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!