Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Why PE Screwed Me Up

Don't let this cool-as-a-cucumber exterior fool you. I am an easily excitable nerd at heart. I'm going to keep waxing poetic about my new running shoes, posting pictures of them, fawning over them, doodling their name on my notebook, setting them out at night on my dresser so I can see them right before I fall asleep and right when I wake up in the morning--that. Just like when I was a kid with new "back to school" clothes and school supplies and I'd lay them all out in a catalog of awesomeness just to savor their newness and revel in my ownership.

So what if it takes a gimmick to get me excited about running? Hate on, haters.

I can't wait to run again. Tomorrow isn't even a running day. Actually, today wasn't but I was swooning so bad over my new running shoes that I switched today, which was a stretch & strengthen day, up with tomorrow's 2 mile run just so I could try them out. I'm not talkin' cute here, but they are sure functional. I could feel the inflamed area complain a little while I was running, but nothing even like the day before. I haven't had any pain at all today. I'm so happy I got new shoes. These definitely have a more structured feel to them--I might not want this forever, but for where I am in my n00b running career, they're just what the doctor ordered.

On to the subject of this post, which is something I think about frequently while I run: PE jacked me up. PE is the reason I never tried to run before now. PE is the reason I never thought I'd be a runner. PE is the reason I never thought I could be a runner. I might have passed PE, but PE FAILED ME.

Don't even get me started on what the California state budget cuts have done to class size, but back when I was in high school, even before today's standard of 50 kids to one teacher in each PE class, there was never enough attention to go around. "Coaching" of any sort was limited to the prodigies in class (generally on loan from their off-season sports teams) or the troublemakers. Shy, obedient kids like me were just herded like cattle and for the most part, ignored. My Freshman PE teacher was as old as the hills--I don't think he even knew my name--and my sophomore PE teacher, while an amazing female role model, didn't spend a lot of time talking to any of us one on one either. There just wasn't time.

More specifically, it was the approach to running that screwed me up. From four years of junior high and high school PE, I learned that running is a punishment. I learned that running is only to be done once or twice a month, for one mile, and that mile is to be done as fast and as hard as you can do it. I learned that there is no stretching after the run, because by then, it's time to go in. I learned that you should run if your knee hurts or your shins ache or you have a cough, because we're all here to get the job done. I learned that it doesn't matter what shoes you run in, because all that counts are your dress points. I learned that there's no hydration needed when you run, because that's a waste of time. I learned that all that matters is how you stack up against your peers.

SEE WHY I GOT MESSED UP? Obviously, none of that is true, or the way you'd want to approach running.

I have to say that being a teacher (and actually, a credentialed PE teacher, though I wouldn't be caught dead teaching PE) I can understand the limitations on time, funding, attention, and facilities that a PE teacher faces. I'm not really even being critical of PE teachers or the ones I had. Just PE in general. It doesn't foster the right attitude about running or inspire kids to take it on later in life. I thought I hated running, because PE running was all I knew. To me, running was painful in my shins, lungs, and hamstrings. To me, running was a boring chore. I was so wrong.

The best lesson I've learned since approaching this carefully, at thirty, is that running should be enjoyed. There's no sense in it for me at this point in going out and feeling punished by it. I have also learned the value of consistency--of a little running on a frequent basis, even if I can't do a lot on every single day. One of the major turning points for me with running was to see that it didn't matter how fast I ran, or how I stacked up next to anyone else, because in finding my own pace I'd make headway with my goals and I'd like it so much more. I even let myself *gasp* drink water when I feel like I need it. Heaven forbid. If I need a day off, I take it, especially when I don't feel well. I listen to my body. I try to stretch, to strengthen the muscles I will use in running, the muscles in my core, and the ones running doesn't hit. I'm happy. I look forward to running, and I am proud of what I've accomplished already. I never felt that in PE. Back then I just felt glad every time it was over and hopeful that we'd have a sub the next time we had a scheduled run. My mile times were much better then, but there was no way I could sustain that pace for any real distance. I think what I am doing now is making me much healthier anyway.

The final thing on my mind is the Green Monster. Do you know what that is? It's an uber-healthy smoothie that a lot of the kids are drinkin' these days. When I say kids, I mean runners. And vegans. And... oh, I don't know. People who blog. People who know stuff.

I stumbled upon some new blogs tonight while reading the forums at Runners’ World. That’s how it happens, you know. I’m sure some of you ended up here because you know someone who knows me or because I went blog-hopping over to your site. I like that about blogs. Anyway, here are some new ones I found that I like, all connected in one way or another by my search for the perfect Green Monster recipe. I’ll get to that in a sec.

First, I found Run and Rejoice. Liked that one. Found Green Monster. Took off on a Google Search. Ended up at: Healthy Tipping Point. Liked that one. It led me to Operation Beautiful by the same author. Check that out--great "random act of kindness." When I got back to my Green Monster search, I headed over to Runner's Kitchen, and finally Oh She Glows. Phew! Now I need a nap.

I’m not going to post a specific recipe until I make one or twelve of them and figure out what my favorites one is, but the basic premise of the Green Monster is that you’re making a fruit smoothie with some spinach or kale thrown in for good measure. Stop looking at me like that. Listen. They say you can’t taste the greens. I don’t know who “they” are, but I’m hoping they are right. This little Monster is packed with good eats. Doesn’t hurt to try, right? It’s supposed to be green but taste like a regular ol’ banana and berry smoothie. I promise to give it a shot and let you know.

Here are some of the basic ingredients. They definitely vary from site to site, depending on preference.

1 cup almond milk (or soy, hemp, rice, etc.)
1 T almond or peanut butter
1-2 handfuls of fresh spinach or 1-2 leaves of kale
Flax or oats
Frozen banana
Frozen blueberries or strawberries
Protein powder

I'm not so much about wanting to drink weird crap as I am about trying to get more bang for my buck, food-wise. I am feeling like it's getting easier to make nutrient-rich food choices, but the more things I can think I actually enjoy eating, the more successful I will be. I think. Maybe the Green Monster is right for me.

I’m intrigued by you, Green Monster. I will be giving you a try in the near future.


  1. Ok I am literally laughing out loud because I am the SAME EXACT WAY about buying running shoes! I like to have all the gadgets that go with running, but when it comes time to actually run I am less enthused! It was the same with school! LOVED going school shopping and buying the colorful pens, fancy folders, etc., but when it came time to start school I was like, "Wait?! We actually have to use this stuff?!!?"

    Great post! Your blog is looking beautiful! :)

  2. Congratulations! I’ve nominated you for the Honest Scrap Award. Have fun with it.
    In accepting this award, I need to do the following:
    1) Say thanks and give a link to the presenter of the award.
    2) Share "ten honest things" about myself.
    3) Present this award to 7 others whose blogs I find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged me.
    4) Tell those 7 people that they've been awarded HONEST SCRAP and inform them of these guidelines in receiving it

    --I'm not a hard core runner like you yet (I only run about 2-3 times a week for about 20min), but you continually inspire me to get out there and keep on doing it. :)

  3. I am totally going to try out that smoothie - I've been needing new smoothie ideas and that just might do the trick!

    Totally agree on the PE ruining the running vibe...I too am just learning to like running. Well, like is a stretch but I am wanting to get into shape, so I am giving it my best shop.

    Yay for shoes on the blog! I blogged about mine too; keeps the motivation up!!

    Have a super day and let me know how the smoothie turns out. ;)

  4. That is SO TRUE of PE and athletics (with the exception of track and Xcountry) in general! I too, used to see running as punishment and certainly NOT as enjoyable. Little did I know it was akin to a drug in its addictive power!

    Second, glad you like the GM! It probably scares a lot of people off, but I know that when my meat and potatoes boyfriend asks for one and even buys the ingredients to make his own...we are on to something! Plus you can't beat the nutritional stats. Oh, and the taste...milkshake in the morning? Yes please!

    Love the blog!