New runner or old runner, the point is that at some point you will face the age old question of....Dude, Where's My Mojo? You are not alone in this, so take a stand against that dark cloud. As a seasoned runner now, I can feel that bastard come on like a common cold. It tends to happen right after a big race you have trained for (runners blues) or during those blazing summer months.
So, im writing this because I need Dora's stupid map to find where the hell my mojo went. My guess is that its with grumpy old troll living under the bridge. This time, Im well aware of the culprit. The 7 day workweek is taking its toll, but I come armed and ready to fight. Im actually that grumpy old troll kidnapping my own mojo with my bad attitude. It happens, at least Im aware of my mind's shenanigans.
So, what am I doing? Zero pressure days are on my agenda. Im taking a break from the 4am VRC workouts and allowing myself a few more hours of sleep each morning. Im running later in the day and finding I feel way more energized and grateful. I pay zero attention to pace and run however I feel like that day and take lots of deep breaths. Im training someone for their first marathon and find myself rejuvenated after seeing her success after a long run. I also bought the book called Running and Being. Im embracing the importance of attitude toward my running. When running becomes a job, then you lose that joy in it. It doesnt mean that you dont work hard, it just means you have to change your attitude.
The marathon itself will test your spirit, but everything surrounding it before and after will test it even more. Its the strength to continue and become self aware. Know the things that tend to kill your mojo and find the weapons to fight back and win. Be the map!
I have continually said running has saved my life. I've spent time running away from struggles, I have run thru struggles and recently ran to new opportunities. Without a doubt, running has been life changing. As a runner, who can really argue that point? It isn't until you are truly tested, that you really understand how badass running can make you.
This goes without saying, but if you know me...I run a whole lot. I usually have an extra bag of clothes in my car, just incase a run opportunity presents itself. Occasionally I run with others and there was one day one of the chiropractors I work for wanted to do a lunch time run. I ran with him to the local college, where he was gonna go for a swim and then run back. I hate swimming, so I agreed to run there with him and then continue back and run alone. The minute we reached the college and he high-fived me goodbye, something told me that maybe I should wait for him to finish his swim (on this particular day we were in a not so great neighborhood). It was in the middle of the day on a busy road, so really what could go wrong?
I headed back at my comfortable pace, since I left the gazelle behind to swim. No more than 1.5miles down the road I begin to hear someone's voice, but Im thinking it must not be directed at me. I continue to hear a voice and its starting to get closer now, so I turn around. What do I see???? Im being chased!!! Some shirtless guy in a pair of black dickies is chasing me down the road. I dont even think twice, except to pick up the pace to race pace. I figured he may catch up, but I would have him distance wise if I could just hold the pace for at least a half mile.
I was right!!!! I held pace long enough only to look behind and see that I lost him. Running has come to the rescue yet again. All those miles on the road paid off, as I was able to outrun some crazy person. Thank you Newtons!!
What a relief as I got to an intersection to realize I lost him and come up on someone on their bike. At least he could save me just in case right??? After a head nod and brief greeting, this guy says, "hey ya need a husband." I said, "umm no I already had one of those." I barely finished my sentence before I took off running....fast!
That there my friends is how you stumble upon an impromptu speed workout! Definitely Flight!
This week's theme is about inspiration and getting started. I didnt even have to think about what inspires me on a daily basis and what has pulled me along when my mind and body wanted to slam the brakes. No matter what it is that stuns you into submission, life continues and its way better to be part of it than let it go by. I got in a car wreck tonight and while my car is totalled and my nerves are wrecked, me and the girls are okay. My boss called to see if I was okay and while I cried on the phone, he asked if I had a drink yet to calm down. I said no because I was packing the girls lunches for camp tomorrow and getting them ready for bed. He said, "Oh so what you are saying is you are carrying on with your life and responsibilities." Although I was sobbing, for a moment I smiled and thought hell yeah Im carrying on. Not gonna lie I felt the single mom power surge. Moments I feel my weakest, it turns out Im my strongest.
So, whats inspiring to me and to others? Everyone will remember (maybe) who won a major marathon or at least when the first American surged thru. Unfortunately, after that no one really knows who came in 3rd, 23rd, 1003rd or last. The unsung heroes are those that stopped their race to help the one that nearly passed out and carried them to the finish, the 91yr old that finished a marathon, the amputee that graced the pavement proudly after having their life almost taken from them, the person who kicked cancer and gave the pavement no mercy, the parents that ran their first 5k in the anniversary of their son's passing to brain cancer. Those are the ones that move me and others, not the 6:30 pace. Dont get me wrong its absolutely amazing, but not what keeps me chasing pavement everyday.
For me simply, my awesome friends who ran that first 5k in the one year anniversary of their son keeps me moving forward running and when life shits on me. Zeke Dutcher is and was the most amazing little boy and meeting him changed my life in ways I can not explain. Holding a 3yr old boy fighting the fight of his life and seeing him still smiling and making me laugh...bar none is the most inspired ive been ever. Ive carried Zeke's name on me during all my races and a bracelet with his name has been on me everyday for two years. The very moment I struggle at anything, he pushes me. Seeing his parents lose their baby and still smile and move forward every single day ...now that right there is heroic. While no one would have blamed them for waving the white flag at any moment, they fought till the very end of his beautiful life and they still fight everyday for other families who are struggling. Zeke's mom was hopeful that oneday he would run with me when he got better and although hes at peace now, she must know he runs with me every single day.
Look beyond for inspiration. It might just be right in front of you.
I ran on and off my entire life. no rhyme or reason. I would take off on a mid summer day with no destination at all. Half the time I didnt even have the proper shoes or clothing. Just ragged Kmart shoes, my dad's oversized tshirt and boxers. I would run until I couldnt and then call my dad on a payphone to come pick me up. I dont know why I ran, I just felt like it. Months would go by sometimes before I ran again, but it always gave me exactly what I needed.
As an adult, running became more important. Maybe it was stressors, responsibilities, a dying marriage, kids, a past I never faced, money...etc. It became an escape. I did a lot of escaping reality and I became a way better runner. I started entering races and I started winning to my surprise. I had never wore a watch before, so I never even knew what kind of pace I ran. Suddenly, the simplicity of running became more complicated. I was now a competitor and running took a whole new role in my life. It became all of my life. I needed the gear and I needed the win.
Life quickly gave me a much needed wake up call. An injury! I had time on my hands now that I didnt know what to do with. I felt myself spiraling out of control. I was a runner....what on earth was I going to do without running? You see, I became so wrapped up in it I lost myself instead of finding myself. As a therapist I was constantly telling others to find multiple ways to cope with life and here I was unable to cope. How did I lose focus? I loved running and what it had given me, but I allowed it to be the only thing that defined me. I was now Addie the runner, instead of Addie and a million other great things. So, as much as I hated 6 months of injury, it allowed me to find balance and focus again.
I trained while injured because I refused to forego a bucketlist to run Boston. The focus changed though as my training had to in order to keep me on track with therapy and healing my leg. I started running without a garmin, I ran slowly, I took in the smells of freshly cut grass, dryer sheets, the sun as it hits the horizon, I high fived passing runners, I waved at friends cheering me on, I coached new runners and I actually took my phone a few times to take pictures. I didnt even follow a training plan this time, I just went as long, short, fast or slow as I felt. I fell in love with running as I had years ago. I fell in love with the importance of running free. Perhaps this is all the reason I did so well in Boston, because I had no expectations and zero agenda. Running is a big part of my life, but running cant be my whole life. I think Im a way better EVERYTHING now in many ways because I had running taken away. Im resting today and instead of feeling guilty, Im laying in bed enjoying every moment of this rest I earned. Treat your mind, heart and body right...you are only given one!
Take away running and who are you?
I think we all have our annoyances as runners. You know, being told by others that we are gonna wreck our knees or being continually asked how far this marathon is. Honestly we can probably carry on for hours with the plethora of annoyances by non-runners. Lately, my biggest frustration is people's obsession on what I'm eating and when I'm eating. You would think it was on the 5'oclock news with how important it is to others.
I run and if you know me personally, you know I run quite a bit. All that running despite my stomach disease, makes me insanely hungry. For starters, you know its way better for you to eat 6 times a day and eat smaller meals. This isnt news!! Given my running and given my stomach disease, then this type of eating suites me well. The truth is, I eat every 3 hours or so. This is usually followed by, "omg you are eating again!!!" Yes, Yes I'm eating again!!! You gotta keep the tank fueled if you expect it to perform, right?? I just can't wrap my head around the importance of my eating habits to others. I am not shoveling McDonald's or Krispy Kreme down the hatch, so really its not even worthy of headline news.
At one point I was 60lbs heavier and what I was doing clearly wasn't working. As I adopted the running lifestyle and actually eating more, the weight came off rather quickly. You can't ever win though cause you are either the fatty or you are anorexic because you are dropping weight too fast. There is always going to be a comment one way or other. There are very few congratulations and very few good jobs in comparison to the negativity. So, I'm continually learning how to just ignore comments because they just don't know. Maybe its their way of asking for nutritional advice, but until they ask in the right way....TAKE A PICTURE!!! Yes, I am eating yet AGAIN!
Every single race I have trained for has taught me something valuable about myself or it has helped me work through something major going on in my life. Now add a few more hours of training a week and things start to change up quite a bit. Call it hysteria, exhaustion or hunger but shit starts to get real when you are going out for a 35 mile training run on a Saturday and 26 on a Sunday (dont forget the miles earlier in the week). So without further delay, here is my list of things I learned while I trained and ran an Ultra.
1. As kids, we are always taught to use our imagination. As adults, we tend to stray away from that very simple thing because wellllll we have to be adults. Now become an adult ultramarathoner and you are now back to that awesome 5yr old mindset. There is only so much to think about during your runs, so I can honestly say I have been a backup dancer, the winner of American Idol, the winner of SYTYCD, a cage fighter, a movie star, ive been skydiving, ive won the lottery, I married Adam Levine and The Rock, I became a transcon runner, some poor bastard gave me my dream finish line proposal, ive told people things ive always wanted to say and I finally got that hammock on the beach on my own island. All that happened on my training runs, so one hour quickly became 5 hours. So stop being a adult sometimes and fall in love with the magic of a cool imagination.
2. If you gotta go potty do it now or you may not get another chance. Accidents do and will happen, so dont be "that" guy. Then again, shit happens...literally!
3. Sharing is important. Dont be the asshole hoarding all your water and snacks. Offer them to other runners so when you are out there dying, that same runner will be the one to stop and be sure you are okay when you are struggling. In case you are wondering, cold watermelon makes friends.
4.Watch out for traffic. People are assholes and dont care that you are out running. Pedestrians never have the right of way. So like momma taught you, look both ways.....if your neck is too stiff from holding your shoulders up high (you know what Im talking about), then be "that" guy and turn your whole body.
5. Warm cookies and milk are good for you....well warm , cold, old....you really dont care at this point. Eat like a child and be proud. You earned that large pizza and eat it like a savage. Pizza sauce all over your face...the end.
6. Napping rocks! Make up for the ones you didnt take as a child.
7. Play fair. Always congratulate all runners or highfive/thumbs up them when you pass them on your route.
8. Clean up your own mess. I think this goes with the potty section.
9. Kids stink and for the most part its acceptable. Running for hours on end makes stinking acceptable. Bring sanitizer for your hands though cause shoveling pizza in your mouth with dirty hands is poor form.
10. Have fun. Through the struggle find the silver lining and laugh, even if it is that you peed a little on that last mile. No one else has to know, but if you do tell your friends about it just know they are not gonna let you live it down. It will be next weeks bar convo. "Hey Addie, tell everyone about that time you peed yourself!" Secrets dont exist.
My first steps as a baby according to my parents was actually a run. At 5yrs old my dad took me to the NYC Marathon, but truth be told I had no idea why people were running down the street. All this was foreshadowing for what was to be a life of running almost 30 years later. "If opportunity doesnt knock...build a door."