Running lessons

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

As I mentioned a while back, I am training for a half marathon. The race date is almost here- it is THIS Sunday! This will be my second half marathon and, to be honest, I'm amazed at that fact. When I was a kid I was skinny, flat-footed, and had to sit out running in PE class because of my asthma.

Things change, though. Kids outgrow stuff (except for flat feet, in my case), bodies accept the challenges that our adult minds drive us to seek. Now, some 30-ish years later, I have found a place for running in my life and in my heart. I wouldn't say that I'm in love with it. It is more like something that I need. Beyond just a requirement for movement or fitness, running flushes out the cobwebs in my foggy head and doses me with endorphins that soothe my anxious soul. It makes me happy.

This morning I ran my last training run before my race. It was dark when our alarm when off and I really, really didn't want to get up. When I peeked out the window and saw that a bright full moon was still up, though, I practically ran to get into my running gear. I'm a sucker for a beautiful sunrise and, with an awesome moon still hanging around, I couldn't wait to get out there today.

I have learned a lot about myself through running. It is such a great metaphor for so many facets of life. I have also learned a lot about how to make running work for me. Here are some of those lessons:

  1. Just starting out (for the first time or after a break) always feels way too hard. I hate every step. I want to quit. But, if I do it anyway and stick with it, I know that I will begin to crave it and that is the best feeling in the world.
  2. Studies have shown that running can be as effective as medication at relieving symptoms of depression. I agree.
  3. When I am training for an event and I start to hate my workouts, feel grumpy, or get sick, I need a break. Even if the training plan says no, a few days (or more) off will do wonders.
  4. Early morning runners see some interesting things. Like elderly gentlemen using the bushes for cover when nature calls and such. Look away, cross the street, run faster...
  5. Eating raw broccoli before a run is not a good idea.
  6. Even a cool 60 degree day can feel sweltering hot if you're running in the sun. Wear a tank top. Don't second guess this.
  7. Heat rash and prickly heat suck. Take a cool shower ASAP after a run. Baby powder is your friend.
  8. Chafing sucks too. Use Bodyglide, especially in your armpits.
  9. Never ever wear 100% cotton socks.
  10. The more I love my music, the more I love my run. The same is true for audiobooks, which are great for long runs.
  11. It is almost impossible to chew and run at the same time. Stick to Clif shots, skip the Blocks.
  12. If I wake up feeling blah, a run will usually make a 180 degree change in my mood.
  13. I don't run fast but that's ok. I do what I need to do to get out of it even more than I put in.
  14. I love seeing other runners when I'm out. I especially like the way that I feel like we're in a secret club when we greet each other with a subtle nod and quick wave.
So why am I running another half marathon? Because nothing beats the feeling of finishing something that you thought you couldn't do.

Happy trails!

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