Home / Archive by category "health" (Page 9)

My Running History is MY Running History

Linden at the end of the Giessen half-marathon

Linden at the end of the Giessen half-marathon

I have been telling you about who helped me believe it was possible for me to start running and who helped me continue being a runner, but today I’m going to try to tell my part of the story. Well, at least the most relevant parts. :)

When I started training for that 2005 Chicago Marathon, Rob and I had one car and we lived just north of Grand Street. We both worked at Bed Bath & Beyond. This means that both of us spent lots of hours at Border’s waiting for the other to get off work. I spent most of my time reading about running, and I started with Hal Higdon’s marathon book.

If you’ve heard that running is 90% mental and 10% physical, you’ve heard right. It seems like to me that your body learns how to run waaay quicker than your mind. Hal acknowledges this, as did other books I read through (and furiously made notes on, anal-retentive that I am):

Running Mantras

I wanted to be prepared.

  • “Hello, Hills! Come run with me!”
  • “I am a marathoner.”
  • “I never quit on a run!”
  • “I love to run! I will not stop!”
  • “I run no matter what the weather is like.”
  • “I always feel strong when I run.”
  • “My legs are getting stronger, my lungs are getting stronger, my mind is getting stronger.”
  • One that Beth told me: Counting backwards from 100 while breathing out on the odd numbers and in on the even numbers.
  • One that Sarah told me: Remember the part in Indiana Jones where Marion asks Indy where it hurts and she kisses him? Ask yourself the opposite of that: “Where doesn’t it hurt?” Helps you ignore whatever pain is nagging at you.

Running Visualizations

I imagined a group of my athletic friends running in front of me. I’d catch up to them, they’d cheer me on, and then I’d start running faster than them, rushing through them to their cries of support.

In another, I would see just two or three of my friends up ahead. They’d be cheering for me, holding banners, jumping up and down.

On hot days, I would imagine ice melting in my shoes. Special ice that didn’t make my socks soggy or my shoes heavier. Magic running ice. :)

When I was feeling especially tired, I would catch up with one of my “imaginary” friends. Then a band would appear around us, linking us together. She or he would just keep on chugging ahead, pulling me along.

I would imagine my feet as feathers. Or my fatigue as a thin layer of skin that slowly peels away as I run. Finally, I just step out of it, feeling refreshed and renewed.

The most powerful image I had was one almost every book recommended: the finish line of your race. It was easy to imagine Chicago, with its million supporters along the route, cheering for everyone.

Berlin 2008

And I think that last visualization will be even more effective as I start training for what will actually be my first marathon. Last week, I registered for the Berlin Marathon, which takes place on September 28 (we saved beaucoup buckeroos by registering early). I have spent about 2 weeks in Berlin over the course of the last 8 months, and I know the starting and finishing lines very well (I’ll even run my last few miles down a street called “Unter den Linden”—how awesome is that?!).

At the same time that I am excited about getting to run my first marathon in such an important world city and the city that gave me the love of my life, I am very nervous about stepping in this ring again. I am nervous about announcing my bid so early and so publicly. What if I get sick again? What if I get injured? What if I just get lazy without a dedicated running parter who will kick my butt every day (not that Rob isn’t dedicated, but we have different values on running public races and needing a goal to strive for, plus it’s easier to say no to him than to Sarah)? What if I don’t run the right mileage and am under-prepared because I don’t have a Garmin or a trail that is marked every tenth of a mile (like the Galloway Trail, where I did about 90% of all my running when we lived in Springfield)?

Some days I believe in myself. But others I just know I’ll fail. I know I’ll disappoint everyone again. Or maybe I’m just afraid of disappointing myself all over again.

In the end, I decided to do it, to announce my marathon goal almost six months away from D-Day. I hope that, as I continue to blog about my training (which will definitely pick up starting the last week of May when training starts), my running and non-running blog readers will encourage me. Will you do that?

Because I am going to need it.

My Running History is Sarah’s Running History

Sarah and Linden after the Frisco 5k (March 2007)

Sarah and Linden after the Frisco 5k (March 2007)

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about how Beth encouraged me to take the first few running steps down my path as a life-time runner. Today, I’ll write about how a girl who I never thought I’d know more about than her and her fiancé’s names and wedding date the first time I met them pushed the runner in me and started down the “Road to the Marathon” with me.

I met Sarah long before we became friends: I registered her and Chris at Bed Bath & Beyond. Then we met again in Pummill 401 (the English Department‘s Graduate Assistants office). We kind of started being friends the first semester of grad school, but our friendship really began when we started running together in the spring semester in McDonald arena. I think she needed someone to boost her into running longer distances, and I needed a running partner to help get me out of my slump, although I didn’t know it at the time.

When we first started running, I really enjoyed how much Sarah knew about health, and I think she liked my encouragement. I remember the day she mentioned that she’d like to run a 5k eventually. We had been running 2 miles that week, so I told her that a 5k is only 3.1 miles. I added, “Why don’t we just see if we can do 3 today?” And we did. The rest of that semester, we ran our miles, talked, and she showed me how to use the weight machines. (You all know what it’s like to be the only person in the gym who can’t figure the machine out, while all the buffed beauties walk by and snicker at you as they add more weights. Sucks.) We didn’t stay in touch during the summer, but she ran her first 5k and even took second place in her age category.

When school started back up in the fall, we started running and lifting together again. Our desks were next to each other, so we talked a lot, plus we took a web design class for tech writers. We spent almost every Friday together doing homework for the class, checking for typos and sytax mistakes.

It was the next spring semester that our running became very serious. Sarah mapped out our road to the marathon, thanks to the great support and publicity running has in the Springfield area: a 5k during spring break, a 10k in the June, a half-marathon in November, and then a full marathon in spring 2009. With the exception of a week off here and there for illness, injury, and vacations, we ran together four days a week from the middle of January until I moved away in late September.

When you find a good running partner, you will learn a lot about her. You don’t just plod along those miles silently! You talk. And you tell her things you didn’t think you would because you have four more miles to go and you need to talk to fight that pain in your knee. You listen and learn about her as she does the same thing.

And your running partner sees you at your weakest. When you feel like every muscle in your body is going to snap, your running partner tells you you can go on. When your mind is screaming that you are an awful runner, that you’re slow, that you’re tired, that you really want to walk, she says no, you can’t walk, “Push it, Linden. I know you can. We’re runners, not walkers.”

We ran that 5k, we did the 10k in the hot June heat, but that is where our paths diverged. I moved half a world away about 3/4 through our half-marathon training. Luckily, I found a half-marathon in mid-October and I ran it. Sarah continued on with an awesome showing in the Cohick Half-Marathon in early November.

But my running story is not over, and nor is my running story with Beth or Sarah. Life is so much better when shared with others, but sometimes, we have to forge ahead without the people who make us strong and cheer us on physically by our sides. So tomorrow I’ll write about the leg of this journey that will, by necessity, be all mine.

My Running History is Beth’s Running History

Beth at her marathon

Beth at her marathon

During my junior year of college, I watched as my best friend spent hours during the week and even gave up her entire Saturday afternoon and evening during college planting carb shots along her running route and then running her miles for the week. Running?! Weird. She had a goal: The 2003 Chicago Marathon.

If you didn’t know me and Beth in high school, this won’t seem as weird as it was to me then. When we were younger, we hated physical activity. We waited to take the required gym class until our junior year (most people took it their freshman year). Even though we had lots of spirit, we were always the last two people to be picked for teams. We failed the Fitness Test, despite all of Coach Alms’s patient support of our un-athleticism.

By the time she was training for the marathon, though, Beth had also become an aerobics instructor and a certified personal trainer. The entire time she was training for her first marathon, she kept telling me that if she could do it, I could do it. I slowly started believing her. So she started me on the American Running Association’s Walk-Run program when I wanted to lose weight before I got married. I didn’t complete the program, but I made it a little over half-way through, enough that I discovered that with the properly increasing training program, I could run for 30 minutes! It was amazing, because when I started the program, I struggled to run for even 2 minutes.

Because of her amazing marathon accomplishment, I was inspired to give it a go myself. I registered for the 2005 Chicago marathon and started a novice Hal Higdon training program. With Beth’s “If I can do it, you can you too” message running through my head, I dove right in. It was not all easy, but it was such a great lesson. If you look at the training program closely, you will notice that the weekend long runs increase gradually. That, my friends, is the secret to starting to run if you never have before. Each time the mileage increased, I knew I could do it, because I had run just one mile less before.

The 9-miler was so hard. Rob and I ran it on a hot, July Friday afternoon. I was dehydrated and I had never run in heat before. It was as much of a mental struggle as it was a physical one. But I completed it with the encouragement of my husband an mental mantras, repeated step after step after step.

The next week was a 10 miler with Beth. It was awesome. I don’t know if it was because we ran in the early morning coolness, but after that run, I knew I could finish the marathon. It was a great victory.

But I didn’t run the marathon. Six weeks before the marathon, I started grad school, including teaching for the first time. It killed the running schedule I had for the summer, plus my sleeping schedule. Bad combination: I got bronchitis, and you can’t run when you can’t breathe. I didn’t finish the training, and didn’t feel like, as a newbie runner, trying 26.2 miles. It was a tough decision, but then: Sarah.

Stay tuned tomorrow to hear how Sarah helped me along my path of becoming a runner.

100 Mile–8 Week Challenge: End of Challenge

This challenge did not end with a bang for me. It just kind of fizzled out. But I’m not too worried about that; I met the challenge goal and that is that.

On Sunday, the weather finally turned beautiful, so we went for a really long walk, winding in and around our little area of Giessen. So it was impossible to map. Even though we didn’t venture more than a 3/4 of a mile away from our home, we found many new restaurants and a botanical garden! I look forward to all the nice weather ahead of us this year so we can discover more about our quaint little town. Anyone want to come visit so we can try those restaurants with you? *hint, hint, nudge, nudge, wink, wink*

So even though I am reporting 5.6 miles for this week, I know it was more. And I’m okay with that. How did your challenge go?

Week 8 total: 5.6 (plus some)
Challenge total: 109.5

Related Posts
Week 1’s post
Week 2’s post
Week 3’s post
Week 4’s post
Weeks 5 and 6’s post
Week’s 7 post

100 Mile–8 Week Challenge: Week 7

As I lie in bed writing about the penultimate week in our 100–mile—8 week challenge, I am getting really excited. Not about the challenge particularly, but about the fact that I just had a legitimate opportunity to use the word “penultimate.” I mean, seriously, how often does that chance roll across your path? And in a place as conducive to using words your readers might not be familiar with? In conversation, you’d either ask me what it means or dismiss me as being snobby and show-offish, what with me using big, fancy words you don’t (or might not) know. Or you’d make a mental note to look it up later (that’s what I do). But here, online, all I need to do is add a link to a definition (check!) and you can click on it (go ahead, you know you want to!) and neither of us have to know/admit.

But I digress, in what I feel might be true Deluxe Yours Truly fashion (I’m aspiring to be as entertaining and effective a teacher as he is, although I know I have a far, far way to go).

The 7th week in the challenge was a rather interesting one for me. I still cannot report that I did more running than walking this week, but that will come, dear readers, that will come. Week 7 was interesting because I got to try haggis for the first time and I learned that the Brits refer to both desserts and anything cooked in a bag as “pudding.” That is, “pudding” is a hypernym, in the British variety of English, for what we Americans call ice cream, cakes, pies, cookies, bread puddings, and true pudding. Interestingly enough, the fact that “pudding” refers to anything cooked in a bag makes haggis a pudding. Weird (to me).

So what does all this have to do with walking? I walked all the way from campus to Moira’s apartment for some haggis last Tuesday night, which more than doubled my normal walk home. And Rob and I went for an extra-long walk on Sunday. Nothing to do with haggis, but does explain why my weekly mileage is up (compared to the last few weeks’ mileage).

So, without further ado, this week’s results: I’ve reached the goal!

Week 7 total: 16.6
Challenge total: 103.9

Week 1’s post
Week 2’s post
Week 3’s post
Week 4’s post
Weeks 5 and 6’s post

100 Mile–8 Week Challenge: Weeks 5 and 6

Well! I have gotten behind, haven’t I? I don’t like excuses, but here is an explanation (there’s a difference!). Weeks 5 and 6 were the last two weeks of school. And it doesn’t seem to matter how organized I am, during those two weeks of any given semester, I’m bombarded with papers to grade, students with questions, and various (random?) administrative duties. I disappear from the eWorld I usually live in. So that’s why I didn’t post updates on the 100 mile–8 week challenge.

Another problem with those last two weeks is that, in the absence of a kick-my-butt running partner with just as much work and excuses-on-opposite-days, I don’t run during those weeks. Thank goodness I’m living in a country where my main mode of transportation is my feet! And thank goodness for my nice warm coat, scarf, ear muffs, and gloves, because it has been cold here! (It hasn’t been as cold as my Springfield has been, but it has been quite chilly.)

So, all that to say that I didn’t run during weeks 5 and 6, but I did lots of walking. Here is where I stand with two weeks left in the challenge. I have a little under a half-marathon to run (and I will run it!) in the next two weeks. Totally doable. Sarah has just 7 miles left, and Beth told me she finished last week (lucky–she’s hogging all the beautiful weather, sunshine, and beaches!)! Where are you at in the challenge?

Week 5 total: 11.4
Week 6 total: 11.1
Challenge total: 87.3

Week 1’s post
Week 2’s post
Week 3’s post
Week 4’s post

100 Mile–8 Week Challenge: Week 4

Okay, so I’m post-posting this (does that work?!), but at least I’m posting it! I have to admit that I am somewhat disappointed in myself. In 2007, from February until September, Sarah and I ran 3 or 4 times a week pretty regularly (minus a few weeks off because of vacation or pain). The last four weeks, I have managed to run three times a week only once. What’s wrong with me? I guess I miss my awesome running partner! At least I’m still loggin the miles.

Weekly total: 18.9
Challenge total: 64.8

Week 1’s post
Week 2’s post
Week 3’s post

Weight Milestone #1

I cannot believe it, but I have hit a weight milestone that I have been working towards for quite a long time.

This morning when I weighed myself, I saw a number on the scale that I haven’t seen since the end of my freshman year at SMSU. This makes my BMI right at 25%, which is the borderline between “normal weight” and “overweight”!

My next goal is to lose another 20 pounds, at which time I will weigh what I did when I graduated high school. I want to fit into size 10 or even 8 pants, but since Euro sizes are different, we’ll have to wait to see if I meet those goals until I take a trip to America (maybe in 2008??) and can try on real size 10s. (Euro pants say their American counterpart size, but I just don’t believe them. :) )

100 Mile–8 Week Challenge: Week 3

Not the greatest week, running-wise, but as Deanna and LifeStudent say, baby steps are good and just moving is better than not!

One true running day this week, two lazy walk-only days that should have been running days, and one started-off-as-a-run-day, but ended up as a walk/speed-work/hill-work day because of bladder infection-induced pain. It isn’t fun to run with a bladder infection.

Weekly total: 18.7
Challenge total: 45.9

Week 1’s post
Week 2’s post

100 Mile–8 Week Challenge: Week 2

Week 2 was much better than week 1. Because we actually did some running (imagine that!)! It was still very cold this week, but I really like my new running jacket, plus, you are only cold for the first 15 minutes or so. After that, you’re body warms up, and only your fingers and maybe your ears and nose get a little cold when you run into the wind.

What I am most proud of this week is that I’ve come back stronger. Rob and I talked about pushing yourself, plus I read some advice from Arnie, and I pushed myself. The second day, when I was really sore, I thought I’d only be able to run 30 minutes. But we did 60! I am going to call 2008 the year of growth: I want to become stronger in several areas of my life, and running is only one of those.

Weekly total: 21.9 miles
Challenge total: 27.2 miles

(For more info, read Week 1’s post here.)