The Measuring Stick of Running: National Running Day 2014

Photo Apr 19, 7 12 00 AM

I subscribe to Jessica’s Blog by email. I like that better because I make sure I see every time she posts. If I don’t, I miss it frequently because FaceBook sucks as a communication tool, and I rarely ever see the post.  As a side note, you can do the same thing with my blog if you want! There’s a space on the front page of the blog that looks like this:

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Click on the ‘Keep up with me…’ button and add your email address. (Or, you can send me your email, and I can add you.) Anyway, I digress with a little marketing spiel. So, today I got her post on National Running Day. I missed it last year because I didn’t realize it was coming, and I didn’t schedule a run that day. This morning I lifted weights so an additional workout was out of the question. So… I missed it again. I already marked the first Wednesday in June  2015 on my iPhone calendar with a week’s notice. I won’t miss it next year.

Apparently National Running Day is a big damn deal in some places. There is a website  – http://www.runningday.org/ – with more information. They have runs all over the country to celebrate, and Jessica made sure she ran today. See her blog for her personal celebration. Maybe next year I’ll pull something together for Baton Rouge. This year I’ll just pay my homage by writing about what running has given me.

I’ve been grumpy about my workouts for the last couple of months. After the injury that I sustained back in November that lasted until March, I was thrilled to be running again. But, to me, it’s a balancing act to run, do yoga, make time for meditation and do strength training. Plus I work 40 hours a week and blog almost every day. Since I’ve added yoga to the mix, I’ve loved what it does for me. The more I get of yoga, the more I want it. So, adding running back to the routine has pushed me to squeeze more into my week than I was previously doing. Previously, I had 2-3 weight workouts with some circuit training. Then I added 3 runs into that … then I added yoga 2-3 times a week. It was getting to be too much time and too much energy. Jessica takes the heat when she texts me to see how it went, and I complain about it all being too much. Of course, I asked for it. I apologized the other day for being so grumpy about my workouts. She said it was part of her job to get me through it. Then she said something that made me think. “Hopefully I’m helping you work through it and find compromises to stay with it instead of throwing in the towel completely.”

It made me think of my struggles with working out and running over the years. It’s been on again, off again at best. There was no focus. The only focus was the scale. I hated that damn scale. For about 25 years, I quit running. It hurt too much. For about 10 years of that time, I did yoga exclusively. I also walked almost every day. Still the scale went up and down. When I finally got back into running, I enjoyed it for a little while and then quit. Then, I met my first running coach at Memphis in Motion. He taught me the walk break intervals I use, and it really worked for me. But, I was just running. I wasn’t losing weight. I felt great, and I was eventually running marathons. I was enjoying myself, but I wasn’t getting the results I wanted fitness-wise. Still the numbers on that scale haunted me. When I first met Jessica I had stopped running again. I was floundering, and I had put on about 10 MORE pounds. We started working on weights at the gym in Memphis. That was the beginning of my running life as we know it.

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Under her tutelage, I started to experiment with speed and different types of workouts. No longer was my running just picking a distance and going there. It became more fun and interesting because of the variety of workouts. We added strength-training because it was important to me to continue to build strength due to my age. I learned from Jessica and running how to view my fitness holistically. Running is no longer just burning calories for me. It’s an anchor to my well-being. It strengthens my heart muscle, fires my appetite and keeps me on track with food. If I eat like crap, I can’t run like I want to. It helps me sleep better. It gives me things to do when I travel, and it’s often why I travel. Now, I’m realizing that the tightness in my muscles from running is also encouraging me to do more yoga to balance it out. And, like I said before, yoga is awesome for me. Anything I can do that encourages me to do it more is a good thing.

Some people love running so much that it’s their only athletic endeavor. For me, running is an essential part of my total fitness plan which changes all the time. I keep wanting to find something set and stick to it, but maybe that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. I imagine that someday I may not have the time to dedicate to fitness that I do now. I saved an hour a day commuting to and from work by moving 2 minutes away from my job here. That may not always be the case. I really missed the running component when I was injured. I still kept my fitness doing other things, but I missed being outdoors, exercising with my dog and having fun at races. Running is so much more than exercise. It’s an essential ingredient of my lifestyle.

I told Jessica that her help the last two years was essential. I have been more consistent in my exercise and diet than I have ever been. There have been NO breaks…. .even when I moved cross-country. I may have missed a day or two, but I really didn’t miss a beat. I can also thank the blogging. The writing has helped me define what I want and own my shortcomings. The coaching has been phenomenal for me. It keeps me stay focused on a larger plan, and it helps me have accountability for doing what I need to do TODAY. Jessica has also helped me plan lapses so that if I need to just focus on food for awhile, I take it easy on exercise. She’s helped me see that it’s not a sprint that has to be done perfectly. It’s a marathon that has room for walking, rest and even quitting if necessary. As long as it’s part of the plan, it’s all good. The running has given me freedom from gyms and let me see the sky. It’s allowed me to get a dog and spend time with her. It’s given me reasons to drive places and see new areas. It’s made me faster and shown me that with work, I can improve at any age. Running is the measuring stick that I use for progress. And, I’ve seen a lot in the past two years. I just ran my fastest 5K ever last month. I’ve improved dramatically.

Me and Jessica after the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in New Orleans on Sunday. Man, I wanted to run. :(

Me and Jessica after the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in New Orleans on Sunday. Man, I wanted to run. 😦

Because I have the measuring stick of my running, I no longer have to gauge my fitness by the scale. I’m grateful for that. It was a poor measuring stick at best. I have made phenomenal progress in my fitness. In the past two years, my weight has been very stable. I’ve gotten off an anti-depressant that I was on almost 20 years. I’ve cut way back on sugar. I’ve cut out caffeine completely. My anxiety doesn’t rule my moods anymore. I no longer have clothes in my closet that yell at me that I’m fat because they don’t fit. I wear whatever I want because it all fits. That FEELS so good! Now, I judge my fitness by my speed, how I feel on a run and whether or not I’m enjoying doing it. Thank you, running. I hated that damn scale. Now, it’s sitting under my chest of drawers, and I might bring it out when I’m curious. But, it never moves very much anymore. It might go up or down one or two pounds, but that’s it. However, the needle on my running just keeps on going up … and …. up … and … up  …. in one way or another.

4 thoughts on “The Measuring Stick of Running: National Running Day 2014

  1. We’ll I am proud to say I have lost 40 pounds . What I eat and when I eat has completely changed . I am fixn to start cardio 20 min a day on elliptical after I master that then I am moving on to weights just to tone up . Thanks for your health blogs got me moving

    • Wow!! That’s amazing Russell! I hope you are feeling better. I assume you are or you wouldn’t be keeping on. I feel so honored to be a part of it. That’s such a great part of writing. Somebody told me today that my blog was mentioned in a 12-step mtg today for having helped them be happy being single. Now this! Thanks.. I can’t wait to see you. I got season football tickets this year. See ya soon.

  2. I missed National Running Day as well, Sharon, because of this silly plantar fasciitis 😦 I’m not sure how I’m going to keep my sanity with no running for a month, but I’ll have to figure something out. I need to remember to be thankful that I’m just taking a break, and not facing something that would prevent me from running ever again. I cannot wait to get back to it, though!

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