An Update

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve posted, but it’s not been a couple of months since I’ve run. In fact, I had one of the best runs to date just this past weekend. Running has also helped me with symptoms of anxiety and depression.

However, I still need to establish more of a “schedule” with my runs, ideally three times per week. (Especially since I have my first 10K coming up in April!). The aforementioned mental health struggles have made this a bit challenging. It’s a bit of a Catch-22 really: running makes me feel better, but I have to feel well enough to actually get going.

This will be the focus of my running and overall wellness journey right now. More to come!

Donut Dash Labor Day 5K: Fun with Family

On Monday, I decided to try out the local Donut Dash Labor Day race. While my last official 5K race was done solo (Run Like a Mother), I got the whole family involved in this one! My son is already a runner, and my husband is thinking about getting started. As for me, I fall somewhere along the middle, where I am definitely running regularly but have a long way to go! This of course is the beauty of the 5K–as the most family-friendly race, you can walk, jog, or run full-speed.

There was a slight change of course for the actual race, which meant for some hills in the direct sun at the very end. (It seems like every race I have done so far has encountered some sort of alteration, haha!). By this point, I was pretty spent, my calves aching and my heart rate through the roof. In fact, I spent most of the race within my “peak” heart rate, which tells me that I was working hard, but that it was also a lot hotter than I expected.

In all, I finished slower than some of my “practice” runs, but I still beat my last race time by four minutes. I’m happy with my progress!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the “donut” part, there were indeed post-race donuts waiting at the end of the course!

Donut Dash 5K_2019_with donut

Looking Ahead: Star Wars Rival Run Weekend 2020

RunDisney’s Star Wars Rival Run Weekend 2019 was my official plunge into racing. Last year, I did the 5K with my son and my brother as a way to test out whether I would really enjoy running over the long-term. While the race itself had some unexpected challenges (you can read all about them here), I was indeed hooked on racing and running more generally!

So it’s no surprise that as Star Wars fans (and fans of racing now), we just had to sign up for the next Rival Run Weekend. This time though, we are testing out the 10K. I don’t expect the race to be easy, as I’m still getting this whole running thing down. However, I do expect it to be a rewarding experience!

When is the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend 2020?

The Star Wars Rival Run Weekend is a little bit later in 2020, with the races taking place April 17-19. Last year we lucked out because the event took place over our spring break in early April. However, we checked all this in advance and will make it work!

How to Sign Up for the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend

Registration also opened earlier this year compared to the 2019 races–I suspect that the event planners may be expecting a larger turnout due to the upcoming release of The Rise of Skywalker at the end of this year.

We signed up for the 10K race last month. However, in checking the registration website today, I saw that there are still openings available for all races (5K, 10K, half marathon, and the Rival Run Challenge). I don’t expect this to be the case for long though, especially with the family-friendly 5K.

You can sign up for the Star Wars Rival Run race(s) of your choice here.

 

Getting Back to Running After an Injury

So today was my first run in about nine days. During the weekend before last, I got a strange sensation in my calf muscle and stopped running halfway through my three-mile workout and walked the rest of the way back to the car. I’ve had a few foot-related injuries (on both feet, so they’re even!) in the last several years, so I’m extra scared that over-doing it will just worsen the situation.

What I did right after the injury

It’s simple: I did little the rest of the day I got injured. I iced my calf and elevated my leg as much as I could. I did some light walking for the next couple of days after that, but nothing too strenuous.

Although I still consider myself a “newbie” runner, it’s interesting how much not running affected my week. I grew more depressed from the lack of serotonin, and was anxious about whether I might have screwed things up. I had just increased the length of my runs the week before, and I wondered if I over-did it.

How I eased back into running

My trainer had some advice for me: make sure you warm up before each run. I was stretching and speed-walking for five minutes before my runs, but she’s talking actual circuits here, including jump-squats, jumping jacks, and the like. She believes this will warm the body up properly for the repetitive motion that running entails, while also helping to minimize injuries.

So I made a plan before my run today. I would only go for 30 minutes, and I would do the 30 seconds on, 60 seconds walking method. I also did my jumping jacks and squats in the parking lot, feeling like a pretentious asshole while people passed me on their way to the head of the trail.

However, it seemed to work! So far, I don’t have the pain that I experienced on my run last weekend. And while the 30/60-second interval timing seemed much easier than I’m used to, I think I will stick with it a couple of more runs before moving on. With a few races on my calendar in the very near future, I definitely don’t want to inadvertently put myself on the sidelines.

Also, perhaps more importantly, if I continue to experience pain, I will see a doctor. 🙂

Running on Water

One of the last places I expected to get my run on was on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. But this was exactly the case this summer on a family trip I made to the Caribbean. I was looking for ways to “keep in shape” ahead of time, and was pleased to find that our ship, Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, had a full-length running/walking track on Deck 5 (the same level where the life boats are located, as seen below).

© Kristeen Cherney, 2019

So run I did! Not only did I prevent the infamous cruise weight-gain, but I also felt better getting a run in during our “at-sea” days. I was worried about getting sea-sick or dizzy on the track, but none of this happened at all. In fact, in the open areas of the ship, there was almost a feeling of running right along the water, a feeling that is difficult to describe.

I also noticed that, on a ship of 6,000-plus people, I ran into others I had seen on the running track throughout my vacation. We all had one thing in common: we were walking around on the cruise ship when we weren’t on the track!

My only regret is that I wish I could have woken up early on our port days so I could get a quick run or walk in, too. Getting up early is arguably difficult on vacation. I also regret I didn’t get better pics of the actual track, as I didn’t take my phone on any of my runs (maybe next time!). I’m just glad I had the opportunity to walk and run on the track at all!

Run Like a Mother 5K 2019

This month, I participated in a “Run Like a Mother” 5k race, which was held by North Georgia Running Co and the Abba House, a Christian charity that helps mothers. Originally, the race was supposed to be held 5/11 (the Saturday before Mother’s Day). However, due to the threat of inclement weather, it was postponed to the following Saturday, 5/18. (This is the second time in a row a 5k of mine has gotten disrupted by the weather, haha).

Another change was the course itself. The original map was from Fowler Park to south on the Big Creek Greenway, with a turnaround at Union Hill Rd. However, due to repairs on the boardwalk, we ran north on the Greenway instead, with a turnaround just north of Atlanta Highway 9. While this wasn’t too big of a deal, the sun was pretty wicked along that stretch near 9 (good thing I brought water with me!). My time was also slightly better when I had practiced the original route, possibly due to factors such as shade and flat ground (but that’s okay!)

Perhaps most notable (for me, anyway) was the fact that this was my first solo race. I did pretty well with my social anxiety symptoms, partially because there were a lot of other solo runners, too. I even made a little small talk with some of the other racers (my therapist would have been proud of me!)

My overall time was 43 minutes. Worse than my practice run, but still an improvement from my first official 5k race at 46 minutes. I placed 193/248 racers, which isn’t too bad at all! If you had asked me a year ago, I would have envisioned myself more towards the bottom. I’m going to try and see if I can keep up with doing about one race per month, just to see how much progress I’m making. One thing I learned is that running with others in an actual race seems to be a bit more motivating—I found that my running intervals went longer than normal.

Overall, it was a beautiful May morning for a race. I’m considering doing a virtual race next month and will be doing an Independence Day race locally in July!

Run Like a Mother_5K_2019

Running in Hard Times Can Lead to Unexpected Results

One of the beautiful things about being a newbie runner is that you can feel the changes a running program dramatically makes in your life. I have honestly had a trying week—so much so, that the old me would probably try to sleep away my stresses and sorrows.

Not only did I decide to run on a particularly hard day, but I made notable differences in my time and endurance! I can run for a minimum of 60 seconds at a time with not as much rest in between my running/walking intervals. While this may not sound like much to an experienced runner, I am giving myself well-deserved props for making such progress—just this past winter, I could barely run for 20 seconds at a time due to illnesses and injuries.

There’s a saying that running is a journey. Aside from the literal sense of running taking you places, I am enjoying the journey of progressing into a “real” runner even more.