Training: Watch the Hair

Finding My Running Stride

One of us won a medal, 3rd in age group. Guess who?

I’ve been running long enough to know that my first mile is always awkward. My breathing is ragged and uneven, and my arms and legs flail around like they’ve never tried this before. I know how it feels; I just never really knew how it looked.

On Tuesday night, we had our usual track workout. It’s September, so by the time we get started at 6:30 PM, the sun is already running low and golden over the hill. The shadows are long and you have ample opportunity to see your form stretched out before you on the track. And that’s when I noticed something very interesting.

On the first three or four laps around the track, I could see my ponytail absolutely thrashing around. It was the most noticeable feature of my shadow: WHACK-WHACK-WHACK-WHACK, back and forth. It was so obvious that it was completely comical. As other shadows passed, it looked like my hair was trying to slice their heads off, like a machete.

But then I came around for the next lap and noticed the strangest thing: the ponytail had gotten eerily still. In fact, it wasn’t movingĀ at all. That’s when I noticed that my breathing wasn’t as ragged, and my stride felt more comfortable.

I’d found the zone.

That’s when I realized something interesting: all of those years where I lumbered along for the first quarter-mile or half-mile stretch thinking, “This sucks! I don’t know how to run!” it may have just been my body trying to find its stride.

Who would have guessed?

Also a surprise: the child’s love of running. I run, but I don’t love it. He does. So after his 4th of July 3k (that turned out to be a 4k), I had promised him that he could move up to a 5k when he was 6. I meant that we could upgrade to the longer race next 4th of July. He interpreted it as “on my 6th birthday.”

So guess what I did this morning, the day after running a 10-miler with the team?

Yep. That’s love.

Captain America, at your service.

He ran like a champ and landed the 3rd place spot in his age group, an accomplishment that I’ve never even come close to matching. A guy dressed as Captain America announced his name and he jumped onto the podium like an old pro.

On the way home, he said, “I earned this medal. You get lots of medals just for showing up. But this one? I EARNED it. I like that!”

What an awesome lesson to learn.

Other words of wisdom: “Mom, I wanted to say thank you for getting up before the sunrise on your sleep-in day. I appreciate you. Do you want my medal for being awesome?” I assured him that his offer was all the prize that I needed.

Did you run any races this weekend?

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3 Responses

  1. What a sweet little guy! And yes to the first mile sucking in a Why Can’t My Body Remember How to Run kind of way. We just did this yesterday, body!

  2. Alisa says:

    I have another evening workout tonight. My goal: to find my stride when I’m less than a mile in. I think it might be an impossible dream.

  3. Greg O. says:

    They say for long-ish races like a half-marathon to consider the first mile of the race your actual warm up, rather then spending time pre-race on strides, sprints, 20min of easy running, etc.

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