Something happens to me on Thursdays. I wake up excited and ready to challenge myself. Thursdays are my push-it-to-my limit days. The fitness training I do on that day is not in any training book and may not even be recommended. On the other days of the week I strive to be close to the number of runs and kilometers in my half marathon training schedule. If I miss a run, or take a km or 2 off I don’t really worry about it. But on Thursdays I go all out and do my long run, an hour and a half of yin yoga (see previous post) and an hour of boot camp. This Thursday, with a 17k run, that translated to just over four hours of activity. Everyone thinks I am nuts, and I probably am, but somehow it works for me. I know I will be exhausted by the end of the evening, but I also know I will sleep well and I will feel like I accomplished something big. Admittedly it helps knowing that I only have Friday left to get through before the weekend arrives. If I followed this schedule on a Monday I wouldn’t last the week at work. I also admit if boot camp were a half hour longer I probably couldn’t make it to the end of the class. By the last 10 or 15 minutes of that hour I start to visualize myself passed out at home. Not surprisingly, Friday mornings can be a little rough getting out of bed. This morning I was sure I had just accidently set my alarm as I was positive it was Saturday and I could sleep in. But I got up, worked and fit in another 9k of running. And the amazing thing about the Friday runs is I am never as stiff or sore as I should be the day after a long run. So, Thursdays may be crazy, but something is working and I am not about to mess with it!
Up until last summer my only goal was to be able to do 5 and 10k races. Our summer was hot last year, so by the end of July any serious running seemed like a distant memory. But one evening I went out and did a 12k run and I surprised myself. The first half of the run felt good, but the second half felt great. In fact I only stopped because it was getting dark and rural roads and runners, even with reflective gear, are not a good mix. I had done that distance a few times before, but each time it had only felt good when it was over, not while I was doing it. Enjoying 12k was a new experience. Suddenly 21.1k didn’t seem impossible. Now, when you think about it, the logic in that math doesn’t really add up. There is a significant difference between 12 and 21, but mentally that difference had decreased. And ultimately, isn’t running more of a mental game than a physical one? I finished that run with the idea that maybe I should look into taking the next step and try running a half.
The race that looked best to try was the 9 Run Run in October. I never, however, enter a race without looking at the previous year’s times. I know I should just have faith in myself that I will complete the race, but the fact is I want to know that they won’t be telling me to finish on the sidewalk because they have to reopen the roads to traffic. I shouldn’t care about that. I love the saying that even if you are last in the race, you’re not really last because you beat all the people who are sitting on their couches at home. For me though, I just need that security blanket of knowing there will be a group of people behind me so I can blend into the crowd. I did end up doing the race, they did not kick me off the course and as mentioned in a previous blog I ran it in the same time as the race average. I continued my training to do another half in November, this one on a local golf course. Not being a golfer, I have to admit I didn’t quite realize how many rolling hills a golf course could have. Imagine running on a kiddie roller coaster for just over two hours and you get the picture. But even a hilly course did not deter me and I knew that half marathons were the distance I wanted to run.
In December I learned I had made it into the NYC Half. I would love to say I got in by qualifying, but my P.B. would only qualify me if I was collecting Old Age Security. I needed to trust luck in a lottery to enter this one. So a new season of running began and I decided I needed to take a look at my training. I am a little linear in my way of thinking. I seem to have defied that stereotypical image of women who can successfully multitask. The fact is, I can’t cook and talk to my kids, I can’t talk on a phone and type, heck, I can barely fold laundry and watch t.v. at the same time. As a result, the only thing I could think about when training last fall was running a distance that would prepare me for 21.1k. Core training, yoga for runners, visiting a gym, none of these were even in my thoughts. All I could focus on was making sure I would be able to keep running when I needed to. Logically I knew all those other things would help me reach my goal, but mentally I just couldn’t think about them.
So this season I am looking at a more rounded training program. A friend introduced me to yin yoga. My only previous experiences with yoga were a couple of classes in my twenties when several senior citizens proved to be significantly more flexible than me. I figured the odds of me having become more flexible in the last two decades were slim to none. As a result, yoga just seemed too intimidating to try. But within 15 minutes of yin yoga I realized I should have made it part of my training from day one. Yin yoga is a runner’s friend and it is everything running isn’t. It is slow and it stretches muscles that the demands of running make tight. The slow pace allows even an inflexible body like mine to find its place in the pose and feel comfortable, as if it is the position your body has been waiting to go into all day. Now I can’t even imagine myself not doing this once a week and if I could carve out a little more time I would do it more often. Proof positive that while focus may be good, thinking in too linear of a way can lead you to miss out on wonderful opportunities.
Next time…the joys of boot camp!
In my head this was going to be about running hills. I do still want to write about that, hence the blog title that allows me to write a sequel. Instead though, this will be more about what happened on my last 2 hill runs rather than the running itself.
Something changes in us during the shorter, colder days of winter. We bundle up in layers, walk a little faster and stare at either the icy ground below or at our final destination, thinking either will get us there just that little bit faster. As a result we don’t always notice others going by. I see this all the time on my winter runs. As someone approaches me I can tell they are avoiding looking up or acknowledging my presence. I always try to say a quick “Hi”, but sometimes feel foolish, or even a bit intrusive. Continue reading
When you live in Ottawa you can either spend a few months hibernating or you can embrace the season of winter. When I first moved to Ottawa from southern Ontario I decided to embrace the winter months. I started skating on the canal and took up downhill skiing. I admit though, I thought of running as a three season sport. I knew that like with any other activity you could “layer up”, but how on earth would you keep your feet warm wearing mesh running shoes? Even once I started running, I really did not have any intention of continuing past November. I figured the running shoes could be packed away and dusted off once spring arrived.
Prior to starting this blog I had about a year and a half of running experiences. Too many experiences to recall here but certainly some memories worth sharing. So in no particular order…
- Running one August evening in Fitzroy (rural West Ottawa). It was one of those runs I just didn’t feel like doing. It was still muggy, I was tired and Fitzroy is not the flattest area in which to run. I was training for my first half marathon and was starting to question if I would ever really be able to do that distance. Suddenly, as it sometimes happens when running, everything fell into place.
About a year and a half ago I decided to try running, an activity I swore I would never do. Quite honestly, I just didn’t get it. Why would people put themselves through that kind of torture in rain, heat and snow? I have always liked being fit, but really there has to be a better way, right? But now I am a convert. I get it now, all of it. There may be lots of other ways to stay fit, but nothing quite like running. Let’s face it, it can be the most miserable of experiences, but it can also be the most memorable and the most amazing. Like everything in life, the hardest things to accomplish are always the most satisfying.