When Running Isn’t Fun Anymore

Last Spring I was burnt out. The month before my goal race, I didn’t want to train anymore. It took every ounce of energy to get myself out the door. It wasn’t the typical “oh I’m just tired from training” feeling, nope. I literally hated going out for a run. Though I’ve trained for a bit since last year, I haven’t loved running like I did training in 2013. 

Yeah, you read that right. Since 2013. Four years ago. 

I loved traing that year. I love every single moment of it. I was PRing like crazy, and yeah, I’ve PRd a couple races since that, but it still doesn’t feel the same. I don’t know what it is. Okay, that’s a lie, I kind of think I do. I’m a little bit in love with CrossFit. Hear me out though… 

The summer of 2013 is when I started that serious rehab for my tendinitis. I met my physical therapist who got me back to 100% and then some. He recommended I check out his new office when it opened — in a CrossFit gym.  Somehow when they finally opened in 2014, I did. For somebody who won’t go to Chipotle, new coffee shops, etc. to order food (because, well, anxiety) I’m still amazed I brought myself to the gym that first day knowing nobody. 

Even though I’ve been a member since then, I haven’t ever been a regular CrossFitter, either. I’d try to make it once a week, sometimes not showing up for a month at a time. I was always focused on running and that damn half marathon or 5k PR (still haven’t gotten it), or the marathon. CrossFit wasn’t the goal, it was a means to get me to running goals. 

Truthfully, I’ve been afraid to really give in like I want to because I’ve been afraid I’m going to totally abandon running. I’m a runner. I like to race. I like to get faster. I’m not a CrossFitter, geez. 

Except I am. And maybe it’s time I stop trying to force myself to continue hard training towards a hobby (because that’s all it is) that I’m not loving. I’ve made a lot of friends through the running social media, some of which are my very best real life friends now. Because of that, it’s always been a little difficult to abandon running. It feels like a best friend I’m slowly kicking out of my life. In fact, I don’t know how to not think about my life in terms of running. 

What’s my next race? What’s my next goal? When will I want to race again? 

I listened to one of Lindsey Heins’ podcasts this summer with Kim Hoban to which I could totally relate.  It’s silly but it kind of made me feel better about wanting to focus my efforts elsewhere.  Kim’s focus was entirely on running for quite a while but, guess where it is now? Uh huh. 

Sometimes I forget why I’ve always run, though. 

I do it for competition. I like to beat myself and I definitely like to beat other people. I never did it for fitness, to lose weight, or to look a certain way. Lately though, and maybe it’s because I’ve been lifting more, but I find myself drawn to exercise for a physical reason that isn’t completion. That’s a first for me. I’m enjoying the lifting because I’m loving what it’s doing to my body. It’s weird to admit that. It feels a little vain, too. But I can’t lie, hello muscles and hello baby abs that running never gave me. 

In the words of my grandma, when she’s done sidetracking and rambling… “Anywhooooo!”

So anywho, I’ve talked a lot about nothing for no good reason other than I have thoughts and I have a blog with a paid domain name I should use more often. Run Fast or Faster might need a new name soon…

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Beer Miles and Heat Stroke

I’d say thankfully my title doesn’t go hand in hand, but in reality I wish it did. 

The week kicked off with a stressful day of from work.  After spending the 4th of July weekend working, I took off Monday to give myself a the day weekend.  J and I took the Dunk to Zoar Valley which is a wonderful place to hike and “swim” (I don’t think it’s technically allowed).  


So the day started bright and early, Dunk was so excited! It’s a short .75 mile hike into the gorge, all downhill and shady.  Once you get into the gorge and river, you can hike in the water and it’s just so clean and beautiful. We hiked about another .75 upstream and Dunkin was charging geese, swimming, drinking water, and overall enjoying life. Then all of a sudden he stopped on a dime, threw up, and laid down, closing his eyes. Talk about scary! He was somewhat unresponsive and wouldn’t walk so after a few minutes of him not getting better or worse, we made the decision to leave. Since Dunkin want walking, J had to carry him out of the gorge. It took about an hour to make it back to the car and we rushed him to our vet. By the time we got there, he was walking and much more normal, but still scary. As it turns out, he had heatstroke!  They gave him fluid and sent him home — he was fine within a few hours!

Lesson learned: even if your dog is accustomed to exercising in heat, you can’t be too careful. Here in NY, we are having a moderate and severe drought which had made the earth much warmer than usual. Due to this and Dunkin not having a full stomach, it was a recipe for disaster. Since, we’ve been keeping him inside much more despite his protests for longer walks and some runs!

Moving onto happier things, I finally completed my first beer mile!  All my friends were teasing me because I was walking with them rather than running.  Truthfully it wouldn’t be fun doing it solo, but I do want to honestly try it once. The winning make is the world record holder (sponsored by Brooks) who ran it in under find minutes, and the winning female ran in under 8. I don’t think I could run it quite that fast without practice but we stayed to see the as second female come in and didn’t see her because we stopped watching around 10 minutes in. I might have been able to do that!  Full disclosure – I’ve never been a chugger, but I surprised myself!  The Yuengling went down super smooth and it was a good time overall.

Screenshots of snapchat, oops

I still haven’t made my return to running but it’s been so hot here, I can’t fathom it. I did one running workout from the Lift Heavy Run Long group at 5:30 in the morning with a friend and that was about it.  I have hit some lifting PRs, including my clean and jerk, though.

Still have to fix that back foot!

We’re still in the house hunt after finding a great one, putting in an offer, and then finding out the sellers were taking it off the market because they realized they couldn’t get what they needed to for it in order for them to move. That was a little deflating but it already helped us save more and get some other things in order, so there’s always a bright side!
Oh! And I won a remote car starter through a promotion that was set up at the Buffalo Half Marathon! We had to take a photo at their booth and share our on social media with their hashtag. How cool is that?

Stay cool out there!

Why I’m Olympic Weightlifting

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a class I was starting to take with my CrossFit box.  It’s entirely focused on Olympic weightlifting, breaking down the movements, practicing them, and getting the form right.  When I would take a regular CF class and these movements were tossed into the workout, I’d perform them sub par, never with power and even with coaching before and during, I didn’t quite “get it”.

Granted, I still don’t “get it” but this is a step in the right direction and practice I really need.  Plus, I discovered I really enjoy it!  At least I know if I ever can’t run again, I found something I can train towards for competition still.  Some people work out for the fitness benefits, which is awesome, but for me the motivation lies in competition with myself and against others.  Keeping myself healthy and wanting to look good naked are just other positive byproducts of a lifestyle I like to strive for.  [Wow, that might be the cockiest thing I’ve ever written and I feel a little gross.  I’ve got my sassy pants on, apparently.]

So after my first class, I immediately started to worry.

How is this going to affect my running?    
Am I going to get injured?  
Can somebody actively train for a race and lift heavy, too?  

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To me, these are all valid questions to somebody who has absolutely zero experience in strength training.  Sure, I taught some “weights” related classes at the gym, but I hardly consider those to be solid weight training as compared to what I’ve been doing lately.  If you’re familiar with training for a race, you’re probably well aware that cross training and strength training are key components to remaining injury free, but did you know it’s so much more than that?

The interesting thing I discovered as soon as I started my research is that Olympic weightlifting is actually encouraged for runners, especially sprinters.  

As this article from Competitor.com explains, lifting heavier teaches us to move with greater skill because you’re forced to do it.  You’re required to move with posture, load, and torque, all of which emphasizes the skill behind the movement.  Without lifting heavy, this biomechanical feedback is missed out on, therefore we do not challenge and refine these skills.

Yeah okay, this article just tells me I should lift heavy and pushes CrossFit on me.  No thanks.

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I get it.  CrossFit gets a pretty bad rep.  Believe me, there are places that give me an uneasy feeling due to safety concerns of too much, too fast, and not a solid enough emphasis on moving well.  The right place with the right coaches won’t do that, but another topic, another day.  That article isn’t the only one pointing out the benefits of lifting heavy for runners.

Maybe you’ve heard of some guy named Alberto Salazar?  His athletes also follow a strength training regimen of heavy weights, fewer reps, with a focus on form.  And it isn’t just random assortments of exercises, they all have a running specific purpose.

According to an article on Salazar’s athletes, Olympic lifting trains the body to maintain upright form when you’re fatigued.  When you can no longer hold yourself up with good form, the strength developed from these movements can help keep everything together… which sounds pretty great when we’re talking about injury prevention, doesn’t it?

For good measure (because I like odd numbers), here’s another article discussing lifting heavy for runners.  It doesn’t necessarily address Olympic weightlifting, however it does explain in pretty basic terms how heavy strength training translates to faster paces and increased endurance.

But you didn’t provide any alternative opinions, so I’m not well informed.

I was never good at writing opinion pieces for school; I hate persuasive pieces and I love to play Devil’s Advocate.  In fact, I’d go as far as saying 90% of arguments I’ve had with my father are because I had to disagree just so both sides were shown.  Of course, writing a blog isn’t too different!

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately!), I’m coming up with nothing to share on the flip side of this argument.  I spent a good 45 minutes scouring the internet with various combinations like “weightlifting is bad for runners”, “lifting light weights for running”, “olympic weightlifting harmful runners”, etc. and honestly, I was hard pressed to find anything with a valid differing opinion.  I did however find some colorful commentary of the sarcastic variety listing reasons why women should not lift weights (ew, muscles!)


 

nervous-memeIt’s not a secret I haven’t raced in almost two years.  The first time I truly toe the starting line with the purpose of racing will be at the end of May for the Buffalo Half Marathon.  This is the first time I’ll have trained with this amount of strength training and I’ll be honest, I have no idea how it will go.  I’m nervous because my running approach has been largely of the “less is more” variety, but I found that to be necessary based on my history.

Do I know for sure that weightlifting and CrossFit has made me faster?
Nope.
Do I know for sure that weightlifting and CrossFit has made me less injury prone?
Certainly.

Look at how many times I tried to come back prior to starting CrossFit in October. It was far too many to count, all of which left me sidelined and whining.  Even when I started CrossFit in October, before it was part of my regular schedule, I was feeling negative running effects flaring tendonitis again.  I haven’t experienced that in five months, but the only thing I’ve done differently is increase my mileage while continuing with the weights.  If you’ve been following me throughout my injuries, I think that statement kind of says it all.

We’ll put my training to the test in May.

Coming up soon – How the heck can you fit all of this into your running schedule, but have a normal work, social, and “exercise” life?