If you’ve payed attention to any of my social media outlets you know that I friggin LOVE to run. I started running almost 7 years ago with my first 5k race – the Corporate 5k Run. I trained for 3 full months for that race due to several injuries I accumulated in my teenage years (i.e. skateboarding, rollerblading, bmx-ing, general dumb-ass-ery). Needless to say I had some challenges to overcome physically, even though I always considered myself to be in fairly good shape.
I began slow with 1 mile as my goal. It took me almost a month to be able to run a full mile at the grand pace of about 12 minutes….yeah, I sucked THAT BAD. :-\ But as I kept at it and steadily got stronger my 1 mile turned into 2 and then 3, and then I was ready for my first race.
I don’t remember my finishing time for that first race (I’m sure I could look it up, but I’m lazy), but what I do remember is the feeling I had upon finishing. It had nothing to do with what place I finished or how fast I ran, but it had everything to do with a feeling of simple peace and time spent with myself and my own thoughts and prayers. That, and a lot of adrenaline. It was, in short, an amazing experience and I was hooked. Big Time.
I couldn’t possible count the number of miles I’ve run since that first race. I’m sure it’s up near the thousands, and if you add in cycling…well, you get the idea. I’ve run the last 6 River Run’s in a row, each one faster than the other and I have a drawer full of race t-shirts that my wife threatens to chuck daily.
This tale isn’t all fluffy bunnies, roses, and tulips however. At some point your body simply says “hey! wait a minute, something ain’t right here!!” and you find yourself sliding backwards and suddenly runs that were easy and times that were quick are now very difficult and slow. That happened to me.
A little less than a year ago I started getting shin splints again and very strange cramps. I’d take it easy for a few days and I’d be fine for a little while, but then it would come back. Finally I talked to my wife about it (she was a ballet dancer for nearly 20 years so she knows a thing or two about sports injuries) and she suggested taking a Pilates class. At first I was like….”uh….but that’s for chics”. But then I was like “wait, hot chics stretching and bending….SIGN ME UP!”
So I got to this Pilates class at the Yates YMCA in Riverside (we’re members and we’re cool like that) and at first I thought, yeah I can do this. But then it was more like “wait, my body isn’t supposed to do that!” Thankfully that doesn’t last long.
Fast forward to today and I’ve been taking Pilates from Jeanette, who also has her own sweet blog going on, and it has improved not only my running but my overall health as well. As an experiment to see what kind of results I was really getting, I started doing longer runs at faster times. This led me to add onto that giving up meat for a month (everyone saw my No Meat March post, right?) and then ran the River Run in the middle of all this craziness. Yeah, in less than 2 months I went from a struggling 9 minute mile to a 8:00 mile average. In this years’ River Run (15k for those who don’t know) I finished in under 1:17:00 with an average pace of 7:50 per mile.
Since the River Run I’ve continued Pilates (it’s now my Saturday morning thing if you want to join me), I’ve continued the healthy eating and my average running time is nearing 7:30 and my average 5k is under 24 minutes. At 32 I’m in better shape than I was at 22 or at any other time in my life, really.
Lesson learned for all you guys out there:
Get your ass into a Pilates class. And then go run.