Starting Fresh

cropped-running-runner-long-distance-fitness-40751.jpegHello everybody. I am finally recovered from one of the worst colds to date. As I pull myself out of the creeping crud, I need to recommit myself to my running as the last two weeks have been brutal, with little running. Last week I ran 9 miles total and this week I ran 2 miles.

The 2 miles were squeezed in because I refused to end this week with no miles. Risking the possibility of sounding like I am making excuses, I am way over-committed. I am the parent of a 7 year old, work a full time job, work a weekend job and recently joined the Board of a local non-profit, where I volunteered to take over their social media presence. (I may be hitting up my fellow running blogger and social media guru, Vanessa Junkin from She Runs by the Seashore, for some social tips! Tip #1 – shamelessly plug fellow bloggers with larger audiences.)

Nonetheless, I am slowly making gains and worry that I will backslide. Also, I have a half marathon looming and 2 miles a week is definitely not going to cut it! Between missing last week’s blog and my poor mile performance, I decided I would pick the topic of motivation and procrastination – my Achilles heels, when my actual heels are not hurting…

Last Friday, a coworker came to my office to talk to me about running. We will call her Marcy. Marcy was an avid runner and enjoyed 5Ks. She wanted to run longer distances, but quickly became breathless after the 5K mark. Knowing that she would soon become breathless, Marcy stopped attempting longer distances and felt that the half or full marathon were completely impossible distances. Life soon happened for Marcy and she stopped running. Marcy talked about running like a true lover of the sport. But the longer she didn’t run, the longer Marcy felt she could not return to running. Finally, Marcy said that she had a secret – she actually hated the running itself, but love, love, LOVED the feeling she had after she ran.

Marcy is my running soul sister. I think she summed up the entire struggle for me. I want to run, I love running – but man is it hard now. I sermonized all of the running slogans – the hardest part is lacing up, the battle is to get out the door, break the goals into little doable morsels. But i have a secret too – I also hate running – when I am running – for at least the first mile, maybe the first two… but then my body relaxes, finds itself and begins to let go. I know this. I know that getting out the door is the hardest part of the challenge for me.

I have a case of broken expectations. I want to run a 6 minute mile a la gazelle style…unfortunately, I run a 13 minute mile similar to an angry elephant – I run heavy and off cadence and I struggle for my miles right now.

The worst part of my day is the period of time I spend debating if I will run, beating myself up for not running, wanting to run, wanting to sleep, allowing myself to become overwhelmed with life’s many, many other tasks waiting for me.

But the best part of my day starts half way through my run…realizing I am doing it, feeling the sweat and effort, telling myself that I am halfway there…and then it get’s even sweeter, stretching afterwards, feeling the gains – those sweet aches telling me that my body is changing, somehow, someway, I will not be the same as when I started the run. I am happier, lighter – I am nicer. Seriously, my partner has asked me to go run before because he is not enjoying the non-running me.

So let’s get into the nitty gritty, the goals and the motivations. I really want to be a morning runner. At the end of the day, after work, as my daughter hangs on me and the ingredients for dinner refuse to cook themselves…the run seems impossible. When I run first thing in the morning, I float the rest of the day. But when that alarm goes off at 5 AM, all morning goals fly out the window…

Therefore, I am going to set three goals for the next three weeks. I would like to promise that I will accomplish all three this week, but I try not to outright lie… One morning, I will wake up early to practice my yoga as the sun rises. One morning, I will wake up early to go to spin class at my local gym. One morning, I will wake up early to run before I start my day.

Stay tuned…

 

 

February Round Up

werunLuckily February was a short month. This has been a tumultuous month, for both running and my personal life. My miles lagged due to my headaches and a small health scare. I feel strongly that March will be a fresh slate.

I ran 22 miles. A large chunk of these miles were with my furry running partner, Rufus. He loves running with me and it has been fun logging the miles with him. Nonetheless, looking forward, I need to focus on my training. Unfortunately, Rufus is still a puppy and therefore, still needs to investigate every leave and bush. Also, we are still immersed in puppy training and are forced to stop frequently to correct behavior. We find our sweet spot after 2 miles. Rufus is worn out enough to follow pace and I am warmed up enough to hit a pace quick enough to engage him.

I ran twice with my running club and look forward to continuing the commitment. Our Wednesday run is for the slower crowd or those beginning or reentering the running world. We typically run intervals, with 3 minutes running 1 minute walking. The last week of February, my Mini Me joined me and hung tough for 2 miles.  The last half mile or so became wind sprints mixed with walking, allowing her to control the pace. Mini Me has also joined me at the track for some speed work. We take turns running laps and cheer wildly while the other is running. She is an amazing speed coach and her tag line is “Okay, that was great, Mom, but this time actually run!” Killer on the ego, but pushes me forward. Having someone who thinks I am the bees knees definitely pushes me to try harder.

In addition to my miles, I continue to improve my yoga practice. I average three sessions a week and look forward to growing my practice. My goal for March is to practice at least 10 minutes 5 days a week. I really want to practice everyday, but that is an unrealistic goal right now. I will be setting my alarm 30 minutes early in the mornings. I practice on my back deck as the sun rises. Beautiful, inspirational way to start my day. This places me in a calm mindset and ready for my day. My snooze button often is equally tempting and therefore, I am sure there will still be days that I roll out of bed in a full sprint.

My next race is April 23rd. I have printed my training plan and posted through out my home and at my workstation. I ran the same half marathon last year with little training and repercussions knocked me out the running for quite some time. I will be incorporating new motivational techniques to keep my on plan and will share soon how they are working.

 

January Run Down

Since I am preserving my return to running for posterity, I felt compelled to document my monthly achievements. Welcome to my January Run Down.  Yes, it is February 13th and yes, I procrastinated like a mofo…so here we go…

I began running again in the beginning of January. I had not run since the Virginia Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon labor day weekend. I was incredibly happy with my performance at the Half and was walking…slightly limping…on cloud 9. I finished mid-pack and ran faster than I expected. But my training had been sluggish and I suffered the consequences within hours. Previously, I had run the CoDel Half Marathon with also dismal training preparation and my body was pissed. My walking was extremely limited and I decided to take a week off.

My week off turned into several months, but with a new year, I felt a new inspiration to return to running. My furry bestie was getting a little chubby and so was I. We decided to reenter the running world.  My expectations were completely delusional. I believed I would be returning to my previous running glory within days. Rufus did, I did not.

My first week back, I ran 2 days at 2 miles each…they were slow as molasses and included tons of walking breaks. I was amazed that I was running so poorly. I decided to do two things. First, I renewed my connection to a local running club. Second, I started reading voraciously about all things running.

I was already a member of two awesome running clubs. I began my running adventure with the Ocean City Running Club. As a beginner, they were amazing motivators and an indispensable support system. The club ran and still runs two runs a week for all paces. I met my running mentor, Lauren, in this club. Lauren made me the runner I am today, always enthusiastic, honest and encouraging, available for endless questions at all times of the day. I am forever grateful for them, but as I lived 45 minutes away, OCRC runs were not as convenient as before. Luckily, last summer I joined the Eastern Shore Running Club and while I previously joined the group runs for a grand total of 1 time…I Facebook stalked them and learned they were beginning a new weekly run designed for the slower/beginner runner…I was hooked. Committing to weekly runs are still a little tricky with little ones, but I hope to bring MiniMe to at least a few runs.

Running Clubs are an excellent way to enter the running community. I have never met a rude Club…well, once, there was this lady and she was really mad at us because we ended a race 2 miles early…but in our defense we did not go through the chip mat and told on ourselves to be removed from timing…but besides that, Running Clubs are inspirational warm groups that want to support you to be the best runner you can be. And if you are anything like me, running with others forces you to compete, even if nobody else knows. I want to show them what an amazing runner I am and therefore, attempt to cover all external signs that I am a hot, wheezing mess. Simply, the running community is fun. Originally, I was worried they would immediately identify me as a sub par runner, but my fears were quickly eliminated. Only once has a fellow runner called me a jogger…and I prayed for her and whispered, “I am a runner” under my breath…and in her defense, she was part of our group of girls who were running the Ragnar and she was concerned that I would not perform well…yeah, she sucks…moving on! Running Clubs also support or host running events throughout the community which is a great way to slide into races.

I read Runner World’s 7 Secrets to Making a Comeback and quickly realized I was right on track. They, whoever they are, say we are our worst critics, and that is definitely true for me. Running and walking have stayed consistently part of my new running protocol. I happily report that my running now outweighs my walking. I actually enjoyed my most recent run, thinking of dying a slow death only once. I also realized that if I am returning to the world of running, then I need to reenter the world of cross training.

To achieve my cross training goal, I have begun the daily routine of bathroom cardio. This is a great way to get up throughout the day and confuse my coworkers when I come out of the bathroom breathing heavy. Each time I am inclined to use the ladies, I do 25 squats, 25 push-ups against the grab bar (please do not do full push-ups on the bathroom floor) and 25 leg lifts. I already feel the burn in my bum. In the interest of expanding my horizon and my body’s capabilities, I committed myself to a new yoga practice. This was also something that went to the wayside before.  I downloaded a great yoga app, Yoga Daily, which allows me to pick a program that focuses on a certain goal, reminding me what days I need to complete the challenges. I am currently enrolled in the flexibility program. Also, I downloaded Asana Rebel, which is incredibly challenging and forces me to push further. When I want to watch a video for inspiration, I love Boho Beautiful. This couple inspires me with their wanderlust and peaceful flows. I hope to join a yoga studio at some point, but work, school, children…life, in general, has been capitalizing most of my time. That may be an easy excuse, and the true answer may be that I just don’t wanna right now…

I ran approximately 27 miles in the month of January. I also signed up for two big races that are fast approaching on the Horizon – The CoDel Half Marathon/April 23rd  (68 days and counting) and the Tim Kennard 10 Mile River Run/March 5th, which is not enough days away (20 days). I created a training plan that incorporates both races. I will share more details about the trials and tribulations of my training plan soon!

The Miracle of Running

I recently underwent a heart wrenching, soul-shaking life experience. My world crashed down around me. Breathing hurt. Long story short, I was in emotional pain. I felt completely and totally lost and alone. Friends attempted to console me. Co-workers took cover, waiving tissues. I spent many nights laying in the dark, listening to Reggae, crying till sleep mercifully claimed me. Not my proudest moments. And clearly not moments that could continue if I were to reclaim my sanity.

Luckily, I belong to a running club. And I made a commitment to run Wednesday evenings. I knew that I would need to lace up before then as I am already behind the curve on my return to running. Rufus, my fearless, furry running partner strapped on his harness and out we went. I learned many things about myself. One of them is that it is possible to pace a stubborn dog to the beat of your sobs…and that my new ear buds really do cancel all noise. Thank God for that…and for Dubstep…Dubstep strangely comforted me this last week. Chaotic noise with thumping bass overwhelmed my senses and soothed me.

I run in a peaceful, tucked away neighborhood. The lovely residents adopted me as one of their own. I informed them that I was not a native, but these strangers loved me anyways. Through their general happy disposition, constant excitement upon seeing Rufus, and all around awesomeness, I began to thaw and smile.

Wednesday arrived and it was time to run with my club. Wednesdays are for slower runners and beginners. Last week, 2 other people showed and they were not slow…at all! This week, I drove to the meeting spot, apprehensive about my ability and demeanor. I stepped out of the vehicle and was amazed by the sheer number of runners this week. Our youngest runner was 5 and our oldest was 75. We had teens, serious runners, speed walkers, energetic kids, track runners and two dogs. I felt at home. We began and I slipped right into the cadence of the group.  Run 3 minutes, walk 1. I listened to the other runners. I enjoyed the camaraderie and kept up. The realization struck me that I enjoyed myself. I felt good. I felt purposeful.

I left the group run, thinking about running. I began planning next week’s run. I committed to a second lap. I began preparing, same as before, harnessed puppy in tow. I didn’t need to pace myself or Rufus. I muted my Runkeeper, and ignored my watch. We found a cadence and enjoyed the run. Rufus needs about two miles before he is worn out enough to slow down to my speed and I need about two miles to warm up and find my groove. Once this sublime moment occurred, we hit a stride that was pure joy.

I am looking forward to this Wednesday. My running group might not realize it, but they saved me from my morose and self-pity. I will run, because I am part of a running group and I made a commitment. Running has replaced my sadness with determination, grit and joy. Running is a miracle!