Training solo vs. Training with a buddy + Running gear must have’s

I read somewhere, it was probably Runner’s World, that finding the perfect running partner is a lot like finding the perfect mate. At first I laughed, thinking, that’s a little creepy but the more I thought about it, the more I totally agreed. I’ve spend 90% of my running life alone. There have been partners here and there, for sure, but none of them have quite measured up. I got tired of constantly pushing, constant cheerleading and the tireless quest to get them to my level. It was exhausting. And I always felt my goals suffered because of it. For the last half marathon I trained entirely alone and I’ll admit, it broke me a little bit. Those long runs can be mind blowing and heart breaking. Two weeks before my half, for the final long run, I met Allison, a person who I instantly felt a running/life connection with. I remember thinking after that 10 mile run: “Wow, everything feels different now.” My spirit didn’t feel as broken. I was looking forward to the race. I had a renewed sense of confidence. And, in typical “dating” fashion, I contemplated when the best time to contact her again was, waiting a week or so. When we exchanged phone numbers, I found myself holding back a little. I didn’t want to be like a stage 5 clinger. I approached running dates with Allison as if they were actual dates with a man, finding that the same rules really did apply. As time went on I found her to be: considerate, motivating, punctual, and willing, everything you need in a running partner. Since we are training for the same race, our training has been almost perfectly synced. Truly, I have never felt faster or stronger. I have never felt so eager and willing. I have never been so excited to see where my legs can take me. It’s about 3 weeks till the BAA Half Marathon and every single day I feel and see results. My body, mind and heart are indeed, changing.

Yes, it took 15 years of running to find the one person in this world who can stand me/keep up with me and a majority of days I feel like I am trying to keep up with her, which is great. The right training partner can change everything. And while those solo runs are still super important for a multitude of reasons, the support on scattered days, means the world. So I encourage you all to find a running group in your area, which is where I met Allison and many other VERY motivating people in my life right now. The right one will fit like the perfect shoe and will inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself to new and invigorating places. If you live in Maine, go hop on the Maine Track Club’s website for a complete list of running groups.

Running Items Above:
1. Run Inspire Crop II $92.00 (www.lululemon.com)
2. Kick Asphalt 2 in 1 Short $56.00 (www.athleta.com)
3. Happy Hatha Hour Bag $118.00 (www.lululemon.com)
4. Garmin Forerunner 10 (Can buy them at most athletic stores, about $110.00)
5. Mizuno Wave Rider 16 (purchased mine at Maine Running Company, $120.00)

This gear, for me, has made a HUGE difference. The bag is large enough that I can tote all my running items and fashionable enough that I can bring it out if I need to. The Mizuno Wave Rider’s have made a really difference in my gate and are the perfect balance of light with support. And of course, the two in one shorts are lovely for those of us who still have that little bit of thunder thigh. No shame in that though ladies.

Have a great Wednesday! Happy running everyone!

It’s all in your head

I started running when I was fifteen years old. It’s not a true inspirational story but there was a why to how it all began. In high school I wasn’t the most devoted individual when it came to boys that I adorned with the title “boyfriend” and to tell the absolute truth I got caught kissing someone else. At fifteen hormones are just going everywhere and having come out of my awkward middle school phase my sophomore year, I was happy to have the attention. Well, once I was busted, I got dumped and it was well deserved. When I found out that my now ex-boyfriend joined cross-country, I thought it would be the perfect way to accidentally spend time with him. And so I signed up without much thought, thinking it would be an easy activity. I had run a lot when I played soccer and assumed that it would come naturally. Running is just moving your legs back and forth, right? My first practice was a bit of an eye opener, what I first found out was that the boys and the girls barely interacted, seeing one another only at meets. Practices were completely separate and there was no time for casual conversation. There were two coaches, one whose name I do not remember because he was a little nicer and then the head coach, Mr. O’Donnell. (he was also a physics teacher, yikes.) This man was no joke and immediately made the beginners start running around the field to see where we were at. I was clearly a disappointment. How do I know? Well, he told me so.

I wanted to quit. Right away. But I knew I would look stupid and in fact, that is mostly what has kept me running all these years, not wanting to look stupid. Just kidding, there’s more to it than that.

The season went slowly and after a series of moments where Mr. O’Donnell was in my face telling me not to quit I learned how to run properly. I went from a meager .25 miles to a stunning and graceful 10. What kept me going was the encouragement of the strong females around me. The more experienced folk telling me never to quit, don’t walk, keep going, whatever you do just keep going. One day, a very poignant lady told me: “Endurance is when your body gives out and your heart takes over” definitely a little stolen from a Nike commercial but I didn’t care. It made perfect sense. Running is mind over matter. And once I figured that out I was all in it. Along with the pack, I would roll my sleeves up, embrace the sweat and literally, just do it.

To date, I have been running for thirteen years, with some large gaps in between. There have been weeks and sometimes months that I have needed a break from it. Like a relationship, I needed some time to myself to regroup. What I have figured out though, over the years, is that I am not on a search for perfection. I am not trying to run a marathon. I am not on a mission to be faster than all the rest. I am, however, seeking out that quiet place that running allows me to visit, if only for a short while. It’s a time when all my thoughts are gone, as I am coming down the hill, collecting myself, I just embrace what is around me and sometimes smile at the thought that I just made it to the top. For me, as I have told dozens of people, running is spiritual. The shoes I choose give me strength, the music I listen to makes me believe and as I am doing it, with my feet on that pavement, I am able to sort through all the piles of shit in my brain that clutter my space. I also take the time to look around. My favorite thing is running at dawn, when else, can I see such beauty and with no one else near me? It’s a rare thing and I love it.

Recently, I have been running with a friend who once told me she had no endurance. This morning she made is 2.5 miles without stopping. We had with us, another friend who I consider a natural athlete. And truly, I was proud of us all. I don’t know if they realize it but running with them inspires me just as much as I maybe inspire them. It holds me accountable and pushes me harder. It’s something I need because sometimes I forget how much I love to run. When I see her make it up that hill, when I know there use to be self-doubt there, I feel incredible for her. I know that feeling and I am so glad that she gets to experience it. Thirteen years has meant a lot of people like her that I have talked up that hill. But this morning, when we all did it in unison, might have been my favorite.

In life, there are so few things that we hold in such high regard. This is mine. An eternal flame that will never go out.

I encourage you all to try it some time.

Here are some of my favorite running items:

Nike Pegasus Running Shoe

Every year they change this shoe and it’s always great. It saved me from almost giving up running completely.

Nike+ Sportband

A great way to see where you are and how you are doing along the route.

Maine Running Company

You walk, they pick out a shoe. Incredibly helpful staff who seem to know just about everything.

Lululemon

Great gear for getting out there, especially in the pants department. The right running pants can make all the difference.