Running Commentary: Girl on the Run
Im writing again from an airplane, this time en route to Los Angeles, where Ill be spending the weekend with some girlfriends. Ive been eagerly anticipating this weekend for months now, but Im also a bit fearful, as it marks the beginning of my “Road Warrior” season. By the time this article publishes, I will have spent the majority of July in airports or on roadtrips, covering everything from San Francisco and Los Angeles to New York City and Chicago. Im calling it “Around the World in 30 Days,” and I have a feeling that on August 4th, when I run my half-marathon and then life returns to some semblance of normalcy, I will be tired. Very tired.
But heres a mental shift that makes me proud: In the past, Id be excited about the dining, shopping, clubbing, cocktailing, and hotel life in all these fabulous cities, but this time Im focused on running. I have a 10-mile run planned along The Strand, a paved walking/biking path that runs along the coast of Southern California. In New York City next week, Ive made plans with some co-workers to go for a run in Central Park. In Chicago, Ive planned and mapped an 8-mile run along the shores of Lake Michigan. And, in the midst of these city excursions, my boyfriend and I have planned a quiet weekend away to my parents lake home in Hayward, Wisconsin, where Ill run 12 miles.
I really cant think of a better way to explore a city–on foot, undistracted, completely living in and enjoying the moment and soaking in new surroundings. I feel so fortunate that I get to break up the monotony of marathon training by exploring some new territory.
My San Francisco recovery took a little longer than expected–I got a cold which morphed into a stomach bug which forced me to spend a weekend at home alone that I had planned to spend at my boyfriends family reunion.
But rather than be a complete vegetable, I turned that weekend into a mini spa vacation–I took a restorative yoga class, booked an 80-minute massage (my overdue reward for successfully completing the first 5 weeks of marathon training), turned the ringer off the phone, and spent a lot of time catching up on sleep. I took a long morning bubble bath with a cup of coffee and a good book, treated myself to a pre-beach manicure and pedicure, worked my way through a stack of magazines, and cleared out the TiVo. To avoid the heat, I ran my typical long Saturday route a day early, giving me 48 hours to relax, rejuvenate, and savor.
Sometimes our bodies give us physical cues that it is time to slow down and rest. In my case, that cue came in the form of sniffles and sneezes, headaches, lethargy, and heartburn, a sure sign that I needed to detoxify. I sweated out the toxins with a nice long run, then stretched them out at yoga, and paid somebody to pound them out. The result: I woke up on Monday morning feeling like a new woman, ready to tackle week eight of training.
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it–therefore, my goal on these next few trips is to learn from my past mistakes. I want to return home each time relaxed and happy, not exhausted and stressed. I want to step on the scale and see a number that makes me happy, not one that sends me into the all-too-familiar panic of having to shed four pounds by Fridays Weight Watchers meeting.
The more comfortable I get with this new lifestyle, the more apparent it becomes that healthy choices and exercise are far more rewarding, both in the long and short term, than any type of food or drink. I keep reminding myself that my social and business outings are not really about the food, rather they are about the people. Whether I eat a salad or a burger, the glow of camaraderie, laughter, friendship, and joy will still be present, and most likely, with healthy choices, that glow will include a glow of pride that lasts 10 times as long.