Sunday, June 2, 2019

Finding that Running Sweet Spot

While the perfect run is elusive, most runners have runs where they find their running "sweet spot". It's that point in the run where the run feels almost effortless, almost as if you are flying. The sweet spot is where you feel as if you could run forever. Some call it "the zone". Some call it "finding your flow". Whatever you call it, if you've hit the sweet spot, you'll know. This is the kind of run that reminds why you became a runner in the first place.

You don't have to be running fast to hit the sweet spot, as I found out this week. It's been a long time since I've had a run that felt good like that. Running has not made me happy lately, but I just keep going because it's what I do. Plus I knew that I'd find my groove again and on Wednesday, I did.



The Week:
Sunday: Ran 3 miles
Monday: "rest" day (yard work)
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 6 miles and yoga with Adriene
Thursday: strength training and bootcamp
Friday: rest day
Saturday: 6 miles with Steph!

When I set out to run Wednesday morning, there was nothing remarkable about the day. Ok, I did have some new fun InknBurn shorts to wear. It was a cloudy, damp morning and I optimistically headed towards the bike path to run 6 miles. My legs felt good as I settled into a comfortable pace. While I ended up stopping to walk a couple of times, when I ran, I felt myself relaxing and feeling that flow. The music moved me. This run felt good. When it was time to turn around, I almost pushed myself to go farther but I didn't want to risk overdoing it. This was a very satisfying run.


After my run, I posted this selfie on IG. Some of the feedback surprised me. So many people commented that I'm not a slow runner. While I appreciate those comments, compared to the runner I was before, I am slow. I'm working on accepting that and not fighting it anymore; this shirt made me smile. We need to keep in mind that each of us is on our own personal running journey. Comparing ourselves to others or to the runners we were in the past isn't necessarily helpful.

Note to self. Regardless, I love the shirt. I shouldn't have to explain myself. There's nothing negative about it. Slowing down hasn't been easy for me. But if I can run slower and feel as good as I did on Wednesday, then running slow it is. Slow is the new fast, right?

Steph and my strength coach Sammy Jo let me know that they didn't like my shirt. While I explained my POV to Sammy Jo, it was met with a lot of skepticism. So I did what I do best. She pushed me hard and I pushed back with the "push/pull" workout she had me do. There were push presses, pushing and pulling the weighted prowler (that was hard!), GHD situps and weighted box step ups. Boot camp started with an 8 minute EMOM of :30-:40 handstand holds alternating with 10 weighted box step ups. After that we did 2 AMRAPs of 3 minutes each of 400m row and burpees, 10 cleans and 100m run, 15 cal assault bike and abmat situps, and 15 wall balls and 10 push ups. Let me just say that I was tired after this one.


On Saturday, Steph wanted to run with me. She's still faster than me, so I made her promise to run at my pace. It has been a long time since we ran together! We did a lot of catching up. We also got caught in a thunderstorm complete with hail and lightning. Since the bike path runs under the high tension wires, we decided to take shelter under a tree. I know, not wise. We were fortunate that some folks in a nearby house offered us their front porch. The storm passed quickly and we completed 6.25 miles! In spite of the humidity and Steph pushing the pace a bit, it was a good run. I felt great when we finished and I'm starting to believe that whatever was going on with me the past couple of months is going to pass.


I finished the week with 15 miles, which is my highest weekly total in a couple of months. If this week is an example of what I can expect from running in the future, well then I'd have to say that I found my sweet spot. I was completely satisfied with my runs; running with Steph was the icing on the cake. I've missed running with my friend! I am one grateful runner. If running slow is right, then I don't want to be wrong.

What's your running sweet spot? /via @oldrunningmom #runchat #running #rheumatoidarthritis

What's your running sweet spot--distance and pace-wise? Have you had to adjust your expectations and if so, how did you deal with it? Slowing down is never easy! Have a great week.

I'm linking up with Deborah and Kim for the Weekly Rundown.



63 comments :

  1. Yay for such a good run! I hope you continue to have many more like it!

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  2. So glad to hear about this positive feeling - good for you! I think the shirt is fine, I accept that other people's slow is my super-fast, it doesn't matter. We're out there enjoying ourselves and moving, anything else is a bonus. I can't believe how hard you work in your strength training, absolutely awesome. I am going to say here that I'm getting back to my Trainer Paul exercises this week.

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    1. I'm glad to hear that you're getting back to your strength training too! I love what I do there--it's a place where I'm still making gains.

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  3. My sweet spot is definitely a trail run - I could go forever in the woods. When I saw your IG shirt post, I thought it was cute, although I would also not consider you slow. Comparing ourselves to past selves is hard - I'm in the middle of doing it too - and I'm not quite sure how to handle it in a way that leaves me satisfied both with where I was and where I currently am.

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    1. I loved that trail run I did in Alabama and I hope to do more of them. I think that is where I can accept myself running more slowly.

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  4. I like your shirt! And seriously, I think anyone could wear it. Speed is so relative. If you like it, wear it! I'm glad you have found a sweet spot. I'm feeling pretty good with where I'm at in training right now. I'm not sure if it's my sweet spot but it's not hurting me either...so that's always a good thing!

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    1. Watching your training for this Mt Washington race has been really fun--I'm seeing you running like you haven't in a long time. Hoping this is "your time"!

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  5. I'm so glad Wednesday's run was a good one! I'm wishing you so many more my friend!

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  6. Yes, we all are on our own journeys, and we all have different ideals and skill levels. We all need to embrace our achievements and respect what others are doing as well. Glad you're feeling better about your running!

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  7. I love the shirt! I have slowed down the last three years and it really, really took me a long time to embrace it. I am now at peace with it and enjoying my walk run intervals.

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    1. I'm glad to hear this! I'm still doing walk breaks...I think this is how it's going to be for me now.

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  8. So glad you've found your sweet spot. There's nothing that beats a run that feels good, no matter the numbers. I know you are slower than you used to be, but you have to admit that you are still winning AG awards, so give the skeptics a break. ;-)

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  9. I'm happy you had a couple of good runs this week! I've found that running about 15-20 miles per week is my sweet spot, too. I really want to run a half this fall with my friend, but wonder if it's wise...

    Also, I can't figure out why my picture no longer shows up with my comments on Blogger blogs. It's always something! ;-)

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    1. Sometimes I can't see pictures on blogger posts either! So it's not just you...

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  10. Fixed my Blogger picture problem! I'd tried fixing it a few weeks ago, but couldn't - probably because I was at my mom's house with slow/spotty internet service...

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  11. Really happy to hear that you had such a good week with running! That is nice after all of the struggles you've been dealing with lately.

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    1. I believe that acceptance of my new reality will help too!

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  12. Oh people and their opinions never cease to amaze me. If YOU like the shirt and it makes YOU feel good then wear it and smile!! I swear, what is the problem? Pace, of course, is relative and you wearing a shirt declaring you're a slow runner is your prerogative. I love it and I think it makes perfect sense for how you have been feeling for the past few years. I 100% get it. I also love how GOOD you have been feeling lately and I sincerely hope it only gets better!!

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  13. I'm still working on accepting the fact that I am now also a member of the slow runners club. I feel like you, some people tell me "You're not slow," but I feel like I AM. Finding the sweet spot every once in a while makes it all worth it doesn't it? I ran with my 80-year-old marathoning friend Heide last Tuesday at running club. We were out in the countryside, it was beautiful, and even though the course was hilly, we were going so slowly that I felt as though I could run forever. I love that feeling!

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    1. You had me at '80 year old marathoning friend' and I bet she shares a lot of wisdom on those slow trail runs!

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  14. I did the slowing down thing a while back, so I guess the reason I’m not crazy about the shirt is that, though I’m slow compared to my previous times there are still so many runners that are even slower no matter their age. They think my times (and yours) are pretty darn fast, so for me to call myself a slow runner is kind of a dig.

    I’m glad you’re feeling good! Finding the sweet spot is such a beautiful thing!

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    1. As I said before, we are all on our own journey. I certainly never intended to offend anyone by wearing it!

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  15. My running last week was rather lackluster. And I know that's due to a general lack of running over the last few months & complete exhaustion from too many nights of night enough sleep coupled with some personal stress. It is what it is, though?

    Ok, I did not comment on the shirt, but I'm #teamyourenotslow. I get the intent, but as someone who truly is a slow runner (and I know there are plenty that would love to run my pace, too!) -- someone who talks to runners who complain about slow running all the time, while they're running paces I can only dream about.

    However, I don't think you should be surprised by the feedback. Yes, pace is totally subjective. No, I'm not in competition with you. No, I'm never going to win a race (unless no one else shows up). It's highly unlikely I will ever win an AG award (again, unless there's only a couple of people in my AG).

    I think when you boil it down, it's just about respecting others' feelings. How do you think it makes people who run at my pace feel when we see someone who runs at your pace -- even now -- wearing that type of shirt? It's not just you, btw, I have other friends who are quite speedy who call themselves turtles. So if you guys are slow, what does that make us? We know you can probably walk faster than we run!

    I do get it -- you're slower, it's so much more of a struggle. I do get that. But I also side with Coach -- put out into the world what you WANT (and we all know that isn't to be slower). You could wear a shirt with aging & slowing down sucks, but again, is that what you really want to put out into the universe? Ok, off my soapbox now!

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    1. Wow, I never meant to offend anyone by wearing the shirt. For me it was all about accepting where I am at, which is a much slower runner than I have ever been. It's been really hard for me to get to this point. If I made you or anyone else feel bad, I am really sorry.

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    2. No, you didn't necessarily offend me & I didn't comment on it initially because I understood your intent. But by bringing up the feedback here, I decided to leave my $.02 (obviously a lot more than 2 cents).

      I don't think people who are somewhat fast -- who often win AG awards, and not because no one else showed up -- can really ever quite understand how it feels to try so hard & yet still be so far on the other side of even average.

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    3. As you can't understand how hard it is for me to slow down. We're all on our journeys and that's all it is.

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  16. I have a similar shirt that I bought for the Turkey Trot that was my one and only DNS (I don't do -6 wind chill): Thanksgiving Running Club - Slower Than Gravy
    It has become a sleep shirt more than a running shirt, but I love it. And I get it. There's way too much policing of what others (mostly women, but I'm sure some men) choose to wear. If you're comfortable (fit, message, etc.) then rock it and who gives a fuck.

    My sweet spot in training is ~15K. A race? 5M. That sixth in a 10K is just hellacious even though I can run 6M in training without too much of an issue. I'm dreading the women's mini and beginning to wonder why I always sign up because I know I'm going to hate it.

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    1. Seriously, if I could reach through this screen and hug you, I would. This slowing down thing--it's not a pissing contest. It's all about accepting where we are at and not comparing ourselves to other people. Who knew that something as innocuous as this shirt would cause people to get offended?

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    2. My grandmother used to have a great line about the church of the perpetually offended. She didn't understand social media, but I have no doubt she'd have applied it if she could.

      I had an instance recently on my instagram where I had posted a site that resonated with me for a particular author's series when I was on my way to said author's signing. It was either two or three years ago in July as she didn't release a book last summer. Recently this author has come under some fire and someone commented that my post about a book location offended her. Um, you had to go digging for a 2 year old post via the hashtags to find it. Pardon me if I'm not sympathetic.

      It has to be harder for you since some comments here & your insta are people you know and like. Ugh. Virtual hugs right back at you.

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    3. I think I love your grandma! I was thinking about this and it's interesting... I've never been fast enough to qualify for Boston but I'm too fast to be considered slow? Can I just own this?

      Thanks Cari, for putting everything into the proper perspective! LOL

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    4. You can and should own it. It's your opinion ergo you can't actually be wrong - no matter how others see it.
      You'd have loved grandma. Dynamo right to nearly the end at 95

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  17. First off I'm super happy about your Wednesday run! I hit a groove two days ago, after finally shaking my horrendous jetlag, and gosh does it feel good. I don't really know how you've been handling the grind without those moments recently and am super impressed with your determination.
    As far as the debate - I'm #teamshirt. Everyone seems to think that the only goal out there is to run fast, and by actively seeking to run slow you're somehow insulting or debasing yourself and your accomplishments. Your current goal is to run slow and there's nothing wrong with that or being proud of it! It seems to me that the people who are most offended are the ones who feel insecure about their own speed and who still buy into the belief that if you aren’t fast you aren’t really a runner, and honestly their insecurities aren’t any of your problem. The fact that you are running in a way that will let you run for longer and be healthier overall is commendable, and anybody who takes issue with that can shove it 😉
    Keep taking care of yourself and here’s hoping you have another great week of runs!

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    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I hope you have a fabulous week!

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  18. Hey if the shirt makes you smile, go with it! I told you my litmus test: What would my future 90 yr old self think about this? I guess I never really put running in a box and defined it. Running is very different for me now but I refuse to agonize over it or define myself by it.

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    1. I have been agonizing over my slow down and now that I've finally settled into a groove and am feeling my self, I'm happy.

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  19. I love those runs where everything just clicks and feels amazing! I've been having more of them lately with the spring weather and early sunrises... I'm bouncing out of bed much more easily now than I did all winter!

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  20. Love that you had some great runs this week. I think it's all about finding what works for you in terms of pace, run/walk intervals, etc. You do what's best for YOU!

    Although I run slower paces than you, I wasn't offended by your shirt at all! Running paces are so subjective and I know that you are currently running at a slower pace than you're used too.

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  21. Your cross fit workouts always look so crazy intense in a good way! Catching up with friends on runs is the best isn't it? I would say my sweet spot is really 4-6 miles. Thanks for linking up and have a great week

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  22. So glad to hear that you enjoyed your runs this week.

    I think the problem is semantics. If the shirt said slowER runner, that would be fine. But if it makes you happy, wear it...doesn't matter what people think.

    I run with other women and I am the fastest runner in the group. I cannot say that I had a slow run or race because they are thrilled it they improve...maybe 11 from 12 min. But I know for myself, I may be disappointed in my time. I have to keep it to myself and put it in the blog.

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  23. Glad you are feeling better! My "sweet spot" for distance and pace both can change drastically depending on a lot of factors. It's definitely hard to adjust when it changes all of a sudden and you're still trying for your former sweet spot.

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    1. I haven't hit the sweet spot for a while, so it felt good to find it again!

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  24. That Wednesday run sounds amazing! Glad you had some good runs this week thought that storm on Saturday's run sounds a little scary. Yay for being able to find some shelter :)

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  25. Hooray for finding your sweet spot and feeling better! My sweet spot for a while was 5-7 miles, although the heat and growing bump may shift that soon.
    I notice some odd pushback whenever I note that I'm slower with pregnancy. People read some sort of negativity into it, when it's just an objective fact - it takes me a longer time to cover the same distance. I'm slower now but that doesn't mean I'm not happy with my running or proud of it.

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    1. I love how you adjust your expectations based on where you're at. No judgment, just keep moving. Nice!

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  26. For racing my running sweet spots are the 10K and half marathon. Love your t-shirt! So fun and those shorts are adorable!

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    1. I am in love with the shorts!

      My running sweet spot was always the 10 mile distance. I hope to get back to it.

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  27. Very Enjoyable Post!! My Personal Sweet Spot Is A Sunrise Trail Run With Birds Of Prey Surfing The Near By Thermals. Have A Brilliant Week

    Cheers

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  28. I love your shirt! Where can I get one? I am also slow and I've learned to accept it. I like my slow runs. If you like the shirt and it makes you happy then just wear it. People are going to comment and/or have opinions no matter what.

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    1. I'm embracing my new "slowness" even if some people don't think I'm slow enough to be called slow. Can't we all just accept each other?!

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  29. So glad you had a good week of running! I also don't think you are slow enough to be called slow... but no judgement here either way! We do all just have to compare ourselves to where we are at the time... not our former selves or someone else! Still a cool shirt though!

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  30. I'm glad you found your sweet spot again! I would love to find one of those! Or can I just order one from amazon prime? haha!

    I get your POV, I really do. Fast and slow are relative. I get that it's hard to accept slowing down - I know you are quite competitive with yourself and that probably doesn't help you feel better about the changes and impact RA and, I'm guessing menopause has had on your running life! I just want to say - if you are winning AG awards, you aren't slow, babe :) But seriously. I get it and you really don't have to explain.

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