Friday, July 13, 2012

Sundry Running Things

I just cannot seem to enjoy the treadmill the way I enjoy running outdoors.

Call me crazy, but give me mosquitoes, 84% humidity, 91 degrees, lightning, and rain any day. The redundant clumpclumpclump of feet on the treadmill, the annoying whirring sound, and the impossibility of setting an organic pace just kills me. Not to mention the boredom. I'm not one who can read while running, and watching TV feels almost counterproductive. I'd rather be focusing on my stride, my pace, the excitement of coming to a landmark that signifies the halfway point.

It's funny, really, because earlier in the summer I was so bummed about the heat and humidity. And yes, it's still not pleasant by any means. I come back from a two-mile run looking like I've gone swimming, and trying to add any distance this summer has been a brutal undertaking.

Still, I'd rather deal with all that. The treadmill has been a nice option for when it storms too hard to run through, but the blinking lights of the "track" and the distance/calorie/pace monitors are distracting.

My IT band has been wonderful ever since I began wearing the velcro strap above my knee. I've also begun to use my visitor pass for the gym to do some strengthening exercises. After doing all that research, I discovered the IT band is too big of a muscle to really stretch effectively, and the best defense against injury is strengthening it. So I've been doing some weight-training. I'm excited to see the improvements in my running as my gluts, hips, quads, core, and hamstrings finally grow stronger.

Along that some vein of general improvement, I've also added chia seeds into my diet. I'm not really sure what the specific benefits are supposed to be, or how I'll see them, but I used to take flax seed and I've heard chia is very similar. I'm varying my breakfasts with fresh gluten free oatmeal with apples and cinnamon, instead of just my usual cold cereal with banana. This summer has definitely been a time of scrutinizing my routine and changing things that could potentially improve my running. I hope these changes stick when school starts up again.

No matter the changes, the goal is always the same: be a better runner.

The other day I was able to run through a local park, and instead of setting a particular course, I just took the paths wherever the spirit moved me. It was so nice and freeing to There's something almost magical about just following your feet, letting your mind go, and leaving the usual course behind. Yesterday my run was much later, and it was dark and threatening to rain, so I wanted to stick to my tried-and-true loop. The loop is about a mile, and I planned to add distance by completing it twice and then running half of it again. But by the time I'd finished one round, I was already bored. I veered off down the sidewalk and onto the main road and added distance that way. I felt like tethers had fallen off me, and coming back to the loop for the finish was tedious.

I think I need some new routes! But the difficulty lies in timing it correctly. If I run too early, it's too hot out; if I run too late, it's too dark.

I'll leave this post with a brief article on mental blocks and overcoming them. My mental blocks almost always come into play if I'm running a route I've done poorly on before, or if I'm coming off an injury. One of the points in the article is the ability to say "I'm a runner", and the importance of owning this identity. I love knowing I'm not alone in that one in particular; I've overcome it now, but it was one I struggled with for awhile.

One final quick note: my running buddy is healing happily post-birth of her second daughter. I'm so excited to have her rejoin me on our runs in the not-too-distant future!

That's all for now. Happy running!


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