I have to chuckle at myself this week. Sometimes it’s necessary that we take a light-hearted look at ourselves. It’s the moments when we think we are feeling our age (like when I just found out another gem on the Nike+ app), or the moments we realize there is a reason for whatever we are feeling or going through. This morning about 1:30 AM, I had a major “ah-ha” moment.
It’s funny when I think about. Every night (and I do mean every night) this week I’ve been waking up two or three times a night. The first step on floor would evoke pain. I’d limp to the bathroom (TMI) or kitchen, convinced that there was something wrong with me. My muscles ached, every joint felt like it was shifted out of place. “I can’t do this anymore,” I said to myself. “Obviously I can’t run, I’m ill.” I was well on my way to convincing myself that I needed to go see a doctor who would tell me what illness I was suffering from. As I crawled back to bed each night, I was determined that I was going to hang up my new running shoes, give up on my hopes of running a half-marathon.
As I struggled back to bed this morning, I stole a quick glance at my calendar. On each day was a bright colored sticky indicating the days I ran. What I noticed is that I had actually run 4 out of the past 5 days. It wasn’t a fatal disease, claiming my body muscles. It was the drama queen in me over-reacting. I was just sore from all the running! I realized I wasn’t getting old at the speed of light and I certainly wasn’t developing a fatal disease – I was adjusting to being up off the couch more often. Running, you gotta love it!
Yesterday was the first time I was able to go for a run in over a week. It actually felt really good. I was even able to able to knock time off 30 seconds off the average of my last nine runs. I’d brag on the time, but it’s not anywhere near the time I should be running, but yet I’m rather proud that I’m getting better. The self-competitiveness within myself actually had me even more excited to hit the track today.
The first step was to make sure I was ready. Since I’m still having a few issues with my plantar fasciitis, I I slept in my sleep boot so that I wouldn’t have any issues getting up early and heading to the track. So, what do you do when nature throws you a curve ball and you wake up to torrential rain? You literally have two choices, well, three in fact.
The treadmill – If you have access to a gym or own a treadmill, you can take your run indoors. The concern I have with this is that I have done all of my running outside in the last few weeks. I had spent so much time training on a treadmill; it was really difficult to make the transition to outdoor running. I found that I was running very stiffly trying to maintain my “balance between the bars” even though I was in wide open space. My gait was different. I was actually able to run further when I got away from the displays telling me my time and distance. Running on a treadmill, it seemed like I automatically got tired when the numbers on the treadmill hit a certain point. I’m running much further and longer outside when I’m not tied to a display.
Run in the rain – I’m not too sure about this one. It’s not that I mind the rain, it’s just that I don’t think I’ve reached that point where I’m ready to run to inclement weather. Cold? Sure. Heat? I’m working on it. Rain, sleet, snow? I need to build up to it.
No run? I think this would actually hurt my feelings today, especially when I was so psyched to get out there and just “do it”! Well it’s early yet, perhaps the rain will stop. Looking out my window, I’m not seeing it, but I have no intention of putting my dreams on hold for today. Rain will not spoil my run!
I’ve been pondering this post over in my mind the last few days after hearing from people who prefer the great outdoors; I decided to examine my running environment, so to speak. Since I’ve started running, I’ve pretty much been practicing on a treadmill. Cold winter months combined with the need for the privacy in the employee gym, pretty much kept me chained to the treadmill. The employee gym is usually empty when I go except for one other person every now and then. If I hit the time just right, I can have the whole place to myself. The lure of not being embarrassed by a slow gait or short runs made it the ideal place to “practice” my running.
What I found, is that treadmill running and running on the street or track are so totally different. On the treadmill I found that I kept my body rigid in order to stay within the confines of the two metal bars. The other downside of the treadmill is that there was no “off in a distance.” I ran until I got tired and stopped to walk. This false sense of security made the “great outdoors” a scary thing reserved for 5K races and other marathons.
Joining Walk-to-Run a couple of weeks ago was the first time that I had dedicated longer runs outside doing something other than a race. I found the experience to be challenging, if not a little daunting. After that, I started to do at least one run outdoors at least once a week. The problem was that I still didn’t want to run on the parkway with the many other runners and watched by the drivers whizzing by at sixty miles per hour.
Last week, I found the perfect solution, a school track. It seems that one of the Jr. High outdoor tracks is a favorite for runners and walkers. The best thing is that no one seems to notice when I get tired and feel the need to pull up to a walk.
Even though my time has improved the last two times out, I’m still experiencing the problem of relaxing my body to run without running with the “treadmill gait” where I hold my body rigid despite the absence of the two bars. I’m also learning not to psych myself out, before I get started on the wide open space. So thank you to everyone who sang the praises of running outdoors instead of on a treadmill. All in all, I’m starting to enjoy my running experience outdoors despite the impending summer heat waves.