After 15 years of running and racing, there are more than a few things I’ve changed my mind about over the years. Here are 10 off the top of my head. I’m sure there’s more, so there could be a part II in the future.
1. If it’s (insert day), I run. There was a time when, if my schedule said 8 miles, I was running 8 miles NO MATTER WHAT — injured, fatigued, in extreme weather conditions, etc. I’ve since realized that such rigidity is completely unnecessary and potentially dangerous. I’ve learned that the world will not end and I will not gain 5 lbs. or add 30 seconds to my next 10K because you miss a run, or two…or three. Rigidity is not a good thing. Now, I wake up in the morning and think…what should I do today? Run, weight lift, pilates, bike ride? I let my body (and the weather) be the guide.
2. Rest is for sissies. This was fine, until my late 30s and then I saw the error of my ways. Now I have two to three rest days a week, depending on how I feel (see #1).
3. I don’t need fancy, expensive running clothes. I used to run in cotton t-shirts and shorts from K-mart, until someone gave me some of those fancy, overpriced exercise clothes, and I realized why everyone wore them. There was no going back and now my closet overflows with microfiber. (Shopping Tip: Marshalls!)
4. I cannot race without my iPod. A rainy race day taught me that not only can I race without my iPod, but I actually race better without it.
5. I must love the marathon. Meh. The 26.2 isn’t for everyone, and it’s not for me. I used to be ashamed to admit that, but no more. I hate the marathon (there, I said it).
6. I prefer to run alone. Then I met a friend who came to my house to run at 5:15 a.m. and my solitary ways were forever spoiled. Like the expensive running clothes, it’s hard to go back. I don’t like running alone anymore — it’s boring. I confess to running mostly for social reasons these days.
7. All I need is running. I didn’t see any point in cross training because I thought it was just taking away energy from my “real” sport. Silly me. Now I know that weight lifting, pilates, and bike riding all build muscle, strength and flexibility that make me a better runner.
8. When racing, start slow. My current racing strategy is the complete opposite of what it used to be. When I first started racing, I would always start slow and in the back. I liked passing people and having energy to turn up the speed in the last miles. However, over time, I learned it was better to start fast and in front (or near the front).
9. I won’t even put on my shoes for less than 6 miles. There was a time that I never did a ran less than 6 miles. Now I know that running short and fast is how you get faster. Distance running often leads to slow running.
10. I must write down every mile. I used to keep meticulous mileage logs until about a year ago when I realized I have never — not once — looked at them. I quit recording everything, and now the pressure is off. I don’t feel so obligated to put in miles just so I don’t have a blank space in my log.