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The best big day preparation? Running!

July 24, 2011

I’ve been running like Forrest Gump lately and loving it. But in my typical fashion, I’ve set lofty goals and subsequently beat myself up this week in two instances in which I failed to meet – or exceed – them.

The first was Wednesday during an evening 5K. It was about 95 degrees outside and humid, and the course had three steep hills, each spread out by mile. So by mile #3, when I was already tired, you can imagine how warmly I welcomed the last incline. I’m not going to lie – there may have been a tear or two when I saw that last hill looming in the distance. My body just gave out on that hill, and I had to walk the last half of it, picking up my pace again once I hit level ground. Despite my slowdown, I still took almost a full minute of my mile pace. Yet I still silently chided myself for having to walk. I should have run more to prepare. I should have run outside, up hills. I need to train more days each week. The running criticism I finally stopped this year – after 20 years – returned.

Yesterday, despite the 92 degree weather and humidity once again, I decided to go for a trail run, known to be more difficult than running on asphalt. Between the extreme heat and swarms of gnats along the trail, I had to cut my 40-minute run short to about 25 minutes, with 15 minutes of intermittent walking. Again, I got frustrated and told myself I should be further along in my training by now. How am I ever going to run a 10K if I can’t jog for a measly 40 minutes?

When I got home, I emailed one of my new favorite bloggers, tri-athlete Caitlin Boyle of Healthy Tipping Point, to ask her for tips on running in the heat. She promptly replied with a link to a previous post on that exact topic, and darned if it didn’t mention taking walking breaks and that your pace will decrease in the heat.

Then the light bulb moments:

  1. I was being way too hard on myself. Rather than beating myself up, I should have been taking these experiences as learning opportunities. I now know that I need to hydrate more before races in the heat and work hills into my training. I also need to cover myself in heavy-duty bug spray before trail runs, replace my cotton running gear with a breathable fabric and invest in a waist pack to carry water with me on my runs. All of this will make me a better runner, and, without these crappy experiences, I never would have figured that out.
  2. I needed to put things in perspective. Despite the hills and heat, I finished the 5K and took time off my pace. Yesterday, I still ran 25 minutes – something I couldn’t have done six months ago. And last night, I was able to wear pants I bought at the start of the season that are one size smaller. Success? I’d say so.
  3. My two experiences are perfect metaphors for wedding planning – and life. There are always going to be changes in plans, and things will end up being more difficult than they initially seemed. But in the end, as long as I don’t give up, things work out.

I’m feeling more prepared than ever for my next run – and the final three months of wedding planning!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. ciaranaustin permalink
    July 24, 2011 3:17 pm

    Great post, really helpful so thank you! If you’d like to check out my post on running, you can find it here:
    http://ciaranaustin.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/running-my-new-passion/
    Thanks.

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