Running Evolution

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The Early Days:
I was so completely clueless… I didn’t know anything about technical apparel, about being fit for proper shoes, or even the term pronation. I hadn’t heard anything about chafing and didn’t ever experience it until I was over halfway into my first marathon, when I started feeling a burning pain under my arm as my sports bra began to eat into my skin. I didn’t know anything about gels or fuel or hydration… it’s a wonder I survived!

There is a podcast called “Two Gomers Run a Marathon“. It’s well done and entertaining, but the thing that I really enjoy is just listening to these guys learn and experience everything in the training process. They ask questions that I was too naïve or uninformed to even think of then, but it gives me warm, fuzzy feelings to recall those days.

To sum it up… I was a Gomer.

(Their show was previously”Two Gomers Run a Half Marathon” and they trained for the 2009 PF Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. They came across the finish line right around the same time as my mom during that race, she’s the one that originally found them and introduced me to their show.)

The Next Phase:
This is the time period where I became uber-strict about everything. I was doing every run on my schedule exactly, no more and no less. I was extremely unbending in my need to eat the exact same thing every Friday night before Saturday morning long runs. (Which means my husband stopped eating dinner with me because he didn’t want the same safe pasta every week!)

My whole life revolved around marathon training. It dictated when I woke up and when I went to sleep every day. I planned every minute of the week so that I was doing my best with this plan… or what I perceived to be the best at that time.

I was training to run with Team in Training at this time, so I wanted to follow every bit of instruction I got from my coaches so that I would make it to the race and finish. I had too many wonderful people who had donated money in my fundraising, I couldn’t let them down by doing something “wrong”!

The Next Phase:
Coming out of that race, I gave up some of my rigid rules, but I was tired. I was overtraining and not taking care of myself. I ran a marathon, a couple 5Ks, a couple half-marathons, 18 & 20-mile trainings in just a few short weeks before toeing the line for the next marathon. The DNF was a result of that time.

I took a little while to chill out, then moved into training for some half marathons. I wasn’t training with other people, everything that I was doing was basically “my time”. I spent a lot of time on the roads with audiobooks on my iPod and logged some pretty high mileage (for me, at least). But I did get a little too dependent upon the release that came from running, which lead to injury and a weakened immune system.

The Current Phase:
Right now I’m not necessarily training for a specific race. I have dreams of things I would like to do, but nothing is concrete right now. I make my training schedule on a week-by-week basis, based on whatever I feel like I want to do. Different foods are allowed for dinners, even if they fall before a long run. (But then, I’m not doing any 18-20 milers at this time… I might not be QUITE as cavalier if I were.)

I wish I could say there was a more relaxed feeling to my running. In some ways I guess there is, but there is an undercurrent of both being glad yet uneasy at the fact that I’m just running to keep running… to feel that joy and release that comes from the activity. And when I phrase it like that I feel a little guilty that I feel guilty for not having any real solid training/racing plans. But it’s what has to work for me now.

It will be fun to see what the next phase brings, but for now I’m (mostly) content with this phase.

What changes have you noticed in your running as you accumulate more running years?

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