Ramblings on Running

This past Thursday, I set out for my regular run in good spirits, but within three blocks I just wasn’t feeling it. Knowing that those first few blocks are usually the worst for me, I told myself to run two more blocks and then decide whether I would be finishing with a walk instead. Somewhere during those two blocks my mind became engaged in other matters and when I noticed my surroundings again, I was almost at the 1 mile mark. I decided to do a 1.5 mile run and walk the rest of the way home. But when I got to the 1.25 mile point, instead of going straight, I made a right turn that would take me onto my 5K (3.1 miles) route.

I’d only run 5K once, the day after my 46th birthday back in June, and though it felt like a great achievement, it wasn’t one I thought I’d be repeating any time soon. So, I told myself “just go as far as you can…no pressure.” That line was repeated a few times along the way, in between the distractions of passing some neighbors and an older gentleman running who I exchanged the “running nod” with. As always, the “people encounters” energized me. Before long, I was crossing the 5K mark and slowing into my walking cool-down. I was a bit stunned that I had run another 5K when the session had begun with me wanting to stop after 3 blocks.

The next day at work, I was talking to a fellow runner, and before I could voice the thought, my friend said “isn’t it weird how there’s no rhyme or reason to how you feel when you start out and what you end up accomplishing during the session?” I thought I was the only one who felt that way—that slightly out-of-control, is-this-within-my-will uncertainty.

[Speaking of out-of-control, we won’t mention getting on the scale after running 5K and eating right all day only to find that I was 2 pounds heavier. Yeah, yeah, I know muscle weighs more than fat and all that crap, but it’s demoralizing, okay?]

Today, I set out for my run and I had the sense I was going to shoot for the 5K distance again. I didn’t want to be too enthusiastic. I’m a bit superstitious that way. Sure enough, I finished my third 5K, came home and did my crunches and stretches, and felt like I had conquered something. I no longer think of the 5K as a fluke in my running history. It’s something I can do on a regular basis.

[I guess that’s why I immediately started researching 10K training plans despite saying several weeks ago that I had no intention of increasing my distance. The Couch-to-5K program and Robert Ullrey’s podcasts that I used to get me to this point were a huge part of my success.]

So, what have I learned about my needs for a successful run:

  • Psychological state at the beginning of a run is not a good indicator of how it will end up, so “just do it.”
  • Running one or two more blocks when I want to stop gets me through the lethargy.
  • Bargaining with myself along the way usually results in running farther than the bargain offered.
  • Double knotting my shoe laces ensures the neighborhood kids won’t need to hear my muttered obscenities when I have to stop and re-tie.
  • I feel better in the early morning when the sun isn’t at its hottest, but I don’t feel like running until about 11:30 AM or so. See the “just do it” bullet above.
  • Negativity saps my energy, so ignore the idiot drivers and the smelly garbage trucks.
  • Encounters with people along the way seriously energize me, so acknowledge everyone in your path and feel the good vibes come back to you.

Please feel free to share your tips and tricks. Oh, and does anyone have a recommendation for a GPS/pedometer thingie so I can change my route and still know how far I’m running?

27 Comments

  1. Jess Witkins said,

    October 16, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Nice workout, Madge! I used to do that on the elliptical. Now my challenge will be to get back on it. But I do really like your reference to the “runner’s nod” because I immediately recalled your post about runners courtesy. Love it!

    • October 17, 2011 at 5:28 pm

      Thanks, Jess. I’m thinking of investing in a piece of equipment for the winter months. Don’t know if it will be a treadmill or an elliptical.

  2. Girlboxing said,

    October 17, 2011 at 7:27 am

    These tips are just great! It’s that one more step thinking of one foot in front of the other that can see you through every time … especially when you’re looking at a hill! Man … I remember the first time I saw the legendary 110th Street hill in Central Park. I just wanted to cry — but I remembered something a running coach once said, that whether it’s up, down or flat, it’s still one foot in front of the other. So, I plowed on and did (eventually) make it!

    Thanks for inspiring me to take a run today!!!

    • October 17, 2011 at 5:29 pm

      I’m glad to return a favor I am often the recipient of whenever I visit your blog. I guess this is what you call e-motivation. ;-)

  3. October 17, 2011 at 7:27 am

    •Double knotting my shoe laces ensures the neighborhood kids won’t need to hear my muttered obscenities when I have to stop and re-tie.

    Why is this my favorite tip? I’m a double knotter. I think there are many difficulties that distract me from living my life. Heading out the door with properly tied shoes is the on favor I feel I can always provide myself.

    And, of course, I love drawing energy from the crowd.

    Congratulations on your new distance! It’s wonderful to be stretched.

    • October 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm

      Indeed, it is, Rebecca. Believe it or not, this is the first time I ever double knotted my laces. I don’t even remember doing that when I was a kid.

  4. lulu said,

    October 17, 2011 at 7:47 am

    You’ve made your 5k accomplishment sound quite easy, a good thing. People along the way are a great energizer. I like the head nods, the morning hellos, the familiar faces whose names I don’t know. Maybe I better hit the road right now so I don’t miss anyone!

  5. October 17, 2011 at 8:09 am

    http://mapmyrun.com is a great way to choose a new route and not only get the mileage info, but also the inclines and more info. Plus it will help you keep track of your runs if you want to do that.

    YOU are a RUNNER! How cool is that?

  6. October 17, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Dawg. I don’t even drive that far !

  7. suzicate said,

    October 17, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Oh how I miss the days of running! I think running is what did this body in…now I can only do short bursts within my walks. I am impressed with your progress, you go!

    • October 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm

      Oh, don’t tell me that Suzi. Did you overdo it? I try to space out my runs so I never run two days in a row. I walk on the other days.

      I’m thinking of adding the railroad stairs to my routine on my walking days.

  8. October 17, 2011 at 11:40 am

    You go! I’m totally impressed — mostly because I struggle to hit that 5k mark regularly. Some days, easy peasy — others, nightmare.

    • October 17, 2011 at 5:36 pm

      I’m sure I’ll have days like that, too, Kim. But even on the days when you don’t accomplish what you intended, at least you did something.

  9. October 17, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I love pushing through the days where I can’t get into it. The satisfaction ends up being so much greater.

    That being said, I’ve only run a half-dozen times in the last year. I thought my heel had finally healed up nicely, but a couple of runs in a row sure deprived me of that notion.

    I’m taking it easy in the hopes that I’ll be back to pushing through the can’t-do-this runs within another two or three months.

    Enjoy!

    • October 17, 2011 at 5:38 pm

      Sorry to hear about your heel. Some injuries just seem to take forever to heal. Then one day you’re all better and you don’t remember when it happened. Hope you get to that point soon, Deborah.

  10. Richard said,

    October 17, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Pom-poms at the ready. Gimme an ‘M’! Gimme an ‘A’! And so forth. :-)

  11. October 18, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    The “running nod” sounds similar to the “hiking howdy.” Nice way to bond with somebody sharing a similar pursuit.

    • October 19, 2011 at 5:50 pm

      Do you get the same adrenaline burst with the hiking howdy? Speaking of hiking, I was recently taking a hike in England, huffing and puffing because running on flat ground does not prepare you for climbing, when I ended up meeting up with a fellow hiker using poles (there is probably a technical word for them but I know it not). She was training for a trip to Peru. Impressive, huh?

      I think I may have tried to say howdy to her, but it came out more as haaaaaaaahaaaaaaahaaaaaaa, and believe me, that isn’t a laugh.

  12. November 20, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Hi, I payed forward a Versatile Blogger Award to you because I really enjoy your blog and more importantly the other day when I was struggling to run up a hill, I thought of your blog and your advice on running. Ironically, I’m a former cross country coach, but sometimes you need to hear information from a fresh source – so thanks for getting me up the hill!

    http://worrywarts-guide-to-weight-sex-and-marriage.com/2011/11/18/the-versatile-blogging-award/

    • November 20, 2011 at 8:37 pm

      Thank you so much for that honor. I’m a bit stunned that a former cross country coach would benefit by anything I wrote about running. In fact, I’m bowing down now and chanting “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy.” :-)

      Glad you made it up the hill.

  13. sweetopiagirl said,

    November 27, 2011 at 2:34 am

    Reblogged this on inspiredweightloss.

  14. February 26, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Good tips. I use two of yours – just do it (when I don’t feel like going) and bargaining (telling myself I can leave class after the warm-up if I need to).

    I’ll offer you one more – I tell people I’m going to class that night. Then, I feel like I need to do it even though nobody would give me a hard time if I didn’t. It just feels like I need to honour my word.

    How is the running going now with the cold weather?

    • February 26, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      Techie, I’ve been in my winter slump. I can’t even blame it on the weather because it hasn’t been all that bad. I’ve tracked my exercise, eating, and weight for a few years so I have an idea of what my patterns are. Historically, January and February are not good months for me. My almost daily exercise habit dwindles to about two days per week. March is right around the corner, thank God.


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