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From Mailboxes To Miles. My Journey To 26.2 Part 3

Monday, July 23, 2012

That wet and miserable first race on Thanksgiving day 2009, was the race that started it all.  By December, my road running was all done, unless I felt like dashing through the snow.  Being poorly equipped, I wasn't in the position to try cold weather running so the treadmill became my only option...ugh. The mental grind was enough to drive anyone insane. 2 miles felt like 6.  The treadmill was a better than a sharp stick in the eye but not by much. 

By the time Spring 2010 rolled around, I was chomping at the bit to get out there.  My first runs were pretty much an obstacle course trudging through slushy areas and being ever so thankful for the bare spots.  I learned quickly that time spent on the treadmill over the winter only slowed down the decay in running endurance. It didn't help that my slush dodging endeavors left me feeling like I had run those miles across the tops of BOSU balls but I was determined and worst of all....stubborn.

"Discretion Is The Better Part Of Valor" - Cicero.

"There is a fine line between determination and stupidity" - ME.

The perils of overtraining.....

My enthusiasm had really reached its climax when I plunked down some cash to get my very first ( first of many ) running gadgets. This little marvel, the Nike+ wrist band and shoe pod promised to revolutionize my running. Now I could know how far I cool... and it even downloaded the data into a gnarly looking chart that changed colors as you progressed in your mileage, ooooh double cool....I love my shiny objects.

I couldn't wait until I took this newly acquired technical marvel out for a run. It did not disappoint. As I plodded along, I looked with glee as the numbers racked up on the display. I kept pushing, pressing forward, digging deep to see yet another big number pop up. I hit 10 miles... I HAD to keep going...I HAD to...finally I gave out. I reluctantly pushed the I QUIT button. I had logged over 12 miles.

I could barely move.

When I got home, I literally crawled on hands and knees to get up the stairs in my house. The furthest I had run/walked prior to that was 6 miles since Spring. I had doubled my mileage recklessly and now I was going to pay...dearly. I was certain rigor mortis was setting in.

The morning after was about as graceful as a slow motion train wreck. After several days, I was getting alarmed. I wasn't bouncing back like I normally did. I had a 5k race in Eagle River, Wisconsin coming up in 2 weeks and I was seriously having doubts. Nothing felt right. My joints felt "loose", like there was no soundness. I felt wobbly and not strong at all. In my zeal, I had over taxed my system well beyond what it was truly capable of and now payday had come.

I signed up for the race in Eagle River for one reason....bling. It was the closest race that had a for real, honest to goodness, finishers medal. I had scanned the  race details and my eyes lit up when I saw the word M.E.D.A.L... Well, actually they glazed over....

Now, my first race for bling was in jeopardy because I had pushed too hard trying to prove Lord knows what. I managed to recover just enough to squeak through that event without having to be carried off the course. It was only a 5k but with a body that was severely mistreated by me, it may as well have been a half marathon. I walked far more than I ran because I couldn't take the pounding.

After I collected my medal at the finish, I hung around. Some of the distance runners were coming in and I was really curious to see what the "real" runners looked like.  The fist marathon runner I ever met in my life was a kid who, I believe qualified for Boston. I never got his name because he was too busy screaming from leg cramps and was being massaged face down on the ground because he couldn't get on the table.... Wow, will that happen to me if I try a marathon?

I never gave it much thought, half and full marathons are for the guys that are in shape and a 10k was all I could do and even that was a stretch after my little stunt.

Two months rolled by before I could really get it together enough to attempt a run for more than a mile or so. My workouts at the gym were torture. Everything hurt, all because I wanted to see a big number and to feel like a real runner. After all, the chart I printed out said so, right?

I had a lot of time to reflect on my foolishness. Just because you can do more mileage does not mean you should.

Finally the day came when my body began to respond. I proceeded with caution with my newly earned wisdom. Pain is an expensive teacher. I learned to respect my body. Being a successful runner seems to be a balancing act. A tightrope between pushing too hard and not pushing enough.

Respecting the body's limits and being patient with yourself is key to successful training. The ability to not allow ones enthusiasm override ones common sense is a rare gift and over zealousness is a mistake common to all.  Adaptations to the stresses of running come slowly over time and with careful development.

At this point in my journey, I treat training schedules like the picture on a frozen dinner... Serving suggestion. This is only my opinion but hear me out. Just because a training plan promises to make us a marathoner in XX weeks does not mean that it will.  We may need MORE time to adapt. We may need to take more rest days. We were not all punched out of the same cookie cutter and we may be at a different level than the next runner that is following the same plan. It pays big dividends to be patient, develop a proper mileage base, and take the time to recover.

Coming next... Life beyond 10k.

Previous Blogs In Series..

Part 1

Part 2


Member Comments About This Blog Post:
LMULLINS4LIFE 7/27/2012 3:50AM

    How did I miss this blog???

Such a great one! And, of course, I am most impressed by the fact that I found no typos at all. haha

Excellent writing, friend.

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LAMDRRNM 7/26/2012 11:31AM

  Oh yes, I wish I had read this post a couple of weeks ago. Not that I would have listened...I decided to start doing double classes at the gym 2 weeks ago. And now my body is so tired and run down I haven't been able to go to the gym since....patience patience patience, right??

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PROVERBS31JULIA 7/25/2012 8:51AM

    Soooo maybe I'm not the only one who hates to use the dreadmill??

(not original to me, btw. I forget which sparkpage I read it on.).

emoticon Robert emoticon

Been encouraging my husband to run and his "run" is only marginally faster than a walk. Now the trick is to get me up to speed.

Comment edited on: 7/25/2012 8:52:45 AM

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_MOBII_ 7/23/2012 9:56PM

    Oh the bling and the electronics glaze my eyes as well!

I am just getting it through my head that I will take a 'bit' longer on the c25k program than it states.
Being new, I wanted to do exactly like it said, and now after repeating week 1, I am finally content to move at my body's pace.....with just a little pushing ;)

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_JODI404 7/23/2012 8:47PM


Enjoyed your blog, your story, and your wonderful humor.

"Respecting the body's limits and being patient with yourself is key to successful training. The ability to not allow ones enthusiasm override ones common sense is a rare gift and over zealousness is a mistake common to all." OH, how TRUE this is. I don't run... but even in the gym. The desire to over do it must be contained.


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_JODI404 7/23/2012 8:46PM

    editing down triple post. ???

Comment edited on: 7/23/2012 8:48:02 PM

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_JODI404 7/23/2012 8:44PM

    triple posted somehow. ???

Comment edited on: 7/23/2012 8:47:28 PM

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MRSDAVIS09 7/23/2012 7:57PM

    You are doing so well, and you are actually thinking through the things you do and the "why" you do them. Already in my limited experience, I have learned that those are the things that help changes "stick." You don't have to be perfect at everything. . .you just have to keep getting up and going after it again every time you fall down! Great blog :)

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LTMURPHY7 7/23/2012 6:21PM



I couldn't take the pain, I'd give up

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ALDEBARANIAN 7/23/2012 4:55PM

    common sense? what's that?

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LINDAK25 7/23/2012 4:49PM

    Ouch! It even hurt to read about. It's awesome that you stuck it out! Tough way to learn a critical lesson, though.

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MARITIMER3 7/23/2012 2:51PM

    Cpngratulations. Your stubborness and determination paid off!

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DEARTOMYHEART 7/23/2012 2:32PM

  Great blog. We do need to listen to our bodies. Why must we use that boring tredmill?!? I don't feel the same after using it as I do when I am out side. Thanks so much for sharing. emoticon

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CINDYSDAY 7/23/2012 2:30PM


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CHANGING-VICKI 7/23/2012 12:43PM

  At least now you do know to listen to your body. It won't let you down as long as you treat it right. emoticon

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    You have an amazing talent for writing and remembering.

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GINA180847 7/23/2012 11:12AM

    When you talk about the weather (winter) slowing you down I totally understand. When you retire come to Mexico for the winter and run. I walk/jog/and run in the desert and it is good. The treadmill only works if you are watching a program and then only a little.

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VALERIEMAHA 7/23/2012 11:03AM

    This comes to me, Robert. as you choreograph your new dance:

I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.
-- John O'Donohue

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FUNFROG79 7/23/2012 10:29AM


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DEBBIEDAY 7/23/2012 9:38AM

    emoticon Sent the link to your blog to a friend who is over whelmed at needing to lose 100+ pounds....hopefully she will stop by and see it CAN be done!!!

AWESOME work...glad I subscribed so I don't miss any new entries!!!!

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TEDYBEAR2838 7/23/2012 9:19AM

    It does come down to listening to our bodies.

I must say you are emoticon

I love that you are sticking with it, adjusting as you go along.
It's all about small changes, small victories, the all add up
after a while.


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LYNDALOVES2HIKE 7/23/2012 9:14AM


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BILL60 7/23/2012 8:49AM

    Good post.

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QUAIL75 7/23/2012 8:39AM

    Great post and great advice!

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ONEKIDSMOM 7/23/2012 7:28AM

    I'm totally with you about training plans, listening to the body, and adapting as needed. After all, as a nearly-60 female, a training plan developed for an 18 year old track and field star doesn't quite qualify as "one size fits all".

In the open water swim last Saturday, for example: I had done all the training and even more, but I was still the slowest swimmer in the water, with the speed demons having finished a race twice the distance in less time!

BUT... I shall hold my head high because I DID something my heart desired.

Onward... looking forward to the next chapter in your blog journey!

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GARDENCHRIS 7/23/2012 7:27AM

    great advise ...... anything we do are only suggestions.... just because it worked for you, might be different for me... good to remember. emoticon

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KLFOLLM 7/23/2012 7:23AM

    Loved the advice on the "couch to...." programs. These are only guides and more often than not are WAY too accelerated!

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    Great advice! emoticon

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ROXYZMOM 7/23/2012 6:24AM

    Well said.

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123ELAINE456 7/23/2012 5:52AM

  Awesome Blog!!! Thank You for sharing and for the good advice. Keep it Up!!! God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Week. Take Care.

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NDKARIKARI 7/23/2012 4:50AM

    great blog post, and good advice!

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NDKARIKARI 7/23/2012 4:49AM

    great blog post, and good advice!

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BRE7482 7/23/2012 3:49AM

    "Just because you can do more mileage does not mean you should." I repeatedly have to tell myself this. I'm always wanting to do more during my long runs than I know I should. Nice blog!

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DEENANATAF 7/23/2012 2:38AM

    Thanks for a wonderful blog and good advice.

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ITSHOWYOULIVE 7/23/2012 1:16AM

    I love races with bling :). Next is the Awesome 80's Run in Pasadena for a finishers medal that looks like a cassette tape...oh yeah.... :). Opted for the 5K instead of 10K because I didn't want to train in the heat of summer-lol. I think overtraining is a common ailment among runners. I'm definitely guilty of trying to fit into a cookie cutter. Thanks for the reminder that I really don't have to and can do what is right for me. Great post!

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DOLLFACEDX 7/23/2012 1:10AM


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KAREN42BOYS 7/23/2012 1:05AM

    Yup, we all need to learn to respect our body's limits. Overtraining is a bear, but it sure is good now that I know the symptoms. Only happened once to me.

Good strong blog, Robert.

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