glows and glums

I’m heading to college in a month, and I am ready.

(or, as ready as I can be!)

My time management skills are on point, my confidence is running high. I am less adverse to risks, more open to unpredictability.

And for all of this, I thank my gap year.

The past few months have been far from easy and predictable. I have trained relentlessly on the track only to end up with a metatarsal stress fracture, moved houses, messed up sight-reading at church, logged sketchily few practice hours for violin, and had some overdue library books.

about to read some of my writing at a bookstore. I may have brought a rubber chicken along for emotional support…

Continue reading “glows and glums”

my heart whispers, “yes, yes, yes”.

When I say “no” and convince myself that I’m too tired to keep running, my heart whispers, “yes, yes, yes”.

And when I start thinking that I don’t deserve to win or get better, my heart says, “win against time because time demands the most humility”.

When I run my best, I make time slow down, and then win against it.

And when I reach outside of myself (and abandon the “no”s and my fears), I make time slow down and I win gracefully, like a bird skimming the surface of the water.

13 December 2016

No to mindless miles, yes to mindful ones!

If you are a runner that spends time with other runners, especially those from the clan of mid- and long-distance ninjas, you might be familiar with this question: “How many miles per week do you run?”

This question seems especially popular between seasons, when runners are focused on getting ready for outdoor track or cross country. Usually, there’s a target number that a runner will aim for. It could be anywhere from 20 to 40 to 60 to upwards of 80… And generally, if you provide a greater number, your running buddies will take you more seriously. In fact, more and more kids seem to be taking pride in the number of miles that they run- it’s as if running more miles makes you as legit and superhuman as Usain Bolt.

Sorry to ruin your ego trip- But what if running more miles alone did not guarantee better times? What if running more and more miles o n l y for the sake of running miles led to injuries and fatigue and burnout? Would you still feel all macho and abs-o-steel and heroic? Continue reading “No to mindless miles, yes to mindful ones!”

How can I get better?

As soon as I made it my goal to run in college, I realized that I needed to make a plan in order to get better.

And since I needed to figure out how to get better, I figured the best way to go about creating a plan was to make a running log in order to keep track of what was working and what wasn’t working about my runs and workouts.

running log 1.0

The first week I noticed that I hadn’t been running as much as I thought I was– in fact, with 19 miles total and one off day, I was pretty tired.

So I made a goal to consistently average 30 miles each week (which I didn’t end up doing…) for cross country so that I could build up my endurance and survive the 5k.

I liked working towards my goals so much that I decided to let my goals govern the plan. That is, I was going to make sure that what I was doing each week was going to help me reach both my small goals and my big goal.

weeks 1 and 2 (July 2015) in running log 1.0

I ran out of space in running log 1.0 a couple months ago, so I have since been keeping my log online.

Keeping a log has also forced me to clearly define my goals and now challenges me to ask- what do I want out of running, and how can I get there?

running log 2.0!

Since hitting my initial goals of running in college and running specific times for certain events, I have set new goals for myself to achieve.

Having kept a running log for nearly two years means that I can look back and appreciate how far I have come from the runner (and person) that I was- it used to take me much longer to formulate plans around my goals and remain dedicated. Now that I have set a new series of (some rather daunting) goals for myself, I love to look back and remind myself that I met my goals by becoming dedicated to running (which I love) and putting in more hard work than I thought I ever would.

As I go to put my log entry in for today, I ask myself, how can I get better and meet my goals? And I realize that part of the answer is sitting right in front of me, in the notes and the numbers in my log.

a day at track practice

I start at the back of the pack during warm-up.

And then comes the last lap.

Coach blows the whistle, and then I morph into a bird flying fastest. I speed up, and up some more, until I am flying down the back straightaway catching the boys. I swoop in around the curve.fullsizerender-copy-15

I feel my legs burning up with the heat of work. More force, more distance, more work.

But I do not slow down.

More work, more focus. I speed up and catch the boys at the finish.

 


During drills I keep my arms placid at ninety and stay up on my toes.

I spell p-a-t-i-e-n-c-e while doing skips to the rhythm of lift-up-down-lift-up-down. lift-up-down, my legs work. lift-up-down, lift-up-down– to every drill, a different rhythm.


Then come the strides.

I leave stillness for another day and step forward fast and far, but with smoothness, each step a silent sound.


During the workout, I run within myself; I am my own timekeeper.

With each repetition, I forget more and more that there are people running next to me, and I begin counting in my head when I get tired.

With each repetition, I feel more and more tired. I sweat and I smell.

With each repetition, I push harder and harder, and I keep a steady rhythm going so I know my pace.

With each repetition, I try to focus more on my form. Arms at ninety, up on my toes, I pretend that I am a seabird- nimble, resilient. And so I imagine flying above the waves of an ocean, for miles and miles on salt, water, and air.


As I cool down, I imagine that the wind is still salty and that I am swooping down onto the shore, back to the track.

My feet hum from the tiredness of my work, and I am reminded that I am human, and that the bird is a fantastical illusion I had momentarily fled to in my concentration at a transient tempo, a time whilst running that I have never been able to define.

p-a-t-i-e-n-c-e, I whisper. I will fly again tomorrow, and then maybe, maybe, I will become the timekeeper once again.

fullsizerender-copy-24

I stride out.

Stride out first in a jog and then grab a rope and keep pulling your legs out behind your arms before you go fast like everything you hear is slurred and blurred and then let go into a stride out.

That’s how I stride out.

I like when everything I hear is slurred and blurred. For then everything is running with me and that’s all that I hear. The sound doesn’t echo at all. And my patterings don’t leave a lasting dent on the dirt. So I have to stride out again and again.

That’s how I stride out.

6 August 2014

my history with the 800m run

race
she stood
bouncing steadily
the wide eyes darting
back and forth
back and forth
waiting for the race
the moment of glory:
sighing with the pound
gun shot through
the wide eyes distanced
striding steadily
forward and forward
faster and faster
she ran

2013

I wrote this poem nearly four years ago, back when I first decided that I was going to run. The outdoor track season had just started and I found myself slow and impatient. I was ready to run, and I wanted to run fast. And after running the 800m during a track meet, I decided that it would be my main event for the season.

What I know now (and what I didn’t know then) is that the 800m is more than just glorified tenacity of a willingness to run fast for two laps. And I am just now beginning to understand that the 800m requires an extraordinary amount of guts, sheer speed, and skill.

My first season of track, I made it my goal to break three minutes in the 8. So I willed myself to PR each race and eventually broke the three minute barrier. Did I put in effort to break three minutes? Definitely- I was coming off of a tendon injury and a stress fracture. But I always felt like I had more to give at the end of each race. I felt good. I felt like I could keep running and running.

I was frustrated. I was frustrated the next year, too, when my time stood still in the 2:50s and the year after that when I squeaked out a 2:49. It felt too easy, and it felt like I was doing something wrong. I was definitely not doing something right.

My training had not changed much since my first year of running, and neither had my mindset. I was stuck like a metronome at 60 beats per minute, and I had nothing but a readiness to run fast and a tendency to run slow. I had no concept that I could really get better, crank up my internal metronome, and actually run fast(er).

The summer before my senior year of high school, I decided that I was done waiting for the race to find its way to me- I decided that I was actually going to run faster and faster. And I was not only willing, but I was actually going to do whatever it took to get there.

I went over to the high school near my house that summer and ran with their cross country team. And I told myself that I was going to run. So I did. And it was hard.

I was running much further than I had ever run before. And I was busting my behind running much faster than I had ever run before too. One week I ran forty miles. This was so much more than I was accustomed to! My metronome was on turbo at 100 bpm and I was happy that I had finally started to get better.

The outdoor track season began again and I found myself faster and decidedly tenacious. I was ready to work, and I was ready to run fast. I began dropping time- 2:48, 2:44, 2:35, 2:28.

I was now a minute faster than when I had started.

And this is just where my new race begins. This year I continue to work harder, get better, learn, and practice different aspects of running that I never knew were important. The 800m may or may not turn out to be my focus during the track season, but at least I know that I have the guts to try and run a fast(er) race. And this time, I’m more than willing to put the hard work in.

running the mile last indoor track season!
running the mile last indoor track season!