Running Trails, Eating Plants, and Sharing What I Pick up Along the Way

Running Trails, Eating Plants, and Sharing What I Pick up Along the Way

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

004 Dealing With Injury/Disappointment

This past week has been a big one for me. It's been filled with change-both positive and negative change. if you know me, you know that I love change; in fact, I crave it.

The most notable change is that I've moved 1000 miles south to the beautiful coastal town of Santa Barbara where I finished college a little over a year ago. I'm now surrounded by different people, establishing new routines, and looking for work. I love living here again. I can go to the beach daily, the weather is consistently perfect, and the people I'm in community with are very encouraging.

Even with all of these positive things happening to me I find myself dwelling on the negative: I'm unemployed and injured. I want to share some thoughts on the latter.

Last week's post was a fun one for me. The night that I wrote it I went out "sprinkler-dodging" for twelve miles in the dark-probably a bad idea, but it was fun. The last few miles of the run found my legs getting tired, but I kept going because I had to get home. I wasn't pushing the pace too hard-I was just cruising and enjoying the warm evening.

The Next morning I woke up with a sore left leg. Through some self-diagnosis and the power of Google, I've decided that I have a minor Achilles strain. I knew I was in a bit of trouble. Since then, I've been doing different strength exercises, icing, and resting.

Resting is what's killing me. I want to get out and pound the pavement. I know my fitness is good, but my leg can't handle it. This morning I went out for three miles, and that was a big victory. I've done a total of about eight miles since my twelve mile run ten days ago. My training schedule had me doing 34 miles last week, concluding with a twelve mile time trial.

This morning's run was spent experimenting with my stride and foot strike. I was trying to modify what I was used to to make running bearable. I have a background as a sprinter, so as I've made this gradual change to distance running I've kept my forefoot striking habits. I'm a big fan of the forefoot strike, and I'm very glad I developed the habit early, but it's putting a lot of pressure on this Achilles.

Earlier this summer I was getting up as early as 4:30 to squeeze my run into the day, and now that I have all day to train, I'm unable to get out there. When I do get out there, I'm training in heavy shoes with a large heel, working to strike with my mid foot, and I feel slow. I'm used to minimalist style shoes with little to no heel drop, forefoot striking, and being one of the faster people on the road. This is disappointing.

Now, in the grand scheme of things I know that my problems are minimal. I get that. But taking running away from a this runner hurts. I know that I want to do it. And I know if I push it too much it will push back my recovery time. I get that too.

I always try to find the good in bad situations. The good that I can potentially see here is that I'll have experience with this type of injury and I may be able to help somebody else out later on with what I'm learning. I imagine that more good will come out of it, but right now it's no fun.

I plan on having a post next week. Stay tuned.

How have you coped with running injuries? Did they leave you depressed? Or were you relieved in that you didn't have to run anymore?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

003 Why Run?

If you're anything like me, you get asked how come you run quite often. Many times I interpret this to mean "How come you insist on wearing those short shorts so often?" Regardless, I tend to respond by telling them I think it's' fun, which is always countered with some story about running the mile in P.E. class and how traumatic it was. I try to be sensitive to these stories, but I probably don't try hard enough.

I've heard lots of reasons as to why different people run. Some run to win medals, like the Spanish team who protests so they can receive a bronze medal for a fourth place finish at Euros-but I won't get into my feelings on this here. Others run for fun, to be social, to lose weight, or to collect finishers medals and t-shirts. Many run out of compulsion or obligation (i.e. parental pressure or scholarship dollars), and yet others have some deep philosophical reason as to why they run.

So, why do I run? I've struggled with this thought for a few years. Am I running towards something? Am I running away from something? Isn't running away generally seen as cowardly? I'm no coward, so I must be running after something, but what is it? I really struggled with these thoughts shortly after I completed my collegiate running career where I watched my teammates capture our school's first conference title while I was injured. I now had no races on the horizon, and I was just running because it's what I knew. I loved it in college, because I got to run with my teammates, talk about life (and nonsense!), but now I was alone in a city where my friends don't run with me, and I wasn't enjoying it at all. I ran because it's an identity I had created for myself and had some sort of obligation to hold to it.

And then I heard a podcast or read a blog, where the speaker/writer said they felt free when they ran. I'm sorry I have no idea who I stole this idea from, but their idea resonated with me big time. I don't have ro run. Running is an opportunity I have to get out and be like a little kid. I get to wear bright little clothes, run though parks, jump off ledges, and run through sprinklers. I've always felt a little robbed of some childhood experiences, and here's a chance to get them back a few decades later.

Funny thing is that once I embraced this mentality, I began to have this urge to run races again-and be competitive again. My training picked up a bit and I started running faster. I'm now following a training plan, and I 'm still thrilled to have the opportunity to run. This is wild for me, because by the end of college I hated racing. I loved going to practice with my buddies and working hard, but racing was filled with pressure, and, frankly, I wasn't very competitive at that level.

Turns out that running is simply an avenue for me to put being a "grown-up" on pause for a while to go out and play.

Why do you run?

Teammates and I shortly after getting our school logo tattooed on us

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

002 Long Runs

I mentioned this is my introductory post, but I'm training for my first (real) half-marathon, and I want to dedicate a post to it. I ran a half a few years ago, but I didn't train for it appropriately, and I was certainly in survival mode rather than in race mode. This time I'm devoting to a full twelve week training plan, and I have a goal in mind: sub-90 minutes. This boils down to about 6:50 per mile, and that's a pretty ambitious goal for me. I've chosen the City to the Sea Half Marathon in San Luis Obispo on October 12th.

My biggest surprise since starting this training plan has been how boring my training had been before. I was in a rut where all of my runs were just runs. No fartlek training, no tempo runs, no runs longer than five miles, no speed work, just boring runs along the same routes. Now, I've come to love my routes through downtown Salem and the four city parks that all within two miles of my apartment, but my running wasn't really that fun. I now look forward to Tuesdays (speed work) and Saturdays (long runs) because it shakes things up a bit rather than the same old thing. Matt Frazier shared his thoughts about this last month. When I read it I thought his post was nice, but it didn't click for me until I made the same realization for myself.

This training plan includes weekly long runs of up to fourteen miles. In high school my long distance runs were 400 meters, and in college the furthest I raced was 800 meters. This was a shocker to me. I'm three weeks in and I've completed long runs of eleven and twelve miles now, and I have a few more twelve milers before my fourteen mile run. I've found these runs to be the most satisfying of all my training. It gives me over an hour to get away and be alone with my thoughts.

One of these runs came this past Saturday, which coincided with my birthday. A few miles in I caught myself thinking about how lucky I am to have the opportunity to get out and run twelve miles. We spent the weekend camping in Central Oregon, and I ran the majority of the twelve on the beautiful Cascade Lakes Highway with gorgeous mountain views at every turn. Here I was on a run that I was dreading a few weeks prior, on vacation, on my birthday, and I was loving it. I couldn't get the smile off of my face. I'm learning to love long runs rather than just the idea of them.

In addition to adopting an actual training plan, I've recently changed my diet to one that is completely plant-based. There are both ethical and nutritional components as to why I chose this route, and I'm very happy that I made the leap. This is one of the changes I've made in the past year (past two months) that I've wanted to make foe a long time. I've eaten a meat-free diet for about eight and a half years before deciding to give up cheese, milk, and eggs completely. I've always envied those who could eat this way, thinking about how "bad ass" it was due to it's difficulty and the commitment required. Now I'm one of those bad asses, and I don't know that I've ever been this fit and energetic before.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. How do you mix up your training? How has your diet played a role in your training? Do you have any fun vegan recipes for me? Do you, like me, have a story of watching others do something you wish you were doing for years before you began to do it?

Monday, August 11, 2014

001 Dream Awake

As a season of my life draws to a close, I'm finding myself reflecting over the past year or so since I've been back in Salem. What have I done? Have I made a difference? How have a I grown? Why did I do these things? What do I want to keep and what do I want to throw away going forward?

This last question is both literal and figurative. I just turned twenty-four this past weekend, and only in the last year or so have I started pursuing a lifestyle that I want to live rather than conform to that around me. I now ride my bike far more often that I drive my car. I'm eating a vegan diet. I'm living very minimalistic. I am dedicating myself to my running and training for a specific race with a specific goal. All of these things have been attractive to me, but I was living my life half-way rather than diving in and making my story my own. I'm throwing away meaningless habits and adopting new ones.

I was never okay with being the odd one in a crowd, but now I am. I think part of this stems from being the kid who was fortunate enough to go to private school, but not coming from a background that "fit in" with my classmates. I put on a show. Sure, there were elements of me in there, but I wanted to show that I belonged to this seemingly exclusive club, and being myself didn't gain interest.

All this to say, that I've always envied those who blog and had a network of like-minded people to share ideas with. I want in. I'm not the strongest writer, and I'll be making myself pretty vulnerable here, but I'm pursuing another activity that I've always secretly wanted to do.

The aim of this is to share thoughts and ideas mainly about living an active lifestyle. More specifically, I'll probably write about running and eating a plant-based diet quite a bit to begin with, but I don't want to limit myself to just these topics. As this blog grows, I'm sure my ideas will too, and my posts will follow suit.