Friday, January 25, 2013

My relationship status with running: It's complicated.

I have a love/hate relationship with running.

Our current status? In blissful love.

The past ten years? Off and on.

High school and before? Deep, deep hatred.

I should clarify that when I talk about running, I usually mean middle-distance and distance running, not sprinting. Sprinting and I have always been on pretty good terms. Sprinting was always a part of the sports I played: soccer, basketball, tennis... you sprint to chase after a ball. I understood it. There was a goal, something to go for. But then I decided to follow in my (record holding) sister's footsteps and try track my freshman year of high school.

That was a mistake. I didn't care for the coach and I was way too immature to appreciate that running itself is a sport. I was told, because of my body shape at the time, that I should be a middle distance and distance runner; I did not agree and therefore held a grudge the entire season and dreaded going to practice. I barely got through practice runs and had incredible anxiety before and during meets. The only event that I enjoyed and that quenched my desire to sprint - the triple-jump - was the one that my sister (a senior when I was a freshman) also competed in. I did okay with it. She'd always place first and I'd sometimes place third; that was pretty cool.

But the middle distance and distance events? I was always one of the last ones to finish. It sucked and I didn't go back.

(In hindsight it was a good thing, the next year I picked up tennis, captained the team my junior and senior year and went on to play in college.)

Fast forward to post-college: my main forms of exercise became rec soccer and training for sprint triathlons. I began to run and I began to like it. I'd still rather bike, or swim, or play a team sport. But I'd run in some 5ks and 5 milers, and one half-marathon, because I had friends or family running in them too. I never came close to finishing in the top quarter of the race. I was lucky if I finished in the top half of my age group, but I was growing okay with it.

In fact, my rocky relationship with running also probably has something to do with the fact that I have some really amazing runners in my life: my husband (a sub 3 hour marathoner), one of my best girlfriends (sub 3:15 marathoner) and my sister (a stud Div. 1 track athlete) - I'd compare myself to them, and figure everyone else was too, so I decided since I wasn't near any of their levels, the sport just wasn't for me.

Fortunately, with age comes wisdom, or, more accurately: as I grow older, I care less and less about what other people think.

When I became pregnant with the little guy I had a small base of running under me. I was running to keep in shape for roller derby, but my fast twitch muscles were definitely more formed than my slow ones. I ran (off and on) for probably the first 14 weeks of my pregnancy. Then it just got too uncomfortable (I still worked out, almost daily, just in other ways). I ran again for the first time probably 8 weeks postpartum: little by little, one mile at a go.

Maybe it was because I had a break from running, or because I had to start from zero postpartum, but during the last year I really began to love it. It was a struggle, getting back to the point where I could run three miles consistently again, and stroller running was pretty difficult to get used to, but it's working for me. I've ran a few 5ks (With the little guy in the stroller and without. With friends and racing for myself). And I finished the Ragnar Adirondacks (a 200 mile relay race) with a group of 11 other amazing mamas.

I mentioned it briefly in my last running post, but I'm enjoying running so much, and the camrederie it creates, and the good it can do (both mentally and physically) that I'm helping to organize a 5k run around here, and it's for a great cause.

If you made it this far, thank you for letting me work through my running issues! I'll be sure to keep the blog updated with our tumultuous relationship.

On that note, here's my favorite running workout that's easy to do on a treadmill (which is where most of my running is taking place due to the frigid cold right now). I find the "break" after each mile really makes the running part go by quickly:


Marlow said...

LOVE the treadmill workout!

Jen said...

I should try that workout too. I hate running. But want to love it? I did the 5k last year and liked it. I should start training again. Bill loves to run 5ks together.

Liz said...

Thanks Marlow! I felt the need to incorporate the picture of the little guy with the medal; it cracks me up.

I hear you Jen. I was there. That's awesome Bill loves to run 5ks together. Me and A run 5ks together, but certainly not at the same time if you know what I mean (he's so darn fast!)

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