I became a runner in 2003, though I didn't actually start running until 2004. Brian and I were driving over Mt. Hood in late August, heading off on another camping trip with the dog, when we saw all these crazy people running down the mountain.
Hood To Coast.
Brian completely echoed my thoughts when he said, "I'd like to do that someday."
So I decided then and there that we would run Hood to Coast. And we did! I formed a team of mostly zoo people. Our team was called, "Not Cheetahs." Tagline: "Cheetahs are the fastest animals on land. We are Not Cheetahs." Clever, eh? Our main goal was to finish. Minor secondary goal: don't finish last. But really – if we finished last – we weren't going to beat ourselves up about it. I started training for the event in 2004, and realized I LOVE RUNNING. Now, before this experience, I would have placed myself firmly in the non-runner camp. Not only did I not run, but I really had no interest in running. But the thought of completing this tremendous ordeal of running this giant relay turned me in to a runner. I guess at that point I should have realized a bit of my competitive nature.
Anyway, we completed Hood to Coast and had a BLAST. Fast forward 6 months, and I was completing the Shamrock Run – and drinking copious amounts of beer afterwards – not realizing I was pregnant with Anna. Wondering why I was so so very tired...
Fast forward one year after that... Mother's Day, 2006. Five months after having Anna, I ran the Hippie Chick. Such a feeling of empowerment and control! I think it was then that I realized that running is something I really enjoy. Running through the trees at Champoeg Park with perfect music playing on my iPod... I have lingering happiness, even 5 years later.
SO... what is that I like about running?
Here's what makes it more pleasant for me:
~Start slowly • You can't pick up and run a long distance without building up to it. Run short distances or 20 minutes, and slowly –week by week– build up to longer distances.
~Music! • It's amazing to me how much more pleasant a run is when I have background music. I like to have a combination of superfastgetgoingrunfaster songs and j u s t r e l a x songs. I find it helps regulate my speed a bit.
FASTSONGRUNRUNRUN! s l o w s o n g t a k e i t e a s y.
I particularly like sing-along-songs because I imagine I look and sound pretty silly running down the street belting out, "Can't hold us down!*" at the top of my lungs. For some reason, several songs from the James Laid album really get me going.
One caution: never have your headphones so loud that you can't hear cars or other signals of danger around you.
~Friends • I so value my early morning runs with a couple of neighborhood mamas. As a working mama (out of the house that is... all mamas are working mamas!), I have a tremendous amount of guilt about spending any additional time away from the family. So I'm so grateful for the 5:30 a.m. runs with my girlfriends. My family is still asleep, and not only am I getting valuable exercise time, but the chatting, catching up and parenting/marriage advice ("Peanut-shelling time" as my friend Annie's grandma called it) that we share have become indispensable to my sanity! Likewise, I'm training virtually with my BFF Dayl. We live more than an hour away from each other, but we keep track of each other and periodically run our long distances together. Our plan is to run the Hippie Chick Half Marathon together on Mother's Day, and I'm so looking forward to having that quality time with her. When we run together, the miles really do fly by as we talk about everything and nothing under the sun. That's a good friend.
~Nutrition • I make sure to get up a solid 45 minutes before my runs. I typically drink a cup of coffee and a protein shake mixed with berries or EmergenC. I like the Aria brand protein powder from Trader Joe's. Most mornings, I simply mix it with 16 oz of water and a packet of EmergenC. If I'm motivated enough, I'll blend all that with a handful of berries. Water is so important THE DAY BEFORE. Hydration doesn't begin right before a run, it's important to be drinking plenty of water all the time.
I can't believe I got to 40 before learning this, but the recovery meal is crucial! Apparently, eating some lean protein and some carbs within 30 minutes after your workout helps build muscle and mitigates some of the build-up of lactic acid (which causes soreness). I've been doing this for a couple months now, and I've noticed a HUGE difference! Why didn't I know about this before? I don't know, but I'm telling as many people as possible!
~Mapmyrun.com • If you really want to know how far you're running (I DO!), visit this site. You can find routes that other people have mapped out near you, or create your own maps. I had no idea that the neighborhood mamas and I were running 3.5 miles 2x a week until I mapped it out. Honestly, I thought it was about 2 miles each time. That's probably because we were talking the whole time, so the miles flew by!
I'm temporarily out of commission until my Achilles tendon heals (please, take it easy so you don't have this problem). I can't run this week, but writing this makes me feel better and hopefully I'll be back at it by next week!
*Christina Aquilera, btw