And we took the snowy path, and it made all the difference

“The Boston Buildup 15K has been rescheduled due to icy conditions on the roads of Connecticut”, was the message I received yesterday in my e-mail. Immediately I was on the phone and on Twitter letting folks know that with snow expected, there was only one place to go in the morning, Rockefeller Park in Sleepy Hollow, NY.

Rockies is a State Park about 25 miles north of Grand Central Station that was deeded by the Rockefeller family and has become known as the singular best place to run around New York City. But because it requires a train ride, it is also the most underused running resource in the state.

This morning I was joined by my friends Josh, (@speedysasquatch), Jackie (@jackievny), and Farrah, who is smart enough to not have a Twitter handle.

(Press the visible arrow to show the photos and then press the arrow at the bottom left to play the slide show)

This is what running is all about. As you can see from these photos, we had an AMAZING time, and got in an absolutely fantastic 12-mile run without running into or on ice due to the fresh powder that fell last night and was deep enough to create a perfect surface to run on. Farrah and I recently participated in a focus group with our good friends from Suunto where they asked us what we enjoyed most about running. Today, we looked at each other and said, this was it. Fresh snow, pure nature, good friends and miles and miles of unobstructed trails. We all agreed that our upper hamstrings and gluts got a serious workout from having to lift our legs out of the snow in a much more pronounced manner that we are often used to doing, even though we know that we should.

The temperature was absolutely perfect and allowed me to run in shorts, a long-sleeved t-shirt, a buff, gloves, and a cap. Because of the fresh snow, I wore Get-A-Grips for additional traction and gators to keep the snow out of my trail shoes.

We often get complacent in our daily patterns, and getting onto a Metro North Train for 40 mins to head up north from Manhattan may seem like a lot of effort. But like most things in life, it’s embracing the experiences that are outside of the norm that make our lives worth living.

Hope you’ll join us the next time.

This is NOT a triathlete-friendly vehicle

During my excursions this past holiday in Ohio, I came across this really cute GM vehicle, the Chevrolet HHR – good carrying capacity, good fuel economy, peppy action and oh wait, what’s this…

A window sticker that was not added by the owner and it didn’t read “California, Get a Life”, “Obama ’09″ or something similar.

Warning do not load on the roof

Upon closer examination, I realized it was a warning to those who would carry things on the roof of this car. Immediately, my mind thought of the three bike racks and wheel holders that I have on top of my truck. Consider what must have prompted GM to put this sticker on their car in the first place and who is typically buying this vehicle?

  • a) a bunch of triathletes or cyclists with Yakima or Thule racks
  • b) a bunch of hunters trying to tie dead animals to the roof of their vehicles
  • c) the Beverly Hillbillies
  • d) teenage highway surfers
  • e) all of the above

Let me know you’re thoughts.

Giving Back While Broke: How Playing A Little Bill-Paying Roulette Led Me To Bring The Power Of Pictures To Children In Mexico, by Stacie Krajchir

This is what happens when we are working as hard as we can in an environment of economic uncertainty. Clearly making oneself as relevant and valuable as possible is just plain smart career management in times like these. Peter Drucker would be proud; focus on core value drivers, positively impact them and work as effectively as possible to drive measurable results. What that leaves out is time to write, outside of all of the writing I’m doing around developing a Consulting Mindset and Business Transformation capabilities for our firm.

The measurable effect to this is that I haven’t been posting to my blog as frequently as I would like. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been doing some writing; I have a dozen half-baked diatribes cluttering my draft folder but they haven’t risen to the level necessary to be published where anyone would be able to cogently follow my random thought process.

That’s why I’ve been thrilled that I can point readers to especially cool and interesting articles published recently by others that have inspired me or at a minimum have given me pause to think about things in a slightly different way.

Today’s article comes from my very own cousin Stacie Krajchir, a regular contributer to The Huffington Post who brought to life what I have been suggesting for the past few months. No matter how bad things are for you, there’s someone out there who is in worse shape, and you can make a difference for them and for you. Aside from helping them just because its the right thing to do, it really can help to put you in a positive frame of mind and open up opportunities that you otherwise may have missed.

Therefore without further unnecessary ceremony, I encourage you to give a read to “Giving Back While Broke: How Playing A Little Bill-Paying Roulette Led Me To Bring The Power Of Pictures To Children In Mexico“, by Stacie Krajchir.

12 Winter Depression Busters by Therese J. Borchard

Rarely, if ever, do I republish an article in its entirety but I felt if all I did was include a link, that readers would gloss over it without giving it much attention. So to this end, I strongly encourage you to go to the actual link to read this, but for those who are really lazy, or perhaps for those who may be suffering from what this article addresses, I’ve included it below.

!2 Winter Depression Busters is especially relevant this season with so many people now out of work, or who feel like they are holding onto their current employment by a thin string. Daily, I receive the dreaded e-mail from a colleague entitled “It is with bittersweet emotions that I am leaving [insert current employer's name here].” That is code for, I just got fired.

Add to this, the typical seasonal challenges that go along with living in cold, dark and wintry climates and it’s a recipe for disaster. It’s also an opportunity for all of us to reach out to those who we know that might be going through a challenging time, and to throw them some semblance of a lifeline.

Read through this very thoughtful article and do what’s necessary to take care of yourself. At the same time, think about a friend or family member who may also be feeling a little down this season and reach out. Send them this article, take them out to a movie or just call them up and ask them, “How can I help?”

12 Winter Depression Busters

By Therese J. Borchard
January 4, 2009

We’ve officially entered the hard months, the “dark ages” as the midshipmen at the Naval Academy say: the time of the year when the sun disappears and the pale complexions of your friends remind you that you had better take your vitamins or else you’ll have a cold to go with your pasty look.

I dread winter each year because many of my depression busters require sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s. What does a girl who kayaks and bikes for sanity do in the winter? Lots of things. Here are a few of them:

1. Watch the sugar.

I think our body gets the cue just before Thanksgiving that it will be hibernating for a few months, so it needs to ingest everything edible in sight. And I’m convinced the snow somehow communicates to the human brain the need to consume every kind of chocolate available in the house.

Depressives and addicts need to be especially careful with sweets because the addiction to sugar and white-flour products is very real and physiological, affecting the same biochemical systems in your body as other drugs like heroin. According to Kathleen DesMaisons, author of “Potatoes Not Prozac”: Your relationship to sweet things is operating on a cellular level. It is more powerful than you have realized….What you eat can have a huge effect on how you feel.”

2. Stock up on Omega-3’s.

During the winter I’m religious about stocking in my medicine cabinet a Noah’s Ark supply of Omega-3 capsules because leading physicians at Harvard Medical School confirmed the positive effects of this natural, anti-inflammatory molecule on emotional health. I treat my brain like royalty–hoping that it will be kind to me in return–so I fork over about $30 a month for the Mac Daddy of the Omega-3s, capsules that contain 70 percent EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid). One 500mg softgel capsule meets the doctor-formulated 7:1 EPA to DHA ratio, needed to elevate and stabilize mood.

3. Give back.

Gandhi once wrote that “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Positive psychologists like University of Pennsylvania’s Martin Seligman and Dan Baker, Ph.D., director of the Life Enhancement Program at Canyon Ranch, believe that a sense of purpose–committing oneself to a noble mission–and acts of altruism are strong antidotes to depression.

4. Join the gym.

Don’t let the cold weather be an excuse not to sweat. We have centers today called “gyms” where people exercise inside! Granted, it’s not the same–watching the news or listening to the soundtrack from “Rocky” as you run in place as opposed to jogging along wooded paths with a view of the bay. But you accomplish the goal: a heart rate over 140 beats a minute.

5. Use a light lamp.

Bright-light therapy–involving sitting in front of a fluorescent light box that delivers an intensity of 10,000 lux–can be as effect as antidepressant medication for mild and moderate depression and can yield substantial relief for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
I usually turn on my mammoth HappyLite in November, just after my least favorite day of the year: when Daylight Saving Time ends and we “fall back” an hour, which means that I have about an hour of sunlight to enjoy after I pick up the kids from school.

6. Wear bright colors.

I have no research supporting this theory, but I’m quite convinced there is a link between feeling optimistic and sporting bright colors. It’s in line with “faking it ’til you make it,” desperate attempts to trick your brain into thinking that it’s sunny and beautiful outside–time to celebrate Spring!–even though it’s a blizzard with sleet causing some major traffic jams.

Personally, I tend to wear black everyday in the winter. It’s supposed to make you look thinner. But the result is that I appear as if and feel like I’m going to a funeral every afternoon between the months of November and March. This isn’t good. Not for a person hardwired to stress and worry and get depressed when it’s cold. So I make a conscious effort to wear bright green, purple, blue, and pink, and sometimes–if I’m in a rush–all of them together!

7. Force yourself outside.

I realize that the last thing you want to do when it’s 20 degrees outside and the roads are slushy is to head outside for a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. It’s much more fun to cuddle up with a good novel or make chocolate chip cookies and enjoy them with a hot cup of joe.

On many winter days–especially in late January and early February when my brain is done with the darkness–I have to literally force myself outside, however brief. Because even on cloudy and overcast days, your mood can benefit from exposure to sunlight. Midday light, especially, provides Vitamin D to help boost your limbic system, the emotional center of the brain. And there is something so healing about connecting with nature, even if it’s covered in snow.

8. Hang out with friends.

This seems like an obvious depression buster. Of course you get together with your buddies when your mood starts to go south. But that’s exactly when many of us tend to isolate. I believe that it takes a village to keep a person sane and happy. That’s why we need so many support groups today. People need to be validated and encouraged and inspired by persons on the same journey. And with all the technology today, folks don’t even have to throw on their slippers to get to a support group. Online communities provide a village of friendship right at your computer.

9. Head south.

Granted, this solution isn’t free, especially if you live in Maine. But you need not travel like the Kennedys to transplant your body and mind to a sunny spot for a few days. I try to schedule our yearly vacation the last week of January or the first week of February so that it breaks up the winter and so that I have something to look forward to in those depressing weeks following the holidays.

10. Take up a project.

There’s no time like winter to start a home project, like decluttering the house or purging all the old clothes in your kids’ closets. When a friend of mine was going through a tough time, she painted her entire house–every room downstairs with two different colors. And it looked professional! Not only did it help distract her from her problems, but it provided her with a sense of accomplishment that she desperately needed those months, something to feel good about as she saw other things crumble around her. Projects like organizing bookshelves, shredding old tax returns, and cleaning out the garage are perfect activities for the dreary months of the year.

11. Challenge yourself.

My mood can often be lifted by meeting a new challenge–an activity that is formidable enough to keep my attention, but easy enough to do when my brain is muddied. Learning how to record and edit video blogs, for this girl who hates technology, turned out to be great fun. Friends of mine get the same boost by joining Jenny Craig and losing the 25 pounds of baby fat, or exploring a new hobby–like scrapbooking. I try to stretch myself in a small way every winter–whether it be taking a writing class, researching the genetics of mood disorders, or trying to build myself a website. It keeps my brain from freezing, like the rest of my body.

12. Light a candle.

If I counted up all the minutes I’ve spent staring into a flame, I wonder how many years of my life that would be. Certainly more than the hours I’ve spent brushing my teeth or combing my hair. It would probably even surpass the combination of bath and shower time. But I just feel better if I stick my face in a hot glowing body of flame.

Therese J. Borchard writes the daily Beliefnet.com blog Beyond Blue (voted by Psych Central as one of the Top 10 Depression Blogs) and moderates Group Beyond Blue, the Beliefnet Community online support group for depression. Her memoir “Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes” will be released in May of 2009. Subscribe to Beyond Blue here or visit her at www.ThereseBorchard.com. This article was originally published on Beyond Blue at Beliefnet.com.

Ringing in the new year – so many opportunities

I spent the holidays in Ohio and upon returning found myself going through the e-mails I had missed. I’m not even sure where to begin but if this is any indication of what 2009 is going to be like, it should be a pretty lucrative year! Hmmm, where should I start? Ireland? The Marathon? The lottery?

Whoooohooooo!