Running has taught me a lot about life.

I was getting ready to head out for my long run Sunday and not looking forward to it.  It was 5:15 and I was getting my water and GU together to put in my mailbox for my refill on my 4 mile loop.

I looked at twitter and saw something that stuck with me the entire run.  At the time, I read it and moved on.  I thought it was insightful, but I didn’t retweet or favor it.  I wish I had.  I looked again and couldn’t find it.

So here is the gist of that tweet that I pondered during my run and that helped me go 20 miles:

You’ve gotten this far
You’ve suffered this long
Don’t quit
Finish the course

As I said, I passed over this tweet, but I still cannot let it go.  Funny how things like this stick in your head and you don’t realize the implications until you are in that situation and it pops up before your eyes!

My run on Sunday was the most difficult physical experience of my life.  I am not athletic.  I wanted to quit.  I wanted to give up.

  • At mile 10 I was thinking, “Maybe I should just tell TJ that I am going to run the marathon and then at the last minute not run it so that he will enjoy the race and I wont spoil it for him.”
  • At mile 12 I thought, “If I feel this way after 12 miles, how can I do 26 in 4 weeks.”
  • At mile 16 I thought, “I got this far, I have to do 20.”
  • At mile 18 I thought, “I don’t care if I have to crawl, I WILL MAKE 20 MILES!”
  • At mile 20, walking in the early morning heat, exhausted, literally soaked from my hat to my shoes, I wanted to cry.

I made it.  Never in my life did I think I would one day make my body travel 20 miles on foot.  It wasn’t pretty.  I walked the last two miles, but I made it.

I want to end this post the way I started it.  Running has taught me a lot about life.  Life isn’t easy.  In fact, many days (before I started running) I lived my life at mile 12…  “Maybe I should quit.”  “This is too hard.”  “How am I going to get through the day?”

Now, I live my life at mile 18, “If I have to, I will crawl though this life to finish this race!”

Lesson learned.  By the grace of God I will run this race, I will finish 26 miles, I will run or crawl, but I will finish.

Obviously that last sentence has a duel meaning to me now.

Running has taught me a lot about life.

More “Voices” from another run blogger!

More voices…

It is amazing how many people have had the same experiences as I in dealing with “The Voice” that continually speaks negative thoughts during a workout or run.

Another blogger, Mimi’s Getting Fit, just posted a great post talking about the same issue.  When you get a chance, go read the post and also peruse her blog, you will be inspired and motivated after you see all that she has accomplished!

Yesterday, as I sat at the Chiropractor’s office waiting to be seen, I began pondering…  “What, for me, would be the best way to stay positive about my workouts and long runs?”  Good question, I answered. 🙂

Hmmm.  What really excites me about a particular run is the feeling just after I finish.  As I sit on the back porch, throwing a stick to “The Dog” and look at the stats of my run; that is the best feeling.  It is the feeling of accomplishment.  The feeling of beating the odds.  I never thought I’d be a runner, let alone one who likes his stats!

For instance yesterday, I ran hard hill workouts in 108 heat index and humidity.  I only ran 4 miles overall, but they were good miles.  I got home, soaked in sweat, and sat outside in that same 108 heat and felt great.  The run wasn’t easy, but that feeling of accomplishment was so powerful.

I say all that to say this… Each day I am going to reach for that goal.  The goal of enjoying the results of my runs.  So when I head out to run (after getting up at 2:30 AM, working 10 hours, running to the store on the way home, then finally heading out in the summer heat to run) I am going to begin by thinking of the end.  Thinking of the point of exhilaration I experience after a good workout.  Thinking of the positive.  SILENCING THE VOICE!!!

Everyone has a reason(s) they run, workout and or exercise.  Everyone has a voice telling them at times that today just isn’t going to be a good day to go out and they need a break.

Recognize “The Voice” and defeat it with the very reason you run or exercise.  Your motivation.  For me,  it is that feeling of, “Ahhh, what a great workout” and playing with “The Dog”!!!

Life is cyclical and so is running – Yesterday was a good day!

Life is cyclical – that is something that I have been realizing lately.

If one of my kids come to me and say that they are having a difficult time with work or with a friend, I say, “life is cyclical; if today is a bad day, a good day is coming and, unfortunately the same is true in the other direction.”  There are good days and bad days.  If you can’t see beyond today, then you believe everyday will be the same as today.  That can lead to depression or to exhilaration; both are bad if you can’t see past today.  The key to life is to understand that you can learn from good days and bad days.

That was a bit of my philosophical side coming through there, but it applies to running and to my blog.

I have found out over the past 14 months of running that there are great days and horrible days running.  In between those days are just normal days.  I have been having a bit of a difficult time lately because of the heat.  I have gone from running an average of 8:30 pace to getting excited to hit 9:30.  To me that has been a bit depressing.  I have been telling myself, it is the heat.  It is the Summer setting in (of course we are still in Spring).  Still, to go through 3 or 4 weeks of slowing down and just being happy to finish and meet my mileage goal rather than my pace goal has been difficult.  Even on my Run Plan tab above, I have changed the emphasis to mileage and not pace.  What really worries me is that in September I need both mileage and pace.

Then there was yesterday.

It was a little cooler and overcast when I went out to run.  I have a reduced week of running this week to recover some from the higher mileage I have put in, so that is also a help.  I began my run and it began to rain.  It rained hard!  Then the thunder hit about mile 1.5.  I decided to head home and hope it passed by.  After about 10 minutes the thunder stopped and it was still pouring outside, but I decided to go back to my run anyway.  I had to stay close to home so I could go inside if lightening started, but it was still fun.  The rain made it cool and my run went great.

I began running at about a 9:00 pace.  The next two miles were near 8:30 pace.  The forth mile was near 8:00 and my final mile was 7:55!  It was soooo nice to be able to run faster for a change.  Of course 7:55 is going to be my marathon pace so that one mile will be my average for 26 miles, but who is counting.  I am just ecstatic that I ran well and had a great time in the rain.

Life is cycular.  I know there will be hot, humid days ahead where I’ll be glad to hit my 9:30 pace.  But today I am so thankful for my run yesterday.  It gives me hope and keeps the fire burning.

Running, obsession, and a midlife crisis

I’ve been feeling a bit lethargic about running lately.  I’m not sure why.  Don’t get me wrong, I still run 6 days a week and still do my workouts.  I think the warmer weather has made it harder to get outside and get going.  But it isn’t about wanting to run, it is about running.  If I only ran when I felt like it, I would probably run a couple days a week and eventually just stop.  To be honest, I get up at 3:30am, get to work by 5:30, leave work about 2:00pm, get home by 2:30, get running around 3:00, finish running about 4:00, cool down and take a shower by 4:30 and then I get a chance to rest.  It makes for a long day.

Someone asked me recently if I was obsessed with running.  I guess I am to some extent.  I really am not an obsessive person, but I think having a goal that I desperately want to meet has made me more obsessive.  Also, as I have written before, if I weren’t obsessive, I wouldn’t run.  I have to push myself and I like that I can do that.  I have only really pushed myself a couple times in my life.  Running has brought out an area of my life that I never knew I had, discipline.  So I run each day and thank God that I live in a country that gives me the freedom to do so.

Yesterday was Hill Run Thursday.  I decided to try and break my record for running up this huge quarter mile hill.  I have only done it 4 times in a row in the past, so I thought I would try to get to 5.  I put on my new Saucony Fastwitch shoes (which I love by the way) and did a 2 mile warmup.  Then the hill…  I ran up and down over and over.  In the end I actually ran 6 repeats of this hill – a new personal record.  I wasn’t trying to break any speed records, but I broke my record and my goal for running this hill.

As I was running home I thought to myself, having goals and meeting or exceeding them makes running (and life in general) much more fun.  It is when I have no goals or deadlines or challenges that my life becomes boring and plain.  Running gives me new goals almost weekly and I love it.  I love the challenge and the trill of running up a huge hill 6 times in a row (I never thought I’d say that).  I love running farther and faster.  I can’t wait for my marathon in September to see how far I have come.  Boston or not, I think I have come a long way since March 2012 when I started (my Nike Plus app tells me so anyway).

So in the end I don’t think I am obsessive about running.  I think that by the time I turned 49, I looked at myself and didn’t like what I saw.  I was obese, lazy, on a CPAP to breath at night.  I had a type of a midlife crisis.  I didn’t buy a fast car or try to “find myself”.  I just went for a run and never stopped.

Now that I am 50, I like who I am.  So if that is obsessive, then I guess I am obsessive.

But I think happy might be a better word.

Running has made me love the outdoors!

Yesterday was my off day from running to let my body recuperate, and my body needed that day.  Our workouts last week were the first I had done in a month or so and though it had positive effects on my running, my muscles didn’t like it much.

So yesterday I got home from work and went for a two mile walk.  It is funny how after running each day for a year now, I enjoy the outdoors for the first time since my childhood.  I had gotten into the routine of essentially being outside for a little as possible.  I’d go from my house to my car and from my car to my work and then eight hours later reverse that processes.  I hated to be outside.

Now, I am outside about an hour a day and I love it.  I think that because I decided to run in any weather (except for lightening), I have begun to enjoy all weather.  In the summer I really appreciate rain and wind, since it is so hot.  In the winter I appreciate the cold and the feeling after a mile or so of my body heating up under my running clothes like a furnace.  I really have learned to appreciate the days with moderate temperatures and no clouds in the sky.

I tend to learn from experience rather than from what people tell me.  Experience has taught me that being outside helps my mood.  Running does a lot of help for my mood also, don’t get me wrong.  But there is something about the outdoors, especially in the sun, that makes me feel better and seems to keep me healthier and happier.

Of course you don’t have to run to get outside and experience this feeling of, ahhhh.  But for me, running outside in all types of weather has made me a better person at home, at work and in general.

Okay, these are just my experience as I mentioned before.  But I have been challenging those I know who suffer from depression and health problems to just get out of the house.  One day, if it hasn’t been done already, researchers will prove that being outside and hour a day will make you healthier, happier and live longer.

Experience is a great teacher.

Is running an obsession?

This is the question I have been asking myself lately; is running an obsession for me?

Answer: Of course, it has to be!

What 49 year old would go outside 6 days a week and run the same route in rain, snow, cold or hot?  Who would do this for almost a year and take between 1 – 2 hours a day doing it?  Who would want to wake up in the morning and have the first feeling one of pain as they get out of the bed?

Running takes almost 100% of my free time.  Running makes my body hurt.  Running is boring.  Running pushes my cardiovascular system to the edge (sometimes).

If running weren’t an obsession, I WOULDN’T DO IT!

But let’s look at it from another perspective…

Running has helped me loose over 85 lbs.  Running helps me sleep better.  Running helps me deal with life’s stresses in a way I never had before.  Running has brought down my heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar and in general added years onto my life.

Everyone has an obsession.  I am glad that running is mine.

I love running.

Running is cheaper than therapy (part II)

Yesterday was not a fun day.

Work was piling up.  My family has been sick.  It seemed all the world wanted something from me.

I love my work, but somedays are frustrating.  I thought of running after I got home, even though it was my off day.  Then my son was sick, so I took him to the doctor and didn’t get home until 4:00.  By then I was not in a good mood, even tough my lovely wife tried to cheer me up.

So I ran.  It was only 3 miles since it was my off day, but I ran an 8:09 pace which is good for me.

I wrote a post a while back about a bumper sticker that I saw that said, “Running is cheaper than therapy”.  Really, to be totally honest, running has become therapy to me.  Yes, I want to run races and to do well in them.  Yes, I want to run a marathon as my dad did in his 70’s.  But I realize that running helps me deal with life.  It helps me at work to be more efficient and productive.  It helps me at home to be less frustrated at normal circumstances.  It just helps.

Here is an article that says that running increases dopamine.

Health newstand says this about dopamine:

Dopamine is widespread in the brain as well as the rest of the nervous system. This neurotransmitter plays a critical role in the control of movement. It has a stimulating effect on the heart, the circulation, the rate of metabolism, and is able to mobilize many of the body’s energy reserves. It helps to modulate brain activity, control coordination and movement, and regulate the flow of information to different areas of the brain.  Dopamine is believed to release chemicals that allow us to feel pleasure (e.g., endorphins).

I’m not sure why I went in this direction with this post.  I guess I realize that my days are better when I run.  Is it chemical (dopamine, endorphins) or just the fact I am finally getting in shape and feel better about myself?  I don’t know.

This is what I do know…

I love running.