Category Archives: Run-imations

Run-imations: run-volutions.

I haven’t done a ‘run-imnations’ (ruminations – get it, I’m so punny…) post in awhile and on the last handful of runs I’ve had, I’ve really thought about my ‘run-volution’ of sorts over the past few months in particular.

Coming back from a bit of an ITBS injury that kept me not running for almost two months and slowly coming back into my regular runs (3-4 days a week), I am amazed at how differently I run now. Not only physically run, but mentally, too.

It’s no secret that I am a mental runner. I am almost always fighting being too in-my-head, fearing a bad run, stressing over steady breathing, a side cramp, anything that would inhibit a good run.

But now?

If I start to head down that path, I ask myself “are my legs ok?” The answer is almost ALWAYS ‘yes.’ And it’s mental. My legs feel happy, strong, NOT tired, so why am I worrying?

Run on.

I used to mentally add up how many miles I was running per week and aim for XX miles, adding too much emphasis and importance on a number than just having a good run.

But now?

I don’t run in miles. I run in minutes. (a la Lindsay, who does this oh so well and inspiring!) And I run happily whether it’s 30 minutes, 45, an hour, or more.

Run on.

I used to panic when I start breathing weird, or just struggle with breathing, depending on the air conditions (too cold, or too humid are typically my vices!) and get mad if I needed to walk it out.

But now?

I will stop and walk a few minutes to even out my breathing and – this is the key – not label the run bad because I had to stop. M is constantly reminding me of this when I try to call a run bad if I stop and walk it off, and tell me that we are ‘just running’ – it’s okay if we stop, we are just enjoying the run and the time together. Yes, yes, he is so right. Every time I try to venture down that path. (side note: M truly IS my run-sherpa and lately, I have realized that more and more, I am so grateful that we do almost all of our runs together each week, it truly is a special time and I adore every minute of it!)

Run on.

I used to want to ‘run happy’ and actually BE happy when I was running. And more often than not, I’d find myself in my head, struggling, breathing wrong and well…unhappy.

But now?

I run happy almost always because I am SO happy to be running, to not be sidelined with an injury, and now, to be running outside, fresh air, working hard with that ‘legs feeling worked’ oh so good feeling, and sweat dripping down my face. THAT is happy running.

And it is something that I don’t think I ever truly achieved before I couldn’t run.

It’s amazing what an injury can do, no matter how big or small that injury or recovery is.

And today, as M and I finished our run and I almost run into someone running in our direction – because I was SO letting go and just running, I didn’t even notice – that never would have happened before!! – I thought ‘that was a tough run’ but instead of a frown, I was smiling. A tough, but GOOD run. A happy run.

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On running, tragedy, and inspiration.

I almost chose not to write a post about yesterday’s Boston Marathon tragedy, but the more I read, the more blogs, tributes and gestures, the more I fall in love with running even more than I ever thought I could.

Because I’ve always been teetering on the fence of love-to-run and love-to-hate-to-run, despite my best efforts to get rid of the ‘hate,’ there are still days I struggle. With breathing, with pace, with ‘in my head-ness’ and it makes me wonder if I’ll ever love the sport as much as others will.

But the truth is? It doesn’t matter. And it never will. 

What matters is that I do it because I DO love it, at the heart of it, because it is the one sport, I truly believe, that never gets any easier, no matter if you are an elite, a jogger, or somewhere in between. You run because it is a challenge. Every.single.time. There is no such thing as an ‘easy’ run. (despite those that call their runs an ‘easy run day…’). You may run with ease, but the act of running itself? Not. Easy. Ever.

But my point with all of this is…after yesterday’s tragedy, I honestly don’t know that I have seen a community come together as quick as this, to respond, react, support. From instagram, to Twitter, to Facebook, to tributes, to candlelight vigils, to worldwide support in every single way…there it was. And it was, and still is, beautiful. Every single time I come across something else beautiful, in light of tragedy.

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This quote (Runner’s World):

“It’s the only sport in the world where if a competitor falls, the others around will pick him or her up. It’s the only sport in the world open to absolutely everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or any other division you can think of. It’s the only occasion when thousands of people assemble, often in a major city, for a reason that is totally peaceful, healthy and well-meaning. It’s the only sport in the world where no one ever boos anybody.”

This act of kindness.

And this ‘virtual’ run that has spread so quickly, so virally. And you better believe I ran this morning. M and I ran and ran, in silence, our longest run since the fall. It was tough. I was in my head at the start, but by the end, I felt accomplished, happy, and in a way, paying it forward.

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Take a minute. Pay it forward. Tell someone you love them. Run. Walk. Smile. Do something. Be inspired today, and take one step in front of the other, onward.

 

 

Musings on the (mostly recovered) knee and running outside.

I’ve been waiting to talk more about my knee until I felt as though I was (mostly) recovered (partially also not to jinx it, of course!), but after two fantastic outdoor runs this weekend, it felt like the perfect time.

What I’ve learned so far?

Patience is a freaking virtue. I hate to admit it, because it was incredibly difficult at first. Despite this injury being relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, and of knee injuries generally, I consider myself extremely fortunate that it’s really only taken about three months since the pain first started (December) through physical therapy (starting in January for 8 weeks) to being back to running almost as regularly as before.

Leg strength and those PT exercises really do work wonders. I actually really enjoyed going to physical therapy and learning where I have some weaknesses (a little in my hips, left quad only [odd!] mainly) and how to work those areas, and the opposing areas to strengthen and improve my legs overall. While I went into this thinking my legs are strong – and they are – knowing that there are small areas of weakness that, with a little strengthening daily, really REALLY makes a big difference!).

Slow and steady wins the race. Okay, that statement never quite made sense to me in the literal sense, BUT, this approach has really helped me a) not get frustrated that I am not back where I was endurance, distance and speed-wise as before and b) steadily work my way back to 3-4 runs per week (4 has not quite happened yet, but that’s also due to teaching a lot of classes lately each week – wheeee – and I am trying to be smart about it and not overdo it!) and steadily increase my pace. Not that speed is important to me, because it is not, but I lost a lot of my ‘regular’ treadmill pace in those months of not running and I am realistic in knowing it’ll take time to get back.

What did my outdoor runs this weekend teach me?

I feel so much more satisfied running outside than on the (dread)mill. Even though my runs were shorter, about 3.5 miles each, my legs just felt so much more worked than when I run on the mill. I LOVE that feeling. Absolutely adore it. Every area of my quads, glutes, hammies and shins felt it. I am sorer today as a result and ya know what? That hurts so good. THAT is what I missed about running on the mill this winter and not running at all. I LOVE that feeling.

My legs feel stronger and sturdier post-PT. I was amazed at how much stronger I felt as I ran. Saturday I ran for the first time with a (soon to be!) instructor at barre n9ne (she is another 60 day transformation story – check her story here, side note/plug!!) and it just felt like a good run (sans one side cramp). Happy, not stressy or hard in a bad way (struggling way). Sunday, I ran with M post teaching at the studio, and the run felt amazing. Every stride felt good. I didn’t feel tempted to stop at a few spots I usually do on the route we took. Strong and sturdy. Slow and steady. Wins the race. (see, I guess that statement does work…hehe)

And I can’t wait to run outside more, more, more!! After only running once outside before this in 2013 (gah!), with this girl (kindred!), it’s making me itch for more outdoor runs. The more, the better. Consistency will be key for me now. Come onnnnn spring!!

On that note, I hope you all had a great weekend…we certainly did, much more to share on that soon, but lest I jinx myself, I shall leave it at that 😉

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11 mental miles.

By now, you’ve probably figured out that I have been quietly tacking on to my ‘virtual sherpa’ miles in support of my sister’s marathon next month. (and while I still refuse to say exactly where I’m going – proverbially and literally (!) speaking, I’ll share my goal when I reach it, mmk?)

So, this morning ended up being our ‘virtual sherpa’ run even though Jess isn’t planning to run her next long run (20 miles (!)) until Saturday (part of the reason for our ‘early’ sherpa’ing? It’s our two year anniversary  – yayyyyy – on Saturday and running 11 miles that morning did not seem to be the most romantic way to start it off, hehe).

11 miles was the plan.

I mapped out our route last night and unlike my sister, who, mentally, finds it easier to tackle longer distances by doing the same route several times (so, a 7 mile loop twice for 14 miles, for example) while for me, that would bore me to tears and also tempt me into stopping early. For me, a long loop the extent of the run just does it for me.

So. Our run took us 11 miles and almost entirely of one continuous route. The only change was one loop to get us to 11. And honestly, that loop played mental mind games with me. As we looped around, my legs were just beat up. (even though I intentionally gave myself a day between runs to let them rest a bit). They felt like I was at mile 9 or 10, not mile 5 and 6. Even M’s legs were tired prematurely.

We kept going and around mile 7, walked some and had some water and fuel (ala Healthy Bites, thank you Lindsay!!). I was SO thirsty for some reason, but only drank a little, given I always side cramp if I am not careful with water consumption. This is where I started to freak out a little. I was just.so.tired. We came up to a spot where we go left, and complete 11 miles, or go right (and a huge ass mofo of a hill, I might add) and shorten our run and go home. If this says anything about this run – I was thisclose to taking the shorter, yet, mofo-hill way. SOclose. 

And then M gave me some tough love. He said ‘look. I’m tired too. I don’t know what’s happening to us today, but we got up this morning to run 11 miles. We are going to run 11 miles.’

Me, using my inside voice: ‘sheesh. I love you too babe.’

😉

So, we kept going. And it was just labor. Torture. I am pretty sure I could not have been more miserable in these final 4 miles than I was (and I might add, not ONE BUNNY the entire run. That should have been a sign this run was going to be miserable!). At the only other super steep mofo-like hill, I just had to walk it. I tried to run, my legs were practically moving backwards (it’s that steep, I swear). So I stopped. And I felt the lump in my throat rising. The panic setting in. And I shed a couple of tears, but tried to hide them. We didn’t speak. Just breathed, held hands. 

And we took off once again and somehow, some way, managed to make it all 11 miles. It felt like 20. Truly. They felt almost entirely like dismal, awful, just downright angry miles. (except for the beautiful sunrise we witnessed during the first 3 miles of our run, the only good miles we ran, I do believe!).

So we made it. 11 mental miles. 

And when I head out for that redemption run on Saturday (a shorter one, of course) with M, on our two year anniversary, I’m going to turn those mental miles into happy miles. Channel the last two years. The best years of my life. 

Perfect 10.

Today, M and I ran 10 miles. 

I hit my ‘secret miles’ goal of 10 miles today and didn’t tell a soul (well, except M…and maybe my sis, hehe. but that’s a given!).

It’s a complete switch for me. To set a goal for myself and well, keep it to myself, primarily, until I accomplish it (I *may* have mentioned it in this post, but sort of snuck that in there, didn’t I?). And I did it this way because I wanted to do it quietly, no self-inflicted pressure, nothing. Do it, then share it.

I think about this time last summer, I was beating myself up after a craptastic half marathon performance (my second – and likely – last ever) and floundering with my run-goals. Where to go from here, what to focus on, what do I want my ‘run personality’ to be? I was in heavy comparison mode. Total compare-itis.

Fast forward to now? To running happy miles. To running to run. To enjoying every run, and run sherpa’ing my sister and anyone else that jumps in to this wonderful group of women we’ve cultivated (Dorry, Lindsay, Heather, Spabettie, Amber, Melissa, Meaghan, and of course, Jess!).

And most of all?

To supporting Jess and Scott in their marathon 100%. And then some. When she told me she was running a marathon, my first reaction was “I wish I wanted that. I wish we could share it together” (and in the back of my mind…fears that my old comparision-itis fears would come back to haunt me and I’d be jealous, to be quite honest). But you know what? We ARE sharing it. Just in a different way. And I honestly think that ‘quiet support’ I’ve found, combined with really focusing on happy, smart runs, has made all the difference.

The lightbulb has flicked and I am running happily and most importantly, running well, almost every time. Sure there are still mental runs (running is naturally just mental, let’s face it!), sure some are better than others, but I run because I love it and love what it does for me, not because of any other outside factor (cue run-mesia!).

This morning’s run was a perfect 10. Perfect 10 day (low humidity, cool morning in the upper 50s (!), rested legs). Perfect 10 miles. Perfect 10 time spent with M. Who sang to me, hopped like a gazelle over trash or sticks (man, I hate when he looks so damn oblivious to the fact that we are running and running wicked far – heehee), and kept me going the entire time.

When we walked outside to get started, still slightly dark, a little baby bunny went scampering right in front of us into the bushes. I squeaked and whispered ‘hi bunny, hi bun bunnnn, so cuuuuute’ and M proceeded to shake his head and call me crazy, saying ‘even the bunny is a little uncomfortable at how happy you are to see him’ <LOL! But then said ‘that bunny is a sign that this is going to be a good run.”

And good run it was. Perfect 10, in fact.