Tag Archives: motivation

Running Love, Audrey Hepburn’s Healthy Living Secrets, and the Empathetic Brain

Running love

Every relationship—whether you’re talking friends, family, or romantic partner—takes attention and a bit of work. That’s even (or especially?) true when you’re talking about your relationship with exercise. On that note, this week I’m over at Runner’s World/Zelle, where I offer ideas for falling (and staying) in love with running, but I suspect the broad strokes of the ideas could apply to a number of passions. Check it out!

More link love:

Audrey Hepburn was an icon of class, beauty, and style, so it’s perhaps not surprising that she brought that grace to healthy living and food as well. Her son has just published a cookbook At Home with Audrey, and in an interview he talks about her very well-rounded and holistic approach to life, including her emphasis on drinking water, her flexitarian and seasonal approach to eating, and her once-a-month detox day. (Of course she was ahead of the curve!) See it here.

A new study found differences in the brains of people who respond emotionally to other’s feelings (like those moved to tears by witnessing others’ pain), compared with those who have more rational (or cognitive) empathy, such as a clinical psychologist counseling a client. It makes perfect sense that there are different kinds of empathy and that those types light up different parts of the brain, and I can see this finding having a number of ramifications. As just one example, one would imagine that helping professionals do far better with a hefty dose of cognitive empathy versus the emotional kind. (Can’t get much done if you’re crying along with your patients, right?) I’ve personally never heard empathy broken down into subcategories and it’s definitely given me things to think about. See the study here.

Reading that study made me think about discussions of how reading fiction cultivates empathy. Not long ago, I saw the historical fiction writer Erika Robuck during her book tour for the lovely The House of Hawthorne, who said something along the lines of: “A history book can help you see a battle, but fiction can put you in characters’ shoes and makes you feel what they’re feeling.” Her words are backed up by a study that finds not all reading is equal, empathy development-wise. Not surprising, literary fiction—as compared with genre or nonfiction—was the winner for boosting readers’ ability to their ability to infer and understand other people’s thoughts and emotions. See the study here.

How do you keep your workouts fresh? Where are you on the empathy continuum? Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?



Filed under Health/Wellness, Inspiration, Running, Writing/Books

20 Inspirational Quotes to Fire You Up for Running—or Life

Running along the snowy Charles River in Cambridge_2014-01-18_by Bill Damon

Has winter chilled your enthusiasm? These wise words from athletes, authors, thinkers, and leaders just might help you rekindle your commitment to your goals.

On motivation

‘Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance.” Steven Pressfield

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not
to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is
against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” –George Sheehan

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you.  Criticize me, and I may not like you.  Ignore me, and I may not forgive you.  Encourage me, and I will not forget you.” William Arthur Ward

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” Unknown

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.” Susan Jeffers

On setbacks

“Pain is necessary, suffering is optional.” –Haruki Murakami

“The biggest mistake an athlete can make is to be afraid of making one.” L. Ron Hubbard

“So you’re taking a few blows. That’s the price for being in the arena and not on the sidelines. Stop complaining and be grateful.” Steven Pressfield

“Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.” –Napoleon Hill

“Most of all, the ultra distance leaves you alone with your thoughts to an excruciating extent. Whatever song you have in your head had better be a good one. Whatever story you are telling yourself had better be a story about going on. There is no room for negativity. The reason most people quit has nothing to do with their body.” –Scott Jurek

“As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.” –Steve Maraboli

On inspiration

“The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.” Robert Frost

“Running! If there’s any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can’t think what it might be.” Joyce Carol Oates

“The reward of running—of anything—lies within us. We focus on something external to motivate us, but we need to remember that it’s process of reaching for that prize, not the prize itself, that can bring us peace and joy.” Scott Jurek

“The most beautiful motion is that which accomplishes the greatest results with the least amount of effort.” Plato

“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” Margaret Lee Runbeck

“Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.” Unknown

“One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” –Andre Gide

“Having a true faith is the most difficult thing in the world. Many will try to take it from you.” –Steve Prefontaine

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.” –George Sheehan


Have a great weekend everyone, and let me know your favorite quote if you have one! I’d love to hear.

Photo credit: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License. Some rights reserved by Bill Damon. (This photo originally posted at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/billdamon/12016479684/in/photolist-jiRALd-iHW8DU-jiRfeR/)


Filed under Health/Wellness, Inspiration, Running

On My (Reignited) Love Affair with Running


For most of my life, I’ve been an active person. I frequented dance classes. I’ve slogged it to the gym (though that’s never my first choice). I spent a good chunk of time devoted to yoga, even going through a year-long teacher training class to deepen my study. But I think if I were ordered to choose just one method of exercise, it would have to be running.

I’ve had a very long love affair with running. As I said, there’s always been other things and right now my yoga bug is reigniting, but there’s something truly special about putting one foot in front of the other in rhythmic succession as your body cuts through the air and you move and the endorphins pump through your veins. There’s a freedom about it that’s intoxicating and I’m always happier afterward. There’s so much of the world you see that you wouldn’t see otherwise. Life as it looks at sunrise. The happiness of other runners out in the snow. The elation and pride as people cross the finish line of a challenging race.

And there’s so many places I hold dear because of running—I’ve ran on the bike path along the beach in Venice and Santa Monica, California; I’ve chugged it along the Minutemen Trail in Cambridge, Massachuetts, and out into Arlington and beyond; I’ve ran along the Charles River in Cambridge and Boston; I’ve run through downtown San Francisco and out to the Embacadero Promenade along the waterfront; I’ve gotten up at the crack of dawn for a 7-mile cruise along the Las Vegas Strip; I’ve gotten out for a quick lunch run through the streets of Boston; and gotten soaked running through Portland, Oregon.

Speaking of rain.

It was pouring today, and a little window of time opened up when it slowed. I quickly put on my running clothes and went outside, but sure enough the sky opened up and began dumping buckets. Frustrated, I went back inside, and began complaining to my boyfriend over gchat.

A confluence of factors, including some recurring injuries, have found me in my least in-shape status ever. As I became less active, things that would never have stopped me before—the cold (so what, go to the gym), I’m too busy (so make time), I don’t feel like it (I always felt like it!)—suddenly became “reasons” for not working out. Today, I truly had only enough time to run outside, the gym would’ve taken too long, so it was brave the elements or nothing. As I whined away, I suddenly thought of my sister, who is truly an awe-inspiring machine and who ran almost an entire marathon in the rain. It’s amazing how we all impact each other, how what we do can inspire the people around us. Another friend, who is more of a newbie, also ran an important-to-her race—a half marathon—all in the rain. She ran it with a friend who has since died of breast cancer (at the age of 30), and the memory of that rain-soaked run will be one she treasures. And then there was myself of not so long ago, who loved running in the rain because it always evoked the joy and freedom of being a kid. When else do you have a free pass to splash through puddles as an adult?

It dawned on me: I was not going to let Winter boss me around anymore—or any other “reasons” for that matter. I put my shoes and jacket back on, headed out in the rain, and did my run. And like something from The Secret, the rain slowed until right at the end when it gave me a good soak.

By then, of course, I was too happy to care.


Filed under Inspiration, Running

Book Nerd’s Guide to Mind-Body Multitasking: 4 Ways to Exercise Your Brain and Body

Keira Knightley multitasking her reading and walking in Pride and Prejudice.

Keira Knightley multitasking her reading and walking in Pride and Prejudice.

If you started 2013 with ambitious resolutions around exercising, you may already be feeling frustration. Let’s face it: Sneaking exercise into your day can feel difficult if you have other time commitments (and who doesn’t?), and can feel especially tough if you don’t usually exercise or if you have to brave the icy cold to get outside or to the gym. To ease into things, it can be helpful to simply start incorporating a little exercise here and there. This means try those trite-but-true words of advice such as park far away from the store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, go for a lunch walk, stand up and stretch periodically, and pair a bit of exercise with another activity.

Even better, if you’re a book nerd, you can increase the chances you’ll develop an exercise habit by incorporating it into some of your bookish activities. Here are four ideas to try.

1. Use the time you spend to doing dishes or chopping vegetables to exercise and plan your next story. Hold your stomach in tightly, stand up straight, and do leg lifts (side and back) and pliés for toning, stand on one leg for balance (and to strengthen ankles), and march in place for some extra movement. (Check out these ballet boot camp videos on Youtube to get ideas for moves you can adapt to a more stationary stance.) And two tasks aren’t quite enough for a smarty pants like you, add a third task: Plan your next writing session, think about your characters, or brainstorm your next essay. As Agatha Christie said, “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” Don’t let that precious time go to waste.

2. Read your book on the elliptical or stair climber. Many find these machines incredibly boring, but at least they’re great for working up a sweat. Make them do double duty: Bring your latest book club pick and some ear plugs to drown out the gym music, and the time will pass more quickly. It may be true that you won’t work out as hard, but at least you’re working out. And consistency—which depends on at least a certain amount of pleasure—is key.

3. Listen to audiobooks on the treadmill or on a run. The treadmill can be pretty crucial in these (for some of us, at least) icy winter months. But it’s not nicknamed “dreadmill” for no reason. I’m also no fan of the treadmill/TV-two-inches-from-your-face combos that seem to be popping up everywhere. Of course, great running music can be extremely helpful to pass time on a treadmill, but audiobooks work surprising well too. Though I definitely prefer reading books for myself, audiobooks such as Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (one of my all-time favorite books in all forms) and Dean Karnazes’ 50/50, have helped me clock upwards of six miles on the treadmill and even longer runs outside. Those two books are highly motivational—the first is about writing and running and the relationship between the two, and the second is about pushing oneself. I suspect that motivational aspect may be helpful to stamina, but I think the main thing is to get books (or podcasts) that you think you’ll enjoy.

4. Start a walking book club. I’ve so often found that the best conversations happen with a walking or running partner. Walking or doing another exercise (hiking, running, cycling) with a friend or family member is such a great way to spend time together, and pairing that idea with a book discussion creates such an enjoyable way to marry multiple loves (or at least court some exercise love). And since you can chat on your cell to connect, you can even do this with someone who lives in another part of the country.

Image via Pride & Prejudice Blog


Filed under Health/Wellness, Running, Writing/Books