Friday, May 30, 2008

Karen

I am 36, married to my wonderful husband for eleven years, with two kids ages 8 and 5. My background is in School Psychology, but I have turned my hobby of photography into a career. When I was thirthythree I started to run.

Why did you take up running?

I took up running so I could run a 5k with my dad. I started seriously exercising when I saw my sister really get herself into shape, and decided that maybe, just maybe, I could train myself to run 6 miles so I could participate in the relay of the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon.

How many hours do you spend on running during the week?

It depends on the training schedule. At peek marathon training it's about 6 or 7 hours and in the off season it's about 2 hours.

Do you walk alone or in a group?

I run by myself, with my husband, and in a group. I trained for my first marathon by myself and felt very much alone on the long runs. At times it is nice to run alone and have your thoughts to yourself. The long runs are just too long to do by yourself. I thoroughly enjoy running with a group - it is a very social event.

What motivates you to go for a run?

Knowing how much better I will feel after the run.

Do you find there's a difference between physical en psychological reasons to go running?

Running makes me feel better both physically and psychologically. The psychological hurdle to get yourself out the door can be a problem. Then, the sometimes physical hurdle while running can be a problem. In the end it is all good.

What does running mean to you?

It has come to mean a great deal to me. It means that I am in shape, and that I have a wonderful network of friends and family to support me in everything I do. I run with many family members, including my father (something I never imagined being able to do). The conversations had during running are like therapy - I don't take that lightly. The close bond we all have developed is something I did not anticipate, but is something I cherish.

Do you see parallels between running and motherhood?

I have a post on my blog about how training for a marathon is like being pregnant and running a marathon is like giving birth. Overall there are many parallels. You have good days and bad days, things that make you smile and warm your heart, and things that frustrate you and make you curse.

Would you recommend running to your child?

Absolutely! My kids love to take my GPS watch and see how fast they can run to the end of the street. While it takes good genes to become a world class runner, anyone can run for fun. There is no real talent involved.

I read you run with your husband. Could you tell us something about that?

I started running before my husband, and it has become something that we enjoy doing together. When I ran my first marathon, he ran half of it with me (the first quarter and the last quarter). I think that gave him the bug to not be outdone by me and he trained for, and ran, the next marathon with me.

When we train, we run together. When we race short distances (10k or less) there is a bit of competitiveness. He can now beat me at those distances, but I still have him in the marathon. I have been nice though, and finished the last two marathons hand-in-hand with him.

What makes you participate in a marathon? What motivates you?

I joined a running group at my gym and the organizer of the group convinced me that I could run a marathon. I thought he was crazy at first. Then, he showed me the training schedule and that I had already done half of the training. Since he was a personal trainer, I figured he knew what he was talking about and decided to give it a try. The motivation I had to run each of my three marathons is difficult to explain. I think it was part the social group runs, the feeling of accomplishment, the work towards a goal, and the way I feel being able to say, "I ran 26.2 miles today".

What does racing mean to you in general?

To me, racing is a giant group run. I'm typically racing against my own time, and I try to not take it too seriously. I like seeing all the different people who come out for a race. It makes me smile knowing that there are other people out there who are in shape (or trying to get there) and enjoy this crazy sport of running.

Are you running for an official prize?

I'm not fast enough to run for any official prize. The prize is in beating my last time, or doing well in my age group.

How do you view your future as a runner?

I just hope that I can continue to run for many years to come. In the near future, I may add speed-work to my training in hopes of some year qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Really, I would just like to continue to improve.

Do you run with music?

When I run alone I run with music. It is amazing what a good song can do for your pace. When I run with a group I never have music - we talk too much, and listening to music seems rude.

What do you think about Paula Radcliffe?

I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I had to look up her name to make sure I was remembering the right person. I think she has been a great motivator for many women and the sport of running. I know there was some controversy about her not finishing a few races, but I am not a world class athlete, and I won't pretend to understand her actions. This is where running is different than many sports. I will never throw a football with an NFL team, I will never bat in a major league baseball game, I will never kick a soccer ball in the world cup. But, I can line up on the same starting line as the elite runners, run the same 26.2 miles, drink the same water, and cross the same finish line. 

Do you have a favourite book about running?

Marathon The Ultimate Training Guide by Hal Higdon. It prepared me for and got me through my first two marathons.

Do you have a favourite brand of running shoes?

Pearl Izumi's Synchro Guide. I had problems with blisters until I found these shoes.

Do you have a message for al the moms out there who are thinking about taking up running?

Do it! Find a group, make it a social event. It is much better for you than sitting at the coffee shop and gives you the same psychological and social benefits.

Want to read more about Karen?

Visit her website and blog

School run

On Thursday morning I take the children to school in my running clothes. It is of course, unfortunate people have to see me in tight lycra, but there you go. I don't trust myself to leave the house again if I go home to change first. Besides they don't call it the 'school run' for nothing, do they?

Every week my son Piets teacher looks me up and down and asks in incredulous tones: 'Are you going out for a run... again?!'
Insert timid nod from me.
'But you're sooo skinny already!' she continues.

I love Thursday mornings.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Going nowhere fast

Today I was riding my bike surrounded by the wonderful sounds and sights of Spring, when I passed a gym. They'd opened the front door, probably to catch some spring inside, and inside I saw a woman struggling on a treadmill.

Pearls of sweat decorated her brow, and there was desperation in her eyes, as she was going nowhere fast. The difference between the beautiful Spring decor outside and the bleak wall she was running towards, couldn't have been bigger.

So I shouted in sympathy: 'I know how you feel! You give it your all, and you're getting nowhere!'
She gave me a bewildered look.
So I added explanatory: 'I'm a Mom!' and I saluted her.

I could tell she really felt strenghtened by our short exchange because she ran away really fast!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Non-runner Nancy

More and more women take up running. Who are these women, and what makes them want to run? From now on: portraits of Running Moms! For our third portrait of running moms, meet Nancy!

Let's see, where to start. I am married to a great guy and have two sweet little boys who love to ask if I'm racing this weekend. They also like to sit on the porch and wait for the latest long run achievement.

I have a doctorate in pharmacy and work for a major pharmaceutical company doing local outcomes research, education, and quality improvement. I have so many things I love to do that I can't possibly do them all - running, camping, gardening, reading, knitting, working out, scrapping and any kind of craft, golfing, cooking, entertaining........ Oh yeah, I'm 40.

How old were you when you started to run?

I ran a very little bit before my first child (enough to do the Komen 5k every year) and more between kids.
After my second about three years ago, I started to run a little more. Just about a year ago, I started running with more consistency. I had a few failed attempts earlier in my life. 

Why did you take up running?

Trying to burn calories!! However, I get hooked on the latest achievement, whether it is a distance or a PR.

How many hours do you spend on running during the week?

Three to four most of the time, although it can easily be more or less depending on what is going on. 

Do you walk alone or in a group?

I run mostly alone but do have a couple of buddies I sometimes meet up with, mostly dependent on our schedules. I get a little nervous about running with people. I think it is a lack of self confidence: will I be able to hang in there? Most people are faster than me so it pushes me to run with others. This can be really good but it also makes me nervous! However, I've had some of my more fun and memorable runs with those two buddies. We talk about everything and anything and encourage each other.
 
What motivates you to go for a run?

Well, several things. I actually teach motivational interviewing, so I could give you some scientific crap, but basically it boils down to what wins out. What do you want bad enough at that moment. Mostly I don't want to lose my base and have to start over, but I do it for exercise and health ( I have a lot of risk in my family ), and because I love to talk about it.

It makes me feel great to tell someone I just did a 10 miler. I particularly like those "you crazy lady" looks you get when you are cracking out miles in a big rain. Keeping a mileage log is simple but it also motivates me. I don't want to look at my numbers later and be disappointed. It's also a great time to enjoy nature and some time to de-stress. I'm not necessarily a great thinker when I run, I don't usually problem-solve, but I do really spend time appreciating what I have been given.

Do you find there's a difference between physical en psychological reasons to go running?

There's certainly a difference in the reasons, but it is all psychological in the end, in that, it depends on what you are thinking about that makes you get out the door. You certainly can reap both psychological and physical benefits.

What does running mean to you?

It's something I do for me and for my health, but it means so much more. I'm very very slow so it is a challenge -- it is something I do because I enjoy it and want to, but it challenges me also. I have never been so bad at something and kept such a positive attitude.

It has become a metaphor for life in that way for me. I can get really down if I try something and it doesn't work. But like a bad run, you figure out what you can learn, you don't beat yourself up and you move on. Failure is information for next time. Despite that I am slow, I feel so much stronger and confident because I run. Running has also introduced me to some really neat people that I would never have met. It's really been a great thing for me on many levels.

Do you see parallels between running and motherhood?

Similar to my last answer, I'm not perfect, maybe not even good much of the time, but I love it, it makes me feel great and I keep learning as I go. 

Would you recommend running to your child?

Absolutely, we actually do some little sprints around the neighborhood now (my kids are 3 and 5 years old) and they love it. They also know that running is part of Mommy's life and love to ask about it. They often ask me if I won my race!

What makes you participate in a marathon?

I tried to do a plan for a full marathon last year but I have major difficulties with my feet. I made it up to 13 miles in training and decided that I could not go up any further, at least until I got some help. I did PT and got some orthotics and completed a half marathon last year. I still have enough difficulties that I'm not sure my feet can handle a full but I do love the half distance. That feeling of accomplishment of such a big goal keeps me going.

What does racing mean to you in general?

Racing is exciting and fun and painful and emotional all wrapped up into one! The main reason I race is because it really helps me to have something on the calendar but it is exciting and addicting too. I went through a period when I didn't have anything and I slacked off. I actually created my own race with other blogger friends to get myself back on track!

Are you running for an official prize?

My prize is usually to finish, to not be last, maybe to improve a time....they are personal prizes. They have to be when you are as slow as I am!!

How do you view your future as a runner?

I hope to keep doing it for a long time and keep improving. Maybe if I do it long enough and the base catches up to my feet, I will do a full marathon.

Do you run with music?

Yes and no. I used to run with it on all my long runs, but then I had a particularly good run without it (mentally) and haven't run with it as much since. I like to enjoy and appreciate everythng around me but music can really get me going sometimes too.

What do you think about Paula Radcliffe?

Mostly jealousy :D

Do you have a favourite book about running?

John Bingham's Courage to Start is definitely my favorite. It is very down-to-earth and practical and he is very much about appreciating and celebrating whatever you can do. I frequently go back to the chapter on racing before a race. I recommend it to everyone, not those that are just starting. I quote (well paraphrase) from it some when encouraging others, too!

Do you have a favourite brand of running shoes?

Brooks. As I said, I have bad feet. I wear supercharged orthotics and Brooks Adrenaline. I've been through numerous fittings and trials, I thought the local place might throw me out. My feet seem to do the best for the moment in Brooks.

You keep a blog about running. Why do you keep a blog?

Blogging has done a lot for me. I've met some really great supportive and helpful people on-line. The blog is such a fun creative outlet for me. But those are all things that happened after I started getting into it more. I started it originally to keep me excited about running and capture my marathon training.

It turned out to mean so much more. I got my moniker from a book about taking non-runners to marathoners. I use the blog to really work on what I discussed earlier about learning from my running and how can I translate it to more positivity and effectiveness in the rest of my life. The book had a great quote which I incorporated into my blog.  

'One of the things that has become clear to us through working with people training for the marathon is that in order to maintain a positive attitude about raining and running, it is necessary to develop a positive attitude about life in general.'

The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer.


People are always saying I shouldn't call myself non-runner but you can see why it has meaning to me.

I saw you organize virtual races! How did you get that idea?

As I mentioned, I needed to have something on the calendar after my half. I started to slack off without a plan and a race. I mentioned to a fellow blogger who was talking about the same thing that we should just create our own. That's how they started. I've done 3 and thoroughly enjoy the planning and creativity behind the theme and logo as well as the run and the race reports. They seem to sort of unite us also, which is a great feeling.

Do you have a message for al the moms out there who are thinking about taking up running?

Running can make you feel stronger and more confident and sets a great example for your kids. You also get some me time which can be pretty important. My husband gave me some great advice about everything I try to do. Don't think of it as juggling, think of it as balancing. Lots of things are important, but to your kids, you and your health are just about number one. YOU CAN DO IT!!

Want to read more about Nancy?

Visit her blog!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

To marathon, or not to marathon. That's the question.

I was sitting at the kitchen table reading the Non-Runners Marathon Trainer, and getting more and more excited.

But this thought kept nagging me: Why? Why would I want to run a marathon. Didn't I read somewhere the human body isn't really made for distances that long?

But I love the psychology that the Non-Runners Marathon Trainer is peppered with: about taking control of your life. As a mom of five children it's sometimes hard to feel in control. You never know when one of them is going to fall down and hit his head or something. Or where the next 'Mommyyyy!!!' is going to come from. I would love to be more in control of my life.

But then there's this other worry: I hate crowds. They make me feel claustrophobic. Then again, a mean little voice inside of me keeps whispering: you won't be in a crowd very long, what with your speed!

So I was just wondering: what motivates you to participate in a marathon? And does it have to be an official marathon? Can't you just run a marathon in silence, all on your own?

Is this a philosophical issue? If you run a marathon and no one is around to see you do it, did you do it?'

Friday, May 23, 2008

Come on down, ease on down the road!

My running shoes are like Dorothy famous red shoes: they get me home, to myself.

But instead of clicking my heels, I have to run with my shoes. And with every step I take I'm getting closer to the person I am when I'm not a mom, wife, daughter or friend.

Granted, I can be a bit of a whiner, but mostly I turn out to be quite good company!

The yellow brick road in the movie symbolises our life's journey: getting to know yourself, and becoming who you are. And that's not all that easy! We all lug our bagage around with us, and that doesn't make our journey any easier.

So while I'm running I try to get rid off as much bagage as possible. Worries about the children? I throw them between some trees. That stupid fight with my husband about missing socks? I get rid om that on the sidewalk. Slowly but surely I find enlightenment.

In my mind I'm running along the yellow brick road of the movie. And even if I'm really running on a very Dutch bicycle path, or a dirt trail, it doesn't matter.

Because they all lead to the same place: home, to me.

Just like your shoes will get you home to you!

So get your shoes on, and follow your own yellow brick road! To get you started, just listen to this song!



Lyrics

Come on And
Ease on down, Ease on down the road
come on, Ease on down, Ease on down the road
don't you carry nothing that might be a load come on, Ease on down Ease on down, down the road

Come on
Ease on down, Ease on down the road(ease on down)
Come on
Ease on down, Ease on down the road(ease on down)
Don't you carry nothing that might be a load
Come on
Ease on down, Ease on down, down the road

Pick your left foot up, when your right foots down
Come on lets keep moving and don't you lose the ground
You just keep on Keepin' on the road that you choose
Don't you give up walking cause you gave up shoes

Ease on down, Ease on down the road (come on)
Ease on down, Ease on down the road
Don't you carry nothing that might be a load
Come on
Ease on down, Ease on down, down the road

Cause there may be times when you think you lost your mind
And the steps you're taking leave you three four steps behind
But the road you're walking might be long sometimes
You just keep on stepping and you'll be just fine (yeah)

Ease on down, Ease on down the road (ease on down)
Ease on down, Ease on down the road (ease on down)
Don't you carry nothing that might be a load
Come on
Ease on down, Ease on down, down the....

For there may be times, when you wish you wasn't born
And you wake one morning just to find your courage gone
but you know that feeling only last a little while
you just stick with us and we show you how to smile (yeah)

Get 'em up, moving down (ease on down the road)
Get 'em up, moving down (ease on down the road)
Get 'em up, moving down(ease on down the road)
Get 'em up Get 'em up (ease on down)

Don't you carry nothing that might be a load
Come on
Ease on down,ease on down the road!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Running companions

I have different kinds of runs. And I don't mean skipping like a child or doing tempo runs, or desperately-crawling-towards-the-finish-line runs. I mean different in the company I keep.

For example, there's my one dollar portable radio companion run. When I do my radio run I always do a lot of arm exercises, because the reception is so terrible.

After my radio run I'm all up to date on the state of the world. When I come home, all sweaty and tired, I say to my hubby in passing: 'Isn't it a terrible thing! Did you hear what happenend in Timbooktoo?!'

Another run is my mp3-player run, which I've loaded up with Country and Western music. And while I'm running about I wonder together with Deana Carter: 'Did I shave my legs for this?!' and I run extra fast when I hear Connie Francis singing: 'Don't come home a drinkin' with loving on your mind!'

And then there's my run with just my thoughts to keep me company. I think those are my best runs, but they're also the hardest, because there's nothing to distract me from the work my body is doing. Besides, as Joey in Friends discovered: 'I thought it'd be great, you know? Have some time alone with my thoughts... turns out, I don't have as many thoughts as you'd think.'

But no matter how different my companions during my runs are, the end result is always the same: I feel a more balanced woman!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Lisa

More and more women take up running. Who are these women, and what makes them want to run? From now on: portraits of Running Moms! For our second portrait of running moms, meet Lisa!

I am a stay at home mom to two little boys (ages 2.5 and 9 months). Before becoming a mom, I was a full time personal trainer and group fitness instructor. 

How old were you when you started to run?

I didn't start running until I got out of college and needed to lose some weight. (too many late nights of beer and pizza!) I've been running for about ten years now.

Why did you take up running?

It was definitely for weight loss purposes. I was looking for a new challenge and signed up for a 5k. Once I ran that, I was hooked and have been ever since.

How many hours do you spend on running during the week?

Not as many as I would like! I'd say anywhere from 3-5 hours, depending on my husband's schedule. 

Do you walk alone or in a group?

For the most part, run alone. I can't really commit to a schedule, so I can't really be part of group. The advantages of running alone is that it is my time to think and work through my problems. I don't have to talk to anyone, which after spending my day with kids is a nice change!

The advantages to group running is that there is a level of accountability. If you know someone is there waiting for you, chances are you are not going to skip that workout. Also, I think people tend to workout harder when they are with a group than when alone. (the peer pressure to keep up, etc.)

What motivates you to go for a run?

Getting away from my kids!! No, I'm just kidding (a little). Running is my therapy so I am primarily motivated by the feeling I have after I run. It helps me relieve stress and recharges my mommy battery.

Do you find there's a difference between physical en psychological reasons to go running?

Definitely. There is a side of me that runs for weight loss or maintenance, but it is much more about how I feel emotionally. I feel strong and confident when I am running. It makes me feel like an athlete!

What does running mean to you?

Therapy! 

Do you see parallels between running and motherhood?

Yes. Running is sometimes difficult and a chore, but it has wonderful rewards and I absolutely love doing it. It is also similar to motherhood in that it challenges you in ways that you never imagined you would be challenged! I never thought I could run a marathon and I never thought I would be a mother. Now, I have done both!

Would you recommend running to your child?

Definitely. In fact, now that my son is older he likes to run with me. We only go a block or two, but he loves it and so do I!  

What makes you participate in a marathon?

I love the feeling of accomplishment----knowing that I can run 26.2 miles makes me feel amazing.

What does racing mean to you in general?

I do it to push myself and for the amazing energy that you can feel at a race.  

Are you running for an official prize?

I wish, but no....I am not that fast!

How do you view your future as a runner?

I'd like to run another marathon soon, but primarily I will stick to the 5 and 10k races.

Do you run with music?

I don't---I really enjoy the sounds around me. When I've run with music I have been too distracted, especially if the wrong song comes on or the batteries die, etc. 

What do you think about Paula Radcliffe?

I think she is amazing and a wonderful example for her own daughter.

Do you have a favourite book about running?

Not really.

Do you have a favourite brand of running shoes?

Definitely Asics!

You keep a blog about running. Why do you keep a blog?

I started it as a hobby but found that I have met a wonderful group of people that I enjoy "talking" with each day.  

Do you have a message for al the moms out there who are thinking about taking up running?

Just do it. You don't have to be fast. You don't have to have the cutest outfit on the block (although having great shoes is a must! get fitted at a running store) You just have to get out there and put one foot in front of the other. It will not be fun at first, but it won't take long before you see results, I promise!

Want to know more about Lisa?

Visit her at her website!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Huh?

Even though I've been running since the birth of my son Ot, seven years ago, I still find it hard to think of myself as a runner.

Because aren't runners those lean and mean people that run about in very small, flappy shorts with matching tops and a number pinned to their chest? And don't runners go really fast? I don't match any of these criteria.

'I hate sports!' I tell friends who know me from way back when, and know my fondness for the couch. And to be sure I add: 'I think sports are stupid!'

And yet I run. For seven years, at least three times a week

It's a lot like being a mom. I've been a mom for twelve years but still I ask myself what lunatic left me in charge of five children and a whole household to run. Because aren't mothers brisk competent women, full of confidence, who know what they're doing?

And yet I mother. For twelve years, at least twentyfour hours a day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Training programs

After successfully completing two myasics training programs for the 10-K I'm roaming the internet for a new training program. Having tasted from the heady combination of motivation and coaching a program offers, I don't want to go back to 'just run for 30 minutes, double over gasping for breath, repeat three times a week'. But it's not that easy to find a suitable training program.

It's not that aren't any programs, but most of them assume the earth was neatly divided into miles and kilometers. And guess what? It's not! Left to my own dubious sense of mileage I'm doomed to fail those programs.

It reminds me of the breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding discussion. 'Oh, it's so pleasant to know how much Baby drank!' the bottlefeeders say.
'If knowing how much Baby drank really mattered, God would have put measuring jugs on your chest!' the breastfeeders shout back.

So, since God obviously doesn't seem to think it's important to know how far I've run I need training programs that use time as a guideline. Thanks to my egg-timer I cán do those!

After searching long and hard I found a training program by my favourite writing runner, John, The Penguin, Bingham.

That will keep me busy for the next ten weeks or so. And after that, who knows?! I may train for the half marathon or something.

After all, just the sky and my mind are the limit!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Kristina Pinto

More and more women take up running. Who are these women, and what makes them want to run? From now on: portraits of Running Moms! First running mom is Kristina Pinto!

Could you tell us something about yourself?

I'm 30 years old, married, and I have one son named Henry who is 3 going on 13. I work in Boston as a researcher in higher education, but I've also worked as a college instructor and editor. We live out in the country north of Boston.

How old were you when you started to run?

I got into running as an adult--I hated running in gym class as a kid because it was always about sprinting, not conserving energy and using it smartly. I started running after college because I had no money and it was a cheap way to get exercise and stay in shape. I started slowly--one mile at a time--and can remember vividly how excited I was to run a whole mile. I used the "one more mailbox" method to increase my mileage by going just a little bit further--one more mailbox--every time I went out.

Why did you take up running?

Mostly because it was really inexpensive, and I wanted to stay in shape, so at first, I wasn't really into running; I just did it as a good way to stay in shape. Running took on much more meaning for me when I went to watch a marathon for the first time. It was so inspiring that I signed up for a 5k (Race for the Cure) and trained for that.

At that point, running became more to me than a fitness choice but I still didn't try longer distances than 3-4 miles for several years. When I made some friends in grad school who were regular everyday women who had run marathons, I was blown away and decided to train for a marathon--after only ever running a 5k and never going further than 5 miles. Kind of a crazy decision, but once I made that commitment to train, I was forever hooked and running is now a central part of who I am.

How many hours do you spend on running during the week?

It depends on if I'm training for a race. When I'm training for a marathon or half-marathon, I'll spend anywhere from 3 1/2 to 5 hours per week running, another half hour total stretching, and maybe 2 hrs on cross-training in a good week. Of course, I spend a lot of additional time thinking and writing about running, too--I'd hate to quantify that time; it would be scary!

Do you walk alone or in a group?

When I do short runs, I tend to run alone, mostly because I do them during the week and need to get them in quickly without driving anywhere to meet someone. I prefer to do long runs with another person or two, since the chatting helps pass the miles.

The benefits of running alone (to me) are time to think about my day, to reflect, and to work on speed if I feel like it. I love having someone to talk to on long runs, though, and when I have to do those alone, they are pretty tough to get through. Being with someone motivates me, keeps my pace steady, and keeps me connected to friends who I don't see often enough. I wouldn't say there are disadvantages to running alone versus running with others, just that they serve different purposes.

What motivates you to go for a run?

Seeing other people running

Mostly seeing other people running, whether I'm watching a race or driving past runners on my way somewhere. It makes me want to get out there. I'm also one of those silly people who is motivated to run when I get new gear; even a new pair of socks will make me want to get out there! I subscribe to Runners World, too, which can make me want to run when I read about someone running in much worse conditions than I ever do, like across the Sahara or in Antarctica.

Races

Races motivate me, too, like when I didn't finish Boston in 2007 due to an ITB injury; I was so driven to finish in 2008 that the race wasn't as hard as I'd expected. And I love Non-Runner Nancy's virtual races for running bloggers; it's all good fun, no pressure, and will get me out there on a seemingly random day to put in a 10k, a 10-miler, or what have you. Having my running blog also means I actually have to run!

I guess a lot motivates me to run, doesn't it? I think you have look for many sources of inspiration or something as methodical as running will get stale.

Do you find there's a difference between physical en psychological reasons to go running?

Absolutely, but I also think that they feed into each other. When I feel stronger physically, my psychological strength improves, and vice versa. I totally believe in a mind-body connection, so that my physical and psychological experiences of running tend to play off each other.

I admit that one of the reasons I run is to stay in good physical shape, but being fit and being attuned to my running also helps my mental clarity and focus and prevents me from obsessing about how I look. The physical and psychological might start out separate but they always flow into each other eventually.

What does running mean to you?

Running lets me fly. Simple as that.

Do you see parallels between running and motherhood?

I think there are definitely parallels between running and motherhood. Both of them require infinite patience to be good at them. And they both wear me out!

Would you recommend running to your child?

Definitely. He runs in little Tot Trots we have around here, and he loves it. I try to instill in him that running is fun--not competitive--and I hope that if he doesn't turn out to be great at sports, he'll have running to turn to. It's so personal that you don't need to feel like you're up against other people all the time. There's no losing in running, and I think it's a great thing for kids to do for that reason. I can't wait til he and I can go for a run together someday.

What makes you participate in a marathon? What motivates you?

So many reasons--but mostly because if I can do this really hard--seemingly impossible--thing, I can withstand a lot of hardship. Marathons have made me tougher, more humble, more centered, and more disciplined. There's nothing like getting to know yourself at mile 22; it's the most raw and exposed I get, and I learn so much about myself in those last miles.

What does racing mean to you in general?

I always say that I'd rather run smart and run well than run fast. That said, I have personal goals I'd like to meet, like most people. So when I race, I'm racing against myself and my past performance, not against other runners. I was never very athletic or good at sports, so I try to avoid competition at races. It just detracts from my joy in the experience. I have so much more fun and fulfillment at a race when I'm not racing other people.

Are you running for an official prize?

No, I'm not in that league of runners, though I'd like to get faster so I can get more miles in with my other commitments to work and family.

How do you view your future as a runner?

I try to stay in the present, or else I risk disappointment because of injury when I can't meet the kind of goals people set for themselves. I'll just keep running until I don't want to do it anymore--which I don't see happening anytime soon--and I'm open to changing my interests from marathons to 5k if that's where I end up. I just try not to pressure myself by setting lofty goals or else the fulfillment I get from running will disappear.

Do you run with music?

I prefer to run with music because I find the rhythm really helps me keep a steady pace. I used to be a dancer in high school and college and I think that has something to do with why I really connect with the rhythm (more than the lyrics or the tune).

When I run with friends, I don't listen to music, and if there's a chance I'll get disqualified from a race for using an iPod, I won't bring it. I ran the Boston Marathon without my iPod and was okay without the music because the crowds are go huge and vocal. But I definitely like to race with it when there aren't many spectators.

What do you think about Paula Radcliffe?

She's one of my biggest inspirations. She's triumphed, and she's failed. I took so much comfort in her DNF when I didn't finish Boston in 2007. She also models what modern women often have to do--seek professional growth while making and raising a family. And I think she did a brilliant job at it; I know her prenatal running was controversial, but I prefer to trust that she was under the watch of a good ob-gyn than judge her decisions.

Do you have a favourite book about running?

Strides by Ben Cheever. The best running memoir I've read (I haven't read too many).

Do you have a favourite brand of running shoes?

Mizuno Wave Nirvana are my favorite--too bad I left my pair at the marathon!

You keep a blog about running. Why do you keep a blog? What does this blog mean to you?

It started as a way to enhance my fundraising for the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (running the Boston Marathon to raise funds for cancer research), to allow my donors to follow my training and fundraising and to spread the word about what a great organization Dana-Farber is. It's evolved into so much more.

It's kept me a writer when I'd dropped that part of my life after finishing grad school, and it's kept me a runner when I don't feel like getting out there. The two forces work together to keep me doing what I love to do: run and write. Just like my running forms a chunk of who I am, I feel my blog does, too. They give me a sense of myself when I feel like my life is limited to making peanut butter sandwiches and doing laundry.

And I hope my readers have gotten something valuable from it, too--like maybe the idea that being a regular person doesn't mean you can't be a runner or you can't run marathons. I was the least athletic child, and now I run marathons. Running is for everyone, and I hope my blog shows that.

Do you have a message for al the moms out there who are thinking about taking up running?

Give it a month, take it slowly, and be patient, and it might just change your life. Never in my teenage mind would I have pictured myself a runner as an adult. It has changed me to my core and in such inexplicable ways. If you give it a month of regular effort, it will be an experiment that will make a difference in who you are.

Learn more about Kristina at her blog: The Marathon Mama

Friday, May 2, 2008

Running is cheaper than therapy!

With all five kids at home, for yet another school break, my nerves are a trifle frayed! This morning when I woke up I just wanted to curl up and hide under the covers.

But since there's no point (kids will always find you!) I did the next best thing: I put on my running shoes told the bickering kids they could watch tv for half an hour, and ran out the door as fast as I could.

Slowly but surely my mind calmed down and I began to feel better. By the end of my run I felt ready for the world, yes even for my kids!

Where would I be without running?

Probably somewhere in the bathroom, crying.