Friday, January 31, 2014

Firing up the glutes

Last summer, I started having all kinds of nagging pains. My left big toe hurt, and my podiatrist was at a loss as to the cause. "Maybe you need to take some time off of running".

Uh no. First, I sought out a running coach, who owns a training facility in the town where I live. She was a fast talker, and I heard a lot of things that didn't sit well with the way I like to approach running (remember, running is fun!): drills, stop running for a while, lots of drills. Anything fun about this? I also asked about her background, and as it turns out, she was a sprinter in college. But no professional training as a coach, altho she's coached plenty of people, she said. And while I know very little about all of this, her fees seemed high too.

Hmm. Desperate, I sought out my friend who owns a CrossFit box, with her Ironman husband. She recommended a coach who works at the box and does private training. The trainer, Becky, is also a corrective exercise specialist. "Come and meet with her", my friend said, "see what you think". I met with Becky. For my first session, she had me do squats and other similar exercises while she watched me. She also took some pictures. Becky told me that she would work with me and she wouldn't make me stop running while we worked on my issues. I cancelled my session with the manic running coach. The following week, we began to work on engaging my lazy ass (ok, my glutes) to get them to begin "firing" (add your own comment).

We met weekly over the summer. My scheduled half marathon in September went amazingly well. While I didn't meet my time goal, I ran the strongest race I have ever run. After that success, Becky began my immersion into the world of CrossFit. At first, I was resistant. I'm a runner, not a lifter. But I did some reading, and learned a few important things. One thing that stood out is that after age 50, while runners continue to maintain cardiovascular fitness, but begin to lose muscle mass no matter how much they run. The fix? Weight lifting. The result? A half marathon I ran in Schaumburg, on the spur of the moment? 1:58! I haven't seen the other side of 2 hours in several years. When I run, I feel lighter in my legs. I can feel the backs of my legs driving me forward. Going up hills is so much easier. And then there was this run yesterday, in the blowy, snowy, cold weather:

Seriously? sub 9 mins? Who am I? Haven't seen that in a few years...

Then I went to train.

After working on my "clean" technique:
Which I did with just a bar and got humbled many times...this requires coordination, which I am lacking!

And we did this: 
Becky ran behind it, I tried...

Alternating with 20 of these:


Besides a great work out, the slam ball is a great way to work out stress or frustration. Perfect for Ms. Type A+!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Gift of Running

A little over 20 years ago, I began running when life became too overwhelming for me. In a career that threatens to absorb me, raising two boys, and fighting with my type A+ personality, running always brought things around full circle for me. I found that an hour on the road 4-5 days/week was enough to keep me centered and calm. I've always run alone. I like the time by myself--sometimes to lose myself in my music, sometimes to listen to the rhythm of my shoes on the ground and the pattern of my breath. Most days, that hour on the road was the only time I was alone.

As my boys grew older, I began running longer distances and training for halfs and even a full marathon. While I loved the training, I found that going to the actual races was a little, well, lonely. Not that I minded, really. 

Over the past year, I began reading some running blogs. Personal favorites included Shut Up and Run and Another Mother Runner. I attended a home party-alone-to meet the BAMRs (Badass Mother Runners) and found a huge group of kindred spirits. I felt empowered. Every week, the BAMRs post a story about a blogger and link to her blog. This is how I met the kind-hearted Karen, from Trading in my Heels. Something about her blog struck a chord with me, and I began posting comments. Eventually we made plans to meet at the Fox Valley Marathon, where I was running the half. I found her before the race and she introduced me to some of her friends. Hanging out with them before the race made my race jitters disappear and I ran one of the strongest races I have ever run.

We continued to keep in touch, and Karen connected me to some other bloggers and runners with facebook pages. I didn't know that having a facebook page was "a thing", but it really is huge! In November, I made an impulsive decision to run the Schaumburg Half Marathon. At mile 3, I caught up to Karen and Michelle, another blogger. We ran together for 3 miles, laughing the whole way. We met up again at the finish line, and I found out that I ran one of the best halfs I had in years. 

Since then, I have met a few more mother runners through Karen and Michelle, and we keep in touch virtually. We are planning on a few races this spring.

So I've decided to start writing about my experiences. I have a different perspective, as a "seasoned" runner. My goals are to keep running strong for the rest of my life. And these women keep me inspired with their enthusiasm and love for all that is running. 

How lucky am I? Running has brought me so much more than health. Peace of mind, focus, goals, friendship--running truly is a gift.
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