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Monthly Archives: June 2016

Life by the feels

I have read a whole lot on running how you feel, about ditching the heart rate monitors* and watches and relying instead on the stories our body has to tell. I have become a proponent of getting rid of the watch for the same reasons we should never own a scale. What we see on that watch face does not tell us how our body felt while completing the workout. And in many ways it holds us back. How many times do you check your watch while on a training run? How about when running a race?

My first marathon was on the Creeper Trail in Abingdon. It was a rails to trails and yet I remember studying my watch for the first 13 or so miles, finally giving in to the pace my body wanted to go and turning my watch upside down around mile 15. I was getting on my own nerves. Nevermind I hadn’t trained for any particular finish time, focusing only on getting in the miles so I could finish strong. That day taught me so much about trail running before I knew of such a thing, my friend K teaching me as I lamented my splits on Facebook that the trail controls us, we do not control the trail. In other words, shut up and listen with inside eyes. I like to think of it as Mother Nature giving me an attitude awakening.

The further I delve into training by feel, a larger question looms: How come we don’t do more life things that make us feel good, happy even? How come we are often the cause of our own unhappiness? How come we don’t make life choices based on how we feel?

Sure there are work obligations and the times we support the hobbies of our significant others and attending parent teacher conferences, the stuff we have to do because we’re adults, etc.

But I’m talking about those moments when we say ‘yes’ when everything inside of us is screaming ‘no’. If that sandwich makes us feel disgusting after we eat it, why eat it again and again? If someone is causing us more hurt than happiness, why are they still close enough to continue that practice? How come we often utter the words ‘some day…’ instead of making plans to live out our dreams? How come we do not trust ourselves to know what it is we know to be right and true?

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When running, we check-in with our bodies at regular intervals, kind of like a mental body scan. This tells us far more than any gadget we attach to our wrists or strap onto our chests. We don’t need a heart rate monitor to tell us the thumping in our ears means we need to slow down a little just as we don’t need anyone else to tell us those gut feelings we ignore are trying to lead us to our proper path. We complete tempos, fartleks, steady state runs to push us beyond our comfort zone, to help us get stronger and faster. Those feelings in our gut is our intuition trying to get us to move in the direction of our true desires, to help us make our mind stronger. They are guiding us to the realization that to trust ourselves is never a mistake. We are capable of knowing our Selves and making the best decision at any given moment.

trust-yourself

Trust yourself.

It’s not all that different than the phrases we runners tell one another before each race: ‘Trust your training!’, ‘Believe in the process!’, ‘Your body knows what it needs to do!’,

Sometimes we have to do hard things. Running fast will hurt. Running long will hurt. And yet each time you push against your own boundary just a little bit more, growth happens. It only hurts the first time. Your body gets stronger and faster and bolder and best of all, that confidence transcends to mindfulness. Allow the beast in your body to also live inside your head. Fire the Negative Committee who is trying to take up residence there.

So yeah, you already know what to do my lovelies. Have the courage to break your own heart.

Then watch yourself soar.

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*Full disclosure: I’ve never worn a heart rate monitor nor had any desire. I also don’t know how to work the fancy functions on my watch, which is currently only being worn on B2B long run days. That too is about to stop.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2016 in meditation, thinking

 

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Redemption Song

After my DNF at Bel Monte I took off a few days, waiting for my body to feel the urge to run before making the attempt. I made it to day 3, a Wednesday. I remember the weather being lovely, seeing a runner pass by, and wishing I had my shoes with me so I could get on the dirt, too. That’s how I know when I’m ready after a race; the itch to lace up my shoes is loud.

For the next seven weeks I set out to run for the pure joy of it. No agenda. No plan. No pressure. It didn’t take long for my body to crave the longer distances, those 18 milers on a crisp spring morning where Chevy and I wander our urban trail system. I focused on rebuilding my base and running solely on feel. I stopped wearing my watch. We took many opportunities to explore new areas, watch the big birds catch shad and take lots of selfies. I continued to kickass in the gym, working on strengthening my core and legs.

Thursday I decided to sign up for a trail marathon, Conquer the Cove. Only on its sixth year, I had heard only good things about this race. A group of friends were heading up to Roanoke to try their hand at the 25k and marathon, I found out I could still sign up the day of the race, I am trained up to marathon distance so figured why not run somewhere new for a training run. Those friends allowed me to join them without hesitation, adding me to their plans with eagerness and ease. Those are the kind of people we all need in our lives.

And it turned out to be the best damn decision I have made in a long time because I totally kicked ass.

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4:39:12 with 3500′ of gain

The race is very well organized in all respects. There is a welcome from the race director before we line up to start, he gives runners an idea of what to expect during the race to include trail conditions. The course was well marked with both polka dotted pink ribbon and mile markers which I totally appreciated since I was not wearing my watch. I knew the hill was coming at mile 18ish so those mile markers kept me from pushing myself too hard too early. The aide stations were small but well stocked with food we should be eating while we run: bananas, oranges, grapes, pickle juice, potato chips, etc. No sugary candies or Nutella to be seen. There were three photographers on the course and various aide station volunteers took pictures as well. The post-race food was delicious veggie or cow burgers, cut up veggies, guacamole, hummus, chocolate, a variety of desserts, etc. I definitely ate my fill while we waited on our friend to finish his marathon.

My favorite part is the race directors at the finish line welcoming every single runner as they returned. Gina gave us our medals. Josh high-fived everyone. They paid attention to us. They made sure we were safe and healthy. They asked us what we thought of the course and race, truly wanting to know the answer. That alone will help me recommend this race to anyone and everyone.

I needed this experience. I needed this race to be a huge success. Mostly, I needed to be in the mountains with other like-minded people reveling in the dirt. I needed to regain confidence in myself and my body and how better to do that then to push it a little further.

Every time I am in the mountains I regain more of my Self. They center me, remind me I am tough. I am grounded and then know again who I am.

Within the beauty of our creators, my soul exhales the bullshit and inhales purpose.

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