Friday, October 14, 2011

What's Next

It has been three weeks now since my first half marathon in the Ottawa Army Run. Because I put everything I had into completing that run, I have been dealing with injuries (again). I read that I should expect about a three week recovery period from a half marathon. It has been a long three weeks but I am finally getting back out there and starting to build up my long runs again. I got out to 12K today.

Now that I am running again, I have been planning for my next big race. My plan is to do the half marathon in May at the Ottawa Race Weekend, the 8K Perth Kilt Run in June, the 15K Glen Tay Block race in August, the half marathon Ottawa Army Run in September along with a number of other 5K races. I am also hoping to be ready for a full marathon at some point next year. I haven't really figured out just what race that will be.

As look over this list, at least to me, it looks like a pretty ambitious plan. But the reality of it is I have about six months of training before the Ottawa Race Weekend. (I am even playing with the idea of doing the full marathon then.) This should be lots of time to bring my training along and get myself into a better condition. I hope to cut way down on the number of injuries I have been dealing with this year.

Being forced to slow down has given me the opportunity to look at running from a different perspective. So far for me, running has been a battle, maybe even more like a war. Every time I have gone out for a run, even on what is supposed to be my gentle runs, I have focused only on the running and on myself. I am either concentrating on trying to improve my form or I am battling with my electronic running partner on my Garmin Forerunner. I am not saying that this is bad. For me, I need this. It’s all part of the challenge. To strive to get better. But I keep reading about another side of running.

This is when people go out just for the pleasure of it. Just to be out in the great outdoors and enjoy the day and their surroundings. I have tried this a couple of times but I have always very quickly slipped back into warrior mode. I just couldn’t relax into the idea of running for pleasure. The whole thing seems kind of weird to me anyway. Now however, I have once again been forced to scale back. My challenge is to not push too hard.

I think because I’m so late in life getting into a fitness frame of mind, I’ve been trying to make up for lost time. This feeling of being late is always in the back of my mind. This also goes not just for my running but my karate as well. One of the things I hear fairly often is that I need to relax, move more smoothly and breathe.

On my last 12K run, I decided that this was what I was going to do. I could only run for a half kilometer and then walk the next half during this run, so why not just try and relax into it and be more aware of my surroundings. Give the warrior a day off.

I started off fairly early in the morning. I had my iPod set to play a collection of soothing New Age type of music. The morning air was cool. The sun was up but the shadows were still long. As I started down the gravel road it wasn’t long until I found myself slipping into that warrior mode. I needed to change things up a bit more so I turned off the music. Now, all I could hear was the crunch of the gravel under my shoes. I listened to this for a bit and then I noticed the songbirds singing away. The whole thing was starting to feel quite pleasant.

The timer on my Garmin went off telling me it was time for my next running interval. I had to struggle a bit with the warrior again, trying not to lose that bit of peacefulness I was just starting to feel. I came down hill and made my turn onto the paved road. The sun was still partly below the tree tops and the road was still damp from the morning dew. It looked like a long, twisting black ribbon stretching out across the countryside. The sun would wink through the gaps in the trees as I progressed down the road. As I looked up the road, I could see a deer casually crossing from one side to the other. It stopped for moment to watch my approach and then continued on its way. The whole thing seemed like it was out of a painting. I really did begin to feel a bit more comfortable with just being out there. No racing, nothing to prove, just enjoying the day. How foreign that was.

Yes, I am late to realizing the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. Yes, I am a bit driven because of this. And yes, I do need to sometimes slow down in order to realize all of the benefits of this new way of living. And I think I can do it. Or at least I think I have an idea as to how to do it.

But right now, I have a heavy bag I need to see if I can kick a hole in and a race to train for!

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