Sunday, February 24, 2013

Let's Keep it Safe!

I have control issues from time to time. I discovered this on the trail as my pace group mates were not following the rules of the trail. I should mention, I like to follow the rules for the most part. I do make some distinctions between rules and the spirit of the rules but when it comes to the trail, rules are rules. They are there for a reason; our safety!

Running groups can be extremely rewarding but sometimes equally frustrating. Read this blog post about the different types of runners to understand what I mean by a running group (or what this blogger calls club runners. Just a quick disclaimer, I do love the Angry Jogger but proceed with caution if you are sensitive to language... I've been reading the Angry Jogger's blog for awhile and often find myself laughing  out loud while, in some cases, feeling slightly uncomfortable about the topic).

Back to trying to make a point...

When running in groups you have to make some concessions and accept where you fit in and not force it. I have discovered over the past couple of years that, for me, the most important feature of group running is adjusting to the dynamics of the group and recognizing that sometimes I simply don't have control. I also have to recognize that I can't control of group of 30 or so people while on the trail, and for goodness sake, it isn't even my job!!! Sue, my friend and running buddy, pointed out my control issue one morning and I am oh so glad she did!!!

On one crisp morning there were a number of runners in our group who were running wider than two abreast on the trail. I was getting angsty while watching this very poor trail use behavior and decided to try to correct it. I told stories about being clipped by cyclists, and times I've almost run people over as a cyclist but the reality is, if I'm following the rules I am not the one who looks bad AND I'm also not the one who is going to get run over by a bicycle, so I need to get over it, right?

Well not totally... I feel that in life we have a responsibility to point out a potentially harmful situation when noticed, but our job stops there... Point it out and move on. As a cyclist, dog owner and a runner, I do believe I am more hyper sensitive to trail etiquette than most people because I don't want to get hurt, have my dog killed or injure a child while using the multi-purpose trails around town.

So, one of the reasons I enjoy my athleticism so much is because I dictate what happens every day athletically. I dictate or control my training schedule, when I work out, distance, pace, etc. I do believe one of the things runners like is the sense of control or peace they find while running. What I don't have control over is how others utilize a shared resource, like a multi-use trail.  Why, oh why would I continue running down a path that causes me such angst when all I'm trying to do is find my balance and peace on the trail?

During the run described above I discovered that I can only control myself. I did what I could to help out my fellow runners so as to keep them and the other trail patrons safe and now I need to move on, so move on is what I have done.

To protect myself from an angsty run and better grasp the control I so evidently need, I have discovered that running in the front of the pack is the best place for me so as not to get frustrated by the poor trail manners of my running mates. I do believe this keeps us all much happier.

Sarah's Guide to Trail Safety for Runners

  • Stay to the right, the far right that is! When people are coming from both directions and a cyclist needs to pass, if both runners in both directions are far enough to the right, the cyclist will be able to safely pass.
  • Run no more than two wide. This means that no more than two people should be running next to each other. Also, see the first bullet point. Just because you are following this rule, it does not mean you are following the first rule. I have seen plenty of people running next to each other but then run on the wrong side of the trail. You will get run over! Oh, and if there are three people in your pack, accept that one of you might get left out of part of the conversation. It happens!
  • Get off the trail as you are turning around so you can properly check both directions for moving trail users. This will eliminate you cutting off a faster group or cyclist before continuing on with your personal running adventure. 
  • Clean up after yourself! Just because you can throw your cups on the road during a race does NOT mean you should do it when out training. Unless you have a personal assistant running behind you to pick up your Gu packets or cups, you should pocket your garbage and throw it away yourself. 
  • Let people know when you are going to run past them. This is rarely necessary for me as a runner since I am so slow, but if you happen to be a fast runner, us slow folks like to try and get out of your way!
Don't worry runners, I don't think you are the only people guilty of inadequate trail etiquette. A future post with cycling rules will be coming up in the near future! 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Stubborn Love

I have completed a full week of my half iron training. I swear, when I cross the finish line of this event I'm getting a crazy tattoo to commemorate all the effort that has been put into it! After one week I have logged almost 70 miles of activity. The truth of the matter is that in just one day in June I will have covered a similar distance. Did you get that? In ONE day over 70 miles.

On the music front I have been kind of obsessed with the Lumineers lately and especially obsessed with the song Stubborn Love. The song Stubborn Love has been especially enlightening because the chorus repeats over and over again to keep your head up, keep your love. Now, I realize this is supposed to be some strange love song but I've turned it into some strange training song instead!

Training and the friends that come along with it emulate an unconditional love... You keep your commitments to your training and your training buddies/friends regardless of the situation which allows you to keep strong even in difficult times. Kind of like my love for my dog even though he likes to wake me up early in the morning on sleep in days with a swift lick to the face or bark with his nose almost touching my nose. I suspect I will come to love this intense training schedule by the end of this training cycle.

I actually made it through this first week of training fairly unscathed! Sure I walked away from one of my runs  this week with tears streaming down my cheeks. What were the tears for? I don't know. I didn't hurt, the run felt fine but for some reason I was reacting to my environment  This is where the Lumineers came into play again. On the radio, the first lyrics I heard that night, after the run, were It's better to feel pain, than nothing at all. As I mentioned before, I have no idea what I was feeling but I was feeling something, and damn it, that was a gift. One of my friends pointed out that the tears could have been from sheer exhaustion, but they also could have been because I was feeling loss of my relaxation time. I don't know but those lyrics kept ringing through my ears...

With that being said, the next phrase in the song is "the opposite of love is indifference" and I certainly don't feel indifferent. I am already noticing physical changes to my body and have certainly noticed a change in my attitude. I love this feeling. It is giving me this confidence that I can do this thing!

So I decided that I need to pay attention to the positives rather than the negatives! Which is interesting too because the Lumineers pointedly state in the next phrase of the song: "So pay attention now, I'm standing on your porch screaming out, and I won't leave until you come downstairs." Perhaps the tears were exactly what I needed, they were the gift that made me open my eyes and notice all these positive changes.

Whatever the case, I went on and finished my week of training and am looking forward to going into the next week stubbornly sticking to my training schedule with my head up!

I should note that I'm fairly certain the Lumineers wrote this song about love and were not planning on it being interpreted by some crazy athlete from Ohio who likes to compare everything to her athletic pursuits.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bonus Post: Outcomes

I consider myself a fairly well rounded person. I work hard at most things I do with the exception of cleaning. I mentioned in my post last week that I truly enjoy bringing friends along for the ride when I embark on new athletic adventures. This helps me maintain balance; I get friend time and workout time all wrapped up into one. They also remind me to come up for air if I start getting in over my head.

A few weeks ago I was on the phone with one of my friends talking about how I got her into running. She ran a 5k with me and then another and then a 10 miler and then a half marathon. We still run together to this day! We started talking about foiled plans in 2012 to do a triathlon relay together, along with another friend of ours...

Unfortunately, one of the players in the relay team is unavailable this year but we were still talking about wanting to make this relay happen. As this conversation was progressing, another friend was listening and swiftly announced that she would swim!!!

My immediate reaction was similar to a little kid who was just given their first video game, they never want to stop playing! I of course jumped on her committment, found a race and swiftly got our cyclist on board. Now to do it!!! While all this was happening one of my friends said to me that I just got myself another 'outcome'. We all laughed, and I considered this statement and talked about it but I have come to realize that bringing someone along is not an outcome but instead an infection that spreads. This getting in shape thing really is contagious and I'm just another player along for the ride.

So I'm going to ask all of my exercise buddies to rally around an addition to our elite club as I and a couple of inspiring and amazing women train to do a Olympic Distance Triathlon relay in July. It will be a little over a month after my first iron distance tri, and my team mates first venture into organized endurance sports. The only outcome I anticipate from this event is increased confidence and a deeper respect for my friends/team mates!

And here is a walk through memory lane of adventures I have embarked on with friends over the years in no particular order.

My first 10k about four years ago!

My first half marathon 3 years ago. 

My friend's first 5k about two years ago.

My friend's first 10 miler. 

The Warrior Dash two years ago. 

My second 10 miler with my sister!

A triathlon with my sister and friend three years ago. 

Bike the drive four years ago with my cousin!
No good post comes without a picture of my dog in his new ride!

Olympic Distance Triathlon last year (outfits were NOT planned). 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Training is Your Friend

Training starts on Monday for the biggest event I have ever committed to/registered for up to this point. To say I am excited is an understatement. I don't know why I am excited about the training other than it will be a true test of my will. As I have stated on my blog before, I have a history of not training properly for sprint distance triathlons. To relate this to life, not training properly is equivalent to the frustration you may feel when you have a friend who never follows through. Basically your training is your friend.  You are expecting certain results from that friendship but you only get our of it, what you put into it.

Someone once said to me that I am only responsible for the 50% of the 100% of a relationship. I thought about this for some time and started considering the friendships where I simply did not get the results I was expecting. For instance, we have all had that one friend that consistently responds to everything except for when you are trying to get together, or always cancels on you. It makes you wonder why you would even do the work to maintain the relationship.

On the other hand, you may have been the friend who is/was always waiting for better plans. Well I am approaching training as if it is one of my friends. I don't ever want to be considered the person who makes my friends the second choice so I am going to treat training as I treat people. I plan to put into it, exactly what I want to get out of it. If I train and work hard, it will give me the strength to get across the finish line.

Now you should know that participating in triathlons is no easy feat. There is a coordination that, for even a person who thrives on controlled chaos, needs to have to manage the training. There are swimming caps, helmets, goggles, towels, running shoes, cycling shoes, hydration, sunglasses, bikes, fuel, cycling gloves, etc. that all need to be put together and organized to get out the door for your workouts. If you know anything about me, you know there is nothing remotely coordinated about me. For crying out loud, I apparently left my car door open in a parking lot while out for a bike ride this week! As a matter of fact I have been referred to that character in Charlie Brown who is followed around by a dust cloud. I think his name is Pigpen. Not something I am terribly proud of but it is fact!

So, to set myself up for success I have been spending valuable time trying to organize my stuff to get prepared for the training that is about to begin. This has included finding a pool schedule that works for me, organizing all of my sport boxes (each box is for a different sport and holds the essential items for that sport),  preparing my bike, recruiting a swimming buddy (I'll tell you about this in a future post) and the list goes on...

Over the last few years I have seen the finish line of many 5k - 10 mile runs, half marathons, a marathon, some long rides, and a handful of triathlons of varying distances. All of these events were successful because I got over my lack of training slump! I have learned that accomplishing the goal is that much more rewarding when you put into it exactly what you want to get out of it, similar to friendships!

So tomorrow I will wake up at 5:00 with my bags packed and head to the pool!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Diet Coke

I haven't been this sore in a long time. I ran six miles yesterday but I also ran six miles on Wednesday. I wasn't sore on Thursday but damn my body is feeling it today. I blame it on the strength training Friday. On top of it my PF has flared up on the opposite foot that sidelined me in the fall. I have been stretching the heck out of my foot and calf hoping for relief. I promised myself when I went through Physical Therapy that I would religiously do my exercises FOREVER!!! Well, forever slowly turned into when I feel like it; that does not produce results. 

Yesterday I got my common sense back and I committed to daily PF exercises for one week. Did them yesterday and already did them today. Everything can be done for a week! For example, this week I decided to quit ingesting aspartame. Why is this a big deal? Well I had an extreme addiction to Diet Coke! I honestly had myself convinced that I only drank a couple of Diet Cokes a day, but have come to realize I was drinking mostly Diet Coke every day. I will admit I quit drinking Diet Coke as a joke because I read an article about how aspartame causes formaldehyde poisoning. However, I have found research to refute this 'fact' but onward I went with my commitment to give up Diet Coke. Today I have seven days free of Diet Coke!!!

So, what does this have to do with anything? 

All of this is about control. I didn't take control of my PT exercises and here I sit feeling slightly injured again. I haven't been mindful of my strength, which is why my body is feeling the challenge of my last two work outs. I was no longer honest with myself regarding the amount of Diet Coke I was drinking on a daily basis and here I sit wishing for just one more sip...

I should mention my training is still going well and it is all in thanks to my good friends, running group AND myself for taking control and sticking with it!

But damn I just want a Diet Coke!!!!!!!