All this election and post election chaos and I haven’t let myself slip too far off my training schedule, yayy me! Honestly, I’ve needed the distraction and running and working out helps relieve stress and frustration.
I feel I’m starting to get back in sync with the training and have been finding the joy in it again. Depression and stress can kick you on your butt. And it’s so messed up that the one big thing that can help get you out of depression is getting those endocrines flowing and physically feeling better and stronger. Everything just starts to fall back into line. Like a domino effect. My nutrition has been getting healthy again and full circle, that is helping with both the training and the depression. So, much like the ouroboros dragon, swallowing its tail, like a symbol of wholeness, is the circle of cause and effect with physical activity, feeling better, eating better and feeling better so you want to continue over and over again because of that cause and effect.
The hard part of course is that getting back into it all after you sat the sidelines a while. The good part is that to some degree your body has some muscle memory.
“Muscle memory has been used to describe the observation that various muscle-related tasks seem to be easier to perform after previous practice, even if the task has not been performed for a while. It is as if the muscles “remember”. The term could relate to tasks as disparate as playing the clarinet and weight-lifting, i.e., the observation that strength trained athletes experience a rapid return of muscle mass and strength even after long periods of inactivity.” – Wikipedia
Of course the longer you’re away the less muscle memory, the longer it will take to “bounce back”. I’m no professional but I can tell you that after 3 months away from it all, that first step out the door was hard and the next couple steps were kind of brutal. But then like riding a bike, it was like my body remembered, yeah I like to do this, I like this challenge. Challenge accepted! So don’t despair if you’ve been on the sidelines. Our bodies will follow where our mind leads. And the human body wants to work. It wants to move. Our bodies function better when we make the time to take care of it.
It’s a good mental break from all the stress life can throw at you. Politics, world issues, your job, relationship problems, financial problems, whatever. It’s just good practice to get out of your own head and go for a run, or take a lap or two in the pool.
If you’re a nurturer like me, who tends to take care of everyone and everything else around you first, before yourself, you have to remember you need to remember to take care of yourself. Otherwise you’ll burn out. Find your mountain and climb it. Be your own hero
There are many many reasons TO run races. They can be really very motivational and being surrounded by so many amazing and supportive fellow runners can be a great experience and very inspirational. But during my mini hiatus from running I considered the race I have coming up and the pressure that can put on me. I signed up for that race long before my injury or my dog passing and all the other stresses life’s thrown at me and us over the last few months. And it’s a length I’ve never even tried before, a half marathon. I’ve done one 10-miler before but usually I do 5K’s, maybe a couple 7 or 8K’s thrown in through the year. But not even in training have I ever done a half marathon. The last time I even walked something that distance was likely the slow walk we did through our Disney excursions. So a half marathon is a little intimidating.
There is something to be said to be in the crowd waiting for the horns or whistles to start a race. There is an energy that can be addictive. It has nothing to do with competing. It’s the vibe of all these athletes (yes you are an athlete if you are in a race, or even running for that matter) who have trained, prepared, anticipated and usually woke very early to line up with everyone in the wee hours of morning. It’s a camaraderie. And it gets your adrenaline pumping.
That preparation you do before a race is a huge motivator for many. For me it’s been both a source of inspiration and specific time to focus on improving my pace and form. It’s the thing that makes you lace up your shoes on days you’d just like to stay in bed with the covers over your eyes. Those cold mornings can be rough, and the hot afternoon sun mid summer is brutal. But still, you have that date ingrained in your head and you gotta keep pushing.
Most races your entry fee is for a charity and that for me is a big reason to do races. I think I do races more for that reason than any other. It’s such a win win. You help a charity with your entry fee and yet you get a shirt, a medal, a piece of fruit, or more (hot chocolate races are awesome from what I hear) AND you get to race yourself, test yourself and your capabilities.
LIVE music! Or at least radio stations playing music. What a rush that is for me. Music is a big motivator for me. I only wish that the Rock & Roll was done more towards the winter months. Great music, but sooooo humid usually. And I don’t take the humidity well. So instead I usually volunteer for that one, and many others in the dead of summer heat. I am not a summer runner!
Some people actually thrive on running neck and neck with another in a race. For a few it really is competitive, especially when you become one of the fastest in an area, or a specific race. But still, it’s usually that competition with self. But running alongside others can be a push for you, especially when you start to drag. Usually I always keep someone who stands out who is going just a little faster than my pace, and I make myself keep up with them. And if I pass them, I focus on another who stands out. It all helps with focus, especially when I start to hit a wall and my legs just want me to stop. I look for that person and it becomes tunnel vision until I get over that hump.
Camaraderie! When you run with a team you don’t all necessarily run “together”. But you do have team members spread around the course who are out there giving you support and keeping an eye on you. Plus before and after the race, getting together with your team makes for a double the fun of the day! Some teams train together. The RWB runs together, and does cross-training together. Some times we do rock wall climbing or yoga too. Many bigger races have training teams for half marathons and marathons.
I love race expo’s! Packet pick up day is a fun time. Especially if you like shopping or trying out new gear. Often you can grab a great deal and learn about new advancements in gear and tech.
Or Not To Race
Some people shouldn’t run races. Plain and simple. For some it’s added pressure that takes away from the shear joy of the run. And the spontaneity of place and distance. Many runners and I’m one of those, especially when on a trail like to stop and take in nature, snap some pictures, enjoy the experience of feeling the air around me and the sights before me.
For others signing up for a race, no matter how much you know you’re only in competition with yourself, let the pressure of others running along with them dull the experience of the run. Then what’s the point of even running? You have to find joy. Or as RunJunkEes® say, “Find The magic In The Misery”. If it’s not fun, you’re just going to stop, so don’t do what makes you unhappy with your run.
I’ve talked to a few who just don’t like the crowds or the noise that events bring with them. While others feed off the rush of all that energy around them. I am a huge fan of the music. I like music when I walk or run. No chatting, just me, nature and music. Usually races like half marathons require a training schedule of some kind and some people just enjoy their runs to be more spur of the moment and unplanned. A free spirit approach, letting the run flow where it will free of constraint.
Weather can be iffy for some people living in certain areas making training for races difficult. Some see this as opportunity to toughen up and face the flurries or downpours. Not to mention some areas get pretty humid in the summer months. If I lived in Florida I would only run at night. But some see these weather obstacles as difficult to try and juggle specific training plans.
Not every charity is one you may want to donate to. I have one I will not run (no names will be mentioned here) because I personally don’t like how their monies are allocated through the charity. So I never run that race, ever. I don’t even volunteer for it.
And finally, my big pet peeve with races. I am not a morning person, not one bit. And getting up early for anything other than my job is always a constant mental battle with me. Most races you have to be out there before the sun even comes up. And on the weekend some times, that is just not sounding fun to me.
So seriously, do what makes you happy and what makes you love your run and find excitement in your training. Running or race walking is trial and error. To run pavement or trails, races or no races, method of run training, etc… It’s all about makes you enjoy what you do. Running is not a competition and it’s not something that should be scary or torturous. It should be challenging yet fun. So get some good quality shoes fitted for you and lace up and get out there. Every step you take is another accomplishment and better health. Adding years to your life and life to your years. Above all else…
personal opinion from personal experience – Not advice from an expert 👍🏼
So I know many of you know that we lost Ippo (our dog) last month. But the last three months have been rough. My hubs traveling on and off, injuries preventing me from getting my butt out and doing any kind of training, depression settling in during the month of August hit hardest. I gained a lot of weight from where I had been. I mean a LOT of weight in a very short time. I gained 30 pounds in 3 months from stress eating and limited exercise.
The last three months has been painful and enlightening all at the same time. I realized just how strong I am and how capable I am of getting my sh*t together when I need to.
Running is HARD for me, stress eating is EASY for me to fall back into. And running, or run training (run/walk/run method – thank you Jeff Galloway) is exactly what keeps me from stress eating. Moving my body lets me get in touch with what my body needs, and what it doesn’t need. Run training releases those endorphin’s that make you feel alive and free your mind of the things that stress you out.
I have been blessed with meeting and knowing some amazing groups of people within the running community. They inspire me every day to be a better me. And during the crappy last few months I’ve been going through, although I neglected myself, neglected these groups, but I still listened to them. I still saw their stories of triumph over adversity. Of reaching new goals, of exceeding their limitations. The running community is filled with some of the best humans you could ever want to encounter. They lift you up when you need it and cheer you on enthusiastically every step of the way. Them along with a handful of amazing friends old and new and in-laws that I adore, I look forward to October and all the plans and goals I am setting!
Running is hard for me. And I love that fact. It challenges me to be better, to do more, to want more. So to INKnBURN, the RWB, RunJunkEes, the Running Turtles, and to Hogwarts
Running Club thank you!! Thank you for being amazing and challenging and there to learn from and to share with, even when I am sitting the sidelines quietly. Because even then, you teach me about me.
I can now fit back into my InB and am back at training again. I crawled out of that rabbit hole and am feeling alive and grateful to be back on track again!
And if you are out there lost down a rabbit hole like I was, because of stress, or loss, or bad self image, or fear, etc… find a group, something you are passionate about and throw yourself head first into it. At fist you may feel like you’re faking it. guess what, you are! But in time you will feel alive again. Full of hope and goals. Ready to set your soul on fire and challenge yourself to what’s hard for you to do.
To all my fellow INKnBURN Ambassadors, RunJunkEes, HRC teammates, Team RWB, friends and anyone else who is running Boston tomorrow, have a great time and may you crush whatever goals you have set for yourselves! But mostly, have an amazing time!!
One day I will run Boston!