So it’s Valentine’s Day, and for the most part I try to keep my love life (ha?) off the blog because as entertaining as it is (I’ll buy you a drink and tell you about the men of Manhattan), it’s bad to air dirty laundry. (Which I have tons of because I never do laundry anymore.) Anyway, I will talk about my longest relationship in life to date and share with my tips on making that relationship work because you all want relationship advice from me. Obviously.
In other news, my longest relationship in life has been with running. I’ve been running for about fifteen years, which is a lot compared to some people, and very little compared to others. While I’m no expert on running in general and am more of an expert on what works for me in regards to running, I like to think that I at least know a thing or two that might be helpful to the rest of the world, so I shall share it with you. Because that’s what we do here. So without further ado, here’s how I maintain a healthy relationship with running.
make a commitment
You’re never going to get anywhere in your relationship with running if you don’t make a commitment to it. The beginning of any relationship can be a little bit rocky as you get to know one another, and it’s no easier after taking a break. In fact, I think it’s even harder to get back after a break, even if you’re been running for years. When I was coming back from injury a couple years ago, the soreness I experienced in those first few runs made me realize why people give up on running…it hurts at first! But if you make a commitment to stick out that initial pain, it’s definitely worth it in the long run. (Pun intended, hahah.)
take a break
Contrary to what I just said, sometimes you and running just need a break. In general, I’m not a fan of breaks in relationships, but when it comes to running I think it’s healthy every now and then. After I ran the NYC Marathon, my legs and body were toast. That wrapped up a year long season that included four marathons, two relays, and multiple shorter races included a couple half marathons and a 10k. My body needed a break, so I gave it ten days of no running rest. (I also included a relaxing vacation to LA with the best marathon spectator, so that helped as well.) My body responded and was ready to start running again after that break. It helped recharge and got me excited to tackle the next milestone in our relationship. (Boston 2012, 3:10 or bust.)
give it a rest
Sometimes you don’t necessarily need a full on break from running, but some rest is definitely important. I would probably get annoyed with anyone I spent 24/7 with, so sometimes you need a break from each other. I usually run about five days per week…sometimes four, sometimes six. But five is mostly what I shoot for. Some people have a hard time taking rest days, but I love them. Granted, most of the time they fall on a day when I work a twelve hour shift, but it’s still a rest day. You’ll come back stronger if you let your legs heal a bit.
keep the variety
As much as I love running, I’d probably get bored with it (okay, maybe I wouldn’t, but let’s pretend) if I ran the same route, pace, and distance every single time I laced up my shoes and headed out the door. Mixing up the run each day keeps it interesting and keeps me on my toes. Recovery pace? Long run? Tempo? Fartlek? Intervals? Run a new route, change your pace. Keep those legs guessing.
share with others
You may want to keep running all to yourself, but every now and then I recommend getting out and share it with others. Your relationship with running will grow as you learn from other runners or lean on them for support through a tough workout or a long run. It’s also just a great way to catch up with someone else who also happens to be a relationship with running. The funny part is that while you’re running, you’ll probably talk about everything except that relationship you share, and it’s when you’re out for drinks that you won’t be able to stop chatting about running.
but keep some for yourself
Me…and 50,000 of my closest friends. Close enough.
I do love running with others, but I’ve run many, many solo miles in my fifteen years on the roads, and those are some of the best miles. Whether I’m pushing the pace, zoning out for miles, or solving the problems of the world, those solo runs are healthy. They rid me of stress, they let me think about what’s on my mind, and they let me explore new places. One these runs, it’s just my feet, the road, and whatever floats around in my head.
Some days are going to be better than others. Some days you may think about calling it quits on running. Some days dealing with running is the last thing you want to do. But give it a try. Maybe that tempo run isn’t going to happen today, but a recovery run will flush out the problems that you’re having. Sometimes your body isn’t going to agree with what your mind is telling it to do, and you can either push through it or be flexible and make some compromises.
In addition to compromising, don’t forget to have balance in your relationship with running. It’s never fun when someone you know enters into a relationship and then falls off the face of the Earth. As much as I would like to think running is really going to take me balances, I know it’s never going to pay the bills. Don’t get me wrong, I like to set my own goals and work towards them, but it’s only for my own purposes. I like to keep this in mind when I’m weighing going out one night against a long run in the morning. Or how a cupcake will affect my run in the morning. Live a little, running will forgive you.
give it some TLC
No matter how long you’ve been together, don’t let your relationship with running get stale. I’m guilty of this. I rarely stretch, foam roll, lift weights, or cross train. (Unless you count nursing as cross training, in which case I do that three times per week!) Warm up before a workout. Make sure your shoes are the right ones for your feet. Do yoga if that’s your thing. But take care of that body that allows you to maintain your relationship with running because if you’re anything like me, you’re in it for the long haul.
fuel it properly
The way to my heart is through my stomach, and I think running is the same way. There’s a reason why runners love their carbs and 4:1 protein:carb ratios for post-workout. When you’re running higher mileage and trying to get the most out of your body, you have to feed it properly. I love ice cream as much as the next person (okay, probably a little more), but it’s not going to get me to the finish line as fast as I would like. So healthy meals (with some healthy moderation ice cream as well) and proper hydration it is. Help your body help you and your relationship with running.
don’t forget to celebrate
Remember that your relationship with running is something special and something to be celebrated. Not everyone has what you have. Remind yourself how lucky you are to have such a great relationship with running. So celebrate. It can be a big celebration with a trip to a destination marathon. (My celebration? Big Sur.) It can be a small run with friends. A new pair of shoes. (Running shoes, of course.) Don’t forget that not everyone can do what you do and that not everyone has what you have.
So on Valentine’s Day today, whether you have a main squeeze to celebrate with or not (Gatsby and I will be napping all day, thank you, night shift), celebrate your relationship with running. Remember why you do what you and keep that relationship healthy. As I said before, I’m in it for the long haul and am excited for what is next!
What do you do to keep your relationship with running smooth sailing? It’s okay if it involves chocolate.