Thankful Thursday: Run Edition

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. beautiful 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!

    When someone else tapes me, I feel like a 'real' runner.  It's like I have people.
    This was my marathon taping, courtesy of my myofascia guy.
  • 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.

    .
    I ran in Asics FOREVER but recently switched to Newtons and, boy, have they improved my running!
  • 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?
Happy Thursday!!

Jen

Squashing that “voice”

Stolen from my cohort in crime, Carmen, who posts Hump Day pics EVERY Wednesday!
Stolen from my cohort in crime, Carmen, who posts Hump Day pics EVERY Wednesday!

In my heart of hearts, I’m a realist.  When I assess situations, I see them pretty much as they are, mainly because I view the situation without allowing emotions to weigh in.  Even so, in most situations I try to lean toward the side of the optimist.  I want to see the good in the situation and focus on the positives.  Life is too short to dwell on the negatives…..and the negatives depress me. But sometimes I give more lip service to the positive side than I actually feel internally.  Say it long enough and you’ll believe it, right??

I haven’t been completely honest with everyone about how I have felt coming off my injury.  I wanted SO badly to be well.  I wanted so badly to be brave about it.  I wanted so badly to beat that voice in my head kept telling me I would NEVER be able to run long distances again.  But I didn’t feel “well” and I didn’t feel brave at all and I COMPLETELY bought what the voice in the back of my head was telling me.  And while I am mostly glad that I was injured in the dead of winter, being injured in the dead of winter was also a curse. I have a tendency to lean toward depression in the winter.  There is too much darkness and not enough sunshine to feed this Texas girl’s soul.  Add being injured on top of that and it’s mentally hard to dig your way out.

The Texas sun is shining on me again and I love it!
The Texas sun is shining on me again and I love it!

Having said all that, I have seen great improvements with my fitness and running.  The strength training has definitely made me stronger which, in turn, has made me feel better.  Slowly and surely I have made progress with my running.  All this gave me hope, but in the back of my mind the voice was still telling me that I couldn’t do it (and I was listening to it).  Plus, I was still having nagging issues (on my left side, mostly) and those issues gave the voice credibility.

But if you keep saying it, sooner or later you might buy into it.  So I kept saying it (but not believing it).

A week ago Friday, I ran my intervals (TOO fast).  I even pushed the pace on the last  interval.  (I know: stupid.  I guess Crazy Jen found the damn key.)  Then, I worked a big volleyball tournament over the weekend.  By the last game, I was really hurting from my hips down – dull, constant pain.  (The voice was screaming at me, “I told you so!”)  I knew that the Friday evening run plus working all weekend was not a good combination.  Monday I was tight and sore and when I did my strength exercises, they were so much harder than usual but I chalked it up to being exhausted.  By Monday afternoon, my left SI joint was burning and I barely slept that night because the pain was so bad.  This REALLY frightened me, because even with my injuries, I had never hurt this way.  I continued foam rolling and stretching, but decided not to do any lower body strength work until I started feeling better.  I did hop on the TM mainly to see if running made things worse. Thank goodness it didn’t!  Wednesday morning I was better but still not feeling great but went ahead with the first scheduled run with my new partner.  The run caused no issues but walking after a period of inactivity was still painful.  Thankfully, my myofascia guy was able to accommodate me for a 2-hour appointment and things felt better….for a little while.  I was diligent with the foam rolling and stretching.  And I decided that as long as running didn’t make it worse, I wouldn’t skip any runs.

After our first run went so well, it was kind of assumed that we would continue running together.  (Maybe I should tell you that my partner’s name is John….for future reference;) )  Upon John’s recommendation, I decided to try a pair of Newton’s.  (I’ve had a nagging feeling for quite some time that I needed to make a shoe change, but I wasn’t sure exactly what change needed to be made.)  He suggested that I take some time to transition to them, because they are different from the Asics Nimbus and Kinsei that I have been wearing.  He still didn’t think transition would be difficult since I already had a midfoot strike.  OH.  MY.  GOSH.  The first run in them on Saturday was AWESOME.  And since I didn’t have any issues with my calves or my feet, I wore them again for Monday’s run.  Still no issues, so I ran in them again yesterday!!

"The" shoes: my Newtons
“The” shoes: my Newtons

With each run in these shoes, my body feels better and better and better.  By the way, I do realize that a large part of this is directly related to having a running partner who isn’t afraid to make me run slower than I’m used to, but I think switching to the shoes is going to go a long way in keeping me on the road injury-free!

All this to say that I think I may be FINALLY putting the voice to rest.  During the last 10 days of running, I have begun to genuinely believe that I CAN run distances again – healthy and free of nagging pain. (I am confident enough that I signed up for my first race post-mara: a half marathon on 5/3!)  Three things happened:  I now have a partner who can pace me appropriately; he recommended a shoe change that has been nothing short of amazing and I realized that I have what it takes to deal with issues as the arise.

It feels great being a grown-up runner!  And it feels great to really believe what I’m saying 🙂

Happy Hump Day!

Jen