Since it’s Thankful Thursday, I figured I would share some things that I didn’t appreciate before becoming a runner.
- Sunrise/Sunset: I know lots of non-runners appreciate sunrise/sunset. I was never one of them. I discovered that something magical happens when you are out on the road, especially at sunrise.
- Motorists giving pedestrians the right of way: After having more close calls than I can count, I truly appreciate those drivers who do watch out for pedestrians/runners/cyclists.
- Vaseline: One word: chafe. I know that a lot of runners swear by Body Glide, but I can never get enough on to save my skin. But I can slather an unlimited amount of Vaseline on an area, if I so choose and it works REALLY well!
- Sweat: Sweat is awesome!!! I never really enjoyed sweating until I started running. I now wear it as a badge of honor.
- Injuries/Injured: Before I was injured (OK this was AFTER becoming a runner), I would shake my head when I heard an athlete was sitting out for a cranky hamstring or pulled groin muscle. NO MORE. Any little hitch completely changes the way your body moves and compensates. I have a healthy respect for anyone who battles any kind of injury, no matter how small it may seem.
- KT Tape: KT Tape really makes everything better!
- Ice/Epsom Salt Baths: I never thought I would say that I had taken an ice bath. And yes, they are as miserable as they sound, but the suffering is worth it for those amazing quads! Epsom salt baths are much more tolerable, because….they are hot!
- Shoes: The right shoes can change your whole world. It is not OK to just run to Academy and grab the first pair ofNikes you like on the shelves. Vanity has no place when choosing a running shoe.
- THE right fuel combination: Most distance runners understand the difficulty in finding the right fuel combination to get you through your training and races without, errr, having GI “issues”. Before I ran, I never even knew that runners would fuel during runs, mainly because I had never cared enough to think about it.
- The feeling after a long run, or any run for that matter: It is impossible to describe how happy one can feel after running 20 miles. There is a level of fatigue that is indescribable, yet the feeling of contentment is beyond words. And: chocolate milk.
- Importance of proper hydration/diet: Again, pre-runner Jen was never concerned with getting the recommended amount of water/fluids each day. However, being dehydrated can kill your workout. Along those same lines, so can crappy food. I’ve also learned that a couple of glasses of wine and/or spicy food the night before a run can cause issues that my non-runner friends don’t want to read about (reference fuel combos). Proper hydration and diet make such an impact on how your runs turn out.
- Everything compression is da bomb: I am now a BIG believer in compression attire. Everyone in my little town knows me by my pink compression socks. The compression shorts were a harder sell for me, because initially I was self-conscious, but they are so awesome that now I don’t care what anyone thinks! (Although I STILL get the stares when I run into Wal-Mart post-run.)
- Becoming and early riser: I used to HATE getting up early (early = before 7 AM). I would drag out of bed every morning for work and on the weekends would groan when I had to get up for my kids’ sporting events. However, I now get up at 4:45 EVERY DAY and sleeping until 6:30 on the weekend is late (I blame early morning runs and races for this). And the funny thing? I actually enjoy it.
- Hills: Going up a hill in a car is no big deal. Going up a hill on foot or on a bike is a really big deal. I love the challenge. More so on foot than on a bike, but it’s an awesome feeling to battle through and win!
- Community of Runners: Runners stick together. And since there aren’t many runners in my hometown, I have developed some genuine friendships with runners all across the country, thanks to Twitter. I know, I would have thought it crazy and impossible as well. But I appreciate the support us runners give each other.
- Loving ME: I have always been a firm believer that working hard makes you appreciate things more. I approached this more from taking pride in my work and teaching my kids the value of hard work. But it wasn’t until I started running that it spilled over into my body image. Before running, I didn’t really “like” myself or my body. Something was always wrong. Now, I’m still pretty hard on myself as far as expectations go, but I have grown to truly love who I am inside and out. I love my body – not because I’m skinny, but because I never realized how strong I could actually become. I never realized the hell I could put it through and come out stronger on the other side. It’s a wonderful thing to know these legs can carry me 26.2 miles!
What are you thankful for today?