Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Running Tips for Fat Guys (and Gals)...Part 1

So I have been reading a few other running blogs, just to see what else is out there.  Every other blog I have come across is written by someone who has just completed their first "Ultra Marathon" or measures their marathon time in 6.something minutes per mile.  You know....running dorks.  Although I am writing a running blog I don't yet count myself in this group and never will.  Running is simply a means to an end (the peace it brings that I discussed in a previous entry), not an end in itself.  Most of the running dorks compare things like the effectiveness of salt pills and other stupid crap like that.  If I ever do that come find me and beat me with a tack hammer because I have gone over the edge.  Anyway, in that vein I would like to offer up a few running tips for normal dudes (and dudettes) like me.  You won't find tips like these anywhere else. I know because I looked for them and all I could find is runner dork propaganda (most of it extremely unhelpful). So, here goes.

1.  Admit your "sluggitude" - There was a time in my life that I was in great shape. I ate well, ran, played racquetball, played lacrosse and spent much less time behind a computer screen.  Then life caught up with me.  With all of the other commitments in my life it became very easy to push exercising and eating right to the side.  What I didn't realize is the toll it was taking on me both physically and mentally.....until I started doing it again.  The first step in running or doing anything to get back into shape is to come to terms with the fact that you have become a slug and need to do something about it.

2. Find your "I'm glad I did that" place - When I first started running again, I tried to go back to where I was during my pre-slug days.  MISTAKE! I ended up making myself miserable and dreading my runs.  I realized that I had to back it down and start with mileage and a pace that was comfortable for me.  For me this was about two miles at a very slow pace. I was frequently passed by gangs of old people on Jazzies who heckled me relentlessly as they crawled by me.  This is why tip #1 is critical.  You can't let it bother you and just keep your eye on the prize. You will know when you are at the right mileage and pace when you can say, "I'm glad I did that" when you are finished.  If you can say that after every run, you will find yourself wanting to do it again.  AND if you do it again and again you will magically find that you WANT to go a little further.  Crazy, I know.

3. Treat food as a drug...cause it is - Food is every bit the drug that marijuana, alcohol, nicotine...(insert drug of choice here) is. For some reason our society hasn't confronted that dirty little secret, but just take a look around you....go ahead...do it.  How many people do you see that are probably addicted to fast food, soda, deep fried foods, etc?  I will admit that I am a food addict. I always have been. Just like with any other drug, my addiction is a coping mechanism.  I am no expert on treating addiction, but I know that you have to learn different ways to cope with life other than turning to your addiction. Running has become important to me because it serves multiple purposes in helping me cope.  As I have mentioned before, my anxiety has become so much less since I started.  In turn, that has decreased my need to go to food for comfort.  Also, because I am running my body doesn't want crap in it.  It fights me whenever I give in and the feeling sucks.  So the times when I eat crappy food are becoming less and less.  Don't worry if this doesn't happen right away!  For me this process took nearly six months and I am still not where I wanna be.  Just remember tip number two and this one will come.  Trust me.

So...that's part one.  Tips 4-6 in part two.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Half Marathon Recap

Over Memorial Day I ran my first half marathon race. My main take away after finishing....."HOLY CRAP I HAVE TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT WHOLE THING AGAIN!!"  Below is my summary of other stuff that I learned:
  • I sweat so much I can even soak a Dri-Fit shirt completely through, so I am going to have to have someone standing by during my marathon to give me a dry shirt.  My wet shirt did, however, result in my first case OF......wait for it......BLOODY NIPPLES!  FYI ---that really hurts.
  • Never run behind an old(er) dude with a flatulence issue (yes this really happened).
  • Don't let skinny little girls zooming past you screw with your mind and get you out of your race.  Swallow your pride and just keep to your pace or you will pay for it later.
  • My family is the awesomest  in the world.  They greeted me at the finish line and Tori was wearing a t-shirt that read, "He's strong , brave, and determined. He's #1 Dad!"  Among other words of encouragement (Tori's idea).
  • Nutrition is key. I skipped the energy on the last aid station and I seriously paid for it the last 2.5 miles.
  • I sleep like crap the night before a race. 
    I learned lots of other stuff, but I won't bore you with it here....

Why I love living in Utah and Ragnar Training Run

Utah gets a bad wrap and I wouldn't have it any other way.  I was worried when the Olympics came here in 2002 that people would discover places like Huntsville and Eden and move here in droves.  These places are growing, but not to the extent that I thought they would (thank goodness).  I ran the first leg that I will be running during the Ragnar/Wasatch Back relay this afternoon and it was simply breathtaking (see images).  I don't know of anywhere else (including Denver where I lived for many years) that offers as much as Utah within a 45 minute drive.  My run this afternoon was up Old Snowbasin Road and ended at the resort.  The recent rain we have been having made every inch of the mountain thick and green.  The weather was perfect for running and the 3 mile uphill went much better than I thought it would (the 3 miles back down was much easier, however). 

As I was running I started thinking about how far I had come since I began my "marathon" journey.  Trying to carry my sorry butt up that hill a year ago would have resulted in a call to the LifeFlight dispatch office.  Now, not only did I make it to the top, but I was able to actually enjoy the beauty around me as I did it.  For most of the run I was completely alone, running in pure silence.  Prior to beginning this journey, my mind would have cycled through one of my various anxieties that I used to fixate on whenever I wasn't distracted .  Today, I felt a range of emotions ranging from pride to spirituality.  At no point were any of these emotions negative.

As I think about what all of this means, if anything, I gravitate to the word, "peace".  I have discovered peace in so many different places and ways. I am making peace with the weight issues I have had my entire life.  I am making peace with my anxieties.  I am making peace with my ability to commit to something and see it through.  And maybe most importantly, I am learning how to simply be at peace with myself and the world I live in.

Okay, that was really sappy and stupid and I promise to never do that again (at least not for a while).