Archive for the ‘Running’ Category

Pre-race day

Tomorrow I am running the half marathon of Utrecht. I have run over 20 races these past years and every single time my day before the race was filled with excitement and incredible anxiety. Right now, when I think about tomorrow’s race, I can feel my heartbeat go faster and I get that funny feeling in my stomach: a mixture of intense happiness and the feeling I might go sick. I think it’s astounding how the prospect of running a half marathon feels just like the prospect of a hot date with someone you really like.

What on earth makes me so nervous about running 21.1 kilometres? Ok, it’s quite a long distance, but I am quite sure I can pull it off. My preparation has been pretty good: I have been a good girl since the party night I had on Thursday: no alcohol, lots of sleep and healthy foods (ok, except for the Easter croissants this morning).My favourite running gear is ready to use and I’ve made a list of things to bring.

Tomorrow I will probably be even more nervous, to the point where my hands start shaking and I shout at my boyfriend because of minor things. And then I will run the race, shout at myself for running ridiculous distances like a half marathon, be incredibly happy, fulfilled and proud when I cross the finish like and once again be completely in awe of the fact that people run twice the distance I have just run. And then I will remember that is exactly what I will be doing 7 months from now.

How do you cope with anxiety on a pre-race day and/or morning?


The ‘I’m too busy to run so I’ll just keep working’ non-run

Instead of plain run (b)logging, just for the fun of it, I will try to develop a typology of runs, as I encounter them. Today (or as a matter of fact, every day this past week), I did not run. I fell into the I’m too busy to run-trap. I kept working, and now I regret not running.

I guess every runner knows those days where you stress out, skip your run, and then become more stressed out because you did not go for a run. It is really quite stupid and frustrating. I have told myself so many times, that no matter what, I should just go out for a quick run. And still, somehow I don’t. It’s not even an excuse, I really did want to go for a run. But every time I thought about it I liked at my still unfinished thesis chapter and I kept working.

Ok, now let’s rationalize this run where you did not run until it has some bright sides:

1. You can count it as your rest day/week.

I’ll go for a run tomorrow and my legs will feel great, because they have had some time off. Last week I ran 17km, so I’m not really behind on schedule.

2. Less laundry!

Ok, I only had one bright side…

The run in which you run a lot longer than you thought you would.

Instead of plain run (b)logging, just for the fun of it, I will try to develop a typology of runs, as I encounter them. My sunday afternoon run was typical for the category ‘a lot longer that you thought you would’.

I had wanted to do a quick run on saturday, but in the afternoon I was really focussed on my thesis and didn’t want to think about anything else. By the time I started to think about whether I would go for a run, it was already dark (and very cold!). So today I tried again. It was a very sunny day here in Amsterdam, but at the same time it was very cold, so I decided to still put my winter gear on. I wasn’t sure it would be a good run, because I have had a week of not enough sleep and probably one or two glasses of wine too many (for a couple of days on end).

To my surprise, the run went really well! The streets and the park where I ran were very crowded with families spending the first sunny sunday of the year together outside. There were also ridiculous amounts of runners out! I took off thinking I would run 13 kilometres, but ended up running 17, only 4 km short of a half marathon! Given that I still have a full month of training ahead of me, that feels quite good.

I love these ‘a lot longer than you thought you would’-runs, because a run of this kind means that:

(1) you had a good run.

Otherwise you probably wouldn’t have gone further than planned!

(2) you can run further than you thought you could.

Ok, this probably only counts if the run is your weekly long run. My longest run so far this year was 13k, so I didn’t think I was yet capable of running 17k comfortably. But I was, and that feels nice

(3) you gain confidence in reaching your training goal.

Even though I’ve run a half marathon before, 21.1 kilometres is a pretty long distance to me. In order to run a personal best in april, I should really focus on running long distances more than I did in my earlier trainings. I don’t think I’ve ever ran as far as 17 kilometres with 1 month to go, so this probably increases the chances of actually running a PB on april 6th!

Why I hate running on a treadmill

Although I love running, I hate running indoors. I have tried to run on a treadmill on snowy or extremely rainy days, but I guess it’s just not for me. This is why:

1. It makes me feel like a rat.

Whenever I run on a treadmill, I cannot get the image of a racing rat like this out of my head. I feel trapped and stupid. Also, I never seem to be able to find the right pace. I either feel like I am constantly catching up or like I am jogging like a bag of potatoes.

2. It makes me sweat (too much).

Don’t get me wrong, I do not think sweating is icky and unnecessary: a workout with no sweat is no workout! But running on the treadmill makes me sweat excessively and gives me one of those charming bright red faces. It basically makes me feel like I’m dying even when I can tell by the pace that I’m running I shouldn’t feel like that. I miss a very important part of running: wind. Apparently I need outside air to cool me off. (I’m thinking about placing giant wind blowers in front of the treadmills. Tthat would be a cool solution!

3. It makes me terrified I’ll fall off.

Other people can run on a treadmill all steady and serene. I’m not one of those people blessed with the ability to run in a straight line over a longer period in time. I swagger when I run (especially when I’m all red and sweaty). On the road this is easy to correct but on a treadmill I feel like I’ll have to keep my eyes on the red STOP button, ready to slam it as soon as I lose control.

4. It makes me want to stop running

First of all, I think running on a treadmill is boring, because there is nothing to see. Ok, there is TV without sound and I have my mp3 player, but apparently I need more than that. But mostly I miss the external cues that motivate me to push just that little bit harder! Outside I convince myself that I can stop running at the next building or that sprinting to the next building will not be that hard. Also, I know I will have to return to my house, no matter what. When I decide to go for my 15k track, I will have to run that 15k. I can walk home, but that will take longer, so I’ll run. I only realised how much I used these external cues for motivation until I ran on a treadmill, and the realisation that I could stop anytime nested in my overheated, bored and afraid-to-fall-off brain and made me want to stop running.

Some research online revealed that running outside also burns more calories and boost your mood more that running inside. Bonus!

Running optimism

As this weblog is only about one week old, I guess I’m still in the phase of introducing myself and my running. So! I’m currently training for a half marathon, which means that most of my runs are somewhere between 8 and 15 kilometres.

I Did a 10.5 run yesterday, which was kind of tough, probably because of the intense 1-hour spinning workout I did on Monday and because of my post-workday stress-releasing workout on the cross trainer on Tuesday. I use spinning and the cross-trainer in addition to my running training, mainly to prevent running injuries while still being able to work out. Plus, I do spinning with two friends, so the social aspect adds to the fun (I love spinning!)

Back to yesterday’s run; although it was tough, it was a good run. I was so happy that, for the first time in weeks, it was not freezing cold, snowing, windy and/or pissing down. I wore only two layers (and my full leg running tights) and I was dressed too warm!! That felt great, especially because I was almost getting used to having my ears frozen off and not being able to reheat my body after a run. I guess spring is almost around the corner! (Ok, that might be a little bit too optimistic)

Brought to you by 3 doors down – Music and running

My favourite running music

In the world of runners, I belong to those in the running-with-music camp. Yeah sure, I like singing birds and the sound of nature and all that. But when I run, I listen to music, using my crappy worn-out mp3 player (that has survived countless instances of rain and water spilled during races, and is not manufactured anymore, thus holy)

Music gives me the spirit and motivation to run. There is nothing like MUSE’s Plug in Baby while running up a steep hill. Shoulders back, teeth clenched, GO! Or Radiohead’s dreamy tunes during a boring very useful long run.

On my mp3 player, ‘survival of the fittest’ is the main rule. The Prodigy lasted for quite some time, but the Arctic Monkeys did not even last a month. Most ballads were purged, and Britney only managed to impress my running companion with Toxic. As music is so central to my running experience, I realised it should have a place on this blog, starting out with this post.

My all time favourite running music is by the band 3 doors down. I have listened to this band since I was fourteen years old, and as I grew up, their music remained a soundtrack to my life during all the rough times. As my life has (temporarily) quieted down a little, this band is mostly a soundtrack to my running. For I won’t duck, but I will run (The road I’m on). And when I have to, I will be going down in flames. Most ballads are ruthlessly skipped, but their powerful music never bores me. Therefore, my marathon training will be brought to you by the great rock band 3 doors down.

What´s your favourite running music?

The anatomy of my decision to run a marathon

Mid-April last year, I was watching the Rotterdam Marathon on tv. After all the professional runners had ran the distance in unbelievable pace, I saw how 30 000 amateur runners were waiting to start their 42.195 kilometres of hell. At that moment I realised that if all these middle-aged men and housewives could do it, I should be able to complete a marathon as well.

I started running in 2006. My initial reasons to start running were that I was fed up with not being fit and that I needed a challenge. I quickly found out that for me, running was a way of getting rid of everyday tension and neutralising negative feelings. Running made me feel better and stronger, both mentally and physically.

The first few times I went running, I was able to run for about two minutes on end, max. I could barely make it to the corner of my street! Slightly overweight, and massively out of shape, it took me over two months to be able to complete a 5 kilometre run, in over thirty-one minutes. It felt great!

Motivated by my acquired ability to run 5k, I continued. Slowly but surely, I got a little bit faster and started to run longer distances. One and a half years after my first 5k, I ran my first half marathon. I was completely exhausted when I passed the finish in the Olympic stadium in Amsterdam. It took me day to recover.

Last October  ran my fifth half marathon, and decided to run a full marathon in 2010. Initially I wanted to run the April Rotterdam Marathon, but this one turned out to be too soon. Now I’ve decided to run the Amsterdam Marathon in October 2010.

I already know there will be plenty of times I will curse myself for this decision, whilst running in a rain storm, or the morning after a party that got a little out of hand. I will definitely declare myself completely insane the day of the marathon itself.

But when I only think of the moment that I will cross the finish line, I get Goosebumps. I must feel absolutely amazing. It will also be very hard. Not just running the actual 42+ kilometres, but also the long training sessions beforehand. But I will do it, because if they can do it, I can do it as well!

To sum up, I think this decision is mainly composed of:

* An irrational belief that past achievement provide guarantees for the future

* Compulsive minimisation of how long 42.125 km really is

* An obsessive longing for how I will feel when I cross the finish line

* Fanatic disregard of the amount of time it will take me to train for a marathon, and the absurd muscle pain I will suffer post-marathon

* The outcome of a comperative analysis between myself and thousands of other people (who have already ran the marathon)

Did I miss something?