If you're looking for Worthy Running Day 9, you won't find it. Let me explain…
On Tuesday, I had planned to run between 8-10 miles, and after a very easy 2 miles to a hilly park that I like to run, I started to climb the hills. I'd no issues until after almost 2 miles of climbing when I noticed my right calf becoming suddenly very tight. I was quite surprised, as my left hamstring and hip are my usual tight spots (that I've learned to work through really well), so this ailment on the right side of my body sort of threw me off! It doesn't feel severe, and I am currently breaking in a new pair of shoes, so I think that this with the amount of hills I've been running lately is likely the cause. Anyway, I was able to stop, 4 miles away from home, and call a very kind person willing to come and pick me up to bring me home!
So the reason there is no Worthy Running Day 9 is because I decided to be cautious and take the day off from running. It was my goal to run everyday this month, but I've got to be smart about this. I figure that taking a day off to make sure that I can keep running is a much better option! Better not to take this risk. Fortunately, the way that my Achilles/calf feels is a feeling that I am familiar with from my time running competitively in undergrad, so I feel well equipped to deal with it and keep pushing forward!
On the bright side, y'all have come to my rescue and continued pledging small amounts that are adding up quickly! This is the beautiful thing about the way this fundraiser is set up: it really is a collaborative effort! If I have a rough day, all it takes is a couple of individuals to pledge to keep the momentum going! Likewise, if a day goes by with out any new pledges, I can push myself to run a few more miles! We really are all working together on this and that feels amazing.
I am so excited to annouce the day 10 totals. So far y'all have pledged $5.19 per mile, and I've run 97 miles. That means that we've topped $500 with a projected total raised of $503.43! So cool! Let's keep this going! As I'm still going to be cautious the next few days, running just a little shorter distance at a slightly slower pace, I know that I can count on you! Please consider pledging HERE.
Stay Cooped Up! Y'all are awesome!
In lieu of a longer blog post today, please check out this article that I wrote for Outsports! There you can read more about why I decided to start this fundraising challenge!
As for an update: currently y'all have pledged to donate $4.67 per mile that I run in December, and I have run 90 miles so far! That's a projected total of $420.30! Amazing! We're just over a week into this challenge and have already topped $400! This is likely to be a little bit more of a down week for me mileage wise, so I really need your help if you haven't pledged already! Please click HERE to do so!
As always (but not for forever), stay Cooped Up!
For 99% of today's run I couldn't stop smiling! It was absolutely gorgeous out: 34° with a real feel of 27°. I stepped outside my apartment and could see my breath in the cool dry air and feel the moisture in my nose sort of freeze up. I think I've said it before, but I love running in the cold. There were even patches of ice and slick stretches of trail on today's run (hence, why I only smiled for 99% of the run; the 1% when I wasn't smiling is when I slipped and almost fell into the creek!). After yesterday's long run, it felt amazing to to just jog around Edgewood Park, a tiny but pleasant park about a mile from downtown where one feels they've really left the city. I even stopped and walked for a little while, simply to savor the moment.
I know that 2020 has been a rough (or as I like to say, RUFF) year for almost everyone, but while running today I couldn't help but think that it really is the toughest times that often define us. I remember a run that I went on with my younger sister this summer while I was in Minnesota, the midpoint of my coast-to-coast move, and she remarked how often she is just in awe of the world. She told me that on runs she'd went on with my mom, she'd often stop and just say "whoah, look at that!" to which my mom would respond "What?" And I think that "what?" would be the typical response from most people, not least because my sister would usually be staring in awe at the sky or a plant or an interesting insect. This is sort of how I felt on today's run: I spent a lot of time just looking at my surroundings - like really looking. At the trees, at the water, at the leaves, at the ice. And I listened. Really listened. To the crunching frozen grass and leaves under every step I took, to the trickling sound of the running creek water, to my breath - every inhale and exhale. It's all so simple, but it made me happy.
2020 has not been as difficult a year for me as it has been for many others, and I realize that. I faced some pretty significant life challenges in 2015, over the winter of 2017-2018, and late in 2019. Those were darker times for me, yet I always try to think like my sister and really appreciate the little things around me that made me feel happy. I wish I could do more for those really struggling this year. For now, I'm logging mile after mile, and just hoping that it's making an impact!
Thank you to everyone who has already pledged! It's amazing what people coming together can accomplish! So far y'all have pledged $4.55 per mile that I run in December, and I've run 85 miles. That's a projected total raised of $386.75! Y'all make me feel so motivated and energized to keep going. Even the tiniest contribution from each individual adds up quickly, something that has always made sense to me in theory, but to see it all coming together is just incredible! Please consider pledging today - let's do this together! Click HERE to pledge today!
Stay Cooped Up, my friends! Plus, it's now warmer in the Coop, so why leave?
While I may not be one of the professional runners participating in The Marathon Project 2020, I am feeling so inspired following some of the elite runners as they post their training to social media! I think it's a really cool idea to gather 100 of the best to race a marathon (safely, with extreme testing protocols and no spectators) at the end of this year. It's also quite fun because anyone can still sign up to take part in the Virtual Mileage Madness Challenge, and you can even join the team of one of the pros and compete against the other teams to see who can run the most miles between November 25 and December 20. Selfishly, I'm also very thankful that this challenge overlaps with my fundraising challenge, as it's just another source of motivation for me to keep going!
Today, I wasn't sure if I was going to complete my long run or push it off until tomorrow. However, once I got to mile three I had made up my mind. I was feeling good, I had a good breakfast, and I had an energy gel with me just in case I needed it. I'm pleasantly surprised with how the run went, and I had no idea I was in that kind of shape! This last week, I've slowed my average run pace from ~6min/mile to ~7min/mile, and it has me feeling much more recovered and ready to increase my mileage. Going into the long run, I thought I'd set myself the goal of trying to average around 6 minutes per mile for the first nine miles and maybe between 5:30-5:40 minutes per mile for the second half of the run. Then, mile eight went by in 5:48, and I still felt as if I were running around 6:00, so I just kept going. When miles eleven and twelve went by in 5:26 and 5:23, I felt so smooth that I figured I would just try to hold that or maybe even try to find 5:20 pace. For the last four miles I averaged 5:15min/mile and, honestly, that pace has never felt so good. I didn't feel labored or overexerted. Rather, I felt that, with the proper refueling, I could have maintained that pace for another few miles. I'm still shocked that my body handled that run so well. I guess the lesson here is run slow to run fast? I suppose this is also the result of not really ever doing workouts as part of my training. Currently, I'm focused on just adding up the miles and, for the most part, avoiding tempo runs or intervals until January or February.
Every Sunday, I'll reflect a little on how the week has gone… and this has been a great first week! 6 days completed and 79 miles run! I'm also just so incredibly grateful for all of the support that I've received so far. Every time that another person pledges to donate just a couple of cents to this challenge makes my day! It's amazing what such a small act can do to completely turns someone's day around - I'm currently at the end of a long semester, so when I'm not out running or posting about it to social media, I'm literally spending all other hours of the day reading and writing. It can be extremely overwhelming, yet if I get a little alert that another person has pledged, it puts a huge smile on my face and I feel reenergized to keep doing my best at whatever I may be working on! I try to keep this in mind every time that I am on social media (something I probably do a little too often since the start of the pandemic); people are feeling isolated and sometimes lonely, and as trivial as it may sound, sometimes liking someone's post or writing a comment really does just light up a person's day! We may all be feeling Cooped Up, but at least we can still reach out to one another to check in and remind each other that we are not alone.
Y'all absolutely smashed the goal I had set yesterday of $3.00 pledged per mile run! Currently, y'all have pledged $3.92 per mile run, and I have run a cumulative 79 miles so far this December. That makes the projected total raised $309.68! That's incredible! Let's keep this going! Like I said, only a penny, nickel, or a dime per mile run from each person starts to add up quickly! If you haven't yet pledged, but would like to, you can do so HERE.
Stay Cooped Up, my friends!
If you're looking for Worthy Running Day 4, you can find it here.
Today, I want to talk about body image - and I've a story to tell. I feel like throughout my life I have dealt with body image issues of some kind or another. Admittedly, I've not really talked about it openly because even me mentioning it would usually evoke a response like: "Really, you have body image issues? But you're a D1 athlete. You can't talk about body image issues." Such responses were typical from people not in sport, or at least not at a beyond-high-school level. I didn't know that I wan't allowed to have these types of issues… or so it has often felt that way.
I think, though I may be wrong, that body image issues are most prominent in the Olympic sports; and perhaps the reason is because it is often these sports were the body is most on display. You're either in a speedo as a swimmer, or extremely short shorts or tights as a runner. (These are only a few examples; I know that there are others I could list.) As a distance (or rather mid-distance) runner, I often felt that I was too heavy - just too big and too stocky. I would look around at the other competitors in cross country or the track events I was running, and I would see the tiniest waists and skinny yet super toned legs. Most of the guys running the races I was in couldn't have been more than 130-140 pounds (some less)… and absolutely bird boned. Standing next to them on the starting line, I would sometimes become overly self-aware of my "thunder thighs" (or so I called them) and my wider than usual overall build - hips, shoulders, etc.
As an overly anxious person already (aren't all gays?), and with some obsessive tendencies, I have gone through several phases of unhealthy eating. Actually, to put it more accurately: I've at times had a rather unhealthy relationship with food. (I know people like my mom would read this and think: "But Coopie, you've always eaten so healthily!) I can't say that I've ever really under-ate, but I have absolutely become obsessive about what I've put into my body - with regards to both contents and amount. There would be days that all I could think about was food, and not because I was hungry, but because I was planning it all out - all the time. This paired with another obsession that I developed while running competitively: I became obsessed with weighing myself - always in hope of being lighter. Even at my lightest, I always had the idea in mind that if I could be just a couple of pounds lighter that it would translate to being a couple of seconds faster on the track.
I would look at myself in the mirror and, knowing what some of my teammates looked like, think that I was overweight (for a distance runner) or that my muscles just were not toned or defined enough. What was I doing wrong? The answer: nothing.
During my fourth year on the team, I finally gave up on trying to micromanage everything that I did. I let myself really start to enjoy my training, and truly adopted the best philosophy with regards to running: you have to enjoy it… just have fun. Sure, I still ate healthily, but not obsessively. Also, I stopped fretting about my weight and instead decided that I would embrace my strengths. I gave up on caring what my body looked like and started to pay more attention to how my body was feeling. I don't know if I ever told anyone this, but from January 1, 2017 until the week of the Big Ten Championships, I did at least 100 push-ups every single day, regardless of what other strength work we had for practice. And because I couldn't do 100 push-ups in one set, I was also doing more core to break up the sets. When it came time for the championships, I had never felt more fit and prepared in my entire life. I still go back and watch the race video occasionally, and yes, I do think I'm one of the bigger guys on the starting line (if not the biggest), but I also knew I was one of the strongest. My proudest moment of those championships isn't actually the final result of winning the Big Ten Mile title, but the fact that I ran three 1-mile races in under 24 hours, and all of them were in 4 minutes 7 seconds or faster. (If I recall, they were 4:07, 4:06, and 4:01).
I felt unbreakable - and that's another lesson that I feel I've learned over the years about my body: it's quite resilient. Countless teammates of mine, and runners from other programs, missed entire seasons or even years because of injuries. During my entire time running for the University of Minnesota, I never suffered from a major injury (besides heartbreak, but that's an entry for another time ;)). I may be bit stockier than most other runners, but that can have its advantages, too.
I want to also briefly mention body image issues coming from another area outside of running, but just as much a part of my identity: the gay community. It is so unfortunate how obsessive most gays are with how they look - as if everything depends on it. As much as I appreciate Pride, I have a simultaneous disdain for that time of year, but mostly of the months leading up to it when I start to see social media posts from gays preparing to starve themselves and make 10 weekly trips to the gym so that they look good wearing no clothing at a parade/march (that has now become, in many ways, only a party). Maybe I shouldn't be so cynical…
I guess what I am trying to say is that "there is no one size fits all" - a cliché. I thought that to be fast, I had to look a certain way. I thought that to be gay and be noticed, I also had to look a specific way. Neither of those are true.
I am currently building base mileage with the hopes that races will be held in person after Covid-19 is under control. I want to run the marathon. I know that I'm not the typical bird boned individual gifted with the talents to be successful at that distance, but I don't care. I'm going to keep doing what works for me and have fun doing so.
I hope that this post was worth your time reading (and thank you to those reading!). If you feel like supporting me and my fundraising challenge, please click here to pledge a few pennies! While there's been no new pledges yet today, I'm not feeling discouraged. Right now, pledges total $2.84 per mile run, and I've run 60 miles for the first five days of December. That's a total of $170.40! Let's see if we can break $3.00 in total pledged for tomorrow!
Thanks for reading, friends! Stay Cooped Up!
Hey y'all! Remember that 10k Turkey Trot that I ran last last Thursday (Thanksgiving)? Well it turns out that I won, so Tinman Elite sent me some AMAZING adidas gear! I honestly couldn't wipe the smile from my face after seeing the package in the mail room and then opening it immediately once I returned to my apartment. Included in the bundle were two shirts, a cap, a bandana, sunglasses, and a few stickers. I love it all! And I've been in need of some new running apparel, so the arrival of this surprise couldn't have been more timely! I'm also looking forward to sporting some more adidas gear on my runs around New Haven. I've a mix of Nike and adidas after running for a Nike sponsored program in undergrad while also being "sponsored" by my dad, who has worked for adidas for two decades. Glad that adidas may finally be able to win this battle!
For today's run I had a single goal in mind: don't run a single mile under seven minute pace! Luckily, my hamstrings and glutes were relatively fried after yesterday's at-home weight sess, so it wasn't too difficult to lightly apply the brakes on today's run. I was also able to get on soft-surfaces for about 80% of the run, so that's a huge bonus - especially heading into the winter months when the ground is surely to firm up. Though I'm not entirely sure what to expect of the winter in New England. (Winter was my favorite training season while in Minnesota; I absolutely love running in the cold!) I do hope there will be some snow soon; I become jealous when looking at pictures of friends currently running in Minnesota - you guys truly don't know how good you've got it!
I'm super happy to report that there were a few late pledges made last night and a couple already today! So far y'all have pledged $2.74 per mile, and I've run 36 miles so far this month making the total just shy of one hundred: $98.64! That's awesome! Let's try to keep the momentum going! If you've already pledged, can you help me spread the word and try to get others to join in? It's only day 3, and I'm already having so much fun seeing this all come together! It makes my day receiving a notification about another pledge and reading the short inspirational words you guys are giving me! If you haven't already pledged, consider doing so HERE.
Stay Cooped Up, my friends! Just think, there will be a day, who knows when, that we'll be able to leave the Coop, spread our wings, and fly freely again!
In yesterday's blog post I briefly mentioned that I need to slow down the pace in order to run more miles. Well, today I (accidentally) discovered three ways to do just that: get lost, find some tough terrain, and get distracted!
Today I wanted to try a new route and rather than map it out ahead of time (because I don't know a runner who actually does that!), I decided to pick a general direction and wing it! Though I did have a goal in mind: there's a park roughly two miles northwest from where I live called West Rock Ridge State Park. I'd heard good things but never ran in that direction because the two miles over there are on rather rough sidewalks. And looking at my run afterwards, it looks like I barely entered the park today - more to explore another time then!
I knew that today's run was going to be an out-and-back, but I didn't expect it to be three mini out-and-backs! First, upon arriving to the outskirts of the park, I couldn't find the entrance; then, I found an extremely rugged and steep trail that led me to the top of the cliff, where I found a cave and enjoyed a little history lesson; and finally, I wanted to make sure I hit at least nine miles today, so I added on a final small out-and-back at the end of the run.
While I usually find it torturous to stop on a run to admire the view (oh no! It's messing with my pace!), I'm trying to become better at enjoying more aspects of running now that I'm not forced to train under a certain regimen. It's totally up to me!
So far there's been no new pledges today, but I guess the bright side of setting up the fundraising challenge the way I have is that even if there are no new pledges, I can still add in new miles run and the total still increases! Today, we're at $2.28 per mile multiplied by 23 miles, making the projected total raised $52.44! Please consider pledging to give as little as $0.01 (that's just a single penny!) per mile that I run! You can do so HERE. For reference, I've been averaging 60 miles/week the last couple of months. Though I do hope to increase that during this challenge!
Once again, stay Cooped Up! Or, if you do have to leave the house - wear a mask and maintain your distance from others!
Back in college there were these things called "zero days." Honestly, they were rare as gold as when granted a zero day, you'd usually shriek with joy! While running for the University of Minnesota, we trained, like most programs, 7 days/week; so a zero day (another way of saying a day off, but not just from running but from all prescribed physical activity) came once maybe every month or two when in season.
Yesterday, I took a zero day. And it was about the hardest damn thing I've done in a while. I'm so used to running every single day, that taking a day off just puts my entire routine all out of whack! Normally, I'd lace up the shoes and stumble out the door to jog at least an easy 3-4 miles rather than take a day off. But this time around, as is sometimes the case, I found it necessary to get in a full recovery day. The month of the November was a good conditioning period with little time off, and the month of December is going to be a HUGE base building month (as long as I can stay healthy - fingers crossed!).
Today I ran 14 hilly miles. There's a 5 mile loop about 2 miles from my apartment, and it's one of my favorite places to run in New Haven. One time out, around, and back makes 9, so adding on a loop makes for an easy 14. I felt good. Admittedly, I was averaging around 6 minutes/mile for my runs during November, and while this felt great, I know that I need to work on slowing it down if I want to run more miles. (It almost sounds counterintuitive, right? Run slower to run more? Maybe not…)
Anyway, it's a great start for my Worthy fundraising challenge! So far, y'all have pledged to donate $2.28/mile that I run in December, making the projected total raised $31.92 so far! And that's only day 1! If you're following along, please consider pledging to give maybe a few pennies! It isn't much per person, but cumulatively it will surely add up! Visit the Worthy donation page here to pledge now!
Stay Cooped Up, my friends! It's safer that way!