Running Vs. Cycling

The question has come around a little more frequently now days… I don’t mind….

“Do you like running or cycling more?”

I don’t know. I mean, each one is it’s own kinda brutal animal.

Running… I totally identify as a runner… a freaking currently wounded one… but a runner none the less. This is a sport that demands as much from me physically as it does mentally. Truth be known, I love the physical demands of it.

 

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Running molded and shaped me in a way nothing ever had. It built a ferocious confidence that I could take on the world… maybe I should say distance running did that to me. The discipline, sacrifice and drive that comes with distance running..  nothing compares to it.

In some ways, you come to understand things about yourself out there on the road in that solitude. Those early morning runs, before the sun comes up, are often the most soul revealing times I’ve experienced.

Running has taught me about strength, perseverance, dedication, determination, and sacrifice. It has shown me I’m stronger and more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined about my abilities.  It not only shaped my body, but my mind.

Running… if it needs stated…. is hard.

Yeah, you get stronger and it starts to feel “easier” in some ways but there is always a big physical demand required from your body. Ha, and it’s always those first few miles that leave you thinking… why???  and then… I get in my “zone” and my body just takes over and settles into what it’s been trained for and there’s this … high.. that comes from that.

If you run, you get it. If you don’t, I can’t really explain it to you.

I’m hungry to get back to it.

Then there’s cycling. It came in a most subtle way to my life. A side project. Something to do occasionally when I wasn’t on foot. Another form of cross training for me for running.

When the injury kept me from running, it was a no brainer to pick up more on the bike. These past few months it’s become my solace and outlet for what I can’t get from running.

It’s given me the miles I crave and certainly at a much faster speed than being on foot. It’s offered new challenges and goals.  I’ve found that the strength my body built from running has made cycling a rather seamless, easy move for me.  I realized I’m kinda good at it and figure with more practice I could be fairly competitive out there.

 

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Of course, riding a machine has it’s own “challenges” over just taking my body out on the road and running. Cycling, you get a little rest time at some points, whereas running, you’re on your feet going with no time to take it easy.   Both sports demand much physically.

But what I love most? It’s put me back into an endurance sport again. Maybe it’s a sickness? But I love training and putting in long miles.. seriously there’s nothing I look forward to more than a long training ride or run.

I just love the feeling of pouring myself into it and the tired, but exhilarating feeling that comes after I’m done.

Hello everyone I may be an endurance sport junkie. Get her some help 😛

So the question… what do I like best?

I’m in love with both now.

I embrace the challenges that go along with each sport and appreciate the different aspects of them. I mean, really, why settle with just one ? 😉

I look forward to training into both and hopefully doing a duathlon which molds both seamlessly together.

It’s a good fit for me..  I look forward to seeing what I can accomplish in the future in the world of cycling AND running.

Tell me… do you prefer one over the other? What is your favorite athletic activity?

 

 

Runner Or Jogger

running or jogging

I heard the term again… and I felt my skin just crawl a little and my eye started to twitch.

“How’s your jogging going?”

I tried not to groan out loud. The intentions of the one asking were pure and genuine and I smiled and answered their question.

It’s a term a lot of people don’t think about. And they don’t mean a thing by it.

I think the only ones who DO think about it are runners.

But in my head it conjures up visions of middle school gym, wearing horrible ill fitting gym suits that smell of sweat, and lazy, unmotivated kids who don’t want to run while the coach is yelling at them to do so… therefore they break into this lazy shuffling… jog. Long ago, back in the day, I was one of those kids.

Jog.. the  ” I can’t muster much more than a fast walk or shuffle.”

Jog… that awful thing “joggers” do at stoplights 😛

What is it that makes those of us who view it as “running” twitch a little?

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Maybe I should explain how I told it to a friend once…

A jogger doesn’t go out before daybreak, and before breakfast, to knock off a 10 miler.

Nor does a jogger sign up to run long races, like marathons.

When I’m pounding out a fast 5K, I don’t call it jogging.

I’ve never finished a long run and felt like I went jogging.

Running has very specific goals and events to train for. For me these things become very concrete.

Jogging doesn’t enter that equation for me.

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I looked up the etymology of ‘Jogging’.  As a word it is a gift of the British from the mid-seventeenth century that had none of the emotional overtones.  It simply meant to perambulate in some form or other.  Saying “I went for my morning jog” was just a tad more whimsical way of saying ‘walk’ or ‘brisk walk’. 

It would seem that during the first running boom of the 1970’s ‘jogging’ was just a way to describe running for your health with no particular competitive inclination.

It seems “Jogging” was originally intended to be a subset of running; a less strenuous, less serious form of running. It was running for the non-competitive masses.

I think for me personally, although I don’t view myself as “fast”, a 9-10 minute per mile pace is moving along fairly well and I most definitely don’t consider doing that pace for …lots of miles… jogging.

Maybe, running meshes more with my competitive spirit than jogging. For me, jogging is what I might do in a warm up. A kinda loose, loping, easy trot.

For me running is strong and powerful and challenges me in deep and real ways. It requires much from me on any given run.

As a runner with specific goals I’ve made some serious sacrifices to get there. I’ve left a lot out on the road. I’ve met new challenges head on.  Hard work has been invested and when “jogging” is applied it seems to diminish the sacrifices in some way.

Jogging just seems casual, pull on sweat pants that say you aren’t going far, maybe a loop around the block.

Personally, when I slip into my running gear, it’s all business. I don’t wear my athletic clothes around during the day and I never wear them just “for fun.”  They are work clothes. When I put them on it’s all business for me.

Running is definitely about the passion I ( or we collectively) feel in our hearts. Not that it defines us, but perhaps, in some way it does.

It defines passions, vision, and personal goals that at some point have seemed daunting to us.

But no matter what you might call yourself, being out there, and getting it done is all that matters at the end of the day.

However, for me, you’ll find me out for my daily run 😉

What about you? If you run, does the term “jogger” ever bother you ?

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Thoughts From An Endurance Athlete

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Even as I type out the title for this blog, I’m left pondering how and when, I turned into an endurance athlete.

It was certainly never on my radar at any point in my life like, “Hey, when I grow up I wanna do crazy things like run a stupid amount of miles or bike that many or do BOTH!”

No.

I wasn’t an athlete in school. My athletics involved band and being involved in twirling the last three years of school.

I wasn’t athletic most of my adult life.

I started running when I was 46. I ran my first half marathon in 2011 and was hooked.

I crossed the finish line feeling triumphant and exhausted already plotting my next one. It would be several more half marathons before I really felt the pull or the “calling” to do a full marathon. Some of my friends have simply referred to it as me going crazy 😉

I never really let myself examine to closely the (craziness) of deciding to run 26.2 miles.

Really. Only real runners did that stuff, right? Real athletes. I never backed down from that first one, and one time, and one time only did I look those numbers in the face and feel terrified and almost back down. I put that thought away and never let it out again.

I’m so glad I didn’t.

I simply started training and embracing the whole discipline of the preparation it took for a marathon.

Then with quite a few half marathons under me, and a couple full marathons, I jumped into a 50K.

THAT… is when I’d see friends in the store and they’d pull me aside and quietly whisper to me..

“Honey, are you ok? Really? I mean, a 50K…. I think you’re crazy!”

Ha… I guess looking at it from some sort of rational perspective, it must seem that way. I had just come to the realization that running a lot of miles at once was just…well normal….. right?

Normal, sane, grounded people just don’t decide to train for a 50K race.. and then do it.

Something though about endurance running meshed with me.

Was it the constant challenge to push my body to more? To see how far and long I could go? To simply know that I could do it? If I’m honest, for the natural kinda high that came along with it ?

Ah yes, that was the biggest thing. To know I could take on something that felt so much larger than life to me, something that seemed so impossible and so far from anything I’d ever been or done… that huge challenge… and then go out and do it.

It builds confidence in you like nothing can.

In the mix of running I started cycling some. Just to mix it up and because, hey why not another sport?  Cycling of course worked my body in a different way from running and I liked that.

But running still remained my main passion. Maybe it was the fact it took such strength and mental discipline to do it, and to do it for long periods of time.

Getting up on those early Saturday mornings and being on the road by 5:30 to knock out my long run… as hard as it could be some weeks getting out of a cozy bed and leaving a warm house…there was something I relished about it. Running in the black, quiet morning still sleepy with nothing but the soft sound of my feet hitting the road and the sound of my breathing, it was almost comforting.  I loved passing houses all dark, people still sound asleep as the miles built under me.

As the darkness gave way to light I loved having often 10 or more miles under me while the world was still getting it’s first cup of coffee. And by the time the sun was up in the sky I would be wrapping up a run in the teens’s or 20’s miles and it felt amazing.

Somehow completely exhausting myself at the start of the day made me feel empowered.

Geez how many people were out running double digits before the sun came up?

Not just that… but somehow out there on the road on those runs….  you find yourself in ways you didn’t know before. You come to understand things about yourself and what you’re really made of. When you do endurance sports you have to dig deeper into yourself and pull things out that you previously didn’t know were there.

Quitting isn’t an option. Your mind and body need to be disciplined and pulled into a cooperating agreement, which can be hard when your legs are starting to ask ” are we there yet?”

You find a strength you previously didn’t know existed. You learn to give more when you think you can’t give more. That is where your mental muscle is really built.

You begin to relish the feel of your body responding to the demands you put on it, how the road feels under you, how your mind is so…alive.

I do some of my most creative thinking and problem solving when I’m out on the road.

When I had to cut back on running last year with an injury, time on the bike was a replacement for giving me the miles I had come to crave. Not the same as running, but I had the ability to go out and ride for miles and challenge myself in new ways ( riding a bike up a hill is a different game than running up a hill 😛

I loved the new level of strength I built from cycling along with the running. Ok, and I will admit, that it’s a total head rush flying off a hill at wild speeds and holding on for dear life and feeling like you’re 12 all over again… that’s the reward for climbing hills haha

And then I started entertaining the idea of doing a duathlon, an event where you run, cycle, and run. Two things that I was beginning to feel I was pretty good at.

It was on my agenda for last fall… but this nagging Achilles injury just wouldn’t let me put the training in for running like I needed to so that event was shelved.

So yesterday, I was out on my bike. The first time in well over a month…closer to 2 more likely.  The doctor wanted me off of everything that could possibly irritate it and keep it from healing.

Yesterday was the day after the period he had suggested before I tried some cycling again.

I hardly slept the night before I was so excited. It’s the same feeling I have the night before a long run or a race.  The day started off foggy, misty and warm but I didn’t let that stop me. The sun eventually popped out. It felt so amazing to be out again…so free… I cut myself off at 17 miles thinking that was probably enough for my first time back out.

I’ll be honest… I’m not sure where this injury is gonna land me or how long it will be till I can really get after what I want to do. It’s still hanging around and I need to hit it face on. I’m terrified of being side railed for a long time and getting to do nothing. Terrified.

What I remembered out on the road (again) yesterday… is how ALIVE I feel when I’m out there.  How endurance sports make me feel alive, and strong, and powerful. There’s something heady about it that I can’t explain and you probably only understand if you’re an endurance athlete.

Somehow, in the pouring out of yourself on the road, you dig deeper and learn more about who you are and what you’re made of than you ever knew.

I’m ready for bigger challenges and new goals.

I love having an event I’m training for, my calendar laid out with my mileage I will be doing for months, my cross training days plotted in and each day knowing what I’m doing is moving me that much closer to my event… the new challenge.

I miss it. I miss it so much right now, not being able to have something I’m intentionally training for.  Yes, I workout for my mental sanity, my health, and continued fitness goals. But I miss the focus of training for a big race or event.

I think this endurance thing is in my blood now and I want to keep digging deeper into it  taking on bigger challenges and new goals.

What about you? Does the idea of running long distances make you twitch? Or feel alive? Do you love having something to train for? Do you enjoy multiple athletic activities?

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Running And The Art Of Surrender

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“Hey, how’s the running going?!” a friend inquired of me…..

I wanted to blab something like… “I’m training for a 100 miler next” or “I’ve got a couple marathons on the books”… heck I wanted to say I was doing the local 5K Bubblegum run… anything…something.

Instead my response was…. “it isn’t” and my blah, blah, blah that I’m still tethered by an ugly injury.

I shared with you, my lovely readers, in a post a few weeks back that my sports doctor told me ( again) it’s insertional Achilles tendonitis. I had been doing some (light) running and it got no better and no worse, and so like many runners  I had this ( stubborn) mentality, “if it’s not gonna get better, flip it, I’m running.”

But after seeing sports doc and his “no running” at the top of the list…

I had to take a hard look at some things. If I wanted to get old with running I had to surrender.

It’s funny, in the beginning, when one starts running, there is a surrender. You surrender to a call, a pull, to be on the road. You feel the desire to go longer and farther. The surrender of your body to push more…to reach deeper in yourself… in that surrender… you find yourself out there on the road.

In the dark early mornings. In the sunset runs. In the hot and cold. In joy and sorrow.

If you’re a runner, you know what I mean. It’s a surrender to yourself..an abandonment.

I guess I had an epiphany the other night.

Let’s call it the other side of surrender.  The “ok, I give in. I yield. I will do what I have to do. I surrender my plans, goals and visions…for now”.

I surrender.

Because if I want to grow old with running, and if I want to get out there and have another shot at a 50K, or train for another marathon, or work on kicking my speed up to drop my 5k time, I have to surrender to the time it takes to heal my body properly. I surrender to the fact it could be a long time until I can run again without the injury being an issue.

And with all that in mind… I will do what I need to do.. and I am. In fact, on some levels I can feel a difference already. And even though my heart longs to run, my body is being kept busy doing other things.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on my bike which gives me the miles and exhilaration I crave. That’s not a bad thing ’cause I want to do a duathlon someday ( a run, bike, run event).

I’m doing a lot more strength training and being careful to stay away from any activities that will irritate or cause it further stress. I’m icing, stretching, rolling my legs and feet a lot more.

Andddddd I’m super excited over my new cardio activity that’s coming to me….

I got a rowing machine (thank you amazing hubby who supports my athletic endeavors 🙂 rowing is a kick butt intense cardio workout that will fill in the gaps for me while I’m not running. It’s also non-impact/ stress on the tendons and joints so it will be perfect for me while I’m healing. I intend to spend some serious time on it.

When I get back on the road, my body will be strong for the task. Yes, I’ve already faced the frustration that it will almost be like starting over, but, if I’m at the point I can run, I will happily start building myself up again.

I did it once. I can do it again.

So for now, as hard as it is, I surrender to the process believing in the long run ( pun? 😉 it will all be worth it.

What about you happy reader? Have you ever had to come to a point of surrender in your life ? Was it worth it ?

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The Beauty Of Empowerment

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I’ve always loved words. I was a book worm as a kid and still enjoy getting lost in a good book. Today reading isn’t just in conventional book form but often takes place on my phone when I’m out on the go too.

There is always something to read that can entertain, inspire, teach, or simply amuse me.

It’s not a huge surprise then that there have been words along the way that I have attached to myself like invisible sticky notes that are “life” words to me. Words that have a depth and meaning to how I live, or to remind me of who I am, or what I’m about.

One word was strength. In fact, it became so full of meaning to me that I made my first commitment to a tattoo when I had it put on my body.

Not just physical strength, but mental, spiritual, and emotional. Life has forged a strength in me and it has become one of “my” words.

The other, last year, courage. It became the beautiful focus of my second tattoo. To live life takes courage. To go through trials, difficulties and pain, takes courage.

Another word that resonates with me, and has for awhile is the word empowered (actually that word in it’s various forms… empowering, empower, etc)

Here’s the definition for empower…. “enable… to promote the self-actualization or influence of”

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These past few years I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve accomplished things I never thought I’d do. I’ve taken on things that were larger than life to me.

And  I did them. And each time I accomplished something new … it was empowering. And empowerment builds confidence, and an empowered, confident woman feels like she can take on the world.

It builds a “don’t mess with me” take no prisoners attitude.

And I’ve realized how much I want to share and convey that to others… but the crazy thing is… it’s not something I can just “bestow” on someone .

The word empower is a verb. It requires action from us. To be empowered we must be active in what we want to achieve.

It requires a certain amount of reckless abandon to what we’re doing. It requires us to shut down the “sensible” part of our brain that questions what on earth we are thinking? It will mean getting out of our comfort zone. Often it’s taking on a task that seems quite formidable. I’ve found, those are the best places to be.

Let me give you an example. After I ran my first half marathon the question came… “so now you’re gonna run a full one, right?”

“Uh.. no. You realize that’s 26.2 miles right? No. Other people do that not me.”

Then I ran my second, third, and it was only after my fourth that I walked away with the idea in my head… I knew it was time… time to consider a full marathon.

I made the commitment to it and early on I had the thought go through my head… “oh my gosh… a marathon? Like… 26.2 miles??? Will you be able to do that?”

And I pondered my sanity….

And then… I quickly, swiftly, stomped those thoughts down and never let them rise up again. You cannot allow thoughts like that when you are attempting something so much bigger than you.

You cannot allow those thoughts to rule you or somehow convince you that you aren’t enough, or don’t have what it takes… if you do… you lose.

I trained hard. I trained conservatively with my goal to do it and successfully finish. And finish I did ( in 5:23) on an unseasonably hot November day that topped 89 degrees…brutal was an understatement.

And yes, when I crossed that finish line, with sunburn marks, sweat drenched, mentally and physically exhausted with legs begging to stop moving, I had never felt more victorious or empowered in my entire life.

I did it. I didn’t back down. I didn’t listen to the “voices”. I didn’t convince myself I couldn’t do it.

It takes those times of empowerment to show us we are capable of so much more than we often think we are.

You.. my reading friend… what are you thinking of doing? What thing seems larger than life, yet scares you to do?

Stomp down all the reasons why you think you can’t, don’t listen to the “voices”, and dive with reckless abandon into that thing which will empower you like nothing else.

You’ve got this.

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Running, Tattoos, And Muscles

Yesterday I made a trip back to see my sports doctor. I haven’t seen him since last summer when I was in for my running injury.

I bit the bullet ’cause the crazy thing has never gone away.  After seeing him, then my visits to do Airrosti in December, it was still hanging around.

And being a runner my stubborn thought was…. “well, if it’s gonna be there and bother me whether I’m running or not, I might as well run. If it doesn’t get any worse…. go.”

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Did I say I was stubborn ? Head strong? Willful ? Why do I hear my mother in my head ? haha

Realistically, I know it needs to be fixed so I can really get back out there and run like I want to run.

So… it was back to see him… to see what was going on.

The first thing he says,  grabbing my arm, “that’s cool… you got a new tattoo!”

Seriously? A doctor that remembers what ink you have on your arm ? And that you got a new piece ?

I did get new ink a few weeks ago… and it looks like this… I totally love it.

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Did I mention he’s cool ?  He’s also an athlete so he understands you not just from a medical perspective but an athletic one as well. He asks about goals and plans you have.

A quick assessment put me right into the (still) diagnosis of insertional Achilles tendonitis.  Ugh.

Soooo I will be icing…lots of icing it several times a day … using a topical ointment…. and…. rest from running…. as in….none.

Whatever.

So that puts me more into being confined and focusing on strength training… as in lifting heavy things and working on building those muscles while my feet recover.  I will also incorporate boxing into it ( great cardio) and I can still be out on my bike as long as it doesn’t cause any pain. That at least lets me get the miles under me that I  crave. I really wanna get a rowing machine since that is the perfect all over body work ( in my opinion) and it’s something else to add to what I do.

Actually, since my miles have been so reduced these past months, I have added more muscle ( ha… not burning it off)  😛 I don’t mind having the muscle… I just need to adapt with my jeans =)

Adapt.

Sometimes I embrace that word, other times, I loathe it.

The definition says to make (something) suitable for a new use or purpose; modify. To change so it functions better. Interestingly, it’s a verb.

Adaptation and adapting are active processes.

My body ( yours too) and the activities we put them through can definitely be an adapting process.

Weight loss, weight gain, building muscle, getting older, exercise, strength training.. so many things make our bodies change… aren’t they amazing things?

But then there are these times I have to adapt to what is going on with my body.

Recovery is not a patient place for me. Therefore, I am learning to adapt even more.

No running means using other activities to get in my cardio. It also means spending more time in strength training… and this activity will change my body differently from running.

I’ve learned these past few years as an athlete that my body can change a lot depending on what I’m doing to it.

I loved how I looked at the peak of my marathon/50K training last year. Lean and chiseled running 55-65 miles a week, I was burning off way more than I was taking in… and truthfully…sitting in the very low end of my weight range.

The reality is, I can’t stay in that top “peak” of training all the time. Our bodies aren’t designed for it. I’ve learned my body will change a bit in off season.

I’ve learned to adapt to that reality.

Now I’m adapting to the constraints of injury.

Adapt. Change. Transform.

It’s a big part of life isn’t it ?

What about you? Have you learned this process, whether in life, or in the way you have to handle your body ? Do you fight against it or embrace the change it brings ? What has adapting taught you ?

 

 

 

 

 

Running, Passion, And Vision

Running. I just feel like talking about running.

Maybe because I was out for about 4 miles yesterday morning and I was reminded how much I love it. And how much I miss it. And how irritated I am with this stupid injury that seems to hold me back from the potential I know that’s in me.

I’m not talking about my injury in this post.

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I want to just talk about the joy and freedom I have in the act of something so simple that we’re all born to do.

How do we lose the ability? the desire? the joy? of breaking into an open run, feeling our bodies surge under us as our legs kick in and the scenery goes flying by ?

When do we become to old, to tired, to lazy, to disinterested to run like kids ?

But then sometimes, later on, we stumble back upon it again.  We gingerly test out the legs and find out they are still capable of performing that task.

For myself and many others, once again, we find ourselves embracing the joy of running in sometimes an often child like way.

Just for the sheer joy and beauty of being able to do it.  

 

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To feel the wind and sun in your face or the bite of a cold morning .  To embrace being out in the dark for a long run or doing speed work that makes you feel just a little bit …crazy for doing it. The feel of your heart beating strongly and your lungs deeply taking in air, sweat forming on your body, the sound of your feet against the road.

To nail a 20 mile run…  and actually enjoy the tired ache of your body…. and the victorious feeling in your mind of accomplishing it.

Maybe the thing I’ve loved about running is how you’re always competing against yourself and how you can always step up your game… just a little bit more……

Running has been good to me.

In the beginning, it was definitely helpful for weight loss. In time, it began to carve and chisel muscles in my body I had only formerly thought existed.

It became my time to think, roll creative ideas through my head, process life, let anger and frustration out, and sometimes, it allowed me to cry and grieve at some of the agony in my life.

Running became my passion.  I didn’t see it as a chore or something to be endured, but a gift and a privilege to be able to do it.

I laugh and love it when my friends tell me I’m crazy or nuts, or make all those silly runner jokes.

You  know why ? I LOVE doing stuff the majority of people around me aren’t doing.

As time went on and my distances grew from short 10K runs, to setting my eyes on a half marathon, then full marathons, it never entered my mind that, I , little old me, would be a distance runner.

Seriously????

Yet, one thing led to another. A bigger challenge. A new goal. A new opportunity to challenge myself to something beyond my comfort zone.

Needless to say when I set my sights on a 50K last year, that was an adventure that had many asking me if I had lost my mind.

And trust me, if I allowed myself to slow down to much and reallllllyyyy think about it… I too began to see the insanity of running that many miles. And not just that race, but all the training that led up to it, all those training miles under me to get to that point.

Things like that are best not looked that close in the eye.

That’s the deal when you’re a distance runner. You don’t think. You just do it.  You get out there, let your body settle into a rhythm and you just…. go.

And besides all those things… besides getting strong and healthy and fit and being called crazy… running makes me feel ridiculously…. alive…. powerful…..strong…. confident… and makes me feel like I can take the world on.

I don’t think that’s a  bad thing, do you ?

So my struggles right now… it’s hard… so hard being kept in check physically with a injury that just won’t….be gone..

And wrestling with my mind that knows what my body is capable of, has done, and wants to get back to doing again…. is well… sometimes torturous.

I miss it in the worst way.

But get this… I don’t give up easily. And my mind is plotting and planning and anticipating all it wants the body to get back out doing.

Goals. New adventures. New chances for my friends to tell me I’m crazy and insane. New opportunities to prove to myself I can do something bigger and a little more fierce.

In between times, I’m tearing up the road on my bike with long miles and lifting heavy things to keep strong… and keeping my eye on growing my running distances.

Passion. It’s a good thing to have in life, right ? We all need to be passionate about something… it makes our heart beat fast and invigorates us … hopefully it challenges us as well making us feel alive.

Tell me… what’s your passion? What makes your heart beat fast and makes you feel invincible ?

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