Running, while hated by my body, is a fantastic outlet for my mind. Since running is such an intense physical activity, I am forced to let my instincts take over and not try to over-think it. Somewhat because I will tend to focus on one things like breathing or stride length and that will start to trip me up, and mostly because I would be like “Oh, God, why am I trying to torture myself in such a slow and impractical fashion!” This mental freedom allows me to think about all the things I forgot to do at work, or figure out my grocery list for the week, or come up with new blog titles such as this one. So if you ever find yourself wondering how I came up a new topic; chances are it happened to click while I was trying to find that line between exhaustion and hyperventilation.
That was definitely a long way to introduce the main idea of this post. As I was running this evening, I started out on my typical path. Approaching the first place where I have to turn, I found myself hesitating and slowing down even though I had just started. Here I was, not even 30 seconds into my run, and I was almost walking. At that moment it clicked – I had already mentally checked out on this run. I knew what was coming just down the street, a hill tends to make you want to stop and walk, and I didn’t have enough confidence in myself that I would be able to make it. I also knew that if I stopped to walk there, it would set the pace for the rest of the run. 30 seconds in and I had already put a wall up between a successful run and myself.
I am sure if you have ever done anything athletic you have been in that type of situation at some point in your life. Where the self-doubt kicks in and you don’t know if you are going to be able to do it. This is why I have had to teach myself to not think, and just run. You see, my body knew it could handle the hill; it was my mind that wasn’t sure. I have run that hill before, more times than I would like; simply for a time like this. I needed to prepare for when my mind was going to tell me that I couldn’t do it and my body was going to have to take over. As a runner of every level, you should find a hill in your area and conquer it. Sprint up it and sprint down it. Make it longer by traversing side to side. There will come a day when you are running and you encounter such a hill and feel like you don’t have enough gas to make it up the hill. Trust in your training and yourself. The more you embrace these obstacles, the more likely you are to say Oh, Hill Yes instead of Hill No!
Next time we will get more in depth into what my training plan is, what are some good ones that I recommend, and things to avoid. For now, I encourage you to find a hill and push yourself. Keep your head down and pump your arms, and in no time you’ll be on your way to the finish line. I hope you will continue to follow me on my journey training for a few races coming up this fall and that you will join me on September 12th, 2015 at the Race 4 Freedom. If you are interested you can sign up at www.race4freedom.com. You can donate to ICT S.O.S. at www.runsignup.com/runningdadbrad or create your own fundraising page when you register. Also please check me out on Twitter for daily posts and tips @runningdadbrad. Tweet me this week with your favorite local hill and I will choose some to run and I’ll tweet at the top.
Taking a few minutes now will save you in the "long run"
Tomorrow starts day 1 of my training for the Race 4 Freedom. With that being the case, I think a good topic to bring up is something essential to your success as a runner, yet most occasional runners never do it – Stretching. Runners can be divided into two main categories, well more like three categories: Those who never stretch, those who only stretch after, and those who stretch before and after a workout.
Let’s talk a little about the first group. Now if you found yourself reading the sentence above and felt like raising your hand or ducking your head as I brought up never stretching; then you are likely not alone. When I was younger, I thought stretching was a waste of time, until a trainer tried to stretch my hamstrings and couldn’t get my leg past 60 degrees (which is pretty sad for an 18 year old). It was only after I started to implement a stretching routine, that I began to realize the importance of stretching and seeing the effect it can have. For those of you who can barely touch your knees bending over, I am not asking you to pick up yoga (although extremely helpful and a great for injury prevention) or expecting you to touch your toes immediately. Through out this blog you will see that success for me comes in a shifting of my mentality. If you find yourself constantly sore for days or limping after a single run or if you want to push yourself to the next level, and you aren’t stretching; well then my suggestion is to find someway to fit those few precious moments into your exercise schedule.
Now for the other two groups there is always plenty of debate about whether or not it is necessary for you to stretch before a work out or if you do more damage to your muscles by stretching them cold. The one thing everyone who stretches agrees on is that you need to stretch after any kind of intense physical activity. Why? Well every time your muscle contracts, it shortens ever so slightly. After an extended period of time those contractions cause the muscle to cut off blood flow to the tissue. Without getting too in depth, stretching increases blood flow to the tissues after the activity and reduces soreness and damage. So stretch to stay healthy and pain free!
My personal opinion on the stretching before or after comes down to the length of time I am about to work out or how I feel. My suggestion for you is to find some place to put stretching into your routine. Whether you need to stretch before and after, or only after to feel better – stretching will help you to stay healthy and active during your entire training program.
I hope you will continue to follow me on my journey training for a few races coming up this fall and that you will join me on September 12th, 2015 at the Race 4 Freedom. If you are interested you can sign up at www.race4freedom.com. You can donate to ICT S.O.S. at www.runsignup.com/runningdadbrad or create your own fundraising page when you register. Also please check me out on Twitter for daily posts and tips @runningdadbrad. Tweet me this week with your questions about stretching. I look forward to hearing from you!
Finding the time to fit everything in (except for excuses)
As we approach the hottest part of the summer, it definitely makes sense to start training now for the Race 4 Freedom. Isn’t that what every logical person thinks? Let’s go for a run when it’s 98 degrees outside! That’ll definitely help me to feel motivated and want to run more often! If you struggle with motivation, want to learn some healthy eating habits or just love to support #ICTSOS, then this blog is just for you.
Let me start off this blog by telling you a little bit about myself and who I am and who I definitely am not. First and foremost, I have never been a great runner. I never ran track or cross-country. My first venture into running came from training myself to run a 5K. I did this over the course of three months and definitely felt accomplished when I finally crossed that finish line. That happened my senior year of high school and I didn’t really venture back into the world of running until about 4 years ago when I made the crazy decision that I would train myself to run a marathon. It has, to this day, been one of the few New Years resolutions that I have actually made and kept! Through the 10 months of preparing myself for the Prairie Fire Marathon, I learned a lot about what to do and not to do during training and how to push through the pain and injuries that happen along the way.
So why would someone who has run marathons before struggle with training for a 5K race, you might ask? For me, having a one-year-old son is the excuse that I use daily. When I get home all I want to do is relax and spend time with my son and my wife. Is it a valid excuse for not also trying to exercise? Definitely not. Prior to committing to my first marathon, I never thought I would have time to fit in the training schedule. But when I shifted my priorities, my running fit in seamlessly with my life. What I am hoping to do over these next few weeks is change how I look at the time with my family and spend some time getting healthy together.
I hope you will join me on my journey to training for a few races coming up this fall and that you will join me on September 12th, 2015 at the Race 4 Freedom. If you are interested you can sign up at www.race4freedom.com. You can donate to ICT S.O.S. at www.runsignup.com/runningdadbrad or you can make your own sponsorship page when you register for the race! Also please check me out on Twitter for daily posts and tips @runningdadbrad. Please comment this week with your goals for either the Race 4 Freedom or any other races this fall!