Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Running Cold

November is always the official start of coldness to me. November seems grey and chilly in my mind. At least outside. The leaves are mostly fallen. The grass has dulled from the brilliant green it was, to a dimmer more sullen green and brown. It's darker out in the morning, darker in the afternoon, and that means it's harder to motivate myself to get out of the house.

Last year was the first that I ran outside all winter. Not a lot mind you, but at least once a week. I had joined a group, the Onterora Runners Club, on their Monday night runs around Dietz stadium and its surrounding neighborhoods. It's a great group to run with, and knowing they were there got me out on some chilly nights. I attained some cold weather gear: gloves especially for running, insulated jackets, tall socks, and thermal leggings.

I've somehow drifted from the group. I could list excuses of my work hours changing, or rationalizations of Mondays being my most tiring day. Instead I'll just say that I do honestly miss it, and I hope the cold drives me to catch up with them.

When my alarm goes off now, it still seems to be nighttime. I slide out from the bed into the frigid air of my bedroom. I usually have my running clothes left out nearby, half laziness, half inspiration. I want to run, I really do. The cold and dark just works against me. But it's worth it after the first mile. That first one though, it's cold. My feet seem to hit the ground extra hard. My eyes water. My nose becomes a faucet that I can't control. My hands tense up and tighten and I realize I need to dig my gloves out of storage as soon as possible. No one else is out. A few cars. When I get to the track there are some walkers bundled up with hats and scarves. By mile three I can take my sweatshirt off.

It's only November 5th.

Bring on the cold.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

High Goals = High Self Worth

I am a very goal driven person. If I set a goal, I want to reach it. It helps me stay focused and motivated. Something to reach for. Something to be proud of once it's accomplished.

Well, if it's accomplished.

For the past couple months, I have been setting mileage goals for myself to run. Fifty in August, seventy five in September, now eighty five for October. I had to push it to reach September's number. Now I'm reaching the end of October with a little less than halfway to go still. I don't want to accept defeat. I'm not sure if it's possible. I'd have to do five miles a day for the rest of the month. I don't want to give up. I want success.

I can't get hung up on "if onlys". It's too easy to slip into that. We can't change the past. If I went back and redid the month, I would do it differently. Unfortunately, that's just not an option. Time to face facts - there is almost no chance I can get to eighty five miles this month. Almost no chance.

There is a slim chance though.

Why not try? Why not just go for it? There's a possibility of success here. Yes, it's a long shot. Yes, it's going to be a struggle. Yes, I might fail. If I give up now I fail anyway.

And what if I do it? What if I achieve the goal? No reward. Nothing tangible. I could tell people sure, I could tell you. It doesn't matter,in the scheme of the world, whether I reach eighty five miles or not. It means a hell of a lot to me though. I may not get anything but pride out of it, but that's enough.

Eight days. About 35.77 miles to go (I use the Nike app to keep trackAdd Me). That's 4.47 miles a day (had to use a calculator). Challenge accepted (HIMYM reference).

Set goals. And then kick butt to meet them. It's not easy. Who wants easy? Do you care about it? Are you passionate about it? Then don't let yourself give up. Don't get beaten. There are some things in our control even when most of our lives are out of control. Take it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Why I Race

I love the atmosphere of a race. To me, that's one of the best things about participating. I like to beat personal records, sure, but I'm not necessarily there to win. I mean, if I won, that would be the coolest thing ever, but that's not why I show up.

Actually, I don't even do many races. I would say my average is maybe two a YEAR. I hope to raise this in the future. Just writing it down makes me realize how pathetic that number is. Especially considering how much fun I always have.

When you go to a race, you will see every kind of person. Gender, age, color, size, shape, everything. Everyone is energized. You can feel the air thick with it. Without having to talk to anyone, you suddenly are part of a community. Sometimes it's a very large one. You all have at least one thing in common. You are here to run. I can't imagine many people do races when they don't like running. Maybe some do it for other reasons. There is something amazing about being around so many people who are passionate about the same thing.

Usually, I don't like going to events by myself. At a race, although I prefer some company, I can handle going by myself. It is a comfort to stand, waiting, at the start line, blending in with a crowd of people who are essentially the same. Yes, some are faster. Yes, some wear headphones. Maybe a few don't want to be there. When you are in the middle of everyone, you only feel the expectation of what is to come. The few minutes before the race, everyone is posed to begin. Excitement waves through and around. Once we are allowed to go, allowed to release our pent up energy, we run. No, we are not running together in the sense that we all know one another. But we are running together on this course. We are bound together by this one race. It doesn't matter who you arrived with, or if you arrived alone. Now you are running with everyone.

I sign up for races because it reminds me of how much running effects so many people. No matter where I'm running, there are other runners out there doing the same thing at the same time. Our feet pounding the pavement, or track, or trail. Sometimes it's nice to be able to see it. Tens, or hundreds of people. All with one goal, run to the end.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Don't Worry. If Onlty.

The past couple of days I have found it difficult to fit running into my schedule. It doesn't help that before 7 in the morning it is pitch black outside. How am I supposed to motivate myself to run when it is so dark and cold when my alarm goes off?

I feel the difference though. When I get to running several times a week then miss a week, it really is noticeable. My head feels heavier. I use my runs as a way to clear it, but now it is loaded down with thoughts and worries.

Someone told me recently to not worry so much. Do you guys ever hear that? I want to say right now that I need to never say that to anyone. Who is free from worry? How nice that must be. I tend to be a little anxious at every moment of the day. If I could control it I would. And I try to. I go for runs. I listen to music. I write. It doesn't make it go away. The worries are there. I just can quiet them down every now and again.

Don't worry so much.


Tell me how you don't worry about things. I can't just tell myself things will work out for the best and move on. I wish that worked. I've tried mediating. I've tried mantras. I've tried screaming into a pillow (not really, I can't bring myself to that for some reason). My head is always full of different problems. I want solutions. I want relief. How do other people free themselves of this?

Run. I want to run. At least it would help. Even just for an hour or so. A clear head. A relaxed mind.

I wish I worried less. I wish things didn't matter so much to me. They do though. I care too much. Not just about what people think, but about the future, about the past, about choices I've made or will make. Just go with the flow, I tell myself. Don't worry, other people tell me. How can I not worry when there is always so much at stake? Not to be super dramatic, but really. There is always something to lose. If I could not think about it, don't you think I would do that? If I could not worry, wouldn't I just not? Telling me not to doesn't help. Reassure me. Tell me HOW.

I need to run.

The Sock Problem

There is an age old question - Where do all my socks go? I'm not even just talking about half of a pair, I'm talking about whole pairs of socks! I really don't think the dryer is to blame, but how am I misplacing so many of them? Especially my running socks. That is the upsetting thing. I don't have enough of them to be losing them in abundance.

What all this talk about the mystery of the disappearing socks is about is that when I went for a run the other day, I had no running socks, so I was forced to use regular cotton socks. I mistakenly thought I wouldn't really notice a difference. That just showed me how little I really know about running.

How did I used to run in regular socks? After two seconds of running my feet felt like ovens. I figured the socks would just burn away at least, but instead they just got soaked with sweat, making them even more unbearable. I was aware of them every single stride of my run. Where does the sweat usually go? My socks felt heavy and uncomfortable. It really makes a difference. I am not even exaggerating. Thankfully this was not a long run. I could feel the blisters waiting to form.

I am not making that mistake again. Solution - get more running socks. Wash them by hand so as not to lose them? Nah, not that worried.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Selfish Runner

I read an article recently about questions that runners don't like to be asked (Worst Questions). The last one was, "why do you run?" The writer stated that it's not necessarily a bad question to ask, it just can be a difficult one to answer.

I agree whole-heartedly. There are so many reasons why I run. I run to stay in shape. I run for stress release. An excuse to listen to music. To get outside. Escape.

It's crazy then that it is hard for me to motivate other people to run with me. Then I realized, maybe I'm selfish with my running. I'm not sure I want to share it. A lot of times when I get up to run, I'm doing it for me. Actually every time. It's my time. I want to run my way. I dint want to worry about how slow I'm going or how long I'll be out. Usually I don't plan my route ahead of time. I don't want to talk. I don't want to take a break. I do want to take a break. I never know. I don't want to plan it all out.

I love my friends. I want them to understand my love of running. I want them to feel the weird joy of tears rolling down when it's too windy out. I want to show them how good it feels to make it to the top of a hill and then fly down the other side. How sweaty feels amazing sometimes. That a beautiful sound is the rhythm of feet on pavement. Why do I keep that all to myself?

I want to be a selfless runner. I want to spread running to others. To infect them with running fever. Wow that sounds intense. It is intense though. It's a need. The only way to answer the original question (Why do I run?) is:

Let me show you.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Unless You Want to Pay Me to Babysit...

I've come to realize that running at the track in the morning is a little better than at night. Less people, and more of them seem to be rule followers.

The best thing. No kids. There haven't ever been any kids at the track when I go at 7am. When I go at night it's a whole different story. All of the sudden the track is a playground. It's one thing if a kid is walking with their parents - and by with I mean right next to them, in one lane. Different story if it's a kid or several kids just running wherever they want. The first thing has never happened. No kid at the track just is appt to run in a specific lane for several laps. Instead it's a kind of pandemonium.

One scenario is kids going around the track, kind of running across all the lanes. They fall behind their parents (who are sauntering slowly in the middle lanes), then run to catch up. There's lots of yelling and general loudness coming from them - from the kids and the parents usually. Not one of them seems to be aware of anyone else using the track. They drift into my lane right in front of me, and I'm forced to dodge around them while I get glares from the parents. I'm not going to step on your kids. Not if I can help it at least. Not yet anyway.

Another occurance is kids playing with toys on the track while their parents stand nearby. At least the parents are within range of them, I guess. These kids are playing with little frisbees, and none of them have good aim, or they aren't trying to have good aim. There are so many frisbees, and they are just everywhere. Again, the kids don't pay attention to anyone else. They don't stay in one place, I mean they're kids. I can't seem to avoid them no matter which lane. At one point I was forced to weave through them! I'm not sure I can explain it. Don't they have a yard near their house or something?

Keep your kids out of the way, or at least teach them to be aware of their surroundings. Please. Although maybe the parents can't teach what they don't do themselves...