How Running Changed my life!
Often in life we find that actions/activities have unintended benefits or consequences; sometimes good and sometimes bad. When I set out to “start running again” in February of 2019 I had absolutely no idea what lessons I would learn. Here are my top 10!!
Number 10- Running is as much a mental sport as it is physical Yes, it truly is as much a mental game as it is a physical challenge to move your body. Think about, sometimes just getting out the door is the hardest part. You start making excuses of things you have to do, the weather, not feeling well etc. Then think about when a run isn’t feeling great, because guess what not every run is a good run and you need to dig deep and remember why you are running. Again, this is the mental component creeping in again. Or wait for it, what about when you get injured. While we all strive to avoid injury and work really hard to stay healthy, let’s be real- it happens. So now again you have to have the mental fortitude to give your body the rest it needs and then get back on the horse so to speak and get back at it when you are physically feeling better.
Number 9- Strength training is just as important as the miles I’m going to say it again, strength training is just as important as the miles. I’m crazy you say. Nope. I 100% stand behind this statement. As soon as I made the shift from just wanting to run a few days a week to I want to run 10Ks, ten milers, half marathons I followed the sage advice of Suzy Goodwin (If you aren’t connected with her, check her out!!) and found a trainer that I trust to do strength training with a few times a week. Today as I got the idea for this post I was talking with a friend about shaving some time off her runs. And we got to talking about the absolute importance of strength training. I could literally talk about this all day- but I’ll leave you with this short anecdote:
August of 2019 I ran my first “big race” of 12 miles. Right before the taper (which is also important but doesn’t make this top 10) I was experiencing brutal hip pain. During the taper period it felt better and then after the race it hurt again. Same thing before my first half marathon. Terrible hip pain as my mileage increased. Better during the taper and HORRIBLE after the Half. Felt great during the run but was killing me after. Any idea what was causing this terrible hip pain??? Over tight hamstrings. Any guesses what my trainer has incorporated into every session?? Exercises to stretch my hamstrings and strengthen the muscles around them. The result as I completed my third training cycle, I got through the entire cycle injury and pain free. I ran back to back races on a Saturday and Sunday (10K/Half Marathon) and had no hip pain. As you can see, I cannot say enough about strength training!!
Number 8- It’s addictive. Truly. The more you run the more you want to run.
Number 7- Never underestimate the importance of good shoes If you are thinking about running, any distance the first thing you need to do is get good shoes. And it’s possible that the shoes that were working great when you start don’t remain the best fit so it’s important to revisit them. While I’ve remained with the same shoes through the annual “modifications” I’ve added arch supports along the way for the perfect fit. Read all about finding the best shoes here!
Number 6- What you eat and drink really matter- While this seems completely obvious it somehow was less obvious to me in the beginning. i.e. I considered skipping the wine the week of the race being race ready. Then after my trainer more than once casually mentioned that I should really start tracking what I was eating, I bit the bullet and download the MyFitnessPal app and started tracking. Quickly I learned that I needed more protein and calcium. I began to focus more on getting the nutrients I needed in addition to eating what I liked. I’m not suggesting you need to go on a crazy diet, but I am saying that keeping an eye on your intake will make a difference. When I did I truly see this in action?? We went on vacation. So I went on vacation mode in regards to eating and adult beverages by the pool. Then I would try to run the next day. Brutal. It was rough!! That’s when I fully understood that what I’m eating and drinking totally matters!!
Up next in the what you eat and drink matters came the time to give up soda. Soda has been my vice for as long as I can remember. Then it came time to drop that habit like it was hot. Hello, Arbonne Fizz. I don’t drink coffee so the caffeine from the soda was what got me through the day. Then I tried the vegan, plant based natural caffeine of Arbonne fizz and I was hooked on something better!!
Number 5- That it would become a family affair I started running because it was something for “me.” I was committed to finding the time between work, volunteer obligations and kids to run. It was “me time.” But then the boys caught the running bug with me. My husband along with my two boys were my biggest cheerleaders. So then they wanted to run too!! I realized yet again, that our children are always watching and what an important lesson I was teaching them every time I laced up my shoes. So in May the boys will run their first official race the night before my third half marathon. I’ll be there, sign in hand so proud that they want to run too!!
Number 4- The beauty of the world around me This is two fold. First, because often to get my miles in I’m up early. The calm of the morning as the sun is rising, as I run past the deer, rabbits and birds truly settles my soul for the day. While I despise being cold, I love the crispness of the air for the fall and winter runs. It’s an invigorating start to the day. Part two is that running doesn’t take a vacation for me. So when we take a vacation I get to take in the location on foot (again usually before the rest of the world is up). How amazing to run the Tower Bridge in London or to the Eiffel Tower in Paris?? But just as amazing to run along the beach or the dessert of Arizona. We joke with the boys that nature is all around us. When you are out there pounding the pavement you have a whole knew appreciation for the world around you!
Number 3- How amazing it feels to have a great run Some say they don’t get a runner’s high. I fall into the camp of getting a runner’s high after I finish a good run or race. Like I’m all jazzed up for hours after, especially after a race. When you know that you have given it your all, felt good and finished strong how could you not feel great??
Number 2- The bonds you build are amazing Running communities are special. While I’m still primarily a run on your own kind of person. I know that I can depend on the resources of my local running shop Charm City Run for my running needs and the ability to train with folks in “real life.” But I’m talking about the online running community of women that have been super supportive. Heck, I got back into running because a group of dedicated women in The Elite Suite, an online social marketing and mentoring group were talking about running the Princess Half Marathon in 2019. They inspired me to lace up my shoes and then I got to meet several of them at the completion of the Half Marathon in Orlando in February. But then there are those that are cheering you on along the way. You know and hyping you up all weekend long. I see you Suzy Goodwin. And I know you have a HUGE bucket list run coming up soon!!
Number 1- Set big goals and crush them!! My goal had been to run the Princess Half Marathon. Along the way I ran several other races including a 12 Miler and another Half Marathon. I have races on the calendar for every month for the rest of the year. Each racing experience teaches me something new and I’m enjoying the ride. So now, it’s no longer the goal to finish. But rather the goal to continue to get stronger and bring down my time. Maybe there’s another goal floating around that will be revealed soon!!