Posted in Running, Travel

It’s All About Choices

Where are u going to..????
Where are u going to..???? (Photo credit: Goianobe)

During a recent run, I flashed back to an exchange I had with one of my tour guides in Scotland in April 2012. She had remarked on the size of my suitcase. It was a standard 28″ case that I usually bring on non-hiking vacations. I didn’t think my suitcase was inappropriate given that I was on a 15-day holiday so I said, a tad defensively, “I’m here for two weeks.”

To which she replied, “I rode my motorcycle all over the US for three months with just my saddlebags. When you get home, go to a BMW motorcycle dealership and they’ll teach you how to pack.” I politely smiled and nodded as I’m wont to do in situations where someone who doesn’t know me treats me with an air of smug superiority.

I smiled and nodded but inside, I was a bit irked. I know how to pack. I can go on a week-long business trip and just take a 19″ roll-aboard, which covers a different outfit each day, dinner outfits for each evening, and my running gear. And this woman, a complete stranger, was telling me that didn’t know how to pack?

I flashed back to this interaction because I had just finished packing for a 7-day business trip and had too much room in my 22″ case so ended up squeezing everything into my 19″ case.

It’s all about choices.

Could I have used a smaller suitcase for my Scotland trip? Sure. But I didn’t want to spend my vacation washing my knickers and t-shirts in the sink each night. I didn’t want to have vacation pictures with me wearing the same pullover day after day. So I chose to bring a bigger bag so that I would have more time to make memories and so that those memories would be happy ones.

It’s all about choices.

The same goes for race preparation, race training plans, and race expectations. I had to switch gears last week to a different marathon training plan because the original plan I chose was simply too intense. The workouts and the paces were such that I dreaded my runs instead of looking forward to them. Dreaded them so much that I didn’t run at all during the first official week of training.

I knew that I needed to shift gears and find a plan that wouldn’t intimidate me. I needed to find a plan that would allow me to enjoy running again and not dread it. Or, in the simplest terms, I needed a plan that fit my inner slacker – one that had just enough structure but not too much structure. So I did some looking and dug up a very basic beginner just-finish-the-marathon plan. Luckily, it was one week shorter than the other plan so I wasn’t having to play catch up right out of the gate.

Since it’s a beginner plan, the build up is gradual and seems infinitely more manageable. And I know that if I follow it, I will be able to meet my goal of improving on last year’s marathon. Of course, I’m already tweaking the plan to fit my schedule and my life. But after just one week, I already notice the difference in my attitude about running. It’s no longer, “I have to run a 5-mile tempo run tomorrow.” Instead, it’s more like, “I can’t wait to see if I can push the pace a little bit during my 4 miles tomorrow.”

It’s all about choices.

Could I have gutted it out and stuck with the more intense training plan? Adjusted the paces down a little bit to be less intimidating? Sure. But that wouldn’t have addressed my attitude about running. So I chose to find a more realistic plan so that I can nurture my love of running with less potential to get injured and a higher likelihood of meeting my goal.

It’s all about choices. In packing, in planning, in running, and in life. Make your choices good choices.

And the thought processor churns on…

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Posted in Running

The 10 Things I Love about Running

The Old Running Shoes
The Old Running Shoes (Photo credit: Mike Spray)

I’ve been running for a long time. Not very fast (6 mph on a good day for maybe a half mile) and not very far (my longest so far has been a marathon) but I run. I’m pleased to say that I’ve inspired some to start running, some to keep running, and still others to take up running again.

But what is it that makes me run? What is it that gets me out on the road or on my treadmill? Why am I a runner?

In no particular order, here are 10 things I love about running. I love

  1. the endorphins
  2. that it feeds my inner planner (training plans, training paces, trips for races)
  3. that I can catch up with television shows on my treadmill
  4. that a good run leaves me feeling strong, powerful, and invincible
  5. that a bad run leaves me looking forward to the next run in hopes that it will be better
  6. the “me” time
  7. the sound of my footsteps on the pavement or my treadmill
  8. the meditative nature of my morning runs
  9. the stress-relieving nature of my evening runs
  10. that some days I run further than some people drive

This list is a good reminder of why I run but it also helps me appreciate the fact that I can run. If I could no longer run, I would miss all of these things. It makes me want to hop on my treadmill right now, even though I ran in a 10k this morning and it’s 2230 right now.

What do you love about running? What would you miss about running if you couldn’t run again?

Happy running!

Posted in Running

Planning for 2012

Are you a planner? Or are you a more spontaneous soul?

If you’re a runner, chances are you’re some sort of planner.

You may not have started out as a planner. You may have just gone out for a run whenever the mood hit you. You probably ran without a goal, running for as long as you felt like it, as fast as you felt like going. And you may have only run sporadically, fulfilling your need for cardio with other activities.

But once you enter your first race – however you were motivated to do so – a change begins to occur. For some, it’s a quick process. For others, the process takes more time. As a result of that first race, you start paying attention to things like running shoes, running gear. You start looking for running advice, like how to drink water without stopping or spilling the contents of that little paper cup all over yourself. And you start to wonder if you could have turned in a better time if you had trained properly. So you start thinking about your next race.

Your next race means a training program. A training program means planning – planning your runs, arranging your schedule to accommodate those runs, figuring out a plan B for missed workouts, planning your race day.

Eventually, you go beyond planning for one race at a time. Suddenly, you’re planning a year’s worth of races at the same time you’re figuring out your resolutions for the new year. You’ve become a planner thanks to running.

My race calendar has fluctuated over the years, going from a race here and there to a few years of a race every month and back down to a handful of regular local races with room to fill in other races depending on my schedule and fitness level.

Here’s my plan for 2012 so far:

  • Nike Women’s Virtual Half Marathon (January)
  • Together with Love 10k (February)
  • Edinburgh Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon (April)
  • PAL Artichoke Festival 5k (May) – might finally do the 10k this year
  • Stevenson Run in the Forest 10k (September) – best post-race breakfast ever
  • San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon (October) – already registered
  • Nike Women’s Marathon (October) – only if I’m one of the lucky lottery selections
  • Big Sur International Half Marathon (November) – race registration opens 1 April

This leaves the summer months (June, July, and August) open and gives me flexibility. I’ve found that I enjoy having race-free months because there’s less pressure to run and I can run for running’s sake. Those months are when I rediscover why I really run.

What does your 2012 race calendar look like? Whether it’s packed full or wide open, always remember the joy you find in running, the feeling of accomplishment you had when you crossed your first finish line, and the camaraderie of your fellow runners.

Wishing you a 2012 devoid of injuries and full of PRs…

Happy running!