Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tech Junkie or Old School Freedom?

My cousin and I have the same running mentality: Love the Run. Period. Just love it. In all other aspects of running, however, we are completely different. She runs first thing in the morning; I am a lunch break or after work runner. She qualified and ran Boston; I am still trying to break a 2 hour half marathon. She wins trophies in regular races; I hunt for small races and hope there are only 3 girls in my age group, so I can win something (it happens sometimes). Lastly, my cousin is all "shoes and go," while I fumble with my Garmin Forerunner.

What is it that I like about the technology? I like to visualize my runs in new ways. I love to see my elevation gain/loss, my exact distance, where I sped through and where I slacked off, and I love to see progress. I started out running years ago with an elaborate spreadsheet on Microsoft Excel; I tell you this was an Obsessive Compulsive runner's dream. I had a beautiful background, formulas inserted, charts and graphs galore! It was great, but then I heard about the Nike+. I had to have it, so I did. I wore it bouncing in a shoe wallet on top of my Brooks, but it served me well for some time. I got involved in the online community, challenged myself and set goals.

I heard about the Garmin Forerunner and I was smitten, yet financially, it wasn't really an option. I then stumbled into a little bit of extra money and treated myself to the watch of my dreams. I love to see my runs pop up on a map, whether I run in Connecticut, New Jersey, or even California, I can relive the experience in the detailed data wirelessly thrust onto my computer. The best part is that I do with it what I want. I don't have to obsess over times or distances. I just enjoy seeing my efforts in a ridiculously organized and detailed summary. What my cousin sees as hindering the freedom of running, I see as my motivation or at least a little added something to my daily run.

How about you? Tech Junkie or Old School?

Becoming a Better Me

It's funny to me when I'm at work and people say to me, "You didn't run today, did you?" Is it THAT obvious? You may think that it would be insulting, someone essentially saying to me, "Wow! You're moody!" But the funniest part about this conceivable slam is that the person tossing the line is almost always right!

I am a happy person, aren't I? With running I am. Take away my runs and I adopt an alter-personality. I am more affected by others, their problems, my problems, issues happening around me, and regular daily stress. I am quicker to anger and annoyance. Without running, I am not me.

As a teenager and young adult, I was a mess. Having my son and finding running were the two things in life that grounded me. I became me...the me I was before puberty set in. I let things ride; I take it easy; I laugh and love. I live my life with a smile.

So what is it that changes my brain to alter my personality? The easy answer is endorphins, serotonin, dopamine...things I talk about in previous blogs. I think that these play a major role in a neuro-chemical change that occurs. But there is something else; perhaps a more cognitive approach.

I think another big part of the mind-altering affects of running has a lot to do with consistently challenging your mind and breaking through. How many times during a run do you think of slowing or stopping? But you stick to your pace. You keep trodding up an ominous looking hill. After you are running for a while, you realize that you can do more than you ever imagined. You use this mindset each time you tie those laces; you tell yourself to stop the negativity and just run! And you carry that positive mentality on to the rest of your life and you know that you can face problems, make it work, deal with the stress of life. You know you will make it to the top of the hill and triumph. Practicing the patience, perseverance, planning, positivity, and persistance it takes to remain a runner day after day makes you revert to it much easier throughout the rest of your daily life. Running can change your life.