March like a Superhero

Jeremyleerenner.com

Source: jeremyleerenner.com

Somewhere in the near future there are warm sunshine and happy skies and green trees and daffodils and birds singing and enjoying running and picnics and bike rides and nature walks and photography and smiling families and noisy parks and dogs chasing frisbees and children chasing dogs and single layers and shorts and new running shoes… somewhere.

The days are flying , I am running and Boston is seven weeks in coming. In essence, time is marching on. I live for warmer weather, warmer people, warmer smiles, warmer runs – life all stretched out, warm and wonderful – and to rejoice in the advent of Spring and the promise it brings; the promise of new life, hope, new growth, new opportunities and endless running possibilities.

For now I’ll just continue my relentless cycle of training: late-evening, cold weekday runs/drills and weekend long runs requiring twice the effort with some gym work and cross training tossed in for good measure. Seems even running can be a bitch at times but I’m reassured that even that too shall pass. Just like a superhero, March has saved the day.

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March-ing On to Spring and a Confident and more-than-Capable You

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It is the Winter that just won’t quit. If you think you’re in the process of having a winter melt down, you’re not alone.  I’ve been cold and had a cold since the day of the NYC Marathon last November and can barely remember what a hot day feels like.  To bring it all home, I now boast a full-fledged break-out of the cold that hit me last weekend when I temporarily took leave of my senses and went running in the park in 14 degrees.  My only excuse is that I have had enough.. enough running on the treadmill, breathing recycled, stale air, staring at the walls, meditating etc… and so I thought, why not? Cold notwithstanding, I had a good 12 mile run.  It was fun being in the park after three long months and though my lungs had the initial struggle with cold air, I was well bundled up, not ideal for running but necessary for winter, and after the first couple miles, it felt pretty good out and I was able to enjoy a decent run.  That there were other like-minded crazies out there was hardly surprising, this city loves to run.  On the other hand, my body didn’t enjoy the shock too much, and I’ve fought a losing battle with the cold since then with this week seeing me only one time forcing a run at the gym.

That being said, we’re already coming to the end of the first week of March, where running becomes fun once more, and I have my first race in just over a week.  Yippee! Though I shouldn’t be so excited with the weather if past experience is anything to go by. However, optimist that I am, I will not dwell on that but focus instead on the prospect of Spring and the fun it brings.  Training for this race has been pretty much on schedule given it’s only a half marathon, since I haven’t been able to do longer runs with all the “great” weather we’ve had. Hopefully, this improves as Spring gets closer and we’re off to a running start then, because next month is my first marathon, and I need to get a few long runs in by the end of March.

One thing I can say, is that planning and looking ahead to nicer weather and prettier days keeps things in perspective and is a sure way to keep your confidence up and stay motivated, which is always a tough but necessary thing to do in Winter. It allows you to plough ahead, through the snow, on those crazy winter runs, stay in the gym and carry on with workouts and classes on those bitter cold days, and keeps you healthily aware of your food choices when you’re tempted to start succumbing to winter blues and comfort food.  It also prevents you from going stir crazy when your movements become restricted as you would have been working a schedule to get things up and running come Spring.  For my part, I’m pretty pumped with all this indoor activity I’ve been busy running around with for the past months and I’m revving to go – sick and all – truth is, just thinking about it makes me feel better already so don’t sweat it. We’ve come this far and there are only a few more weeks left.  Here in New York, we runners are very excited!

Setting yourself up for a GREAT. RUN. this Spring

imageYou may have gotten over the initial excitement of Spring only to be faced with the harsh reality of life: that it’s not all a run; there are stumbles and stops and even falls but to reap the benefits of success, we must pick up and press on, and on those odd times when we fall off the proverbial wagon, begin again.

There are two perspectives that lie in tangent: seeing Spring as a season of growth, change and newness in other living things or living each day as Spring and applying the growth, change and newness to include oneself, since we fall under the category of living things. The latter allows for facing each day with an attitude of challenge and expectation. I have always maintained that running is a sport of the mind performed by the body. Since the mind is where it all begins, it follows that perspective makes or breaks a runner. With the right attitude, there is no race that is unattainable and no run that is unconquerable. Whether it’s 1 mile, a 5k, 26.2 miles or even an ultra marathon; through mud or fire, over obstacles, in color, whatever it may be, it all begins the same place, which by the way, is half-way accomplished when its been committed to. Believe it or not, that was the toughest part; setting the goal and coming up with a plan to follow through.

imageWith that out of the way, we can now focus on fun things like gearing up, partnering up, diet and motivation. Since Spring is one of the best seasons for running, running gear is pretty easy to select and readily accessible. Running shoes are very important and therefore, one should select wisely. Here, I recommend going to a running store and using the treadmill there so that the sales associate, who is generally more knowledgable on these matters, can asses your gait and stride to get you a right fit. While brands abound with regards to design, color, fit, taste and price, one should be careful to never sacrifice on fit and comfort. A tip here is to always buy one size up your normal shoe size and to ensure you have enough support for your heels if that’s where you place emphasis or in my case, the balls of the feet. Now shoes in hand or more likely, on feet, we can look for comfort and style in choosing breathable running clothes that fit properly. Here, try to avoid all-cotton materials and restrictive clothing. Choose something functional but fun as I’m sure you also want to look good. Being able to wear shorts and tanks are way cool after three plus months of layers so that’s half the decision made. We’re geared up and ready to hit the tracks, roads, trails..whatever your passion..be careful to fuel up before, during and after your runs to stay hydrated. Some drinking options include: Gatorade, Powerade and coconut water, while chocolate milk and fruit or vegetable smoothies with granola make a great recovery drink. In addition, it is always wiser to eat a couple of hours before your run so there’s ample time for digestion. If eating later on, after your run and closer to late evening and night-time, then foods that are easily digested and low in calories and fat are recommended.

imageMotivating yourself through Spring may become a bit difficult from time to time as the weather can be quite crazy: wet, windy, chilly etc. But the trick is to stay on target by friendly reminders from partners, friends, your phone and written goals, and to surround yourself with like-minded people who will encourage and allow you to not only dream, but to run those dreams and become the champion you are. Plus, we do get those oh-so-gorgeous-sun-shiny-days..so grab those ear buds if that’s your fancy, make sure to choose ones that stay put while running; those that go around the ears or over the head are fine, with proper kick-ass music and strap on your watch or timer and keep it moving.

12 Miles of Cherry Blossoms

imageA day ago I did a 12 mile easy run in beautiful Central Park. Now Central Park is my running home and has been for about 3 years so it’s no big deal that I run there or at least it shouldn’t be, except that it is so gloriously pretty at this time of year that I think it a runner’s dream.  Sure enough I’ve taken it for granted that I run here all the time and oftentimes feel the need to get out and explore new territory. This is common to any runner who runs a particular route regularly; monotony sets in and will only be cured by venturing out to discover new routes.

imageIt just so happens though, that I cannot recall ever having seen the park so alive; blossoming Magnolias and Cherry Blossoms lines the various trails and main route while the ponds and reservoir shimmer with the glint of sunshine skimming the water surface. Fluttering leaves and blossoms falling like snow are ably assisted by a gusty breeze that propels you along the paths in the company of chirps and tweets which are music to the ears amid a cacophony of other sounds that permeate the air.  The various sporting fields, playground and picnic areas are teeming with families, pets, dancers, exercise groups, and everywhere you turn, runners, walkers, cyclists and those on roller blades.

imageI am enchanted by this picturesque and artistic scene playing out in full color before me. Completely under its spell, I don’t feel the pressures of the world around me. Even the fast pace of the city slows down here or maybe it’s being expelled in a more fun way but it seems miles away from the hustle and bustle that is Times Square..when in fact Times Square is only blocks away. It’s as surreal as it is real. I barely notice that it’s getting later or that my run is just about up, I’ve been so wrapped up in taking it all in.. this right here is life, I tell myself, this is what it’s all about. These moments that one is able to steal away; it is here you find inspiration and rejuvenation, here that you make connections, enjoy God’s beautiful work of art, find inner peace and strength, even love is possible here. Everything is.

I found these beautiful pics on the web. I love it!
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Spring in Central Parkimage

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