03 August 2012

I am runner, hear me roar

I only started running in February. I only started running outside in April. As such, this is my first summer as a runner and oh holy hell has it required a bit of a learning curve. Like understanding heat and humidity will slow you down. This has been the hardest lesson and one I wish I had learned sooner as it would have helped me not freak out before my first 5K.

As it happens, competing in that first 5K has completely changed my perception and focus when it comes to running. In the beginning I was super focused on time. A good pace left me feeling elated while a bad pace made me feel like a failure.

In the past few months, though, I've stopped worry about it.

Why?

Because it doesn't matter.


Seriously. Unless you're trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, time doesn't really matter. Not in the big ol' grand scheme of things. At least not from where I'm standing. Of course, as a fairly new runner maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. Then again, as someone who fully embraced last place in her first ever race, I'd also like to think I'm perhaps wise beyond my years. Y'know, all thirty of them. 

Now, of course I understand that people have goals. For my second 5K I wanted to do better than my first, and I did. For my third, I'd like to do at least as well as my second, if not better. It's good to have goals as they help keep you motivated and inspired. 

But if you're a brand new runner, kinda like me six months ago, then don't worry about time. Really. Don't even think about it. Don't even really think about distance either. If you're a brand new runner, there's only one thing you need to focus on: 

Running

That sounds a bit obvious, I know. Maybe a bit too obvious. But I'm here to tell you, even if you start out with the best of intentions, getting into a regular running routine is fucking hard work.

Oh sure, it's great in the beginning because you're excited at doing something new. High on endorphins, you go buy new running shoes and build a playlist. Just yesterday you were camped out on the couch and now you're running. Who woulda seen this one coming? 

Yeah. About that.

What goes up must come down and eventually the high wears off. Suddenly 6:30 am no longer sounds like an appealing time to wake up. Not if it means going for a run (ugh). Personal shit gets in the way and you lose your running mojo. The Couch to 5K app actually warns you about this around Week 7, with the little cartoon coach cheering you on to break through the wall. 

Her virtual wall is easy. The one in the real world is another matter entirely. I mean, hello, she's a cartoon. Are you really going to take advice from an animated Jillian Michaels knockoff? 

If you're anything at all like me, there will come a time when you are desperate for an exit strategy. And if you're brand new to running, chances are you're not going to be very fast, and that slow pace is the perfect opportunity for nixing this whole "running" plan. (Whose idea was that, anyway?)

Which is why I'm telling you that if you're going to focus your energy on one thing, focus on making sure you run. Doesn't matter how long or how far, not as long as you're moving. It's easiest if you set a goal. For me it's making sure I run three times a week. Maybe you want to run for an hour. That gives you flexibility, like run for an entire hour one day and be off the hook, or you can do two half hour runs or three twenty minutes, etc. Maybe you need to mix it up and run for 30 seconds, walk for 30 seconds and do that for a mile. Find something that works for you and stick with it.

Look at it this way: last week I ran three days. If I average out my averages, my overall mile time over the course of the week was, rounding up, a 15 minute mile. That's not exactly fabulous, right? Not when you consider back in the spring I was running, like, 12 minute miles. (Repeat: it's not me, it's the heat. It's not me, it's the heat. It's not me...)

Anyway, a 15 minute mile is like an "Eh" on the scale. However, if I shift my perspective just a bit, I'll see that over those three days I ran a total of 6.58 miles and for 95 minutes. Now those are numbers I like. I mean, 6 1/2 miles. That's, like, half a half-marathon. Sure, that was over the course of three runs, but still. 

15 minute mile: Blah. 6 1/2 miles: Woot! 

It's such a simple thing, changing perspective, but it completely changes your attitude. Lion or Gazelle is completely irrelevant. Just keep running

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

16 comments:

  1. I just got back from Drummond Island, a little island off the coast of the Michigan UP and Canada, and I was running 3-4 miles a day like my pregnant body didn't notice a thing there. Came back to sweltering Cincinnati and couldn't walk to the end of my block to grab a sandwich from the deli without getting out of breath. Heat matters- but I like your method of calculating overall distance. It's a nice metaphor for how far you've come, anyway, right? Your goals sound right on target to me!

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    1. I would actually love to be able to go back and figure out how far I have, literally, come by adding up miles since I started. I'm trying really hard to keep better track these days.

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  2. I like that lion or gazelle thing.. I don't run. Being a fibro chickee I will die. ha. So I walk instead. I walk at least 15 mins each day if not more. For me it is better than nothing. And when i move I will be walking all the time.

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    1. I can't claim ownership to the lion gazelle thing, but I can claim ownership in making it all pretty ;)

      I started as a walker, so, really just moving is what's important!

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  3. You have an awesome attitude! Any mile, no matter how fast or slow, is still a mile ran. I struggle to remind myself of this after the bad runs too!

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    1. Oh yeah, those bad runs can really mess with your head! That's why I try to focus more on distance than time :)

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  4. I think I need to get me this Couch to 5K app. I've heard good things, and if I am going to start running I need the help. Good advice about not worrying about your times.

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    1. The C25K program is great, especially if you have no running experience. It starts you off with walking and running intervals (more walking than running in the beginning) and slowly builds you up. The program is three times a week, about 30 minutes each time.

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  5. Just what I needed to hear. I stumbled upon your blog looking for some inspiration. I'm on Week 6, Day 3 of the C25K. Actually repeating it tomorrow and need to get through my mental block. Thanks for your wise words.

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    1. I'm so glad I can be of help in that way! Believe me, I totally understand what it feels like. Even now I still have mental blocks, but it's much easier to push through them. The effort is always worth it in the end.

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  6. Those mental blocks are a hard thing, aren't they? You have a great attitude. One of my running friends (a marathoner) has always inspired me and she said to me that her dad told her(and I am paraphrasing) "I know I am never going to win a race. All I can do is go out there and try to be better than I was before. If I do that, then I am winning. If I don't do that, then I look at why and try again...and I am still winning."

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    1. Oh, I love that! I'm definently going to remember it.

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  7. you rock. found you on mama marchands' blog and now follow thru GFC. i hafto get back into running. i miss it so much. you are an inspiration.
    if you have time to check out my blog, i'd love it. it's really cute and different. i try to stand out!

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    1. Welcome! Mama Marchand is pretty awesome, isn't she? :)

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  8. What perfect timing! I had a crappy, crappy run this morning in hot, humid NYC and this is exactly what I needed to hear. Who cares? It's one day. I'll just go out again tomorrow. At some point it has to cool down and become less humid, though, right??!?! I never thought I'd be dreaming about September. Running makes you really appreciate spring and fall...

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    1. After having an awesome spring I'm really looking forward to running in the fall!

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