For some strange reason when thinking about writing this post the song “War” by Edwin Starr echoes in my head. Unlike the anti-war message (which I of course love) in the 1970 song I am definitely pro-running. Maybe I just like the soulful beat and the emphatic James Brown-esque grunts in the chorus.
As many of you reading this may know, I recently completed my first half marathon on October 7, 2012. It is an accomplishment that has been on my wish list for over 15 years and after 3 failed training attempts due to injury, I decided to try again. So, In June I signed up with my local Running Room‘s half-marathon clinic and put my best foot forward (quite literally!).
I have a desk job. And since moving to Nova Scotia, I rely on my car to get around; almost never walking to accomplish my day-to-day activities as when I lived Toronto. A regular fitness routine is a no-brainer, but I was bored and disenchanted with the gym and needed a new goal to keep me engaged and accountable.
I kept myself expectations humble. Since in the past, running more than 12K resulted in injury, I decided to take my time, listen to my body and not let my ego push beyond a healthy limit.
The Bigger Why.
To bring even more accountability to this endeavor, I needed a reason larger than just finishing a race. I needed something that would put a fire under my ass (ya I said it), and get me out for a long run in the pouring rain or hill training against gale-force winds. That’s when I made a promise that if I made it through training and all was on-point that I would raise funds for charity: water. On September 8 I launched the “21K for Clean Water” campaign to fund water projects in Rwanda. I set a goal of $2100.00 and as of the date of this post, this campaign has raised $2466.00!!! Much gratitude to the overwhelming support and generosity of those who have donated!
The Mob is so boss.
The Halifax Running Room clinic was fundamental in my training success. The clinic is designed for all levels of running capabilities and my coaches, Jen Brenton and Sherri Robbins were warm, encouraging and great advocates of John Stanton’s running program.
I go on record stating that I would not have been able to get through the long runs or hill training without the group (aka Mob) support. I am definitely grateful and would recommend these clinics to anyone who is still on the fence about getting involved in a walking or running routine.
I will also go on record to state that the 10:1 method (running for 10 minutes, walk for 1 minute) not only got me fit to complete a half marathon – it got me to the finish line in 1:57 minutes! In my younger, more “type A” years I eschewed this type of training, but now – I’m a believer.
One of these kids is doing his own thing.
I took liberties with my training program to prevent any injury or pain and enhance my performance. Instead of the recommended 5 day a week, I ran only 3-4 times a week and supplemented my training with yoga, cardio on an elliptical machine and resistance training. I contended with tight IT (iliotibial) bands on my long runs, which lead to knee pain and stiffness. It did however, improve with massage and “rolling” the tissue along the side of the thigh and stretching sessions and Epsom salt baths.
Food for flight.
I changed up my diet to enhance my training and my body’s ability to recover. I cut back on caffeine, not because I had an unhealthy caffeine habit, but because it can be used to enhance performance and I didn’t want a daily intake of caffeine to build up a tolerance and interfere with my body responding to it for performance enhancement. I also avoided foods that contribute to inflammation in the body such as sugars, alcohol, wheat, dairy and focused on leafy greens, pseudograins, spouted nuts and seeds, and occasionally some fish high in omega 3. The focus on nourishing not only for health but for performance is a post all to itself. But special mention goes to my pre long run smoothies that were a body-loving combo of spinach, blueberries, vegan protein powder, and chia seeds. I definitely felt a dip in performance the the one day I skipped it.
So, what IS it good for?
In my case I would say I’ve experienced an increase in overall fitness, cardiovascular health, comradery, a sense of accomplishment, improved sleep, a lot of fresh air and natural vitamin D, improved mood, improved digestion….I could continue, but it’s time for me to lace up my kicks and enjoy a run on this crisp, sunny fall day.