Yep, I fell into a deep pit of not blogging (and not even considering blogging for that matter), and I just now managed to drag myself out of it. There are a million excuses, per usual, but they’re all either not interesting, too personal, or some combination of those two.
The short story of what happened after Philadelphia goes like this: I recovered what I thought was a proper amount, it wasn’t, I was burned out hard, Colorado was super cold and snowy, we moved, more burn out, more snow, and now, at long last, I’ve finally started to feel motivated again. Unrelated (read: completely related) is the fact that my speed reappeared, and in a very encouraging way. I’m actually running faster now than I was during Philly training, which is really exciting given the fact that I’ve generally been a Grinch regarding my speed for the past year. However, I’ve finally started thinking beyond “getting back to where I was,” which is the mode I was stuck in for far too long.
In this aforementioned year, a lot has changed in regard to my training and running in general. Chalk it up to the Colorado move, boredom, or just natural exercise-evolutionary process, but I’m not really the runner I was when I left Seattle. Most of it’s for the better, at least I like to think, but it’s generally just been a big overhaul. Here’s what has been going on:
I don’t run with music anymore
I don’t know the exact point in which this switch happened, but somehow I turned from someone who listened to music on 90% of their runs to a person who runs almost exclusively without music.
This still kind of blows my mind, considering the amount of panic I used to feel whenever music wasn’t going to be available for a run. When I first started in the long-distance world, plugging into my headphones and hitting the pavement went entirely hand-in-hand. Which I totally enjoyed; particular songs elicited different emotions, several of which I could tie back to either running or however I was feeling that day. My “running music” became the soundtrack to this passion I was building for distance running, and I enjoyed the background noise just as much as I enjoyed the miles.
As most people can probably guess, running (namely, long runs) can get a little boring, which is why a good playlist can be clutch in getting the job done. I was no exception to this line of thinking, and therein spent years ensuring my little nano/shuffle/whatever was as well-prepped for the miles to come as I was.
But then, something happened. Namely, moving to a new city and needing frequent restroom breaks happened.
I run in the morning, and for most of the year, it’s completely dark out when I start. Living in a new place where I was navigating uncharted routes didn’t feel entirely safe with my headphones in. I would use the music on weekend long-runs when daylight was guaranteed, but for my early morning jaunts, I accepted that for the time being, it was safer to stay alert.
At the same time, I realized fairly quickly that my frequent need for potty stops and listening to music did not go well together. It’s a little hard to explain, but essentially it took all of my concentration to keep my digestive system calm and manageable – and even that hardly ever worked. Listening to music when I was dealing with an incredibly unpredictable and temperamental gut just kind of made me more wound up, and I found that when I was in desperate need of a nearby bathroom, having music on did nothing to help keep me calm. That might not make sense, but basically the combination of my irritable stomach and wanting to stay safe on the streets was enough to break my music-listening habits.
And now? I’ve remained unplugged, despite the fact that my location awareness and Crohn’s issues are much better. And I love it! It feels simpler, more purist, and I’ve found a love for the routine sounds that occur on a run: the pitter-patter of my feet, the friendly “hello” from a stranger, and the chirping birds as they wake up. I’ve tried listening to music again as inspiration to get me out the door, but I’ve found I almost have a distaste for it at this point. Even on long runs, when I am indeed bored and ready to be done, music just kind of annoys me when it’s on. Granted, this is partly due to the fact that I have more company now on runs than I ever have before (see third bolded statement below), but even when I’m alone – I much prefer the sounds on the run as opposed to the sounds on the ‘pod.
I don’t go to the gym anymore, and I don’t really cross-train anymore
If you’ve read here for a while, you might remember that I used to be a boss at doing different types of cardio. I would run and train for races, but I always incorporated frequent spin classes, lap swimming, and Body Pump classes. Seriously though, if you compared a week of training for me two years ago compared to a week now, the difference would be kind of astounding. In fact, for fun, here’s one from 2012. Stair stepper, treadmill, spin, swimming, and lifting all in one week?! I don’t really know who that person was, but since then I’ve either become a lot lazier or just less manic about being an A+ exerciser.
I cannot tell you the last time I went to our gym. The thought of going kind of revolts me right now, which is why I’ve somehow managed to do every single run this winter outside, no matter how slow and slippery it may be. Or, I just don’t exercise. It used to be that I wanted to get a good cardio fix no matter the medium (run, spin, pool, etc.), but now my disinterest in anything other than running has forced me to accept more rest days, which I’m really appreciating and enjoying.
Oh, and let’s not forget an important factor here: November Project! In some ways, I do consider this cross-training, considering the plyometric and body-weight emphasis in a lot of our workouts. But more than anything, no matter the conditions – I would always rather be outside with those people than inside either alone or with a bunch of strangers. The workouts are always quality, but the community and the camaraderie are what have really caused me to remove my “gym rat” name tag altogether.
One thing that I have reintroduced to my routine is yoga, which has taken on an entirely different role than it used to. Before, it was simply a check-list item which I begrudgingly tolerated since I always had running aches and pains, and I knew it would help ward off injury. But, I spent every class with my third-eye focused on the clock in the room, counting down the minutes til savasana.
Now, my practice has entirely transformed – and I find myself sometimes craving an hour in the studio more than an hour on the roads. I’ve been loving the trifecta of spiritual, physical, and restorative elements incorporated in yoga, and I love that classes can emphasize either one or all of those aspects together, depending on the day. Not to mention that I’m certain doing yoga (I’ve been going about twice a week) has been tremendously beneficial in my desire to run most days of the week. The balance between running, NP, and yoga has all my exercise needs entirely filled right now, and then some, so for the time being – I’m going to stay far away from the gym.
*for the sake of not jinxing myself, I wholly acknowledge that being injury-free has helped me avoid the gym
I run with other people now
This is easily the biggest change in my running, and I think the very best one. In fact, it kind of saddens me just how long I jogged along by my lonesome.
There were a few reasons why I never ran with people before, but mainly it was due to the fact that A) I had no running friends within the vicinity of our neighborhood, and B) I didn’t really know how to run with other people. That second point sounds weird, but the only running I ever really did with other people was for a fun run or a run before an event. Does that make sense? Never was it the pavement-pounding, boring grind of just getting a regular run done. I was too conscious of coordinating speeds, schedules (5 am typically doesn’t make you many friends), and logistics to attempt finding a training buddy. And, a big part of me enjoyed running alone. I could choose my own pace and route, and I wasn’t accountable to anyone else’s schedule but my own.
I’m actually going to write an entire post about this, so I’ll try to refrain from explaining more of my thoughts (and there are lots of them!). But, currently I run with someone else maybe 50% of the time, which is a HUGE change. Most of the time, it’s with this girl, who’s been a training game-changer in so many ways. But like I said – that’s a love letter for another day.
Holy shit this is a long post. I hope you’ve made it this far. In fact, if you even opened up this post – thank you, I know it’s been while. I have to hit publish soon before this disappears into the abyss of drafted posts that are piling high right now. But, I do pinky promise to not let this be my only update until another three months go by. I do have more things to say and some races coming up – so you’ll be hearing from me sooner rather than later.
I’m also going to end with something I haven’t done in YEARS. And generally I don’t love to do this, but I am curious:
What is something that’s done a 180 degree turn for you in your running life?