It’s amazing how our mind can work for us, against us, and how it can change over time. Reflecting back to my childhood and through my early 40s, I hated running to run and only did it early in my life as it was used to train for football and baseball. When I stopped playing softball at age 45 I was interested in trying out the sport of triathlon and before you know it, my perspective changed in so many ways about running, exercising for fitness, competition and life.
I quickly fell in love with running and of the three disciplines in triathlon, I HAVE to run. I love biking and really like swimming, but I LOVE and HAVE to run. I have some of my best creative thoughts when I get out for a long slow run. I have also learned so much about myself through many failures and successes. It’s a constant journey to learn more about myself through running and doing all this multi-sport gloriousness.
In this blog you will see a remarkable journey written by Lauren Nolan who has used running to conquer many life lessons and barriers in a very short time. After beginning to run just a short time ago she has already run two 5k races and her first half marathon since Thanksgiving. She has also gotten really fast quickly…so fun to watch. To do all this she fuels herself exceptionally well on a whole foods plant-based lifestyle.
Lauren’s Run Journey
Growing up I never really enjoyed running as a sport as I felt it was lonely. You run on the road with just your thoughts. I also didn’t like the feeling that you had to push yourself to another level of being uncomfortable to get to a certain time or speed. Now that I am older, I appreciate the sport because OF those two things. I like how running gives my mind a quiet space for a bit to think and organize my thoughts. I find it very therapeutic. I also like that I have to push myself to feel uncomfortable. Feeling uncomfortable is where growth happens and that’s a good thing. The reason I chose a half marathon was because a year ago I would have never thought it was possible for me to run that distance. I also like the challenge of longer distance runs.
Leading up to my first half marathon race I ate a very clean diet. I am already plant-based and with three weeks prior to the race I only ate food with one or two ingredients and little to no sugar. I made protein shakes with cacao and peanut butter, ate rice bowls with beans and vegetables, Acai and Pitaya bowls, and Chickpea Pasta. Lots of berries (my favorite) as well.
My biggest challenge along the way was myself. I always doubted my ability in anything I did which stemmed from my childhood. My first run race was a Turkey Trot 5k this past Thanksgiving. I then competed in my first triathlon in December and another 5K run race in January. At the beginning of November, I couldn’t run more than four miles. I physically could run, but mentally I couldn’t get past the distance. In order to get past it mentally, I ran in a group with other runners. Having support with others with like minded goals made such a difference. After I passed four miles I knew I needed to start believing in myself. I went to eight and then 11 miles. After 11 I progressed to 14 and I now run 15 miles as my long distance runs in a given week.
My recovery runs are 4 -6 miles now and they feel like nothing. It feels so crazy how the mind and body adapt so quickly. I love running distance now because when it gets hard in the last few miles, the body is tired and I want to quit but persevere through it. The feeling of accomplishment that I didn’t quit on myself is so satisfying. Once I broke those barriers in my head, I was able to train more effectively and had the confidence that I could actually run 13.1 miles in a race and complete it.
Having two boys at two different schools with different schedules for school, sports and work, I make sure I get my training done early in the morning. I always make sure I make time for myself during the day. I really believe this is very important and early morning is the best time for me. During the week I usually wake up between 4:15-4:30 AM every morning and run between 6-8 miles, do yoga stretches and some meditation all before 6:45 AM. It’s such a great feeling knowing what I accomplished already in the day before most people are awake.
Alan and I picked the Publix Florida Marathon and Half Marathon Race because it was a larger race with a challenging course. The race course included two very large bridges with the final one located in the last mile! It was also a great race because it was a destination race for us. It was a way to explore a different part of Florida.
Race morning, I was surprisingly very calm and not nervous. In my head, I knew I ran longer distances in previous weeks and knew I ate very well leading up to the race. Having Alan there to support me was huge as well. He made sure I was hydrated, had lace locks in my shoes, wore proper socks and mentally knowing he was there helped me. I knew he would be there near the finish supporting me as I knew I would be struggling in the final mile.
One thing I did not anticipate was how wet my socks and shoes would be. Race day was much warmer and humid than the weeks leading up to so I was not as prepared to run in those conditions. The sock on my left heel slid down at mile 11 and my shoe was rubbing on my heel for the final two miles. I just gritted the pain dealing with the large developing blister and kept running. I felt so happy to see the finish line and cross it. It was very therapeutic for me. Running and finishing the race meant more than just a running race to me. It was a mental block I was able to overcome.
My next race will be another half marathon on March 7. What I learned from my first half marathon was to stick to pacing, make sure to fuel myself half way through, and most importantly, make sure my socks are high enough they don’t slide down! I’ve been building miles every week in preparation to the race and stretching a lot. I feel stretching before and after a run is so important in training. I am almost never sore and my legs very rarely feel heavy. I am looking forward to this race to see how I have improved. I am also curious about how pacing is going to feel because I know my overall fitness is better than it was a few weeks ago. I am also looking forward to a bridgeless flat course!
A Few Take-Aways
Lauren’s story is very inspiring. I am so happy to be a part of her progression in running and triathlon but more importantly the life lessons and growth she has felt through all this. I remember her sitting in her car watching us run at track practice to then – walk the track – walk-run – run-walk – run – and then do the workouts with us. Now I run with her on 15 mile runs…what an amazing journey from not being able to run four miles just a couple months ago… she just to ran her longest two days ago – 15.1 miles…yay! When you set your mind to something, surround yourself with positive people, show up every day with a can-do attitude – anything can happen and Lauren is a great example of just that.
I can’t wait to cheer her on March 7 in Sarasota!
– Add Health to Your Life