Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Next Time

Happy Tuesday, friends! So many of you ran in Chicago, Baltimore and on Staten Island this weekend and the Fall racing season has only just begun!

So many races coming up!

So many races coming up!

The runners I’ve coached officially start their races this weekend. At this point, I’m just the person who talks everyone off the I-can’t-do-this edge. That’s my job.

But what if they really can’t do it?

Training for months, making travel plans, missing out on weekend events and parties just to get to the BIG DAY and NOT run? That’s frustrating.

And what is everyone going to tell you?

“There’s always next time.”

Ummm, yeah. Not what you want to say.

Ummm, yeah. Not what you want to hear right then.

It’s hard not to want to punch someone in the face who tells you, in your darkest moment, “You’ll get ‘em next time.”

Really, cuz I didn’t train for next time, I trained for THIS TIME.

I feel you, guys. But here’s the reality of the situation:

  • You’re too injured to run.
  • Your body just can’t take it this cycle.
  • The race is cancelled.
  • The hurricane is NOT changing course.
  • You’re pregnant.
  • There’s no way you could have predicted XXX crisis/emergency.

So, yeah. There’s next time.

images

Next time you’ll train smarter.

Next time you’ll choose a different time of year.

Next time you’ll know better than to try and do a marathon during finals/end of quarter/holiday season.

Next time you’ll hire a coach.

You know. Cuz it helps.

You know. Cuz it helps.

Next time you’ll cross train.

Next time you’ll see a PT when something STARTS hurting, not after 3 months.

Next time you won’t fall to pieces halfway through.

Count yourselves lucky that there will be a next time. For some runners, they’re not sure they’ll get to run this time, forget about next time.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but those of us who have been here wondered if there would ever be another next time.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but those of us who have been here wondered if there would ever be another next time.

So put on your big girl/big boy pants and figure out what you can do next time to make it better than this time. You can do it. I know you will do it next time.

And having a next time is way Better Than the Alternative, isn’t it?

Now go out and run.

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Not Racing

Happy Tuesday and welcome to Taper Town, NYC Marathoners! Now that you’ve made it through the vast majority of your long training runs, that 26.2 behemoth is looking much more do-able, isn’t it?

(Image courtesy of RunnersConnect.com)

(Image courtesy of RunnersConnect.com)

You beast.

Congratulations to all of you.

But there are the other runners out there now, aren’t there? The ones who trained, ran far, worked hard, set their sites for the start line and now have to DNS for some reason or another.

That sucks.

Surgery instead of Marine Corps Marathon last Fall. Womp, womp.

Surgery instead of Marine Corps Marathon last Fall. Womp, womp.

There’s no way around it, not racing when you’ve trained your heart out sucks. I’m sorry.

But, as someone who has both trained for the full and only run the half AND had to DNS another marathon in the past, I wonder if I can’t encourage you to look at it in a different way.

Yes, it’s hard to accept that you won’t toe the line at your race. Yes, it’s frustrating to send in your deferral paperwork. Yes, it’s depressing to tell your friends (the ones you bragged to all through training) that you’re not running.

But then there’s the other side.

Just because you’re not racing doesn’t mean you’re not in awesome shape.

Just because you’re not racing NOW doesn’t mean you won’t race EVER.

Just because you’re not racing doesn’t mean you can’t go and cheer your friends who are still racing.

Cheering at marathons is SUPER FUN!

Cheering at marathons is SUPER FUN!

Just because you’re not racing this race doesn’t mean you can’t look for another one in a few weeks or months.

Just because you’re not racing doesn’t mean it was all worth nothing. It was a goal you set out to achieve. You pushed your mind and your body to the edges of physical sanity–and found out it’s kinda fun.

Running a mile uphill was fun...sort of.

Running a mile uphill was fun…sort of.

Allow yourself the time to grieve over your loss. It’s ok. But then look forward. What do you need to do to achieve your goal next time? Get a coach? Get a better coach? Start training earlier? Strength train in the off season? Not get pregnant mid-season (can’t tell you how many lady runner friends I have in this position :))?

Onward, friends. Onward.

If you are a life-long runner, not racing here and there is going to be something that happens again. It’s life. But it also teaches you that there’s another opportunity in the future for you to tackle.

And isn’t that way Better Than the Alternative?

Yup.

Now go out and run!

 

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Listening

“The fool speaks, the wise man listens.” ~African Proverb

Happy Tuesday, friends, and welcome to October! In case you were wondering, it really is the most beautiful time of year to be in New York City. What are you waiting for? Come visit!

Central Park is the place to be.

Central Park is the place to be.

I’m a chatty person by nature. I put effort into improving my listening skills, especially because of what I do for a living. I pride myself in being able to gain my patients’ and clients’ trust and listen carefully to what they’re saying so that I can best treat them as an individual.

Just hangin' around the CTICU. No patients were harmed while taking this selfie w/my buddy.

Just hangin’ around the CTICU. No patients were harmed while taking this selfie w/my buddy.

You never regret having listened more to someone. Your silence or active listening or further inquiring about another person will never serve you wrong. Especially at cocktail parties.

You know where else you’ll never regret listening? When you listen to your body.

As runners, we are taught to push aside the aches and pains and keep going. The ability to quiet that part of your brain is a skill that the elites master in or to become, well, elite. But we non-elites have to do it, too, in order to progress in our running.

How many times have you heard this?

How many times have you heard this?

I hate this phrase.

To experience and listen to pain is not to be weak. Listening to your body is what keeps you from doing stupid things that land you on the Injured Reserve list for an entire season.

You’ll never regret listening to your body.

Be it to go faster, push harder, or run that extra mile or to cut a run short, take a breather from training, or drop to a half instead of the full marathon.

You’ll never regret listening to what your body is really telling you.

From Rumi.

From Rumi.

You can seek advice from your friends, your doctors, your partner, and experienced runners, but in the end, you know how you feel and you are the only expert on YOU.

You’ll never regret listening to someone, especially yourself. And when you follow how you feel, follow your own advice, you can never go wrong.

There will be other marathons. There will be other chances to PR. There will be other workouts. But if you don’t listen, and listen closely, you may just push too hard, too far, do too much damage to get to another start line ever again.

And getting to those start lines feeling good is surely way Better Than the Alternative, right? Right.

Now go out and run.

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: History Friends

I remember reading an article–probably in some teenage magazine my older sister subscribed to that I thought was THE BOMB at the time, about the types of friendships you’ll have and should keep throughout life.

It was most definitely one of these. They were BIBLES to young teenage girls.

It was most definitely one of these. They were BIBLES to young teenage girls in the 80s & 90s.

The Adventurous Friend, the Friend You Call In the Middle of the Night, the Friend Who Will Run 20 Miles With You, the Honest Friend, the Adult Friend, the Friend With Impeccable Taste in Restaurants, the College Friend, the Friend With Whom You Drink.

Ok, maybe not exactly those names–but I remember specifically a category called the “History Friend“.

At the time, all of my friendships were confined to the one school I had attended for the whole of my academic tenure. Save for a few stragglers who came along in junior high, we had all known each other since we were about 5 years old. All my friends were History Friends.

They'd all seen the perms, the glasses, the high-waisted jeans "french rolled" (of course), the waterfall bangs...and we were still friends.

They’d all seen the perms, the glasses, the high-waisted jeans “french rolled” (of course), the waterfall bangs…and we were still friends.

Then I moved. And went to college. And then to New York. And got married. And, suddenly, I’m in my thirties.

And now I get it.

History Friends are the ones whose houses you can just show up to and not worry that you’re imposing. History Friends are the ones who know all your secrets but wouldn’t (TO THIS DAY!) dare tell your significant other or your siblings or your parents. History Friends still know when something is off. History Friends never need the back story to whatever is going on–they were there.

When I’m around my/our History Friends, I take my shoes off and curl up on a couch. Sometimes I fall asleep. Or they do. There’s something about being around people you don’t worry about impressing or entertaining that is peaceful, rejuvenating.

I actually fell dead asleep in the middle of a conversation surrounded  by my family after my bridal shower. No one minded.

I actually fell dead asleep in the middle of a conversation surrounded by my family after my bridal shower. No one minded. They probably expected it.

For me, History Friends don’t care if we hang out during tub time or happy hour. We make time when we have it and pick up right where we left off. And they don’t call me “crazy” for running marathons. They understand because they get me.

The don't hold this outfit against me. In fact, my girlfriends probably each had one, too.

The don’t hold this outfit (or face) against me. In fact, my girlfriends probably each had one, too.

One of my most favorite things about these friends is that they become OUR friends almost instantly. My History Friends love JB and his love me and that is the end of it. No drama, no try-outs.

And when we go to weddings and birthdays and funerals with/for these friends, as you inevitably do when you’ve known people for the whole of your life, it’s more like being with family than just friends.

4_calvin_and_hobbes_quotes_friendship

(Image courtesy of Bill Watterson and available from Andrews McMeel Publishing)

And that certainly makes it way Better Than the Alternative.

Do you have History Friends? You know, the ones who saw you before all the plastic surgery (I kid, I kid…but definitely before contact lenses). How long have you been friends? Or are your friends all the Friends Whom You’ve Known Post-Awkward Years? I can count on my fingers how many we have between JB & I. Give ‘em a shout out! Or better yet, give ‘em a call!

Now go out and run!

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Change of Pace

In the running world there are all types of paces and pacing strategies.

Marathon goal pace.

Tuck in and surge at the halfway point.

5K race pace.

Draft off the leader.

Half marathon pace for first part, pace down :15 seconds every mile.

The paces and workout combinations are endless. Some coaches will try to tell you there’s a magic formula to pace workouts. I bet my money that for elite athletes, they are right. There is fine-tuning that happens at that level for those individuals that cannot be diminished.

My track workouts are nothing like theirs but it kicks my butt all the same.

My track workouts are nothing like theirs but it kicks my butt all the same.

But for the rest of us, it’s simple a matter of forcing a Change of Pace in our runs.

One thing I dig about a Change of Pace workout is that, by working really hard and pushing well outside of my comfort zone into my shorter race paces, suddenly, marathon goal pace feels like a piece of cake.

...or several cupcakes, if you will.

…or several cupcakes, if you will.

This is absolutely an exercise in confidence as much as it is an exercise to get your body in shape. And we runners love these workouts not only because they feel shorter, but because we sometimes surprise ourselves with the speed we can produce during them.

The 'ol clock and straight-up course of Summer Streets don't lie.

The ‘ol clock and straight-up Park Ave. course of Summer Streets don’t lie. 20 miles on the road is 20 miles on the Garmin is 20 miles on MapMyRun. And yes, those negative splits are real.

I don’t know about you guys, but I definitely was in need of a Change of Pace after this year. Summer has been blissfully and purposely slower for me.

I needed it. I needed it so badly. I needed to slow down, regroup, and recharge.

Peanut kisses recharge the soul.

Peanut kisses recharge the soul.

It’s good to have a Change of Pace every now and again. In running and in life, we get so wrapped up in one pace, one goal that it becomes a daily burden. 

And now that it’s marathon season, all you hear from runners is “marathon goal pace” this and “sub-whatevertheircurrentPRis” that. It’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of race pace anxiety three months out from the actual race.

But when you have a Change of Pace workout and speed it up or slow it down, suddenly you are no longer obsessed with the goal number, but your current number. You’re {maybe} enjoying and {definitely} living the workout you’re doing right now.

Right now, at this moment in the this 5K, I am hating it. It was hot. It was humid. It was close to the finish. But I did feel kinda badass PR-ing my 5K time in the middle of marathon training.

Right now, at this moment in the this 5K, I am hating it. It was hot. It was humid. It was close to the finish. But I did feel kinda badass PR-ing my 5K time in the middle of training.

Sometimes it takes a Change of Pace in our daily routine to appreciate the day-to-day things that make up lives. Sometimes it takes a Change of Pace to rejuvenate a love of the {seemingly} ordinary. Sometimes it takes a Change of Pace to gain perspective on what’s important.

It’s true in running for sure.

And when you go back to that goal pace, it somehow seems more attainable. You’ve done harder workouts, this pace ain’t nuthin.

And that feeling is certainly way Better Than the Alternative.

Happy Tuesday, friends.

Now go out and run.