The Weird And Wonderful Things About Runners

So I haven’t written any posts on the wonderful act of running lately.  Not that it hasn’t been on my mind OR something I’ve been slowly crawling back into.

I have been back on the road. I’ve been juggling cycling and short runs. In fact, I’ll be doing it very soon this morning.

Last week, I did my first double digit miles in…well… I can’t honestly tell you.

10 miles.  I felt glorious in that tired, exhilarating way that a long run can make me feel. Especially when I’ve not been able to for so long.

I wondered taking off… can I still DO this ?!

Over the past year or so I’ve been walking a fine line with an Achilles issue of doing enough but not doing to much to send me horribly backwards.  I’m not fully fixed yet but I’ve come to a careful balance of “if I don’t feel any worse, it’s a win” .

Actually, I’ve been using a method that is recommended by many running experts which is a run/walk method. It’s great for a newbie to start getting acclimated to running and protecting from over injuries of doing to much to soon.

The same theory works for a wounded runner easing back into it. The idea being not to over do and let your body adjust to the rigors of being on the road again.

If you’ve never done it, it works something like this. You might start off with a strong, brisk walk and do that for awhile, then start adding in maybe, 10-15 second running intervals, then drop to brisk walking again. You just continue to alternate this through your miles. Of course, the plan is a gradual increase in running time.

Mentally, I have to really keep myself in check from not letting myself run to fast or to long. It’s hard when I know what I’ve done and what I’m capable of doing and keep it reined in to my current needs.

All that to say…as a distance runner… it’s hard to not long for that time on the road. It becomes a craving.

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Last week I had gone on a 9 mile jaunt and wondered why I had not just gone the full 10 ( again, baby steps) I know mileage increase needs to occur in small increments to not have set backs or to make injury worse.

Actually I finished with my Garmin saying 9.10… which left me with that thought.. why not have just finished it out to 10?

It’s how runners think.. what’s another mile?

Runners are a weird, wonderful lot.

I never thought that till I became one. It’s funny how you start thinking about things. How you look at things.

Things that start to feel normal to you, but if you speak it out loud to non-runners, they give you that raised eyebrow look or simply tell you that you’re crazy.

Right there is one of those very thoughts…

When you tell a runner they are “crazy” it’s like, one of the coolest compliments you can give us. It means.. you are insane and I’d never even think of doing such a thing but I really admire you for your craziness.

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Mileage. If we are coming down the home stretch to where we will finish our run and realize our Garmin is telling us we have only a quarter mile or less to roll to the next mile, you can bet we are gonna make that next mile roll over.

One does not simply stop running that close to hitting the next mile 😉

We spend more on our running shoes than anything else we put on our feet.

It’s the truth. Not only do we spend more, we will wear those suckers out faster than any other shoes we put on our feet.  And we go right back and repeat the process. If we have a brand and model we love we look forward to and anticipate when they newest model will come out.

Next to shoes, it’s clothes. They can be bright, colorful and sometimes very noticeable. We often wear minimal clothes. Running, that’s hard work and gets your inner heater going. The clothes can be as pricey as the shoes.

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We view injuries as a total inconvenience to our running schedule, training and future plans instead of worrying about how we may have beat ourselves up.

We view hills as something to overcome and rule over.  If we’re worth our salt, they become a part of our training ground.

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I caught myself in this one the other day talking to my husband about my recent 10 miles out…

” My run was only 10 miles”

It’s like… as a runner your thinking shifts and you see some things as perfectly normal and no big deal…

Then it hit me.. 10. Miles.

That is a flipping long way.

True, I’ve gone further. The half, full and ultra marathon were definitely lots longer distances.

10 miles during training for those events was nothing.

But when you casually talk about a cool 10 miles before breakfast…. you realize…you’re weird and that normal people aren’t out doing that.

Your foam roller becomes a new best friend. Or in my case, I now roll out on a pvc pipe. It’s a wonderful “hurts so good” feeling sometime. But oh so necessary to keep muscles loose and pliable.

Some nights my evenings are so exciting watching a favorite tv show and rolling.

Runners willingly pay money to run long distances, in all kinds of weather (cause when you’ve already paid, you run.) We usually get a t shirt, a cool medal to add to our collection and a banana at the end. We push ourselves and if we’re lucky we set a new PR and walk away with the bragging rights for having done it.

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Speaking of weather. Yeah, we run in pretty much whatever.  Yeah, we hear you use the adjective “crazy” on us again.

We can’t explain it to you… really… we can’t.

But there is something about running when the weather is less than perfect and you’re out in the elements working against them that makes you feel like… a beast.

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It’s exhilarating.  Trust us. It is.

And miles… It’s how our brains now work. Every where we go we measure things in distance of miles. We think about it in terms of speed and arriving to our destination. We know miles to and from our house, around the block, or our favorite running place. Actually, we could probably tell you to the tenth of a mile the distance.

It’s sick. I know. I’m pretty sure our brains go through a rewiring process or something.

Math. I’ve never been into math. I think it’s boring. I never got the complex stuff in school.  I love words more. Yet, here I am in sports that have me thinking of times and splits and mentally measuring pace and distance to finish when I want to finish. It’s constant, ongoing, mental math.

Oh the irony.

People. Wonderful, supportive people.   The running community is made up of the friendliest, most supportive people I’ve encountered.

Fast, slow or in between we cheer each other on, celebrating each others successes and personal bests. Encouraging when we get derailed and set back. Offering help and advice on training, recovery etc.

Weird and wonderful.

But hey… don’t just take my word for these things. There’s always room for one more runner. Come join us 🙂

 

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Running Health And Rolling Pins

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I glanced out the window taking a break from my writing. I was as per usual, hanging at my fav coffee cave and enjoying some caffeine, some socializing,  and with a goal of getting a new blog post written.

Some days I’m more successful at some parts of that combination than others 😉

What caught my eye was a group of kids running around and all over the place in a field that was on the other side of the parking lot. Part of me wanted to just go out and join them …to shake the kinks out of my body from my time in the chair writing. The cool part was knowing I still had the abilities to do it if I wanted to crash their fun afternoon romp in the sun.

I decided I should behave myself and focus on getting my writing done for the day and not running around the field like an over grown kid .. I choked back a giggle imagining their faces if I just joined them 😛

Watching them though got me to thinking about our lives as adults… what happens that we stop running and being vigorous ? When do we get to a point that the idea of it seems funny and like it’s something only left for kids to do ?  Like running and using our bodies isn’t a total natural thing we should be able to do for a good long time…if not a life time ?

You know why?

We stop using them like they were designed for. We get lazier and less interested in moving around fast, much less running. Then at some point we start viewing running as an activity that a select group of crazy people doing in varying distances.

We look at running as an activity in a separate bubble that doesn’t apply to us anymore. True, some get older and have health problems that arise or some issue that truly keeps them from being that active.

But overall, we simply stop moving that way. We lose the ability/desire to do it.

However, for some of us, we find it again. We find the pure, natural joy of running again as grown ups, and we embrace it, perhaps in a way we never appreciated as a child.

I did. I was in my mid-40’s when I somehow evolved into a runner.

Go freaking figure.

Questions that are often posed to me.. “Oh, so you must’ve run in school?”, ” were you athletic in school?” “have you always run?”

No, no, and no.

I simply changed from a fast walker to running… in some ways I found it easier than fast walking.

But however it occurred, it started to get in my blood. It was my exercise, my therapy, my way to clear my head and process creative thoughts. It could also be my escape when I needed to retreat from moments in life that felt heavy.

Needless to say when an injury took me out of it last year, I felt frustrated and angry to not be able to pursue what had become my passion.

I have been slowly working my way back up. I’ve spent time on the road doing lots of fast walking. I’ve been trying to do things that will promote healing and let me go after it full speed and mega miles again.  I’ve also done strength training and cycling to help work me in different ways while keeping me strong and keeping my cardio levels where I want them to be.

One of the biggest things that has helped is basically learning to be more aggressive with the things I do BEFORE and AFTER I’m active.

Rolling, stretching, some yoga moves, etc all are contributing to helping me get back out there the way I want to be.

This is what I want to remind you of if you’re a runner or engage in pretty serious physical activity… the things we do before and after matter a lot to keeping our bodies strong and healthy for the activities we love.

I always joked that running was as simple as tossing on your shoes and taking off, and it is.

But there needs to be some time to prepare your body for that activity to let  it get loosened up, or to help it unwind afterwards. This was a part I was missing. Oh yeah, I did a little warming up, but not the rolling and stretching I’m factoring in now.

So I offer up some “tools of the trade” that I have found helpful and use before I workout, after I work out and usually in the evenings watching tv

 

The foam roller. A handy tool to roll out most of your body. It’s great for even rolling up your back and shoulders. It’s a great way to loosen things up. The negative to foam is it can start getting “soft” and losing it’s healing abilities. Make sure you change it out frequently if it doesn’t have the same firmness.

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I don’t use foam much anymore since the Airrosti clinic got me rolling on a pvc pipe. Yes…a pipe… a hard pipe like what water runs through. In the beginning it was definitely an adjustment but they told me my muscles would adapt to foam and the pipe would be more aggressive to working out tight hard muscles.

Yikes they were right and now I hands down prefer it over foam. It doesn’t give under my weight so I can really work my muscles into it.

A lacrosse ball. It’s great for feet. I use it constantly to really work into the tight areas. It’s also great for getting specifically into a muscle that needs some serious attention. It can be ridiculously painful in a good way… like make you whimper and cry kinda way… but it’s good

A plain old kitchen rolling pin. You can use it to work into the backs of your calves or other small areas that feel tight.

Yoga. Ok I’m far from an expert or yoga guru, but I do have a few go to moves that I took home from some classes. Learn a few basic stretches to help keep you loose.

Besides all of that I learned it’s important to stretch my feet, ankles, and toes…yes…toes! Go figure, but it actually feels good and with the impact feet take from running, stretching all those ligaments and muscles not only helps, it feels good.

Yes, running is fun and hard and rewarding and on many levels, just natural and easy. Taking a few extra steps to warming up and cooling down will hopefully keep you and I on the road for a long time to come.

Tell me, do you have any tips or tricks to keep your body healthy and well for running or other physical activities?

 

50K’s, Color Runs and Mud

OK… this is my disclaimer to this post… it’s meant to be a fun thought process/commentary and not meant to offend anyone who enjoys the following events… ( you should be hearing this in like a…. Morgan Freeman voice 😉

I’m semi-squinting at the screen ’cause I had my eyes dilated today and it totally makes me feel awesome  jacks with my head the rest of the day/evening. I look like an owl for the next 24 hours….I’ll do my best to keep typos and such to a minimum 😉

I came into running all the wrong way.

I wasn’t a school track athlete. I wasn’t a trendy 20 something wanting to be cool and do the “jogging” thing in the 80’s.

The idea of running for the sole purpose of… running….. was a completely foreign concept to me.

But then as I’ve shared with you in other posts, it just kinda evolved, and then, one day…

I’m a runner.

I was a runner who was popping off 6-7 mile runs as the normal routine. I mean, isn’t that what you did ? I was happy in my new little running world oblivious of things like intervals, and tempo runs and hill repeats or being happy with negative splits (what was that ??)

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Hills anyone ?

THEN….. one day… a well meaning friend said…..

“You should run the Rock n Roll half marathon in November”

I laughed. I told her other people did it, not me.

And when I stopped laughing she said, “well, you’re already running over half the distance.”

That was June and by July I had committed and was officially registered for my first half marathon.

I trained myself and took it on in November. I couldn’t believe I actually ran 13.1 miles.

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Tired and scraggly after my very first half marathon in 2011. And I gave up running in these types of shorts a long time ago….

I’ve learned a lot since then. I follow a structured training plan now (thank you Hal Higdon) I’ve learned lots of running terms, become particular about what I like to run in, and learned how my body responds to various things.

I also learned this: most people start with a 5K as a first race…. not a half marathon… haha

Like I said….. I came into this running thing kicking and screaming    in not the most conventional way.

All this to say, I’ve taken what I do pretty seriously since I started. I’m intense and every run matters to me. I am horribly competitive with myself…. and hard on myself to.

When I sign up for a race, I’m serious about it. Yeah, I get the world won’t stop spinning based on my performance, I’m still kind of intense about it.

That competitive thang…..

Which brings me to these other “runs” that are cropping up faster than weeds in the spring time.

Color Runs, Foam, Neon, Music, Inflatables,  Zombies, Mud, Obstacles……

I’ve been invited to participate in them all. I haven’t….yet….

Why?

Can I breathe this out loud ?

I guess, that serious, competitive part of me is focused on running and so many of these seem like a big party.

Nothing wrong with that. People running happy in costumes, snapping selfies, no worries about PR’s or negative splits. Running is in addition to other stuff going on.

This is what I decided one day. I fall into the “serious” runner category…. not the play category.

I mean someday I’d like to do a Tough Mudder or Spartan runs… that let’s  your total athletic self  get used…. but then I think… what if I injured myself in mud…or on a barb wire fence 😉 it would mess me up running.

See? Serious runner.

As a runner, I’ve tackled multiple half marathons, two fulls, and a 50K run this Saturday.  To me, personally, these aren’t fun and game distances.

When I mention this to my fun running friends they get this deer in the headlights look on their face and laughingly tell me……. I’m crazy.

Maybe I am…. I kinda prefer the word…serious though 😉 although, crazy IS  a pretty cool compliment to a runner…..

What do you think? If you’re a runner do you consider yourself “serious” ?  or do you just like to go do something fun and playful? Do you see a difference ?

Have you ever done a fun run ?

Race Weekend

Alright, I did give you a heads up earlier in
the week…..

It’s here.

Race weekend. It’s hard  feeling that hyper energy and excitement that comes with it.

I feel a connection to this half marathon.  This is the fourth year its been run and I’ve been able to be in each race.

Interesting tidbit, but it was after running my best half in this race that the idea of running a full marathon showed up in my head.

The start of full blown insanity…..

The first year seemed disorganized and a bit chaotic.
I pondered the idea it might not go further than one year.

However, as time has gone on it has gotten better. Its grown but still not so big you’re lost in a sea of people ( like when I run the Rock n Roll)

The coolest part of this race is that it
starts and ends at our historic Alamo.

Which is why the race is cleverly titled….

The Alamo 13.1 it needs to be mentioned you also get super cool finisher medals ’cause we all run for over ripe bananas that cool bling 😉

The course treks all over the beautiful downtown San Antonio area, along the Riverwalk and lots of other nifty scenic areas.

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Looking all messy and victorious after the finish in 2014
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A close look at the prize. Its nicer than a banana 😉
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Early morning at finish line

So….just a quick update here…stay tuned for weekend recaps 🙂

Happy running! Anyone else racing this weekend?