This question was posed: “What is your biggest fear about racing/running? What did you do and how did you overcome it?”
When I first started running I was just happy to be able to make it out and back at any distance. I entered races for the BLING and the overall achievement of actually finishing something that I trained for, was the best accomplishment. Once I became more familiar with the aspects of running I began to pay more attention to my training habits and dietary intake (or lack thereof). With that being said, when life happens to stop by every now and then (more now) to flex her muscles that is when the battle begins.
Running to me is something that suits me for the level of exercise that I partake of and like to do. As in my previous post it has helped me through some trying times as it still does. Running gives me a peace of mind but I do have a love/no love relationship (hate is too strong of a word) with it sometimes. I cannot put running in the “fear” category for personally it is not applicable to me. I have no reason to “fear” running, why should I? It is something that I “choose” to do not “have or required” to do. I can put running in the “challenge” category for that what it is every day that I lace up to go out.
I am not a competitor be no means in the area of running except for against myself. I am not an elite runner except to myself for regardless of how slow I am I still beat the person who does absolutely nothing. Fear, I find that as an interesting word to describe when it comes to running because if one has a fear of something that they have a “choice” in doing, maybe they should look to do something else. Now ask me about a challenge, which is something that I can strive to get better at according to my level of expectations.
My biggest challenge is ME for I tend to get in my own way, be my worst critic, and sometimes just talk myself out of things. It has been said that running is 90% mental but in my opinion and how this relates to me it’s about 50/50. It is harder to run (at least for me) when there is a lot of weight to carry (which I have). Weight is my main challenge when is comes to running for they go hand in hand. So the challenge is to get my dietary lifestyle back to a manageable point. The weight needs to come off in order to feel better when I run physically and mentally. Everybody wants a “feel good” story when it comes to running but that is not always possible for everything about running is not always good. A lot of people struggle with running, get caught up in times, pace, speed, walking vs. running, jogging terminology, clothes, shoes, and comparing themselves to others. JUST RUN or don’t!
If you take running for how it is applicable to yourself then that is all that matters. There will ALWAYS be someone faster, better, stronger, etc. than you. I can only deal with myself, and what I want to accomplish in/and with running. I run because I want to and because I can. So yes it is a challenge but I work on these challenges one issue at a time. I keep a journal in order to track my progressions or setbacks for you learn from those too. I have become selective with the races that I run for I have moved to a different level because now races are for me to have fun, strive to do better than the last time, and to meet new people. So, there is no “fear” for me when it comes to running. I enjoy running and when I no longer enjoy it or do not want to accept the challenges then it is time to put away the shoes.
As of late the weather has been a big issue in the Chicagoland area due to the unseasonably cold temperatures that we have been having. With regards to running, either it is bone chilling cold or the paths are not cleared enough to run on even with yak tracks, and DST has not taken place as well so darkness still prevails. The saying “When Hell freezes over” well they might have run out of fire at this point, and the Sun has been on vacation and only comes out occasionally like it has limited plans to return. When I cannot get outside to run that really alters my mood for I do not like going indoors. My motivation of sorts is somewhat based on planned races or just trying to maintain my base by getting in miles the best way I can. Right now I seem to be in a “weird” space and just trying to keep things in order with regards to running.
I have tried to adjust somewhat by going to the gym and running laps on the track. Running in circles is mind over matter to a certain extent but it also becomes very boring and my mind does not like it (lol). I will not run on a treadmill for that is the ultimate death (JMHO) so it’s like the laps are the lessor of the two evils. I do not want running to go from something that I enjoy doing into something that I “have to do” in terms of a job or a chore. Running brings me peace-of-mind something to look forward to in the morning to start my day or after work when I need breathe and regroup hence, a joy.
I have incorporated a weight training plan because I feel that strength is needed for my core, which supports my legs as I run. When I was training for the marathon in 2013 everybody kept telling me that I needed core training and it helped. So by adding something else to my running routine it helps when I cannot run, and alters my focus a bit to change things up. I have a training plan that I keep on the calendar but if it has to be altered then so be it. My goals are not that complicated or fussy when it comes to running for the goals are tailored to what I want out of running.
Motivation can be a bit overrated either you want to run or you don’t. I look at running as something that I have made a part of the lifestyle that I try to live, something that I want to do, not that I “have to do”. When running is part of your lifestyle it becomes part of one’s everyday schedule like work, school, etc. It is probably the easiest to alter or adjust due to weather, illness, etc. but it should not be shelved. Everybody has their own ways of being motivated, inspirations, or some may have nothing at all. Just do what is best to keep you off the couch. #PathRunner #Changeyourmind-Changeyourlife
I am a huge fan of The Hobbit series and when Bilbo wrote down his adventures at the end he titled it “There and Back Again”. I started thinking about the title when I sat down to write my blog and it seemed befitting to do name it the same. I tend to look at life in general as a journey that has numerous paths that it can take, leaving many untraveled trails to be taken. In this phase of my journey, I am in the process of “standing still” in order to regroup and get back on track. Having to many things on one’s plate can cause sensory overload hence, the system will shut down, as so in computers, well so do our bodies.
Being a planner and organizer (sometimes to a fault) when things do not fit into my mold or concept arena, it becomes an outlier. When I introduced running to my journey it was something that I found as a challenge but was willing to take it on. The other duties I had at that time were not as time consuming therefore, I had to time to get better at this new item. Running really helped me lose weight and distress as I have previously stated. Running also gave me a sense of accomplishment knowing that I started out not knowing what to do, what to wear, how to run, to now I can plan my training for any race that I want to do.
I decided to kick it up a notch and started training for the Chicago Marathon (2013), talk about upping the stakes, I jumped in full throttle. When I was training, I was working two jobs (FT and PT) and full-time school, and trained four days a week for the marathon. This was the most running I had ever done in mileage and frequency but I did it. Needless to say I had everything planned out, scheduled, and on my calendar. I alerted family and friends that I am in “marathon training” and would not be available until after October 13. Now for the ones that know me, know I do not start anything thing without finishing it. I have always been this way regardless of how hard or whatever obstacles are in the way I manage to hurdle over it. I had a lot of support, which helped me to do this for it was a grueling experience. Running consumed me 24/7!
On the flipside, I was in the best shape and health that I had ever been, My weight was down, DB down, BP down, and life was good (at least for now). The build-up and the hype for the marathon were awesome. One would have thought I was Meb or Rita <lol>, and I was in my mind for this is the ultimate race for a runner and here I was getting ready to take it on. Well, October 13 came and went, the race was over, I finished, and the hoopla that came with it. I had to settle back into work life, school life, and life in general and things did not seem so exciting. I took two weeks off from running and that is when the seams started unraveling.
As you know in Chicago winter can strike at any time after September, daylight savings time sets in, and now darkness and cold. None of my running buddies wanted to run anymore, too cold, too late, etc. so I was left without someone to run with. Then grad school kicked in full force and my time had to be dedicated to working on my dissertation (which had problems within itself), while I was still working the two jobs. Running started to take a back seat, but I still tried to run on the weekends but it was just not enough to maintain my base, it was gone, I was crushed. My whole demeanor changed for I felt like I did not have an outlet, and that is when I discovered how much running became a part of my life.
The New Year (2014) was here so I decided to sign-up for a half marathon in April for I could plan my schedule and organize my training schedule for I know this is what I needed for a boost to get back in the saddle. In the between time I was preparing to defend my dissertation and graduate (March) so once again no running. Well….the saddle was not for me to get into and I found that out all too quickly. I could not get my required mileage in and the April HM was a disaster time wise and quality. I learned (and I already knew) that if you do not train you cannot run, at least for me. Now in this time span I had gained the weight back that I had originally lost, which made it harder for me to do what was done in the past.
And Back Again……………(current)
Now that graduation has past and the time has come full circle, I had to find my running mojo and that was not an easy thing to do. I lost the motivation and inspiration that I first had and almost stopped completely. I decided to stop and take a look as to why I run. Have my reasons changed if so, what are they? Do I still want to run? I look at the gear that I invested in and still did not know at that point. Still trying to find my mojo, balance, life after school, and life after weight gain, I felt very overwhelmed and out of control. Then I found myself not wanting to do anything, stuck-in-the-mud so to speak. I have since done a lot of soul/sole searching and decided that I know how to change all of these issues but one at a time.
I have taken control back and yes made a plan for that is what I do best. Some people state or say “no excuses” well if that works for you so be it, but you know life happens some things are planned and some are not. I’ve learned that when life deals you a lemon-go run, when things get out of hand-go run, and when the balance is not there make it happen, and go run. Yes, I still love to run and steady making changes to get better for “me”, whether it’s one mile or 13.1 for it’s all about the journey. Bilbo told Frodo that he did not end the book for it still had some more chapters, well the same for me. Change you mind, change your life!
The Journey continues…………….(moving forward)
As I approached this New Year of 2015, I had to stop and think what worked and what didn't work this last year. I did not have a stellar running year, oh I logged the miles, ran the races but I was just not feeling it. I was in the midst of finishing my doctorate, working a full-time and part-time job, and topped it all off with weight gain. There was no more “midnight” candle to burn, just a lump of wax as the residue <lol>.
I was almost ready to take a “running sabbatical” but decided to just step back and re-evaluate the situation. I found the set of goals that I had made myself for 2014 and the priority was school, school, and school. Nothing else mattered and I guess I was a bit angry for I felt that it was all consuming (it was) and it even overtook my running per se, it hijacked my mojo. Once I found the middle ground I started to look at why I run, can I really get better, do I want to get better. As I stated in my previous post I will never be an elite runner for it’s not physically possible BUT I can train to be the best at whatever level I want to become. 2014 Goal Accomplished, I graduated!
Motivation comes in all forms and what works for some does not work for others. For me motivation helps me push for what needs to be accomplished knowing I cannot get to “A” if I do not get started. First and foremost one has to want to do something for “self”, have the desire. Even though some state “I’m doing it because of…” If YOU do not want to do the task, goal, job, etc. it will not happen. Motivation is a state of mind and we all know (at least I do) change your mind/thought process your actions will follow in that direction.
Goals like plans they have to be worked and implemented because they do not happen by themselves. Goals need to be realistically obtainable or they will never come to fruition and one will not succeed. I sit down and take a look at what I want to do and why. What parts of my life will this effect? Is it short term or long term, for a cause, or just something in general. For 2015, I made a list of the things that I wanted to accomplish and ranked them in terms of A-most important, B-middle of the road, and C-whatever was left over. Once everything has been ranked, I step back to see if all of the goals are doable and decide what makes the cut. No need to set goals for the “world” a few will do and keep them in perspective.
Once my goals have been defined, I free write and brainstorm on paper for each of the goals, and then make a flow chart (a list of steps) for that’s just the researcher in me. Free writing allows me to list everything that comes to mind for each of the goals and the flow chart puts them in an ordered, less chaos sequence to follow, a means to an end. I am a visual person and if I see it in writing that allows me to have a point of reference. Also, when things are in writing I tend to commit to it instead of keeping it in my head, again visualization.
Now that the goals have been more or less solidified I determine what is needed to accomplish them. This is where motivation needs to be strong and tough decisions made. If there are habits involved some will need to be broken and new ones established. Keep in mind the hours, days, and months keep moving whether you do something or not. The old saying “time waits for no one”. I tend to picture myself at the starting line of a race; I know the goal so now I have to implement the steps to get there. Just like running you have to maintain a certain pace to finish at a particular time.
Now we all know that life happens more often than not so that is why you need to have a back-up plan to your goals. You do not want to lose sight of the big picture and you do not want to keep starting over, and then you will just quit. Allow yourself to tweak things as you move through the journey for it keeps the stress level down. View goals as a form of self-preservation, a personal challenge, something that allows you to have victory. So get those goals defined, refined, and implemented!
Stress had me in its grip as well as the doctoral program, full-time and part-time work. I was trying to do everything instead of taking care of myself and it began to wear me down, and so it begins.......
I started my running journey at the age of 54 in January of 2012 for I was fat, sick (diabetic), and going downhill fast like a rolling snowball. I got tired of being tired and my brother told me I should start running for he was doing it. Running was for "other people" so I just called myself a jogger at best for I barley was putting one foot in front of the other. I started out with the C25K by running on an indoor track but soon got tired of running in circles. I then decided to venture outside and that was insane for it was at least -5*, windy, and on the lakefront at that.
I kept trudging along just trying to run more than walk and when I finally could run non-stop for about 35 minutes you would had thought I'd won the lottery. I proceeded to find a race that I could do and enrolled in my first 5K, Ravenswood 5K neighborhood race. I was so happy my FIRST legit race and kept chugging away at my training. So, I was fine tuning my running, learning about gear, but did not change my eating habits. I could not understand why I was not losing weight. Running 3 days a week about 10 miles a week coming from zero I should be slimming down, NOT <lol>.
After I completed my 5K race, I decided to get a subscription to several running magazines and do some research for I am a researcher. I really didn't have to do the research for common sense will tell you eat less, eat right, and the weight would slowly go away. Being a diabetic, I have to constantly monitor my blood sugars and make sure that I am eating properly. When stress took over all of that went right out the window and my body could not take it. Therefore, lessons were learned the hard way and eventually I had to learn balance.
As I became more involved with running, I became an avid reader regarding the sport and learning the mechanics. Starting out it is one foot in front of the other but I wanted to dig a bit deeper. I found out about training plans and hence, the Half Marathon was in my sight! I had no idea on how to train for I've never been an athlete at all but I do know how to read and continued to do so. I began to ask those who were more seasoned runners some were helpful some not so much. Again, I went online and found Hal Higdon's training plans and put them into action.
In the beginning, I was running by myself for I didn't know of anybody in my area that ran but found a running club. The runners that belong to this club were much faster than me and I was always left behind so I just started running by myself once again. Next time around I found another group but the inconsistency of days and mileage was again not correct, so I still ended up running alone. As I persevered I finally found a small group of women and we began to train together for various races and trained our way to the Chicago Marathon.
During this time I am in graduate school, working full-time at one job and teaching part-time as well. Finding balance is not one of my strong points <lol> for I feel that I can do anything all the time. I kept the speed switch on "go" all the time and not taking time to wind down. My journey has been interesting, jumbled, and sometimes disappointing but I still manage to run in spite of. Life always has surprises but it was kind enough to show me the pleasures of running.
Running has allowed my to find an inner peace when everything around me is spinning out of control. Running allows me to get centered when my balance is not balanced. Running allows me sort through my problems and dissolve my anger and keep my "insanity" at bay. When I have absolutely nothing else to lean on or to go to I have my Running. I still have my ups and down, lost my mojo this year, gained a lot of weight back, but I still hit the path at 5am, cold, rain, sleet, snow, Ila just goes.
So as you read this you will see I'm just and ordinary woman trying to keep life on an uphill grind. Do note that you can run if you want to. Am I an elite, not even close but I feel like one every time I lace up and run for so many do not move off the couch. If I can run anybody and any body can run. Runners come in all shapes and sizes, paces, various races, etc. I used to run for bling for that is what kept me motivated. Now I run for personal improvement to do better at each race that I do but the bling helps as well. I run for the camaraderie and friendships that I make along the way. I run to let others know that "you too" can do it just look at me. I LOVE TO RUN!!
This is the beginning of a new journey and a new year. I want to shine as a Sponsored Athlete and let people know that RunJunkEs is my badge of honor! Let the good times roll!