Why I’m grateful for running

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There are so many benefits to running, but this Thanksgiving I’m grateful that running gets me out there in nature. I won’t run through everything, but I have run in some pretty hot conditions, in a Nor’easter, into the single digits, into wind that almost blew me into Lake Champlain, occasionally in snow storms — which is very peaceful unless it’s slippery.

I thought about this yesterday on my run. We had another dusting of snow overnight. The skies were absolutely a hazy shade of winter. The sun was nowhere to be found.

Beauty was everywhere to be found, if you just got out there and looked for it. That dusting of fresh snow clinging to the evergeens and the bright red holly berries. The creeping ice on the lake. The fall leaves still peaking out of the snow. The interesting foot/paw prints in the snow.

I would hole up in my house, barely getting out to walk the dogs, if it weren’t for running, and my days are better for those runs when I do get outside and brave the elements.

I won’t keep you long, as I still have a Thanksgiving dinner to get together, but I will leave you with a few scenes from my run yesterday. I’d love to see what you’re seeing on the run!

Running may push us outside of our comfort zones, but it also narrows down our focus to things we would never notice if we didn’t run. This Thanksgiving I am grateful for the things I see on the run.
— Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.

Tor-box

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

coachescorner

Tell me in the comments:

What are you grateful for from your runs?

What are you grateful for in your life right now?

10 Ways to Sizzle, not Fizzle

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Fizzle: to fail or end feebly, especially after a promising start.

It happens to all of us: we start out with such high spirits and high hopes and then our race just fizzles. But what if you could make it sizzle rather than fizzle? Here are a few tips to do just that.

Make sure you’ve fueled and hydrated properly
It’s not just about what you take in during a race, even though that’s important. It’s also about what you ate and drank in the days leading up to the race. If you’ve been slacking on the hydration and overdosing on the carbs or sugar, there’s no way you can make up for it on race day.

Respect the rest days
Runners love to run. Some of us embrace the taper and our rest days, too, but all too many runners just wanna run.

Rest is where the muscles start to repair themselves. Rest is where you restore that depleted glycogen (if you’re eating well). Rest can make the difference between a good race and a great race.

If you don’t sleep well the night before a race, don’t sweat it. Much like fueling and hydration, it’s more important what you do leading up to your race than the night before — which doesn’t give you permission to party all night, of course.

Know the course
You don’t have to memorize it. I know not only am I unable to memorize a course, I can’t even quite recall it all when I’ve finished. Knowing where aid stations are, where the hills are, where the half turns off from the full — that’s knowledge that can sometimes make or break your race.

Play to your strengths
When choosing a course, that is. If you live in a flat area, hills are definitely going to seem hard — especially if you won’t embrace a treadmill and be able to at least simulate them. Or maybe you enjoy rolling hills, but hate a downhill course.

Some of my best races have been literally running down mountains, so I keep looking for downhill courses. Although the truth is if a race is interesting to me, I’ll tackle most anything — and have — flat, hilly, sometimes insanely hilly (but no running up Mt. Washington or Pikes Peak, thank you very much), downhill, trails.

Just know what sort of course is kind to you. And if a different kind of course calls to you, go for it.

Lay out (or bring) multiple running clothes
If you’re traveling for a race, this one gets tricky — believe me, I know, since I travel for all my longer races. There’s only so much room in that suitcase (and who wants to pay to check their bag?).

Weather changes. And sometimes weather changes big time. Always add at least +/- 10 degrees to whatever the forecast is, and remember that things like throwaway sweatshirts, arm warmers, and gloves can make a huge difference if you have to stand around in the cold before a race.

Lay out your running clothes the night before
Who wants to think about what to wear when they’re only half awake? Or maybe you’re a morning person like me, but your SO is still snoozing when you head out the door. Lay out your clothes (and remember the point above, lay out different options) the night before and not only will you not skip your run, you won’t have to think about what to wear.

Arrive early
Unless I can walk to the race start, I like to get there an hour beforehand. You just never know what’s going to happen: long portapottie lines, missing timing chip, wrong timing chip, no parking spaces . . . get there early and you’ll have the time to handle what life throws at you. And maybe hit the potty multiple times.

Skip the warmup
In the summer it definitely feels like you don’t need a warmup, but if you’re just standing around, those muscles are probably still tight. When it’s cooler, you’ll definitely tighten up standing around in the cold (even if you have those throwaway clothes).

Warming up doesn’t have to take a long time, 5-10 minutes most likely. It can mean the difference between feeling good and loose — and even potentially an injury.

Nothing new on race day!
It’s oh-so-tempting to wear that new, amazingly soft running top. But have you run in it already? Anywhere close to the distance you’ll be running? Chafing is not fun, and it can definitely make your race fizzle.

And that cookie at mile 9! Or the candy! Even people with pretty good stomachs like me can reject food later in the race. Stick to the tried and true.

Don’t start out too fast!!!!!
More races have been killed by starting too fast than probably anything else. It feels so good, so easy. You’re caught up in the excitement of the crowd (and maybe literally with the crowd). What feels really easy in mile one can translate into the walk of shame in the later miles. Have a plan, and try to stick to it.

Racing seems like a “simple” thing: line up, take off, and go as fast as you can, right? But more than one race has fizzles due to poor planning or poor judgement. It isn’t really that hard to make a race fizzle, rather than sizzle — and visa versa.
— Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy

Deb Runs

I am linking up with Debruns and her Wednesday Word

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.

Tor-box

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

coachescorner

Tell me in the comments:

What has made a race fizzle for you?

What has made a race sizzle for you?

How does running change as you age?

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Dazzling: to impress deeply; to astonish with delight

Dazzling and running are not two words I usually put together. Sure, my race tomorrow will no doubt be dazzling with sunshine and heat, but I couldn’t find a post in that (and I’ll recap it next week anyway).

My running is not often referred to as dazzling, either. No Age Group awards, no races won, no superhuman paces going on, just a solid back to middle of the packer who keeps working on improving and challenging herself.

And then I found this quote:

The aged love what is practical while impetuous youth longs only for what is dazzling.— Petrarch

Were you dazzling as a younger runner?
Did you win more as a younger runner (age group awards, races, meets)? Did you set PR after PR?

I didn’t start until my late 40s, and while I may have been dazzled that I could run 13.1 miles, I sure wasn’t dazzling anyone else back there in the back of the pack.

Have you come to accept that you won’t be dazzling as you age as a runner?
Do you find yourself in the position of slowing down as you age? Are those PRs and dazzling fast races a painful (or happy) memory slowly fading away in the rear view mirror?

They say that you keep continue to improve your first 10 years of running, and I am fast approaching my tenth year of running — which is rather dazzling to myself if to no one else. But I see plenty of people who continue to improve, and so I try to ignore that little voice that says someday you’ll slow down, too.

I’m sure that little voice is right, but in the meantime, I still feel I have more improvement in me.

Have you come to value the run more than just dazzling others with your speed?
I had this conversation with another runner just this weekend. She’s very fast, but has struggled with injuries for a while. And she has come to the place where she’s just grateful to run, no matter how long or how fast.

I hope that when the inevitable happens to me, I embrace it with as much grace, and continue to give thanks for the simple act of running. I know I spend some time in gratitude for the fact that I can run on almost every run.

In the end dazzling isn’t about speed. Dazzling is about whatever makes your heart sing and your feelings lift. — Chocolaterunsjudy

Deb Runs

I am linking up with Debruns and her Wednesday Word

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.

Tor-box

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

coachescorner

Tell me in the comments:

Have you had a dazzling running career?

Do you think you value running more as you get older?

Is running the least technical sport?

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Technical: of or relating to technique

Put one foot in front of the other. Rapidly. Over and over and over. That’s it; that’s running — or is it?

Simplicity is the outcome of technical subtlety. It is the goal, not the starting point.— Maurice Saatchi

Running is simple — isn’t it?
On the surface, running isn’t a very technical sport. Which is probably one reason so many take up running — some clothes, some shoes, and you can run, right? What else do you need?

No balls. No helmets. Maybe some day runners will be required to wear helmets like bikers! Talk about your hat hair. You can go out your front door and simply run.

 

Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they’re great because of their passion.— Martha Graham

A little technique is a good thing
Running isn’t as non-technical as it appears on the surface. Sure, you can just go out there and run. Heck, you don’t even really need shoes if you buy into the whole barefoot running thing.

Take it from my sister, whom I think assumed she, the athlete, could run if I could do it — and did just that — just ran. And wound up with an injury so severe that she could barely walk for six weeks.

A little technique isn’t a bad thing. Learning about the technical side of running should help you to run better. What is good running form? What should you eat to fuel your runs — or should you even eat? How can aid your recovery? What’s the best sort of cross training (and how little can you get away with)?

These are questions most runners ponder. They’re definitely the technical side of running, and they’ll keep you guessing your whole running “career”.

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GPS and HR on my wrists

Welcome to the dark side of running
GPS watches. Heart rate monitors. Phones and apps. Safety devices. Some way to carry water. Fuel belts. Running clothes that will keep you warm or keep you cool. Before you know it, running just got a whole lot technical — as in you have to make sure everything is charged up and has a place before you can even step out the door.

And let’s not even talk about the cost of running shoes and how quickly they wear out . . .

Do you need all of that? Old timers will laugh at you and tell you you don’t. The running magazines will tell you you do.

It’s up to you to decide just how technical you want to be.

Deb Runs

I am linking up with Debruns and her Wednesday Word

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.

Tor-box

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

coachescorner

Tell me in the comments:

Do you think running is a technical sport?

What running doo-dad can you live without?

What running doo-dad do you have to have to get out the door?

Running is the intersection of deliberate . . .

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. . . and following your heart

Deliberate: to think about or discuss issues and decisions carefully

It often seems that runners fall into two camps: the ones that analyze everything from what they eat, to how much to run, to which races they should run. And then there are the runners who just jump in feet first, so to speak

I’ll bet you can guess which camp I fall into most often if you’ve been reading this blog for a while!

Pondering, which means to weigh mentally, to deliberate, to meditate, can achieve the opening of the spiritual eye’s of one’s understanding.— Joseph B.Wirthlin

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A race signed up for almost a year in advance: definitely a deliberate choice

Being deliberate is important
Even *I* have been known to just jump right in. I’ll bet even the most deliberate runner does, from time to time. Because sometimes it’s more important to follow your heart than to spend your precious time being deliberate.

I’m sure we’ve all had times when we feel called to do something, but even then, it’s important to take at least some time to deliberate on why you feel so called. Is it an internal calling — something you just know in your heart you are meant to or want to do? Or is in an external calling — something you are doing because your friends are doing it or someone is telling you you really ought to try it?

Usually external callings are not as satisfying as internal callings.

Stupidity is the deliberate cultivation of ignorance.— William Gaddis

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I blame the chocolate

Sometimes you just have to follow your heart
Making deliberate decisions can be important. But listening to your heart is important, too.

Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.— Andrew Jackson

I have run a few races on what appeared to be a whim — a trail half marathon because they said there’d be chocolate (there was — read about it here); a shorter trail race, the day after a long run, because it was a beautiful day for it (read about it here); the one and only RW Heartbreak Hill Half (because I got to run partially on the Boston Marathon course).

I don’t think you can ever go wrong if you truly listen to your heart. Just make sure it is your heart you’re listening to, no someone else’s.

It’s important to pick races for deliberate reasons. It will help motivate you to train. It’s equally as important to choose your races with your heart, because that, too, will motivate you to train. Deliberate and heart are like yin and yang — you need both to find balance in your life. — Chocolaterunsjudy

Deb Runs

I am linking up with Debruns and her Wednesday Word

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.

Tor-box

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

coachescorner

Tell me in the comments:

Do you tend to deliberate on which races to run?

Where has your heart led you to?

Brash: Ok or not OK?

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Brash: heedless of the consequences

Brash. Running. How do these two things come together? I think all too often they do — and sometimes it works, sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you need to heed a few consequences.

You’re obviously conscious of being brash or big-headed but I always knew I was going to be a footballer when I was seven or eight. I didn’t just think I was going to be one, I knew I was going to be one. Nothing ever surprised me really.— Michael J. Owen

When brash is okay
If I’m being truthful, I believe that it’s never a good idea to ignore the consequences. It gets you into a lot of trouble. Other definitions for brash include hasty, rash, but also energetic or highly spirited.

I think we can all agree that being hasty and rash isn’t a good thing, and I’ll cover that more next. But energetic? High spirited? That can absolutely be a good thing.

Running can be hard and sometimes it sucks the soul out of you. But it can also be great — and one way to make it great is to be high spirited — to find the fun in running.

Sometimes being brash means:

  • Taking that jump shot.
  • Trying something new, despite your fears.
  • Meeting up with a group of runners where you know no one.
  • Confidently stating a race goal — something that may be a big stretch for you.
  • Wearing what makes you feel good, no matter what anyone else may think.
  • Ignoring the nay sayers and doing it anyway.
  • Making silly faces for the photographers.
  • Just smiling when you don’t feel like it.

Some might argue that these aren’t really brash things, but sometimes, they can be. Sometimes the simplest things can energize you and get you out of a funk — they can feel high spirited to you.

Sometimes you have to brash in your choices. Like above — ignore the nay sayers (even if it’s yourself) and do the thing that scares you anyway. Sometimes you’ll fail, but as the poem says, what if you fly? (learn more about that quote — which I’ve slightly altered — and its author in this post here).

The trouble with most comedians who try to do satire is that they are essentially brash, noisy, and indelicate people who have to use a sledge hammer to smash a butterfly.— Imogene Coca

When brash is not okay
I think there is a growing trend, no doubt fueled by social media and FOMO — and race directors too — to race too much and too often. People are lured in by bling and bragging rights. Some runners can handle multiday races; some think they can handle it, can seem to handle it . . . until their body rebels.

I know personally there are times I can race a lot and times when I need more rest and recovery. As we age as runners, it’s tempting to ignore the little aches and pains and fatigue because we don’t want to admit our bodies can’t do what they once did. In this case ignorance is not bliss —  push too hard and you may push yourself right out of the race.

It’s not just us adult onset runners, either. Being brash can help you push through your fears and it can also get you in a whole heap of trouble.

Don’t be afraid to be brash, but don’t be brash because your friends are. Do it because it motivates you. And never ignore that little voice inside of you that is telling you that being brash in this instance would be a bad idea.

Deb Runs

I am linking up with Debruns and her Wednesday Word

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.

Tor-box

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

coachescorner

Tell me in the comments:

When do you think brash is okay?

When do you believe brash is too rash?

Has being brash ever gotten you into trouble?

Can you be content . . .

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. . . with failure?

Content: satisfied with what one has; not wanting more or anything else.

If you read my blog, the answer would seem self evident: I am not content with failure. Not content with being BOTP, not content with races where my training doesn’t seem to pay off, not content when I’m dealt a bad weather hand . . . shall we go on?

And when I do fail (and I will), I certainly don’t fall into the not wanting more or anything else.

It makes me sound like the a true grinch, doesn’t it? An angry, negative person? I hope my friends would set you straight, because I don’t consider myself to be that person.

My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.— Abraham Lincoln

Failure must be an option
When you’ve got astronauts trapped in outer space, I get it — you have to figure out a way to get them back. When it comes to racing, however, you’re going to fail. Probably over and over and over again.

Every failure is a step to success. — William Whewell

Even if you start running and everything is great, the PRs keep rolling in, you’re injury free — at some point the tables will turn. Maybe you get injured. Maybe your hard training doesn’t net you a PR. Maybe you fall out of love with running.

What you do next can make or break your running success. Do you hang up your running shoes and never race again? Do you stop running altogether? Do you just content yourself with past glories and assume your glory years are over?

Or do you dig deep and continue to race, continue to train, knowing that some day, some way, the training will pay off.

I hope it’s the latter. I had many running failures (as far as races are concerned). Disappointing race after disappointing race. Injury. Yet I kept at it, with no PRs, no AG awards — and then the PRs did start rolling in.

Every disappointing race was just a step towards success.

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There were a lot of disappointing halfs before this PR, just like there were a lot of tries at getting to a healthy weight before I could get to a place where I’ve been able to maintain a healthy weight.

It’s not a failure if you are content to keep trying
The only way we learn and grow is if we are not content with failure (sorry, Abe). Our biggest growth does come from our failures, because we learn from them and they build mental toughness.

I’m not suggesting that you need to be content with failure — seriously, who ever crossed the finish line of a bad race and say “go me!”. It’s okay to be disappointed and frustrated. Just channel that into motivating you to continue — but not so much that you over train and burn out or injure yourself. Be content with the knowledge that better races are out there for you.

It’s a brand new year for me. I have yet to race in 2018.  I have dreams and goals, but one thing I know for sure:

Whether or not my goals are achieved this year, I will believe that every failure is a stepping stone to a future success. I believe (there’s that 2018 word — do you remember yours?) that failures will happen, that I will learn from my failures, and that I will be content with the journey and in the knowledge that my failures will ultimately lead me towards even greater successes.
— Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy

Deb Runs

I am linking up with Debruns and her Wednesday Word

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.

Tor-box

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

coachescorner

Tell me in the comments:

Are you content with the journey?

Do you believe it’s possible to be content with the failures?