Friday, August 19, 2016

Distance Running

I've run seven 5K races this year...and I'm still alive!  Last year, I reflected on my parents and sister running--and my effort at joining them in a practice, that "running/walking a 5K without any training is a nice, slow, painful way to die."  But I've been training!
My whole family--parents, two sisters, and brother--runs.  We train together, and often run 5Ks together.  My mom and sister are perhaps the most serious runners.  They do half marathons.  And you'll never guess what my sister did to celebrate her birthday...she ran 15 miles!

My father does 5Ks and 10Ks, and... he's faster than me!  His latest 5K time is under 25 minutes!  My brother is the fastest in the family, with a best time of 22:38.

I started training with my folks before the snow melted this spring.  My first race was in Parkersburg, Iowa on May 28th.  I finished at 27:06.  My fastest 5K so far was in Iowa Falls on July 4th, where I finished with 25:57.  My most recent race was August 13th in Waterloo, where I was only 3 seconds off my record time.
What I've Learned in my First Six Months of Running

1.  Good Running Shoes are *Very* Important!
 I hate being wasteful.  I shop at thrift stores.  I wear my clothes until they look worn, and then wear them as work clothes until they are torn.  Then I duct tape them and wear them some more.  I had this same attitude toward shoes until I started running.
I started running with cheap (maybe $13?) old Walmart tennis shoes.  They didn't have any holes in them, so I figured they'd be fine.  Well, guess what?!  After a few practice 5Ks my toes hurt...and after a couple more runs ignoring the pain, I had a couple beautiful purple toenails!  

Now I may be stingy, but I do like wearing sandals.  My chances of wearing them this summer had been ruined!  So I decided I better run to the shoe store and get some decent running shoes!

I'm on my second pair of Nike Training Flex Supreme TR4s.  I love their appearance.  They're comfortable, and they've served me well.  My first pair was about $70 and my second around $80.  This is actually pretty cheap compared with the shoes some of my fellow runners purchase!

2. Bananas are pretty awesome!
It's likely you know bananas are good for you.  But if you're a runner, bananas are pretty much the most important race food--right after bottled water!  It's commonly believed that bananas will reduce your chances of experiencing cramps.
At most races, you will be greeted by a table of ice-cold bottled water and bananas after the finish line.  Many races also have granola bars, bagels, or cookies to help you renew your energy supply.

 My sister and parents have told me about races where omelets and pancakes are served, but I haven't been fortunate enough to attend one of those yet.

3.  It's important to warm up and cool down!
You know all those weird stretches and calisthenics people do?  They are done for a reason!  If I don't get my muscles warmed up before a race, I won't give my best performance.
I do some static stretching, and then move on to dynamic--jogging a little, running backwards, skipping sidewise, and doing the side-straddle hop.  Sometimes I'll do a quick sprint.  A lot of times I'll just copy my mom (who was in the military) and sister (who does boot camp workouts with my mom occasionally).

Keeping moving after running (and going through a similar routine--though with less vigor) is also very important if I don't want to cramp up after a race.

3. Keep good form!
I used to think running was just all about moving quickly.  But if you want to run long distances without injury, you have to have good form.  
That means keeping your feet under your hips (as opposed to in front of you), landing on just the right spot on the sole of your foot, leaning forward from the ankles, keeping a straight upper body, and good posture so your lungs can do their job.  

 If you land on your entire foot or your heel, instead of your sole, your landing will not be cushioned, and you could get joint pain.  If your feet are in front of you (rather than under you), you could get hip problems.  Going down hill especially, your feet will act as a brake and slow you down.  

And your arms need to have a back-and-forth motion instead of sideways, crossing in front of you, as sideways motion wastes energy (I'm still working on that one).  My parents actually watch all the videos on good form on Youtube and tell me about them...they're effectively my coaches.

4. Rest, nutrition, and hydration are essential!
If you want your body to perform well, you have to take good care of it!  You have to give your muscles rest days.  I always take at least one day a week off from training--and always rest the day before a race.
My mom took us out to celebrate at the International Buffet after our latest 5K.
I'm also much more intentional on making sure I get enough sleep at night.  If I don't, sometimes I have to supplement it with naps during the day (especially when recovering on a race day).

Proper nutrition is needed to have the energy to finish the race.  I can't eat the morning of a race because I don't want any undigested food bouncing around in my stomach.  So I make sure I eat plenty the day before.  Generally I eat a lot of carbs, but I also have found I love salad...and chicken! 

One evening my mom ate an ice cream bar the night before a run... (the rest of us begged and pleaded with my parents not to get us ice cream, as that might ruin our times) and she did great the next morning.  So I decided to give it a try once too.  I ate a banana and a chocolate coated ice cream bar, and I believe I set a record the next morning, so maybe ice cream *is* good for runners!

Hydration is also very essential!  If I don't properly hydrate the day before and morning of a race, I get an unpleasant side-ache either right before the finish line (which isn't great for my time), or right after.    I also get too hot and too thirsty.  My father always tells us the day before a race, "Be sure to get liquidated!"  Haha...the English language is so interesting...

5.  There are races nearly every weekend...and you will have no lack of t-shirts!
Before we were runners we were oblivious to the fact that there are races in one town or another just about every weekend!  There's an active community of runners...just like there are communities of chess players, ham radio operators, and political activists!  
At every race I've been to, runners are given a packet. The packet includes your bib number, a few safety pins to attach it, and sometimes key chains, coupons, bottle holders, bags, or nuts, but always a t-shirt advertising the race.  You select your size when you register.  Some of these t-shirts are super comfortable and fit well--others have designs I don't like, or they don't fit...so I give those away and just keep the ones I like.

6.  Nearly anyone can do it!
I was just looking at one of my to-do lists from a couple years ago, and noted that I had running a mile on the list.  I was always much more interested in mental exercises like chess, and though I've always been thin, I've never been fit.  My arm and core strength (or lack-of-strength) is still pitiful, but it feels great to be able to run (I've even managed a couple 10Ks in training).
Even better, it's great to see my parents in great shape!  My father is pushing 60.  This winter I could keep up with him easily, just speed-walking most of the way.  Now I can't keep up with him at all!  And my mom has super-strong endurance...I can't keep up with her either. 

 At these races you'll see all ages.  There are little children.  There are grandparents.  There are overweight people and very fit people.  Last race I was at, I talked with a girl who finished in about 24:00, who suffers from fibromyalgia. At Sturgis Falls even an 87-year-old man with a walker finished the 5K!

7.  Running is fun.
Oooh yeah!  I thought it was all about suffering and sore muscles...but no.  Actually now my legs ache when I don't run!  I love competing, spending time with my family, meeting new people, breathing the fresh air, and watching the scenery go by (as quickly as possible)!
Find a running/walking partner and give it a try!

Check out my sister's writings at The Journeys of Faith, to read about some of her races!

Check out my other sister's (Charity's) reflections on running at her blog With Charity.

Credit for most of the photos in this post goes to my sister @JourneysofFaith,  Siripon Schunk (Yai), & Charity!  Thanks!

59 comments:

  1. Omelets and pancakes? Sign me up! Haha, jk. Running is so fun! I ran a 5 mile run one time through an apple orchard. That was the funnest one I've done. They served all-things Apple afterwards. I've also done the color run, which was fun, too, but very muddy as it had rained the day before. Can't wait to start running again after the baby is born! It's so great you get to do it with your entire family!

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    1. Oooh, wow! The race through the orchard sounds like a good one! That would have been interesting to get a color run and mud run in one race! I've heard about both, but just these regular 5Ks are still enough of a challenge for me.

      Ahhh, I hate it when the ladies pushing baby buggies pass me! :D Cheers to you on soon joining that crowd! And blessings for you and your baby!

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  2. I've never done a 5k before, but I've done a few mile races of sorts. I'd struggle to get what they got for 5k just at a mile. I always liked sprints more than long endurance runs.

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    1. Sprints can be fun. We do some sprint-training once in a while at the track, running 400s. It's good for building speed for the longer races.

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  3. I've thought about running...my Dad, and sis do. Thanks for the food for thought :)

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    1. Great that your family runs. Thinking about running is good mental exercise. ;)

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  4. What great fun, Bethany. I ran cross country in college and ever since then I have loved to get outside and run. There is something delightful about the fresh air and the feeling of accomplishment when you push yourself harder than the last time.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your photos. Have a great weekend! Hugs!

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    1. So neat to learn you are a runner as well, Stephanie!

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  5. Cheers for you and your family! I enjoyed learning about what you are learning about running, Bethany. I am still aiming to swim three hours a week and I know I feel stronger for it. I am glad that you all are benefiting not only from running, but from doing it together! xx

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    1. Awesome that you swim three hours a week, Gracie! I am not a strong swimmer at all. In fact I almost dread getting into the water, since I had swimmer's ear a couple times--no fun at all! I do know swimming is one of the best exercises for you since it works so many muscles, without the friction you get from running! Keep up the great work!

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  6. Hello Bethany!:) It was so nice to see you again. Thank you for your visit.:) I'm afraid you lost me for a while during your political posts.:)) I admire your interest in politics however, and all your other interests,...and now this. How wonderful that you can train and run with your family. You all look so fit, and I have no doubt that whatever you do you put your heart and soul into it. This was an interesting post on how to run and train correctly, but it's not for me. At my age going on 80, I think I do just fine walking for two hours a day.

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    1. I do have a few more political posts coming up, but I'll try to keep some variety in my posts, so I don't lose you again! :) Walking two hours a day is great!

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  7. I think it's great that your family share a hobby that so good for you. I agree that good running shoes are important.

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    1. Just about everything is funner with family! Thanks for stopping by, Carlyn!

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  8. Running is a healthy sport and cheap one

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    1. Relatively cheap, I suppose, but the entry fees for all the 5Ks we go to do seem to add up! :)

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  9. Hi Bethany, You and your family are an inspiration! These are great pictures you have shared. I turn 59 next week, so I'm probably about the age of your dad. Health concerns keep me grounded these days, but in high school I was a very fast runner. It's great that your family shares this passion and there are so many benefits from just being outdoors and watching what you eat before and after races. Enjoy the weekend.

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    1. Awesome that you ran in high school! Have a great weekend as well!

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  10. Oh, wow! This is so interesting. I admire your courage and dedication! My family and I have only begun to walk. We are trying to walk about 1.8 to 2.0 miles per day, by God's grace. I can't even imagine actually RUNNING! Whew! I am so overweight and out of shape, it is pitiful. But, I am trying and determined to get this weight off, by the help of the Lord. It is a slow, very frustrating process!! You have encouraged and motivated me to keep going! I SO appreciate your modesty! OH, it was so good to see that. What a shining light you and your family are! Have a blessed day, sweet friend. :)

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    1. You have an *awesome* start if you're walking 1.8-2.0 miles a day, Cheryl! Keep up the great work! Persistence pays off, and slow, steady progress adds up!

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  11. I loved the article and the pictures!!!

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  12. Hi Bethany, Comprehensive coverage on running! Nice work. One thing I must compliment you on is the variety of topics you cover on Today Liberty or Death. I'm very impressed with the Carson family. I wonder if there is some way to nominate you guys for Iowan Family of the Year? :-) Wishing you, and the whole family, a fine weekend.

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    1. Ha! Thanks John. Life is interesting--so much to experience, and I'm sure I only try a fraction of the possibilities. It seems the more I learn and experience, the more I realize I have yet to learn and see! Have a great weekend as well.

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  13. Much congrats to you, girl. Love the last shot the most. What a great shot. My second pick is the one with just the sneakers. But the one with you, trumps the single sneakers any day of the week.

    Keep up the great work :-)

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    1. I was outside doing a photo-shoot of my tennis shoes...ah, that sounds *so* strange...and my sister offered to get one of me with my shoes. :D Thanks for stopping by, Happy Whisk, and all the best in your running as well!

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    2. I don't run or train like you guys do. I'm a light jogger who just did a half-marathon for the fun of it. Now that the demo is done, I'm back to walk/jogging, which is really nice.

      Again, loved your pictures. Happy Running to YOU :-)

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    3. Oh my...it's "light joggers" like you who just do half-marathons "for the fun of it" who make those of us who intentionally run and train feel bad! :D My father was talking with an older gentleman before a 5K not too long ago, and he told us, "Oh, I'm not a serious runner. I just do these races once in a while for fun." Then he proceeded to finish 4th overall if I recall.

      Anyone who can do a half-marathon "for the fun of it" (or for whatever reason) is pretty impressive if you ask me! Thank *you* for being an inspiration. And happy "light jogging!" :)

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  14. Alot of good information here Bethany. Good luck with your running.

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  15. What an inspiration you and your family are! I enjoyed all of your photos but the last one is my favorite...you are such a cutie!

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    1. Thanks for your kind comment, Debby! We have a lot of fun!

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  16. What a wonderful thing to be doing with your family! It sounds like hard work but you all seem to be doing great. I love that last photo of you! And the one of the running shoes. Very nice shot. A good pair of shoes is indeed very important for these types of events.

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  17. Great healthy looking family Bethany. It is inspiring that you enjoy this sport together...Janey

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    1. It's fun to be able to do something the whole family enjoys together.

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  18. How nice that your whole family is involved in running together and keeping in such great shape.
    I'm not a runner but as a walker I agree about the shoes. So very important.
    Lots a good and helpful advice you have given us.
    Happy Running. : )

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    1. I enjoy your walking updates! Thanks Happyone!

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  19. CUTE running skirt! Very fresh and active!

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    1. Thanks Christine! I was looking for running skirts online, and the ones I liked were a bit pricey (about $70). Then I found this one at a thrift store for only a few dollars, so I was pretty happy!

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  20. I love the photo of your family! You are all an inspiration!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Mari! We have fun. :)

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  21. First of all, congratulations for doing this sport. Running is very good, and you can keep in form and healthy. I think 25 minutes for 5 KM is a very good achievement. I see that you are well informed about running, and how to achieve a good performance. As for your sister she is in good form, because she runs a half marathon. I think you could also run such a distance, with the proper training.

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    1. I probably could if I wanted to badly enough to train for it, but I'm pretty happy with just the shorter 5Ks for now. Half marathons look like a lot of work!

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  22. Congrats Bethany!!That's so awesome! I've only run in a 1 mile race -and my goal is to work towards losing more weight and being in better shape so I can run a 5k in the future. I have some hip issues (due to spine alignment issues)...so with some extra weight on it really doesn't help.

    I love all of the great tips and the pics...especially that last one of you with the shoes. So cute! Lol ;)

    Keep on runnin' Girlie! xoxo

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    1. Thanks! Awesome that you've done a mile; we all have to start somewhere and work up! I started with just running a quarter mile around our acreage.

      All the best to you on your weight-loss journey! I had some very minor issues for a while with my hip due to weak rotator muscles (i.e. a hip click), and that was super annoying. So I'm sure hip problems due to spine alignment issues are no fun at all. Will be hoping your hip is better soon. Take care, Carrie!

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  23. Good for you, Bethany! How fun that you all do it together.

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    1. Amen; it is fun! Thanks for stopping by!

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  24. Bethany
    Your family practitioner sport is an inspiration for you.
    Kisses.

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  25. that's really awesome. good for ALL of you. :)

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  26. That's great you all run! I run too.... but only when I'm being chased.

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  27. Kudos to you and your family, Bethany! It takes many things to be a good athlete, and discipline is perhaps the most challenging. Really enjoyed this post for the great info and personal pics. Keep on runnin'!

    Poppy

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    1. Ahhh, yes, actually getting out there and running can be slightly difficult in the early morning hours. What will really be interesting though will be finding out if I have the discipline to train in the cold this winter... Last year my mom and sister ran through cold, wind, and snow. I might end up taking the winter off and just starting again next spring, but then I might lose everything I've gained. Ah! For now I will just enjoy the good weather and hope for a mild winter!

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  28. Wow, I have just recently gotten into running and am training for a 5K with this plan: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/5k-run/art-20050962?pg=2
    And then I'll be going on to training for a 10K. So, I was really excited about seeing your post because there is so much I'm still wondering about and this helped me some. I'm definitely needing a pair of running shoes. Haha, I know I'm surprised at how many 5K's are going on nearby now that I'm paying attention. I always thought they were really rare. That's cool about bananas and it's really great that your whole family is into running so that you get to spend time doing something y'all enjoy together! Thanks for all the information!

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