Some people tend to think that running is harder than it should be because we do not see its immediate benefits objectively. It takes a lot of work to reach the point when you realize that you are able to maintain your weight, modify your lifestyle, and know more about running. But there is something that motivates us to run until we reach that level of commitment, what is that thing?
Is it the post-race meal? Is it the selfie that we take after each run? or it is the fantasy of winning a race, or it is a mix of all of these. Personally, it is the feeling that I enjoy after each workout that drives me to run on a regular basis. It is about how we feel and not how we look.
Three weeks to go and a few miles to add to my training plan. During my training, I felt some soreness in my left knee which was not bad, however, I did not want to make it worse. After consulting with friends and searching online, I believed that the ideal thing to do was to make sure that I was using the right shoes that could support my feet and knees. I went to a specialized running store and the staff did a foot scan which was fancy, but I got to explore the dark side of my feet. The result was that my feet were not equal in length and their arch heights were not even remotely close. The running expert recommended me new brand shoes that I had never known before with a size of 11.5, could you believe that? All my shoes were between 9.5 and 10.5 in size and the new recommendation was beyond my rational expectation. Honestly, I put them on and I fell in love immediately once I stood up, maybe because they were new or just the bright red color. Additionally, I bought a few of calorie gels (the caffeinated ones) that would replenish my energy stores. I gave my self one week of rest to allow the left knee to recover, and to be mentally prepared for the next workout.
The night before the 22nd of October, I decided that tomorrow would be the day that I would hit the 20-mile limit. I woke up at 6:00 AM, got my food supplies in my running pack and put on my running gear, and took off with no hesitation. It was still dark and little chilly, but it felt just perfect for me. I started running slowly to preserve some energy for the final miles and increased my pace gradually as I could, and I used one of the calories gels every 45 minutes to fuel my muscles. Everything went smoothly; with the comfort of the new shoes and knee-pain free, I was able to surpass the 18th mile with excitement, but still, I had two more miles to go. I pushed a little harder believing that this would be my best chance to hit my goal. Within my sight, I saw a banner that said, “Congratulations, this is the finish line,” which must have been for another race. These few words created a mental image of me reaching the finish line in the Richmond Marathon, and I believe this triggered the runner’s high which alleviated all my discomfort and boosted my energy. The high level of the natural endorphins helped me running until I reached the 20th mile, which was my goal for that run.
I sympathized with my father who became unemployed because of his sickness, and I felt the same way for my mother who worked a second job and stayed late for many nights. But I cannot sympathize with myself that I should tame and move it the way I want.
I do not want sympathy to be a reason for me to fail. Do not tell me you are sorry for my pain or struggle; tell me that I can do it and you will see a beast comes out of me.
Running is mainly associated with knee injuries if precautions are not taken into consideration. There are certain steps that I follow to avoid such injuries. First, I pick the right shoes for me to reduce the impact on my knees and other joints, and I make sure that I land on the balls of my feet during a run, which helps to distribute the shock appropriately.
Moreover, I stretch before (warm-up) and after (to avoid adhesion-related injuries) a run and I gradually increase my distance over time. I believe that running is a lifestyle and this takes time to become a reality. During that time, I need to pay special attention to my knees and to my body as a whole.
In order to adopt a healthier behavior such as running, we should go through “stages of change,” which is a part of Transtheoretical model for behavioral change.
The stages of change are:
1- Precontemplation: We are not even thinking about a change in our behavior.
Me: I will never run.
2- Contemplation: We will make a change in our behavior within the next six months.
Me: Ah, I may run in the next six months.
3- Preparation: We will take a step within a month.
Me: I will try to run this month but I do not know when and where. Do not push for it.
4- Action: We are adopting a change.
Me: See, I am running. It feels good!
5- Maintenance: We are maintaining our new behavior for six months now.
Me: I love running! I will do another 5k soon.
Long story short, I needed a lot of time to make running part of my life and free from shock-related injuries.
Running helps me to become a mentally-agile person but Krav Maga makes me physically agile.
Krav Maga is a self-defense art that I train to be agile for the unknown and also gain the strength for running.
Conversation?! What kind of conversation am I looking for? I cannot have a regular conversation with family or friends without becoming irritated. For no apparent reason, our tension is high and our tolerance toward others is low. Why is that? A better way to avoid painful conversations is to keep a distance from almost everyone and look for a new outlet, so I have chosen running as a unique way to have a decent conversation with myself with no personal insults.
Today is the end of 2017 which brings an end to my running challenge, “You VS the Year 2017,” which is sponsored by Under Armor (UA). I completed this challenge with the excitement of finishing 902 kilometers of running throughout 2017. This is almost three times what I ran last year for the same challenge. “You VS the Year 2017” has nine incremental goals of hitting certain kilometers: 1 km, 21 km, 42 km, 100 km, and 300 km. Then, it increases every 200 km until the end aim of 1017 km. You get a badge every time you achieve any of the above goals.
I signed up for this challenge on January 11th, 2017 and recorded my runs sporadically because I did not think that I would achieve these three-digit goals. I reached the 300 km goal on June 4th, 2017 when I ran my first half-marathon. It took me six months to reach the 300 km goal, and from nowhere, my obsession with this challenge began. I started recording every run, whether short or long, as long as I met the challenge requirement of at least 20 minutes. This approach has progressed well as I have noticed that I earn a new badge every two months – two hundred kilometers every two months until December 30th, when I surpassed my 900-kilometer goal.
I have taken a major leap toward adopting a healthful lifestyle in the past few years. I can say that I am an active person generally but I do not stick to a healthy diet for longer periods of time. Maintaining a healthy diet is hard for me because of my major weakness: I love food. Eating is one of my coping mechanisms for stress; I wish that I were the kind of person who does not eat during stressful times.
Running definitely helps me to unwind and keeps me in a good spirit, but it also gives the opportunity to enjoy having a little extra of the food I love. In March 2017, I had a routine doctor’s visit and I got to know that my cholesterol numbers were off the charts. However, my overall risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) was minimal because my good cholesterol was high, but still, the abnormal numbers freaked me out! I decided to watch my diet while keeping running as my preferred method of exercising. In a few months, after cutting down on my drinking and smoking, my cholesterol numbers dropped dramatically; most of these numbers were almost normal, which motivated me more to maintain my healthy lifestyle… until the holidays. Holidays and peer pressure have had a great influence on breaking some of my healthy eating rules lately.
I will not have any resolutions for 2018 because I know that I will change my goals as I go through 2018 based on emerging circumstances, but I will join “You VS the Year 2018” for sure to see how far I can go in the year to come.