Today was a run day.  I informed SmartyPants and Sass that they were to work hard at their school work this morning because I was going for a run this afternoon.  They kept up their part of the deal and I did mine.  You know, not surprisingly, 4 miles after 13.1 seems pretty easy.  But I was thinking about what I have done mentally and physically to get to this point and I wanted to pass some of it on to you.

When I first started running again last fall I was nervous.  I wanted to get back on the horse, so to speak.  When you have been out of the exercise circuit for a while you get lazy when you move.  Not just while exercising but even just walking.  I find myself doing it sometimes just walking to the mailbox!  When you do everything, you need to use the right muscles.  That is one thing that I liked about shredding.  Jillian would remind you to check your posture/form.  If you aren’t using the right muscles, you could be hurting yourself.

I found while running the half marathon I would change my pace or change my stride in order to give my muscles a break from the repetition.  For example, I would lengthen my stride or focus on creating less vertical movement so my power wasn’t being wasted on going any further up than absolutely necessary.

Another thing I found when I first started running again was that my shoulders would get tight.  I carry all my stress in my shoulders and neck, which is fairly typical, but I found the repetitive motion of the back-and-forth swing of my arms made it worse not better.  That is when I started doing something simple when I was done with my run.  Arm rotations.  I started off doing repetitions of 25 in each of the following variations: palms down – forward circles, palms down – backward circles, palms up forward, and palms down backwards.  This really loosens up my shoulders…if I do it right.  You have to really get the range of motion going and relax the muscles not being used to get the full benefit.

Remember that the more you run, the stronger you get, and therefore you are able to stretch out your stride a little more or push off harder with your toes.  One of the “easiest” exercises you can do to help your stride are lunges.  They really stretch out your quads, which is what you need to do in order to lengthen your stride and make each step really do the job you want it to.

So at the beginning of this post I stated that I was going to tell you about what I did mentally and physically.  I’ve talked the physical part a bit, and now I talk mental.  I can talk myself out of most anything when I’m running.  I didn’t think I really had the mental fortitude to run 13.1 miles.  I had never done it before, but I found out about myself during that run.  I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been going into a half-marathon.  I hadn’t run more than 6 miles straight before that half.  My original goal was to run the whole thing.  By September I had just about talked myself out of having a chance to succeed at that goal.  I was burned out on the treadmill and by mile 3 I would be bored out of my mind and I just couldn’t convince myself to keep running.  I remember when I hit the 5K mark on the course and thinking to myself, “huh, this is where I usually want to stop.”  But instead of stopping, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.  And really, that is what I did starting at about mile 6.  I was tired, but I wanted to make the hill.  When I hit the top of the hill, I almost cried.  I definitely choked up.  (Btw, choking up while running? not advisable.)  I couldn’t believe that I made it up this hill.  I had hit the 7 mile mark.  I was over halfway done with the race.  At this point I just kept telling myself to keep going.  And you know what?  I did just keep going.  I was Dori, but instead of swimming, I was running.

The Nike Women’s Marathon was on Twitter.  You could email them pictures of the race and into the Twitter stream they would go. One of the pictures that came through was a mom with her twins (probably about 2-3 years old) and the caption saying something to the effect that  her mantra for the last 6 miles (she did the full 26.2) was that she gave birth to twins, this was easy.  Isn’t that the truth?  We mothers have more endurance and strength than we give ourselves credit for.  We do marathon sick days, sometimes combined with our own illness.  We endure pregnancy, which can be a pain – physically.  We endure and prove our strength every day.  Some days are easier.  Just like some miles are easier.  Running a (half)marathon is just that, a marathon  It’s not a sprint to the finish line.  Just as some days the idea of why you wanted to venture on the journey of motherhood is what gets you through the hard days, you have to enjoy the process of your growth as it relates to exercise.

Happy running!


6 responses to this post.

  1. I think it’s fabulous that you run. I think it’s something I could get used to, though I hate exercise and even running, really. But the time alone to just BE? Sounds like it’s worth the pain of sore arms and legs…

  2. Congratulations!! You are awesome.

    I can barely run two blocks. Walking? Yoga? These I can do forever, but running not so much. Mostly because it makes my knees want to commit suicide. 🙂

  3. I loved your tribute to running. I think it rocks that you’ve come so far with it. 🙂

  4. I am so looking forward to the point when I’m as far along mentally as you are. You are awesome.

  5. Still stuck in my 2.5 mile rut. I know I need to mix it up…you gave me some things to think about here….

  6. Posted by Kelly on November 13, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Running is so a mental game, and I love how you captured that in your post. When I’m running a half there are so many things that go through my mind to keep me going, some miles it’s easy, some not so much. When I’m really reaching to keep myself going, the thought that I focus on is what do I want to remember about this 10 minutes of my life. Because soon, I’ll be done and the pain will be over but this 10 minutes is going to be with me forever, and I won’t be able to rewrite it. Unfailingly (so far…) I come up with the answer that I want to keep running, and it keeps me running.

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