The mantra is quite possibly the best secret weapon you could have during a race. The more thought you put into it, the more meaning it carries, and the more profound the results. For myself, so much of racing and mid distance running is buried in the conversation I have with myself on the pavement. In my last race, I had a slight pain in my left ankle (dorsal flexion) starting around mile 1 and lasted for about 2 miles. I had to brainwash my mind to believe it did not exist and that indeed my leg muscles would be perfectly capable of running painlessly to the end, and with a PR. (You can read how that ended up for me). Continue reading »
It’s done. I’ve joined the club. My journey to the sub 2hr half marathon club started one day when I decided (on a whim) to run a half marathon. I had no idea what I was in for, and had only run 6.2 miles prior to signing up. In 2010, I trained myself and enjoyed every minute of it all to myself at the Inaugural Monster Dash Half Marathon.
2010: Inaugural Monster Dash Half: 2:24
Ran it again in 2011 with my brother and my time improved.
2011: Monster Dash Half: 2:09
I knew I could have run it faster because I had not trained as well second time around. The improvement was enough to make me wonder what life was like on the other side of 2. I ran four more half marathons to find out:
2012: Inaugural Chicago Women’s Half: 2:01:31
2013: ING Miami Half: 2:01:18
2013: Oak Brook Half: 2:24 – Oops, What happened there? Worst. Race. Ever. .
Because that race was awful, I trained so hard for Naperville. It was my last chance in 2013 for my legs to prove they were capable. Race week my friend sent me goal pace text messages every day that read: “8:45″. My mind was ready. I sprinted, I ran hills, I boxed, I jumped boxes, I practiced fast feet drills from my track days. I cross trained with spin class, I hit PRs with weights on leg press and squats. I built a better body to run faster.
and…***drum roll please***
2013: Inaugural Naperville Half: 1:55:03.
In addition to my improving time, it looks like I have a thing for inaugural races. I love the smaller ones (Miami being the only exception of course)
When you run for charity, as I did for Naperville, you can’t help but think about all the people who donated to your cause. How could you let them down with anything less than what you consider an epic race?
The race itself was excellent. Maybe the ridiculous cold weather has something to do with being able to sustain a faster pace for longer. The course was beautiful, slightly hilly and packed with spectators with great signs. The weeks before the race, I worked hard to avoid the mistakes, aches and pains I experienced with the Oak Brook half, which were primarily due to dehydration. I foam rolled my calves almost daily and worked on the minor tibialis anterior pain I experienced upon dorsiflexion – again all related to dehydration. I drank water and electrolytes like it was my job. The thing is that when you want something so badly, you won’t let anything get in your way when it’s dangling right in front of you. So what’s next for 2014? Is there another club I want to get into?
Maybe the 1:45…we shall see. For now, I’m retiring my racing legs with a smile.
What running has taught me about life.
Disclaimer: I was inspired to write this post after reading some #runchat comments between a couple of bloggers, check them out here> http://www.happyfitmama.com/life-lessons-running/ and www.pavementrunner.com.
It’s definitely a list that I’ve thought of over the last several years, and resonates with me in daily life.
This is what ultramarathoner Scott Jurek signed in my copy of Eat & Run. I met him a couple years ago for a fun run. When you read the book, he talks about his running coaches and pals who have said this to him along his way. Really, are you going to go out there and simply pound the pavement, or can you really ‘be somebody’. Always leave a dent, make an impact, make yourself better every time.
- It’s okay to leave your gadgets at home. I ran my fastest 5k unplanned, no watch, ran on feel and surprised myself. Sure it’s great to run with a Garmin but trusting in technology takes away from being in touch with yourself. Lose the gadget, free yourself. Disconnect from technology every day; turn your phone off after a certain hour, don’t be used by tools.
- You reap what you sow. When you toe in at the starting line, there is nothing but your training (or lack thereof) that will make or break you. Much like life, what you put into your life comes back to reward you. Work smart, get rewarded.
- Always have a plan B. Start a run strong, cramp up, trip, slow down, bump into a friend, whatever it is that stops you from what you initially intended to run cannot be the ‘end all’. Always have a plan B and be okay with it. This has spilled into my life as an educator for the Epilepsy Foundation – the first training I did was in a special needs room with a sight dog barking and running around the room and the L training buzzing by every five minutes. It wasn’t my ideal situation, but I adapted to something just as perfect.
- Don’t give up when life presents you with a challenge, you are about to make a breakthrough. You know this when you are planking and are about to collapse – don’t! It is said our true character shows when we are facing hardship or difficulty – that is when we are making a breakthrough. Be your best self when it counts the most. No one regrets trying their hardest.
- Injured? Figure out what happened and prevent it next time. I can’t say this enough as a public health practitioner. There is a public health impact in everything, and I approach my life this way. My goals are to prevent disease, increase awareness and promote health education. My brother recently ran the Chicago Marathon and developed a meniscus tear at mile 25. Diagnosing his knee means understanding the mechanics and kinesiology of the knee, basically going deeper into the injury. Life lesson? We have to take that extra step to solve problems. I’ve written a lot on the negative impact of media on girls’ self esteem, which basically puts the onus of responsibility and accountability back on corporations, movies, and the music industry. Why are they interested in selling a concept of weak women and images of photoshopped girls and women? Who is their audience? There is always a cause and effect. I could go on…
- Start what you finish. This is so hard for me as an aquarian (yes I read those signs from time to time).
Can’t see the pavement because of yesterday’s blizzard? Well, just do your best and have fun with it. As someone who has multiple interests, it can be overwhelming to get it all done. But in general, we should always strive to finish what we start, hopefully at 100%, but sometimes it at less.
- Be empowered. Embrace your strengths. Being a mid-distance runner has somehow elevated me among my acquaintances and friends to a different echelon of ‘fitness people’, hardcore, they say. I don’t know how it happened, I hit the perfunctory 5 mile mark one April day and knew I was in a new club. From that day onward, I started going out for 10 mile runs no big deal. If you find yourself saying to someone, “I only ran 5 miles today”, then you know what I’m talking about. You’re a beast and you know it (at least now you do). Life lesson here (and verse from the Qur’an) is we are always capable of more than we think we can handle. Stop that negative self-talk and rise above it. (I love Runner’s World’s columnist Marc Parent’s article on getting to five miles).
- Running is for me, myself and I. I love to run alone on the pavement. But I do enjoy running with company, and do so 1-2x a week. We build our self efficacy when we are alone, and increase our self esteem when we join others. We feel good about ourselves when we do something good together.
Consider volunteering, it is always more impactful to the community or organization in aggregate, and we get to hang out with family and friends. However the true benefit you get from making a difference is an individual experience. In the end, YOU have to feel good about yourself when giving YOUR time to a cause, not the time of your friends or family.
- Have a sense of humor. Seriously, if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re fooling yourself. Yes you are important but there are bigger things to worry about around the world. Life is too short and unpredictable, make the best of every day, count your blessings, and be good to others.
I don’t have daughters, but was so moved by this list of wisdom my friend wrote out for her daughter, in honor of her 10th birthday. It is wisdom that can apply to anyone, please enjoy.
She writes, “We all have our own journey and I know that what we experience is how we grow. But true to being a mother and my own nature, I feel that there is so much I want her to understand, to help her appreciate, to save her from.”
10 bits of wisdom I wish to impart to you on your 10th birthday, my dearest daughter, J. I know they are a bit heavy, but it’s never too soon to learn them:
* Ego will be the biggest cause of actions you will regret. It will be your greatest challenge. Learn now to set it aside and control it when needed, and you will open up many doors to happiness for yourself and others.
* Practice self-discipline in thoughts, words, and deeds and you will cultivate grace and a positive energy.
* Appreciate and acknowledge the good offered to you as much as possible. Gratitude is the essential ingredient for peace of mind.
* Do not rely heavily on any person or give anyone the power over your happiness. Depend mostly on your relationship with God. He will never disappoint, you will never be alone, and you will get through adversity just a little bit better and a little bit stronger.
* You cannot and should not change anyone. Either accept him/her or don’t. Change is possible, but very rare. Never count on it.
* Stay true to yourself. Losing self-respect is far graver than losing someone else’s respect. And knowing your good nature, I am confident that you will never fail at anything worthwhile if you stay true to what you believe and conduct yourself the way you feel is right.
*Do not take things personally. It is almost never about you. If someone is being negative and hurtful, it is almost always about their own shortcoming, their own demons, or their own affairs. And when it is about you, only people worth keeping in your life will want to work things out sincerely.
* Remove negative and insincere people from your life, or remove yourself from theirs. This is more difficult than it sounds, especially when you encounter such evils as “frienemies” and cliques. Yes, you have seen them at the elementary school level. These girls grow up and remain the same as women. Trust me on this one.
* Be generous with your words, actions, and resources for the sake of people, love, and God. Never for praise or recognition.
*Karma is real.
Preventative care is what drew me into the field of public health. Instead of treating disease, why not take steps to take care of yourself before it’s too late. Prevent trips to the hospital, prevent disease, prevent illness. What are some measures you currently take to ensure you and your family live a healthy life?
As my graduate school professor used to say, there is a public health impact in everything. My town built a street designed to be a thoroughfare between two business districts, in lieu of the existing green space and walking path. It caused quite an uproar years ago and the village has since tried to redeem itself by creating additional pedestrian paths and such. Creating the street added traffic, and the parking meters and lots of course contributed to increasing revenue. Consider the public health implication of farmed vs wild caught fish.
Farmed fish is laden with chemicals, mercury and the fish are fatter as they don’t have the space to be free as opposed to wild caught fish which have more omegas, sometimes as much mercury and are 3-4 times more expensive. Check out this great article by Rodale for more information. Ultimately people have to be comfortable in the decision they make when determining what type of fish to consume. Making these decisions, however, implores one to be informed.
Once you develop the mindset that there is a public health implication in everything we do, you begin to think more consciously about your actions and are more mindful about your impact. The connection between public health and preventative care becomes is blatant, and you can begin to see if from whatever lens you are wearing, be it parent, teacher, chef or physician.
Here’s a sampling of various disciplines and how you can appreciate public health and take part in your own preventative health from those lenses. This reminds me of the way I first learned about public health vis a vis the social justice theory which one of my grad school professors, Dr. Bernard Turnock, is very well known for discussing. It implies that everyone in society has a fair share of burdens and benefits and that everyone be educated about health and illness. This is why I believe in the interdisciplinary approach to public health as it involves all aspects of a society.
Appreciate public health…
As a scientist. You need to understand your genetic makeup. Do you have a predisposition to heart disease? Do you have a history of diabetes? Also, understand how artificial and synthetic products are created. Soy protein isolate, for example, sounds great, it’s ‘soy’, but it’s a synthetic by-product created from soy and has little resembles to its original, healthy form. If you aspire to eat lean, clean and green you can avoid most of the synthetic junk that finds its way into common foods. It may be an adjustment, but completely possible. Beyond genetics and food is epidemiology and the etiology of disease. Understanding how diseases are formed and spread are critical to staying healthy.
As an accountant / entrepreneur. Learn how to budget and live within your means. Retail therapy, excess spending, and falling into debt are tickets to financial hell. Many people complain that eating healthy is costly, yet have no problem purchasing the latest TVs or personal electronics. Eating organic can be expensive so maybe pick the top 3-5 food items your household consumes the most and purchase those products in organic. Excess spending and living outside of your means induces stress which brings unwanted health risks.
As a lawyer / activist / politician. As my mom always told me, “Be an advocate for yourself.” Understand consumer law, understand how the FDA and USDA work. Understand how food is regulated and how the corn industry is monopolized by a few companies. (Join the fight against Monsanto). Understand your insurance policy, your rights as an insurance consumer. Does your employer reward you for maintaining your health during the year?
As a consumer. Ultimately we are all consumers. You’re reading this, you are consuming information. We consume products, ideas, food, concepts, and words. What are we putting out there in response? We are all part of a system that relies upon the strength of one another (until we get some new version of healthcare). Insurance premiums vary based on the health of your group. Cancer rates are high and communicable diseases are spreading.
What are you going to do about your public health?
- Docs Urged to Treat Unhealthy Habits Before Damage Is Done (oddonion.com)
- A few of my favorite foods (runayesharun.wordpress.com)
- To Soy or Not to Soy? (eemmooblog.wordpress.com)
- American Awareness: Monsanto – The Company that kills (but helps farmers) (criminologyjust.blogspot.com)
The Saudi government requires women to cover in public with a long black cloak called an abaya together with a hijab. During my stay in Saudi, I asked a friend about running outside, and she joked, “If you run in an abaya, you will be a spectacle. If you wear anything else you will get shot. Anyway, who would run in this heat?” It had been averaging 130 degrees Fahrenheit, so we laughed off that crazy thought.
I visited Istanbul a few years ago and fell more in love with the culture. I loved Turkish food (and coffee) even more after visiting cafes, spice markets, Doner kebab stands, and restaurants where your food is cooked in a clay pot and cracked for you at tableside.
What comes to mind when you think of Vitamin D?
Fortified milk? Sunlight? Healthy bones?
All three are critical in certain aspects of vitamin D. As children, we are encouraged to drink milk fortified with vitamin D, whether or not we understood the relationship between calcium and vitamin D (which helps our bodies absorb calcium), we drank up. We were told that milk with vitamin D is like ‘liquid sunshine’, given that nature’s best way to obtain vitamin D is to soak up some rays at least 15 minutes daily.Specifically, when referring to ‘vitamin D’, we are referring to Cholecalficerol, which is D-3 (Ergocalciferol is D-2). It is actually a precursor hormone, an important one that works with Calcitrol (a steroid hormone).We’ve always known that D is related to strong bones and healthy teeth, but there is more to that childhood lesson and deserves another discussion. Continue reading »
Stress is good for you, both the good and the bad. We all have different thresholds or limits of stress, and knowing these so-called ‘tipping points’ coupled with the ability to manage your cortisol (one of three stress hormones) is important part of maintaining a balanced life. We experience ‘challenge stress’. Anyone who has ever given a presentation or faced a crowd has experienced it. Last week, I had to face a crowd of 100 teachers at 3pm (not the most joyful time of day to catch a teacher) for a one-hour presentation on seizure disorder and first aid. I was very prepared, yet that feeling of excitement coupled with the unknown (a new crowd) makes even a prepared person’s palms a tad sweaty. I didn’t quite feel like my heart was beating out of my chest, but that rush of excitement is enough to increase my cortisol levels. Alas, they could not get their projector or their microphone to work, so I ‘activated’ plan b and carried on.
Continue reading »
Okay, last weekend I did the unimaginable: my first time. I am embarrassed to admit this (and I don’t know how many of you have ever done this). I ran a race bandit! I had every intention to wake up early (the woman wouldn’t accept my registration the day before), register and run a 5k with friends. However, the chain of events that day went more like: I woke up late, texted that I would not be coming, eventually got up because I couldn’t go back to sleep, conveniently put on my running clothes, grabbed some coffee, and headed down the street to the race where I was now going to be cheering my friends for a change. It took one friend to nudge me slightly and I was putting down my coffee and jumping in the starting line. It was only a 5k so not much thought required, she said. Ehh, I know the route – I run it every week!
A lot of people get upset about people running races bandit (unregistered), and normally I would too. Here’s Peter Sagal’s admission to running a REALLY BIG RACE, aka, the Chicago Marathon, bandit. However, this was a very small race (3.1 miles with 100 people), and I knew I wasn’t going to take any water or gatorade that I didn’t pay for, so really what would be the harm done? I definitely wouldn’t run anything bigger than a 5k unregistered…Thoughts?
26:06 turned out to be my best 5k time thus far and the secret race helped me get over my demise from the Oak Brook half marathon.
I couldn’t help but exclaim, ‘But no one will ever know my time!’. To which she replied, ‘you will, and that’s all that matters’. So, cheers to ME for running my best race that I wasn’t signed up for. At least I got a photo finish and a huge boost to my self-esteem.
- We can’t win them all (runayesharun.wordpress.com)
- Bank of America Chicago Marathon to feature four of world’s fastest runners (suntimes.com)
- Banditing a run race (triziggy.wordpress.com)