First Magic Mile of the Season or Where Was Everybody?

Today in our Galloway class we ran a short run with a Magic Mile. If you’re new to the blog, the Magic Mile is a tool that Galloway uses to predict race performance and recommended training pace. It’s an important element to the Galloway method, particularly when training for the longer distances such as a full or half marathon.

Since I have yet to actually race in any of the races I’ve run (I just run for fun and profit) I can’t speak to it’s accuracy from my own experience. However, pretty much everyone I’ve spoken with who has used it as a race prediction tool has said that it’s worked really well.

Going in to today’s magic mile my biggest concern was running at a time that would keep me in my current pace group, and I accomplished that neatly. I ran a 9:10 magic mile, which gives me a 13:55 marathon training pace, so being in the 14 minute pace group works out perfectly for me.

The thing that worried me today was seeing how many people didn’t make it to class. I don’t know if they’ve dropped out all together, or if they just didn’t think the short run & magic mile were important enough to get up early for, but I’m a little sad that they didn’t make it to class today. In particular, I’m concerned about the people I’m pretty sure have been running in the wrong (too fast) pace group already. I had hoped that their MM time would get them sorted into the proper group, but if they don’t have an MM time, that’s not going to work very well.

A part of me doesn’t understand signing up for and then paying for the Galloway class (It’s a $99 class) and then choosing to disregard the training method. But I suppose it’s really no different than joining a gym and then not going. Our class did start in January, so perhaps what I’m seeing is people giving up on their New Year’s Resolutions.  However, I worry that some of it is because they’ve already hurt themselves by running in the wrong pace group. Preventing injury is a huge part of the Galloway method and the magic mile and recommended training pace factor heavily into that. These folks who insist on running faster than their recommended training pace are increasing their risk of injury quite a lot. I just don’t get it.

On the brighter side, next week, we will finally be joined by the half marathon part of our class. I think it will be fantastic to see everyone, and heartening to have a big group again. Some of my buddies from last year have dropped back to the half for this year, so it will also be really nice to see them again, even on those weeks when we’re not running together.

I am still so thankful that I found was pushed toward the Galloway method. It is absolutely the perfect fit for me and I’ve met some really wonderful people because of it. The countdown clock on the Missoula Marathon page today says 132 days and 18 hours. I’ll be ready!


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!

Six Rainy Miles, Runners Dropping Like Flies & a Product Comparison

Today’s run was an easy six mile recovery run in the rain. Being Memorial Day weekend, class was sparsely attended and we were short on pace-group leaders as well. I ended up  co-leading my pace group and it’s a good thing there were two of us, because we both would have taken some wrong turns otherwise. Yay teamwork! I was very excited when most of the half marathoners in our group opted to go the full six miles, rather than the four miles they had scheduled today, as well. There were only two full marathoners in the group, so it was really nice to have everyone along on those last two miles.

In addition to many people missing class because of Memorial Day weekend plans, we’re also losing more students and pace group leaders to injury. The biggest issue seems to be other races. Folks seem to be going out to do other races on our short run weeks, and hurting themselves. This makes me feel really good about  my decision not to enter any races before the marathon, and I’d suggest the same to any new runners who are reading this blog. It’s so easy to get overly motivated in a race and go too fast or not use the same run/walk split you’re used to, or both. If you do decide to do smaller races before your big goal race, just keep in mind that you don’t want to hurt yourself and run accordingly.

Now I’d like to take a moment to do a product comparison for you that I wish I’d had the knowledge to do when I first started shopping for running gear. These are my own experiences and opinions and I’m not getting anything from either company for this.

I have two water belts. You may recall that I bought a new water belt for our twenty mile run, because I didn’t feel that my Nathan belt with two bottles would get me through. For all you new runners out there, I’d like to compare my Nathan Speed 2 to my Amphipod Runlite Airstretch, with 2 additional bottles. There are many other hydration belts out there, so shop around, but maybe this info can help you make a choice.

The Nathan Speed 2 holds two bottles in a fixed position. Those bottles are very easy too get in and out of their carriers while you’re moving. The pouch has a key fob, an ID card and space for your cell phone or a couple of gels or a bag of gummies if you take the air out. There’s also a pill pocket on the front that I’ve used to carry a lip-balm in, but it doesn’t really fit.

The Amphipod Runlite Airstretch came with two bottles and I added two more. For our 20 and 23 mile runs, I was very glad to have all four bottles, especially since our 23 mile run was on a warmer day. The pouch also has a key fob and it stretches just a bit more than the one on the Nathan, but they’re fairly comparable in terms of capacity.

On the Nathan, I really like how easy the bottles are to get in and out of their carriers. The Amphipod bottles snap in and they’re not always quite as easy to put away on the go, but I think it’s one of those things you get used to such that it becomes more natural over time. I also like the velcro flap style for the pouch over the Amphipod zipper. It’s just a bit easier to deal with when I’m reaching behind me. Some of the Amphipod belts have pouches with flaps, too, though.

On the Amphipod belt, I really like that the position of the bottles is not fixed. I can move them around to better accommodate my arm swing, make room for other add-on containers or my Gymboss beeper or my watch, etc. I also like that the Amphipod bottles are much easier to close after you’ve had your drink, which means less water leaked out on you while you’re running. The Amphipod belt is also more easily customized, with those additional water bottles or containers. I’d like to get a second pouch for mine for our next long run.

Both belts have their advantages and disadvantages, but in the end, I prefer the Amphipod belt primarily because I can re-position the bottles and easily add more items. For some folks, the snap-in bottles might just be a deal-breaker.

If you’re thinking about getting a belt with fixed bottle positions, regardless of the number of bottles, make sure you run & walk around with it on and verify that the bottle positions work for you.  Also, get the bottles in and out of their carriers a few times while you’re moving, and stick a few gels and your phone in the pouch and get them out while the belt is on. And check how easy the bottles are to open and close. You may ask to put water in one. Some stores may even let you.

When you’re a new runner, there are so many things you don’t know, not just about the products themselves, but about your own preferences. A good, local running store may be the place to go, even if you pay a little more there. The staff there is more likely to know enough and care enough to help you make the best decision. But even then, you may learn, like I did with my water belt, that there is a better option for you.

The Missoula Marathon is in 41 days and I’ll be running it with my Amphipod water belt. I’m really looking forward to it.

Recovery Runs are Nice

Today’s run was a nice 5 mile recovery run and it felt good.  The half marathon trainers had a 4 mile recovery run scheduled, but we were short on pace group leaders today so I think some of them opted to go out with full-marathon training groups that matched their paces. The reason we were short on pace group leaders and had fewer people in class today than usual is that a lot of folks went over to run Bloomsday in Spokane. It sounds like a fun run and it fits well with our training schedule. Next week is another 5 mile recovery run, with the possibility of a Magic Mile (we’ll still be short pace group leaders, so it’s up to us to decide). This might seem strange, but the Galloway training method is all about injury prevention, and when we get up to the high miles, we space our long runs out a bit farther.

A lot of the talk before and during our run this week was about our 20 mile run last week and our recovery experiences. It really surprises me to know that I seem to be having a much easier time with recovery than some of my classmates, even though many of them are more consistently active than I am. I suppose age could be a factor, but at 38 I’m not exactly a spring chicken myself. Many of my classmates were too sore to run on Tuesday, even those who took cold baths after our run. I was slow and my legs were tired, but I wasn’t too sore. If I’m doing something especially right, I don’t know what it is. I wish I did.

My new shoes are beginning to feel broken in. I don’t know that I’m ready to trust them on a long run, but I did the math last night, and I think that if I run all my short runs in the new shoes, my Asics should make it through the remaining long runs and the marathon. The Asics currently have 239 miles on them which means that after our 23 and 26 mile runs, they’ll be at 288. So I think that they’re in good enough shape. I will also have put about 84 miles on the Mizunos by then, at which point they may become my primary shoe for a while.

One thing I’ve learned about my own running needs is that I get overly thirsty and cranky if I don’t have water on any run over 3 to 3.5 miles. Some folks don’t bring water on our shorter runs, like today’s 5 miler. I really dislike feeling thirsty generally, and especially while running. I don’t seem to have to stop at the restrooms any more often than my classmates do, so I don’t think it’s really a problem.

Lastly, I cannot say enough good things about my foam roller.  I’ve been using it every few days, and always on Saturday evenings and my right IT Band feels fine. Every time I use it, it hurts less than before and I’m really to the point now where I only have one bad spot, which isn’t even all that bad.

Only 62 days left before the Missoula Marathon and I’m feeling pretty confident and very lucky. For those of you who are in Missoula, I sure hope you’ll consider coming out to cheer us on, especially later in the race after the fast people have gone by.  Us slow kids need love too.

Twenty Miles is Far!

Four weeks ago, our 15 mile training run was the most difficult one I’d had so far.  The 17.5 mile run two weeks later was much easier.  Last week, my short solo Thursday run was also one of the worst I have had.  What these two bad runs had in common was the timing of my cycle.  I’m sure I don’t have to elaborate further on that.

So coming into my 20 mile training run I was a bit worried that it would be another difficult one. I decided to take control of the things that I could control like hydration, sleep and nutrition.  For a couple of days before the run I did my best to be well hydrated, eat well, take my vitamins and get plenty of sleep.  I also bought a new water belt that could hold four bottles instead of just two, along with more noms and other supplies.

For my breakfast before the run I had two eggs, a large banana and a bunch of peanut butter (smeared on the banana).  For during the run, I mixed the Stinger Honey Gels (I use the gold) into two of my water bottles, and filled the other two with plain water.  For my noms I brought along a pack of assorted Sport Beans and two packs of the Stinger Chews (one Lime-Ade and one Fruit Smoothie).  I started sucking on a jelly bean a bit earlier in the run than I usually do (only about 30 to 40 minutes in) and I had a jelly bean or chew in my mouth most all of the time from then on.  I don’t chew them, just to be clear, so they take a while to dissolve.  I alternated between the plain water and the water with the gel mixed in, and finished the first of the honey-waters around half way.

I also used my foam roller on my right IT Band (the one that gets tight) once or twice per day for several days leading up to my run.  Most of the time I also rolled my left IT Band at least once on those days, even though it doesn’t feel tight.

Now, I have no way of knowing if this strategy was what made the difference, but I do know that I had a much, much better run than I did the previous Thursday, or 4 weeks before when we did our 15 miles. Around mile 14 or 15 I could start to tell that certain muscles were getting tired and my feet were certainly feeling the pounding they were taking, but I didn’t feel bad and I didn’t feel like I was struggling. Around mile 17 I started to really pay attention to how much distance was left, but I still didn’t feel bad.  I did get a bit of a mental boost after 17.5 miles, knowing that every step after that was farther than I’d gone before.

Our route was a bit unusual in that it was sort of a 10 mile out and back followed by another, different 10 mile out and back.  That might sound sort of boring to a lot of people, but I don’t mind that sort of thing at all.  And honestly, it was really cool to pass the other pace groups once on each leg of the run.  We cheered each other on, exchanged high-fives and I think generally improved each other’s experience. We were also cheered on at several points by one of our class leaders, who met us repeatedly along the route, and by runners from the traditional running class as well as a number of random strangers we ran past. I have to tell you, if you see a group of runners out on a training run, give them a cheer. It honestly feels great and they’ll really appreciate it.

Finally, I also tried something new after my run. Jeff Galloway and a number of others strongly recommend a cold bath (just tap cold is supposed to be fine) after a long run. I don’t have a bathtub so I hadn’t tried this before but some very kind friends of mine allowed me to use their tub after this run, and boy was that a good idea. The cold bath itself was not the most comfortable experience I’ve ever had. My feet, in particular, had a hard time with the cold water. But today, I’m so much less sore and stiff than I have been on previous long runs that I’m sure a cold bath will become part of my post-long-run ritual as often as I can manage. One thing I will say is that I think it might be easier to sit in the bath and run the water in, as I did, than to climb into a cold bath, particularly for the feet. Less shocking, that way.

So mentally speaking, 20 miles is the penultimate milestone for me.  23 miles (our next long run) doesn’t have the same mental impact so it’s our final long run of 26 miles that is the next significant training run in my mind.  That run is scheduled for June 10th and I will run around the block to get my extra .2 miles in if we finish short of the full 26.2.  Following that 26 mile training run, we have three consecutive recovery run Sundays, and finally the Marathon itself on July 8th in just 68 days.

I feel much more secure now in my ability to run this marathon. 26.2 miles isn’t much more than 20 and I’ve already run that far!

Pockets and Lessons

One of the things that drives me nuts about ladies running gear is the frequency with which there are no secure pockets in them. It makes me cranky. I realize that fashion, and yes, even running fashion, is designed to make us as nice to look at as possible and pockets – if they are used – ruin the line of our figure. But you know what? I don’t care. I’m not out there running 4 miles or 17.5 miles so that I can look nice while I’m running! I want pockets. I want a place to put my cell phone, my keys, maybe even an ID and some cash or my debit card. I prefer that these be secure pockets that my belongings will not bounce out of as I run. These are not tall orders, and I shouldn’t have to wear my water belt on a short run, just to have a place to stash things.

As it happens, my newish running shorts (the black version of these) have two sets of pockets. The outer pockets are not what I would consider secure. I keep my lip balm in there but that’s about it.  The inner pockets are in the back, to the right and left of my spine, and are much more secure.  That’s where I stashed my phone and cash today. And that, was how I learned a lesson today. It was one of those lessons that you realize you should have thought of before, but didn’t. As it turns out, secure pocket or no, those inner pockets aren’t the best place for cash. When you have to hand over sweaty bills to the lady at the coffee shop after your run, you feel kind bad about that. Or at least I did.

I mentioned in my last post that our next long run is 20 miles.  As it turns out, we only have three more long runs before the marathon.  I can’t quite wrap my head around that fact.  On 4/29 we have 20 miles.  Then the following two Sundays are both 5 mile recovery runs, with a Magic Mile on 5/13.  Then our next long run is 23 miles on 5/20, followed by two 6 mile runs, including another Magic Mile.  Our last long run is a full 26 (and if I have to run around the block to get in my extra .2 I’m doing it) on June 21st.  We follow that with a 3 mile recovery run, two six milers and then it’s time for the Marathon on July 8th (76 days from now).  And I am very dedicated about running my short (3 – 4 miles) Tuesday/Thursday runs each week as well.

If you had told me a year ago that I’d be looking forward to running (run/walking) 20 miles, I would have considered calling the nice men in the white coats to determine whether you might be a danger to yourself or others.  It really is amazing how much my outlook has changed since I started this class.  And in all honesty, a lot of that has to do with discovering the Galloway run/walk/run method.  I honestly don’t think I would be doing this today if I had tried to just run.  I don’t think I would have enjoyed a couch to 5K program or anything like that.  Whether I’m running at a 30 second walk/ 45 second run split, or 30s/30s or even the 60s/60s back when I first started, the run walk splits really make all the difference to me.  They enable me to go much further than I could otherwise, and to feel great about it.

Also, since my little sprint last week that seemed to stretch out my IT Band, it hasn’t bothered me a bit. I could feel it after the run but that was it.  I haven’t felt it since, except when using my foam roller, which already is starting to hurt a lot less each time.

My plans for the coming week might include buying some new gear. Possibly shoes and some of the socks with toes in them, as I have a bit of a toe overlap issue on my right foot.  I also plan to attend a  runners self defense class that Run Wild Missoula is putting on.  It depresses me that such a class is needed, but it truly is.  I’d also like to get a new pic taken for my header image.  And yard work.  ‘Tis the season for yard work, and one of the advantages of the Galloway method of training is that many folks find it easier to be active after a long run.  Which is not to say that traditional runners can’t do stuff after a long run, but I know I couldn’t if I were doing traditional running.  At least not at this stage.

I’m also really excited to learn that some of my classmates are reading my blog!  That tickles me to no end.  And if any of y’all ever have anything to add about a run, or are having different experiences, please comment and let me know.  And if you have a blog, I’d love to have the link!  See you Sunday!

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.

And I will run(/walk/run) 100 miles

And I will run(/wallk/run) 100 more!

I crossed the 100 (cumulative) mile mark this week.   That seems like such a huge milestone in some ways, and in others it seems like nothing at all.  Over the last three months I feel like I’ve changed a bit.  I feel more like my “old self” aka my pre-anxiety self than I have in years.  That alone is amazing and makes me feel like this is really something I need to keep right on doing for the rest of my life.

One of the sillier changes I’ve noticed is a change in how I perceive distance.  Three miles used to be far, at least to walk.  Now it’s nothing to run/walk/run.  It’s just a warm-up.  Missoula seems smaller when I have my running shoes on.

This week I attended the Injury Prevention and the Missoula Marathon presentation put on by Run Wild Missoula and a local physical therapy clinic.  The presenters gave us some great information about exercises and stretches we can do to minimize our risk of injury, and demonstrated good form for us.

I felt pleased that I’ve already been doing much of their recommended core work, at least at the beginner level.  However, the running drills they showed us seem like something I need to start doing.  I can feel that I have a weakness in my right leg, but I can’t tell if it’s at the knee or the hip.

During the portion of the presentation dedicated to stretching, my pace group leader brought up Galloway’s anti-stretching stance.  The presenters weren’t exactly sure how to handle that, but they assured us that stretching is important.  As they were physical therapists, it’s difficult for me to discount their opinions on the subject, and my own body is telling me that some stretching would really be a good idea.

I’m going to try to take a middle path when it comes to the stretching.  Galloway’s objections to it seem to stem partly from the times when people stretch.  Everybody knows not to stretch cold muscles, but Galloway also cautions about stretching too soon after a run.  I’m probably mis-remembering this but I seem to remember that he said something about the muscles still being too activated & easy to tear or injure.  So I am going to try to do gentle stretches of warmed-up muscles, but not right after a run, and see how that treats me.  I’ll report back.

Another thing our class has been covering is nutrition during the run.  Now, during the time when our runs are still fairly short, is the time to play around with our food and water intake to see what works for us.  The Runners Edge carries some gluten free gummies and honey gels made by Honey Stinger.  I tried the gummies on our 7.5 mile run and they were way too tasty.  I think they’ll be great for a true long run, but they’re just too darned good to be using at this stage. It’s too hard not to gobble them all down.  I plan to try one of the gels, mixed into water, on my next long run (10 miles).  I don’t imagine it will be quite as irresistible.

Our 10 mile run is this coming Sunday and I’m really looking forward to it.  My body seems to be adapting almost as well as my mind, to this new activity.  Only 129 more days until the marathon, and I still feel like I can do it.


7.5 Easy Miles

Today was finally our 7.5 mile run. This is officially the first run that I’ve done during class that was a longer run than I’d done on my own before class.  Also, it was easy.  It really felt great.  Our whole pace group seemed to agree about that, too.

This time I did run with the minute slower pace group (the 15s) and it’s probably good that I did.  We ran a 30s run to 45 second walk, and at times that seemed like too little running/too much walking.  But if you pay attention to Galloway’s “Running Injury Free” method, I think that when you feel like you could run more and could run faster, you’re probably doing it right.  It’s when you feel like you should have run less or should have run slower than you were doing too much, too fast, too soon.  I’m really looking forward to our 10 miler in two weeks, now.

Also, as a little hat tip to my ego I will admit, I was at the back of my pace group last week with the 14s, but this week I was right at the front so that was a nice feeling, in a weird way.

Some interesting things happened today. First, our class started with a local Ultra-runner and physical therapist presenting to our class. He made some suggestions about exercises for different areas of weakness we might encounter, and helped us get some idea of how to tell when the knee pain was actually a hip problem and such.

Secondly, about 6 miles into our run, I started to have a twinge in my right knee. This is the same knee that’s given me a bit of trouble in the past.  I think there might be a bit of an IT Band issue going on there, but it’s not all that bad yet.  I don’t have a foam roller yet, but I will probably get one in the nearish future.  In the mean time, a friend suggested that a rolling pin might help me out in the short term and darn it if he wasn’t right.  I came home & ran over the appropriate area with a rolling pin and it helped immediately.  I still think a foam roller is the way to go, because I will be able to get a lot deeper with that than with a rolling pin, but still, it was a great solution for today.  I’m also icing my knee, just to be safe.

I chatted a lot with my pace group leader today, since I was right at the front of the pack.  It was really interesting to hear how different things were last year, when our Galloway method runners were just starting out on their own, as opposed to how things are going this year with a more organized and directed class.  I think we’re really lucky to have these folks volunteer to lead and educate us this year, and I told him so.

When I got home after my run & logged my distance (7.51 miles) on Fitocracy, I was again reminded that these 5k and 10k races aren’t as long as they sound, when I got the 10k achievement.  I think there’s a good chance I’ll start racing once in a while after the marathon.  I don’t need to win. I don’t even need to finish first in my age group.  It just sounds like a fun thing to do.

For now, though, my focus is on the 139 days between now and the Missoula Marathon. I want to keep running, keep adding miles, keep getting more fit and keep having fun.  Fun, finishing and fitness, right?