Sometimes I have little odds and ends that aren’t sufficient to make up a whole post, so I wait until I have a little collection.
Running with a Group
I love running with a group. I’m glad to have my own time to run for my short Tuesday and Thursday runs, but for my Sunday runs I really appreciate the group so much. We chat and share information in all the ways that people do as they grow more familiar with each other. Since we’re running together, we tend to focus a little bit on things related to running like shoes, clothing, PT Clinics, etc, but naturally we get beyond that and share other things as well.
I also love coming back to our gathering place after a run, especially now that the other classes are going. I run into friends from other classes and other pace groups, and it’s really a nice way to start a Sunday.
Additionally, running with a group helps keep you on target, especially on those long run days. You feel accountable in a way, and you don’t feel like disappointing your friends by skipping a long run. You also look forward to seeing and socializing with your friends. All of these things provide motivation and help you get out of bed on those days you’d rather sleep in. If you have a friendly running club where you live, I encourage you to join it. You may think that you’re a loner and you prefer to run on your own, but I’ll tell you, so did I. It’s one of those things you can’t really be sure of until you try.
Changes I Have Experienced Over Time
I’ve noticed a lot of changes that aren’t the obvious things like being able to run farther and having stronger legs. Over these last months I have gone from being someone who hated exercise like a vampire hates sunlight, to being a person who thinks rest days are the worst. Partly, I believe that is directly related to my choice to try the run/walk/run method over traditional running. My body isn’t ready for traditional running. Maybe it will be at some point, but it sure isn’t right now.
My overall attitude has improved greatly, at least most weeks. Sometimes I still have rough weeks because of stress or something, but overall I’m a happier person. Other changes in my life have contributed to this, but running is a huge factor, I’m sure. Running, especially endurance running, can really increase your overall sense of well-being. You become less vulnerable to certain types of stress. It also elevates and helps even out moods. These are all things you know, because you’ve been told them over and over but until you’ve actually tried it, I don’t think most people really believe it deep down. I know I didn’t.
My ideas about pain have changed. I still don’t like being sore from exercise, but my body is learning to tell the difference between the good soreness and the bad soreness. After our 12.5 mile run last Sunday I could tell I would be sore. Monday morning proved me right, and I really wasn’t looking forward to climbing up and down the stairs at work. The minute I started up those stairs at work that morning, however, my body provided me with feedback telling me that stairs were good and I should keep doing that. So I did, and it continued to feel good throughout the day, even though my legs were tired. The great thing was, when I woke up on Tuesday, I was no longer sore. Since I tend to be very much a “second day is worse” type of person, I was really pleased by that.
Advice I Have Gotten
One of the things I love about having friends who are more experienced with running than I am, is the advice I get from them, and I’d like to share some of it with you. Keep in mind that I’m training to be a distance runner so that tends to be my focus.
-Don’t wear your running shoes except when you’re running. This will help extend the life of your shoes, for one. Also, if you shop at a cool local running store like I do, you can take your shoes in with you when you buy your next pair, and they can help you pick out your best options, in part by checking out your wear patterns. You walk and run differently, so walking in your running shoes will create a different wear pattern. I also choose not to wear my running bra or my running socks when I’m not running, so as to extend their lifespans.
-Keep track of the miles you have put on your shoes. A simple excel or google spreadsheet where you enter the dates, mileage and which shoes you wore can make this really easy. Most running shoes apparently last for 400 to 600 miles, depending on any number of factors, but we all get used to how our shoes feel and may not realize they’re becoming worn if we’re not paying attention. The last thing you want is to get to the big race and try to run it in broken down shoes. You also don’t want to run it in brand new shoes, however. Even if your new shoes are exactly the same brand and model as your old shoes, you still need to break your feet and your shoes in.
-If you’re training for distance running or other endurance sport, make sure you start figuring out your nutrition early on. Some folks find that their stomachs can get very sensitive during their long runs/rides etc. Figuring out early what works for you, will save you a lot of trouble and possibly some severe embarrassment during the race itself.
-Always be a skeptic. You’ll get more advice than you can shake a stick at and quite a bit of it will be contradictory. Be open to new ideas, but don’t jump on every bandwagon that passes. Make sure you do your research first, and really listen to your body. Runners should be especially careful about shoe fads. Some people swear by running in certain types of non-standard shoes, toe shoes, barefoot, etc. But they don’t always bother to mention that it took them a long time to work up to running that way, and that it can take a lot of foot strength for that to work. If you want to try something like that, make sure you work into it slowly, and maybe wait to try it until after your big race, so you don’t hurt yourself during your training.
-Body Glide (the anti-chafing product) is your friend, if you’re a distance runner. We all have places that chafe, whether it’s under the arms or in your bathing suit area 🙂 long runs can produce a lot of chafe. Be prepared for that. Someone also mentioned taping the nipples for long runs, which I haven’t tried yet, but may.
-Have fun. If you’re training for an endurance sport it’s probably safe to assume that you’re planning on continuing it after the big race, either for more big races or for the health benefits. If you’re not having fun, it will be much harder to convince yourself to keep going after the big race.
I’ve got 104 days before my big race, and I’m still having fun. I’m looking forward to our 15 mile run next Sunday. I may even choose to go out with the faster pace group again, depending on some class related factors. I feel that this is an option I should consider, since I wasn’t sore on day two following our 12.5.