Thursday, September 23, 2010

Runner's Etiquette

So I know Runner's World and other magazines talk a lot about runner's etiquette. I think the typical discussion revolves around what to do on a running trail when someone needs to pass you or something along those lines. I'm a big fan of that type of etiquette. I like to hear "On your left!" when a faster runner or a bicyclist is passing me. It lets me know they're looking out for me and that we're both part of a larger community that knows how to behave on public trails.

In any case, there's a different kind of etiquette I wanted to write about tonight. This is the "I'm not going to compete with you" etiquette. That's what I call it at least! Here's the deal...

I was at a barbecue last weekend, and I was chatting with a woman I've met but barely know. She had a baby a little over a year ago, and she has been using running as a way to lose the baby weight. Good for her, right? I tend to be the uber-supportive runner type who thinks that you're a runner whether you jogged down the block and worked your way up from there at a slow pace or you're an elite runner who wins races left and right. We're ALL runners. For that reason, I will NEVER EVER compare myself to another runner for fear of making them think that I'm trying to compete with them or show them up or put them down. To me, running is something I do for me and only me, and there is no reason to compare myself to anyone else or to try to make them feel inferior to me. What fun is that?

So this woman starts talking to me about the half marathon I'm running (she's running it too), and she is telling me how she's been running 30 or 40 miles a week, etc. etc. She then tells me how I'll do great and it's no big deal and she was nervous her first time but now she's better... without ever asking me what my running experiences are like. I was kind of insulted! This will be my fifth half marathon and I've run two full marathons. I know what I'm doing. So I politely tell her I'm fairly experienced, etc. without sounding like a snot. She proceeds to say, "Oh you'll be fine then. What's your best time? How fast do you think you'll run?" Now if someone had been having a low key supportive conversation with me, I would have thought nothing of it. But this woman was literally trying to size me up! What is that??? That is so not the supportive running culture I am a part of! I told her my goal, and she was like "Oh, okay, it sounds like we run the same pace basically." I'm thinking, I really don't care how fast you run, but of course I didn't say that. I just nodded and smiled. :) Maybe I'm different??? Maybe I'm the only one who thinks it's inappropriate to turn running into a competition even if it's a hobby?

I don't know... all I know is that I can guarantee that I will always be the supportive, non-competitive runner. Running (and all forms of exercise) are things we do for ourselves. It is not a competition. It is a personal journey. It is a way of life and it is a part of my identity. I do not need to compare myself to other runners. All I need to do is nod, smile, or wave as they run by knowing that we're both part of the same community of crazy people who lace up and put one foot in front of the other for no reason other than a love of running.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

home stretch...

I am in the home stretch of my half marathon training... I have to admit, I'm getting tired! The weeknight "tough runs" are getting pretty long. Last week I did 7 miles of intervals (with the warmup and cooldown) and this week I have to do 7 miles with a tempo run (with warmup and cooldown). I am seriously craving a massage! To deal with my tired muscles, I've been doing my own little yoga routine when I get back from my runs. It is soooooo nice! I really need the quad stretches and the hip openers. Perfection!

This weekend I have to do a 10 miler, which shouldn't be a problem. It will be my 4th run at 9 miles or more since I started the program. It doesn't actually have me tapering, which I think I'll change. I have 3 weeks left, and I'm thinking I'll do a long run this week, a mid-length run the following week (maybe 7???), and then it's the race. Any thoughts?

Hope everyone is doing well with their healthy journeys!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Why do I run?

This is what I was pondering today as I did my 4 miler through town... I think it's pretty easy to be contemplative today given that it's the 9 year anniversary of 9/11. After watching some tributes this morning and shedding some tears in memory of the events of that day, I decided to go out and enjoy the beautiful fall New England weather. Plus, I had to run. :) No choice when you're training for a race!

I've noticed that over time, my reason for working out has changed drastically. When I started lifting weights in high school, it was because my mom wanted to go to the gym in town, so I decided to go with her. There, it turned into a love, plus there were cute boys to stare at while I did my walking lunges across the floor. :) In college and shortly after, when I was good about getting in my workouts (which was sporadic), it was just because I wanted to be skinny. I thought I was fat (I had in fact gained some weight), and I worked out for purely superficial reasons. BTW, cute boys at the gym still make it much easier to keep myself there when I'm feeling lazy!!!

You know what happens when you do it just because you want to look better in your jeans or just so you can be thinner than the woman standing next to you in line? It doesn't work! It isn't enough (at least for me) to work out so that I can be thin. It has to be about my health... my physical health and my mental health. It's about not getting sick, keeping my cholesterol in check, having strong bones and muscles. It's about being able to relieve stress and push myself to do more which makes me feel better about myself and my future.

As I was propelling myself up a hill today, I started to take notice of how I felt and really appreciated what I was doing. I say propelling because today was one of those days where I felt stronger running up hill and actually felt myself pushing harder when it usually hurts the most. I could feel the strength of my legs, the evenness of my breathing, and I thought... wow, now this is why I run. I run because it makes me stronger, both inside and out. Sure, I like that it makes me clothes fit better and has allowed me to tone up and drop pounds. But in the end, it's about health for me.

You know what the best side effect of running for your health is??? It inspires me to eat better. Why would I mess up a good workout with junk? Until I started focusing on exercise for health, I never could commit to eating healthy all the time. I worked out so I could eat crap and still be thin, which definitely didn't work. I'm happy I've made my way to this spot. It took YEARS to get here, and I will never turn back.

Soooooo... that's why I run. Why do you run?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I love fall weather!!!

I just got back from the most beautiful run ever! Well, maybe not ever, but it was great! I was on vacation at the beach for the last week, and I was admittedly a slacker. I are CRAP and I only went running twice. I guess I should be slightly happy that I at least ran twice. I did my long run last Sunday (8 miles) and I did a quick 2.5 miler as well. The weather at the beach was ridiculously hot. It was in the high 90s and humid all week. Not fun (for running)! I lounged around the beach (with my sunscreen on) and read some books. It was really, really relaxing and great fun!

Today's run was back in beautiful New England. I'm quite excited to see what a New England fall is like although we didn't get much weather so I have a sneaking suspicion it won't be as beautiful as other years. I did a loop around town that was really quite hilly, but I felt strong despite my laziness over the past week. Phew! I did a total of 4.1 miles at 40 minutes, which is a decent pace given the hills (and me being a slacker).

In other news, I'm getting my metabolism tested at the gym this week so I can see what my BMR is. Being the nerd I am, this is greatly exciting for me! Other than that, I'll be doing my long run tomorrow (9 miles). I have no clue what is on the schedule for the week, but I like that! I've been very busy and planned for the last 2 months, and I'm ready to relax and go with the flow.

Happy Labor Day weekend!