Run-strength (and weakness)

My blog friend Amanda wrote a killer blog post yesterday on running strengths and weaknesses. Her post had such a great message behind it and was a really good exercise for her to go through as she continues to get and keep her head in the game while training for her first marathon (go girl, go!).  Side note – if you don’t know Amanda, get your butt over there -she. is. awesome.

Since I’m on a fun little journey over here as I also get my head in the game for my first-ever full marathon, I thought the strengths/weaknesses exercise was a good one to give a whirl.

Run-strengths…

  • I’m a “free” runner by nature — most of my running is of the “just run” variety. Get out there, log some miles, enjoy the fresh air, the “me” time, the sheer ability to be able to run. “Free” also means – no garmin, no iPod, no distractions.
  • I’ve gotten pretty good at getting out of my head when I run — my favorite motto continues to be “run the mile you’re in” which has saved me many a time when a run started to get the best of me and all I could do was focus on the finish “line” versus powering through each mile as it’s own entity.
  • I’m not afraid of hills – yup, I said it. Now the Universe is bound to throw some crazy hills at me on my next run, just becaues I said that, huh? 😉  But anyway, I am not afraid of hills — mostly because my routes around my house are all fairly hilly. So I’ve never been the one that has always run flat routes and freak out a little if a course on race day is hillier than I expect. I hope this bodes well on May 6 — the Providence course has a bit of a ‘rolling’ aspect to it. So there’s that.

Run-weaknesses…

  • I sometimes like to think I know more than I do – call me stubborn (no really, go ahead and call me stubborn, I know I am!), but I often find that I bristle at *too* much advice giving my runners out there. It could even be a magazine article that I’ll scoff at. I figure, I’ve been running on my own, without any sort of hardcore training coach or personal trainer, I know what I’m doing. Of *course* I do. Bwahahaha. And then I realize that I’m not perfect. Far from it. And I’m always learning. Running definitely falls into the “constant learning experience” camp. So I should probably heed advice more often and quit letting my stubborn side take over.
  • I strive to be faster but sometimes I hate speed work — Yet, sometimes I love it depending on the day. Usually once I’m into a speed workout, I’m ok with it, it’s the anticipation that kills me, haha. On the one hand, I know it’s helped me speed up the pace (my last PR proves that!), but on the other hand — I don’t ever want to be that person that runs and races with an eagle-eye focus on time, time, time. For me, there’s a time and a place to focus on a PR and there’s also a time and a place to focus on the run itself. And running it proud. That’s huge for me – running strong, sure, but running proud. Way more important to me.
  • I need to learn how to fuel/hydrate better – this also falls into the “stubborn” camp above. Tuesday night’s run proves that. The nausea I felt after that run was partly due to exertion, but it was also partly due to the lack of water on a warmer-than-usual night in March. Thanks to some great advice from a couple of running friends, I’m (about to be) the proud owner of two Nathan hand-held water bottles (the iFitness belt I bought last summer just doesn’t work for me, too slippy) – a smaller one and a larger one, depending on my needs on a given day. I’ll also be giving honey stingers a try on my longer runs. And more frequent fueling than I’m used to doing during a longer run. I’m doing everything I can to avoid that “OMG I’m gonna puke” feeling after a long (or challenging) run or race. I get that feeling after EVERY half marathon I’ve ever done — and I am sure it’s due to lack of proper fueling (I’m sure you’ll yell at me, runner friends, but two shot blox for an entire 13.1 mile course *probably* isn’t enough). I am determined to figure out the right balance for me — I don’t want to overfuel or overhydrate (I run “heavy” very easily when my stomach has too much in it), but I certainly need to fuel/hydrate better than I have in the past. Note to self.

Whew. That was a fun, but very mind-churning exercise. My mind is now going in a million more directions, running-wise. But the bottom line in all of this?
I am a runner.
…I love to run.
…It brings me joy.
…I am filled with gratitude that I’ve been blessed with an able body that can carry me through the miles.
…and I’m determined to continue to learn and evolve as a runner.

But most of all? I want to continue to trust my body to do what my mind thinks isn’t possible (why hello there 26.2 miles!). Which is precisely what drew me into running in the first place. To face down (what I thought was) the impossible.

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28 thoughts on “Run-strength (and weakness)

  1. My goal is to run a half-marathon by the end of 2012. I’ve been running for about 9 months now and I’m learning both my strong and not so strong suits when it comes to this sport. Like everything, we learn as we go along and we push ourselves to be the best we can 🙂

    • That is an awesome goal!! You can totally go for it — because like you said, running will always be a challenge and a learning experience, but it’s what we learn and apply to the next run that’s most important. Go get it!

    • Ohhh good – I’m excited to learn to love the handheld, I need to hydrate!!
      I’m looking forward to all this learning I’ll be getting from marathon training. I’m sure I won’t always LOVE it, but I’ll def learn a TON!!

  2. LOL – girl, you are something else 😉 It cracks me up. But, I do hope you get over that stubborness a little bit for the full training. Honestly, I want to be a better runner so badly that I probably soak up too much advice and try it all! And you know that the runners giving advice are just trying to share what they’ve learned through their own trial and error. We could all probably write a book on that one. So, I won’t scold on the lack of fuel for halfs or the lack of water mid-run (ahem), but I’ll probably still give advice whether you like it or not 😉 Teehee

    • hehe I know you’d get a kick out of this post. 😉 Ohhhh where to even begin, right??

      You are absolutely right – the advice shared is just shared to be helpful, not to be all “know it all”-ish, I guess I’m just stubborn by nature (vast understatement huh?) and figure I know my body best and what will work or not. And in the end – that’s what I’ve learned so far with running. It is SUCH a personal sport, the same formula doesn’t always apply to the next runner so a big part of that is the “to each his/her own” mentality. HOWEVER, I could stand to take the advice of my fellow runners more often than not, we’re a bunch of smart and seasoned runners afterall, right??

      And I would expect nothing less from you than advice whether I like it or not – it just wouldn’t be the same otherwise!! 🙂

    • So here’s my thing — next time you face a hill: don’t stop. Run the entire time and keep running after that hill. It’ll suck. But next time you face a hill, I betcha you’ll think twice about stopping and you’ll just power on through. Such a mental thing, right??

  3. I love this sis, and loved her post too. Maybe I will do this too, for an upcoming run challenge post. As for advice…ironic because you are also fast to give advice – NOT a knock at all, but remember when I started getting frustrated with you because you kept doling out advice every two seconds and sometimes I just need to figure it out myself. I guess we are the same in that way huh? Bristling a little at it even though sometimes we know we NEED that advice. I need to fuel/hydrate better too. I notice that now as I drink more water on the ‘mill than outside, and it’s gonna mean needing to bring water with me on outdoor runs whether I like it or not!

    • Um hi: pot/kettle syndrome over here, huh?? I KNOW — I love to give advice but when it comes to receiving it, I sometimes have a hard time with it. But hey – admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?? Haha.

      Part of my thing is taking too much of someone’s advice vs. testing your own theories and what will work for YOU vs what will work for this friend or that friend. I’m not saying our friends and family don’t have great advice — they totally do in most cases, I just guess I worry about taking too much advice and varying opinions vs. trying it out for myself first to see what works for me.

      Long way of saying – yes, I have a problem. HAHA. 😉

  4. Thanks for the blog love friend:-)
    Even though it can be daunting, isn’t it so great to write down what is working for you and what is not? It is such a great tool to see how far you have come and where you still need to go to grow and improve. I think that you are growing as a runner big time! I can not wait to read all about your journey to the marathon!
    But yes, (and this is advice….heehee) hydrate more! Your running will thank you:-)

    • Anytime my friend, it was a fabulous post 🙂

      And yes, advice IS a good thing – it not only means you have fab friends who care about you but it can also lead to new learnings and discoveries you might not learn on your own right away. Soooo yes, I need to listen a little bit more and stop being so stubborn!!

      I promise to hydrate more too, PROMISE!!

  5. This is a great exercise! Something I may have to try as I recover and begin training again.

    You DEFINITELY need to fuel more!

    And I’m often one to give out lots of unrequested advice so if I ever overstep my advice giving boundaries, please put me in my place! XOXO

    • Ohhh I hope you do this too – it’s kind of eye opening, I mean — I didn’t even realize I had a problem taking advice until I sat back and really thought about it, weird huh?

      And nooo you are not stepping over boundaries at ALL, I promise you that! You have given me some awesome advice over time – particularly the whole hydration/fuel thing, hehe.

      And honestly, none of my friends have ever “over-stepped”, I’m just weird and stubborn sometimes. Call it a character flaw??? Or just a quirk, haha. 😉

  6. This is such a great idea. I need to do one when I can run again 😉 The hydrating thing is a constant struggle for me too. I can’t do the belt thing, but a hand held can be a pain to carry for 14 miles!!

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  8. ok. found your blog just in time! I’m ‘training’ for a 1/2 in June & have never run more then 5km races. I’m excited, but really don’t know what I’m doing. I heard fueling is very important, but haven’t tried anything yet. What would you recommend to someone who is gluten free & vegan? I’ve only been training for 1 week now & haven’t run more then 5km yet, but I’m thinking this week I’m gonna bump it up to 7-10km runs. would love any & all advice!
    thx girl~
    T

    • Oh how awesome!! Good for you for tackling a half marathon! That is huge!! I’m no expert but I’m happy to share with you what’s worked for me half marathon-training wise. Want to swap emails on the topic?? (jsutera@comcast.net)

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