Why do YOU do it?

October 25, 2011

This afternoon I had a really great discussion with a good friend of mine about the goals are reasons for running.  It was really interesting and brought out a lot of self-realizations and just interesting points.  So I thought maybe I’d share.

Anyone who knows me (well, the prior to October me) will attest that “a runner” is one of the last things I would define myself as.  If anything, I was a sprinter – years of softball with an emphasis on bursts of speeds vs. long distance running had me enjoying my time in the weight room more than on the track.   Fast forward 8 years and I’m suddenly shocking my friends by bringing up the possibility of this race or that race.  I heard “its like I don’t even KNOW you anymore!!” today.  This morning I continued training for the 8k with another 3.5 mile run on the treadmill – this time a workout, vs this weekend’s pleasant long run.  And let me tell ya – it was DEFINITELY far from pleasant.  It had me once again convinced I’d tumble off the treadmill in tears when my workout was done.  Now, a small disclaimer here:  I’m not THAT much of a wimp, I use these workouts to incorporate some high intensity speed bursts to try and be a stronger faster runner on top of upping the distance.  Which brings me to my first point, I only get one workout a morning.  I don’t want to leave it thinking “well, yeah – I went, but I definitely could have pushed myself harder”.  I want to come out of there going “that.sucked.  I am NEVER running again” and then feel proud when I lace up the sneaks for the next time.  To me, training is just as much mental as it is physical.   But seriously guys, how many times have we reached a point of discomfort while running, lifting or any workout really and thought “I can’t anymore”.  It would be so easy to stop and eventually be dissatisfied.  But the really, truly amazing thing is – when we push past that mental block and finish the workout.  We could be gasping at the end, red in the face, dripping with sweat, close to throwing up or tears, heck even all of the above.  In the end, what it comes down to, is something that was very eloquently put by my friend in her email:  “I can keep running, but I really don’t want to”.  Or in a slightly more positive way “I don’t want to keep going, but I know I can!”.  I’ve found that the more I run, the more that feeling of “I am NEVER running again” after a workout lasts for a shorter and shorter period of time, while that endorphin rush is starting to begin earlier and last longer.  Which leads me to my next point.  Why am I running? Why am I doing this?  I know some people who’s philosophy is “Well if you make yourself run faster, you’ll get the workout done faster and then you can move on with your life”.  While there IS some facet of truth to this, the faster you get your workout done, the faster you’re done with your workout.  But is that really why I want to be working out?  To obsess and burn the greatest number of calories and justify a glass of wine at the end of the day? As a female, I think I am particularly susceptible to this line of thinking.  But what I’ve found, is that having started to train for these races, my goal has no longer become “I’ll go until I burn this many calories” its become “I’m going to hit that distance!”  I’ve learned to enjoy my workouts for what they are, becoming a stronger person, physically, mentally and emotionally.  And this isn’t just isolated to running, I’ve started enjoying trail rides on my bike, I’ve gotten back into lifting.  All of these things, when I finish a tough goal I’ve set for myself – I feel amazing.  I’m constantly smiling, I feel strong and throw compliments at random strangers just because it makes me happy to make someone else smile.  I’m more self-confident, and here’s a secret guys, I haven’t stepped on a scale once in the past 2 months.  I don’t know what I weigh.  I can’t tell you how many calories I’ve burnt in the past 3 weeks with my workouts.  I CAN tell you how I’ve improved my 3 mile time and can now run a 10 minute mile for 3 consistent miles without gasping for air.  I can tell you that I’ve upped my time at 7 mph from 1 minute, to 3 minutes to 5 minutes while in my run.  My goals have changed, my perspective has changed.  My goal for eating is to sit down to something that is colorful, tasty, was fun to prepare, nutritious and able to fuel my body the right way to get on with the day.  On its own, my focus has shifted from a less healthy thought process and the emphasis is now on FIT and strong vs. skinny.  Yikes! When did this happen!?   But nowI have a better idea of why I’m waking up to get to the gym, why I’m lifting those weights even though my arms are starting to tremble (bye bye arm flab!), why suddenly I want to know what makes the things I put into my smoothie or pasta dish so good for me.

So now what?  My 5k is in just over 3 weeks.  My 8k shortly after.  What do I do next?  Do I say “ok, I’ve done that” and just trust myself to keep up with workouts without a clear, tangible goal in mind to achieve?  I dunno.  Frankly, I’m not sure I trust myself that much.  There’s a half marathon by my home town at the end of March.   I dunno guys.  Can I do it?  It’s a significantly longer distance than anything I’ve run yet.  I know I know, its in MARCH.  I haven’t even run my first 5k yet.  On one hand, there is plenty of time for training.  On the other hand – its scary a little bit – no?  But, I’m trying to decide what I think it is, that’s more daunting to me – the idea of running that far or of running for that LONG. I think, that I’m going to wait until after my 8k and see how I feel after finishing that.  There will be plenty of time to register if its something that’s important to me and will give me enough time to train effectively.  I’d like to think that after December 11th, I’ll be coming home or waking up the next morning and putting down that registration fee.  I’m really starting to enjoy the benefits of achieving these goals that DON’T have to do with the word “skinny”.   No matter what it is.   So what do you think?  Have you guys tended to accomplish a goal and then move on to something different or try and keep improving and stick with it past the goal?  Creating new goals along the way?   Should I run that half-marathon?  Why do you put on the sneakers?

To bring it all together, I was reading a little article on fitsugar.com that was talking about working out with your dog and I found one point that was particularly meaningful to me and seemed to really hit home with how I was feeling.  Lemme share:

“The Stats Aren’t Important

During my workouts, I used to worry about how many calories I burned or the distance I ran. But the calories and miles mean nothing to Murphy. He focuses only on the fun stuff — the sights, sounds, and smells of our exercise. Murphy reminds me that the best workouts are the ones during which we don’t worry about the stats.” http://www.fitsugar.com

Murphy is a pug.  Which only helps with the mental image of a little dog just HAPPY to be out, wagging his little tail, jumping around, loving spending time with his owner.  Now, I am not a pug (sad face), I don’t have a tail that I wag and I don’t really have an owner, persay.  But this idea is what I want my workouts to embody.  I want to get out there and just be happy doing what I’m doing and feeling how strong and amazing my body can be and end the day with more tally’s in the smile column.

Whew.  That was deep.  Sorry about that, but it felt like something that was pretty important to write and share.  And for some comical/culinary relief:

First up.  Garfield.  He rules my life, he’s got some awesome little nuggets of wisdom.  Like this one.   And its true, life IS totally a roller coaster sometimes.  But this comic made me laugh so hard, because sometimes, you just need to not take life so seriously, I think.

courtesy of mah computer screen (try http://www.garfield.com for the real deal).

For dinner – the boy requested a pasta primavera of sorts.  Not too particularly challenging, but as it was a vegetarian meal I DIDN’T have to force feed him (I kid, I kid), I happily agreed.  By the time this dish was done – I felt like I was back at college with a healthier version of the pasta bar at school.  Here’s How:

take whatever veggies you want.  Here I chose the last of a bag of frozen stir fry veggies, peas,  some asparagus (obsession continues, I know), zucchini, squash and GARLIC (in the words of Brandon “NEED MORE GARLIC”) and saute with a little canola oil (or whatever oil you choose) until the veggies are done.

While you’re doing that – boil some pasta.  I combo’d some elbow and rigatoni to get enough pasta together.

Toss it together with a sprinkling of garlic powder (told you), sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, loaded up the oregano, some feta cheese and parm.   and a drizzle of truffle oil, enough to make the stuff sort’ve glide together.  (Can pasta and veggies glide together? Who knows…)

The final product is something a little like this:

  which by the way, should fall under the “delicious” category.

So now that I have poured out my workout soul to you, shared a little of how I develop my life philosophies (he he he) and showed you an embarrassingly simple but healthy, delicious dinner, I’m going to go wag my tail at something.  Simple pleasures for the win.

 

 

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