Over the past year, running has generally taken a backseat to other pursuits. The recent exceptions are whenever I've got a half marathon coming up and I'm trying to undergo emergency training (aka right now). Otherwise, I've been diversifying my workout routine with more emphasis on yoga, pilates, biking, and rowing. Whenever I can get access to a pool I go swimming. I've also really enjoyed the new fitness dabbles I've tried this summer (e.g. stand-up paddleboarding and trapeze).
I know how important cross-training is, of course. But even so, it has been surprisingly refreshing, both mentally and physically, to work all the different muscle groups that running doesn't cover. I feel stronger on an overall basis. It's been a mini-rediscovery of sorts. Last year I spent so much time focusing just on running, and when I wasn't running I was focusing on the stretches/PT exercises that could help me keep running. Now, I don't know if I could ever go back to that level of focus with running.
I did finally give in today and register for the Prairie State Half Marathon. I'd love to run a sub 2:20 there, but really it's no big deal either way. I am more excited about the scenery and backdrop for the race, the company (Kim has graciously offered to pace me if her schedule permits), and the fact that I'll likely have some family members there who have never seen me run a race before. Who cares about anything else?
I also started looking at other races for the rest of 2013 and for 2014. I definitely want to run the Wisconsin Half Marathon again. I am considering giving the Chicago Marathon another try next year, pending a potential change to a registration lottery-system. I've spoken at length about my other must-do races, e.g. the ones hosted by PAWS or the Blackhawks. Other than that, I think I am in a race rut where I am looking for races that are very different or very unique to pique my interest. (No color races, mud races, glow races, etc., though. I'm more of a purist when it comes to running races.)
Several runners have the goal to run races in all 50 states and all seven continents. I think these are fabulous goals and there is nothing that I would love more than to travel the world to run races. Unfortunately, I am challenged by limited vacation time and funds.
Speaking of which, my travel bug is biting me big-time. This is somewhat mollified by having just booked a trip to Central America for next March. It's a topic for a whole other post but in short, the travel bug still itches incessantly.
Running is certainly not just about running races, of course. On a related note, I've put forth a recent effort to improve my eating habits. Much has been written and discussed about the benefits of "clean" eating (i.e. eating healthy, fresh, unprocessed foods) and I am trying to abide by these guidelines as much as possible. For example, boxes of instant mashed potatoes used to be a staple in my pantry. Now I try to cook whole potatoes instead, and save the instant potatoes for emergencies.
|Yeah, it's kind of like that.|
I've even been trying to cut down on the amount of fruit juice that I drink in favor of drinking plain water and eating whole fruits. (Since I usually drink orange juice like it's going out of style, this has been quite a change for me.)
As you might guess, I've definitely had varying measures of success with trying to eat better. I still love cookies and brownies and ice cream, and it's still tough to contain myself when it comes to salty snacks like chips or crackers with cheese. It's a process, but at least things are headed in a positive direction.
|I think it matters less which way you go - just as long as you aren't standing still.|
This sign obviously begs to differ.
Where am I going with this? Other than trying to keep my fitness pursuits balanced, diverse, and novel from both a healthy and a hedonistic perspective, I'm not sure. But that's okay because not all goals have to be measurable. In fact, it's probably better that some goals aren't. It's always great to enjoy the results of your work - but you can also enjoy just getting to do the work. It doesn't always matter whether or not there's an end goal in mind.
Here's the motto of the day (and no, my love of cookies will never change):