Wednesday, October 6, 2010
what I've learned from running
My running really started two years ago at a gym - always an hour of treadmill running; the same thing every day. I've gone from that to running 20-30 miles a week on asphalt with a doctor-ordered ban on treadmills. Treadmills taught me to watch a TV show intensely, ignoring the fact that my legs were moving. Training for a half marathon has taught me a lot about myself.
I have to plan ahead to accomplish my goals.
Running for two hours on a weekend requires planning - planning in what I eat the night before, the amount of water I drink and freeing up my schedule. I check the weather forecast more than the meteorologist. I had to become more creative when it got dark - learning how to run on my lunch break, avoiding side stitches that were inevitable with my evening runs. Without planning and adjusting priorities, runs didn't happen.
My body is capable of more than I thought possible.
In high school, I thought it was amazing that I ran a mile after school on an indoor track. A 5k race seemed out of reach. Running more than five miles? Impossible. I'd get side cramps, sore legs, be unable to breathe. But my body caught up fast. The more I ran, the better I got. During my training, my longest run has been 12.5 miles. I actually enjoyed it. My lung capacity has increased. My legs are strong.
Pain is sometimes the reward.
There were some runs when I did not feel good. I didn't get a runner's high, and I ended my run feeling dehydrated, tired and crabby. But feeling the stretch in my quads, the achy calves and the sensitive feet made me feel alive. And the pain was a reminder of my effort. (note: this does not include my current knee pain. There is absolutely no reward in that.)
I need to work on mental toughness.
There's always an excuse for me to not run. It's too hot, too windy. I'm too busy. I didn't drink enough water or didn't eat the right foods. I deserve another day off. I gave in to these excuses way too often during my training. I still have logged over 250 miles since I started tracking on Daily Mile. 250! But, toward the last third of my training plan I got lazy. As the race approaches, I think of how much better I could do if I had stayed focused and motivated.
Eating with purpose
Before running I counted calories to make sure I didn't go over. I felt guilty when I had more than one cookie. Running long distance has taught me that eating is an act of fueling my body. The kinds of food (and amount) I eat depend on my running schedule. I listen to my body. When I am full, I stop. When it told me dairy and running don't mix, I changed my diet. When I am starving, I eat. I pay attention to protein and carbs. I am not trying to lose weight, I'm trying to get my body strong enough to run for two hours.
Bad things happen.
I followed my plan. I warned my runner father that he should be careful about adding mileage too quickly. I was the one limping and crying in pain and frustration due to an overuse injury. My last long run was two and half weeks ago with a few shorter runs mixed in. I could have stretched more, avoided that one rainy night on the treadmill or done more core workouts. But really, it just happened and with extremely bad timing. If I do run, it won't be fast. It won't be an accurate picture of what I can run. More incentive to keep training for the next one!