15 Things Running Has Taught Me

IMG_4473It’s been nearly two years since I ventured into the world of running, but only recently that I’ve started to think of myself as a runner. In this time, I have learned:

1. If you look cute when you leave the house, great. If you look just as cute when you get home, you’re doing it wrong. 

2. Sweat is fat crying. Sweat hard, sweat often.

3. Listen to your body. Not that little voice in your head that tells you to slow down, or go home. Listen to your breath, FEEL your heartbeat. Fancy heart rate monitors are great, they’re also expensive and unnecessary. 

4. In your playlist, no song is stupid if it keeps you moving.

5. It’s okay to walk.

6. Learn to block out distractions. 

7. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Pain =Progress 

8. Don’t ever smell any of your clothing after a run. Trust me.

9. Don’t carry water or Gatorade if you’re not going to drink it.

10. Not everyone appreciates my rendition of “Sexy and I Know it,” especially at 5am.

11. Everything bounces and wiggles. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Get used to it.

12. Long sleeves make great tissues.

13. Protein. Protein. Protein.

14. Good form is better than being fast.

15. If you’re seeking perfection, you’ve picked the wrong sport. There will always be someone stronger and faster. Compete against yourself, not those around you. 

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Heaven’s Gonna Wait

As I set out for my morning run (a little later than I had planned), I threw on my headphones, hit shuffle and bolted for the door.
At this time of year, 5am looks like the dead of night, there aren’t too many stars to look at, since I live well inside the city limits.
And by 530, the sky is peeking with the pinks and blues of a late-summer sunrise.
Not THIS morning!
Hedley’s Heaven’s Gonna Wait is blissfully playing in my ears, I was literally stopped in my tracks AWESTRUCK.
As if waiting just for me, knowing I was running a little bit late:
The midnight black sky was twinkling with the brightest stars!
The little dipper winked at me, and the North Star guided my way.

Another sign of love from the Universe, and an amazing way to start the day!!

 

Peace and Love,
Mandixoxox

Bluenose – Part 2

My Dad and I after crossing the finish line.
You can see I’m still out of breath… This was my dad’s first race, I have his time (10 minutes better than mine) to live up to!!

“Dead Last Finish is greater than Did Not Finish, which trumps Did Not Start”  — Anonymous 

Months of preparations have lead me to this moment.
A Marathon Official screaming “Keep left for finish line!!” and hundreds of fans line Brunswick Street as I come around that last bend. Only 100 meters to go…
Coldplay’s Every Teardrop is a Waterfall is playing in my ears – fitting since I can feel myself tearing up with a mixture of excitement and pride already. 

I desperately try to soak in the moment while frantically searching the crowd for someone, anyone I know. 50 meters…
I dig deep, pushing against the ache in my hips, and the cramp in my leg I mysteriously woke up with this morning, and can’t seem to shake. 10 meters…
One last deep breath and I cross the first sensor marking the finish line, hesitating only slightly when I hear the announcer call MY name. 5 meters…
Arms over my head, one final burst of energy and I’m over the last two sensors and through the finish gate. “WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” I screamed as I erupted into a puddle of tears.

I did it.

I actually did it, and a whopping 40 minutes faster than last year!!!

The Journey

“I run the marathon to the very last mile”     — Beastie Boys

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. 2011 was a mixed bag. My heart had never been more full, my spirit had never been so broken. The defining moment, for me, was May 18th (2 days before the Bluenose). In a text message, I was told the relationship I had been pouring everything into was over, and there was nothing I could do about it. Defeated, heart broken, and severely depressed, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, but I had made a commitment. And so, I took to the streets of Halifax for the 10K, finishing in 2 hours – not bad all things considered.

I spent the next six months going through the grieving process: denying it was over; agonizing; bargaining; reflecting… In August I sustained a head injury that complicated my “recovery.” But, by January I had turned a corner. Enough is enough. It was time to get back up.

The Training

“Dig deeper. Push Harder. BE Profound.”  — Me

Having spent eight months in bed, I was in horrible physical shape. Mentally and emotionally, I was ready for this!
I began (at my cousin Sheldon’s insistence) with the Biggest Loser Bootcamp 4 days a week. Boy-O-boy did that wake my body up!! Four weeks later, instead of starting level 3, I started doing run/walks…
The C25K iPhone app soon became my favourite. My first outdoor walk/run was 5K, it felt amazing, so liberating (read more about that run here).
In March, I added the Map My Run app, which keeps track of my routes, speed, distance, and averages my pace so I have an accurate idea of how well I’m doing.

The Setbacks

“Mental will is a muscle that needs exercise, just like muscles of the body.”  — Lynn Jennings

That first run was the beginning of a string of setbacks and complications that, to this day have not stopped, nor slowed me down. Shin splints, supination, pulled muscles, torn ligaments, heel spurs, clothing malfunctions, failure to lose weight/inches and progress through the training process… You name it, and I have likely endured it! 

The Motivation

“Workouts are like brushing my teeth; I don’t think about them, I just do them. The decision has already been made.”  — Patti Sue Plummer

Changing my view on the world around me was not easy, but some how I seem to have accomplished it (9 days of 10, anyway). Oprah once said that running was the best metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put in. Adopting that philosophy in my life and surrounding myself with positivity and calm has become a passion of mine (right up there with writing). They’re both something I work hard at, and strive desperately to improve on. 

Equal motivation for me, was simply doing it. Years ago when I visited the gym regularly, the tredmill was always my favourite part of my workouts, and for years, I’ve hummed and hawed over getting a tredmill of my own. Instead, I began running outside. Outdoor running is MUCH harder than running on a tredmill, and I love the challenge!! Battling the elements; moving faster to get warm, or to get home because it’s raining, or because it’s hot, all par for the course…

I’m a game player too, secretly competitive – There’s no better competition than with myself!!
When I’m out for my run, in my head I’m playing game after game with myself:
Can you run faster than him?… I bet she runs slower than you… I wonder if I can climb this hill in two minutes… If you walk up the hill, you have to run down it at double time… If  you finish in less than 40 minutes, you can go to Booster Juice… Can you run to that rock?… Can you run up that hill?

If all that fails, I sing along to my iPod – OUT LOUD!

The Playlist

Music makes or breaks my workouts. All of my worst runs have been my worst runs because of iPod malfunctions. Music has been scientifically proven to positively benefit any exercise program:

There are four factors that contribute to a song’s motivational qualities: rhythm response, musicality, cultural impact and association.

The first two are known as “internal” factors as they relate to the music’s structure while the second two are “external” factors that reflect how we interpret the music. Rhythm response is tied to the beats per minute (bpm) of the song and how well it matches either the cadence or the heartbeat of the runner. A song’s structure such as its melody and harmony contribute to its musicality. The external factors consider our musical background and the preferences we have for a certain genre of music and what we have learned to associate with certain songs and artists (Click HERE to read this article in its entirety).

Here’s a short list of my “life saving” songs from today, many of which I sang OUT LOUD!:

The Pretender – Foo Fighters (I’m the voice inside your head you refuse to hear…)
She Knows What to do With a Saturday Night – Billy Currington
Every Teardrop is a Waterfall – Coldplay (I turn the music up, I got my records on, I shut the world outside until the lights come on, Maybe the streets alight, maybe the trees are gone, I feel my heart start beating to my favorite song…)
Love the Way You Lie – Eminem & Rihanna
Look at me Now – Karmin
Forgot About Dre – Eminem & Dr. Dre (So what do you say to somebody you hate, Or anybody tryna bring trouble your way)
Pumped Up Kicks – Foster the People (All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, You better run, better run, outrun my gun…
Thriller/Heads Will Roll – Glee Cast
Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO
Never Say Never – Justin Bieber & Jaden Smith (I will never say never, I will fight till forever…
Crash Your Party – Karmin (Who do you think you are a super S-T-A-R…
Shoop – Salt & Peppa
I Love Rock N’ Roll – Joan Jett 

Now What?

 A much needed break, and back to running 3-4 times a week… There just might be something fantastic in store for 2013! 😉 Stay tuned!!

Peace and Love,
Mandixoxox

Bluenose – Part 1

Have I trained enough?
Am I ready?
Did I dig deep enough? Eat well enough? Push hard enough?

Has it been enough? 

Today’s post-work run, and last training opportunity before Sunday’s race, pavement under my feet. And now, I am left with many nagging questions rolling through my mind, all boiling down to one: has my training plan since January been enough?

I am no stranger to anxiety, fear, worry, stress, and excitement. In fact, we’re old buds. And honestly, there’s nothing else I can do at this point to prepare myself – at least nothing that would positively benefit me on Sunday. Sure, I could “sneak in” a couple more runs, and some yoga, and some cardio, and arrive on Sunday morning an even more exhausted mess than I have been this last month. And maybe, just maybe, I will finish.

Finishing is not in my game plan.
I plan to capitalize on all the fear and anxiety and excitement, to beat my time from 2011; set a new all-time personal best; have fun; come full circle on one of the roughest years of my life; and most importantly, prove to myself that I can do it!

I. Am. Ready.

Like “they” say:
It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game

Peace and Love,
Mandixoxox

Run, Mandi, Run

I found this during Monday's run. Someone left it just for me! ...or so I would like to believe

In the midst of training for the Bluenose Marathon in May, running has become a big part of my daily life. It seeps into conversations, keeps me up late at night on google, I’ve blogged about it several times, and someday’s, is plastered all over my Facebook news feed.

Everything I have done since January I have done for this race. Every morsel of food, every wink of sleep: fuel for my body.

Every ice pack, every day’s rest, every drop of sweat, bruise, pulled muscle, shin splint. Every setback, minor, moderate or severe, all of it, for the Bluenose. 

During today’s run (a new personal best, yaay me!), I had a moment. Some might call it an epiphany, but for now, let’s call it a moment. It was fleeting. Gone and over as quickly as it revealed itself.

I had just finished climbing a particularly challenging hill (at a brisk walk), and was getting set to run down it. I planned to slow back to a walk when I reached the bottom, but found I’d completely zoned out.

Something good was playing in my ears. My brain stopped whirling inside my head, replaying the days events. My breath was calm, my lungs did not ache. My body ceased to move forward, rather the ground below me began to move, carrying me forward. Somewhere along the way, I closed my eyes. A scary thought now, but it felt right in the moment. The calm washed over me. I breathed deep into my belly, and I felt renewed. 

Gone were the grueling hours at work today, my sore feet and aching back. Gone were the plans I was making and remaking in my head. Gone were my thoughts on tonight’s dinner, or did I have to pee, or maybe I should take it easy today since my leg was bothering me. It was all gone.

And as I took another deep breath, I got excited. Was this it? Was this the moment I have so anxious and excitedly been working towards? Was this the moment I finally become a runner?

And then it was over. 

180 seconds of pure bliss, over in a flash… much like life.

Peace and Love,
Mandixoxox