Sunday, June 8, 2014

Slow and Steady

Doesn't always win the race, but still completes it.

This is the advice my sister Tami gave me yesterday. Tami, a personal trainer and marathon runner, first inspired me a few Father's Days ago when she completed the half marathon 13 miles (21k). I since tried getting on the marathon bandwagon, but I made a few mistakes, wrong motives, trying to do it all by myself, and taking generic internet coaching.

Now, somehow a conversation between my sisters and I last night ended up instigating a challenge to do the 10k marathon next Father's Day together. So, being an all or nothing kinda girl, I did my first run this morning already! Wasn't bad for first exercise in a few months and first time running since last summer, but about twice as slow as I would like to do the 10k...but we'll see. As Tami said, you don't have to run faster, just longer.

So that's where I started this morning, and I learned so much today. The main theme of what I learned was about distractions, good and bad.
Good Distraction #1: Breathing properly. Without having to try to worry about time or pace, and just running, I was for the first time ever able to pay attention to my breathing almost the entire run. I think it helped my lung capacity, energy and I was so into my breathing that I missed the street I was going to turn around at and ran 7 blocks further than I meant to, which meant 14 blocks further....which I ended up walking the second 7 so I could run the last 16 blocks.
Bad Distraction #1: I realized that previously my discomfort easily distracted me during a run and made it less enjoyable. I bought a new running outfit in winter hoping to motivate myself to get back on the treadmill (which it didn't) but today I realized a proper sports bra, a long fitted shirt I wasn't worried about riding up, and long fitted (not tight) pants I wasn't worried about rolling down or pant legs being too short, I was able to concentrate on good distractions. I didn't realize the poor clothing choices I was making before really kept me so self-conscious, which made running in them pretty unpleasant. Here's my new, relatively cheap, but very comfy running outfit.

Good Distraction #2: Music. When a song with a great beat came up in my playlist I found my pace definitely picked up, but also because it was a worship set I found myself full of praise and gratefulness for the ability to run.

Bad Distraction #2: Similar to ill-fitting clothes, ear buds that don't fit properly, that I had to constantly be putting back in my ears, or hurt my ears, had a negative impact on my running previously. I happened to get a new pair with some new electronic in the last 6 months, but they were different than other pairs so I decided to try them and they were fantastic! 

Good Distraction #3: Positive attitude. I'm doing this for many positive reasons, why would I want to ruin it with the attitude that running sucks. So I spent the time enjoying it, the perfect breeze, smiling at other people as we passed, my ability to run longer on cement than I ever have before, and more.
Bad Distraction #3: I admit, today I realized how much I used to set myself up for failure. In addition to all the above mentioned, I also didn't stretch before my runs previously. I know, shame on me. I have in the last 7 weeks every Thursday I have been privy to witness an exercise group who stretches, runs, and then cools down/meditates and so this morning my first thought as I stepped outside was that I should stretch. It made a world of difference. Duh! My usual leg strain was gone after 4 blocks rather than being my companion most of the run. That constant pain obviously made it unpleasant to run.
Good Distraction #4: Adding a positive voice to the internal tape playing in my head. The old wrong motives, and relying on my own strength, and holding myself to anonymous internet standards really was a discouraging bunch of voices to accompany every run. All it took was one simple phrase from my sister, advice she herself used to accomplish several marathons, and I found new grace for myself and those other voices were completely silenced. Another marathoning friend (who leads the Thursday classes I observe) told me today, 'the only person you need to race is who you were yesterday.' This is no different than any other area of life, the negative voices distract from accomplishing goals, positive voices give faith in myself.

So, with all that I was able to run farther on cement than I ever have before, I was in the least pain after a run I have ever experienced, I had the most energy after the run than I have ever had, and it was probably the slowest run I've had in 6 years, lol. So all in all, very successful!

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