Sunday, January 26, 2014

Quadracool's guide to a good running streak

How to have a good running streak:

1. Qualify for Boston at a Loopfest
It was a perfect storm. I ran a flat course in cool weather after a great training cycle with no injuries. Oh, and 30ish runners who I had blog-stalked for years were housed up together in a gigantic beautiful house next to the beach. It was like running sleepaway camp. But better, because there was beer!

2. Run like a child
Kids running are full of glee. Why? Because they run hard when they can and slow down when it becomes difficult. When you start putting limitations on your running, it becomes easy to think that you cannot go faster.  And if you are beating yourself up for having a slower day/week/year, it becomes easy to think you'll never enjoy it again. If you are so married to your charts and times and progress, where's the glee? If you can't find the glee, why do it?

3. Have a supportive spouse, friend, or family member
Some runners have runner spouses/friends/family members, some runners have non-running spouses/friends/family. Mine fall in the the latter category.  But my network knows that a running Carissa is a happy Carissa. My non-running spouse drives me to races, asks me how my run was just as he asks me about my work day, and supports my gear habits.  Case in point, the conversation at Fleet Feet this past week:
Adam: Did you find that pineapple Gu you were looking for?
Carissa: No, they don't have any of the Roctane Gu
Adam: Oh, that sucks. Sorry. Did you see they have gloves on sale? You said you wanted some gloves, right?
Carissa: I did. But I'd rather try to find a running skirt or another pair of capris.
Adam: Get both. I know you'll use them.
Carissa: <3 <3

4. Find your happy
Just because other people are running in blissfully beautiful places with lightening fast paces does not mean you are "less" of a runner because you are not. Running is running no matter where or how you do it.  Sure, the treadmill is notoriously boring, but I'm still running when I'm on it. I put on some Ke$ha, pump my arm Arsenio-style during the chorus, and leap over imaginary trees while I reach up to touch the ceiling. I like running with music--it makes me happy. It's cool if you don't. I enjoy running with people when I have the opportunity, but I happen love running alone. Do your own thing--there is no such thing as wrong running. Unless you are race-walking.

5. Be your own experiment in nutrition
Paleo works for you? Cool
Gluten-free works for you? Cool
Vegan works for you? Cool
Whole 30 works for you? Cool
Beer and nachos and wine and kale works for you? Cool

I'm fairly certain that most people reading this knows that nutrition can effect your running. But we are all different--both in body and mind. Some people thrive on structured eating, some people have religious or moral convictions about food groups, and some people find certain foods (or lack thereof) make them feel better. Cool. Find what works for you.

6. Smile while running
It sounds a little insane and maybe it won't work for you. But maybe it will. When the going gets tough out there, I force myself to grin wide.  And it's really hard for me to not giggle a little inside when I'm smiling like a big goober while running. Just try it once--you know you want to!

7. Live in the Deep South during the winter
Sorry for those north of the Mason-Dixon. You'll have your revenge in July. I'm not sure what the opposite of bacon is, but I am sure that it oppositely awful.

We do get snow every few years in Atlanta. Proof:

8. Take care of your body
Higher mileage, higher frequency, and faster speeds are all easy ways to get hurt. If I need to give my body a little more rest, I do. I sleep as much as I can. If I feel the slightest twinge of anything, I might take an extra day or two so that it doesn't become anymore serious. I often pushed through too hard before and felt miserable because of it.  4ish days a week, 30ish miles works for me. And rest. Lots of quality rest.

9. Fix your mind
Once it becomes a "must", it isn't fun. We've all been inspired by stories about who cannot run or will not run again. My streak has been inspired by the feeling that I "get" to run. Whatever your ability, you get to fly through the air with your own 2 feet.  I might not get to have this feeling my whole life. I've enjoyed it for many, many years and hope I can enjoy it for many, many more.

Grandma turned 91 the same weekend of Rehoboth. I have many, many more years (and apparently a lot more ice cream sundaes) to go:

10. Enjoy your life
Running is great. It really is. I love it a lot. But I love other things too. I love Adam. I love my Boston Terriers. I love my family. I love my friends. I love baking. I love traveling. I love crossword puzzles. I love date night. I love Downton Abbey. I love historical fiction. I love beer. I love gardening. I love sending and receive awesome mail. Etc. etc. etc.

The point is, I'm okay if I miss a run because Adam and I are going to a Braves game. I'm okay if I have to cut one short because my sister invited me to lunch. I'm okay if I miss a week because Disney World was exhausting. I'm okay because somewhere along the way, it became harder to hang up my shoes than to lace them up.

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