What Is An Athlete?

The other day I was in a strategy meeting and we were discussing a few marketing ideas.  Someone mentioned that we should avoid using the word “athlete” because it can turn some people off because they don’t feel like they are or ever could be an athlete.  On one hand I understand how this can easily happen but on the other it made me just a little sad.

Most of the people I coach in various sports, and especially in running, are new to the sport and are doing it for a cause or to get in shape.  Odds are that they may never win a race or even place in their age group.  And that is exactly why I wanted to get into coaching runners.  I wanted to work with people who were new to running, to help them through their initial struggles and to help them find a love for this sport.

A vast majority of people will say that they weren’t athletic when they were younger.  Perhaps they dabbled in gymnastics for awhile or played Little League baseball for a few years.  But as we get older there seems to be a dividing line.  There is the “I played varsity basketball,” half and then there is the, “I was more into academics or stuck to the piano in high school,” group.

In my experience, you get a great combo of both groups that flock to running in their adult years.  The former athlete often comes to running because they miss thrill of their sport or feel out of shape and want to “feel” like the athlete again.  The never felt like an athlete runner often comes to the sport because in many ways running is the most approachable.  It doesn’t require a lot of new equipment and it is a skill that most of us can pick up rather quickly, at least in some awkward and slightly painful shuffle.

But my question when I left this meeting was what makes a person an athlete?  And how can we all feel like we can call ourselves one?

Athlete2

Merriam-Webster defines an athlete as: a person who is trained in or good at sports, games, or exercises that require physical skill and strength.

Well, running does require some training whether you do it with a coach or train yourself.  It is most certainly an exercise regardless of your pace.  And it most definitely requires physical strength and skill.

Dictionary.com defines an athlete as- a person trained in or gifted in exercises or contests involved in physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise, or game requiring physical skill.

Notice that both definitions mention the person who is trained or gifted.  It is important to recognize that some people are gifted at different things and some more than others.  There will always be people who are naturally more athletic or can just naturally run at a faster or more sustained pace.

But athletes can also be trained.  Just as you are a trained employee who got a job and had someone show you the ropes at work, you can learn how to run or do any other activity.  And just as some people are better at their jobs than others you are still all employees.

It doesn’t matter what shape or size you are.  It doesn’t matter if you run, swim, do aerobics or go to Zumba class.  If you are partaking in a physical activity and are working at it, you are an athlete.

Prince Fielder reminds us all that athletes come in all shapes and sizes.   www.espn.go.com

Prince Fielder reminds us all that athletes come in all shapes and sizes.
http://www.espn.go.com

I understand that it might be hard at first to grasp the concept if one never felt as if they were an athlete before.  I can understand being a bit self conscious of using the term in front of others because perhaps they might think of an athlete as that tall, muscular fitness model they see on the cover of magazines.  But the truth is, you owe it to yourself to be considered an athlete.  You work hard, you feel the sweat, you push through achy muscles or nagging injuries…..and that is what being an athlete is all about.  There is no cookie cutter version of the athlete.

Athlete

Morning, Noon, Or Night-Anytime Is Right

Awhile back someone commented on how great it is that my husband and I tend to get up in the morning and get our daily runs in.  They mentioned that they too preferred morning workouts but their husband was more of a later in the day athlete.  I had to admit that I am not a morning person and most of my morning runs occur closer to 9:00am or 10:00am.  But I have no problem with working out at just about anytime of the day.  Some days I feel like doing an afternoon workout and other days I might not feel like it in the morning so I just wait and do it in the evening.  This works for me because I am the kind of person who won’t skip my workouts.  If I plan on running 8 miles today I will get it in whether I do it right now or put it off until the evening.  I know that it will mess with my head if I don’t get it done.

So when is the right time to workout?  Honestly, the best time is the time that you know you are certain to get the job done.

The Morning Run:

Morning

I think most people associate runners with morning because that is what they see on their morning drive to work.  They go past the sweaty, early morning runners and think that they could never be that motivated to get out the door early and get their run in.  Often times these people are extremely driven, but just as often they run not because they love the crack of dawn but instead because that is the only time their schedule dictates.  Perhaps you have kids and the morning is the only time when you and your spouse find to carve out an hour away from family commitments or maybe you have a job that keeps you in the office til late in the evening.

The Benefits:

By getting your butt out of bed and doing your run first thing in the morning you are guaranteeing that you get the job done.  You won’t have to worry about any scheduling hurdles later in the day and you can just check the workout off of your list right away.  It will also wake you up and give you a burst of energy that lasts all day long.  On a metabolic level you are giving your body a kick start from the moment you get out the door in the morning.

The Drawbacks:

If you are not a morning person you can really dread the morning run.  Many people who first try doing early morning runs struggle with the snooze button or the little voice in their head that tells them to just go back to bed.

If you are the type of person who will use excuses to stay in bed you might try getting to bed just a half hour or even an hour earlier each night.  Remind yourself that it just takes a week or two of getting up early and it will become part of your routine.  Try laying out your running clothes next to your bed the night before and put the alarm clock far enough away that you have to get yourself up out of bed.

The Afternoon Lunch Run:

Not exactly what I was thinking.

Not exactly what I was thinking.

I know a few people who head out of the office for a run during their lunch break.  They use their hour away from the office to log some miles and then nosh at their desk when they get back.

The Benefits:

This is a great way to get your workout in if you find yourself trying to squeeze everything in during the day.  It is also perfect for getting out of the office and enjoying some fresh air to break up the monotony of the cubicle.  Running is not just a physical release but also frees your mind mentally, making it the perfect way to clear your head.

The Drawbacks:

Have any co-workers that don’t like smelling you in the next cubicle?  Do you work somewhere that requires your hair and makeup look perfect?  Unless your office has a shower, you might have to quick pull yourself together as best as you can.  Fortunately, you can now buy body wipes at your local running stores to help freshen yourself up.  Apparently there is a big enough population of smelly runner/workers to create a need for such a product.

The Evening Run:

Nothing like a chilly Christmas run to check out the lights.

Nothing like a chilly Christmas run to check out the lights.

Sometimes you don’t get that morning run, or maybe your schedule just doesn’t permit it.  Some people work so early that a morning run would just not be feasible.  It might actually work to get a run in while little Bobby is at soccer practice or at the tutor.

The Benefits:

There are times after a long day that a run can be the best thing ever.  I have had horrible work days that weigh heavily on my mind and the after work run has been the perfect solution for clearing my head.  In the heat of the summer an evening run can be the perfect time to get your workout in after the sun has gone down.  I personally just love the feeling of a summer evening run.  It is one of my favorite parts of the season.  I have also noticed that when I am trying to get my weight in check, the evening run works wonders.  A late day metabolic boost seems to do the trick for me.

The Drawbacks:

If you are a procrastinator or you know that you might make excuses, the evening run might not be the way to go.  It can be easy to get to the end of the day and find plenty of reasons why not to head out the door.  Perhaps you have a job where you might end up stuck late at the office or you have kids who tend to remember at the last moment that they have a huge project that needs to be done for the next morning.  The evening run can present lots of hurdles.

So Which One Is The Best?

Honestly, all of these options are perfect.  No one type of run is the ideal or makes a person more of a runner than another.  The key is to find the time of day that works for you, the time that you know you can commit to and make it happen.  The best time is when you are out there running!

Recovery Shake

I have a confession.  When I do my long runs, 15 miles and over, on hot days I crave Diet Coke near the end.  Not only do I crave Diet Coke but it has to be from the fountain machine at McDonalds!  Here’s the kicker; I don’t really like Diet Coke and I never go to McDonalds.  So I honestly have no idea why that is the one thing my body screams for on a 20 miler.  I wish I could say that I am dying for a bowl of fruit or be like my brother in-law who carefully picks out a whole watermelon to go home and consume.  Nope, soda.

I do know though that getting the proper fuel within the “muscle recovery window” of 30-60 minutes after a hard workout is key.  By getting your post run fuel in during this time frame you help your body promote muscle synthesis and build back up your lost glycogen stores.  These are especially important during marathon training.

Lately before I head out for my early morning run I whip up a recovery “shake” and then stash it in the fridge.  I have to admit that during some of our hotter morning runs I have thought about that shake for the last few miles and it has been really great to look forward to.  I also have a tendency to finish runs and get ravenous.  It is not uncommon for me to come home from a run, take a shower, and then basically eat us out of house and home.  This recovery shake works perfectly to fill my tummy just enough that I don’t end up consuming twice the calories I just burnt.

A few years ago there was a lot of research showing that chocolate milk is the prefect recovery drink for after a long run.  The reason for this is that it is high in carbohydrates and protein which are both needed to replace glycogen and promote protein synthesis.  The ideal combination is believed to be a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.  Chocolate milk seems to fit into this ideal.  It also helps replace fluid lost from sweat and is high in calcium.

Unfortunately for this girl, I am lactose intolerant.  But over the years there have been a surge of other options in the milk department.  For awhile I was in love with soy milk but the research is still rather iffy and I feel better if both my husband and I avoid it.  I absolutely love almond milk.  I like it plain, flavored with vanilla, and can drink it by the glassful in it’s chocolate form.  The slightly nutty flavor tastes way better to me than regular old cow’s milk.  It also has half the calorie content of milk which helps me from breaking the bank after my run.

RecoveryShake

While it might not contain the same perfect combination that cow’s milk has, it still contains a good bit of protein.  It seems that while the 4:1 ratio is still the ideal, research shows that getting 15-25 grams of protein after a hard workout is just as good.  As long as you get enough protein in during your recovery window, the carbohydrate rules relax a bit.

Don't get me wrong.  I love these guys.  Who wouldn't love a face like that?!

Don’t get me wrong. I love these guys. Who wouldn’t love a face like that?!

While I use almond milk as the base of my recovery shake I also add in coconut milk yogurt, mostly because it is delicious.  However coconut milk yogurt is also high in magnesium and can help aid in muscle function.  It is also high in Vitamin D which helps our bodies absorb calcium better.

RecoveryShake2

I also throw in a banana to give the drink a more shake-like consistency.  It doesn’t hurt that bananas are high in potassium and magnesium and are full of fast acting carbohydrates.  Bananas are full of fructose which quickly converts over to energy that your body can readily use.  They are also great for helping to stave off post run cramps.

I sometimes but not always throw in a scoop (or two) of peanut butter.  Sometimes a girl just wants that chocolate peanut butter flavor.  While peanut butter is rather high in calories, it isn’t going to kill you after a hard work out.  Plus peanut butter or any other nut butter has around 6 grams of carbohydrates and 8 grams of protein in two tablespoons.  This works in that carbohydrate to protein ratio you are looking for to boost your recovery.

Recovery3

Post Run Recovery Shake:

1-32 ounce box of unsweetened chocolate almond milk

1-6 ounce container of dairy free vanilla coconut milk yogurt

1 banana

1-2 optional tablespoons of peanut butter

When I get home from my run I pull the shake out of the refrigerator and put it back in the blender for a quick spin to make it nice and frothy.  A glass of this tastes so good after a run and seems so indulgent.  The entire shake has around 440 calories if you don’t add in the peanut butter and can easily hold 4+ servings.  And although it is great to look forward to after a workout, it is just as delicious as a breakfast drink or a treat during the day.  Toss in a scoop of cocoa for a little extra flavor or a squeeze of honey to give it some added sweetness.  Just beware that the almond milk does settle over time so if you keep it in the fridge you will want to give it a whirl in the blender before consuming again.

Happy recovery!

Using Stride Length and Rate to Improve Your Running

Happy Monday!  I hope you all had a fabulous weekend.  We did a lot of running and then a lot of relaxing with family this weekend.  I also got a new bike.  Yesterday as we pedaled about 27 miles, I realized this was the first bike I have owned since I was 14 years old.  Yikes!

Bike1

On Saturday during a 16 miler I was asked a great question.  Someone mentioned that they had been playing with their stride and had been surprised to find that when they tried to lengthen out their stride, their speed slowed down.  This was an excellent observation.  If you stand at the sidelines and watch elite runners like Ryan Hall come flying by, they have that beautiful runner’s stride.  Ryan has those long, lean legs and what most experts would agree is the ultimate stride to strive for.

At first it does seem contrary to what you would think, that a longer stride length would slow you down. But it is true.  Consider this for a moment; over the course of a marathon long drawn out strides will also exhaust you a lot faster than taking fast, short steps.  It actually takes a lot of energy to lengthen out each stride.

Research has shown that shorter strides place much less impact on your body which causes less braking forces against this ground.  This will put a lot less pounding on your knees and also require a lot less swinging action from your hips.  This has been shown to give your body the same benefits that were shown in previous studies with barefoot and minimalist shoes and by simply shortening your stride you can help prevent and even treat some running injuries.

Go ahead and admire.  Just don't try to replicate!

Go ahead and admire. Just don’t try to replicate!

Cadence is your rate of stride turnover or how many steps you take per minute.  Most runners keep the same cadence regardless of their pace and generally use stride length to speed up or slow down.

Legendary running coach Jack Daniels found that most top runners have a stride rate of 180 beats per minute.  Over the years this has become the ideal rate to work towards.  The higher your turnover is, the more efficient your running will be.  Quick short steps require your body to use less energy than long strides and again put less stress on your body.

To find your ideal 180 beats per minute you will want to focus on doing quick, light steps.  Using a metronome can be a helpful tool when you first start out.  There are several apps that you can download to your phone that will give you a quick beat to run to.  You can dial it in to 180bpm and use this to help you find that perfect cadence.

If using the high pitched beat of the metronome isn’t your style I have listed some songs below that are at or around 180 beats per minute.  Music can always be a great tool for helping you keep a perfect pace and help you when you need a little boost.  Just make sure you are still aware of your surroundings when you run with music.

In The Summertime- Shaggy

They Don’t Care About Us- Michael Jackson

Closer- Nine Inch Nails

Hey Ya- Outkast

Running Down a Dream- Tom Petty

Breakaway- Kelly Clarkson

Under Your Clothes- Shakira

Radiation- Gavin DeGraw

P.I.M.P.- 50 Cent

In Da Club- 50 Cent

Rock Lobster- B-52’s

Living La Vida Loca- Ricky Martin

If I Could Turn Back Time- Cher

Jack And Diane- John Cougar Mellencamp

Happy (speedy) running!

Setting A Good Example, On The Field And In Life

I’m sure most of you have seen this video by now, but I have to share it because every time I think about it I smile and every time I watch it I get tears in my eyes.  Coach Dave Belisle gives perhaps the best speech ever to a group of athletes after a tough loss.  The reason I think it is so touching is because in the midst of heartbreak and among young boys filled with tears he doesn’t let them sit and wallow in the sadness.  Instead he pulls them in and asks them to remember just how great it is to be where they are, how well they just played, and that there is still a lot to celebrate.

Coach Belisle and the Cumberland American team.  Good work boys!

Coach Belisle and the Cumberland American team. Good work boys!

As adults we fill the shoes of role models a lot.  We aren’t always asked to and at times we have to do it whether we choose this or not.  We teach children and young adults good manners, fair play, integrity and hundreds of other things.  They learn by our example.  Those boys will be better sportsmen because coach Dave Belisle showed them the importance of losing like a champ and remembering to keep the experience in perspective.

When I see parents pushing their children along in running strollers or see a father and young child jogging together it makes me grin from ear to ear.  A runner I am working with for an upcoming marathon was recently telling me that she loves taking her son to a particular park because there is a track there.  She likes to do a few miles while her son plays and he often runs a few laps as she does hers.  All of these to me are great ways that we can lead by example.  When kids see us getting our run in, or ride along at a young age, running doesn’t seem to them like something that is a formidable punishment.  Instead running is just a part of our daily lives.

When a parent regularly goes to a gym or plays soccer on a league, kids see this as a regular part of an adult’s activity.  This is why I love when road races have an accompanying 1 mile race for younger runners.  There is something so special about seeing an entire family participate in the morning races.  Kids are growing up seeing running as a fun activity and something they can enjoy and be good at.

A friend on Facebook posted the other day that when she got off of the treadmill one of her little one’s commented that she looked like a waterfall.  It was a hilarious comparison, and I am sure we have all felt that way before.  But how cool is it that the kids could see that and laugh about it with her?

Healthy examples go beyond just exercise.  When we make healthy choices and others see this it becomes normal.  When we eat healthy foods as a part of our daily routine it gets picked up on.  On the other hand, when mom eats a salad because she is on a diet, salads become a diet food.  I once asked a little girl what her favorite thing to eat was and she said a spinach salad.  I was floored!  It shows that spinach and salads don’t have to be something that just adults enjoy.

Sometimes when I listen to the radio in the car I get so annoyed by the ridiculous commercials for weight loss miracles that I have to change the channel.  The fads, the diets, the pills; none of these are examples of a healthy lifestyle.  Most of them are nonsense and none of them are long lasting answers to living a healthy life.

I’m not a parent yet but I have worked with children for decades.  I’ve watched so many families instill healthy habits within their family through the way they remain active, do things together, and the way they eat.

einstein

This past summer I was dining with a group of children ages 4-7 and I couldn’t believe some of the things that were being said.  One kid pulled something out of a lunch box and suddenly the conversation changed to “sugar is calories and bread is calories.”  Soon there were a dozen kids arguing about calories and how they make you fat.  I of course had to put a stop to it and we simply changed the subject.

While it is important for children to understand to a certain extent what foods are good choices, it is scary for them to be so concerned at such a young age with fat and calorie content.  I’m not sure 6 year olds need to be reading the food labels of their neighbor at lunch or analyzing the contents of their sandwich.

Everything is about balance.  Obsession with exercise and food can be a slippery slope and when we head down that road children see that and can be strongly influenced.  Showing youth that exercise can be a fun part of our lives is a great example.  And while it is great to teach them that having some broccoli or asparagus with our dinner is a wise choice and French fries aren’t a dinner staple, it is just as important to share with them that a cupcake can be a delicious and occasional treat for us all to enjoy.

There is a lot we can share by our examples in life.  I personally loved a few things that Coach Dave Belisle said: people like fighters, sportsmen, people that don’t quit, and people that play the game the right way.  Then he added that he needed one big hug from the group and then it was time to celebrate.  “Try to suck it up,” he said.  All wise words to live by.

Keep setting great examples and happy running!

 

Heart Rate vs. Perceived Exertion

Lately I have had a lot of athletes ask me about purchasing new GPS units for their training and whether they should get the heart rate monitor as an added tool.  Heart rate monitors provide a lot of benefits and in the past I used them a lot, specifically when I was figure skating and in my early days of running.  I have owned several heart rate monitors over the years.  Most came with various Garmins that I have purchased and the honest truth is, they still sit in the boxes they came in.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some great benefits to monitoring your heart rate, but I personally prefer to monitor my perceived exertion.  Both versions have benefits.

As you run faster your body requires more oxygen to be sent to your muscles.  Your heart is thus required to pump more and this is where your heart rate comes into play.

untitled3

To use heart rate monitoring you first need to figure out your working heart rate.  You can find this by taking 220 and subtracting your current age to determine your maximum heart rate.  You will then subtract your resting heart rate from that number.  To figure out your resting heart rate it is best to do this when you first wake up in the morning when you have yet to exert yourself.  Stay laying down and find your pulse preferably on your wrist.  Using a watch count your pulse for a full minute.

A lower resting heart rate usually indicates a higher level of fitness.  Your heart is a huge muscle and as it gets more efficient with training the slower it will need to pump.  However certain factors can cause your heart rate to go up.  Dehydration can actually cause your heart rate to raise by 10 beats per minute.  A consistent increase in resting heart rate can also be indicative of overtraining and even poor nutrition.

Once you have your working heart rate you can then use the following zones to figure out your proper training.

50-60% of working heart rate improves your overall health and recovery

60-70% of working heart rate improves your endurance and burns fat

70-80% of working heart rate improves endurance (aerobic workouts)

80-90% of working heart rate would be considered a hard workout and increases your maximum performance (anaerobic workouts)

90-100% of working heart rate would be considered your maximum output and will improve your maximum performance and speed  (VO2 max workouts)

Jack Daniels, again the coach and not the drink, points out that tracking your heart rate doesn’t necessarily tell you how hard you are working.  Your heart rate is affected by multiple factors.  Wind, hills, rough terrain and humidity can affect your heart rate.  Running indoors on stationary machines will often show an increase in heart rate due to warm and stagnant air and running on some cold winter days with many layers can also raise your heart rate.

To truly benefit from tracking this you need to consistently run on similar courses with similar conditions.  However, Daniels does point out that heart rate monitoring can be a great way to track your rate of recovery.

According to Daniels, and I would have to agree with this, pace is your best tool for monitoring your progress.  But if you can’t measure pace, using your heart rate is the next best thing.

For me, perceived exertion is a great way to determine how you will be running each workout and also to track your progress.  Most of us are capable of determining what our “easy” pace is versus our “hard” or “effort” pace.  Knowing beforehand what kind of run you will be doing each day can help you to determine which pace you should be running.  This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have a GPS strapped to you so that you can see what your pace is at all times.  Instead you can just monitor what your pace feels like to you.  If you are doing an easy paced run that day and you feel like you are pushing it too hard, just take your pace down a bit.

Having a tool like a running GPS can be a great way to monitor your pace over time and determine improvements as well as estimate race paces.  While I often check my pace at most miles I loosely use this just to see how I am running on that particular day.  When I finish I use my average pace as a way to track how my overall running is either staying on track, improving, or needs a little help.  If you don’t have a GPS you can determine your pace by using a measured course and keeping track of your overall time.  You can then take your time and divide it by the number of miles you ran to determine your pace.

Time2

I prefer using perceived exertion because having to strap in each day and track my heart rate just seems like adding too much technology to a sport that I enjoy for its solitude and relative tranquility.  It also allows me to relax a bit and not freak out when I am struggling on hot and humid days.  Instead I am able to hone in on how I am personally feeling and use my own feedback to determine just how my runs are going.

heartratemonitor

Another great way to determine your progress is to use effort tests to track your running.  Daniels recommends doing 8-10 400 meter repeats on a track (one lap) with one minute recoveries or a 3-4 mile tempo run to see how you are improving over a season.  Try doing one of these workouts at the start of your training and repeat the same test near the half way point measuring your pace/speed each time you test.

Both of these are great ways to measure your progress and determine if your training needs to be revised.  It really comes down to personal preference.  If you are a recreational runner the perceived exertion is definitely the way to go.  If you love technology, you might just really enjoy having a monitor strapped to your chest!

I love using the track for effort tests.

I love using the track for effort tests.

 

Signs of Success and Much Thanks to Running

The other day I was reading a blog post from A Marathon Runner’s Wife and it absolutely struck me.  Her post was titled “What Is Success?” and she linked to this great read: 20 Signs You’re Succeeding In Life Even If You Don’t Feel You Are.  I absolutely loved her post and I really loved reading through the 20 points.  Some I latched onto more than others.  But I think a lot of us have moments every now and again, or often, where we question if we have made the right choices in life or have headed in the best direction.

When I was younger I certainly would have assumed that success came with a grand job or a big figure paycheck.  Perhaps a large sized house might have declared success.  But as I have grown older I have realized that success comes in many different shapes and sizes.  It usually has very little to do with money or jobs and a lot more to do with our happiness.

Running has certainly been a huge factor in helping change my perspective on how I see success or how it might be measured.  Many a morning or late afternoon I spend countless miles alone with my thoughts, admiring nature and other fellow runners.  Over the years I have watched myself transform as a runner and cheered on either out loud or in my head, hundreds of runners as they push themselves to new limits.

dunes17

This sport isn’t easy.  For some, running a marathon or doing an ultra might be a measure of success but to many simply getting out the door and getting past that first mile deems the day a success.  Knowing that each person has their own limits makes you realize that there is no cookie cutter version of what success truly is.  Some days are better than others and pushing my body to do what it allows me to do on a given run gives me happiness.

There are a lot of faster runners out there and if I measured how I compared to them in any race I would probably be rather disappointed.  But running allows me to watch myself improve and with each race I can see my own personal progress.  Better yet, everyone on the side of the road is still cheering me on even after that super speedy girl whizzed past minutes ago.  Putting life and your runs into perspective is the only way you will ever find happiness.

I am not going to touch on all of the signs.  But there are a few that I think are definitely worth mentioning:

Signs 3-5: Running will undoubtedly make you raise your standards.  Very few other sports will so quickly push you to your limits.  Unless you are just coasting along you will have no choice but to raise your standards.  As you continue to progress and see what a strong and healthy runner you have become it is natural to continue raising the bar.  And although this article may be talking about letting go of people that weigh you down or make you unhappy, most of us that get into running quickly start trading in our cakes and cookies (for the most part) for healthy veggies, fruits and grains.  Our bodies crave this and before you know it, you find yourself standing in the mirror admiring those sexy, toned legs.

Sign 6: If you read my post yesterday you know that I landed right in a big old setback of a run last week.  But I pushed through, dusted myself off, ate a delicious roast beef sandwich and came back the next day for more.  Of course I am a glutton for punishment, but I also have learned that just because one day ends with a horrible run doesn’t mean that the next day can’t leave you feeling like a million dollars.  Same goes for each mile of a run.  Some miles just plain suck but others may surprise you.  We runners learn to roll with the punches because you never know just what that next mile will hand you.

Signs 7-8:  No good runner could do this alone.  We all have great support systems and all those miles we log running together or riding to the next race or massaging achy muscles helps to create incredible relationships.  Besides, no one else wants to hear you celebrate your next lost toe nail.  And while we do complain, as we get stronger the complaining takes on more of a wicked sense of humor.  “Man my legs are so sore today.  I can’t believe I forgot to pack my Body Glide.”

MRD_2570

Sign 9:  I am such a competitive person.   I used to cry in elementary school when I would miss a question on a simple quiz.  My husband will tell you we no longer can play checkers together because of this competitive nature.  But somehow I can be running a race and busting my butt to set a new PR and when I see another woman come flying past me my jaw drops with awe.  I might even cheer her on as she passes.  Not many other sports will have you cheering on the same people you are competing against.  Maybe we really are crazy!

Sign 10:  Yeah this one goes without saying.  Run nerd, right here.

Signs 11-12:  I look forward to just about every run.  Enough said.  And believe it or not most of my goals for myself and running have come true and then some.  I never had any idea that I would accomplish some of the things I have and for some reason this sport just has me continuing to set the bar higher or moving it over to another plan all the time.

Signs 16-17: If you saw some of the outfits I have run in you would definitely know that I no longer care what people think.  Add the runny noses, chafing legs, and salt drying all over my running shorts and you simply have to get over what others think and get over yourself.  And then when you do, you realize that everyone else is just as wrapped up in their own little worlds that they just don’t give a darn!  And if by looking on the bright side you are talking about my new shoes, I definitely have that covered.  But seriously, running has helped me to become an incredibly positive person.  It gives me something to look forward to, shows me a sense of confidence and accomplishment, and makes me feel like I can do anything.

BrightShoes

Signs 18-19:  There are definitely a few things I can’t change.  I will never be Kara Goucher and darn it I will probably never have her legs.  But I can keep pushing myself and working on my speed and endurance and who knows where I might end up?  I won’t be next to Kara at the finish but I can trace her steps there!

Sign 20:  This is a sure thing.  Running makes me happy.  Maybe it is the endorphins or that I have gone slightly mad running dozens of miles alone with my own thoughts.  But I can confidently say I am a much happier person because of running.

As A Marathon Runner’s Wife said, “There’s so much in life to be thankful for – and we have little victories that are worth celebrating”

Couldn’t have said it better.