marathon runner

Running is Hard

One of the things I’ve needed to remind myself of post-injury is the fact that RUNNING IS HARD. Running HURTS.

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Running HURTS. You will push yourself to the brink and then run a little further.  The funny thing about running is that it is often difficult to distinguish between legitimate pain (i.e. injury) and just the discomfort of pushing ourselves hard. For me I knew immediately when I was truly injured. It felt different than the normal aches and pains of running.

Running CHALLENGES. Once you reach a goal, there’s always another goal not far behind it. At first my goal was to run without walking or stopping. Then it was running a certain distance, then it was running a certain distance within a certain amount of time. Then the goal was racing. The challenges and goals were always evolving.

Running is MENTAL. I will think a million times during a run “I can’t do this” and “I want to stop! I can’t make it to the finish!” but most of the time it’s all in my head. It’s a mental block, something in me telling me I CAN’T when I know I CAN. I often tricked myself when I was running and starting to feel that mental block creeping into my thoughts. I would tell myself “One More Mile” or “Just run to that lamppost down the street and then you can walk” and most of the time by I got to that lamppost I had gotten over that mental block and kept running.

Running can be INCONSISTENT. Sometimes the food I ate the night before makes a difference. Sometimes the snack I eat right before the run can really effect my run. Weather, clothing, moods, everything can effect the performance of a runner. The important thing to remember is that not every run is going to be great. There will be ugly runs, slow runs, fast runs, great runs.

Running is NOT FREE. Sure, in theory it could be a super cheap form of exercise. In reality it’s not. Don’t make the mistake of skimping on the gear. Get fitted for running shoes at a real running store. It makes a huge difference for comfort and injury prevention. I am so serious about this one. Pay the extra money for good shoes. Same with socks. Don’t wear cheapo socks that will give you blisters. I like Smart Wool (available at REI, Nordstroms and online) and have never had blisters when I use those running socks.

Running is WORTH IT. The pain sucks. Sometimes it’s really sucky. When you’re running and tired and your legs are burning and your brain tells you you can’t make it, you wonder if it’s worth it. Is it worth it? Totally. Hood to Coast hurt. It was brutal and a lot of it was miserable. I don’t regret doing it at all. Would I do that particular race again? No. But I am happy I did it!

Running isn’t COMPARABLE. Stop comparing yourself to other runners. One thing my running injury taught me was to stop comparing myself to other runners, other bloggers. There will always be people faster than me, or slower than me. If I run a race, I’m a runner–whether I cross the line first or last.  Just because I’m not running a marathon every weekend or continually training for some race doesn’t mean I’m not a runner. I’m more than a runner. I’m a swimmer, biker, hiker, walker, weight lifter. All of those things make me a stronger runner.

“When all else fails, start running!”

-Dean Karnazes

QUESTION: In what way is running hard for you?

Super Athlete Interview #1 – Kristin

A new feature on the blog will be interviewing people that have competed in athletic competitions: Marathon Runners, Cyclists, Swimmers, Triathletes…anyone! Please contact me if you would like to participate.

First Interview: Kristin, Marathon Runner

1. Why do you run?

I run because it keeps me both mentally and physically healthy.  I’ve also found that I’m more personally competitive than I ever knew.  I find it very rewarding and very encouraging to work hard and see results.  “Runners High” is real!
2. How long had you been running?

I started running in college, but didn’t run my first real race (a 10K) until I was 21(I’m now almost 29).  Then I spent 2 years out of the U.S. and tried to get back into it when I got back as I was seriously unhealthy and out of shape.  But it wasn’t until 2008 that I actually got serious.  I ran my first full marathon in Newport, OR and I have since run 3 more, along with many other races in between and I’ve never felt better.
3. What tips do you have for new runners?

Take your time and build slowly!  Especially if you have big goals.  It can be very discouraging to be working towards something big and get an injury because you are putting in too many miles.  Running with groups or just a friend who pushes you has always worked great for me.  It’s nice to have someone or many people that inspire you.  When I first started out, my brother was already very into running marathons and his encouragement and work ethic really motivated me.
4. You recently ran in the Eugene Marathon, how did you train for it? What was your time?

I ran the Portland Marathon (10/09) and then kind of slacked off for a few weeks, but basically kept my level of fitness up.  Then I ran a half marathon in January and from there I was more officially “in training” for Eugene.  I was able to break 4 hours (3:58:15) at the Portland marathon and my brother started planting ideas in my head about Boston qualification, so I added track workouts to my normal routine (although I wasn’t super consistent).  I was also really good about doing push-ups regularly.  Other than that I ran up to about 23 miles (added 3 miles on to a long 30K trail run) on my last long run.  It took me about 4 hours and I think it helped me more than I knew.  So I finished Eugene in 3:37:45. A PR by about 21 minutes and a Boston qualification! I was out to prove something that day and I did.  I had a lot of help from good friends and family along the way.  It was hard, but it felt amazing!
5. What tips do you have for runners who want to be faster?

Track workouts make you faster and they are fun!  The Red Lizards have a free workout every Tuesday.  It’s for all levels and a great workout.  I also really believe in working on upper body strength and core strength.  I try to do planks whenever I do push-ups and it has helped me feel stronger and push harder.

6. You’ve run in many half marathons and marathons. Which is your favorite one? How did you train for the half vs. the full marathon?

My favorite race was the Portland Marathon.  I loved running in my town and having my friends out there to cheer me on.  It was also so well supported.  I felt like I was being cheered on the whole way.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  The only difference in training for me is mileage and time on my feet.
7. What is your favorite pre-run fuel/meal?

I usually eat one banana and a plain bagel with a little cream cheese.  That’s my go to meal.

8. You qualified for Boston. What’s your plan for that?

My plan for Boston is to take it all in and enjoy it.  I say that now, but I’m sure my competitive edge will kick in when the time comes and I’ll try to get a good time.  I would like to at least break 4 hours.  I’m running my first ultra-marathon in September, Portland in October, and then I’ll probably start all over again with the Vancouver Lake ½ marathon in January and cruise on into Boston

9. Have you ever had an injury?

I’ve never had an injury that has kept me down for more than a week.  Anything I’ve experienced has just been extra pain or soreness that needed extra rest.  And I feel lucky about that!  I’m knocking on wood as we speak.

Thanks, Kristin for having such well thought-out answers!