Giving Thanks for Running

cornstockI love this time of year when the seasons change and everyone appears a little merrier and brighter. I especially enjoy Thanksgiving, my favorite day of the year. While the emphasis is always on the dinner and all the trimmings, I try to also focus on the “Thanks Giving” part and give thanks. Here are a few reasons I am thankful for one of my favorite and most productive ways to spend my time–running:

I am thankful I am able to run. This is the most simple reason of all–I am grateful that I have a body that allows me to do what I love to do. A number of years ago, as I headed to a nearby trail head to run up a small mountain, I passed a woman in a wheelchair unable to cross the street because drivers either didn’t see her or just didn’t want to stop. I stopped my car, got out and stopped traffic so she could safely pass. This brought tears to my eyes because I realized how blessed I was and that this was not my reality. I was on my way to run a mountain and she even couldn’t cross the street. I know at anytime my running could be taken away from me and I never lose sight of that truth.

I am thankful to have an outlet to let my mind go. As an introvert, I constantly have conversations in my head; I cannot quiet it down and too much noise occurs in my brain all the time. Running is the one thing that lets my mind just wander and I don’t really think about anything. In this respect, running is quite meditative.

I am thankful for friends I’ve met through running. I now have friends in England, Ireland, Asia and across the United States because of my experiences running around the world. We all share that common bond and I’ve found runners to be pretty cool people.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Time for Thanksgiving and Running

Photo courtesy New Jersey 101.5

Photo courtesy New Jersey 101.5

As Thanksgiving nears this year, I wanted to take an opportunity to give thanks for the extraordinary happenings in the running world today. Here are a few I wish to highlight:

Volunteers. I know it’s cold and races are almost always very early in the morning. I am extremely grateful for the volunteers who show up with smiles, positive energy and pass out water. They always end up getting water and sports drinks thrown on them; racers accidentally spit on them (I’ve seen this happen), yet they are there making sure we all make it to the finish line. I am most thankful for you.

Fancy shoes. Running shoes are found in every color, style and type. Suffering from major plantar fasciitis, I must choose my shoes wisely; otherwise I suffer tremendous pain. Thankfully, shoe manufacturers understand that feet come in different widths and arches, and some of us pronate a little too far. Luckily, companies produce shoes for all these types of feet issues. I would not be able to run a marathon if shoes were all the same; I am thankful for shoes produced for high arches and neutral feet (because mine are built this way.)

All-terrain clothes. Because of my love of traveling, I need running apparel for all different types of terrain and weather. From the deserts of Arizona to the tundra of Antarctica, I’ve used running clothes for every landscape. I am thankful for companies producing long-sleeved, dry-fit shirts, long running pants, arm warmers, head warmers and jackets with pockets for my gels.

Rise in alternative races. From mud races to Spartan games to running for chocolate, I’ve picked a number of new races to complete. This year I am thankful for completing my first mud run, in which I scaled walls, fell head first into mud pits, sunk into knee-deep mud pits and soaked my body in fresh water at the finish. I also ran for chocolate in which a famous chocolatier provided liquid chocolate to dip an array of treats and hot chocolate to wash it all down. Other events include the Spartan race running over fire pits and getting sprayed with paint.

Women’s running. As recently as three years ago, women shifted the demographic of the running world. Now a greater percentage of half marathon participants are women–with that distance averaging approximately 56 percent. I’ve found women’s running groups full of supportive, amazing women raising a family and balancing careers with training for the sport. It’s inspiring to see these busy women cross the finish line of countless races. I am thankful to be a woman and surround myself with such positivity from other female runners.

 

Running Races on Holidays

It’s no secret I run to eat. I love food and should be concerned much more about calories. I’m secretly envious of those that follow the perfect paleo diets or my friends who’ve lost tens of pounds following Atkins and eating eggs and bacon all the time. I even admire those who complete juicing cleanses and drink lemon water with cayenne pepper. (I lived near Los Angeles for a while and this was very popular among the trendy SoCal residents.)

I don’t have such willpower. I tell myself one day I’ll do a detox and see what happens to my body. Maybe I’ll become such a faster runner as all the toxins will flush themselves right out. But that day hasn’t come yet.

This is why I adore races that take place on holidays because I get to burn the calories off and then a few hours later eat them back. Because yesterday was the Superbowl, which is basically considered a U.S. holiday, I list my favorite races to do on holidays.

Superbowl Sunday 10K: I don’t mind getting up early on the weekends if it means I’m heading to a race. While most people sleep in (which I do if I’m not racing), I enjoy having my workout done before 10am. Such was yesterday when I participated in the annual Superbowl Sunday race. Runners come dressed up in their jerseys and the post-race spread is sports-themed. I can then retire to the couch for the rest of the day and eat submarine sandwiches and cheer on the teams…or just watch the commercials.

Turkey Trot: As the greatest day in the country for food, I appreciate the ability to burn off approximately 700 calories in a 10K before the Thanksgiving dinner. I also love the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and typically, depending on how fast I run, I can get back in time to see the Broadway teasers. I also love running with Tom the Turkey and the special feeling this day brings.

Skirt Chaser for Valentine’s Day: While I am single, Valentine’s Day means nothing to me.  In fact, I call it Single Awareness Day and while I usually feel complete apathy toward Hallmark, I very much dislike them on this day….except for my salivation over all the candy. I love conversation hearts, gummy hearts and pink M&Ms.  Luckily, I participate in a race to burn it off. The Skirt Chaser generally falls around Valentine’s Day in my town. For those  unaware, the Skirt Chaser is a 5K event that allows women a three-minute head start. Men always catch up, at least to me, but I don’t mind.