Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Focus on your goals



I'm a runner? I don't think I am, but others tell me that I am because I like the way I feel after a run.  Recently and with the motivation of many true runners, I have taken up running.  It has been a while and I've always wanted to say I could run and I enjoy it but until recently that was not the case at all.

Let me back it up a little.  In high school I joined the track team in my senior year because I was following a boy.  Yes that's right.  He was cute and quiet and I secretly liked him and I was happy just being in his presence. You know you've been there.  Anyway, I joined the team, the coach was great and it put me in a new circle of friends I truly enjoyed.

Our first run started at the High School.  The coach said just run up the road, make a right and follow the main avenue to the park.  What I didn't realize is that the park was about 5 miles away and for someone who wasn't used to running, AT ALL, this was no easy feat.  I ran and ran and ran, then I reached the park and realized I had to run through the park to get to the track, then I got lost getting there so... needless to say, it was more than five miles and I was the last one to arrive.  I did well in all my runs after that and I remembered to ask the distance so that I could pace myself along the way.  However, I was a sprinter and that was pretty easy for me to do.

In the U.S. Marines I ran, again not by choice, with boots, uniforms, back packs, flag poles, in the sand, through the woods, in the water and up many, many hills.  After leaving the military I ran, never more than 3 miles, if that.  I have been an avid Spinning(r) instructor, love the plyometrics in boot camp classes and HITT, etc. But very little running.  I had no desire to run unless I was being chased.

In the last 6 months I started running with a friend who recently ran the Marine Corps Marathon in DC.  She kept saying "Terie, I've seen you working out, you are in great shape, you can do this run."  I did not believe her.  The idea of running more than 5 miles several times a week just wasn't appealing.  Even my husband tried to get me to run and I kept saying, "I'm not a runner, I'm not built like a runner, I don't like running."  Well, my friends convinced me to commit to a "short" run and they even promised to walk with me if I needed a break.  I said OK but don't say I never warned you.

First run, about 3 months ago, they claimed it would be six miles but we would walk the hills.  OK.  At the turnaround point I clocked in 4 miles and if my math was correct that would make this run 8 miles.  I felt GREAT!  A little deceived, but great. We finished the 8 miles and somehow I didn't crash, I made it.  Next run 8.5 miles... again, I made it.  Then we moved to a longer run and again I felt butterflies in my stomach.  There's no way I can do 10. My friend of course had no doubt I could and so I went.  We did that 10 mile run twice and again, I felt GREAT!!!  This is becoming a habit.  I'm planning to run a half marathon and I believe I'll be ready for a full marathon, in about a year.  For now my goal is half marathon.

The secret to my successful running experience?  

#1 Motivation from friends.  I'm a fitness professional but this was my weakest area and my friends pushed me, encouraged me and motivated me to keep running.  They made me commit at times when I doubted myself and they never gave up on me so I never gave up on me either.

#2 Good Form.  I read a lot about good form and posture during runs.  Runners World recommends eyes gazing ahead, don't look at your feet, shoulders back, arms and shoulders relaxed, soft easy landing and short, quick strides. It is so important to understand your body and know what works and what doesn't.  Also a good pair of running shoes.

#3 GPS and HR monitor.  Knowing how far I've ran during the run and at the end is a huge boost to my ego. Knowing how my body is reacting, my heart rate at different times during the run and also a general idea of my caloric burn is a huge boost to my metabolism and my nutrition plan.  I tend to eat better if I know that the calories I burned should be replaced with clean, healthy eating.

#4 Hydration and Nutrition.  Proper nutrition the night before, I found the hardway, is truly imperative to a good long run the next day.  Drinking lots of water prior to the run keeps me from needing water throughout the run.  So eating well before and after and staying properly hydrated.

My friends tell me I'm a runner because only a runner says things like "what a great run" and "let's do it again next week," -- truly?  I guess I am then because I look forward to the short and long runs so much that I rearranged my work scheduled so that I can fit in a "short" five mile run mid-week.

Whatever your goals, find the people in your life who will motivate you and encourage you to keep moving towards those goals.  Arm yourself with knowledge AND the nutrition you need to stay strong and healthy.

Be a runner, a walker, a biker, or a swimmer. Be whatever you want to be and don't let anyone cloud your path.

There is no difference between living and learning...it is impossible and misleading and harmful to think of them as being separate. - John Holt, author

Stay Well,
Terie