To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Monday, March 26, 2012

I'm A Running Hippie!

At the time it felt so ... deep! It was like this aha moment. And actually, yeah, something clicked inside and everything suddenly feels clear.

Running improvement. I think we could all agree that running is different for all of us. We all have different motivations, different reasons, different goals, different interpretations of the same common things.

I think part of this aha moment is why I released The Coach of his scheduling duties. To clarify, he's still forced to put up with me every day. We still talk running. But mostly I want him for advice when I want it. Or for a discussion. And frankly sometimes the tables turn and I find myself being the one to dole out words of wisdom and offer suggestions to him! He gave up on giving me a schedule after the first 3 or 4 weeks. And I never asked for more schedules. I'm so independent, I think I do best working in my runs when it feels best for me. When Goofy prep time rolls around, THEN I might go batting my eyelashes and asking for help with a good training plan. But for now, I'm a free agent. He's helping his running posse of fastholes (thank you, Cilley Girl for that term) prepare. They are training for their first half marathon. Um, obviously I've been there, done that. I know how to prepare, and honestly I don't prepare for them anymore. I just do them because I'm always ready for them, physically. So what he's used to giving out in terms of guidance is a lot more detail oriented than I am, and just not for me.

The moment Giraffy and I first met!
But then during today's conversation with Giraffy I realized why I am so different from them. It's all the mind-set. They are all about numbers. Who's faster than who. Who runs farther than who. It is like constant competition and judging everybody that's not like them. Like a bunch of peacocks trying to show off their feathers. That's not my style. Believe it or not, I was once a pretty competitive bowler. When I moved across the country I had just left a very supportive bowling alley where we all cheered for each other and it was fun. I joined this league in Kissimmee and it was the total opposite. If you got a strike the other team would be visibly pissed off. They'd do manual scoring just to make sure the computer didn't mess up. It was so competitive that there wasn't any fun -- for me. I like the supportive nature of sports, not the competitive. Want to offend me? Then don't congratulate me on a run and ask if I enjoyed it ... just immediately ask me my finish time. I guarantee you I won't answer the question. I think it's rude.

Giraffy and I realized we are pretty opposite (okay, we are totally opposite in almost everything!) when it comes to tracking improvement with our running. She is very number oriented. It wasn't until our conversation that I realized I am not. I am VERY anal about tracking my mileage. I HAVE to have my Garmin. I want to see my stats. But now I realize I base my improvement on feeling. I'm a running hippie! My emotions, feelings and effort level are how I declare improvement in myself... not numbers.

For example, this weekend when I did my own little half marathon my time looks faster than it was. I paused my Garmin to refill my water. I paused it when I HAD to stop to get a photo of this crazily decorated VW van. I paused it to potty. Confession: I paused it because I felt compelled to have a conversation with the cutest little sheep that I saw on my way back home. Naturally in a race I wouldn't do that. Of course I'd keep moving in a race. BUT with all that - I still feel I improved. I ran half way up hills that I'd normally walk the entirety of. I pushed harder and farther before taking walk breaks. And my walk breaks were shorter than they used to be. (Oh, I also tossed the 4:1 intervals out the door.) And heck, I was only supposed to go 10 miles!

With this realization I thought about races and running in general. It finally occurred to me after two and a half years of running that my goal isn't for certain times, distances or paces. I run purely for the experiences and memories. My favorite race memories aren't necessarily the PRs. They've been the moments that are fun. Cartwheels with Team Jam. Pushing Belle out of the way with Lesley. Pretending to be dead in front of a Haunted Mansion tomb stone. And not all of the best running memories are during races! When I think about this year's Shamrock 15K, I immediately think of our blogger dinner the night before and not the 10 minute PR I got the next day. For Seattle I think of how I got to meet my dear Abby for the first time. Las Vegas, well that has all sorts of crazy memories - none of which actually involve the 13 miles I was running ... but rather the aftermath!

So there it is, I run for Me! For fun. For memories. For challenging myself. For a great excuse to travel and see friends. When I'm 80 will I look back and be mad that I was a mid-pack runner that was happy with a 10 minute mile pace? I doubt it. Will I perhaps tell my grandchildren (I'm so optimistic!) about how there was a time in my life that I couldn't run around the block, and then decided to do half marathons and I met tons of great people as a result? Yes!

So what about YOU?? Do you focus on the numbers to see if you are improving? Do you take every run and race seriously? Do you worry more about having the right colored shirt than your finish time? (FYI - I found my red shirt finally!) What's YOUR motivation to run?? And inquiring minds want to know ... have YOU done a cartwheel during a race yet?? I highly recommend it.


33 comments:

  1. Nope, no cartwheels, but I now have a SUPER fun game...Ask a certain runner about her times...every time she runs!!!

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  2. running hippie! Love it! I am suppose I am more on the hippie side of things most of the time and on ly 10% on the numbers side getting upset when I don't reach a goal. But really that is how I am in with life, just enjoying the ride whileI can. I would be a good hippie....except I like to shower and what not.

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    1. I hear ya on the shower! Heck some times I shower twice a day. I need clean hair!!

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  3. I am always impressed about how much fun you seem to have racing.

    I am competitive with myself not with others. Probably why I make up my own training schedules & train on my own. And what I wear is always very important.

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    1. I do it all on my own, too! It just works better that way. I find I put less pressure on myself alone than I feel I would if I actually tried to train with people. ... Less pressure for me is much more fun and I perform better that way, too!

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  4. I love that you are a running hippie... that's awesome! In fact, I think you're awesome. I love your attitude and the amount of fun you seem to always be having.

    I tend to take racing fairly competitively, but mostly just against myself... trying to improve. I think it's good, however, to throw in some fun races now and then to remind myself why I love to run.

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    1. Why thank you, that's so nice of you! -- Perhaps I should start racing in Eugene a lot again - REALLY embrace the new "hippie" label I just gave myself!

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  5. I pretty much disagree with all this. I'm all about enjoying myself running, but just because I am having fun, that doesn't mean I'm better/faster/whatever. Numbers really ARE going to tell you if you are actually improving.

    With that said. I rarely "race" races nowadays. It feels too "hard" and it is not as fun. Anyway, yay that you are having more fun and not letting running stress you out!

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    1. You might not "race" - but you still always impress the heck out of me! I mean who just ran an obscene amount of miles while I was drinking rum and watching an infomercial?? That would be you!! You're like the ultimate running rock star!

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  6. I know the feeling.

    I decided several weeks ago (I may or may not have already told you this, so sorry if I am repeating myself) that I am no longer interesting in getting "good" enough to run Boston.... I'm much more up for distance rather than speed - so now my ultimate goals involve insane numbers of miles rather than insane numbers having to do with pace.

    Not that I don't want to improve my general pace and ability a little....but it's just that I am not going to be quite so OCD about it anymore. I'll get there when I get there, and that will be whenever I get there.

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    1. I do remember you saying that - I think it came up at dinner, actually! Long races ... and HARD terrain - you seem to be drawn to that. Very cool!

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  7. You already know how I feel, but I disagree... I'm not in it to brag about paces, or be a fasthole. I know my paces, my goals, my mileage, because I like to know my progress. I don't care if it's faster or slower than yours (or anyone's). I can't compare myself to anyone else, because, hello, everyone trains and runs differently.

    I think this is kind of the beauty of it: Runners don't really CARE what anyone else is doing. if you're doing stuff that pleases you, then phawk. Knock yourself out. But if you want to brag about running x miles in x:xx time, I don't care WHAT the time was, you EARNED it. You deserve to brag about that. If you want to just go out and run circles and have fun and not track your time, also don't care. Brag away, you've earned it!

    But numbers DO tell a story - one that is tangible and holds weight. I can't put in a speed work session and not hit ANY of my paces, then call it successful - because it wasn't. I don't care HOW good I feel, it wasn't a successful run. I didn't meet my goal for that run.

    Saying that *I* run to get faster and I do this work out to improve my speed, it's not a commentary on what anyone else should/shouldn't be doing. My goals are my goals, and have nothing to really do with how other people want to run or how fast they are/aren't.

    Bottom line is - people need to worry less about what other people are up to; need to do things that make them happy; need to make goals for themselves, not to prove things to anyone else; need to accept the responsibility for those goals and reaching them; and feel confident enough in themselves to be excited about their accomplishments and be honest about them. IMO.

    Be honey badger. Honey badger don't give a f**k.

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    1. I'd give some thoughtful reply - but we already talked about it for ages .... and you're not a fasthole. You're just awesome!

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  8. Oh my goodness, I so agree about the time thing. I hate when people just focus on times. I'm slow. I know I'm slow. Let's not dwell on it. While I do love numbers and love tracking distance and time, it's mainly to see my progress. My progress. Am I getting better? Speedier? Running farther? That's what drives me. I remember when you started running and now you have done so many races. I love to read what you are up to! Are you doing PDX R n R?

    http://lawyergirlruns86.blogspot.com

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    1. I WILL be in Portland for RnR... and you??

      This whole thing came to be realized by me - that I have more fun when I'm not worrying about times - when I thought about how I am always asked right away "What was your time?" Not "did you have fun?" or anything like that. I realized my priorities are just different from the work runners -- and that's okay!

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    2. I will be there too! Is there going to be a meet-up at all? I know lots of bloggers will be there.

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  9. I think I am a little bit of both. When I was getting ready for the marathon my main concern was finishing happily and not getting hurt. I accomplished both. But having just run the NYC half last weekend as fast as I could and beating my (slow) goal by 3 minutes, it resparked my excitement for running hard and accomplishing new PRs.
    I am now going back to the basics and working on strength, fitness, etc. so I can run my a** off, literally and figuratively.
    I do agree with Heather 100%.... Live for yourself, your own goals and don't give a f**k what anyone else thinks :)
    If you need any tips on your Boston weekend, let me know!

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    1. Oh man, I'm so Boston ready -- I imagine I'll be filled with questions in the next couple of weeks!

      ... I definitely drift back and forth between both as well, but my happy running place sits with just not caring! I have more fun taking in the sights and talking to animals than pushing so hard I'm crying when I don't hit my random goals.

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  10. This is a great post! I always run for fun. If I set a PR, that's great. If I don't, that's ok too!

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    1. Thanks! :) I'm glad I figured this out - just in this last week even I've started having a lot more FUN!!

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  11. I really liked this post! I agree with you: my favorite races have not been my fastest. They've been the races where I got chills over the experience, such as tearing up on Main Street or finishing 2 half marathons in 2 days. People love to ask me how fast my time was and I'll admit it: I'm slow by most standards. I also find that the people that are the most interested in my times are the people that have never run 13.1 miles. So, yeah, I love the racing experience and all of the cool people I get to meet.

    A friend of mine can barely enjoy a simple 5K without freaking out over her time. We're doing a fun night race in a couple of weeks that's only a 5K and she's actually thinking of dropping out of it because she doesn't want to have a slow time recorded. Mind you, she's way faster than me, but rarely runs. It's kind of sad that it's stressing her out so much she would rather skip a night of fun with her girlfriends.

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    1. Main Street ... I still use that short distance as motivation when it gets tough during a training run. I'm so glad I still have the pixie dust feelings and appreciate all of those little moments during races!

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  12. It should be fun otherwise what's the point?!

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  13. I love everything about this post! And now that I think about it, I think I would feel the same way more. . .as soon as I get faster and can stop worrying about the sag wag. Its getting quite annoying actually. That's the only thing I really worry about during a race.

    And yes, I think about Seattle's race often. It was my favorite race. I had an amazing run just enjoying it and I didn't worry about time until I realized I could PR. . and I did! And of course, the cherry on the cake was getting to meet you, which led to even more fun races. . . see? It's not always about what's on the clock and what happens during the time.

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    1. I don't even remember my Seattle finish time! All I cared about was finishing in time to see Everclear and meeting up with You! Done and done!

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  14. This also explains those funny "cigarettes" you smoke before each race... ;-)

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  15. Beautiful! I love this post!! I would love to do a cartwheel doing a race (I have fantasized about it) but I'm terrified I would hurt myself as I tend to be clumsy. I do focus on my numbers - I guess you'd say I'm competitve with myself. But mainly it is so I can get fast enough that I don't have to worry about not finishing in the alloted time.

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    1. I doubt when Goofy 2013 rolls around I'll be doing any cartwheels .. due to said time allotment, but you never know. Maybe that's how I'll decide to cross the finish line!

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