Sharing this post from a LOLA member as her “tale from the track” make us all think about our defining moments. Thanks Sue!
Something amazing happened to me last night. During a track workout, no less. The fact that I even wrote that sentence is so odd, because I don’t usually do track workouts. Or really run that much. But this year I’m attempting to do things outside my comfort zone. Or just try new stuff. I am attempting to not define myself by what has come previously in my 46 years. Thus why I am even on a track at 6 pm on a Wednesday eve. The tape in my head says: “I am not a runner.” But, could I be one? Might I actually enjoy being one? Last night I worked hard to re-record that tape with a new message. I pushed it. When Kim, the coach of Team LOLA
, explained that we were going to be running 4 sets of 2 laps around the track, I said to myself, “One at a time.” When she suggested we try to do a negative split, which is either the second lap faster than the first or the second 2-lapper faster than the 1st 2-lapper, I said, “One at a time.” I watched the disappearing back of a woman who had told us she had just completed her first half Ironman, and another tall gazelle of a woman on that first 2 lapper. I couldn’t even keep up with them, hitting the last turn as they crossed the finish at the other end of the field. On the second one, I asked myself to just keep them a bit closer, and to really try on the last straightaway. I finished right behind them. On the third one, I encouraged myself to dig a bit deeper, and passed them right at the end. On the last one, the two girls that I had been happily following made me go first. I didn’t want to do that, because I liked following them. It felt more comfortable. I mean, they were runners. I was just hanging on as long as I could. But the one said (and I’m not sure who, because she was behind me) she didn’t want me to pass her again at the end, because she was giving it all she had and then I would pass her. And the other one said, “Hell, own it girl.” Or something to that effect. I ran faster than I thought I could those 2 laps, and it felt great. And then Kim asked us to do one final lap. What would it feel like, she asked, to give it all we had? To turn the dial to 9 at some point, maybe just at the end. How often do we get to ask ourselves to really dig deep. She promised we would recover. She promised no matter how much it would hurt, it would pass. So on the last sprint lap, I bolted at the beginning, and around that second of three turns, when it started to HURT HURT HURT, the voice inside said, “You can pull up and slow now, Sue, because you’re not really a runner. You don’t have it.” The voice said, “You can stop. It’s ok.”
But then I heard the hard breathing of someone coming up behind me, and damn if I didn’t want to give up.
If she could, whoever she was, I could. So I kept going, even though it hurt so much. And when I hit the straightaway and my breathing was all funky and raw, I gave it all I had left and turned it up to 9. I crossed the line first. I’m telling you, we are so much stronger than we think. In all realms. And today, I can’t use the excuse that I’m not a runner. Because now I am. And I wonder where this new recording inside my head will take me.
I dedicate this post to all of the women out there training for a Fall race. For those planning their first 5k or their 20th marathon, embrace your body and all that it does for you. You are beautiful, healthy and strong.
I hear it time and time again from woman that I work with, “please don’t call me skat.” You are probably wondering what “skat” is referring too…other then the obvious definition meaning “too hurry” or animal poop. Skat, a word coined by friends, means “skinny fat.” Or in more clinical terms, a low level of lean body mass (muscle) and a higher percentage of adipose (fat).
We all have seen or known skat people in our lives. These are the women we secretly envy when we see them all dressed up in their skinny jeans looking oh so fabulous. Wishing we could wear those skinny jeans, if only our athletic bodies with strong muscles and curves would squeeze into those things. Well, no such luck. Even though I will never “rock the skinny jeans,” I can rely on my strong athletic body to support my aging bones, carry me up hills, run miles, swim yards, lift weights, carry groceries, kids & everything else. I would not trade it.
Ladies, our muscles are beautiful while representing hard work and dedication to our health. You know there is someone out there that would love to have your well sculpted muscles ( maybe even your skat friend?). Wear your running shorts with confidence, show off those athletic bodies and be proud! Strong is the new skinny…and please don’t call me skat.
Marathon Training Update: I am now 3 weeks into training for the Nike Marathon in October. I feel very lucky to be training with a great group of women from Team LOLA ( http://www.teamlola.com). Many of them are excited to be gearing up for their first marathon and some are re-entering the world of marathons after a ten or 20 year break. We are all learning a a lot about ourselves during this process, myself included. As I headed out the door yesterday for my long run of the week…I said to my husband, “wish me luck” to which he quickly responded…”you don’t need luck.” I thought, OMG…yes I do! What if I don’t make it? What if I get a cramp? What if I feel horrible or my stomach gets funky? All very normal concerns of a runner or anyone training for an event outside of their comfort zone. But he was right. I didn’t need luck for something I have done thousands of times before, I needed to just get out there and run. Most likely none of those things I worried about would happen and in the event that they did, I would know what to do. He knows me too well.
Here are some things I have re-learned thus far:
1. Slow Down: Long runs are meant to be loonnggg. You have to slow your pace down in order to cover 26.2 miles. I keep trying to run the same pace I would for a 10k or my typical hour long weekday runs. Not only is it ok to run slower, it’s crucial.
2. Be Patient: Along with slowing down, you cannot rush a long run. I get impatient wanting to “hurray and get it over with,” so I can check it off of my to-do list. This is one of the only times during a day where I can enjoy being in the moment that I have all to myself. Don’t rush!
3. Have enough Real Estate: Be sure when you plan your run, that you have enough ground (or miles) to cover. Runners love numbers, gadgets, watches, etc. I have been known to get home with 16.2 miles covered and was supposed to run 17 miles. It’s no fun to run circles around your neighborhood until your GPS hits the magic 17 mile mark while your neighbors watch you thinking you’ve lost your mind.
4. Rest Days: My biggest offense. For some reason, I feel that rest days don’t apply to me and that just a little weight workout, hike or even a long shopping trip at the grocery store on a scheduled rest day will be just fine. I know better. Rest means rest. I’m trying and promise sit down and put my feet up!
That is it so far. I ‘m sure there will be more with 12 weeks to go. Looks like a simple life lesson….slow down, be patient, always have enough real estate and be sure to enjoy some good ol’ rest and relaxation.
I figured when writing my first post on a health blog, it was important to tell how I became a runner…accidentally. I grew up as a dancer. We were never allowed to run for exercise because it “shortened our muscles” said our dancing teacher. ( We were also not allowed to get suntan lines, miss a class, complain, or eat….that’s a whole separate issue) So, being a good student, I never ran and frankly, it felt like torture when I had to run in PE class. I could dance forever, and often did, but run 4 laps around the track…forget it!!
Fast forward to my young adult life…I had transitioned from being a dancer to aerobic instructor. ( It was the 80’s after all) I loved teaching aerobics, it enabled me to be a “dancer” and get some exercise teaching others at the same time. Plus it helped me earn some spending money in college. My mom had just started “jogging” and asked if I would join her in a big race called Bay to Breakers. I said sure but I was NOT running. Could we walk the entire 7.5 miles? She said sure and promised I didn’t have to run. Off we went to San Francisco to walk this famous running event. There we stood at the starting line amongst real runners looking all too serious. I say one more time, ” we are just walking, right?” “Yes,” she assures me. The gun goes off and we are on our way for an enjoyable 7.5 mile walk through the city by the bay.
Ha! That “walk” lasted less than a mile. The crowd was so thick, that we were getting pushed along by the running crowd. “This will thin and slow down any minute,” I tell myself. 3, 4, 5 miles go by and I am still running. I can’t believe it. And I was kind of liking it. Weird?! I pass the 7 mile mark, digging deep. I can see the finish line…luckily, it’s all down hill and the crowd is cheering loudly. My mom and I cross the finish line together. We had finished our first race and had RUN 7.5 miles! I couldn’t believe it but I loved it! That was the day, 25 years ago, that I became an “accidental runner.”
I don’t suggest every new runner start with a 7.5 mile run. No new runner, ever should begin with too much too soon. Consider your current fitness level and begin from there. Maybe it’s 30 seconds of running mixed into some walking or 30 minutes of running if you are more active. Start slow, don’t rush it and enjoy the process. You never know….you too may become an “accidental runner.”