10 miles or more…

The team was out running their 7-mile or 10-mile course this morning (distance depends on whether or not they are training for a half marathon or a full marathon), when one participant and myself were passed by three ladies out on their morning run.  They asked us how far we were going and we said “10 miles.”  Then, they asked us if we were training for a full marathon or a half marathon.  I stated that my running partner was preparing to run a half, but training for a full.  Doesn’t make sense, does it?  It just goes to show how remarkably motivated this team is.  They are presented with two training plans and they choose to follow the plan with the most distance involved.  I have no worries about whether or not they will be well prepared for the half marathon that they are planning to run in October.

Sure, today’s run may have actually been even longer than 10 miles, but that doesn’t stop them.  They may complain once in a while that a muscle aches or that the sun is beaming down it’s death rays, but they continue forward anyway.  They know that their pain is only temporary and that is only makes them stronger in the end.  It is unlike the permanent pain that cancer patients and their families endure.  I think they know this and that is why they push themselves.  It is very rewarding to see this type of determination and spirit.  These participants are not only running for themselves, but they are also running for a cause.

I am thankful to be a part of such a remarkable group of people.  I enjoy their silly jokes, playful banter, serious discussions and even their quiet solitude (well, we do spend a lot of time together when we run these long miles).  The experience is not complete without coffee & bagels (okay, sometimes we succumb to the evil donut).

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Serious Runner vs. Recreational Runner

So, whenever I am out running I am always checking out the other runners I pass.  Okay, maybe that doesn’t sound right… for my husband’s sake I will say that I am not drooling over the handsome men who run past me with their shirts off.  By “checking out” I mean that I am assessing their running gear, form & pace.  I kind of feel bad doing so because my best friend recently told me that she doesn’t like running outside because she thinks people are judging her.  I would like to think that I am not being judgmental when I assess other runners… I view it more as a learning process and comparison checker.  Hey, I have admitted many times that I do not have the best form so I will not break down in tears if someone mentions this fact (actually, it has been mentioned by others on more than one occasion so I just roll with the punches).  Best of all, “checking out” other runners keeps me entertained.

Anyway, the other day I was thinking about my observations in terms of serious runners versus recreational runners.  Since I was not making any judgements, I had no way of knowing whether a runner I passed by was a serious runner or a recreational runner.  However, if I could hand them a checklist then I would know.

You might be serious runner if you:  1.  Are carrying some form of hydration and nutrition (usually when I am out running around my neighborhood I am the only one carrying water… therefore, I have to assume that I am running farther than the other runners I encounter, but some people just don’t need a lot of water so who really knows?).  2.  Have no issues running in any weather conditions because you would rather fight mother nature than run on a stupid treadmill.  3.  Are training for a long-ish distance run.  I am sure I might get complaints over this, but I do not consider a 5k a long-ish run.  You can be solely a recreational runner and accomplish this feat (but I will say that you could be on your way to becoming a serious runner).  Additionally, you always have some upcoming event marked on your calendar.  4.  On most of your running days you run farther than 3 miles.  5.  Kick yourself in the rear and drown in disappointment if you do not run a set number of miles per week.  6.  Go for a run when you are feeling a bit crabby, depressed, sick, stressed, disheartened, irritated (okay, you catch my drift) and end the run feeling a whole lot better than when you started.  7.  Are asked by random people if you are a runner because you just look like one (and you are on top of the world when this happens… more so than if someone told you that you should be a model or that you are smokin’ hot).  8.  Wear the proper attire.  Hmm, not quite sure about this one because I see older folks running around in cotton shirts/shorts and they have been running for 50 years.  Maybe I will put it like this: you do all of your other athletic activities (strength training, elliptical machines, spinning, yoga) in your running attire because you really don’t see the reason to own any of those stylish gym clothes.  9.  Run through the pain because you know that it will eventually go away (or get so bad that you finally have to seek medical attention).  10.  Have no issues waking up at 5:00 am on a weekend in order to go for a nice, long run.

Now, on to the recreational runner.  Basically, most of the above list does not really apply to them (one or two items might).  Recreational runners primarily run to stay fit or lose weight (and running is fabulous for both!).  They will most likely walk into the gym and decide to run on the treadmill because they did the elliptical the day before.  They really have no interest in training for a racing event and don’t feel the need to log mileage in some type of computer program.

As long as people are doing my favorite sport, I could care less if they are just running to run or actually running with a goal in mind because it all comes down to the simple fact that running is running.  Now, it can get a bit off the wall when you become obsessive… (but hey, I always say it is better to be addicted to running than addicted to drugs).

Rain or Shine?

During the summer in Florida, a runner dreams of cloud coverage.  At least this runner does!  And it doesn’t hurt if a little rain accompanies that cloud coverage.  What’s the difference if you walk outside on a sunny day or on a rainy day… you are wet either way!  Oh, I see.  Some of you in the western states have no idea what I am talking about.  It’s called humidity.  I think we pretty much average 90% humidity around here on a daily basis.  Couple that with nearly 100 degrees and you’ve got yourself a really HOT day.  Just yesterday, there was a black flag warning.  Well, that pretty much means that you should stay indoors with the air conditioning on.  Not a chance when you have to get outside to run.

So, the other day, I was standing in my garage with the jogging stroller taking a peek outside.  Lots of clouds. Lots of black nasty clouds.  Some light showers.  However, it wasn’t quite clear when those “light” showers would turn “heavy.”  It could happen any minute around here.  My only hesitation was the kid in the stroller (yes, my kid).  But heck, I had a plastic tarp for the stroller so she wouldn’t get wet.  It wouldn’t be as bad as the previous day when we were out shopping and all of a sudden it started pouring rain and we were not able to make it back to the car without getting completely drenched (there was even a puddle in the stroller when I pulled her out).  And we were actually waiting for my running buddy to pull into the driveway, so I really didn’t have anymore excuses left.  A few minutes later we were both standing there pondering over the question of whether or not to run.  But, it wasn’t a very long discussion because we both knew the conditions were actually ideal running conditions.  And hey, at least the sweat and salt would be washed off our bodies right away.

As we started our journey I looked up and saw a patch of blue sky off in the distance.  However, I was not craving its presence.  At that moment, I was actually happy to be running underneath the clouds.  Considering the soaring temperatures, it actually felt great to feel rain hitting me.  Not only that, but my daughter was flailing her legs in excitement as she watched the water trickle down the tarp.  Another runner’s dream is not to be hindered in how fast you can go.  The heat tends to do that.  Yet, that evening, it was so much easier to pick up the pace and I felt so good when we finished.  That was not the case a few days later when we attempted to run in the morning… 7:00 am is not early enough.  The sun rises in the clear sky and casts its death rays upon you.  My legs only felt like dead weights that day.

So, rain or shine?  When it comes to summer in Florida, I will choose rain any day.