Quick Link Post!

While browsing 406Running.com yesterday I came across this spotlight post about Butte’s running club, Butte’s Piss and Moan Runners.

Having lived in Butte previously, as well as having visited a lot, I was struck by this running club and wanted to share it with anyone who might have the opportunity to visit Butte and run in any of their events.  I find the Whiner’s Award to be particularly amusing.  Butte’s Piss and Moan Runners sound like my kind of folks.

And just a reminder, if you are a runner in Montana and you blog, you can add your blog to 406running.com’s blog list, by following the link at the top right of the Blog Directory page, and I hope that you will.

This coming Sunday is my 15 mile training run!  I’m excited!

Odds and Ends

Sometimes I have little odds and ends that aren’t sufficient to make up a whole post, so I wait until I have a little collection.

Running with a Group

I love running with a group.  I’m glad to have my own time to run for my short Tuesday and Thursday runs, but for my Sunday runs I really appreciate the group so much.  We chat and share information in all the ways that people do as they grow more familiar with each other.  Since we’re running together, we tend to focus a little bit on things related to running like shoes, clothing, PT Clinics, etc, but naturally we get beyond that and share other things as well.

I also love coming back to our gathering place after a run, especially now that the other classes are going.  I run into friends from other classes and other pace groups, and it’s really a nice way to start a Sunday.

Additionally, running with a group helps keep you on target, especially on those long run days.  You feel accountable in a way, and you don’t feel like disappointing your friends by skipping a long run.  You also look forward to seeing and socializing with your friends.  All of these things provide motivation and help you get out of bed on those days you’d rather sleep in.  If you have a friendly running club where you live, I encourage you to join it.  You may think that you’re a loner and you prefer to run on your own, but I’ll tell you, so did I.  It’s one of those things you can’t really be sure of until you  try.

Changes I Have Experienced Over Time

I’ve noticed a lot of changes that aren’t the obvious things like being able to run farther and having stronger legs.  Over these last months I have gone from being someone who hated exercise like a vampire hates sunlight, to being a person who thinks rest days are the worst.  Partly, I believe that is directly related to my choice to try the run/walk/run method over traditional running.  My body isn’t ready for traditional running.  Maybe it will be at some point, but it sure isn’t right now.

My overall attitude has improved greatly, at least most weeks.  Sometimes I still have rough weeks because of stress or something, but overall I’m a happier person.  Other changes in my life have contributed to this, but running is a huge factor, I’m sure.   Running, especially endurance running, can really increase your overall sense of well-being.  You become less vulnerable to certain types of stress.   It also elevates and helps even out moods.  These are all things you know, because you’ve been told them over and over but until you’ve actually tried it, I don’t think most people really believe it deep down.  I know I didn’t.

My ideas about pain have changed.  I still don’t like being sore from exercise, but my body is learning to tell the difference between the good soreness and the bad soreness.  After our 12.5 mile run last Sunday I could tell I would be sore.  Monday morning proved me right, and I really wasn’t looking forward to climbing up and down the stairs at work.  The minute I started up those stairs at work that morning, however, my body provided me with feedback telling me that stairs were good and I should keep doing that.  So I did, and it continued to feel good throughout the day, even though my legs were tired.  The great thing was, when I woke up on Tuesday, I was no longer sore.  Since I tend to be very much a “second day is worse” type of person, I was really pleased by that.

Advice I Have Gotten

One of the things I love about having friends who are more experienced with running than I am, is the advice I get from them, and I’d like to share some of it with you.  Keep in mind that I’m training to be a distance runner so that tends to be my focus.

-Don’t wear your running shoes except when you’re running.  This will help extend the life of your shoes, for one.  Also, if you shop at a cool local running store like I do, you can take your shoes in with you when you buy your next pair, and they can help you pick out your best options, in part by checking out your wear patterns. You walk and run differently, so walking in your running shoes will create a different wear pattern. I also choose not to wear my running bra or my running socks when I’m not running, so as to extend their lifespans.

-Keep track of the miles you have put on your shoes.  A simple excel or google spreadsheet where you enter the dates, mileage and which shoes you wore can make this really easy.  Most running shoes apparently last for 400 to 600 miles, depending on any number of factors, but we all get used to how our shoes feel and may not realize they’re becoming worn if we’re not paying attention.  The last thing you want is to get to the big race and try to run it in broken down shoes.  You also don’t want to run it in brand new shoes, however.  Even if your new shoes are exactly the same brand and model as your old shoes, you still need to break your feet and your shoes in.

-If you’re training for distance running or other endurance sport, make sure you start figuring out your nutrition early on.  Some folks find that their stomachs can get very sensitive during their long runs/rides etc.  Figuring out early what works for you, will save you a lot of trouble and possibly some severe embarrassment during the race itself.

-Always be a skeptic.  You’ll get more advice than you can shake a stick at and quite a bit of it will be contradictory.  Be open to new ideas, but don’t jump on every bandwagon that passes.  Make sure you do your research first, and really listen to your body.  Runners should be especially careful about shoe fads.   Some people swear by running in certain types of non-standard shoes, toe shoes, barefoot, etc.  But they don’t always bother to mention that it took them a long time to work up to running that way, and that it can take a lot of foot strength for that to work.  If you want to try something like that, make sure you work into it slowly, and maybe wait to try it until after your big race, so you don’t hurt yourself during your training.

-Body Glide (the anti-chafing product) is your friend, if you’re a distance runner.  We all have places that chafe, whether it’s under the arms or in your bathing suit area 🙂 long runs can produce a lot of chafe.  Be prepared for that.  Someone also mentioned taping the nipples for long runs, which I haven’t tried yet, but may.

-Have fun.  If you’re training for an endurance sport it’s probably safe to assume that you’re planning on continuing it after the big race, either for more big races or for the health benefits.  If you’re not having fun, it will be much harder to convince yourself to keep going after the big race.

I’ve got 104 days before my big race, and I’m still having fun.  I’m looking forward to our 15 mile run next Sunday.  I may even choose to go out with the faster pace group again, depending on some class related factors.  I feel that this is an option I should consider, since I wasn’t sore on day two following our 12.5.

Running with a Group and Retiring Socks

Today was our 12.5 mile run.  In addition to the added distance, I was moved up a pace group to the 14 minute per mile group, who are run/walking at a 30 second/30 second split.

Miles 3 and 4 were especially hard for me today, and I felt that I might have to drop back to the 15 minute pace group.  I think the issue was insufficient sleep (I tossed and turned a bit), coupled with the fact that I started to get a blister on the ball of my left foot.  At first I thought (as you often hear runners doing) that I could just live with it.  Fortunately, some smarter part of my brain overrode me and I mentioned my blister out loud.  One of my pace group mates, Cindy, happened to have a wonderful product with her: Elastikon tape.  We stopped and applied two strips to cover the area well, and the pain diminished to nothing very quickly.  I’m glad we stopped when we did.  At this point, there isn’t even a visible blister there, though I can feel it.  It would be a lot worse right now if I’d run the remaining 8 miles on it.

So the pair of socks that I was wearing are being retired.  They’re good socks, but they’ve just stretched out too much so they aren’t doing their job.  Well fitting socks are very important for running.  They make all the difference in the world. But a tape like Elastikon is also a handy thing to have, for emergencies.

Between the blister and feeling a bit tired, I’m really glad I had a group to run with.  If I’d been out on my own, I don’t think I would have been able to make myself go 12.5 miles today.   But I made it and I feel pretty darned good, actually.  I can tell I’ll be a little sore, but I’m going to try to get up and walk around the house often today to keep from stiffening up too much.  I really think moving helps more than just about anything.

However, I do think perhaps I’m not quite ready for the 14 minute pace group.  I think my original idea of running with the 14s for our shorter runs, and the 15s when we add miles might be the way to go.  At least for the time being.

In two weeks we’ll be running our 15 mile long run.  That’s even longer than a half marathon.  For some reason, I find that mentally significant.

The marathon itself is in 111 days and I’m still feeling good about it.  I honestly cannot recommend the Galloway method strongly enough, for anybody who thinks running is beyond them, like I always did.

Magic Mile Improvement!

Yesterday was a short (recovery) run Sunday.   We ran 4 miles total, including a Magic Mile.  My goal, as you may recall, was to come in at under 10 minutes and beat my previous time of 10:03 by at least 4 seconds.  My time, was 9:28!     That is a much bigger improvement than I expected, and probably the most dramatic I will see during this training cycle.

I plugged in my new time in the Galloway predictor page and I see that my new predicted race time is 5 hours and 22 minutes.   That’s still a pretty long marathon time.  I’m giving some thought to starting with the walkers, who start an hour early.  Since my goal for my first marathon is to finish, I think that might afford me the opportunity to enjoy some of the festivities at the end.

I also see that I may be moved into the 14 minute pace group, which is where I started out that first week, when they had me down for a half marathon.  I like the people in my pace group, though, so I’m not sure how I feel about that.  One thing I know for sure is that if I wanted to, I could stay in the slower pace group.  Perhaps I will decide based on who else is moving.

With 117 days to go before the marathon, and three more Magic Miles planned, I expect my predicted pace to improve somewhat.  I’ll hold off on deciding whether to start with the walkers or runners for now.

Easing up on the Brakes, the Journey Continues

I may or may not have broken the rules on my Thursday run this week.  Allow me to clarify.

Last Sunday our class leaders stressed that our Tuesday and Thursday runs were times when we could run at the pace and split of our choosing, rather than sticking to our training pace and split.  However, newbies are strongly encouraged not to do any sort of speed work (with the apparent exception of some hills), and to keep things slow and safe.  Normally I do that. I don’t have any interest in hurting myself due to overdoing something.  I want to make it all the way to the marathon in July, after all.

But on Thursday, I just couldn’t hold back.  I had plotted a course around my end of campus that would allow me to run up the little hill three times in three miles.  As I walked out the door of my building, I couldn’t deny the urge to allow myself to run/walk at a much faster pace than my training pace.

I walked the first quarter mile (.3, actually) and I did force myself to keep it slow and easy (though still not anywhere near as slow as training pace, I think) on the rest of that first lap around my plotted circle.  After that first lap, though, I took the brakes off and let myself go.  I am quite certain I was going a lot faster than normal and darn it, it felt really good.  I needed that.  Of course, I also put the brakes on for about the last half mile to warm down a little bit, and I walked it in for just under a quarter mile at the end.

Based on my first Magic Mile time of 10:03, I’m in the 15 minute full marathon training group, and we use a 30 second run/45 second walk split.  When I run on my own I use 30/30 and I don’t pay much attention to my pace other than usually trying to keep it slow and easy. Thursday’s run, from door to door was 3 miles in 32 minutes, including the walking part. So even though I don’t know what my exact pace was at any point, I think the math shows that I was going quite a bit faster than my 15 minute training pace. But again, my body really felt like I needed it and I have no extra soreness or discomfort.  I suppose that I should also add that I didn’t have much in the way of soreness or discomfort after our ten mile run on Sunday.  This Galloway run/walk thing is the best!

Thursday evening after work, my good friends who are largely (okay, almost entirely) responsible for me embarking on this journey in the first place, gave me a really amazing gift.  I am now the proud and excited owner of a GPS running watch.  I’m just flummoxed by such a generous gift, but I am also incredibly excited by all the nifty information I’ll be able to get from it once I figure out how to operate it.  I haven’t quite worked out how to review a saved run yet, so it’s back to the manual for me.  Or perhaps I haven’t worked out how to save a run yet, though I would think the save button would be the obvious option there.

Tomorrow our class is running our second Magic Mile and my goal is to come in at under 10 minutes.  That’s all.  I just want to go 4 seconds faster than my previous Magic Mile.  I am pretty sure I can do that.

With the very obvious exception of deciding to run a Marathon, I generally keep my goals simple and small, so that they are achievable and encouraging rather than out of reach and sad making.  Mentally, it just works out so much better for me, that way.

I’ve also been reading bits of my Galloway Training Program book and I’m finding the section on what to do after the big race to be fairly interesting.  He encourages us to form our post-race plan well before the big day.  After his recommended post-race recovery time, I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do. I’ve thought about running the shorter races in the area and that sort of thing.  So far, it seems likely that my body will want to keep run/walking, and perhaps by then I’ll have some idea of what my favorite distances are and I can come up with a plan to stay in shape and be ready for a time-goal run in the 2013 Missoula Marathon.

With 119 days left to go, I still feel like this is one of the best decisions I’ve ever landed on.  I’ll keep letting my body lead the way as much as I can, tempering it enough to keep it safe, and see where we go.  In some ways July seems just around the corner, and in other ways it seems impossibly far off.  Either way, I’m really excited to get there.

Ten Miles Crossed and Conquered

Today was (and still is) a gorgeous day for a run. Blue skies and sunshine greeted us as we set our for our 10 mile run. After our 7.5 mile run two weeks ago, I was really looking forward to this run, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Our route master planned a slightly more difficult route for us this time, in that it actually had some minor hills in it. Hills are good for our endurance, so even though these were pretty mild hills, I appreciated them.

There are now three marathon training classes going on, one of which is for the Boston Marathon. They were also doing a long run today, though considerably longer than ours I’m sure, so we were able to share their aid station, just under half way through our run. I think it’s pretty cool that Run Wild Missoula is able to coordinate these sorts of things.

For this run I tried the Stinger Honey Gel mixed into one of my water bottles, rather than the gummy candies, as I mentioned previously. I was quite surprised to find how much I liked it. I think it really did the trick. I wasn’t hungry at all during my run, but I felt like I had proper energy all the way through. I’d like to try to find a recipe for making something like that for myself, but I want to have the B Vitamins in it, I think, which might be more difficult with a homemade solution.

After our run we gathered for snacks at our usual spot above the Runner’s Edge and I tried out the massage tool that I think is called The Stick. It’s a segmented plastic rod that you run up & down your calves (or other muscles). Considering how my calves feel right now (fine) I think that was a good idea. Also, since my feet started to get a little sore around 8 or 8.5 miles, I was really looking forward to using my new Foot Rubz massage ball when I got home. This thing is my new best friend. It feels really great on the feet and can also be used on hands and other places.

Next Sunday we’re extending our short (recovery) run to 4 miles and I’m quite pleased about that. I find that three miles just isn’t enough on Sundays. Though I imagine I’ll feel that way about 4 miles before long. We’re also doing our second Magic Mile. My goal for our second Magic Mile is to make it under 10 minutes. Considering I ran my first one at 10 minutes, 3 seconds, I’m pretty sure I can do it.

The countdown timer on the Missoula Marathon page says we have 125 days left before the marathon and I still feel confident that I can do this.  I guess we’ll see if I’m singing a different tune when we get to 20 miles. (Note: I don’t think I will be!)