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Will Run for Wednesdays: Mind-Body Running + Throwback Favorites

Posted Aug 01 2012 7:19am

Sunday’s piriformis pain resulted in Monday’s strength training. I had Noah massage my IT bands and lower back for quite some time on Sunday evening with the hope that Monday morning would bring a world of relief; and while it did, I also decided that jumping right back onto the pavement could send me spiraling back down into what I’ve been trying to avoid all along. Rather than push it, I listened to my body. I worked on my glutes, my triceps, my core, and then I went to work and continued to be grumpy for the rest of the day.

Note to self: Don’t not run on Monday mornings. (That’s grammatically correct, right?)

If there’s one thing I hate more than not running 2 days in a row, it’s skipping my Monday morning excursions through Central Park. They’re my center, my ground, my peace of mind. They’re the perfect way to kick off a work week and a healthful way to counteract the effects of whatever crap I ate on Saturday and Sunday from Thursday through Sunday.

To be clear, my irritation was not the source of gilt; it was the lack of endorphins in my system combined with my need to frolic in fresh air before cooping myself up in the office. Although I sit at my desk writing about the benefits of massage and the detriments of stress all day, every day, it wasn’t until Monday that I truly got a taste of how anxiety can so powerfully manifest itself right there in the muscles of your neck.

Ouch.

Anywho, as you can imagine, there was no question in my mind, piriformis pain or not, that I was running on Tuesday morning. I was craving a sense of balance. I was desperate for peace of mind. And I got it, just as soon as I stepped over the threshold that divides 5th Avenue and Central Park.

There was nothing competitive or flawless about Tuesday’s 5-miler around Central Park’s bottom loop, but I do want to point here to a snippet of a recent quote in Runner’s World that I read while on the train back to Long Island on Friday. In it, Articles Editor Debra Witt describes her goals for the upcoming Runner’s World half marathon (which the issue was pumping up like woah).

“I’m not competitive. I prefer to run by feel, not pace, which seems appropriate since I edit our Mind + Body section.”

Debra was able to accomplish in only 2 sentences – and short ones at that – what I feel about running in general. I am not competitive. I prefer to run by feel, not distance or pace. And yes, although a much younger version of this Editor, I too spend the bulk of my days writing and editing pieces on balance, strength, endurance and happiness of not only the physical but of the mental and spiritual as well.

I wanted to channel this concept during Tuesday’s run, but to also transfer it into a few other aspects of my life. For this reason, I became determined after Monday’s slight freak out to dedicate the rest of my week to living by feel. Screw expectations; I’m going for gut instinct.

There are a few ways I’m attempting to accomplish this:

  1. Cookie dough. When the Stacy’s away, the Noah will…make incredibly impulsive purchases at the supermarket, like cookie dough. (And mix the colors with the whites, but we’ll save that laundry quandary for another time.) We’ve yet to open the package, but one night this week I plan on making the entire apartment smell like Martha Stewart’s house  eating the entire sleeve raw.
  2. Uncrustables.The second of Noah’s impulse buys, and a brilliant one at that.
  3. Fresh produce. The first half of my diet is made up of sugar, wine and Sour Patch Kids.The other is leafy green veggies and chickpeas. After this weekend’s pizza and soft shell crab-fest, I needed greens—and lots of them! After work on Monday, I wandered into Agata and Valentina’s and picked out a basket-full of fresh items. When I got home, I made a nice, big salad using cucumbers and peppers from my dad’s garden (he always sends me home with a giant Ziplock-full during the summer months)…

    …tomatoes, chickpeas, and naturally, grated cheese. For the dressing, I mixed extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and black pepper. I also purchased pre-marinated artichoke hearts and cut them on top, as well as one of my favorite spreads from the market, a pureed broccoli concoction that tastes delicious on crackers.

Already, between the sugar and the greens, I felt more like myself. All that was left was to crush 5 miles first thing Tuesday morning – and by crush 5 miles, I mean take a leisurely jog without competition or haste.

I’ll be the first to admit that I wanted Tuesday’s run to feel awesome after taking 2 days off, but in truth, it was fine and not much more. Perfection wasn’t the goal though; on Tuesday, the name of the game was intention.

Things I loved about Tuesday’s run:

I took a few different paths that I don’t usually veer off on to. They weren’t anything too abnormal, but even a quarter mile of change can make a world of difference.

  • I was able to space off at times, logging between a half-mile and a full mile before realizing that I was even out there. Some might call this “morning black out,” but as far as I could tell, I was not sleep running. I was just in la la land, even if only for a few minutes at a time.
  • Central Park was beautiful, and the sun decided to join me.

  • I forgot to turn off Map My Run afterward, and ended up midday wondering why my battery was nearly dead, hating my iThing, and then realizing that it was being drained by satellites. Between my run, wandering around my apartment, and walking to work, it also looks like I went 9.2 miles this morning. What a joke.
  • My piriformis pain wasn’t an issue.
  • I started off with a headache. Within the first mile, my eyes had stopped throbbing, and I could almost literally feel the stress melting away.
  • Music was unnecessary after the first couple of miles, and I ran the second half without any distractions at all. Doing this really enabled me to concentrate on the sound of my breath, the length of my stride, the feel of my feet. I was running by intuition, and it felt great.
  • Check out my mismatched, holey socks. Something really needs to be done about this.Things I could have done without on Tuesday’s run:
  • Odd twinges in my leg. (Don’t worry, I foam rolled when I got home.)
  • The headache returned on and off during the run, but it was nothing a little post-exercise Advil couldn’t fix. (See Noah? I’m embracing Western medicine.)
  • I didn’t quite feel strong. Sometimes, when I don’t feel strong during a 5-miler, especially when I have a half marathon in my future, I wonder how I’ll ever manage 13.1 miles. Then again, I always have this fear, and I’ve so far always conquered the distance.

So anyway, that’s what’s going on here. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve wanted to significantly increase my mileage to 30+ in preparation for September’s half marathon, and I’ve done so successfully. I also think I might scale back just slightly this week, and incorporate a bit more strength training and perhaps a yoga sequence into my schedule.

20 seems like a feasible number to shoot for, with the inclusion of a longer 7 or 8 mile run later in the week before I head to Fire Island this weekend. Sticking with the theme, perhaps I’ll try to make it 20 non-competitive, pace-less, free, liberating miles.

5 down. 15 to go.

Break.

  • What will you run for this week?
  • What’s your take on running and the mind-body connection?

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