You can lead a girl to good advice, but you can't make her drink

...or something like that.

If you have kids, you know what I'm talking about.  You try to explain things to them because you've been there, done that, and often know when something just isn't going to work.  Or you try to tell them a way to make something easier or better.

And they look at you with that expression that says, "Why are you wasting my time with your babble when I already know everything?"

Yeah, that's me.

Not that I think I know everything.  Far from it.  I think every day I get a little dumber...except with running, where I started out at pretty much the rock bottom of ignorance.  And yet for some reason, despite reading a year's worth of Runner's World, several running books, and countless running blogs, I find it necessary to learn things the hard way.  Here are a few things that have finally sunk in:

1.  You should warm up before a race.

Old Kate: Why are these people running extra miles before a race? I already have to run 3 miles/6 miles/13 miles...why would I do any extra running???

Light bulb: Running with N, the first mile was awful.  The second mile was much, much better.  Thought to myself, I wish I could just start at the second mile! It's so much easier after I've already run a......... Oooooohhhhhhhh.  So that first mile's like...a warm up...and if I warmed up before a race, my first mile would feel like the second mile....Oh.

2. Running with other people is fun.

Old Kate: I'm too slow, I can't keep up, my schedule doesn't fit with running with other people.

Light bulb: Actually running with other people has made me push harder, run further, go new places, and meet some pretty cool people...who wait for me when the trail turns. :)

3. Yes, I do have time to run.

Old Kate: We're too busy, there's no time to run, I can't get up early in the morning.

Light bulb: OK, I'm still not living in a world where I'm happy to get up before 5 a.m., but it turns out that I can, indeed, get up at 4:15, run 8 miles before getting myself and my kids ready for the day, and function.  In fact, I'm usually more awake when I've run that morning.

4.  Ice is your friend 

Old Kate:  Ice may help, but heat feels better.  How about I just soak in a hot bath full of Epsom salts and call it good (and limp for the next few days)?

Light bulb: Barely able to walk after finishing my first 18-mile run, I decided maybe I'd give ice a try.  Oh, my gosh! I felt like a new woman.  Granted, my hoo hoo was frozen, but it thawed out eventually.  I took an ice bath after my 21-mile death slog, too, and was able to do a 9+ hour adventure race the next day--pain free!

5.  Use energy to gain energy

Old Kate: I'm sooo tired; I'd like to work out, but I'm going to sleep in/take a nap/go to bed early  instead.  

Light bulb: Getting up at 4:30 a.m. to run and being wide awake for the rest of the day.  Dragging my butt to the gym even though I have no desire to go and coming home happy and refreshed. 

6. Running is cheaper than Prozac...and brings a cool new wardrobe. 

Old Kate:  I went through an extended low period where dangerous PDPMS (that would be pre-, during- and post-) negatively affected every part of my life.  I didn't much like myself and hated my poor husband for half of the month for absolutely no reason.  It took a ridiculous amount of effort to fake being a functional, rational person.  I often thought that I should go to the doctor and get on some kind of medication. And then I would think to myself (and this is ME, not anyone else.  I wouldn't presume to speak for anyone who's going through depression) that what I needed was to clean my house, start eating right, get organized, and get some regular exercise. 

Light bulb:  Ummm...two out of four isn't bad, right? :)  My house is messy, and I'm still an organizational disaster, but regular exercise has made all of the difference.  Not just the "exercise", but the fun it has led to.  I love the fun of a race or a group run/ride, I love the community (internet and real-life) of active people that I've met, and I love the experience of repeatedly testing myself with new challenges.  I can definitely tell in my mood when it's been a few days since I've run or ridden my bike; I start to notice myself feeling crabby and irritable and then realize...I need to go for a run!  Running and working out make me feel better...and feel better about myself.  Granted, my husband sees less of me, but the me he sees is much more pleasant to be around!

So what about you? What have you had to learn the hard way? What else should I have learned by now? Do share...I may not listen, but you can always say "I told you so" later.


  1. nice. i like your list of running awakenings. ice, ice. ice is my best friend. found out the difference an ice bath made after my first HM in 13 years.

    for me the very real personal trancendental feeling a long run can give is unmatched. the further i push myself - the better i feel about myself.

    i will take your word for it on the running groups. i still have no way to work them into ALL my activities. would really like to - at least once a month.

  2. I love this. First I want to say that I had the same realization about warming up. At least you had it sooner. I was a I-know-everything teenager when I started running so I "knew" that warming up wouldn't do me any good. It wasn't until college that I realized it.

    I have yet to do the ice bath thing. I'm sure it helps. I just can't get the nerve up to do it yet.

    One thing that took me a while to learn is running in the winter is really not that bad if you just bundle up and get out the door. I hate the cold and I used to spend most of my winter running on treadmills. It wasn't until I started running with a group at work (who persuaded me to go out in 10 F) that I realized that it's not as bad as I'm making it out to be (as long as I bundle up). And once I get back I'm always glad I went.

  3. drink even if you are NOT thirsty. I learned that the hard way by hitting the WALL at mile 11 of my first half.

    Sunscreen is a must, even if the sun is not really out, even if it is not hot outside.

    over dressing = over heating in a few miles.

  4. Love this post! I still am not convinced about warming up before a race. I just had this discussion with a friend the other day. Totally agree that you can find time to exercise if it is a priority.

  5. Frozen hoo hoo?????

    Love it.....experience is the greatest teacher!!

  6. Great post. Other things I've learned.....

    1. Someone will always be faster than you and slower than you. Race against yourself.

    2. Eat more. Exercising more and not eating more doesn't mean better weightloss. It means fatigue and a slower metabolism.

    3. I need a goal or I make excuses and skip workouts.

    4. Don't stress about missing workouts due to life. Life happens, enjoy it. It's not like I'm going to win.

    Keep up the good work! Your training is impressive!

  7. Ooh, lots of good additions. Thanks!

    Slomo, I've been lucky to find some great people with whom to run. They have regular runs that I can join when I can, so far just on the weekends.

    Sarafina, totally agree on the winter running.

    Caroline, amen to all of yours. The water thing hits me more on the bike so far. I've had some terrible leg cramps from not enough water/maybe low electrolytes? Bad, bad.

    Shawn, that's my story. :)

    Mike, totally agree to all of yours, too. I'm going to have to do a part two with everybody else's ideas, too! :)

  8. Ha ha these are great. I think I have had a few of these happen as well. Mine might be, "Running many hard days in a row, even when tired and having some soreness will only lead to injury. Take a day off, your still a runner even if you do (or take two days off or three...)

  9. I always told my daughter when she was in middle school that she should go teach at Harvard since she knew everything :). Not that age 20 is a whole lot better, but anything is better than middle school years!

    You've come so far and I am just nothing but so proud of you - truly! This running thing takes time to know what works and what doesn't and our bodies don't like to be rushed into it! Kudos to you for learning so much.

    One thing I have learned in this past year is that I do not need to cram everything in and I need to take some time to rest between hard races...(but I've rested a year now, learned my lesson, can't I just go run for heaven's sake!!!) :).

    Have a great weekend, Kate!

  10. I had your same thoughts and I learned your same lessons.
    Other things I have learned:
    - stretching after the workouts;
    - physiotherapy and thermal baths;
    - never eat unusual food before a race.

  11. All great advice. I only recently started using ice and I can't believe what I was missing!

    One question: Are you a sports drink drinker after a rin or is it all water?

    Speaking of April Fools, I did an April Fools prank on some of the 6th graders in my school. Video now on my blog.

  12. Great post Super Kate. Oh, and I loved your contribution to my Blog story this morning. It's taken a turn, so don't be afraid to comment again.

    I know you love books. Not too long ago I read East of Eden, the Steinbeck classic. Great book, eh? I do remember this line from the old Irish guy, "The last bad habit a Man is willing to give up is advising". Or something like that. So, I won't advise. You see to have gotten it. BTW, when I want to tell something important to my 16 year old, sometimes I have someone else do it.

  13. Man, these are some GOOD lessons learned. :)

    Although, I'll admit that I am still struggling with #2. I love running with people when I do it, but it is always a struggle to actually convince me to get it scheduled.

  14. I'm still in the OLD stage and my kids don't listen to me, and the hubby wishes I'd put a damn cape on already!
    But I'm working on it!!

  15. Love it - can relate to most, esp #6 - a nice run outside and by myself makes me a happier person:)

  16. Oh goodness--I could have written most of this post!! Exercise has made a huge difference and I can tell when I haven't been giving it my all! I've been meeting lots of cool awesome folks making the decision to "clean my house" (ie my brain, body soul) and wish I'd started sooner!! But evidently I needed to learn the hard way--although now I'm learning to learn from others!!


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