Sometimes running gets in the way of training, and it's just what you need. An ode to the SoCal Volée
I should have spent the past two weeks amping up my training in prep for an upcoming spring trail run. Guess what happened. Running got in the way…
A year ago after moving to LA I had lost my interest in running. I had spread myself to thin, trying to serve too many people, doing “all the things” but not listening to my own running needs. This created burnout and I took a break. I found running love again via trail running but as I reflect on the past two weeks I realized something else too, I have fallen back in love with being of service to the running community.
This month was the LA marathon. For those of you that know me, know I love marathons. I may be on a break from them right now, but my heart will always have a special place in it for this distance. My love is not actually about the race, it’s more about the journey it takes to get to the finish line. I love the challenge and structure of the training, I love the way my body evolves during the training season, and I even have a soft spot for the agony of defeat that always teaches me something. This is why I had to be a part of the LA marathon this year in one way or another.
As the LA marathon runners of the Oiselle Volée squad began increasing mileage for their upcoming race, I coordinated meet-ups in the hopes they could log the miles and share the journey with others. Each week I saw these runners bond, share stories, encourage each other and most importantly keep coming back for more. I heard many comments on how running with others, and knowing you weren’t alone in the madness of a marathon had made this training season a much more enjoyable experience.
Then came race day. We set up the Volée cheer station, and passed out cowbells to friends and family. As the morning went on, Volée members started showing up, not there to run but to support our team as they reached the hurting point of the race. One by one as the runners came by I heard the sounds of the marathon: the cheers and the clank of the cowbell. However, what caught my attention was the runners. Our Volée team lit up the course as they passed the cheer squad. This bad ass lady gang was all smiles; seriously every single gal looked fierce and strong as they flew by. I know there was pain, but what I saw in their eyes was a joy, a joy I could relate to. The joy that comes when you realized the journey of the last few months has brought you to this point. The joy of nearing the finishing line, knowing you’ve got this. That is what the marathon is all about!
Without even running this race that I love so, the Volée sent me home with a full heart.
Fast forward to this past Sunday. Back to my running, and I was scheduled to run the Hot Chocolate 15k in San Diego. Truth be told, while I had run a lot this winter, I hadn’t run a lot in the past couple weeks. I had spent alot of time preparing for marathon meet ups, and gave that a priority over time for my own training. I know this is slippery slope for me and I tried to be mindful to incorporate some sense of balance during those few weeks. After witnessing the power of running at the LA marathon and receiving so much gratitude from the LA Volée I honestly had no animosity of not making time for my training. I had gotten back my joy in helping others reach their goal and that was more valuable to me than training runs.
When I stepped up to the start line of the Hot Chocolate 15k with a few of the San Diego Volée team I had a feeling this hilly course could be a bit of a struggle. The weather was perfect, I felt great, but I knew I didn’t have enough training in to hit a good race time. Just as the negative thoughts started to enter my mind, Natalie (the other SoCal Volée leader and an all-around amazing person) suggested our group of three take this race slow and make it a fun run. We ran at a comfortable pace, walked the hills and stopped at every single sweet station (because who doesn’t love marshmallows and chocolate when running). We laughed, told stories and had the best time. It had been a long time since I had ran a race, where I wasn’t taking myself so seriously. Instead of struggling to hit a time, I noticed the beautiful scenery of San Deigo’s Balboa park, took pictures of the blooming flowers, high-fived the aid station volunteers and fed my soul with the time spent with my team.
I know I will not run races in that manner very often, because as a goal oriented runner, I need to meet running goals to drive me forward. Being a part of the SoCal Oiselle Volée compares to no other run crew I have ever been part of. The support, the love, the gratitude is always there from another runner just when you need it the most. As I crossed the finish line Sunday, I was again reminded that sometimes running gets in the way of training but sometimes that is exactly what I need.
The last 7 days have been amazing. From the responses I received from last week’s post, to cowbelling (both in real time and virtually) for the badass #Birdstrike team, to meeting up with an old and new friend for a hike. I have been inspired, uplifted and definitely ready to get trail running.
In last week’s blog I shared my thoughts with you on my struggles with training as a masters runner. I was pleasantly surprised with the responses I received from others in the same boat. It’s funny how my internet research left me answer less, but hearing from others (who too wish there were more discussion on this topic) has given me support and a few options to try.
However there was a common thread in my conversations with others, beating ourselves up for not living to our expectations, specifically as a masters runner. So many comments questioning abilities and struggles; judging performance (or lack thereof). It’s honestly like being a teenager all over again, struggling to understand how to adjust to life’s physical changes on our bodies. While there is definitely truth in the importance of eating right, and dedicated training to achieve goals, there is also the emotional side of training which we rarely talk about. I too find myself struggling at times with negative image and negative self-talk.
How am I working though this? For me, it’s Yoga.
For the record, I am not one of those runners who embraced yoga into my life. I actually fought it for many years, the poses, the time, the slowing down. I honestly didn’t understand the benefit it would bring to my training. I saw yoga as a way to stretch and keep the joints loose. It doesn’t help that I was under the mindset, if you weren’t pushing yourself to fatigue it wasn’t a true workout.
The reality is I didn’t think I was “good” at yoga. The yogis, the poses, the essential oils intimidated me. I would go to a class, and get frustrated by more experienced people in my class, I would get antsy sitting in a pose too long, I didn’t know the proper form and was too embarrassed to ask for help.
Then life changed. Not long after I moved to Los Angeles, I had a mini breakup with running. I began going through a bit of internal angst, as I had always identified as a runner. I felt my mind constantly racing, searching for something to fill the void and keep me moving. I couldn’t focus on anything specific, just scrolling through social media, listening to every podcast I could and even attempted to bake a few items (that one definitely didn’t got to well).
Here I was in LA, where there is a yoga studio on practically every street corner, but I was still fighting it a bit. Then I listed to this podcast with Julia Hanlon and Rebecca Pacheco and began to think maybe yoga wasn’t so bad after all. I tried a class or two, but still wasn’t convinced. It was when I picked up Rebecca’s book and seriously, it all changed, I began to understand that yoga wasn’t only about working out, or stretching sore muscles, it was also about learning how to be present. This book helped me understand how to break down the poses, the reasons, and the rationale behind yoga and soon realized this was exactly the mental love and strength I needed in my life.
It took me a bit of trial and error, but I have found a studio that works for me. I went to studios where everything sparkles and the music is pumping, but I felt old and out of place. I went to a few outdoor sessions but found myself getting to distracted, I even tried a candlelight session but the oils and chants were a bit much. (I also tried a few online yoga programs, but I prefer the guidance of an in-person instructor) It was when I tried a local small studio; I finally found a good fit. I found a place where the participants were age diverse, and more importantly the common thread among the teachers was the self-talk lesson during session. Each class I attended I noticed the teachers would calmly work to bring your thoughts back to your own practice, your own poses and diminish the need to look around the room to others for comparison. I found this so refreshing. I began feeling stronger in my poses, even when I fell, or didnt have the proper form. I slowly began to recognize when negative self-talk thoughts would creep up on me in class and am working toward diminishing them.
As I process some of the physical challenges I am facing with my running lately, I catch myself judging my speed, my need for more sleep and especially the muscles that get so sore after a moderate weight training session. This is something I rarely have dealt with in my running life, but lately I find myself making excuses and beating myself up for my struggles. When I put out my blog last week, I honestly didn’t expect to find out others were dealing with that too. At first, it was a bit of a relief, but then I got a little mad.
Why as women over the age of 40, trying to maintain our athletic abilities are we struggling with this type of self-talk? Maybe it was because we aren’t talking about it. We hide our feelings, not wanting to be judged. Through my yoga sessions, I am learning to recognize those thoughts and then I can push them aside. I have a long way to go, but it’s a start.
I can’t speak for others, but for me it meant a lot to know I’m not alone in these fitness struggles. My hope is we can keep the positive conversations going, in an effort to quiet that negative voice when it creeps into our head. I know this doesn’t answer the questions on how to train and perform, but at least it helps to not feel isolated and defeated.
Trail running training is starting up for me again. This is my last week of base building and next week I start a full-fledged training plan. While I can’t wait to hit the trails I am so badly craving to run on, I have one step I want
to take before I dive into a plan. I have decided to get some blood tests/panel done with recommendations on ways to enhance my performance via nutrition and supplements. I go in for my testing later this week, so stay tuned and I will share my experience.
My spring race schedule in the coming months includes:
Hot Chocolate 15k San Diego
Pasadena Trail Run 5 mile
Santa Barbara Wine Country Half
Xterra Malibu Creek 22k
I hope you will follow along as I share my journey. If you are an Oiselle Volée member, join the conversation on the Ning Masters page, I would love to hear your thoughts and share ideas. If you aren’t then comment below. Let’s keep talking, motivating and helping others reach our goals
I don’t talk about this often, but its time I face the facts. I’m 46 years old. My mind thinks my body still functions the same, uses fuel the same way, and maintains fitness the same as my 30-year-old self. However, truth be told, for the past year or so, my body says something different.
I run slower.
I have a harder time maintaining muscle.
Even though I maintain the same clean diet, I tend to gain a few pounds a bit easier than before.
I have cellulite
My blood pressure regulates my body temperature differently
Here is the thing, this is kind of freaking me out. I don’t want to lose the strength gains I have made over the years, and I’m not ok with getting slower on my runs. I get frustrated with my body reacting this way. Yes, I realize it’s part of life, but it sucks.
In all honesty, when I see other runners my age, still looking strong and meeting racing goals I get a little envious. Not in a way where I am jealous of their accomplishments, but I become less confident of my own. Funny thing..I consider myself a pretty confident gal, but understanding myself and my abilities as a masters runner is a new challenge to overcome.
Since I struggled with how to accept these changes, I wasn't comfortable speaking to others about it. So, I did what others do. I searched the interwebs hoping to find the motivation and tips I need from other masters runners…but no luck?!?! Yes, there are general comments about how to run while your body changes with age, or how to incorporate fitness and/or running at later stages of life. Funny though, no discussion, no details on how to make adjustments (both physically and mentally) to training as a female athlete over the age of 45.
So now what? Give up running…hahahaha as if that would happen. I still have goals. I realize I may have to train a little more creatively, mix up my nutrition to make sure I give my “new” body the type of fuel it needs, rest and recover a bit more, and maybe even adjust my goals to a new type of challenge.
When I am on the trails, climbing peaks and running the ridges my goal is to feel strong. Strong enough to reach heights and run the miles it takes to accomplish goals. I am a goal oriented person, I plan my seasons around what running goals I can meet and train in order to accomplish them. The work to get there isn’t always pretty, glamorous or what “athletes” may be perceived to look like. The outward appearance doesn’t matter to me, what does is the accomplishment of completing the task I set out to do, and putting in the work that allows me to enjoy the experience.
This training season will no doubt require quite a bit of learning; possibly working a bit harder, in more creative ways, accepting new methods of training (such as more strength/mobility work, more specific nutrition and weekly yoga to work the mind.) Not only do I seek to find the answers to my questions on being a female masters runner, but to share those ideas with others, in hopes that others come out of the shadows into their running ability.
I don’t have all the answers on how I will do this just yet, but I do I have a secret weapon…My powersuit. Sally Bergesen wrote an enlightening blog post and gave a beautiful talk at the Muse Women’s Conference this past weekend. Her talk discussed how apparel can give us the mental edge.
When I am out on the trails, I bring the gear I need to get me through the day, this includes fuel, hydration, even a buff to wipe away the salty sweat. More importantly I wear clothes and sometimes my Oiselle singlet that empower me. They don’t empower me to create an appearance, they empower me with their ability to function, their ability to breathe, allowing me the space to do the work. I have no doubt when I put on my power suit I can make it through a training day, one step closer to the finish line.
I hope you stick around for the ride as I find new ways to Run Fierce and Live Fit.