Back at the beginning of the year, I put together a list of goals I’d like to accomplish in 2013. Not resolutions per say, because I still feel as though that term has negative connotations, but rather a list of activities that I thought it’d be fun to tackle throughout the year. I’ve made a headway on that list, but one of the items featured (the first one, in fact) was the goal of running a half marathon – something that’s been on my life ambitions list for awhile now.
When I was in junior high, I ran cross country (even though my team was too small to officially compete) to get ready for basketball season. During the conditioning process, I hated my daily five-mile runs with a passion, but always ended up feeling grateful once basketball practice started, and I didn’t feel like I was going to toss my cookies after running bleachers or grueling set after grueling set of wind sprints.
Flash forward to grad school, where I met one of my future besties, Emily, who’d actually gotten a running scholarship for her undergraduate program. She and I immediately hit it off, and it was she who insisted that I run a 5k with her when I mentioned that I’d never participated in any races after junior high. Our first race was the Tallahassee Run for the Cookies 5k benefiting the local Girl Scouts chapter in March of 2008, and I remember feeling both exhilarated and horrifically out of shape. That race (and my impending wedding) led to a series of an additional four races: the Gate River Run (15K), the Minnie Marathon (15k), the Outback Distance Classic (6k), and the Gator Bowl 5k.
Prior to running the Gator Bowl 5k in 2008, I got injured (strained/pulled my hamstring) which made training really difficult. 2009 was a whirlwind year with our wedding, moving to St. Augustine, Chris graduating from grad school and me getting my first job in the advertising industry. Long drives into the office (at least an hour each way) made it hard to stay motivated to either get up early or stay up late to run, and I got really discouraged. However, I continued to muscle through and have been running intermittently since 2010, but it seems like every time I gain momentum, something happens – either I get injured (thanks old sports injuries) or life gets crazy in general.
In January of this year, I was tired of the excuses and decided to make tackling a half marathon (the first step of my ultimate of goal of running a full marathon) a goal for this year. I’ve been asked “why” more than a few times when I mention my goal of running a half marathon, and struggle every time not to respond flippantly with “why not?”
The truth of the matter goes so much further beyond that. Back in 2007/2008, I was battling some pretty hardcore depression. Not going to air the reasons for it in this post, but let’s just say that something I’d been battling most of my life was finally getting resolved, and the process of purging that particular negativity from my life was wreaking havoc on my sanity. My nerves were hanging by a thread, I’d been to counseling which had only succeeded in exacerbating the problem, and I was finally referred to a doctor. He prescribed some medication that made me lethargic and apathetic, and after three weeks of being blah-incarnate, I decided that I had to find an alternative approach to “curing” my depression. Enter running.
2008 was a transformative year for me once I got back into running mostly because there’s something almost meditative about running that helps you focus on the here and now – the rhythm of your breathing, the cadence of your footsteps, the music pumping through your headphones – it all helps you tune out to the stress of your daily routine, and find your zen. It may sound a little new-agey (cue Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive), but it’s true.
As with most exercise, the worst part is always getting started. Training for me is always pure misery until I work up to running a 5k. Once I’m able to run a 5k without feeling like a snail, I tackle 5 miles, and then while adding miles after that isn’t what I’d call easy, it’s manageable. The half marathon I’ve set my sights on is the Subaru Distance Classic (formerly the Outback Distance Classic), which takes place every year on Thanksgiving. To help keep me motivated and on target, Chris and I have signed up for the Run Jax Labor Day 3.5 Mile, which we’ll likely follow-up with the Pumpkin Run 10 Mile. To get us up to 5k condition, we’re following the Couch to 5k plan, but will be transitioning to Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Novice 1 Plan after the Labor Day Race.
Every now and again, I’ll check in on the blog with my progress – using tools like Nike+ and my new FitBit Flex. In the meantime, I’d like to know what races or fitness plans you’re planning to tackle, if any, or what you do to help you find your zen. Let me know in the comments below!
And until next time, Carpe Viem (Seize the Road!)
Over the course of the last nine months or so, I’ve come to the startling realization that I’m a workaholic. Probably not a revelation to my friends and family who put up with me, but somewhat of a surprise to me. You see, I’m a social media strategist, which is to say, I get paid to spend 10-12 hours a day managing and driving conversations on a variety of online communities using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.
I’ve always been a pretty active individual – playing basketball, running cross country, surfing, hiking and so forth, but over the past several years, as I’ve worked hard to progress in my career, I’ve gradually allowed my work to get in the way of those activities I used to enjoy. For example, when Chris and I lived in Tallahassee, I thought nothing of waking up an extra two hours early so that Chris and I could hit the gym or go running before getting started for the day. Now, the mere mention of waking up early makes me seethe with resentment as I now view sleep as the most precious of commodities.
It’s funny (in an ironic sort of way) that the very things I love most about my job – becoming a subject matter expert on a variety of industries & products, writing content, managing customer service and so on – are also the things that wear me out. I believe (and I think my coworkers would agree) that working in the realm of social media requires a special kind of individual – someone who thrives on chaos, being “on” 24/7, problem-solving on the fly, etc. Unfortunately, the “thrill” (or stress if you prefer) of those activities take its toll over time, and instead of being proactive and circumventing the effects of long hours behind a desk, I stopped exercising. And now, three years later, that cessation has left its mark – I sleep in on the weekends because during the week I can’t turn my brain off, the thought of throwing on my running shoes fills me with dread because a mere half-miler leaves me huffing and puffing, I feel tired all the time, and let’s not even talk about my dietary choices.
These three years of less than healthy decisions came to a head this past week when Chris and I headed to our family’s lake house for the 4th of July. One of my cousins, Adam, went through a bit of a tough break up last year, and decided to channel his feelings into getting in shape. 30 days later, he’d completed the first stage of a dramatic transformation, and by the time the family converged at the lake, he was the most fit I’ve ever seen him. While I won’t say it was his success that drove my decision to start treating my exercise program like a job (I’ve been agonizing about it for months), he did pique my interest in the Insanity program. So here I sit, as usual, in front of my glowing screen – determined to take one hour each morning to do something for myself, and because I thrive on turning chaos into order and pushing myself to my limits, I’ve decided on a program that I’ve heard lives up to its name. Bring on Insanity.
I’ve never felt as full of life, energy, and dare I say zen, as I did when Chris and I were running regularly. Training for races like the Minnie Marathon and the Gate River Run was both exhausting and exhilarating – but after several frustrating injuries, I’ve struggled with returning to a regular run regimen.
Thankfully for me, Runner’s World announced this week that they’re kicking off their first ever Summer Run Streak, a friendly challenge to runners everywhere to commit to running at least one mile every day beginning next Monday, May 27 (Memorial Day) and continuing through July 4th – a whopping 38 straight days of runs.
This is great for a couple of reasons:
- I always do better when I have a firm goal in mind. In the past, it was working up to a particular race distance like the Gate River Run or the Outback Distance Classic, but since I’ve been out of the game for awhile, this particular goal of running 38 days in a row gives me a flexible framework, allowing me to run as much or as little as I want so long as I at least strike one mile off the to-do list each day.
- The challenge includes a hashtag (#RWRunStreak). Not only will tracking the conversations surrounding the hashtag help keep me motivated, it will also help keep me accountable. I’m making a public declaration that this run streak is important to me, and I’m going to make it happen.
- Beach season. As Runner’s World mentioned in their blog, the temptations of the summer season (vacations, hot weather, etc.) make it easy to put off running for a day, week or altogether.
- The distance shouldn’t affect other planned workouts. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on building strength in my core in preparation for making a return to running. (Little bit of kismet there, no?) The first week of core training was brutal, and I doubt I would’ve been able to successfully push my aching muscles into more than a sad shuffle if that challenge has been presented any sooner. However, after two weeks of workouts, I’ve already noticed a difference, and while the core workouts are still challenging, my muscles are recovering faster. In short, adding a one mile run (or more) each day should be just the extra push I need to keep things fresh!
If you’d like to join the challenge, it’s easy! Simple commit to running the 38 days, and if you feel like sharing your progress you can either post in the comments below or use the #RWRunStreak hashtag in your tweets!
Good luck, everyone!