Mental and Physical Harmony

I always preferred listening to music while running than to listen to the sound of my breaths, and I do believe that some songs do add extra power and pace to your body in times you are desperate for any extra help.

When I started this blog I thought of not writing only on running but on reflections on running and our daily life and all what I think off while running.

My cousin who is newbie runner like me, reminded me of listening to podcast while running and how time really flies, I thought of giving it another try and it really helped.

First, podcasts are audio formats of any media form, could be a book, assay, talk show, TV show, radio show.

Second, download an app on your phone, whether it is an iPhone or android you will find plenty of apps under audio/video or podcasts category.

Time now to explore the different shows and add some to your favorites, most apps will offer the offline download option so you can save data.

I liked RadioPublic very much and tunein and if you like audiobooks you can subscribe to audible.com were you can find all the bestselling books in audio format, or take a free trial, buy individual books or add audio format to your already owned book on amazon. Tunein offers in addition to the free service, a paid subscription service that gives access to a very wide variety of audiobooks and shows for a lower monthly fees, however you don’t own the books after the subscription ends.

I thought of trying the free shows first and I really liked it very much so far. Last week I needed to do a couple of easy runs in preparation for my next half marathon next Friday, so I did download a couple of shows and it really felt so good.

It felt like my mind and body are in great harmony both being stimulated in a steady and comfortable way to be in better shape.

Remember running is not always nice and enjoyable, because when you start to run you will notice that you will need to give a lot in order to get one of those heavenly runs.

Now go run and wait search for the harmony and enjoy.

13 things Running & Life Share Together

  1. You choose your route, you like the track, streets parks or the desert.
  2. You choose you distance, long distance, short but it doesn’t mean you will reach your destination.
  3. You choose your running partner, sometimes he chooses you or you might meet by chance or you might choose to just run by yourself.
  4. You choose your pace; some people like to go slow and steady other like to run hard and get more tired but they take a risk of having an injury but at the same time you reach your goal faster and triumph as leader.
  5. You never know what’s going to happen as some things may come up during the run or life and hinder you from reaching your goal
  6. Sometimes you are tired and sometimes you feel you can fly
  7. Do not judge people by their look as ability, speed and endurance are unrelated to your body size or shape.
  8. You set a goal, you break it into small goal and ultimately you will reach and you might even surprise yourself.
  9. No train no gain, this is not rocket science, no pain no gain.
  10. You can rest if you are tired and at some point, you need to stand up and run again.
  11. People may help you, give you food, drinks etc. but it’s only you who is going to make it
  12. You need to be prepared and planned, cloths, training, food and drink, map and pace.
  13. Yes you can cheat, but everybody know you are a cheater.

Running for My Freedom

Whenever someone asked me, why did you tone down your political activities ? I answered: I am now happy and running.

I really felt running as a therapy one day, but I never saw the direct relation between running and freedom.

One friend noticed the direct relation in my case, between feeling trapped with limited abilities to change things to better in my country and running.

Yes I am running for my freedom, I am running to feel free, it’s the only way I feel free now. It’s the time where I have my own time and my own conversation with myself. Wake up early, listen to whatever you choose in your headphones or just listen to yourself and just run, no special equipment needed, just run. No team needed, no coordination with someone, just run. Choose your preferred time and place and just run.

I run from my destiny and to my destiny, I run and I know my starting point and my end point that I choose, but I also feel that I run in a grand map already drawn by god.

 

Lessons Learned from my First Official Half Marathon

1- Don’t exceed your usual pace specially at the start of the race.

2- When you adjust to your comfortable running pace keep going and you may increase your pace as times go by and as you approach the final kilometers.

3- Don’t look behind you, keep focusing, you are racing against yourself only.

4- Don’t judge people by their look and try to relate it with their pace.

5- Drink a sip of water every couple of kilometers.

6- Take small banana piece or a couple of dates every around 5 kilos and don’t over do it.

7- Wear very comfortable cloths that you tried in your previous training.

8- Try to sleep early on the race night

9- If you find a running partner, you will run faster.

10- Listen to your body if you feel tired slow down.

11- Don’t hang much in your maximal heart rate zone and slow down as early as possible, unless you are at the end of the race.

12- Imagine your finish line for encouragement.

Here is The Complete Story – Part 3 – The Event

 

Thursday night, we went to get our race numbers, t-shirts and bags. Friendly atmosphere and a smooth experience. There was live music at Abu el Tig El Gouna Piazza and a free Koshary dishes served by the organizers themselves.

They explained the route, rules and instructions for tomorrow’s big event.

The race started the next day exactly as planed 7:15 am. They prepared the cameras the Hasaballah band and it was a perfect start.

Every 3k there was a water stop, every 4k refreshment stop where you can grab a banana or dates, medical stops and toilets were available through the route.

Live entertainment was there every few kilometers, a guy playing rock music on a hill with his guitar loud and clear, clowns round the corners, a couple of drums every now and then.

Photographers and video directors were there too, and to top it, young children wearing race t-shirts cheering as you approach the finish line.

To be honest I was expecting a nicer scenery route, specially that the race is held in El Gouna, I expected running by the water and through the golf courses, but in fact most of the route was through the desert.

But I expect that it wasn’t possible because of security concerns for passing through the different hotel properties.

Finish line was very well prepared as you expect from any international race.

The after race party was superb, live music by HOH, Hany Adel and Hany el Daqaq.

Bottom line, excellent job by the CairoRunners team, thank you.

 

 

My First Official Half Marathon – Here is The Complete Story – Part 2 – Emotional Breakdown

When you love someone or something, sometimes you don’t have explanations for your behaviors towards your love, but here are some enlightenments of what happened before, during and after the race.

Just before the race started, I had a one very short moment of tears in my eyes, maybe it’s the happiness for finally standing to start what you have been preparing for the last couple of months, maybe I had a short glimpse of the finish line, I don’t know.

While running I had a sense of euphoria that poured tears in my eyes and made my breath shallow and difficult to take but I didn’t mind at all, it’s like meeting the love you waited for so long.

I had another attack when I fought pain at the end, people were trying to boost me up and I was trying to hide my pains and trying to love my journey.

My complete breakdown came at the end, while I am approaching the finish line, you should have seen my face, trying like a kid to hide his cry for losing his love while passing by his friends.

I took a moment by myself and tried to understand what happened and trying to pour what started, but it wasn’t crying, it was some sort of euphoria that breaks into tears and continued as I hugged my wife.

I felt on that day as a man who got his PHD, as man who survived a crashing plane, a real life changing experience.

The next night I signed up for my next race, but I couldn’t sleep afterwards, had a couple of hours of emotional distress, but now I am OK.

I told you, it’s like love, so get ready for some emotional bumps during your journey.

My First Official Half Marathon – Here is The Complete Story – Part 1 – My Race

Until 7 am – 16th of December 2016, my longest run in more than 20 years was my participation in the Pyramiden Lauf 7k race (March 2016).

On that day I decided to participate with Cairo Runners weekly gathering to run for a new challenge for me 8.5K.

On that day a magic moment happened, it’s like breaking a wall or shattering a mental block, I ran very comfortably the whole stretch and making a negative split in each lap.

I went back home thinking, why shouldn’t I sign for the upcoming El Gouna half Marathon ? And I did.

In less than 2 months as you read in my blog I was ready to run my first official Half Marathon. Yes I was running for months and trying to be a regular runner for around 2 years, but I never thought I would cross the 10k so rapidly.

Race night, I woke up 3 hours before the start time and ate 2 bananas and slept again, I was super excited and couldn’t sleep well. It was the big day I have been dreaming about.

6:45 am I was standing in the Abu el Tig El Gouna Piazza, warming up and waiting for the instructions to line up for the start line.

Boom, and the race started, wasn’t feeling in my best shape and I still felt some muscle tightness from my previous exercises.

I tried to keep my pace slow at the start, but I couldn’t as I saw every one passing by, and it ended I ran around 30 to 45 seconds per kilometer faster than my usual pace. I knew it, I read it, but couldn’t apply, never run faster than your pace at the start.

As time passed by, I felt more or less comfortable in my pace, at the 16k, when there was only 5 left, I said to myself it’s time to push more and gain a more faster pace. For an extra 1 k, it felt good passing through runner having this extra energy, then came the expected.

Wind started to blow and a couple of uphill stretches and an extra nagging pain started to hit my usual weak point, the right foot and the pace dropped south.

I tried to apply what I read somewhere before, try to accept the pain as it is part of the journey, and if you succeed to love it, nothing will stop you then. I shouted from pain, I searched for cheering claps and uproar noises to soothe it.

2 kilometers to go, some nice gentlemen from the cheering crowds jogged beside me for encouragement, so I picked some pace.

Last kilometer was running through the marina alone, and it felt like the party was over, no crowds, just a couple of kids and the organizing committee showing you the way to the final stretch for the finish line.

Suddenly you find yourself crossing the finish line and getting the medal for finishing.

It felt Amazing. Thank You CairoRunners

 

 

 

Hope for the Wind

Friday’s training was to run 10k, my final long run before the half marathon next week. Hesham my friend called in the morning and apologized for not running with me.

Of course I had second thoughts, should I go or just rest today ? Especially that we were supposed to run in Wadi Degla and I only ran their once and I might get lost.

I said to myself, it’s these circumstances that build perseverance and champs, I will go.

Arrived 8:15 am, It’s a sunny beautiful Friday. Let’s start.

After 500m the phone rang and it’s made an error in my Bluetooth connected fitness band, so I needed to start again.

The first 3k was almost always uphill and the wind was blowing against me. Last May I experienced a similar wind blow and it really messes up with your pace and it needs much extra effort to overcome it.

A wind is a bless or curse, it prepares you to be able to run in any weather condition however it drains your power unless you keep a lower pace in order to balance the extra resistance.

I did not know the trail map nor had any idea where to run, I just ran following any signs that showed that someone passed from here before.

I kept running until the trail took a turn and the wind started to blow in my back and here where the fun begins. It’s just like in real life, when you feel that the circumstances around you works in your favor, because god made it easier to you (someone would call it luck). You feel like a hand pushing your back and you are going downhill too, it was much much fun than my way up. It pays when you work hard.

At 5k I felt let like, “Let us make today 7k only” but after taking the downhill part and reaching the 6k I felt very strong and just getting warmed up, so I took a left turn and tried a different trail.

On reaching the 8k I decided to go back and I needed to open the google maps while running just to know my direction in the desert and I managed to finish 9.5 down to the gates so I made an extra 250 meters back and forth to finish 10k easily.

When I think about how I finish strong and my thoughts in the morning of skipping the run or my thoughts of how it’s hard to run against the wind or just to accept second goals like 7k, I realize day after day that running is life you choose how to finish it.

 

A Full Circle of Guilt & Pleasure

Thank god, I feel much better than expected after finishing the 21k, I followed the same routine of recovery: Immediate stretching, good hydration, cold water immersion, adequate healthy food, compression stock, adequate sleeping.

I did not get the back pain this time, but I did get some quadriceps pain specially at the insertion, but it’s bearable. I can’t run, but can walk comfortably.

When I woke up in the morning and thought about running, I said to myself: “Not Again”, it’s like the body feels the pain and saying “Why did you do this to me ?”, it felt like the guilt in the morning that follows sometime a forbidden pleasure.

Although the guilt is only a message from the body to the brain, but at the same time it still feels the pleasure, and you know it’s only hours and you will feel the need to get the dose before the pleasure fades.

I guess I will need to get used to these “Guilt & Pleasure” cycles.

My First 21k Half Marathon

At night I had the same feelings that I had when I did my first 10k one month before, restless and woke up at 4am drank water and slept again and woke up at 6am.

It is quiet amazing how a passion or strong will makes you change your lifestyle without having a second thought.

When I called the elevator to go downstairs, I wished it did not come so fast, because I knew what’s waiting for me, a couple of hours of work.

I started a good start, was well prepared mentally and took 8 dates in small pack inside my pocket as advised by Salah. He also told me to make pit stops for water at any drinking fountains found in front of many buildings, so not to carry any water bottles.

At the 3k I was already warmed up and needed to take of one of the extra layers I was wearing and tied it around my waste.

I met Salah at 4 mark he ran with me for a couple of minutes and said he will meet me again on the way back.

At the 5k mark I stopped for 5 seconds to take a sip of water and continued, I made another 2 stops at the 13 and 18k. I tried to distribute the dates evenly every 5k.

Again I met Salah at the 16k and for the next 3k I made an extra effort and raised my pace which was very useful. It improved my total time and gave me more trust in my body and not to be afraid later on to raise the heart rate a little bit, as I noticed after a few minutes of the “high heart rate” alarm, it drops again in more comfortable zone.

We did saparate at the 19k mark and I continued the next 2 alone, arrived home at the 20k and needed to do extra 0.5 back and forth to complete the 21k. Need to mention that it was Salah who told me to try the 21k before El Gouna to be more comfortable on the race day, thank you Salah.

Well, here it is “I finished my first 21k, I am a half marathon finisher”, yes it needs dedication,work and perseverance, but it all lies in the head. Anything is possible, I feel “unstoppable today” like Sia says and unbeatable. Thank God “الحمد لله”.