Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Second 100 Miles

It took me 3 months to complete running 100 miles . . . it took me four and a half months to get the second 100 miles done.

After sticking to a running program and finishing 100 miles, I felt great (I discussed how I got to this point in this blog post). I built my endurance up to the point that I could run comfortably for an hour complete about five miles. I experienced glorious runs on the shore of Lake Michigan and felt really excited to continue my progress.

Then I went to Taiwan for my grandmother’s funeral. I didn’t exercise or run for 11 days.  This was the longest break I took since I started my running program. The day after I got back, still not completely recovered from the jet lag or the trip I went for, what I planned to be a glorious hour long run along the lakefront.

This run ended up being a forty-five minute painful and frustrating experience. My knees felt awful after the first mile. I previously had some soreness here and there but nothing too bad so I just ran through it. It didn’t get better and I ended up walking for a good portion of the “run.”

The next morning I could barely walk. Once I got going though it wasn’t too bad until I hit the stairs at my school. The only way I could get up and down those things were by gripping the railing tightly and moving very slowly.

I was back at square one.

My body would not let me run or walk longer than fifteen minutes. After feeling the freedom of hour long runs, the only way I could complete a mile was by starting at the beginning of the Couch to 5k program. This started my slow and frustrating journey back to enjoying running.

On top of this life interfered with my work-out schedule. I’m a teacher so over the summer I was on summer break and it was easy to find time to run, but that changed when the school year started.

You know when people say that it’s easy to find a half hour three times a week to work out?

That’s utter garbage.

It is very difficult to work a full time job, take care of your home and family, have a social life and find time in the week to workout. In the summer, some weeks I would run four times a week, once school started, sometimes all I could make happen was a short run once a week.

Is it worth it to find that “me” time to work out and take care of yourself? Yes, but is it easy, no. Sometimes it’s really a struggle to make working-out a priority as an adult. I’m not complaining about this to try to get sympathy, I just want people to understand that sometimes it’s not easy to make a workout happen. Also, for the people out there who struggle to find time to workout, I want you to know that you are not alone.

It’s tough only being able to run half as long and as far as you used to. But I knew that only by holding back would I be able to get back to where I was before.

What got me through this rough patch? Diana, my wife, urging me to go easy on myself and being proud and excited about even the most minor running goals. Also, there was Doctor Who. Netflix on my new phone allowed me to escape as I ran, running along with The Doctor as he traveled through time and space.

Then it happened. After a month of struggling to finish half hour runs and just beginning to feel comfortable with that length of run, I went for it.

3.15 miles in 44 minutes and 25 seconds.

It was this painless and joyful run that got me back to my goal of running a 5K under 45 minutes and  completed my second 100 miles.

That is no where near my best 5k time which was 33 minutes. Like my previous post about running, neither of these 5k times are impressive to anyone.  I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have to look hard to find someone who would laugh at me being proud of a 44 minute, 5k time.

Go ahead and laugh. I’m doing my thing, I’m feeling good about my accomplishment and I’m making it happen.

What did I learn during my second 100 miles?

1. Listen to your body: You know that “no pain, no gain,” mantra. That should be changed to “pain=more pain=frustration.” If you are working out and your body is saying “no,” stop. Sometimes it’s not worth pushing through.

2. Ease in: If you take a break from running like I did, ease back in. Let your body adjust. If you don’t take it slow and build back up, your body will force you to when you go too fast, too quickly.

3. Get over the past: If you are in a situation when you can’t do what you could do before, you have to let the past go. It wasn’t until I could stop focusing on how "bad" I was doing compared to my previous runs that I could enjoy the small accomplishments I was making. 

The second 100 was far more frustrating and challenging, but I got there.  I'm not sure what kind of  struggles the next 100 miles will bring, but I'll get there and so can you.

Just take it one mile at a time, one step at a time and I'll see you at 300. 

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