Live. Love. Run. It's what I do.

My Pre-Race Routine

I set my new PR by a second on Tuesday with a 15:28, and my team took 1st again!:) I still can’t wrap my mind around how much improvement there’s been within my team and how fast our times are getting! Our top 4 girls ran under 15 minutes again, and the next two were about 30 seconds behind me. I’m so pumped for state and our next few meets leading up to it! I can’t believe how fast this season is going by though, since state is in only four weeks!

I think that the preparation and warm up before a race is crucial. If my pre-race routine goes as expected, then the race will hopefully go as expected as well. I try to drink plenty of water throughout the day before and the day of my race. I eat a granola bar or pb&j sandwich at least half an hour before our warmup. We start our warm up an hour before the race. It depends on the course and the weather, but we usually jog most of the 2.5 mile course to get our muscles warm and loose. We do dynamic stretches such as low skips with arm circles, butt-kicks, high-knee jogging, and then some static stretching.

One thing that I like make a part of my pre-race routine is to massage my muscles with a foam roller stick. There are several kinds of muscle roller sticks that are sold in running stores, but my favorite is a blue one with foam, so its not as hard as the ones made of plastic beads. They can work wonders and are really helpful in loosening tight or sore muscles.

When it’s finally around 15 minutes until the start of the race, I put on my uniform and my racing spikes. We do some build-ups at the start line, where you begin jogging, gradually build up to full speed, hold it for a few seconds, then slow down gradually again. Our team huddles up and forms what we call a spike circle. One or more of us will give a motivational talk and we encourage each other before whispering our team mascot, “Cougars,” together and continue with a few more buildups. Some teams have louder, more obvious (and sometimes obnoxious) team cheers before they start, but personally, I prefer ours. I like to think of it like we’re sneaky with our cheer, so we’re gonna sneak up behind you and beat you when you least expect it!

When our routine is messed up for any reason, it kind of shakes my confidence and focus a little. I like to keep things the same each time, because if it helped me run fast last week, it will hopefully do the same this week! Getting into a routine that works for you is one way to make sure your race works for you too!

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Running: Mind over Matter

Running is a mental test. Who will win? Your mind or your body?

Running is not a sport for anyone who is mentally weak. If you think you’re gonna run fast, then you probably will. If you think you’re gonna run slow, there’s a good chance that that will happen too. You are likely to have a fun, easy workout if you think it’s gonna be fun and easy. On the other hand, if you’re expecting the worst and you think that it’s gonna feel like crap, then it probably will.

Its important to be mentally strong in a race or you could get bored and give up. I think that one of the reasons that I am running faster this year is because I put my mind to it and I think that I can run faster this year. I want to win, to help my team, and to put in a good time so badly. I can’t stand the feeling that I haven’t given everything in a race. I tell myself that it doesn’t hurt, and that I can quit and never run another step when I’m done, but of course, I am even more eager to go run after I get done with a great race or workout. Its funny how that works!

When I’m running an intense workout, I try to mentally prepare myself for the workout to be harder or longer than I know it really will be. Then, when I’m actually running, it’s easier than I anticipated. It’s all relative. In my races, I’ve been doing a better job at keeping my mind focused on my goals. I keep my eyes and head up and consciously focus on staying relaxed and keeping my pace swift and steady. I concentrate on the girls ahead of me and try to figure out when the best time is to make my move and pass them. I can’t just zone out and go along for the ride in a race when every second and every person passed makes a difference! I try to remind myself that it doesn’t hurt to run and that I can run faster. Unless I think that I can run faster, I will never actually become faster. Learning how to think while you’re running takes practice. I know I haven’t gotten it down perfectly yet, but I’m practicing!

So who’s the champion of this race gonna be? Your mind or your legs??

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HiGh FrOm RuNnInG

I promise I don’t use any illegal substances. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t take drugs. I wouldn’t put my cross country season or my health in jeopardy for something that dumb. But I gotta cheat. A little. I run. And I get high from running.

So two days ago, I had a cross country meet at what used to be my least favorite course. But it’s not my least favorite anymore!! I got a PR by 27 seconds – 15:29!! And my team won first place again!! I was the fifth finisher for my school, in 12th place, and our top four girls snagged 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th! All of our varsity girls ran under 16 minutes, and our top four were all under 15! On the bus ride back to my school, we were all a little bit excited because of how well we did. We got in trouble for singing too loudly, and I’m sure we could have done a better job at keeping our voices down. I do apologize for those on my team who were not in quite such high spirits and wanted to have a nice, peaceful, relaxing trip home, because they didn’t get one. I had fun though!

When we got back to our school, some of us went out for ice cream. I also apologize to everyone who was working there or saw us there. We were crazy. I had so much energy and so did my friends! I think the people working there and the other people who saw us could have easily thought that some of us were drunk or on something because of how much energy we had and how crazy we were acting! It’s a bit embarrassing, but oh well, I don’t really care!

Plus, it’s scientifically proven that running really can have the effect of making you high! I’m not the only crazy one! It was in the NY Times that long or intense training can cause a rush of endorphins in the brain, causing a change in mood. I love that feeling. It’s worth all of the pain and hard effort during my runs and my races just to experience the rewarding, euphoric, floating-on-the-clouds energy afterwards. It would be nice to just have a little bit of that energy all the time, without having to go through that pain, but oh well! I guess something’s gotta keep me lacing up my shoes and running!

So go out there, run your butt off, and feel the runner’s high!

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Embrace the rain!!<3

The wind whistling through the trees, the cold bite of each tiny droplet stinging your skin, and the quiet squish-squish as your feet pound the ground in a constant soothing rhythm. I love running in the rain. So many of my favorite runs are while it’s pouring or even just sprinkling. It’s so refreshing. Those rainy days are always the days where it’s the hardest to get myself motivated enough to get out of the house. It’s so tempting to just stay inside and stay warm and dry, but every time I finally convince myself to go, it’s always worth it. It’s invigorating. You forget that you’re even running. The pain is so much less when you’re freezing and can’t feel your limbs. It’s wonderful!

It’s important to wear clothes appropriate for running in the rain. When you get all wet, it causes more chafing if you’re on a longer run, so if I have the option, I try to wear clothes that don’t rub. When we have cross country or track practice in the rain, I am unfortunately usually not prepared for it and don’t bring any warmer clothes to run in. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing, but my legs and arms start to go numb after a while. I don’t realize how fast I’m going anymore since I can’t feel my legs, and I often end up running faster than my coach wants me to run. This past Monday, we were out running a workout on the track, and I ended up running somewhere between one and ten seconds too fast per lap! Since I couldn’t feel my legs, it felt like nothing! If I stay out for too much longer after they start to go numb though, then it gets hard to move my legs. I guess that’s probably not a good sign. I need to get better at remembering to check the weather so I can bring sweats or under armour or something next time! Oops.

Another plus side to the rain is that people can’t tell how much you’re sweating. My coach reminds us that it’s good to sweat, because it shows that your body is good at dissipating heat, but it still doesn’t make me feel any better about myself! Over my past few years as a runner, I’ve gotten used to sweating a lot and I guess it’s not such a big deal to me, but I don’t think that non-runners quite understand. I always feel like I have to make a big public appology to everyone who ever has to see me run and sweat. Here it goes.

Dear World, I appologize for making you wanna puke and go take a shower just because you saw me run and you saw how sweaty I was. I know you think I’m crazy and disgusting, but really, my body is just better at dissipating heat than yours. I promise I will take a shower as soon as I get home. Love, me.

Ok, I hope that cleared things up a bit. And I’ll be sure to run in the rain if possible so you can’t tell that it’s all my sweat! (and just cuz I love running in the rain)

Anyways, next rainy day, I hope to see you out there!

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Paralympics guide runners finally get medals

I have it pretty easy. I always think that it’s so impossibly difficult to run while I’m in the middle of a hard workout or race, but compared to what some runners have to do, my runs are nothing compared to theirs. I am inspired by runners in the paralympics. They have to put in so much effort to overcome their disability, and then put as much, if not much more, effort into just running. And then they put in even more effort and energy into running at the Olympic level! It’s crazy!! I enjoy running, but I don’t think I could imagine what kind of strength they have to have to be able to get through their runs and be at the level of competition that they are at now.

I came accross an article about blind or partially blind runners who, depending on their level of vision, have to or can choose to have a guide for their race in the paralympics. The runners and the guides are tethered either with a string around their wrists or held in their hand. The guides must have the capability to run faster than the runner and they also have the job of telling them where to run. Before this year in London, the guides have always been there, but they got no recognition when their runners won. Now, starting this year, the guides of winning athletes got to go onto the podium with their runners and recieve a medal as well. I am kind of surprised that they never used to get medals! I almost think that they should give all of the guides medals just for being a guide! I’m sure it’s not easy work to sprint all-out with a string around your wrist attatched to someone else, while shouting directions and encouragements the whole time! When I’m running that hard, there’s no way I would have any breath left at all to be telling someone else where to go or what to do! I hardly have enough breath to get there myself! The guides who have to put in just as much effort into their running as the actual runners themselves deserve those medals. They run just as fast as the athletes, and I am glad that they are finally being rewarded for their efforts.

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Meet results from thursday!! and looking forward to my meet this week!!

I ran a 16:05 and missed my goal time of 15:45 at my cross country meet!!:( I’m still happy enough about my time though, and I think my coach is pretty pleased with me too. I got 18th place overall and my team finished 1st again, which I’m super excited about. We’re 4 and 0!! I know that I could have done better, so I’m glad there will definitely be a second chance for me to improve my times this week at my meet on Thursday!

Looking back now, I think I did a decent job of getting out in a good spot in the race, and my second mile wasn’t too much slower than the 1st mile. I think my second mile was in 6:35ish while my first mile was in 6:15ish, which is a lot smaller difference from last week when I ran 6:02ish for the 1st mile and 6:55ish for the second! I’d say I’m improving a bit there! But I didn’t run the last 800 meters nearly as fast as I did last week. I ran it this week in 3:15, where my last 800 last week was in 2:56! If only I could run the first two miles this upcoming thursday like I just did this past Thursday, then get my last 800 up to speed, I think I’ll be right up there ready for a new PR!!

Unfortunately, the course we’re running at this Thursday is my least favorite of all of them. It’s at a soccer complex, so it’s pretty windy. The finish is uphill, right over the top of the hill, just so you can’t see it. I like to know when I’m about to finish so that I can pick up my pace and give it all I’ve got left at the very end, but it’s extremely hard to do that with this course we’re running at this week, since once you can see the finish, you only have maybe 50 feet left to run. I’m hoping that I get a chance to scope out the finish, or at least look a map, this time before my race so I can get an idea in my head of when I need to start picking up my speed. My team can’t afford to have a less-than-best race from any of us, so we all need to take advantage of the course and know how to run it. I also dislike how you have to run sideways across a hill for part of the race because it hurts my ankles and is no fun. I’ve sprained my ankles numerous times, so they tend to get sore pretty easily. I’m hoping that it won’t be too bad this year and that my ankles will be able to put up a strong enough fight on those hills!

It also helps to run the tangents. We try to run in a straight line from one curve to the next in order to cut out useless steps in between. The only time I wouldn’t recommend this technique is when the course is crowded or you’re trying to get around someone in front of you, because you could get cut off and have to stop while the other person goes around the corner, which would be counter-productive.

Well, one more race down, plenty more to go this cross country season! I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

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Cross country meet tonight!! AHHHHH!!!!

I’ve got a cross country meet tonight! It’s my favorite meet of the year and I look forward to it every year, but today it’s supposed to be chilly and rainy so I’m not so sure. Since I PR’ed last week by 28 seconds and broke 16 minutes for the first time for our 4k race, I have a feeling that it’s going to be a lot harder to keep improving my times. I think that I always slow down way too much on the second mile of the race, so I need to work on that tonight. I’m not totally sure if it’s because I’m starting out too fast or just losing my focus or something, but I’m kinda scared to start out any slower just in case I can’t catch up again.

My goal tonight is to be under 15:45, I guess we’ll see how the weather affects that though. I made sure I had my long 1/4 inch spikes in, so hopefully that will help if the ground is really muddy or slippery.

At the end of the race, they have food for us, so hopefully that’ll help me get through it!

Wish me luck!

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Running to remember 9/11

It’s 9/11. Eleven years have passed since two planes were hurtled into the Twin Towers as the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor and left nothing but pain, loss, and craters in the earth where the two towers once stood. I think that most Americans today would say they still hold the memory of exactly where they were, what they were doing, and the rush of emotions they felt at the moment the towers and many people’s lives crashed to the ground on that day. Despite how young I was, I still remember watching the towers fall on TV, and my mom’s worry as she tried to explain to me what was happening. My heart and my prayers go out to all of those families who lost their loved ones; I know 9/11 must bring back much worse memories for you than for me.

I recently read a story about Lyz Best who lost her husband Jeremy on Flight 93 on 9/11/01. She has since turned to running to help her handle her emotions and help her overcome her loss, and ran the NYC marathon last year in honor and memory of her husband. Her story brought tears to my eyes. I am inspired by the strength she has to go through such a horrifying experience and to now dedicate her running to the man she loved and lost.

Running is kind of like medicine or therapy. I can go into my runs upset, stressed, worried, and confused, but afterwards, my head is always cleared and I have had time to run my anger out and sort through my thoughts. Lyz has apparently found her solace and her own medicine through running. I have nothing to compare to the loss she has experienced but I am inspired by the way running can help her overcome the loss of her husband in a tragedy like 9/11.

To those who lost their lives eleven years ago today, you will always be remembered. God Bless America.

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cutest way to ask a runner to homecoming

It’s homecoming season! Girls are dress shopping, boys are looking for a girl to say yes, and rumors of who’s-gonna-ask-who are flying! It’s an exciting time!

I got asked to homecoming this year at a cross country meet!! So boys, if you’re ever considering asking a girl to homecoming and she happens to be in cross country, there’s a good chance she’ll say yes if you ask her the way I was asked! I might be biased, but I think it was the most perfect, adorable way any girl could ever get asked! But before you consider this idea, just make sure you don’t mind getting a bit of sweat all over you, and I wouldn’t recommend wearing a black shirt because you might leave with some deodorant marks! If you don’t mind at all, then either you’re really weird, you’re a runner yourself so you understand, or you really care about this girl!

Here’s my story!

I had a cross country meet at our home course this past Thursday. A lot of my friends had told me that they were going to come watch us run, which is not very common. Cross country meets definitely do not draw in the crowds like Friday night football games do! So while I had my suspicions, I was not expecting things to happen the way they did! I hadn’t seen any of my friends before I started my race, so I was getting a bit concerned that they didn’t show up at all or that they had missed it because they couldn’t find a parking spot. I was feeling pretty good that day, and I was hoping for a PR as the gun went off. We run a 4k for our girls’ races, and the boys run a 5k. I didn’t see any of my friends at all during the race, but I was thinking that I could have easily missed them since I usually tune out everyone but my coach while I race. As I crossed the finish line in 15:56, a full 28 seconds faster than I had ever run before, I was feeling ecstatic at my finish and my improvement. That’s when I heard my friends shout my name from beside the chute we have to walk through after the finish. They were holding a 20-foot banner reading “homecoming” and my now-homecoming-date was standing next to it with a question mark painted on his shirt and a rose and a balloon in his hand. It was the best finish I have ever had! I had to say yes!

So there it is, my favorite way to get asked to homecoming! I don’t think anything else could beat that!

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The positive side of telling lies

I’ve learned that sometimes it’s a good thing to tell lies. Especially lies that are so incredibly unbelievable that you are almost afraid someone will soon knock some sense into you and tell you how crazy you are. If you tell these lies over and over and over again, there’s a chance that over time you might even start to believe them yourself. If you are really convincing, they might even come true. And that’s when you begin to experience the positive side of telling these lies. You may want to notice that I didn’t say all lies are good, and actually its usually not a good idea to tell lies. But there are some exceptions to this rule. Let me give you a few examples:

Lie #1: Running is fun. This might be one of the most important lies to tell. And it may also be one of the craziest. I’ve gotten pretty good at telling myself and other people this lie, and some days, I actually believe it myself! When I finish a cross country or track race, or hit all of my times in a workout, there’s this feeling I get afterwards of accomplishment, excitement, and sometimes I have so much energy that I have to go run some more! I would really recommend starting off with making yourself believe this lie, because it’s one of those things that will help you get out the door and just go run! You can’t feel how great it is unless you try!

Lie#2: Nobody cares how you look when you run. Running makes you sweat. A lot. Or at least it makes me sweat a ton, but I’m pretty it happens to other people too, and if it doesn’t, then you have a problem. You may be dehydrated or overheating or something bad like that. Anyway, most people that I’ve seen don’t really look picture perfect and ready to pose for Seventeen magazine while they’re running. But it’s okay!!! I promise!! Only the weird non-runners might think you look a bit gross when you’re out for a 7-miler at an 8-minute-mile pace on an 89 degree day. The people who matter won’t care. Or at least they shouldn’t. The only emotion they should be feeling is awe and maybe a twinge of jealousy at how amazing you are.

Lie#3: My legs don’t hurt. This is a kinda tricky lie. It’s really hard to believe it in the first place, but after you learn to believe it, you sometimes need to back off the lies a bit, accept some truth, and listen to your body. I was running in a cross country meet on thursday and I kept telling myself that my legs didn’t hurt at all and that I was feeling great. Somehow, I think I did a decent job at decieving myself, because I ran a 28 second PR (personal record)!! If you don’t think about how much it hurts, there’s a good chance that it actually wont. However, you do have to show a bit of caution, because some pains can be a sign of a real problem. If you are sore, then you are likely okay, but sharp pains could be a bad sign.

I’ve noticed that running is like playing a mental game with yourself. If you don’t think you can run faster, then you can’t. If you think you can’t run any farther, then you can’t. If you think people are going to care how you look, then you’ll probably run worse and they will care. But if you tell yourself how much fun it is, how easy and painless it is, then there’s a good chance that it will turn out to be at least a bit more fun, easy, painless, and not at all embarrassing!

Good luck lying!

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Julie Yip-Williams

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