Category Archives: Running

Are You Strong Enough?

One of the great things about running is that there is always something to learn. Even better is that if the lesson doesn’t stick with you the first time, there will inevitably be a future moment in which the lesson repeats itself. For example, the lesson that running involves many, many more muscles than just your legs.

When I set out to train for my first marathon, I thought that marathon training only required running. Running according to a schedule of increasingly farther distances, of course, but only running. As I began to edge into the realm of “this is the farthest I’ve ever run” on each long run, I noticed that it wasn’t only my legs that got tired by the end of the run. Actually, my legs weren’t even the area of my body that hurt the most by the end of a run. What I seemed to struggle with more was holding my arms up over such a long distance. Seriously? Arms? To run a marathon?? So I began lifting weights, but the smallest weights I could find with minimum work necessary to ensure my arms were up to the challenge of increasing mileage.

hulkFast forward a few years and weights are now a pretty regular part of my weekly regimen. In fact, I feel pretty confident in saying strength work has become such a regular part of my routine that I’m basically on the same level as superheroes. Of course I can’t make a claim like that without backing it up, right?

I’ve been easing my way out of hibernation the past few weeks, so returning to my regular workouts has involved a degree of humility as I find myself back to basics to build my base. Then there are times when I woefully underestimate the effort required and a workout completely slays me. This happened recently after a weekend of fairly intense arm work. I woke up on Monday feeling the effects of multiple workouts in every last muscle group of my body, and especially those muscle groups that I was entirely unaware of up until that morning. Thank goodness it was a scheduled rest day. Tuesday I was back to running – 3 little miles, a perfectly doable distance. Early in the run, I started to feel the soreness creeping back into my not-movingarms. Of course I ignored it, 3 miles would go by quickly enough. The soreness soon turned into a persistent cry for attention, with ever increasing urgency. By the end of the run, my arms were burning, and I could barely make my fingers function the way they need to in order to stop my Garmin at the end. Again, arms?? I thought I had muscles! Apparently not.

I guess I still have some more work to do. Fortunately, running will continue to teach me the same lessons over and over again until they finally sink in.

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Marathon Meditations

Around the time I was training for the Boston Marathon, my cousin casually remarked that he never imagined that, of all people, I would be the one to eventually run a marathon, much less the Boston Marathon. No offense meant and none taken. Growing up, I never in my wildest dreams foresaw a future in which so much of my time and energy was consumed by running. No, not consumed. Enthusiastically given.

running-favoriteI’ve been running for almost 10 years, and what started as a habit eventually grew into a passion. Running provided recreation, rejuvenation, purpose, focus, and everything else that helped me get through the day. It took me a while to set my sights on anything grander than a 5k, but as my confidence and goal distances gradually increased, so did my commitment to routines and regimens that would help me cross the finish line (in varying states of functionality). In the past four years, I’ve crossed finish lines (and picked up awesome medals!) in four different marathons.

2013 – Colfax Marathon
2014 – Richmond Marathon (my BQ!)
2015 – Marine Corps Marathon
2016 – Boston Marathon

Which begs the question – what’s in store for 2017? I should have another marathon on the calendar. Currently, I don’t. There are a few reasons behind that. First, I need to figure out the chronic plantar fasciitis I’ve had for over two years now. I’ve taken off a month at a time to focus on strengthening the muscle groups around it and try out various treatments, but it always comes back as soon as I start running again. Big problem. Second, my relationship with running seems to have stalled to the point where almost no amount of intrinsic or extrinsic motivation can influence me out the door. Also a problem.

dory-raceAlthough I may have little to no motivation to run, and injuries that probably (certainly) need more patience and attention than I’m giving them, those factors have had absolutely no impact on my desire to race. Every time I overhear conversations about races, training plans, nutrition strategies, and the latest gear, I feel like a kid in a candy shop. Spectating at races also feeds into this obsession because watching everyone else enjoy (or suffer through) the race gives me major “Fear Of Missing Out” (though I’m certainly helping by providing support and enthusiasm!). I’ve been part of that so many times before, and I want to continue to be part of that.

The desire to reach the finish line is there. I could easily go and sign up for all the races I have my eye on (once my next paycheck comes through). The more important question is whether I can and will train for those races. Hard to say right now. For the time being, I’m happy to stay in hibernation a bit longer, but I’m going to be intentional about this hibernation instead of nonchalant about the time off (like I have been the past few months). I’m hoping the time to reflect will also give me time to reconnect with my running roots, discover the different motivation I am so desperately in need of, and recommit myself to feeling awesome about and inspired by what my body is capable of doing. Those are the feelings that have carried me through the past 10 years, and those are the feelings I hope will carry me through a lifetime of running.

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