Monday, July 30, 2007

When will running get easier?

Someone on a marathoner message board asked that question--that got me thinking.

I always had a vision of myself as an experienced runner. I would be gliding effortlessly along the path/trail/road. My legs and arms moving gracefully, my breath even.

(Sound of record screeching) Nope that's sure not me--at least not all the time. I find that as I progress, I still work hard--not because I am working to run at the same pace, but because I want to continue to improve my running.

Saturday I had one of those endorphin runs. I got to the end of my run and discovered I had more in my tank than I thought and was able to maintain a faster than usual pace and still run hard at the end of the run. It was one of those runs that makes you believe you have made a break through--at least until tonight.

Tonight's run was hard. It was actually for 10 less minutes than the Saturday run. I ran out on a trail I hadn't run yet this year. My mile splits were not what I wanted them to be and I started making all kinds of excuses--"It's hot" , "I didn't wait long enough after dinner", "I'm just having a bad run", "This part of the trail is rocky (it actually was) and I need to be careful here". I had a whole list and I started to drop into my misery.

I turned around at 25 minutes and headed back. I started to think about my run and told myself that I knew every run wouldn't be an endorphin moment--they couldn't all be. Every great, fantastic run is built on the blocks of the not so great feeling runs around them. I decided to get all that I could out of my run. I told myself I need to work on my form--knees up, arms down, shoulders back and relaxed, head up. I fell into the rhythm of my run. When I wanted to slow I told myself to go on, to be faithful, to be strong.

I negative split the run by 1:30--that's a pretty huge margin for me! Maybe it wasn't a horrible run after all, or maybe it just stopped being one when I changed my attitude.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Athlete, Me?

How I see myself may not be the way that someone else does. To me I think an athlete is a professional individual who has a toned sculpted body competing on a high level or is good at what they do. Others may precive me as an athlete but my self image does catergize myself there. For instance do these marathon times, 5 hours 39 minutes, 5 hours 38 minutes, 5 hours 58 minutes, 5 hours 11 minutes, conjure up the imagine of an athlete? To me they don’t. They are the image of a back of the pack runner hoping to finish before they tear down the finish line. So, therefore, I don't consider myself as an athlete. I look at those times and see the determination of completing something that has been started. I do though think of myself as an active person who likes to do endurance events and put in the training required. I train hard for any improvement seen and to acheive goals set. These gains however aren’t from natural talent. Crosing the finish line is more about mental strength and fortitude rather than phyiscal ability. I am competitive but only with myself as a progression of my improvement. So I wonder I can run and bike and finish events entered but does that make me an athlete? Who decides what I am? I may be an ‘everyday’ athlete that inspires other that know me but not in the context of a ‘professional’ athlete. Being active and healthly is the most important part no matter if you consider yourself an athlete or not. Being out there is all that matters and that you are having fun. Again, I ask, me an athlete. Maybe my mindset will get there.

Monday, July 23, 2007

and the slump is over...

Did 11 miles tonight, 2:02:45, treadmill. First 10 felt great, last mile was a little tough (I'm trying to finish all runs faster than I start, so had been ramping up the speed my entire run).

Someone give me a kick in the pants, please!

OK, I'm having a major existential crisis here! Well, maybe not an existential crisis, but a running crisis for sure. I just can't get out the door. So I'm putting it down in writing, right here and now, that I'm running tonight.

My training schedule say 6 mile tempo run (10:26 miles). Or I'll do my 11-miler long run that I blew off yesterday when laying on the couch reading all day. OY.

I'll report in later this evening, you heard it here first.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Running is a Simple Sport?

You read books about running and they say it is such a wonderful, simple sport because all you need is a good pair of shoes--and a good bra if you are female.

So how come I need so much stuff? Last Saturday I had (from head to toe)
  • Running hat (protects head, absorbs sweat, keeps sun out of my eyes)
  • Sunglasses (protects eyes from both Sun and flying insects)
  • Running bra (absolutely essential)
  • Heart Rate Monitor strap
  • Garmin 305 GPS and sport watch
  • Running shorts'
  • Sport Glide and Vaseline for Toes, feet, bra straps
  • Asics Kayano socks
  • Asics Kayano shoes with SuperFeet insoles
  • Sunscreen

I also carried:

  • Camelbak FlashFlo (with 1 liter of Gu2O orange flavor)
  • 1 Gu brand sports gel (plain flavor)
  • Tissues
  • 1 Bike bottle with ice and water (left in car for after the run)
  • Blue Ice reusable cooler pack (left in car)
  • 1 Can of Lactose Free Slimfast French Vanilla drink (left in car on blue ice pack for post-run)
All of this for a 10 mile run (1:37)

Admittedly, I would not need to get all of this ready if I ran out and back from my house. I drive to my favorite running trail because I like the gravel path, and the slant on my neighborhood streets aggravate my ITBS. I also like to run with my training group.

I always say I carry this stuff because I'm a mom, and I like to be prepared and find the feeling that I have what I need to be comforting. Still, I show up for my group runs and people don't have water, don't have gel, didn't eat breakfast, don't wear sunscreen. Most of my fellow group members are 15-20 years younger than I am--but should I be taking less, or should they be taking more?

In a way I envy them--not having the extra weight and all. But then I hear them talking about how tired they are for the rest of the day, and how they don't recover from their runs. This year I have been feeling pretty good after about an hour of rest after my long runs.

Maybe my stuff and I are just fine!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Mind over matter?

I've been running for a few years now, since 2000. Not always consistently, by any means, but over time, I have some decent miles on my legs and muscle memory can take over where my training leaves off.

But when marathon training season comes around, I start having the same doubts every time, i.e. "What the hell am I doing this for?" or "I hate running long!" or "Am I going to be able to finish this long run?"

Clearly, after 4 marathons, I can go the distance. I just find it strange that sometimes my mind has more power than my body - or actually, that I GIVE my mind the power over my body. So maybe it's just a matter of "don't think, just run."

Sunday, July 1, 2007

An Ode to a First Aid Kit

Today after my long run, I had to deal with a huge blister and a hole rubbed in my middle toe. I have also been taping my feet before every run with trainer's tape. I realize that my pre- and post-running first aid supplies have taken over the table next to my couch and there was no room for the usual remote, coaster and box of tissues!

Now you may say that a normal person would just put all of this stuff back in the medicine cabinet after being done with it. The problem is that the last thing you want to do after running over 10 miles and finally sitting down, is get up again!

So now, I have a first aid box that I keep under the couch. Here are its contents:
  • Trainer's tape in 1.5 and 1 inch widths
  • Small scissors for cutting the tape
  • Body Glide
  • Bottle of hydrogen peroxide
  • Cotton balls
  • Sterilized quilting pin for lancing blisters
  • Tube of bacitraycin
  • Box of band-aids
  • Air Salonpas spray
  • Jar of menthol ice gel
  • Tube of foot cream with menthol

Now, anyone that comes to my house will not know that running has taken over my life... unless they happen to know me. ;-)