I have discovered that two things are necessary for training – advice and supportive people. Three weeks ago, my OMS colleague, Amy, opened my eyes to the wonders of compression socks. How have I trained without these all of my life!? They have surpassed GU to become my most helpful training tool. (Sorry, GU. It’s not you, it’s me.) For those of you who do not know what they are or how they work, they’re like really tight socks that somehow shorten recovery time and lessen the effects of muscle fatigue. I wear them on runs, I wear them to work and I wear them to bed. And despite the strange looks I get from trying to pair calf sleeves with Kate Spade flats, I have yet to take them off. There’s not really much concrete evidence of their healing powers, but many runners and trainers swear by them – and frankly, that’s good enough for me. As a first time marathoner, I’m accepting any and all advice from more seasoned runners. The other night, my aunt called to tell me that after destroying your legs on long runs, one should always walk up stairs backwards. Convinced at first that she was just trying to make me look foolish, I laughed it off. However, after my 15, hilly miles on Sunday, I could feel my muscles burn each time that I picked up my feet to climb the stairs of our third floor walkup. Heeding her advice and keeping a good grasp of the railing, I threw it in reverse and trotted backwards up the stairs with ease. Genius! Thanks, Aunt Kathleen!
Besides the oodles of advice and tools that I’ve picked up along the way, I’ve also greatly benefited from the kindness of my friends and family. My cousin, Jillian, and her husband, Nate, were staying with us this week while they visited Boston for a music conference. Seeing me groaning and hobbling around the house after my weekend run, Jillian took it upon herself to lay me down on the couch and massage my calves and feet for almost two hours. I’m not one to usually ask for help so I resisted at first. But, she persisted, and eventually I gave in. By the end of the night, I was walking with no discomfort.
I also have to give a big shout out to my boyfriend, Chris. I don’t know how I’d be able to do this without him. He’s been my biggest cheerleader and motivator. He’s driven me to races, has showered me with running gear, gets me to the gym and has spent almost every evening of the last year rubbing my back and retrieving things for me so I wouldn’t have to move from the couch when I’m sore (which is always). Last weekend I had mistakenly not eaten enough before my long run, and I could feel my glycogen stores were depleted. My legs felt like lead, my head was fuzzy and I had to concentrate to even run in a straight line. Luckily, I nibbled on a couple packets of GU, and was able to finish. However it was all I could do to keep him from dropping what he was doing to drive over and stand next to me until I completed my run. His love and support have been a constant source of strength for me, and I am so incredibly grateful to have such a caring partner.
We all want to believe we’re strong enough to do things on our own, but sometimes it’s okay (and even necessary) to ask for help. Part of the reason why I love running is that it’s a solitary effort – me and the pavement. However, I now realize that undertaking a challenge like this often requires a lot more than I can do on my own. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about myself while training, but I’ve also discovered the depth of support and love from my friends and family.