Saturday, March 30, 2013

Racing during “That Time Of The Month”


OK ladies; let's get this topic out in the open. You all know, our “monthly friend,” the “unwanted guest”, our periods.
     I hope this post encourages you to share your experiences and share how you deal with this dreaded time of month.
     For some reason, “it” seems to always happen when you have an important race or event. Consequently, before every one of my races I usually have a discussion with myself that goes something like this:  “How many days has it been? 28? 30?”  “Will I get it the day of the race?” “If I get it two days before what am I going to do?”
     Personally, I have had two very embarrassing moments in the marathon. Both of them have to do with my period. In one instance the picture of me finishing the Kiawah marathon not only shows a woman in pain but also a woman in a rush to get to a bathroom. The night before the marathon I was having stomach cramps to the point of having to lie down in bed. I contacted my coach and told him I was not sure I would be able to run in the morning. I was very worried. As the evening continued the cramps got better but not 100%. I woke up in the morning and my period had arrived. “CRAP!!!!!” I was so upset. The good thing was that I was prepared and brought some heavy-duty tampons with me. I knew it was going to be flowing so I just hoped the heavy-duty tampons would last till the end of the marathon. I was OK until about mile 18. As I wrote in an earlier post, mile 18 was when I stopped running and was going to give up. With the heat and sweating I felt like the tampon might not be enough. For us older athletes who have had kids let’s just say things do not always stay in place. As I finished the marathon I looked down and I could see blood between my legs. Since I won the marathon, the media was trying to interview me but I told them I did not feel well. But that wasn’t the end of my travails since the house I was staying at was about 1.5 miles away so I started walking with Liz who I was staying with. I only made it half way back to the house when I knew I could not go any longer. I was so miserable. I just wanted to get to a bathroom and take a shower. Knowing my predicament, Liz went back to the house to get the car while I waited and she drove me back. I was so happy after I got all cleaned up. What a day.
     Over the years I have noticed some patterns with my period and running. I feel I run my best when it is about 5 days before my period begins and I run my worse about 3-5 days after it starts. How I run and how I feel are totally different. Before:  I feel bloated, heavy, tired and have cramps 5 days out. After my period I feel lighter and not as cranky. When I do have to run a marathon during it I have found that the Tampax Super Sport work the best for me. If you have found tampon that is better, please share your thoughts with us.     One of the best articles I have found is the link below that describes how your cycles affect your running and what is happening.  

    So, now that I’ve opened the conversation about the special situations we women face running and racing during our periods; what are your experiences and how have you handled the situations?  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Challenges Of An Amateur Athlete

 BUZZZZZ!  4:30 a.m. My alarm goes off and my day begins. I meet my running group for the morning workout. Workout completed, I am usually back home before 7 a.m. as my husband is walking out the door to work. As I walk in the door my three kids awake and their morning routines have started. I hear all of them talking to me:  “What's for breakfast?”  “I can't find anything to wear!”   I proceed to take the dog out, unload dishwasher, get backpacks ready, and attend to anything else that comes up. At 8 a.m. my two Jr. High kids are out the door walking to school. I now have 40min to take my shower and get ready for the day. At 8:40 a.m. I drive my third grader to school. Returning to the house, I finish another cup of coffee before heading to work at 9:40. From 10 a.m.-3:20 p.m. I manage a local running store. At 3:20 p.m. I drive back to my son's school to pick him up. At 3:45 p.m. I transform into “Bus Driver Mom,” driving to that day’s after school activities; karate, swimming or basketball. Two evenings a week I work at a tutoring agency. At 6 p.m. my husband comes home. Then in the half an hour after the activities have finished we sit down and have dinner as a family. The rest of the evening is usually spent helping my third grader with his homework. We end the day with 25min of reading together.  It is 9 p.m. and all of us usually go to bed at the same time because we are all tired.  Whew!
     Trying to be a competitive runner with big goals almost seems impossible with a husband, three kids and a job. Not only are there time constraints but also the expenses. The costs of race entries, travel, shoes, massages, and nutrition really add up.  
      I do wonder what it would be like if I had all the extras the elites have at the camps they go to. What would it be like to just focus on running? How much would I improve?  They have a team of people that support them financially and overall.  Think of it, to wake up and have your coach at the workouts, someone riding the bike next to you with your fluids and nutrition. Then after the run to have the massages, strength coaches, nutrition advisors and everything you need available.
     Last year when I was training for the Chicago Marathon I was able to get a little hint of what it would be like to have a few extras. Since my coach is also a local chiropractor I was able to have training and workouts not just to make me faster but also injury free. He was able to see me at the track and notice how I felt and observe my running form. It made a world of difference.
     In the back of my mind I always wonder what potential I could reach if I did not have all the other responsibilities of being a mom; if I could train hard and not have to become “Bus Driver Mom” after my workout, and be able to put my feet up and take naps in the middle of the day. 
     Keeping everything in balance is hard. I know everything is not always the way it appears. I know that on the flipside the elite athletes give up a lot. They are not able to spend the time I do with my family and the women elites usually do not have kids and if they do they have to take time off. Their running is their job and maybe if it were to become a job it might not be as enjoyable.
    All of us can play the “what if” game and wonder what things could be like. I try to have the mindset that my daily juggling routine helps to make me a more competitive runner and a more complete person. I love being a mom and I would not trade that for anything. The other day, my son asked me if he could bring the Chicago Athlete magazine to karate to show his teacher and friends. I asked why and he said "Mom you are on the cover of the magazine, you are famous and fast!" The fact that my son is proud of his Mom is the stuff that matters the most.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Are You Coachable?

You are marathon training and out for the 12-mile run scheduled by your coach. It is a beautiful day, your friends are running 20 miles and urging you to continue with them. Peer pressure isn’t just for teenagers!  So, do you abandon your coach’s plan and run the 20 miles with them?
    Or, your running group starts out the workout at a faster than prescribed pace.  So instead of running 8:30 pace you see 7:30 on your Garmin! Do you slow down?
    In a magazine, you read a 5K track workout that says will help you run faster. Do you change your weekly coach prescribed track workout and do the one that is in the magazine?
     When working with a coach and deciding to be coached you really need to ask yourself, “Am I coachable?”  Will you follow the plan that you agreed to with your coach? You need to decide in fairness to yourself and your coach.  After all, if you consistently rearrange the coach’s plan, how will you know if the plan is working if you do not follow it? What is the purpose of having a coach if you do not work together to create a plan that you can follow to reach your goal? So trusting and following the plan are big parts of being coachable.
     Another facet of coachability is being open to learning and new ideas. If you think you know it all or only want to do things a certain way you will not learn from your coach. Sure, it is OK to ask questions and try and understand but it is not OK to doubt. You need to have full confidence in your coach and the agreed upon plan. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, your mind is very powerful so if you doubt your workouts your performance will suffer and so will your training. 
     Communicate with your coach and be honest. All of us want to tell our coach we hit our pace or that workout felt good. This cannot happen all the time. You are not a bad runner or failure because you had a sub par workout. If you are feeling sore, feel an injury coming on or if you just did not hit the workout-prescribed times, you need to have a thorough and honest debrief with your coach. All the feedback and information you can provide will only strengthen the plan and relationship you are building. The stronger your athlete/coach relationship is the more likely you will see success in your running and accomplishing your goals. A good coach will use your feedback to adjust your training plan to keep you on track to be successful without overtaxing your body.  
     When it comes to athletic training, patience really is a virtue and good things will come to those who resist looking for a quick fix.  Don’t get annoyed if you don’t think things are happening fast enough.
    I am afraid that patience is not one of my virtues and I am constantly working to remain patient and understand that even minute improvements in my performance take time.  Don’t expect one workout to bring instant results.  Remember, you and your coach are in it together for the long haul.  Trust, respect and communication between athletes and coaches are what lead to successful performances.

"Progress is rarely a straight line. There are always bumps in the road, but you can make the choice to keep looking ahead." 
Kara Goucher