Why Runners are Misunderstood

We runners are a breed of our own. We enjoy crazy things like taking an ice bath after an 18-mile long run. It’s great to be surrounded by a community who understands those tendencies; however, 90% of my friends are non-runners. If I had a nickel for every time someone gave me a strange look while I was talking about running habits, I’d be at LEAST a thousand-aire by now!

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Here are some helpful tips for our non-marathon-running friends to better understand us:

When I talk about the various races I’ve done in the past, I’m not bragging.

Runners love to talk about races. LOVE IT! Put a couple of runners in the same room, and we could go on for hours and hours because it’s something we can connect with on all levels. So many of us have run the same ones, so it’s fun to talk about things like “can you believe how crowded the course was, I was weaving in and out the whole time!”, “I can’t believe they charged $60 for entry and didn’t even give a medal!”, and “Really, who decided it was a good idea to have the bag check 6 blocks away from the starting line?!” I’m telling you, I could talk about races for hours, but I’m not trying to brag. I don’t even pretend to be a seriously hardcore speedy racer, because I’m not.

The same holds true when I mention I’m training for a marathon.

No, really. I’m not bragging. I’m actually giving you an excuse for why I am always tired and limping. But, bragging, I am not.

I might tell you that I need to go to bed at 9pm on a Saturday night.

And it’s totally true, I do. Especially during the hot summer months, when I need to get up super early to run way too many miles before it reaches 105 degrees. Knowing that I’m not a morning person (and that I need at least 8 hours of sleep), an early bedtime is my only hope for actually getting out of bed. It’s not an excuse to get out of hanging out! Seriously, you try getting up at 6am to run 18 miles after staying up past midnight and drinking. Yeah, get back to me on that.

I plan my life around my training schedule.

I don’t plan my training schedule around my life. It sucks, but sometimes I can’t do certain things or go certain places because I know I have to fit in those miles. Don’t take it personally, I’d much rather be hanging out with you!

I can’t go out for tapas the night before a race, sorry!

Gonna need something more substantial, like pasta.

I’m going to talk your ear off about all things training and racing, NOT sorry!

Running is my hobby. It takes a lot of time, sacrifice, and dedication. So I’m going to talk about it, I want to talk about it, and I want you to want to hear about it. I love it all from the blisters turned callous to the runny-nose snot rockets. It’s part of my favorite sport, so don’t be surprised if I go on for 15 minutes about my mid-race emergency porta-potty break. Don’t worry, you can get me back by talking my ear off for a few hours about sewing or video games, if you’re into that kind of stuff.

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In which ways is your favorite hobby misunderstood?

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What’s In Your Wallet?

Let’s start this post the way I start out all of my posts.

I ran 16 miles this weekend. It sucked, but not nearly as badly as I thought it would. Marathon. Running. Blah, blah, blah.

It was hot as balls.

It’s always hot. You can go away now summer. Blah, blah, blah.

Post maniac-run chill pool time. Hey, I have a summer tan to maintain here.

Blah, blah, blah.

So, now that all the typical stuff is out of the way, I figured I’d go in a different direction with today’s post.

The other week, I was at lunch and pulled out my wallet. It was observed how much stuff I carry around in there on a daily basis, half of which I don’t even need. I’m pretty sure that if “Carrying Random Crap in Your Wallet” was an Olympic competition, I’d win the gold medal. This sparked a conversation about all the random things we carry around in our wallets. Strangely enough, I think my wallet gives a bit of insight into who I am, so I thought I’d share.

Meet my wallet. It’s Coach, and I got for Christmas a year ago. I love it!

Here is a broad peek inside. I’d describe it as organized clutter, which goes along with my style perfectly. My room may look a little cluttered, but everything has a place and, trust me, I know where everything is.

You will rarely ever find me with any cash. So, for the most part, this side compartment remains empty. I’m just so poor!

In the front card organizer, I have my most used/most important cards: ID, debit card, credit cards, AAA card, and health insurance card.

In the middle pouch, I have random change (mostly pennies since the quarters, dimes, and nickels typically go into paying metered parking, grrr) and some coupons to Smoothie King. I do looove my smoothies! Oh, and $10 off The Melting Pot which I completely forgot I had. Who wants fondue!?

The back card organizer is where things start to get a little random. I have a Blockbuster card (are they even in business anymore?), my Rockville Sports ID (where I don’t play anymore), an empty (I think) rebate card from Acuvue, my CVS Extra Care Card, 1 expired Disney World Park Pass (from my marathon in Jan 2011), and 1 expired Disney World hotel key (from the same trip).

There’s a mini, hidden compartment in the back of my wallet. This is where everything else goes and the randomness continues. There’s a VCU basketball ticket, an old picture of Brook and me, a Richmond Flying Squirrels baseball ticket, a John Mayer ticket stub, a Foo Fighters ticket stub, 2 JMU Football tickets (one for the Virginia Tech game <– best game EVER!!), a few business cards (including my bartender from Babes, my tattoo guy, a cabbie, and Jim…I don’t know why I have his business card), and finally, a Magic the Gathering playing card. WHO KNOWS why I carry this around with me? It’s been on my person since middle school when a friend of mine gave me the card as a joke, and ever since then I’ve always carried it in my wallet. So random.

Anyway, you should see the card holder I keep attached to my key ring. There are football tickets and flyers in there from 2005, I kid you not.

What’s in YOUR wallet?

Becoming a Morning Person

I am NOT a morning person. In fact, when you take a mental image of what a morning person consists of, I am pretty much the exact opposite. I always joke that my internal alarm is set for 10am, but it’s true. When waking up, unprompted, by my own free-will, I will get up at almost exactly 10am every single time. Sometimes getting up at 7:30am for work is a serious struggle…I’m a big-time snoozer-till-8 kind of girl. I’ve been like this my whole life, and I just can’t kick the habit.

Typically, it’s not a huge problem. But lately…it has been. Why do you ask? Because of THIS:

It’s SO effing hot.

This weather has been seriously hindering my running schedule. The only time it’s even remotely bearable to step outside is at 6am, and even then it’s already 80 degrees! Personally, I think it would be unsafe and irresponsible for me to try to run after work in 97 degree heat. It’s just too hot and I’d risk exhaustion! Seriously, who decided to sign me up for a fall marathon? Why didn’t I think about the fact that I’d have to train for it in the dead heat of summer? Marine Corps Marathon, you will be the death of me!

So anyway, here’s my question to all of you morning people:

HOW do you turn yourself into a morning person?

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I get the whole go to bed early, wake up early concept. But in reality, that just doesn’t work for me. I go to bed at 9pm and STILL have trouble waking up at 8am. There was a stint in college where I actually did wake up every morning at 6am and go to the gym. I loved it, but I also hated it at the same time. When I graduated, that plan went totally out the window because I had to leave my house at 7am, which meant I had to get up at 4:45am to exercise, and that just wasn’t happening. I honestly feel like I could (and SHOULD) start getting up early now to exercise before work. But how?

Here’s exactly what happens when I try to wake up early:

  • At 10pm I set my alarm for 6am and get SUPER pumped about waking up early to run.
  • At 6am my alarm goes off and I feel groggy and far too comfortable in my bed.
  • Most of the time my stomach hurts (I’m probably just hungry) and I mentally decide that I’m just not ready to get up and move.
  • Reset my alarm for 7:30am.
  • Alarm goes off at 7:30am, but I could probably get another 30 minutes of sleep if I don’t dry my hair.
  • Decide that’s a great plan and reset my alarm for 8am.
  • Alarm goes off at 8am, snooze until 8:09. Sometimes even 8:18.
  • Reluctantly get out of bed.

I just don’t understand you morning people. Teach me your ways!

20 Miles!

I’ve pretty much been the worst blogger ever this week. But I swear, I have a solid reason. I’ve actually been training for my marathon. And training is hard work!

On Saturday, I ran 20 miles. Yes, you read that correctly. 2-0.

I was a little bit hesitant to run this distance because a) I’ve taken the last 2-3 weeks really, really easy and b) I fell last week on a run and was embarrassed really busted my knee. It was swollen for a few days and is a lovely array of colors but, alas, I have two weeks until this race so desperate times call for desperate measures. I honestly couldn’t have picked a better day for this. 60 and sunny? Talk about a runner’s paradise! So off I went.

I’d been dreading this run. All week I was looking for ways to get out of it; thought about going out of town, making plans on Saturday afternoon, or just “accidentally” oversleeping. But by the time Saturday morning rolled around I was actually excited (and nervous) to test my limits and see what my body could do.

My long runs always start out something like this: bright eyed, ready to go, invincible:

But around mile 18 I start to look more like this:

It’s around this time when I ask myself why I sign myself up for these crazy races. My knees hurt, my legs are heavy, and I have been sweating for approximately 3 hours. Gross! But I just keep pushing through with the help of this gal:

Say hello to miCoach! She helps me stay on pace. I know that there are a ton of apps out there for running, but I’ve found that this one is one of the best. It will track your workouts, you can sync it with your laptop, and use playlists from your iPod. It keeps track of my total run time, total miles, my pace, and my heartrate. I approve. I’m not usually big on timing my runs, but when I’m going such a far distance I like to make sure I’m hitting my marks.

I was actually surprised at how well this run went. I plowed through the first 14 miles like they were nothing. There wasn’t even any pain in my legs until around mile 18 and even then they just felt tired and heavy but I knew I could keep going. I was surprised that my body felt so strong even after taking some time off. I guess it’s true that a little rest does a body good.

I was really sore and tired afterwards. So the rest of my night was spent doing this:

Now we’re talking.

If anything, this run has given me more confidence to run my marathon in 2 weeks. I’m feeling much better about it now as opposed to even last week. Bring it on Philly!

Finding Motivation

It’s not always easy finding motivation to run. Yes, I run marathons on occasion. While I adore the excitement, hype, and sense of community surrounding actual race day, I have more of a love/hate relationship with the training that comes before it.

I would be lying through my teeth if I said that everyday I am excited to run. I would also be lying if I said that everyday I actually do run. Sometimes my legs hurt, sometimes I’m too tired, sometimes I just flat out don’t feel like it. Sometimes I can go weeks months without running at all and be completely okay with that.

This hits me hard especially after I’ve trained for and completed a large race. I’ve talked to many of my runner friends who experience the same phenomenon. After such an important goal is accomplished, the motivation to keep pushing just vanishes. In my mind, I justify it as “rewarding myself” for working so hard and accomplishing something so great; but in a reality it’s just an excuse for me to be lazy. Lazy habits don’t die easy. Getting back into running after any time over a week is hard! After my last marathon I didn’t do anything for 2 months. I went from being able to run 8-10 miles on a daily basis to barely being able to finish 3! It’s amazing how quickly the body forgets.

Recently, I’ve been struggling with finding motivation. Weather has a huge effect on my running habits and current weather patterns in DC have been less than cooperative for my marathon training endeavors. Oh, how I miss the days of college with our indoor track at our brand new gym! Gym memberships are sort of WICKED expensive! Regardless, due to the incessant rain since the beginning of September, I have been slacking. Majorly!

With my next marathon rapidly approaching (November 20th!!), I need to get back in the swing of things. I need to rediscover my motivation.

So, I’ve been thinking. What exactly is it that motivates me? What are those things that really make me excited about running?

  1. Friends – Running with friends is always WAY more fun than running alone. In general, I always try to sign up for races with friends. It makes the experience of races that much more memorable and sometimes makes for a fun weekend getaway. In fact, I’ve actually met some of my best friends through running which is pretty amazing! Of course, having a training buddy doesn’t hurt either. It’s harder to convince a friend that you don’t want to run that 21-miler on Sunday than it is to convince yourself.
  2. Weight – This is sort of embarrassing to talk about, but seeing as this blog is for getting things out in the open, might as well get this one over with. I’ve never been “overweight”, but I easily could be. My family has a long history of obesity. Many of my relatives and extended family ARE obese and I definitely have the potential in my genes. I am honestly, truly terrified to turn out that way. My weight has flucuated over the years, but for the most part running is a great way the only way to keep it at bay.
  3. Strength – In general, I just FEEL so much better after I run. In college, I realized that the only reason I even venture to the gym at all is so that I can get that natural high once I’m done. I love how my legs, core, arms…hell my whole body feels so much stronger after a good run. I have an exponentially higher amount of energy which powers me through the day.
  4. Food – I’m aware that I don’t have the best diet in the world. Running is one of the ways that I can eat what I do and still maintain my weight and energy level. I’m hoping that I can take this one off the list soon.
  5. Mental Clarity – Whenever I’m having a bad day, the very first thing I do is lace up my running shoes. Everyone handles stress, trauma, and sadness in their own unique way and my way is running. Concentrating on something physical that my body is doing takes my mind away from all of my mental aliments. Running is my “me” time and I use it as a time to sort things out in my life.
  6. Finish Line – I remember crossing the finish line at my very first race. I was so excited to get there that I sprinted right on through it! Once that baby is in sight, your heart starts pumping faster and your legs suddenly feel stronger. Seeing that finish line is like confirmation that you’re going to make it and that all of your hard work has not gone to waste. Even in training, I like to picture crossing that finish line.

So, I guess that time has come. Time for me to hone in on those specific motivators. Time to get training! Yeah, we’ll see how this goes.

How do you get motivated? What sort of thing gets you off the couch and hitting the pavement?