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A Year of Running
December 19, 2013 - 8:56pm

For my last post of 2013, I'm going to change it up. This isn't about innovation, change, social media, analytics, or technology. Nope, this post is about running. When 2013 began, I wasn't able to run. During the last three months of 2012, I had developed plantar fasciitis in my right foot as well as a bruised heel in my left foot. My feet were a wreck. My podiatrist made me wear Brooks Beast shoes with custom orthotics. From January until the end of March, I wore those shoes for every keynote, consultation, and errand. As a self-identified sneaker aficionado, it was not a fun time. My desire to go for a run was maddening. If you're a runner, you'll understand. Distance running is what I do to reduce stress, enhance creative thought, and increase my metabolism. Not being able to run was/is a stressful experience.

I was sitting in a coffee shop in Arkansas when I first found out about the Boston Marathon bombings. My Boston-based friends were tweeting about "being okay." At first, I didn't know what they were talking about. It took me a minute before I realized what had happened. I was living in Boston at the time and it was very difficult to be so far away from people who I cared about. Running is such a communal act. As individuals, we often go inside of ourselves to crank out long distances, but the community is extremely welcoming. The marathon bombings made me want to run even more...not for myself, but for the community that I cared about.

In late April, I decided that I needed a second opinion. An orthopedic doctor informed me that if I wanted to resume running I might as well give it a try. I quickly tossed the tank-like Brooks aside (they really are horrible shoes) and went out for a run. It felt amazing to feel the wind rushing by me as I went out for a 4 mile run. My feet hurt a little, but the ache in my feet was nothing compared to the joy of being able to run again. In April, I ran 11 miles. It was glorious and more meaningful than ever.

My combined distance in May and June added up to a total of 75 miles. A friend convinced me that I should run a marathon. While I had run several 5K races in the past, I had never even gone as far as a half marathon. 26.2 miles is a very long run. My farthest run prior to training for a marathon was 8 miles. Registering for the Portland Marathon in October was so thrilling. I knew that you could "impulse register" for a marathon, but you can't just go out and run a marathon.

In July, I ran 79 miles. It was the most miles that I had ever done in a single month. The first time I went for 13.1 miles (a half marathon distance), I felt like a rock star. And, my metabolism was incredible. I was hungry all of the time. My body fat percentage had decreased and my overall weight was down almost 20 pounds. Running was transforming my body.

I ran for more than 100 miles in August and September. Training was reaching the point where 10 mile runs were a breeze. Running 19 miles in the blazing sun of Oklahoma, my body was a fine-tuned machine. When I finished my longest training run of 21 miles, I knew I was ready for the marathon.

October was a wonderful month. I ran my first marathon (I've already signed up for the 2014 Portland Marathon), keynoted a conference in my home state of Iowa, and met my favorite new running partner.

When I ran 8 miles on a gravel road in Iowa, my feet started hurting again. Knowing that rest was the only way to heal my heels, I took a few weeks off. In October, I ran 63 miles. In November, I dropped down to less than 30 miles. My feet felt a lot better. This month, I've been traveling quite a bit and I've taken a bit of a break from running. However, running has been such a fundamental part of 2013 for me. Running has been the topic of many conversations with friends and colleagues. I know that several of my friends are planning on running a half marathon before the 2014 NASPA Annual Conference. I love that higher education practitioners are so committed to wellness. In 2014, I plan on running at least one marathon. Here's to a terrific 2013! See you in 2014!

 

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