September 27, 2013

5 Things I Learned from Long Runs: A Yogi Vows to Eat Clean, Day 5

Day Five: Five Things I Have Learned From Long Runs

In my case, 10 miles, as I prepare for a half marathon (which is only two weeks away). Months of running has gotten me in shape to do this distance. I have always been a runner (more like a jogger, but one of my running-coach friends says you should never refer to yourself as a jogger—it demeans the effort. ); but running three miles is not the same as running 10.

This is what I have learned:

1.) Vaseline is your new best friend.

Your body chafes from that kind of distance. It doesn’t matter if you are chubby. You can be a skinny runner too and still not escape it. This was news to a curvy athlete like me. I always thought it was only those of us whose thighs touched together who got the honor of these painful and (embarrassing) visible wounds on their body—they look like rug burns.

But now I have learned that almost any part of the body can chafe. The bra and underwear line are a particularly tender place. Even underneath my ipod arm band gets a little chafing love. Right now, I can’t wear a low-cut top without showing off my hard-core running status in the form of two little welts right at the places the edge of my sports bra touched my skin.

2.) Happy toes are important.

Never have I experienced blisters before, but now I get one between my second and third toe. It hurts if I don’t put a band-aid around them. I had to tell the pedicure lady to go gentle. I also had to tell her to cut them babies short. An unhappy toe while you are running can pull you out of the game.

3.) Not to be too gross here, but “runner’s trots” is a real thing.

I pride myself on an iron stomach, but after my run? Look out. My belly is upset. I have diarrhea. Coffee doesn’t sit well with me on my long-run day.

But hey, each time I do a long run it gets a little easier to deal with. From a yogic perspective, I’m starting to think of my diarrhea as a cleanse.

4.) Getting up in the dark to run 10 miles is hard.

This is when it’s good to have a running buddy who will be furious if you stand her up. I have a few different running buddies; but I have one in particular, who would have no problem delivering her wrath all over me if I slept in. So I avoid conflict and manage to get my butt out of bed. (Going to sleep in your running clothes helps too.)

I also get to feel like a girl scout when I use my iPhone flashlight to light the way. Who knew?

5.) Running long distances does not change the size of my body.

This is the hardest thing for me to accept. Harder than blisters or diarrhea. I am not experiencing dramatic weight loss. My body is not rearranging itself. (Although some of my running buddies are seeing these type of results.)

Maybe this is because I was already fit to begin with. (I have been teaching Zumba and vigorous yoga for many years.) Maybe this is because you have to refuel the body when you increase your distance and I have been making sure to get enough calories despite the temptation to restrict food.

Every time I pull my jeans up and note they are not any tighter or looser, I come face to face with the reality that the body I have now is the one I have been given and you don’t get to choose your body. A healthy body will take the shape and form it is genetically supposed to. The fitness industry will try to sell us something different, but I will no longer believe them.

So if running is not about losing weight or making my butt smaller, where does this leave me? It leaves me in a much more noble place. I have to accept, for my own sanity, that my goal of running a half-marathon is about something more. Running 10 miles at a clip has gotten so much easier for me in the last month. I have shaved a minute per mile off of my time and I am no longer a scared puppy at the start. I am healthy and I am strong.

Running the half-marathon is about empowerment and belief in myself. Its about discipline, when I get up at 5:00 a.m. each morning, and it’s about surrender when I have to take days off to prevent injury. For me, running is about getting to be with friends whom share a busy life and this is a way of staying connected. It’s about being in the presence of nature as I witness each early morning sunrise. It’s about taking myself seriously as an athlete, yet learning how to not take things too personally. Like my jean size.

The ability to run 10 miles is a hard-earned gift; and each time I stretch my hamstrings and hips in yoga, and feel a new-found tightness that was never there before, I thank my body.

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Ed: Sara Crolick


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