* I wish I could take credit for this awesome tag line but it belongs to the great guys at NoMeatAthlete.com. Lately though it has become my personal mantra.
Let me start out this post by stating very clearly that I am not an athlete. I dreaded PE in junior high. I was always picked last for teams. I couldn’t hit a softball, yet always managed to get hit in the head with the volley ball. When we had to run the mile in school, I was usually the kid who opted to walk it. (And when they put the hurdles on the track that was practically a Saturday Night Live sketch.) I was the smart kid, the funny kid, but never in a million years the athletic kid.
I first dabbled in running close to eight years ago. I was trying to lose weight for my wedding and started taking long walks through the neighborhood after work. Those one mile walks quickly turned into two miles, and then three and then five. The fresh air did wonders on calming my pre-wedding stress, and soon the results were noticeable on my waist line. One day during one of my five mile treks, and little voice inside my head whispered, “Hey, why not trying jogging for a few minutes?” I laughed at it and kept on my with walk, but the next day when the voice was back, I tentatively quickened my pace into a gentle jog for approximately thirty seconds. Once I was able to breathe again and my heart rate returned to normal, I realized that that really wasn’t so bad.
Over the next few months, I intermixed short jogs in with my walks, increasing the jogging increments a little more each time until finally I could (slowly) jog for the entire five miles.
After my wedding, I entered into some local 5Ks and one 10K, but then I got cocky and tried for a 20K. Keep in mind, I was on no official training plan, and now that the wedding was over and the pressure to lose weight was off, I was only running once or twice a week. I ran/walked the 20K to the end but the dull ache in my left hip that had been left untreated for the last few months had turned into a sharp pain by the finish line. Not good. (I found out later that a ridiculously tight IT band had caused me to alter my stride, and I ultimately pulled some muscles and herniated a disc in my back. Yikes!)
My doctor recommended that I take several months off, which somehow turned into over a year. I briefly contemplated getting back into running again and then immediately got pregnant with my daughter. She is four and a half now . . . time to lace up my shoes and try again.
I’ll admit, it wasn’t easy at first. Using the running app Couch25K, I slowly jog/walked around my neighborhood, admonishing myself for taking so much time off. But then something happened . . . . things just “clicked” again. Suddenly, I found myself planning my schedule around my runs and cursing my training plan because I had to take a day off. Within two months of starting over, I was back to being able to run five miles at a decent clip.
This time around I am smarter. I foam roll almost daily (goodbye tight IT band!), stretch, do yoga and regularly see a massage therapist.
But, I think my biggest advantage this time around is my diet. I eat primarily whole foods, with a focus on lots of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Maybe it is in my head, but I swear my recovery time between runs is much faster than it ever was in the before, and my energy level is astounding. In the past I would run after work, which often got sidetracked by late nights at the office or happy hours. Now, I am up at 4:30 and hitting the track at 5:00 because I know that is the only time of the day that is guaranteed “me” time.
Below are some pictures from a local Veteran’s Day 11K I ran this week. I averaged a 9:38 mile and finished 82 out of 140. While I won’t win any awards anytime soon, I’m faster than I was eight years ago and I was happy to finish with a smile on my face.
Now it’s time for a 13.1 sticker for my car . . . stay tuned!
Veteran’s Day 11K at Burke Lake in Fairfax, Virginia
The expression is weird but the leg muscle is awesome! Plant-powered, baby!!