My Running Ritual

When I run, I am invincible! I see the world through rosy-colored glasses and feel like I could sprout wings at any moment. Each running experience is at once exhilarating and calming, thrilling and soothing. It’s become such a big part of my life that I feel a little bit empty when I don’t run.

I have a very intricate ritual that kicks off each run. Sometimes it’s rushed if I am crunched for time, but it’s always basically the same.

Step 1: Put on running clothes, and apply glide gel in appropriate places. This time of year, I generally wear fleece-lined running pants, a short-sleeved wicking top, and a long-sleeved wicking top. Or more layers if necessary.

Step 2: Pick out socks. I have the pricey-but-worth-it Swiftwick socks in 5 different colors so I can ensure I don’t lose or overwear any of them. But I’m not so picky that I care if they match the rest of my outfit.

Step 3: Eat and drink something. My favorite pre-run snack is a banana and/or a Chewy bar. But this morning I had a PowerBar. It just needs to 100-300 calories within about 15-20 mins of my start. I don’t drink much, just some water. I also go to the bathroom.

Step 4: Gather supplies. On a run, I have at minimum my SPI belt, headphones, my iPhone (for iTunes and RunKeeper), a key to my house, and a bandana for sweat/snot wiping. In the winter I often add an ear band, duff, and gloves. Other things include sunglasses, 1-3 Trader Joe’s fruit wraps. I tuck my headphone wire under my shirt or bra to minimize movement.

Step 5: Pick out shoes. I have 2-3 pairs going at any given time, and I alternate between them. I leave them by the door to avoid tracking mud on the carpet.

Step 6: Once I am suited up, I step out the door and get set to go. I usually stretch my calves against the wall, and often do dynamic leg raises to the front, sides, and back.

Step 7: Press go! I start my music and then RunKeeper, which has a 25-second countdown. Then I finish putting on my gloves, shove my phone into my belt, and hit the road.

Step 8: Audio cues… Now that I have been running these roads regularly for over a year, I have a good idea of mileage markers, but I still prefer to keep on track with 0.5 mile time/pace updates. It helps me gauge my speed and meet my goals.

My ideal weather is 30s-40s, sunny, maybe a slight breeze. But I am good with anything less than 60, not rainy or blow-me-down windy. That being said, I will have to deal with warmer weather in a few months, and I will do it with a smile on my face.

Step 9: Finish strong: I try to only have the phone out for the final 0.1-,0.2 miles, I like to finish in the middle of my neighborhood (ideally between the sign and the mailboxes), and I absolutely must finish on a round mile marker. (Unless there is a specific reason not to, such as a 10k pacer). There is no 4.78 mile run for me….5.0 or bust! I unlock the phone and watch it in the final seconds.

Step 10: Cool down, stretch, recover: I like to walk a few minutes at least. Then I do some static stretches outside. I also use my foam roller once I am inside. My post-run eating is either the second half of breakfast (eggs and banana bread), a PowerBar, chocolate milk, or fortified OJ. Or some combination of those after a 9+ mile run. I don’t usually wait long to shower.

And that’s it! That’s how most every run goes for me! I love it, live it, breathe it.

In other running news, I just hit triple-digits for my February mileage (with 11 planned for tomorrow). I am also sitting at 9:59/mile for my average pace. And I have remained injury-free so far in 2014! Countdown to my next half-marathon: 16 days!

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