This picture of me cracks me up. You can’t really tell that I’m running, but I swear that I am. This 5K was killer – high 80s, crazy Pittsburgh hills, and moving before I typically get out of bed. I hadn’t stretched out prior to the race and hitting it cold was not the smartest thing I ever did.
After running this puppy, I didn’t run again for 7 months. I saw an orthopedic and complained about the price of physical therapy. For someone who had fallen in love with running, not running did me in. I leave my sweat and tears and pride on the track. Hauling them around with me was pretty miserable. I got to thinking I was too old.
I am running again; free of pain this time. Whoohooo!!!! The physical therapy must have worked – and I learned a lot while in it. I will keep at this thing, albeit still awkward form and painstakingly slow. But this time I’m going at it wisely. I’m still new at this, but here is what I’m learning:
1. Cross Training is Key: Swimming, biking, elliptical, walking, yoga, kickboxing, playing monster tag with the kids at the park, whatever.
2. Core Strength Really Matters: I had no idea that most running injuries occur because your core is weak. My core was a disaster zone (hardly registered on the strength tests:). Crunches, weight machines,core strength classes, and the exercise ball are (slowly) helping me with mine. Let’s be honest here though – I would still much rather run 4 miles than do 50 crunches.
3. Watch Your Form: Have someone take a picture of you running. It helps you see what you need to work on (posture, foot strike, arms). A bad form will eventually lead to injury. I’ve got a pretty balanced foot strike, but when I’m tired, I tend to slump my shoulders. My weakest core ever also contributes to my horrible hunchback run.
4. Keep Learning: Chi Running has some great principles, seminars are everywhere, Runner’s World, etc. I have found that following a program also helps. I really like Hal Higdon’s training programs and adapt the 10K one to fit our schedule.
5. It’s Not Supposed to be Easy: Running can be excruciating. Run anyway:) Reluctant Runners is a pretty funny site devoted to people like me. Their tagline is, “We love running… just not while we’re doing it.”
6. Eat Right: Yeah. This one is also hard for me. I tend to overindulge when I am running, so not caving in to the Tabasco Cheez-Its at midnight is really tough. I also don’t always make time to eat well. But I know that I’ve got to set a right example for the kids, so I’m eating the spinach, drinking the smoothies, fending off some carbs, and trying to balance the diet out with healthy proteins.
7. Go Easy: You would never know it by looking at me, but I am a fierce competitor. I can get pretty fired up about stuff under this calm exterior. Last year, I monitored every single run and charted it. It drove me nuts. I am always pressed for time and running was no exception. This year, I’m running for distance or time, but not both. I love my runs so much more now that I’m not competing against myself anymore!
8. Listen to Your Body: My physical therapist helped me a ton by just telling me to listen to my body. She guessed that my running injury was a long time coming and not the product of one race. I am so not wincing around the track anymore! If I feel knee pain (only twice thus far in 2 months of training), I cut out, take it easy, or substitute another form of exercise.
9. Keep Accountable: Whether it’s to a chart, a friend, facebook, a blog – go it together with someone else. I am accountable to the chart on my kitchen fridge and our kids. I really like giving myself happy faces for my training and our Little Man really indulges me with stickers. (I am that mom in the grocery store who has a big sticker on her bottom and in her hair.)
10. Enjoy: I used to run for exercise. Now I just run because I can’t get enough. There’s nothing better than setting a goal and reaching it. I am a better mom and wife when I run. I have more energy and determination. I am more at peace with life. I am more in tune with God. It’s never easy the second mile in, but by the end – it’s worth every step.
Are any of you runners out there? I beg of you – tell me what you know! It has been so helpful to get my sister in law’s tips. (She is the speedster in our family!) But what else you got? I’ve still got a ways to go!