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Archive for February, 2012

If you want to run, or you want to get fit, or you want to lose weight, or you want to be healthier, or lower your cholesterol, or whatever it is that you are hoping to do some day, don’t let anything stop you.  Especially not how you think you look in your clothes.

I help hundreds of people each week at the store.  Sometimes they are experienced runners, but more often than not they are people who are just getting started and need a little help and encouragement.  I am more than happy to oblige.  I see how much running has changed my life and I want others to experience that too.

The other day a woman came into the store looking for some outdoor running clothes as she was about to run her first race.  What I heard from her was so typical though, this story could be about any number of people I’ve helped over the last year.

I made suggestions about what to wear, which included tights.  “Oh, I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t want everyone to see this part jiggling.”  She made a gesture towards her mid-section.  I was fed up.  “Listen,” I told her, “No one cares what you look like running.  Things will jiggle.  Everyone jiggles.”  A woman who took a clinic with me was also in the store at the time.  She chimed in too.  “No one is looking at your body.  They are just impressed that you’re actually out there.”

Yesterday, a gentleman was in the store, also trying on tights.  He made the same kind of comment — so it’s not just women.

Listen up, newbies and soon-to-be’s, If you want it, go out and get it.  Why would you let a little thing like worrying about what a stranger may or may not think of you in your tights stop you from doing what you want? Beyond that, I guarantee the typical response of someone seeing you in your running gear is not, “Oh my god, she looks so fat in that!” but “I should be out running too” or “Wow, look at her go!”  And finally, everyone jiggles.  Even the ultra-marathoner that runs every single day.

There was a point where I too was worried about what I looked like in my workout clothes.  But now I don’t care.  If someone is callous enough to think badly of me because of how I look when I’m out running, that is not someone I would want to associate with anyway.  Finally, when I’m out on the trail, I’m not thinking of how my thighs touch or how much my boobs bounce or my fat jiggles.  I’m thinking about getting through the miles so I can compete in my next race.  I’m thinking about the liberating feeling I get from moving so quickly down the road.  I’m thinking about the calories I’m burning (and the burger I’m going to eat later!) and how my resting heart rate and VO2 max is improving.  But most of the time, I’m just too distracted by the hard work I’m putting in to make room in my head for negative thoughts about my body.

Do you look like this when you run? If you do, great, it looks like you're having fun.

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My muddy running shoes, post-run

Every day at my job I see different types of people looking for running shoes.  Some of these people aren’t very serious about running, and just want something cute.  Others are just getting started and don’t really know what to do.  Still others are very serious runners, who know exactly what they want (and have been running a lot longer than me).  But my biggest pet peeve is when people complain about the color of the shoes: “I wish they were black.  These are going to look really dirty.”

I hate to tell you this, folks, but if you are worried about whether or not your running shoes get dirty, you are in the wrong sport.

You see, for me, and I suspect a lot of other runners, a really muddy or dirty running shoe is a badge of honor.  It indicates that you are a “serious” runner (whatever that means)– that you are more worried about the distances you go and your splits than about whether or not your clothes match*.  When your shoes are at the end of their life**, they should look like they’ve been through hell and back,  not like they’ve  just come out of the box.

So please, stop worrying about what your shoes look like, and start worrying about where they’ve taken you.

* Don’t get me wrong, I care deeply about whether or not I look cute when I go out for a run, but it’s not my only concern.

** For the love of God people, please, please, please replace your shoes more frequently.  A running shoe should last 300-500 miles, if you’re only wearing it for running.  If you are 120 pounds and you only run 10 miles a week, and don’t wear your shoes for anything else, you are looking at a maximum of 1 year.  If you weigh 250 pounds, and run the same amount of miles, your shoes should last you no longer than 7-8 months.  Anyone else, do the math.  But please, replace your shoes frequently.  If you are wearing a stability shoe, this is even more important.  The dual-density foam in the stabilizing part of the shoe doesn’t break down as fast as the rest of the shoe, so over time, you end up with a much larger medial post compared to the rest of the shoe than when you started.  This can mean you are over-correcting and can lead to injury.

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Via Steve in a Speedo

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Why I Run

Nothing eloquent or difficult today.  Just a list of ways that my life has improved since I started running.

  1. My resting heart heart rate
  2. My blood pressure
  3. My eating habits
  4. My ability to fall and stay asleep
  5. My relationship with my husband
  6. My job
  7. My self esteem
  8. The fit of my clothes
  9. The cleanliness of my house
  10. My mood
  11. My ability to follow-through with tasks and goals
  12. My self-control
  13. My patience

Okay, maybe a little introspection… Even though I was fired from a job last year and I make a lot less money than I did the previous year, and I lost 4 family members in the month of October, I can honestly say that my life is so much better today than it was a year and a half ago.  I feel like so many of the difficult things that have happened in the last year could have been a lot worse had I not picked up running.  I am able to better handle disappointment and tragedy because I have something in my life that makes me feel better no matter what chaos is happening around me.  My only wish is that I had picked it up sooner.  So many things could have gone better in my life had I kept running past my first year of college.  Now I can only promise myself that I will continue running for the rest of my life.  But I also hope that by sharing my story and inspiring others, I can pass that therapeutic activity on to others.

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I wrote this last summer when I was teaching the Learn to Run clinic at the Running Room.  It was published in the Running Room’s emagazine when I was profiled as Instructor of the Month.

I took on the challenge of teaching the Learn to Run clinic with a bit of trepidation.  What could I possibly have to offer to a group of people new to running?  I don’t have a degree in sports training.  I’ve only been running for a little more than a year, and honestly, have only considered myself a “runner” for the past few months.  But this summer, I accepted the challenge, with a little encouragement from my store manager; and as I crossed the finish line of a 5K with one of my LTR clinic members, I realized that, without a doubt, I loved teaching, coaching, and encouraging others.

Cee, the clinic member who completed the 5K with me, needed a lot of encouragement.  Every Tuesday, I tried to decide if I really felt like running that day.  Remembering that Cee, and my other clinic members, were relying on me, kept me motivated.  If I didn’t show up, what was the likelihood that Cee would complete the training, let alone register and finish the 5K at the end of August?  With persistence, Cee and I completed the 5K last weekend.  As we rounded a final bend, approaching the finish line, a volunteer called out encouragement.  “Great work!  You’re almost there!”  And then, almost as an afterthought, “Great job, coach!”

I didn’t have a coach when I was becoming a runner.  There is something to be said for the journey that I took, however.  Alone.   Unsupported.  Just me against the world (and the pavement).  That’s the kind of stuff sports hero movies are made of.  Certainly it made me stronger.  Making this my battle, and my battle alone, has given me a certain pride in what I now do.

But I’ve continued running because of the support I am now able to offer new runners.  I get great joy out of seeing someone return to the store again and again, describing their recent triumphs – “I actually ran for an hour straight the other night!  Can you believe it?” – and encouraging them to go farther – “Absolutely, you can do the 5K.  You’ve trained for this.”  Without the camaraderie, there is a distinct possibility that I would have quit after my first race.  Knowing that I am someone who can inspire others to do things they never thought were possible keeps me on the trail.

Recently, a running friend posted this on Facebook: “Running brings together people who otherwise wouldn’t have anything in common.”  I immediately “liked” the comment.  And it made me reflect on how many people I have met since I started running.  On the trail the other day I waved and said hello to a few people I recognized from Run Club.  At the 5K there were dozens of people who I’ve seen in the store, helped choose gear, or encouraged to register for a race.   I was part of a community, a community that I, in some small way, helped to create.

Cee and I crossed the finish line at what was, for me, a brutally slow pace.  But she was happy.  She had finished 5 minutes faster than her last 5K race.  Now she is registered for the 10K clinic, and she has made a positive change in her life.  Every time I see her, she looks happier and healthier than the last time.  I am proud to have helped her make that change and to have helped her cross the finish line for a PR.

In a few weeks I’ll start training for my first half marathon.  In the meantime, I’ve started teaching the 5K clinic, where, once again, I am coaching and encouraging, and turning someone into a runner.

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