Monday, May 13, 2013

A New Beginning

         It is very exciting to start a new training cycle and set new goals. I will be working with my new coach Brett Schumacher. Before I look ahead into the future it is important to reflect upon my experiences of the past and what I have learned.  
       I improved myself as a runner by understanding what I need.  I use to obsess about missing a key workout. You may know the feeling, if I did not do or hit all the times and paces in the training plan then I felt I would not reach my goal. I thought I would be missing a very important piece and therefore the training would be ruined and I would not reach my goal. I now understand that even if you do every workout and hit your times it may not matter if you disregard or try to “train though” an injury that keeps you from toeing the start line of your goal race. After all, if you do not make it to the starting line then training will not matter. My former coach taught me that I could run fewer miles over an abbreviated training period and still hit my marathon goal time. 
       I have also learned that treating my warm up and cool down exercises as optional is very counter-productive. I now know that these exercises/drills that are specific to physical imbalances and weaknesses are very important. They will help keep you injury free and running stronger and faster. Pre- and post-workout drills help keep your form in check and body strong.    
       Finally, body awareness during workouts and races can help you improve both!  Yep, being aware of what is happening with your body during a race can improve your efficiency and your time. Is your chin down? Are your glutes engaged? Are your shoulders up or down, are your arms up around your chest or swinging freely?  Is your jaw relaxed and breathing controlled? All of these things help your body move together and flow more efficiently, which saves energy.    
      After all that I've learned, you might wonder why I have decided change coaches? Communication and coaching experience are the two main reasons. Since I was the first person he has ever coached I felt I needed a person with experience coaching.  He has helped me out more with his chiropractic knowledge than as a coach. The second issue was his growing lack of communication with me.  He was just not explaining what he needed in order to coach me and rather than speaking up he decided to spend less effort on my training plans. So, I decided to move in another direction.
      Now, after a little time off to reflect on my situation, I have solidified my new goals – running a sub-2:43:00 marathon and participating in the Olympic Trials – and  I have turned to Brett to help me achieve them. With my eyes on these big goals I know I must take my training to a new level. I am excited to be working with Brett and for him to help me make my weaknesses my strengths.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The surprising ways of kids…


     I have three children, a daughter and two sons. The sports in which they participate have always been their decisions with the only requirement being that they finish what they begin.  Between all three they have been involved in soccer, swimming, dance, golf, baseball, karate and basketball. Running has never been brought up by any of them as a sport of interest. My daughter would say, "Running is your thing mom, I like swimming." I was cool with that and respected her view. (The only 5K races my kids were ever in was when my husband and I would push them in the baby joggers. I guess they do not remember that!) 
     As my children went back to school last fall my daughter, an 8th grader, announced that she would like to be on the cross-country team. I tried to stay calm as the excitement inside me wanted to burst out. I asked her if she was sure she wanted to do this. She said, “Yes.” Later that day my son, a 6th grader, said that he, too, wanted to give cross-country a try! (Heart be still!) I guess my free choice and not pushing my kids into the sports I like paid off. 
     Cross-country was so much fun to watch. I never ran cross-country so this was a new experience for me. When I watched the meets I would sometimes hide behind a tree so I could cheer quietly as I watched the competition. I would watch my kids running form and would try to figure out if they went out too fast. I would wait and watch to see if they were going to make their big move and pass the person in front of them. I was more nervous and excited than as if I was going to race. I LOVED it.
     The hardest part was after the races. I wanted to support them but not act like their coach. I knew I had hated it when my dad would correct me after my tennis matches. I was just happy they were interested and running. I did not want to ruin a fun thing. I was able to share with them how to keep track of their times and see how each of them can feel a sense of accomplishment when you improved. 
      The last meet of the season will always be a special to me. It was hot and my son had finished his race. He was happy and he ran his last race the fastest of the season. As I was talking with the other parents, I looked and I saw my son running across the field. I was wondering what he was doing. He was running toward his friend who was walking and limping a little.  He friend was last and his head was down and he was walking. It looked like Tyler was giving him a talk. He had his hand on his friend’s shoulder. The next time I looked up he was running with Tyler and smiling as they ran around the corner. Tyler stopped at the final stretch and told his friend to sprint it in and he did. I saw my son jumping up and down as he yelled RUN FAST!!! I was in tears. I could not believe it. Was this really my son? That was one of the proudest moments I have of my son. That night he received a call from the parent of the boy my son ran in. She called to thank him for being a good friend. 
     The season ended and my son said he does not want to run cross-country again next year. He wants to try volleyball!
     My daughter joined the track team this spring and has really enjoyed it. She has asked me if she can do a running camp this summer. Now, as she starts high school, she wants to do swimming in the fall and track in the spring. When I was watching a track meet a few weeks ago I was cheering for the girls in a 400-meter race. One of the parents asked me if that was my daughter running. I said. “No, I just really enjoy watching runners compete.” (They must think I am nuts!)
    I am so happy my kids gave running a try. I did not start long distance running till 5 years ago. I have learned that you can start running at any point in your life.