Sanity is overrated.
At least that’s what I’ve deduced from Muddy Monk’s Nearly Sane Trail Half Marathon.
“Runners are all a bit crazy. We spend our Saturdays doing long runs, strategize about negative splits, wake up sweating at 3am worrying about whether or not our GPS watch is charging, tape our nipples, pee in bottles while in starting corrals, and have a million other oddities that make us runners. But we can all agree that running 26.2 miles is clearly insane. Running 13.1? Nearly insane.”
This Sunday I’ll be running in my second half marathon, and, although it’s nearly insane, I couldn’t be more excited.
I started training later than I should have, but in the few weeks leading up to the race I’ve learned a lot from the training and preparation process.
- The runner’s high is a real thing. And it’s awesome.
Nearly every morning I’ve followed along with my Hal Higdon half marathon training schedule and have gone for lengthy runs before work. While it’s sometimes a pain to wake up so early and embark on a run in the hot, humid Carbondale, Ill., summer, I’ve found that I’m in a significantly better mood on days that I start with a run than on days that I don’t. I’m more productive, less irritable, more energized (despite the early morning) and overall happier.
Plus, there’s science to back it up! Dr. Henning Boeckner of the University of Bonn led research that proved that the “runner’s high” isn’t just a cliché saying among athletes, but that people really can feel a euphoria or a high during or after a run or test of endurance. In 2008, the New York Times outlined Boeckner’s findings:
“Endorphins were produced during running and were attaching themselves to areas of the brain associated with emotions, in particular the limbic and prefrontal areas,” the article said.
“The limbic and prefrontal areas, Dr. Boecker said, are activated when people are involved in romantic love affairs or, he said, ‘when you hear music that gives you a chill of euphoria, like Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3.’ The greater the euphoria the runners reported, the more endorphins in their brain.”
- Vitamin D is undervalued.
One perk of starting my day with a run means I immediately get some sunshine, which is an ideal way to wake up. But as I make the final strides of my run, I’m also spending some of my last moments of the day in the sun. How depressing is that? Sitting in an office all day doesn’t exactly allow for catching many rays.
Not getting enough sunlight can lead to a deficiency of Vitamin D, a vitamin that our bodies produce naturally through direct exposure to sunlight. This “sunshine vitamin,” according to Healthline.com, helps regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, facilitates normal immune system functions, helps with growth and development of bones and teeth, and helps resist certain diseases. Sound like pretty solid benefits to me. I’ll gladly spend more time in the sun if that’s the case.
- Eating right is an exciting accomplishment.
Not that I ate unhealthy foods before, but now that I have a tangible reason to focus on my health and fitness I’m much more aware of what I’m consuming. Recent staples in my diet include hummus, black beans, blueberries, oatmeal, lemon water, grilled chicken, peppers, rice, avocados and basil. Not all together by any means, but each on their own or cooked in the right way has led to a delicious and healthy diet. (More on this in a later post, I’m sure.)
- There’s nothing quite like pushing yourself to the limit to accomplish a goal.
By the end of my 10-mile run last week I felt like I could collapse on the sidewalk and just lay there for a second until my heartbeat caught up with the rest of my body. But there’s something about the drive to finish what you set out to accomplish. Even if there are challenges along the way, just knowing that you have something very specific that you’re working toward is motivation enough to carry on. I was reminded of that even tonight in regard to this blog. After a long day of work and a lack of inspiration, I was this close to not writing a blog. But someone very important to me reminded me that I had a goal going into this and that it would be a shame for me to give in and give up just a few days in.
It’s the same with my half marathon (in a way). Even on the days that I was so tired and just wanted to stay in bed instead of run, I was always happier after the fact that I laced up my tennis shoes and hit the pavement. This Sunday, as I’m struggling through the final miles of my 13.1 in total, it’ll be the fact that I’m about to accomplish what I set out to do that will propel me forward.
One suggestion to readers (if you’re out there): run a half marathon. Or do something you’ve been meaning to do. Set a date. Mark it on your calendar. Plan. Make sure that it happens. Waste no time in making sure that you are able to accomplish your goal.
Go crazy. Go run.