Friday, July 30, 2010

Just Let The Run Happen

My last run was on July 27, so when 12:00 PM finally rolled around, I grabbed my bag and darted out for my lunchtime run. I had no idea where I was running to today; I just knew I had to get it in. The plan was to run an easy 4 miles in deference to the 13-mile training run that I’ll be embarking on tomorrow AM.

The weather in Washington, D.C. has been brutal. But today was a treat, no humidity a slight breeze, and the temperature was about 85 degrees. I took off headed towards the White House. I focused on my alignment, my breathing, and my foot strike and reminded myself how much I love running. I’m reading ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running, in preparation for a ChiRunning workshop that I’m taking on August 22. Basically, the ChiRunning method focuses on making running an effortless endeavor. Although I’ve only scratched the surface of the book, I can see how what I’ve learned so far is helping me become a better runner.

I blazed through my first mile at a pace of 8:11. That’s the fastest mile I’ve run since recovering my last injury, and the thing is, I felt great! I didn’t even realize I was running at a faster pace until my Garmin rang out that I’d completed one mile. When I saw the pace, I was both thrilled and terrified. I backed off it a bit, in hopes that I could sustain it.

From that point, I just let the run happen. I took in the sights of the city, and I even stopped at the Corcoran Gallery of Art to snap a photo of a father and son. When it was all said and done, I'd run 3.67 miles at an average pace of 8:52 and I felt incredible! It was a glorious run, and tomorrow will be too, all 13 miles of it.

May you run effortlessly well.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It’s OK to Eat the Cheese Steak: Or the Top Five Lessons Running Has Taught Me About Life

Lesson 1: Take nothing for granted. I’ve been a runner for 11 years. Although, I never considered myself a runner until I began to run races (folly, I know that now). There have been occasions when I’d come home (or back to the office) after a run, and begin to rip the run apart because it wasn’t long enough, fast enough, etc….That is until I sustained a running injury, (patellar tendonitis plus piriformis syndrome) that caused me to have to step out of my sneakers for roughly three months. It was three months of agony for me (and my loved ones, I was no treat to live with). But during that time, I learned the art of appreciation. When my doctor OK’d me to run two miles at a stretch as I regained my strength, I was ecstatic. Being sidelined made me realize that every day I can lace up my shoes, and get out and run, is a gift. I know longer disparage my run or the effort I put into getting it done.

Lesson 2: Don’t contemplate your bruises. I was training with the DC Road Runners for the SunTrust National Marathon in 2009. We were out on a 14-mile run in 30 degree weather. At about seven miles in, we approached the top of a hill. I was fatigued and my form was sloppy. On the descent, I lost my footing and went crashing down into the gravel. My right knee screamed in agony. As I pushed myself up from the ground, I decided that I had no other choice but to pull myself together and finish the run. So I didn’t even look down at my knee, because I knew I would not be able to complete the run if I actually saw my knee. I felt the sting of pain, but I could still bend it. When we arrived back at the Georgetown Running Company, I looked down at my ripped running tights and I saw my bruised and bloodied knee. I celebrated my ability to overcome my bruises with a new pair of running tights and a renewed sense of my own personal strength.

Lesson 3: Celebrate your body. I started running to lose the baby fat I’d gained with the birth of my first daughter 11 years ago. I’d gained 26 lbs while I was pregnant, expanding from 144 lbs to 170 lbs. I’ve never had the lean, lithe body of a runner. I’m built more like Serena Williams, much to my husband’s delight, with strong powerful quads and an impressive glute to boot. Yet, I used to yearn for what I considered the true “runner’s body.” Eleven years later, I love my strong, able body that has allowed me to complete countless races, including three marathons, since 2007.

Lesson 4: You never know who is watching. Today I broke down and ate a cheese steak hoagie for lunch. While I was standing in the cafĂ©, mentally berating myself for my lapse in food judgment, I saw a woman who I used to regularly see at the gym where I’d change clothes before heading out for a run. She looked fabulous. I remembered when she first started working out—her hard work was evident. I told her about my guilty lunch selection. She told me, “It’s OK to eat the cheese steak. You’ll run it right off.” She further stated that she missed seeing me at the gym (I change at a new gym these days) and that I had been the inspiration for her to start running.

Lesson 5: You can do more than you ever thought you could. Three years ago, if someone would’ve told me that I’d be a marathoner, I would’ve thought they were nuts. I had just finished my first 5K, and while I thought perhaps I should try a 10K, a marathon was another matter altogether. Yet in 2008, I found myself at the start line of the Marine Corps Marathon. Crossing the finish line 26.2 miles later was one of the greatest moments in my life. Although I was spent and every part of my body ached, I already knew I wanted to do it again. From that moment on, I have never doubted my ability to achieve ANY goal in life.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Every Run is a Good Run

Have you ever finished a run, and then beat yourself up because you were too slow or you didn’t run far enough? (Yes, I make myself run .2 miles if my Garmin indicates I’ve only run 3.98 miles, but I’m working on it.) I used to be a fanatic about the quality of my runs; that is, until I was sidelined with a runners-knee, diminished gluteal strength injury for roughly five months.

While I sought help from every practitioner under the sun (acupuncturists, massage therapists, physical therapists, you name it) my weekly mileage was severely curtailed. I missed the ING Georgia Marathon and the Long Island Marathon while I was in recovery, and I pretty much drove my family (and no doubt my colleagues) crazy with my crankiness.

Five months and many spin classes later (I was in constant search of a runner’s high) I’m glad to report that I’ve made a full recovery (due to a long overdue visit to an orthopedic doctor) and I’m now running strong again.

Still I have to remind myself to gently ease back into running, and I’ve been able to do that (for the most part). Take it from me, there’s nothing like an injury to give you a little perspective on running. I’m now so grateful to be running again, that I never diminish my efforts – no matter what!

I pray you run well today.