Musings + Essays

The Next One.

By: Jen Shoop

The other day, I went running using an interval workout in the Nike Run Club app. It was difficult not only because I am finally easing back into my every-other-day running habit after a six-week-long hiatus owing to the move, but because I am still re-adjusting to the paludal humidity of the D.C. area (there have been points, as I have maneuvered back into this regimen, where I could have sworn I was actually moving backwards, the humidity suffocating my efforts) and my neighborhood is incredibly hilly compared to the relative flatness of my favorite running route around Jackie O. reservoir in Central Park. Beyond that, I’ve never done any interval training in my life, and my body reminded me of that negligence by the end of the workout. It was, however, strangely fun, possibly because of the novelty of running with a coach in my ear and possibly because the pattern of sprinting, then recovering, in sixteen brief segments made the time pass more quickly, or — perhaps — divided the overarching goal of running for thirty minutes into a smattering of tinier, more quickly achievable goals.

Around sprint six, however, my energy flagged. “Just two more,” I told myself. The coach in my AirPods, however, had a different tack:

“Do you know how many intervals you have left?” he asked.

“Two,” I thought.

“One. There’s only ever one left. The next one,” he insisted. In so many words: don’t think about the long game. Don’t derail yourself by worrying about whatever’s coming down the pike. Focus on the short-term, on getting through the minute immediately in front of me. To my genuine surprise, that sixth sprint was almost enjoyable. I resettled from my head into my body. I was able to keep at bay the calculations about how many more seconds I had and how many sprints lay ahead and instead focus solely on my breathing, on my feet hitting the pavement, on the movement of my arms.

Funny how sometimes the words you most need to hear materialize in the most unexpected places, isn’t it?

This week, my resolution is to focus on “the next one” in every realm of my life. Not “the one” — whatever that “one” may be — two days or two months or two years away. Just what’s immediately in front of me.


+More on running.

+On the never-ending quest to live in the present.

+This breezy dress (would work with bump!) reminds me of something by Mille. This is so the vibe at the moment, especially if you layer under a chunky cardigan come fall, or perhaps pair with those shearling Birks in the interim.

+Chanel vibes via Talbots.

+The Vitamin C serum I ordered last week is now 30% off with code CREW30! This was one of the top most upvoted Vitamin C products when I polled you ladies.

+LOVE this new scalloped stationery from one of my favorite Etsy paper sources. I use this notepad from the shop daily!

+This gingham flatware is just so cheerful at a breakfast table.

+Never underestimate the power of Crayola Mess Free coloring sheets. We had some little friends over last weekend and the first 30 minutes of the play date involved happy, silent, mess-free coloring.

+A friend of mine recently asked what to take on a long car ride with little ones. Here are some ideas!

+I have heard really good things about this small, female-founded business that sells candles inspired by the signature scents of fabulous hotels.

+ICYMI: this $30 dress is a dream. This is exactly what I imagine wearing with clogs and a cardigan this fall.

+I have seen so many chic women trotting around in Horror Vacui — I love this dress, but just can’t figure out if the shape would do my any favors. I am intrigued by this dramatic quilted coat, however…

+Currently in my cart for my children.

+More adorable toys you won’t mind leaving out!

+Oo these $45 ribbed lounge pants belong in this post, n’est-ce-pas!? They remind me of some of the separates from high-end loungewear brand ARCH4.

+Speaking of ribbed knits, this cashmere sweater is on ridiculous sale and would look so sophisticated with a pair of trousers this fall!

+I’ve been meaning to put together a post of our current favorite children’s books, but I had to share this one, which was an instant hit in our home. My mom read it to mini and she LOVED it immediately — it has some silly sections and great illustrations, but the message is wonderful: It’s OK to feel what you feel.

+Cecil and Lou have two REALLY cute dresses out for fall: this plaid and this navy floral. PSA: I find this brand runs big.

+I saw this sweater on Julia Amory on Instagram and I am devastated I missed out in my size! It’s currently 60% off and she looked SO chic in it. Eyeing this one for myself…

+More on-trend sweaters at all price points.

+Cute lil dress for a lil lady.

+Fun shatterproof, reusable cups for an outdoor gathering.

+This pouf would be cute in a boy’s room.

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13 thoughts on “The Next One.

  1. Popping in after several weeks away to say hello … and tell you how much this post resonates with me! It’s a running joke between myself and my mother that “breaking things down into manageable chunks” can account for like 70% of the advice she gives me. Haha! Clearly it’s something I would do well to remember.

    Also, I have taken up (!) running (!!) after a lifetime of hating it, mainly for the heart-health benefits of doing that type of cardio. It’s not as bad as I thought it might be 🙂 Do you like the Nike Run Club app? So far I haven’t used any apps/programs for running, but I can see how the right one might be a great motivator.

    I ALSO joined a gym (!) with a pool (!!) so I can swim laps, which has traditionally been my preferred version of cardio. It’s been SO NICE to be back in the pool! I love it so much, despite the itchiness and … scent … of chlorine. Haha!


    1. Hi! Welcome back! Great advice from your mom — I would do well to remember that, too. I think some people are better at that than others, whether by instinct or training (i.e., Mr. Magpie was trained as an engineer and his approach to problem solving is very take-it-apart-and-prioritize-and-focus-on-specific-things). I do like the NRC, but I got tired of it after I exhausted most of the initial runs. Maybe I didn’t explore thoroughly enough but it seemed like there were 5-6 great ones but I wasn’t interested in repeating them.

      Good on you for joining the gym!!! You’re motivating me.


  2. So much YES to this kind of thinking. I remember breaking down the day this way during my daughter’s newborn phase (in fact I probably still do till now to some extent), especially once my parents had left, my husband went back to work, and I was solo parenting during most of the week — just get to the next thing, the next feed, the next nap, etc.

    Similarly with my dissertation, the idea of which just seemed insurmountable at times. Just aim for one page. One paragraph. One sentence. Heck, one word! And on days when I just didn’t have it in me for any of those, I fixed the formatting and citations and it helped me feel a sense of accomplishment.

    I have that navy blue floral Target dress! I will say it’s not as soft as I’d hoped (I believe it’s a cotton-rayon blend?) but I love the overall shape and the dark/moody floral for fall. AND it has pockets!!! Target has really been killing it lately!

    1. So glad this resonated — wish I’d been able to exercise this type of thinking in the hazy newborn days. I think I did learn to exercise this muscle during the peak of the pandemic, when we were stuck inside for weeks on end. Sometimes the days just dragggged on!


  3. I used to do something sort of similar as a swimmer: whenever we had a long set, I’d take two off the total number of repeats. My logic was that the last one didn’t count in the mental agony tally because it came with the joy of being done, and that meant the penultimate was nearly as end-in-sight as the last. I didn’t always get my teammates’ buy-in with this strategy, but it really helped me. It works with marathon training too!
    And thanks for the reminder for me to get back into intervals. I spent the back half of pregnancy in cruise control on runs and my body + heart could use the challenge intervals afford right now!

    1. Hi Claire – This actually makes complete sense to me. I remember doing similar alchemistic calculations when running on the treadmill. Once I’d get to 18 mins / 28 mins / 38 mins, I’d tell myself I was basically at 20 / 30 / 40 minutes and it made it a little easier to push myself to get through an extra ten minutes beyond that.


  4. Alllll the commiseration on running in the DC humidity. I largely stick to treadmill runs (which I prefer for sprint interval training anyways!) in the summer, as much as I can. It’s brutal out there! On the plus side, training in weather like this will make crisp fall runs feel extra easy and speedy 🙂

    1. Oo can’t wait for crisp fall weather for that reason! I also am realizing maybe I shouldn’t have done my first interval workout on hills. It was HARD.


  5. I love this! I’m often discouraged from starting something, whether that’s a challenging text (hello law school and I’m also going back through my college honors program syllabus to actually read the books/texts I skimmed/sparks-noted my way through), a run, a home organization project because the whole thing seems so uneweidly!

    Just one page at a time, one minute at a time, one drawer at a time makes it all seem SO much more manageable. I had a volleyball coach who told us to break each set (25 points) into mini-sets of 5 points – just focus on winning the next point and don’t think past the next five. Thank you for the reminder to think like this again!

    1. Totally agree with you! It’s funny how this feels very natural in some realms of life, and in others, it’s so easy to forget the principle of breaking things down into smaller pieces. With our move from NYC to Bethesda, for example, it was obvious to us we needed to create a long list of to-dos, divvy them up, and apply due dates so we could prioritize and JUST focus on certain elements each week/day. Now I’m wondering why I haven’t thought of the same methodology elsewhere. So handy to have this reminder!


  6. This might sound like a silly question but when running and using an app where does one store their phone? as I assume air pods were paired to blue tooth. Also interesting to know D.C. is more humid than NYC.

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