21 July 2009

What It Really Takes

It's not so much that I've been off neglecting my blog. It's that I've been learning what it takes to run, and trying to fit that into my life. I finally feel as if I've figured it out - just in time for the long distances.

If I had to use one word to describe this training it would be more. Everything involved is just more. I expected I'd be running, getting tips on posture, and getting fit. I thought I'd have time away from the gym, and that (being a runner and all) I wouldn't need to exercise as much. I thought the world would think my cause worthy, and find my practicality in asking for just $7 worth obliging. We're about six weeks in and I can now tell you running takes a lot more than that.

Running Takes Commitment
Endurance running is an entirely different sport from running. It's not leisurely. It's not something one can easily start and stop. Endurance running takes everything you have. You have to eat to run. You have to sleep to run. You have to train to run. It's a horrible feeling to finish a session and know exactly what you could have done an hour (a day, a week) prior to have made it better. For me that's translated to prevention. I'm not drinking because of how it may affect my running. I'm not staying up too late, eating unhealthy food, or giving my attention to anything else. For the next few months I work, I exercise, I run.

Running Takes Education
Knowing what not to do will not get me across the finish line. Team in Training has brought me a wealth of knowledge about health and nutrition.

  • The podiatrist explained how to avoid a plethora of injuries.
  • The nutritionist told us how to eat before, during, and immediately after the race.
  • The physical therapist showed me how to keep my knees (and surrounding parts) strong.
  • The chi running coach taught proper posture - and how to run up and down hills.

I've started reading a sports nutrition book to find what my body will burn the best. There's a lot to know before you go. I expected "put one foot in front of the other. Repeat." Not so much.

Running Takes Humility
It's more than using the tips and tricks, and practicing what has been preached. It's remembering that I'm training for a (half) marathon. It's keeping a steady stride at times when I feel like I can sprint. It's being proud of myself, even after another runner finishes eight miles in the time it takes me to finish six. It's focusing on my breathing, instead of wondering why that fatter / older / shorter person is faster than I am.

Running Takes Support
I'm pleased to report Jesse has come finally come around. He's now realizing I wasn't lying about getting proper training and hopefully he's through making fun of me to anyone who'll listen. It took six miles for him to admit he's proud of me. And while I was determined to do this without him, I'm glad. It's difficult to tell the world what I'm doing and keep it from him. Yes. I tried to do that. I can now lift then ban and allow him to come to the race.

I've also gotten a lot of support and encouragement from people I've known (and maybe haven't talked to) for years. People who know me seem to be sure I can do this. And there are times (like when I'm passed by a woman pushing a stroller) when I need to know that.

As much as I'm focusing on myself, there is another goal. I'm raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I've set a $2500 goal and I'm close to halfway there. I appreciate all of you who have donated so far, and I can't stress that enough. Asking for money is more difficult than running, because it's not all up to me. Please visit my donation page. I'm treating it like a running blog (pun intended) where I detail my training experiences. The address is http://pages.teamintraining.org/sf/nikesf09/danied.

And still, the running will take even more. I did six miles last Saturday. I'll need proper running gear - including new shoes and electrolytes - before going any further. I bought some chewy "shot blocks" over the weekend and I'm going for shoes tomorrow. I'm almost halfway there. I can almost say it's downhill from here. But I live in San Francisco. We know that's not true.