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Mind over body

March 11, 2010

Photo courtesy POPPERFOTO

“First I out wit them and then I out hit them.”

This is a my favorite quote by Muhammad Ali. He may be best known for “swoop like a butterfly and sting like a bee,” but I think the above quote is his smartest.

Ali understood something that is difficult to grasp, or if grasped is difficult to put in practice. He recognized the power of the mind, the fact that it is the linchpin to your body’s actions and the amazing ease with which it can be influenced.

This lesson isn’t exclusive to running. I could just as easily write this on my other blog, which is more business and digital media oriented, but it is a lesson that proves true every time I tie my running shoes.

When I think about failing at my goal, get distracted by negative things in my life or loose mental focus my performance is affected. When I think clearly, positively and coherently my performance improves.

When running, you may be trying to outwit your opponents…”I will draft him until there are only two miles left” or “I’m going to sprint out in front of  her so she thinks she doesn’t stand a chance.” More often though, I find that I am trying to outwit myself. I need to trick myself into thinking I have more energy than I feel like I do. Usually if my mind believes I have the energy my body will follow along, and its almost always the case that I really did have that energy.

St. Patrick’s Day Races

March 11, 2010
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St. Patrick’s Day is coming and that means St. Patrick’s day races will be held around the country for the next ten days. St. Patrick’s Day races are usually a great time. They turn into a big party where the runs are followed by hearty, fun-filled drinking.

If you’re interested in running a St. Patty’s day race, head on over to Active.com’s page and search by zip code.

Running in the rain

March 11, 2010

Are you an outdoor or indoor runner? Do you prefer the open road and varied conditions or the controlled environment of a gym?

Almost every runner I know that travels more than a couple miles at a time would chose to run outdoors. The outdoors offers changing scenery, unpredictable conditions and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. There is something utterly gratifying about traveling from one destination to another by foot. As Juha Väätäinen said “Stadiums are for spectators. We runners have nature and that is much better. “

As much as I love to run outdoors, I lament doing it while raining. If that rain goes beyond a light drizzle I am one of the first in line for my place in the comfy, cozy gym. I don’t know what it is, why can’t I enjoy running in the rain?

Every now and then I’ll see somebody running in the rain and they almost always have a smile on their face. What is it about their mindset and view of life that allows them to enjoy running in the rain, but not me?

I’d like to blame my aversion to running in the rain on level-headedness. I think to myself, “if I run in these wet conditions I will ruin my shoes, vaporize my ipod and get sick.” In reality, I can always pull out the old running shoes, leave the ipod at home and take a warm shower as soon as the run is over. Its not the external factors, so what is it? Somebody explain it to me. Why do some people love to run in the rain and others don’t?

Ugh! Can I run on my stress fracture?

March 10, 2010

I’ve been having leg pain pretty consistently for about two months. Five weeks ago it became pretty clear that I had shin splints. I tried to be smart rather than stubborn. I decreased my running, started icing my leg and increased my stretching.

I was scheduled to run a relay half-marathon with my fiancee’s company because they needed the runners and plans were made before my injury really progressed. Due to the pain, I volunteered for the 3-mile leg of the 13 mile race, meaning my team members would each run the 5-mile legs.

The 3-mile leg kicked the race off. I decided that since I was running a short distance, I would try to run it at my normal pace rather than slow things down. I wasn’t able to run my regular pace, but it wasn’t a terrible time either. I ran the initial 3 miles in 20:31. When I got to the checkpoint, my teammate was nowhere to be found. He decided to run the first 3 miles as well because he wanted to run the full half-marathon. This would’ve been fine except it left me with nobody to give the timing chip. I decided instead of waiting several minutes for him I would just run to the next checkpoint.

As a result, my short 3-mile run turned into a still short, but not as short 8-mile run. Again the time wasn’t horrible, but at mile 4 I felt my shin splint get worse–painfully worse. I trudged on and made it to the 8-mile checkpoint about 15 minutes before my teammate that was running the whole race did, so in terms of race results it was a very good idea to continue on. Unfortunately, I knew that my body paid the price for running a longer distance than I should have while trying to recover from injury.

By all accounts, my shin splints have evolved into a stress fracture. I’m not too happy about it. Scratch that, I’m very unhappy about it. It’s particularly distressing because it comes 2 weeks before a marathon I was scheduled to run in Washington DC.

I know its not smart, but what does everybody think about the prospect of running on a stress fracture? The majority of people out there seem to think its a terrible idea.

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Walk before you run

March 10, 2010

Izzy

It would be impolite of me to write about myself, my journey and the running community without giving a formal introduction. Seeing as this is the inaugural post at “Broken Hearted Runner,” I can think of no better time.

My name is Jake. I’m from Washington DC originally, but now live in Charlotte, NC. Aside from running, I also love backpacking, reading, cooking, playing corn hole in the backyard, trivial pursuit and anything else that has a shred of competition. I have an amazing fiancee and a great dog.

Now that some of that basic information is out of the way and we know each other a little better, I think I can tell you the reason I’m writing this blog.

I became an avid runner in October of 2008, but it was a strange path to get to that point. I’ve always been active. I played lacrosse, soccer, baseball, basketball, wrestling, golf, squash and probably some other sports as a kid. In fact, I feel bad for how many practices and games my parents had to take me to. I was always pretty good with athletics. I  even played for my college’s lacrosse and golf team. All-in-all I had a great childhood with a tremendous amount of physical activity.

When I was 14 I was diagnosed with an aortic insufficiency, which is essentially a hole in the aortic valve that causes blood to leak. The leak causes the heart to work harder. As it turned out, the heart issue was simply a result of a birth defect–nothing out of the ordinary. I went on living a completely normal life, going to school, playing sports, dating girls, getting into college. The only change in my life was regular appointments with a cardiologist to get EKGs, Echocardiograms and stress tests.

I went off to Kenyon College, a great liberal arts school in Gambier, OH with about 1500 students. While there, I played lacrosse, joined a fraternity, met my future fiancee (soon to be wife) and had a great time. I came home from my freshman year to news that my heart simply couldn’t take it anymore and surgery needed to be done to fix my aorta. I was excited about it. This meant I would be fixed and I wouldn’t have to worry about when surgery would happen.

I had my first surgery on my 19th birthday at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I came through the surgery without a hitch, but the fix didn’t last as long as everybody thought. This fix was supposed to last at least ten years, but made it only four.

I went back into surgery at 23-years-old. This time, instead of fixing the hole in my aorta the doctors decided it would be best to just replace it altogether. I had the choice between an artificial valve and a tissue valve. The artificial valve would last much longer, but would make me a more sedentary person. The tissue valve would have a shorter lifespan, but I would be free to exercise and backpack if everything went smoothly. I obviously went with option B–the tissue valve.

The fantastic doctors at Carolina Medical Center in Charlotte, NC made it so my heart was quite literally better than it had ever been. It only took three months to have the smallest leak I’ve ever had. The recuperation process was also much easier than the first surgery.

Even though my cardiologist was furious with me, I was back on an elliptical six weeks after surgery and a treadmill eight weeks after.

This started my passion for running. I fell in love with running like I never had before. I thought it was boring unless it was a means to scoring a goal or winning a point. I didn’t realize how challenging running could be, how competitive you can get with yourself and others and how cathartic it is.

I started with a 5-mile race, that turned into a half-marathon and finally I ran my first marathon 15 months after surgery. It was the most amazing feeling. It was a rush of accomplishment, fatigue, relief and pride all at once.

I’m always looking for new ways to enjoy running and new ways to challenge myself. Since that last surgery I’ve gone skydiving, zip-lining and other extreme sports, but nothing has given me the exhilarating feeling running does every day.

So that’s my story. That is how I became a runner. I know everybody has an amazing story about why they chose to run or why they are meant to run. I would love to hear them and anything else you want to share about your accomplishments, journeys or running.

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