Rest

rest

Have you ever sleep a good eight hours only to get up more exhausted than when you went to bed? We all have. Just because you have gone to sleep does not mean that you have rested. There are four types of rest: Physical, sensory, emotional, and mental rest.

Everyone is familiar with physical rest. You lie down and don’t move your body more than necessary to remain comfortable. The importance of physical rest is pounded into every runners head. It’s essential to making gains in strength and speed. Without it, our bodies break down and we get injured. Even if you are getting eight or nine hours of sleep a night, it may not be enough to keep you going at a high level of training. Take a look at the other types of rest.

Sensory rest is when you rest your senses. Sensory overload can effect anyone. Everyone has a different tolerance for the amount of sensory input they can handle before they have a total melt down and withdraw from the stimulation. Young children are particularly vulnerable to sensory overload. But so are adults especially when it is multiple senses. It’s okay to check out for a bit. Close your eyes, cover your ears, or just go into a dark room. It’s like pushing the reset button. Allowing your senses to rest even for a brief moment keeps them fully available to you when you need them.

Emotional overload is one of the most significant forms of exhaustion I’ve ever experienced. It makes me feel tired for days. Preventing emotional overload is not always possible. One of the reasons it’s so draining is because it comes when you aren’t expecting it. Life throws a curve ball at you and there is no getting around dealing with it. This can be the death of someone close to you or a crisis in your life. It can also happen when you are taking on the emotional problems of those around you. The best way to rest your emotions is to step back and ground yourself in the present. Try to let go of worries about the future and guilt over the past. Just be present.

Mental rest is all about stopping the Tasmanian devil from stirring up your thoughts. Whirling thoughts keep you up at night and make you feel flighty during the day. You jump from idea to idea. Your ability to focus on one thing is thirty seconds at best. The result from all this; mental tiredness. The way to rest is the same as it is for emotional rest. Step back and ground yourself.

To really recover and continue to push our bodies, a full body and mind rest is essential. It’s hard to do and somedays it will be impossible. For me, running makes it much easier to take advantage of all four types of rest. It clears my mind of thoughts and lets my emotional baggage fly away on the wind. Out on the trail my senses get the sweet taste of nature and my body burns off all the energy so I slide into sleep quickly each night.

Rest fully and run Happy.

The Critic

critic

 

Many people criticize what others do. Some make a career out of it, such as movie and book critics, but those are not the ones I’m talking about. Runners don’t escape the critic’s notice.

How can you spend so much time running rather than with your family?

Think of what you could do with the money you spend on shoes and race fees?

Your race metals hanging on your office wall make others feel bad. Is that your wall of bragging?

Is it really fair to you family that all your vacations revolve around your running?

Why do you like to be alone all the time?

Is running more important than hanging out with your friends?

This type of criticism is sort of easy to brush aside. Some of us do feel a little guilty about the amount of time we spend running rather than with family and friends, but it’s easy to justify. Running makes me a better parent, sister, son, friend, and whatever. And there’s always the classic response, “You’re welcome to join me anytime if you want to hang out.”

Our worst and most difficult critic is the one in our heads. It tends to be much more cruel and has higher expectations than others do. It echoes all of the above statements and adds to the list.

It’s hard to get out and train some days and god forbid you miss a workout. If you do, the internal critic is all over that shit with, “You’re lazy, you’re going to get slow, and how do you ever expect to finish a race when you can’t even do a training run.” These are all beautiful guilt ridden statements.

I suppose they motivate you to move your ass sometimes, but there are so much better ways to get yourself going and sometimes it’s best to take a rest day or have an easy day. Step back and think about what you would say to a friend or training partner doing so can put things in to perspective.

When we don’t hit our goals, it can get ugly inside our heads too. “You should have trained more or harder.” “You had some left in the tank and could have passed one or two more people.” “You’re really not as good as you think.” “You’ll never make it.”

When we have an injury… “Don’t be a baby, it’s nothing.” “You’re weak.”

The mental side of running is more difficult to deal with than the physical training. These thoughts come so “naturally” to many of us that it’s impossible to stop them entirely. You have to prepare for them and learn how to counter act them.

When they show up during a race, they can shut you down and become the infamous self-fulfilling prophecy. Self-sabotage is another great way of thinking about it.

Ignoring the critic or telling it to shut up is not enough. You have to have examples to prove it wrong. This means you need to hang onto and store your successes. Those moments were you thought, “I did it.” Most importantly, the moments where you pushed through a particularly difficult run regardless of the reason it was difficult.

These successes are your secret weapon so keep them safe and close at hand. Then when the critic starts with its stream of negativity, you can pull out your triumphs.

Is it all about the numbers for you?

stop watch

I’m not saying running fast isn’t fun. What I’m talking about is are you a competitive runner or someone who just runs for the joy of running? The idea of getting into ultrarunning to be fast is a little strange to me. I know there are fast runners out there who can finish one hundred miles in eighteen hours and sometimes less. Those runners are incredible and just fun to watch. They make it look so easy. I’ll never be that fast, but that’s okay with me because I didn’t get into ultrarunning to be fast.

Despite these pure reasons to get into the sport, we all want to know finish times and all the split times. How much time did we spend in each aid station? How much did we slow down after mile seventy-five? Were we able to pick it back up? Is there any consistent pattern in our races?

It’s all fine and good to want to track these things and to improve your times and compete with other runners. However, the risk I see if it’s all about the numbers for you, is it’s no longer fun. The joy of being free and tromping through the woods is lost.

Training should be fun too. Of course, you are going to have hard days, but if you have more hard days with no motivation and you are dreading your runs, it’s time to take a long look at why you are running a particular race and if you need to adjust your mindset.

I got into it to be on the trails and to challenge myself. I believe that most ultrarunners get into the sport to explore nature and spent time on the trails. I choose my races because of where they are. I want to see new places and I want to see them in a way that others don’t get to see them. I also go back out to the same races I did the year before to improve my time, but I never lose sight of the freedom and joy trail running brings me.

Never lose the joy of running. If you do, running is just a job, which is just about the saddest thing I have ever heard. Ultrarunning is a horrible paying job anyway.

New Years is Coming

new years

It’s that time of year again, new year’s resolutions…

I don’t like the term “resolutions” because it implies there is something wrong in your life and it needs fixing or that there is some type of conflict. I like New Year’s goals much better. A goal is something you strive achieve. You’re moving forward and I like achievements.

The word “goal” has a positive connotation where, a resolution, especially if it is preceded by the words, “New Year’s,” is typically negative or at a minimum cringe worthy.

Word choice has a significant impact on the way we view things, so it’s important to use words that motivate us to keep striving toward our goals until we achieve them regardless of how long they take.

We may slip a little or even stand still and look around to determine where we are exactly, so long as we don’t turn back, we are good.

Winter can be a down time (emotionally and number of miles) for many. Add in the holidays with family, friends, and traveling it can all lead to a few extra pounds which circles around and can make us not feel so great.

How do we get past the winter slump and begin the New Year with determination and optimism? Set yourself a few goals for the next year. They don’t all need to be running related. They shouldn’t be. You should make goals in other areas of your life too.

For our purposes here, I’m talking about running. Pick yourself an early spring race and a goal race a little out beyond the spring race. A goal race is THE race you are really training to run for the year. It’s the big enchilada. All the other races are just filler and preparation.

Once you have your GOAL race, identify the things you need to do to be prepared as best you can for the race. Come up with a time line as to when you will be implementing each of the things on the list to help you reach your goal. It can be anything such as new running shoes, better eating habits, find a running partner, begin trail running, or find a hill for repeats. These things are going to be individual to you and your GOAL.

Checking off each of the things on your preparation list is getting one step closer to that goal.

Achieving a goal motivates us to continue making progress and building our self-confidence to take on things in all areas of life. As you create your lists and write out your goal, choose your words carefully and make sure they are not words you associate with failure or negativity.

Forget something?

forgot shoes

Have ever gone to the gym and forgotten something?

Yes of course, we all have. Have you ever thought about which items make you turn around, go home, and get them? Alternatively, which items do you just run to the store and buy rather than go all the way home?

There ae somethings you can tough it up and go without such as a water bottle (if there is a drinking fountain available), a hair tie, and head phones.

What if you forget your shirt? Most gyms don’t let you workout without one, so your forced to either go get one from home or go buy one. But if they didn’t care, do you? I care. I’d go buy one, even if it was a cotton shirt from the mom and pop shop next door.

Shorts or exercise pants? We have to qualify this one again with, “If the gym allows you to workout in jeans.” For me, this would depend on what I was doing after the gym. If I had to be in a professional setting, I’d go buy shorts. If not, I’d just workout in my street clothes and suck up any chafing problems.

Sports bras for the ladies? I’d just wear whatever I came in wearing.

Socks? I’d go without them.

How about shoes? I’d go without them too. In fact, I did this very thing this past weekend. I had a three and a half hour workout and forgot my shoes at home. I wasn’t going back and it was five in the morning, so no one was open who could sell me some shoes. I had the heels I walked in wearing, but those wouldn’t work at all on the elliptical or any other one of the machines I would be using.

It wasn’t a hard choice for me. I got some raised eyebrows and stares, but I don’t really care. I’m there to do my workout, not to impress anyone.

What have you forgotten and what did you do about it?

 

How attached is too attached?

hug a runner

We all love our running partners, but what do you do when yours gets injured or isn’t available to run with you?

When you are running with a training partner, it can become hard to run on your own. A training partner provides that extra motivation and accountability when you are struggling to get out the door. They provide a distraction when the miles get hard. They push you harder than you push yourself. And they become one of your closest friends.

Training partners are a wonderful thing to have, but you should always have a back-up. Some runners are just able to self-motivate more than others and getting out there isn’t a problem whether someone is there or not. It’s easier to get lost in your thoughts and work through life when you are on your own.

So what do you do if you are not a highly self-motivated runner, who goes regardless of the availability of your partner?

You can find a running group rather than just one partner. Even if you don’t run with a group, having a community of runners who support one another, but may not running together can make a difference because you continue to be accountable and encouraged. Find a new running partner.

Listen to music, podcasts, or an audio book while you are running. These can provide the distraction you need to pound out lonely miles. There are also smart phone applications built specific for runners. If you are strictly a numbers runner and knowing your stats is enough, the app runkeeper will do that for you. There are apps that provide encouragement, social aspects, and numbers while you run endomondo, may be the app for you.  Zombies, run sends you on missions in a zombie infested world in addition to tracking your miles.

Couch-to-5k is a great app for runners just starting out or for those returning to running from an injury. Runtastic will tell you stories while you run.  Charity miles donates money for each mile you run to a charity of your choice. It’s an excellent way to make your runs count for more than yourself.

There are tons of apps out there if you suddenly find yourself all alone for your runs. Don’t let the permanent or temporary loss of your running partner deter you from maintaining your goals.

What do you wear down there?

undies

Sorry guys this one is mostly for the ladies, but if you have lady runner friends or lovers you may want to continue reading.

Basically, there are three options regarding underwear when exercising none, your basic everyday, or specialized. Is there a best and worst or is it all personal preference?

If you’re going with the none option, let’s just say, panty lines could be the least of your problems. You have to be careful with the type of fabric your workout clothes are made from if you are going without any panties. Bacteria grow where it is warm and moist. If you aren’t wearing any panties and your shorts/pants are not made from moisture wicking material, stop by the pharmacy for a yeast infection cream on your way home from the gym.

If you have moisture wicking shorts or pants and you wash them on a regular basis, you are less likely to be growing something you don’t want down under. If you are just a panty wearing kind of girl, there are still options for you.

What about the thong? Experts say regardless of the type of material the thong is made of, it is not your friend during exercise because it shifts and rubs, which can cause an UTI or vaginal infection. Apparently the thong acts like a slip and slide for bacteria from your backend to your front (don’t visualize).

Okay so no thong… you’ve convinced me of that one. What about lace and satin? You never know right, what if you’re hauled away in an ambulance you want to look sexy right? Wrong. Lace, satin and even cotton are not good choices. Although, out of the three cotton is the best.

Ladies your best bet is to spend the extra money and get moisture wicking panties to use during exercise (but make sure they are not thongs!) or buy bottoms that have a bit of liner between the legs and are moisture wicking.

When you are choosing panties, go with ones that are seamless.

What about shaving and waxing down there, will that help? Nope. It actually makes it worse. Pubic hair protects the genital area from STIs, burns and ingrown hairs. If you do go fuzz free, you should use panties to reduce friction. Blisters and chafing between your legs is not good.

For athletes who participate in triathlons, swimming events, or long endurance events, experts recommend wearing two piece suits to be able to change along the way to maintain some dryness down there preventing infections.

When you’re surfing the crimson wave or visiting aunt flow (aka menstruating, I had to put something in there to protect our male counterparts sensitivities if they chose to continue reading after the slip and slide comment), using a tampon or menstrual cup are your best options. Pads will just cause chafing and irritation.

And there you have it, moisture wicking seamless panties (no thongs!) or bottoms are best for us ladies.

Run Happy and Run Free!