One Month to Go!

The marathon is in a month.

The marathon is in a month!

I think I’m ready.

I ran my 27 miler on June 2nd and it was actually a really fantastic run. As soon as I got out onto the street that morning on my way to class, I knew it was going to be a great day. It was overcast and cool, but not cold. My preparation had paid off and I was feeling rested and energetic.

I opted to run with my pace group leader from last year using a 20s/40s split. We both had good reason to run a slow, conservative training run, so pairing up worked out really well for us. It was fantastic to get to run with him, since I haven’t had the chance much this year. We had a great time talking and laughing and catching up.

In some respects, though, the best moment of the run for me was when we got back to the Runner’s Edge. I had run 25 miles and had two more to go for my goal. I stopped and visited for a few minutes with the lovely people who had finished their runs or were waiting for others to finish. I grabbed an orange slice and a delicious chocolate coconut square and realized that I absolutely had 2 more miles worth of energy left in me. That was a really glorious realization to have. I felt strong, energetic and happy, so I filled up my water bottle and bid my friends farewell.

I took off towards home feeling pretty pleased with myself. After about 1/4 of a mile I even decided to switch my timer back to 30s/30s. My last two miles was more quiet and contemplative, but still fantastic.

When I got home I started into “recovery mode” right away. I scarfed down a chocolate yogurt and put my legs up the wall. Once my legs felt ready to go, I made myself a big bowl of gluten free pasta and enjoyed some well deserved (I thought) butt-time in front of the television.

The following day I was mildly stiff but not bad at all, and by Tuesday I was pretty much back to normal.

This week we’re still in recovery mode. Our class has a 6 mile run scheduled for Sunday, so I may go as far as 10. Then I start gearing up for my 30 miler, which will be on June 23rd and is our last long run before the marathon. I’m going to prep for it exactly the same way as I prepped for the 27, which I describe here except for one thing I left out. I read in Runner’s World a while back about the anti-inflammation properties of blueberries, so I’ve been trying to incorporate blueberries into at least one meal every day before a long run. I can’t be certain, but I really do think I’m feeling a benefit from it in terms of less soreness and quicker recovery.

And for the record, I am still loving my new shoes.

I’ve got more to blog about in the hopefully near future, so check back.

In the mean time, keep running happy!

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Prepping for a Long Run when You’re a Nervous Nelly Like Me

First off, I have been a bad, bad blogger. I’ve been busy and honestly haven’t had a lot to say. But here I am and today I’m going to talk about some changes to my goals and my prep for a long run.

Shifting Goals:

You may recall that I had planned to run the Pengelly Double Dip this year. I’ve changed my mind and am putting it off until next year. My concern is that it is timed poorly for me with respect to the long runs scheduled for my class, and I would feel like a very bad Pace Group Leader if I injured myself out of the class at this point. I still do want to do the race very much, and hope that next year will be the right year for me.

Instead, I’ve decided to try to run the Blue Mountain 30K. It’s in October, so it will give me something to work toward after the Marathon, and it seems like quite the challenging race. It is a very limited race, though, so hopefully I manage to get a spot.

I’ve also decided to train up to 30 miles instead of just 26.2 this year. Jeff Galloway recommends training up to 29 miles for a speed boost, and since I really dislike speed training but feel really good about distance, I decided to give it a try. At some point I realized that I’d better just plan to go 30, because the truth is that I like round numbers as milestones.

Prepping for a Long Run:

Our Galloway class has a 20 miler scheduled tomorrow, and I plan to do 24, to stay on track with my training goal. I really am a bit of a Concerned Constance when it comes to these long runs. I tend to overpack my nutrition belt. I fret about what to wear, what to bring and so forth. I bet there are others out there like me, so I thought it might be fun to talk about.

For about 5 to 7 days before a long run I pay special attention to my diet and hydration. I make sure I drink plenty of water and limit my coffee and alcohol intake.  For about 4 or 5 days beforehand I also drink a bit of coconut water each day (I really don’t like sports drinks). Since I have a wheat sensitivity I take extra care with what I eat for the week before any run over about 15 miles. An accidental exposure to wheat would make a long run really miserable and potentially embarrassing.

This is my basket of goodies. What shall I take?!?

This is my basket of goodies. What shall I take?!?

Sometime during the week before the long run I take stock of my nutrition supplies and make a stop at Runner’s Edge to buy more. I nearly always end up with way more than I could possibly need, but I’m okay with that.

Wednesday, Thursday and part of Friday before a Sunday long run I make sure to eat plenty of fiber. Lots of vegetables, salad, fruit and so forth. Dinner on Friday is when I start to dial back on the fiber, but usually it’s pretty balanced. Saturday, however, is a low fiber day. Different people have different strategies to keep from having to make urgent bathroom stops during a long run. Restricting my fiber the day before seems to work well for me, so that’s what I do.

The day before the long run I also trim my toenails. I cut them as short as I reasonably can to keep them from rubbing in my shoe. My toenails have never actually bothered me during a run, but I’ve had some terribly sore toes after a long run when I forgot to trim them.

And as I’m sure everybody does, I check the weather forecast and decide on what to wear, based partly on how hot it is supposed to get. I might try running in a singlet tomorrow, which would make it the first time I’d run long without sleeves. Last spring was cold and wet so I never actually went for a long run in a singlet. This year is shaping up to be a hot one, so now is the time to try, though I worry about chafe. I’ve got a tiny tub of Body Glide as well as other chafe prevention I can bring along, so I should manage just fine.

I usually remember to charge up my watch. Today I also changed the battery in my run/walk timer since I couldn’t recall when I last changed it.

My Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13s. Aren't they pretty?!?

My Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13s. Aren’t they pretty?!?

For this particular run I’m also worried about my shoes. I’ve got a new pair of Brooks Adrenalines that I bought on 4/19 and have worn for all of my runs since then. So far, the shoes feel great and I’m very happy with them, but all the runs they’ve gone on have been short runs. It should be fine to run in them tomorrow. They’ve gone about 25 miles so I should know by now if I was going to have trouble. But, as I mentioned I am an Anxious Annie. So I made arrangements for a friend to hang on to my second choice pair of shoes in case I have a shoe-mergency during the run and need him to bring them to me. I think that is mostly just a mental security blanket, really.

The morning of the long run, I eat a filling breakfast. Not everybody does this, but I really dislike the feeling of being hungry during a run. It distracts me and makes me grumpy. For tomorrow I’m planning on a hard boiled egg, a small slice of gluten free bread with peanut butter and a little bit of yogurt with blue berries. I’ll eat as early as I can manage to, to give my body time to digest a bit before the run. I’ve had good luck with this method and it’s never caused me stomach upset. I will also be drinking a cup of green tea. Staying away from coffee is another way to prevent urgent bathroom stops or embarrassing accidents. I love coffee, but not the morning of a long run.

Look at all that! The tub on the right is a maybe.

Look at all that! The tub on the right is a maybe.

In addition to my usual water and nutrition I will have along some Body Glide, my phone, blister tape, sun screen, lip balm, and if there’s room I might bring a little tub that has a mix of bug repellent and a creamy chafe protector in it.

I really am a Trepidatious Tanya, and I think you can probably tell. On the positive side, though, I will be prepared for just about anything.

The Missoula Marathon is in 63 days and some hours. We only have a few long training runs left. Can I make it to 30 miles? Check back after our last long run on June 23rd to find out!

I’m Still Here!

I just wanted to take a second to let you know that I’m still here, and hope to get back into regular blogging soon.

Except for a minor hiccup in my training schedule last week, I’ve been back on track for a few weeks now. I ran 12 miles yesterday and I am feeling good about that. And speaking of that, I have to tell you, that I really, really love my Due North traction aids for my shoes! Many of the roads I ran on yesterday were pretty much solid ice, but I didn’t slip or slide at all. I also find this type of traction to be much more comfortable than the sort that have a spiral track on the bottom, when it comes to running.

Also, if any of you are Google Plus users, check out the Running group under the new Communities link. So far, people there are being very supportive and encouraging of each other, and sharing all sorts of information!

I’ll post more soon! I promise.

Happy running!

 

 

Tips for New Runners – IT Band and Feet

This post is a part of my series, Tips for New Runners. It is based entirely on my own experiences as a new runner and may be missing a lot of information. This series is intended to help my readers find what works for them by sharing what worked or didn’t work for me.

I am very fortunate that in the short time I’ve been a runner I have yet to experience a serious injury. I firmly believe that following the Galloway method was largely responsible for that, but my own caution and attitude certainly helped. The two problems I have had were some minor foot pain and a minor to moderate issue with my right IT Band. Both were fairly easy to manage.

My feet, but especially my right foot, tend to stiffen up and become painful. They’ve always been this way and I’ve found that wearing good shoes with lots of arch support makes a big difference. When I started running, however, it became a little more pressing of an issue until a friend of mine recommended that I get a Foot Rubz ball. It’s a very firm little ball with nubbins protruding from it that you put it on the floor & roll back and forth under your foot. If you haven’t used it, or if you’ve tried a squishier version, you’d be surprised at just how effective it is. I usually wait a while after my long runs for the swelling in my feet to go down, and then I set it down and use it to work the stiffness out of my feet. My right foot usually pops several times, accompanied by a sensation of extreme relief. I keep my Foot Rubz ball in my purse or bag and use it any time my feet start to stiffen up, usually 5 out of every 7 days. My local running store sells these delightful little items for about $7 and it was worth every penny and then some.

IT Band Issues are no fun. Many, many runners have IT band problems at some point during their training and some get so bad that they have to take a break from training for a while. Not everyone seems to experience IT Band pain in exactly the same way, so if you’re having knee or leg pain and aren’t sure what it is, see your doctor or PT as soon as you can. In my case it was pretty obvious to me, from the way my knee felt like it was being pulled upward, that my IT Band was the trouble.

I did some reading and experimenting, and tried out the foam roller at our running store and bought one lickety-split. From that point forward I rolled my IT Band pretty frequently. At first it hurt like the dickens, but the more I rolled it, the less it hurt. I started to roll knots out of the fronts of my thighs as well, and that also seemed to help quite a bit. One day, I had the weirdest experience. As I lay on my foam roller, the knot just above my knee began to loosen as normal and then just suddenly melted completely. It felt SO weird! Afterward, my leg felt looser and better than it had in ages. I’m really, really glad I started using my foam roller when I did. I am not sure I would have finished my marathon training without it.

After buying my foam roller, I found Youtube to be a great resource for figuring out how to use it. Search for whichever type of rolling or stretching you’re looking for and check out multiple videos on that technique. Not all of the videos for rolling the IT band mention that once you find a knot you should stop rolling and sit on that knot for a while (recommendations vary from 10 to 60 seconds). It can be pretty painful to do that, but that pain is a sign that you really need to release that knot.

The night before the marathon I learned about a possible contributor to my IT Band problems. That night, Jeff Galloway, who was in town to run the Missoula Marathon, held a special motivational talk just for those of us who had taken the Galloway class. A number of runners mentioned IT Band issues and it was actually his wife who spoke up to ask us if we always ran on the same side of the road, which we all agreed was pretty accurate. It turns out that the camber of the road can contribute to IT Band problems and that one solution is to stop always running on the same side of the road. Oddly enough, the next day as I ran the marathon itself, I realized that the course kept us mostly on the side of the road I generally didn’t run on. Afterwards, my IT Band was not nearly as tight as it was after most of my training runs. Now I try to switch sides and vary the surfaces I run on and I haven’t been having much trouble at all.

If you’re having any sort of recurring pain that doesn’t go away, do some research and consider visiting your doctor. While it’s very true that new runners will have little aches and pains as their muscles grow and become stronger, other times the pain indicates a more serious issue. Don’t take too long ignoring it or trying to figure it out on your own before you see a doctor or PT. As I mentioned before, including information about those little pains in your blog posts or journal entries can help you to keep better track of them so that when you do go see the doctor or PT, you can give them the best information about what’s going on, as well as being helpful to yourself and other new runners.

Take good care of yourself and run happy!

Tips for New Runners – Dark Shorts

Running shorts and pants can be expensive, but if you find them on sale or at the second hand store they might be a bit easier on the wallet. Breathable, wicking fabric really makes a difference when you’re dealing with runs more than 3 or 4 miles, or warmer/cooler temperatures. There are lined and unlined shorts and pants. There are shorts and pants with compression, and even running skirts with compression shorts underneath. Some have pockets, others do not. My favorite shorts are lined, but not at all tight and I’ve never had any discomfort or chafing from them. Check with the folks at the running store for advice if you need help choosing the right style for you.

One consideration that may not come to mind when you go shopping is how dark colors might be better at times. You may first choose colors that best match your other running gear, and that’s fine. However, one thing that nobody may have mentioned to you yet is that runners, particularly distance runners sometimes have digestive difficulties and obviously, many lady runners menstruate. Because of these two situations, I do recommend dark shorts and pants that won’t advertise any accidents to those who see you run by.

Bust out the pink shorts with the purple sparkles when you’re comfortable that you don’t have anything to worry about, but have dark pairs handy for longer runs or runs during that part of your cycle. And besides, black goes with everything, right? Right.

Happy running!

Tips for New Runners – Socks

This post is a part of my blog flash series, Tips for New Runners. It is based entirely on my own experiences as a new runner and may be missing a lot of information. This series is intended to help my readers find what works for them by sharing what worked or didn’t work for me.

When I started running, I didn’t realize how important socks were. I went out on quite a few runs in regular, everyday cotton socks. For a while that wasn’t a problem. Running a mile or two in cotton socks isn’t really an issue for me. But once I got my mileage up to three miles and beyond, cotton socks stopped being okay and started causing me blisters.

I checked in with other runner friends and was directed to my local running store to purchase actual running socks. When I got there, I suffered a bit of sticker shock and went home to try to find less expensive options on the internet. I’m not sure I can recommend this course of action, to be honest. I ended up with two pair of socks that got me up to 12 miles before they started causing blisters, and then I just gave in and went to my local running store.

See, the thing I didn’t realize is that most of the blister-causing friction on my feet was actually being caused by my socks. Your shoes can be big and somewhat loose, to allow for feet swelling. Having a shoe that rubs isn’t necessarily going to cause you any problems. It’s really the sock that matters. If your sock isn’t moving against your foot, there isn’t going to be much friction against your skin no matter what your shoe does.  (See my future post on blister tape & chafing gels/creams for when toes rub and cause blisters.)

There are many, many brands of socks and many models made by each company and your feet may have different needs than mine. My best recommendation to you is to visit your local running store and have them help you pick out the best socks. If you experience sticker shock, as I did, buy one pair and try them out. After that, if they work for you, you might be able to buy them online or on sale days at a better price.

This series isn’t intended to be about product recommendations, but I will tell you which socks I use. For my shorter runs, I wear one of the less expensive Feetures models, but for my long runs it’s the Feetures Elites all the way. They were recommended to me by another distance runner friend and I love them. On my 26.2 mile marathon training run, I ran on a cold, miserable, rainy day. My feet were absolutely soaked within the first 3 miles. The only blister I got that day was not remotely sock related, but rather my own fault for poorly applied blister tape. It wasn’t even in an area where a sock could have caused it. You can also see sock reviews at various websites, including the Runners World sock review.

If you find yourself having blister problems, especially on longer runs, consider that your socks might be the culprits. Socks can be spendy, but the good ones really are worth it. Also, be extra sure to read the laundering instructions on your socks. Many of them call for turning your socks inside out in addition to the temperature and drying recommendations. Washing them according to the directions may well increase their lifespan and help keep your feet happy and blister free.

Tips for New Runners – Saving Money

This post is a part of my blog flash series, Tips for New Runners. It is based entirely on my own experiences as a new runner and may be missing a lot of information. This series is intended to help my readers find what works for them by sharing what worked or didn’t work for me.

Getting into running, like any other sport or hobby, can end up being expensive. Other runners may tell you that all you really need is a good pair of running shoes and that is true up to a point. But if you find yourself really getting into running, whether you choose to run more often or run farther, chances are good that find that you will want or need other things besides those shoes.

First off, I will tell you not to skimp on the shoes. If you’re on a budget, like I am, sometimes those shoe prices are heartburn-inducing. But good shoes are the first step to a happy running experience. Bad or broken down shoes can actually cause you all kinds of problems that you really want to avoid. So please see the nice people at your local running store and get good shoes. One way to reduce the heartburn of buying new shoes is to hit the sale days. Get in there early in the day before the selection is too picked over, and if you find a really awesome shoe, maybe get two pair if you can pull that off. You can also order a second pair online, once you’ve run in them long enough to be certain you really want another pair. Just make sure that the shoe company hasn’t changed the model enough to cause you trouble. This can happen from one year to the next.

Once you have the shoes, don’t worry too much about the other gear at first. Go run, see how you like it. If you think it’s something that you’re going to stick with, start thinking about other ways to make your running experience more comfortable and enjoyable and start buying what you can, when you can. Some things you might want are:

A good running bra: This is another area where hitting the sales is your best bet, and I’ll be writing up another post about how to choose a bra, so please keep an eye out for that post soon.

A water belt: If you’re interested in distance running, you may want a belt that holds water and other goodies to help you on your run. I’ll be posting more about belts as well, but what I will say now is don’t just buy the cheapest belt. I did that and I sort of wish I hadn’t. I bought a belt with two bottles in static positions and a smallish pouch, and while it is a great belt for a medium length run, it’s not sufficient for me on a longer run. I ended up buying a second belt that I was able to add more bottles and pouches to. I would have spent less money overall if I’d just bought the more flexible belt to begin with.

Socks: Socks will get their own post as well, but I do recommend that you at least chat with the people at your running store before choosing socks, even if you buy them elsewhere for less money.

Athletic clothing: Here is where you actually do have some options for saving money. If you get to a point in your running where you’re running longer distances or in weather that is either very cold or very hot, you’ll want the appropriate clothing. A lot of athletic gear can be really expensive. Step one for saving money is to hit the sales, but be careful. If you are working on losing weight, you might not want to buy something out of season because of change in fit, like buying shorts during the fall & winter sales. They might not fit anymore by the time spring rolls around. Shirts are a bit less of an issue there, though, so I would say hitting the sales on out of season shirts could work out a lot better for you, especially buying winter running shirts in the spring. Another option is secondhand shops. I made a few of my early purchases at the local secondhand shops. I was able to get some decent running tops, a couple of jackets and a pair of running pants fairly cheaply when I was starting out. You may have to hit multiple shops and you may have to go back regularly to get the best gear you can lay your hands on, but you can really save a LOT of money that way. A $50 pair of running pants can be as little as $5 or $10 at a second hand shop here, and shirts can run as low as $3 if you happen to go in on a day when the right tag color is on sale.

If you enter a race that has an Expo, you may also find some fantastic deals there. Before the 2012 Missoula Marathon, I hit the expo and found some really great deals on a bunch of gear there. And keep in mind that you’ll get t-shirts for many of the races you’ll run, so don’t feel like you have to have that many running tops. If you run many races, your t-shirt drawer will be overflowing before you know it.

Reflection: reflective gear will be discussed in the post on safety, but keep in mind that you can often get reflective tape really cheaply. You can put that tape on your shirt, belt, shoes, water bottles, etc. to help make you more visible when it’s dark or dim out.

If any of my readers have any other suggestions for saving money on running gear, I would sure love to hear them. Please leave your suggestions in the comments.