Setting the Tone

Since I started running in 2016, I learned that the first mile sucks. It just takes awhile for the muscles to loosen, the heart to get pumping, and mentally you have to power through it all.

This week started pretty bad, though looking back there wasn’t one external force that made it that way. A combination of many things add up and whammo, you’re having a bad day.

But it’s not a bad day, it’s a bad moment. I’m not saying we don’t get bad days, to just “toughen up” and carry on. But I mean some crappy moments don’t have to always write the full story of the rest of your day.

I wasn’t feeling in the mood for a run this morning, or in the afternoon, and figured, eh, I’ll get it tomorrow. But then… I felt like it. Or rather, things were in order mentally and emotionally and physically to just, what the hell? Let’s go for a run.

And that first mile sucked. Headwind, felt stiff, shoulda wore gloves. But by mile four, and a few hundred feet of climbing, I was feeling great.

In summary, bad mornings don’t have to become bad days, and a bad Monday doesn’t need to dictate an entire week.

A Little Sore

Back in 2016 I ran too fast in my first 5K race, and tweaked something, which I felt for a week or so afterwards.

Sometime later, my lower back was hurting. Saw a doctor. He laid me down, raised my leg, and asked, “do you stretch?” Uhhh… so I started stretching more, and wow, my lower back felt better.

A week before the 2019 Broad Street 10 mile race I tweaked my ankle on the stair climber machine, of all things.

Each time, I took it easy, stayed mobile, stretched, got plenty of rest, and things worked out.

Earlier this week I knew I was too sore to run. Today is my third day in a row of not running, my longest time off since December.

My marathon is 25 days away. Stinks to not be ON TARGET with my training, but it’d stink more if I powered through and hurt myself even more.

Worst case? I don’t finish my marathon. But I learned so much from this training block; working with a coach, discovering new abilities, building mental toughness for long distance… none of this will be a waste.

Dedicated Devices

My Garmin 235 has a solid, physical button for starting and stopping runs. For selecting items, there are buttons for up and down. No screen gestures, no inadvertent swipes, no random locked screens. It syncs with the Garmin app on my phone, which then syncs to my Strava account.

I wanted to take more photos on my runs. While I have an iPhone Xr with a fantastic camera, it also comes with a big screen loaded with notifications for emails, messages, calendar events, and a jillion other things. And not to mention that if I ever drop or damage this device, then my GPS, phone and everything else is damaged, too. The GoPro is rock solid, fits easily into my hands on runs (it came with me on my recent 18 mile run), and takes great footage.

Running is an absolute passion of mine now, since 2016, and I just want to track it efficiently, and document the journey. These two devices help me do that.

Team then Family

The distance, the scenery, the speed, the desert, racing in the streets… yeah, I love all that. But the people, right? All those people. A team, a family of people from literally all around the globe coming together to work on this one goal, one mission, one project.

To be beat down, exhausted, tired, sore, in pain, along with your teammates, and to get out there and keep moving. That’s what makes a video like this so inspiring to me. Running is such a solo activity, run your own race, sort of deal. But this sort of event, this format, it really gets me going.

New Perspectives

A friend of mine completed one of those Couch to 5K app programs. Hey, they work (it’s how I got started)! After two 5Ks, winter came, work got busy, and he stopped running. He’s getting back into it, though.

We ran last years Bethlehem Turkey Trot 5k (I ran it in 27:51). He got a treadmill recently. Now that the weather is getting a little bit nicer, and after hearing about my recent 18 mile long run, he’s starting to set off on his own adventures.

He’s gonna run that Turkey Trot 5K route himself. Just to do it. Run through downtown Bethlehm, just taking his time, walking if he needs, just out there doing it.

Because as we near our mid 40s, invitations to adventure don’t typically get tossed our way, so we have to make them ourselves. Sign up for a 5K (or a marathon), sure, but it’s getting out there when there’s no start time, or official finish line, that’s the true adventure.

Another Lesson from 18 Miles

Had a great call with a friend earlier this week, and they asked “how do you run 18 miles?”

And like, sure, one mile at a time sounds cool, but that’s a lot of time to fill every mile.

I keep thinking of how my head would start doing math when I’d hit a certain distance.

“Okay, so I have three miles to go. Well, my fastest three miles was 25 minutes, so this should take me just…”

For me this wrecked my moral. It was always looking into the future, trying to plan, make way for the future discomfort that wasn’t even here yet.

So I had to fight to stay present. I sang a little song to myself (“use your butt, chest up”). I looked all around me for features that I may have missed. Every now and again I would pass a sign for a PLANET WALK, so I would make up little songs for the planets.

I chose to laugh, which made me smile.

This lesson has bled into my work now, too. So much of my work anxiety is looking ahead to what needs to get done while I’m working on something in the present. My mind is elsewhere, which means the present tasks takes even longer.

Stay in the moment, build my reports.

Stay in the moment, run a solid mile.

Good lesson to learn being as next month I’m going to run 26.6 miles.

18 Miles

It’s been a struggle of late to find space to run bigger mileage without having to resort to all rails-to-trails, or taking my chances on public roads with lots of cars. Finally found the Little Lehigh Park Path, a mix of gravel and pavement, mostly flat, and the best part – it’s a solid six mile loop, similar to the Queens Marathon I’ll be doing.

The ground was mush in a lot of parts, and muddy in others. Not ideal, but it worked. The nice part about this park is that there’s lot of interesting features (like this covered bridge above, or this mystical whatever thing below) to look forward to, which breaks up the monotony.

I stopped at my car twice to refill bottles, and get food which ate while on the trail. My pace was slow (11:30ish), but I know this isn’t a dress rehearsal for the marathon – it’s today’s training, which was to run 18 miles, and so today was a good day.

Pictures look a little different? Yeah, I picked up a GoPro Hero 8, and I have no idea what I’m doing with it yet. Pretty sure I could have gotten better photos with the iPhone, but I didn’t pull out my iPhone once on this run, and that’s what I wanted. I was able to carry the GoPro in my hand with ease, and it has voice commands, too, which is pretty great. I’ll be messing more with the photo settings, and hopefully video before too long!

Slow Enough

The day started gloomy enough. Cold. Harsh. I set out with my friend who was running a morning 5K as part of her training for a 10K in two months. I got out to test my new watch (a Garmin 235), and to make sure after this weekend’s long run of 18 miles I’d hit 30 for the week.

The nice part about having built some fitness over the past 3-ish years is that today was easy. Like, not to be all scientific, but my heart rate was low. I was just jogging, shuffling along, but it was enough to keep me warm, and to get me close to the creeks, and their noisy splashing.

Moving fast enough to keep myself warm, but slow enough to notice a chipmunk deep in the woods.

Running doesn’t have to be hard, it doesn’t have to be a struggle. You’re allowed to go slow, to shuffle along. There’s no rule saying you have to enter a 5K, or wear a neon green tank top.

Yep, the speed training I do can hurt. Run for nine minutes at a fast pace, then rest for a minute. Then do that three more times. Ouch.

This Sunday the plan is to run 18 miles. That won’t be entirely comfortable.

But getting out of comfort zones often enough gets us to a place where we can find comfort. The pain isn’t gone, we just learn to live with it.

Running 16 Miles

This is now the longest I’ve ever run, and it hurt. I tried to get to a place where I could run without cars, and without hills. I settled on the D&L trail from Weissport up to and through Jim Thorpe, eight miles out, then back.

It was a good idea in theory, but heavy rain soaked the trail, so each step was like pushing off from a cloud. Add that up for a few miles, and by mile five or so my thighs were killing me.

I walked a few times, stretched, ran slower… nothing seemed to help. I was eating well, hydrated, warm – but the legs just weren’t having it today.

My Apple Watch also gave me problem, stopping my run at mile eight for some reason. I didn’t even know until about five minutes later when it vibrated and asked if I wanted to start a new outdoor run (it “auto-detected” my “new” run). This pissed me off, and I think I’m done with using the Apple Watch for actual training.

I almost ended my run with about five miles to go. Then at about four miles. Finally I found some momentum, though slow, and ran the last three or so miles.

Then my watch didn’t want to let me end my run, and instead wanted me to eject water or something ? We’re done here, Apple.

I keep remembering from the posts I read on Instagram, from pro runners, that one bad workout doesn’t ruin all the work you’ve done. I held onto that the last few miles.

Once home I showered and ate a little. My stomach wasn’t super hungry even after all those miles. I napped. The next morning, I felt fine. No stiffness, no issues walking down the stairs, nothing. So while the run might have sucked, it definitely built some fitness.

Objects in Motion Stay in Motion

I’ve seen this quote around a bit on social media, and finally got around to reading the full article, ‘I Am 35 and Running Faster Than I Ever Thought Possible.’

 There are a lot of things we can’t control right now, especially for women. Perhaps we choose running because we don’t need permission to do it — we can do it whenever and however we want. The roads are open. 

Lindsay Crouse

I’ve written this before; I started running after one too many rejection emails from jobs I applied for in my field. I couldn’t control those hiring descions, but I could run.

The rejections chipped away at who I was. Made me doubt my abilities. Questioned if I really knew what I was doing, or just got lucky.

Through running I found purpose, strength, and rebuilt my self-esteem. Ran my first mile in about 13 minutes back in 2016. Ran a 7:56 mile in an actual 5K race in 2019.

I struggled through my first 10 mile race in 2018 and had to walk a few times in the final miles. A year later my fastest times were the last two miles.

I had always thought that, at some point in life, most people become “who we are.” Our lives are built around whatever that is, and no matter what we might actually be capable of, this idea keeps us fixed in one place.

Lindsay Crouse

At 40 I was eating horribly, down the dumps, and not stoked on life. My pants didn’t fit anymore, and I’d have to go out and buy bigger jeans.

Now here I am, I turn 44 in a few months, and I’m down a few pants sizes, and fucking feel great. I’m in the middle of marathon training, just ran the farthest I’ve ever ran (14 miles), and I’m not even sore.

Nearing my mid 40s I guess I’m supposed to slow down, and buy bigger jeans. But as I’m able to today, right now, I’m going to keep moving.