I’m a Runner

running shoesThere, I said it. I’m a runner. I’ve been at the running thing since 2006. It is now 2013 and I feel like a runner. I am a runner. Some people would say that I’ve been a runner since 2006, but back then, I felt like a fraud. Sure, I would jog / run a little bit, but more of my time was spent with walk breaks. But last August, something finally clicked and I started to feel like I could accomplish things with running.

It is now April and so far this year, I have run over 221 miles. Yes, over 200 miles. In January, I started the year with a 5K race and over the course of the month, ran over 50 miles. February turned out to be an even better month. There were three fewer days and I ran over 10 miles more. The big month so far has been last month where I put in over 105 miles. If that seems like a lot of miles to you, imagine how it feels to me. Before this year, I thought I was having a good month when I got in 30 miles in a month. A run longer than three miles seemed like forever. Granted, I had done way more than that on numerous occasions, but those were just for races. Running more than three miles in a race was a no-brainer to me. It was what races were for.

But now, now if I run less than four miles, I feel like I did nothing. Four miles is now my short run. The longest I’ve gone so far has been nine miles. And those nine miles felt amazing and freeing. I’m running hills. I’m running intervals of 400 and 800 meters. Not too long ago, this would have seemed impossible and now, it is just what I do. 

So why so many miles so far this year? I want to be a better runner and the only way to do that is to. . . run! I’m actually doing a training program. Last fall, I started thinking about doing a half marathon somewhere other than Chicago and in the process settled on running the Green Bay half marathon in late May. A race in late May meant that I’d have to train starting in the winter. This time, I decided since this would be my ninth half marathon, I was going to train properly, perhaps go for an incredible PR and start taking advantage of my CARA membership by training with them.

We started training in mid-February and up until last week, the group runs on the weekends have been pretty brutal. The first week, the temperature was ONE DEGREE away from the run being canceled, but we toughed it out. In subsequent weeks, it was cold, snowy, sleeting, you name it, it probably did it in terms of winter weather. Last Saturday, it was almost a beautiful spring day. Still a little bit chilly, but the sun was out and the temperatures were high enough that people were running in shorts and no jackets.

The past few weeks have been huge breakthrough weeks for me in running. While I am just now putting it in writing that I’m a runner, I have finally felt that way since last December. But the past couple of weeks have just reinforced that for me. I’ve had this mental block where after stopping for a water break, I would keep stopping. It wasn’t an endurance thing. I know that because of the countless hours I spent in the spin studio the past couple of years. I would even take two classes back-to-back and not be tired after that and the classes were no joke.

However, with running, there was a block that wouldn’t let me just keep on running even after a water stop. Then finally on an eight-mile run I did it. I took no walk breaks. And it felt wonderful to just keep going after a water stop. It started earlier that week with a really good 10K run mid-week. It continued with a five-mile run the day before the eight-mile run. The five-mile run was surprisingly easy considering that less than 12 hours before I had done a spin class and it ended with the most awful hill charges ever to finish that ride. After those runs, I felt like I was unstoppable and that everything would be ok in life, despite so much going on to make me think otherwise.

Things continued to go well this past week except for a minor tweaking of my hip flexor. That might have been caused by too many lunges or kicking up the 800 meter sprints to a new level. In any event, I did back off on some runs last week so as not to get sidelined. That would be the worst thing to happen as I really do use running as a cheap form of therapy.

In any event, now that April is here, I’m looking forward to putting in more miles, hopefully better weather and additional gains, such as speed in my running. I know I will hit a plateau again, but for now, I am going to savor every minute of my improvements and relishing the fact that I can call myself a runner and it not be a lie.

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