Entries in running blog (9)
If you need help with motivation to run, you're not alone. I have many ideas, but I'll just focus on five here:
1. Register for a race a couple of months away.
2. Make a running schedule. It's important to do this correctly. If you think you should just get out there and run several miles several days a week, think again. It will be much more interesting and exponentially more effective if you utilize the hard/easy/long run philosophy explained in my podcasts. Alternate hard and easy days and go about a third longer than your hard weekdays on one of the weekend days. Listen to my podcasts for very detailed explanation of this.
3. Make yourself a running calendar or just buy a calendar for the wall that has nice large boxes for each day, and write your mileage in big black marker on each day.
4. Total your weekly mileage and mark that on the calendar at the end of each week. Then, total the mileage for the month and put that in the corner with a ring of stars around it. This will make you feel great, that is if you keep up. If you don't, it is punishment. It will make you feel like a slug, and you will do better the next month because no one wants to feel like a slug.
5. Buy some cool new running shoes. You'll be aching to run :)
Did you know that physical activity is the one thing that has been proven to reverse the effects of aging? That is not an idea but a fact (Fries). Did you know that many people run and do marathons well into their 70's and 80's? Did you know that many people start running in their 50's and 60's?
Several months ago I had the good fortune (in the person of Barbara Murphy) to connect with actor Liz Vassey and husband/videographer David Emmerichs. You would most likely know Liz from a recurring role over the last five years on the TV show CSI.
Liz, a runner herself, had been doing some research into the effects of running on people as they age. In particular, she was impressed by a study by Dr. James F. Fries, professor emeritus at Stanford University.
Fries and his team studied 500 runners over age 50 over a twenty year period. The results are fascinating; so, be sure to read this article. Perhaps most striking is that 19 years into the study, 34% of the control group had died compared to 15% of the runners.
The day I first chatted with Liz, she mentioned that study. Coincidentally, at the time I was finishing up my book After Your First 5k, and I had just referred to that study in the book that very day.
Several weeks later Liz and David spent three days in Tampa, interviewing runners over 50; below is the link to the trailer for the documentary. You will surely recognize some of these faces: Dr. James F. Fries, Torami Williams, Carol Pressman, Velma Radloff, Joe Burgasser, Frank Helfrich, Bob Meissner, Emery Jewell, myself, Frank Spicer, June Leland, John Pyle and Sally Smith.
I look forward to one day planning a viewing party for the premiere of the completed documentary. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this trailer. I've watched it many times, already, and I am struck each time by the staggering potential of this film to educate both young and 'older' about the unmistakable effects of physical activity.
Thanks to all who agreed to be interviewed and to Liz and David. If this brief 5 minute trailer is any indication, the full length film will be incredibly powerful.
Every school, every single school, should have a walking and running program. Many of my friends' children have become runners, and even the ones who are not are inspired - if not required - by their parents to be active and eat a healthy diet. But how do we, as a society, inspire all parents to shoulder their responsibility to do everything within their power to raise healthy kids?
Seriously. Isn't that the most basic responsibility of every parent? And no one is in a better position to have the impact a parent can have. Parents control what food is in the house and what restaurants the family visits. Unfortunately, too many depend on fast food restaurants to provide most of the family's nutrition and allow hours of TV in lieu of physical activity, while modeling a completely sedentary lifestyle, themselves.
This must change, but changing something as basic as the behaviors of millions of parents is a task that will take generations. We don't have that much time. Many of today's children will die early deaths if they do not change their ways.
With a large percentage of parents failing to teach and model a healthy lifestyle, the responsibility falls entirely to the schools.
I used to be a teacher, an English teacher. We had six periods in the day, and I always thought - and I'm not kidding - that there should be two classes of English because Engish includes writing, reading, grammar, vocabulary, SAT Prep and much more.
Anyway, when I pull back and look at the much bigger picture, I realize my myopic view. The fact is the single most critical subject just might be P.E. Our children have become ridiculously sedentary, and the result has been a host of health issues, the most serious of which is probably obesity.
I can't speak for the rest of the country, but would you believe that in Florida a high school student can get credit for taking Personal Sports online? And due to the emphasis on standardized test performance, P.E. class time and, even, teacher-supervised recess is getting squeezed out of the picture at a time when school cafeterias serve mostly pizza, fries, and chicken wings.
I don't have the solution, but I write this in the hope of stimulating conversation. If children, during the formative years are not fit and do not learn how to achieve and maintain fitness, the other subjects become much less relevant, don't they?
A required walking and running program would have the potential to drastically alter this picture. Of course there are many and varied options for appropriate levels of activities that foster cardio health, coordination, strong muscles and bones and calorie burning. I suggest walking and running because they are so universally affordable. Any school can afford these programs if they will find the time in the schedule, and any student and that student's parents can afford to begin a walking or running program outside of school hours.
Running for kids should be a hot topic in the running community. This needs to start in the earliest years when children will internalize a lifetime love of fitness if it is presented in the right vein, and by that I mean in a fun, low intensity, non-competitive atmosphere.
We need to figure out how to make this happen. We need to do everything we can to get kids on the run.
I’ve said it many times, I’m one lucky girl because in 34 years of running I have had only three running injuries, BUT right now I have a heel that is so thoroughly inflamed with plantar fasciitis that I feel like I’d just like to have it removed.
I’ve tried icing, rolling a ball under my arch, changing my gait, anti-inflammatories, stretching, strengthening the appropriate muscles, a night splint, a Strassberg sock, many different types of shoes, just as many different types of inserts, custom modified inserts, chiropractic, deep tissue massage, Rolfing, rolling a frozen water bottle under my arch, taping, shock wave therapy, and most recently, taking ten days off from running. That last was the hardest. It’s been years since I’ve done that, and I don’t like it one bit. Even worse? It didn’t help one bit.
Not running makes me feel like a slug. I don’t like this feeling. Not being able to press the gas pedal in the car without stabbing pains in my heel? Well, that just makes me crazy.
My body is my temple, and it has served me amazingly well. It’s tolerated falling down a flight of stairs, bouncing down the last few on my left hip, whip lash from falling skiing, frozen shoulder syndrome after falling while dashing across a street, a torn rotator cuff from falling on a trail run, falling off one of those chairs made from a bosu ball as it slid out from under me causing me to crash to the floor on my right hip, being hit by a car while running, numerous falls on my mountain bike and a few on my road bike while learning to ride with clipless pedals, falling while running with my dog when he caught sight of another dog and decided to dash through my legs to get to the other dog and more. (Yeah, I know; that was one world class run-on sentence, but as my husband often reminds me, I’m not an English teacher anymore. Once in a while I can play it loose and crazy with sentence construction when it suits my purpose.)
All of that left me with no broken bones, no stitches, and no surgeries; so, I can’t complain – or I shouldn’t. I guess I’ve been spoiled by a spectacularly durable body that has given much and asked for little in return.
It’s time for a new plan of action: I’m going to begin intense triathlon training. I needed to ramp this up, anyway, before my two triathlons in July. So, for the next few weeks I’ll do minimal running but lots of biking and swimming, plus strength training and elliptical. At least I think I can do elliptical without trouble. So, I’ll focus on triathlon training.
It is still possible that the shock wave therapy may provide the healing I need. The theory is that it further inflames the tissues to cause them to repair themselves. It’s not supposed to bring about a quick fix. They reserve it for patients with chronic plantar fasciitis, and it is expected that it will take many weeks to completely work; therefore, that still may provide the desired result. I continue to be hopeful , and I implore my body to cooperate.
Dear Body. Dear, dear Body, if you’ll just get well one more time, I promise to treat you better than ever. I’ll give you more rest, stretch more, and eat better. Just ask. Your wish is my command. Just please, please heal my heel.
How often do you run with a group?
Think about it. When you run, you are also exercising control. You do it because you can do it. No one makes you. As a coach, I don’t make anyone run. My runners make the decision to come to our workouts or our group runs; they make the decision to run; they decide how far they want to run.
One decision that I think every runner should make is to make running with a group part of their running routine. Whatever distance your training for running, training with a running group will enhance your experience.
When my runners go home, they have the mental satisfaction of knowing they've nurtured their bodies with exercise, and they’ve also nurtured their spirits with an hour or so of laughing and chatting with friends. This is critical. Laughter, chatter is as important as the running, itself. These people support and encourage each other, not just in their running accomplishments, but in the events of their daily lives that they share over the weeks and months spent running together. It is clearly both the running and the sharing that unify these groups.
They become friends that share a bond. They develop a camaraderie that is spiritually strengthening and empowering. The energy of the group, mental and physical is much greater than its parts.
Study the research. It all shows that people who have more friends live longer, and, the research also shows that the more time we spend with friends and family, the longer we live. And, it stands to reason, we live longer because we are happier, and we are happier because friends make us happy. We all need to know that other people care about us. And when we care about other people and for other people, it makes us feel good. That’s not rocket science, is it? Yet, this topic seems to get little attention.
I saw a program on TV recently about the happiest cities in the world. Seems like an odd topic, but it was fascinating. One thing that caught my attention is that in one city, they had laughing clubs. That’s what they were called.
That struck a chord with me. My Become a Runner class breaks into groups for their workouts based on their current fitness level, and I move from group to group during the workout to answer questions, motivate, etc. Every night, I am delighted by the music of laughter that periodically arises from each of these groups. Most of these people are at the stage of doing a walk/run pattern. They get so absorbed in conversation that they seem to barely take notice of the change in exertion between the walk and run segments because they are too distracted by the conversation.
I think one reason running is good for us is because it brings us – at least those of us involved in running clubs – into a community of people on a frequent basis, and for some, that is life enriching.
If someone would only do a study to compare a group of physically fit people who train together and a control group of physically fit people who train alone, do we even have to guess which group would be the happiest. I would have to guess the people who train together.
Oh, sure, some people are ‘loners,’ but even loners benefit from being around other human beings, even if they don’t seem to interact much; I’m sure of it. I once had an individual I thought of as a loner; I worried that he wasn't enjoying the group, but to my surprise one day as we jogged along, he told me how much he was enjoying the company of the group. In his mind, he was not a loner. He was always more quiet than anyone else, but he didn't even seem to realize that he was not as involved as the rest.
Human beings, I think, thrive on socializing. It’s good for us, but far too many people go home alone at night. This shouldn’t be. A running group can offer a refuge, a place where anyone can go and spend time with friends, exercising, chatting, and whiling away a few miles.
When you run with a group, it becomes your second family, your network, your extended support system. If you are a distance runner, then you cover lots of topics while out on long runs with your friends. Over the months and years, few topics will be off limits. Running, often, is therapy, in more ways than one.
Oh, some people reading this will say, “I like to run alone.” Of course, I get that. I, too, like to run alone – SOME of the time – but most of the time, I enjoy being with other runners.
One thing I know is true: You can never have too many running friends; that’s my motto. Well, one of my mottos.
If you would like to run with people, but you don’t know how to hook up with a running group, that will be the subject of my next post. Stay tuned.
Maybe the thing I like about running the most is that it's a completely personal and customizable sport. We run when we choose to run, at the intensity we choose to run, with the company we choose, alone if we choose, wherever we choose.
In this crazy, hectic world, that flexibility is golden. That flexibility means a runner can enjoy the benefits of running without having it add stress. On the contrary; it can and should be the fix for stress, but that will only happen if you use it correctly. Don't let the running run you. Never let it stress you. What would be the point?
Yesterday, in a race, my daughter Wendy chose to stop to take this cute pic of her kissing a sculpture of a horse along the race course. Now, I am not only her mom but also her running coach. Like me, Wendy loves to run, but she has many different speeds. And I don't necessarily mean that literally. She takes from running what she needs at that day and time, and that's just perfect. Some races are for a PR, some are to live life, enjoying spending an active day with friends; some are to appreciate Mother Nature, and sometimes the race, itself, as it unfolds, determines what it will be. That's what happened yesterday.
Wendy did the Michelob Ultra Challenge in the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic race weekend. That means she did the 15k followed immediately by the 5k on Saturday. Then Sunday she did the half marathon followed by the 8k; that's 31 miles, total. Although Wendy had PR'ed in a hilly half marathon the week before, she had still hoped for some PR's, but she knew a few miles into the first race that it wouldn't happen.
When I saw this picture, I didn't say, "What? You did that in the middle of a race?" I just smiled inside and appreciated that she makes every race what she wants it to be or adjusts and accepts what it turns out to be.
As we all know, whether a PR is possible is usually evident within the first few miles, and so it was with Wendy, yesterday. When it became clear that her legs were not recovered enough for that, the weekend's challenge changed. She would finish the challenge on those tired legs. Running on tired legs is good training if you are in good condition and only do it once in a while. So it turned into a great training run for the 50k she'll do in April.
She wasn't disappointed. Far from it, smiling from ear to ear, the heavy medals musically clanking around her neck, she went home tired, spent, and elated.
Sometimes what turns out to be the greatest challenge is coping with races that don't turn out as we'd hoped. That's not a challenge at all for Wendy.
It's a good example. Running is there for us, to do with as we wish. The variety of challenges is infinite. Challenge yourself to run on a hillier course than you've ever done before, challenge yourself to go farther than ever before, challenge yourself to go faster than ever before or challenge yourself to do an adventure race. If you're accustomed to running with a group, challenge yourself to run solo; if you're accustomed to running solo, challenge yourself to run with a group.
Or don't challenge yourself at all. Yeah, that's right. Most of the time it should be about just doing what feels good, just running for endorphins, running to cleanse your body and soul with fresh air, blue skies, and a little sweet sweat.
It's your sport to personalize at will.
Last weekend, my favorite running buddy - who also happens to be my daughter - and I escaped from our busy lives for a quick 24 hour Melbourne Marathon getaway. Wendy is an accomplished runner, herself, having finished her first 50k on a grueling race course a few months back, but last Sunday she was my one woman support crew during the Melbourne & Beaches Marathon.
Wendy needed to get in a long training run, anyway, so on race morning she put on a hydration pack with extra pockets loaded with goo, my sunglasses, rain slicker, camera, etc., and set out to run the 13 mile loop that I would be doing twice, but she would do it in reverse direction. That way she would be able to check with me twice to provide encouragement, offer supplies, and take pictures. Well, she did that, then ran a mile with another friend who had been reduced to walking due to a hamstring injury.
Suddenly, she realized that if I made the time I had hoped for, I would be finishing in less than half an hour, and she was, at that point, miles away from the finish line. She took off, running at a good pace; when she got in the vicinity of the start, she could see that the finish line was not there. So, she asked police officers, "Is there a short cut to the finish line?" Thinking she was either trying to cheat or quit the race, they said, "Awe, Honey, it's not that far; you can do it!" She explained, pointing to her front, that she was not in the race, that she was just trying to get to the finish line before her mom to see her finish." This scene was repeated with minor variation several times during her final couple of miles.
Eventually, she did get to the finish line. As it turned out, she had plenty of time because the last half of my race was not at all what I had hoped. When I crossed the finish line, Wendy was there as she has been for me so many times over the years. I was disappointed at my race, mostly at my uncooperative body, because it had cramped up in multiple spots, but that's life, and that's marathoning. Anyone who can't handle the unexpected better not even aim for a marathon.
I have a theory. For every really bad run, we can expect an equally good one. This marathon had started out extremely well for me, but somewhere around the 7 mile mark, I got a stitch which has attacked me in two other races within the last six months. I've been working with my massage therapist and chiropractor, and we all thought the problem was solved. Apparently not. Oh well. I was actually still ahead of Boston qualifying pace at the 11 mile mark, but I kept having to slow down until the pain eased, and so, my planned finishing time receded with every mile after that.
I wasn't distraught, though. No one can finish a marathon and not be happy with the accomplishment; at least I can't. My first goal, the most important goal - and I think this should be everyone's goal in every race - was to do the best I could, to have the fastest time I could run on that day. I achieved that goal. I also brought home the 2nd place award in my age group, despite finishing a full 20 minutes after my projected finish time.
I was happy, but the best part of that day, the best part of that whole weekend, by far, was being with my Kiddo. In the end, she ran 17 miles, and the last two were probably the fastest miles she has ever run. The details of that marathon will fade, but the memories of that time with Wendy will not.
1. Get a good night's sleep before your first 5k. Try to, anyway, but in reality, you may be too excited for that. If it doesn't happen, don't worry. It will not ruin your race. Seriously, you'll be some pumped, so excited, that you'll be fine. Remember there are ultra-marathoners who run 100 miles in 24 hours, running right through the night. If you don't get a good night's sleep before a 5k, don't worry. Veteran runners, more often than not have restless nights before races.
2. Get to the race site early. You want to have time to get your bearings, become familiar with the race course, check-in, return to your car to drop off your jacket and race bag, pin on your number, attach your chip (if it's a chipped race), and warm up.
3. Warm up before the race. Don't tell yourself, "I'll be too tired if I run a mile first." In fact, you'll have a much better race if you do a gradual walk/jog warm up. I suggest alternating walking a tenth of a mile and jogging a tenth of a mile.
2. Start the race at an easy, comfortable pace.
3. Do not let the pace or actions of the people around you affect you. Run your own race.
4. Remember, you will PR (get a personal record) today, no matter what. No pressure.
5. Have fun! Be sure to smile when you pass the race photographer because you will cherish this milestone in your running career. You're a runner now, and this is likely the first of many, many races.
*Got questions? Email deb@MojoforRunning.com. I coach beginning runners, and I'd be happy to answer your running and racing questions.