Friday, April 13, 2012

Collective Running Concerns, Part 2: Fear of Being Judged

The next installation of Running Fears is an important one to me...mostly because I just remembered how scary this fear can actually be as I was getting comfortable swimming with you semi-aquatic people out there. So, enjoy...

2) Are other runners are judging me? Will people laugh at me? I’m so slow, are the running articles/clothes/shoes/accessories/products even made for people like me? 

No. No. Yes.

This was basically the resounding follow up fear to problem one. I have a whole lot of theories on this, but I think the best and most simple way to say it is that this fear comes out for all of us whenever we do something new. Remember when I was learning to swim laps? I seriously over-analyzed my plain black bathing suit like it held the secret to life.

We’re afraid to be judged while we’re learning. It’s my opinion that a lot of runners are Type A personalities because we like to be in charge and in control…but we’re also intensely afraid of criticism. I’m a very outgoing person, but if you put me in a room with a new task or skill to learn, I’m a shrinking violet until I can “own” being a newbie (talk about managing expectations). Running is an easy activity to pick up because it requires a pair of shoes (and depending on who you are, those are optional). And body glide. Trust me on the body glide.

“Anybody can be a runner. We were meant to move. We were meant to run.” – Bill Rodgers

It’s easy to judge yourself when you see other people out on the road. When I started running, I taught myself. I mean, clearly I knew HOW to run, but I didn’t know pacing, or breathing, or form, or any of those Runner Insider Club secrets. I watched svelte, even-breathed people sail by me while I chugged, red-faced and panting down the road. It’s easy to belittle yourself when it comes to a task without a set goal. You can win a tennis match, but you’ll always be in pursuit of a faster mile/better form/new PR. It’s the beauty and the terror of running. There is no finish line.

I don’t know a single seasoned runner who has ever looked at a new runner with disdain. I usually can’t tell (unless your nipples are bleeding through your shirt – dead giveaway because you’ll only make that mistake once). If I do see someone chugging along, looking pained and out of breath, I mentally cheer them on.

Generally speaking, people aren’t going to laugh at you. Runner’s laugh WITH each other. Case in point – I have a tendency to barf during Ragnar. Might have something to do with the temptation to each 3 sloppy joes and ice cream THEN run 8 miles. While I was throwing up for the millionth time behind a dumpster, I couldn’t help but laugh with my teammates.

Even that famous photo of the runner literally crapping themselves…sure, maybe non runners are laughing, but actual runners are going “oh shit…” [literally]. Like I said, we talk about poop a lot.

And yes. All the fun gadgets, clothes, and accessories for runners are made for all entry levels. May I strongly recommend The Stick? And Body Glide.  A lot of Body Glide.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Collective Runner Concerns, Part 1: When Can I Call Myself a Runner?

With a whole slew of my friends joining me in the dogged pursuit of runner-ness, I've had this post simmering in the back of my mind. I want to take this chance to say how proud I am of every single one of them - and not in a "proud coach" kind of way, but as a fellow runner. From experience, I know it’s not easy to get out of a warm and cozy bed, or give up a night out so you can get your miles in sans hangover and I think runners in general deserve a shout out for that kind of dedication.

I also want to bring up a couple things that I have seen and heard and struggled with myself in the hopes that this post will help someone, somewhere with these mental and physical hurdles. To do this, I dredged up the memories I had of learning to run and asked a couple runner friends to do the same. My friends have running careers spanning years to months, a variety of distances, and various lifestyles. The more I’ve worked on this post, the more I realized that it’s actually several posts…so, enjoy installation 1…

1) "I am not a runner"/"When can I call myself a runner?"/"I'm not a runner yet."

"If you are a runner, it doesn't matter how far or how fast. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run." - John Bingham 
The moment you put your shoes on and go for a run (please don't call it a jog), you're a runner. It's that easy. It could be a run around the block, 5 minutes on the treadmill, a 5k, a walk/run. But as soon as you achieve locomotion faster than walking, intentionally (running to catch a bus doesn't make you a runner, but runners do have a better chance of catching the bus), you are a runner.

When runners refer to themselves as a collective group it may sound a bit standoffish, but I promise you, that isn't our intent. We're just proud of ourselves. In case you weren't yet aware, runners have a bit of an ego because we spend hours a week telling ourselves "I can do it. I am awesome. That hill is toast. My legs are so strong. I've got this." Eventually, effective mantras produce a slight self-demi-god feeling. Runners gather because we like to talk to each other about running and shoes and PRs and our latest training run and our non-running friends and significant others are sick to death of hearing about it. I should also caution you that every conversation about running that lasts longer than 5 minutes also includes discussion of poop. If you can't discuss poop, hanging out with other runners may not be the best idea.

It surprises me sometimes that people are hesitant to feel that they're allowed to call themselves runners. I guess because there aren't try outs (something I went through for softball in high school...didn't make the team, btw)...I don't feel like anyone can or can't tell you that you're a runner. And really, runners like having more runners around. More people to talk to. And runners love to give advice. If you're feeling self concious - just say you're starting out. Ask a runner about when they started out and just step back and prepare for word vomit because damn do we talk.

Running is a confidence builder. Like I said above, we continually stream positive mantras in our head, so the more you run, the more confidence you will have. Own being a runner. Join us. And if you have joined us and don't feel like one of us, take this as a universal invitation to call yourself a runner and be proud. We're glad you're here.

Next fear: Am I being judged? Am I too slow?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

5 Random Thoughts

Goodness. What happens when you go on vacation and come back to a new office policy banning social media (blogger included). I need to get better about finishing my posts at night instead of leaving the editing to the morning.

Anyway - Miami was great - thanks to everyone for your support and well wishes! We had an awesome time and Chadd did really well. 

I have a post coming, probably this weekend, that I'm REALLY excited about, so maybe that will make up for the brevity of this post and the lack of posts for the past couple weeks.

Tonight is a random assortment of thoughts.

1) I really love Fitocracy. If you aren't on Fitocracy, you're missing out. It's basically a social media network for fitness people and I love it. And there's a forum that I totally love and am geeking out over. Here's the link to sign up - and we'll automatically follow each other. Leveling up is literally why I'll do another set of anything. And it's free. So, there's no reason to not do it. 

2) I really love track practice. Since it's spring break, those pesky students aren't having games on the track (must you have spring sports?) so we don't have to run around a block. Tonight we did 4x1200s. Goal was to start slightly lower than threshold and get faster with each set. My times looked like this:
1 - 6:02
2 - 6:06 (oops)
Coach said before our third set that if we couldn't get faster on this third set, this would be our last set - no fourth set. 
3 - 5:48 (f*ck yeah.)
4 - 5:49

One of the girls in my group said "there's no motivation like telling an endurance athlete 'you can't'" and isn't that the truth. I felt like I was freaking flying on those last two sets. 

3) My coach is the greatest. We had our one on one tonight post track workout to go over the approach to the Flying Pig Marathon (more on that later), how things were going currently, and to hang out. I love the fact that my coach takes a very personal approach to training. We went to Rocklands BBQ and sat outside with our food and a beer. I mean, really. How do you not love a coach like that?? If you're training for any major event, I strongly recommend a coach (specifically, my coach) because it takes the pressure off, mentally. I am not responsible for coming up with my workouts and worrying about if they're the right ones or if I miss one what will happen. I am simply responsible for doing my best and keeping my coach informed. Talk about a load off of your shoulders.

4) My weekend workouts are making me scared excited...which I am dubbing scaxited. Go with me here. Saturday I have my first real brick workout - 1-1:15 group bike ride, 20-30 minute run. I am still scared of my bike even though I'm in love with it (in scove?). Fear is a powerful motivator so I'm really stoked to get on the bike and conquer gears and clipping in/out. And then Sunday, after I figure out how to fit in my Easter celebrations at the church, I have a 15-16 mile run. I am anticipating not feeling amazing on Sunday afternoon in terms of energy, but pretty freaking awesome in terms of perceived invincibility. 

5) If you haven't read my how-to on track etiquette, please do. Or stay off the track before you or someone around you gets hurt. Also: DON'T TEXT MIDTRACK WORKOUT. Augh some people...

And that's all!