The BEST Takeaways From my Running Journey… So Far!

I started running about 7 years ago, and I still remember the very first time that I ran five miles in a row. No stops. It was magical. It was also REALLY hard. I look back on all the time that has passed since then, and all the races, and I realize that running has given me so much more than I thought a physical activity could do. As I was becoming an adult, figuring out who I was then and who I wanted to be, my running journey discreetly helped to guide me here. How awesome is that?!

Here are a few key takeaways that I’ve dug into in the last few years:

  •  Controlling The Controllable – I’ve learned to only compete against myself, so that I become the best ME. 

When I was participating in trampoline and high school sports, I was always competing to WIN, and always landed near the top of the pack. Not winning did happen but it wasn’t something I was thrilled to stand on the podium for. In fact, sometimes I would get 2nd (or…worse!) and tell my Mom that I didn’t even want that award, and we could just go home! She always made me stay, stand up there, smile and be a good sport, because she’s a smart, wonderful mother. However, that outrageous competitive-ness spilled over into a lot of other aspects of my life, and when I look back now, that characteristic was probably annoying!

When I started running, it was humbling. I knew I wasn’t the best. I knew winning was not going to happen. It taught me to set personal goals, time goals, distance goals, etc… instead of relying on a subjective judge to tell me how I stacked up against others. Control the controllable – You can’t do anything about anyone else’s training, speed, nutrition, etc…! Now, I value my successes and accomplished goals as my own personal victories, without feeling compared to the masses of runners, of all shapes, ages, sizes, and experience levels. Even better, once I learned to appreciate that this is a personal journey, I started to get so much enjoyment out of other runner’s successes – faster, slower, longer, or farther than mine – without that bitterness of them “beating” me!

8949_10100858583134711_6336608152577230619_n 1959520_715050495219523_542041417533183483_n

  •   I Only Have One Body – Running taught me so much about health!

I started running because I was so afraid of the “Freshman 15.” Even though I was still doing trampoline, it was less often, I was eating out with friends, just buying cheap snacks to get me through the next pay check and, you know, making typical college student food (yes, and beverage) choices.

Because I was just doing it to avoid gaining weight, running sucked at first. I wasn’t paying attention to hydration, getting any nutrients, etc… It wasn’t until someone talked me into running races that I looked up training plans and started reading about all the best foods for people who run. It didn’t stop there, though. Although I have a huge sweet tooth (ask anyone) and you will not see me turn down a bowl of ice cream, I began to focus on making my meals as wholesome as I can. The runs stopped sucking, my paces got faster, the fatigue went away, and I became so much more educated about the types of things we should be putting into our bodies… But, I digress. We all can read about what we should be eating instead of what we currently do eat. 😉

1797474_10100858581727531_6633972063839726020_n

  • I Genuinely Love The Human Race – However, runners might just be my favorite group of humans.

Many people believe that humans just aren’t good at heart. The news tells us that we kill, torture, and steal from each other. Media also tells us that bad things are happening all over, and we have to prepare for it to happen here. What it never tells us about, though, are the people who cheer complete strangers across a finish line, or those who would literally pick someone’s sweaty body up if it were about to pass out. Runners motivate, help, save, give their all to other runners even when it might cost them a PR. So do people outside of running.

Anyway, I just think the running community reminded me that there are always more good guys than bad. There will always be more people there to push you to be your best, than who want to bring you down. They’ve inspired me to be that kind of smiling, inspiring, motivating individual who leaves other people feeling better than when I found them, and who always believes the best in them. Thank you, runners everywhere, seriously!

1016770_10101283929966075_470811657_n 1044525_10151404303551653_223272349_n (1)

I feel as though there may be a list of 20 million fantastic things, that have made me better, within that list of three but you get it. I think runners honestly feel like they’re one big team. And, I’m so thrilled to be on it. I hope and pray that I am healthy enough to run through all the seasons of my life, but I’m remembering to be thankful that I get to run now, even if it doesn’t end up being forever. 😉

This week was another great week. The sun is out, the temperatures are up and it looks like Spring is here today. I told you it was going to arrive on time. :p

IMG_0481 IMG_0482

Final Thought: I can’t think of one other non-person “thing” in my life that gives me so much, without taking even more from me in return. Your job, daily tasks, never-ending bills, and your acquaintances can all take more from you than you get back sometimes. Running is definitely that joy that gives me a much bigger ROI (I worked in sales). The fatigue and sore muscles – those are all GOOD things that it gives us – building strength for future trials (runs)!

Who/ What in your life gives you the best return on how much you put into it? They should probably get a hug today! 

Advertisements

Quantity Over Quality? Yes, really.

This isn’t what you think. I’m not going to say that it’s my opinion that runners should finish 75 miles a week and they should all be miles that feel like poop – as long as you get them in! But, during my long run today, it really did become necessary for me to understand that quantity was more important to me than quality. Anyone training for a half marathon or marathon distance will probably understand what I mean by the end of this particular rant.

This morning, it was a rough run. I didn’t sleep well and wasn’t “feeling it.” A mile into the run, we had a dog chasing us, the big kind that growl and show their teeth at you. So, we changed our route to avoid the meanie and ended up on hills and slippery roads. About 7.5 miles in, I looked at my friend as were both feeling really tired and said, “How about we just do 10 and try to finish it faster than our last 10-miler?” She said, “I know this isn’t how the saying normally goes but it’s about quantity over quality in this run, so I think we should finish 12.”

And we did.

The last two miles were slow and painful. I also forgot (probs TMI, sorry!) to put body glide on, so the same final two miles put some other issues a little over the edge, too. We finished them, though.

image1 IMG_0345

I’ve heard people say that it’s about getting time on your feet (Megan’s coach tells her that A LOT). My running pals and I discuss that sometimes when we feel like we have to take more walk breaks than scheduled, or it’s just not the best run we’ve had and it’s kinda slow. I just don’t always listen. I’m pretty flawed and one of those flaws is my belief that I am invincible and need to as fast as I can be ALL. THE. TIME. It leads me to try to do every run at race pace or at least close to it. It also led me to try to squat 75 extra pounds without a spotter this week and nearly get crushed by the bar. But…. That’s another story. These things could lead to injury one day and that’s the last thing anyone wants, right? So, at the end of all this, the lesson is: Get the miles in sometimes without worrying about how fast the miles are.

Please notice that I said we pushed through because we just felt TIRED. We were not ill or injured or coming off a hard race and pushing for more mileage than recommended. I would never advocate for that. Actually, a girl I have never actually met, but feel like I know, wrote a great post about stopping when you need to – The Long Walk Home – and we can all agree that she did the right thing. Should you push through when you ran 26.2 miles a few days prior and it might be too much, too soon? NO. Should you push through when you’re just feeling blah? Absolutely. You will be thankful for the mental toughness and endurance when you do.

Not every run is easy, but the hard makes you better and training correctly (including the correct amount of REST) makes you the best runner that you can be. Humans can do REALLY hard things and that’s pretty awesome.

After the run, this cute niece of mine insisted that I sit down and play playdough with her. I was instructed to make yellow ducks, blue dolphins and brown butterflies.

How can anyone say no to that face?

I tried to teach math to a 3.5 year old? Do you think she understood? 😉

I tried to tell her no because I didn’t think sitting down wasn’t a good idea just yet. I was right. I’ll probably be sitting/ laying down the rest of the day now. I hope someone else is productive in my place. 🙂

Happy Weekend!

How do you make the call if you need to stop or push through a challenging run?

Are you running Gazelle Girl? Please let me know!

Running Buddies Make You Realize Your Potential.

I feel like people can’t talk enough about the value of running buddies. The past couple weekends, I have had the pleasure of being accompanied by seasoned runners during this training cycle’s long runs. One of them was a D1 college runner and the other has a bajillion races – okay, probably 6 or 7 marathons, a dozen 1/2 marathons and numerous other distances – under her belt. It was so interesting to hear each other’s preferences, from the pre-race food to how and when we stop for the water stations, to the longest run we prefer during marathon training.

My favorite thing about other runners is how competitive we are but how much we want each other to be successful. There are always high-fives going around and lots of smiles after the run is over, even on the coldest day or the slowest run of the year. My past three long runs (10, 10 & 8 miles) were the easiest and quickest I have done thanks to people who believe in me.

IMG_3126

Beau needs to be in allllllllll the pictures. Silly pup.

These are, personally, my top five reasons for running with a pal when it’s anything above 6 miles:

1. I’m competitive. If you’re not going to stop, neither will I. Near the end of my fastest 10-mile training run EVER, my pal kicked it in high gear, and I didn’t even think my legs were going to get my feet off the ground anymore. Her words of encouragement got me through that incredibly hard 60 seconds of running and I couldn’t be more thankful! I had no idea I was that close to my goal. 

2. In addition to being competitive, I never want to hold someone else back if I know I’m just being lazy. If my body truly can’t go, that’s one thing, but if I’m just tired, having a running buddy makes me say, “Push through, because they gave up these two hours of their day to get a good run in WITH YOU.”

3. Pushing other people, when I’m the one having a good day and watching them get faster and more mentally tough is equally, if not more, fulfilling than feeling yourself become a better and faster runner.

4. The IronMan 70.3 does NOT allow headphones on the course. Every time I go out with a friend for a long workout, the headphones stay behind, helping me prepare for that dreadful, music-less 13.1 (plus 56 miles of biking) in August. It’s some of the best conversation, the occasional TMI conversation, but you know your deepest running thoughts are in good hands with them.

5. Don’t you get bored of the route you ALWAYS run in your neighborhood? My running buddies and I like to try new routes and we get that added safety in numbers. The new scenery helps our run go by so much faster. I don’t look at the next street and tell myself, “Oh gosh, there’s still X miles to go before we’re done.”

As I’ve mentioned before, there are some runs that are purely for my peace of mind, stress relief or I just NEED alone time. There are runs where the goal is speed work, and it’s hard to do it with someone who isn’t shooting for the exact same goal time or distance. It’s good to run alone for those reasons. It’s good to even just enjoy being alone sometimes, but nothing beats the feeling you get when you have others pushing you and you’re motivating them right back. On race day, they’re the ones who will know your goal, when you’re mental strength is failing and how to get you through it, and they’ll be there after it’s over, smiles, cheers, hugs & high-fives ready, regardless if it’s a PR or it just wasn’t your day.

10359321_10153692364464896_4345629892955383816_n

This is last weekend’s run! Shelby is da bomb and made me realize that I can do the speeds I have in my mind that seemed so out-of-reach? Isn’t that great? She’s great. So are YOU!

FullSizeRender (1)

See that snow? That’s going to go away soon. I HAVE FAITH IN SPRING 2015’s PUNCTUAL ARRIVAL!!!!

On another super-duper positive note, I am optimistic (and also, my iPhone weather app tells me so!) that we are done with negative temperatures for the season! And, with daylight savings next weekend, I will be running outside more often! THANK YOU MOTHER NATURE!

I hope you have had a stellar weekend.

Did I forget any FANTASTIC reason to run with a pal?