel like your drowning and there's no way to stay afloat I understand that it feels like everyone else is doing just fine. I understand all the frustration, long nights in the library, and that feeling that you want to just throw in the towel. I understand that sometimes it's too hard to get out of bed because your brain is already filled with too much information to remember. I understand because I am also feeling pretty burnt out.

Sometimes picking up a pencil to do homework in the library feels like picking up a car. Sometimes I don't even make it to the library to study because I have no motivation to walk there. I'm in my junior year and my advisor has recently told me I am not graduating on time and basically my GPA sucks. I cried in her office and for two days after that. I work two jobs sometimes seven days a week. I spend my free time in the library trying to submit my homework on time. On my drive to my second job, I listen to a nutrition podcast about what's actually happening in the field. I've been drowning since the first day of classes. Keeping afloat is a daily struggle that I'm getting really tired of doing. But I'm going to anyway.

Everyone in college is feeling burnt out to some degree. Graduating "on time" doesn't happen for everyone. Sometimes your GPA sucks because you have a lot on your plate. Whether it's family issues, taking classes year round, a stressful job, lots of classwork, or just the stress you put on yourself, everyone is feeling burnt out. And I know you feel like you're the only one. Trust me sometimes I feel alone in that too. But after graduation, you'll be thankful for all the stress and anxiety you had in college. When you reach your goals in life you'll look back and be grateful things happened the way they did because you came out stronger.

It's okay to have days that you contemplate dropping out. But acknowledge that and keep going. Break up your work into manageable chunks and keep going. Buy a planner and write down all your assignments and the time they're due so you can time manage better and keep going. Clock into your job and do what you have to do and keep going. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going.

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