I “ran” a race!

As the registration for the Chicago Marathon 2012 opened this week, it reminded me of the first time I looked at that registration page.  I wonder how many of you are nervously looking at that page or one for a different race.

If you care to look back in my blog you’ll find several posts that cover races of varying distances. When I thought about standing at the starting line for my first 5K, I was nervous. Ironically, this was going to be my first race in preparation for my ultimate goal of my first marathon to take place in Chicago on 10-10-10.   I trained and successfully completed the Turkey Trot by running the entire distance.  BTW, any race with the word “trot” or “turkey” for that matter should not freak anyone out. These are friendly races and a great way for newbies to catch the racing bug.

As I got further along in my marathon training, it became obvious to my almost 40 year old- new to running- post childbearing (twins and one more) body that this was going to be a challenge like no other. I was wondering out loud to a neighbor about this crazy thing I was attempting. She introduced me to a concept by Jeff Galloway. He promotes a walk/run method to training and racing. Check out his website http://www.jeffgalloway.com/ .  Training and racing injury free was my ultimate goal and was I ever excited to know that someone had developed a program for it.

I know there are purists out there that think it doesn’t “really” count unless you run the whole distance, whatever that may be. To those people I say, “Run your race!”   To other people who are on the fence, let me tell you this. I have never participated in a race where a race official  has yanked a racer off the course when they started to walk the course. There are time limits and pace requirements, but all of them allow for the average person to walk parts, if not all, of the race. BELIEVE ME, I walked lots and lots of parts of lots and lots of longer distances. I had the same medal placed around my neck as the very first person who crossed the finish line.

See...my marathon medal matches the Kenyans' medals too.

I am in awe of those of you who can run long distances without a walking break. I have a few clients that school me constantly with their blistering paces and long runs.  I wish I could be a runner that makes it look like it’s no big deal to knock out a long series of 8 minute miles. Full disclosure…I ran one 8 minute mile and it almost killed me (not really, but it was UGLY).  If it is your goal to be one of these runners, you should definitely go for it.  I’m a big believer in setting and making progress towards your goals.

If you are looking to give yourself a little motivation toward getting more activity into your life, maybe a local 5K is in your future. If you have already completed a 5K and are looking for a bigger challenge, dare to dream of completing an 8K, 10K, half marathon or full marathon. Don’t let someone else (unless it’s your doctor) tell you that you can’t do such a thing. You should get clearance from your physician before beginning any exercise/training plan. You know I had to throw that in, and you know you really should do that.

Some training plans that might suit your training style

http://www.halhigdon.com/

http://www.nike.com/nikewomen/us/v2/media/pdf/marathon_beginner.pdf

http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml

http://www.jeffgalloway.com/

Redefine “runner” and you may find you are one after all.

Until next time…Live well! – Toni Kuhel

The Pursuit of Running Happy

November 2010 – I am an unhappy runner 😦                        

Soon after the Hot Chocolate 15K in November, the running mojo that carried me across the finish line of the Chicago Marathon 2010 got up and left me. I found it impossible to find motivation to run endlessly on the treadmill or to gear up and face the wintery streets of Naperville.  I could motivate others.  I fully believed my clients could achieve their goals and each and every one of them was making significant strides towards health and wellness.  But here I stood and doubted myself.  It was only in Florida this February where I was supporting my client Jessica in her first Run Disney event that the fog started to lift.  She was going for a personal best in a 5K distance after having to abandon her ½ marathon goal upon advice from her doctor.  It was at the “Happiest Place on Earth” that I found that elusive running mojo.  Until that light bulb moment, I ran only out of frustration. Needless to say that was not the best idea.  My state of mind affected my runs so much that I avoided them most days.   I don’t know if it was finally seeing the sun after months of gloomy winter days, spending uninterrupted time with a good friend and her family, the constant happy music that is part of the Disney experience, or the most awesome race expo ever, but I could feel myself believing I was a runner once more. I realized I hadn’t really set any fitness or running goals. It’s a bit like heading out on a road trip without a destination in mind. How could I plan my route without knowing where I wanted to finish. My goal the previous year was to cover the distances in all my races ending with the Chicago Marathon and to finish injury free.  Check and check!!!  Now what? 

February 2011 – I’m an inspired runner 🙂  

Time to set new goals -Feeling newly inspired I called my husband Alex in a frenzy and told him to sign me up for the Chicago Marathon 2011. I knew that the race would sell out soon and I had really put off the decision for a very long time.  He had witnessed my struggle to get moving with a purpose after the marathon blues took hold.  I think he thought I had lost my mind, but he also knew I was serious.  Knowing that running for the sake of running was not enough motivation, it was clear that filling up a race schedule was the only choice.  Dream Big! Think Big! Do big!

It wasn’t enough to just run the same distances/races again this year. I set another goal to set official PR’s (personal records) in all distances. This means adding speed work to my training.  Words like farklet,  800’s, 400’s, intervals, hill work, and tempo runs were all going to have to leak into my training vernacular.  This old dog is going to learn a lot of new tricks this year.

I still wanted to complete the racing season injury free so I decided to adopt a run/walk strategy for long distances.  I met Jeff Galloway at the Disney Race Expo and he shared lots of wisdom and motivation regarding distance training. 

Jeff Galloway and Jessica

 He is the father of the run/walk strategy and has trained thousands of runners for all distances.  Jeff Galloway took the time to talk to Jessica and me and sent us off with a can-do attitude.  I also decided that I would never run 2 days in a row.  My body responds best to a break from the pounding of running and it just makes it more enjoyable for me. That leads me to my last goal.

I want to run happy this year. I’m aware that it won’t always be a fun run, but I’m determined to find happiness somewhere in each run I do. My joy might come from the weather being ideal, the kids joining me, going farther, going faster, or it might be as basic as being thankful for just doing a run.  I’m going to soak up all the positive energy of race day. I’m going to enjoy the experience of race day including the pre-race excitement and post-race festivities when possible. I’ll try to shake off the pre-race nervousness or post-race disappointment I might have.

Having set these goals in February, you might be wondering how it’s been since the glow of Disney has worn off.  I have been adding speed work to my training and it has been brutal!!!!  It hasn’t killed me (yet), and I’m getting faster with each session.  I’ve remained injury free and have done a distance of 11 miles using the Galloway run/walk and it’s kept me from being sore.  I’ve been pretty happy for most of my training runs.

My first race for improving my time was a mixed bag of success.  My goal for the Shamrock Shuffle 8K was to just to improve 1 second faster than my 54:30 finish time last year. Last year it was snowing, windy and frigid.  This year it was 80 degrees, humid and sunny.  Bump #1 – I do much better in cooler weather and I hadn’t trained in any kind of heat yet. Bump #2 – I was nervous. I couldn’t help but feel the burden of my first time goal. Bump #3 – I missed my goal and finished in 55:22. CRAP! I fought feverishly to be positive despite that.   I know that you are supposed to slow your pace when temps are above 60 degrees. I know that if this was last year I would’ve finished with a time of about an hour.  These are the thoughts I tried to bring to the front of my mind after seeing the time on my Garmin. I did meet one goal. I had the best post-race experience EVER with my client/friend Renee. We drank our hard earned beers and stayed to enjoy the sun that we cursed during the race. We relaxed and danced like crazy people all day.  We laughed and ate and pretended it was summer.

Renee and I pre-Shuffle sporting striped socks to be a little wacky!

 

Post race reward

 

April 2011 – I’m a happy runner 🙂 🙂 🙂

So yet again I will look at this coming year as one full of learning.  While I’m busy living my life with my family, friends and work, I have things to work on.  I will eat right, sleep right, think right, and train right. Most importantly in terms of running… I will run happy.  How will you fill in this blank?

 I will __________ happy!

Until next time…Live Well!

Toni Kuhel