Embrace it!

It's just a little mud...

It’s just a little mud…

If running was easy, then everyone would do it.  That is a catch phrase runners may say so that they feel stronger and more confident about doing what they love to do.  The truth is that not everyone would do it even if it were easy.  You have to truly want to do something first.  However, if it were easy, then I probably wouldn’t do it.  I don’t seem to like things that are easy.  I thrive on challenges, as do most runners.

I slogged through mud yesterday.  I collected about five pounds of mud on each food and attempted to run… in very slow motion.  I didn’t turn around.  Not sure why I didn’t just turn around at the start.  I kept going and my feet got heavier.  I started slipping and sliding.  I even had to walk through a few sections of mud so I wouldn’t end up planting my face in the mud.  There finally came a point when I was able to get off the trail and get on the road.  Then I hated it even more.  I hated running on the road with cars flying past me.  I still felt like I was moving in slow motion.  I wanted to be on the trail, on the mountain, but I was stuck on the stupid road because of the stupid mud.

It’s okay, though.  I will go for another run tomorrow and there might be knee-deep snow to plow through or more mud to slip and slide in.  I have my moments of agony and despair, but most of the time it is all worth it.  I get stronger with each new challenge and I push forward to reap the rewards.  Sometimes it is fun (and maybe even easy) and sometimes it is just pure torture.

Tonight I heard an amazing story of a runner who forged a new path (and I mean that literally because no other runner had been on that trail in quite awhile!) and kept going even when the going got tough.  She took the journey that even I would be fearful of and became mentally stronger because of what she had accomplished.  I am inspired to overcome my minor challenges so that I can face greater challenges.

I don’t know why runners seem to radiate so much inspiration.  It was pretty easy for me to come up with the name of my business: “Inspired Miles.”  Every mile is an inspiration.  Every runner is an inspiration.  We just embrace it all and carry on.  Our miles are filled with desperation, agony, defeat, joy, love, accomplishment and many more mixed emotions.  It is going up and down and back up again.  It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.  A long, arduous journey that teaches us so many of life’s lessons.  Each mile makes us stronger.  Each mile humbles us.  Each mile takes us to places we have never experienced before.

 

Why do I need a running coach?

My coaching days started back with Team in Training.  What a great group to work with!

My coaching days started back with Team in Training. What a great group to work with!

I won’t forget the first “race” I did.  It was in Anchorage, AK and it was with my friend and her sister.  I don’t even remember how far it was… I think it was 5 miles.  Anyway, I just thought I could go out and run that far so that is what I did.  Yep, I made it.  Barely.  I think the only reason I made it across the finish line was because I was young and participated in some sport-like activities.  I might have even gone to the gym a few times a year.  But I definitely paid for it the next day when I could barely walk.

The next time I ran a race (many years later) I was obviously older and wiser.  I knew I actually needed to go out and run a few times before the race.  I remember that.  I ran a few times on the flat roads and then I entered a race that required running uphill on a trail.  I guess I still couldn’t get it right.

Finally I decided to read a book (or maybe just glance through it).  I figured that I needed to know a little more if I planned to run a half marathon.  That seemed like a really far distance and I could probably hurt myself if I didn’t prepare correctly.  Lucky for me, I had a running buddy to drag along and we somehow managed to haphazardly follow a plan I had read somewhere.  That worked out pretty well.  I finished the half marathon.  Slowly, but victoriously!

At one point I felt that the marathon was within reach and maybe I was finally crazy enough to get it done.  Yet, I had no clue how I would get it done.  I figured it probably wouldn’t be a good idea for me to just wing it or even follow a free plan I had downloaded off the internet.  That is when Team in Training entered my radar.  Well, actually they had already been well within my radar because I did a Grand Canyon hiking event with the Team back in the day before I became serious about running.  I knew that they trained people for marathons too.  I wasn’t nervous about raising the money because I had done that before, so I thought it might be a great way for me to get the help I needed.

I met them at the very first meeting.  The coaches.  They were so full of life and excited about helping me to get to where I wanted to go while helping out a great cause in the process.  I left the meeting energized and ready to get started on accomplishing my goal of running my first marathon.

The Team in Training coaches wrote plans, organized runs, provided advice and handled the logistics.  Most of all, they offered support, encouragement and motivation.  If I was feeling down or weak, they would lift my spirits and point out my strengths.  If I was feeling unsure, they would encourage me to push through and reap the rewards of new challenges.  I always felt like I could do more than I ever thought possible.  Sometimes I took it too far and my coaches had to help me pull in the reigns.  Coaches are all about the checks and balances.

I was so inspired by my experience with the coaches that I decided to become a Team in Training coach too.  It was truly a reward to watch my group cross the finish line.  I held on to that feeling for a while until I decided to make a serious change in my life that involved the start of my own business: Inspired Miles Coaching, LLC (www.inspiredmiles.com).

On occasion, I have been asked “why would someone need a running coach?”  That is a good question and I think I have an answer.

Never ran before?  Or has it been awhile since the last time you went for a run?  A coach can help you get back on track by helping you develop realistic goals and providing guidance on how to reach those goals.  Maybe you have been previously injured and need help improving your running form or finding exercises and running drills that will make you stronger.

What about that half-marathon or full marathon goal?  Do you know which path has the least resistance or will you run blind and risk encounters with injuries, over-training, time constraints, disappointments and other setbacks?  It is hard to know what to do if you don’t have the necessary experience.  I was there once.  It took me awhile to navigate the sport of running and my Team in Training coaches helped me to feel more confident.

Knowledge is valuable, but it is just as important to have someone there to keep pushing you in the right direction.  Tim Noakes (author of the Lore of Running) points out: “A running coach is needed not necessarily for the physical preparation of the athlete, but for inspiration and support, and to provide an objective analysis of when the athlete is doing too much.”  It is well-known that runners are a determined, hard-working, dedicated and often stubborn group of people.  Sometimes they need to be told when to push hard and when to take it easy.  It’s all about the checks and balances.

I like how Franz Stampfl, a world-renowned athletics coach of the 20th century, puts it: “the coach’s job is 20% technical and 80% inspirational.”  So, who needs a little inspiration?

Hopes, Dreams & Aspirations

A half marathon completed 3 months after Baby #3.

A half marathon completed 3 months after Baby #3.

OH CRAP!  I just realized something.  Maintaining intense physical activity for 6 – 7 hours without stopping is just crazy.  It is like “fall over in your grave before you make it to the finish line” crazy.  What the hell was I thinking when I signed up for this thing??  And to think that it could actually take even longer if I feel the need to crawl during the final 5 miles of the half marathon!  

Why would a part-time working mother of 3 small children do something like this?  I am not so sure about the answer to that question any more.  Why in the world would someone with thalassemia (low hemoglobin) AND hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) do something like this?  It’s not enough that being a mother makes you fatigued… let alone anemia and a slow metabolism.  Then add on 2 – 3 hours of working out.  Okay, now I know what I was supposed to say here.  If I can do this, then you sure as heck can!

Everyone has their own personal hopes, dreams and aspirations.  Running marathons and finishing (hopefully) half ironmans just happens to be mine.  I can’t let the little things get in the way of my dreams now can I?  So, you may not want to run a marathon, but what are your dreams?  Do you pursue them or do you make excuses?  I believe that you don’t really want it if you aren’t willing to go for it.

I watch my friends and family set goals and reach high.  They inspire me to do the same.  They may or may not run marathons or bike 50 miles like I do, but they take risks and make things happen.  I see the beautiful work of an aspiring photographer.  I know dedicated teachers who are a positive influence on the lives of children.  I hear about the friends that advocate for the causes they believe in.  I have family and friends that risk their lives so that others may live.  I watch stories unfold right before my eyes.  People who do remarkable things are all around us.  It might be easy to say that someone who runs a marathon or finishes an ironman is amazing because it is right there in front of you.  But take a closer look and you will see other dreams coming true.

My headline for this blog is: “my mother inspired me to run… now I am a mother inspiring others to run!”  Sure, that is what I hope to do.  But maybe they will be inspired to do something that they have always dreamed of doing, not necessarily running.  That’s okay too.