Endurance Training Changes Your Life. Or: Patientia Disciplina Mutationes Vivit

Hi Friends!

I am currently running around like a chicken with its head cut off, and I will be for the next several days.  And, I’m kind of grumpy and I want to spare everyone as many grumpy Amy posts as possible. But never fear! I’ve brought in reinforcements! (You were so worried I know).  

The first up is blog friend Dominick from Etc.  He is also training for his first marathon (ING New York), and enjoys good music, good beer, and living it up in Southern California.   He also translates stuff into Latin.  The title is my attempt to do the same.  Hopefully google translate didn’t make me say bad things.  

Hello America! 

It’s an honor to be chosen as “guest blogger” for this installation of Lavender Parking.  I think “A” chose me because I am…a runner?

 ME: My name is Dominick and I am a runner

YOU: Hi Dominick.

ME: It all started when I was a child…probably around 1.  Running was always a recreational thing for me until a few years ago, that’s when it took a turn for the worse. I started doing it at all hours of the day and when I started doing it at midnight I knew there was a problem.  That problem got worse when I started waking up early, I would struggle out the door and into the back alley looking for my fix before sunrise.  I would go to work and think about running, constantly checking online sites for tips, paraphernalia and new routes.  It became clear about a year and a half ago that I was an addict.  I remember when I hit rock bottom; I was sitting on the shower floor wondering when the pain would just go away.  Wasn’t running supposed to make me feel good?  Wasn’t I supposed to have more energy?  Where was this “high” everyone talked about? 

I knew things had to change but I didn’t know what to do.  A friend came to me and suggested I try a half marathon.  It sounded too hard, too much planning, too much commitment and work…just too much.  Then one day I looked in the mirror and saw the reflection of a semi out of shape man in his early 30’s that was looking for something more.   I decided to go to a meeting at the local running store, they were offering discounted registration for the inaugural Pasadena Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon, I don’t know what came over me but the next thing I knew I was registered.  It was at that moment that my life changed.  All terrible addict jokes aside, the moment I registered for the half marathon I knew I had made the commitment to become a “real” runner.   



My healthy journey began with cupcakes and Runner’s World

I will admit that I wanted to take running serious but at the same time I trained for the half without a program. I figured as long as I was consistent and progressed slowly then I would be ok.  I started increasing my mileage in September, please note that the race was in February.  I went from running 3-4 miles before work on Tuesday and Thursdays to nothing less than 4 and as much as 6.5.  My Sunday runs went from 3-4 miles to a minimum of 5 and eventually I topped off my “training” at 10 miles a few weeks before the race. I had prepared for everything to the best of my knowledge…except for the unexpected…I caught some sort of flu the week of the race and the only thing I could think of is how I worked so hard for six months to get to race day.  I ate healthy food, rested the most I could and did a few short runs to test my lungs to gauge if I would be able to compete.  Unfortunately my lungs burned and I couldn’t take full breaths on a 3 mile run the Thursday before the race.  When Sunday rolled around I decided I had trained too hard and I had to attempt to race but I wasn’t confident I would be able to breathe.  I was nervous but thankfully by the third mile I knew I was going to be ok, I didn’t feel 100% but I felt like I could finish.  I ended up coming up a little short of my goal but still delivered a time that made me proud.  I suddenly went from being concerned about my ability to finish a half marathon to thinking that it was not that difficult and maybe I could complete a full marathon.  I don’t know where the arrogance came from but a few weeks later I entered into the New York City Marathon lottery and anxiously awaiting a response.  I can’t be the only idiot who signed up for their first marathon this way?

So here I am, I just finished week 8 of an 18-week marathon-training program courtesy of Hal Higdon and at times I struggle to see the forest through the trees.  “A” asked me to guest blog and gave me this prompt:

Ummm…. why don’t you do something about how endurance training has changed your life.” 

 (AMY INSERT: I provided several prompts and was asked to be the deciding factor between 2.  I didn’t just “ummmm” for no reason!)

I thought, that should be easy but has it really changed my life?  I still drink the same amount of beer and eat just as many cupcakes.   I don’t have a six-pack and I feel like I am still slow.  So I pondered, how exactly has endurance training changed my life?

When I first started running I would battle with myself about how much I hated it and questioned why I had to run.  Originally it was to lose weight and start living a healthier lifestyle.  The reality was that something inside me was screaming at me to prove I could stick to a routine regardless of how much I hated it, as long as it meant I was doing something productive and healthy.  The half marathon training was a test and I didn’t realize it until I crossed the finish line.  It many ways it marked another part of my transition to adulthood.  I went from giving in to my excuses about why things couldn’t be done to proving that I could accomplish something if I sacrifice and commit.   The crazy part is I knew this to be true in other aspects of my life but for some reason I always felt like I was never going to be ultra athletic and I had a million reasons why I wasn’t more than a casual runner.  I literally thought that running 3 miles was a killer workout and had no ambition to EVER run more than a 10k. In 6 months of training I learned that the only thing stopping me from completing something was myself. 


Look how amazing running makes you look!  Mile 12 of the R’n’R Half Marathon…sorry ladies I’m taken.

 {AMY INSERT: There is nothing not amazing about this picture and everyone in it!}

The first thing I realized when I began prepping for marathon training was that I literally knew nothing.  It was as if I was starting to learn to run all over again.  Everything thing I read told me that unlike a half marathon, the full was a true test of endurance, they made it seem like any schmohawk off the street could train a few weeks and do a half marathon.  A marathon is for the “real” runners.  I read things that said…don’t set a pace goal, just focus on finishing…this scared me.  I don’t want to train for 18 weeks and just finish, I want to reach my goal whether it be aggressive or not, if I put in the work I want to achieve my desired result.  I read blogs about training and began to see the stress it put on people physically and mentally, I pretended like I was different and it wouldn’t affect me.  I made it a point to read about injury prevention, proper running form, diet, sleep, and cross training.  Before I knew it my social life was planned around running.  I couldn’t stay out late or drink before long runs and I had to tell friends that I couldn’t play in their reindeer games because I had to wake up and run.  I am sure everyone knows how non-runners respond to the idea of running and how that response is amplified when you tell them you wake up at 6:00am on a Saturday to train.

 I knew things had changed a few weeks ago when I went to San Francisco and woke up at 6:00am…on vacation, after a night of drinking and not getting to bed until after midnight…and I laced up my shoes in the hallway of my hotel before heading out for my run.  The crazy part was that I was genuinely excited to be running such a beautiful city at such an ungodly hour.  I headed down to the bay and ran along the Embarcadero for roughly 7 miles and was stretching on the steps of Union square by 8:00am…on vacation.  It was an awesome feeling knowing that my commitment to the goal was strong and that I was rewarded with the most beautiful sunrise in the history of San Francisco.   Vacations to me have always been about breaking routine and escaping reality, but now that I am in training I have realized that it is a great way to start a full day! If you have never run on vacation, I highly recommend it. Urban environments are particularly fascinating when you’re hitting the pavement before the hustle and bustle begins.


Just the sea lions and I hanging out on the pier…where are all the people?!

 The next lesson I learned was to be overwhelmed.  Before training began I had only eclipsed 10 miles twice; a training run leading up to my half and the half marathon.  I sat and reviewed the plan that Hal suggested and realized that I would eclipse 10 miles over 14 times in 18 weeks…with the last 12 on consecutive weeks.  I told myself that there was no way in hell!  How am I supposed to run 14 miles on Saturday and then do 15 the next?  I literally get anxiety attacks trying to plan routes in my town, when planning a recent run I looked at my girlfriend and said, “Do you realize how far 14 miles is?  I can run to downtown Los Angeles and still not be at 14 miles! This is ridiculous!”.  Planning and preparing is the hard part, the run isn’t nearly as difficult as I make it seem to myself.  I have learned to focus on one week at a time, one mile at a time, to not think about what I have accomplished so far and instead focus on what is still ahead of me.  Being overwhelmed is ok, it forces you to prepare for anything and I am now trying to embrace the fear and use it as fuel.  Nothing beats telling a non-runner that you knocked out 15 miles before they brushed their teeth.


 Sometimes it takes me an hour to go this far in my car…I could run it in twice the time.

The last way endurance training has changed my life and the most frightening is the fact that it has become part of my routine.  I no longer make excuses, I may put up a little fuss but now I see training as a necessary activity that must be completed.  Sleeping is not optional, eating is not optional and now neither is running.  This past Saturday my girlfriend and I decided we are going to go to Hawaii in a couple of weeks and the first thing I searched was not…”things to do in Oahu”…it was…”running routes Oahu”…I shit you not.  I knew there was an awesome trail that ran around Diamond Head and that there is a local half marathon the day after I arrive before I realized that Oahu is home to the world famous North Shore and ummm this place called Pearl Harbor.  I feel like an idiot sharing that but I think it tells you how endurance training has changed my life.


I took the time to map the Windward Half Marathon on Nike+ myself…you’re welcome race organizers!

I originally wanted to write something funny about the negative side of endurance training but the only things I could say with honesty seem to be positives but ask me next week and there is a good chance you could catch me cursing the day I ever laced up a pair of shoes in the first place.   Oh yeah, that man in the mirror is now 15 pounds lighter and no longer feels the pain that use to leave me sitting in the shower.  If you are pondering an endurance event, whether it be a 10k, a half, a full or more (you’re absolutely nuts if you do more), your life will change, if it doesn’t then you are not going about it right or you haven’t noticed it.

 One negative…you may find yourself spending some money on entry fees, clothes and paraphernalia…


Training shoes…they all rock except those bastards on the far right…those suck.

Blog Swapping

Welcome to Blog Swap #9 coordinated by 20 Something Bloggers.

Today Dan will be guest posting, and I will be over at his blog Sliding Down, introducing a whole new audience to Albuquerque.

 Dan is a musician and a mathematician (and long-time blogger) based near Chicago, IL. 



Hello! My name is Dan and I’m writing this guest post for Amy, who has been kind enough to let me write to her readership for the 20SB’s Blog Swap #9. This is the first Blog Swap I have ever participated in, so I hope it goes well! If it doesn’t, then I apologize! I tend to write my posts in the spur of the moment, so I won’t know if I’m in the “write” mood at the time. (I’m also full of puns, but that never varies with time :P)

If you’re part of the 20SB community, you’re probably aware that this weekend they will be hosting the first 20SB Summit in Chicago! It’s going to be a smorgasbord of blogs and blogging and other blog-related things! (Haha, I’m sure you guys could have figured that out by yourselves!) I haven’t had too much time to look at the schedule yet, but I’m looking forward to learning how to improve my blog!

As a blogger of six or so years, I’ve tried on my fair share of writing hats. When I first started out I was in high school and subject to the same emotional traumatization that continues to unfairly plague teenagers to this day. We used to vent our frustration at the world on platforms like Xanga and LiveJournal and our readership was the small circle of friends we kept. Eventually everyone moved off to college and our online social activity began to splinter. Blogging topics included more mature topics like the latest cat video on YouTube. My readers became any and all interested parties I ran into at the dorms who wanted to get to know me a bit better. And so I wrote! College was a time to write about ideas and people and adventures. For the most part I just stuck to that plan and it worked out alright.

Now that I’ve entered “the real world” and landed myself a job, I’m on the lookout for a new, perhaps bigger, audience. Part of that effort is participating in different communities, including this Blog Swap. I’m happy to write for other audiences for a change! I want to take this experience and learn from it, expand upon it, grow from it. I love writing. I love the different ways it acts as a narrative. I love how it can reach lots of different people in totally divergent ways and yet still communicate something worthwhile. And mostly, I love that it is a great medium of expression for so many people. I think that about does it for my guest post today.

If you like what you’ve read, come join me over at my blog for more! It’s not nearly as good as Amy’s — for instance, I need to post many more pictures! — but it’s building up steam. (Hopefully!) And if you’re going to the 20SB Summit this weekend, tweet me at @HeyMrBass or just drop a line on my blog!

Thanks again to Amy for letting me write! ~Dan