Thursday, September 8, 2016

How to Get Un-Stuck

You probably thought this post was going to be about how to get your tongue un-stuck from the frozen flagpole, but you would be wrong.

Who else loves this movie beyond belief? 

We are going down a serious road today, folks.

Lately, I've been stuck. I'm been trudging through the motions, but with no particular vision or enthusiasm. After a summer filled with intense training (which culminated in my big 6 day race), then immediately sending Sam off to college, I kind of fell into a funk. And life felt like it slowed to a grinding halt.

Nothing was wrong, per se, but each day felt a bit like trudging through quick sand towards no known destination. Okay, perhaps that's a bit dramatic, but my point is - I like to feel great energy and passion for my days, no matter what they hold. For a minute I lost that feeling and I kind of hated it.

So, what did I do? Well, after drinking wine and watching Bachelor in Paradise I got slightly disgusted with myself and took charge.

Here's the thing. I think we all go through times where we question everything. Times where we feel stuck in a rut. It can be in relation to our running, our jobs, our parenting, our relationships, or merely a mingling of all of these things. It's natural to hit these phases. What's important, however, is that we don't stay stuck.

Here's are the steps I used to pull myself out of the quick sand:

1. Shit or get off the pot: When people are in a rut they like to complain. A lot. You know why? Because complaining and bitching are much easier to do than actually tackling the problem.

Personally, one of my claim to fames is that I am a quick pooper. I am in and out of the shitter faster than I can even open a magazine, let alone read the story. So, my issue is not that I can't shit and get off the pot. It's just knowing what to do once I'm off the pot.

Seriously, ya'll. Can I just get some privacy?

Which leads me to...

2. Do the opposite. One of the quickest and most sure fire ways to un-stuck yourself in a hurry is to get busy shaking up your routine and habits. This is also most guaranteed to take you way out of your comfort zone, so get ready for the ride.

Doing the opposite entails just that. If you normally run in the morning, run at night. If you run on flat dirt roads, run on steep trails instead. If you only read fiction, experiment with non fiction. If you have sex with women, have sex with men (okay, maybe not the last one?). Anyway, the point is that nothing takes you out of your rut more quickly than spicing things up and doing things differently. It's amazing how just a shift in how we do things can bring us back to life.

3. Screw fear. Research shows that 89.2% of the time we don't do things we want to do because we are afraid (okay, I made up that statistic, but it's got to be at least that high). What are we so afraid of? It's one thing to be legitimately afraid of something that is purely dangerous. In fact, it's mighty swell that living things are granted the internal fight or flight instinct. This keeps us from going up and petting the rattlesnake or trying to make love to the shark we see while we are surfing.

That's not the fear I'm talking about. The fear that holds us down and keeps us from living our best life is perceived fear. Fake fear. When it all boils down to nothingness, we are left with the one big fear that most of us share. FOF.

Fear of Failure

FOF is the main ingredient in our Stuck Recipe. If we take out that fear, what would be capable of doing? Finishing a marathon? Writing a book? Going back to school? Making the perfect apple pie crust?

4. Get Over Yourself. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the reason we have such a FOF is that we are ego maniacs. If we didn't have such egos, we wouldn't be so afraid of failing or being rejected. We just wouldn't care. We'd fall down, brush ourselves off and get back at it. But, that's hard to do. When we "fail" we internalize it and tell ourselves we are not good enough. We get paralyzed.

What we need to realize is that falling down is part of what we do as humans. Progress can't be made without it. When you were a baby, what would have happened if each time you tried to walk and you fell, you just stopped tying to walk? Right now you'd be sitting in your stroller feeling sorry for yourself.

The moral of the story is: Don't get stuck in your stroller. Or, something like that.

Here's what I've done this week to get unstuck:

  • Finished my online class to get Heidi registered as a therapy dog
  • Started to write an article to pitch to some publications
  • Ran in just a sports bra and shorts. Outside. In public.  (yep. I'll be 50 in 5 months and I don't care)
  • Sold a car
  • Dealt with a ridiculously abrasive and aggressive person in my job and came out unscathed and proud of how I handled it.
  • Oh, and I ran a lot but you already knew that.


How about you? What small step are you going to take to move forward and get out of your (running or other) rut?



  1. It's like you have been in my head. Only I didn't run in a just a bra and shorts. I'm going to be 54 in a few weeks and I seriously didn't want to traumatize anyone.

    I have been stuck since I ran Big Sur in April. I think it's a side effect of hitting a big goal. You ran that TransRockies thing. How do you top an amazing experience like that? It's kind of where I'm at. A half marathon in Naperville, Illinois just isn't going to cut it for me...

  2. Perfectly timed post! I'm going to be 50 in 4 months and I'm definitely stuck in a rut....but watching Chef's Table drinking too much wine instead of Bachelor in Paradise. I think I'll take your advice and shake it up- running bra in public is a good start:) thank you for your candid writing- you are an inspiration to me:)

  3. I'm glad that I'm not the only one struggling with the "what now" or "what next" and finding the answer is just to do nothing (that is so easy, right?). Thanks for sharing this.

  4. This is a great article. It gave me a lot of useful information. thank you very much.

    defend your nuts 2 | happy wheels 3 | cat mario | bloons td

  5. Trudging. Yes, that's just how I've felt lately.
    I've had to give myself a serious shake to get things back to feeling more like myself.
    I've tried to be more present in my relationship, I've sorted out some appointments I've needed to make for a long time, and I've finally snapped something into place in my head that's stopped me focusing on just the negatives. Phew!

    Also, I love that movie! Only discovered it a couple of years ago (it's virtually unheard of here) but it's now a Christmas Eve tradition to eat baked Camembert and watch A Christmas Story!

  6. I am with you 100%...including watching Bachelor in Paradise as a guilty pleasure! Most of all, I connect with your description of fake fear. Sometimes, when I'm in a rut, I have anxiety about getting out and running. Constant negative thoughts fill my head, until I almost want to stay home. Every time I push myself to go ahead and get out there, I NEVER regret it!

  7. When I'm in a rut, I try something brand new. Most recently, I used Creative Live to figure out all the buttons on my camera. (It's not a new camera, I just hadn't read the manual because it made me want to rip my eyelashes out. Slowly.) Last winter I was bored so I thought I would try skiing, but it didn't snow. I started rock climbing instead, and now I love it.

  8. Thank you for your writing, it's one of the highlights of my week!

  9. This post came at just the right time! I have definitely been feeling stuck in a rut. I am really, really good at getting stuck in the same routine every day, so lately I have been switching my schedule up. Sometimes I run in the morning, sometimes at night. And sometimes I say screw it and watch netflix and drink chocolate milk. Not sure if the last one is helping much, but it is fun.

  10. Good timing for me too. I am going to look for a half marathon to walk ( no more running for me). Need a goal. I am 63 and feeling so stuck these days.
    BTW- it was me that stopped you and your daughter in the grocery store a short time ago.

  11. I like #4 (Get over yourself). Sometimes, if I don't do something exciting or interesting for a while, I get anxious that I am stagnating. Being okay with lulls in activity is a good time to reflect on what I've already done vs seeking more experiences. Time for reflection is necessary, as I find myself reflecting on things that happened 10 years ago because I never fully processed them. Being mellow about the fluctuations is a nice way to deal with them.

  12. I'm doing a Tri relay in just 5 short days! First one. Swimming is no joke!

  13. wow, i needed to read this badly! hit the nail on the head. i feel like my whole life right now is just coasting and there is nothing good or bad, just existing. not sure how i want to tackle this, but i know i must. goals for the next few weeks. just gotta DO. IT.
    also--that movie is the best. we watch the marathon every year...reminds me so much of family. thanks for the smile and this post!!

  14. Needed this!! thank you. Couldn't agree more with all of this.

  15. my son is away at college - I'm missing him :(
    I'm gonna try some trail running and start planning my races for 2017 maybe near his college!! :) Thank you, Beth!

  16. great post. i like it. feeling great when reading your post