Unless you’re an official, stop judging other sports and athletes

As many of you know, I’ve been through a lot of changes over the last 12 months and life is looking very different these days. I’ve received love and support from surprising sources and I’ve received judgment, too. The judgment I wasn’t as prepared for and it got me thinking about my opinions of others and myself and even of the industry I’ve chosen to work in.

As usual, I’ve picked up books on the topic and listened to countless podcast episodes on the subject and I’ve been working hard to check my judgments. I quickly realized I had to check myself or I’d wreck myself (and limit my personal and business growth). I’ve been fortunate enough to have a couple of extraordinary athletes in my network who have been challenging my preconceived ideas about their specific sports, and about the pursuit of athletic success in general.

check yourself before you wreck yourself

Don’t Fight It

During my time as a human kinetics student, I was exposed to the world of sport psychology and mindset training by Terry Orlick  which was quickly followed by my own first-hand experience with head injuries (long story short: I took a hockey puck to the head and suffered a concussion). Since then I have been a sometimes vocal advocate for safety in sports and 99.9% of the time I would advise another human being to avoid being punched in the head. I always wondered what ran through the mind of a fighter  Until I started conversing with an amateur MMA athlete, Cory Vern.

My knee-jerk reaction was to ask him “Why the hell would you take a beating on purpose?” and to assume he grew up an aggressive and angry young man who spent all day punching things. I feel like an idiot for rushing to judge Cory based on my fears surrounding his sport: he’s revealed himself to be a thoughtful and rather sweet, dedicated dad of two who lets me pick his brain at all hours of the day and night (because I often wake up with good questions and ideas and can’t let them go). I’ve learned that fighting for him is like running for me: a peaceful quiet where you feel at your best with the world around you. Turns out he’s a pretty dedicated runner himself: as in it’s nothing for him to run 15k to save himself a cab ride.

cory vern
I’m a little intimidated to attend my first MMA event on January 26th.

Finding that we shared something in common as important to me as running, opened the door to discussing the importance of mindset and being able to focus on the goals you set for yourself. Focusing on nutrition and different fighting styles and bouncing back from a tough workout will sound familiar to any athlete, regardless of activity. I’m headed to Moncton, NB next weekend to see him in action and pick his brain on the fight night mindset needed to succeed (because he’s gonna win his match ). Cory The Warrior and I aren’t all that different, really, which made me wonder what else I was judging.

And The Wheels Keep Spinning

Recently, I commented on the Instagram post of a local athlete I had been following since I saw him race before my half-marathon in October last year. I had no idea of this guy’s story, I just knew he was paralyzed and raced a wheelchair like he stole it. We started chatting about protein pancake mixes and racing, and it ended up with him recording an interview the next day for the podcast I co-host with Melissa Kahn. (Seriously, do yourself a favour and listen to it now. Well, after you finish reading this post.)

Ben Brown was in an ATV accident 12 years ago that left him paralyzed from the chest down, but that only slowed him down. Temporarily. Within weeks of his injury, he had decided to do whatever it takes to get back out there on wheels. I thought I had a developed a pretty positive outlook and followed a strong goal-oriented path, but Ben continues to shake my perception of a positive outlook.

Insert Face Palm Here

Aside from realizing how inaccessible so much of our world is, I’ve been challenged to reflect on how ignorant I’ve been. I felt like an idiot after asking how ripped his abs must be (duh…I studied anatomy and physiology and no feeling from the chest down means no ab function. Sorry, Dr. Stothart.) I even asked if he lived alone, because I assumed he was unable to do everything himself. I completely made an ass of myself, but once we got that out of the way, I learned that a paraplegic athlete has different nutritional requirements and even the climate affects him differently. Everyday is #armday for this elite racer, and while those guns may intimidate some newbies at the gym, his dedication to clean eating and honest nutrition only increases my guilt about those Tostitos I ate earlier.

benbrownracer
Ben Brown Wheelchair Racer. Photo Courtesy of East Coast Running Photos

While there are so many differences between his racing path and my own, there are far more similarities. We each bore our family and friends with our talk of distances and interval times and training schedules. Our closets are full of more athletic wear than business wear, and we #fitnessmotivation on the regular. He finds it tricky to get groceries between work and school and training and I find it hard to train between getting groceries and teaching school. I’m just a woman trying to reach her goals and he’s just a man pushing towards his.

 

As a fitpreneur, it’s important to challenge the way you think about the sports and athletes outside of your niche. We’re all just pushing our limits, just in a different ring or race course.

 

I want to thank Cory and Ben for continuing to teach me. With each new podcast guest or person I meet at an event or race, I find myself learning something new and expanding my horizons as a runner and as a human being. Every sport has something to teach us and every athlete even more so.

Why I’m Running Everyday in December

It’s December 9th and it’s about -7 degrees Celsius (about 20 degrees Fahrenheit for my American readers) and I just got back from a frosty 5k scoot around the neighbourhood. Now why the heck would I choose to bundle up and hit the snow-covered sidewalk when I could’ve joined my father by the fire for another Hallmark Christmas movie?

  1. Hershey’s Kisses. Yup. Those little assholes hop into my shopping cart every dang time I go through the checkout and I need to do something to counteract their effects.
  2. Keep it on the rails. Life can get chaotic this time for year for many of us and my life is no exception. I decided to run at least 1km every day this month because I need to have a goal to keep me focused on moving forward. Craziness pops up, but I know I’m on track when I start running.
  3. Running is my therapy. I still check in with an actual human therapist regularly, but there’s nothing quite like lacing up and working up a sweat to clear the mind and process what’s been swimming around upstairs.
  4. Maintain. I worked hard this summer/fall to get to half marathon ability and it would be a shame to let it waste away. I’m respecting the hours I spent preparing by maintaining a certain level of fitness.
  5. Excuses are bullshit. It’s true and you know it. Deep down you know you’re full of crap when you say you don’t have time. One kilometre? What’s that? Maybe 6 minutes out of a day? I’m not immune to fooling myself with excuses of being too busy or it being too cold, but it’s really tough to argue against one single kilometre.
  6. Because I can. I have the privilege of being able to put one foot in front of the other and I’m going to appreciate it. I’m grateful for every single step I take and each run is an act of gratitude this month.
  7. Setting the stage for 2019. I don’t make resolutions but I set the hell out of many goals every year and all year. Ending the year on a note of achievement and commitment to getting something done makes working towards my big goals for 2019 that much easier to launch.

 

So, even though December is well under way, that doesn’t mean you can’t set a mini-challenge for yourself and start it now. You have three weeks to end 2018 on a high note and ring in 2019 with a victory!

 

I’d love to hear what you’ve decided to challenge yourself with for the rest of the month: shannon@merakieventplanning.com or find me on

Twitter @MerakiEventPlan

or

 Instagram @merakieventplanning 

 

 

The Secret to Success is Pretty Simple

“Never decide the outcome of a race at any point during the race…just keep going”.

Triathlete, Kathryn MacKinnon, hit me hard with this quote during a Queen Pins Halifax fundraising event I attended last Thursday. I keep repeating it to myself and coming back to how important it is because this rings so true for all aspects of life. I’m a runner and have known all too well the temptation to slow down or take a break or give in to the little voice that says it’s ok to not do your best today.

Throughout my encounters with depression and anxiety, I learned to coach myself and remind myself to put one foot in front of the other and to just keep going. After losing a baby to a missed miscarriage, when the world felt dark and I felt betrayed by my own body, with a family counting on me to show up for life everyday, and all I could do to cope was to just keep going one step at a time.

That’s what I did. I kept going. I didn’t know how I was going to finish in my 21.2k race and I didn’t know if I’d get through the darkness or if I’d have a healthy pregnancy again. But I finished and I made it through another pregnancy. I’m making it through and isn’t that what all of us are really doing?

So, here’s the secret in case you haven’t already figured it out:

just keep going.

Yup. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Isn’t that how any of us accomplish anything? We set a goal, make a plan, and just keep going. Nothing groundbreaking about it. As adults, as parents, as athletes, as entrepreneurs: we are figuring things out one day at a time, but we just keep going.

I recorded a teaser episode of Run For Your Life with Melissa Kahn last night, and we decided I was the tech savvy half of the duo so I needed to figure out how to upload our episode and create an RSS feed and get it submitted to iTunes. Ummmmm wtf do I know about this stuff? Nothing!

Well…I knew nothing last night but here I am 12 hours later doing my happy dance (picture something cross between a jig and a shimmy) because after a helpful video link posted by a fellow queen pin entrepreneur and following the twists and turns of online support I FIGURED IT OUT!!!! I just kept going. I didn’t know if I’d have to hire a student to figure it out or if we’d have to pay for some service to straighten it out, but I didn’t let that potential outcome stop me from taking one step then another then another.

I always keep going. I think it’s all I know how to do, honestly.

During my half marathon I actually told myself to just keep going. Hell, I even got a tattoo of mountains to constantly remind myself to keep climbing. I had to stop to pee around the 5k mark of that race and I could have decided to abandon my goal time but I looked at my tattoo, talked to myself a little, and put one foot in front of the other. I did what we all do: I just kept going.

I don’t know exactly where my business is going to end up and I’m excited about the possibilities that allows for.  I don’t know where my running career will go, but I know that I’m going to keep running and that’s all that matters. I don’t know what’s coming next but I’m confident I can handle it because look at everything I’ve done so far! Everyday I get up and show up.

Today happens to be Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, and my message applies to all entrepreneurs regardless of gender, but I need to shout out to my boss babes to just keep going. Some of you are mothers and wives and that stuff is hard. Some of you are working a full-time job in addition to your business and that’s not easy. All of you are busting your butts to make your dreams a reality and that’s some magical sh*t right there.

Just keep going.

 

 

 

Why you need to follow the rules!

I get inspired at the weirdest times and last night was one of those times. Actually, it was this morning at 1:44am when I wrapped up my weekly coaching call with the Kilted Coaches. I hung up from the boys and carried on an ongoing conversation with an MMA fighter I recently connected with who’s out on the west coast at the moment (stay tuned for a chat with him, by the way). Our chat led to me tuning into an episode of The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes podcast which discussed how to avoid anxiety and burnout.

I was exhausted but inspired by my late night/early morning session but I resisted the urge to hop out of bed and type out this post. Why did I set an alarm to write it this afternoon instead of doing it when inspiration hit? It all comes down to rules. I’m a law abiding citizen and was always a good girl in school, but those aren’t the rules I’m talking about (although I am strongly suggesting you obey the laws wherever you live!) I’m talking about setting rules for your life and sticking to them.

When I decided to separate from my husband I wrote some rules to keep me focused and guide me through this difficult process: rules like no trash talking on Facebook, consider the best interests of the kids when making decisions, make time for myself and my goals a priority, stay positive, not feeling guilty for making the choices I make…get it? In this episode of his podcast, Lewis Howes suggested setting rules for your health and fitness, too. Some of his rules are making your bed, setting a wake up and go to bed time, making a daily workout non-negotiable. That got me thinking about how it really is important to create rules and stick to them.

Think about the most successful people you know.

Their success is no fluke. They set up routines and systems and habits that they stick to because they provide direction and guidance and they work! In training for a half marathon I can’t just go out and run whenever I feel like it for random amounts of time or random distances. Every runner knows you need to find a program and stick to it!

I’m hearing the Kilted Coaches tell me to “stick to the damn plan” right now as I type this (it’s ok that I hear voices in this instance) and it’s so simple but we ignore the value of following rules and following a plan so often and that’s where we encounter doubt and uncertainty and get knocked off-track!

I encourage you to sit down and set a few rules for yourself RIGHT NOW! Set them then follow them, maybe even print them out and post them by your bed or in your office and let me know what changes in your life as a result.

 

creativity is Intelligence having funHere are my current daily rules but know that this list will grow and change as my goals shift!

 

Swim.Bike.Run.

I’m all about taking on new challenges as an event planner like working on a triathlon. I’m in a committed relationship with running and I’ve been on a (spin) bike, and I’ve splashed around in a pool and at the beach but combining swimming with biking and topping it all off with a run is frankly, intimidating AF.

I’m new to the world of triathlons, but being hired to work on the Keji Multisport Festival and Women’s Triathlon has encouraged me to volunteer with the Aylesford Lake event and the upcoming 14 Wing Triathlon happening in Greenwood this Sunday. I’m enjoying experiencing a new sport and of course meeting new folks and being around the energy for an exciting event.

I’m not quite at the point where I’m ready to sign myself up but a friend of mine is and I’m so excited for her! The lovely Erin Bremner did a thing and registered for the Keji Women’s Triathlon happening September 22nd! I’ve asked her if I could follow her experience as she enters this new sport and she enthusiastically agreed, which is not a surprise if you know this gal.

 

I’ll be updating you on her progress as she trains for the September event and we’ll be posting videos and pictures so you can follow her journey into the wonderful world of triathlons!

IMG_9577[1]
Erin is in the green cap and everyone’s biggest cheerleader, Kathy Johnston-Isenor is in yellow.

 

Rekindle the romance with fitness

I’ve been married for 9 years so I understand that sometimes the spark fades and the romance wanes. My official relationship with fitness has existed for 19 years so just like my marriage, I need to nurture that relationship, too. This past weekend I rekindled my romance with fitness by attending a fitness conference.

I’ve been a CanFitPro member since 2005 and I’ve attended several of their annual conferences before, but this was my first one since focusing my event planning business on fitness and wellness only, so it was a special weekend for me. (And by special, I don’t just mean the fact that I had a hotel room and two whole days all to myself while my husband and the kids stayed home, either.) I attended the Vancouver Fitness Expo and I came home all jazzed up and excited with a renewed commitment to the goals of my business and to myself. It’s kind of like when you make out with a new partner for the first time.

I attended a few sessions on running with the ever-entertaining Dr. Jason Karp (I have goals to pursue his run coach certification in the next 5 years), and one of the workshops was an 8k run along with seawall. There were about a dozen of us and we stopped along the way to look at the leaves, take in the beauty of the harbour, and really remember why we choose to run for fun. I really and truly LOVE to run and it’s not just for fitness. Jason’s workshops and lectures ask us to ask ourselves why we do what we do. Why have we chosen health and fitness as our careers? When you encounter someone so obviously passionate about what they do it’s hard not to feel excited yourself.IMG_3067[1]

 

I attended a session on sugar addiction and one on goal setting. I really enjoyed the session on body image and social media in the fitness industry with Amanda Vogel. There was some good discussion surrounding fitness selfies and how we portray ourselves online: we could have spent an entire day looking at hashtags and sweaty selfies and debating the sexualization of fitness. This session really awoke in me the need for fitness professionals to recognize how important the role we play in inspiring or shaming potential clients really is. IMG_3041[1]

I took pages and pages of notes and shared photos to social media. I fan girled a little when Chad Benson of the BC Personal Training Institute walk by (seriously: this guy knows his stuff) and I chatted about struggling with depression and motherhood with some other runners and I debated the selfie phenomenon with other trainers. I learned about breathing and posture from the CHEK Institute. I was tired by the time I got home but even my ferry ride back to Vancouver Island was a new experience: I enjoyed reading a book with a coffee. I took pictures of the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen and I appreciated that so many other passengers did the same. IMG_3079[1]I had blog post ideas running through my mind and I want to get #Canada150WarmUp going again for 2018 (look us up on Facebook and commit your business or organization to participating!) I felt empowered and energized and content. I fell in love with fitness all over again. I urge you to get out of your gym or studio or clinic and attend a fitness conference. Connect with other fit pros and learn from industry experts and return to your clients with a renewed passion for what you do!