Category: Just Leap

Forward Motion

Comfort zones: we all have them. Those circumstances that make us feel accomplished, competent… confident. They are present in every area of life. From our weekly workout routine to our sex lives, no place is exempt. For the most part we live and function happily in these places, maintaining a sense of confidence by doing what we know and love the way we always have. That is, until change takes us out of that zone, pushing the boundaries and exposing us to the place where we don’t feel accomplished, competent or confident. Sometimes that change is a deliberate choice on our part and sometimes it is thrust upon us.


I was recently pushed out of my running comfort zone and headlong into dark and snowy woods. Typically I run road races, during the day, wearing sneakers. For my first race of 2014 I donned snowshoes and ran at night, in a snowstorm, through unlit woods. Not only did the race bring me out of my comfort zone physically, but my type A-need-to-know-the-details-so I-can-plan self was slightly thrown by ever-changing race details. Going into the race I had no idea how it would feel–save a handful of runs on my backwoods-behemoth snowshoes. I had no idea where I was going and the race directors stern warnings not to get lost were no help, neither was having no idea if I’d be able to finish the four mile trek. The day before the race the advertised 5K distance was changed to four miles due to the “epic snow conditions.” I had only ever run two miles in snowshoes and those two miles were tough going; the thought of four sounded unnecessarily grueling.

The race turned out to be a thrilling foray into the unknown. And I loved every minute of it. So much so, that I signed up for a second snowshoe race the next weekend. I’ve even purchased a pair of running snowshoes and, despite the polar-vortex that has winter lingering long past it’s welcome, I’m looking forward to next years snowshoe racing season.

Running a snowshoe race was a subtle stretch of one of my comfort zones. There are others that I’d like to keep firmly intact, places where I don’t want to risk failure… so I hang on. Sometimes running headlong into the dark and unknown is exactly what we need to do. We need to shake things up sometimes. Running a snowshoe race isn’t the most profound stretching of the boundaries of safety and security that I’ve created, but it is a start. Maybe it will open me up to take healthy risks as a mother, as a wife, as a friend. Maybe it will help me take down the boundaries that keep me from moving forward.

When we step out of our comfort zones we grow. We become stronger. We discover new talents and abilities that would have gone unnoticed if we had stayed put. We move forward. And isn’t forward motion what life is all about?


 Sarah’s full recap of her snowshoe racing adventure can be found here.

Sarah Canney is a wife, mother, runner and defeater of bulimia. She lives in New Hampshire with her  husband and two children. She is passionate about family, running and freedom and she blogs about  it at


Generation Next: Raising Resilient Women

I don’t know how or when my daughter will find out that for nine years I struggled with an eating disorder, but at some point it will happen. When it does I’d like to find the right words. The words that will let her know that she is perfectly beautiful as she is. Words that encourage her to be strong when pushed and swayed by the opinion of others. Words that are honest about the dark struggle of addiction. Words that let her know that she doesn’t have to walk the same path.


Preparing to join Mom at track practice.

Perhaps it’s every mother’s dilemma: how can I raise a confident and strong young woman who doesn’t make the same mistakes I did. Is that possible? Or is it even the right desire?

I want to protect my daughter from making the same mistakes I did. I want to keep her safe, yes in the literal sense from physical harm, more accurately I want to protect her from emotional difficulty. I want to keep her safe from struggle. However, safe doesn’t jive with strong or confident or resilient. One doesn’t become these things by playing it safe, in fact strength is built from resistance…strength is a result of struggle.



Sharing the Journey


Sharing finish line high fives at the T9k Chicago 2013

It has happened to me: that picture on Instagram (or Facebook or any form of social media) that suddenly makes me feel inadequate. It could be someone elses finish time, or their super bendy yoga pose or their perfectly cute and happy kid and their spacious living room in the background. In the blink of an eye I’ve compared myself and found something lacking: I’m not fast enough. I’m not flexible enough. I’m not a good enough mom and my house is most definitely too small. It doesn’t happen frequently but when it does I find myself suddenly feeling discouraged. Or maybe the opposite has happened. A glance at their photo and suddenly I realize I’m faster. I’m more flexible. I have a happier, more well-adjusted kid. My living room is more tastefully decorated. And suddenly I’m walking tall and feeling confident.

It is all too easy. For many, especially for athletes, the draw of being active is competition. It is in our blood. We train with competition in mind. We compete with winning in mind. The unfortunate side-effect is that sometimes that mindset trickles into our daily life: we compete and compare almost unknowingly.



Just Leap: Take Charge of Your Inner Gremlin

Congratulations to Just Leap! contributor Amy Christensen, who is currently taking time away from Timeout with Title Nine to welcome her firstborn child. Our very best to you, Amy, and your growing family.  -the folks at Title Nine



“You can’t do that,” the voice whispers in my head, “You’re too clumsy and inexperienced.”

I’m slumped over my bike, tears pricking my eyes as I look ahead of me at the long downhill single-track, the dust of my riding partners fading ahead of me. I have so far to go and I’m starting to panic.

I can’t do this, I think to myself.

I pull the bike off the trail and sit down for a moment to gather my thoughts.

fresh trail photo from the Alive Raw Foods blog


They come tumbling out. I can’t do this. Who am I to think I can learn how to ride? I’m too wimpy and afraid of hurting myself. My friends are never going to want to ride with me. Heck, I don’t even want to ride with me right now.

What will they think of me?

I allow the tears to spill out. I’m embarrassed and frustrated.

I know I can do this. I’ve ridden this trail before! What happened? Why is today suddenly feeling so hard?

I can do this. I’ve done it before.

These thoughts begin to gain a little more focus as I breath in the fresh air of the forest.  I take another deep breath and stand up. I look down the trail again.

I can do this.

I’ll just take it slow and remember to smile. Relax, I remind myself, you’ve done this before. (more…)


Just Leap: Which Direction Will You Choose?

One of the reasons I love the outdoors and physical pursuits is the sense of peace it always seems to give me. No matter how terrible the weather. No matter how much pain I might be in. I am always left with a sense of peace and accomplishment.

I am rejuvenated. Restored. Energized.

When we’re outside, we’re usually in motion toward something: the top of a climb, the finish line, the summit of a mountain peak. It’s not that we’re not enjoying the journey — because I think we totally are.

It’s that we have a vision of where we’re going. And that makes it so much easier to get there.