Here I am one year later – running a race that marked a pivotal point in my life, the General Montgomery Day race. It was the first race I ever ran and looking back, in one year’s time I have certainly accomplished a lot. A lot includes not only my skill and endurance but also my self confidence in me and life.
A good friend asked me how running has changed my life, so naturally I turned his question into a blog post. On this anniversary of running my first race, I am reflecting on my outlook on life and running.
Initially I didn’t plan to become a runner, I just wanted to participate in a runDisney event with my DBFF (Disney Best Friend Forever) and wear a tutu while doing it. That desire to wear a tutu turned into a desire to live a more fulfilling life – that must have been one powerful tutu!
Running has become the most effective tool for showing me what I am really made of. It has proved that I can push through barriers and that struggles are only obstacles that are meant to be hurdled and conquered. Running makes me feel strong, powerful, accomplished and an awesome role model for my daughter. As the miles accumulated so did my desire for more; not just more miles but more out of life.
While I was falling in love with this new ideal I began to go through a major transition in my life; in hindsight I see how running was preparing me for those changes.
Running not only helps me to realize I have no limits in what I strive to accomplish but it also broke me out of the small world I created for myself over the years. As life evolves I must evolve with it, just like my running goals. Running and racing has become my vehicle to see the world as a whole new beautiful and inspiring place – from my backyard to Infinity and Beyond!
I love a challenge by nature. This is partially how I became hooked on running. I continue to challenge myself with speed, endurance, mileage, strength, and wisdom. Running has forced me to dig deep within, not only physically but emotionally as well. Some people run to clear their mind but for me during emotionally trying times my running suffers greatly, making it an important priority to look deep within to unlock and release whatever is weighing me down, figuratively and literally.
So here I am one year later~
Some of my recent changes have taken quite a toll on me emotionally, spiritually, and at times physically. There are days that I just cry and I can’t possible run – but I know I am so very strong and capable of getting back up and brushing my knees off and tackling life. It may not be the next day, it may even take a whole week for me to put my running shoes back on, but I know I am going to do it. How do I know this? Because running has taught me that if I push back hard enough and I set my mind in the right place I can win any battle whether it’s a race or in life.
One year later I am not just a stronger runner, I am a stronger me. Some days I don’t feel so strong but I know that deep within, my strength is there, I just have to dig deep to release it- running has shown me this. Some challenges take longer to conquer and that is why they are called challenges. Running continues to teach me that conquering challenges takes time and patience, the patience part….. well I haven’t gotten there yet- I’m still working on that.
Oh! And by the way, that one year later of training brought my miles per minute for this General Montgomery Day 10K race from 11:39 in 2014 to 9:22 in 2015.
Don’t stop pushing, don’t stop dreaming, and don’t stop doing because you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to.
THE TRAINING PLAN
WHY SHOULD I HAVE A TRAINING PLAN? When using a proven strategy, a runner gains control over fatigue while improving motivation. Those who follow the right training plan, for the individual, tend to improve more, with less injury risk.
WOULD BEGINNERS BENEFIT MORE FROM A PLAN? Unfortunately, most beginners “run as they feel” or follow conflicting advice. This leads to confusion and more aches and pains. The right schedule will systematically increase the type of running needed for a goal, with strategic rest for rebuilding.
KEY TRAINING ELEMENTS:
1) A longer run builds endurance, 2) a hilly run builds strength, 3) Scenic or social runs insert fun and keep you coming back for more.
WHAT IS ADDED TO A PLAN IF THE GOAL IS TO RUN FASTER? The right training plan will gradually increase the speed repetitions needed for the individual goal. Easier days and rest days must be inserted before and after speed workouts. To avoid injury, the pace and the increase must be realistic for the individual.
EVERY OTHER DAY! Most runners—especially beginners—run best when they run every other day. This allows for the “weak links” to heal. The very slow long run is usually on the weekend, when there is more time available. Hills and fun days can be run on the short runs during the week (for example, Tuesday and Thursday)
SHOULD I EXERCISE ON NON-RUNNING DAYS? While you don’t have to exert yourself on non running days to improve your running, exercise will energize your mind, and improve your attitude and vitality—while burning some fat. So I recommend any exercise that does not fatigue the calf muscle, such as recreational walking.
DOES VARIETY HELP? Changing things a bit can improve motivation. You don’t have to change the “mission” on specific days, but alternating some of the courses or running with different groups can make each day more interesting.
WHAT ARE VARIOUS MISSIONS, FOR VARIOUS DAYS? Each type of run bestows a different benefit. Hill runs build strength. Drills that work on cadence, gentle acceleration and gliding will improve your running form. Long runs produce stamina and endurance.
WHAT SHOULD I DO THE DAY BEFORE AND THE DAY AFTER LONG OR FASTER RUNS? Take it easy on these days. Do little or no exercise, don’t over-eat, drink 8 glasses of water/sports drinks, and focus on how you will enjoy the next run.
SHOULD I SKIP THE REST DAYS—TO IMPROVE MORE QUICKLY? Not Recommended! It is during the days off from running that the running body rebuilds and improves. While some runners can get away with running short and slow runs on rest days for a while, these “junk miles” can compromise recovery and lead to injuries.
IF I DON’T LIKE A WORKOUT CAN I SUBSTITUTE? Following a consistent plan is more likely to lead to success and improve motivation. Those who pick various elements from different schedules experience more burnout and injury.