Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's not always easy

When Phillip ran the Tough Mudder, I secretly wished I had run it too. 

 Something about finishing like this made me a little envious.

Until I saw these signs. 

So we ran the Warrior Dash instead!

If only we had 'after' pictures to show how muddy we were when we finished.

When Phillip expressed interest in running a marathon, I thought it was a great idea.  The idea of running and finishing one is pretty amazing.  I decided if he can do it, I can do it too.

We signed up in August for our marathon that won't be until April.

The first few months of training went well.  We slowly accumulated miles, ran my first 9- and 10-mile runs, got into a routine.

But then November came, and I hit a mental wall.  For two months I struggled to find any motivation to get out and run.

Finally in January, I realized the marathon that has been looming over my head was just around the corner.  I had to refocus.  I set a goal to run 50 miles for the month to get back in the mindset.  I accomplished that goal, and then some.

Now that it's mid-February, we've got 2 1/2 months left until the big day.  The running hasn't stopped, but the mental wall has set back in.

Phillip has started school, and it consumes 95% of his time.   He's doing so great with it, but the downside is it's seriously cutting into his training.  He got a gym membership to help him stay on track, but it's hard work.

I'm able to keep up with more consistent runs, but there are days where I just don't want to run anymore.  Getting out the door is definitely the hardest part for me. 

Especially when I wake up to days like this.

Rain.  Yuck.

I almost didn't go.

I really thought about taking a day off.  Even though I also took Monday and Tuesday off.

Tomorrow is supposed to be nice, I'll just go tomorrow, I thought.

In the end, I sucked it up. 

Running in the rain didn't turn out to be so bad.  It was only drizzling, really.  You can't tell how wet I was here, or the giant poof ball of a ponytail that I had, but let me assure you, I was soaked, and my poor hair was massive.

Overcoming the mental part of this is really hard.  I'm still in the early stages of the training, and I can't imagine what it's going to be like when I start running 15+ miles.

Phillip and I are good about supporting each other with our training, despite that we run separately.  It really helps having someone else to fall back on.  

And while getting out the door is really hard, and the runs aren't always my best, I have to admit that when I'm finished I do feel pretty good about what I accomplished.

Like running in the rain.

And counting 49 worms on the sidewalks to keep myself distracted.  (So sad I didn't get to 50!)

It really comes down to overcoming the mental wall by just putting on your shoes and getting out there.  It's not easy.  But it has to be done. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

ChiRunning Part 2

I'm not one who typically reads about running for fun.  Give me a Janet Evanovich book though, and now we're talking.

Up until recently, my running had been a drag.  Literally.  Or as Phillip and I say, 'Lit-rally'.  Imagine that with a British accent.

After an 8-mile run in early January, my knee went out on me, and was incredibly painful every run after.  Sometimes it wouldn't hurt until the very end, sometimes I could only make it a few miles before pain ensued.  Not cool when you're training for a marathon.

And then there was Chi.

It's been just over a week since I began to read about ChiRunning.  I even wrote a bit of how ChiRunning came about in Part 1.  I've been trying to implement what I've read about to see if it makes a difference.

And it has!  In the last week, I've had ZERO knee pain. 

Without going into the whole book, this is what I've learned that has really helped me:

1. Lean forward as you run.  Not from your waist, but a full-body lean, like the Nordic ski jumpers.  This changes your center of gravity, in which it essentially helps pulls you forward.  It uses less energy and effort than if you were to run straight up and rely on your legs to push you forward, allowing you to run longer before getting tired.

2.  Be aware of your legs.  Keep your legs relaxed, kick back your feet, and try to land on your whole foot instead of the balls of your feet.  Imagine how you would run if you were barefoot. When you bend your knee back, envision your knee bending at a 90 degree angle behind you.  Your knee shouldn't come in front of you, and your foot should really come off the ground.  This keeps your legs from getting tired quickly, and I found it really helps my stride. 

3.  R E L A X your whole body.  This includes your legs, ankles, feet, arms, shoulders, hands, wrists, neck, everything.  If you feel anything starting to tense, then do what you can to release it.  Maybe that means running slower.  Or perhaps letting your ankles or wrists flop.  Whatever you've got to do.

4.  Breathe in, breathe out.  If you've ever done yoga, you know how important breathing is.  It's the same idea for running.  When you take shallow breaths, your lungs aren't really getting enough air, and you tire quicker.  By taking deeper breaths, you use less effort, and you run easier.  Try counting to 4 as you breathe in and the same as you breathe out.  See if you can do that for an extended period of time.  I found it even helps with relaxing. 

5.  Really listen to your body.  Run without music for a while so you can really focus on how your body is working while you run.  Pay attention to your feet, your core, your lean, if you are relaxed or tense, and anything else that you might experience.

I'm telling you, in one week, no knee pain.  This is huge!  I won't get into the rest of the book, but it's loaded with great information.  Check it out.

End of January stats:
Total miles run in January:  74.1
Farthest distance in January:  8.16 miles
Total miles since August:  387
Total calories burned since August: 35,739