You are a runner. If you put one foot in front of the other for time distance or just general well being, you are a runner. Let no one dissuade you from that fact.
There comes a point where, with anything you do, if you take any semblance of pride in it, through sheer repetition, you progress.
You are a runner the moment you decide to run. This week, I became a Runner. To me, there’s a distinction. I owe almost all of my progress to my friends who have pushed and prodded and raised expectations. I owe a lot to myself for demanding more of myself. I felt it when I was killing it, but I knew things had changed when people in the corral were asking my fat ass for advice!
I began this journey as some of you know when I leaned forward awkwardly in a chair and the 235 lbs of mass on my 5’6 frame tore a muscle in my back. When I began, I could not run a half mile without stopping. This past weekend, 19 months later I checked in at 197 lbs and ran the entirety of 13.1 miles (with the exception of the water stations because frankly, I cannot run and drink without choking like a buffoon). I am proud of my weight-loss and my speed increases. I can take pride in my nearly 40 lbs down. I take pride in a sub 8:00 mile. I have had to redefine my goals. Constantly. That’s the only way you improve.
Part of progressing is changing your routine. Part of it is increasing your familiarity with both technique and technology.
As my training has gotten more serious, my cache of gear I call upon has increased. I’m going to bullet point a few tips I’ve amassed here, feel free to critique. It’s an evolving thought process and it’s all about learning through trial and error for me.
- Upgrade your armor – One of my favorite superheroes is Iron Man. Tony Stark is always tinkering with his gear, outfitting it for different mission requirements. You should do the same. I have 4! Pairs of running shoes I work in to a rotation. I have calf sleeves, arm sleeves, camelbaks, fuel belts, arm pouches and so on. Depending on your distance, or your objective, you may need to tweak your load out, just like you would in call of duty. Know what you need pre-, during, and post-.
- hydrate – nothing cute here. Hydration isn’t a race day thing. It’s an all the time thing. Week of, Month of… you need to be hydrated or you are toast.
- Sleep is your Lazarus pit – Know your body. You will need rest. Get your sufficient compliment of rest. Runners need more rest than most.
- Schedule – this pains me the most. I am a dog chasing a car. But strategy to your training, and a plan, is key if you want to improve.
- Bear Down – Cross-training is great. It’s wonderful to stay fit. However, when it gets to race season, have a goal and hunker down. You don’t want to get hurt dicking around at the gym a few weeks before you run your target event.
- Cross train! – yes, it completely contradicts 5. But when you aren’t bearing down on an imminent race? Give your knees and ankles a break. Swim. Bike. Climb. Lift things up and put them down!
- Goals – That’s what’ll drive you. Find a target. Set a parameter for it, and move towards it. If completed, set the next goal. If you fall short., evaluate what needs tweaking and double down.
- Be Flexible – some days, running conditions will suck. Some days, your body will suck. Don’t be afraid to tweak as needed.
- Eat Right – Nutrition is part of the deal. It’s all bullshit if you don’t clean up your diet to some extent.
- Learn from your success and your missteps – I don’t like the term failure. You aren’t competing in the Olympics or heads up vs the elites. You are competing with yourself. In my case? I’m outrunning who I became and chasing who I was. That’s all. Some days you make more progress than others, but learn from everything.
That’s all I have for tips. When I began this, I wanted to run a 5k. I would never want to run a Half Marathon. I ran that 5k, then a 5miler, then a 10k, then a 10miler, then my first half. Then another. Then my first weekend set of back to back races. Then I ran my third half this past week and have my fourth looming in a few days. 2 Halfs in 6 days.
This week was about leveling up and seeing what I’m capable of. I wanted to run a PR in a Half. I PRed by nearly 40 minutes, at 2:16:08. This week, we’ll go harder, knowing I don’t to need anything in reserve for a race the following week. I want sub 2:10. I’m building towards a Sub 2:00, eventually. I went out Tuesday night and notched another goal: A sub 30 minute 5k. Not official, watch timed, mind you, but I’ve transitioned from hope to belief.
In November I tame my first marathon. I will run more. I will run my hometown race, one of the most prestigious in the world, the NYC Marathon, when I have a shot at a sub 4:00. Until then, I warm to the task.
My goals as they stand now:
- A sub 30 5k in a race.
- A sub 2 hour half.
- Completing my first marathon then putting myself in position for a solid NYC Marathon eventually.
To that end, my race calendar for the last quarter of the year has been hectic. 5 events in 3 months to celebrate 31!
Where I’ve been and where I’m going:
October 5th: City Challenge fun obstacle course. Been working a lot on endurance and flexibility via DDP Yoga and some of the November Project Family’s tips and it’s coming home to roost. Next year I hope to nail all the elements and be ready for a tough mudder. Clocked in around 47 minutes. The rope climbs required me dealing with heights, the wall climbs required me to use my ass to smack into the wall and coerce myself over with toosh momentum. The kettlebell swing was no thing thanks to Ms. Denver there and there was similar ease for the sandbag and water jug carries. The bear crawl was stupid. Im a badger, not a bear.
October 12th: PRd a half, STATEN ISLAND! 2:16:08. I was 2 seconds off an even split. Basically murdered this race and got over being a drama queen about my results being initially lost by NYRR (then recovered!).
October 18th: THE BALTIMORE HALF. Yayyyyy.
November 16th: the Brooklyn Marathon. Oh God.
November 27th: prospect Park Turkey Trot.
Bonus, Desert for a great year of running: December 31st: New Year’s Eve 5k.
Three wasn’t enough, I needed 5. Catch ya next time.