Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mental Energy and Physical Energy

It wasn't a sure thing that I'd even run the 5K this morning... I was really going back and forth in my mind. This seems to be a common plague among runners, and really, type A individuals generally. Should I run the race (or do x)? Or should I do something else? It's hot (or cold), my legs are tired, I don't feel confident, it's late in the day (or too early), etc. etc. There are any number of permutations and excuses to challenge the exercise plan that run through (pardon the pun) one's mind on any given day.

I've long known I spend an exorbitant amount of mental and emotional energy on gaming out scenarios--call me a worry wart-- for any given situation, including the daily exercise plan. I also spend a lot of mental energy in my job. Writing complex, well-developed and supported arguments wipes a body out! And teaching is even worse! The cycle is vicious, however, because I run to calm the gerbils in my mind, and yet, when I'm not running, I'm worrying about when the next run will be, will it be comfortable, will my foot hurt, etc. etc.

There's a new movement towards zen/meditative running, or at least, incorporating yogic and meditative breathing into one's running form. I haven't (consciously) tried this, but I do know that I've thought about it! And maybe that's the first step...and I've even mentioned it to a newbie runner friend who was struggling to breathe on a recent run. After 20 years of running, maybe I'm still a newbie when it comes to calming the gerbils, or taming my "monkey mind," as these mental exhaustive energies are called in the Runner's World piece. It's certainly taken me years to figure out when to rest so as not to get injured, and to be grateful rather than annoyed that a 5K turned into a 2.3 mile tempo run.

That's what ended up happening this morning--I went to the 5K with a calm mind. I wasn't going to worry about time (it was hot! it was a trail course!), and I wasn't going to worry about pushing myself too hard. I was just going to run what felt good. So when I took a wrong turn and accidentally cut the last part of the course, I was actually grateful. I got in what I had wanted to do--a bit of a tempo run--and I didn't care that I had no time. I was almost zen about it (except that I had to then negotiate the race volunteers...we exchanged multiple was no one's fault!)

In any case, today's run confirmed what I know to be true, and perhaps could be a mantra: It's always a good day when you run.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Steve and Thea run to the finish at the 5K-9
 Got another great run in this lovely Saturday morning. 5K of it was with Steve and our pooch Thea. They tore it up!

Replenishing with much-needed water

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ups and Downs--Here's to 2014

It has been fourteen months since my last post. What has happened in this past year? Quite a lot. A lot of ups and downs, joys and much pain, both physical and emotional. I write again today because I ran my first 10 miles since November, 2012. 10 mile route, Cedar Falls

The highlights:

  • Finishing my fourth Twin Cities marathon in October. Not fast, but finished after a lot of mental energy spent worrying about knee and foot injuries.
  • Seeing old friends in Philadelphia for the Philadelphia marathon in November and running there with my husband.
  • Running in Evanston along the lakefront and seeing my twin in July, 2012; Running along the Witte Singel in Leiden in the dark, in a light snow fall in January, 2013; Running in the woods and along the river in Aarau, Switzerland in January, 2013 while visiting my twin; Running in shorts in Central Park in February, 2013; Running in Big Sur and Sacramento with my husband in July, 2013
  • Running a relatively fast Furry 5K with my husband and pooch Thea
  • Biking 50 miles with my husband and a bike club for the 4th of July, 2013
  • Running 8 miles, proudly, and getting a pedicure with my husband on my birthday, 2013
  • Training a good friend for a 5K and seducing her into the sport of running!

The lowlights:

  • A year of plantar fasciitis, of varying degrees, plaguing me since July, 2012. Knee pain. Cortisone shots, physical therapy, orthotics, and many acupuncture appointments to try to stay active.
  • Many friends and acquaintances diagnosed with various cancers. Makes my PF look like nothing.
  • Newtown, CT; Boston Marathon bombing. Drones. 
  • Two feline family members died, in March and July, 2013, respectively.
  • A lot of stress, generally. Unsurprisingly, this past year was stellar for me, professionally, and we remodeled the upstairs, both of which could be considered highlights. But these things take their toll...

The silver linings:

  • I learned a lot about myself, emotionally and physically. I try to live in gratitude each day, and manage stress better.
  • Acupuncture, meditation, intimacy with family and friends help manage stress.
  • I took up spinning, and learned to love biking, even road biking! Two 50 mile rides under my belt this summer! I never would have done this if I hadn't been injured.
  • Only running the 1/2 marathon in Philadelphia proved I can listen to my body...I was proud of myself for cutting it short.
  • I cherish any running at all. A 5k, even slow, is a victory. Running 2 miles with a friend is a victory. 8 miles is icing on a cake. It's all relative.

I ran the Sturgis Falls 5K this June--not fast, but I did it!
The Stop sign is at my back. Symbolic?