runfreeforever

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

TAPERING!!!!!!! YAYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3

Hi.

I just want to express my love of tapering.

IIIIII LOVEEEEE   TAPERINGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!! SOOOOO MUCHHHHH!!!!!!!!

ok im done.

ok no not really.

So this week, or maybe starting like two weeks ago, we started cutting back on our miles, which is called tapering. We do this so that we are all rested up for the state meet on Saturday. And you don’t even understand how much nicer it is to run only 3 miles a day at practice compared to eight! It’s incredible! I have so much energy and I just can’t contain my excitement sometimes! So sorry about this post! I am so excited to finally be done with the season and have more time in my crazy busy life! Oh, of course I’ll still run throughout the winter to get ready for track in the spring, but after Saturday, NO MORE RUNNING FOR TWO WHOLE WEEKS!!!!YAYYYY!!!!!!🙂 I just get these sudden bursts of energy and I can’t sit still and I write crazy posts and I just dont understand what’s happening to me!! But I’m so happy that we’re tapering!

Well, I’m about to go crank up some music and have a dance party, cuz I just have so much energy!

BTW, did I’m mention that I’m really happy that we’re tapering??

😀

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Are we born to run?

I recently came across this TED talk video. I know it’s kinda long, but I think that Christopher Mcdougall had some interesting ideas. Before I discuss anything else, I will say that I don’t believe in evolution and I don’t think that we are like feral wolves who only live to run and hunt down food. I believe that we were all created by God, and that He created our bodies to be able to run and sweat and breathe. Anyways, while I disagreed with him on this, I think that some of the ideas behind his theories were still thought-provoking.

I loved his story from the New York Marathon in 2009. I got chills as he described how Deratu Tulu was encouraging Paula Radcliffe when she started to fall behind. I think that that is what running is all about – the sportsmanship and the compassion for each other.

The new barefoot running craze is controversial, and I’m not so sure where I stand on that issue. I think that while barefoot running may work for some people, I definitely need to keep my shoes on, at least for now. My Mizunos have kept me injury-free so far this season, and I don’t really want to risk an injury by my running style with my running shoes.

The part that stuck out the most to me was when McDougall was talking about how the runners long ago stayed together in a pack when they were tracking down animals. Now I’m not so sure that I follow McDougall on all of these claims and theories that he has, regarding how people long ago used to hunt down food. However, whether or not people used to chase after antelope with the rest of their pack, staying together is something important that my team tries to do. We have four girls that run similar times are always finishing well. They say that they always run the best when they stay together as a pack. I think that running with someone else is always the most beneficial. When you are running with someone else, they can push you along, and you can push them along to run better and faster.

I noticed that McDougall never returned to his story about Tulu’s compassion that she showed to her competitors. Perhaps he was more focused on our innate running abilities, but I was disappointed that he didn’t try to make any conclusions about how she could be so fast even though she had slowed down to try to help the woman she was running against.

Like I’ve been mentioning in my previous posts, the state meet is coming up this Saturday! I am hoping that we can run in a pack and win! But maybe that isn’t the only thing that matters. It’s hard to show compassion and sportsmanship to the other girls that we’re out to get and beat out on that course, but maybe we can work on that too. It didn’t slow Tulu down, so it shouldn’t slow us down either!

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Track vs. Cross Country (yes, there is a BIG difference!)

So yesterday, I was talking to one of my friends. And he said – wait for it – “Aren’t track and cross country like the same thing?” And my answer – “NOOOOOOOO!”  Okay so maybe I didn’t yell at him. But in my mind I was screaming out in agony. So often, non-runners just assume that since you have to run in both track and cross country that they are pretty much the same. I do understand where they’re coming from, kind of. But no, my dear friend, they are definitely not the same thing. Yes, both have a similar goal. Both involve running. Both require the participant to attempt to be fast and beat other people. Spikes are usually worn by the athletes in both sports. Both involve the use of clocks. But that is the end of the similarities. Here are some differences at the high school level (once you get into college, a lot stays the same but a lot of the distances change).

1.) Cross country races are longer than track races. Cross country races at the highschool level are 5K (3.1 miles) for boys and 4K (2.5 miles) for girls, at least in Iowa. In some other states, girls run 5K races as well. In track, the longest distance is a 3200m (2 mile) race for boys and a 3000 (200 meters less than 2 miles) for girls.

2.) In cross country, we can run our meets anywhere in the grass. We have courses on soccer fields, golf courses, parks, and even cornfields. In track we’re limited to – you guessed it – the track. There are indoor and outdoor tracks, but our cross country races are only outdoors.

3.) There is only one race distance for guys and only one for girls in cross country, while there are many different events in track, ranging from 100 meters to 3000 meters, from long jump to discus to hurdles.

4.) Cross country meets are long. Track meets take FOREVER.   I guess I can think of one exception to this rule. In track last year, I think they must have decided to speed up the meet, so they had only one heat for as many events as they could. As a result, I nearly tripped over 18 other people in my open 800. It was crowded and awful. As soon as I was done, they had first call for my 400, so I had no recovery time. So I guess it’s good that track meets take forever. Which brings me to my next point.

5.) You usually run more than one event at track meets, but in cross country, you only have to run one!:)

6.) There is a HUGE difference between distance running and short distance running! I am a mid-to-long distance runner in track, which means that I usually run 400m and 800m races, as well as a couple 3000m races. It feels so different to shift from running my 2.5 mile races to running a fifth or a tenth of that. The way you run the shorter races is so different and takes a lot of practice to get used to it. At a few track practices, my coach had me run with the sprinters who run 100-400m races, and I was so sore the next day. I was in shape and didn’t think that I should have been that sore, but I realized that sprinting uses entirely different muscles!

7.) Cross country has HILLS, unlike flat tracks.

8.) You usually don’t have to worry about counting 7 and a half laps in cross country like you do in track when you run the 3000

9.) Cross country has many more runners in each race, unlike track, where they will split races up between heats when there is a certain number of runners.

10.) You get to turn right in cross country!!!!!! Instead of only turning left, like in track!!!

So I hope that that was a good enough list for you and that you won’t have to make the same mistake as so many others who think that track and cross country is the same thing!

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I don’t wanna have to say goodbye!

I get so sad every time I think about all the seniors that will be graduating all too soon this year and won’t be there every day next year at practice! We have a total of eight seniors graduating this year, which is much higher than usual. Freshman year, I didn’t miss the seniors as much because I didn’t know them as well. I had only had one year to run with them, so I didn’t have as much time to get to know them. I still miss our seniors from last year when I was a sophomore. There were only three last year, though, so it didn’t make our team that much smaller. This year though, we’re losing almost a third of our team. I have had three years of running with these seniors. Over the years, we’ve all gotten to know each other in a way that only happens through the shared experience of running. During our long runs around the lake, we talk about anything and everything. These are the girls that I run with at 8am everyday in the summer. These are the girls that I spend two hours with every day after school in the fall at practice. I am going to miss them so much.

I look up to our seniors so much. They were, and still are the girls that I watch run and want to be like. Since freshman year, I always wanted to be as fast as they were and to run their times. We have some really smart girls in cross country, and I have always wanted to be as smart as they are. While I’m not best friends with everyone in cross country, in general, I think that the girls in cross country are nicer people than the girls in any other sport. I want to be as nice as some of our seniors are!

Today is Wednesday, and the state meet is on Saturday. We only have two more practices together as a team before State, and after that, we won’t ever all be together again. I don’t want to have to say goodbye!

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6 days, 19 hours, 17 minutes……

And the countdown to state continues! The stakes are high! We won our districts/state qualifying meet three days ago on Thursday, for the first time in my school’s history!:) And we won the conference meet last week, for the first time ever! We all wanted to win our district so badly and earn a banner, and we finally did it! This is a big deal. A really big deal. We are making history and setting school records like never before! Our nearly-undefeated season has continued for one more meet! We have run so well all season, and now we only have one more goal left to check off the list – to bring home the state trophy! My team and I have worked so hard to get us where we are now. We can’t give up now. I know that we have a huge red (or should I say green??) target on our backs because of our record. The other schools in our district and across the state are out to get us. But we are stronger than they are! We aren’t going to settle for anything less than the best when we race. We aren’t going to get comfortable and think that we don’t have to work as hard, just because we’ve beaten these other teams before. We are going to prove ourselves, once again, that we are better, and work no less hard and run no less fast than before.

My team is currently ranked third in the state. Before the year began, we were ranked 9th. Last year, we were ranked 6th, but only placed 12th at state. Last year, we only dreamed of running competitively with the big cross country schools like Pleasant Valley and Dowling. Those two schools always have strong cross country teams. Last year, we talked about beating them, but it was really only wishful thinking, because it would never happen. This year, it could happen though. This year, we have improved so much. I’m not sure why that is – maybe our workouts are harder or we’re just getting better as we get older. No matter why it is, I’m so proud of all of the girls on my team. My coach was talking to us before our meet on Thursday and he started choking up because of how proud of us he is and how much he’s loved coaching us. I have so much respect for my coach. He has done an incredible job. Yes, maybe some of it comes naturally to some, but we could never discover our full potential without his help.

State, here we come! We’re ready for that trophy!

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Politics vs. Running

It’s all over tv, the radio, the billboards, and even my neighbors’ lawns. It’s impossible to escape the avalanche of campaign ads of all of these candidates running for office. These candidates, whether theyre running for president, senate, or whatever, are all trying to convince you that they’re the best option and that they are the right ones to win America.

Now let me begin by saying that I’m not a big fan of politics in general, which is why my blog is about running instead of that. It just gets to me that they say people are running for office. My frustration over politics at least partly comes from the comparison between the running I do and the running that they do.

In a cross country race, the clock is a clear measurement of how fast you are. There’s no question about it. You can’t persuade the clock to slow down a bit for you or speed up for someone else. You can’t argue with what the clock says. It is an absolute measurement of your capabilities. If you’re running and someone else is ahead of you, then you can’t argue your case. You can only speed up and try to be faster and better yourself and beat him or her. There is only one way to prove that you’re better. People’s opinions make no difference in determining the winner. It makes no difference if you have more people cheering for you, or if the runner behind you is getting more cheers. To everyone else watching, they can see who is better. It isn’t hidden behind someone’s bias or opinion. The clock says the time and no amount of propaganda or opinions can change what it says.

In the presidential race, all you hear are claims from both sides that they are better as they tear each other down. Contradictions, bias, and propaganda make it hard to tell what’s true and what’s not. In the debates, both sides make claims about the other, and they both say the other is lying. So which way is it? Which one is lying and which one is telling the truth? I’d much rather hear the hard cold facts than the skewed, biased arguments from either side. I want the media to tell it like it is, instead of how they want it to be.

This is why politics annoy me so much. I want it to be easy to make an informed decision about which candidate is better to run the country. The contradictory claims from both sides aren’t helping me or anyone else in America. I am a runner and I prefer to see one obvious winner, and one, or many, that are obviously not as strong or fast. In cross country, there can be some battling for spots, but in the end there’s nothing to debate. Some people can say that they’re faster and can make all the claims that they want, but those claims aren’t going to be the ones that make their way to the list of results or the newspaper. The results will give straightforward facts. Why can’t politics be the same way??

Go America

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Eat, run, repeat…. but don’t forget to sleep!!!!!

Here’s a typical day in my life – Wake up. Eat. School. Eat. More school. More eating. Run. A lot. Eat. Homework. Eat some more. Go to showchoir/youth group/ piano lessons/ football games/whatever else I need or want to do. Do more homework. I sleep only when I have time for it. But according to the Running Times Magazine, and I’m sure a lot of other sources would agree, sleeping is one of the most important parts of training.

According to this article from the Running Times Magazine, adequate sleep (at least 7 hours) is critical to the recovery of your muscles. Human growth hormone (HGH) is released from the pituitary gland during the third and fourth stages of sleep. It helps your muscles and bones build and repair themselves after a hard workout, and it helps the body use more fat for fuel. Sleep is also necessary for the body to properly store glycogen, the fuel stores that your body uses during a run. Too little sleep can result in more production of the stress hormone, cortisol, which can impair recovery and repair of your muscles.

How much sleep you need varies from person to person. I often get about 6 hours of sleep on the average night, but I don’t think that I’m always getting enough because I’m tired so often. I’m thinking that if I really want to PR, maybe I should work on setting a new PR on how much sleep I’m getting! And since the affects of that late-nighter kick in about two days afterward, I know that I need to start making it a habit of going to bed earlier regularly! Sleep always seems to be last on my list of priorities, but really, I need to make it much closer to the top! I always am so focused on getting everything else like my running and my homework done first, and then I sleep whenever I have leftover time. It should be the other way around. I need to keep sleep at the top of my priority list and make sure that I keep sleep in my schedule.

Chicago-area running coach C.J. Welter says, “The one thing I tell all my runners is that, in the final weeks of training — or actually tapering — you can do more by sleeping than you can by running,” We only have three weeks left until the state cross country meet. It’s getting close to the weeks where we begin tapering, or backing off of our mileage and intensity of workouts so we can be rested for the state meet. As my mileage goes down, I’m going to try to increase my hours of sleep at the same rate! I hope it helps!

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That’s the way God made them, get over it.

If you go to a cross country meet, one thing you might notice is the size of some of the girls that are up there at the front of the pack. While I know this isn’t true for all of them, there are some stick-thin girls that have thighs the size of your arms and you wonder how they can even have any muscle to run as fast as they do. I don’t understand how they can be that fast either, and I am a cross country runner! But what really gets to me is when people judge these girls based on how skinny they are. I don’t think they realize that while calling someone fat, calling them anorexic can be just as hurtful. Maybe some of them are anorexic, I don’t know. But the ones that I do know aren’t. They eat. And eat. And eat. And eat. They run cross country for heaven’s sake! They have to eat or they can’t run! But what a lot of people don’t realize is that sometimes, when you’re running so many miles so fast, you can’t control your weight. They might not be trying to lose weight, but it just happens. Some of them may even be trying to gain weight but they can’t. It’s not their fault!

I’m certainly not as small as some of those other girls, but I am happy with my weight. I eat healthy food and take care of my body.  My weight does weird things depending on what season it is. I lose weight during the summer and fall during cross country season, and then I gained weight during track season. I have no idea what’s going on with my body, it just does its own thing. I learned to be happy with my body however much I weigh because it’s how God made me. I don’t care what the scale says. I know that as long as I take care of myself, I’ll be fine.

I know a girl in cross country that has gotten so sick of people calling her skinny and anorexic that her boyfriend and some of her other friends now joke about how fat she is to make her feel better. She’s the farthest thing from being fat, but she’s definitely not anorexic either! I don’t think they should have to do that! Why can’t we all stop judging people by their weight, no matter how big or small they are?? It’s not necessarily something they can control! It’s the way they were born!

Earlier, I wrote a post about how our government is so concerned about kids weight that they limited the number of calories in school lunches to 850 calories. I don’t really want to go back to that, but maybe our government could loosen up that 850 calorie restriction on the people who are being made fun of for how skinny they are? Just a thought. In the meantime, let’s quit judging others based on their weight and be happy the way God made us! Please?

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Disappointing meet:(

I’m so sad:( My team is no longer undefeated as of our meet this past Thursday:( it was freezing cold and windy and the course was hilly, but that shouldn’t have made quite as big of a difference in our times, or at least mine. I can’t believe that I ran 40 seconds slower than last week! I’m so mad at myself! And our fourth girl was tripped by a girl on the team that won! If she hadn’t been tripped we would’ve won! If I had run the same time I ran last week or the week before we would’ve won! I know I can’t think about what-ifs this much though. I know that what happened happened and there’s nothing I can do about it now but run, but it’s hard not to keep wishing I would’ve run faster. I’m trying to just shake it off so I can run my butt off this thursday and prove myself again to everyone else. I think I need to stop beating myself up so much over my running. I know that I’m still considerably faster than last year, but I don’t know how I ran so much slower. Forty seconds is a huge difference! I’m not sure whether it was the weather or the course or our workouts this past week or what. I could feel myself running slower and mentally I wasn’t there as much as usual. I didn’t have that energy and focus that I’ve been having. I hope I’m not peaking already! It had better be uphill from this!

I can’t bear to run like I did this past week again. My team can’t afford it. I am going to run faster this week. I have to be physically and mentally strong. I need to keep eating right, getting enough sleep, and running the times my coach gives me to run at practice everyday. I will get better. I will prove myself again. I will PR again. I have to.

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Dear Michelle Obama, I’m Still Hungry

This weekend I got this amazing new headband that says “I run so I can eat” and I’ve been wearing it almost constantly since then! It describes my life!! I run. I eat. I go to school and sleep when possible, but basically I just eat and run and eat some more. If I didn’t run, I would get so fat because of how much I eat! But on the other hand, there’s no way I could run like I do without food to fuel me through the hard workouts. That’s why the new Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act that’s now being enforced in our schools makes me so upset.

Signed into law by the president in 2010 and encouraged by Michelle Obama, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 sets new regulations on school lunches, such as calling for more fruits and vegetables to be served, skim and 1% milk, and lower fat and sodium content.  I appreciate this effort to have healthier lunches. I love my grapes and carrots, I prefer skim milk to 2%, and I try to eat less fat and empty calories whether I am at school or at home. But then the act also sets the required number of calories to be between 750 and 850 calories, and no more than 12 ounces of protein (meat or meat alternative) per week. While this may be just fine for your average non-athletic student, every student is not the same! We do not all need the same amount of calories! I run cross country and when we have our 10 mile days, I’m burning 1000 extra calories at practice! I need my calories to get me through it and the protein to help my muscles recover! I should not be distracted in the middle of my run by my stomach growling since I didn’t get enough food at lunch! What about our football players or swimmers or volleyball players?? I’m sorry Michelle Obama, but this plan isn’t cutting it. We are unique. Don’t you encourage diversity? All students are not one-size-fits-all, and that applies to every aspect of life, including my lunch.

A school in Kansas made this video parody of Fun’s song “We Are Young,” titled “We Are Hungry.”

I believe they speak for all of us. We are hungry. We need food to get us through practice. If they don’t feed us enough healthy food at school, we will have to find something else, and there’s a good chance that it won’t be as healthy. Yes, keep the whole grains, the fruit and veggies, and the skim milk. Just give us more so we can make it through all 10 miles this afternoon.

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