Small Victories

Small Victories

Last week, I guess I hit a huge bump in the road.  My hip was sore, my feet hurt and I had a rough work week.   My running buddy was injured and out of the marathon and I was seriously questioning my ability to finish this thing.   Sunday, I planned to skip my long run as I just didn’t think I had it in me to do.

Sunday came and I decided to just give it a try.  I had nothing to lose since I already felt lost.   I put one foot in front of the other and started running.  13 miles later, I  met my husband down by the beach.  I was so proud of that run.   It was slow and steady and mostly pain free.   Could it be?   I felt like I had one foot on the ladder, ready to climb out of this darn pity party.

This week was a short work week. I met my trainer in Central Park on Thursday.   We did an hour of strength and she rolled my legs – ouch.   Off I went for a short 4 mile run in the park.  It felt slow, but when I got on the bus and looked at it I saw I had some nice segments.   Central Park is a tough run, so those PR segments really boosted my bruised ego.

This morning I met my trainer for our Saturday morning session.  I was sore from Thursday so her rolling helped.  After an hour of strength, activation and rolling I was ready to run.  I only needed a shorter run today as this is a recovery week.  I set my sights on Cat Hill and off I went.

Today’s run also had some strong segments, but overall these legs were tired.  I’m feeling like I’m in a much better space today.   My belief that I will finish marathon this has returned.  I wish I had more time to prepare, but it is what it is.

In speaking to other runners, there are many who are hurting right about now.  But, guess what, it’s supposed to be hard, it’s a marathon for heavens sake.  If it were easy it wouldn’t be a challenge and everybody would be doing it.  Just like I tell my students, the growth comes at the point of the struggle.   This week, I realized that I’m tougher than I thought.   It would’ve been easier to quit, truly.   But, then I’d be full of regret and have to do this all over again.  Nope, I’m not a quitter.  I’m in it to finish.  How about you?

Thanks Jessica for picking me back up off the floor.   Today I ran Central Park hills, tired but pain free.  http://runpainfreenow.com

How’s your training going?   What do you do when the going gets tough?   Leave me a messsage below.

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Emotional Toll

Emotional Toll

Nobody warns you about the emotional toll of training for a marathon. You only envision the glory of the finish and even the accomplishments along the way. You hear all about losing toenails and the endless hours of running. But the emotional toll just kind of creeps in around 7 weeks out. Suddenly, that race that seemed so far away is fast approaching. You find yourself questioning your sanity and ability to even do this thing. You forget why in the world you even wanted to do it in the first place.

Unless you are an elite, professional runner, you are trying to fit this huge feat into your daily grind. Starts out ok, but trust me as the weeks move along it can become stressful. I happen to have a high stress job that pulls me in a million directions, usually at 90 mph. This is stress I manage pretty well on a daily basis. It is what is is. But, when you tack on this hefty training commitment it can become a bit much to handle.

During the summer, I have a ton of mind space for running and meal planning. There aren’t all these other demands on my body and emotions. An extra hectic school opening this year, full of life’s curveballs, has left me really tired this week. Whenever you deal with the emotions and needs of others you are bound to hit some bumps in the road. This training cycle has made me realize just how much of myself I give to everyone else and sadly how little I give myself.

My wonderful coach Jessica, http://runpainfreenow.com spent a lot of time today listening to me fall apart. She was patient and kind and for that I’m eternally grateful. Some days, I guess we need more than just a training session. Sometimes we need to hear that it’s ok to put ourselves first. To hear that while it is my job to shield my students from the stresses I absorb daily, that doesn’t mean I can’t share the load with the adults in my building. They, unlike my students, are adults. They too, if we are a team, should know the realities of what is faced on a daily basis to keep our school afloat. Maybe then they could gain some perspective beyond just their own. It can only serve to strengthen our team.

So, today I decided to put myself before anyone else. I’ll admit it felt quite selfish of me, but that’s the mindset that needs to change. Today, I spent time reading and relaxing after my trip to the city. I spent time in bed reading up on things I’m interested in. No news was on and no negativity permeated my zen space. I didn’t respond to work email, in fact I didn’t even read them.

Last night’s inability to sleep was my body warning me it’s on overload. I need to reel myself in and begin to set aside some time just for me. I am human like everyone else in my life and I too need time to recharge and rest. I can’t continue to put myself last.

As I move into this last phase of training my body is tired. My emotions are taking over and self doubt about my ability to finish are creeping in. I’m doubling down though and kicking that doubt to the curb. My coach and my running buddies will pull me through this race. The lessons I’ve learned about how I treat my own emotional needs will stick with me beyond the finish line. I matter and I am important.

Has your training begun to wear you down too? Do you have a coach like mine who is available 24/7 to get you through? If not, how are you surviving it? Leave your comments below.

Scaffolds

Scaffolds

In education when a child is not quite ready for a task we offer them a scaffold.  If a math problem is too complex for them we break it into smaller, more manageable parts.   In reading, we offer them books at their independent reading level, rather than expecting them all to read the same book.  Yet, when it comes to exercise tasks we tend to reject all scaffolds offered.  We look at these scaffolds as a sign of weakness rather than what they truly are, a way to lift us up and enable us to finish the task.

On today’s run, I started to think about this connection and realized I’m just as guilty as anyone of rejecting scaffolds.  I like to say I’m stubborn, determined or a true warrior.   Somehow lately I’m realizing that I’m foolish and letting my ego guide me rather than my common sense.

Scaffolds for runners are meant to help, not hinder, their development.  If the body is not quite ready to do what you are asking of it, you could end up getting injured.  Trust me, this I know first hand!  Building and developing the right muscles for the activity you want to perform is not an option.  You must spend the time and do the work to have proper functionality.   If something along your muscular chain is weak, something else will become overloaded and injury could follow.  My coach has finally got that point seared in my stubborn, I mean foolish, brain. I have now added some scaffolding to my training to ensure that I make it not only to the starting line, but also to the finish.

Since my Achilles has been giving me trouble, I’ve added the scaffold of running intervals on my runs.  This scaffold builds breaks for this muscle into each run.  Without them the repetitive motion over three hours could really put a strain on my Achilles.   It’s also been allowing me to work more on my form, hopefully developing the right muscle groups.   Another scaffold I’m embracing is slowing my pace on long runs.   Long runs are meant to develop endurance, not pace, so I’ve given myself permission to turn off the app that tells me my pace as I’m running.  My friend who has run 7 marathons shared with me that you can never run too slow on a long run.  He said during his training for his first marathon he ran himself into the ground.   During that race he barely finished with anything left in his tank.   Sounds like I need to slow it down on those long runs immediately.

Finally, today I gave myself the accommodation of flexibility.   I’m a very schedule driven runner.   I like to run super early to avoid car traffic and heat.  If I don’t go by 6:00 AM, I start stressing and thinking about running another day.  I never sleep in on weekends either.   Today, after two exhausting days at work, I woke at 3:00 AM ready to get moving.  I came down, had a bowl of oatmeal and cup of coffee. I then walked right back up and got back in my bed. I turned on the hurricane reports and before I knew it I decided to go back to sleep thinking I’d run tomorrow instead.   I woke again at 8:00, got up and did my pre-run activation routine. Then I went out and did my scheduled long run.  Honestly, it felt good to not rush out to run.  Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to change the plan, but not permission to skip it.

Scaffolds do not mean you’re any less or a runner than another.  They mean you are focused on completing your task.  Thanks coach Jessica for readjusting my perspective.

How are your workouts going?   Are you forcing yourself through them, or loving them?   If, like me you are running in pain, consider calling Jessica for a consultation.  She can truly help get you back on the road again.  Her site is https://www.runpainfreenow.com and her Twitter handle is #runpainfree .  Tell her Laura recommended you and get your consultation booked.  Let me know how it goes. It could be life changing.

Functionality

Functionality

Today before my run I met with my new trainer in Central Park.   Jessica from #runpainfree has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in working with runners.   She’s no nonsense and a true force to reckon with.   She’s traveling all over NYC most days lugging her tools and gear to meet runners where they are – out in the park.

Jessica spent time rolling my body with her torture stick.  Sounds bad, but really it’s oh so good in the long run. She then had me do some balance and strength work to fire up my glutes who never really want to join the party.   More rolling followed by some warmup moves that again got the glutes going.  After the hour, I was sent off to do my run and report back to her later about how it went.

I must say I really did feel a difference on the run today. Central Park is a tough place to run and the loop around it today felt different from last week’s trek. It wasn’t perfect, I mean she’s great but one session won’t fix 57 years of damage, but it did feel better.   I felt my glutes engage at some points during the run and it was awesome.   I did my 8 miles today feeling excited that I too can run pain free.

Jessica has great positivity, a trait I seek out always.   Don’t ever settle for anyone who isn’t positive or encouraging. Jessica adamantly told me not to let anyone tell me I can’t do this race. She carefully explained some of the functions of the muscles, tendons and connectivity between body parts in a way that I could understand.  She explained the motion of running and why my feet are hurting all the time. It really made sense to me and I truly want to learn more about this wonderful body and how it functions.

If you are struggling with pain and not getting anywhere with PT and/or chiropractor care, I strongly suggest you think about working with an Athletic Functional Movement Expert:Corrective.   Find the actual root of your pain, which may not be where you think it is. Work on your form and build your strength in targeted ways that will actually impact your running. And, if you are lucky enough, contact Jessica at https://www.runpainfreenow.com for a consultation and plan of action. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Today I have renewed hope that I will indeed finish this race. Thank you Jessica for your guidance and belief in me.

Are you dealing with any issues as you train for the marathon? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to connect. And, if you meet with Jessica mention my name (Laura Kump) so she tells me.   Then please let me know how it goes.

Celebrate Good Times

Celebrate Good Times

Today was my group’s 18 mile run in Central Park.  In order to make the 6:00 AM meeting time, I had to wake up at 3:00 AM to leave at 4:00 AM to catch an express bus to the city at 4:30 AM.

I must admit when my husband asked if I was really getting up, I hesitated.  But, the mere thought of running that distance alone prompted me to get moving.  It was a pretty smooth ride in on a mostly empty express bus.  When I got dropped off thought it was dark in the park and kind of creepy.  I was unsure of the exact meeting spot, I just knew it was near the Columbus Circle entrance to the park.  When I found this statue I sent a photo to my husband and asked, is the the Columbus statue because it sure doesn’t look like him.  I’m still laughing over that blonde moment.

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We took off at 6:15 and my specific group had 10 runners.  The pacer this week was all business, so I don’t have one single photo or selfie to share.  The pace was much faster than I normally do on my long runs, but I was able to keep up for 10 miles.  At mile 10 I told them I was going to break off from the group and head back toward the starting point,  My feet were burning literally and I didn’t want to chance another setback.  I did another 2 at a slower pace and decided that was enough for this week and I was going to head back to the bus.  When I got on the bus toward home I was stressing about not doing the remaining 6 miles.  At that point I reflected on the morning’s run and realized I was focusing too much on what I hadn’t done and not even looking at what I had accomplished.

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When I looked at the splits and average pace for my run, I realized that I had a lot to celebrate.  The average pace for the run was 2 minutes faster than I normally do for my long runs.  Long runs are generally meant to be slow and easy, but this was more of a tempo run for me.  I was able to keep up with the group at that pace for 10 solid miles.  After that the 2 that I did alone were at my normal pace, but my overall average pace per mile for the run remained 2 minutes faster.  I felt strong out there on those darn hills in Central Park, which have always been challenging for me.  I can’t say I enjoyed them, but I made it up them all and held my pace.  Cat Hill and Harlem Hill did not defeat me today!!  My feet didn’t start burning until mile 8, usually the pain starts at 7 so that’s an improvement too.  I’m consistently running half marathon distances on long runs and last year that was a challenge.  And, now as I am recovering, I am not overly tired or sore.  I listened to my body today and didn’t let my ego push me to do something stupid that would have ended in another injury.  I’d say this was a very positive training session for me and I need to celebrate my personal victories, rather than beat myself up for my perceived shortcoming.

I’m sure I am not the only one in training, or life, that needs to learn to accentuate the positive to keep my motivation.  When we get so focused on the negative, we can easily feel defeated and possibly give up.  Today, I’m reminding myself to be kind to myself and focus on what I did well.  I’m excited for next week’s long run and know that today I built some solid muscles out there, both mentally and physically.

How’s your training going?  Please leave me a comment below.

Run, Roll, Ice, Rest, Repeat

As my long runs grow longer I’ve started changing things up.  Running 4-6 miles alone is not a problem.  The time is meditative and therapeutic and goes by pretty quickly.  Running 13+ miles alone can be dreadfully long and boring, at least for me.  After mile 7, when alone, I find myself mentally whining about everything.  I joined a running club last year but didn’t go to the meet ups to run with them. I was training for a half and the longest long run I had on the schedule was 10 miles.  I just didn’t feel the need to push myself to go into the city to run when I could run here and be done that much sooner.   This year is very different and boy was I missing out!  Every weekend when the long run rolls around I start looking for ways to make it more interesting and enjoyable.  Life begins at the end of your comfort zone is a saying I look at on my daily coffee cup.  Time to step out of the comfort of running in my neighborhood and join others who are on the same journey as me.

Today I got up at 4:00 to catch a 5:00 AM train to travel 2 hours by train, ferry, train to meet up with my running club.

An added benefit my childhood friend Helen who is running the marathon with me decided to meet me there also.  I can’t say that when that my husband woke me with – “Are you sure you want to do this?  You sure you want to travel 4 hours to run 2? You can run right here.” – I jumped out of bed eager to make the trek.  Really supportive way to open my eyes, but he is right it is a long way to travel to run and adding 2 hours before and after the run surely does extend the time I need to devote to it.  Luckily it’s once a week that the long run rolls around.

When I first arrived in the city, I was super excited to see Helen.  We quickly caught up and joined the club members gathering on Chambers and Centre Street in a small park.  We listened to the route plans and before we had time to think about it we were off running.  The city was alive with runners, bikers and just so many people out there getting fit.  Our group had a group of 8 women who all are training for the marathon.  For some it’s a repeat – one runner said this is her 6th time running it.  For us it is our first and we were so excited to be running with a group of like minded women.  It was so uplifting to share the long run with others and the time did go by faster than it would have had I been alone.

 

My running had become such a routinized event – run, roll, ice feet & legs, rest, repeat.  Each day the same, over and over and over again.  Sometimes you start to lose the fun of it all.  Yesterday as I ran with these beautiful women, I felt like I was enjoying myself instead of stressing over pace, time, distance, heart rate, etc. etc. etc.  I felt lighter and really enjoyed talking and laughing as I ran.  And when we finished I didn’t even mind running another mile to make the ferry to get home.  Maybe it was the change of scenery, but I believe it was the company.

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So this week, think about what you are doing each day.  If your workout feels like a chore, or an item to check off your list, think about how you infuse some fun into it.  What would make it less routinized and more carefree?  For me, infusing a group long run on the weekend has reenergized me and made me look forward to next week’s long run, rather than dreading it.  Yes, it is still HARD work out there, but as I said last week – I get by with a little help from my friends.

Let me know how it’s going for you, please leave a comment below.

Help From Friends

“I get by with a little help from my friends. I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends.”

The lyrics of this song truly ring true in every way   No, I’m not getting high with any help from my friends, so let’s just leave that line out.   Anyone who has done something difficult most likely relied on some help from their friends.

It has been a daunting task getting my mileage in for the fast approaching marathon.   12 weeks from now it’s show time.   This week I had 16 miles in front of me and knew I’d struggle alone.    I knew it was time to reach out.    Thankfully a running friend offered to meet up with me on Sunday during the run.   Brilliantly  she suggested meeting halfway through the run.   She knew the second half would be the hard part, the part where a friend could pull you through.   While I fell 2 miles short of 16 I still went further than I would have alone.  I celebrated my 14 miles and look forward to the next one.

I’m really not sure why I hate to ask for help, but I know I’m not alone.   Most people just don’t want to be a burden, or admit they need help.   Yet, once they have it they quickly realize how great it is to have.    My running club has the belief – no runner left behind.   This gives me great comfort because it means that I am not doing this alone.    Yes, I primarily train alone, but on those hard long runs, I have a group of people there for me.

I watched a video of an elite runner carrying his competition to the finish when he collapsed.   He said that the other man deserved the win because he worked harder out there today.   Videos like this demonstrate what the running community is primarily about.   Supporting runners from all walks of like and encouraging others to engage in their sport are important.    I’m so happy I found a new club after my first experience.     I knew there were people out there who encourage and support each other.   Thankfully I found them and you can too.

Who are your go to people when you need support?   Please share your experiences below.