running friends

Getting Back to Running

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I’ve decided I need to get back to running.

running the trails
Me, back of the pack.

I’m an ambivalent runner at best, though I have done a lot of it. When I was training for Spartan Races, I realized that running was my weakest point. So, I signed up for races – for a lot of races. I raced in the winter (on January 2nd). I raced in parks, on trails, up sand dunes, and in apple orchards. I ran 5K, 10Ks, 15Ks, 25Ks, a 16 miler and yes, a trail marathon. By racing I don’t mean that I was coming in first, you understand. I am a total back-of-the-pack runner. Races aren’t always about winning, in fact for 99% of the runners out there, winning isn’t even on their radar.

So why do races? Well, first off, they are fun. There is a great energy at these events. The people that volunteer for the races and the people who run them are awesome. There is a marked course – so you know exactly where you are heading (although I have had friends miss a course marker and add a few miles to their race unintentionally!) After the race there are medals, shirts and more often than not, some sort of themed food and beverage. (I can’t help but notice, a lot of runners seem to be beer drinkers. There are a lot of finishers’ beers at the races I’ve done. And I am the first to admit, a cold beer after a long hot run tastes pretty damn good.)

running friends
A great group of running friends, right here. This was at the Gazelle Fall Classic.

The other reason to race? It puts a date on the calendar that makes me get out and do it. That forces me to train. I am not one of those people that instantly loves running. So, getting the motivation to get up and get outside can be tough. I have to force myself to do it. Having a date on the calendar helps me be motivated – it forces me to practice so I feel confident on race day.

Running the Highland Loops trail race
One of my all-time favorite races. The Highland Loops Trail race. A fantastic race with great people!

If I am going to run, I really prefer trails. The sites and sounds of nature keep my brain happy. Fortunately, here in West Michigan, we have a ton of great running trails and trail races. We also have some paved trails, like the White Pine Trail and Frederick Meijer Trails that are a nice mix of nature with a steady terrain.

I’m an asthmatic, so running isn’t my forte. But if I keep at it, I can hold a fairly steady pace for a long time. Sadly though – I’ve let it go. I was hoping my CrossFit and twice-weekly power walking sessions would keep things up, but after my first run in class the other week, I realized that wasn’t the case. I had a few little physical ailments, but it wasn’t just that. I felt sluggish and out of practice. That’s not a feeling I enjoy.

So, I need to get back to it. I’m not saying everyone has to run, but I realize that with my cardio constraints, running regularly is a very good idea. But, if I had my choice, I would just lift heavy weights and put them over my head! And I do a lot of that. But, I want to feel well rounded. I want to feel like I am taking care of my entire physical fitness, and that means focusing on the weak areas, not just the areas I love.

after my marathon
After running the Yankee Springs Trail Run Marathon

And the main reason to do it is that keeps my lungs working their best. If I build up a good base of running, my lungs increase their capacity. The problem, of course, is starting over. I am a long place from where I was when these photos were taken. Two years ago I didn’t think that much of heading out and doing a quick 5-mile run… last weekend I did a mile and was pretty wiped out after.

So, it is time to get back to running. This blog is mostly about my business Grand Rapids Life. And it’s about food, nutrition, and genetics. But it’s also about me and my journey, and this is part of it. And frankly, I figure if I share it here, I will keep up with it! Every bit of motivation counts – including public declarations of intent.

So, keep an eye here if you are interested in my goals and progress. I’ll keep things updated!

Are you a runner? What motivation do you use to get the shoes on and your butt out the door?

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