Saturday, March 6, 2010

Thoughts on the road

I run to clear my mind.  I run to strengthen my body and mind.  I run to just get away from it all, from the expectations of school, others, even myself.  I run even when it doesn't feel good because I know in the end it will feel great.  Every time I run I learn more and more about myself, both the good and the bad.  As I love to put things in lists below I lay out a few of the lessons learned on today's 4 mile tempo run at The Downs.

1) It's not a good idea to eat spaghetti right before a run:  Now I realize why people carb load the night BEFORE a run.  I wasn't intending on trying to carb load before a run but I was hungry and the pasta was cooked.  It tasted good going down but man after mile 1 my stomach was rebelling as a nice cramp made its way right in the center of my midsection making the run a painful one for the first 20 minutes.

2) Sciatica sucks: Today was actually suppose to be my 8 mile slow run and tomorrow a 4 mile tempo run but after mile 2 (once the stomach stop rebelling) the hip and knee on the right side just had to kick in.  A warm burning sensation made its way from my right glute down the lateral side of my leg and wrapping around the knee, continuing on down the lateral side of the calf and ending at the toes (the picture is a great representation of this).  With every step the pain became greater, but with every step my mind grew stronger, cancelling out one another long enough for me to finish the first loop.  As I began to worry about not being able to run 13.1 miles I remembered that just a week before my 5 mile tempo and 7 mile endurance run went well, reminding me that..

3) Not every run is going to be great, but at least I got out: Pain is in the mind, just as much as it is in the body.  Every run is different - some are great and I seem to glide on air as I up my mileage while others hurt from step one and don't get any better as time goes on.  Either way, I have to learn how to maintain when the not so great runs come along and make adjustments.  Like any sport, most of the race/game/event is in the mind more so than the body.  Everyday I imagine myself at the start line, taking off, running the 13.1 miles and ending with a strong stride and smile.  Today, after the run I told myself there is always tomorrow and at least I got out and finished the run today.  Then, looking down at my finishing time I soon realized...

4) Hot Damn I am getting FASTER: That's right I said faster (not fatter)!  As I have mentioned before, I do not have a runners body...and I don't want one.  I am looking to lean out, creating strength and definition in my body along the way.  But, I am slowly understanding that not having a runners body doesn't mean I will be a slow waddler.  During todays run Mike looked at me and said "nice pace."  I said to him (or rather snapped cause I was flippin tired and didn't want talk) "well I'm trying to keep up with you!"  He promptly replied "um no I am keeping up with you."  At the end of the loop I realized that I cut over 45 seconds off my mile time, including a 5 minute walk around 29 minutes to stretch out my hip.  My pace is picking up naturally.  This is causing my hip to flare up when I am on hard surfaces as my cadence increases.  Hence, the 8 mile endurance run today turned into a 4 mile tempo run.  Where I could have found a disappointment I actually found out more about myself - I can run and do it a bit quicker.  I can keep this up as long as I stick with my new best friend...

5) The foam roller: My new best friend is my trusty foam roller.  I get on this baby 2 times a day, laying on my side and rolling over my tight as hell IT bands.  By doing this I am trying to loosen up and elongate the essential muscles needed to power through runs.  The tightness in the right hip is my body trying to compensate for weak glutes and inner thighs.  The pilates and strength training are working, but nothing beats the foam roller.  When I neglect it my body pays the price.

Seriously, I am learning to like and love myself again.  Running is making me see I can do the things I only dream about and more importantly that I am worth investing in.  When I "let myself go" a year ago I was in a dark place (maybe I will write about that more, I am not sure yet).  I didn't see my body as a space to take care of because my mind was all over the place, trying to please other people and live up to their expectations.  Now, every step I take in my running trainers shows me that I am capable of more.  I see my body as a space and place of caring and warmth, not one to dump trash into and destroy.  Running is keeping my mind strong, my body lean, and my spirit alive.   That was a nice revelation on the road today.

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