Monday, February 27, 2012

Keeping A Promise

There's very little that's more satisfying for me than actually knowing that going without a run on a running day is simply not going to happen.

This weekend, M and I were a couple hours north of our home base for a family wedding. The wedding involved three days of celebrations; as we were part of the festivities, we were expected to be there. I was happy to go to the Thursday night ho' down (Thursday was my day off), and Friday saw us going nonstop and then spending a few hours at the rehearsal. The wedding party congregated at the best man's house afterward for cocktails and dinner.

Around 10pm, as we finally left the festivities, with the wedding day looming, I found myself 100% convinced that, despite my fatigue, I was going for a run. I whined the entire time I put my running clothes on, but dressed nonetheless. M kindly drove me to a well-lit area and agreed to wait in the car while I did my two miles. (He had hurt his legs at the gym earlier in the week, or would have come along.) So there I was, at 10:30 at night, running alone and feeling absolutely, totally, uncontrollably exhilarated.

It wasn't my best run. My pace wasn't awesome and I missed having K around to keep my mind occupied. The run ended at 1.6 miles and I ran the parking lot a few times to cap off at 2; the uphill slope there was unfamiliar and tiring. But I was so very pleased with myself. And beyond that, I felt satisfied. I had decided to run, it was a running day, I knew I wouldn't be running Saturday because of the wedding, and so late hours and busy schedules couldn't keep me down.

I very rarely experience something like that. It was a truly liberating experience, to put my run at the top of a priority list. I promised myself I'd find time for at least one run during the wedding weekend, and I kept that promise to myself.

Because that is really the bottom line, isn't it? Running allows you to take a moment for yourself, to step away from a busy or stressful day and focus on your own well-being. Keeping that promise says something about where my mindset is these days, and fills me with a sense of pride. You go, self, I want to say. You take care of your health. Go you!

I like to think that maybe this means I'm at the point where running has become a habit, and going without is almost painful. I definitely was craving the run Friday, and I'm hoping the craving doesn't abate.

On a slightly different note, K and I have signed up for the Susan G. Komen 5k here in our area. After the controversy with Planned Parenthood, I wasn't sure we'd go, but things have mostly been cleared up and it's a huge race with just the right distance, so there you go. I'm excited to have a race to look forward to.

Here's to another productive running week!


Monday, February 20, 2012

Excuses and Running Links

This past week became an excellent example of how easily I can go from being on a consistent running schedule to accidentally taking seven days off.

The week went like this:

  • Monday: I had a good two-mile run late at night with M. Felt awesome, but my knee was killing me afterward.
  • Tuesday: I usually run every other day, so it was normal to take a day off. Plus, Valentine's Day! So I didn't feel guilty about not running.
  • Wednesday: My birthday...this seemed like a good enough reason to take the day off. We had friends over for dinner and cake, and it was a work night. I got to bed late.
  • Thursday: My allergies caused intense sinus pressure, stuffed nose, and played havoc on my asthma. Another day off, and early to bed.
  • Friday: We left for the weekend to go to Miami, which had been planned ahead of time anyway for my birthday. So...clearly no running there, since I had work and then had to pack and get the animals squared away.

Now, usually if we're out of town for a few days I'll pack a set of running clothes just in case. But I'm so unfamiliar with the areas we were going to, I figured I wouldn't want to run on my own. Little did I know that one of our friends brought workout gear and hit the gym while we were there. So I missed out on that, and felt tremendously guilty about it.

We did a lot of walking around a catamaran show on Saturday, and we walked downtown to dinner instead of driving. So Sunday, when we finally arrived home late, I wasn't very motivated to run.

So that brings us to Monday. A full week with only one run in. I know a week off is easy enough to catch up on, but in the past when this has happened, a week usually turns into two or three without my even realizing it. The difference this time is my new NY resolution to be more consistent. And, of course, seeing tons of runners in Miami and Fort Lauderdale really had me feeling jealous and antsy to get out there.

(And can I mention the abundance of gym-hard bodies on the beaches there?! Talk about motivation!)

The plan for tonight is to run without overdoing it. The last thing I need is to hurt my knee, giving me another excuse to take some time off.

The bad news is that I've been planning to run the Hooter's Half Marathon on March 4, and it's unlikely I'll be up to that. Realistically, I just know I'm not going to be ready in two weeks' time.

But this weekend raised a lot of good questions for me, including questions about being a runner but not being competitive, or not wanting to really increase mileage. Those are posts for another day.

Now, I leave you with some interesting reads of the running variety:

Treadmill vs. Running Outside
Chocolate is Good for Endurance
The Dangers of Eating Disorders in Runners
3 Part Training Plan Running Songs
Running and Immunity
The Color Run - a FUN 5k!
6 Benefits of Running
The Hooters Half


Monday, February 13, 2012

A Little Trinket

Lucky socks. Your first pair of running shoes. The singlet you wore to your first race. These things become imbued with a powerful meaning for runners.

But you can't wear your lucky socks everyday. For one thing, your running buddy might complain of the stench. For another, short of carrying those socks with you everywhere (let's face it: they're not going to match your daily wardrobe), you're going to have to look elsewhere for motivation.

For my birthday this year, K - ever the giving, motivating buddy - gifted me with a few charms of the running variety for my other hobby: jewelry making. This afternoon, I finally found some time to start crafting with them.

My favorite of the three charms K gave me is a tiny dog tag, about the size of a pinky-nail, with the date of the Half engraved on one side, and my time engraved on the other. Together with a silver pendant engraved with a tree (to symbolize strength, stability, life, perseverance, a strong foundation, growth, and reaching for the highest attainable goals), I've put this dog tag on a bracelet. (I would have made a necklace, but I like to mix up my necklaces, and this bracelet will go with anything.)

Now, whenever I look at it, I'll be reminded of how far I've come, and how far I have yet to go.

Best birthday present ever.


*blurry photo quality due to cell phone & the impossibility of correctly photographing small shiny objects with its camera. Oh well!

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Good Run

There are many adjectives to describe a run. Runs can be painful, challenging, disappointing, exhilarating, and motivating, to name a few. And there are just as many words to describe a run that makes you feel on top of the world. One that builds your belief in yourself to the point that, afterward, you feel like shouting from rooftops:

"I did it! I ran! I could go farther! I can't wait til the next run!"

When a run is that motivating and wonderful and stupendously-amazingly-great in a physical, mental, and emotional sense, I tend to heave a happy sigh and call it, simply, "Good".

A Good run is different than a good run. A good run is just this side of mediocre. You felt strong, but not amazing. You completed it, but without a real sense of accomplishment. It was just...good.

A Good run, on the other hand, is spoken in a tone that insinuates a subtext. Words like solid, strong, well-rounded, fulfilling, and exactly-what-I-needed are implied. Simple words that carry in them a strength and depth of meaning.

So what exactly makes for a Good run? There's a special combination - a recipe, if you will - for achieving such distinctive feelings after a run, and it's hard to force. At first, you may be fearful of this particular run. The distance seems daunting. You feel exhausted. You're still sore from your previous run. But you go, perhaps because you convince yourself it will clear your head, or perhaps because your running buddy will stab you with sporks if you fail to show up.

And then the run takes over. You fly through the first mile, which is usually your most challenging. You make perfect conversation, or perhaps enjoy a perfectly companionable silence. Your breathing and pace are aligned as if by the stars themselves. Your mind wanders to amazing places and you feel insignificant as the scope of the world around you overwhelms you.

And when the run ends, you feel bone tired but stronger than before. You stretch and enjoy every pang in every muscle. Your water is a miraculous beverage provided by the heavens. You sleep like a baby and wake up refreshed the next day.


A Good run is what keeps me coming back for more. I've had a few Good runs for every dozen "okay" runs I've had. But they truly make you realize, "Wow, I can call myself a runner," and they motivate you into the next one, two, twelve "okay" runs. The runner's high lasts that long.

Last week, I had a Good run. K and I went a little later than usual. I was tired of our usual route and had mapped out a slightly longer run that was well-lit and completely outfitted with a wide, smooth sidewalk. We had a beautiful, inspiring conversation during the entire run. We spent 45 minutes stretching afterward, and by the time we got back into the car we were shocked to see what time it was. I went home that night feeling totally and completely fulfilled, mind, body, and soul.

A Good run can turn around your entire mood, your entire day, your entire week. It's not just about creating motivation for the next run, of course. The feeling of elation and well-being extends well beyond that. But yes, it can inspire you to go for a run the next time you're feeling reluctant, too. I've found that Good runs turn up the most when you're least wanting to go in the first place.

If that's not motivation, I don't know what is.