The Power of Encouragement

It comes in several forms: a subtle head nod as you’re passing each other, a small hand wave, a faint smile as you’re huffing and puffing, a verbal “Good job!” or “You got this!” or “Keep going!” or “Good morning!” And then sometimes, it’s just making eye contact. No words or smiles or hand gestures are needed. You just know. The beauty of it all is that it comes from complete strangers as you’re enduring the pain together via a long run. You may be running in different directions, but you’re both going to the same place. Some call this place “hell,” some call it “euphoria” and some call it their “happy place.” To me, it is all the above. Without going to this “place” every few weeks, I am a different person. A person I don’t like and, from what I’m told, a lot of other people don’t like, either. Teeheehee!

I ran my last long run this past Saturday before my marathon October 28. I had 22 miles planned, but only reached 20. But, this is okay. It has the same effect on the body, believe me. My first 13-15 miles felt great! I was making good time and felt like I could run forever. I was hydrating correctly and my legs felt awesome. It would have been a great day for a half marathon. Then, somewhere between miles 15-18 I hit the wall. This is typical for me. My wall comes way before 20 miles, usually around mile 17. The wall is 80% mental and 20% physical for me. That 80% is where the mental demons start their warfare and you question yourself, “Why in the world do you do this, again??” But, that question doesn’t get answered until you see the finish line in the distance or, on a training run, that curve that leads to where your car is parked for the day. Then, you have a thousand different reasons why you do it. A guilty pleasure of mine is that terrible, yet heavenly pain you feel the day after a long run. Your legs are cramping, sore, you walk funny around the house, but you have a smile on your face.

Before I started my run Saturday morning, I posted it on facebook. Somewhere after mile 17, I turned my music off of my phone and thought I would see what was posted. I just needed some kind of inspiration. So, thank you to all who posted encouraging comments on my page or status. Unless you’ve been there, you really don’t know the impact just a “Way to go!” has on a runner hitting that wall. And most of all, I want to publicly say thank you to a passing cyclist. I was about 2.5 miles left of finishing and no one was ahead of me to pass. I was running a slow pace, hurting, and seeing mirages of Gatorade at that point. Then, breezing past me from behind, a cyclist looked at me as he passed and said, “You got this! Keep going!” He couldn’t see the look on my face, but I think he knew. He just knew. Sometimes, you don’t even have to ask what a runner’s mileage is that day. It’s answered all over their face. You know it’s a long run, not a 10 mile jog through the park. So, thank you, cyclist guy. You helped me finish my 20 miles on Saturday, which you’ll never know about. Godspeed, my friend, and safe travels on the roads.

So, whatever your form of encouragement is, don’t hold back. Just say it or wave it or raise the corners of your mouth up. You’ll never know the impact you may have on that person and what they’re going through. Encouragement is like Red Bull. It gives you wings.

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Training Plans and God’s Plans

September 15, 2012 marked the date of my scheduled 22 mile training run for my marathon. Leading up to that week, I had been experiencing some tendonitis in my right knee and I was wearing a brace around my knee. I was concerned about my long run that weekend, but I wasn’t in the kind of pain that would make me sit out, so I proceeded on with my plan. I cross train with swimming three days a week on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. I went to the pool Thursday and about halfway through practice, I was making a turn and slipped and hit my leg on the edge of the pool. My coach and I tried to figure out how it happened, and we still cannot figure it out. It was bizarre. The place on my lower right leg is not even exposed to the wall when I turn. It was the kind of pain that numbs your entire leg. You want to cry and laugh at the same time. So, I enter Friday with a touch of tendonitis in my right knee and a big blue bruise on the lower part of my leg. I had taken off work on Friday, September 14 to rest for my 22 miler. I had decided to proceed with my 22 miles and if I began to hurt worse, I would stop. I have already finished one 20 miler and still have another one on the schedule, so I would be fine to not make this one.

I was making my pre-long run trip to Academy Sports to get my “fuel.” I use Accelerade and add in Clif’s Shot Blocks, as well. Making the story short, as I was turning in to the store parking lot, I was in a car accident, rolled my Jeep, but escaped with just bruises and soreness. Needless to say, my 22 miler was not going to happen the next day.

First, I am blessed beyond measure that I am still here and as “accident survivors” say, everything is a little bit more vivid now. Second, it seems like everything and everybody was striking against me that week and for some reason, I was not meant to run those 22 miles the next day.

But, everything happens for a reason. Who am I to question an omniscient God? Maybe He let it happen because He knew the tendonitis wasn’t going to stop me, so He had to stop me somehow, Himself. Who knows? But, I don’t question things out of my control. I took last week off from training and now I feel rested, energized and ready to finish this training and run that marathon. And, by the way, I’m not feeling that tendonitis in my knee anymore.

You may feel differently about matters such as these, but this is how I feel about them. Right now in my life, I have the opportunity to do all that I do. I get to train as much as I do because I can right now. That could change at any time, but for right now, I do it because I can. So, I train in “beast” mode sometimes, and I think my body needed a break. It doesn’t sound right to take a week off 5 weeks before my first marathon, but it was “in the cards” for me. And because life is so short and precious, I now run every run with thankfulness in my heart that I can.

I read a poem the other day that I could honestly pray myself:

“God, give me the courage to run the race. Help me to persevere as you taught us. Grant me the strength to finish strong. Honor me with your presence on my journey. Allow me to be a GraceRunner this day. Oh, Lord…one more breath, one more step, one more mile, FINISH LINE…this is my prayer. I can do all things through YOU who strengthens me! Amen.”

I hope I can remind you that you can do what you do, whatever it is, because God allows you to. He can snatch away your life at any given second, but He hasn’t yet because he still has plans for you, whatever they may be. So, “…whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”

This entry was posted on September 24, 2012. 2 Comments

In It for the Long Run

Saturday, August 25 was a milestone in my marathon training. I was scheduled for a 20 mile training run. I have ran 20 miles once before (last year during my marathon training before I was injured with tendonitis), but this time, I am injury-free. I have one blister on my foot and my right hip was bothering me, but those issues are par for the course. Today, three days after the fact, I feel great!

I have mentioned before that 90% of running is mental. This is not just a statement made by runners to make non-runners try it. This is fact. For me, preparing for a long distance run begins a few days before the run, not just nutritionally but also mentally. Nutritionally speaking, there are certain foods that I shy away from a day or two before the run. I cannot eat lettuce. To put it bluntly, I learned this the hard way and it goes straight through me, very quickly. Enough said. I also stay away from heavy foods that take a day or two to digest. For me, this is red meat, i.e. steak. You don’t want that extra weight in your body while you’re running for 4 hours and you don’t want it trying to “do its thing” while you’re running. Believe me; I know where every bathroom is along the Swamp Rabbit Trail from Traveler’s Rest to downtown Greenville. First-hand experience, here. I also avoid caffeine the morning of the run, which has the same effect on me. But, different foods and liquids affect everybody differently. Some runners have a cup of coffee before every run and some enjoy steak the night before a run. Remember that everything is trial and error. And you must “trial and error” during your training runs. Never try something new on race day. You never know how it will affect you. My preferable pre-race meal while I’m home in Greenville is teriyaki chicken with steamed white race from the Hibachi Buffett: the white rice for my carbs, chicken for some lean protein and the steamed vegetables on the side. Yum! This works for me so I’m sticking to it.

Mentally, I fight demons all week long. There are so many things that make the mind reel; from things going wrong, to getting injured, to thinking you won’t make it, to getting discouraged, that you’ll be the only one still running on the SRT at 11am. Sometimes a bad mid-week run will get me discouraged and I’ll dread my long run. These are just a few things that plague my mind the week before. Then, I’ll either read something online from a fellow runner or I’ll just remember the main reason why I’m doing this. Yes, my first marathon is a goal of mine and a check to put beside on my bucket-list, but the bottom line is I love running. And sometimes, I have to remind myself of that when the hard, long runs come up because nothing compares to the feeling of seeing that finish line at the end of a race, be it a 5k or half marathon or full marathon. YOU ran that distance. YOU finished. YOU kept going when it hurt. Yes, the journey is what it’s all about, but the reward is that finish line.

During the long run, I could write a book about all that my mind comes up with and thinks about. I’ve mentioned before that I usually don’t wear an iPod when running because I like to keep my ears and mind open during that “me” time. But, when I’m running for more than 2 hours, by myself, a little entertainment I can handle. Besides, it keeps my mind off of an ache or the fatigue. So, I have started carrying an mp3 player with books on it. I am also a member of 2 book clubs so I can kill 2 birds with 1 stone: running and getting my books read. But, this past 20 miler didn’t happen that way. About 2 hours into the run, my earphones died. So, I had 2 more hours of running and letting the mind wander. Mind you, it is the second half of the run where it is the hardest. I usually hit “the wall” around mile 18. This wall you hear runners speak of is when they are drained physically, mentally and emotionally. It affects me in every way. At that point, you can do nothing but put one foot in front of the other and think about whatever helps you keep going. I usually am very fatigued and can cry at the drop of a hat at this point. This past Saturday at exactly mile 18, I run into a friend on the trail who was walking her dog and she started talking to me and immediately apologized for holding me up. I stop, put my hands on my knees and with tears in my eyes, say, “Oh, no, you couldn’t have crossed me at a better time. This is mile 18 and this is where I usually break. So, keep talking, I need this break.” After that 5 minute breather, the “wall” was more of a hump. I pressed on and with no Accelerade left in my fuel belt for the last 2 miles, I started fantasizing of large water towers filled with Gatorade. It’s amazing the visions and the thoughts one can have when you’re delirious. I start thinking of anything liquid, like large water towers with a little spigot at the bottom for me to drink from. I run this last 11 mile loop often and know every curve and slope. When I crossed the railroad tracks, I knew I was 3/4 mile away from my Jeep. I was having mirages, my right hip was killing me, my feet hurt in general and I felt a blister on my middle toe on my left foot. But, I ran the rest of the way. Because I could. Because I knew that the harder I pushed on my training runs, I would feel double that inspiration on race day when I feel the adrenaline of 35,000 other runners going through the same thing I was.

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When I crossed the last road on the trail leading me to the parking lot where my Jeep was, I smile with tears in my eyes and say, “Thank you, God, that I have the health and strength to do this.” I reach my Jeep and down a 32 ounce orange Gatorade I had left in my Jeep on ice for after the run. Let me tell you, nothing tastes or feels as good, to me at least, as orange Gatorade after a long, hard and hot run. And, orange is my favorite!

I get to my Jeep, down the Gatorade, stretch, and change into my recovery sandals and head home, but not before stopping to get my ritual: chocolate milk – the best recovery drink to any athlete.

I have 2 more 20-plus mile training runs to go before the big day of October 28, and each time I will go through the same process mentally. And each time, I will have to remember the main reason why I’m in it for the long run: for the love of the run.

This entry was posted on August 28, 2012. 1 Comment

One Hundred and Ninety-nine Percent

I have been told many times and even here of late, that when I do something, I do it “199%” whole heartedly (I’m actually quoting a friend).  So, being single and living alone, I can pretty much train all the time that I’m not at work. I’m very thankful for this fact about myself at this point in my life. I’m not saying that if I met someone I could not live without that I would push him away, but he would have to at least share this passion of mine, which I’m sure most people would agree with me on this. And when I say passion, I mean either running, cycling, or swimming, or all three would be a dream come true.

So, knowing this fact about me, if you are also on facebook, I’m sure you can see that I love what I do. Because I love it so much, I want everybody to feel the same way I do because I think they are missing out on something so wonderful. And because I feel this way, I push my fellow running friends too hard sometimes in asking them “What did you do last night? What’s your next race? What do you mean ‘you can’t run because blah blah blah’?” So, sometimes, I have to step back and try to understand that their lives may have different priorities than mine does. They are at a different point in their life than I am and they may not have the luxury of doing all that I do while I don’t have the luxury of going home to a family. I’m not writing a sob story, I’m just giving you a preface of what’s been on my mind lately.

When I finished my first triathlon a month ago, I did my best and loved every minute of it and fell in love with triathlons. I truly am a triathlon at heart now. After I finish my first marathon in October, my plan is to focus on my triathlons next year. So, April through about September of 2013, I will be doing tri’s more and focusing on all three sports. I truly love all three and feel that they complement each other.

During my first triathlon, my swimming was my weakest sport. I knew this going in. If you haven’t really swam your entire life except for fun at the pool and beach, you know that swimming for sport is a different ball game altogether. I can swim, but my technique needed work and going any reasonable competitive distance, I knew that I needed help. But, I knew enough and practiced enough to finish 250 yards. My cycling was good too, but running was my strongest point as it is my primary sport.

After my tri was finished, I got the “tri bug.” I wanted to sign up for my next one when I walked in my front door from finishing my first one. But, my primary goal this year is my marathon. Triathlons were a fun “extra” at first, but that has changed, obviously.  So, I just started incorporating swimming and cycling in my marathon training schedule. Cross training on the other two sports can really help to prevent injuries and help in recovery after those long 20+ mile runs. So, I joined the triathlon group at my pool and I am now coached three times a week in my swimming. I have improved so much in the past month. Two months ago, I dreaded going to the pool, now I look forward to Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays after work.

My pleasure reading has also started to include other blogs about these sports; triathlons, in particular. I read one blog a few weeks ago which triggered this whole thought process. You have your runners. You have your cyclists. You have your swimmers. A good runner may have been running a while, started in college track and field, maybe. A good cyclist may have been riding a while, too. A good swimmer may tell you about their swim meet days growing up in the community pool. Not all have this story to tell, but a lot of them do.

So, this blog was about this one person’s opinion, and other readers were quick to agree and comment, of how one should stick to their primary sport if you are not good at all three sports. This writer was saying that at some of these sprint triathlons and even international distances, if the person was a runner, their swim left much to be desired and they pretty much muddled through it, and did fine on the cycling portion and of course, the running portion. The writer was bluntly saying that triathletes, in general, were people who were not really good at any of the sports and just did all three for fun. He was saying that the average triathlete, unless you’re an Ironman, of course, is not a good athlete. This is stereotyping, clearly.

(Blood boiling here)

First, this is the writer’s opinion, just as this is my opinion. Second, stereotyping is just that. Stereotyping. I know some runners do things on the road that give other runners a bad name, such as crossing the road and trying to beat a car when the light is clearly red. Just wait for the crosswalk light to come on, enjoy the breather, and then go. This practices safety and drivers will not give you dirty looks and hate runners even more. It’s that simple. But, because a few “bad” runners do this, it gives all runners a bad name and people stereotype us all.

Honestly, my first tri swim left much to be desired. But, Devil’s advocate: I had fun and I love what I do. But, I left that day wanting to train so hard until I reeked of chlorine and caught swimmer’s ear. I don’t want to settle for just doing triathlons to do them. I train to get better at what I do. I don’t half-do something. I want to give each race, training run, swim session and ride my best in order to get better at it. Sometimes, when leaving the pool, I feel like I accomplished nothing because I can’t seem to break a bad habit.  Sometimes, I feel like if I did not PR in a 5k, that I’m just going backwards and I’ll never “place” in my age group. But, every time I get out there, I’m progressing. Simply because of the fact that I’m out there.

If you want to bring the Bible into it, when referring to mediocre or “luke warm” Christians, God pretty much says they make Him want to throw up. Mediocrity is not a place to settle. Train hard and work hard in order to get to that “impossible” goal. If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough. Believe me; I’m terrified of running 26.2 miles in a city hundreds of miles away from home. But, my want and passion is greater than my fear. My fear drives me sometimes. And sometimes, drives me crazy! Yes, because of this passion I have, I may have to miss going out with the girls on a Friday night or book club on a Tuesday night or the Saturday Morning Market downtown. But, it’s my passion and I want it. If you want something bad enough, you’ll make it happen, whatever it takes.

So, in the US Army’s words, “Be All That You Can Be.” In God’s words, “Do it heartily, as unto the Lord.” In Nike’s words, “Just Do It.” However you want to say it, find your passion and write your name on it so everyone can see.

This entry was posted on August 1, 2012. 1 Comment

Tri Like A Girl

When I signed up for my first triathlon this past April, I knew I had the run portion down. After all, I have ran 4 half marathons and have even ran a 21 miler while training for my full marathon last year before I was injured. So, the challenge was to swim 250 yards and ride 10 miles at a race pace. All of this before running 2.5 miles. So, I put my running on the back burner, only running 2 to 3 times a week and swimming and riding the other days. The bike portion was coming along well. After conquering riding with clipless pedals and even crossing over Paris Mountain on Altamont Drive twice, I was ready to ride 10 miles easy.

The swimming was the sport that needed the most work. At first, I had several friends go with me to the pool and coach me, all of which helped tremendously. Even the slightest advice and techniques helped improve my skill. I also joined Westside Aquatics Masters Triathlon and Fitness program which specializes in triathlon swimming coaching one-on-one. I was able to get one coached session in before the big day. It practically saved my swim. During that one session, I realized that my backstroke was really good. So, when I became tired after freestyling, I would flip on my back and backstroke. The main reason why I’m good at it: I can breathe. My breast stroke is okay and my freestyle swimming is still a work-in-progress as I’m having a hard time getting a breathing rhythm down. And, I’m awfully fond of breathing.

I rested the day before, ate well, and went to bed at 9pm. I had to be up at 4:30am, get everything ready, and head out the door at 5am in order to get there at 5:30am. I was all nerves but excited at the same time. The nerves were tearing up my stomach, which is normal for race day.

I get there at 5:30am and it’s still dark outside. I see a friend who is a fellow runner and cyclist, walking across the parking lot. She was volunteering for Pedal Chic, who sponsored the triathlon. She comes over as I’m pumping up my tires and making last-minute checks. She hugs me and says I’m going to do great. I grab my bag and my bike and walk down toward the transition area, find my number and start setting up my area. After setting up, I walk over to the body-marking tent. During a triathlon, you have several ways to mark who you are. You have an anklet timing chip, your number on the front of your bike helmet, your race “bib” number for your run on your front and then they mark your body with a permanent marker on your front upper legs above your knees, and your upper arms. They also write your age on the back of one of your legs.  Don’t worry, the marker comes off in a day.

Tyler and his wife shows up first to cheer me on. Tyler has been such a help and mentor to me, as he completed his first IronMan this past May in Utah. When I have a question about training, he’s one of the first I turn to for help. So, we talk a few minutes and soon, it’s just minutes before the start. All of the athletes meet in front of the pool entrance and have a pre-race meeting just reviewing the course of action for each sport and any last minute details and what not. During this meeting, I see a couple other friends and fellow runners show up in the crowd to cheer me on. This makes me smile and a little more nervous, yet excited.

Then, we all line up around the pool according to our number. I was 287. You register for the event according to your swim time prediction. I knew I would be a novice in that area, so I wanted to be near the back. As the first swimmer starts, they space out each one to be 15 seconds after the other. By the time I started, it was 7:50ish, about 50 minutes after the first swimmer. I dive in.

I start off with freestyle and by the time I get to the other side of the pool, I flip on my back and start the back stroke. I bumped into a couple ladies as I was keeping a good pace on my back, but you just keep on going. The swim went faster than I thought. Race day always brings added speed via adrenaline. It makes you sick before the race, but it pays off during the race. I finish my swim and climb out of the pool and run down to the transition area. I pass Tim and Tyler and a few others as they were standing outside the pool cheering and waiting for me to come out. I run down the path into Transition 1 and throw off my swim cap and goggles. Tyler runs down with me and asks me how I feel. “Out of breath!” I say. From swimming to running to transition and trying to put on my bike helmet, cycling shoes and sunglasses, I am panting as if I am sprinting. By the time I run my bike up and cross over the mounting line, I am still breathless from the cardio. I mount, clip in and take off.

It takes about half a mile for me to catch my breath still. But, I really enjoyed the ride. It was a great course with slight hills, going up and down. It wasn’t a breeze, but it wasn’t too hard, either. The police really went out of their way to help with this event and had every intersection covered and some family and friends were at intersections cheering on their friends or family. I enjoyed the ride, but I do have to work harder than others and this is why. My current bike is a 24” wheel while most are 26”. It’s a great bike and I’m finishing out this year with it, but an upgrade is a must next year, hopefully early spring. But, I digress. The course was an out and back course. So, all the up hills you climbed, you got to fly down on the way back. I get near the end of the course and enter the Life Center area toward Transition 2. I hear other friends call my name and cheer me on. I am tired, but a smile brightens my face. I unclip, and run my bike down to the transition area and take off the helmet, glasses, clips and slide on my running shoes. I decided since it was a short distance that I wouldn’t wear socks. I also clip on my race belt containing my running bib. And then, I’m off.

I run around the corner and hear my name from numerous people. I had practiced this particular transition three times before. Going from cycling to running is harder than swimming to cycling. It was not an easy run. Yes, it was just 2.5 miles, but the first half mile was straight up hill and we repeat this hill twice. Running after all I have already done, I was feeling it. Your body feels disoriented during this transition. You are using a different set of muscle groups and it took me almost 2 miles to find my “happy pace.” So, I felt great my last half mile! After I started getting in my groove, I almost wished the run was longer. I finished in a great pace and Tyler ran me in the last eighth of a mile or so. As I ran around the corner to go under the finish line, my face couldn’t help but break into smile. I heard my name being called over the loud speaker. I didn’t care about my time, I didn’t care if I was last or middle of the pack. I was done and I was now a triathlete. I was greeted by friends hugging me and congratulating me. I, honestly, couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. My goal was accomplished and I had so much fun. I don’t do all of this just for my health. I do it for the love of it.

By the time I had changed and was heading to my Jeep to leave, I started calculating my time and wondering if I could really do the Paris Mountain Triathlon this August 4. Doing a triathlon or a marathon the first time usually decides if you will ever do it again or make a lifetime of it. This first triathlon has begun a lifetime of it for me. I was hungry for more. I am, indeed, a runner at heart. But, when you add in the spices of swimming and cycling, it’s like getting triple the pleasure you get from running. And running is a pretty big “high” already.

So, friends, I am not just a runner. I am a triathlete. And I decided earlier today, I am doing Paris Mountain Sprint Triathlon on August 4. This is what made me decide: If your dreams don’t scare you, then they are not big enough.

This entry was posted on July 10, 2012. 6 Comments

Can You Take the Heat?

As you all know, it’s been a furnace around here lately and all across the country, really. People have been asking me, “Are you still running in this heat?” Yes and no. I pulled something in my left quad last Monday night running Liberty 5k and while trying to prevent all injuries this year due to my heavy schedule and my main goal, MCM Marathon in October, I decided to just swim and cycle the rest of last week. But, I was right back out there running last night in my Liberty 5k. No pain and full of energy. Success!

But running, to me, is like the US Postal Mail Service. Come rain, sleet, hail or snow, you’re out there. I read a lot of slogans and motivational articles and posters about pushing it to the limit and training until it hurts and so on. “No pain, no gain.” And, this, I am all about. But, there’s a fine line between training hard and injuring yourself. This is why a lot of fast runners wear a Garmin wrist watch with a heart rate monitor attached. I, personally, do not have a heart rate monitor attached to mine because I try to keep a steady pace. I leave my sprinting to the end of a run or the end of a race. But, I also listen to my own heart and my own body. For instance, while running in the heat with humidity as high or higher than the temperature outside, I know it’s time to go a little slower or take a minute or two to walk when I feel cold chills down my legs or the back of my neck…in 98 degree weather. This means my body has overheated and it is trying to cool itself down. At this point, you need to help it out, too. I carried an iced water bottle with me last night and while I was stopped at red lights in order to cross the road, I would pour the ice water on my head, the back of my neck and drink some of it. I also have a cloth tube-like neck band that is filled with water and I keep it in the freezer and/or refrigerator and when I go run in this heat, will lay it on the back of my neck and attach it in the front. You can use anything for this: a sock, a hand towel, etc. For these, you could soak them in water the night before, stick it in the refrigerator overnight, and head out the door the next morning.

I also try to run earlier in the morning on my Saturday long runs. Especially when my 17 and 22 and 26 milers come up, I will be hitting the road on Saturday mornings at 5am. Even running in the early mornings in July and August, by the time you get in a 4 to 5 hour run, you’re looking at a 10am finish and it’s already smoldering hot at that point, not even considering the humidity. On these days, I earnestly pray for rain. I love running in the rain in the summer. It’s God’s natural coolant to me. It cools down the temperature and it is exhilarating to run in.  I love rain in any season, but especially summer.

Running, in and of itself, is a challenge. But, running in the heat is a greater challenge and can be and is done. It takes more preparation on your part which is where a lot of people stop and turn toward the gym to the treadmills. This is fine, too. I, personally, dislike treadmills. I feel like I’m going nowhere and watching TV or listening to music does nothing for me. Nature, running partners and myself are my running soundtracks and visuals. I don’t even run with an iPod. I feel like it takes away from my run. To each his own. If it works for you, then by all means, do it. I used to use an iPod, and enjoyed it, but I stopped over a year ago and wouldn’t go back to it.

But, the number one thing for running in the heat is how you prepare yourself before hand, the day(s) before, hours before. HYDRATION. A lot of runners before a marathon will say, “Drink water until your urine is clear.” I know it sounds gross, but it’s true. Drink water even when you don’t feel like it and especially when you feel hungry. Water has been proven to stop hunger pains for a lot of people that just eat because they are bored or they THINK they are hungry. Instead of that Coke to go with your lunch, drink water. It will not only save you $2.50 on your lunch bill, but it is better for your body. This, I am sure, you already know. And, just a side note, if you are going on a long run and you start to cramp up, it means you are losing sodium. Your sweat is salty. So, after a run, if you feel like you have sand or dirt on your arms, it’s not. It is sodium that has dried on your skin from sweating. This means you need to drink a sports drink while you run that contains electrolytes. Gatorade is the common one. I drink Gatorade while I’m riding, but Accelerade while I’m running. Why? Because Accelerade contains electrolytes, carbs and protein. It has a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein…scientifically proven to boost your performance and recovery. After running a couple hours, you have used up a lot of what has been stored in your body and you need more on the go. Thus, the carbs and protein. But, again, this works for me. Another sports drink may work better for you. Trial and error is key.

So, do I run in the heat? Yes, but I don’t long for it. I do a lot of prep, pray for rain and see the sun rise a lot in the summer. But, that’s just another one of the thousands of benefits from running.

Cool Runnings, Friends!

This entry was posted on July 3, 2012. 3 Comments

Why Runners Make the Best Friends

I have all sorts of friends. I have one friend that I call to talk to when I know that they will just sit and listen to me and won’t say a word. Some days I need just that. Another friend I call to go out on the town with. With her, I know it’s all fun. We leave the drama of life behind and nothing else matters for the rest of that day. Another friend I call to ask life’s complicated questions. This friend will be straight up with me and tell me like it is and will advise me to do what’s right, not what I feel or think is right. Another friend I call to go shopping with. This is very rare these days, though, because all of my shopping seems to be nothing but running, cycling or swim clothes. Not even kidding, here. Another friend I call more than the others because she is my best friend. She is all the above wrapped in one. I could tell her that I murdered someone and she wouldn’t flinch. (Not that I would) We would put our heads together and figure it out with no judgment passed. She, indeed, is my sister from another mother.

And, then, I have my running friends. I have dozens of this kind. They are male and female, older and younger, fast and slow. We share a bond that you only have with other fellow runners. Runners can have the most opposite of personalities yet they share a bond that is a passion for them all. But, it’s not just the passion of running that binds us. It is the everyday and weekly running experiences that knit us closer. Runners see each other at their worst: from no make-up, to beet-red faces, to stinky and sweaty, to stopping to use the bathroom on the side of the road or in the woods, to being delirious during a 20+ miler because you have nothing left but fumes and heart. Friends like these encourage you to do that long run on Saturday when you’re dreading it. They cheer you on in a race near the finish after they have already finished. They give you pointers on aches and pains from past experiences. They plan your whole year out with you on what races to schedule and which ones to save for the next year because this year is booked. They share their water bottles and Gatorade and sweat towels. They congratulate you with a hug after a race when both of you are sopping wet with sweat. They suggest what running clothes or shoes work for them and urge you to buy their brand. (this doesn’t always work…(o:  )   Even though we see each other several times a week or more, you still get that excited feeling when you know you’re going to see them again in a few hours or the next day.  

I am blessed to have all kinds of friends. I love each of them in their own unique way. Life would still be good with just runner friends, but the “other” friends add that extra spice to your life. “Other” friends keep you sane when you have gone “running crazy” and makes sure you are up to date on the outside world, like the latest fashion, the newest “chick flick” and what the rest of the world is doing.

So, here’s to all my friends! Whether you run or not, I am thankful for you. You each play a role in my life that is just as important as the other. My life has a splendid cast, so thank you.

This entry was posted on June 27, 2012. 1 Comment