Zone Out and Focus

One of the things I love most about long distance running is the “me time” it provides. Though there are so many ways you can spend quality alone time, running provides a different setting than reading, watching movies, and other things of that nature. I’ve always noticed when I’m running I tend to block out everything around me. Now, I don’t block it out to a dangerous point. I still hear cars and take note of my surroundings. But, it seems like everything just fades away. Running almost feels like meditation at times, especially when I’m about half way into my workout and at a comfortable pace. I concentrate on my breathing, keeping it even and steady. I focus on my footing, form, and center of balance. It’s very calming.

This is probably one of the reasons running is my best way of relieving stress. The moment I hit the pavement, any bothersome thoughts or worries stop. Everything just seems to melt away. It gives my mind a break from whatever may be bothering me. The only thought process I have during my runs is that little voice of, “You’ve got this. Keep going. Relax your arms. Open your stride a bit. You know you can do it.” I always think of it as my inner coach. But other than that, my mind is pretty much silent. Then when I’m finished for the day, the endorphin rush kicks in and gets my happy, relaxed feelings going. So, thoughts of whatever had been bothering me beforehand do not return. Not for a few hours afterwards anyway.

The only issue I come across with this mindset, though, is when people see me running and want to get my attention or cheer me on, it scares me, haha.

Morning Runs

Getting up early to run (and by early, I mean before dawn) can be difficult. Your bed is warm and cozy. Your pillow is cool and fluffy. You were just having a great dream, and your alarm went off right when you got to the exciting part. You get up and trudge around, throwing your shorts and tee on, wondering why you do this day after day. You put on some socks and tie your shoes. If you’re like me, you use an inhaler. You stretch and grab your watch before heading out. And then finally, you step outside as the sun is just starting to rise. That’s when you realize how much you enjoy early morning runs.

The air is crisp and cool. It’s fresh, as if it’s never been breathed by anyone or anything else before. You can hear early morning chirps from some birds. You might hear some traffic off in the distance (unless you live in a big metropolis). The wind that blows and rain that falls is refreshing in a way. So, you start putting one foot in front of the other the only way you know how. You start jogging. The adrenaline kicks in soon, and your body seems to energize and wake up the rest of the way. Your jog turns into a nice pace. Or maybe it turns into a tempo run. Or a fartlek. Or speed training. Whatever it is, your legs kick into gear, and you’re on your way. A little way into your workout, you feel the beads of sweat forming even if it’s subzero temperatures outside. As the sun rises and breaks away from the horizon, you’re just getting to the good part. Those endorphins are kicking in, and you’re feeling great!

But soon enough, you reach the end of your workout. You cross the imaginary finish line for the day. You complete the number of laps around the track you had set out to do. You finish for the day. And, that’s when it hits you. Getting up early, grumbling, maybe even stumbling around…it was worth it to feel what you feel now. It’s a high. It’s your fix. It’s something you can’t explain to people who have never felt it. It gets your day started right. It helps your mind to focus on the tasks ahead. It gives you the jump start you need. It’s just as important as coffee is for most.

And the best part is you get to do it again tomorrow. =)

Healthy Eating! =)

I have always found that when I am active, I always eat healthier, and it’s not just because I would feel physically awful running with a belly full of fried food. I tend to get cravings for healthy foods when I’m exercising on a regular basis. It’s weird, but great. It’s like my endorphin center and my taste buds are connected. I also tend to stray away from all beverages other than water throughout the day, making an exception for a sports drink or fruit juice every so often. Even my closest friends know this phenomenon is real. They’ve seen me go through it a lot in the past when I would go through periods of being active and being sedentary. I also notice that I have more of a normal appetite. I don’t do a lot of midnight snacking, but at the same time, skipping meals is more difficult. The only downfall with this at the present, though, is that being a retail pharmacist means there are many days where I don’t get a full meal for 12-13 hours at a go. The days that I do get time to eat, I only get time for one meal. This had been something I was used to, but now with running back in my life, my metabolism is kicking into higher gear, and I am hungry more often. Now more than ever I need to keep things by my computer station to munch on.

Today, I definitely had a delicious lunch that I wanted to share with you! I took a whole wheat pita pocket, slathered the inside with some hummus, put in a few slices of lean turkey, filled it to its bursting point with some fresh lettuce, and stuck in a few crispy pita crackers to give it an extra crunch factor. It was delicious and filled with both protein and fiber. I made sure to finish it off with some fresh summer berries after I was done. Yummy! It was far too hot from the time I woke up this morning to go for my run. I’m waiting for the sun to sink a little lower on the horizon before I head out. I’m thinking either a tempo or a fartlek run will be good.

So, my question for you today is, what are some healthy meals that you enjoy and that energize your body when it’s pushed to its limits? =)

Inspired

I do have to say, watching the Olympics has really given me an extra bit of inspiration and drive. I was heavily enjoying watching the track and field events that were on last night and this morning. The runners’ forms were a particular focus of mine when I was watching. After watching the women’s 1500m qualifying rounds, I went for my run. I was very happy to see my time improved from yesterday, and it’s a good feeling to be able to run a 5K distance comfortably for the first time since 2008. I have always loved the Olympic games, both summer and winter, but this year, watching them has been even more enjoyable. Though I know I will never be Olympic material, I can still feel inspired by the world’s greatest to run faster and be better.

Running aside, has anyone else been inspired by our Olympic athletes’ performances in the past 10 days? =)

A New Beginning

I have to say I don’t think I’ve been this excited about running in a while. I am so beyond pumped. You’re probably wondering what made me all of sudden, after years of no running decide to train for a 13.1 mile foot race. Well, let me get something straight first. Though I did take a break from running for a while, it wasn’t without missing it. My schedule for the past few years has been busy and hasn’t allowed me much free time. The last time I seriously trained was in 2008, and it led to amazing results and personal bests. I really do miss the exhilarating feeling.

So a few months ago, I hopped onto YouTube. In my recommended section was this video. I almost didn’t click on it because there was a much funnier video next on the list. I watched it twice and concluded I needed to start running again. If for no other reason, I figured I would at least be healthier if I did. So, I decided I needed a goal in mind. I am and have always been very goal oriented. When I don’t have a goal to aim for, I tend to lose my drive and ambition very quickly. So, I started looking for races to participate in. I wanted a challenge, but nothing too daunting. A 5K? Too easy. I’d be ready in no time and would have to continually find new races every month or so. A marathon? Too much. I’ve never run anything longer than a 10K, and that was when I was at the top of my game. After some debating, I figured a half marathon was the perfect challenge for me. It is something I have never done before, but it isn’t too scary or intimidating. The date of the race I registered for is October 21st. Plenty of time.

After spending a decent amount of money on new active wear (since my old clothing no longer fit or was dry rotted in elastic areas), I started running a little here and there just to get use to running again. I got my hands on a nifty 10 week training schedule. I started trying to eat healthier and stay hydrated. The only difficulty I’ve been having is adjusting my sleep schedule. I would like to ideally be in bed every night by 10 PM so I can get up at 6 AM and run. Part of the problem is that, on work days, I am still pretty energized at that ideal bed time, so it can be difficult to wind down. I figure, eventually, my body will adjust. The key lies in retaining that pattern on my days off. It is very tempting for me to sleep in and stay up late. I am just going to have to make a commitment and be more disciplined. Starting next week, I have no choice. My 10 week plan starts on August 12th. I either stick to it or I don’t race. Plain and simple.

Well, that’s it for now. I should get some sleep. Until next time!

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