Sunday, March 05, 2006

Running Symposium - update

The running symposium was fabulous! The keynote speaker was John “The Penguin” Bingham and he was thoroughly enjoyable. I found myself giggling… then laughing… then throwing my head back, clutching my gut with one hand and wiping away tears of laughter with the other. My favorite bit from his two keynotes was, “Why would you run a marathon in two hours, or three hours… or even four hours, when they give you six? I mean, really??”

I was happy to learn about this “second generation” of runners (i.e. not the die hards of the 1970s) who now run, jog and walk and all enjoy it as a form of activity. I found myself identifying with much of what was said. (Despite both my inexperience and injury… I was identifying on a personal level, I guess.)

Bingham’s whole angle is that you can run or walk or whatever, as a lifestyle… doing it for the rest of your life. That resonated deeply with me and I appreciated hearing it from someone who wasn’t a “born athlete”, but rather someone who struggled with weight and didn’t take up activity until his mid-40s. Now, at 57, this guy looks like he is still in his mid-40s (IMHO). Very inspirational.

After the keynote, you had to sign up for specific sessions. I went to:

  • Nutrition – Interesting… but I already knew a lot of it… And besides, it was focused on nutrition for competition, rather than nutrition for life, if you get my drift.
  • Injury prevention – An awesome session that presented information from scientific studies done on running injuries; then offered some practical exercises and stretches to prevent them. My trainer had gone to a session given by this specialist a couple of weeks ago and already has me doing these exercises on a daily basis. It was enlightening to hear it first hand though.

My two “active sessions” were:

  • Running technique – Given by a coach who has worked with national track athletes. Lots of good tips here.

    And I did debut my bionic leg… hidden under a pair of sweat pants though… Just wasn’t ready to look that hot on the track, I’m afraid ;-) … but it helped a great deal… I’m still not supposed to run yet, so I tried to take it easy… Still though… it was fun to get out there and move my legs!
  • Stretch and strength – squats, lunges and other strengthening exercises for runners, along with several stretches. A good overall session, taught by an energetic facilitator. Very enjoyable.

All in all, I learned a lot and had a great time. My biggest “takeaway” had nothing to do with the actual sessions, I don’t think… It was that I noticed that a lot of people there knew each other… There’s a whole “running community” out there and… well… I’m not “plugged in”, so to speak. I have been doing my solitary laps around the track, with the occasional run outside.

On the one hand, I enjoy the solitude and time to reflect. On the other hand, seeing all these people laughing and joking together made me think that it could be fun to meet more people in this community and get to know some of them.

Having a trainer helps because I learn a lot and I don’t feel totally alone on this quest to incorporate fitness into my life. And I don’t feel judged.

I guess that’s one reason I haven’t made any attempts to investigate any type of running community… I have lacked the confidence and have been afraid of being laughed at. (I’m really not very good at this, you know! Even with the bionic leg!)

If I learned one thing at the Symposium it was that there are people with all sorts of different ability levels, goals and fitness levels out there who not only enjoy this as an activity, they enjoy each other’s company while they do it... young people, older people and really old people... athletic types and not-so-athletic types... all kinds of different folk, really.

Don’t get me wrong. I have absolutely wonderful, amazing friends whom I wouldn’t trade for anything and I don’t feel that I need any new ones. But most of my friends don’t run… in fact, none of them do. It would be kind of cool to get to know a few people who enjoy this activity, too… so it can be solitary sometimes… and communal at others… You know… that balance thing I’m always on about.

So… when I get my running legs back (and it will happen, I’m convinced!) I will endeavour to find a few people who are at my level, with similar goals and values and see about adding a social component to this activity…

Today my knee and leg are telling me that I should probably not have been so willing to participate in the active sessions, but oh well… Off I go to get my little bag of frozen peas…


Turtle Guy said...

I am so very proud of you, Sarah! Coming away with all these positive reinforcements about the lifestyle - a bonus! Gut-wrenching laughter is awesome, isn't it?!

I've always believed that having an inspirational social component to ANYTHING - particularly people who are on your level - is important. We all start somewhere, and more often than not it's not at the top. We tend to idolize those at the top for their "accomplishments" but don't often see all the hard work THEY put in to get there - not to mention the anguish and the tears.

You go, girl - spread your wings and fly... er... run...


backofpack said...

I know exactly what you mean about the balance between solitary and communal running. I was a solitary runner for nine years, then my husband and I, and a Y staffer started the Y Run Club. I was torn - not convinced I wanted to run with others at all. It didn't take me long to discover that it is a blast to run with a group...but I still missed my solo runs. Now I run alone on most weekday runs and with the running group on the weekends. It's turned out to be a perfect balance for me.

When you start your search for running groups, look for one that has more of a social feel, rather than that hard-core, competitive feel. Ask about the paces of other runners, and about how long they run - you'll find a good fit that way.

By the way, I'm jealous that you got to hear John Bingham. I'd love to hear him one of these days.

robtherunner said...

Joining a running group has completely changed my life for the better. Believe it or not I was also apprehensive about joining a group of runners at first because I figured that they would all be elite athletes and I would be too slow to keep up with any of them. Of course that was not the case and in the Y-runclub we have people that can run 6 minute pace and some that run 12-15 minute pace and may only be able to go a couple miles and we support each one of them. So, when you are ready it is well worth the initial uncomfortableness (is that a word?).

Granny said...

Go for it.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

The symposium sounds absolutely awesome!

I feel weird saying this, but before I started running, I didn't have a social group; I didn't have friends! Running has given me an opportunity to find friends, and develop relationships. It's been fulfilling in a way I never thought it would. I still enjoy running by myself, but I love knowing I have community and support and a network of like-minded people who know what I'm going through.

kt said...

funny comment from rob: that he shied away from joining a cuz they might be all ELITE athletes! WOW! remind me i could never run w/ rob! i could SIT ON THE COUCH AND DRINK COFFEE WITH HIS WIFE but i could never run w/ him, the non-elite, million mile runner! =)

a comment on the bag o' peas: my p.t. guy said that the ice massage is actually better. i had the whole bag o' peas thing going on, but he convinced me to use the other. you just buy a pack of paper cups, fill w/ water, freeze. take 'em out after a run (or 3x a day) and tear off the paper till you have a little of the ice showing all around. then you massage the AREA until it goes numb. this happens quite quickly. it's not such a chore any more cuz it's not endless.

afterwards, just stick it back in the fridge. for me it only takes a couple of minutes till it's numb.


Dawn - Pink Chick said...

I really enjoyed the symposium as well. I got a lot out of it and did a post on it as well. By the way when you're ready to run, we have an awesome small and very friendly group that run at Gord's Running Store on Tuesdays. Always room for newbies and all speeds. I'm currently the slowest but I have never felt out of place amongst the group.