Sunday, December 26, 2010

What I learned about running in 2010...

Exactly one year ago, I made the irreversible decision to run across the United States.  MRAA (My Run Across America) was not a spur of the moment brain burp caused by too much Christmas egg-nog.  Nope, the decision to run across the US in 2011 rolled around in my head for weeks before I decided to tell as many people as I could...mostly to make sure I would be embarassed if I changed my mind. 

Over the last 12 months, I have run 3,200 miles in preparation for MRAA.   I learned a lot!  In no particular order, and yes, with my tongue planted firmly in cheek on a few, here is what I learned!

1)  Running can connect you with a whole new crew of positive relationships, people and groups.  I have made connections with literally hundreds of people this year that I would have never been in contact with otherwise.   I have met people on the trail, people in conjunction with charities, people involved in racing and the like.  Very good people!  This has been the best win over the last 12 months. 

2)  The experts are right, you have to increase your miles slowly.  The few times that I crammed in bigger training weeks that were not prefaced with a build up, I paid the price with injuries.  You do really have to ramp up your is not like college test cramming.  You cannot cram it in the night before and not pay the price.  Increase your distance and pace slowly.  Once I figured that out, I have been injury free.

3)  Moonpies taste mighty good at mile 30.  I plan on buying a couple of cases for the run itself.  Moonpies pack 400 calories of bonk killing goodness.  Nutritionist be damned, I am eating them!  (I did try to contact the Moonpie folks in Tennessee to see if they would want some free advertising on my t-shirts etc.  in exchange for keeping me in Moonpies during the answer.  I guess they have used up all of their endurance athlete sponsorship budget this year!)

4)  There are no magic pills or elixirs that can substitute for hard. consistant training.  I have experimented with a wide variety of vitamins and supplements, Apple Cider Vinegar, protein powders, ointments, acupuncture, leeching (okay maybe that is a lie) and food combinations.  All probably helped  and were additive in keeping me on the road...however, nothing I tried gave me super human powers.  To run long?  Run long!

5)  When you set a big goal amazing things happen!  This run has lit a cosmic fuse of sorts.  People have come out of the woodwork to help me. The folks at Newton.  AT at Alone and Unafraid.  Cathy at Freedom is Not Free.  My friends at Charleston Bicycle Company.  Jessica C at Soles4Souls.  John G. giving up hours of his time to help on media work.  Carolyn H at Granicus bringing running clubs together.  I could keep going, but the people and resources that have materialized to help me meet this goal have overwhelmed me.  People I don't even know have offered lodging, meals etc.   Wow!  I am appreciative of everyone that has extended a hand to help or donated to FINF or S4S!

6)  Don't forget Vaseline.  Running long, even in perfectly fitting clothes, rubs your body raw.  Not usually in good places either.  I have come home looking like I have been stabbed in the chest at least 10 times this year because I did not learn this lesson well enough.   Hot shower water hitting raw skin is pretty painful.  I will leave it at that!

7)  Don't judge runners by their size or sex.  I have been chicked dozens of times this year.  I have come to believe that women generally have a higher pain tolerance.   I see more broken down, whining men at tri's and marathons than women.  No kidding. 

Also, I have been passed by some rather large people.  I can run a half marathon in 1:30 or less and can do a marathon in 3:10...yet, someone who looks like they are going for round 8 at the Shoney's buffet has made me eat dust more than a few times.

8)  Listen to your body...but discount what your mind is saying about pain.  Only two times this year was my body damaged enough to not run.   1st, a calf injury, then the stupid minded, testosterone fueled hamstring blow out I caused myself at the San Francisco marathon.   Every other time my body mildly ached, my mind amplified it by 12X.  I have learned to discount anything my brain tells me about pain and really listen to what my body is saying.  The body tells the truth...the brain lies or is a total pansie!

9)  The need for gels, shot bloks and the like during runs is marketing hype.  I regularly do 40-45 mile training runs and don't bring any gels, bloks, gu, etc. etc. .   A good electrolyte drink (I like Cytomax) , trail mix and nutrition bars are all you need.  I thnk gels are short term bumpers...but you cannot run long on gels.  Your body will reject them sooner or later.

10)  Stick with what works...but experiment!  I am pretty routine oriented.  I stick with the same gear, run routes, nutritional products etc. at the core.   However, I have probably conducted 20 experiments this year on myself.  Some worked.  Some did not.  The experiments that did work out (Apple Cider Vinegar for example) are now part of the routine.  Sticking with a core base of routines and products will allow you to really notice if something you experiement with works!  

There you have it.  10 things I learned about running as I hit 3,200 miles in training for MRAA !!!  I hope it helps you!

Find me on FaceBook and Twitter at EdRoshitsh!

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