Fitness life

Mindset Shifts

November 21, 2023


It’s my last call week of 2023! When I found out (like, in August 2022) that I’d be covering Thanksgiving I had some initial disappointment but then realized that a) this means I won’t have do cover any ‘major’ holiday in 2024 (there are 7 in our group!) and b) in some ways, a week with only 3 ‘office is open’ days is easier than a regular call week. I also won’t have to get up as early because the kids don’t have school after today!

Maybe I should volunteer to take Thanksgiving next year, given all of this. Except not, because my parents are celebrating their 50th anniversary around then and have already requested our presence in the Philadelphia area for that holiday which is unprecedented (aaand I’m also like hmmm, that’s right next to the PHL marathon, isn’t it! Could be a backup if I don’t get into Chicago). ALSO our call schedule was already given out months ago. My division likes to plan ahead as much as I do, apparently.

My goal for the week is to remain relentlessly calm in the office and as calm as possible at home. I was *not* particularly calm this morning (oops) but I won’t have a school drop-off to content with going forward and that will definitely help.


I was really sad this weekend for a while. Post injury it has been a roller coaster of I’m hurt / Actually I’m okay / Actually I’m hurt / Maybe I’m okay now / ACTUALLY NO. The truth lies in between: I am okay! I can walk without pain, and even run a few easy miles without pain! There is more that I CAN do than that I CAN’T do, and I’m grateful for that.

can lift weights without aggravating anything!

And, I sustained a real injury a month ago. I wanted it to be “just a bruise” but even a severe large widespread bruise is significant. My quad is still weirdly lumpy and firm in some places. I still have numbness there. And after prolonged activity I get increased soft tissue swelling just above my knee along with knee pain. My MRI WAS clear (other than showing swelling) so that’s awesome, but I’m not perfectly healed or back to normal, and that means racing 26.2 miles would be kind of pointless. I could easily do more damage, the experience itself would probably suck (even more than racing 26.2 miles kind of hurts at baseline!), and I likely would not have the kind of race time that I had previously been excited about trying to achieve. Lose/Lose situation. The only reason I felt compelled to do it was lack of closure.

But then I realized — I do not have to DO the race to have said closure! I wrote this on Saturday but it keeps coming back to me and the idea is really helpful. I can give myself the gift of closure now. I can declare the cycle over and enter a recovery phase that would actually be similar to what I might do after a marathon: low mileage, easy runs, restorative exercise, and when I am ready, a gradual buildup.

This idea was (and is) really freeing for me. From what I have read, I might expect things to return to normal closer to the ~3 month mark with a significant muscle contusion. I will be patient and work with my coach (and PT, still working on scoring an appt) to ramp back up as my body allows. I did order a Peloton (to rent, not buy!) for some cross training on non-run days.

And you know what? In some ways I’m relieved to be “done” with my training cycle! I can get more sleep during this holiday season. I can do more yoga and strength. I can keep working on nutrition (still on the protein train!). I can focus on family, reading, etc – the rest of life (not like I was fully neglecting those things before, but just nice to have more energy for everything else).


So! I seem to have read every non-fiction book I had lying around and since my Britney memoir remains back-ordered, what life changing non-fiction or personal development should I add to my list? Kind of interested in creating a curriculum for myself in 2024 . . . we will see!


  • Reply Louise November 21, 2023 at 8:23 am

    Outlive by Peter Attia perhaps? His focus on the centenarian decathlon gives a long-term focus to health that might help.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 21, 2023 at 9:18 am

      Read it and really liked it!

  • Reply Heather November 21, 2023 at 8:58 am

    Here are a few non-fiction books I’ve read this year and really enjoyed:

    Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker — Covers both the mechanics of sleep and the reasons for sleep; SUPER fascinating and got me to buy a Fit Bit so I could use its sleep tracker

    Stolen Focus by Johann Hari — Interesting look at all the reasons we all feel so scattered these days; made me feel less like I, as an individual, was dumb / broken

    The Chaos Machine by Max Fisher — About how social media and its many harms. I am thinking very seriously about quitting Instagram as a 2024 goal, and I might need to skim back through this one to help fortify myself

    Ultra Processed People by Chris Van Tulleken — I’m not technically done with this one yet (one chapter left), but it’s a good overview of how ultra-processed food is bad for basically everything except the shareholders at companies that push it

    Also, this isn’t self-help-ish, but I devoured Minka Kelly’s memoir (Tell Me Everything) in basically one day.

    Looking forward to seeing everyone else’s recommendations!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 21, 2023 at 9:19 am

      Awesome! I already read Stolen Focus (generally liked) but others look very interesting!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 21, 2023 at 9:20 am

      PS quit insta in 2021 and so so so glad I did

      • Reply Heather November 21, 2023 at 9:57 am

        Yes! Your episodes and blog posts about quitting Insta are so inspiring — I think I should revisit them in December too!

        • Reply Lisa's Yarns November 21, 2023 at 11:56 am

          I quit insta/FB in Dec 2021 and have not looked back or regretted that decision. It is very freeing to be off social media platforms. I was completely inspired by SHU!

    • Reply Katherine B November 21, 2023 at 2:15 pm

      I second Why We Sleep. Brilliant book.

  • Reply Brooke November 21, 2023 at 10:05 am

    My favorite non-fic of the year was Deaf Utopia by Nyle DiMarco . I knew nothing about the author (a reality TV star) but I learned so much about deafness, Deaf culture, and ASL. It was fascinating and educational.

    You may also like It Starts With A Goal by Jon Acuff. Nothing earthshattering, but I enjoyed the way he presented goal setting.

  • Reply Lisa's Yarns November 21, 2023 at 11:59 am

    For a non-fiction book, I recommend “Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism” by Linda Villarosa. We read it for book club and everyone really liked the book. It looks at the hidden costs of racism especially as it applies to health care/health outcomes. Several people in my book club work in the medical profession (psychologist, healthcare marketing, genetic counselor, physican, nurse anesthetist) and they really appreciated it and some recommended it as something their company should encourage employees to read/discuss.

    it is great that you are getting to a place of acceptance. You are making the wise, responsible decision by not racing! And extra sleep/more energy during the busy holiday season is a nice bonus!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 21, 2023 at 12:11 pm

      Awesome! Will definitely put on list

  • Reply Katherine B November 21, 2023 at 12:26 pm

    If you haven’t read these, I would recommend “Invisible Women – Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed by Men” by Caroline Criado Perez, and “Humankind – A Hopeful History” by Rutger Bregman. Both very readable and interesting, one uplifting and one will make you gnash your teeth! No prizes for guessing which one is which!

  • Reply Ruth November 21, 2023 at 12:58 pm

    Read why we buy by Paco Underhill. An interesting look at the psychology of shopping and how it is used to make us buy. I also would vote for invisible women. A great read.

  • Reply Brooke November 21, 2023 at 1:18 pm

    Second Invisable Women! I ran a whole DEI session at work around this book. Great article about it that I recommend:

  • Reply rws November 21, 2023 at 2:02 pm

    The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Not self-help, but such an amazing portrait of life and loss that it inspires deep thinking and self-reflection. And she’s such a gifted writer if you have never read her.

  • Reply Sophie November 21, 2023 at 3:01 pm

    Another vote for Why we sleep! Such an excellent book.

    Also, I’ve mentioned before but The Nature Fix by Florence Williams is an excellent read delving into the benefits of nature, written in a really engaging way but with lots of science etc.

  • Reply Leanne Sowul November 21, 2023 at 7:20 pm

    Sarah, I read The Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control by Katherine Morgan Schafler, and it was unexpectedly life-changing. As a fellow Upholder, I imagine it would resonate with you! Would love to know what you think if you read it.

  • Reply Chelsea November 21, 2023 at 7:22 pm

    Two of my favorite (not new) non-fiction books that just popped into my mind are The Warmth of Other Suns, which was particularly impactful for me because it deals with racial injustice in Florida – particularly Central Florida. The other is The Emperor of All Maladies, which is loooong but so good. Probably my favorite non-fiction book of all time. The same author also wrote The Gene and has another book out recently, I thought The Gene was good but not EOAM good. For lighter pop-science non-fiction, I really like Mary Roach.

    I think it’s smart to give yourself closure by calling the end of your training cycle. The hard thing about marathons is that there’s no guarantee that – even if you have a perfect training cycle and get to the start healthy – there’s no guarantee you’ll finish the race feeling like you’ve met your goal. I’m thinking of Emma Bates getting injured in Chicago, Thomas from Believe in the Run having the NY race from H-E-L-L and Meg Murray missing an OTQ by a lot at Chicago. Ending a training cycle not on a high note probably happens a lot more than people talk about.

  • Reply Coco November 22, 2023 at 2:03 am

    It’s liberating to do a closure to this training cycle instead of keeping wondering yes or not day by day and doubting yourself. There are many miles to run, many more marathons to join, the most important thing is to keep running, sustainably.

    I’m really into nonfiction to learn about religion. I’m in my 3rd book about islam and really enjoy them. After that, i’ll probably read about other religions.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 22, 2023 at 5:41 am

      I am interested in that as well- it would be cool to read a book on each of the world’s major belief structures!

  • Reply jennystancampiano November 22, 2023 at 8:20 am

    “Relentlessly calm”- I LOVE IT.
    I can’t remember exactly who said it first, but the idea of “Enjoy the training, because nothing else is guaranteed” has always stuck with me. It’s true- there’s no guarantee that we will even get to run the race we’ve trained for (much less hit our goal time.) I think this mindset shift was a good one for you! You’ve made a decision and I’m sure it feels good.

  • Reply Erin November 27, 2023 at 10:53 pm

    Totally understand feeling incredibly bummed to have a training cycle end without getting to run the goal race. It sucks! Def recommend PHL marathon, had a great experience and liked better than Chicago. Some good non-fiction I have liked this year: Poverty by America, Five Days at Memorial, and In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss. Hope you start feeling recovered soon!

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