Tag Archives: endurance sports

Running to celebrate; not punish.

It’s been two years since I’ve done any races. It’s been two years since Chicago Marathon.

Until today.

Initially I wanted to give myself one year. One year without any big races. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but something just wasn’t sitting right with me.

Like I was starting to use the races as an excuse to exercise, excessively. Yes – each race taught me something invaluable about myself and how to approach life, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

But it was after Chicago that I felt something twinge. I felt like something needed shifting. I wasn’t totally sure what it was. But I knew I needed to take a step back.

I knew that – while I was nearly 10 years in recovery from my eating disorder – some old habits were coming back to haunt me.

My old habits were (not so) thinly disguised in my love affair with endurance races: anything from a 10K to an Ironman and everything in between.

Shortly after letting go of my desire to click “Register” on anything and everything my wallet could endure, it dawned on me what I wanted:

I wanted to run/bike/swim/move again with a different approach.

I wanted to be able to run a race not so I could eat an extra piece of pizza (or pizza all week).

I wanted to run a race to celebrate my body and celebrate life.

Last night just before bed I was walking Daisy and on the phone with my friend Emily who decided to join us and go up to New Haven to run the Half Marathon. I decided then that I’d run the 5k the next morning. Simple, short, and sweet.

I had no expectations. I had a pretty good feeling I’d finish. And – bonus – I got to spend the morning with some pretty swell people I love.

In my imagination I saw my “coming out” {of race retirement} race as a big to do. At the very least a half marathon or an Olympic distance triathlon that I’d spend months training for (and probably blogging about in anticipation).

I joked to Emily when I agreed to doing the 5k that it would be my coming out of retirement race.

But what I felt this morning, running the 3.1 miles, far exceeded my wildest dreams.

I realized that over these last two years I have finely curated or crafted (can I even say that?) a fresh, lovely, deep-hearted, spirited, compassionate relationship to movement. In this instance to movement of the more intense variety like running.

The 5k hurt at times. I listened to Daft Punk the entire time because a) I love them and b) I wanted to and c) figured I could use all the help I could get being that I haven’t been running much. At all.

It also felt wonderful. I let myself run at a challenging (but not too challenging!!) pace. I knew right there that I had done it.

It was in the time that had passed since Chicago Marathon 2015 that my relationship with exercise has gone through a massive overhaul. And I can say the same about my relationship to my body.

I didn’t want to return to a race until I felt really ready. Until I knew that it was for pure fun. Until I knew it was to remind myself of my strengths and all that I am capable of. Until I knew that it was to celebrate my body and the life I get to live.

Whether the choice was conscious or not, something in me knew it. Today was the day.

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Where am I? Why am I here?

Someone asked me what they should do about nerves for their upcoming first NYC Triathlon this weekend. Should they have a drink? Is there a magic pill they can take before the race? It made me think about what helps me when I get nervous before a race. It reminded me to listen to my own advice!

Here’s what I told him:

This is really where the mental aspect of triathlon and all endurance sports comes into play. Yes a drink or a supplement can help calm us down but what it really comes down to is finding a place of calm within ourselves. Especially amongst the external noises and distractions. Whether it’s by taking 5-10 deep breaths, by reminding ourselves “I can do this”, or visualizing a positive race experience.

You go through a kaleidoscope of emotions the days leading up to race day and of course the hours and minutes leading up to the start of the race. And I’m sure you are familiar with this already. The fear and the nerves are healthy and provide you with an extra burst of energy. But it’s also helpful to divert your mind away from the nerves. Imagine the crowds, the course, the feelings you will encounter along the way. It might feel like the hardest thing in the world at certain parts and at other times you will feel elated.

The first year I did NYC Tri was my first year doing triathlons and I was terrified of the swim. I had a moment of panic in the water but then got my mind on track  thinking about “Where am I? Why am I here?” That year it was my uncle who passed away from cancer that brought me there. So think about your personal reasons. What inspires you? What motivates you to do this?

This is your day. Your experience. And you are going to rock it.

I wasn’t expecting an answer to my questions but here is what he got back to me with, and I think it’s perfect:

Thank you. All my teammates are inspirational to me.

We lift each other up, people!! Sending all the best to my friends and teammates who will be racing NYC Triathlon this weekend.

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