Sunday, June 17, 2012

Non Advice

Eeek!  Several marathon virgins and marathon veterans and relay maniacs and half marathon hooligans pounded it out on the mean streets of the Peg today in the Manitoba marathon.  Congrats to all those who participated!  A huge accomplishment and hopefully the start of an amazing journey into marathon madness for each and every one of you.  Nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction at the end of a race, so it is my hope that each and everyone of you is revelling in yours.

Do ya know what one of my most favourite things about being a marathon veteran is?  Really?  Besides the training and the running and the yoga and the hills and the fitness part of it, one of my happiest moments in this marathon adventure is when I get to share what I have learned with running newbies.  The running community is one that I am privileged to be a part of and I consider it an honour to answer (or at least try to) any and all questions that come my way.  However, I find myself in the tricky position, at times, of trying to come up with answers to questions that I simply cannot.  As much as I would like to, running really and truly is a journey of individual discovery in many different ways, and while I have many of the answers, I certainly don't have them all.   In no particular order, here are the most common questions I find myself faced with that I simply can't answer.

1. What kind of shoes should I buy?
Truthfully, finding the right running shoes for YOU is kind of like finding a boyfriend or girlfriend.  You see a pair that look pretty awesome.  You take them for a quick spin on the track or treadmill.  Sometimes it works out and forward into running bliss you head.  Sometimes it doesn't and you have to go back through the process again and again until you find some that do.  I don't know if Asics will work for you just like I don't know if you will suddenly like a brunette if you've always liked blondes.  Although, brunettes ARE pretty damn awesome if I do say so myself.  I can't say if minimalist or barefoot running is for you just like I have no idea if the dude that you met on-line last week is really the one.  I would suggest going slow, taking your time, knowing what you want from things and then moving forward if it feels right, in the case of finding the partner AND the right shoes!  The best advice I can give is to get into a running store where they are knowledgeable about gait and shoes ( the TechShop will do nicely) and allow them to put you in several pairs until you find "the ones" that feel just right.  How will you know?  Trust me.  You just will.  ;)

2. What should I eat before I run?
Well, after a long and interesting experiment, I have a huge list of foods that do not work for me pre running, so I can certainly tell you what I will NOT to eat before a run.  High on the list is pea soup.  Just between you, me and my legions of faithful followers (hey, how about becoming an official follower of my blog, there's no time like the present :) I had some pea soup for lunch one day and then embarked on a long run.  Let's just say it didn't end well.  Thankfully, peeps on my regular running route are used to seeing me sprint into their homes in a mad dash to make it to the washroom.  Again, I repeat, pea soup does not work as a pre run meal for me.  As for what does?  It's an experiment that you'll need to figure out for yourself.   My stomach is different from your stomach.  What might cause me to break into a mad sprint for the porta john may have an entirely different and awesome effect on you. But just in case you're wondering, socks double well for toilet paper if you're in a pinch.  This is the best advice I can give in this case!

3. What's wrong with my knee?
I wish I knew.  Also, I wish I knew what was wrong with you hip and your back and your ankles.  I wish I knew what was wrong with my knee too.  While I'd love to be able to help you out with your injury by diagnosing it, treating it and telling you that you will be back to running in no time, the bottom line is that I am not qualified to do so and you need to get into see an expert.  There are all sorts of qualified peeps who can help you out here: massage therapists, physiotherapists, chiros, sports docs, peeps at the running injury clinic are all far more qualified to help you find an answer to this question.  I simply cannot.  What I can tell you is this: do the work you need to PREVENT an injury, and a happy injury free runner you will (hopefully) be!  Get on the foam roller (this I can help you with), get your butt to a yoga class on a regular basis, and strength and cross train in the off season.  Trust me.  I'm living proof that it works and it works well.  Training for endurance events in running is a lot, A LOT of wear and tear on the bod.  Look after yourself and keep running until you're 80 or older.  I know I plan to!

So while I'd like to believe I am the guru of all things running, the truth is I will do my best each and every time, but most of the time, my answers to questions  you have start with it depends, maybe it could be and I don't know.  But I DO know that the journey to figure it out is half the battle.  And figure it out you will, one pair of shoes, one mad sprint to the toilet and one tweaked knee at a time.

And just because it's almost summer...but mainly because it's awesome...remember this one?  Nothing says sexy like a bandana, a large chain and a topless Mark Wahlberg hanging off a chain link fence. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Going Commando

Yesterday, I ran a 10k.  In my underwear no less!

Confused?  No, I didn't go streaking. I have (hopefully) left that behaviour far in my past, but I did participate in The Underwear Affair, a fundraising 10k to raise dollars and awareness for cancers "down there".  This is more that a worthy cause to support as so many people are affected by these cancers.

For some time I have thought, that as a runner, I should participate in a fundraising run of some sort.  There are, after all, many runs out there supporting a variety of different causes and this one seemed as good a cause as any to support.  A quick trip to the Underwear Affair website and it was official; I was captain of Going Commando.  In case you've missed it, this 10k is a bit unusual in that everyone runs in their underwear (or some iteration of underwear- there were some REALLY interesting costumes and underoos on parade) and Going Commando was chosen as the team name for the double entendre.  No, we were certainly NOT "going commando" as an arrest for public nudity may not appear favourable on my record, but I thought it would be fun if everyone who was a part of the team sported their best army themed skivvies.

Curious about what a bunch of runners dressed in camouflage underwear look like? Here it is:

Marcel: tall guy in the middle- you win the prize for best Commando costume.  HANDS DOWN!

And here's the rest of Going Commando:

A decent looking bunch if I do say so myself!

And now for an admission. 

Did you know that I AM SHY?  I really am.  About my body, that is.  For a long time, I wished that my body was everything that it wasn't: super thin, ultra long-legged, super model-esque.  I suppose people always want what we really can't have to some extent, and in my case, that has meant the desire to have much, much longer legs, less muscle and a trunk with way less junk.  Very recently, I made a decision that I was going to stop wishing for what I was never going to have and I was going to accept the body I was born with.  Embrace it, if you will.  And a part of embracing it meant deciding to be proud of it.   Thus was born the idea of running around the city of Calgary in my underwear.  Thank goodness the Underwear Affair provided a platform for this, otherwise a solo run in my underwear may have resulted in people questioning my sanity! 

It was interesting and timely to me that the underoos I selected for the race had a message in the band that seemed to be put there entirely for me:

Again, I repeat: I really DO have an athlete's body.  Healthy, strong and fit.  For this, I am thankful.  All it took to come to this conclusion, truthfully, was to switch my mindset.  I started to refer to my body as athletic.  I told people I wasn't shy and that I was GOING to be running in underwear.  Just underwear and nothing else.  I started to thank my body for all it does for me.  I stopped wishing for longer legs and less of an ass and started to realize that having an ass means that I can power through those last few incredibly difficult miles in a marathon.  It really is amazing to me the power our thoughts and mindset can have over how we feel about ourselves. 

And guess what happened?  For real?!  I loved every second of it.  As I trudged along in my skivvies I felt happy and free.  I started to run a bit faster.  And then a wee bit faster.  And then, it just felt like I was flying.  I felt light, happy and confident.

Me!  Running towards the finish in my underoos!
Me!  Pre-race in  my underoos!
The result?  Going Commando: Mission Accomplished.

Dollars raised for cancer research: over $9000- a huge thank you to everyone who supported me with generous donations.

Mindset: changed.  I am an athlete.  I have an athletic body.  Strong. Healthy. Fit.

And incredibly thankful.