The Run Happy Formula

With my yogic river guide out of town (no Saturday yoga for me), I took the opportunity to hit the open road after a month of being sidelined by too much stress and a nagging quadracept injury. Luckily for me, the formula for a happy run was in place.

Here are the components, for which (even hours later) I find myself grateful:

1. Running in the cold (this morning’s thermometer hovered around 37 degrees) allows the lungs to fill with crisp fresh air. To say I felt more alive than I have since March isn’t dramatics. It’s the truth.

2. The right gear is essential for cold-weather running, because freezing is never any fun. I left the house wearing my thick, lined running pants, a long-sleeve shirt and jacket, and a headband to cover and protect my ears from the wind.

3. Going slowly, though not walking, there is no hurry and no pressure. As I amp up the winter running, I’m sure I’ll hop back over to the Galloway method, but my favorite way to run is at an easy pace, for as long as I like. Today’s four miles felt right; authentic, focused, strong.

3. Wearing ear pods is controversial. Galloway doesn’t allow it. People say it is dangerous. But the beauty of having music in your ears is that you not only hear, but feel. Choosing the iPod shuffle-option is like an extra step toward total surrender. The last song as I rounded home was James Blunt’s, Best Laid Plans. The man is a poet, and his words made my heart grow wider.

4. A familiar loop doesn’t hurt when you’re busy following your nose. There’s no chance in getting lost and you’re close enough to home if you need to call it quits (earlier than anticipated).

5. A good run always prompts thoughts of the next race. Maybe it’s the endorphins at work, but I’m thinking that the timing is right to train for March’s Tobacco Road Marathon (or at least the half).

A happy run is the foundation for my happy life.

What’s your formula for a happy run?

M.

P.S. I questioned whether to publish this ‘happy post” as it’s a disappointing time for many running friends unable to race New York; monumentally more difficult for the people trying to recover from Sandy’s destruction. New York and it’s people have lived in my heart since I left almost twelve years ago. I wish I was closer to physically help …

Hard Work Pays Dividends

I was so anxious to get out there and play by the rules for Saturday’s big run that I didn’t check the weather before I left.  It was cold (40) and windy! I was not prepared. I would have been fine had I dressed properly, but my short sleeve Run Swiftly under my long sleeve race shirt wasn’t enough.

My weather checking habit had thus far ensured that I’d been properly dressed for 99.9% of my running excursions, so I chalked up the experience (of a freezing cold run) as another lesson learned. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the things we already know.

My attempt to slow down was another needed reminder. I was on the road for 3 hours and 12 minutes for a 13.1 mile run. It was much too long for the mileage, but I did notice that I felt much better and stronger for miles 9-13. I think it’s probably true that slowing down has benefits, but the first 10 miles of my run were so boring! I spent a lot of that time cursing the cold, smiling with eyes closed to feel the sun when it decided to poke through, and contemplating the possibility that books on tape might help this whole process. I haven’t had time to read an actual book since the Twilight series in the Summer of 2008. Have you ever heard anything so sad?

One tidbit regarding the slow long run that no one offered up is that despite the turtley pace, your body will still hurt. This makes sense, because anything you do for 3 hours straight is going to cause pain. I still felt my right hip flexor flare and my outer big toes were swollen and tender once my sneakers came off. No matter the speed, distance running is hard work.

At the library this week I checked out one of Hal Higdon’s running books, Running after 40. I was able to read a bit of the chapter on training and it hit home the lesson that consistency is key. I do believe that I’m being consistent with my training, so I’m going to continue to hold out hope that the end result will be accomplishing the 26.2 monster.

Consistency in other areas is proving more difficult and much of my normal schedule has been thrown off.

Both of my kids have been sick since Thursday. Most moms give Benadryl and Ibuprofen to their sickies, and maybe a lesson on proper nose blowing (close your mouth and pretend to blow out a birthday candle with your nose).

For me, since my sweet Sophie has asthma, it also entails a lot of nebulizer treatments and wincing at the sound of wretched coughing fits.

In the Fall, we had our girl tested for allergies in the hope that we could get the asthma to take a hiatus. Besides multiple daily injection for the next few years (yes, years), we decided that the way we are managing is the best for her. I can’t imagine the trauma of multiple daily shots for a child. It was hard enough for me when going through IVF and that was only temporary and I was an adult who would have done anything for my babies.

The fact that I haven’t slept a full night since Thursday is fine. Last night at bedtime, when the coughing was so bad, I curled up next to my daughter and held the ducky mask to her face while she slept.  Her hands were holding tight to her woobies that had just been given a bath to remove the throw up smell from last nights overpowering coughing attack. I snuggled in close and waited 45 minutes for the medicine to be all used up and for her breathing to look less labored. I occasionally rolled over to peek at Grace who is used to sleeping through the deafening sound of the nebulizers’ motor.

Most of this week I’ve felt like a human fly strip, except instead of catching flies, I am catching germs (visualizing which ones are sticking). Coughs and sneezes have been hurled at me from close range. Dripping noses (and fingers that have been in those noses) have been wiped on me. Motherhood is a dirty, dirty job.

When Sophie woke up coughing at 4:30 this morning, my nurse mom reflexes went through the motions. I disassembled the ducky mask to fill the plastic port with the albuterol and pulmocort. It was completely dark, but I’ve gotten really good and really fast (even without light). Sophie’s neck rested on my left bicep and I wrapped my forearm around her face so my hand could hold the mask, flush against her nose. She was awake, but peaceful and calm once situated and the medicine was misting. Grace’s little feet were squeezed in the small of my back for warmth and she snuggled up to my right side, still asleep. I lay there with my body contorted, tilted on my side from those small feet, with my left arm starting to go numb.

By the time the medicine was finished and the cough had ceased, sickie and I stayed in bed for a minute more with the noise of the nebulizer turned off.

Sophie turned her head to look me in the eyes and said, “I have to give you something.”

She leaned in to kiss my cheek with a tiny but determined smack; then the other cheek, my nose and finally my forehead.

I asked her if she “did that” because I was taking care of her or because she loves me.

She said it was because she loves me.

I might not bring home a big paycheck for the work I do, but I am paid in a different kind of currency that yields big dividends.

Don’t tell Brian, but I may never go back to work.