Category Archives: running

Why I Run

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June 4 is National Running Day. I think I started running (outside of the mandatory school mile that was basically sanctioned torture) almost twenty years ago, in my late teens.

I ran on a treadmill, I ran a few miles on the street, sometimes both in the same day. It was so long ago, I would drive the route in a car to find out how far it was. Running was one of my weight-loss strategies. To some extent it is/was also a maintenance strategy, and it’s more or less successful. The “less” is because I get so much hungrier when I do longer distances and still struggle with eating in the best way for myself.

About four years ago I joined a running group with a volunteer focus and it changed my life. The social aspect of that group, in the two major US cities I have volunteered in, is absolutely amazing. The friendships I have made through that group have outlasted most others over time and space. In this career-focused country, and in one of the most career-focused cities … I do not even know what all of those I consider friends do for work. This is rare!

In this group, no one runs alone, so sometimes I need to make it less of a work out and more of a team-support-thing. That has become okay with me. As much as I love yoga, I have never found the community in yoga that I have found in running. I once got in a serious dispute with roommates because they were offhandedly talking about runners being “jerks” after races. What?!

Why do you run?

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Renewing

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I haven’t run more than 3 miles since my half marathon in mid-March, and it feels great.  I now go to yoga or run on any given day – but not both. I haven’t ballooned up four size or anything and in fact I fit into jeans I couldn’t before. Having a more normal activity level makes me less hungry in general. That probably shouldn’t be a surprise, but it is!

I’m moving halfway across the country next week. I am nervous but also excited about the opportunity to renew in this way too. It’s not a new year, but it seems like a good time for some resolutions:

– I will try to love my body as it is. I don’t want to need a number to feel okay, but I may need it to start. A size 6 or 8 at 5’5″ tall is thin enough. No one is perfect.

– I will be mindful of the time I dedicate to yoga and running in relation to other activities, and so I am doing these healthy, beneficial activities for their own sake, and not compulsively.

– I will pause before reacting strongly in words or actions. I will keep trying, because “failures” or “rejections” are not about me personally.

– I will be mindful that loving myself is important before I can accept the love of others.

– I will go ahead and do things, without waiting to be perfect, or to be perfectly prepared. I am ready now.

– I will take advantage of LOTS of new student deals at yoga studios before enrolling in a monthly unlimited pass because I love the first studio I attend.

Half Marathon Update

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My goal was to run this latest half in 2 hours or less. 2:00:58. No kidding! Mapmyrun spoke to me through the headphones, so I didn’t squander time slowing down and bending my arm and pressing a touch screen to check, and I didn’t have to change my jacket, re-pin my number, or try to pick up discarded gear. I missed my goal by 59 seconds. Damn!

That is okay. I blame the people who blocked me and would not move quickly out of my path when I wanted to pass, so it is all good.

All kidding aside, I improved my last time by 6 minutes, not insignificant in a half marathon I guess, and each one has been  a PR. A few of my highlights:

– seeing some runners from my  group … and passing them (I am so mean!)

– seeing an acquaintance’s husband and dog cheering, twice

– following a barefoot runner for a bit. She may be crazier than me!

– finding water from an independent stand in a neighborhood by mine … and it really was water, not beer or a shot.

– Thrift Shop mixed with Irish music in honor of St Patrick’s Day

– scoring plenty of free food at the end thanks to the plastic bag I took in my pocket.

I haven’t forgotten this blog. I also haven’t run more than 3 miles for a week. More to come 🙂

Time Saving Tricks for A Half Marathon

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I am running a half marathon in a few weeks and I am hoping to shave about 7 minutes off my last time so I can break 2 hours.

I’ve done some basic speed work, and some (not so basic) normal half marathon training runs. Those are the obvious ways to improve my time.

I’m not sure that I can really cut half a minute of my pace, though. I am sure that, in the course of 2 hours, there are probably ways I could save time without necessarily stepping up my pace that much.

dv0960461. Dressing appropriately and being willing to discard layers: In the last half, I wore a very cute, new white running jacket with a zipper. Feeling cute makes me run faster. Great! I wore a puffy vest coat over it because it was FREEZING. Not so great. Less than thirty minutes in I was ready to get out of all that stuff. The problem was, my number was pinned on the front of the vest coat, over the zipper, and I had no way to carry that vest coat once I took it off. So. Undo the number. Hold safety pins in mouth. Take off vest. Take of cute white running jacket. Put vest back on. Tie running jacket around waist. Put number back on. How many minutes did I waste here? Maybe not seven, but at least a few!

2. Not slowing down for water/drinks or running gels EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE ALL FREE! Read the rest of this entry

Running Speed Work and Kicking Up Into Headstand

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stop-watchSpeed work for me is a little different from speed work for most people. At least I think it is. Basically, I hate it, and I’m very slow, despite a LONG running history and two half marathons! I almost never run for time, but I do keep time for my long runs, the 10-milers, and my pace is about 11 minutes a mile. For any non-runners … this is pretty SLOW!

Since I’m hoping to break my last half marathon time (2h07m) and run the one in a few weeks in under 2 hours, I decided to start a little bit of speed work. For the first time ever.

For me, this means “sprinting” every other block or so on one 3-mile run per week. And “sprinting” is in quotes for a reason…I am slow slow slow slow slow.

That said, I have been able to pick up my pace at the end of some of my longer runs. I think it’s because of the speed work I have been doing. I don’t delude myself that this kind of one block on / one block off stuff will make a serious change to my longer run pace – but I think it does have a benefit. Read the rest of this entry

Running Motivation

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I run between 20-30 miles a week most weeks. Considering I run regularly and have a half marathon coming up in March – this is really not all that much for a runner.

Other runners, though, have asked me where I find my motivation when I’m not signed up for a race, and when I run alone. People are surprised that I’ll run six or eight miles and then go to a yoga class.

Partly – I have adjusted to these distances. I run slowly. I can do an eight or ten mile run and have a normal day, albeit with a late start. Mainly, though, I run because I worry I’ll gain weight if I don’t. I run because I want to eat normally, have one dessert or sweet a day, and I’m afraid I can’t if I don’t run. Most people don’t seem to understand just how strong this motivation is. I have to say that makes me feel alone as someone who used to be overweight.

Running Injuries … and Repairs

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psoasI’m fortunate never to have had a serious running injury, but I’ve had some minor ones:

Pulling the psoas: I was trying to keep up with someone faster than me. The first time this happened, I thought it was some part of my back. It hurt to get up and down and to turn. The next time it happened, I asked a yoga and pilates teacher about it, she suggested the psoas, I googled it, and sure enough, it seemed to be that. This is not a muscle you hear much about, but it’s huge. The next time something hurts and you’re not sure what, google the psoas!

Psoas solution: Alternating heat and cold helped a little, and – for the part of the psoas I pulled – so did gently stretching my hip flexor and quad in some version of bow pose (one leg at a time, on both sides to keep even, but obviously really carefully on the side that hurts).
Plantar fascitis: My heel hurts all the time. It took a surprisingly long time to identify this one. It hurts most after I haven’t used it – sitting a long time or waking up – and least when I’m on my feet walking or running. Read the rest of this entry