Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Meditations Designed by Runners, for Runners

Running is a form of stress-release for many of us.  The therapeutic rhythm of pounding the pavement and the deep focus on each breath has helped clear my mind through the years, and been a form of meditation.  We’ve been learning more recently about how focusing our minds and energy can also help improve our performance before a race or big run.

We want everyone to reap the benefits of this for race day next week and are excited about working with Cloud9 Online, the Official Meditation Partner of the Eversource Hartford Marathon.  This locally-based company developed Runner’s Corner, a feature on the app designed specifically for participants in next week's events.  They've worked with us to make it available to all participants free-of-charge. The Cloud9 app provides this program of meditations specially designed by runners, for runners.

Learn more from Delanea Davis, avid runner and co-founder of Solstice Strategy Partners, creators of Cloud9 Online.  Running is as integral part of her life as meditating and she’s helping to deliver this specialty experience for Eversource Hartford Marathon participants.

Genesis of “Runner’s Corner” – Before, Day-of and Post-Race Meditations 
As a career-focused on-the-go entrepreneur, I depend on running to keep my mind clear and my stress in check.  Just like my life in businesses, there are some days as a runner when you simply cannot predict how the run will go.  The weather, work and family demands, sleep patterns and even your emotional state can determine whether you have a great run, or you’re “dogging it” as we runners say.  These are variables outside of your control.  However, there is a key variable that you can control: your mind.
If you’re like me, you create a rigorous training plan in preparation for a race and do your best to hit your weekly mileage goal while balancing work life, home life, injury prevention, and if you are lucky, a social life. You may not think about how adopting an 8-week old puppy can throw a monkey wrench into your training plan (true story!). But alas, you’ve made the commitment and you are going to run no matter how your body feels that day.

So here we are, days away from the marathon. I’m excited and looking forward to the race. I’m also a bit anxious wondering how this race will go. How fast will I run? Will I feel as good as I did for the last one? Will I hit my stride easily? Will I be able to finish without injuring myself? All of these thoughts are cycling through my head - exciting, yet also potentially anxiety inducing as I think about my late start to training. It can be tough to sleep – especially on the night prior to the race, and doubly so if you’re traveling to the race.

This is exactly why we’ve designed a three-meditation series called “The Runner’s Corner” so you can better control your mind and get the best possible sleep in preparation for the race.

To begin, check out the Runner’s Corner Meditation #1: Pre-Race Meditation. It’s tailored specifically for runners who want to reach a calm state on the night (or nights) leading up to the race. Sleep is key, and we want to make sure you get it. It will ensure you maximize your rest potential, whether you listen the night prior, or multiple nights before the event. Next, the day-of the event, I start visualizing the race from the moment I open my eyes from sleep. Getting out of bed, brushing my teeth, eating breakfast, driving to race parking while playing something to soothe me in the car… I’m purposeful and serious about visualizing in a way that will give me light feet for the race, lungs that can go forever, and both the heart- and mind-space to make this race flow with ease. I trust that my body knows exactly what to do so I can zone out when the race begins.

This is the genesis of Runner’s Corner Meditation #2: Peak Performance. We’ve created a race-day meditation that focuses your awareness on a visualization that includes all the factors we’ve ever found important, impactful, and inspirational on the day we’re running our hearts out! Listen to it when you first wake up, or on your drive into Hartford.

Finally, after we’ve run your race, we know that the marathon isn’t over until we’ve taken adequate time to warm down and recover, which is how we’ve created the third installment of the Runner’s Corner Meditation #3: Race Recovery. You’ll be guided through a deep and healing recuperative meditation where you’ll focus awareness throughout your body to speed recovery and bring your brain’s ability to heal to bear on those parts of your body that need it most after a marathon. 

Meditation That Works 
We hope you avail yourself of Runner’s Corner on our Cloud9 Meditation app, available on iPhone and Android for your best race in Hartford ever!

We founded Cloud9 because research has proven that meditation provides deep and lasting benefit to the mind and body – and so we work with healthcare organizations like Hartford HealthCare to increase healing impact with self-directed health protocols for patients that effectively manage pain without drugs. In fact, on race-day, you’ll also see us at Hartford HealthCare’s booth because we’re partnering with doctors there to create science-powered, clinically designed meditations that simply make life better for patients. As a runner, you’ve been caring for yourself up to, during, and post-marathon for years. This year, let us help you run your best marathon ever!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Congrats to Challenge finishers in Hartford!

Thousands of runners take on the Eversource Hartford Marathon, Half Marathon, Team 26.2 Relay and Charity 5K as a stand-alone challenge, but many participants will check off the last event in a multi-race Sam Adams Challenge Series on October 12.

The Progressive Series and Connecticut Triple challenges wrap up in Hartford, where participants will earn an additional, well-deserved medal to commemorate months of hard work. If you’re completing one of these challenges, visit the Bling Ring in Bushnell Park after your epic finish! 

We’ve been following along with Katy Bramley, United Bank employee, who took on the Progressive Series in April at the Middletown 3.5 Mile, kept the momentum going through May at the Mystic 10K and will now take on the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon. 

We’re grateful to partners like United Bank that encourage their employees to challenge themselves to go further and accomplish physical and mental feats.

Read about Katy’s journey as she works toward her final challenge at the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon on October 12. 

Katy Bramley, United Bank 

Mystic 10K to Eversource Hartford Half Marathon, October 12 
Here we are, making our last preparations for the finish- both the end of the year and the end of our training for the big event: the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon. I was thinking about this year’s journey while enjoying the fall weather driving along the road last night. This was a particularly hilly road, which made me remember the beginning of my Progressive Series challenge and “hammering the hills” at the Middletown 3.5 Mile. The weather reminded me of the same beautiful breeze on the morning of the Mystic 10K. I’ve been asked if I’m excited for the half marathon coming up. I can say without a doubt that I’m extremely excited. However, in talking to others about my training and the upcoming event, I had a eureka moment. I realized that what excites me even more than the race is DOING IT ALL AGAIN. In the future there will be new goals and accomplishments, and a new set of challenges. I think for most of us, the excitement we find in life is about what comes next. On race day I will be ecstatic and proud to accept my medal in the “Bling Ring” once I cross the finish line. I will be even more enthusiastic to think about what’s to come next year. I want to congratulate all my fellow runners and supporters and all the work we’ve done to get here. Smile, cry, laugh, breathe, or embrace. Whatever you do, be sure to celebrate. You earned it.

Middletown 3.5 Mile, April 7 to Mystic 10K, May 19 Setbacks sounds like steps-back, as in going backward. And running, in general, means moving forward right? Well, that’s the idea, but life doesn’t always work that way. I’ve been athletic all my life, and fortunate enough to only have a few sprained ankles or minor injuries along the way. It’s ironic that now, when I’m most enthusiastic about sharing my story with others, is when strange injuries decide to come along.

For the first time ever, I completed the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon last year. I had never run anything over 6 miles before that. Completing it literally brought tears to my eyes. It was an accomplishment that was unfathomable just 10 months beforehand, 40 lbs heavier and barely able to finish a single mile. The feeling was infectious and I could think about nothing else but how next year I would run the full marathon.

All was going according to plan until a few months ago my running sessions were cut short. Each run was more and more agonizing, to the point I was in crippling pain and getting questions when limping around my co-workers. It would be easy to forget my plans for running the full marathon and go back to my life before running. It took me a few days and some time nursing my emotions to come to a conclusion. I just had to adjust. I had to find a new goal that would make me proud just the same. That’s what lead me to my new mission. My new goal is to complete the Hartford Marathon Foundation's Progressive Challenge series. Just a few weeks ago I completed the Legends 3.5 at the Harvard Pilgrim Middletown 10 Mile, the first race since my injury, and next up is the Mystic 10K. I’m excited to say that I’m on track in my training to be able to run the entire course at my 5K pace!

Along with the training plan I’ve been following, I’ve also been practicing a skill that perhaps plagues some of us now and again. That skill is self control. Naturally, I just want get to running 100% as soon as possible and ignore when I’m in pain. I half convince myself that “it’s fine, it will go away”, as we all do when we don’t necessarily face the fact it might be more serious. Over the past few months I’ve had to take the time to stretch longer than normal, warm up more than I care to, and follow pre- and post-run recovery routines that I never had in the past. I’ve done those tasks, along with physical therapy for those cranky muscles that are causing the pain. I equate it to “paying the bills.” I ran up my credit too high and am paying down what I owe my body. It’s funny, I never would have guessed it turns out those 6 and 7 mile runs on the 10K training plan weren’t the “real work” it takes to be a runner. It’s the tedious little chores I now do to take care of my body long term.
Speaking of the little things, that’s what keeps me motivated. I have a great time when I run with my 11 pound Papillon. He’s got a ton of energy and is a fast little guy, it makes me forget that I’m even running. It’s the tiny butterflies I feel when I get out of bed the morning of a long run. I think about how I enjoy the pounding on the pavement and how exhilarating it feels to be finished.

What I love about this sport is how amazing and unifying it is that everyone can have a different goal, but running towards the same goal all at once. It’s the same course and same finish line, but a completely different journey for everyone. It reminds me, I once had a t-shirt given to me that read “Success is a journey, not a destination.” In my case, it’s never felt more appropriate than now.