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What I Learned in 80 Miles (Running and Recovery)

Posted Mar 03 2013 12:05am

“I just don’t like running.”

That was what I used to tell other people and myself about running and exercise in general.  The truth is, what I really didn’t like was feeling “bad” at it.  And by “bad,” I mean slow, out of breath, and out of shape.

Exercise came with a lot of shame for me, which is part of the reason why I had such a bad relationship with it for so many years.  I HATED exercising in front of other people, which is why I wouldn’t dare step foot outside as a runner in college, and why I always chose to go to the gym when everyone else was in class or eating.  The exception to that was when I was in my eating disorder, and the compulsive aspect of exercising overruled any shame I had about it in the first place.

The thing is, exercise isn’t exactly optional if you want to live a healthy life, so I knew I had to figure out some way to make peace with it, and for me, I knew it had to be by running.

Now I want to make something clear right off the bat.  These are MY experiences and MY thoughts about exercise.  I DO NOT expect them to be your thoughts, experiences, or feelings about running and exercise, so this is not meant to be advice.  You DO NOT have to be a runner to be in shape, to be healthy, to be happy, to feel beautiful, etc.  You can be a yogi, soccer player, dog walker, jump roper, hiker, biker, swimmer, or all-of-the-abover.  I don’t believe that what you do matters as much as how you feel when you’re doing it.

Let me say that one again, because I think it’s important.  What you do doesn’t matter as much as much you feel doing it!

I love tennis (I played varsity in high school and made it to State my senior year), hiking, swimming, and walking my dogs.  I also occasionally enjoy a nice sweaty session at the gym, and yoga brings me to a place mentally, physically, and spiritually that no other sport or activity can.  Running however, has provided me with a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem that I just haven’t gotten from any other sport.  This is why I knew I needed to make peace with it.

Today was my last day of the Couch to 5k program.

I should have finished it a few weeks ago, but between that little issue with my liver back in December, a few snow storms, and a temporary job I took a few weeks ago, I just now got around to completing my last run.  Since December, which is a great time to take up running, especially if you live in a place like Colorado (sarcasm), I’ve run just under 80 miles.

Interestingly, my speed hasn’t changed a whole lot, but I see the change in my endurance and my ability to breathe.  I have terrible lungs and I’ve had a lot of breathing problems over the years (partially due to a deviated septum that I had corrected) and I just don’t get enough oxygen into my system.  My chiropractor has been doing a special lung exercise with me 3 times a week, and today I really noticed a difference, because I ran well over a mile without stopping.  A pretty huge accomplishment for me.

Here’s some of what I learned in 80 miles:

2. Pitbull is great to run to, but Kanye’s better

3. I can’t run without music

4. Fuel before! I really love these energizing jelly beans.  I may not be going on long runs (yet!) but I do find that my body needs a little energy before a run.

5. Push yourself when your body feels ok with it, even when your mind doesn’t! I find that much of the resistance I experience is mental, not physical.  When my body needs to walk, I walk instead of jog.  When my mind acts like a toddler, I keep running and eventually it gets over itself.

6. Not all cars will stop for runners at stop signs…a lot of cars don’t even really stop for the sign either

7. Do your best and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.

8. There are some hot runners out there ;)

9. I love it when my favorite dance songs come on my iPod because it makes me want to run harder

10. Wear good shoes

11. It’s OK to skip a run or a workout on days where you have something else to do or want to do.  Whether it’s sleep, hanging out with your adorable godson , or going to the mall with a friend, exercise doesn’t need to be the center of your world (unless you’re an Olympic athlete in which case it’s pretty important)

12. The feeling I get after a run is what makes me lace up in the first place

14. Sometimes, my favorite part of my run is coming home and getting creative with vegan protein smoothies.  So far, my best creations are chocolate cherry (using cacao powder and stevia) and vanilla banana (with pure vanilla extract and stevia or agave).

15. Running makes me feel like a badass, plain and simple. Even if it’s all in my head, it’s a pretty good thought to have in there compared to some of the garbage I used to host :)

16. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY–sometimes the best choice is taking it slow and steady, or not going out at all.  No need to push yourself to a point of pain just to prove a point.  I enjoy running now because I don’t  berate myself or push my body to do things that really hurt.  Find your sweet spot, and it might be different every day or every workout.

17. I am proud of the fact that I started out from basically a point of zero activity (I had stopped doing yoga for a few months when I started running) and now my typical run is 3 to 4 miles, sometimes more.  I earned that pride and if I can do it, anyone can.

19. Lululemon continues to be my activewear of choice for a reason…it’s amazingly comfortable, cute, and I like the way it makes my backside look ;)

20. I’m proud of myself for sticking with something I never thought I could do.  Power of positive thinking!!


What do you love about your fitness routine of choice? Anybody have any atypical routines like acrobatics or some lesser-known sport or activity? What does fitness do for your mind and soul?

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