Saturday, May 8, 2010

Running Rules I've Broken So Far

With four weeks of road behind me, I say goodbye to the relative ease of the first month of marathon training and hello to double-digit mileage goals for my long runs. Today may be Mother's Day for the rest of the world, but it's the official start of the fifth week of training for me.

One glance at the pain in store over the coming months and it's clear that if training were wading in the ocean, the crotch of my bathing suit would be pretty much soaked right now. Which means it's silly for me to stand here with my arms hugging myself for warmth. It's time to dive in. Completely.

I'm talking about giving up the bad habits I've developed in this first month of training. Yup. In the interest of finishing this marathon without killing myself (I'm not particularly keen on maiming myself, either), I'm coming clean about all the cardinal running rules I've broken during the first month:

Broken Rule #1: My record of stretching is spotty at best. Mayhap I will. Mayhap I won't. If I'm gonna stretch at all, I have to do it outside because once I'm inside I get distracted with essentials like food, water, and updating my Facebook status. But even outside, I give the stretching short shrift for three very compelling reasons:
  1. I wear tight running pants,
  2. I live on a main road, and
  3. as I reach for my toes, there's a point when it occurs to me that I'm saluting traffic with my ass, a realization that turns me a hundred shades of red that have nothing to do with forgetting to put on my sunscreen. Again.
Broken Rule #2: I forget sunscreen. I hate the smell so much that I wear light, long-sleeve shirts so I can get away with coating only my face and hands. Then I forget to coat my face and hands. Fortunately I do run with a baseball cap, but I know that's not enough. I've also noticed that I'm rocking a tan line where my ankle socks end. Clearly, I continue to deprive my legs of sunscreen at my peril.

Broken Rule #3: I sneak my runs into my day instead of creating a dedicated running time. This is a brand of stupidity I know first hand. A couple of weeks ago, I got stuck out on my seven-mile run longer than I intended to be and got home with a grand total of 21 minutes to stretch, hydrate, eat, shower, and get out the door. I showered just enough to wash away the sweaty slime and grabbed a handful of nuts, a piece of fruit, and a bottle of water as I raced to my car. Halfway through my appointment, I had such a bad headache, I asked for water. When I came home I made myself a balanced dinner that I promptly threw up. Clearly, making room for a run is about scheduling time for the run and the self care that comes after. I am learning these lessons: I'm happy to report I ran my eight-mile run this week without upchucking a single thing!

Broken Rule #4: I see sleepiness as more of a suggestion than a mandate. Which means I'll often push through my drooping eyes in the interest of starting an episode of "Lost" at 11 p.m., chatting with an old friend on Facebook, or (now this is awkward) blogging for you all. If I have any prayer of getting into the habit of running before the sun really starts roasting on summer mornings, I've got to get to sleep earlier. Period.

Broken Rule #5: I find carrying water annoying. Like really annoying. Like so annoying I only started carrying it on the eight mile run. And then I didn't really drink much. Yes, I understand this is beyond stupid. But it's really hard to drink while you're running. What's that? If I can send twenty-three ridiculous tweets while I'm running, I can certainly manage to drink a little water? Yes. Yes, indeed.

Broken Rule #6: I've been sneaking a glass of wine here, a sweet or three there. Not a big deal, I know. But it's probably better if I only eat the things that best fuel my marathon-running machinery. Particularly now that I'm rocking a double-digit run every week.

So I'm going to dub this second four weeks of training the Month of More:
  • more stretching,
  • more sunscreen,
  • more sleeping,
  • more breathing space in my schedule,
  • more sleep,
  • more in-run hydration,
  • more diet perfection.
And speaking of more, could I be in any more danger of becoming one of those insufferable buffoons who can only talk about the ONE thing she's obsessed about? Or does my second obsession with Elvis round me out any?

Oh yeah.

I'm gonna be a BLAST at parties this summer...

Catherine Elcik is running her first marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund for Grub Street, Inc, and independent writing center in Boston, MA. Sponsor the run at


  1. Great post, Cathy. This is reminding me why, even at my peak running, I could never get beyond a half-marathon. There were too many things I'd have to give up to do the full -- like drinking too much wine on the weekends, eating whatever crap I wanted, and not getting nearly enough sleep. I also never wore sunscreen when I ran, because I figured I would just sweat it off anyway. You really do need to get used to carrying water -- or get one of those belts with the little bottles on it. I found I could go a lot further once I started drinking a mix of half gatorade, half water on my long runs. Good luck!

  2. And this morning, as I have breakfast, I realize I forgot a rule. Ready? I tea twice a day!